Let’s Talk About Sex…ual Abuse

I was four years old the first time I was sexually harassed. Yes, four years old. I can still remember it clearly – I’d just started kindergarten, and my mum – who was a teacher – had let me take her smiley face stamp to school. My kindergarten teacher had told me I could go around the classroom and give all the kids a stamp on the back of their hands. When I got to one boy, he pinned me up against a wall in a back corner of the classroom, unzipped his pants and pulled out his penis. “Stamp THIS,” he growled at me, while tugging at his exposed penis and lunging towards me. Stunned, I silently stood pressed against the wall and waited for him to zip his shorts back up.

Although I didn’t have a name for what was happening, I knew something was very, very wrong. Afterwards, I remember quietly slinking back to my chair, feeling confused, upset and humiliated. I never told the teacher – or anyone else for that matter – because even though I hadn’t done anything wrong, I was somehow left feeling ashamed and embarrassed by what had transpired.

I still don’t know where that little boy learnt that, but even at a young age, he clearly believed he exerted some sort of power and privilege over me simply because he was male. And from that moment on, I felt it too.

I wish I could say this was the only time I have ever been sexually harassed, but sadly, it’s not. It’s happened countless times since then. I’m sure every woman has had similar experiences.

At the risk of sounding like I’m just jumping on an already very full bandwagon, let me just say that I think it is incredibly important for women to finally start speaking their truths, after years of being shamed into silence. Nothing is going to change until we do.

Most men have no idea just how terrifying it is to be a woman. Some men do, and there lies their power… We are literally scared every single day of our lives. We worry about being attacked when we walk down a quiet street, so we change our route and go the long way instead. We’re too afraid to catch public transport alone at night. We constantly worry about our mothers, sisters, daughters and friends… It’s draining and exhausting.

Sexual harassment – and for too many women, sexual assault – has become such a normalised part of our lives as women, up until recently, we didn’t even bother mentioning it. It was just one of the pitfalls of being female. Something we had quietly and resignedly accepted.

As girls, we are taught to be meek and subservient to men. Not in an obvious way, but we’re conditioned to be polite and mild-mannered. Always be considerate of others, even at your own expense.

I can’t even begin to tell you how many times I heard the phrase, “That’s not very ladylike,” while growing up. It was used to reprimand me whenever I did anything cheeky or mischievous. After a while, I came to discover being “ladylike” ultimately meant being passive, submissive and respectful of people even when they weren’t respectful of me. Something else little girls often hear? “Boys will be boys.” All that does is excuse boys’ bad behaviour and diminish the power of women.

When news broke back in October that Harvey Weinstein had been sexually assaulting women, I was sad, angry and deflated. But the one thing I was not was surprised. Even I had heard horror stories of Weinstein (none sexually related), so I found it incredibly hard to believe his Hollywood peers were “shocked” by the allegations. Hollywood is a small town – people talk – and this had been something of an open secret for THREE DECADES. He got away with this for 30 years before anyone dared call him out!

Two weeks ago, the Golden Globes took place and the who’s who of Hollywood stepped out in black to protest the systematic abuse of women. It actually made me feel a little sick to see so many hypocrites all gathered in the same room, patting themselves and each other on the back for a job well done after declaring war on sexual predators. This is a classic case of simply kicking them when they’re down. Where were all of these so-called warriors hiding while their peers were often knowingly being assaulted by powerful men in their industry?

Harvey Weinstein was no secret. And there are plenty of other men just like him, both in Hollywood and in the real world. Shame on everybody who knowingly stood by and enabled these abusers. And especially shame on the people who later took credit for supposedly helping to empower the victims, despite knowing about these crimes and previously turning a blind eye.

In the days following the Golden Globes, James Franco was also exposed as a sexual predator. On the night though, he proudly took to the podium wearing a “Time’s Up” pin on his lapel – meant to signify the movement to expose sexual predators and support their victims – to accept his award for Best Actor in a Musical or Comedy. Meanwhile, his peers clapped and cheered him on.

