Chemists, Consumers and Confusion. And confabulating solutions!

This is how I look like when I haven’t even eaten brunch, not showered even in the rain and the geniuses at ACME Pharmacies (Jetty Rd, Glenelg) screwed up your anxiety meds. You could say I’m a well socialised introvert but in my normally sleep deprived glory, people are lucky not to see me create a circus with lions, flaming hoops and back up dancers to This Is Me. Right now I’m listening to a cover of ‘Seven Nation Armyby SKÁLD. And also the Ramin Djawadi version because that composer can do no wrong.

Heck the three times a day pill dispensary visitation can more that effectively causes me losing an hour and a half a day of my day sitting in a chemist when I have a terrible immune system in exam season. The only way I won that was not backing down with both the medical centre & ACME Pharmacy. I wouldn’t back down and went to my GP practice manager and she went to the GP but it’s exhausting just to get something that’s meant to help my anxiety. My accessibility to a prescription medication to help anxiety is causing me more stress and anxiety from the individual disabled POV is lost to them and doesn’t include the consumer in the process at all. It isn’t healthy for us to deal with the stress of making us up jump through hoops to access medication to get not better, just manage our conditions when they flare up. Why does it have to be so hard for consumers?

Catherine Zeta Jones in ‘Entrapment’ (1999)

My GP, Dr Nick Riviera, is excellent and works extremely hard for their chronic illness patients and advocates for us in a way I’ve never seen a doctor so and also I don’t have a leg for an arm and arm for a leg so we’re good. The staff at ACME Pharmacy who are not in the dispensary are actually excellent and extremely kind individuals that I like and find mostly helpful & compassionate (especially every medication screw up/battle ever). But the current medical system at present make it seems like I’m not just a junkie, I get to do a daily walk of shame (oh how I could talk about this for hours in the ableist meta narrative that people with chronic illnesses are making it up).

Warner Brothers cartoons (usually featuring Wile E. Coyote)

Due to a traumatic past and new triggering events, I really need those meds to function. So I do the daily walk of shame but it makes me paranoid like the time they labelled diazepam as methadone and a woman I’d interviewed for some casual work saw it, I did not get the job again. I wish I could say this was ACME Pharmacy fucking up due to demand during lockdown but this has been going on for ages even under new management. I can’t change pharmacies because certain medications I need access to require a history with that pharmacy like my asthma puffer.

I do respect the ability of my pharmacists at peak times to juggle the multiple drugs that manage multiple conditions with a large client base (I like to imagine the wait time for getting a script filled is that they are swing from trapezes singing Rewrite the Stars ) but effective and simple dispensary of my necessary medications without stigma just might be my expectations of what medicine delivery should be. It’s not.

But in all seriousness but I dread going to ACME, one pharmacist there has repeatedly treated me no better than a drug seeking addict and forgotten I was waiting, just sitting there for 45 minutes. It wasn’t Hug-me Jackman, Zendaya or Zac Effron so we can all breathe a sigh of relief. I think we are all relieved it wasn’t Wolverine though maybe he could make short work of the childproof tamper seals!

Hugh Jackman as Wolverine. He definitely needs a hug here.

So in full confidence, dear readers, I don’t choose to spend my time medicating on what work be called recreational and highly illegal pharmacology past times. I spend my time self destructing by drinking Veuve Clicquot [pronounced Verve Klee Koh as I had to google so I don’t sound like the champers novice I am] and watching ice-dancing and old Glee videos on YouTube. And making obscure musical references. I’ll find a way to get Funny Girl in somehow!

Glee: Britney/Season 2, Episode 2. John Stamos & Heather Morris.

As to non-regulated, non prescription drugs I say no and all that because it isn’t a good idea with my mental health history. I’ll leave the debate around legalisation to experts better educated on the issue to me debate the benefits and cons of medical THC for example but it highlights a huge problem as us, regular users of any kind of pharmaceutical, aren’t given a voice in how it’s used and distributed beyond test subjects that tend to be healthy young-ish men during the testing and development stages. It’s how now it’s only coming to light men and women pain process pain differently because the test and control groups were young healthy men…

“Men and Women Process Chronic Pain Differently”,University of Alabama at Birmingham 29-06-2015.

It seems pretty surprising to me that the big pharma/health industry schilling conspiracy that people with chronic health issues don’t have a choice and a voice to negotiate as experts in their own right to treatment and aren’t taken as seriously as university graduates. We the consumers might have lives if we push for stronger consumer representation and education but I find the notion we aren’t experts in our own health conditions offensive and ignorant.

There has to be a better way to help consumers than this, it all feels like the industry is more tends to important than the individual. So much of the medical industry (outside vaccines) is driven on making money and creating a product that the users must keep taking to stay well. Watch the end of True Blood the TV show about the cure for vampire AIDS and how there is a cure, but the marketing team are trying to make a less effective version so the infected vamp market has to keep coming back to buy the new True Blood (a synthetic blood substitute). It’s called “New Blood”.

Eric and Pam promoting ‘New Blood’, an only partially effective cure to vampire AIDS by design.

Or if you want a less fun, real life version, look at the ACCC fined $6 Million over Nurofen over misrepresenting what their products were said to do and actually can do. University of Google Doctorate time…


In the consumer-advocate space in more progressive fields like social work, nursing and psychology under the social model of disability, it’s been noted that individuals are recognised as the experts on their own disability or health condition through their lived experiences. Yet when it comes to medications as consumers we are test subjects of the medical model that blames our illnesses and failures to get better on ourselves.

An example of this is me getting my fibromyalgia diagnosis, after years of pain and fatigue, I finally got the scans and after paying the rheumatologist nearly $400, I was dismissed not even with a pretty doctor’s certificate saying I had fibro and what’s worse with no treatment plan and then Dr. Nick Riveria had to figure out how to treat me. Part of me remembers that I had to sit there mouth open wide and have a handful of pills tossed in the air and whatever landed in my mouth was my new medication regimen.

From Healthy Magazine (https://images.app.goo.gl/FBaKvidR41C41U2y5)

Not really, my Dr Riveria is a fantastic and patient GP but even my multiple chronic issues test him at times. And this is the guy who goes an extra mile for his patients, I really do salute Dr. Nick. He is a rare breed of GP who wants to help patients and not call us consumers, see as for little time as possible (probably less than the time you can say “Soylint Green”) and call us consumers where we are the product made and consumed. I don’t like feeling like a chicken about to become KFC nuggets.

I have no words…(https://images.app.goo.gl/oHPV7ALYEJcJJfX1A)

Back to my lived experience, it worries me that with my commitments to University and hopefully when the museum allows volunteers back, I’m not going to be really available to go down to ACME Pharmacy near home while at Bedford Park or the City then wait 20 minutes easily every-time I need medication for an anxiety issue as I don’t have a car. There has to be a better way to help consumers than this, I’ll say it again but it all feels like the industry is more important than the individual. Regulations and legislation are necessary to protect every single one of us in the Australian medical system, especially when you consider the reasons we have tamper proof seals on everything now (google:https://www.label-aire.com/2017/01/31/tamper-evident-product-packaging-origins/). But really the barriers to getting simple daily treatment take away energy from things we could be doing to benefit society as volunteers or casual workers or students is wasteful. We contribute unpaid labour to the economy!

