A while ago now, I lived in Japan for nearly four years. I suppose I was overdue for this to bite me one more time.
That's bad enough. It's worse that I primed it by doing nothing other than opening my mouth.
Let's not pretend. I went there to sell my body. Despite this, Japan had an effect which is would be visible if you ever took a look at my home. Or my psyche. Much to remember and more to forget. Nevermind, where's the fun in therapy if the things you would change aren't the mirror same of the things you wouldn't.
And it probably doesn't help that the children learn Japanese at school. It certainly doesn't help the the eldest of samesaid children , who takes these things seriously, learns the language after hours because she wants to be perfect. The younger is enthusiastic for different reasons. She just likes to be naughty in a language her dad doesn't understand.
And he din't help when he idly asked what we're doing for New Year's Eve. Why wouldn't he when he hasn't been here for three months. And why wouldn't he when ... ah. nevermind.
I just wish I wasn't sufficiently pissed off enough to say, more or less, "we're going overseas without you to see how you ****ing like it." Come to think of it, it would have been much better to perhaps not say exactly this in front of the children. Bit forgive me, both came with a built-in irony detector that I'm quite sure did not come from me.
Both said Japan. The eldest, because she wanted to believe it and, the youngest, because the only other country she is aware is is Narnia,.
My husband then just looked at me. Not sheepishly. Not coldly. Just a look that said good luck with that.
And the reason he looked at me like that is because my time in Japan did not end well. Avoiding the less edifying detail, I was escorted to the airport, put on a plane, and told in no uncertain terms to never come back. Now Japanese justice is opaque at the best of times and, if we're being entirely fair, pointedly and deliberately murkier for westerners but none of that absolves me. I ****ed up. But since I was never charged with anything and since no one official met me when the plane landed, I have never really known how formal this has ever been. I do know I never had had the appetite to find out the hard way. I'm also reluctant to write to ask because of what might do to sleeping dogs.
The one thing I would like to know is how to tell two small children they can't go where they would like to because their mother has a lifetime travel ban.
If you know, please, by all means
I work with five women. One is sharp witted old crone but I'll leave her out of it. The crone thing is part obligation, part artifice and I get the feeling she hides behind it because she may very well have things worth hiding. And I like her.
The other four, bless their hearts, are young and varying degrees of callow. Each of them is an administrative assistant. One of them is my administrative assistant; that is, if I can ever find her. She is usually off doing things for other staff despite being counselled about this (see crone above) but it isn’t that I mind terribly much. Not usually, at least.
What she writes is very good and very useful. What she says is another matter, mostly because it is in the realm of shit I don’t want to know about. It is also suffused with all the worldliness of a bright kid that has seen very little of anything off the ribbon that wends its way from work to the family home. The other three are the same and what provokes them is frighteningly ordinary and conflated and just a little cringeworthy. Perhaps I can even be grateful for been thrown into a wide-eyed wilderness when still a teenager. It spared me the drowning these kids do despite never getting wet.
No, not many problems are only problems.
So, the proto-feminist problem on an otherwise level-playing field is I’m the only other chick there. So I get to hear it and hear it and hear it all again, And I tell them. When it comes to their crises, real and imagined, they are weekend cyclists and I am a car door.
My friends count on this. Stangers and workmates (and fellow blogkeepers, for that matter) don’t need to be wandering aimlessly into the world of what I really think.
But if I may be so bold, if it is about a man, why not ask a different man. I don’t mean directly, because that would be futile. I mean indirectly. Carefully. Purposefully. Men, bless this gorgeous species, are at their giving best when they think the drawbridge is up. Ask one properly and they will never remember the question.
It’s not even science.
Speaking of men, my own is now home. Flew in on Sunday quite a bit worse for wear and its odd how he can look five years older and ten years younger all in the same glance.
All he has really done since is sleep. And sleep. I don’t mind. He can sleep until Christmas if that’s what he needs. But if he wants to be the lion of the house, he can wake up and have sex, then go back to sleep.
So after god only knows how many days (alright, exactly 17), I finally got to speak to my beloved.
Now you would think a highly intelligent man who, when pressed about his precise whereabouts by a reasonably anxious wife, would know much, much better than to say "Not sure, somewhere in Mongolia." No, not the best start I wouldn't have thought. That alone warrants marital punishment. And I'm sad to say or I'm not that I am not above committing this to long and patient memory.
Fortunately though they were a day's ride from the capital it made for a nice week knowing his is soon to be coming home. The kids are getting a bit frayed also, so not a minute too soon.
Am worried though I haven't heard anything since. He did warn me but I took that to just be polite understatement really said only to modulate a headcase. He could have ****ing told me he meant it . I mean, MEANT it instead of just meaning it. Rude by him.
The upside is I can remember what works for me: sweat and sublimation. I swim and ride and workout and remind myself that I can't be a headcase because I am a mother and cannot be both. And I don't give a **** what anyone say, these two things work better than anything else.
Then I forget.
Those two things do really work and have for a long time. So how is it I keep forgetting. It's embarrassing.