I’ve always believed Hollywood often reflects what is taking place in the real world (except with more cocaine). How much longer will this continue? How much longer will we allow it to be acceptable? How much longer is society going to give these men a pass?

If you’ve ever wondered about the standing of women, remember that America knowingly elected a President who proudly boasted about sexually assaulting women. That should tell you everything you need to know about how much women are valued and respected in the world. We ALL have a responsibility to do better.

But I’m hopeful things are changing. As devastating as these revelations have been, they’ve also helped to build awareness.

Last month, I was having a conversation with a couple of my male friends. They said this movement had really opened their eyes to how women are often treated by men and the challenges they face on a daily basis. Both were shocked by how hard women have it, having never really paid much attention to it in the past. One of my friends said it had even caused him to reflect on his own behaviour towards women in the past… As a woman, it was both refreshing and reassuring to hear their take on the issue, and encouraging to know they were actually paying attention. I simply told them this: “Teach your sons to respect women and their boundaries, and teach your daughters to be strong and to know their self-worth. Empower your daughters so that in the future, no woman will ever feel like they have to tolerate abuse.”

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Crappy Christmas Movies

Okay, I know the holiday season is technically over, but it’s always Christmas in your heart if you let it… Fine, the truth is I was too busy watching crappy Christmas movies to write this post. Happy? Also, there are people who still have their Christmas lights up – your beef is with them, not me.

I had a bit of spare time over Christmas last year – it was one of the gifts funemployment afforded me. Working in the media means Christmas time is usually filled with nothing but stress, deadlines and a healthy dose of cynicism. Not this time though. I embraced the cheesiness of it all. I was practically just a step away from becoming an elf.

Sure, I could have spent my downtime doing charity work or something equally as selfless, but instead I opted to watch crappy Christmas movies on Netflix. Time well spent.

Now, before I get into critiquing my holiday life choices, don’t judge me. A lot of heavy shit has been going down in my life lately, and these movies helped me a lot. Plus, Netflix is way cheaper than a therapist. It’s basically like a big, warm hug from your TV, which is equally comforting and depressing at the same time…

A Christmas Prince

What It’s About…

After being assigned a story covering a random and completely made up European royal family, an eager reporter, desperate for her big break, poses as the young princess’ tutor in a bid to get the inside scoop. Predictably, she falls in love with the handsome prince and they live happily ever after… Or do they? Just kidding. Of course they do.

Verdict:

Once you get over the fact this is a complete rip off of every prince/princess movie you have ever seen (The Princess Diaries, The Prince & Me… Should I go on?), it’s actually quite enjoyable. I probably spent the bulk of this movie eating chocolate and silently wondering if this was similar to the way Meghan Markle worked her way into Buckingham Palace, because, let’s face it, how does one meet a prince anyway? Asking for a friend…

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Christmas Inheritance

What It’s About…

A spoilt heiress is sent to her dad’s hometown, with only $100 in cash, to personally deliver a letter to his longtime friend and business partner. Once there, she befriends a brooding local, all while keeping her true identity a secret.

Verdict:

I watched this movie immediately after A Christmas Prince and it legitimately took me around 40 minutes to realise I wasn’t just watching a continuation of the same film. Also, the lead character is branded a “party girl” after she does a backflip at a toy charity drive. By these standards, I should be in rehab. Andie MacDowell also stars in this movie, which sucks for her and her career, but she’s still stunningly beautiful, so I don’t feel too bad for her… Also, the lead actor looks really similar to Brandon Flowers, but I checked and Brandon Flowers is still on tour with The Killers, so it’s probably not him.

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A Holiday Engagement

What It’s About…

A perpetually single woman hires a fake fiancé to accompany her home for the holidays after being unceremoniously dumped by her actual fiancé following a whirlwind romance. Unable to handle any more pity glances and snarky remarks from her relatives, she enlists the help of an out-of-work actor.