I’m really pretty messed up because of how ACME Pharmacy & my Dr Nick Riviera had arranged for me to pick up my meds three times a day for a single pill, effectively losing an hour and a half a day of my days until I wouldn’t back down. It’s like the accessibility to prescription medication from the individual POV is lost to doctors who don’t see us as whole people with lives but as patients and making us up jump through hoops to get better. I’m not just a junkee in the ableist meta narrative sitting on my arse stoned out on pain meds, we are more than patients or consumers, we are people with chronic illnesses who need meds to juggle their conditions and trying to live not just a basic existence but fulfilling lives. I mean Elsa’s magic at one stage was considered a disability (“Conceal, don’t feel” anybody?

Elsa doing something awesome and we all know I like to think she’s my Disney Princess.

It seems to surprising to the health industry that people with chronic health issues might have entire lives when they see us as a cluster of medical symptoms of a disorder or a diagnosis. I feel like it’s time to drop the disorder and at least acknowledge the consumer-survivor as partner model in the most rudimentary ways. A patients as partners model (similar to the tertiary education students as partners model), free of the NDIA, Medicare, the private health insurers and pharmaceutical companies could be an interesting thought experiment.

NDIS Think Tanks, QLD, Workability . (https://images.app.goo.gl/cHK9SF8dMHA2RUddA)

Clara Rose Santilli, for The Lonely Archaeologist, first published 05/07/2020

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Ruby slippers: gratitude and finding me in the pandemic.

The corona virus has slowed down so many things…the mail, my ability to buy the correct pasta sauce for the correct pasta, the good coffee shop closing up. It’s left me locked up with two defective felines of various levels of intelligence and has allowed me to indulge in not a single book of the ante-library, as I work out time zones for Zoom meetings and work out which emails I never have to answer and can procrastinate further than eternity on.

In short, I’ve become more introverted and less exhausted than I have been in years. The pandemic has stripped layers off me from therapy and recovery movements, the *correct* opinions to have to fit in with certain crowds and then what I actually think and limited my ability to take up new and more demanding positions.

For years, I was defined by my sheer audacity of will to graduate with an honours degree in anything and then a PhD. Now I’m mocking my own discipline’s media portrayal in conferences about sexy space archaeologists and can finally let the vampires back into my vocabulary just a little now I’m not terrifying psychologists with my descriptions of why I admire random ambush predators. My favourite still is the domestic cat, breed: ragdoll.

In the pause of society, the slow life of elsewhere in Glenelg, I’ve paused a lot. I always thought I knew myself well because I was so candid about my flaws and owning my deviant behaviour. I’m not sure how many of those were mine to start with though I’ll own “strangely literal and newly human” from Anyanka Christina Emanuella Jenkins as fitting me too.

But how much was “I find your energy too busy,” was a person not brave enough to find another room of people and instead to criticise me? How much of that busyness was mine to start with? I remember intensely disliking being compared to Bjork’s It’s Oh So Quiet. But long before that I’d really been letting a battle with the diagnostic establishment with what eventually was bipolar disorder and fibromyalgia go on. This is before I’d been painted in lived experience layers by mental illness, disability and lessons in compassion. That song still irritates me, along with Memories.

When I was 17, I had a friend called M. M was destined for great things and he knew, we knew it, the entire small city we lived knew it. He was a big deal. Order of Australia big deal, a talented actor who just didn’t fit the Home And Away mode of Australian drama and we hadn’t really produced anything adventurous since A Country Practice. He was big for a skinny geeky kid who played Michael Jackson in the rock eistefodde. But life isn’t fair and while he was over burdened with life, I was nihilism in muted colours. So it was terribly unfair when M was suddenly taken by an asthma attack before university; university drama was supposed to be his time, he would have thrived and travel overseas would have been the making of him.

Yet there I was, stabbing my feet with sewing needles so no one could tell I couldn’t face existence and here was M gone. I was pretty angry at the universe and the gods I held sacred at the time —it varied in the same day between new age polytheistic young lady destined for a minor in women’s studies to that time I joined a really obscure cult that taught me excellent Bible scholarship I still carry with me to this day and were a soft, kind place in a world that didn’t have too many compassionate safe places for a victim of the kind of bullying abuse I’d suffered. The universe had it very, very wrong, I went through bargaining and asked to the universe to trade our places like so many people have asked the universe. And like the cosmic balance, I was not able to swap out my place that I didn’t want and didn’t ask for, to that of acceptance.

I had accepted M was gone from where I could reach him or trade places, that I would have to fill his place. Suicide was no longer an option for me in ordinary circumstances and I would have to start speaking up. That was easy as I started at a senior college on a university and I made friends outside the high school click. I would have to be more daring, more clever, try all the things I could and let this adversity that his destiny and become mine but one thing I’d almost always admired about him is that he was brutally honest and I would too. I’ve been wearing a dead boy’s red shoes for a long time. But they no longer fit and the layers of paint peeling, away and home, is Adelaide.

I am an introvert with cats who enjoys the quiet and filling my mind with as much knowledge as possible as I was when I was a child and encyclopaedias and then libraries became my places of solace. Cats have always been the forbidden animal due to my father’s allergies and the best non-judgemental company I had needed to survive my teens and later twenties, though I’m pretty sure the neighbours think I’m weird when I ask them what they think on current affairs. Dee will voice an opinion and Issy will quietly study with me as I try something else new.

There are still the sharp hard edges of me that were honed in adversity, both a pen and sword, but a thing that drives me to seek the opportunity in a challenge. The negotiation in the answer no, but it makes me a difficult to like person. So my own wyrd took hold several years ago when with the desperation of nothing to lose and everything to gain by trying to be a better person, inspired by a FUSA campaign no less, than I decided to try and be someone I liked. The problem is the trying is negotiation and to use that terrible analogy you can be a little bit pregnant or not at all. There is really no middle ground for negotiation how much you like yourself, you do or you don’t.

Self narrative influences so much and without a commitment to liking myself and that liminal zone of “trying”, I took on vulgar values and habits that weren’t mine to begin with. Most of my faux pas and fuck-ups were due to the fact I was negotiating by doing what I thought would make other people like me. I had strange notions of friendship from school and having to be better than someone else to appease the hole in my heart was something I gained from toxic teenage boy masculinity dictating my likes and dislikes. (The distinction is that was not M’s glitter at all. He was ahead of his time).

The eclecticism of my music was actually a place of resistance that later served me well in the arts. I remember telling my mother recently about I had heard the word eclectic at 16 and thought “I should do that, it would upset my ex-boyfriend!” I’m not a neurotypical person and I’ve had some odd notions of revenge in the past and so much of the cultivated yuck was based around things I thought would offend yet the audience would never even know. All of it hideously manipulative and egotistical, traits I share with my niece that has taught me a lot about leadership and who I am underneath the weaponised words and obsession with evening the odds. I need more therapy on this one and more time studying the kind of person I want to be as I fail forward into leadership.

