Do I Have Resting Bitch Face?

A former colleague once told me I had Resting Bitch Face. RBF. Harsh but kind of true. It mostly happened when I couldn’t figure something out and didn’t want to be disturbed to a) not be found out and b) try and figure out how the hell to do whatever it was. Actually, sometimes it was when I was coding and having a lot of fun, so maybe there wasn’t any rhyme or reason to it. 
Sitting in my hotel room, basically on lock down during Bali’s silent day, I’m doing some writing. The desk area in the room was under a mirror in a corner right next to the coffee and tea facilities. I’m not quite sure if I’m in the office, kitchen or bedroom section of the room but sitting at a desk and chair none the less. 

Typing away, I look in the mirror and pause to reflect (see what I did there?), with my reflection, not 30cm from my own face. 

My head is tilted slightly to the left (sorry, thats my right actually), my lips don’t naturally close so my big-ass two front teeth are slightly showing. I look like one of those little dogs who’s tongue sticks out from their mouths just a little, they get called ‘cute’ or ‘special’. 

I stare at my face. Like really stare at my face. For five minutes. Up in my own grill.  

Is this how I look in public? Sat in a cafe, walking around, in transit, reading, picking up men?! It’s almost like a blank scared face. What is that?

The last few days I haven’t had much interaction with other travellers. A combination of the rain keeping people inside, staying at a hotel where its not so social and I am having a bit of self imposed alone time. But maybe it’s this face? Would I talk to this face?! 

I did my quick “hello passing walker” smile, which is a brief lift of the mouth. Oh gosh! I never knew it looked like that! It’s like a twitch and nothing else on my face moves. It was so brief no one would even know what it was. 

In horror of that greeting I give to many people, I try to move more of my face. Oh gosh, it gets worse. The eyes narrow as the mouth contracts. I look like a happy crying person. Or Piglet from Winnie the Pooh. Sad eyes mixed with an overcompensating smile. Nope can’t do that again. Maybe a head tilt would improve it? Nope. Carnival clown where you put the balls in their mouths. Very inappropriate. 

I laugh a belly driven laugh at the ridiculous experiment I was performing. There it is. A natural and genuine face. Ok, so how to do that in the street? Actually laugh as I pass every human I want to casually smile to? People might think I’m spitting on them. Or breathing on them. Or a little crazy. 

Actually now I think about it, whenever I am getting my picture taken I do a little personal laugh, to create that genuine smile (in a fake way, on cue).  

Staring at my lips now I’m pretty happy with them. Not full and voluptuous but not thin or invisible either. When I smile a Cheshire cat smile (which is my natural smile) I realise my top lip goes high jump and pulls the curtain on my top gums. Ew. I think that’s actually from having Invisalign. The retainers have forced my lips into a new habit and lifted them. Is that like a bonus (side effect) after spending the 8k or so on straightening my teeth?! 

I wonder if I have any of those ‘mouth quirks’ like Katie Holmes in Dawson’s Creek/every role she ever played or Dakota Johnson in Fifty Shades. I walk around the room and take some notice of what I’m doing. Other than a ridiculous cartoon walk I don’t feel or see any habits there. 

Maybe I could lift my eyebrows more, look more alert? NO. They are so fair they hardly rustle any movement in the station. Four thick rippling lines are created though, like a rice patty terrace on my forehead. I try and do that one-eyebrow-up trick. My left brow can sort of do it, the right has no hope.   

I attempt to pull some other faces just to see what they do. 

“Concerned” face looks valid, eyes water a bit, eyebrows head inwards, bottom lip tightens and the chin goes inward. Although drop the chin and you’ve got an angry face, wouldn’t want to get those confused. 

“No fucking clue” face looks on point. The mouth goes diagonal left or right, sometimes a possible click of saliva happens to emphasis the cluelessness (like a mental patient might do a random clucking noise).

Throw in a lowered brow manoeuvre to the above and you’ve got “I don’t fucking believe you”. Mouth isn’t so much diagonal but pulled straight left or right. A small smirk even appears (I don’t even know how that happens).

“Casually waiting” face, what’s that like? Oh gosh. Horrific! It’s like my Ted Bundy manifested Drivers Licence. Could scare small children. 

Not even going to attempt tears, everyone is an ugly crier. Everyone. 

