This is a dark photo so you can’t see me in my vintage bathing suit and skirt; though sex isn’t going to sell this party as much as a good beach.

I am standing on Waikiki beach in Hawaii, and would like to be there right now.

August 21 2010 was the 51st Anniversary of Hawaiian American Statehood; and the place is recently important to me because it was where I found out the Australian Prime Minister had changed on June 24. I had been away two days and the leader of our country changed while my back was turned.

While relaxing I had decided that it was not necessary to read Australian newspapers for a full day, that was when it happened.

The 2004 Federal Election – HELLS BELLS

On the weekend of the 2004 Federal Election my cousin and I voted; then took off for a weekend at the beach in Torquay.

That night we had drank at the then named ‘Bells’ Hotel (formerly the Jan Juc) watching a Melbourne punk duo Fire Underground and observing the locals, as they enjoyed a night out.

No-one mentioned the results of the election, and we all returned late to the hotel on in a courtesy bus and slept. It was the next morning when we found out the Liberal Government remained in power, and it was near devastating to all. There was one Liberal voter though who “thought everyone voted for The Liberals!”, though they had confused the party with Labor.

They didn’t know the difference!

We were in the beach town to celebrate my cousins 21st birthday, and planned the getaway as a cousins bonding time, though that Sunday had met with some others from east of Melbourne. We had purchased a bottle of sparkling wine to celebrate her birthday, and planned a beach day on Bells Beach to take in the fair majesty of the location. It was my cousin’s wishes to do so.

Bells Beach has a black grit through its famous sand and I had sat staring at it for sometime running it through my fingers.

“Sand through the hand” I spoke imitating some of my neighbors from Lawson Street Redfern who had repeated the phrase to me.

Sieving the black grit sand through my fingers I remembered how the phrase was used so often by Aboriginals on the block to talk about their own right to live in and around the housing cooperative building near Redfern Station.

It seemed funny how they had clung to the Whitlam speech when they were homeless and without any property at all.

It seemed there was nothing I could have written at the time; but I had loved repeating the color of the language and remembering Sydney that way.

I started singing “Smooth Operator” by Sade because that was always playing at Aunty Mavis’ house.

I had been staring at the water for some time playing with sand and decided to read to control my mind, which was on another part of the coastline. <BR>

I had camped on a flattened beach seat to soak in the sun warmth while being protected by sunscreen. That’s what white people do in a sunburnt land, they wear sunscreen and try and protect their shade from being felled. I moved the umbrella to protect my body and relaxed. Laying back on my chair in bathers; I opened ‘Hells Angels’ by Hunter S. Thompson for the first time.

I had then returned from Sydney with a knowledge of New Journalism writers, and wanted to read more of their works to be like them. Tom Wolfe had written The Pumphouse Gang, and this book by Hunter S Thompson made me think that it was a necessary journalism belt to achieve a story with a motorbike or other extreme sports gang. While reading the classic journalism title, I imagined that it would be easy to interview a motorbike gang, because they would think me cool.  I am a cool person.

On Bells Beach that day I began to grow an ego of my female journalist self that can only be seen within the pages of this Miss Piggy Journalist Blog. I read Hells Angels thinking of how it would be easy to achieve more than Hunter S Thompson, in my own lifetime. Considering my memories of the Australian Hells Angels, The Comancheros and those old bikies of the hills during my reverie I grew bold and started singing Fleetwood Mac. There was no music on the beach, though it was isolated enough for me to break out in song. I knew a lady who once died on a motorbike, and thought of her often when passing the corner near The Middle Hotel in Upper Fern Tree Gully. She was a cool old lady, some people from the area used to know. She reminded me of Fleetwood Mac.

It would be easy for me to write Hells Angels; I thought then, and even considered travelling to Queensland to interview bikies up there. Laughing at the thoughts I had looked away from the book toward my cousin in the ocean.

I touched my neck; which had been growing some dry skin over the weekend which was not usual. A rash had begun to form on my skin there, and I was petrified that it may be ‘The Shingles‘ because a friend had contracted the contagion from a child she had known at that time. I had spent a recent day with her, and cursed it many times, unsure of what to do about it if it were to “The Shingles”.