I thought I might take up kendo. Might be wrong,of course but I suddenly find the idea of getting bashed around with a big stick very appealing. Will see.
So I thought if I cannot make myself happy, despite half-hearted recent attempts at exactly this, then why not make others happy. And why not do this with American money.
So I hatched a bold and brilliantly simple plan to relieve, I dunno, Whomever Inc. of their zillion, billion, squllion dollar lottery and donate .... let's see.... absolutely all of it to the People's Revolutionary Army of Puerto Rico.
It's a glitch that such an organisation doesn't quite yet exist but one never knows. They might want fun things like ballot boxes or at least the imprimatur of their own sovereignty to confirm or deny and respond to natural disasters.
Now this will disappoint subscribers to the theory that happiness is strictly the purview of cheap, Canadian meds but Hope is only hopeful. Empathy, however, leaves no stone unturned,
The other glitch is that I didn't buy a ticket. This could be my fault. I think I'm a bit squeamish about gambling when it doesn't involve a. thoroughbreds and b. large chunks of my absent husband's money. Not everything is unrestrained, you know.
Speaking of both those things, the mightiest and supreme-est and bestest ever thoroughbred in all the universes will win her 4th straight Cox Plate on Saturday. It was very kind of Alex to present me with a shimmering cherry red frock to celebrate this awesome occasion.
Must acquaint him with the true extent of his largesse when he finally, ****ing gets home.
Oh well, it was better than listing his most beloved and highly prized car on Ebay just for a laugh. That would not be leaving him alone to do what he needs to do and come home and etc.
In the 21st century, it's hard to believe we still have coffins.
They're not very sustainable and they look ridiculously unfair on the already mournful people that have to lug them around. And the final rinse of the religious centrifuge seems like yesterday's pomp.
What was ever the point anyway? Preservation? Then why not vacuum-sealed like the meat thrifty people throw into the back of their freezer? Or be cast in a big slab of epoxy? And be like a coffee table down there in the underworld.
The Egyptians did set the bar very high and who knows how standards slipped so far.
I should make it clear I'm not plotting my own funeral.
Nope, I wasn't ...aren't...in the tidiest of emotional spaces so I disappeared into the rose garden to give them some love and attention. I did none of that because they were in stunning, spring bloom and look absolutely gorgeous. So i just breathed it in. I thought, when I die, no wooden box for me. I think I would like to be wrapped in silk, be otherwise naked, and cocooned in a tightly bound wicker of climbing roses.
The pall bearers might need really thick gloves. Or draw straws.
Nevermind, the dead don't care.
I think me, myself and I need to spend some quality time locked together in grim reflection. Oh well, it's been a few days. If nothing else and if history is a guide that also makes us a few days overdue. Seated together at the dresser, we can do some really fun shit like looking into the Mirror of Madness and peer, plaintively, once again at the yawning, foggy chasm the divides what we want to say from what we do say. Oh, us.
Maybe it was just growing anxiety. Maybe I could have just said that.
Instead, I told him that if he dies I am going to come over there and revive him for just long enough to do it myself. And that is the (only) forum-friendly bit. Holy hell, I even asked Ruby, out loud, if pandas could eat people.
Not his fault. I encouraged him to go because I saw how willing he was and how much it took to re-organise his ... interests, let's say ... so I could live my vocational dream. I saw with rare clarity that he needed to get a century or two away from the phone and the very demanding world he lived in and everything else and just clear his head. And come home cleansed. Because that is what he does for me. Everyday.
So when he and his ________, ________, _______ mates decided to spend seven weeks on a slighly skewed, reverse Mongol horde type tour from Moscow to Cambodia or Burma or some ****ing where I was genuinely all in. He can't comprehend half of what I love either so why should I complain. I even wriggled the promise of a jade bracelet out of him if he promised to not go stepping on any landmines.
Just as an aside, his uber-ethical, paleolithic mate with the beard to prove it questioned my willingness to exploit cheap overseas labour and I told him not to judge me in his cheap Chinese t-shirt. Thus, they were all satisfied I was cool with it.
Until they left.
Now I ain't.
I want him to come home.
"My name is Ted and one day I'll dead dead. Yo, Yo" he sang down the phone. That would ordinarily put me in a good place, not least because I love-love-love that song. And he knows it.
And I can't call him back
It hasn't been the best few days.
Was less than my best self all of Saturday night and into the early hours of Monday morning fretting about my best friend. I wish I could talk about it. Alas, I can not. It's one of those over-my-dead-body things but that doesn't mean I wouldn't cheerfully bend over for some seriously good perspective and wisdom. Not just about it but how I deal with it, She is the smarter and cleverer and betterer of us and has been since we met. All the way back to school. Now the rescuer's shoe is on the other foot, I just feel utterly bereft and the most piss-poor friend in the entire world.
I perhaps should have sensed what was coming sooner but we were at the Grand Final and I was focused entirely on basking in the inexorability of a stunning runaway romp by my beloved Collingwood. And this is exactly how it unfolded right up until they … well, um… lost. By a kick. Oh well. My fault really.
