Don’t @ Me (An Interior Monologue): September

Have you ever wondered what it’s like to be a cis, demisexual woman navigating the world in a nontraditional body? In this ongoing column, Nina shares the interior monologue of everyday, the one just for herself, to help her understand what’s going on in her mind. Sometimes it’s funny, sometimes it’s sad—life can be awful—sometimes it’s about how her disability affects her day-to-day social interactions. We are very excited to share it with you. 


**Hello all

Look, I know, I know. it seems like every month more people come out of the woodwork and then you have to commit their names to memory. Truth is, I grew up in a very large, very close Italian family (and Dad’s side of the family is not strictly Italian but it is still large and very close). So I love having people around and I love connecting with my friends and family. Sorry about the continuing existence of 23,900+ people in my life but tbh I wouldn’t have it any other way, except that it’s not very operationally convenient for the diary. Thanks, sending love and peace and chips and gravy,







Mark’s birthday! Text him happy birthday!


We’re going on for impromptu dinny & drinks tonight, should be fun.




6.01pm Still at home, getting dressed

What to wear, what to wear?

Look, if anyone were ever to have powers to hear my thoughts, I swear, most of it would be, ‘I wonder how my friend blah is doing today,’ and ‘I wonder how good this outfit is, and if I am in love with it enough’—on and on in an endless loop: friends and clothes, friends and clothes, with the occasional movie line thrown in.



Probably going to be late, to be honest.



Message the group chat: Sorry, running late, I promise my face will be the most glorious face you’ve ever seen!!!!!



Reply from June: that’s ok, we only got in the uber now, see you soon!


7.27pm Archive, West End

I kind of promised myself I wouldn’t come back here after all that fussing the year my brother and I lived here, but, you know, it’s not my night (it’s Mark’s).



What a time! My face is looking good. But, more importantly, I’m here with the pals, and Mark is having a nice time. Nothing like a birthday to celebrate another year of glorious living and breathing and multiplying. Did Julius Caesar say that? Or was it Celine Dion? Friends, Romans, Live, Breathe, Multiply!


I don’t know. Is it something I’ve seen on a motivational website?



Full disclosure, I haven’t taken all of Ms Dion’s advice ergo, I have not, in fact, multiplied (yet!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!) (don’t worry Mum I know what safe sex is!!!!).


But I have in fact lived and breathed because I am a cis woman of the world and I love living and breathing, indeed, both at the same time!



To all my family members reading this, especially to my young and impressionable cousins, pls never quote Julius Caesar unless you know without a doubt that Julius Cesario is the one whom quothed your words.


Night time, in bed

Every year, September is my fave month. It’s been a huge year tbh. I spent most of today in bed, reading Deltora Quest and thinking abt how nice it is to feel the sheets on my skin, lie around, consume the story.


What a good time. Happy birthday Marky Mark. (Although, to be fair, I’ve only ever called you that once and you did not take too ill to it.)



5.45pm At home, abt to go for long shower

A trip down memory lane

Grace, Dean and I lived down the road from my brother a few years ago. I was speaking w Zuzy abt it today, crying, crying, crying, crying. Sometimes crying can be cathartic. I miss the ease of having him five houses down from me. I miss the ease of our weekends together. But I’ve been through this already. Zuzy said, ‘It’s a good thing that you miss it, bc now you know what you want.’

I said, through tears, ‘What?’

‘If you’ve felt those feelings before, the closeness and togetherness, it doesn’t just go away.’

‘Yes, and?’

‘And, you know what you’re looking for in new friendships.’



6.31pm Bosc, West End

Coooool what a day. To stave off the loneliness of life* I’m meeting up with June and Ella and Adam (Ella’s bf).


*Lol jks who gets lonely ever



June is wearing this fantastic velvety wrap; the night is young. We wander down through West End towards Russel Street, deciding on places to visit or what to eat or what to do w our lack of spare cash.


10 minutes later

We’ve come to The Burrow.



We sit out the back. June has a wine, I’ve got water. Ella & Adam have just been @ a Brisbane Writers Festival event—glorious.

Tbh I’m knackered & lookin’ forward to my burger which is abt to arrive & I’m sure June is looking forward to her food since I’ve been talking abt wanting to gnaw my own arm off since I got to West End and we’re basically the same person.

I’m in a bit of a tizz tonight, I can feel it.

I feel like (Lugia will know this) life-advice Nina is abt to come out and play.