Verdict:

This was one of the less cheesy movies I watched, which doesn’t say too much… I was mostly just excited to discover the lead actress was Mona from Friends. I always wondered what happened to her after she broke up with Ross.

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A Wish For Christmas

What It’s About…

After being granted a wish by Santa, a pushover is given the courage to finally stand up to the people who have wronged her at work. Impressed by her newfound boldness and honesty, her handsome (and naturally eligible) boss decides to take her on a business trip back to his hometown to pitch a marketing idea for a big client.

Verdict:

I knew I was in for a treat as soon as the Hallmark logo popped up on my TV screen, and this movie did not disappoint… It was so hilariously obvious Lacey Chabert was heavily pregnant while filming this movie. She literally spent the entire film hiding behind coffee cups, Christmas presents, handbags, folders, and perhaps most creatively, a Christmas bush. It was a subtle touch. Also, there are so many plot holes in this movie, it’s as if a gopher wrote the script. By the end of the film, it’s like the writers just gave up.

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How Sarah Got Her Wings

What It’s About…

Sarah is dead. After arriving on heaven’s step, she discovers her name isn’t on the door list, and she is sent back down to Earth to wrap up her unfinished business. After being assigned to her ridiculously buff (and still very much alive) ex-boyfriend, she botches things up and is then reassigned to his new girlfriend, where she must help iron out their relationship issues. Awkward.

Verdict:

Once you get past the fact this is clearly just a rip off of Just Like Heaven, starring Reese Witherspoon and Mark Ruffalo, this film is actually okay, and even a little bit… witty? Also, the lead actor, Derek Theler, is incredibly good looking. Let me tell you, there are worse things than dying and then being forced to spend eternity with that tall glass of water. Later, heaven!

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Merry Kissmas

What It’s About…

After returning to her hometown with her dickhead fiancé (seriously, I may be way too invested, but this guy is a douche), a woman named Kayla falls for a shy but handsome caterer named Dustin after randomly kissing him in an elevator.

Verdict:

The way the initial kiss is set up between Kayla and Dustin is nothing short of comical… After being bombarded by a nosey shopkeeper with a weird accent, Kayla slips on her sunglasses and runs out of the shop (you know, because you’re invisible when you wear sunglasses). The shopkeeper then proceeds to inexplicably chase after her for about two blocks, leaving her shop completely unattended (because apparently looting isn’t a thing in Palo Alto). Kayla is then left with clearly no option but to run into a building elevator, where she plants a passionate kiss on an unsuspecting Dustin, all in a bid to confuse the shopkeeper. Amazingly, it works, and the shopkeeper realises she’s left her shop unattended and goes running back. Also, on an unrelated note, someone should probably test that shopkeeper for dementia or something. I’m concerned for her welfare.

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Once Upon a Holiday

What It’s All About…

Fed up with the restrictions imposed on her life, a naïve princess from yet another mythical European country slips past her minders and sets out in New York City alone, where she befriends a handsome stranger, who has no idea about her real identity.

Verdict:

Maybe it’s just because this film reminded me of my all-time favourite movie (Roman Holiday), but I actually enjoyed it. Oh dear God… What’s happening to me?! Time to quit. I need to go watch The Revenant or something.

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12 Days of Christmas…

Disclaimer: I’m about nine rum balls deep as I write this post, so, um, yeah…

On the 12th day of Christmas…

I freaked the hell out, because I realised it was only 12 days until Christmas.

On the 11th day of Christmas…

I went for a couple of job interviews, because all I want for Christmas is money. And a job. But mainly just money.

On the 10th day of Christmas…

I decorated the Christmas tree, because I’m brilliant like that.

On the 9th day of Christmas…

I finished decorating the Christmas tree, because perfection takes time.

On the 8th day of Christmas…

I watched cheesy Christmas movies on Netflix, specifically A Prince For Christmas, just because someone told me it was really bad. (FYI, Christmas Inheritance is worse.)

