Friday, 28 March 2014

When everything hurts and there's too much in my head

In the last few weeks I have had a bunch of stuff to process. Some big things. Some whatever things. But nonetheless I've had a bit of it to get through.

*looking at you wide eyed

Okay, a lot.

And it's not been bad necessarily (I try not to label things "bad" or "good" anymore, it's not helpful - things just "are"). It's not been unpleasant - it's been super productive. Turning things over in my mind. Having courage to face all of it even if some of it may have been unpleasant or uncomfortable. I embrace the hard stuff anyway.

But it usually takes me time to process things, and I know this about myself so I give it all time to sink in. And then I try to find ways to my "ah-ha" moment, or moment of catharsis (if you like). I don't force that. I just let it all go and it usually comes eventually.

I had one of those cathartic moments this morning. 'Twas wonderful (as they always are).

Going to work today, in my car, I had Missy Higgins playing on my stereo.

I love to sing. So I sang along.

Sometimes she sings directly to my soul. All in my Head, I sing to myself. Great song if you ever have felt like you couldn't "find yourself" for a time (so vomitous but there's no other way to describe it). Watering Hole, just plain fun and never fails to make me grin. Temporary Love, another goodie. Cooling of the Embers, a song about someone you know dying, today made me sob and sob. Then Hidden Ones, that classic feeling of empowerment to effect change.

I sang until I had pins and needles in my face and in my hands and in my arms.

When that happens I know I've given it everything I've got. A classic characteristic of mine.

The moment of catharsis arrived with Hidden ones. Thanks Missy, I'd LOVE to see you sing that song live.
There is a choice
Follow the leader
Or use your voice
Cause this will just keep up
Until we make a loud noise
And the hidden ones speak up


Missy Higgins, Hidden Ones


"She's holding a torch in her hand
Pointing towards Heaven
And on the streets below her, people living out of trashcans
Are trying to believe she's got a plan

We dug a hole under the sea
But nobody knows how to stop the bleed
There's 999 channels on my TV
And I still have no idea what to believe

There is a choice
Follow the leader
Or use your voice
Cause this will just keep up
Until we make a loud noise
And the hidden ones speak up

Over the water to the east
Two million in a square refuse to sleep
Till every pleading voice is heard
And all the world has seen
Revolution: fallen king down to his knees

Cause they made a choice
Not to follow the leader
But use one voice
Shows ordinary people
Can make a really loud noise
When the hidden ones speak up

He started drinking too young
Tucked into his jeans now is a gun
And the stories of his ancestors
They will never be sung
For he is going where they do not see the sun

And look, there's a circus in town
Watch as the lion eats the clown
Tell me who out there is leading on the ground?
Who will catch the boy before he drowns?
If they're busy putting shows on for the crowd?

There is a choice
You can follow the leader
Or use your voice
Cause this will just keep up
Until we make a loud noise
And the hidden ones speak up"

Wednesday, 26 March 2014

Those hilarious games that somehow happen

I love those hilarious games that somehow develop over time with people closest to me.

I'm pretty loyal to that sort of thing. I can keep those games up for years.

It's one of my favourite parts about life.

The stupid games you get to play.

So my friend, Lor, and I had a "game". Completely initiated by me and I'm not certain she was a willing participant (to be frank), but it did make her laugh. Win!

Whenever her Mum would ring her - if we were hanging out - I would turn around, stick out my bum to give Lor a great view, and sometimes I'd rub it faux suggestively. Try make her blush and freak out a little bit. We were awkward teenagers.

Then there's my sister. My sister and I have a couple of pretty hilarious games too. Some I won't tell you about because I'm mortified I did those things to her, but one thing she used to do to me on occasion was pin me down to the floor and tickle me til I turned blue. She did it to me fairly recently. Hadn't had a laugh like that in yonks and it was super amounts of hilarious.

Our parents watched us with bemused smiles on their faces.

I had loads of hilarious games with my ex boyfriend Pete too. Plenty are too inappropriate to share, but a dear favourite of mine was the yawn poke game. I remember the day it started.

Pete was yawning. The yawn seemed to stretch for eternity. His mouth was so wide open that I couldn't resist. I poked him in the mouth and gently touched his tongue with the end of my finger. He was so startled it ruined the yawn for him. After that it was a challenge for me to yawn poke him, and sometimes he'd be yawning and fighting me off at the same time.

*laughs

I occasionally watch someone yawn and have a quiet giggle to myself, imaging myself yawn poking them. I never do. Super inappropriate, obviously.

My ex partner and I had a game. This one was a totally reciprocal thing (it'd have to be it's pretty gross). At random intervals at any time of day or night one of us would try lick the other up the nose. The only rule was you actually had to get your tongue inside a nostril, otherwise it didn't count as a "win". I have NO IDEA how that one started. But sometimes months would stretch by with no nose licking and then BOOM out of nowhere, he'd get me when I least expected it. Or vice versa.

Pure gold.

I miss all those games.

But, as it often happens in life, as relationships evolve (or devolve depending on your point of view) and new friendships/relationships are made, new games start up to fill the void.

I was lying on the couch the other day and one of my housie's picked up one end of the couch and lifted it until the point that I would almost tip out of it but managed to stay balanced enough to remain in place. Cacking my pants with laughter all the while.

I love it.

