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November 28, 2022

Mandy Nolan’s Soapbox: The Still Corona

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Still Corona

I don’t like being still. It’s why I don’t like yoga. Or meditating. It’s too slow. It feels lazy. Like you can’t be arsed. The lack of pace makes me anxious. I am the only one in the yoga relax section of the class folding my mat and leaving. I’m like ‘ Nah, I’m good – I’ll close my eyes and breathe in the car on my drive home’. I speed off at 100km an hour screaming out the window ‘Pussys!’ Because unlike that cohort of slow mat-rolling, deep breathing, bamboo-pant-wearing, clear-eyed ones ambling off to sit on a crate and drink a turmeric latte – I have shit to do! I love being busy. I love my full diary. It makes me feel safe. I feel powerful and in control. I love watching how I can manage to fill every hour of nearly every day. Not a spare moment for even a dot of introspection.

This week I went through two bottles of liquid paper painting out gigs. My hands trembling as I realised that she-who-must-be-in-control has had the thin veneer ripped away. The vast expanse of my diary, which usually confirms that I am achieving – I am moving forwards – has stopped.

I check that I’m still here. I take a selfie. Will Mandy Nolan be Mandy Nolan if she’s not being seen as Mandy Nolan? Who will clap for me now? Not my family – my home-based hecklers. A lump forms in my throat. It’s not cancer. It’s worse. It’s disappointment.

Where there were crowded scribbles, now there is space.

It’s so creepy. It’s a kind of quiet that gets into your bones. It gets inside, into that space where the real you hides; the shadow self. It’s the quiet place where the you that you’ve curated falls to dust – where there is no past, and no future, and no point paying the mortgage. Something monks love, and manics, like me, fear.

I am not that person. I don’t want to face my darkness – what if I face it and it goes? I am a comedian – it’s the insight into the battle that powers my creative juices; not the enlightened mindfulness of true acceptance. That’s for people at healthfood shops. I don’t want to be that person. I am like a shark. I need to keep moving. If I stop, I die. Or other people do…

I noticed how happy my husband was this week. I’m home. I’m doing the washing. I’m cleaning. I’m cooking. I’m here. I’m back to being a 1950’s housewife. I’ve started wearing lipstick to bed. Next week I’m cracking out the rollers.

This first week of not working hasn’t been fun. I love working. I have made work out of what I love doing, so having almost six months of dates disappear brings, not just economic, but a creative grief. And fear. Not fear of dying. Or of the disease. Or of the ensuing anarchy once capitalism has toppled, and we’re wearing short shorts and leather boob tubes, and I am killing zombies with a samurai sword. What I truly fear is myself.

It’s why women used to hit the Bex – long periods of confinement send some of us around the twist. I’m already pre-twisted. I’m not a sit-back-and-smell-the-roses kind of girl. I’m a plant the roses, tend the roses, pick the roses, paint the roses, sell the painting of the roses, write a book about painting roses… and then try and find time to plant some more roses so I can sell some new paintings to pay for the books I’ve just ordered.

I know what you think – you are running away from yourself Mandy. Absolutely. How else would I get fit? Isn’t that the human condition? And I actually like doing stuff. ‘Being’ isn’t one of my highlights. ‘Being’ makes me agitated. Depressed. Angry. You don’t want to be around me when I’m being. It’s not pretty. Being actually stresses me out. I get bored. Then I get annoyed. Everything annoys me. The way someone puts away a tea towel. The teaspoon left in the sink. The way you breathe, or how you pronounce a word.

When I’m busy I’m at peace. Thanks to COVID-19 we’re about to enter a global Vispassana. Fuck it, I’m done with being. I’m back to doing. I’m getting a job at Coles. That’s where you’ll find us creatives now – me and Chris Hemsworth, doing the nightly shelf-pack at the local supermarket.

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  1. Good work, insightful piece of writing. Oh by the way fruit picking is a great escape from imploding its very settling – half way up an apple tree..

  2. Love it! And look forward to a Soapbox on those regurgitated FB memes people keep messenging about I Love You Virus, thank you so much for everything now being so wonderful…. blah blah blah.

  3. Love this and so delighted that you can put it so beautifully …… I’m with you and get tired of being told I’m running from myself !! I thought I was merely loving having a full fun life ?thanks for your insights

  4. It’s a fun concept isn’t it when the long term learned behaviour & belief through social culture is that the only way people will change or a willing to create change is through repeated ongoing suffering.
    It’s an addition. Far be it from anyone to integer in that process. Seems to be working so far.

    I’m sorry to say.. i’m Busy!

    Much love

  5. I rather liked Mandilion’s bit, until I read Ginga and i realised humour is about quipping on suffering. Chaplin quipped on suffering but not his own, he was aware of other’s.

  6. Brilliant piece of writing Mandy ? I’m also a constant doer. Tackling the photo albums from last 50 years soon ?There’ll be some gem fb posts during that activity much love ??


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