What’s It Going To Be, Hon?

Words by Emma Marie Jones

Pictures by Emma Marie Jones

Published on August 22, 2016

I’m shitting in my new apartment with the bathroom door wide open. It’s an ensuite and the toilet faces the bedroom mirror so I watch myself as I shit. I watch the muscles in my face closely. Which ones strain when I shit? The ones around my temples, teeth. I perform shitting. I perform shitting to an audience of myself. It doesn’t even occur to me that this could be like, even remotely weird. When I was living with my parents before this and when I am living in sharehouses after this shitting was, and will be, a source of anxiety. It’s like this totally abject and very, very private thing my body does that I don’t ever want to have acknowledged or overheard by anyone. It’s an admission of mortality, of impermanence, of digestion. Of organicness. Of the grotesque: my hot, cute body that exists in all these tiny pastel miniskirts can produce this gronky stench. Whatever, like I’m the only one who feels poop anxiety? In this apartment, shitting is a sanctuary. I do pedicures while I’m shitting. I smoke joints while I’m shitting and I ash into the bowl between my legs. I eat muesli bars while I’m shitting. The fibre goes right through me.


It’s autumn. I’m in the first year of my Creative Writing degree and I’m doing this thing where I narrate my whole entire life to myself inside my own head at the same time as I’m chastising myself for how totally fucking clichéd this makes me. I think I’m such a manic pixie dream girl. I self-consciously think things like too drunk to blog hehe and has anyone figured out how to type on a Nokia E63 with two-inch acrylic nails yet??? I enter the university through the gate on Frome Road where the city starts to tilt sleepily into parkland. When I was a little kid my dad used to study here and he used to leave us in the car in the school holidays, like back in the 90s when it was ok to do that even when it was hot outside. Three small silky heads lined up in the backseat, peeking through the wrought iron gate into adulthood and institution, my childish brain bathed now in nostalgia but bathed back then in anticipation thinking I’m gonna go there someday and associating the big plane trees with that feeling, while my dad jogged on his like foam-soled sneakers from the 70s through this gate, the same gate, to hand in an assignment on whose cover sheet I had watched him painstakingly handwrite his name—I’m gonna go there someday—it’s cheesy, probably, but I like the yellow leaves and how bright they are against the wet cement. Walking with a sense of purpose. Walking to a beat. It’s 2008 and in 2008 I’m really into listening to music made by sad, moany women. Probably because I feel like one of them. Probably because I’m one of them. I’ve just discovered there are alternatives to instant coffee in the home kitchen. I’m like, Nescafé Blend 43 is for my parents and for chumps. Are my parents chumps now, or have they always been and I just didn’t know? Fuck, it’s like everything is liquid, it’s like the foundations of my being are built on liquid, it’s like my parents are Blend-43-drinking chumps now that I’ve discovered stovetop coffee pots??? I live in a one-bedroom apartment and I smoke weed and masturbate all day like the protagonist of that Greenday song. I feel like such an adult but I don’t even own a mop.


My apartment is part of a council housing estate, which means it’s one in a honeycomb of 260 versions of itself. When I walk home from the train station I see the windows all lit up and I think about other people’s furniture, other people’s dinners, other people’s lives. Lives so different to my own, unfolding in apartments with the exact same floor plans. I am hyper-aware ¬¬of how writerly this kind of thinking is. I write some very bad short stories that are variations on the theme, and even one short play. All the short stories and the play have a mousy protagonist in common who, in the play, would probably be played by Zooey Deschanel. My neighbour opposite is called Bill and he is like so fucking creepy. He calls me “Blondie” in a way that feels lecherous. One night my friend Caitlin comes over and when I open the door for her Bill is standing in the lobby. He’s cooked as shit, trying to unlock his front door but every time he finds the right key he drops this loaf of Wonder White that he is holding under his armpit. So he bends down to pick up the Wonder White, and then he drops his keys, but when he picks up his keys he drops the Wonder White again, and every time he drops either the keys or the Wonder White he says, “FUCK!” Caitlin and I are just standing there like, do we do something? We decide not to, and we go inside and smoke some weed and we can still hear Bill dropping his keys and his Wonder White and cursing for ages until someone upstairs files a noise complaint and eventually a cop comes over and lets Bill into his own apartment.