Monday, 24 March 2014

I'm having a 'that tree is so beautiful' moment

For Gem

"It is both a blessing and a curse to feel everything so very deeply"

I wrote this post a few years back but it dropped off the roll somehow.

It was the sort of day that allows a person to feel more deeply than one would ordinarily feel. You know those days? When the sky is grey, and the air is crisp and cool. When the light is a strange orangey colour that sort of penetrates everything and makes it seem like it has a photographic sepia effect, making everything less bright somehow and a little more melancholy.

It was a melancholy day.

One of my aunts had died unexpectedly a few weeks prior and although I had not been close with her the news had rocked me, as well as my whole family. She was young, and had not been sick. In fact, we never did learn exactly the reason for her untimely death, and at the time I could not reconcile this in my head.

I came home that melancholy day, and was in one of those contemplative moods. Looking out through the back door into our yard I discovered a tree that resided just a few meters from my back door, a rather unfortunate and ordinary looking tree that you would not ever cast a second glance upon, had blossomed a very rare blossom of red petals so large that each flower was larger than a dinner plate. Every green leaf on that tree had been replaced with these enormous red blossoms, and the shade of red so vivid, coupled with the orangey sepia melancholy light made that moment of living seem so surreal that I cried at the sheer beauty of the whole thing, for a good little while. 

Sitting on my back door steps, late one lonely, grey afternoon, looking out at the ordinary tree that had blossomed into the most beautiful thing I’d ever laid my eyes upon.


Saturday, 22 March 2014

Impromptu play dates (so happy I know how to play Plants v Zombies)

I am totally addicted to Plants v Zombies 2. See here for previous post, a brief explanation of the game.

It's an incredible game. I play it a lot. *blushes

It's totally daggy I know but today I felt possibly the most intensely glad I've ever felt about being that total dag.

See, Plants v Zombies isn't the first game I've been addicted to. And I'm super loyal to things I'm into. Often for years.

Take for example the time I played Tiny Tower. I don't remember how long I played it for. Maybe 2 years. But that tower I built was really tall. Almost 200 stories tall.

Then Crystal Defenders, ahhh my old friend. I keep returning to those little soldiers and those gorgeous little thieves and tinkers. So much fun defending those crystals. [Side note: I really want them to release a new world and I've been waiting very patiently for such a long time now. Maybe 3 years. Maybe 4. Maybe it's time to write Square Enix a letter....]

Anyhow. Back to Plants v Zombies. My ex boyfriend introduced me to it and I've been hooked ever since - often it's part of my wind-down time. And I'm easy to please. Evidently.

So as I was arriving home this afternoon my phone rang. It was my friend. We have the exact same birthday and she's awesome. Only it wasn't her voice. It threw me for around 4 seconds, until I realised it was her 6 year old son. (Who's also awesome by the way. Her whole family is. That includes their cat too.) He asked me how I was and if I knew how to play Plants v Zombies.

"Yes!" I exclaimed, all of a sudden feeling very proud that my skills appealed to this particular 6 year old.

"We're trying to get past level 57 but we don't know how coz of the big boss man, Mum said maybe you'd know how."

Well. That was enough for me.

I went over to their house immediately.

It was level 57 after all!

We got straight down to business.

"Right, so level 57," I said, "show me your moves".

And the boys showed me all the plants they'd collected and all their placement strategies. I was impressed but I definitely had a few suggestions.

"More pots, trust me, more pots!" I encouraged.

"More sun!"

"Another corn, plant another corrrrn".

"We need the chilli guy, where's the chilli guy?!"

"Quick plant the pear."

"It's not a pear Mary it's a squash!"

"Oh. Right. Sorry."

And so it went until we defeated the big boss man and were onto level 58.

Hi fives all around.

A night well spent.

And, once the boys discovered I had Plants v Zombies 2 on my iPad mini and my iPhone (one device each which is perfect for grown up talking time), they invited to over for a repeat Plants v Zombies play date. The boys that is.

Although I'm sure their Mum will be happy if I go again, too.   :)

So much love. And those boys are awesome.


Friday, 21 March 2014

Hide and seek in complete darkness

When I was younger I used to go stay at my mate Jen's place in the country during school holidays. Jen and her brother Jase lived in the country in a terrific house their Dad built. Jase would sometimes have mates stay over as well and it was always loads of fun. The house was always filled with laughter, and Jen and I would get up to hilarious stuff.

There was the afternoon we spent hours turning over all the rocks, up on the road, in the hopes that we'd find one that had a crystallized underneath (not realising you could probably only find them in pretty specific spots under pretty specific conditions). And then there was the time their Dad tried to teach me to ride their dirt bike (boy that went well). One very bored day Jen and I watched "Money Trap" three times, in a row, we thought it was so funny (I saw it a few years back and for the life of me I don't understand how we laughed so hard).

Anyway one particularly glorious holiday (I think I would have been around 13 or 14, from memory) me and Karyn went to stay with Jen, and Jase had his mate James over too.

[Side note: I often abbreviate names in my stories but I can't in this one. Too many "J"'s.]

So this story is about one of the nights we decided to play hide and seek.

To make things interesting someone suggested we play in complete darkness, and that we'd play boys v girls.

Cool.

So Jen and Jase's parents went to their "end" of the house and closed off a few doors, so the light in their room wouldn't leak out. And the rest of the house we left in complete darkness.