I think I celebrated just a moment … or a half of football … too soon. Nevermind. I’m here for my litany of actual rather than imagined failure and that makes me very optimistic when my team is leading. At any time.
Returning to my seat with a plastic flute charged with the very finest of French fizzy stuff, I noticed our brand new Prime Minister was at the game. Maybe the sack of shit was around 50 metres away and enough down grandstand that I seriously thought of becoming the world’s very first bubbly, Bubbly terrorist. If only I could throw that far. Please forgive me but no amount of reason or luck or psychotropic medication could cure me of an on-sight hatred of any and all happy-clapping conservatives that see no place in their God’s kingdom for either corporate governance or minorities resourceful enough but plainly not white enough for political asylum. Makes me ashamed to be Australian.
Leaving that aside, we trudged out in half a daze whereupon I chanced once again upon my happy self and keenly plotted getting the children home and fed and tucked in and looked after under the careful watch of the sitter before getting … let’s not pretend … royally sh*t-faced. The latter I was only part-way into when it unravelled. Or, more exactly, my most treasured and oldest friend unravelled and that is catching. So there were tears and anger and lots of unedifying things. And they weren’t all mine. Which is weird. When you’re me, you just know if would be great if someone else got a turn at all the emotional shit. Until they do. Then you know it’s so much worse. And you also know it’s mostly you that causes other people to feel that way. And so it goes. So then it’s “Focus, you dumb ___, this isn’t about you”. Etc. ****.
So, on Monday morning I took my bereft and under-slept and quite possibly moody-self off to work. Where nothing else could possibly go wrong. And it nearly didn't. I bluffed my way through one meeting and then another and headed into a third chuffed with the very real prospect I could pull off a fakey three-peat. Sadly, "John" was actually Adam and in worse trouble than the equally real and very absent John. I had to apologise, quietly retreat and slap myself in the face. It hurt more than I imagined and less than it should of.
Surrendering, I closed my door and sank into my chair for a good half an hour of serious and lonely pouting. I couldn’t even manage a minute before deciding to call it a day and head home. I thought great, I can pick the kids up from school because I really do miss doing that. Yes, that’s settled. Except it is the middle of school holidays and I had managed to overlook that small detail until I pulled up in the driveway and heard them through the front door. On a hair trigger now, I almost teared-up up that.
So I listened to them excitedly relating something I can’t even remember now and went to lie down for a precious twenty minutes or so. Two hours later, I woke with Lucy curled up besides me, wide awake and immediately wondering if I was ok. Which only means I failed again. It’s my responsibility to make sure they never ask with worry in their hearts.
For a seven year-old, she is so emotionally aware it’s frightening. She doesn’t say much, especially compared to her sister, but what she does say has a way of torching anyone’s best defenses. Just like her grandmother. I already feel deeply, deeply sorry for her future boyfriends.
So I braided her hair because it is wordless and nice and so much less sincere than re-assuring her with the only words I can find that tend to be impossible for even me to believe. Done with her hair, I decided that we would spend the night at the farm. The girls were very excited so we packed up and got going.
In the car is where the difference in my babies becomes glaringly apparent. Ruby is brutally and pitilessly scientific. It’s all why, what, when, how, who, who’s that and why, why, why, why, but why mum. I wished her dad was there to indulge her because does and I find it beautiful to watch and listen to. Except he wasn’t.
But the police were and they decided that 84kph in an 80 zone was far too hot for the law-abiding community to handle. I mean, honestly. I couldn’t object because I was, umm… technically speeding, despite all the overtaking undertaken by the same law-abiding community helping me think I may not have been. Oh well.
But perhaps not. I can’t say I was that enamoured when he leant into the driver’s side window, peered tellingly at the children for longer than was decent only to look once more upon me all stony-faced like I was the devil. The latent judgement that their lives are worth more than my own was at least accurate. Everything else about it irritated me both enormously. And instantaneously.
“Is there a reason why you are speeding, madam?” he asked, pointlessly. Why they do that god only knows. In nonetheless demanded some sort of answer.,“There’s a shoe sale I’m desperate to get to before all the good stuff goes,” He was plainly not amused. So I got a micro-lecture on public safety and, if I’m honest, this is what I was hoping for. Because I gave one back about the virtues or otherwise of directing drivers onto a median strip ridiculously close to passing traffic to pontificate about terminal speed when the real issue in our present circumstance might be relative speed and how he might want to spend some quality time thinking about that tomorrow morning before he decides where to set up shop.
I was suddenly glad my husband wasn’t there. And almost wished he was.
But all good. Just a ticket and free to go.
So I did.
And we had fun and I talked to my friend that night for, I dunno, hours and helped hatch a plan and etc. etc. and took the day off and …. other stuff.
The worm hasn't just turned. It wriggled and writhed and wrapped itself around a velvet-lined gift box and whipped itself with furious flourish into a pretty silver bow.
This should be a bit exciting.
But worms prefer damp, fetid, even blood-soaked soil. And this one is no different.