Light bulb. I usually wear sunglasses. Maybe that helps my normal face look friendlier? Nope. Disdain. Perhaps a little contempt? Wow, I always thought I was so nonchalant with sunnies.  

After all the hilarity I’m still unsure as to how to change my face, my normal everyday wearing, ends in the word ‘day’ face. Is it because I’m just looking at myself, maybe it changes in front of others and seeing their reactions? How does everyone else have a happy face on as they are walking through their daily lives? I go for a walk around the block and notice so many varied faces. Some are happy, like there’s a little mouse running around upstairs. Some do seem to have an emotion and then there are others that are just, faces I guess. 

Maybe it’s just a solo traveller “I haven’t had a proper conversation in a few days” syndrome. I mean, I am writing about my face. Thinking about a bunch of interactions lately, I had actually started every one of them, each received happily. Maybe it’s not SO much my RBF but the courage and openness to start a conversation and smile that pulls the crowd in. Over exposed top gum or not. 


In Two Years I’d Like to be Here ….

Jo starts to feel the tension rise in her body. Things are hectic today. The office is all phones, people, cheering and bells ringing. Putting her headphones in, she takes a moment to do a five minute guided meditation, something she brought back from her ‘spiritual awakening’ in Bali a few years ago. As she focuses on her breathe, her shoulders start to relax and her mind eases. Coming out of it she opens her eyes and smiles proudly. She created this chaos. 

After having a third-life crisis (‘mid-life’ is way too old for her only now at 35), she turned her life around, got happy and set up this internet start-up. She’s got this. Walking barefoot around the office she talks to people and helps just, get things done. She charges the room with her energy, that’s why people think she removes her shoes. She says it’s to stay grounded but they know it ignites the room with the same enthusiasm, passion and light that she has, its infectious!

As the last person leaves and the cleaners start their rounds, Jo tidies her desk and writes tomorrows to do list. Leaving the office she walks five blocks to her favourite canteen and sits on a bench seat to people watch out the window. Getting out her journal, she reviews her personal to do list. One item. One last item. Find a man.

Because I Love You

It was the newest Vegan cafe in a Balinese touristy town. People were flocking to check it out, colourful paint, thatched roof, urban warehouse meets tropical island haven. The front page of the menu told the story of the Australian owners, John and Laura. They met on holidays five years ago, fell in love and opened the cafe using local produce, sustainable practices and sharing with the community their passion for good food and environmentally conscious living. People loved that story, they idolised their lives.

This week, Laura was off volunteering in Burma, so John was running the cafe alone. He greeted everyone with his generous smile when they walked in. He stopped by tables to meet people, learn where they were from and what they were doing in Bali. He posed for photos and took some too. He knew they’d end up on Instagram-for a fleeting moment would hold someone’s attention then be dismissed with the flick of a finger into cyberspace. John hated people sometimes.

Ketut walks in and beams his pearly white teeth at John. “Hello Boss!” he sings. In an attempt to be covert, he winks an eye that actually pulses his entire face like he’s having a fit. John knows he has good news. They chat mindless conversation as they walk out to the back of the store. Ketut pulls a roll of newspaper from his backpack and out rolls a BBQ chicken. “Thanks mate, I owe you, today is killing me in there!” John scoffs the animal down, trying not to let the smell leak out of the paper and reveal his secret to the staff. Ketut laughs with his belly and shakes his head. Like barbarians they both wipe the grease off their mouths with their whole arms. Ketut leaves and John has a cigarette to further hide the truth. 

John loved Laura, so he loved everything she loved. Let’s start a cafe she said. Let’s live a lifestyle people only dream of. In paradise she said. Ugh he shrugged. Why did she have to love those bloody monkeys so much and leave him there alone?

Island Time

No cars, no motorbikes. I love the soft jingle of the horse and cart as it makes its way behind you. So festive in its colourful head dress or banners, its driver usually sporting a football jersey of a team they likely have no idea about. Workers on bicycles are like acrobats the way they sit on stacks of timber, hold large buckets or boxes on one knee or hover cargo in front of them, all peddling to island time, a soft rhythm of resourcefulnes. 