In the country complete darkness is pretty dark. There are no streetlights to illuminate anything even slightly. After the last light went out we all waited for our eyes to adjust but I don't think any of us could see anything. I certainly couldn't. Not even my hand right in front of my face.

It sort of defeats the purpose of playing hide and seek, if you can't see anything. So the game sort of morphed into hide and scare-the-living-daylights-out-of-the-seekers.

And it was super easy finding a hiding spot. Behind a door was perfectly acceptable for the purposes of this new game.

I don't remember the whole night, but I do remember clutching Karyn's hand as we edged along the hallway trying to find the door way to Jen's bedroom. Waiting to be scared to death at any given moment. I also remember getting down low so I could reach under Jen's bed, and saying "I betcha James is under here and when I'm looking Jase'll jump out of Jen's wardrobe or something". I heard the girls laugh as I blindly reached under the bed, kind of swishing my arm around a bit.

Then Jase jumps out of the wardrobe, yelling RARRRRGH or something (completely Jase's style, he does that so well).

And you know what?

Even though I predicted it, it still scared the living daylights outta me. The girls too.

Fun times.


[Note: Thanks for the fond memories everyone. I miss those times. And Jen and Jase, I think of your Dad often. He was a one of a kind.]

The adventures of Buzz and Woody, Part III

Part III


"It's perfect Woody, just the right size and she's taking it with her on board."

"She looks like fun Buzz! Look at her haircut!"

"I see it Woody. And that vest. It's fabulous, Woody, just fabulous."

"Since when do you use that word?"

[Buzz and Woody dash between all the other legs towards the woman in line at Gate 17.]

"Buzz...Buzz!"

"Yes Woody?"

[Buzz pulls Woody behind a conveniently placed suitcase.]

"She's already in line, how do we get into her backpack?"

[Buzz scratches his chin and thinks for a moment.]

"We should distract her so she drops something. Then when she picks it up maybe she'll put down her bag."

"I dunno Buzz she's almost at the front of the queue your plan might not work!"

"We don't have another option, Woody."

"But Buzz, look!"

[Woody points to the screen above Gate 17.]

"I've always wanted to go to Tokyo, Buzz, we need a plans that's foolproof!"

[Buzz surveys their immediate surroundings.]

"I know Woody! We'll get in this case and then switch to hers on board when everyone's asleep! Follow me."


...to be continued (again)
Continued from Parts I, II and III. Click below to catch up: 

Thursday, 20 March 2014

It's like the English Patient, but for rats

I've been busy lately and have not had time to write a lot for pleasure. I wrote this post a few years back, when I was living in a really old house in Fitzroy with my mate Ceils. We had rats in the house that were big enough to carry fruit (and eat it, gross). We put out rat-sac then I had an attack of the guilts. Those poor rats dying while so thirsty...
Anyway, this is one of my favourite posts of all time.  



Mr Rat is lying in bed, his eyes bulging open with excitement and anticipation. He is itching to get up for his nightly activities but can still hear the house humans moving around and he must wait for them to go to bed.

Finally, he hears the lights being turned off, the toilet flushing and the bedroom doors being closed. He throws off his blanket and jumps out of bed, exclaiming, “I wonder what fruit they've left out for us tonight!” But Mrs Rat is still curled up fast asleep, so he quietly kisses her forehead and tucks the blanket up around her shoulders. She hadn't been feeling well lately.

Mr Rat scurries along down the wall the same way he scurries every day, sticking a whisker cautiously out of his front door-hole and gingerly stepping through into the cold kitchen from the hole behind the stove. It’s quiet. Eerily quiet. He hesitates, and then scurries along the skirting boards towards the place where the fruit is kept. Something is different but he can’t quiet put his finger on what it is.

He stops, suddenly, senses hyper-alert. What was that: a noise…a smell? And then he sees it. It glints in the soft light that streams in through the kitchen window. He is transfixed. Paralyzed by the fear, but he can’t look away. He takes a deep breath, his mind scrolling quickly through the events of the past week. The fruit he took…the boxes of those lovely blue pellets he had gnawed through. It's hadn't seemed suspicious at all. He had been sure it was safe. Could it be? Surely not, this sort of thing was the thing that happened to other rats. Not him! He was always so careful!

A sudden wave of nausea passes through him and without taking enough care he runs as fast as he can back to the skirting board through the kitchen towards the hole behind the stove. He curses himself as he realises the stove has been scrubbed clean.

The house humans have known all along.

'You can’t go through that right now', he scolds himself, 'just focus on getting back home'. He scurries back up the wall as fast as he can. He doesn't even care that he is bumping into the familiar bricks and bits of wood. His foot catches on a nail. He scurries faster.

Finally he reaches his home. It is usually so cozy and full of love, but now it just seems empty and lonely. He knows before he sees her that she is gone. Tears are dripping down his whiskers. It’s only now he notices the hollow pain in his own stomach, and the thin blood pooling from where his foot caught the old nail. His sadness turns to bitter regret and he folds himself around his dear wife’s cold body.

“I’m sorry”, he whispers softly into her beautiful ear, “I’m so sorry”.

Monday, 17 March 2014

Sure, suicide is a delicate topic, but if the big stuff is going on it's okay to talk about it

I'm going to preface this with a big "this-might-not-be-right-for-you-but-it-was-right-for-us" speech. I'll get to the speech later. First the story.

