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Editors’ Letters Why hello again Grapey readers and welcome to a new, beautiful, COVID-safe online edition of Grapeshot! This issue is called Homecoming and in this time where we’ve been forced to stay indoors and figure out where to call our homebase, we figured we’d do a deep dive on what the word ‘home’ really means. Why is physical place so important to us? What do these places mean for our lives? Our memories? Our sense of selves? And what the shit are we meant to get up to while we’ve been ordered to stay home? We’ve asked the questions and we have the answers. ‘Nirvana Amidst Chaos’ in our News section provides a beautiful perspective on death in the midst of this pandemic and ‘Yarning Circle’ showcases the Indigenous perspectives on homecoming and place. And our Repeat Offenders section has plenty of Disney nostalgia and Netflix reviews to get you inspired for your weekend television binges. I moved out of home at the beginning of this year and now live two and a half hours away from my parents. I’m well aware many people live much further away from their families and I’m not alone in the struggles of flat pack furniture. However, the experience made me wonder what our homes mean to us. Is home just an emotional and mental construction or does it mean something much more tangible? What does our physical environment say about us and what marks does it leave on us? Homecoming is more than just some random American end-of-year prom tradition, it is an experience that all of us will have at some point in our lives. Whether we have a strong sense of home, or experience a sense of emotional or physical homelessness. It means different things to different people and is a cornerstone of our human experience. With that, stay safe, stay home (unless ScoMo tells you otherwise) and happy reading! Katelyn

During my studies I came across the book Plains of Promise, written by Alexis Wright, an Aboriginal author from the Waanyi nation. In the opening chapter of her novel Wright speaks of an introduced tree, a poinciana, that has been brought over by a missionary and planted in the native soil. She writes: “The tree should not have been allowed to grow there on their ancestral country. It was wrong. Their spiritual ancestors grew more and more disturbed by the thirsty, greedy foreign tree intruding into the bowels of their world.” This passage shows an instance of violation, the roots of which will continue to grow and spread in the centuries to come. It brings to mind both a memory of the initial injustice, and the many injustices First Nations people have faced in the time since, and still face today. As systemic racism in the media, the police force, and across all layers of society have put their lives, and all black lives, at risk. What is a home without safety? That is what homecoming means to me; safety, family, and having a sense of belonging. Australia doesn’t truly feel like home as I remember the shame of its history. This past week on June 3rd it was Mabo Day. The day the High Court of Australia acknowledged the land rights of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and rejected the false proclamation that deemed Australia terra nullius, “land belonging to no one.” Celebrations each year on January 26th are a reminder of this country’s wider amnesiac culture and wilful ignorance. The devastating murder of George Floyd on May 25th in Minneapolis forced a spotlight on our own history. In 2015, 26-year-old Dunghutti man David Dungay was injected with a sedative, held face down and dying as he too called out “I can’t breathe.” Is murder considered ‘un-Australian?’ I hope this issue of Grapeshot will provide you with some relief from what has been a traumatic year to say the least. Our wonderful contributors explored the multifaceted nature of belonging and place as they delved into their childhoods, ancestries, and memories, in search of a sense of homecoming. Jodie


Got something to contribute?


GRAPESHOT@MQ.EDU.AU by Elizabeth Laughton




EDITORIAL ASSISTANTS Gabby Edwards, Rhys Smith, Madison Scott, Aylish Dowsett

CONTRIBUTING WRITERS + ILLUSTRATORS Brad Cunningham, Brighid Goodbun, Ella Scott, Deana Stepanian, Ky Stewart, Tetei Bakic Tapim

COVER Sam van Vliet

EDITORIAL REVIEW BOARD Sowaiba Azad, Jay Muir, Neenah Gray, Marlene Khouzam, Ateka Rajabi, Angus Webber



Gail White

Melroy Rodrigues

GRAPESHOT acknowledges the Wattamatagal clan, of the Darug nation as the traditional custodians of the land on which we work and meet. We acknowledge that sovereignty was never ceeded, no treaty was signed, and would like to pay our respects to Elders, past, present and emerging.



SRC in Lockdown

What has MQ’s SRC been up to during COVID-19? As our first semester of online learning comes to an end, you might be wondering what role the Macquarie University Student Representative Committee (SRC) has played. Well Grapeshot has the answers! We spoke with an SRC representative to let you know what’s been happening with your hard earned dollary-dos during this tumultuous time. What are some of the main responsibilities/ tasks of the SRC now, and how have these been impacted or changed due to the shift to online learning? “The SRC’s job is to advocate on behalf of students directly to the university. We have regular meetings in which we get to put up motions which can then be implemented by the university administration. SRC members also sit on some of the university’s policy making committees. We also oversee our own budget of $200,000 which goes to the funding of university student activities. Finally, we are personally involved in the carrying-out of events on campus such as the organisation of O-Week and Re:Conception.” “The SRC has continued to hold meetings during isolation. Our priority, however, has increasingly shifted to focusing on concerns faced by university students as a consequence of COVID-19. These include financial support for students, advocating on behalf of students who have been locked into college contracts despite moving back home and restructuring grant programs to facilitate funding for online activities.” In what ways can the SRC offer support to students (both domestic and international) during this time? “Individual SRC officers can help students to navigate to the correct university agency that can help them. This is also very much the specialty of AskMQ. The SRC’s primary role is advocacy on policy issues to create change for students through writing detailed proposals, meeting with university officials, and advocating for change inside the university structures.”


“The specific policies we have been working on with the university to implement are financial support packages for domestic and international students and a reform of the grants process to include online activities.” How has funding to each society been reassigned due to the cancellation of inperson social gatherings and events? “The SRC has adjusted its student society grant guidelines to focus on events that can take place safely during the pandemic or being planned far enough in advance to avoid the restrictions currently in place. We have also temporarily reworked our postgraduate conference grants to cater for online conferences.” Do the SRC still have regular meetings online, since in-person ones have been postponed/cancelled? “The SRC is still meeting regularly via Zoom during this period. Our latest meeting was on the 7th of May and included various proposals from members, a review of the recent SSAF survey, and the passing of a range of student society grants. SRC members are continuing to advocate on issues of University policy during this period via SRC subcommittee meetings and meetings with University stakeholders.” The “Macquarie University SRC” Facebook page is currently their main point of contact where they share regular updates on Macquarie University news and opportunities. The page can also be used to privately message them if necessary. Additionally, their email address ( au) can also be used as a more formal point of contact for any further inquiries. by Gabby Edwards

Temporarily Clear Skies The Climate Crisis in the Wake of COVID-19

In the months since the COVID-19 outbreak began there has been one definitive positive: the planet has had a chance to heal itself. Comparative images of China’s major cities seen from space, and taken by NASA and the European Space Agency from January-February 2019 and January-February 2020, showed an unprecedented drop in pollution levels. The Centre for Research on Energy and Clean Air (CREA) recorded that carbon dioxide emissions alone fell 25 per cent, a total of 200 million tonnes in the four weeks leading up to March 2020. Globally, images flooded the media of deserted streets with bright, clear skies. Abandoned venetian canals, the Himalayas seen from Pathankot, and the hazy brown smog disappearing from cosmopolitan cities across the world; New Delhi, Los Angeles, and Jakarta. Among the nations which were hit the earliest and hardest by the virus, China, Italy and the United Kingdom showed significant reductions in air pollutants in the months which followed. The fact that it takes immense economic turmoil, record-breaking job losses, and a devastating death toll, to force humanity to face our other global crisis, climate change, is troubling. Chair of the Global Carbon Project, Rob Jackson, warns that this kind of drop can only be temporary: “Air pollution has plunged in most areas. The virus provides a glimpse of just how quickly we could clean our air with renewables… I refuse to celebrate a drop in emissions driven by tens of millions of people losing their jobs. We need systemic change in our energy infrastructure, or emissions will roar back later.”

Unfortunately, others have predicted a similar international response to what is currently happening in the United States. According to National Geographic, political scientist and environmental researcher François Gemenne predicts that: “When the pandemic finally abates, polluting industries may well seek to make up for lost time with even higher production… If the virus makes people fearful of public transportation, driving could increase also.” As the place of the epicentre, we can look to China to see how a return to normal might appear. The current pollution levels have already overtaken pre-coronavirus levels. The CREA attributes this rebound to “industrial emissions” as “pollution levels tended to increase more in areas where coal-burning is a larger source of pollution.” The centre also noted “ozone levels are close to the record level of 2018” in China. Given the delayed reaction to the warnings stated by the World Health Organization regarding COVID-19, it will be important to remember the dangers of prioritising political opinion over expert advice. by Jodie Ramodien

However, the kind of systemic change necessary, particularly in countries like the United States, is anything but forthcoming. In fact, the economic disaster created by the virus has paved the way for the opposite approach. Guardian writer Jonothan Watts, highlights this political backlash: “Oil company executives have lobbied Donald Trump for a bailout. Under the cover of the crisis, the White House has rolled back fuel-economy standards for the car industry, the Environmental Protection Agency has stopped enforcing environmental laws, three states have criminalised fossil fuel protesters and construction has resumed on the KXL oil pipeline.”


Washed Ashore

An overview of the ethinic cleansing of Myanmar’s Rohingya people Content warning: mentions of genocide, rape, and violence

2019 K M Asad/LightRocket via Getty Images

The concepts of nostalgia, reminiscence and sentimentality are all interwoven in the makeup of our personal identity, revealing just how close our sense of self can be tied to physical places and happy memories. But what happens when our physical sense of belonging is taken away from us again and again? The Rohingya people are an ethnic group and Muslim minority in Myanmar, described by the United Nations as the “most persecuted minority in the world”. The Rohingyas history in Myanmar is long, with historians estimating that the group have resided in the Rakhine state as early as the 12th Century. Previously known as Arakan, the Rakhine State is one of the country’s poorest areas, lacking access to basic education and health care. Descendants of Arab traders, it is estimated that there are around one million Rohingya people still living in Myanmar today. Living in a majority-Buddhist country, the Rohingya people have faced years of agnosing persecution. After Myanmar’s independence following World War II, a citizenship law came into effect in 1982, denying the Rohingya people citizenship after decades of exclusion. By 2017, Myanmar’s persecution of the Rohingya people led to the largest and fastest refugee influx which neighbouring countries had ever seen, with the United Nations describing the military offense as a “textbook example of ethnic cleansing”. Violence ensued as the country attacked the population of almost one million people. Over 288 villages were


burnt down, countless women and children were raped. An estimated 745, 000 Rohingya people have attempted to flee the torture and more continue to try till this day. Whilst the Rohingya people have faced persecution for decades, the 2017 wide scale attacks on civilians was on a scale that had never been seen before. Myanmar’s leader, Aung San Suu Kyl, a recipient of the Nobel Peace prize, has repeatedly refused to label these events as genocide or even acknowledge the issue. Whilst this happened almost four years ago, it was only this year that Myanmar was ordered to take emergency measures to protect the Rohingya people from persecution, following an international court case lodged by Gambia on behalf of numerous Muslim-majority nations. After decades of systematic persecution, the Rohingya people began to flee from Myanmar into Bangladesh. Whilst other surrounding countries also received small numbers of refugees, Bangladesh is home to an estimated 1.1 million Rohingya people, as of 2020. The journey from Myanmar to Bangladesh is dangerous and uncertain and has quickly become a monetary opportunity for smugglers and human traffickers. Fleeing by both land and sea, the trail is treacherous, long and sometimes never-ending. After fleeing their home country and enduring relentless trauma, the Rohingya in Bangladesh continue to face hardship, still not having a safe

or permanent place to call home. What awaits them is life in the district of Cox’s Bazar, home to the largest refugee camp in the world, the Kutupalong-Balu Khali Expansion Site. As of 2019, an estimated 909 000 Rohingya refugees live in 34 camps throughout the district, with the Kutupalong-Balu Khali Expansion Site a temporary home for over 626 0000 Rohingya refugees. The standard of living is not an improvement for the Rohingya people living in these refugee camps. Whilst they are not in a country that are actively persecuting them, they are far from living in a welcoming home. The sites lack access to basic health standards with an estimated 60 percent of the water contaminated and the risk of disease outbreaks high. An estimated 400 000 Rohingya children are without education, barred from enrolling in schools outside the camp and the Bangladeshi and Myanmar school curriculums banned for them. 2020 has brought further threats upon the Rohingya people’s pursuit of freedom. The global pandemic and spread of COVID 19 has significantly impacted the lives of those in refugee camps as well as the individuals still attempting to flee. With crowded conditions within the refugee camps, COVID 19 poses an even more dire effect on an already vulnerable group of people. To stop the spread of the infectious disease into these refugee camps, Bangladesh has announced that no more Rohingya refugees will be accepted into the country. As a result, several boats containing hundreds of refugees have been intercepted and turned away. Still stranded at sea, one boat of nearly 400 people stated that over 100 people had already died before being intercepted. The concern is increasing for the refugees stranded at sea, with threats of deadly cyclones developing as the months go on. As a further COVID 19 precaution, the Bangladeshi government has banned the entry of most aid workers into the camps, citing social distancing rules. With over 80 percent of aid workers unable to enter the camps, the small improvements that had slowly been instigated