"What the **** do you know?" she asked. About trauma and mental wellbeing.
She wouldn't be the first.
She is, however, the first to ask despite knowing better. This isn't overtly provable, I just know that she knew. And have come to know that she knows that I know.
That's where the frisson ends.
Hers is a horrible story and she is young, frightened, unvarnished but has an insouciance that just needs capping with gritted teeth. I felt like I was looking at me a the same age.
I knew this was my calling. Now I truly know.
And I feel lucky to feel so miserable for someone that has only ever been exploited.
The young Martian felt in the mood to blow off some steam. It had been a difficult week a the death-ray-gun factory.
So he grabbed his keys and a jacket, chucked his ciggies on the dashboard and headed out for a much needed road trip. Comfortably in his rocket, he lit it up and headed turned towards Venus. For a bit of circle work and a lot of a perve at the most awesome goddess in the universe. This would be the equivalent of pretending your older brother's GT is your own and rumbling up and down Chapel St. , here on Earth, for a similarity unrequited perve-athon. Shocking we know but "Show us ya ****!" might just be a universe-wide turn off?
Less than 10 minutes in, the young Martian swore at himself for forgetting to grab a couple of travellers out of the fridge on the way out. Oh well he thought, he would just have to get rolled at the bottle-o. Being a male Martian, or a male of any description to be frank, he lacked the wisdom to realise 10 minutes of turning back out of a trip that would take 2-and-a-half days would be a reasonably good outcome.
Now reconciled to paying twice as much for half as many he gunned it towards the nearest ATM.
And the rest will have to wait...
So I slid carefully into bed like a bit of a ninja because there were spreadsheety looking pages spread inconveniently on my side. I didn't want to disturb them or him. Actually, I did want to disturb both them and him but chose to be something of an adult about it instead.
"What's all this then?" I asked, immediately breaking my vow to not show any interest in exactly why my husband was sitting up in bed peering at his laptop when this is a thing he never does. Not even once.
"Numbers" he said less than helpfully. So I picked up a page and immediately agreed that they were indeed numbers. Lots of numbers.
"What numbers are these?", I asked thinking, a little intuitively perhaps, that numbers only make sense when there is a thing at the top of a column saying what they mean.
"Good numbers" he murmured with all the excitement of someone critiquing his own obituary.
None the wiser, I changed the subject. "How much is the Tooth Fairy paying these days?"
He just looked at me like we have played this game before. And we have. And his second look asked silently if we need to be playing this game again. And my second look said yes, yes, we do need to be playing it again.
Because I can't help it.
They love the Tooth Fairy. And I never want the Tooth Fairy to get a reputation as a bit of a tightarse. So, despite being able to remember every baby tooth they have lost and despite being totally across what this has been worth every single time, something about it makes me seek re-assurance. Every. Single. Time.
Maybe all of this because my own Tooth Fairy didn't always visit. Which I suppose ought to be understandable now. When my own mother was in the thrall of the V*dka Fairy, there wouldn't have been much awareness of the other Fairies. No, I don't know either why such small sh*t comes with such long shadows.
Probably seeing my eyes narrow, he said assuredly, "Same as always, honey."
"Ok then," I said brightly enough but feeling really ****ing dim for this still being a thing.
He then showed me what was on his screen. Admittedly, he had to walk my tiny mind through it but I now have a new favourite Fairy.
I was driving home this evening and heard something over the radio about Google removing things no-one wants to see, or something. I dunno. I wasn't really listening but heard enough to wish I was. Happens often. But that is the perfect way to listen to news: hear half of it, let my imagination fill in the blanks, squint hopefully and wait for the fairy godmother's own godmother make it all blissfully true.
This doesn't work of course but I'm nothing if not committed.
Anyway, Google want to remove stuff. Apparently.
Excellent news. I have prepared a modest list of things featuring me that I would like so removed, post haste. Things I didn't put there but are there nonetheless.
At once, thanks Google!
The very next person (out there in the real world) who insists that someone has to be impoverished or ugly or tongue-tied to feel a threat to their emotional wellbeing is going to pay a (modest) price for this.
And if the (tangibly redundant) photocopy chick at work, who incidentally can't negotiate the most forgiveable and ordinary foibles embodied in her most average 20-year old boyfriend, and who incidentally still lives with her parents so wouldn't know sh*t about anything, and who incidentally couldn't colour match if Elizabeth Arden herself walked her to the end of the rainbow, doesn't shut up about other people's relationships, she is going to pay a (less modest) price for it.
As you know, blog, I care very deeply about my future freedom to not care.
Most divine and most luminous of all feminine light, I beseech thee for thine assistance.
Here on Earth, we have this thing. MeToo they call it. Troublingly, in the 18th year of this, the third millenium since Mary Magdalene made the best of harrowing beginnings, this is being trumpeted as the gold standard in ...wait for it ... female empowerment. Nope, don't know what that's meant to mean either.
To be sure, some worthwhile women have taken to this with the purest of hopes. Others are victims that I pray for their day of reckoning. Others again, sadly, might just have a bit of amnesia when it comes to the casting couch that paid for a bit of black chiffon and a cup to collect an obscene volume of crocodile tears.