So when I was a baby my first mum commit suicide. I've always had two mum's and it gets mighty confusing at times. But bear with me. And no I'm not going to discuss suicide as a concept. She had her reasons and whether or not her decision was "right" (for lack of a better word) is not the topic of this post.

A while back I was having an enormous debate (nah, I'll call it as it was - it was a flat out fight) with a couple of people about whether it's okay to tell kids sneaky white ones in the hopes that there's a "better time" to tell them the truth.

And I don't want to say "lies". Honesty is often a sliding scale and often a question of degree. (Perfect example being Santa.) It's about personal choice I guess - talking about Santa I mean, or whatever.

So back to the fight. Someone I knew told their child a big sneaky white one about where babies come from. My personal view at the time (although completely irrelevant as it wasn't my child) was that it was completely appropriate for them to tell the child where babies actually come from in an age appropriate way. At that same age I well knew all about it from my folks and had a well balanced view of the word "vagina".

Mind you I do come from a fairly open family where there isn't a lot we don't talk about. And some people find that awfully confronting. That's okay too, like I said. It works for us.

Anyhow. Back to the fight.

So the person didn't want to tell the child just in case the child wasn't ready. But the child was asking some pretty specific questions about what was what - and I reckon that signifies some type of readiness but the person disagreed.

The discussion led to other white ones we tell our kids and someone ventured a story about a person who'd recently died (by committing suicide) and no one told the children. They weren't young children either, they were definitely old enough to understand. They were well into their teens.

I tried to objectively voice my view on the topic. Something quite hard to do when you're as choked by emotion as I was.

I was livid, is probably a better way to describe it. In that protective way you get when you can identify with someone.

See here's the thing. And again. It worked for us. And maybe it's not right and I'll never know the answer to that for sure. It's just something I feel pretty passionate about.

Suicide sucks. Death sucks too. (They're not the things I'm referring to feeling passionate about, by the way.)

Either way - it's going to suck for the kids. For me, growing up, I just cannot pinpoint a moment in time where I "found out my mum killed herself". I just can't remember ever being told. And that's coz I just always knew. My Dad decided pretty early on that he would always be as honest with me as possible. That kids deserve answers as much as anyone else. And you can only earn the respect of a child by showing respect. That's true of anyone, I suppose.

Within reason, and there are sensitive and age appropriate ways to approach the giving of the answers, I cannot think of a good reason to not tell a child stuff they should know. Sure it's not always appropriate to give them a blow by blow description of everything. I'm talking about the big stuff, like how their parent has died...well, for me it's hard to understand how you'd keep that from anyone. Let alone the child of the deceased.

My theory for this?

It's simple.

My Dad made the right decision with me. Growing up and living with a crappy thing like your mum dying (let alone because she wanted to) - it sucked enough on its own. Then I try to imagine what it would have been like, being sat down on my 18th birthday (or whatever) and being told the truth of what had happened.

I'd have two things to be upset about then, instead of one. Or maybe even three things. I'd be upset that she had commit suicide. Plus I'd be upset about not being told. And very possibly I'd feel angry that I might have been the only one that didn't know.

And really, whether or not I was aware of how she died was beside the point. She was gone. Either way. Don't get me wrong, there were pieces of the puzzle I had to get later on. But the big conceptual stuff was always there. And if I asked a question out-right it always got answered. Even if sometimes (oh so rarely) the answer was "hmm I don't think I'm ready to talk about that yet". More often it was more along the lines of "hmm lemme have a think for a sec..." then an age appropriate way to explain something.

You might ask then if it's beside the point how she died why did I need to know? Well for me that's an easy one too. It's what happened. It was the truth of the matter - and even though knowing it wouldn't bring her back, it was an understanding of the way things were and why they were that way.

I often tell my parents (Dad got remarried to my second Mum) that they rock for the approach they took with me and my sis.

I'm really glad my parents told us stuff.

Although there was the time I was mortified about the description my Mum (second Mum, obviously) gave to my sister about where babies came from. Complete with diagrams drawn in the dirt with a stick. My sister was pretty little at the time but I was old enough to feel very embarrassed.

But you know, being embarrassed is also part of life.

Side note. Kids are really smart. They have this ability to often see through the bullsh!t and they're not cynical yet and haven't been conditioned about the reasons behind the white ones. Most of them are just super honest (which often makes for hilarious stories). Kids are people. Just slightly smaller and less experienced. 

Sunday, 16 March 2014

I learnt the art of gift giving from me' Mum

I learnt the art of gift giving from my Mum. And she learnt the art from her Dad. (See previous post here on the art of surprise visits, a beauty.)

When I was very small, almost 5, my first Christmas with my Mum was pretty a pretty special occasion.

Mum and Dad wrapped my presents then hid them all over the house.

Christmas morning was so exciting. Except there was no presents under our "tree" (our family doesn't really do Christmas trees - not in the traditional sense anyhow). Mum made some nonchalant comment about me having to find my presents and so the epic treasure hunt began. Behind cushions. Behind the couch. In cupboards. I don't remember (don't have a clue) what I got that year. I just remember the fun of the looking.

I also remember that for months after (maybe it was just a few weeks but I was small so maybe time seemed huge) I would think of a 'spot' and look there just incase I'd forgotten a present. Ha! It so didn't occur to me that Mum would have given me a hint.

Hilarious.