There is one thing I had gain from the fact that glitter rubs off on those that wear M’s shiny red shoes, I had gained a bravery to be someone else, somewhere else. University was the making of me. I had to the courage to finally admit I am a geek from before when geeks ruled the world and knowledge is my elixir of choice, that I liked literary books and obscure theory. I wrote a “Buffy thesis” in honours English in the kind of small country town I swore off as a teen before I’d been slippered red and put myself out there in a time that wasn’t terribly kind to the the survivors of mental illness and faced multiple disabilities with relief because I was alive. I have had the candidness to face my own misdeeds and try to learn from it all. I have a story to tell. It probably won’t make a lot of sense to start with but I think of it a lot like Sansa Stark’s hair in Game of Thrones, you can tell who is influencing her from the way she styles it and that last scene of the final episode as she is crowned Queen in the North, unadorned and out, says a lot about her identity. I’m learning to lead and be me in my entirety, but at the right size for me.

I’m finding my style now but only because I’m prepared to dislike my behaviour in the past and still love myself in the moment, the way Malcolm Gladwell does when investigating the both interesting and dreadful sides of human behaviour. I found me in a genuine curiosity to see how it all turned out and then found myself baked, like cookies, from wearing that dead boy’s shoes. I hope that when I die, I can hand them back, apologise for wearing them out and then thank him.

C.Santilli, The Lonely Archaeologist, 22/04/2020

Being a reluctant leader: embracing I’m really excellent at one thing and have to work at others.

I want to do it all. I have this terrible habit of overpromising and under-delivery, I see how much I’ve taken on, freeze or possibly put on a tiara. Then I jump on a ship, flee down the Nile and fail spectacularly. I tend to be overwhelmed and under resourced in time and energy, not so much lack of ability, for the projects I’d taken on. Then I watched a few online classes on being a great leader and one of the really important points raised by Marissa Peer is that a leader is usually the best at one, maybe two things only and while they don’t brag about it, they are also not afraid to own their abilities. Being candid does not help me and as Brené Brown said recently on 60 Minutes, there is a line between vulnerability and oversharing in leadership.

Chris Hadfield, the Canadian astronaut that got to command the ISS, said all leaders have a doubt at times of “How did I get to be doing this?” This question of “Why do they put trust in me?” really has become an anxiety that haunted me because I take that trust seriously and sacred. I’d describe myself as a “reluctant” or “accidental leader” but I’m not and being uncertain of my leadership hasn’t helped in many ways, it’s actually undermined perception in my abilities and competency. Marisa Peter has said good leaders do one or two things well, they don’t need to be polymaths. If cakes is their thing, they do cakes the best of anyone else…

I think I’m here because I realised that I am excellent at communicating in writing, public and networking around the arts. I am excellent at English and storytelling in particular because I worked at it. There was some natural ability and curiosity but I’ve done years of reading, writing and research around it, finalising an honours degree in English. However I’m a terrible archaeology student so one of the things I learned within my research in my English degree is that it’s perfectly reasonable to surround yourself with a network or team of experts who are much better than you at what they do. And then ask them for help or go to the source, ten minutes with the right expert can save you hours of pain in solving your essay question or assignment problem.

Leadership is defined by Chris Hadfield as influencing people to behave in a manner that solves a problem in the manner the leader desires. Leadership is something I’m a little bit good at because I’m the first to put their hand up and be brave enough to risk failure. That is necessary for any creative and innovative endeavour to go forth is the ability to say, “If this fails, let’s look at another solution.” But that’s only because I know that adversity isn’t a reason to stop but an opportunity to reassess and look at other problems solving methods.

To turn my failures into challenges and any conflict into a chance to look for alternate solutions, I have to have some standard operating procedures or a system I follow or it just is a chaotic situation with no problem solved at the end, nothing created or innovated on. For me in learning to influence people so both of us get the most of an interaction, I’m taking personal development classes to increase my negotiation skills, my emotional intelligence and my professionalism. I am developing these skills just like I am still doing with my writing, dance and music. Still out with the improvised poetry but I’ll hey get there one day!

The same thing can happen with neuroatypical behaviour too, you can study how to have good healthy relationships that can be both personal and professional. I haven’t been the easiest person to get on with in the past in either domain and something that struck me today was this meme that states you might be impressed with my growth but you can choose never to work with me again.

That just because I’m doing the work in therapy and other personal development avenues, now to grow, after a situation doesn’t mean I am necessarily going to be granted a second chance. We all know that first impressions count and reputation is the continuation of that impression in long form storytelling. You want it to be a good one in the words of the Eleventh Doctor.

My reputation is erratic and had several spectacularly public experiences I’ve admitted to and since networking really is creating a relationship in a way that asks favour of someone down the line and having reciprocated value in your dynamic with them, you need a good stable reputation if you want to network. You need to keep those people close and relationships healthy rather than something that belongs in a melodrama. Adelaide is a small city and I’m sure people have talked.

I am a work in progress and I have the ability to lead, but that expectation that people will forgive me for my mental illness and then see my growth throughout that corrective work is something I need to hope for, for forgiveness, but not feel entitled to it or even expect understanding from those I’ve reacted badly too. I’ve burned too many relationships this way as someone who feels threatened and hopefully I can use the pause and uncertainty of the COVID lockdown as a chance to reset myself to a more consistent human. I can hope people are feeling kind as I do my one thing well as representative of the mature age students this year at Flinders.

Clara Santilli, The Lonely Archaeologist, 19/04/2020

Living within your own well of chaos and the consequences of unpredictability.

Whenever I get an idea or react to something.

I startle so easily perhaps right now is the best time I’ll ever be free of a reaction that saw me hit a (stationary) tram with the introduction of social distancing. I wish I was joking… But I’ve been thinking (in the seemingly disconnected way of many manic-depressives) about my behaviour under the influence of the illness and also my employment prospects as if they were being weighed along with my heart in Duat (the Egyptian Underworld because that’s what normal people watch documentaries on and connect to their future prospects). When my heart were weighed, would I come up good and be sent to the fields of plenty or would my heart be heavy and then be eaten by this hybrid nightmare goddess named Ammit, the Devourer of Souls?!

What in my heart is usually good and kind and hopeful — what happens with my head is entirely unpredictable and when I am rejected or I perceive a threat to myself socially, turns into a place I’d rather not be. Run is the advice I’d give a mind reader. I’ve tried to respond rather than react now I have had a suitably boring time to practice the management skill of pausing and breathing, but I have to look at my entire history here and some of it is not pretty, it’s embarrassing and weighs me down.

Ammit, Devourer of Souls.

Unpredictability can have the perks of appearing as a brilliant genius or interesting conversationalist or as a creative artist as you startle yourself and everyone around you with the unexpected on the good occasions. You are the good omen at events until…Then there is what I can only describe as unpredictability in reactions, that you do things that startle you in to shame and nausea and self criticism as you had behaved under the influence of a mood disorder when you come to the equivalent of sobriety. I feel pretty ill writing this but I am because I value courage and honesty.

What would Ammit do if I arrived in the underworld and everything I did was placed on Chthonic scales? Am I employable with this history of mental unpredictability and unstable behaviour? I tend to get rather creative about the metaphorical connections my mind makes but it’s a valid question. Am I someone people need to be protected from or do I deserve a chance to speak? Can I argue a case that I deserve to have a media pass for next year’s small arts festival or am I someone who is an unpredictable problem that requires managing in a way that distances me from the thing I love?

