Wednesday, 15 October 2014

The First Annual International Lip Synch Awards. It's Like Air Guitar, But With Your Mouth.

At 2.16pm a year ago I text my brother Cameron saying "Hey Cam, how are you going today? Xx"

I didn't know he'd spent the whole weekend packing up all of his belongings, sorting, giving stuff to Vinnies, destroying his laptop, deactivating his Facebook account, getting a tarp ready in case he shit himself when he killed himself. That still makes me annoyed - just die on your bed, Cam. Shit your bed - it's your bed. You paid for it. I didn't know that by the time I sent my text he had been dead all day long and was already in a bodybag in the fridge in the morgue.

"How are you going today? Xx"

Cam had a really good bed, he got it specially made and it cost a bomb. One of my sons sleeps on Cams bed now. My husband Dave wanted to take the bed to the beach house for us to sleep in, not quite understanding that I didn't really want to sleep on the bed my brother lay awake making all his suicide plans in. Fucked his last girlfriend in. Hated the world in. Felt like he failed in.

I can't sleep in my brothers bed. Later today I'll probably go somewhere and smash all his white Ikea plates I ended up with because fuck those beautiful whites plates straight to hell. Aren't objects weird? I went to Newtown police station recently to get Cams suicide note addressed to me. It's mine. But it wasn't there. That's ok. I have the main part of it tattooed on my arm now in his exact handwriting. I stood and gulped air and seriously, almost collapsed like you see in the movies and I said real slow to this hot copper with tattoos:

"Can I just ask you a question? I just need to know just one thing."

But I couldn't get the question out and damn if I am not one of the strongest motherfuckers you would ever meet in life but I could NOT form the question with my mouth! And this cop, god he was kind. He was one of the kindest people I have ever met in my life and finally, finally I talked.

"I just need to know ... when you guys got the call-out, when the fireys went and the ambo and everybody ... did you all have your sirens on?"

And he didn't even stand there and bullshit me. He went and checked and it took AGES to check, like almost ten minutes. He was REALLY CHECKING so that when he came back I knew he was telling me the truth, clinically compassionate.

"According to all the reports - yes. All of the sirens were on, driving to your brothers flat."

And I cried a different cry (there are so, so many kinds of cries) and we looked at each other and I didn't even say a thing, just turned and walked away.


So my brother died and it still shocks me. I still don't know how I'm going to make it through. According to unwritten social codes I am "allowed" to cry and grieve today because it is an anniversary, but today is no different to any other day. Except I have learned you can feel annihilated after annihilation, again and again and again. "Grief" is the most strict, the most mean, the most unforgiving teacher in town.

Cameron took his own life. He tried to prepare me but nothing prepared me for this. Nothing I've ever been through even comes close. He had so much to give and offer the world, he would see Henry Rollins EVERY time he was in Australia on tour so he must have felt inspired by that? I know that frustrated feeling inside you, when everything is all balled up and you want to do something but you don't know what and the world is so fucked anyway so why even try?

Cams last name was changed after his dad killed himself and he had a new stepfather and it really confused him, made him question his identity. He told me a few years ago he wanted to change it back to the original but why have the last name of somebody who left you? I get that. I was "supposed" to be a boy to carry on the family name and my real dad was a cock so it was with great glee that I changed my name when I got married, purposely putting my maiden name nowhere near my sons names.

My brother Cameron would fall really, really hard for women. SO HARD. The biggest relationship of his life was with a beautiful woman named Shae. They tried to make it work for so many years. I've been in close contact with a lot of Cams people, lately. The ones he truly loved, the ones who TRULY loved him back. It's hard to love a broken man. There are so many photos of Cam overseas with Shae, she took one of my all-time favourite photos of him. I thanked her, for making Cam SO happy because in this pic I can see the gorgeous, twinkly-eyed little boy I knew years ago. When he was happy. Before the world got him.

The bond I had with my brother is broken because that's what death does. But I'll always love him. I'll wonder what could have been. I'll always cry. I'll always be kind of amazed I can still go on.

He told me once that one day, he wanted to meet a girl who would agree to choose a new last name with him after they got married, start anew. Isn't that beautiful?

He was living with me when he told me this news about wanting to change his name and my god how he wished he never told me. EVERY time I saw him for months afterwards I would literally run over to him before he scampered up to his flat (because he never wanted to bother us much, next door in our big house with our messy family. He always preferred to lock himself away.) I would irritate the UTTER SHIT out of him.

"CAM! I got it - ready? Gunn. CAMERON GUNN. With TWO fucking N's! IT'S PERFECT."

