Thursday, October 6, 2011

On breaking

I am b ro k
Who ever said sticks and stones break bones but words can never hurt you didn't
know the power
of yours.

My skin is still there
but the bones inside are crumbling from the lashes
that scream off your tongue as your face

the little piles the bones form
on the floor when you leave.
I wonder about the five second rule
and then realise that
they will never be the same anyway
and the bacteria
is already there
everything. but

i try.
scraping the pieces together in some kind of fashion
once i crawl out from under the blankets with which i
stifle my agony so
you won't know how much
it hurts.
i'll keep that. but

the bones wont be as strong
next time
i can never get all the particles back
some are always left
on the floor
where you left them without even
little puffs of off-white on the heel of your shoe as you
out the door. but

i try.
i stuff the pieces
back in to their skin ziplock bag and hope
they'll find the places they belong.
i take some antibiotics in the hope i will get stronger.
they taste like guilt.
i want to give up. but

the day forces me on
so I smile
and I function
and I look the same
because to do otherwise would
you. but

i am n

I am b ro k

Thursday, May 26, 2011

On old new beginnings

He built the huge yacht in the backyard.  It looked, for all intents and purposes, to be made from steel.  But in fact, it was made of his sweat. The skin of his fingers, his elbows and shins. The blinks of his eyes as he lay awake staring at the ceiling.

It was a magnificent venture. The goal of a lifetime, a dream being played out on a stage that was once a suburban back lawn in Nelson, New Zealand.  The neighbours stared goggle-eyed.  Partly annoyed at the  noise, dust and dirt from days of garrulous grinding and sawing, and the smell from months of welding, the unmistakable metallic odours buried deep in the curves of nostrils all around the area.  The big grey behemoth assaulted their eyes every morning as they tried to saunter casually down the gravel driveway to get their morning paper.  But mostly, like us, the neighbours were in awe of the ark taking shape in their suburban oasis, where it rarely rained and there was no sin to be washed clean.  At least, not as far as wizened old Mrs Smith from the orchard next door knew, and believe me, she knew everything.

Beam by beam the girth took shape, evolving from his imagination, created from his hands, the vehicle both figuratively and literally in which he invested his dreams, and quite willingly, ours.  He took to growing a beard.  Like Noah, only not grey, and with no hope of saving a myriad of animals from extinction - merely intent on saving his family from a dull, one dimensional existence that would otherwise be their future.

The momentous day come when the beast was turned right side up.  It was no longer a mountain of steel, perched in the yard like a rejected sail from the Opera House.  With imagination, it was a magnificent vessel, the shell of the Titanic to a 10 year old girl.  To my father, it was proof of possibilities, proof of skills; without wanting to be trite, it really was a labour of love.

He worked like a man possessed. Forty gallon drums filled with molten lead for the ballast.  Sheets of ply bent to his fancy. Planks of teak carved and sanded with the care of an artesian.  Each scrape of the sandpaper, each blister, each pile of sawdust and shard of slag was testament to his drive, ambition and dream.

Then came the day it was finally finished.  Well almost.  After a pummelling with the obligatory champagne bottle from my Nana (a woman whom I never remember drinking!),  and with the family perched on deck, we lurched backwards into the blue water of Tasman Bay.

In Maori, a Koru, the new unfurling fern frond, represents something new, arising from the old.  The boat, duly blessed with champagne was named Koru II.  For my father, and my family, it did represent something new - as we left our home, and our country for a better life.  Not for our family, a dull existence in one place, with no adventures lead.  Instead, my father's endeavours, the culmination of his dreams showed us all that change is something to be embraced, adventure something to be relished and that perseverance really can pay off.

It has taken me a long time to appreciate these lessons.  And, in fact, I don't think I have ever told my father how proud I am of him for what he achieved here.  Not only in terms of the physical act of building this yacht, but for what it taught me about how to live life in general,  for teaching us that life is for getting out there and living, and most importantly, that dreams don't have to stay dreams.

Today it's his 70th birthday.  Happy birthday Dad.  I love you.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

On absence

Dear Blog,

It's been a while.  I could tell you why, assail you with the minute of the issues that have been keeping me from your seductive embrace, but not too many words are needed to show you that I haven't had time to procrastinate.

Suffice to say that I have preferred curls over words...

... the warm curl of this little one's tiny perfect fingers around mine, the fineness of her hair as it gently curls a little more each day, wisping around her neck in whorls, and the pulling on my heart as she neatly and unwittingly curls me around the same little finger with which she grasps my hand.  Willingly I go.