Which brings me to me. Since I profited more from my 'gina than any other organ, enough to marry on something like a treasured equal(ish) footing and enough to dare to have children, am I now to cry about it?
Am I missing the point? Feminism has only ever been the women in my orbit. What the hell is feminism on a grand scale? I have a growing conviction its zero sum, its start and its end, is access to birth control. The rest is just words.
Wink at me in the night sky if you agree.
Strike me down if you don't
I have two girls to raise and it seems so, so vacant to insist they can be anything the want to be. Duh. Yes, I say it. But duh. My job is not to disarm them, no?
"What are you doing?" he asked
"Is it not apparent what I'm doing?" I asked, in the manner of someone frustrated by a lack of late season bloom. It was as if the broad-brimmed hat and pruning shears weren't enough of a clue but I suppose I was feeling a bit snippy.
"What are you doing wearing those?" he elaborated with an odd sort of disappointment, pointing at my gloves.
"I don't know how well you know your roses honey but they have teeth" I assured him
"Yes, of course. My rose has the sharpest teeth of all" he said somewhere between proudly and provocatively. I can never truly tell.
"Are you here to be bitten? I'm in the mood, you know."
"Nah, just need you to ring my phone" he said in the resigned manner of a man buffeted by persistent forgetfulness when it comes to his ****ing phone. Grrrr
So I took off my gloves and reached for my phone. "Ok" I lied. I rang Ruby instead. "Dad has promised to take us all out if you find his phone" I said enthusiastically, quite confident this wouldn't be difficult since she had it in her hand less than 20 minutes ago. She was delighted as neither her or her sister had seen him all week.
Desperate to suppress a sh*t-eating grin, I turned my back and reminded him that I needed to finish what I had started. He just laughed, muttered something about my character that would test the TOS and paused long enough to remind me of something I said only, well, years ago. Holy hell.
[ Ladies, if your beloved has an uncanny memory for the spoken word, think carefully about marrying him. Or at least add some limiting clauses to his wedding vows ]
"True beauty truly bites. You told me that."
With the tiniest hint of exasperation, he presented his thesis. "If you are going to appreciate the true beauty of your roses, shouldn't you dare to be bitten?"
"I was talking about something else"
"Ok then" he shrugged, and walked off
"Fine then!" I agreed, thinking he may have a point. Not a point necessarily worth making and perhaps not here but a point nonetheless.
So I resumed pruning, lovingly, sans gloves, and it actually seemed better somehow. Maybe it was more sensory. Maybe I just looked at them differently. Not sure.
Then I saw a nasty looking spider and ripped my hand away. And ripped it half off. I think some of it might still be out there. It ****ing hurt. And bled.
I marched inside like a child and shouted at him. "See what you made me do!" It was bleeding badly enough that some blood shook off.
He just shrugged away, but not really, his own sh*t-eating grin. "Thought you were wearing gloves?"
Karma is not my friend.
He did patch me up very tenderly. though
Whoever said you can run but cannot hide either had
a. nothing ever really to hide from
b. little interest in managing the timing and circumstance of 'being caught'
c. a stupid amount of success standing still!?
Run like Cathy Freeman, I say.
Running is hiding in plain sight.
And no-one finds you there.
Except the ones you love. The ones you want to.
This isn't wisdom. It just occurs to me that I have more to thank than I can imagine for running before I had a clue where I was going.
As my husband said once, all standing still does is attract the attention of a stonemason.
It isn't that I necessarily vowed to never set foot on any part of Putin's America but that would be something I took quietly for granted. I'd have been wrong in any event because that is what we have not long did. It also makes me a hypocrite I suppose because I'd be more than happy waltzing around Putin's Leningrad for a week, if it ever thaws out. Come to think of it, a week anywhere is about all I can ever do these days before Home paints itself it big, bright colours and starts screaming my name.
Didn't see much of America of course - only Hawaii - and only then because the alternative was the tundra of Montreal. Instead, my sisters-in-law and us decided to meet halfway-ish and a quick assessment of the climate makes me incredibly democratic. Or I just yield easily to the children's wishes. Or something.
I did enjoy it. There is a lot to like about being asked for identification at all times despite turning 21 close to 21 years ago. I noticed too that the police were, at least outwardly, tolerant of the prostitutes out on the main street. A cop and one such girl were even chatting idly as Alex and I strolled by. I thought this was nice in a post-post-Nixon sort of way. The people were also insanely polite, which is so not the impression you get when you're preferring Russia for a holiday. If I'm honest, I did wonder if this was an artifice to improve the chances of not being on the blunt end of the first amendment. Apparently not.
Alex told me this is because they hear the accent and know it comes from a country that doesn't tip. Who knew the minimum wage or a lack of one could make overseas travel such a minefield of how-much and how-much extra? So I let him sort that out and suffered through more M'ams than even the Queen of England could stand,.