I’ve been sitting here thinking about my unpredictability and can I ask my artist friends for letters of recommendation, when realistically sometimes I am going to be under the influence of bipolar disorder. Is it fair if I ask them to stake their reputations on me? My record of work proves I am a fair and able reviewer of the arts but there are occasions I just want to forget where I was a nightmare child at events past years when I was under pressure. This particular year my own reactions startled me from the strength of my reaction to feeling unvalued and ostracised by the the festival’s administration from anger to me falling into a depressive fugue state.

I went through the motions to find out what happened but lost my brilliance when they threw me into a bureaucratic labyrinth. I didn’t have total mastery of myself and that’s a fair thing to point out, but everyone loses control and goes unpredictable sometime especially when they feel like they aren’t being treated fairly. Am I someone so startlingly unpredictable that I am a risk to others? I keep asking myself that and the answer is…

For awhile there I wasn’t sure what my normal day was going to look like and my GP had me on some medication to slow that startle-stop-startle cycle down until my life eased up into coincidentally with the dull predictability of the C-19 pandemic. It created a perfect environment forcing me to rest and recover, it created a routine to think around what happened and what happens next. I have to think about a professional life. I have to think about what happens at this small arts festival every year can do to my professional reputation. I need to find a way to live with both.

Now that I have stillness to think in, what should I do? Other than feel mortification and wait for something, anything to happen, I’ve been trying to take those excellent intentions I have and translate them into actions that are positive and create a space for loving recovery. That is the first step to moving from mortification to motivation. If I can’t hold space for my own recovery, there is no point to any action. It’s a spectrum of crisis-recovery and right now I’m in a rare period of balance in between the two states.

When I reflect on my recent experiences, I’ve got these two opposing histories like flip sides of a tapestry and I cringe when I think of one as the drama queen embarrassing herself at a situation and then get determined when I think of myself the critic who truly wants to continue, as someone who could be brilliant if given another chance to do my work. I’d been thinking I belonged in the arts rather than archaeology before this situation I’d ended up before judge, jury and executioner given I have no idea which of those bipolar DUIs have landed me on the block.

Which brings me to intentions versus my actions. My intentions are almost always good because I’m on the side of the artist and I get what they are trying to convey. It doesn’t help me that my dramatic reactive moments tend to be quite public spectacles; though I am working on creating a filter, a response rather than a dictatorship of my actions from the emotions bursting in my chest to what is about to exit my mouth. I am gifting myself another chance and doing the work to emerge from it someone worthy. But there is still unfinished business interfering with my ability to go forward.

This is me choosing to respond or pause by pursuing breath work, self work like daily journalling, meditation and therapy with counselling & a neuro-psychologist. So am I predictable enough to call in the witnesses and ask them to endorse me? I just don’t know which is why I’m putting this very personal blog up. Candour and vulnerability don’t make me a victim, just someone who is confused at her circumstance and is willing to try to be a better human by investing in the now so my future is predictable rather than crashes and burns. I want to live. I want to breath without this lingering ache in my chest.

Being this vulnerable is me following the advice of one of the people’s advice I tend to follow, which is Brené Brown, who says that you should only listen to the critics in the ring with you. But I’m not sure who to listen to, because I’m getting an incomplete message from a certain arts festival and possible feedback from my supporters. For days I’ve debated whether or not to publish this. Maybe it’s time to retire or move onto something else during Mad March. I’m truly bewildered by what happened and I want to recover, write and hopefully review but the last is out of my control. I can only ask that people say what they’ve seen of me honestly.

Clara, the Lonely Archaeologist, 17/04/2020

Leadership, fatigue and how I raise my energy.

The Covid-19 situation is difficult for almost everyone to comprehend because it just has broken down the structures society in a way we haven’t seen since the Black Death era in the 14th century. Apart from all the death and disability, the change created a situation people could require adequate remuneration for their services because there was a demand for employment. Change isn’t a bad thing and fear is the mind killer…wash your hands…

However Covid 19 unlike other plagues and pandemics, we have now have all sorts of media at our fingertips. Yet there’s so many operators that are so keen to be either the scoop of daily bad news and or click baiters a fog of uncertainty. How do you thrive if you can’t breathe?

I try to avoid giving rent space in my brain to every new discovery & prediction about C-19. I’m someone who values evidence based science and doesn’t want my mind full of misinformation and media hype so unfortunately I miss one to avoid the other. I tend to be the type that checks updates and restrictions first thing in the day and then forgets about the rest of the noise and panic because I have mad cats to talk to and a balcony I can sing Frozen songs from if my neighbours ever decide to go Italiano.

But let’s not lie, I’ve had insomnia at night because the conversation between my current and future selves has been disconnected. I’ve been oscillating lately in front of people as being the fearless Queen Cleopatra to today in private when I became someone who wanted to curl into a ball. My “thriving in uncertainly “set point had been hit by the bad news and I went down.

I’ve kept telling people to keep calm and carry on as the popular motto goes. I’ve been doing my best to be rational, pragmatic and just get on with the changes that corona virus has wrought in my life, so many things are still good. And then I heard Trump’s plan to defund the World Health Organisation on specious grounds about C-19 and ??? Yet it was enough that I figuratively screamed into to the abyss and had to give a mental health day to myself as a gift. To be a loving person, I have a care for myself. How do I do that? How do I find love when I struggle with my own adversarial nature.

For me, love it starts with caring and I’m lucky to have two little souls to share my time with. One of the nicer things is that Darla (Dee) joins me for my meditations. I’m particularly a fan of Marisa Peer and her goddess meditation. I never truly understood meditation before because it was all breathing and an empty mind as far as I knew, I got bored. And I’m the first to admit that I am not quiet or contemplative in a sit still situation, until a global meditation I attended last week really showed me that meditation can just as easily be about filling up your mind with value and I’m slowly becoming a fan of both guided and unguided meditation to listen to love.

The next thing I did was to find a very purposeful and mindful activity that brought me joy. Today it was lingering in bed a little longer that I planned to savour cuddling Dee and holding her paw in my hand (she had a rough day of her feline flu vax) and this afternoon it was brushing Issy and coddling her in ragdoll cat tummy rubs & patses. These are the moments I have right now to smile at and won’t regret spending one minute of my time on my deathbed for the things I did and didn’t do. Those moments with my familiars are love in motion as much as love in stillness being flung in meditation.

I mentioned I’m terrible at stillness and serenity earlier so one of the most important things I can do is connect to love through movement. It was walking by the bay near my home but I’ve settled for dancing around my flat to the music that tells my life story and I connect with myself as a pure being of emotion and the sense of pure connection with joy just raises my energy to a place I can cope, even thrive in uncertainty.

I do the standard self-work such as I journal daily. I have started a new gratitude practice of thanking the universe for my blessings over a candle to send light into the world at dinner. However the most important things I think though is actually connecting with the people I love in a positive way, some of them even tolerate actual voice phone calls because they love me. As preparations to wind down for the end of the day, I use a playlist of rain sounds and that’s where everything comes together. It’s having a good day and that is a day you were good.