have now come to an indefinite and hopeless stop. To further prevent the spread of COVID 19 in Rohingya camps, Bangladesh has also initiated a new plan, which sees refugees sent to Bhasan Char, a silt island in the Bay of Bengal to quarantine. This off-shore method has been instigated despite the fact that Cox’s Bazar already has testing facilities which successfully quarantined 400 refugees this past April. At the moment 29 Rohingya refugees have been quarantined on the island, with no access to aid and no understanding of when they will be, or even if they will be transported back to refugee camps on the main island. Bhasan Char poses a threat, not only to incoming refugees, but to thousands of Rohingya people already in Bangladesh. In recent days, Bangladesh authorities have proposed plans to relocate over 100 000 refugees to the tiny island to reduce pressure on the Kutupalong-Balu Khali Expansion site. This is despite the local’s concerns that the island erodes every year during monsoon season. With minimal infrastructure and doubt surrounding if the island is even habitable, Bangladesh authorities have given little assurance that the refugees will be safe there. Whilst they have assured the press that there will be no forced relocations, it is questioned who would willingly choose to move there. The new proposals for the relocation of Rohingya refugees reiterated the fact that there is no end in sight for the Rohingya people. No solid answer has been agreed on in regards to long term plans for the community. For decades, these people have been systematically persecuted, and after fleeing their country have not received enough international support. In a time when so many of us take for granted the role home has played in our concepts of self-identity, the Rohingya people make us question what happens when you are not welcome in your own home. by Madi Scott

If you are in need of support, visit or call 13 11 14


Yarning Circle Grapeshot reached out to individuals with different Indigenous backgrounds to understand where they consider home and their sense of belonging and identity

What is your experience with your Indigenous heritage? “My indigenous heritage and my experience of it, is an exercise in searching. I’m 24 and a uni student up on Awabakal country in Newcastle studying history. I was born in Windsor on Dharug country and grew up about an hour away in the Blue Mountains on the Putty Road between the Wollemi and Yengo. I believe the country we lived on was either Darkinjung or what I was told was ‘Mountain Dharug’. Either way, I love that place and I guess my whole experience is trying to get back to the feeling I had living there.” – Brad Cunningham

“I suppose I came into my Indigenous heritage later than others did as I found out when I was about 10 or 11 but I didn’t really come into it and embrace it until I was 13. My family struggled to find information and it took us several years of researching and investigating to figure out the truth. My father’s family is Kamilaroi from Tamworth and I was born and accepted into the Dharug mob. My family’s chain of culture was interrupted and temporarily broken as it took two generations later to reconnect back to our mob because of the stolen generation. My great-grandfather died when my father was very young, so he never got to tell his story.” – Ky Stewart


“My family is from Wiradjuri country out near Bathurst; however, I grew up in Biripi country in Port Macquarie. There have been discrepancies with my heritage and which Mob we belong to, as my grandfather was a victim of the stolen generation … Growing up my father did not have much indication of his Aboriginality and was subject to racial abuse for reasons beyond his control and to his knowledge.”

- Anonymous

What is Walanga Muru and how has it created a sense of community and acceptance for you? “Walanga Muru is the Indigenous centre at Macquarie University. It is made up of student advisors, Uncles and Aunties and the Macquarie University mob. It is a place where we are all welcomed, and we all belong despite any of our differences. It gives our mob the space for us to grow, succeed and thrive not only in university but also in life.” “Walanga Muru is a place where everyone, no matter where you are on your journey of self-discovery, is connected through cultural connection. We are a family where everyone genuinely wants each other to succeed and thrive … I didn’t ever really feel like I had a place to belong growing up and Walanga Muru was where I finally felt like I was meant to be. They have given me the opportunity to meet so many incredible people and make life-long connections.” – Ky Stewart

What does homecoming mean to you? “For me, homecoming means going back to Queensland and visiting my Mum and Dad’s family and learning about all my different cultures.” – Tetei Bakic Tapim “Homecoming and the ability of being able to go back to our land is such a profound experience. Land is obviously such an important aspect of our culture, it is the primary reason for our existence, it brings our mobs together, provides for us and cares for us. Having the ability to go back home is so powerful because it connects us again, re-centres us and reminds us that we will always belong. Even if I can’t experience homecoming with Kamilaroi it doesn’t lessen my connection to that mob and my pride in being Indigenous.” – Ky Stewart “Homecoming to me really means heading back to my country in the mountains. I can’t describe the love I have for the place I originally grew up in, but whenever I go back, I feel at ease and happy. It also helps that I can’t stand the city noise and how cramped it is. The Indigenous experience is dismissed both in its resistance to the white occupation and in the oppressive conditions that came with it. People and governments hide behind the legal definition of genocide and use it to diminish the notion that indigenous peoples have undergone several genocides even before the ‘acknowledged’ genocide of the Stolen Generations.” – Brad Cunningham


What is your perspective on how Australia handles Indigenous people? Do you think there has been changes and how has modern Australia handled the situation as a whole? “My friends are unfortunately in a similar predicament as myself, the records of their grandparent’s birth, name and biological parents being lost in an orphanage fire. All the same, their family experience is shaded in politics of trauma. Victimhood is a weakness in our contemporary society. We all face it, and there is a difficult reconcilement between it, and pride in nation and people. “I firmly believe that Australia has consistently dealt with the ‘race question’ as shallowly as possible to avoid any form of blame or responsibility. The political capital of Indigenous people is very slim, and any effective change is scrutinised as – ironically being too ‘PC’ – to the typical layman. The black experience is swept under the rug of ‘yet another minority trying to bring down the white man’. “Like everything, modern Australia sweeps the bad stuff under the rug, so it does not need to deal with it or when it does, it is done as shallowly as possible to avoid widespread reform and reconciliation processes.” – Brad Cunningham “I think Australia likes to believe that they are handling Indigenous peoples and their perspectives to the best of their abilities which is extremely damaging. If the government believes that they are doing all they can to help when there is so much more that can be done, it minimises the complexity in Indigenous issues. “If we had proper Indigenous perspective on mainstream media, it would start to help break down taboos and stereotypes that continue to damage our communities. This may seem harsh, but I believe that Australian governments have formulated their national identity where we are not included so they do not wish to properly help Indigenous peoples otherwise they have to restructure their falsified national truth. “Whether it be incarcerating Indigenous children at rapid rates, removing families from their land or not giving it back to them, or taking Indigenous children from their families and putting them into foster care (when there are other family members capable of taking care of the child) reflects the processes started in 1910.” – Ky Stewart

“I properly learned about the Stolen Generations in ABST1000 and it really opened up my eyes to a horrible part of Australian history, and I was really angry that I wasn’t taught about this in high school. Australia still sucks at acknowledging the Stolen Generations. That’s literally all I have to say.” – Tetei Bakic Tapim “I personally do not think the government holds Aboriginal perspectives with much consideration towards legislation or wellbeing, such as land rights or even caring for country. Aboriginals are subject to all forms of racism and abuse through the denial of land rights and even welfare. The fact that Aboriginals are the only indigenous culture in the world that must prove their identity just to receive compensation from the government is ridiculous. “The way in which Australian’s view Aboriginal’s is quite appalling. I believe that there is still a negative viewpoint towards Aboriginal peoples. Though, times are changing, Macquarie University for example, is taught from an Aboriginal perspective.” – Anonymous


Where do you consider home? How do you think the place where you come from affects how others perceive you?

“Home is very much in the mountains – something that dad, my brother and I all share in, even if we don’t live there anymore I’m so proud of home. Whenever I talk about it, it makes me smile and want to go and see it again.The bad side of this is whenever I made mention of dad’s aboriginality and our identity, that perspective changed. They only saw that I didn’t live in the mountains now and that because we lived with mum, dad was a deadbeat. “What’s interesting is that this is an Australian perception. I lived in Bavaria (I can’t help it; I love the mountains) for seven months and I was never considered the worse for being an Indigenous Australian. It was only in the company of other Aussies that I was different. I often think about this difference when I’m told I can’t be aboriginal (too white to be black) or am treated differently because of where I grew up and what I am. It’s sometimes difficult to articulate it, honestly.” – Brad Cunningham “I consider home to be a feeling or sensation one gets when they feel completely free from harm and feel like they belong. Home to me is when I can freely express myself and be who I am without fear. It absolutely should not matter where you come from but unfortunately there is so much division between low socio-economic places compared to those of higher ones. People like to believe that they are better because they have green grass and water views.” – Ky Stewart “Home is wherever my Mum is and home is also with my Grandparents in Townsville, FNQ. Every time I go back to visit, my Grandad says “Welcome Home” even though I have never lived there. It feels like home and it’s nice that they can see that I feel that way too.” – Tetei Bakic Tapim “Home for me is Biripi country, (Port Macquarie) I know that place like the back of my hand and I have always felt a spiritual connection to that land. I am responsible for the caring of the land there and I feel at peace and connected to the land when I am on the waterways.” – Anonymous

Why do you think it is important for an individual to know where they come from? “I think it’s important that people know where they come from, it removes identity anxieties and the suffering that comes with not knowing who you are or where you belong. Others might not feel the same as I do or consider identity as having a great bearing on their life, and that’s okay. It’s important to me though and the search for my mob is equally important to me.” – Brad Cunningham “I urge everyone to find out who they are and where they come from, it’s obviously not going to be an easy thing to do but along the journey you will find parts of yourself that would have been known previously. Who knows, maybe you’ll find out about your heritage and belong to a massive community you didn’t know you ever could.” – Ky Stewart “I think that it is important for an individual to know where they come from because it connects you to something bigger than the family you meet on a day to day basis. For example, knowing where you come from means you know your creation story, you have a place that you can go where you know the first person in your family came from and you can physically walk in the same country they would have walked on every day.” – Tetei Bakic Tapim by Rhys Cutler and Saliha Rehanaz


Out In The Cold How homeless Australians are roughing it during COVID-19

For many, the government COVID-19 restrictions have just been waves of confusing directives containing the words “medical advice”, “household” and “necessary travel”. Many have experienced the last few months as blurry weeks of intense budgeting to ensure rent will be made if their hours at work get cut. But what has COVID-19 been like for people who do not have a household? And what is the government doing for our homeless? Many homeless Australians did not know about COVID-19 until comprehensive restrictions were implemented in March. This is because numerous homeless people live without consistent and reliable access to news and government communications. For those people sleeping it rough in urban centres, it would have taken them the clearing out of crowds from streets to register the magnitude of the coronavirus. Concerns about how rough sleepers would experience COVID-19 began surfacing in March. For people who experience tertiary homelessness – that is, they couch surf and live place to place – COVID-19 could mean becoming completely homeless and not being able to establish temporary, concurrent living arrangements. For those who are entirely homeless, their lack of access to washing facilities and private space to isolate puts them at a higher risk of contracting this infectious disease. Homeless shelters in Sydney have stayed open but at a very limited capacity. While exercising the necessary social distancing restrictions, these shelters cannot offer overnight stays or full meals to as many people as usual. This lowered capacity of homeless shelters is concerning given the increased unemployment dilemma in Australia. The Australian government has estimated over a million jobs have been lost because of COVID-19. While the government has instructed landlords to negotiate rent and act in ‘good faith’, there are no concrete safeguards for when this pandemic subsides, rent is expected, and these Australians cannot yet find work. As for Job Seeker payments, Centrelink eligibility works in wicked and cruel ways.


