Friday, November 19, 2010

One and a half decades later ...

This is about the fifteen year old. I fell pregnant with him when I was 28 and the circumstances weren't brilliant. I had just bought a little house (on my own) and his Dad and I weren't living together. We fought a lot.

I had a roof to put over this baby's head. It seemed that simple.

The nine months passed and I veered between a kind of bovine contentment and terrified panic. My pet budgie died and I thought that if I couldn't even keep a budgie alive my ability to keep a whole human alive was probably questionable.

I listened to the Pixies album, Trompe le Monde, incessantly. I painted The Whole House. I tore up the carpet. I sanded the floors with my Dad. The vacuum bag for collecting dust from the floor sander blew off and my Dad copped a giant cloud of dust in his sweaty face and was jarrah-coloured for the remainder of the day. We stopped at a pharmacy on the way back to his house, a filthy middle aged man covered in dust and his equally dust-covered pregnant daughter. We looked like something out of Deliverance. I wanted bath salts, thinking baths salts might wash away the dust and my abject terror. I was eight months pregnant.

I remember thinking that I had a due date to fall in love, that no matter what else was going on, this parcel of love would arrive sometime near the end of February.

I grew up because of him.

Early this week he approached me with a request to go to a gathering where there was to be no adult supervision. There would be alcohol. His gaze was frank and steady and he maintains this gaze while I fly around the room like a rapidly deflating balloon - exhaling panic.

Without spelling it out he is asking me to trust him. He knows he needs to sit back and endure my furrowed brow, the tightness of my smile - he lets me waver. He knows it will be a death-knock yes or no. He knows that I know who he is, his faith in that is strong.

He is sensible. He is honest and kind. He has humour in his bones.

All week I feel like a fish pulled from the comfort of water. I talk to other parents whose views rainbow from outright prohibition to a weary resignation - a knowing look on the pain of letting go.

I make one last stop, the Mother of a friend of his - her knowledge of him soundly objective. She describes my sensible, kind, funny, honest son to me. It's reassuring that he presents the same self to everyone - that he has nothing to hide.

"This is about faith isn't it?"
"And trust?"
"He'll be fine, right?"

I call him and give him the go-ahead. And because I am nowhere near as cool as he is I get all shrill and spell out "This is about me trusting you, okay?".

I want to surround him with a magical, protective forcefield. One that repels dick-heads and danger.

"Ily," he says. I can hear the smile in it.
"Ily too,"

So right now it's 9am the next day and I imagine he's sleeping, maybe he watched the sun come up with his friends. And the only way I can get through this bit is to write about it.

I remember being fifteen, the years wouldn't go fast enough. It was impossible to imagine a time when I might wish they would slow down.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Wherein My Boobs Combat The Forces Of Darkness

I decide I need an outlet to write and then I have enough wine to puff up my faith in my ability to do so and then I do it and then I spend the next hundred hours tied up in knots that this is a roooolly narcissistic forum/space/format and who gives a shit what I think anyway? Blogging ...definitively defined by Gravel Farm thus: Blogging has an effect on society, very much like walking through a crowded shopping mall whilst wind-milling full nappies at arms length and shouting "LISTEN TO ME!" at the top of your shrill, shrill voice.

And then to prove how fucking narcissistic I am I check and check and check the stats page and run around the house shouting about my growing fan base in South Korea!! And Russia!! All this after the page views peaked at 6. Yes, 6, apart from that day they went up to 37, which, when illustrated in graph form, makes all the 6 days look like crap by comparison and then I decide to stick to writing doggerel on kitchen paper. And sucking my thumb.

But here's a bit of news anyway.

The fifteen year old spent most of Friday hurling, all 6'2" of him folded (concertina'd?) into the loo, knees at odd angles, making that hhhhhherrr(sploosh)noise. Then roaring temperature, then sleep.