Or I'd tell him Cameron Carvello. Cameron Stone. Cameron Steele. He'd BEG me to shut the fuck up, he hadn't even decided if he'd do it yet. Sometimes I'd drive past and he'd be standing somewhere and I'd yell out my car window:

"CAMERON WONG" and all he did was shake his head and smile that smile, the smile that breaks me when I think of it now. I just wanted to help reinvent himself because lord knows I've reinvented myself over a hundred times by now. Jeez I thought he'd pull through. Huh. He wanted to build his own house. My god he would have made THE MOST beautiful father. He was a caring, kind, smart, hurt, passionate, arrogant, fuckhead, conflicted, sad, overwhelmed, beautiful man.

I take back my permission and understanding, Cam. Come back. This is awful. You have no idea how many people loved you.

If somebody is a well-adjusted member of society then they are sick because society is sick. The whole world is actually sick, but we take it personally and think there's something wrong with US.


All this talk of suicide prevention and awareness and government funding complete with hashtags for what exactly? How are our views, our help, our understanding of suicide changing? (Look, I'm sure good stuff is coming. I hope so. I'm just a little bitter right now.)

So here's an ode to my brother. To you. Here's to being stupid idiots and not caring. I have been lip-synching songs since I first bought a pink cassette tape called Women of Rock in 1980. Music is integral for us humans. Music and shelter and food and play and connection. Love. That's all it ever was, all it will ever be.

So .... introducing the worlds first International Lip Synch Awards. The judge is my 12 year old son Max. You can enter as many times as you like and here's my entry which basically means nobody else has entered yet SO I'VE ALREADY WON. My six year old said "Oh my gord mum, you are SO going to win this. Good LUCK!!"

And I said thank you my sweetheart. And if Max deems me the best then I WILL win and no correspondence will be entered into. The prize is one thousand dollars cash, coming straight from Cams death insurance money. I don't want my brothers money. I want my brother back. I also want you to enter - you KNOW you want to. On Vimeo, YouTube, Instagram, Facebook ... enter as many times as you like and be as wild and free as you possibly can. Hashtag it #edenland so I can find it. You have exactly one month - that's a lot of time you guys, come on. Hit me with your best shot. My video actually took 42 years to make.

Even just film it for yourself and don't enter because it is quite fun. I'll be showing the entries wherever I can, as they trickle through. If they trickle through, because who can even be bothered, right? What does anything mean? NOTHING. But just know - if you enter, and people see your entry? You will make them smile maybe laugh and they may be feeling suicidal or bereaved by suicide so you're actually helping.

(I'm desperately hoping the roaming robots at YouTube don't take my video down for infringing copyright, but if they do hopefully somebody can help me put it back up in a different format? This means so much to me! I can pay you in death money - I'm serious.)

To repeat - there is only one winner. One thousand dollars. Not every child wins a prize ... I'll never forget the look on the faces of the kids at one of my kids birthday parties when I wrapped just ONE present in the pass-the-parcel. Exactly how it used to be when I was a kid.

Every one of those shocked kids kept looking for their lollipop or small toy. I had to stop the music to explain and my exact words?

"There's only once prize you guys. Life is hard. Sometimes we don't all win."

I don't know what Cam would have made about all the things I've written about him on my blog since his death - it was hard enough writing about him when he was alive. "This is my brother you guys! He has a beautiful heart and he is REALLY suicidal isn't he gorgeous!"

I have only ever tried to honour him, talk about who he was and what a waste it was and to show the unbearable pain left behind in his wake. Wake - ha. That's why they must call it that, after a funeral.

Cam I want you to know you were worth sirens. That ambulances and cop cars and a huge fire truck went racing through the streets of Newtown on this day a year ago, desperate to save you. You didn't believe it my beautiful man but you were worth saving. You were worth EVERYTHING. I miss you so much that I can't breathe. Please let there be an afterlife. Please let me see you again.

I did my video over a period of days back in September, around Cams birthday, before and after I got my tattoo. SO MUCH good stuff is left on the cutting room floor so I'll be entering this competition again oh yes I will. The world NEEDS to see my take-off of Get in the Ring just like the world needs to see you let go. Not care. Be an idiot. And if you don't win the 1k? Does not mean you are not still good at it. Hell I just lost one of the biggest competitions I ever wanted to win! I'll try again next year. Then the year after that. After that. After fucking that so that when I eventually win? I'll grab that microphone with gnarled seventy-year old arthritic hands and literally piss my pants from excitement at being named Australias Slam Poet Champion.

In the meantime I did this BECAUSE YES, I ACTUALLY AM STUPID.

If you look close you can see the EXACT moment in Matt Corby's song "Brother" where the shock of Cams death overwhelmed me. My awesome piano in Lose Yourself. The distress and then rage during Shake It Out. The way I'm trying so hard to let Cam go by nodding during The Parting Glass. I have to let him go, everyday I have to let him go.

If I were to teach anyone anything, it would probably be resilience. So step into this with me, bro.

Let us all be barnacles, motherfuckers.

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Write to be understood, speak to be heard. - Lawrence Powell

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