On the 7th day of Christmas…

My papou (who is back in hospital) had a nail-biting operation, and thankfully came through okay. It’s a Christmas miracle!

On the 6th day of Christmas…

I decked out my parents’ house with lights, while Dad lazed on the couch watching Supergirl. Because he’s a teenage girl, apparently.

On the 5th day of Christmas…

I braved the shops to start my Christmas shopping, and only left a little bit traumatised.

On the 4th day of Christmas…

I made rum balls with extra rum. Okay, I free-poured the rum. There is not enough alcohol at Christmas – it’s a fact.

On the 3rd day of Christmas…

I braved the shops once again, in my walking shoes and backpack – this time in the city… Shut up, Michael Buble – I’m going to kill you with a candy cane.

On the 2nd day of Christmas…

I wrapped my Christmas presents while watching Love Actually and Just Friends. Oh, and I also washed my hair (in case you were wondering).

On the 1st day of Christmas…

We ate, we drank, we laughed, we cried, and we were merry (for the most part, anyway).

MERRY CHRISTMAS, EVERYBODY! xx (Except you, Donald – you’re a dickhead.)

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Change of Plan…

People often say moving is the most stressful thing you will ever do… Try packing up and moving back overseas while your grandfather is sick in hospital on the other side of the world.

This was one of my biggest concerns about moving over to America – knowing I was leaving behind two elderly grandparents with declining health.

It was the reason I had to delay my trip over here around this time last year, and a little more than a year later, we’re back where we started.

Mum is going to be flying back home to Sydney tonight, and I’ll be flying out within the next few days, once I’ve sorted and finalised everything.

I apologise to everyone I didn’t get to say goodbye to. I was hoping to see you all one last time before I flew out on November 23, but I doubt that will be possible now. I’ll make sure I come back soon to visit though.

And everyone back home in Sydney – I’ll be seeing you all sooner than expected.

Please keep my papou in your thoughts and prayers.

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Looking Back…

Last night, while riding back to my apartment from LAX, after flying in from New York City, my Uber driver started asking me questions about my move here.

As I prepare to return home to Sydney, it was a good opportunity for me to reflect on my time over here…

I was brutally honest with him (and myself), as I looked back on the rollercoaster ride that has been my life here.

As a journalist, I’m not used to being on the receiving end of a series of questions, but here goes…

What was it like moving over here?

It was really hard! I don’t think I had any idea just how hard it was going to be. In hindsight, I think I was really naïve about it all. I remember having a farewell party before I left Sydney, and a few of my friends were like, “So do you have a job lined up?” And I was like, “Nope!” Then they’d be like, “Do you have an apartment?” and I was like, “No!” Finally, they’d ask me, “So what are you going to do?” And I’d just laugh and say, “I don’t know!” I was essentially unemployed and homeless when I moved over here.

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So how did you do it?

Well, my mum came over with me for the first two weeks to help me get set up, and it was a huge help having her here. But she was like, “Right. We’ve got two weeks to find you an apartment and get it furnished, and then I’m leaving!” I have no idea how we did it. It was exhausting.

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How did you feel right after your mum left?

I was a mess! That’s when shit started to get real. I remember going out to the airport with her, and after she left, I sobbed in the backseat of the car all the way back from LAX to my apartment in Burbank (almost an hour-long drive). My poor driver didn’t know what to do! He just kept passing me tissues and bottles of water.

What happened after you got back to your apartment?

I remember walking inside, going over to the edge of my bed, sitting down and just breaking down in tears. My apartment was silent except for the sound of my sobbing. My sister Patrice and my friend Lea both called me, and I couldn’t even talk to them because I was crying so hard.

Did you feel lonely?

I didn’t feel lonely so much as I just felt alone. It was this realisation that everyone I knew and loved was on the other side of the world, and I only had myself now. I was it.

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How long was it before you stopped feeling like that?

