Breaking Badly – a hairy tale of drugs & misadventure

Whenever anyone  asks my dear friend Juanita what she is doing in her retirement, she responds with a serene smile and a grand gesture, ‘I’m growing my hair’. I have also been growing my hair in my retirement, though the bodily hair beneath my neck seems to be fast disappearing at the same time. As well, the odd rogue hair has sprouted on unsuspecting parts of my face. All this simply means that, while I resist conventional ageing stereotypes, the bald fact is that I am most probably somewhat past my peak.

Back when I taught research methodologies in Creative Industries, in my first lecture I gave the postgraduate students  an example of a small research project I was engaged in. This research focussed on the Beauty industry and the exploitative, costly, even painful practices of the waxing of bodily hair for men and women. This provocative talk tended to stir them up, and make them pay attention as they might be nodding off at the end of a hard day. But that is a feminist story for another day. I just wanted to say here in blogland, that I have always been pretty fearless with my theory and practice, at least in an academic setting.

Reality Strikes

In real life, I have to remind myself that I shouldn’t beat up on myself when I feel vulnerable at times.  I am a pretty strong woman, and have been an avid feminist warrior since the 70s, when I taught two units on women and education at the University of Qld – the first ever feminist subjects in an education faculty in Queensland, possibly in Australia.  Sometimes, however, stark unexpected reality takes my breath away. And my confidence also, for a time…

I didn’t scream but…

This month I have been trying to deal with a couple of freakish incidents. A person I know in his early 20s has twice tried to invade my private space, unheralded and uninvited. He was probably on ice and was certainly hypersexual  at the time. I won’t go into gory details here, but the first time was scary and I’m lucky I managed to get him out of my flat. I had thought he was dropping by to tell me some news of his father, who had been an old workmate, many jobs ago.

This young person, whom I will call Jock,  is good looking and very well built, and while he seemed at first to be asking me for advice on dating girls, things did get ugly. The hide of him to presume that, as an independent woman who lives alone, I would melt into his arms… Not to mention the age difference…totally presumptuous.

The next unsettling time Jock announced himself out of the blue on the intercom, I told him I was about to go out,  which was true. Feeling gutless and also vulnerable, I wasn’t quite up to telling him to piss off or I will call the police, as some friends have urged me to do.   Probably I will if there is a next time. I certainly won’t be letting him in ever again.  Nor will I be answering any unexpected buzzing on my intercom. Vlad, a close friend had been with me all that day, but unfortunately he had left about an hour earlier… It would have been handy to send Vlad down to sort out the young monster in person.

When I did go out half an hour later, I saw Jock sitting in a car across the road.  On my return from that outing several hours later, I felt spooked as it was late at night by then. I haven’t felt like this before,  having lived in New Farm for many years. It is troubling how quickly one can be made to feel unsafe.

This week the revamped Brisbane International Film Festival starts and I am looking forward to celebrating the glam opening night event. 🍷🎬💃 Life goes on. But along with the current, deeply disturbing report on sexual harassment, sexual assault and rape of people, mainly women, at and around Australian Universities, a parallel dark shadow still looms over me for now.

6 thoughts on “Breaking Badly – a hairy tale of drugs & misadventure

  1. An important and generous post…you have been such an inspirational leader Helen, in so many ways… what resonates is how
    quickly things change… one feels at home in ones sense of belonging then suddenly a rupture can turn it upside down … Margi Brown Ash

  2. Hi Helen
    Sorry to hear of your recent unsollicited attention.
    I AM enjoying retirement here in Germany, though my passtimes do NOT include growing my hair…
    Will be in Brisbane early October.
    Would love to catch up.

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