Though I had not known what “The Shingles” was, my friend had told me this story that if you get a ring of shingles sores around your stomach and it joins at the back, you can die. Though it seemed like a mythical scare story, I had not known if it were true at all.

As the dry skin developed I drowned it in a sunscreen to act as moisturiser though it was not working. My skin continued to get dryer and it greatly concerned me not knowing whether I had contracted “The Shingles”.

“How is it?” my cousin asked noting the concern in my face as I applied sunscreen to the dry area. My now reddened face was also swelling and I felt a little tired from the experience.

“I think its getting worse! I don’t know what’s going on,” I had said.

“Come in the water! Bathe your wounds in the salt water!” she suggested, and it had seemed correct at the time.

Salt water is known for its healing powers. Beaches are healthy and part of the glowing Australian lifestyle. The logic seemed related to the use of seaweed for medicinal purposes in my mind, so I agreed.

Of course! I would bathe the affected areas in water, and try swimming.

My cousin had been also worried as some people are, when I decided to read as soon as we got there; and was trying to coax me out of my world, though it seemed okay anyway to change moods.

I needed some real feeling experience and agreed to swim with my cousin; though would not have thought that it was me being a ‘party pooper’.

I threw down my book and walked toward the water. We had camped in the Western section of Bells Beach nearer to the rocks because we wanted to study the rock pools.

There was no-one at Bells Beach that day except for some swimmers further east along the sand expanse. There were a few more people up towards Jan Juc. There was no-one surfing, though some people had boards further up on the beach in Jan Juc; they had then finished because there wasn’t very high waves. My cousin and I were in privacy at one of the better known Australian beaches and it was nice.

My cousin had never been to Torquay, and wanted to experience it; because Australians know its one of our great beach places. She wanted to be at Torquay and catch up with everyone who had raved about it, and I willingly went along like I was expert. I had been to Torquay a few times in high school with surfing friends, then in my undergraduate days our university colleagues had stayed there a couple of times on holiday. I had not been back there since 1999 when our last university holiday ended the millenium. In 1999 we had noticed there was alot of dead gulls along the beach between Torquay main and Jan Juc for some reason unknown. I remembered to have counted 46 dead sea birds in December 1999, which was very sad. There was no dead wildlife around anywhere this time when I went to Torquay though.

I walked out into the water to wade in a definate slow motion. I don’t swim and most often pose in bathers, and simply walk into the water to get wet though would not be the only one who does that.

Spiritually I was walking out into the Southern ocean for the first time since returning to Melbourne after a long period of being homesick and it felt symbolic and moving. I was near teary in my eyes, though this was also caused by the wind.

“No, I’ve really got something in my eyes!” I laughed at the concept of crying to be back South and going to the beach, though this was more for myself than cousin.

I walked out through the warm water, in search of the deep with a desire to bathe my neck and the rash.

Continuing to walk out as if I could walk till underwater and that people may think I had drowned, it felt amazing to have the water all around my body. Finally I stopped walking, thinking that the ocean floor maybe dangerous and decided instead to bob down, rather than walking out till my neck was underwater.

I pulled my head down, and stayed underwater noting the silence that came with motion as it reminded me of the sound of the headphone on my ears at Geelong Airport. Already on that holiday I had been thinking again of how fearless it had felt after the motor parachute ride. Afterwards we had stood on the cliffs at Torquay and I was not afraid of anything.

I noted again that sound stops underwater.

‘Its like being in the air!’ I thought again though this may seem obvious. I had gone through a stage of renoting everything already known to me in a more poetic nature, and my mind was slower with the concept.

I pulled my body out of the water again, and then touched my neck to massage the salt through my skin like a rough scrub.

‘Clean my sickness, salt water’, I thought as again and dived underwater for the silence.

I remember being happy that we were at Torquay, and that even the location might help the salt-water therapy process. Perhaps salt water was better at Torquay.

When I came out of the water a second time a heat came to my neck, so I dunked it again to get rid of the temperature with the water.

This time when I came out; it was acknowledged that the sting that had come to my neck and other dry skin. Salt water wasn’t good because it would sting the wound area!

At the time I still thought the rash was “The Shingles” and I grew very worried as the heat pain covered my entire neck in a thick band. Pain burned deeply into my skin and I panicked not understanding why.