Because of this odd phenomenon, we did make a bet though. Which, amazingly, I haven't lost yet. If either he or I want or are offering something to one another, we must address each other as Sir or M'am. Somewhat embarrassingly, I found myself saying this in bed in the middle of something!? Oh well, the prize is substantial and I'm sick of losing.
So happy to be home. Loved seeing them though.
If you don't stop interfering with my gorgeous summer with biblically hostile weather events, I'm going to come up there and kick your door in. And cause some real trouble. It's all about the children so my options are limited but nonetheless be warned. I might demand a brighter light be shone on your girl elves or, worse, give them some quality tuition into how to misbehave. You think your hands are full now?!
So, next time we plan to spend a nice, long weekend at the farm so I can tend to the animals and let the children roam and Alex and his fellow man chidren can blow something up or lend a credible guise to whatever pointless activity grips them or indulge in a long man from Snowy River type ride or whatever, keep your s***ty rain and sleet and hail and rain and, my god, does it ever stop to yourself. Thank-you.
Chimneys are good places for an ambush, please remember.
The last time was particularly bad. It didn't stop and, being stuck inside, was forced to learn things about my loved ones that I'm no better for knowing. Just by way of example, and to not tread too heavily on the spirit of Christmas, I learned that Ruby has her father's self-confidence. This is troubling. They were playing the video game Tomb Raider. What amused me is that whenever the girl did something awesome like jump off something or slaughter an army or shimmy her little bum sideways, it was only becase of some sort of imagined super-skill. When the girl fell flat on her face or disappeared into the bowels of the earth, it was HER fault! "Come on Crofty, you're better than that", "No good, Larzy", etc, etc
I did wonder if I should query the messaging but thought better of it. Errant husbands need much more lead time and a narrower focus than errant children. I did excitedly share my idea for a video game though. It is where you meet a man, have two wonderful children together and live a penitent life wondering just how they could be turning out exactly like him instead of me. It even has a name: Womb Raider
Not that enthused, he looked at my like I was an alien.
I did notice that archaeology does impossibly good things for a girl's complexion. And her hair. All that digging and dirt and mayhem and Ms.Croft still luxuriated in skin like alabaster. I suspect this isn't real though. Lucy gets up everyday, had a tantrum about her clothing like any 5 year old fashionista and sytematically undoes it at climbing things she shouldn't while layering herself with the most extraordinary patina of crap. Her complexion comes back looking nothing like that. If anything, she nearly needs to be run daily through the car wash.
Before I go, Santa, I do want to thank you for the most amazing early Christmas gift more or less ever. I was working back ( because I have developed a manic, almost evangalical streak that has found a home in a worthy case) so Alex took the children out and stopped by later to pick me up and show the children the workplace that is making them orphans. They were looking around at it hit me hard that I not only never have but never conceived I would work anywhere that you would take children that suddenly I do. It was a truly electric feeling that had me wondering if I had wet myself. I think I even looked just to make sure. Amazing really. Thanks Santa.
Sort that other sh*t out, though.
A long time ago, when I was fourteen and fifteen years old, my mother hadn't yet snapped enough to be carted away. So I would go home to visit. Yes, I would VISIT my mother like a long lost relative instead of a cherished and only child. Three times a year, two weeks at a time and this despite boarding at a school less than an hour away. Still, she managed the pretense of fuss and anguish for, oh, a good few minutes whenever i stepped out of that taxi.
One might think she might have made the most of this time. One might even think she would encourage any number of her dickhead boyfriends to take a very long shower and come back in a fortnight. Nope. All she really did was make me wonder if we wouldn't be better off taking the front door off its hinges and fitting a turnstile. Some of these leery _____s are etched into my head, staring at my bum or my chest or perving while I was swimming in the pool. My fault apparently, for being "so very pretty" and dressed provocatively. You mean in a tank top and pyjama bottoms ... at the breakfast table ... at 8 in the morning ... in my own ****ing house ... provocatively? You mean? I wondered more than once.
Smooth-brained sighs like hers still trigger me. Nascent sex crimes were less alarming to her than me swearing about it, apparently. **** that, I said loudly and often. If only to guarantee the happiness of two people that I was going back to the child-minding institution that was notionally a prestigious school.
Skipping that bad bits, she was indeed and duly carted off.
After this, I got a job. It wouldn't happen now because this job was in a bar and I was only sixteen. I liked it, primarily because the people that were responsible for me would have gone category 5 mental if they knew and because the man i worked for didn't seem to mind that i wasn't very good at it. Well, he did and he didn't. I was removed from the bar because I was too liberal with drinks and couldn't seem to wrap my head around the idea that all drinks must be paid for. Commerce sucks.
So I got 'demoted' to door duty. Which was awesome. And he himself liked and encouraged meanness and intolerance and attitude and the turning away of patrons for no other reason than they could be. I just had a halfway home for a mountain of rage.
One night, he offered me two-and-a-half grand an a substantial amount of white powder to have sex with him. I declined. That doesn't make me a saint because I spend 12 years not declining, let's say.
Now, the nuns at school would have told me his was the greater sin.