Then a few years later, for my birthday. A bike. I remember that gift. Bike's are tricky things to wrap and my family doesn't really do wrapping paper. Well not for each other anyway. We use newspaper. Mum uses the nice sections like baby announcements. Or funny things. My sister is good at the funny sections too.

I digress. The bike. Difficult to wrap. Ah yes, so when it came time to "open" my birthday gift Mum handed me a piece of wool. I could only see one end of it. So I started following that piece of wool, winding it back around my fingers while I followed it, and everyone following behind me.

Lots of giggling.

So much fun.

Around the house. Back around the house again. Outside. Around the tree. Back through the house. Into the garage. Out the front of the house. Down the street a little. Around a tree back towards the house. And there it was.

Behind a fern in our front yard was a bike. The other end of the wool was tied firmly to it.

My very first bike.

But it was the art of how they gave it that made it totes special.

I love that. Sometimes it doesn't matter what's inside the newspaper (or brown paper if you're getting a gift from me). Sometimes it's all about the delivery.

And gift giving that way can be super fun too. For my sister's 21st birthday I got her 21 gifts. Some small, like a packet of whiz fizz (sorry, inside joke). Some proper gifts. PA pjs (her fav). I don't remember the others, but I wrapped them all separately and wrote a little note to go with each. I had so much fun doing it. So much fun watching her open each one. Laughing at my notes and calling me a dag. (I am a total dag, it's okay.)

I've gotten loads of the most incredible gifts in my life time. Not many of the coolest ones I've received would have cost any amount of money (and not saying I'm not grateful for them all - gifts are great no matter the kind). A poem my mate wrote me for my 30th birthday. A comic book another friend created (and in it I'm the super hero). A t-shirt I almost got for myself and then didn't but then found out my sister had already gotten it for me, yep the exact same one (how cool is that?). A pair of socks as a "wedding present" for when I "married" my brogues (yes my favourite shoes, told you I'm a total dag). Another pair of socks when my travel feet were so badly blistered they were bleeding (and that pair came off someone's feet so then they had awful blistered travel feet, which was very sweet of that person to do).

And doing gifts for people too, I remember lots of those. So much fun putting so much love into something to give to someone you think is rad.

Great lesson, Mum.  

There is no 'why', sometimes there is only 'is'

A few years back I had an ah-huh moment. A big one. It was in therapy - I was having a pity party about how unfair life is (yeh right...my life, unfair it might be at times but compared to what some have to live with I feel pretty bloody lucky). My therapist said something interesting.

He said, "yes, life IS unfair".

Wha....?

Wasn't he supposed to tell me everything would get better?

Nope.

Life is often unfair. For some more than others. Which is also extremely unfair.

It just is.

Hearing my therapist say that out loud, inside me something clicked. Okay so now I know life is sometimes unfair and not everyone gets to be "happy" (and anyway I dislike the concept of happiness as a life goal)...now what?

It didn't take me too long to mull it over. Maybe a year. Ha!

I made a conscious effort to be more me. More authentically me.

The more effort I made, the more curious I became about the effects it was having on my life. The more sense it made to me. It made more sense of stuff that had happened before.

And in a strange way it made the hard stuff easier too. Which at first seemed odd to me but now makes sense. It doesn't make the stuff less hard. It's still hard. It's still scary. But now I accept that it's just part of living my life. And for you it might look different.

A few people I'm close with have some really big stuff to deal with right now. Those things often get me thinking, and it often means having big scary conversations with people - which I always love. I appreciate the hard stuff and don't shy away from it.

I had a conversation the other day with a friend. He said to me, "no I'm not afraid of dying". He meant it too. He had a look which said he meant it and he seldom says stuff he doesn't mean. I was kinda in awe, and then he said, "I am afraid of leaving behind the people I love though, I'm not ready for that, there's still more I want to do for them".

Hmmm. Good point. So what was he waiting for? And I said that to him.

Then I told him 'bout the time my sister had her appendix out. We thought it was a routine operation but the appendix was almost gangrenous and it exploded all over her insides as soon as the surgeons got inside. She also reacted badly to the anaesthetic and stopped breathing and although they revived her successfully it was easily one of the scariest moments of my life.

But through the whole thing there was one thing of which I was certain. It repeated over and over in my head and it was so comforting. Even if she had have died, she'd have died knowing how much I loved her. There was no two ways about it. There was no thinking "why didn't I do this or say that". There was just love and she knew it. She's always known it. It's me. It's what I do. I tell people what's on my insides even when it's scary and freaks the shit out of me to admit it's how I feel.

I've gotta make the most of my life while it's here. Coz we all die one day, it's what we do while we're alive that'll make the process of coming to terms with our own mortality easier. Maybe more worth it or something.

For me that means not wasting it wondering if I should or shouldn't do something. I'll just follow my instincts and allow myself to feel it all. Yup it's hard and scary, and sometimes life hurts - but I often wear my heart on my sleeve and that means having my heart bumped around sometimes.

I believe (to my core) that the extent of joy one can feel can only be matched by the extent one allows oneself to feel the opposite. And that applies to other stuff too. Love. Laughter. Fulfilment. Fun. All those lovely emotions are matched by unpleasant ones. And when we numb the unpleasant ones we unwittingly numb the good stuff too.

So. I allow myself to just feel it all baby. Feel. It. All.