My skin on the throat tightened and I choked for breath with fear. In a few seconds my mind state changed and it seemed that the rash could join around my neck and I was ‘about to die from Shingles’ my brain thought. I tried to run through the water, as fast as my sprint could allow. Though it was slowed, I knew my skills for speed was able to make it out quickly from the sea water.

“What’s wrong?” asked my cousin as I went running for our towels.

“It burns! I need the shower,” I cried.

“I’m not leaving my stuff here!” I then summarised.

I went to grab the chairs and things, to take them with some calm exposure that was almost another side to my panic state.

“Just go, I’ll do it!” my cousin offered.

At her release I launched a horrendous run towards the Bells Beach cliff stairs, and threw myself at them with fitness. As I ran up the cliff it was very hard to gasp for air while panicked from my neck pain. Spurred by the idea that I just needed to wash the salt water off, I continued to sprint up the Torquay’s steep cliff stairs.

At near the top I had to slow down for a creeping laughter; for was almost released from predicament and my fear, perhaps even knowing then that I was not going to die from “The Shingles”.

At the top of the stairs I couldn’t find the showers, but at the toilet block dowsed my neck with water to get rid of the pain. By the time my cousin came up with the chairs and beach camp I was less scared and had regained my breath from asthma through calm deep breaths.

I had been heaving and only recently acknowledged my own asthma when a colleague journalist suggested it to me. Though it was easy for me to do shorter sprints in high school, I had been plagued by something people termed ‘hyperventalation’ after the longer races like 1500 metres or cross country; though noone ever called it asthma. My wheezed breath would heave though I’d just cover my nose and mouth, then breath slower.

That was all we ever did, no asthma pump or condition report or name for it other than hyperventalation. It only came after long running periods, anyway.

Someone recently made me see it could be seen as asthma.

Breathing in a relaxed meditation, I regained my breath from the temporary asthma.

“Are you alright?” asked my cousin.

“I am just breathing, someone told me I had asthma recently and I never acknowledged it, I am just trying to slow my breath down to control it; …I used to just breath into a paper bag when I was growing up,” I explained.

“Did you wash it?” asked my cousin.

“I thought the Shingles had joined around me!” I shared with a cry while breathing normally through my nose. My cousin was aware of the scare story because I had told it to her.

“There wasn’t a shower, I used the basin,” I answered her question.

“I think I have caught ‘the shingles’ from friend!” I admitted and was filled with an intense shame.

It felt really dirty and that I should be shunned.

“There was no shower! I thought there was one here!” I complained.

We drove to the shower near Jan Juc beach and I cooled my neck and got any salt water left away from the wounds.

“I don’t even think I should be staying at a backpackers hotel!” I admitted shamefully.

We drove back to the hotel with plans of checking out and driving to the hospital at Geelong to get it assessed by a doctor.

My mind was still panicked and I was greatly upset.

News of an outbreak of bedbugs at backpackers’ hotels recently led me to think that I had potentially given people at the hotel a disease.

We went back to the hotel, and explained the problem to the owner; requesting a refund for our extra nights so we could take our ‘festy’ selves away from the public place.

“I don’t think I should be around people!” I cried in appeal to the hotel owner with worried eyes.

As we were leaving hurriedly for Barwon Hospital at the hotel owner’s directions I closed the door, then opened it again and suggested they wash everything that had touched me.

“You better wash that too!” I suggested as my hand left the door handle.

“I don’t even know if I can touch anything!” I repeated with a tragic fear.

No one laughed at my suggestions but they were very calm.

“I don’t think what you have is contagious!” said the hotel owner.

“It doesn’t look contagious!” he assured.

In the car we hightailed back toward Geelong. Twenty minutes later I suggested we ignore Barwon Hospital and go all the way home.

We drove in silence back for the Dandenong Ranges.

It was my cousin’s 21st birthday and I had ruined it with the health problem, but there was no time to change fate results now.

“Don’t worry, I just care about you!” assured my cousin who drove us in her P Plates.

Another hour and a half later we arrived back at my parents house, and unpacked the car.

We thought it best to get rid of the bags before going to the hospital.

At the house I carefully found the words and holding the sparkling wine bottle gave a speech, “take the bottle and have it with a friend or someone, I don’t want you to spend the rest of your 21st birthday in casualty!”