And because I worked in a newsroom for nearly twenty years I am instantly able to diagnose this as a terrible case of Imminent Death. So I lie awake upstairs wondering if Imminent Death is quiet. My Ability To Worry Unnecessarily collides with my Horror At Making A Fuss and the two of them wrestle me into a fitful sleep ... and then ...


the sound of terrible gasping and thundering footsteps and a giraffe-like, semi-nude 15 y/o has escaped its enclosure and is leaking nightmares all over the house. A sight slightly less alarming than the looby-boobed, semi-nude mother who runs downstairs, making a mental note that her tits 'clap' when unrestrained and in a hurry.

So the two of us parents coral the still asleep kid into the kitchen while he remains in the grip of unseen forces of darkness (using his super-swearing-power for defense). In my distress I hug him and am smartly told that if the kid wakes up while his semi-nude, looby-boobed mother is hugging him, the forces of darkness currently terrifying him are going to seem like Mary Poppins by comparison.

So I wait until the morning to tell him all about it, especially the 'clapping' part -just to make sure he appreciates the good days.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

All I know is that whatever was in that mirror wasn't related to me genetically.

Pretty much everything I do is poorly thought out. Like my Brazilian. I am on the record about Brazilians already. I am also a hypocrite. That I was young and hot when a good, honest muff was ... a good, honest muff is a thing I am eternally grateful for, in a zeitgeisty way. I'm not sure what came over me, maybe it was one of those 12 days each year when ovulation sends signals out from my middle-aged reproductive organs to my middle-aged girl parts, signals that scream DO. IT (sex). NOW. Or else.

So there I was, frothing at the mouth, husband due home the following day, possessed by a succubus with a wont for hairlessness.

So here's the entire planning stage. I call exactly one friend who might know about such a thing and a font of rapid-fire knowledge she turns out to be. I am instructed to avoid beauty salons in middle-class neighbourhoods like the fucking plague. She says "Bogan chicks are the best, they don't judge you." So I'm thinking that, with my knees splayed and my bush offered up to the Gods of personal grooming, it would be nice to not be judged. I think my life probably depends on it. It is actually possible to die of shame. Bush shame.

So I find a salon as per instruction and my practitioner turns out to be a young woman whose teeth appear to be trying to escape from her skull. All of them. Independently. Pointing separate ways out of her mouth. Throughout the 'procedure' she calls me 'Hun.' I love her for this, until I think she might be taking the piss out of me and the reference is Post Attila, like in some sick way the reward for her plundering my nethers is getting to hear me scream about it.

At some stage I am instructed as to the different *hair-styles* that come under the broad label of Brazilian. This is too confusing. I hadn't planned for this. 'Landing Strips' and 'Triangles' are discussed and due to the fact that the whites of my eyes are probably freaking her out, she chooses to get on with The Procedure and ignore the gibbering wreck splayed on the table before her.

People in the next state heard my screams. My screams were measurable on a Richter Scale. Joan Sutherland (R.I.P.) couldn't have screamed the notes I screamed. Jesus. H. Motherfucking. Christ.

This is beauty?

At this point in proceedings I'd like to point out that I HAD TWO BABIES WITH ONLY FOUR PARACETAMOL FOR PAIN RELIEF (ie: 2 per kid). And that maybe my pain threshold was so severely crossed on both of those occasions that my willingness to endure ANY MORE PAIN is zero. Mano-a-mano ... this is cool between us, right? You understand, yeah?

Somewhere in the middle of the ordeal my practitioner has returned to the whole Triangle versus Landing Strip discussion wherein I have responded in tongues and told her her mother sucks cocks in hell, or something, because it wasn't until I got home that I discovered ... one side: Landing Strip, other side: Triangle. Close your eyes and take a moment to picture that. One side STRAIGHT, other side ISOSCELES TRIANGLE ANGLE.