Aimlessly walking the narrow streets, the scenes change as frequently as the weather in a typical Melbourne day. A group of goats stand mindlessly on a rubbish hill, with roosters crowing around them keeping them inline as if they think they are sheep dogs. Endless signs for diving and drinking specials line the east side of the island enticing party goers to spend their money and create the garbage that lines the street in the early morning for pick up. The west side of the island boasts the calmer, slower flow with swings in the water and beach chairs lining the beautiful clear blue water. Surrounding the base of the one and only hill, small huts line curved tree lined streets like cubby houses lifted off the ground in case of flooding. 

There’s an island walk you start to take on, to avoid puddles and mud. A slow, concentrated, strategic walk, like a giraffe scared to get its ballet shoes wet. Once you start to notice your new walk it’s hard not to laugh at yourself. The mud sticks on the back of your legs as if you just stepped out of a cement mixer. 

The sunsets on the west of the island create strong blues, oranges and pinks. As the day comes to a close, it highlights the things I have conquered, Mount Batar, closing a chapter on what has been done. The sunrise in the east, bathes Mount Ranjani on Lombok highlighting its outline almost in mocking reverence for the mountain I want to climb. 

The best restaurant in town knows my name and my favourite deserts. I go early and take up a huge bungalow seat fit for a large group. The staff don’t mind so I don’t mind. It’s island logic, first come first served as long as you like, “no problem”. 

Accommodations advertise in misspelt signs, wifi and hot showers but both rarely exist. The mozzies here are rampant and with the occasional rain fall I can’t keep them from eating at me, despite my poisonous bug spray. Maybe it’s just poisonous to me with how much I spray to keep them at bay. 

Tourists flock to the beach where the swings can be found that bombard Instagram feeds #blessed. What is not seen in the photos is people actually enjoying the seat, taking time to take in the sunset. They line up, look relaxed and ‘in their bliss’ then move on for the next person and their photo. On my sunrise run, I stop at the swings. Dangling my feet in the water, I sit and sway forwards and backwards. I watch the fish swimming and spot starfish. Island slumber means I get to enjoy the beach alone, enjoy the swing alone and soak up the moment everyone ingenuinely creates to share with the world rather than themselves. 

There’s no schedule, no where I need to be. I’m set on a twelve hour pendulum swinging from sunset to sunrise. Anything other than that is eating, sleeping or writing. 

My island time is perfect. So slow. So relaxed. Time feels to have stopped here. What day is it? When is my ferry? I’ll check tomorrow, is it tomorrow? Or the day after? Just one more sunset to soak up….

The Hopeless Meet-Cute


Entering the café, it’s hard not to notice every inch of wall space is taken up with books and inspiring quotes by famous authors. Old musty lounge chairs are scattered throughout, offering reading nooks for the midweek coffee and tea drinkers. New to the midweek cafe culture club, I can’t help but wonder “what do these people do for a living and how do I sign up?!”

I find a large communal table to sit at. Yes, position myself in the centre of everything, prime position, high observation possibility and line of sight to outside. My coffee arrives as I open my laptop and start my session.  While I’m here to do some writing I need to work on my poor excuse of a love life. Talking to guys, meeting guys, well, currently it’s more like looking at guys without going red. Two birds, one stone and all that….

Two guys walk in and look for seats, YES! They have to join the communal table. There isn’t enough space for the two of them so they sit right on the corner and one of them pulls up a stool. Men on stools just don’t go in my book—high knees and legs spread, like a giraffe trying to sit at a pre-schooler table. Not that appealing, which helps build up the courage to say something.

“Do you guys want me to move over so you can have a proper seat?”

“Nah it’s all good, we’re right here”.

Excellent, two cute boys in front of my face. And I spoke to them offering kindness. Points? Who’s keeping points?!

They were both Kiwis. One was obviously visiting the other who now lived here in Bondi. At first their conversation was really awkward, there was so much mindless chit chat that I thought they might have been on a date. “Great book store bro, heaps of books” (no shit). Then they started talking about home, visiting kiwi (Kiwi one) said he wished he could have met Kiwi two’s girlfriend (there goes one possibility, down to a 50/50 chance). There were lots of “yeah bro” “sick bro” and “nah bro”’’s then one started sharing photos from last night which must have been a stinger as they couldn’t remember them being taken. It sort of explained why they were a little weird—their brains weren’t working.