By Clara. 15/04/2938

The dress I gave away…

Anybody who knows me even a little, knows I’m obsessed with the Doctor Who but particularly the TARDIS. It’s all around my home and possibly is my favourite character in the entire universe after my favourite author, Neil Gaiman, wrote The Doctor’s Wife. I am a tragic Whovian to the point I used to have two dresses in what I simply think of as Tardis Blue and when I was still doing geek stuff, I used to cosplay a time machine which is really archaeologist wish fulfilment if you think about it.

It was a great dress, with these frilly sleeves and it was tea length so I felt comfortable moving around and being modest in it. The dress got a lot of wear but it was cared for as one of the prize possessions of my wardrobe. It was from a store aimed at plus sized women so it even fit and draped in what I though was a flattering fashion. I’d wear it out to boost my confidence on a bad day. I could do anything in that dress.

One night after coming back from the world’s safest poetry group as a fellow member puts it, I was standing at the tram stop and this van of yobbos pulled up yelling abuse at fellow waiting commuters and hollered at me that the dress should cover more. I was so mortified and sickened I never wore that dress again and a week later, washed it carefully and donated it a charity shop.

It took me another year to feel comfortable to wear a dress and until recently, all of them were tea length or well past my knees. This is why I take body shaming and negativity very seriously, especially when it comes from thoughtless individuals who though they were entertaining. I am someone who believes in safe spaces and punching upwards with comedy, sometimes though I miss the point.

There’s a quote from Buffy the Vampire Slayer about the character, Anya talking about herself, that I feels sums up my own sense of the world: “I dislike Anya. She’s newly human and strangely literal.” I don’t always get it and since neurodiversity runs in my family, I’m not always going to get a joke or how it went wrong.

Coming from a neurodiverse family has been incredible in so many ways, we were always interested in history, science and curious about the world around us. My parents gave me so many stimulating opportunities and I can say like before, music and dance (to a lesser extent) saved my life, I had a lot of access to books and as a kid I really loved our set of leather bound encyclopaedias and year books. Most of the neuroatypical diagnoses in my family are centred around ASD clusters and I suffered a great deal at school because I wasn’t given any of the interventions I need. Some of the kids in my family that have been born since I left school, are highly functioning, highly intelligent and challenging my sister as the state she is in has a much tighter lockdown than SA. Things are much better for them and they are getting what they need to succeed.

So how does this all connect? A blue dress, neuroatypical family members and me having a dark and very inappropriate sense of humour? I think it comes down to me trying to say there are times I don’t get it, ramble on, say outrageous things I think are normal (trust me 3 years of studying vampires definitely adds a level of gore that leave jaws dropped). I had a tough Fringe season, I thought my reviewing was going well but like a game of darts, there are always hit and misses. I made a egregious miss and like the collateral damage of my inability to play darts (or understand them), I ended up stabbing myself and now I’m trying to remember everytime I’ve ever won a game of metaphorical darts. So for now my involvement in the arts is simply curating a corona virus resistance playlist of all the stuff I find cool in the creative and performing arts world. It reminds me life is worth living.

I haven’t been sleeping well since Fringe. I’ve been up at 4am and that’s when I listen to music and make lists. Soon I’m hoping to fill this with Masterclasses of some of my idols like Gaiman and Astronaut Chris Hadfield to keep my mind busy in a more useful fashion that visiting all the corners of YouTube for material. I’ve been thinking a lot about the Adelaide Fringe lately and that perhaps it’s time to give that particular dress away for good since every year it just gets harder to be a reviewer, accredited or not.

It’s not been helpful for people with disabilities in 2020 (as I got feedback from a mentor last night) and witnessed several times including someone tripping on a guide dog. Though Matt Tarrant is an awesome champion and he is someone whose words have value. Some of my friends with disabilities were less than enthused about getting out the venues because it’s become such a crush of human proportions it’s not safe for many of us to get around. Maybe it’s time do sun glasses, a big floppy hat and to enjoy reading my unread book (shelf) next summer than put myself into an environment I’m vulnerable in. I’ve still got a few interviews and owed reviews to do after I research making tea for a class blog that I’m excited about. I’m also very enthused about finishing a few e-books over the next few weeks now we are living a slower life!

Clara, The Lonely Archaeologist, 15/04/20

The transformation of Cassowary Cate versus becoming Clara Rose.

Cassowary Cate is best name for my psychopath.

I’ve been doing a lot of thinking lately of what kind of person and leader I am. I had been thinking about leadership development well before the person I’ve become. I realised I needed to make space for the human being I am first before even trying to step forward as a role model, old me and future me needed a chance to talk. I’m a very reactive, over sensitive person instead of a responsive thinker, so I was tying up tonight’s loose ends on social media before diving into a book or movie and I saw something on the socials that made me angry, I was beyond angry. How dare they? This is what they approve! I raged to myself. Why aren’t I good enough?! I was ready to rage to my mother on the phone (who thinks I’m a queen, those tiaras really work!) about how at my core, no one liked me and I was a failure from feeling devalued by my colleagues. But then I realised I was about to make the choice of love in calling someone who loves me, and as Marisa Peer says, I AM ENOUGH. I have it scrawled on my bedroom mirror in lipstick like her famous anecdote.

Today I was attacked by a peewee (like a small magpie that feels like a small tiny fist as it connects with your face) who went for my eye and successfully made it bleed. Peewee 1, Clara 0. I am fine apart from slightly concussed at a guess. I am well but talking to my mother about my latest bit of chaos, all I could feel compassion that this little bird saw me as a threat and that moment of any illustrates who I am, who I try to be as a person. However on Facebook, at that exact moment I filled with rage like a fetid water ballon of toxic emotion, I was not someone who had made the choice of love first. I was in the mode of a prehistoric bush chicken ready to eat that little peewee who needed to defend itself (representing my resentment, jealously, inability to deal with a perceived threat to me) and I was felt a myriad of minutes of mixed, seething emotions from Shakespeare’s witches three would be pleased with. I despaired at entitlement, the milky blind eyes of newts and a lack of gratitude in that representation in my toxic brew. I don’t lie that there some very strong egotism operating of how that these demands were this picked over a message of comfort, love and peace?! Why aren’t I good enough for them.

And then I stopped in my tracks. It was a pause. I took a breath, just an ordinary inhalation. Nothing of note. It was a pretty boring few minutes if I write with any veracity, I actually felt sorry for me and sulked which is why I was quietly breathing in and out. People don’t like me as a representative but did that actually matter if I do my job as best as I can? Representatives don’t all have to lead in modes of leadership as its currently defined. Pause. In and out.

Yet the respiratory intervention was enough for the inspiration to enter my body from my face and move to the bottom of my feet, I felt the air fill me up and travel back out with the expired things. That pause, the breathing, gave me just enough time to hear the whisper: Who do you want to be? I certainly wasn’t comfortable in my body as the adrenaline and cortisol flooded my limbs preparing for fight or flight, I actually squirmed and ached because I didn’t want the negativity in me. My body was restlessly ready to expel this experience. I was almost rushing to let it out, I wanted my beautiful André Rieu concert happening where my body was doing as much as it could in concert, a graceful dance.