I don’t think I have stopped feeling like that! I’d see someone from back home on FaceTime and start crying. But I probably stopped having regular meltdowns after the first couple of months. They became less frequent. I started to get used to it.

What was your lowest point?

At one stage, I went into my bathroom so my neighbours couldn’t hear me, shut the door, and was literally curled up on the bathroom floor sobbing. And this was only a couple of months ago.

Wow! How did you manage to shake yourself out of that?

You just have to. I issued myself with some tough love. I’ve always tried to be a positive, happy-go-lucky person, so I told myself to get up, and reminded myself that what I was feeling wasn’t permanent. It was just a moment, and it would pass. Tomorrow’s a new day.

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What’s been the hardest thing?

Not having my friends and family around me for support. In Sydney, if I was having a bad day, I could go and meet a friend for coffee, or even just have someone give me a hug. I don’t have that here. I’ve only got myself to rely on.

Do you have to be strong to do it?

I don’t know if you have to be strong so much as you have to be crazy… It probably helps to be both! I’m a very meticulous person. Everything has always been carefully planned out, and this has easily been the craziest thing I’ve ever done. I don’t think I had any idea what I was getting myself into.

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Do you regret it?

I definitely don’t regret it, but it’s been really, really hard. If I’d done it with somebody else, I probably could have stuck it out for another year, but it’s hard when you’re on your own. I’ve learnt a lot though and I feel like I’ve grown a lot. I don’t doubt myself as much anymore. I feel like I can do anything, and I’m enough all by myself.

Would you do it again?

Yes, but I don’t think I’d move back to LA. I don’t think I’m an LA girl… I don’t love it here. And I still maintain that driving in America has been more terrifying than actually moving over here.

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Choose Your Own Adventure

Recently I was talking to a friend – single, early 30’s (not me, although I could definitely relate to what she was talking about) – and she was telling me about how down she was getting with everyone constantly asking her when she was getting married and having babies.

As a single woman, I cannot even begin to tell you how offensive it is when people do this.

  1. It’s nobody’s business.
  2. Not everyone wants children, and that’s fine!
  3. Not everyone wants to get married, and that’s fine!
  4. Sometimes people can be privately struggling with fertility issues, and asking them when they’re going to have a baby is incredibly insensitive.
  5. It’s nobody’s business.

Also, how come nobody asks men these questions?! We love to talk about feminism, and yet society is still hung up on imposing these traditional roles on women.

The only man I can think of who has maybe come close to enduring the kind of scrutiny women constantly face about marriage and babies is Prince Harry. And he’s rich AF. At least he gets to go home and cry into his piles of money at night.

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Now I’d just like to say I have nothing against married couples or people with children, but as a single woman, it’s hard not to think they have an issue with me.

You often get the impression married people or people with families assume they’re better than single people. As if they’ve tapped into the true meaning of life and they pity you as you wander aimlessly on this Earth. A lost soul.

I’ve even had people tell me it was a “pain” and an “inconvenience” trying to seat the single people at their wedding. How quickly they forget…

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If I had a dollar for every time a coupled up person asked me, “Why are you still single?” It’s like, “F***, Gina, I don’t know! Why do birds fly?”

Or every time someone told me I was going to “die alone”. I hate to be the bearer of bad news, Uncle Phil, but unless we go out in a terrorist attack, we’re all going to die alone. Do you think this is the f***ing Notebook or something?!

Could you imagine if childless singles had the upper hand in this situation?! I imagine the flyaway comments would sound something like this:

“How’s your marriage going? Has anyone dropped the D-bomb yet?” *leans in and whispers* “Divorce.”

“Don’t you miss your freedom and independence?”

“So how old were you when you realised you wanted to spend your life driving kids to extracurricular activities?”

“No more spontaneous nights out for you!”

“When was the last time you were able to take a dump in peace?”

“What’s that screeching sound? Oh, it’s just your kids. Sorry.”