Saturday, 15 March 2014

The quickest way to see a doctor in Emergency on Boxing Day

It was boxing day. Years ago. I was in my early twenties and at my ex partners mum's place in Townsville. It was a super ridiculous hot day. They all are in Queensland in summer.

We were laying on banana lounges in the shade (you don't lay in the sun in Townsville, umm ever - say 'no' to melanoma).

And we had the hose on. And we were using the water to cool our bodies. It was back in the day before water restrictions. (Or knowledge about water wastage.)

Anyway I digress.

Did I mention it was hot?

In the delirium I decided to be funny. I stuck a cotton bud in each ear and started waving my head around like an alien.

"Hey check it!" I said to my ex.

He laughed and I pulled a face and waved my head around a bit more. Doing my alien thing.

I'd forgotten about the banana lounge back that was much closer to my head than I realised.

I smacked the cotton bud right into my ear. Super hard.

I think I blacked out for a few seconds from the pain because next thing I remember I was holding my ear and writhing in agony. Possibly squealing too. I don't remember pulling the cotton bud out.

My ex was holding me with a worried look on his face and saying all the right things. "You goose are you alright?"

After the initial pain and fright abated I assessed the damage by sticking my little finger (tentatively) in my ear. I pulled it out and there was blood on the end.

"Do you reckon it's okay?" I asked my ex.

"Yeh I think so, but call Rhonda, she'll know", he answered.

I rang Rhonda, a lovely woman I was boarding with (and her daughter, Lis, who is one of my closest friends even to this day). Rhonda is a nurse.

Rhonda suggested I go to the doctor to make sure my ear was okay. "You want to make sure with something like that Mary", she ventured.

Right then. Off to the Townsville General Hospital.

On Boxing Day.

Because no doctor's (in Townsville, at least) are open, like, none, on public holidays.

It was going to be a long wait so we took books and magazines.

I went to triage while my ex and his mum found us somewhere to sit. The ER was packed.

"So what have you done today?" the nurse asked.

I just pulled an "I've been really stupid face" (I'm good at those) and stuck my little finger in my ear and pulled it out. My ear was still bleeding so my little finger came out with blood all over it, thankfully. Nothing worse than rocking up to hospital and the thing (whatever it is) being gone.

Her eyes widened a little and she just said, "right, take a seat someone will see you soon".

I rejoined my crew. They'd found 2 seats and gave me one. My ex handed me a magazine. I had only just gotten seated. I hadn't even opened my magazine and a doctor called out my name.

Wha...? That's me. But I'd only just gotten here. There were HUNDREDS of people in the ER! Some with broken things and bloody towels held against their heads and I'm certain I saw a stab wound. (Townsville, remember?) Okay maybe it was just a big cut.

Anyway I stood up and made my way past all the other banged up patients. All of them glaring at me with a venom quite like no other I had ever seen before. Poor sods must have been waiting hours, in pain - and here in walks a young, healthy, unwounded girl who's laughing and walking on her own and she sits down not 10 seconds and her name gets called.

I was thrilled.

I sat up on the patient examination table and the doc looked in my ear with his little ear torch thingo.

He looked in there for a while. I gotta say it was quite scary having a foreign object in my ear so soon after it being traumatised by the cotton bud.

Eventually he said, "all good, you're one lucky chicken to not have burst your ear drum, it's just grazed, off you go".

Phew. Ear drum in tact.

Didn't have to wait 8 hours to find out.

So if you ever need to desperately see a doctor......don't tell him or her I told you this story.

Oh and it took me years to be able to stick a cotton button in my ear again. 

Tuesday, 11 March 2014

And then there's the time I wet my pants...in High School

In High School I had a friend, M. M was honestly one of the funniest people I'd ever met. She has a photographic memory and a super dry sense of humour, kind of like Daria. She made me laugh a lot which frequently got me into trouble at school.

*fondly remembers wagging detention

Anyway. One day, sometime during year 11, M and I were in class together. I'd forgotten to pee during recess and I needed. to. go. Badly. My teacher refused to give me a bathroom break (it being the very start of the class) - and of course M thought it'd be hilarious to make me laugh so hard I'd wet my pants.

I tried desperately hard not to laugh, something so hard when you're trying not to and especially hard when your friends are so freaking hilarious. So of course I was in stitches for something close to an hour and when class fiiiiiinally ended I bolted for the loos.

*looking at you with wide eyed sincerity

I bolted.

The whole way there my friend ran after me, yelling out more hilarious things and I was yelling right back to her "screewwwwww yooooooou!!!!". She was also a faster runner than me - not hard when you're busting, though, to my credit - and arriving well before me proceeded to lock the stall doors.

Toilet 1 was out. Covered in poo or something equally revolting.

Toilet 2 was out. Broken.

Toilet 3 she had locked - and crawled under to toilet 4 which she also locked.

I kicked down the door to toilet 3.

I made it.

Free dress day so I was unbuttoning the three thousand buttons on my stupid, stupid jeans. I thought I had them down in time.

I let the gates open.

My jeans weren't down far enough. Not even close to being down far enough.

And I didn't realise in time.

I emerged from the stall to a friend who was slightly mortified (that I'd kicked down the door) and also quite excited to see if she'd won.

My jumper was firmly tied around my waist.

She threw back her head and cackled with glee.

"I'm going home", I announced. "I'm not going to my locker, I smell like wee. Can you put my bag in my locker? Thanks, see you tomorrow."