Right before then, the choice had not been graceful, not love in motion, not love in the stillness; the process of recovery made me feel so sick with the churning waves as they crashed out of me in slow movement. I re-negotiated the choice again that I would let the flow that is philosophy of love out loud demands of me, it’s all or nothing. So I leaned into the love and realised that this, it’s tidal. It comes in and out with every breath in every minute if we invite it to. I have asked it into to my life. I feel the grace and the the whisper of singing glaciers to the roar of waves or the patter of rain on windows. The choice of being loving is the starting point. It will be a constant challenge and a constant choice but the rest will come as the love hums along. Meditation is the quiet place it starts.

Clara Rose Santilli, Love Out Louder and victim of random bird attacks. 04/04/2020

Space for myself today, whispers to go into the unknown. And my assignments.

Elsa making the face I’ve been internally lately.

I live with a condition called fibromyalgia and it has several complications including joint pain (that won’t permanently damage me as far as specialists know) and fatigue (some days I’m more peppy than others and it has no relation to my blood:caffeinating ratio). I was exhausted because I’d be trying so hard to do so many things and hitting brick walls at the Fringe and on student council at Flinders University. The anxiety of other students leaning on me as their representative to do something for them and feeling powerless was a very big moral weight for me to carry and I felt by being ill I was not doing what I was elected to do. I’d been unwell with a chest infection and pneumonia I ended up with in the last week of Fringe/O’Week and it was tough physically isolating since I tend to stay home when sick (when possible in a sort of self imposed quarantine that’s now called self isolation or social distancing.)

The loneliness of every person now having to experience this distress and loneliness was particularly difficult and I was behind in class work as a distance educated student, because the anxiety was so paralysing I couldn’t do anything but freeze. Flinders University has become this huge institution having to make some tough choices to keep us learning and safe, with some groups making political decisions that I may or may not agree with, tension thick with everyone with different ideas & plans about what’s best for students and staff. I took a hard stance, I decided on my own path is the only thing I can do, even if it put me at odds with the others. I can stand alone but it hurts more psychologically than physical pain. My underlying sticking point is I want to be liked and included. Irony is years have disconnected me from that space called life. Everyone at Flinders is trying so very hard that I think we’ve just created an atmosphere of fear and distress.

I had worked hard on a statement intended to convey peace and comfort to some of my cohort who missed the April graduation ceremony (I’ll be looking at tidying up some of these loose ends tomorrow and hopefully we’ll have a Facebook page for us Mature Age Students). I had been told no to my message as inappropriate and the campaign on ageism & graduate employment is going more slowly than I anticipated because we are working very carefully on planning and creating something thorough. Yet every tick of the second hand of any clock I could be felt rushing through my veins, throbbing in my feet. I was so frustrated I actually made myself unable to walk.

I am slowly considering setting up a social media nexus for mature age students to connect over the next week. If you are a computer genius or have smart ideas, the best way to get me over the next week is through my LinkedIn or my personal Facebook while we are figuring up the how of setting up the socials.

Jeri Ryan as Seven in Star Trek Picard.

I thought about who I wanted to be like and it lately comes a lot back to Annika Hansen better known as ‘Seven of Nine’ in Star Trek. Out of cannon there is a suggestion she’s the next Borg Queen and in Picard there’s a missing sense of reconnection to other cyborgs in her that she misses from being absent from the Collective and other XBs feel similarly which I relate to. She also has a bit of a temper to work through and as someone who is working on being more collaborative than adversarial, I grok Seven becoming Annika.

So for the last few days I took some time to mentally regenerate and make space for myself in music and literature and silence, but mostly sound which for me seems to be tied to how I see and feel reality. The first thing I did was get myself into the Love Out Loud Global Mass Meditation event.

Love Out Loud Mass Global Meditation

Anyone who knows me, will know I am very skeptical of meditation working for me because I’m not still, I definitely will never have an empty mind. I do not like to be anything but a flurry of chaos & ideas but I couldn’t function from the chronic pain and since I was literally & figuratively bed bound and what did I have to lose? Fibromyalgia can be extraordinarily boring.

So I got online to catch the great opening ceremony and meditation by Nicole Gibson, founder of Love Out Loud, among her many other accomplishments. I was trying to focus when my hyperactive tabby (who had been zooming through the flat in a hurricane of chaos because she’s a minion of the dark forces) joined me by my side in bed and did not attempt to chew in on the fairly chilled out ragdoll cat hanging out too.

It was uncanny but the peace we created here at my home, radiated locally from me to the felines, from us to the globe, as a group universally pushing for peace to dispel the power of the pandemic and it’s climate of fear. We created a climate of love. But what really sold me on meditating was that it stopped me from having to yell: “Darla! No! No chewing on your sister is not acceptable behaviour!”) I gave it a go since the mad cats thought it was a good idea, a proper Disney lady adventuress will listen to her companions. It was a start. A small echo into the unknown…

Elsa and I hearing the same call into an unknown space.

The third guest on Nicoles’s mega event is a favourite YouTube guru of mine, the extraordinary Marisa Peer. She gave a meditation on boosting immunity while not 100% scientifically evidence based as I usually like, she lead us through a meditation that convinced us that our bodies were capable of working as exactly as they needed to be to fight infection and inflammation. It sounded like the science was probably a little sketchy but the technique was brilliant to get you into a headspace to improve behaviours that you enact when sick like exiling my low mood cycle from France! It was acknowledged and let go with peace. Love you, France!

I visualised that my body was similar to the Palace of Versailles and had an André Rieu-seque masquerade grand ball going on in my body and surprisingly the visualisation got me out of bed well enough to do some dishes and feeling a little energised. We don’t ask to get sick, it’s not a punishment (it’s a nasty little thing that’s not even alive that replicated and uses us). It’s when we open ourselves to new things then perhaps you’ll be surprised by the fact you are a walking masquerade (that looked like The Girl in the Fireplace for fellow Whovians). I think that even if you don’t buy into the scientific benefits, a meditation that tells your body it is capable and able as much as it can be, is a good thing.

I see the place of Love Out Loud’s philosophy is that it only gives you a single choice and that is to embrace love and not fall into fear. Fear is tiring, I’d know as the expert on existing in uncertainty and crazy brain wonkiness. There’s a decision I consciously have been making over the last few days to choose peace or grace if I can’t find the love in a situation because fear and anxiety don’t leave space for recovery or even to find me and my gratitude in the sea of anxiety with universities moving online for our safety.

Nicole Gibson pulled together an amazing event but I must confess I needed to sleep so after her musical friend began his amazing compositions hear just wasn’t my jam that day, I needed something a little less stimulating. Of course I found myself drawn to listening to Jonna Jinton’s traditional practice of kulning, a very fancy traditional herding call that was both a greeting and farewell to cattle. I also may have fallen asleep listening to a singing glacier after the lullaby to a wolf and it made me aware that the decision in loving out loud has to start as a quiet whisper within you as inspiration and eventually will come out louder as expiration the more we find that choice of to make of embracing the decision of love. Breathing helps a Queen like me.

For me it’s tied to the grace and faith I have in my old gods and my old ways and my old values and the fact they still whisper words of community and hospitality through the frith echoing in how you honour your guests and ancestors. The only thing I can be grateful for the C-19 pandemic is that it has forced the world to slow down, take a beat and if you are fortunate to be able to truly comfortably self isolated, people are choosing kinder behaviour if not love, more consideration and respect as we have to become a team as a species to survive this strain of corona virus.