That said, the New South Wales state government is responding in some ways. The New South Wales Department of Communities and Justice has deployed staff to patrol the streets, looking for rough sleepers. These staff members have been offering rough sleepers free hotel accommodation for thirty days during the time of this pandemic. ABC News reports that over 700 people have already agreed to the use of hotel accommodation. However, about 8200 Australians are rough sleepers and not all are in urban centres, which are easier to patrol. A similar move was made in London city where homeless people have been given accomodation in hotel rooms. It is the most humane treatment of London’s homeless that we have seen in a long time. The last time London’s treatment of homeless people made international headlines, it was because police were forcefully moving homeless people off the street before Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s wedding rolled through town. Homeless people are at an increased risk of contracting this infectious disease, but the government is making efforts to put some rough sleepers up in hotels for thirty days. These efforts to give temporary accommodation show that governments have known the solution to homelessness all along: give people homes. We have already seen the success of nongovernmental organisations giving temporary homelessness relief through shelters, job interviews and resume help, barbers and rental clothing. Something as tangible as a haircut can restore a rough sleeper’s dignity, confidence, and employability. The government has taken the first step to solving their so-called ‘homelessness crisis’. Help rough sleepers settle and find the stability to establish patterns of income and rent elsewhere. But also help them do so when it isn’t just about containing a pandemic. by Elizabeth Laughton

Nirvana Amidst Chaos READER DISCRETION: The following article contains sensitive information which some readers may find uncomfortable.

As the entire world steered away from the usual activities of life amidst this pandemic, there has been one aspect that remains inevitable as always: death. Death is an odd concept for individuals, which is often influenced by their religion, faith or culture. It encompasses a person’s entire life to a single moment which marks the ending of years of memories, experiences and emotions. As the lungs breathe in oxygen for the last time, and the heart faintly pumps blood to the body, what if this finale of life is merely the beginning of a greater journey? For the average person, a dead body might bring feelings of disgust, uneasiness or sorrow. However, a scientist views a corpse as the cornerstone of a vast and complex ecosystem, which emerges soon after death and flourishes and evolves as decomposition proceeds. Decomposition begins several minutes after death through a process called autolysis, or selfdigestion. After the heart stops beating, cells in the body become deprived of oxygen, and their acidity increases as the toxic by-products of chemical reactions begin to accumulate inside them. Enzymes start to digest cell membranes and then leak out as the cells break, and eventually all other tissues and organs begin to break down this way.

During life, most internal organs are devoid of microbes. With the last breath, the immune system shuts down and enables microbes to spread throughout the body freely. It begins from the gut, where many of the microbes live, and soon the bacteria take over by initially digesting the intestines and the surrounding tissue. It invades the capillaries of the digestive system and lymph nodes, spreading first to the liver and spleen. Afterwards, it ravishes on the heart and brain, which once felt love, happiness, excitement and sorrow. While a dead body becomes the home to a vast array of microorganisms, it has no place or value in the lives of breathing and living humans. Even if the deceased person was once someone’s parent, partner or child, the usual norm for someone who has passed away is to unite with nature through various forms, such as burial or cremation. However sometimes, it is not easy to let go of someone you have loved and cherished for all your life. It could even be the case that simply because an individual has died does not mean their life has ended. In Tana Toraja in Eastern Indonesia, funerals are lavish affairs which involve the whole village. They can last anywhere from days to weeks, and families of the deceased save up for long periods of time to raise funds for the extravagant celebration. A sacrificial water buffalo is viewed as the method for the deceased’s soul to be carried


to the afterlife. Until this marvelous funeral can be hosted, which can take place years after physical death, the dead relative is referred to simply as a ‘”person who is sick”, or even “who is asleep”. They are laid down in special rooms in the family home, where they are symbolically fed, cared for and taken out- very much still part of their relative’s life.

Moreover, the Green Burial Council has approved 40 environmentally friendly cemeteries in the United States. Alongside biodegradable caskets, a company called Eternal Reefs also provides the option for remains to be compressed into spheres. These spheres are then attached to a reef in the ocean, providing a habitat for sea life, becoming a home for new living organisms.

It might be surprising to enter someone’s living room and see a dressed up dead body laid in the corner, however, imagine spending hours climbing up a mountain to find numerous vultures lurking around human remnants.

While Americans move away from stereotypical caskets to seek inner peace, the people of Ghana aspire to find solace as they are buried in coffins that represent their work or something they loved in life. These so-called “fantasy coffins” were recently popularized by major network Buzzfeed, and showed images of elaborate and outrageous coffins. They included images of coffins which were shaped like a Mercedes-Benz for a businessman, an oversized fish for a fisherman and even a large-scale Bible for someone who had loved going to church.

In Mongolia and Tibet, many Vajrayana Buddhists believe in the transmigration of spirits after death. This means that the soul moves, while the body becomes an empty vessel. Therefore, in efforts to return the body to the earth, the body is chopped into pieces and placed on a mountaintop, which exposes it to the elements – including vultures. This is a practice that has been taking place for thousands of years and a large portion of Tibetans continue this tradition even today. As the souls of Tibetans leave their body to find a new home, numerous people in the United States are trying to minimize their carbon footprint as their soul travels to a different location. The practice of green funerals is becoming increasingly popular, as more and more people are opting for environmentally friendly burials. This means that embalming processes and traditional concrete vaults are being replaced with biodegradable, wovenwillow caskets which decompose into the ground.


As cultures celebrate death in different manners and bid adieu to their dearest and closest, the process of what happens with the body stems very much from religion and faith. Alongside flora and fauna, people make up an integral part of society. Their impact and relevance to this world not only arises from their actions and deeds, but also from their slightest mannerism, laughter and thoughts. As the world progresses further, people are moving towards a lifestyle which is decreasingly being dictated by religion every day. This poses a question for the after-death rituals that need to take place in order to appropriately commemorate an individual’s presence and value on this planet.

In Buddhism, most followers believe in rebirth and that the goal is to escape the cycle of death and rebirth and attain nirvana or a state of perfect peace. Therefore, a person’s state of mind as they die is very important so they can find a happy state of rebirth when they pass away. Moreover, Buddhists believe the spirit leaves the body immediately but may linger in an in-between state near the body. In this case, it is important that the body is treated with respect so that the spirit can continue its journey to a happy state. Similar to rebirth, Catholics believe in an afterlife and that once a person dies, they will see God face to face. Their permission to enter the full glory of heaven is based on their actions and if they have repented at the time of death for any grave offences they may have committed during life. Regardless of the personality of an individual during their time as a living being, funeral rites take place to celebrate their life and prayers are offered to bless the individual. In Islam, Muslims should be prepared for death at any time. It is believed that the soul continues to exist after death. During life, it is thought that a person can shape their soul for better or worse depending on how they live their life. Muslims believe in a day of judgement by Allah, but till the day comes, the deceased remain in their graves. On the day of judgement, they will either go to heaven or hell, and death is accepted as God’s will by the followers. There are several other beliefs and religions in this planet with a rising population of more than seven billion people. Apart from religion, there are differences in socio-economic status, race, culture, language and behaviorisms. However, one single element brings us all together and that is the unknown that lies beyond death. Often, people forget the value of an object, a place or even an individual when they are in possession of it. The death of a loved one or even a stranger provokes emotions and feelings that remind us that everything in this world is temporary. As different religions have different ways of taking care of the remains of those deceased, people have numerous ways of dealing with the grief that follows the death of someone.

While this pandemic has put a stop to celebrations of the moments that make up life, our processes of dealing and handling death have been put to a stop. It is ironic since the phenomenon of death has not paused in time, but simply our ability to celebrate and cherish our loved ones has halted. As COVID-19 impacts the lives of millions around the world, thousands have lost the battle to this rapidly evolving infectious disease. Unfortunately, such individuals have lost their chance at being rejoiced, because a simple contamination bag holds their soul, their entire existence. The unfamiliar nature of this novel disease has prevented family members and close ones to say their final goodbyes to numerous individuals. Funeral rites and passages which have evolved to become a form of grieving method, have come to a stop with restrictions placed on the number of people that can attend a funeral or in some cases, the complete inability to even see the body of the deceased for the last time. Putting aside the aspect of being able to say goodbye, individuals who have passed away from COVID-19 have even lost their basic right to a dignified burial or cremation. There was a time when funerals were special and specific to highlight one individual, but in heavily impacted places such as New York City, mass graves mark all those that have passed. Their tombstones do not read the usual phrases of “’loving parent, loving child or loving partner”. They simply mark nameless individuals that lost in this race of the survival of the fittest. As these deaths are handled with caution and danger, rather than love and affection, a quote from Markus Zusak’s, The Book Thief, rings truer than ever: ‘Death waits for no man- and if he does, he doesn’t usually wait for very long.’ While the growing numbers cannot be celebrated individually, we will remember them when we all finally reach the home that exists after death. by Saliha Rehanaz



CHALLENGE Reading Old Diaries

Greetings readers, this is Harry Fraser, the Regulars Editor for Grapeshot. Welcome to the challenge, the part where I do something that challenges me for your edification. This issue, I delve into the diaries that record my wonderous if not slightly traumatic adolescence. Coming off the back of the last challenge to become a TikTok dance sensation, this took a dark turn. As a caveat, I did journal frequently (more sporadically) over the course of my teenage years, although there were swathes of time that went unrecorded. Saying that, I reckon there was enough for me to travel back into the headspace of my younger self. The earliest ones I could find were from early 2013, the year my parents got divorced. Please don’t let that scare you off, this isn’t going to be a misguided attempt at therapeutic confession, I promise. It was also the year I started high school, so not all bad. What struck me at first was the level of emotion I felt when I read my own words back. I had forgotten how I felt all those years ago and it was confronting to be thrown back into my portrayal of my own existence, even if in hindsight it was a tad dramatic. When I say emotional, it wasn’t crying and sadness, but more anger and frustration, the same emotions I was writing about at the time. I was suddenly reintroduced to the memories that made me feel that way. I had not so much forgotten, but perhaps glossed over the more intense parts of those years. I suppose it’s a coping mechanism, to normalise and minimise what you were feeling and anything you went through. But as a result, I also relegated the extent and nature of my emotions and recollection of that time to a distant sector of my mind. So, as I was exposed once again to a first-hand account of these emotions and events, I was amazed by the way in which all the anger, disappointment and apprehension returned to me so rapidly. More recently, a sense of nostalgia has tainted my perception of my childhood and my teenage years in particular. I suppose this issue of Grapeshot reinforces how we adults do this, we forget what things were like and in its place we render the past in a soft and seductive reminiscent glow. In reality, for me at least, I wanted my teenage years to be over and for high school to end as soon as possible. In fact, I needed it to be over. I wrote incessantly about getting out of suburban Sydney, going to university and never looking back. Classic teenage stuff.


2013 and 2014 were lonely years. Like I said before, my parents split up in early 2013, I lived in three different homes and I started high school. I had mainly male friends carried over from primary school, but the slowly manifesting reality of my sexuality made me feel isolated from them. Up until this time, although I had always been a tad eccentric, my journey with other boys my age had felt similar and as a result, I felt I belonged. During 2013/14, my personal development set me unmistakably apart. I know what you’re thinking. I said this wouldn’t be a confessional, and I have slipped somewhat, but we are getting into some boots the house down Anne Frank realness here. You’re reading about me writing about my childhood diaries, it’s gonna get a tad introspective. At the time I was going through it all, I wasn’t able to comprehend or truly articulate how I was feeling and really, what I was feeling. Reading my own words back in my 20s and the memories they trigger, I am able to make connections I never previously saw. Despite growing up in an accepting family within an accepting community, I was still so alone. I was never bullied at high school, but I isolated myself from other people. I thought myself a pillar of self-love because I never doubted my existence and the validity of my identity. What I now see is that I did. On a subconscious level. Naively, I thought myself exempt from this internalised homophobia everyone talks about and I believed it up until now, when I read my diaries. The turmoil was there but I didn’t see it. Anywho, we move now to 2016, where I spent my entire year wishing it was over. For some context, I had never been overseas at this point. My aunt, who lived in Paris, devised a plan that instead of getting me and my brothers Christmas and birthday presents from the time we were born, she would fly us over to Paris for our 16th birthdays. I was the only one of my brothers to take her up on the offer (lucky for her lol I wouldn’t fly three teenage boys over to Paris). My trip was in December 2016 and from February 2016 to the day before I left, all I wrote about was getting the fuck out of Australia. Every entry in 2016 started with a countdown of months and days until I left. You can tell from reading it and the feverish script that I was desperate to go. My family situation was okay, not ideal, and I wanted terribly to get away from it all. I even thought it would make me more adult to travel. In 2020, I grapple with mindfulness and being present, but if you talk to 16-year-old Harry, you can fuck the present unless that present is a flight to Paris. I have since been to Paris 3 times and I would say it’s one of my favourite places in the world. We then turn to 2017-2018, my final years at school. I won’t lie, I fully neglected my social life during this time for my HSC and my journal backs that up. Of my concerns from this period, getting a stellar ATAR was number one. Although this wasn’t that long ago, I really forgot how seriously I took the whole thing.