And then she holds up a mirror and shows me what appears to be a Purple People Eater with a totally cockeyed hair-do. All I know is that whatever was in that mirror wasn't related to me genetically and if a sharp toothed baby alien had shot out of it and bitten my tits off I wouldn't have been surprised.

More screaming.

For this I paid forty-five bucks?

I will never, ever be ungrateful for any job I have held in the past or might hold in the future. Including motherhood.

All of this is small fry. Here is the Stay Up Late Telling Scary Stories part. I decide to tell my Mother about it (more of that poor planning mentioned earlier).

And she says ...

"Ooooh, I shaved mine off when I started seeing X and I felt like a LITTLE GIRL."

Condolences welcome.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Breastfeeding and the perilous descent of a pair of rectangular tits.

Found this old thing lying around, I drew it in 2001 when Bloss was 12 months old. Things have got a whole lot worse. It's like an old photo that you hated at the time and look at now and think, hey, I was hot!

I'm trying to drum up the courage to talk about that lopsided Brazillian. You'll have to beg me.

Does he look like a bitch?

Typography, as God intended it.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Blue Fruit

Blue Fruit is coda in our family for spending money you don't have on something you don't need. Ideally Blue Fruit is just a beautiful thing, its sole purpose to be gazed upon.

This is how it happened. Circa 1966 (self: -1, sister: +1, pram bound) Mother takes us downtown to shop for groceries but instead spends the family's last money on un objet d'art, to whit, a ceramic blue-glazed bowl of fruit, made in Italy. It is breathtakingly beautiful and for a little while she forgets her husband is mostly at the pub, mostly staggering drunk on his return and prone to criticizing her cooking, like "What do you call this shit?".

So she gets home from town, leaves the infant in the pram downstairs, carts the toddler upstairs, scuttles back downstairs to retrieve the infant and shopping. Puts a load of cloth nappies in a bucket to soak, gets on with cooking a portion of the side of hogget that makes up the protein component in each of the three cooked meals the family eats daily. This is her life.

But this day she has the Blue Fruit and its magical power to transport her away. Later my Father will come home and shout that there is no beer in the fridge and no money left to buy beer.

Over the decades the anecdote becomes, from its retelling, smoothed over at the edges. It is an example of my Mother's eccentricity, a parable to illustrate the perils of spendthriftery. The punchline is her and I don't get it. To spend one's last dollar on something beautiful seems, to me, perfectly sane.

I fail to get it until the day I am informed by my husband that the family has just one hundred dollars left to last until pay-day (1 week hence) and as though compelled by DNA I spend ninety dollars on fabric which to this day remains unused. It was pretty fabric.

My Dad calls me that day and I explain the purchase and my increasing anxiety as to how to manage the rest of the week without money, he says ... "Blue Fruit!".

Roughly twelve years after the inaugural Blue Fruit purchase my Mother will leave my Father, marry another man, spend two months in intensive care after a serious car accident in which her second husband sustains a head injury and brain damage, she will study art and eventually muster the courage to exhibit her paintings, she will plant two gardens - each an acre in size, she will buy a pair of Rajasthani doors that will never be installed, occasionally she will tell her small, black Shih-Tzu/Maltese to fuck off - for licking his balls too loudly in her vicinity, sometimes she will have tufts of her hair dyed pink and purple. She will be loved fiercely by her grandchildren.

My Father will spend most of the next thirty years at the bottom of a bottle where, comfortably numbed, he doesn't have to think or feel too deeply. Somehow he sustains a quick wit and bare faced irreverence, the cause of every good and bad thing that ever happened to him. This is how he earns the deep affection of his grandchildren. He will miss my Mother every single day.

The Blue Fruit pictured above is a replica, the original long gone. A friend of mine found it in a junk shop and bought it for my birthday, it is the only gift I have ever received to leave me utterly speechless. Blue Fruit has become part of the language of our friendship.

My Dad was over the other day, he saw Blue Fruit MkII and said quietly, "I think I behaved appallingly."