I revel in her baby smell, of Lux Flakes, and baby cream and newborn, a cloud of perfume that could make some entrepreneur rich beyond dreams if only it could be bottled, and the joy of watching her change everyday before my eyes. I love the potential of grandma-dom, the freedom of not being the parent, the potential in building an irreplaceable, foundational and magical relationship based on only having to love this little person.  Along with this has been the unexpected bonus of new friends and family with whom to share the journey - and to whom I am eternally grateful for the gift they have bought to our life.  But most importantly, there is the thrill and pride of watching the young man and his lovely lady grow into adulthood full-speed ahead and seeing them cope so magnificently with the whirlwind of change that has been thrust upon them.  Nothing can replace feeling proud of your children.

And then there is this;

...another new life under creation - this time an empty shell for us to fill with the promise of a better and more fulfilling life under which we get to take control of our destiny.  Interestingly, in our search to gain financial freedom and some spare time, fulfilling this promise takes infinite time and infinite amounts of money - both of which are in short supply in the first place!  I am slowly coming to grips with the irony.

Nonetheless, despite the frenetic pace of life, and despite the absence of emails in my in-tray clamouring for my return, I feel a glimmer of light in my otherwise crowded brain that is telling me that it is almost time to write again.  This post doesn't really count - in fact, it's a bit of a rip-off really, like the blog posted before it, and those hasty and forced Christmas letters I used to send to my Great Aunty Caruzie after ungraciously receiving my yearly gift of soap and a hanky - it's  a guilty promise to write soon - just in case someone is waiting.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Constable Plod

In one of my former reincarnations I was a police officer.

People look at me now - blubbering at ads on the telly (the fact that I use the word 'telly'),  my forgetfulness, that I can't string a sentence together in front of anyone in any kind of authority, and probably my less than optimal body shape (what eva!) - and can't believe that at one stage I got in punch-ups, rescued people, told off truckies and helped at autopsies.

While most people would say it like this - "You were a  police officer?" in a voice of amazement and admiration, I get "You were a police officer?" in a "you've got to be freaking joking!" kind of way.

Nonetheless naysayers - here is the photographic evidence.

When I look at this photo three things come to mind -

1:  Shit I was skinny.

But then a teenage metabolism coupled with 3 weekly five k runs, the end of which generally involved some kind of spewing will do that to you.  As I remember it, that skirt fitted me exactly for the five minutes after I left the academy and started eating half-price Maccas.  It all went downhill from there.

2:  Bloody hell, I was just a child.

I am sure I don't even have boobs yet.  I certainly didn't have any life experience.  You can see it in my eyes. While I thought I had seen the world - I had actually only seen Brisbane.  Wynnum in fact. And a bit of New Zealand. And a large part of the Tasman Sea.  Which hardly a world makes.

3:  See the size of that hat?  I needed a hat that big to fit my big head in.  There was a lot of attitude to fit in that hat.  When I look back... oh dear.  It's a wonder I could hold my head up on that spindly neck, and probably explains why my vertebrae are now slowing crumbling like the Twelve (or is it now Eleven?) Apostles.

I think I have some stories to tell about this.  But this is just a taster.  Get used to the photo. Some stories about the adventures of Constable Jo Plod to come.

Thursday, January 6, 2011


It's two a.m.  I can't sleep.

Words tumble around my brain, red hot with motion, sharp and clear at conception, but eroding at the edges as they clank and crash mercilessly into each other.  Ideas, jobs, problems, feelings, all competing for my attention.

It's cold.  That doesn't slow the motion, the pressure building, my shoulders tense.  Nothing slows it down except sleep, sleep that eludes me because of the words I have left unsaid, the pages I have left unread, the problems I have not dealt with.

I envy the sleep of my young men, still worry-less, the dreams of children not quite men, their responsibilities confined to the social minute of their lives.  Even though their doors are closed I sense their presence in the stillness of the night and feel a little more secure.

I yearn for a quiet day, the luxury of time to drink in some calmness and tranquility without this never-ending, noisy, disorderly torrent ripping through my mind.  A small uninterrupted window of calmness and tranquility. A day with maybe a hint of productivity, a valve to release the most pressing issues. A day to just be.

My love rolls over, softly snoring, relaxed and oblivious. The warmth from where his body has been still lingers on the sheets as my foot reaches, as it has for nearly half of my life, for the gentle curve of his calf. Where I know it fits, where our curves match, just so. I suck in his warmth, and listen to the rythym of his breathing.  The words and images tumble more softly.  It's not the day that I wished for, but a moment.  If I live in that moment, everything is calm and in order.  I choose it.

Eyes wide shut.

Monday, January 3, 2011

What do you mean 'whateva' isn't a style?

My husband recently bought me an appointment with a personal stylist for our 19th wedding anniversary.  It was a great gift, but for those of you who know me, my 'style' is 'whateva': whateva I can grab out of the laundry basket (clean or dirty) that requires the least ironing, and 'whateva' I can find that means I don't have to wear that most torturous of fashion constructions - the bra.