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“You have three kids?! I’m so sorry.”

“Is the station wagon your dream car?”

“Do you ever feel like you settled?”

“Can we talk about something other than your kids? I mean, do you even have anything else we can talk about?”

“Please, tell me more about the last poo explosion you encountered. I’m fascinated.”

“Wow! So you haven’t slept in six years?! How does that feel?!”

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“No, I don’t have kids, I have a life.”

“Do you ever look at your spouse with anything other than regret and resentment anymore?”

“The good old ball and chain, huh… How does it feel to be serving a life sentence?”

“Do you ever wake up, look around and wonder, ‘How did I get here?’”

“Oh, I see you’ve accessorised with snot today. It looks good.”

“Uh, I think your daughter just spat at that lady…”

“You’re married! And you have kids! Well, you must have all of life’s answers… Please, enlighten me with your wisdom.”

“Do you ever wish you’d held out for Ryan Gosling instead?”

“Tell me more about the art of the 30-second shower. It sounds soothing.”

“Don’t you feel like you’re missing out on, like, fun?”

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“I slept in until 11am today. What did you do?”

“Aren’t you worried about looking back and regretting all the things you didn’t do? I mean, tick-tock, you won’t be climbing Machu Picchu in your 70’s.”

I apologise if this offends anyone… Actually, I don’t. I’ve been offended plenty of times by unapologetic smug marrieds (yep, everything Bridget Jones talks about is true), and now you know how it feels.

I refuse to perpetuate this myth that being single and childless means being sad, desperate and alone with cats. Well, you know what, I’ve lived alone on the other side of the world, and it’s been pretty damn great having no one telling me how I should live my life. People have tried, sure, but the sound of the Pacific Ocean has drowned you all out.

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At the end of the day, there’s no “right” way to live your life. Everyone has their own hopes, dreams and aspirations. If your dream is to live off the grid and spend the rest of your life sketching wild animals on grains of rice, I fully support that. I hold some concerns for the future of your eyesight, but that’s your business.

Everyone is on their own path, and just because they may be venturing down a different path to you doesn’t mean it’s the wrong one. Some people are single, some people are in relationships but don’t want to get married, some people are married but don’t want kids, some people are married with kids… None of it is wrong, and nobody’s path is fixed. You do you and quit worrying about what other people are doing. To each their own.

Dear America,

We need to talk.

Next week is six months since I moved here, and if I’m being completely honest, it hasn’t gotten any easier. I’d be lying if I said I loved it here. At best, it’s been meh.

I think you know where this is headed, so I’ll give you a moment to grab a pint of ice cream and some tissues. Ready? Okay…

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It’s not me, it’s you. I really think you need to take a good, long look at yourself.

For too long, people have been telling you you’re amazing, the greatest, the “promised land”… and now your ego is completely out of control.

Not to go all Will McEvoy on you (The Newsroom, people!), but when people tell me America is the greatest country in the world, I don’t know what the f*** they’re talking about!

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Sure, there are some good things. You’d be hard-pressed to find a L’Oreal mascara for $7 in Australia, and you guys do have Disneyland – I’ll give you that. But here is my advice if you’re planning on moving here – don’t. Basically, you should fly in, buy your mascara, go to Disneyland, and then piss off back to wherever you came from. Trust me, it’s better that way…

Think of America as the really hot one-night stand you once had. It was fun while it lasted, and you’ll always have the amazing memories, but that’s all it should ever be. If you enter into a relationship with them, pretty soon you’re going to discover they bite their toenails.

It hasn’t all been bad – I’ve had some really great times, too. But if I’m being honest, every day has been a bit of a struggle.

For one, I am poor here. Legitimately poor. That’s not just me being melodramatic either. Believe me when I say I am barely making ends meet. I did the math yesterday, and I discovered my salary has almost been halved since I moved here. People just earn less over here, it’s a simple fact. I’ve actually been told I’m on “good money” by comparison to most others. Most people you talk to are having to work two jobs just to get by! But financially, I feel like I’m running on a treadmill.