Walking down the drive way of our family home I saw my Dad's head just above our roofline. He was doing something up there (can't remember what).

"Hi Pet", he called down to me, "you're home early".

"I wet my pants", I called up to him.

"Oh, righto", he cheerily replied. There aren't very many topics not-up-for discussion in my family.

Too late (again), I saw his business partner's, R, head pop above the roofline.

"Hi Mary!" R said, grinning.

*slowly sighs


(Side note: I just realised if Tony does read my letter and then decides he wants to know more about me he may also read this. Hi Tony! Did the book arrive yet?)
(Second side note: I'm a Legend, Tony, it says so on my year 10 maths certificate, see here.)

Saturday, 8 March 2014

The time Margaret Thatcher or someone visited our school

The high school I went to was a public school, all girls and as such we celebrated International Women's Day every year. It was always a free dress day (uniform was usually strictly enforced) but we'd have to wear white, purple or green (or all three). 

One year when I was in year 7 or 8 we had a visitor for our IWD school assembly. She gave a speech about how women can be great. I don't remember who it was exactly but I do remember mum being incredulous that she came to our school - and my memory tells me it was Margaret Thatcher. 

Whoever it was the speech was amazing. Even in my little 12 year old head I thought so. She spoke about amazing women who'd done incredible things. And I remember thinking I wanted to be one of those women - someone who did something great to contribute to society. 

Although I haven't worked out what that is yet I hope I never stop trying to figure it out. In the meantime I'll try to make a difference in thousands of little ways. 

Being a woman has it's challenges, sure, but I love being one. 

Happy International Women's Day - women of the world. 


Thursday, 6 March 2014

Dear Prime Minister, do you mind if I respectfully call you Tony?

A letter to our PM, Hon Tony Abbott MP --- the original will follow by post

Dear Prime Minister,

Re: I am not proud to be Australian today
the rule of law, the UDHR and refugees


I would like to address you personally in this correspondence. Do you mind if I respectfully call you ‘Tony’?

My name is Mary Ryan. I am a solicitor practicing property law in the State of Victoria.

I recently moved for the admission for my friend to become a Legal Practitioner in Supreme Court of Victoria. During the admission ceremony the Honourable Chief Justice Warren gave a speech welcoming the new lawyers. She spoke about the rule of law[1] and our legal system and she spoke of the ideals that make our country great. It was a moving speech. It reminded me of the reasons I became a lawyer to begin with and during her delivery I choked up a little. In that moment I felt proud to be an Australian.

Tony, I’m sorry to report those feelings of pride did not last long. I left the courtroom that day in my robes and my wig and contemplated how, in theory, the rule of law is such a magnificent ideal, but in reality its application has less and less meaning to me as I continue to follow the news.

Tony, I’m talking about the current asylum seeker situation, specifically in relation to Nauru, and also Manus Island. It’s the reason I write to you.

I feel our current Government is not honouring the rule of law. I feel our current Government is not acting consistently with the Universal Declaration on Human Rights (UDHR).

I request some of your time, your patience and I implore you (with wide eyed sincerity) to read on.

On 10 December 1948 the Australian Government by General Assembly ratified the UDHR. I acknowledge the UDHR may not create legally binding laws on you personally, but it does ratify the values upon which this country was founded and the values upon how this country bumbles along. It influences the baseline for the types of laws your Government passes.

When was the last time you sat down and read the UDHR, Tony?

I draw your attention to, in particular, Articles 1, 9 and 14(1).

Article 1
“All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood.”

-and-

Article 9
“No one shall be subjected to arbitrary arrest, detention or exile.”

-and-

Article 14(1)
“Everyone has the right to seek and to enjoy in other countries asylum from persecution.”

For context, I am gently imploring you with utmost respect here. I’m not out for your blood. Please take a moment to reflect on those ideals, Tony.

Now consider some of the issues in the current spotlight:

- Your election campaign focussed a great deal of attention on “sending the boats home”,

- Multiple reports coming out of Manus Island and Nauru reporting inadequate conditions,

- Multiple whistleblowers coming out of Manus Island and Nauru reporting that the processing for refugees is a sham, that processing is not really being undertaken to properly assess their refugee status,

Do you consider these to be consistent with Article 14(1) UDHR?

- Statistics published by our own Australian Human Rights Commission that as at 31 October 2013 there were “6,401 people in immigration detention facilities, and 3,290 people in community detention in Australia” and “22,873 asylum seekers who had arrived by boat”

22 thousand people is not very many, Tony – when you consider how large our nation is and even if there is an economic crisis on our hands this crisis is global and I believe we could be doing more than we are in the spirit of brotherhood for people in need. Heaven forbid we ever require compassion from our neighbouring countries, Tony. I do not believe they would not see our current actions as very compassionate.

Do you see why I am concerned, Tony? Do you understand why I have ventured my waning convictions in the application of the rule of law?

I acknowledge that immigration and refugee issues are really big and complex issues.

I understand Australia already has processes in place for persons seeking residency in Australia. But please consider that perhaps the people coming by boat are coming that way for their own reasons. It is possible that:

- The Immigration Department VISA application process is too rigid,

- For some it might be too expensive, or completely inaccessible,

- The people coming by boat actually have no other options (financially, for security or safety reasons, and maybe they’re not even educated enough to be aware of the system to begin with), and

- Most importantly, some of those people are facing actual persecution and genuinely need asylum.