Though she had wanted to ‘make sure I was okay’ she left, and my mother drove me toward William Angliss Hospital.

It was dinnertime, and we were told to wait patiently in the waiting room to be seen by a doctor.

I calmly opened Hells Angels to read again and understood that it may take a long time, though switched my attention away with daydream from a now shortened attention span.

The agitation had left my head clouded, and it was difficult to read. I’d look away, then start to read again to try and control my mind.

The room seemed full of loosers, and this was my life sentence to sit with the these unhealthy people; I understood completely where they were coming from. Bogans are so good in these places, like a courthouse they hung around the entrance to smoke cigarettes.

The room was filled with bad dressers, and the magazines I hate while a television drilled the conviction to me that again I had chosen to go to a hospital to improve my health. Along with the other lower eschelon people that choose to wait there with me too.

A woman wept to aurally display her pain to the emergency staff, and I giggled at the atmosphere, and then tried to read to pass the time.

I got to the part when the Hells Angels raped the girl, and threw the book down in tiredness. It had been literally hours.

I got up again and checked my appearance in the toilet mirror. My face and neck area were very red and dry; swollen from the reaction. While bent again to splash water from the basin onto my neck and face, I was aware of how terrible my appearance was in its removed sick form.

“Look at me! It has gotten worse while I’ve been here, please help me!” I cried with a crazy panic and tears, to the emergency staff in a public scene.

My mum watched silently, with a thought that my behavior could get us out of there sooner.

“You need to be seen by the doctor!” the nurse said again.

“It hot! It’s so hot in here!” I tantrumed, turning to face my audience of empathy in the waiting room. I had thought they may be on my side, as they had waited just as long but the room of broken, sick and crazy people who did or had not acknowledged the Federal Election results from the night before stared away from me, without noticing my craziness.

“Why don’t you sit outside dear, it’s cooler now!” suggested the nurse gently.

I burst into tears in frustration, and went outside as ordered.

It had been 3 hours already.

At three and a half hours I demanded to know what was the problem, and why others were being seen before me.

“We order people for emergencies, you are not dying! We have had 2 men with heart attacks transferred from Maroondah Hospital, they had two more over there and couldn’t handle it,” explained the nurse quickly.

I sat down again, and thought about the men who had the heart attacks, to calm myself down because it was required to consider other people.

I was a selfish person, and was not dying; but looked terrible.

I made the joke that perhaps they were also upset with the election results and therefore suffered heart attacks. It seemed funny that there were four heart attacks the day after the election results.

About half an hour later, I was taken to a room. Finally a doctor came by and told me that I did not have “the shingles”.

He told me I suffered an allergic reaction, and was given an anti-histamine needle.

I asked for drugs, and they declined advising for me to see a GP the next day.

I cried, complained and begged; then was given a mere Panadeine Forte.

I left in sooky tears with my mother, but was happy that the rash wasn’t contagious.

The GP helped me establish that it was the new sunscreen that had made me have such dry skin.

I was told that this condition was called “eczema“, the very same condition that many people suffer.

Given steroids and antihistamine my body recovered over the next three weeks, though I never left the house with shame from the appearance.

In that time I wrote to the sunscreen company and told them that upon comparison to my usual brands the new product contained a high amount of preservatives that had damaged my skin.

The company, who had then just bought The Young and Jackson Hotel, gave me a cheque for the cost of my medicine and no further compensation.

I know that the 2004  election results did not create the panic attack that happened at Bells Beach, though it did enough to ensure a depressing hideaway for the next three weeks in recovery as the shock sentence set in for another term of government.

Upon comparison the 2004 Hells Bells election is by far worse than the feeling left from this years results, though I fear any kind of return to the Liberal climate of the era that left many of us in a sad state.

For those of you upset about the election results remember back to the last election where you felt sad, and know it could only take three years to change it again.

I don’t have a panic attack, contagious disease, eczema or heart attack, asthma and am thankful no-one has died. This isn’t as bad as Hells Bells, or the 2001 election and we can smile at some of the changes.

Here is another photo from my recent trip to Hawaii.
This beach certainly captures a place in the world’s best beaches book, though I won’t ruin your experience with the best postcard shot! This is Waimanalo, Hawaii in late afternoon.

I’m sure many of us would like to be there.