“Eat the bacon man, eat the bacon! Can’t let good bacon go to waste” Kiwi one goads.

“Nah bro, you have it. I’m not going to eat it.”

As they sucked the remnants out of their iced-drinks Kiwi one pats two on the back “Happy Birthday bro! Let’s get out of here”. As they get up I realise Kiwi two is pretty gangly, and a bit younger than me. But Kiwi one is cute!

In that nasily accent that many Kiwis have, one says, “Sorry, I hope we weren’t too loud”.

“Oh, no you guys were fine”. I make a smile but it’s one of those ones you don’t know if it just looks like you are pursing your lips or an actual smile is coming out. Crap! I should have said ‘Happy Birthday!’ Although the birthday boy was the one with the girlfriend. Shit, visiting Kiwi was cute. I watched them walk out the door, Kiwi one yelling out to staff to “have a good one aye” and thanking them for the great meal. What a guy! Polite, friendly, genuine. Could I have said something? Should I have interrupted when it was awkward? Would that have been more awkward? It’s not worth saying anything, they aren’t available so what’s the point. But maybe visiting Kiwi is my soulmate and how amazing would that story at our wedding be for how we met? That escalated quickly.

Ok. Round two. Cute guy sits at end of communal table with a latte and macbook. It makes me look sadly at my overgrown ASUS computer and realise why the girl in front of me seems to be so close, no it’s the laptop screen that is invading her side of the table as it’s so old! I digress. Ignoring the fact that that between me and Mr Mac there is a really pretty blonde, also on her macbook, I steal a quick look over at him. Maroon shirt, brown hair, a little stubble, not a beard, but not an “I’m trying to grow a beard but it’s just not happening” thing either.

It’s been a while since I first entered the café. Being new to unemployment and writing life I haven’t quite mastered the art of confidently sitting in one place having bought one coffee and using Wi-Fi all day. Time to repurchase. I’m feeling pretty good today in my walking gear, maybe It’d be good to get up, show Mr Mac my legs (people tell me I’ve got great legs, who am I to disagree). I’ve got my fierce tights on that are grey, black and white. I emulate a confident woman and stroll up to the counter and order another coffee. Flex the legs as I wait for my change. Stomach in, butt firm. As I get back to the table, I lean down to put my purse back into my backpack. Oh no, how old am I? A backpack? Don’t let him see it. Keep your arm low and he’ll never notice it. Getting back up, as my fingers grip the table, I realise they are kind of blue. Yeah, it’s actually really cold in here. Then I realise I’ve got no padding in my (ultra-confident) sports bra and the girls are high beaming. Oh no! Or, is that possibly a good thing? Shit did he see me look at them? Oh god, please no. Of course blondie over there is smart enough to be wearing a frilly girly top keeping these things up to the imagination. Oh my god, am I now looking at her girls now? Did Mr Mac see that?!

Shake it off. Back to what I was doing. Reading Reading Reading. Look up, boom! He looked at me! I smiled, and got scared and put my head back down. The café is buzzing with action, two women discussing the theory of life, a man reading the paper and doing a cross word puzzle, one girl who I am sure has picked up every book in the place and read the back cover. People are walking in and out and I realise this really personal stuff I am working on is right there for people to see. Zoom out to decrease to 60%. Lucky my eye sight is perfect (insert ‘ok’ emoji symbol).

“Hey man” says a tall hipster guy in standard hipster uniform – white t-shirt, denim and a skateboard. Man handshakes all around between Mr Mac and the new guy. Turns out Mr Mac is a ghost writer for some really boring domestic product. A writer! Kindred spirits! They will say that at our … not that spiral again. They talk for a bit and Mr Mac seems really cool. Farewell man shakes occur and Mr Mac is back to his ghost writing. What do I do?!

Some latino chick has sat down reading and takes a phone call. As I go to share a glare with her I realise we are not in a library and the main purpose of the café is for conversation not laptop wielding free loaders like me. “I need to speak to you, I am so lost today, I need you” BLA. Why are latinos always so passionate and firey? It all gets a bit yuck and space invading so Mr Mac starts to pack his things up. He seems to slowly be putting things in his bag (a backpack! How old is he?! Kindred spirits!) Could he be stalling? Maybe he is building up the courage to speak to me? Maybe to blondie? All the while I am building the courage to speak to him. Will someone give us some spinach or que wizard of oz or something!  Mr Mac passes me, I freeze (yes the girls too) and he flops his backpack on his shoulder and walks out. 

