SELF HELP: A Toast to Our Health

Artwork by Billie Justice Thomson
Artwork by Billie Justice Thomson

7 Habits of Highly Effective Teens
There was a chubby girl with gap teeth whose name was deathly. Our mothers arranged it – a ten year friendship. Chocolate biscuits at her house meant it was more comfortable than trying to be cool. She contracted adolescent anorexia. She read 7 Habits of Highly Effective Teens while I practiced the piano. We both went out with the same boy, me first. In our terminal year of schooling, the girl whose name was deathly topped Chemistry, I was second. Same in French. Gap tooth in French is dents du bonheur. I try to avoid contact because she always wants to know about my bedfellows because she knows I don’t keep them.
Turn Over a New Leaf
My mother chewed through the diets. The literature piled up. Driving from the Gold Coast to Howlong, we hacked into Granny Smith apples.
You Can Heal Your Life
‘Ulcers are a little burst of anger’, my mother would say before handing me the Vegemite. Her friend told me that the reason I don’t really have a home is because I failed to manifest it. Her friend lives around the corner from her parents and likes to dish out advice like hot meals at a community kitchen on Christmas day.
The Confidence Gap
In between applying-stickers-to-boxes shifts at a grape dispatching warehouse, I read about the inherent and necessary fear that leads to anxiety. About noticing thoughts but not engaging with them. The first chapter outlined many useful theories and I didn’t read further. The author is a divorcee, like my boss at the grape dispatching warehouse. He would tell the maintenance man to tell me when my stickers weren’t straight. On Sundays we would eat bacon and egg burgers.
God Calling
Before my grandfather said, ‘it’s the mark of true maturity when one stops blaming one’s parents,’ I’d decided to honour thy father and thy mother. Years later I’m sitting in a windowless room crying in front of a psychologist. Every day I try to be still and silent in front of the stained glass window of the converted church that I’m looking after. Reading the palm-sized book my grandfather gave to me.
Pray for the Wanderer
The old woman at the market stall smiled when I delivered the letter that an Argentinean man entrusted me with. It was there, in Puerto Seguro, that I closed the novel and looked out across the ocean.
‘Pray for the wanderer, pray for me’, I sing in my head with it rested against the train’s window after the 99th house inspection this month.
If Life Isn’t Full of Ups and Downs Then You Are Not Doing it Right
I made the book by tying ribbon into punched holes of used Manila folders. The protagonist was my grade one teacher. My older siblings laughed an encouraging one at the title. Recently I’ve taken up the 5:2 diet. Apparently intermittent fasting is good for you.