Once you develop habits of aloneness you can’t shake them. I begin talking to inanimate objects. I scold the toaster for burning my toast. I flick through my vintage sweaters on their hangers, rejecting each one individually, making sure there is kindness in my voice. “Not you, not you, not you.” I leave the television on all night in the other room, falling asleep to live Olympic broadcasting. The showerhead in my bathroom is detachable and I hold it between my legs, trying to find the right spot, trying to feel pleasure even after the water runs cold.


I am 20 years old and clubbing is still stressful to me because I haven’t decided what my ‘usual’ is going to be yet. Currently it’s a vodka, fresh lime and soda but that feels too predictable because when someone cute asks me what’s it going to be? a vodka, fresh lime and soda is just not indicative enough of how interesting and like totally quirky I am, you know? I trial a few different options. Try them on like new Myers Briggs personality types. ENTJ: gin and tonic. ESTP: 2 for $12 Jägerbombs. ENTP: vodka and raspberry. ISTJ: rum and dry with a twist. I get really good at reapplying my lipstick without a mirror. Girls in the bathroom queue are impressed by this skill. They are like, “is that MAC Snob?” And I am like, “omg yes it is” and we stand around bonding over how totally fucking cute the preppy ’80s look is right now and how ahead of the curve we all feel for dressing like it’s 20 years ago, how unique we feel for looking exactly the same as each other. I’m standing in the bathroom queue, my hand hooked over the cubicle door holding it shut for some girl I just met, this stranger who is throwing up. I’m calling her “hon” and lending her my hairspray, oh my god, I’m the kind of person who carries a can of hairspray in my purse. It’s June and it’s 11 degrees out and I’m wearing Spanx and a miniskirt and no jacket, but I still have hairspray. I’m already the person I’m becoming, which will be a person who will grow out all her body hair to save money on razors and then write a poem about it. Can the girl in the club—the girl in the cloud of Marc Jacobs Daisy, dragging some guy dressed like a member of Kings Of Leon into a cab so he can suck her fingertips—can this girl really be the same person as the one she’ll be later? In 2011, when she’s really into Judith Butler, or 2013, when she totally gets health goth, or 2016, when she knows that Twitter is the truest form of self-expression? I mean, I know you’re throwing up hon, but what I’m really saying is, will I become someone else? Am I already the person I’m becoming—I mean, will I always be the person I’ve become—I mean, am I still the person I was?


The Adelaide that surrounds me when I’m living alone is a different Adelaide than the one that will surround me when I move, later this year, into a sharehouse with others. Turned inward, you live in a world of your own making, a world that is created by you and so exists only for you. Every object has its own narrative. Every footstep, every action an internal echo. Routine. There’s routine. I learn about the concept of ennui in a first-year modernisms class and I apply it to my own life without even thinking. I do not trust the mailboxes out front of my building. I have all my eBay purchases delivered to a PO Box. I am lonely and it’s 2008 and the ’80s are everything. I am lonely and I am surrounding myself with chunky plastic earrings and vintage loafers and sparkly patterned sweaters that are so long I could wear them as dresses if I wasn’t too depressed to show off what my body looks like. I am lonely and I am living on Mi Goreng and Jägermeister and scrambled eggs. My clairvoyant tells me I can expect love and success presently but that’s so generic, you know? I start fucking this wildly successful real estate agent who has two Blackberrys, a business one and a personal one. He gets off on me sending him nudes to whichever number I feel like, not knowing which one’s which. I met him in the beer garden at the Ed Castle. He thought it was cute that I was drinking Smirnoff out of a Mount Franklin bottle ’cos I didn’t have enough cash to buy drinks at the bar. Me and my friend Jen told him we’d brb and went to the bathroom so I could check that my vaginal discharge wasn’t white or fishy-smelling, and we said to each other hetero men are soooo predictable. I guess that’s why so many women go into the clairvoyant business.