The law would tell me his is the greater crime.
My mum would perhaps have wondered if $2,500 was enough money.
They're all wrong.
His sins were out in the open and to that sixteen year old self, that was almost a comfort.
Now I have a new job. It's taken all I have to balance everything to achieve it and that sixteen year old self is the reason I tried in the first place.
May contain traces of a rant
I learned an incredible amount of small stuff during the last week, which is somewhat inconvenient as I'm meant to be furiously brushing up on what I already know ... or perhaps should of paid better attention to in the Prof. Soporific's industrial grade sleep chamber. Still, learning new things can be fun. I don't mean blissful like, say, ignorance but a modest amount of fun. So,
1. I learnt that writing objectively and dispassionately and academically with no hint of conviction or personal leaning comes to me no more easily now than when i started trying three years ago. Unfortunately this truth has not snuck under the notice of anyone marking my work.
2. Driving the girls to school on Wednesday I learned that I have been doing it all wrong, apparently. This came to my attention because I might have sworn when I noticed the roundabout that triggers quite a bit of my swearing was already teeming with traffic. "You're doing it wrooong, mum" the little angels announced more or less in unison. "Wha...how even?" I wondered out loud,
It took somewhere between several seconds and many minutes of gesturing and hand waving and an epic lack of blonde comprehension that would have seriously benefited from either an app or a diagram but the answer was pure genius. I was very proud of them. Until I wasn't. The short of it is that when their dad drives them, he drives into the roundabout in a big, big loop that ends in driving past the many, many million cars that arrived before him. "That's so awesome but you're not to tell him how awesome that is ." This was among the first things they told him.
3. My children are turncoats ;)
4. Silent admiration is not what it used to be.
5. Turning right to head left has the potential to be a useful metaphor for therapy.
6. I also learnt that over-sharing isn't merely the black cloud that rains on my pillow from time to time. No, it involves way more conjecture than that, apparently.
Not thirty seconds after my friend, seated with her friend, cautioned me gently for over-sharing, her friend complained that I'm aloof and hard to know. And as much as this comes from the weird, what the f**k world of twenty-somethings, what the f**k-f**k?
<rant> This friend of a friend is of course deeply unhappy. She must be. She has squandered three of her very best years studying ... ahem ... marketing and I don't get it. I came out of the womb with a lust for buying shiny sh*t so how hard can it possibly be to sell sh*t? Not even you're own sh*t. Surely that'd suck the marrow out of anyone, even those whose heart is nothing more than a petrie dish and an idea. It would though explain too much information being not quite enough <end rant>
7. Brandon Flowers' new song, he says, is an homage to David Bowie. Yum.
8. Working for someone other than me or my babies is not nearly as dreadful as i imagined it to be. That of course will need a blog entry all of its own ...
A long time ago, a callow and over-eager music reporter asked John Lennon if Ringo Starr was perhaps the bestest drummer in the whole, entire world. He replied, perhaps a little unkindly, that Ringo Starr wasn't even the best drummer in the Beatles. Ouch.
In a similar vein,I hope no-one ever asks anyone in my band of four if I'm the best mother in the entire world. They might all say no. They might all laugh and say not even the best mother in our family, despite the narrowest field of candidates. I misplaced Lucy yesterday. In a department store. Full of people. All travelling at light speed into suspicion. For the 7 most excruciating and breathless minutes of my entire life. I found her of course. Wouldn't be here or anywhere if I didn't. She was in a store window, one arm clutching the leg of a mannequin like it was her new best friend, the other waving brightly.
How I managed to calm down without quality time in a vat full of valium is anyone's guess. If I'm honest, her sister, replete with motherly gravitas led the way. Other mothers were extraordinarily kind. Latent anguish will do that, I suppose. Maybe that is humanity's biggest tick.
Lucy is adventurous so I should have known better. I'm also usually the last to find her when her adventures of more contained, like here at home or at the farm. She is also very, very particular about what she wears so that makes two things that my best friend says with unholy relish that I richly deserve. Her empathy clearly has less hereditary standards.
There are quite a few pictures of her paternal grandmother around the house. Any why not, just the most extraordinary women I have ever known. Ever. When Lucy asked about my mother, I stopped dead. Couldn't say anything and you would think five years is ample time to think of something. Anything. Nope, it was her dad, ever one to not crawl on his belly through my emotional minefield, dagger between his teeth, out to assassinate of my crises, that found a few short words that I haven't found in half a lifetime.
That made me cry. With love.
It's also really, really sh*t that i couldn't do that.
Off to do a head count.
I cannot take recent credit for what follows but it is awesome in it's own desperate, quite possibly embittered and not necessarily sincere way. No, I lifted this from my diary, written 10 years ago today. I know this because I have it in front of me and I'm strange like that.
They say remind yourself.
They say if you say it enough you will etc.
They say lots of sh*t
They say be positive
And they say it some more
Vomit tastes better
But be positive
I am so far beyond awesome, Venus couldn't touch me.
Check that out, huh.