But ‘Who is life-advice Nina?’………..

It’s the me that comes out when combining caffeine with a particular kind of socialising. Like the kind of stuff I used to do around eight years ago in the Valley—find a place to dance, find people to talk to, and talk abt dun dun dunnnnn The Meaning of Life (not the Monty Python one).



Well, she’s a bit intense, that Nina.

A bit too intense and very keen for life advice.



7.24am At home

After this week I need some time to relax. Life-advice Nina has not come out to play at all since last week. What a glorious morning.


I text June. Let’s go for a coffee? I’m still in bed lol. See you at 9?


9.21am Davies Park, West End

Ahhh the river is beautiful. Waiting for June. What a time.


4.20pm Sitting on the couch, thinking about the day

June arrived. I put down a picnic blanket & we grabbed some coffee (a chai thingy for me) & sat & talked. God what a day.


Why can’t all days be like this? It’s been such a long time since January. Well, okay, it’s been nine months.


Mum called me before I got to the park. I can’t remember exactly what she said but she was crying, like normal. I do remember feeling like something had to be done, like something could be done. From now, we can’t just go mildly into the night. Recovery takes eons. I haven’t mourned since January & I think, well, I think it will take some time.



8.59am Vulture Street, West End

Lugia & I are together this morning. She lets me go over the Land of Tragedy, like a long-remembered dream of some kind. She is hilarious & generous. We look at the ppl around us, observe their day as it moves around ours.



Tell me why I don’t like Mondays, tell me why I don’t like Mondays.


7.31pm At home

Packing for the National Young Writers Festival!!!!! Which is on this weekend. NYWF, here I come.



Two more days, then I’ll be in Newcastle.



10.38am Abt to leave to go to airport

Still haven’t got shoes on. Need to put shoes on! Quickly, quickly!



Get a text from the airline. The text says Flight from Brisbane is now delayed



Well I guess I don’t have to put my shoes on just yet.


1.24pm Finally at airport

Today’s journey is long enough to rival The Odyssey to be perfectly honest. Wrap me up in cotton wool and take me out of the oven, I am done.


4.13pm Newcastle, baby!!!

Lech & I might have gotten an uber into town (expensive) but we just ran into a pal who can give us a lift in. Goddamnit I love festival season.


Tonight I’m playing Survivor: Word Nerd with a few other hopeful Survivors & I feel like maybe it’s gonna be hectic. I’ve gotten messages from Ewa and Alex (already). They want to build an alliance. The game is on, bby.



Meeting all the fellow survivors in the park!!! Who’s going to win? We’ll find out through a series of challenges and tests this weekend. Gonna be hectic.


8.10pm Newcastle City Library

Omg I have a festival crush. I don’t want to talk too much abt it. But, I have one. The festival has been on for four hours and twelve minutes and I already! have! a! crush!


Can u believe it.


I talked abt it on twitter & now everyone knows!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


What is a festival crush? The term was coined by Giselle last year, when she had a crush on a random dude. This year, there is an NYWF wedding. It’s gonna be a banger.



Ok, I have another festival crush. Two!!! Crushes!!!!!!!!!!!!! (She’s a babe, who’s keen to makeout?)



Sitting in the crowd with Lech, listening to Sam George-Allen speaking abt Rebecca Solnit. I want to put her voice on tap and run a bath so I can laze around, surrounded by her voice.



8.29pm Newcastle City Library

What a day bby. Had a couple of events (what can I say I’m glorious) and tbh Survivor was pretty brutal today. Had to vote out Yen-Wrong to keep the alliance strong. I hope she forgives me & our friendship endures after the game is done!


Times I saw my festival crush(es) today: 4







Woah. I’m floored.



12.03am Newcastle Beach YHA

I get back to the room, finally—yes been a big day—& Robin (who’s sharing the room w me) is just abt to go to bed. We get a message from one of the producers.


Apparently there’s a guy in need of a bed!!!! And he read at tonight’s events!!!! Amazing!!! Yes we have a free bed, we tell them. Yes, yes, we’ll make sure he can come into the room.


11.08am Newcastle City Library

The event is Women in Journalism & the content is spicy.



Thinking, in the midst of all this, of not going to the NYWF Ball, & instead going out with one of my best friends from high school for dinner. I mean, I love the ball & the concept of the ball.


