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459 Fitzgerald Street
North Perth, WA, 6006
Australia

The Amber Fresh Chronicles

100ks of Personal Growth

Andrew Ryan

One question quiz: as a ladyface, can you go hiking on the Bibbulmun without men making you feel uncomfortable with sexual advances/comments? Answer: Hahah, you wish!

That was the note inside the fake Valentine's Day card I got given in year six "Haha, you wish!!" That's what I saw when I opened the card right up. But the first opening revealed a beautiful message about running along Goode Beach with me (my home), and how it doesn't matter if I wear glasses etc etc. It was accompanied by a single red rose. But, it was just a joke. I did cry at the big interior reveal, as I wasn't a big girl.

Well, I went hiking with two big handfuls of private school boys along the incredible track that goes from Perth to Albany. One of the days we did 33ks with our big backpacks - that part I was with the footy boys. They were asked what would happen if all of a sudden their school became co-ed. "Everyone would be pregnant!" they replied. The other part of camp I was with the mixed bag of boys from budding DJs to boys who already know how to pilot a plane. I asked them at night in the hut about their female heroes in life. A lot of them said their grandmas, one of them said Helen Keller, one said his amazing aunty does whatever she wants all the time. We talked into the night. They asked me my greatest regret. They told me what girls or boys they liked.

All the boys were various versions of darlings, but I got cornered by an older hiker telling me he'd watched me secretly getting changed after I had a private dip in the river. He said he liked what he saw, that he thought about looking away but decided not too, and told me "Thank you!", as in, for the unwilling display of my body. He was probably not a bad guy, just probably didn't realise I had to worry about being assaulted in the hut as I went to sleep, and replayed the things he said and how I should have reacted over again in the days afterwards. Another frenchman offered me to sleep next to him, and found me on the internet once I returned to the city. Just be chill, men! Our guards are up, and not because we're crazy, just because we're under attack.

The boys were all amazing. They're grown up to be leaders and so they take charge, and no-one calls them bossy, and that's a great thing.

On the way down to camp Iron Man 2 was playing on the video screen at the front of the bus. Literally the first scenes included Iron Man in his suit of armour, arms up and triumphant, and wheeling delicately and sexually around him were a mass of same-dressed womens in sparkly bikinis with the same hair styles, flinging their sparkly glistening asses around towards the crowd and Iron Man. "Gee," I thought, "Give me a break general culture! The boys are watching this and then I gotta lead them as a female stranger on a hike, try and get them to listen to me, respect me, while I keep them healthy and alive for 100ks of personal-growth time!"

A friend told me recently he doesn't buy the argument about the pay gap between men and women, because it's illegal to pay people differently, and besides, maybe it's just a question of personality with who rises in the ranks and gets listened to at meetings. In the kitchen in the conversation I cried, but now at the laptop I say "Go tell your theories to the opening scene of Iron Man and then try lead an all boys camp!" etc.

Well, I saw one of my favourite performances of the year on coming back from the zamia lands, and that was Ben Witt and Malcolm Clark doing something like a metal set at Mojos, for On The Side. I was trying to work out a lot of the time what was improvised and what was set in stone, and in the end I guessed it must be a set of riffs and then playing on those themes - and Ben confirmed that's indeed what it was. But really it also could have been that almost every note and beat was pre-planned. It was almost all completely precise, Ben just on bass for a change, Malcolm on a great kit set up to reinvent some skewed version of metal directions. Ben played as fast as he could, which is *very fast*. They wore masks and didn't talk except for a few dog barks from Mal. Masks are a beautiful thing - to Ben I said it's like a still and moving image in one vision, photo and video, and it draws your mind in in a different way. A frozen expression that's lived in for a half hour by one person, and the expression is one they've never made.

Where did masks begin? We have masks in our home at Goode Beach, Korean, Japanese, Chinese. I should have worn a mask to school to scare away the teasing boys, or learned sword play, or how to wield a culture.

Mai Barnes played next and I wondered if she was scared to play after the incredible skill and precision of Ben and Mal. But she didn't seem scared. She sung her story out and flailed her arms and legs around and created a captivating soundtrack to a defined purpose, as always.

:) TTY next week when the world's anew again.

 

 

iron man