You can legit read me going through what the lowest ATAR I would be happy with would be, negotiating with myself the lowest we could go to mitigate the decision to become a hermit and still retain a sense of self-worth. For almost two years, everything on my mind consisted of HSC, ATAR and university. I had no social life to speak of, other than occasionally studying with people, no dating to be found and underneath it all, a desire to be seen. Let’s get Freudian for a second. Reading my diaries from my teenage years as an adult, I recognised a few things. You see memes these days about gays being crazy in their twenties because we were denied self-expression and genuine romance in our adolescence. I usually shrug it off, but when confronted with the content of my own diaries, and my own teenage experience, it’s hard to deny. There is nothing about crushes to be seen across the pages. No romance, period. It was clearly on my mind because I wrote about wanting to know what it was like, to like someone and know that there was a chance they might like you back. I know for a fact that there were crushes, but I wrote nothing of them. And now I understand why. Shame. The shame of being unlovable. The shame of unrequited desire. The shame of being ashamed. At the root of most of the experiences I wrote about was shame. On some level I knew this, but reading my own words back, I see it was far more pervasive than I realised. Contrary to what you, the reader, might be thinking right now, this heuristic experience of delving into my teenage mind has been liberating. It feels like a full circle moment, giving credence to the overused, but nonetheless true, maxim ‘it gets better.’ My advice to anyone thinking of looking at their old diaries, be kind to yourself, treat your younger self as you would a friend. They most likely needed one like you. by Harry Fraser


Glee REWIND POP CULTURE Isolation means I’m saving close to two hours a day in travel time to uni and work. I promptly dedicated this time to rewatching some childhood favourites. I’ve made it through Nickelodeon’s Victorious and I’m in the middle of Sam and Cat. My mum and I tackled the random season of Project Runway on Netflix. The show that I’ve had the wildest time revisiting is Glee. I was nine-years-old when Glee first premiered on mainstream television in 2009. I grew up in suburban Queensland where Glee was almost too queer to talk about in polite company. It was also pretty sexual for a show concerned with teenagers’ lives. For that reason, I was only allowed to watch certain episodes with my parents. Given its queerness and diverse representation, I was excited to watch Glee again. I felt like a giggly kid watching a serious adult show. Maybe it would make me warm and fuzzy to watch a diverse cast of young people navigating the epic highs and lows of high school football and choir singing. In reality, rewatching Glee was one of the most disturbing things I’ve done in a while. It completely uprooted my fond memories of the show, replacing them with a sense of shock that we ever considered Glee progressive. For example, the show features a character called Artie. After watching every season, all I can tell you about Artie is that he is a creepy nerd in a wheelchair. That’s the full depth of his character after 121 episodes. His main punchline is telling girls his penis still works. The episodes focused on him depict dreamscapes where Artie walks around school singing about how much he wants to walk. His most complex and explored desire is to be free of his wheelchair. In the same way, Kurt’s storyline is predominantly (and I would argue exclusively) concerned with


his gayness. He comes out over the course of the series, experiences homophobic bullying at school, alienation at home, and is cheated on by his only same-sex partner in the series. His partner actually cheats on him with his old homophobic high school bully! Terrific representation. Also, Kurt was the early 2010s version of white gays who appropriate black slang and think they’re precluded from misogyny and racism. I understand why this would’ve garnered so much attention in the 2010s. It was the one of the first times marginalised storytelling was taking place in popular, prime time media. But this storytelling was always marked by negativity. Kurt was never allowed to be content with his sexuality for more than an episode; Artie never got a storyline that wasn’t about how much being in a wheelchair sucked. This sort of storytelling is good for validating the shitty parts of life and identity, but neglects to engender hope for better, happier times. So, the overtly negative representation of diverse experiences was a bit shocking. Then, I was confronted by the hugely paedophilic overtones of the show. Take for instance Sam kissing the school nurse, Finn kissing the school counsellor, Mr Shue dancing and singing inappropriately with every female student in Glee club and Puck’s pool cleaning business funded by scantily clad mums. Why the show couldn’t be transplanted into a college setting where everyone was of age and could consent to these otherwise unprofessional relationships is beyond me. I’m not saying all of this to ruin what might be a childhood favourite for you. I still have a few episodes I’ll rewatch when I’m feeling nostalgic! That said, it’s entirely possible to interrogate the media we grew up on and accept that it’s not as peachy as it seemed at the time. It’s possible to reconcile loving something while knowing it’s not perfect. by Elizabeth Laughton

Strawberries,ON DogTHE hair andWALL Sun WRITING I used to love going up the downs as a child. Tiny wild strawberries grew along the worn path where we used to walk. My German Shepherd, Axel, would run madly along the sloping hills, his ears alert, brown eyes curious. The beauty of his happiness always shone through him. My mum would point out wild plants to my sisters, dad and I, like thyme and nettles and dock. She and I once saw a bee orchid; I didn’t realise just how rare they are. That is something I will always remember. I moved from England to Australia when I was 13-years-old. My younger sister was 10, my older sister 15. If you’re reading this and you’ve done a big move like me, you’ll know just how difficult things can be. For a long time, I felt out of place and like I didn’t belong. I felt lost. Those feelings were also shared by my family. When your reality crumbles around you, you realise just how big and scary the world really is.

Now, in the present, I am the happiest I’ve been in a long time. I’m pursuing my dreams at a university that has the most beautiful campus. I’m still in awe when I look down Wally’s Walk, particularly at night, when all the little fairy lights spring to life. I’m very lucky to be where I am now. Sydney saved me.

Although moving was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done, I wouldn’t change it for the world. It was a difficult time, but I got through it with the love and support of my family and friends. Without them all, I wouldn’t be me. Use your support network, wherever they may be. And if you’ve just moved, or are planning to, just remember that things may be a little bumpy at the beginning, but it won’t always be like that. Life has a funny way of always changing. For me, England and Australia are so different, yet each holds a special place in my heart. Australia is not my new home, but it has become another home to me.

But things do get better. I promise. by Aylish Dowsett Sydney was the next big move for us. I remember seeing The Opera House from the plane and thinking how magnificent and beautiful it was. I’d only ever seen images on the TV. I was so excited. My dad took my twin sister and I to Snag Stand in the Sydney Tower Eye. It was honestly one of the best things I’ve tasted, but now they’ve shut down! The city was so full of life, it pulsed with energy and a soul that I still can’t describe. The city is just as beautiful as a beach, a forest, a lake or the bush. Life happens there.


ILLUSTRATED What your adult personality flaw says about your childhood By Harry Fraser What’s more nostalgic than character flaws developed during childhood? Was it those warm family holidays, glee ridden days at school or formative sports and hobbies? Luckily for you, trauma allows us to combine character flaws and life events, so you never have to choose. Vestiges of your childhood get to live on in many of your unfavourable attributes, so buckle up, because it’s time for some piping hot facts you never asked for. As if 2020 wasn’t already dark enough!

Aloof Horse girl. You galloped around the playground like your life depended on it, while you openly pondered your chances of being in the Saddle Club. Your parents went through a nasty divorce, yet you emerged unscathed because let’s face it, you were far too preoccupied with your own life to notice your broken home.

Defensive The hallmark of your adolescence was a critical parent. Every day you faced a barrage of nit-picking comments like “you look so much more awake with makeup on.” Your family was never wealthy enough to afford Foxtel, so your entire knowledge of the Disney channel comes from Saturday Disney and it shows.

Entitled Most likely you were an only child or the youngest in the family. You never had to do chores to earn pocket money and your parents used up all their disciplinary zest on the older siblings. Brittany from the ABC classic Mortified is your spirit animal.


Envious Now I won’t say you were a middle child, but you definitely had siblings. You were the Jan to Marcia, the Candace to Phineas and Ferb and it shows. Whether it was attention or a Nintendo DS, you always craved something you didn’t have. It’s not your fault, in fact, it’s most definitely your parent’s fault.

Materialistic Your childhood and formative years were marked by feelings of deprivation. Maybe there was never enough room in the sauna, or you never made it to the cheeseboard before the aged blue cheese was gone. Either way, you had to overcompensate for the absences in your life, forcing you to become a human version of Eugene Krabs.

Paranoid Maybe one time you and your frenemy wore the same dress to Year 6 Formal, or maybe someone literally talked about you behind your back. It wasn’t nice to be the last to know and as a result, you have to know everything. What’s that famous axiom? If you stay ready you ain’t got to get ready. This is your personal mantra.

Unreliable The edgy and self-declared weird teenager, you were the master of social distancing before it was government mandated. In high school, you wouldn’t let anyone get close to you. Sure, you had friends, but you liked that you could flake, and no one could stop you. Turns out, all that flaking gave you a lifelong condition: you are the dandruff in every friendship group, flaky as hell. 25

I D O NHow’ Tto RentG E T I T I’ve lived out of home for a good year now. It’s bloody expensive but equally liberating and exciting. If it’s your first time or you’ve been a free bird for a while now, you’ll know there is a lot of confusing jargon. While I’m no substitute for legal advice, I’ve tried to summarise some keywords you’ll need to get familiar with. Lease The lease is the big boy document that outlines the cost of rent, how long you’ve agreed to stay there, and other clauses about your rights and your landlord’s rights while you stay in the property. You want the document you sign to have the little New South Wales Department of Fair Trading logo on it. This isn’t absolutely essential, but it means you’re using the standard lease document that should include all necessary clauses. You should keep a copy of this document so you can refer to your rights as a tenant. I’ve referred to my lease to remind my agent and my landlord that they can only visit my property after giving reasonable notice. Other rights include how much notice you should get before your rent is increased or you have to leave the property. When you sign the lease, you agree to the rental cost and how you will pay rent. You may negotiate paying rent weekly, fortnightly, or monthly. If you’re getting into a share house, you’ll have less negotiating power because you’ll have to consider your roommates’ pay days. As well as agreeing to when you’ll pay rent, you’ll agree upon the how. The most common payment method is via bank transfer. You might also consider paying by cheque, credit card, BPAY, or PayPal. The most important thing is choosing a payment method that you can track. That is, you can see when you paid, who you paid, and how much you transferred. For this reason, avoid Western Union. There is no real minimum or maximum length of a lease – although less than three months or a ‘holiday’ stay has a different form. My first two leases were six months. I chose this length of time because I knew I could pay rent for that long even if I lost my job halfway through. It was also a reasonable amount of


time for me to try living in each property, giving me the chance to move on if I wasn’t happy. Bonds and Condition Reports Your bond is a set amount of money (usually around four weeks rent) that you pay the agent or landlord. Once your lease ends, if you have not damaged the property during your stay there, you will be refunded the full amount of the bond. How do landlords and agents decide if you have damaged the property? How can you make sure they don’t unfairly keep some of your bond, especially because of damage that was pre-existing? At the start of your lease, you will have to sign a Condition Report. This report usually contains photos of the property and written descriptions of its state before you start living there. You can make your own notes and amendments to the Condition Report if you think it’s wrong. One of my condition reports neglected to mention a huge crack in the study room and the family of mice in the kitchen. I simply attached a page to the Report, detailing these in plain English. Once you sign and date it, you have a document that shows what you and your landlord think the property was like before you started living there. If they think you’ve caused any damage, they can refer to the Condition Report to see if the damage was there before. If you have a dispute about whether you damaged the property, the Department of Fair Trading will use the Condition Report to decide if the landlord can rightfully keep some of your bond. Rental ledger A rental ledger is a document summarising all of your rental payments during a lease. It is generated by the landlord or agent managing your lease, but you usually only receive it by requesting it in writing. This document is useful if you are applying for another rental property and need to demonstrate that you can and have paid rent on time before. Short of receiving an official rental ledger, you can prove your rental history by collating