Yesterday, I highlighted some terrible medical choices I’d come across in my post. The horror of the worst of human behaviour pushed me into a direct choice to exist in love and exist in grace. Grace to me is love in motion and action; I’ve been trying to force the movement of things with the entirely wrong motion, the anger and frustration were drowning out the answers and love & gratitude. I’ve signed up to become a Love Out Loud facilitator and it will be amazing connecting my ancient self through to my modern, future selves since we are several different people across a life time and I look forward to seeing who I can become and who I was.

So I took the luxury of a day today to make space so I could hear the whisper of my soul and heard the kulning farewelling the end of my life based on fear, anxiety and anger and honouring that me leaving as I welcoming a season of having my heart melted and sing like the glacier with love and all its potential, thanks to Nicole Gibson for connecting with me. I sense this reconnecting between my past, present and future and I feel like love have opened space for something new and I’m so excited to find out where this journey is taking me

Goodbye Cassowary Cate, thank you for your lessobs.

Hello Clara Rose, pleased to meet you.

Clara Santilli, professionally failing student at this moment 03/04/2020

Disclosing mental illness, that pandemic thing and opening doors to love.

I was fourteen when I knew something wasn’t right with me. It was not only the teenage blues and it wasn’t just hormones, all the things they dismiss in young women of that age. They weren’t normal reactions and I was known as the lizard queen by my younger sister for my rabid & feral disposition. I was sixteen when I was initially diagnosed with depression and anxiety after I made my first attempt at suicide around that age.

Almost me except I wouldn’t eat Felice.

The SSRI antidepressant that was meant to fix my anxiety and depression screwed me up by giving me the energy to act on my volatile feelings because I hadn’t had the necessary psychological interventions to change the thoughts of a creative teen with a death wish. I spent an interesting weekend in a psych ward, only to go back to year 11 English on Monday morning as my life was still normal. and be Beatrice in Much Ado About Nothing. Everyone thought I was hilarious because I was so darkly humoured and I had her broken heart, because my whole world had changed. Of course my identity was “so similar” to the heroine of the play because wit is wit, joking about being in the mental health ward was a good one since the devil was going to send me back to the gates of heaven as an old maid. I was okay back then to let them think that. I was damned in my own estimation but at least I was funny.

Amy Acker as Beatrice, Much Ado (2012)

My life as a chronically ill woman started before I could legally drink as I struggled with medication side effects, conflicting diagnoses between a pair of competitive psychiatrists and my state got progressively worse until I’d just turned in my mid-twenties and moved near my parental unit because I was going utterly nuts losing my mind. I found someone progressive and professional who took their time to listen to my story; I was told I had bipolar disorder and complex PTSD, that was a relief in all candour.

River Song, Doctor Who, BBC.

At first my illnesses was a monster with a name that I could slay; this was was before I discovered it was a much easier beast to have a relationship with as I recovered. It was a pretty intense teen love/hate affair but as I reached closer to a state of wellbeing, the less hate & drama there is. It’s an ongoing process the relationship and it took me decades before I figured out loving it, was loving me and the fierce battles became unique user features and strengths when I leaned into myself. There was never anything wrong with me, I was just a limited edition model.

Elsa, Frozen 2, Disney.

It was years of therapy (and so many more to go) and medication tweaking until I can say I feel like I’m the closest to what my definition of normal is. Life for me is sometimes like being the emotional equivalent of port-wine flavoured jelly, though tomorrow I might be raspberry or strawberry or a slice of New York baked cheese cake. It’s not certain. I’m the Gump Chocolate Box. And that’s the point, you just don’t know and that’s normal (but at least there is chocolate and I’m delicious.) When your life is always an uncertain flavour and jiggly dessert, you learn to adapt despite the grief cycle of living through the crisis while everything is shaking up. I’m an expert in living with life quakes.

Sainsbury’s Summer fruit elderflower jelly

One way to cope with the uncertainty is to look at the myriad of amazing free courses & meditations out there on the Internet. You can find think pieces on like this but YouTube has been my garden of knowledge, however it does not replace talking to a professional and get help however you can or need to. But life will carry on even if you do collapse, even if you congeal for a single morning and are floored by the c-19 event. Why am I being harsh saying the world doesn’t give a damn if you fall? Because while this pandemic isn’t a choice in itself, we mostly can only manage it ourselves on a local scale.

The Alanis Morissette one hand method of clean.

We are all going to fall at some moment in it, we can choose to be a much more loving, compassionate and courageous responder even in our crises and while life will go on if you melt, don’t fear you’ll be alone. As a society, the isolation of physical distancing has made us so much more open to what human connections are than ever before. We can have two choices here, we can choose fear and stockpile toilet paper while the less fortunate miss out. Or we can choose love in the face of adversity, we can choose to be our best selves in not necessarily the best situation but hoarding Quilton like Smaug is entitled. Smaug is choosing fear.

Why am I telling you all this? I was never told I didn’t have to disclose my mental illness as a teen and I faced a lot of stigma from the medical profession (and probably ex-boyfriends); I wasn’t told that it didn’t have to be the thing that defined me so I was a broken creature and my recovered perspective on the world being a place full of love didn’t occur to me until much later on. Prior to that I was an entitled, demanding bitch because I had this situation thrust upon me that somehow made the world owe me for a suffered experience I didn’t choose. I was an effing special snowflake (love Fight Club and how the toxic masculinity taught me to be totally adversarial) and I was less than kind to anyone non feline until I took responsibility to be loving, accountable and full of grace. Not my natural temperament but grace is love in motion and I could at least move towards a better user experience.

Death of Klaus & Elijah, the Originals, CW.

I’ve not talked much about stigma, it exists, it’s yuck and much smarter people have written about it so I encourage you to seek out those amazing resources. I’ve had a dear family member (LL) diagnosed with the corona virus and I’m watching them struggle through grief and pain as the thought process I see is as if though they recklessly caught the virus and then intentionally to expose young children in their care to it. She’s taken her diagnosis as part of her identity (hopefully not merging with the virus to become an alien queen because that’s my thing!) and I just want to say you don’t need to let this be the thing that defines you.

Seven of Nine, Star Trek: Voyager.

All COVID-19 is a virus, it’s not even alive. It’s just this weird little biological machine that replicates in humans with (hopefully) no awareness at all. She is an awesome family member and the least evil of my relatives yet she is identified herself with someone who cultivated the virus deliberately and without a care. It couldn’t be further from the truth. People care for family, neighbours, friends, strangers (thanks lady who sold me one extra body wash at the supermarket). Small acts is a great place to start the movement from the Lizard Queen to the Lady of Winterfell.

Seven of Nine, Star Trek: Picard

The corona virus is so serious and more than a type flu and there’s a dark side to the pandemic; I’ve read letters published from medical practices in the UK that ask elderly and terminally ill patients to sign do not resuscitate orders because in crisis cases, respiratory assistance priority will be given to the young and most likely to survive. This to me as someone who is entwined with her conditions sounds just a little like “Lebensunwertes Leben”. It’s easy to identify with your diagnosis and labels such as mentally ill or disabled when you’re still becoming an adult and perform the part. Part of me wishes I’d had the option of choosing to where and when to disclose because I’m disturbed that we are in a medical situation where we are choosing who lives and dies based on the lack of resources. This is not what I signed up for and it’s what I’ll actively protest against as someone disabled and chronically ill. I’ll protest because they want to murder my family members.

