Kate Zahnleiter was raised by a single working mother and a television. She writes that “not a day goes by in which I’m unable to relate something which occurs in real life back to an episode of something I watched as a child, teenager or young adult.” In Life and My Box, Kate shares the lessons she has learned from TV.
When I was a teenager, I watched a lot of reruns of Degrassi Junior High and, when that was finished, the just as delightful Degrassi High (I can only hope you are humming the theme song to one of these now—I prefer High, but it’s really just a matter of adding or subtracting the word “junior” to your personal taste). I used to think of myself as a bit of a Caitlin Ryan, because she was a feminist and a journalist and a social activist and did a lot of things I liked to think I’d do if I wasn’t so lazy and didn’t have to spend so much time pretending I could skateboard and making sure my Tencel jeans looked amazing (both Caitlin and I did question our sexuality after having a sexy dream about a female teacher, but that didn’t really need a lot of effort on my part).
On the way to Strike Bowling they passed Albert Street where some council workers were taking down a “Peace, Love & Joy” sign.
‘Jesus Christ,’ Mavis said, ‘why don’t they just keep it up?’
‘Because it was a Christmas thing. And Christmas is over. 2012 is dead. Besides, Campbell Newman would never foot the bill.’
They walked a bit further and passed Off Ya Tree.
‘My sister works at Off Ya Tree,’ Mavis said, ‘and you know what someone said to her the other day?’
‘Someone came in asking for the crosses with the little person wrapped around the cross. My sister said, ‘Umm, do you mean Jesus?’ and the girl said, ‘I guess.’
First of all, bravo, sir. Actually knowing how to use chopsticks is a gift that you must not take for granted. Also the fact that you are sitting in the middle of a busy walkway, on the ground, eating a Mars Bar with chopsticks tells everyone you are comfortable with who you are.
I, on the other hand, when lunch time comes, find a secretive nook away from any people and begin to eat alone. The trick to eating alone is to avoid eye contact, and sit up straight with your chest out, for intimidation. I secretly eat my sandwich whilst secretly Googling all the words to Thrift Shop, but if someone happens to walk by my secret lunch nook, I hide my lunch and pretend I was reading. What, is eating embarrassing now? Do people not need to eat for survival? Can a girl not sit alone all day doing pointless activities, eating a sandwich like a normal person? Apparently, subconscious says no.
I’m not like those other girls, I proclaim as I saunter down the street with my friend, both of us wearing stockings and boots and a dress. We’re fifteen. Clearly, this was the cutting edge alternative fashion back in 2008 and unlike what any other two girls were wearing at any one time. Clearly, I was the other: the single one girl who isn’t like those other girls because I was cool and hung out with the dudes, wore sneakers and pretended to vomit at the sight of pink. Clearly, I was better than all of those other girls, who did not have my intellect or, it seemed, my superiority complex.