I’ve lost my chance. I look down then look at the door like a puppy waiting for his owner to return, Mr Mac turns around and we lock eyes. Is he coming back in the cafe?

The Old Boys


I call them the ‘old boys’. They are a group of three, four, sometimes five gents walking in the mornings along a popular, picturesque coast walk. They advertise retirement so seductively banding together their morning stroll. Like the seven dwarfs, they are mix matched in height and belly fullness, their greying hair and baldness betraying their age of nothing less than sixty. In unison their gleaming white sneakers, ready for a dentist commercial, seem like their wives have put them through the washer after every walk. Their short white socks, stand tall on their legs trying to hide the bulging map of their varicose veins.

The old boys have a uniform. A crisp white shirt with the words only a witty grandfather knows how to deliver, inked on the back like a bumper sticker.

“Yes, I’m slow, I’m old—what’s your excuse?”

“I walk but I know I should do weights, but those things are heavy!”

My old boys laugh and bicker and whinge. They chuckle and retell devious encounters at the local RSL or compete with stories of pride about their families. Their conversations have a rhythm, the ‘old boys theme song’. They dance to it with a slow briskness where it’s almost as if their elbows and knees are attached with string so each stride has a jolt of movement as if controlled by a puppeteer.

I often stay behind them because it makes me smile, I want to be like them when I am that age. One time as I innocently walked perhaps a little too close in curiosity, I learnt they were actually survivors of prostate cancer, and their group was one of companionship, support and solidarity. A lump reached my throat instantly at that realisation and I started to look forward to seeing them on my walks knowing they were fighters, and lovers too.

Today, I see my old boy ‘Brian’. It’s not a fact his name is Brian, but I named each of the old fellas to make up stories about them. Brian looks strong willed with strong big hands, perhaps a farmer or tradesman in his working days. I imagine he’s the silent, deep type, as opposed to old mate ‘Wiley’. He’s definitely the talker of the group and since he’s the shortest he seems constantly out of breath from keeping up and crackling with laughter. As I get closer, Brian’s trademark short brimmed white sun hat hides dark circles under his eyes. He looks at me, a smile escaping a numb face then he looks back to the pavement as we walk past each other.

Where is the crew? Where are my boys? I frantically start to remember the last few days and when our paths crossed on the track. Have I changed my time? Have they changed theirs? Last week, was it just a few of them that I saw? Or was that last month? In a panic of thought I had unconsciously looped the track and saw Brian again coming towards me. Is he ok? Where are the boys? Do I stop and ask? Absently he looked out to the ocean, his hands slowly swaying forwards and backwards. He seemed much slower than usual, like the weights his t-shirt talked about where actually on his shoulders. As we again were about to pass one another, my heart beat fast and I knew I wanted to reach out to him. I stepped right into his path making us stop abruptly. Our heads slowly looked up and our eyes met in acknowledgement, yet fear.


I Don’t Want to do This Alone

Strong independent single women don’t want to admit it. When they have followed their passion and built their own empire around them, they don’t want to say it out loud. To people. With ears. “I want to find love, I don’t want to do this alone anymore”.

Kate was about to stand up in a room heaving with women clawing for inspiration and motivation to grow their own business. She felt like a fraud. She dabbed the sweat on her upper lip with her speech cards. She was proud of what she had achieved and wanted to share her story of hard work and determination. But would feminist groups hunt her down if she told the truth? Was the women movement resting on her shoulders if she said she wished the outcome of her life was a little different?

“Out in 10 Kate” barked one of the faceless event coordinators rushing around. Shit. Was it getting hot in here? Her breath was heavy and warm and felt as if it was creating a shield deterring her from moving toward the stage. The roar of applause sounded behind the wall and she knew her freak out time was up. Shaking her head, she plastered a smile on her face and walked confidently onto that stage. She tapped the cards on the podium. Pause. She fanned her heat struck face. Pause. In a moment of clarity she envisioned herself in the front row of the crowd. What would she tell her younger self if she had the chance? Taking the mic, Kate lifted her head and began.