bank transactions that show when you paid your rent. Inspection etiquette When you inspect a property, there is some etiquette it helps to follow. First, if you rock up to the place before the agent or landlord, do not enter! You have to stay outside the property unless you are accompanied by the respective agent or landlord. Once you enter, it’s polite to ask if you should take your shoes off. Some agents will lead you through the house while others will open the door and let you roam free. If it’s a bit awkward and you’re not sure if you’re free to roam, just ask, “Is it okay if I take a look around?” If someone is still living in the property, you might find yourself in the middle of their fully furnished place. Ask before opening cupboards – which you should otherwise do to check the property’s storage options. While on site, you might like to ask a few questions. Where would you park as a tenant? Is water/gas/ electricity/internet included in the rent? How far away is the nearest train station? Does the property come furnished or unfurnished? Are pets allowed or considered upon application? One question I always ask is: does the owner of the property or the landlord live nearby? It’s easy enough to ask casually. I once visited a studio attached to the owner’s house. I don’t want the guy who owns my space to be listening to me live my life through the wall! I’d rather live next to strangers who I don’t owe money to every week. For me, living away from the person who has that financial power over me is a must if I want to live comfortably. During Miss Rona’s stay in town, real estate agencies are limiting how many people can visit a property by making inspection by appointment only. If your appointment request is approved, enquire beforehand about who can come. How many people can come? Do they have to be from my household? Can my partner come with me if they are not from my household? It’s also polite to wear a face mask, if available, and to avoid shaking the agent’s hand even if it feels rude! You can break the ice by letting them know you would shake their hand if it wasn’t so problematic right now. When you fill out an application to rent a property, it will sometimes ask if you have inspected the property yet. If you tick yes, it will ask if you were satisfied with the condition of the property. This

is your chance to list any major concerns about the functionality or dangers of the place. On one of my applications, I listed that I wasn’t satisfied with the window lock devices and would require new secure locks on all windows before starting my tenancy. The agent agreed to this request as part of my application. It helps to see the property before you start living there so you can check it isn’t in too shit a state! Keeping pets I have a feral fat cat called Miss Chunky Monkey (Chunky for short). Sometimes the real estate website listing will say ‘No Pets Allowed,’ but other times, it’s left unsaid. A fair few places are ‘Pets Considered Upon Application,’ meaning the owner wants the chance to know what kind and how many pets you have before they give you the green light. If the owner says yes to pets, that isn’t the end of the story. There is a Pet Clause in the Department of Fair Trading lease document. This Clause refers to your responsibilities to maintain the property as a pet owner. At my first place, I was allowed to have my cat because I agreed to shampoo the carpet when I left. It’s not cheap to hire someone to do this for you, but you can hire a carpet shampooing device and give it a crack yourself if your landlord doesn’t mind. Other agents or landlords will require you to fumigate the property before you leave if you keep pets. So, there you have it! Some stuff you might find useful some day when you still can’t own property. You can find more helpful info (and verify the above) on the Department of Fair Trading and the State Library’s website. Good luck! by Elizabeth Laughton

You can find university provided rental assistance here: macquarie-university-accommodation/private-accommodation International students can find additional support here:


YO U A R E H E R E Cherrybrook

Self-isolating in Cherrybrook makes you realise just how small the suburb really is. After the first week you begin to realise that no matter what direction you start walking you will somehow always end up on County Drive or Castle Hill Road. Not to mention the realisation that there seems to be more than the average amount of hills in every inch of the suburb. Halfway through this week is when you realise you need to actually look presentable when going for these daily walks, you will bump into at least five people you or your parents know. Timing is also key for these daily walks, and if you actually want to social distance this is a schedule you must stick to. Walk before or after school and there will be traffic jams on every street corner. By the second week you start to realise the limited amount of food delivery options. Depending on which side of the suburb you live on you will have the choice between Castle Tower’s finest selection, or the questionable food Pennant Hills station has to offer. If you want something truly local, the trusty Cherrybrook Noodle Hut has decided this is as good of a time as any other to close for refurbishment, so the options are limited to the local Vietnamese or Indian. The Brooke is too fancy for isolation and only good for showing off to friends what Cherrybrook has to offer. At some time during the third week of self-isolating is when you decide to shake things up and walk at Cherrybrook Oval instead. You quickly realise this was a big mistake. As literally one of the only parks in Cherrybrook not closed off to the public during this pandemic, Cherrybrook Oval has quickly become the hottest new social spot. The walking trail that loops around the whole park is filled with friends jogging, people riding bikes and mums pushing prams. The ovals themselves are filled with more people walking, kids playing soccer and cricket, mothers’ groups, and people practicing discus which is a strange and dangerous mix. The basketball courts are filled, and groups swarm the skate park. If you’re lucky you might get a carpark.


The start of the fourth week in isolation is when the true nature of Cherrybrook locals begins to emerge thanks to the entirely necessary three separate community Facebook groups. Facebook posts plus scared people isolating (or not isolating) leads to numerous arguments between the locals. From outspoken posts about the amount of people using the footpaths, to the calls to police to dob in neighbours with unknown cars outside their houses, the Facebook pages have become a distinctive way for locals to communicate. As more and more days pass with no clue as to when lockdown ends, the community pages are now a new and exciting form of entertainment. People suggest the start of a local community watch group and vigilantes take photos of underage children at the skate park to send to police. Facebook isn’t the only place you can learn the true nature of Cherrybrook locals, Cherrybrook Shopping Village has quickly become a place where people bring their kids for a break. People will either death stare you as soon as you come within 12 feet of them or will breathe down your neck whilst waiting in the queue to get into Woollies. Again, don’t forget to actually put jeans on because everybody knows everybody, and you will definitely see someone you know. Be prepared for the obligatory iso catch up on how you’re getting along. It’s not too bad really, isolation has momentarily stopped Cherrybrook locals from complaining about the new metro line, how much better the “old days” were and the councils restructuring proposals. It has also given too many children the chance to make group Tiktoks on the oval and led to the realisation that the suburb 100% has the cutest dogs in Sydney. Most of all it has reiterated the fact that Cherrybrook locals really do live in a bubble. by Madi Scott



“There’s no place like home” Content warning: mentions of domestic violence

Homecoming must be a weird feeling, going back to a place you’d called home before, to a place you’ve lived. Going back to wherever home is for you. I’ve had so many ‘homes’ over the course of my life. We’ve moved and rented out our houses, then came back for a few years, then left again. How can you be attached to a place when all you’ve ever known is change? Today we’re here to talk about me and my experiences with homecoming – and yes, this may just be another excuse to fuel my narcissism and exhibitionism. I won’t object my dear, it’s always fun having a dainty trip down memory lane. Don’t mind if I’m a little blunt, I’ll just tell you how it was. I guess I had a childhood like anyone else. I was born and then pointlessly flailed about the world until I had enough coherent thought to actually think about shit. I did all the normal things. We were normal. Well, normal in the sense that we were a family and this was the only family I’d ever seen or understood. It was easier as a child. I was too young to understand and the memories hadn’t yet been tainted by the years to come. My family was my family, and everyone knew not to get between their father and his beer right? We were living in fear of the hurricane on the horizon, of what that storm would do. I was scared of how it would all end, but I couldn’t give up – I couldn’t let him go. I guess I needed him to love me. More so, I wanted him to love me and to show it. So we tied ourselves to the house, to the family and we lived like sailors in a storm. I couldn’t understand that there was any other way to live. That there was any possibility for it to change – this life was all I’d known. How could I expect anything else? That hurricane just kept coming, sweeping through. It spiralled down and down – drunk anger, broken doors, my mother on the kitchen floor. You see no one could help us now, we were caught in the hurricane’s grip, we belonged to it. Worse and worse we spiralled down. I would barricade myself in my room to sleep at night, if only to feel safe. God forbid Thursday nights, they were gambling night – you see he’d get his pay check, then head to the pub. I cut back my hours at work and moved my laptop and studying stuff into the family room, because he’d be less hostile if I was there. I laid on the hallway floor and listened to my father and mother divide up the things we owned. We packed our bags and left one night after an incident – we slept on a friend’s couch. I went with my mother to the police station the morning after, then I went back to school, an hour or so late. Maybe the violence was better – at least he cared enough to be angry and anything was better than neglect. When the storm grew too loud, when the nights were so long and I couldn’t find sleep behind my barricade, I’d leave. I would sneak out the screen door by the kitchen and I’d slowly open the gate so as not to make any noise. It was maybe 1am, or 3, or 4, and my mind was too loud and there was no running from the projections in my head. So I’d walk to the park opposite our house under the violet night sky and I’d jump the fence into the AFL field.


It’s not that I played AFL or that I liked it – it was just the perfect spot. There were no trees, no buildings, nothing to obstruct my view of the stars, of those gleaming lights. I’d lay my head on the dew-dampened grass and cast my eyes to the stars. I guess it was kind of nice to feel so small that all my worries were just grains of sand. I’d stay like that for a while, till the thoughts were quiet or my eyelids drooped in fatigue. Those nights were peaceful. They were an escape. A remedy to my insomnia. A way to feel free. I always had a joke with a mate of mine, that we left my father for my 18th birthday, but that wasn’t strictly true. It was a few weeks before, we packed up our things and moved out. It was weird being in a house without him, in some ways it felt empty and I knew I should have been happy – I should have felt free. But I felt anything but free. We went back for the cats a week or so later. My father seemed more interested in saying goodbye to the cats than his own children. After the hurricane had passed we were lost – with only the stars to guide the way. We’d left that house, we’d escaped, but at what cost? There were things, parts of the world and parts of ourselves, that we couldn’t put back together again. The hurricane was all we’d ever known. That was the worst part. I was no longer in that house, but I was still living as if we’d never left – I was still afraid. I cut everyone off. I grieved for everything and everyone. I couldn’t just go back to living my life. I hated that there was no way to just move on. I hated my school. I hated my friends. I hated that I was still lying. I hated my Indigenous heritage. I hated the way I flinched when my teachers raised their voices. I hated that I just didn’t care, so much so that I drank myself blind and fell head-first out of a car. I hated that it felt like all the pain we’d gone through hadn’t been worth it – all that suffering had amounted to nothing. I just wanted all the costs to be even. I stopped going to the AFL field. I stopped talking to anyone at all, unless it was to keep up the perception that all was fine. I just gave up, I gave in. I was tired of fighting for everything and ending up with nothing. I guess that’s where I started the uni life. I applied for early entrance through Walanga Muru in the Spring. I wasn’t performing too well at school and I was coasting through life – to be fair, how important is school when you’re barricading yourself in your room to sleep at night? I got it – as well as the racist jests from the people around me. I finished my HSC to end the shittiest year of my life and then had a break from the world. At this point my heritage as an Indigenous person felt lacklustre. I was done with being a token minority, of reading the welcome to country and being offered ‘aid’ and then never getting it. I assumed that was the way it was and I expected as much. I was an outsider to the Indigenous community. I don’t think many people understand how lonely I felt at this point. I couldn’t speak to my friends because they’d never understand, I couldn’t speak to the school because I was just a token to them and I couldn’t speak to my family because we were all healing. I couldn’t bear to put any more weight upon them.


It was just me. Maybe that isolation was self-imposed but I guess I’d gotten so used to keeping everything and everyone at arm’s-length. But they were kind to me. Walanga Muru just wanted me to feel like I was a part of their community, to feel that I was accepted. Back then I didn’t get that, I’d had the idea that I wasn’t Indigenous enough drilled into my head for so long I’d started to believe it. The shame I carried, a remnant of my father’s and my grandmother’s before him, was hiding in my head. Space and time have a funny way of making you see the most beautiful sunrise – they make the pain dissipate. Maybe it made everything okay in a way that only distance and experience could. My father isn’t a monster – merely a reflection of what the stolen generation did to him, to our family. Imagine how lonely it must be for him. He never learnt to show his love, he doesn’t know how to ask for forgiveness or to find a way forward. He was only acting the way his father did. A crude form of imitation. He was trying so hard to run away from his childhood, from his father, that without realising it, he had become his father. Maybe I’m being hopeful, foolish, naive. But I think that’s what breaks this chain. I’m not angry, I want to choose to forgive – to heal and to learn. Forgiveness is something I had to learn. I’ve learnt these lessons so that others don’t have to. It’s one of the reasons I went into studying psychology – no child should ever have to question their worth. Maybe one day, if I’m strong enough, I can fight for those that cannot fight for themselves. I still feel like I’m not Indigenous enough to be a part of Walanga Muru. I still haven’t called my father back. I still haven’t been back to that field since we left. Some part of my mind is telling me it’s because I don’t need that field anymore – I’ve grown and changed. I’m not that child watching the stars, head laid against the soft, supple grass. Some part of me knows it’s because I’m afraid. Afraid that if I go, I’ll ruin the sanctity of that place, I’ll bring in what’s happened to me and see the place I once loved tainted by my memories. I guess I’m still finding my way towards homecoming. Maybe, home isn’t a house, but more of a sense of serenity – a way to escape and be free. Maybe it lingers in our scars and haunts the places we gave our hearts. Maybe it’s only a fantasy in our heads, a wishful thought under a starlit sky. I’m finally starting to feel like I want to come home. by Rhys Cutler

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Advice From My 13-Year-Old Self Isolation has been an interesting time in my life. As one does in times of extreme boredom, I spent the first few weeks over-drinking, over-eating, and watching influencers try to convince me that exercise is fun. Every Sunday I would vow that tomorrow I’d start my fitness ‘journey,’ and then every Monday afternoon I would slip up by accidently having a wine with my lunch. It has truly become a way of life. About three weeks in, productivity finally kicked in. I cleaned my car, regrettably cut my own fringe and for the first time, in a very long time, I attempted to sort out my ‘messy shelf.’