Part of living with my conditions openly has meant that people have written me off as useless at this adulting thing yet living in a state of chaos is what I do for a living and my neurodiversity is actually an amazing user feature to have most of the time. Be it COVID-19 or bipolar affective disorder, I am an expert in existing in uncertain times and I see this adversity as an opportunity to be better: every encounter at the supermarket to buy loo roll or pasta sauce are all opportunities for us as individuals and a community to rethink the way we reframe the concepts of communication, etiquette and politeness built into our culture. Let’s be on the light side of history that shows what we can do as a considerate collective species and not the kind that future students writing essay compares the treatment of certain C-19 victims as the pandemic”untermensch”. Because for I one, very much want to live.

Clara Rose Santilli, “Cassowary” blogger, 02/04/2020

Postscript: Mentally and physically I am safe and well. I’m embarking on this journey by choosing love if you tune in tomorrow.

Me: the arts in the time of C-19, Malcolm Gladwell at the darkest hour and a lot more love is needed.

So it’s 2 am, no actually 3 am. If you’re like me at all then you become haunted and haunted some more by events you failed at or went wrong at. I can’t calm down and I’ve tried to air crash investigate the systematic failure of how I went from loving the local arts scene to how the events with a certain lower cultural arts festival went so wrong; I still don’t know what I did exactly wrong. I stare in the mirror and count my daily errors, what misdemeanours did I do and was that in the behaviour of the category felonies and just one more faux pas is going to land me in a gulag… I’m obsessed, I’m driven, I’m compelled to find the imperfections I can fix. I don’t need Coldplay and the colour yellow to fix me. I fix me.

Yet with the vacuum of information, I can’t do the work to improve my user experience as an effing robot advocate. You might say without data or even anecdotal evidence, I can’t improve. I’m in a circular loop of GIGO and I feel like my life has come down past the idiom you can be right or you can be happy, but that everything I do is flawed now. No redemption arcs for me. So I dissect and analyse everything I do now and I fail at it all, every time. Because you are going to fail what you perceive to be perfect. We are well past let it go, we are into the bit into being called into the unknown because (she has insomnia with her sense of adventure).

Elsa, Frozen 2, all images owned by Disney.

Mentally I’m becoming so very ill from this and taxed by my paranoia from my cPTSD and it makes me wonder if people are revelling in my unravelling. But that is me, it’s 3.25am and I’m no nearer to sleep so I’m listening to Malcolm Gladwell being interviewed by Joe Rogan. I enjoy his sociology but one thing really struck me underlying all the science and his analysis of dumb crap humans are prone to do, that Gladwell has this intense love and compassion for humans even as his analyses of situations of what I would term our worst f***k-ups. This is what my old counsellor B. meant by catching ourselves gently when we fall. I want to be Gladwell.

Indiana Jones and Dr Jones Snr. “Imhotep,Imhotep.”

The qualities I possessed and considered values of a relationship with leadership were of an adversarial nature. I thought I had to be the best: the most competitive, the most intelligent, the one who answered the questions in class the way I thought the lecturer would want me to. I thought I needed the gold stars, to be in the programs at uni with the word “ambassador” (believe me it’s not pretty crying in the toilets at uni for 20 minutes when you know outside there are other students that look up you are hearing your meltdown because you did all that work and still weren’t good enough for the imaginary line). They were very much isolating and part of the toxic masculinity that Taylor Swift describes in her song, The Man.

“I’d be a fearless leader,
I’d be an alpha type…”

There is a point you do need to calm down. There is a point where the courses you did to tick off this imaginary list of certificates of approval or media just don’t matter at 3.44am on a Wednesday in the time of that corona virus. There were three things that ended up being important to me as I calmed down from being an adversary. The first was that people cared for me (so many that I was surprised by the outpouring of love, thank you everyone who has reached out and I plan on tracking a few more of you down). I need you all to survive this.

Clara’s mum. Clearly not a cassowary because on a boat a cassowary would probably be a disaster…

The second is I didn’t care if I was a leader because it was my job, I cared for them in a very compassionate way (or at least I tried to) because that’s who I am. The very last is that I have to stop caring about what other people (“authorities”, “the competition” “my adversaries”) are thinking about me & engage in the things that bring me joy in the arts in the age of social isolation (The Piano Guys, Johnny Weir, Malcom Gladwell, Briar Noelet) because they aren’t the sole authorities to arbitrate my love, my creativity and somehow I’m working in road transportation Government of Australia but it’s been hard, it’s been a bitumen.

T-Swift’s image from You Need To Come Down.

In my professional opinion, the world is ending as we know it; but image of the end of times, the one we could have doesn’t have to be a finality of humanity but it would be human life actively, collectively, on an improved planet. We have plenty of time to think about how it is up to us as individuals we figure out social isolation, to create new systems and better defined communities and mutual cooperation among all, not just certain, hairless monkeys.

We can have the film version of Tomorrowland (2015) where a machine in the film is a harbinger of doom that is telling humanity that the world will end through some sort of projection technology (oh hi online media!). Yet it’s creating a self fulfilling prophecy based on original good intentions, that through warning us to avoid our doom, we become so used to the idea we are all f**ked that hasten the end of life on Earth as we know it. But we can be better than these stories (at least there aren’t Triffids I suppose, I hate gardening.)

Tomorrowland, Disney.

Instead of speculative fiction where we seem strangely to get kicks from seeing the planet under-threat constantly (looking at you Marvel), we can all be calm enough all that we can see the visions of humans who love humanity, that see the in reality as it should be as Barak Obama, Gladwell, the Gates, Dr Phil and Oprah do in every day interactions.

Social scientist, Brené Brown says the only critics who count are the ones in the ring with you; so I’ve come to the conclusion that it is important for me to keep up with education about the pandemic and the COVID-19 provisions of services I use like my university and medical service. But I’m not in the ring with the brilliant minds working on solving this crisis and the decision makers who are guiding us through the process of hopefully flattening the curb of infection.

Cattening the curve of corona.

However I am in the ring with the artists, Humanities academics and disabled activists that are trying to imagine a future with worth having. In order to do that, I found a lot of peace in opting out of every single C-19 alert and only get my sources from trusted venues like the World Health Organisation. What I decided to do was stop projecting the fear of the media’s apocalyptic build up and create a social wall of things that I could go to when the doomsday program was being projected. The media updates were doing opposite or calming me the heck down, it just tired me out. And so here we are to me calming down. I’ve begun a join a movement of global love. I’m not going to lie, the meditation is going to be a challenge for me.

Finally I just need to calm down enough to let the love I have for other people shine through. I just want to be liked and cherished I’ve said here yesterday and that loneliness cuts through my existence, like Gladwell, I love human beings and I need to be calm enough for that love to rise to the surface. I have work to do on myself but simultaneously I think I can also be a light for others to see by as I explore leading from love.

My niece, the future.

Clara Cassowary, some chick with a blog. 01/04/2020.