But, self-care baby!! Loud music, late nights, alcohol—it’s hard. I can’t do that. I used to, for abt three years when I was first at uni. But my body doesn’t react well to loud music, late nights, alcohol. My body throws a tantrum. My body says, ‘Enough, Nina,’ & I have to go home.


Truth is though, I’ve never, not ever, said that out loud.


9.30pm Back at the YHA in my room

Yayyyyyyy home. Home after a lovely night w Louise & her brother Mickey. We had pizza & hot chocolate. Time for sleeeeeep. I think the others are out at the Ball. I hope Robin gets to have a good boogie. This is the first time they’ve come to NWYF.




I hear Robin come in but am half asleep so don’t really take notice as they wheel their chair close enough to the bed to get ready for sleep. Ever the enthusiast, I say, ‘How was the ball?’

They scoff, and say, ‘Do you really want to know?’

‘Oh my god, what happened?’ I’m still half asleep tbh & a bit groggy.

‘I had some guy call me inspirational.’

I pause, thinking that maybe I heard something different. Like, it’s common knowledge that to call a person w disability inspirational is actually a huge insult. ‘What?’ I ask. ‘He didn’t.’

‘Oh, he did,’ they say.

‘Surely not!’

But that was only one of the emotional casualties of the evening. Robin is a wheelchair user. In the last couple of days, we had kind of gotten to know one another, but hadn’t really spoken in depth abt our respective disabilities. It’s not really a topic I talk abt w someone new straight away.

Another of the three emotional casualties (three!!!!!! this is why I don’t go to da clubs anymore) happened when Robin was dancing w some pals. Someone came up to Robin & talked to them abt their dancing, said shit like u mustn’t need a wheelchair if you can stand up





At this point, I turn around so I am facing Robin. I need to face them so I can emote effectively.





The questions I have are:

  • Why does an able-bodied person believe that they have a right to comment on another person’s body?
  • Why does an able-bodied person believe that they have a right to comment on another person’s body?
  • Why does an able-bodied person believe that they have a right to comment on another person’s body?
  • Why does an able-bodied person believe that they have a right to comment on another person’s body?
  • Why does an able-bodied person believe that they have a right to comment on another person’s body?
  • Why does an able-bodied person believe that they have a right to comment on another person’s body?
  • Why does an able-bodied person believe that they have a right to comment on another person’s body?
  • Why does an able-bodied person believe that they have a right to comment on another person’s body?
  • Why does an able-bodied person believe that they have a right to comment on another person’s body?
  • Why does an able-bodied person believe that they have a right to comment on another person’s body?
  • Why does an able-bodied person believe that they have a right to comment on another person’s body?
  • Why does an able-bodied person believe that they have a right to comment on another person’s body?


The answer is they don’t but indubitably, when someone sees a wheelchair user they start talking to that person about the fact that they use a wheelchair. We spend the next half an hour swapping stories abt different kinds of invasive questions and comments solicited to us by random bipeds.


The third emotional casualty of the night—I don’t know why it didn’t come up earlier—is that the YHA is not legally accessible and it’s been hard for Robin to access the building and actually shower every single day. Just bc the hostel’s facilities are outdated. We talked abt how it’s a wreck that they haven’t updated their facilities but they still advertise themselves as being an accessible venue.


Goddamn what a time.


12.57pm Newcastle City Library

Survivor: Word Nerd, the finale! I got kicked out yesterday in a sudden death challenge. Who’s gonna win, babey???????


Two… hours… later

It’s been gruelling and hilarious. Honestly. In the final pleas to the jury, Elyce talks about playing an ‘honest game’ & Alex talks abt playing the best game he thought he could play.


I’m so fkn thrilled that Jeff Probst and Jeff Probst put on this ridiculous and fantastic event.


10.04pm Standing out the front of the library

Oh what a night. Just saw Freya read at Conscious Darkness, Hopeful Light & am in need of bed.


The weekend, this weekend, it has been so full of people & ideas & fantastic things.


What a nice way to end the best month of the year.


Don’t @ Me Questions

Hello, if you (or anyone you know) has questions about what it’s like to live in this body—my body—pls feel free to email me. At the end of next month’s column, I will answer questions as best I can. If you would like the questions to be anonymous, that is okay!

My email is nina [dot] baldotto [at] gmail [dot] com



Nina is a poet and writer living on Turrbal Land. She was diagnosed with cerebral palsy when she was four years old. She tweets @ninabaldotto mostly about poetry and the weather. 

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