Do not kid yourself, we all have one. They usually consist of tacky childhood memorabilia, stacks of old birthday cards and old out of date sweets. There’s always a few surprises in there too. Whilst rummaging through the piles of unwanted things, as they fell and made new piles like an endless wasteland, I came across an old diary. It was labelled ‘super-secret’ and I immediately knew exactly what it was. In 2013, my best friend and I had decided we were going to start writing dairies. We would meet up with our coloured markers and patterned papers and write about the struggles of being 13-year-old girls. We decorated them with stickers and coloured prints, spending hours upon hours making them look perfect. I spent the whole day reading through pages of love letters, post first date ramblings and stories about hilarious situations that I had forgotten. Almost like its own chapter, there is a section dedicated to one boy. My on-again-off-again first love. The Ross to my Rachel, if you please. Over the course of three years, we probably dated about ten times. The longest we dated at a time was at most ten days. The pages dedicated to him are filled with love hearts, attached to bubbles describing the things that I ‘loved’ about him – “he’s funny and so easy to talk to … < 3.” Towards the end of the chapter, I came across his name once again, only this time it is circled by a red bulging love heart with a giant cross through the middle. Our love story had come to a dramatic end. I had gotten so deeply invested in it, that I felt a sudden sense of loss. I could feel 13-year-old Ella’s heart ache through the repetitive sad faces that covered the entirety of the following page.


On the other side I found this note: A Letter to My Future Self: Dated 03.05.13 Dear Future Me, Today I am the saddest I have ever been. Not only are you still grieving over the loss of Lily (my pet rat), but now you are single!!! Boys SUCK!!! Anyway... I am writing you this letter to tell you that even though heartbreak SUCKS!!! You will be okay. You are still amazing, and I hope you haven’t forgotten that. I hope by now you are happy and have another boyfriend. If not, that is okay too. My biggest hope is that you got over this hurdle, and NEVER EVER went back to him!!!!!! Because boys are dumb. I hope you are now happy and also have lots of money. Love, Ella P.S. I LUV RIHANNA When reading this letter, I must admit it brought an instant smile to my face. I don’t know if it was humility, or perhaps joy from reminiscing over old yet familiar feelings. Whilst for the most part, the letter is overly dramatic and out right cheesy, I must admit, young Ella was pretty frickin’ wise. She had elements to her advice that are still important to live by, and that I can relate to now, it being seven years later and my being still single. So I decided to write a response to my letter, reworking my sage advice: Sometimes guys do suck, and sometimes you go back to them searching for a feeling of comfort and familiarity. Sometimes you make mistakes, and you will. But you can always build yourself back up again. You are happy. And you are the only one in control of your happiness. Yes, people can build upon that happiness and make it greater, but ultimately you are the one in control. Don’t let anyone change that. The one thing I regret to inform my younger self is that yes, you are still bad with money. Frankly, you can barely afford dinner at this point. (But you can’t deny the girl had great goals.) As I put the diary back into the messy cupboard, which was indeed still messy, I had an overwhelming feeling of fondness for this pile of crap in front of me. That’s the thing about messy cupboards. They may be filled with useless stuff that have absolutely no meaning to you, but every now and then you find something that will make you laugh, or smile, or remember things that you may have otherwise forgotten. I guess, sometimes it’s kind of nice to have a little bit of mess in your life. P.S. Rihanna still rocks by Ella Scott


How True Are Our Memories? Remembering My Childhood Home

The old house was blue. I always remember the kitchen cupboards having been blue, or it might have been the walls. Well, apparently not. Just the other day, I was sitting at the dinner table with my family, reminiscing about our first home. My father listened acutely at the things I could recall, seemingly impressed by the accuracy of my memory. Yet, he knew the old house was definitely not blue. Some of the shine had rubbed off my memory, as I vehemently disagreed; something about the old house equated to a kind of blueness! Was I wrong? So it seems. Out of the 3 people who can remember the old house, that being a 6-year-old me and my 30-something-year-old parents at the time – their memories win. Dr Karl Kruszelnicki can be the next overqualified person to tell me, indeed little wallflower, your memory is false. Obviously, Dr Karl and me aren’t the greatest of pals, we don’t get together on the weekend to read the newspaper and sip chai latte’s (although I wouldn’t be opposed to that) – but I did watch him on ‘Julia Zemiro’s Home Delivery’ in which he details why memory cannot be trusted. Dr Karl draws on a memory study by American cognitive psychologist, Elizabeth Loftus. The aim of the experiment was to show that false memories can be implanted into someone’s mind, proving the unreliability of memory. A group of students partaking in the study were asked to fill out a questionnaire in which all answered yes to, “Have you been to Disneyland?” From there each student would enter a room, thinking they were waiting to go into a test. In this room, Professor Loftus would casually ask them a series of introductory open-ended questions including (as told by Dr Karl), “Do you remember Daffy Duck giving you a cuddle?” The students would answer “no” and proceed to enter the testing room. A year later, the students would return and complete the same exact tests, including the introductory questions. Except this time, a quarter of those

students’ responses to that Daffy Duck question would be affirmative. Meaning that Professor Loftus had, a year ago, implanted a false memory which that group of students had taken on as their own. Professor Loftus’ experiment suggests the incredible pliability of our memory. Talking to my parents that day, mum mentioned that we had blue tiles. Could I have been so enraptured by the pretty colour of my floor tiles at the age of 6? Really, that is what I remember of the house? I can’t tell you honestly whether this was why I thought my house was blue, or whether I had taken another memory of something else and somehow twisted it into a belief I now shakily hold. The idea that memory can be moulded and changed over time is incredibly destabilising, not only because memory is something I rely on to accurately help me in life, but because it is something I hold dear to me. My memories are cherished. As a society, we collate photo albums of children grown into adults, oral stories are told by grandparents to their children and their children. We are constantly linking our past experiences to our present, using these memories to help us share our cultures, to move forward in our tiny worlds. So, even though everyone else might say my old house definitely was not blue – I still think it is. Maybe I’m being naive and ignorant, or maybe my memories are right. Probably not. I don’t remember much living in that house, it wasn’t very comfortable, and I vividly remember the suburb smelling awful (that is a proven fact that has been backed up by my parents, thank you). Maybe I’m implanting false memories of the old house in my brain, just as Professor Loftus had. All I know is that I can’t and won’t get the colour blue out of my head. Raise a glass for all-knowing logic and my incredibly memorised old blue house; may they never meet! by Sara Zarriello


Opening the Door to Connection How Loneliness Led Me Back To My Roots

As COVID-19 swept our world, I found myself voluntarily confined to my bedroom. I was experiencing a form of disconnection that I had never felt before. For the first time in a long time, I was yearning for something familiar whilst everything around me felt tragically foreign. Like a small, annoying child, I ended up on my Auntie Kathy’s doorstep eager for any kind of entertainment. Surely this was an essential outing, right? As a queer and ethnic woman, I spent years rebelling against any form of tradition. It seemed as though my Armenian culture held no space for me. I felt like an oddly-shaped puzzle piece searching for somewhere I could insert myself into with ease, as a result, my relationships with family members grew distant. I wasn’t sure how to navigate my place within our culture, so I simply disengaged from it. Except now, the streets I once walked with my friends were eerily empty and communicating with those I loved via technology overwhelmed me to my core. The busiest place on earth was the grocery store and even there, I struggled to feel connected to the world I was living in. I didn’t feel human anymore. And oh how I desperately wanted to… Upon arriving, Auntie Kathy resisted the urge to squeeze me. “Jigared oodem” she sang from afar, which translated to “I’ll eat your liver” in Armenian. This was one of the strangest terms of endearment that we used and funnily enough, the most common too. I understood every word she spoke although my Armenian was horrible. With COVID-19

restrictions in place, only one person could visit another person’s home at a time. So I showed up alone. This was something that I had never done before. My Auntie Kathy was the queen of crafts. Whether she was hand-making Christmas ornaments or beading sequins into pillow covers, she thrived off of creating. So after weeks of feeling dreary and alone, it only made sense that I visited her. I was hoping she would keep me busy with something like a hot glue gun, but instead, I would be helping her cook my late grandmother’s famous borscht. “Surch?” she asked, motioning towards the bag of Turkish coffee. I didn’t decline her offer, even though my basic-ass only drinks soy lattes. In fact, I felt privileged to have a seat at the table with an adult drink. As the pot of thick coffee boiled on the stove, we couldn’t help but discuss the state of the world. I was hesitant to share with her that the disconnection that I had been feeling all these years had now been amplified. I watched as Auntie Kathy swirled her cup, made a prayer, and then placed it upside down on the saucer. I replicated her movements but they were nowhere near as swift. The muddy residue of the coffee grounds would now create a masterpiece in which we would attempt to read. When I was little, I watched as my elders gathered around the kitchen table, peeking into one another’s cups. At that time, my grandmother was the matriarch of our family and this meant that her interpretations were both superior and wiser. It was a sacred


ritual in which they would discuss their fate or future depending upon the symbols and signs which grew hard on the inside of their cups. I was never old enough to participate, and when I did finally acquire the taste for it – I didn’t allow myself the opportunity to join in. Today, however, I trusted Auntie Kathy’s eyes to gaze into my own cup. The importance of the symbols we discovered depended on the size, thickness, and placement. As my head rested on the palms of my hands, we interpreted the darkness I had been experiencing together. “There is a clearing right here” she announced, squinting into my cup with one eye. Now it was time to prepare and cook the borscht. This was a special recipe of my grandmother’s and Auntie Kathy was the only one who knew how to cook it. “If I don’t then who will?” she said half-serious. A wooden board was placed in front of me, along with a mixture of vegetables I had to peel. As she sautéed the oil and garlic, I struggled to position my hands correctly. Truthfully, I had never been taught any of these things, and I hated to cook. “Here,” she moved my left hand to cradle the back of the potato. I recall the way in which my grandmother did this so quickly, with no hesitation that she would be hurt. And so using my right hand, my thumb rested on the bottom of the potato as my index finger used the device to peel. The satisfaction I felt was immeasurable. I then mastered how to use a large knife to chop everything I had peeled. Auntie Kathy did the rest as I watched with wide eyes.