P.S. If you reading this, and fail to be delighted for me,
a. Get the f**k away from my diary, and
b. You have homework and I don't
I was flicking through the junk mail today, which I am obliged to do. Like the sperm that swam and hoped and raced and dared to become half of my children, anything that weaves it way sneakily past a wall of hate has earned its share of attention. Surely the NO JUNK MAIL sign is hateful enough. It has to be. I can't remember ever seeing NO KIDS on a condom. This could easily become a blog about the virtues of silent messaging. But it won't.
Or it might.
Junk mail is nothing if not shrieky in tone. Bonus this, Last Chance that, Get it now before you die, blah. It is the fishwife of mail. Undeterred, I sifted through it. For all their pantone brilliance it was a very lean bounty.
There was one for car stuff. Oil and more oil and other oily stuff and...what?...car seat covers. My god, who wants to put more space than absolutely necessary between the cheeks of their bum and the nice, soft leather upholstery that a car already has? Weird. Nevermind,
And another catalogue for really sh*t clothing and worse shoes. And another for fruit and vegetables, which I'm quietly confident you can get almost anywhere. Except maybe North Korea. (Thoughts with the ordinary people of that particular place). And maybe Houston? (Thoughts with them too).
There weren't any for giant. Essos-sized televisions though. That's disappointing as I am in dire need of one to replace the one that died and went to TV heaven in not entirely mysterious circumstances. This may seem a little cynical but I'm not convinced that dragging the TV outside so the menfolk that mill around at the fringes of my sanity can drink in the sunshine and swear at the footy , and a subsequently broken television, are not unrelated. No-one is saying.
Last but not least was the worst sort of junk mail: hysterical, paternalistic, government advertising. This one we get every year in one form or another. Summer is coming, gonna be hot, will run out of water, use it wisely, blah, etc. We won't of course. Believe me, I have tried and tried and tried. Before therapy and children and lots of other things buffed the nasty edges off my excess, I could comfortably shower for 90 minutes at a time, three times a day. Especially when depressed. We never ran out then.
It would be interesting though, if we ever got down to our last few litres. The girls would go first, until their little stomachs were heartily rounded. Then the animals. Given what one horse can drink, much less several, there would not be much left, possibly a capful. This I would show to my husband and tip out in front of him. After all, I did have plans to FINALLY lay right back on the super-comfy living room couch and infuse myself with one last episode of GoT before he broke my TV. That cannot go unpunished :)
This week, I airily flitted and fluttered my way up a foreign mountain and took in the view.
Because mountains are cold, angry, troublesome things, I only did this figuratively. Of course.
The view was nice.
It was almost exciting.
It certainly appealed to my left-leaning right-brain.
Because ... for the very first time in my less than model life I climbed the angry mountain and paid some personal income tax.
It feels like I ticked off something I never thought to add to a bucket list until after the fact. Weird.
I hope to do this at least three more times before the novelty wears off and makes me angry and wants sh*t to be great again that never was really except in the tiny, light-starved recesses of right wing, taxpaying imagination. Or something.
If that happened to me, then would I huffily demand my taxes buy me a big, juicy overdose and a nice funeral.
Every now and again, someone, somewhere will want to insist (plaintively, usually) that this mental illness is different from that mental illness. A just like a particular addict will sniff haughtily at lesser addicts )well, I did and that makes it universal) this insistence is probably at the shallow end of useful.
Not all leopards are lions it seems but you don't see either of those two crying about it.
Not that I'm feeling smug. I have done my share of pitiful, plaintive, but-but-but-bipolar-is-diff-errr-ENT meandering myself. At least I know PTSD is not a useful ally in this regard.
I think I have come full circle.
All these ****** illnesses are the same if you put a premium on the essential thing they have in common.They always mean dwelling excessively long in the same spot. There isn't one that doesn't.
Burn it at both ends I say.
I have always liked that my birthday is exactly one day before my husband's birthday. The best and, if I'm honest, most deserved consequence of this is the most obvious. He must always go first. To be perfectly fair he has not got it wrong so has not had to be punished with a really sh*t, emergency, square-up present but I will not pretend I haven't lorded this over him. But since he has proven capable of necessary and at times utterly charming forethought, and since he is every bit as ravenous as any little pigletmanchild when it comes to nice stuff, and since he also knows I'm am a little bit evil (because it takes one to know one), everyone wins.
There is still 363 other days for stuff to go wrong.
In the next best or perhaps even first best birthday coincidence ever, I discovered on the weekend that I share my birthday with the most supreme and ace and awesome and best and awesome athlete in the discovered universe. This is of course Winx, the thoroughbred that hazes anything that comes near her. I frocked up in my finest on the weekend to see her race and it was right there in the form guide, 'foaled on the 14th September'. I let out an overly excited yelp when I read that, much to the bemusement of the man standing alongside me. He was born in late December, which I only know because I asked him, so that explains the consternation. Santa would have sucked the marrow out of any birthday he ever had.
Anyway, I was going to write about something significant and troubling and I can't seem to.
Or it doesn't.
Never mind. Happy birthday if anyone is reading this on their day!