For John and Sally, a little gift made of time and tears and memory.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

The Queen Of Sheba Does Her Bedroom

So these are the midway photos of my bedroom makeover. I could have taken 'before' photos but I would never have been able to show my face in public again, the shame would be too great. I diagnosed every storage/mess/cesspool problem in our house as stemming from our lack of shed. For eight years my bedroom has doubled as the shed, it wasn't sexy. Our bedroom is a beautiful space, on a mezzanine level, with a funny little landing leading to nought but a window letting in some northern light.

The ceiling is pitched at 40 degrees with exposed beams - I lie in bed feeling like I'm in an upside down ship's hull. It's airy and gorgeous (when clean) (it hasn't been clean for eight years). In all this time we've had nowhere to store clothes and I've struggled to think of a creative way to solve the problem.

Lying in my bed you can see the ballustrade of the stairs, just to the right of this lies our solution. A clever partition wall, behind which sits an Ikea Expedit to hold our folded clothing. Across from the Expedit is a small bit of hanging space. Repeat, small.

Still to come ... floor coverings and a little paint. And that chair needs some serious attention.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Ker·fuf·fle/kərˈfəfəl/ (Noun: A commotion or fuss)

“The chief function of propaganda is to convince the masses, whose slowness of understanding needs to be given time so they may absorb information; and only constant repetition will finally succeed in imprinting an idea on their mind."

Thus spake Adolph Hitler in his opus, Mein Kampf.

And so to the gigantic twisting of knickers over a primary-school kid dressed as Hitler (for a school shin-dig) wherein kid wins prize for best costume (repeat Best Costume not Nicest Historical Figure) and then parents complain and then the principal of this school is probably going to have to spend the rest of his life apologising for the incident. Because dressing a ten year old as Hitler is like finding Voldemort’s final Horcrux and bringing him back to life. For real.

I feel sorry for the kid, the parents of the kid and the principal but mostly I feel sorry for the people who complained. Them with the twisted undies, the folk whose slowness of understanding needs to be given time.

In Nazi Germany, under Propaganda Minister Joseph Goebbels, public events were censored, like maybe it would’ve been less risky at 1939 school book-week to dress up Aryan rather than Jewish. Are you getting my drift? Is it all so tiring or is it just me?

A number of parents also complained about children dressing up as vampires and the grim reaper, so clearly the only kernel of truth in the whole internationally newsworthy kerfuffle is that a number of parents at that school are really, really thick. Which is maybe why the BBC ran it, that whole “Look how thick they are in the antipodes” thing.

Russel Brand dressing up as Osama Bin Laden on September 12, 2001, dumb. One of The Chaser crew dressing up as Osama Bin Laden in the Apec restriction zone, hilarious. A generation of parents losing perspective, heartbreaking.

This morning I was listening to Little Secrets by Passion Pit where a bunch of school kids sing the chorus refrain “higher and higher and higher” which is about taking drugs and I was gob-smacked they’d gotten away with it, that there hadn’t been a public dunking of the parents and the band for allowing children to sing in a song ABOUT DRUGS. A happy song about drugs. A song, that makes you feel happy, ABOUT DRUGS. The song makes you feel happy, not happy about drugs… see? Now I’m all confused.

I looked all over the internet and couldn’t find a single reference to a major freak out about it. And I was glad. Common sense had prevailed, teenagers were listening to this happy drug song and they were okay! It was a major hit and it got heaps of airplay and, astonishingly, there wasn’t a concurrent spike in children using drugs. I know. Fucking amazing.

I also know that Hitler isn’t the same as a pop song and that the holocaust is not like a pop song and I know that constant repetition will finally succeed in imprinting an idea on my mind so that I can join in when there is a collective huff going on about something stupid.

Here’s the idea:

Children must not ever, ever be exposed to the darker realities of life, particularly not in an historical context, where there might arise the opportunity for discussion, reflection and learning.