“Nanet would be so happy that you’re helping me today,” she announced after moments of silence. “Yeah, I bet she’s watching over us smiling,” I replied. And perhaps she wasn’t there physically, but the essence of her was. She was found in all the spices, lingering beside me as I had tediously perfected each vegetable I cut. As our day had come to an end, I left with one large pot of borscht to share with my family of five. When I arrived back home, my family and I sat around the table for dinner. I gloated about my newfound cooking skills as each ingredient greeted my tongue with warmth before sliding down my throat. Usually, I would gobble my food down then retreat back to my room, now every one of my senses was evoked with the memory of my beautiful grandmother Nanet. “It tastes just like hers,” my mother whispered as she gave me a wink. As I looked around the table, I knew we were all remembering her. There was no profound revelation that occurred in Auntie Kathy’s kitchen. It was rather a quiet merging of the past and present. I finally understood the importance of tradition. Although the world feels scary, love and connection can be found anywhere if we just open ourselves up to it. It turns out that there had always been room for me here – I’d just shut the door. by Deana Stepanian


FaceTime Call No. 13 Bitter Aperol burns my throat as I clumsily splutter and choke on my cocktail. Trying to cling to the scraps of oxygen in my lungs not currently drowning in Italian liquor, I dip my head down, hair obscuring my face as I gasp for air. Somewhat composed I fling my head back up, square my shoulders and smile. With an aloof eye roll I joke, “Can’t take me anywhere”. Excellent save. Well played. Until I realise…I’m in my apartment. I have been for six weeks. And technically my date, now staring at me with a mix of revulsion and confusion through my slightly pixelated laptop screen, has in fact not taken me anywhere. And probably never will now. The urge to hang up the call and write it off as another failed virtual date presses against my insides. My stomach twists and squeezes at the possibility of clicking that little red circle and ending my misery. But the thought of spending another evening alone in my grotty apartment bathtub taking shots of expired vodka sends stomach bile up my throat. I press on. “So, uh, you go to Macquarie too right?” “Yeah” he sighs, taking a long swig from his tinny, “’s more of a safety net though, I’m definitely more of a USyd type so I’m going to transfer next semester.” “Why USyd?” “Cause, who really wants to have Macquarie on their resume?” A fair point. I can’t argue. “So why didn’t you go there in the first place?” “Cause I was just too intelligent for the HSC markers so they gave me all bad marks and I got a rubbish ATAR.” I try to stop my eyes from rolling into the back of my head and end up providing a kind of seizure-like expression that I imagine would be rather offensive to look at, even pixelated. I try to provide a sympathetic nod to temper the awkwardness rising between us and decide to go down a different route. “What did you say you were studying again?” “Social science.”


“Ah right…and what are you planning to do with that?” “Nothing. I’m going to transfer into med at USyd. I’ve got a credit average, so I should be sweet.” I take a lengthy swig from my drink. The ill proportioned alcohol ratio instantly sends the pangs of an oncoming headache down my spine. Well. He’s a tad douchey, quite delusional and has what looks to be a patchy iso-moustache growing above his top lip but there may be some redeemable qualities on the far away horizon. He did have a dog in his profile after all. “I saw you had a dog as one of your profile photos, what kind of breed is it?” “No idea, was my mate’s dog. I just know chicks froth dudes who like dogs and shit, so I figured it was a safe bet.” Is nothing sacred anymore? It looks like drunkenness may be the only way to develop a shred of romance on this grainy FaceTime call, so I down the rest of my poorly made Aperol spritz. I position myself slightly closer to my webcam and do my best impression of a coy smile. My date seems torn between leaning closer and sinking further into his cracked leather one seater. The longer our stilted conversation and substandard flirting goes on, the more my respect for cam girls increases. This would be a tough gig for your day to day. I feel like a weird door salesman flaunting my wares, but without any shred of tangible human warmth or connection. There’s no safety net for my date who will have to politely find an excuse to shoo me away before hastily shutting the door in my face. Or that he’ll feel awkward and guilty enough to just rifle through his wallet and find $20 to pay me off. He may be the archetypal guy I’d roll my eyes at and saunter away from in a bar. But that was when I had the affirming knowledge there would be plenty of other twenty-something boys around who wouldn’t be that picky at 12:57am on a Saturday night with cheap pub beer flowing through their veins. Tonight, it’s just Ben, myself, and my swiftly dying hopes that maybe there could be some meaningful connection or sub-standard cybersex to be gleaned from this sad imitation of a date. By the time he mentions I have “pretty good tits”, not even the alcohol dulling my senses can muster a shred of sexual energy. I sigh and hover my cursor over the tempting red circle. I give his wispy moustache one more glance, then end the call. Pulling my alcohol-numb limbs into bed, I open my phone. Scrolling through the new matches that have appeared over the last hour, I find the profile of ‘Ben’. Macquarie University, Nautica shirt and what looks like a bull terrier in his third photo. Perfect. I craft a message, “Keen for a Facetime call sometime this week?”, hit send and close my phone. The dream lives on. by Katelyn Free 41

All The Places I’ve Called Home (in 2019)

I met my partner in 2018 on Discord. It’s okay, we don’t need to pretend that’s normal. We bonded over our mutual interest in Doctor Who, niche filmmaking YouTubers and the 2004 film adaptation of ‘A Series of Unfortunate Events’. He just recently moved to another part of London, but before that he lived in West Hampstead. I took the photo on the walk to what we called “the big Sainos” (a supermarket). Even though I only visited that house twice for a couple weeks at a time, the second time I came back felt like coming home. The actual area itself was far too lovely for my taste. Kids in their posh uniforms walking past the front window like clockwork every weekday at 3-4pm, a local pub that, although boasting a gorgeous cat and friendly staff, was certainly overpriced. But earlier this year, before everything became uncertain and scary, I lived here for just over a month, and it was that: living. I learned the bus routes, the best price for a meal deal, when the Dominos across the road would have their “once in a lifetime” sale which we would get a text about every week or so. We had people come over to inspect the house the morning after we had been awoken in the night to the sound of a rat rummaging, and opened the door with eye bags down to our mouths. I learned some of the slang and when to conceal my accent to avoid conversation (“I just need to grab this sandwich and go because I am late due to my own poor time management and don’t want to be rude. No I’m not from New Zealand”) and when to use it to excuse my complete cultural ineptitude (“Oh, this is the one-pound coin? Sorry, I thought you gave me two. I’m from Australia, you see”). Though it became a familiar and comforting place, each day I would notice something new and picturesque begging to be captured. The opportunity for a photo seemed to present itself at every corner, down every back alley. My partner would often ask me why I was taking photos of bins. They had personality, I would explain. I hope to visit Spike the pub cat again someday, when the world returns to some semblance of normal. When it is safe to do so.


I was born in Sydney in 2000, the year we held the Olympics. This isn’t particularly significant to me as I don’t follow sport but it’s still a cool fact. I also lived in Melbourne and Darwin when I was a kid, but Sydney was where I spent the majority of my primary school years, and where I’ve called home for the past decade now. Even though I know Sydney is technically my “home”, whenever I venture into the city, I feel a disconnect between myself and my surroundings, a kind of impostor syndrome, like I don’t really belong and I’m just waiting for someone to realise and kick me out. I’m not academic enough for the business district, not culturally educated enough for the museums and galleries and too much of a lightweight and too set on my 10pm bedtime for the nightlife. I think a lot of Australian-born people who have grown up here know how lucky we are to live in a place like Australia. But still we itch for more—London doesn’t have our weather, but it conjures up images of big old buildings, Christmas markets and fashionable coats; Los Angeles has arguably too much of our weather, but we think of Hollywood and big music labels and “making it”. For some reason I have this idea of anywhere but Sydney being the place to be. We hear of all our biggest celebrities moving overseas, where the work is, where the real world is. We don’t take ourselves seriously enough, have too much cultural cringe to believe that we will be respected by our peers if we have ambition. So we think we need to leave. But whenever I am just about to leave Sydney and travel elsewhere, the city decides that now is the time to show itself to me. Some of the best days and nights I’ve had in Sydney have been the day before I’m about to leave for weeks, when I decide to be spontaneous and let myself choose where I want the city to take me, when I am willing to see what it has to offer. There’s a song by Death Cab for Cutie called “You Are a Tourist” which has a lyric I think about all the time: If you feel just like a tourist in the city you were born, it’s time to go. I think I disagree.


This was the view out my bedroom window in the house I lived in for the majority of my childhood. Granted, it didn’t always look like this, but over the ten years I lived there I saw my fair share of beautiful sunsets (which weren’t always obscured by that building in the middle I might add). My room was positioned in a way that I would always catch the best of the sunset, and it was not uncommon for my family to gather in my room to soak up the last of the light. It wasn’t usually intentional, it would just so happen that we all ended up there, and one of us would look around and exclaim, “The whole family’s here!” I would nod adding, “...even the cat”. My parents separated about three years ago, during my HSC year. Finding out was one of those moments that felt like a movie. We went to dinner up the road to the local pub/bistro and everyone was uncomfortably quiet. My mum said she needed to tell us something. I joked and said “What, are you guys getting a divorce?”. It was a particularly ‘Fleabag-esque’ moment that as a film student I feel inclined to include in a screenplay one day, as pretentious film students do. The last few years in that house were defined by the strange feeling of not seeing my mother when I got home, starting university, my first job, my first boyfriend and breakup - it felt so detached from my earlier memories of the place. After all, it was also the house where my friends and I made movies using the video mode on my tiny pink camera, discovered Club Penguin and spent hours writing stories I never felt confident enough to share with anyone. It sheltered me through some of the most pivotal years of my life, when I flickered through different interests like the pages of a book, deciding I would be a singer one day, a fashion designer the next, or maybe an astronaut or an artist. Through the multiple identity changes, friend groups and schools, the house was a constant, even when my family couldn’t be. It’s since been done up with a nice new bathroom and kitchen, but my bedroom walls still bear the faint markings of Blu Tack from the 5 Seconds of Summer posters that 14-year-old me hung up. It’s nice to know that I’ve left a mark on a place that left a mark on me. by Brighid Goodbun




Welcome to Hollywood?

The good, the bad and the confusing from the new Netflix series

Ryan Murphy returned to Netflix with a bang with his new miniseries, Hollywood. The show revolves around the lives of a diverse group of hopeful creatives trying to make it big during the Hollywood Golden Age post-WW2. With this premise and all-star cast bringing so much promise, it was hard to see what could possibly go wrong. Alas, I was mistaken. I don’t think I’ve ever felt more conflicted about a show in a long while, so join me on this exploration of the ups and downs of Hollywood. Don’t get me wrong, the show has a lot of highlights and was overall really entertaining and binge worthy. The cast and their performances were incredible and mixed with the high-quality production design and overall aesthetic of the show, it definitely made it an easy watch. The themes and issues the show tries to address are quite unique and incredibly important. Representation in Hollywood has been a long-running issue that continues today, and the show starts off by doing a great job at demonstrating the positive impact of representation for both the average viewer and for marginalised creators themselves, who are able to benefit their careers and better use their platform for the greater good. It also attempts to unpack the importance of using whatever privilege or power you have to raise the voices and work of those who aren’t as fortunate. Beside the show’s cast consisting of multiple people of colour and queer, predominantly gay, characters, there’s representation of older women being unapologetically sexual and discussions on acknowledging the privilege of being white passing when non-white. There are also depictions of sex work, none of which are vilifying for the workers, but simply show how prevalent such activities were within Hollywood elite. Though, as with most fictional media that tries to create alternate histories, things start to get messy really quickly. Here’s your warning for mild spoilers ahead. The show’s main problem comes with simply wishing away all the struggles that existed for marginalised groups at the time which disrespects the hard-work and accomplishments of


actual trailblazers. Instead of overcoming boundaries, as real-life marginalised creators have to do, each obstacle seemed to fall away easily, chance allowing them to succeed at the end of the day. For example, a group of powerful white studio executives happen to support their film ‘Meg’, which allows it to be greenlit, made and distributed just as the creators wanted it. This was obviously not an opportunity many had back in the day, making it hard to stay connected to the characters and their journeys. There’s nothing wrong with wanting to escape to the fantasy the show offers. Though, to completely applaud it without recognising the recklessness of oversimplifying the problems at the time is where I take issue. The show’s final episode ends with the 1948 Academy Awards in which plenty of our main cast of characters take home awards, portraying acceptance by this mainstream establishment as the penultimate accomplishment for these creators. While this episode definitely brought some empowering moments, the achievements felt empty in comparison to reality. For example, while Hollywood depicts the first black gay man winning an Oscar for writing, in reality, a black man (Jordan Peele) didn’t take home a writing Oscar until 2018. Similarly, the show’s version of Anna May Wong finally wins her Oscar for best supporting actress, whereas Miyoshi Umeki in real life remains the only east Asian actress to win an acting Oscar for her role in Sayonara in 1957. Halle Berry is also the only black woman to take home the Oscar for best actress in 2001, unlike Camille in the show. Furthermore, it would have been great to have gotten to know the backstories of some of the other characters a little more. The choice to have the series’ most significant character be a white straight man amongst such a diverse cast was an interesting choice. I particularly loved Darren Criss’ character, Raymond, being half-Filipino myself. However, we never get to see his character achieve his goals of better Asian representation after his pitch to cast an Asian woman as the lead of his film is ignored, he never mentions this project again.

