Sunshine is a controversial thing. Many people love it. Many people avoid it at all costs. Many celebrities have opinions on it, treating it like a too-smart antagonist in a David Mamet play. They shield themselves from it desperately, with creams and hats and glasses.
Sunshine causes burning and drying and crinkling, but it also provides energy (in literal and metaphorical ways), and little sprouts curling out of the ground ever-skywards, and it is also a useful signifier when trying to explain the sight, smell and (assumed, never tested) taste of jonquils.
Sunshine is something I have tended to avoid. I am sensitive to sunshine due to my pale Eastern European skin. Russian Jews are sensitive to sunlight the way in the same way we are sensitive to changes in people’s mood, feedback that is not couched in a compliment sandwich, and trace amounts of gluten.
As a result, I tend to enjoy the look of sunshine, and the jonquils it allows to pop defiantly out of the earth during the depths of winter, but I do not enjoy too much of an exposure to sunshine. For me, sunshine on skin is a sometimes-treat. Too much of it, and you’re spraying anaesthetic cream on your butt in a badly ventilated bathroom that night.
However, sunlight is something you really miss when you spend a winter in Melbourne. Melbourne has very very little sunlight during the winter months. You might find you’ve got through a whole week of grey days without once feeling a brush of its hot fingers on your vulnerable neck skin.
As a result, a lot of Melbournites find themselves progressively folding into themselves over the course of a long winter. After all, what are we but delicate little jonquils ourselves, trying desperately to pop our bright heads out of the soil and stay alive?
It’s easy to forget that sunshine ever existed, that it was part of your day-to-day, that hot rays once smiled down on you, sizzling your monobrow hairs and making your stockings give you sweat-itch on the back of your thighs.
Melbourne winter has warmth, like the sardine-packed South Morang line after peak hour, or a state theatre company filled with a mass of old people’s sleep-farts, but Melbourne does not give sun easily.
This is where Vitamin D comes in. A few months ago I was in my friend’s bathroom and noticed he had a bottle with 1,000 Vitamin D tablets. The little transparent bubbles clinked alluringly in their plastic tub. He told me, “they’re essential. You must.”
And can I just say: Vitamin D is a game-changer. You’ll notice the difference next time you do your sanity-power-walk in your lunch break, and you welcome the cloud-lined sky with a wink and a grin, instead of just another weary sigh.
Vitamin D is so much more than a funny euphemism for dicks regularly used by members of the gay and hag community. Vitamin D is what will get you through a Victorian winter.
Now you go out and get that D, baby girl.
There are a few things at WJLI HQ that are really important to us: regular sunshine, ongoing dog-access, and foods that double-bang the descriptors of both salty AND crunchy.
Sometimes we decide it’s time to stretch open our experience bank a little wider, to make sure that we are exposing you to all the important things that life has to offer.
This is all a pretty long-winded way of saying: I tried ear-candling for you.
I’m no stranger to attempted ear-candling. The last time I tried it was roughly 10 years ago, and it was not a success.
My mum had invested in luxury hair interventions for my sister and myself at a curl-centric salon in Waverley. The salon was helmed by a woman who dressed in all purple and wore her long mane of curly white hair long and free.
This woman told us that many women commit Crimes Against Curls, because we grow up in a culture that teaches us to restrain our mane. This was the worst thing we could ever do to our curls. Every time we tied our hair back with a restraining elastic band, we were rubbing those delicate follicles so raw that they became dry and snappable.
I didn’t even dare ASK her what she thought of rubber bands in hair. I wanted to walk out of there alive.
According to this Earth Mother of Curls, we should treat our hair as if it is a veil of chiffon, and our shoulders like a brittle rock. Gently splay out your curls upon the rock, careful of stressing, snagging, pulling or traumatising the hair.
I learnt a lot from this woman, so when she offered me a very reasonable upsell of “healing temple massage plus bonus ear candling”, I immediately said yes. The temple massage was extraordinarily healing, and helped me process the feelings I had around a very emotionally draining play I was acting in that week.
(Our university theatre society had decided that the best application of first year Drama student skills was a production of The Diary of Anne Frank, and I played the vain Mrs Van Daan, who progressively loses her furs and expensively cultivated looks over the course of the play, as a metaphor for the costs of fascism.)
After this healing massage, I lay on a soft floor for my ear candling. Earth Mother delicately plonked a beeswax tube into my ear canal, set it on fire, and went off on her lunch break. With no one manning my candle, I was lax in ensuring it had been dug deep enough into my ear. When we pulled the candle out afterward, it was completely dry and empty of even a small ball of wax.
Ten years passed before I attempted ear candling again. I thought, “What’s the point? It’s just like Rescue Remedy and oil pulling. Useless.”
Until one day, the health food shop in Northlands had a special “4 for 2 deal” and my inner Scrooge said, “if not now, when?”
And here’s the lesson I learnt about ear candling.
YOU GOTTA CRAM THAT BABY DEEP IN YOUR EAR IF YOU WANT IT TO DO SHIT!
With a deeply-filled ear hole, I finally experienced the big deal that everyone had been going on about all these years. Ear candling is UTTER MAGIC. It is a wholly mindful experience with an incredibly useful side-effect of clean ears. I now swear by it.
Let me tell you some of the best stuff about ear candling:
- The fact that you can listen to what it sounds like to have a fire inside your head
- The fact that said fire has the double duty of SUCKING WAX OUT OF YOUR HEAD AND TAKING IT SOMEWHERE NEW
- The fact that it is a beautiful trust exercise between you and whoever is facilitating your candling, due to the proximity of flame to your delicate eyelash hairs.
- The fact that YOU GET TO CUT OPEN THE CANDLE AFTERWARDS AND SEE WHAT DISGUSTING THINGS YOU ACHIEVED.
I don’t want to go into too much detail, but yes I do. Of course I do.
Imagine what 30 years of just cleaning your ear with just ear buds looks like. Pushing wax deeper into your ear canal so that it starts a new society up there and declares squatter’s rights. And then imagine a big cleansing fire coming through and razing that village to the ground. Ok, this isn’t a nice image to anyone except Liberal Party HQ, but try to remember this is about your ears, and not social policy.
At the end of a good candling, you will have a candle full of dusty hoovered skin flakes, and several hard balls of wax. The skin flakes look like what I imagine would happen if you beat up a really old tiny skeleton and it exploded inside the borders of your boyfriend’s sink. The balls of wax look like precious amber stones. They would look at home strung on a necklace, and they are heavy in volume, like a high-class Easter egg. When you drop them in the sink, they make a sonorous “clink”. They are heaven.
Ear waxing, for me, is now going to be filed next to “eating avocado” and “saying no to fun” as one of those things that you should have appreciated years and years ago, but what can you do about that now?
All you can do is the following thing: schedule a six-monthly appointment for ear candling, and begin harvesting a beautiful collection of your ear amber to share with your human/dog progeny one day in the future.