And shouldn’t we have compassion for people in all of those categories? Shouldn’t we act towards those people in the spirit of brotherhood, as set out in the UDHR? Those Articles apply to every person Tony. They apply to the current Government too.

I acknowledge not everyone seeking asylum will have genuine asylum status. But all of the people seeking asylum should be entitled to genuine processing to determine whether they are, and during that process they should be treated well. Yes. Some asylum seekers may be less than ideal for this country. Just as there are dole bludgers, there will always be some people who take advantage. Would it not be worth taking our time to treat refugees with compassion – for the sake of those who genuinely and desperately need our help? Should we not process these desperate people properly to find out which category they are in?

I am not suggesting you throw all immigration and asylum seeking laws out the window and let just anybody in.

What I am imploring you to consider is:

- The treatment of humans seeking refugee status in Australia. For example have you been to Nauru, Tony? Have you seen the conditions there?

- Perhaps a review of the immigration laws and the VISA application process in Australia. Have you spoken to an actual person who has been through the VISA application process, Tony, from a developing country? It is a long and expensive endless process of forms and paperwork that I am certain many, many people in developing countries could not afford nor would have the capacity to complete without help.

I feel our current Government is blowing a miniscule issue out of proportion as a fear mongering technique for votes. I feel the Government is getting lost in the semantics of words and boundaries that lie in international waters, and for what? To keep 22 thousand people who may need our help at bay? It might help to take a step back, look at the bigger picture of what we want to achieve. Not only set out to serve one or two classes of Australians, but do all things to mark our nation as the great one I know it could be.

Would it not be better to set ourselves apart, stand up for humanity and for what is right, for compassion, and for brotherhood. To honour the rule of law and to honour the commitments this country made to the UDHR?

Perhaps it is too big a responsibility. Perhaps it is difficult for one person, such as yourself Tony, to implement such a change. I will gently remind you the Berlin Wall only came down because someone broke the first brick.

By now I wouldn't blame you for writing me off as an idealist perhaps even a romanticist. It’s okay, I am. There is one reality to bear in mind though. You will be remembered for the big things you've done for this country, Prime Minister. That's a realistic thing. You won't be remembered for the surplus you deliver. Only a handful of people will remember if you deliver better maternity leave for women.

The fear mongering doesn’t do you any favours. Turning boats away and fake processing Deterrence Centres (is what I now refer to them as) makes it seem the Government has no compassion or heart at all. And it reflects badly on all of us Tony. It reflects badly on me.

I do not presume to understand the weight of the decisions you face each day. But Tony, this is your chance to do prove them all wrong, to prove me wrong. This is your chance to do something great for this country, to do something great for humanity. You might only get one shot at this, Tony. Do you really want to be remembered as the PM who starred in the Tony Abbot - Wrecking Ball clip on YouTube? Have you seen it Tony? I have attached instructions for you so that you can view it if you so desire. It’s had almost a million hits, Tony. Almost a million hits.

I do gently remind you of the reasons that I am proud of our system (perhaps only in principle at the present moment but I have faith things can improve). And hope that you take some thought to steering this country back towards the magnificent intentions created for it.

I encourage you to find practical ways to approach the magnitude of this issue with compassion and with heart – and with a view to honouring the incredible principles set out in the UDHR and our very own Constitution.

Everyone makes mistakes. It's human. It takes courage to own them and say you’ll do better. It would take courage to ask the nation how to approach this as a whole, having informed them (openly and honestly) of the actual implications.

The actual consequence of refugees seeking legitimate asylum in Australia has been disproportionately blown out of proportion by the current Government. Not many question it. Not many remember that most of us came by boat (okay, ship) only a few generations ago. Are you indigenous to this country, Tony? Did your grandparents migrate here?

Finally, I have enclosed a book for you[2], Anh Do’s The Happiest Refugee. It is a gift for you Tony, simply because it’s a great read and I think you would benefit from reading it (if you haven’t already) – to hear Anh’s story of hardship and how his family arrived in this country, by boat, from a desperate situation they faced in Vietnam.

If you don't have time to read the whole thing please just read the first 2 chapters (I flagged them for you), and if you don’t have time to read two chapters, please (please, pretty please) just read the first page in the front of the book, Tony, just one page (it is also flagged).

Don't be the wrecking ball, Tony. Do something great. Make me proud to be an Australian again. Make us all proud.

Sincerely,


Mary Ryan
LLB (Hons), GDLP, JP (Qual)


[1] The rule of law is summarised in Article 7 of the Universal Declaration on Human Rights attached for your reference in Attachment 2 (also see section 5 of the Preamble to the Commonwealth of Australia Constitution Act, refer Attachment 3).

[2] This original correspondence will be posted to you at Kirribilli House, Tony

[Attachments]

Attachment 1

Instructions on how to watch your Wrecking Ball YouTube clip

Step 1 Open an internet browser on your laptop or on your smart phone

Step 2 Go to YouTube (web address www.youtube.com)

Step 3 In the search dialogue box type in “Tony Abbott - Wrecking Ball” (or simply click on the link here)

Step 4 The clip I speak of is by a user named “smallpoppy”, it should be the first one that comes up

Step 5 Watch the clip

Step 6 (Optional) Ponder if you would like this to form part of your legacy