Similarly, Laura Harrier’s character, Camille, is a young black actress trying to escape the caricature roles she’s continuously cast in. We unfortunately don’t get to see her history or what drove her to pursue a career in acting in the first place. While it was still easy to root for her, it made it harder to understand her and her motivations on a deeper level. These two characters being just one of two interracial relationships on the show could have also opened new discussions. This is particularly considering the references throughout the show to the Hayes Code, The Motion Picture Production Code that banned the portrayal of interracial relationships in films. Unfortunately, this was an opportunity that was totally missed.

While I appreciate that the show still drew a line by making sure Rock (one of his most famous clients) didn’t accept Henry’s apology, the repercussions he faced could have been greater. Mainly, he gets to keep his job at the studio and gets the opportunity to produce his own movie, along with finding a boyfriend to support him as he tries to supposedly better himself. Not to mention, the real Henry’s actions likely affected a large number of victims, none of which are even mentioned on the show. For a show that’s supposed to represent a utopian alternative to this time-period, it’s disappointing that a notorious sexual abuser is able to maintain their position of power and face next to no repercussions for their actions.

This brings me to possibly one of the worst things I found about the show, the character arc and attempted redemption of Henry Wilson. Henry Wilson was a real talent agent that was infamously known for abusing his power through pressuring his clients into participating in sexual acts. This is explicitly represented in the show, along with a general mistreatment of his clients. Sexual abusers are first and foremost bad people as opposed to people who just had bad things happen to them. We’ll never know if Henry being able to publicly embrace his sexuality would have led to him not abusing his power, but as that wasn’t the case, we should still hold him accountable to his actions.

If there’s one word I’d use to describe this show, it’s ambitious. The concept behind it clearly came from a good and hopeful place, and I commend it on delving into themes that are rarely, if ever, addressed in other mainstream media. Saying that, the final outcome leaves a lot to be desired. I can understand why people fall on both sides of the spectrum in terms of loving and hating this show, though personally I’m definitely somewhere in the middle. While this show was intended to be a limited series, talks of a potential second season has me intrigued to see where exactly they’ll take this show next. by Gabby Edwards



Life After Disney We’re living in a time where TV is more accessible than ever, and consumption culture is very prevalent. I like to think that the 90s babies managed to get the best of both worlds, we had a good mix of toys requiring imagination, as well as a few more technologically evolved ones. We had the best era of Disney Channel. I mean, Miley Cyrus, Hillary Duff, Selena Gomez, Cole & Dylan Sprouse! There’s no doubt in my mind that this is the ULTIMATE Disney channel. I mean, I feel like my childhood was a lie when I see Miley Cyrus now… DANG FLABBIT. Disney’s unrealistic ideology influenced how we as millennials or Gen Zers perceive the world. Aside from the flawless American accent I can now imitate, I feel like my expectations for life, including relationships, careers, friendships etc., were set well above the bar thanks to Disney. I mean don’t get me wrong, I loved watching Disney, and the underlying message of all these shows were empowering and important, but do I have unrealistic expectations of living a fantasy with my Prince Charming now? Kinda. Let’s unpack this.


Hannah Montana Okay to be fair, I was ALWAYS confused that no one had realised that Miley was Hannah?! Especially her best friends who didn’t even realise it face to face with Hannah… This show made us all want to be secret pop sensations, with a quirky personality who has regular run-ins with ridiculously attractive guys. It made us think that anything was possible. Anyone else want to be famous after watching this? I figured fame would be incredible! Travel the world, singing to crowds of people. All very glamorous. Anyone else get some sick burns from Jackson to serve up to their siblings?

Lizzie Maguire Arguably the best Disney show of the 00s, Lizzie maguire set the most realistic expectations for life after Disney. Lizzie was just a normal girl, trying to get through high school. Her parents were realistic, she had an annoying younger brother, and two BFFs to get her through. Unfortunately one of the most problematic aspects of this show was the movie. We see a luxurious school trip to Italy, hot lip syncing stars, Italian doppelgangers, and SO, MUCH, MORE. This was too much Lizzie. Too much. To be fair it was a great movie, but it has me forever waiting for my summer in Europe with my Paolo...

Camp Rock A Cinderella Story So many Disney movies and shows set unrealistic expectations, but this one takes the cake. Or should I say all three of them released in the 00s do. This series of unrelated movies were literally adapted from a fairytale, and made real! As kids, we all heard fairytales, and really that’s what they were - tales. But no, Disney just had to do me like this. They had to make me think that fairytales can happen in real life! Wizards of Waverly Place I definitely believed I was secretly a wizard after this show, and I’m sure my mother was unimpressed with the newfound sass I had thanks to Alex Russo’s quick wit. I think this show set high expectations of people’s personalities for me. It made me think that everyone should have a huge personality, and a million different quirks. So. Not. True.

The Suite Life of Zach and Cody This show just promoted mischief, and definitely planted ideas in my head of what I might be able to get up to while staying in a hotel. Pranks aside, this show aided a serious issue within some Disney shows. The character, Esteban and his job in the hotel low-key perpetuated racist stereotypes. Does this have anything to do with the innate racism in some people today? The one they don’t even realise is there, all the while it’s influencing their everyday lives? Hmmm…. That’s So Raven This show had a promising, powerful main character. It was funny and witty, with some awesome storylines. What this show did through Raven’s BFF, Chelsea, was make me think that there are people who are just plain dumb. This character is usually there for comedic relief, but really Disney?

As one of the most iconic Disney movies to date, this one holds a special place in my heart. Camp rock perpetuated my desire to randomly meet a celebrity, act coy around them, and have them fall in love with me. It sticks to the stereotypes of the mean girl, (who always happens to be blonde), a diverse cast of talented musicians, the class division of the poor and rich. This movie had it all, including spontaneous dance numbers where everyone happened to know the moves and lyrics… Camp was never like this for me, nor have I ever been involved in a spontaneous dance number. I can barely learn a Tik Tok dance. High School Musical Now this trilogy was one of my favourites. I couldn’t count how many times I watched all three movies. I seem to have retained all the lyrics, as well as much of the choreography. These movies were truly great. I’d expected my high school experience to be basically identical. To my surprise, going to an all-girls Catholic school was hardly the HSM experience. Every story in Disney had a well rounded arc. The characters face some kind of adversity, they work to deal with it, often hitting rock bottom, then they rise above to solve it very swiftly, all the while finding the love of their life... in high school. This taught us that things will always end the way we want them to. Always neat and tidy, and I’m sure by now, we all know this is rarely the case. Couldn’t some characters fail and have to deal with that? All in all, Disney Channel is always improving and trying to keep up with the modern world. It’s female characters continue to get stronger, and we have even seen the first gay story arc introduced in 2017. As much as Disney has influenced my fantasy worldview, I think it’s important to note that this is what it’s meant to be, right? Disney Channel is a place where young people can laugh, love and cry along with the lovable characters, and somewhat fictional storylines. After all, most of us aren’t going to get to live that life. by Brooke Mason



Never Have I Ever A review of the new hit Netflix series

Never Have I Ever more or less follows the story of a 15-year-old Mindy Kaling reimagined into this decade’s modern teenager. We follow the character of Devi (Maitreyi Ramakrishnan), who enters the first day of sophomore year with a plan – be popular so you can have sex with hot guys. Off the bat this show is refreshing in a number of ways. Growing up there were so many shows that treated women’s virginity like a ‘delicate flower’ or a ‘gift’ to be given. Contrast this to the triumphant and celebratory way a man losing his virginity is and you can see the disproportionate responses. NHIE engages in a role reversal as we see Devi chasing her love interest, and expressing a shallow desire for the show’s main ‘heart-throb’ Paxton Hall-Yoshida (Darren Barnet). This brings us to the next incredibly refreshing aspect of this show – the diversity. The trope Paxton embodies is that of the hot jock/cool guy. This character is usually straight, white, and rich, the trifecta of privilege. If it’s the early 2000s he’s probably also played by Chad Michael Murray. Breaking with tradition, co-creators Mindy Kaling and Lang Fisher create characters with different backgrounds, ethnicities, and sexualities, and place a spotlight on them instead of falling prey to the tokenism of past shows. We get to experience high school through the lens of Devi, a first generation Indian-American. How many white TV families and ensemble casts have there been? Modern Family, The Simpsons, The O.C., One Tree Hills, Friends, How I Met Your Mother etc. To see a family from another culture highlighted in an authentic way, through the lens of a writer that has grown up in that culture gives nuance and genuine humour to watching and understanding these characters. In an interview with the New York Times, Kaling was asked what the next frontier for South Asian representation was for her as a creator. She answered: “From watching several hundred of the auditions [for the role of Devi], I saw the hunger that I kind of hoped that was there. If this show does well, hopefully, and it just feels more normal to see Indian people on things, then there will hopefully be more shows greenlit. To me it would be great if there is more L.G.B.T.Q. content for Indian people. I feel like that is almost never talked about. In some Indian communities there’s still a stigma attached to coming out. I’d love to tell a story about a young queer woman. And if I don’t see it, maybe I have to create something.”


While NHIE’s diversity and subverted gender roles are examples of why the show is so compelling, what holds everything together and makes it great is the humour. Mindy Kaling famously loves romantic comedies and so do I. That said, the rom-com is undoubtedly a trashy genre. I’m not blind to the ridiculous leaps of logic, impossible coincidences labelled as ‘fate,’ and overall warped conceptualisation of love that appears in these movies. A lot of times rom-coms actually cross the line in portraying abusive relationships as ‘romantic.’ This kind of abusive behaviour usually includes stalking, and men who never stop chasing, interpreting the word ‘no’ as ‘not yet’ or ‘try harder,’ particularly prevalent among the ‘nice guy’ character – that’s you Ted Mosby. The list of these unhealthy tropes goes on. Mindy Kaling takes this genre, rids it of its more deluded, fantastical, and toxic elements, and reimagines it as a TV series. Something she previously did in another one of her shows, The Mindy Project. As each episode follows Devi in her quest to bag a “stone cold hottie” and come to grips with her father’s sudden and tragic death, we hear the voice of legendary tennis hot head John McEnroe narrating. Devi, like McEnroe, has a similar quick-tempered disposition, which opens the door for McEnroe to throw out a number of hilarious and self-aware tennis references. While teen drama and retired tennis players don’t initially appear to go hand-in-hand, the show addresses this in its first episode, McEnroe reassuring us that “It’ll make sense later, I promise.” You don’t need to be a massive tennis fan to enjoy this aspect of the show, but since I personally am it definitely adds to the appeal. Look up “John McEnroe tantrums” on YouTube to watch some of his greatest hits. Finally, to sweeten the pot of an already great show, guest star Andy Samberg narrates an episode, highlighting another standout character: Ben (Jaren Lewison). Never Have I Ever is currently streaming on Netflix. Go check it out! by Jodie Ramodien

horoscopes GEMINI



A lack of communication could have you feeling downhearted. Don’t get yourself worked up over something you can’t control, it’s probably as simple as they just don’t like you.

It’s time for you to visualise the next steps of your journey. But like pollen coming out during a global pandemic, you cannot read a room Cancer. Not the time for a fucking journey dude.

You are considering trying something bold. Perhaps you should stick to what you know Leo, now is not the best time to make a move that will lead to the painful demise of another long-term relationship.




Someone in a gloomy state might reach out to you soon. I won’t lie to you Virgo there’s a lot going on with you right now so maybe best not to support them. You know what they say about putting your own oxygen mask on first.

A pandemic is a hard time to maintain harmony and balance Libra, and you are finding indecision crippling these days. Must be the multiple personalities.

Although you are a water sign Scorpio, you are always mistaken for a fire sign. Maybe because you burned down Britney Spears’ gym.




If you marry your step dad, do you become your own mother? I don’t know, I’m not a scientist but I have a feeling you are going to find out Sagittarius.

Everybody is the protagonist in their own story. You’re Harry Potter and your friends are Ron and Hermione. I’m here to tell you Capricorn, you are Luna Lovegood, tertiary and crazy.

COVID-19 may be the final act for capitalism and this arouses you. Unfortunately, the bourgeois superstructure is resilient, and a revolution is unlikely. If you aren’t at the table, you’re the meal Aquarius.




You’re prone to being swallowed by emotions, so no Pisces it’s not hay fever, you’ve been crying for three months. For real.

Isolation has forced you to confront the fact you are a kinky-ass piece of shit. I’m here for it you fiery little ram.

Take some time for yourself Taurus, you feel most content when you’re being pampered. I’m told you’re a sucker for a neck caress. Word of advice though, don’t ask Aries for a neck massage; it might get a bit chokey.


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