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Consider this: the minimum wage in California is $10.50 per hour compared with $16.88 in Australia. There are no penalty rates in the US, so it doesn’t matter if you work weekends or public holidays, you’re always paid the exact same shitty amount.

Listen up, Australia! I know you’ve been cutting penalty rates while I’ve been away (tsk, tsk), and let me tell you now – I’ve been to the other side and the grass is not greener. In fact, it’s kind of brown and dying.

Also, what is up with your holidays, America?! Two weeks annual leave a year and you can’t even take it in a block?! That’s it?! No wonder most Americans don’t even own a passport…

There is no middle class here in LA. People are either really rich or poor. I’m talking ridiculously rich! These people don’t just live in mansions, they live in castles. And then you’ve got the other extreme… I once saw a homeless guy sweeping the gutter in front of his tent.

But it’s not just a matter of money. People kind of suck in America… Now, before I go on, I’d like to offer up a disclaimer. I have actually met a lot of lovely, amazing people who have embraced me and welcomed me into their lives. I appreciate these people so, so much and will be forever thankful for them. Unfortunately I don’t get to see them often enough, because everyone is so busy just trying to survive in this crazy place.

Having said all that, I have also attracted an obsessive, somewhat manipulative stalker and a raging alcoholic in the time I’ve been here, so you know, there’s that…

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Also, most people aren’t genuinely warm and friendly in America. It just doesn’t seem to come naturally to them. Australians are so damn nice! That’s something I’ve only realised while living here.

I’ll be chatting with someone, feeling like we’re connecting, and then all of a sudden, they’ll slip me their business card. You know, just in case I’m ever looking for a life coach/DJ/motivational speaker/photographer/interpretive dancer/want to check out their YouTube channel… It’s really hard to make friends here. Trust me, I’ve tried – and I can generally befriend anyone. People love me!

A couple of weeks ago, my sister and I went to San Diego. This man started talking to us and then offered to take our photo. We obliged, and then shortly afterwards, he asked us for a tip. Here’s a tip: don’t be such an asshole! My sister sheepishly slipped him a couple of dollars, but I was fuming. You could probably see the steam coming out of my ears for the next 15 minutes.

See, the thing is, I explained to my sister, people like that guy aren’t even the exception over here – they’re the norm. Almost everyone who does something nice for you expects something in return. I’ve experienced it over and over again.

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As a result, I’ve learned to rely on myself. I’ve had to harden myself to the world. I now question everyone and everything.

Anyone who knows me knows I am generally quite a cheerful, easygoing person. Well, congratulations, America – you’ve managed to take someone who was potentially the happiest person in the world, and you’ve turned her into a miserable bitch!

I’m stressed out 90 percent of the time. I have legitimately developed anxiety just from living here. I am lonely and, for the most part, I am alone.

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On the plus side, I’ve also become much tougher. I feel like if someone wanted to take me on or give me shit, I’d now tell them to get f***ed. But probably not in America, because, you know, guns…

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Also, what is up with your healthcare system?! How has this not been fixed yet?! I know someone who went to hospital recently for 90 minutes to get a few X-rays after he was hit by a car, and he got a bill for $5700!

And speaking of cars, people can’t drive for shit in LA. I’m reminded that I’m still in the Wild West every time I get onto a freeway. Except they’ve now replaced horses with cars… Rarely a day goes by when I don’t see an accident. The other day, I saw a seven-car pile up (I counted). Now that takes some serious skill and commitment. Seven cars! Wow. Someone give them all keys to the city – and then point out which pedal is the accelerator and which is the brake.

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And don’t even get me started on Trump…

So, at this stage, unless Steven Spielberg discovers me and asks me to write his next movie or something like that, I will be returning to Australia in November. Which is a shame, because I’m really going to miss Target in America…

Yours sincerely,

Demeter