Sadly though, while I may have been able to get away with that for a while, with my thesis nearly done I am once again going to have to leave the sanctity of my office and deal with prospective employees, students and other adults - none of whom I imagine will appreciate my 'whateva' style or an inadvertent nipple in their eye.

While I was excited about the stylist, as the time grew closer I began to get a little nervous. In response to my fear that she would, upon encountering me, fall down in hysterical laughter in the middle of the shopping centre or run screaming from the room hands flapping wildly, I decided that forewarned was forearmed and wrote her a brief note:

Dear Personal Stylist,

I just wanted to drop you a quick note to warn you let you know how I am feeling about our impending appointment, and tell you a bit about myself so we can make the afternoon flow like Mojitos in a Cuban cabana on a Sunday afternoon by the seaside.

I have no doubt you will be young and beautiful and hopefully immaculately dressed.  I fully expect you to look the part.  But I want you to know that I already hate you for it.  Don't judge me.  I have spent days looking for something to wear for this occasion and three months trying (unsuccessfully) to lose weight.  Someone somewhere will be pleased to know that I have found theirs.

I wanted you to know that I have bought some new undies for the occasion, just in case you are the kind of stylist that peeps around curtains unannounced at inopportune moments, or you have a perverse eagerness to feel better about yourself by sussing out how much a female body can sag post-children and forty something years on the planet.  Even buying undies was an issue.  I didn't want to go for the flowery mother-in-law ones, the synthetics, the flossy or lacy ones.  I thought boy legs, or a thong but then I am sure they do nothing for me and will do even less for you.  The alternative, Brigitte Jone's undies, might make you run for the nearest high bridge as you contemplate your body's future.  After much vacillating you'll be pleased to know that I eventually made a decision (sensible, beige, seamless). 

But at the moment I don't know what else I am wearing, does that matter?  I mean you are going to dress me after all.  Also you can save your breath asking me what's in my wardrobe.  I am sure you don't want to count 3 pair of discount jeans all with holes in the arse pockets where my cellulite keeps trying to make a quick escape (quite honestly I wish it would).   I am equally sure that my saggy t-shirts with quickening thread and underarm stains would be rejected by Lifeline.  As would my two pairs of festering discount sandals - not least due to the fact that the groove worn out of the sole by my crooked middle toe is that large that the foot bugs need a high jump pole to get from one side of the shoe to the other.

Also I have to let you know that I hate shopping.

It never used to be that way.  Once upon a time I loved the highlife - flash shoes, shoulder pads, gnarly boots, high heels, blue eyeshadow and hairdos to a six-week schedule.  Then I moved to country North Queensland, where, let's face it (and apologies to all my hick country friends) it wasn't too hard to get a bit of male attention as long as you had enough breath to pump the minimal amount of blood through your veins to stay alive - teeth definitely optional.  

'Luckily' for me, I met the criteria.

Having said that, the resultant marriage and birth to three young men (don't panic - they weren't young men at the time) have resulted in the situation we find ourselves in; me having to expose my floppy bits to a fine young lady, and you having to endure it.  I will try my best to think of some small talk to engage you and take your mind from the horror ... how are you with space weapons?  Meantime maybe you could think about some fictional thing to keep your mind far removed from reality - like eating icecream, for example.

Anyway, I am looking forward to that Mojito - in fact maybe I will have a few before I come so don't put me in any high heels.  Come to think of it, maybe you should come armed with some dutch courage yourself.



Of course, the stylist was the very model of decorum and clothes-horsery, and a lovely person to boot (which doesn't make for a satisfactory ending for the blog!).  There was no hysterical flapping of arms or dramatic collapsing, and she had obviously been scarred prepared by previous clients regarding the peeping.  Not only that but she did wonders choosing clothes for me that hid my sags and bags, seemingly nonplussed that she was staring at her potential future.  She even managed to squeeze my size 10s into some high heels.

It made me think that she must have built up some immunity due to the endless parade of panicky middle-aged women struggling to grow into their skin (so to speak) that form her client base.  Well... either that or she took my advice re the Mojitos.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

I love you, but I'm not in love with you anymore...

Our relationship is over.

We used to be so comfortable with each other.  Best friends, inseparable.  He took me everywhere.  Sometimes on sunny days we would meander our way to the beach. He didn't like swimming very much but luckily he was just content to sit there and watch the goings on, hot women in small bikinis, excited children squealing as they retreated from the attacking waves, the changing colours as the sun went down.  Sometimes we would pack a picnic and hit the mountain roads, enjoying the verdant scenery. He'd play music for me and we would revel in each other's company.

I've always felt safe within his embrace.  I trusted him to take good care of my young men and keep them safe too, and you know what? He never let me down. He was the only one I trusted with my family when we left the green cane waving in the fields and moved 1000 kilometres to the concrete jungle.

But things have changed.  It started off slowly.  He wouldn't be there when I needed him most. When I was running late he'd refuse to do what he knew needed to be done.  I just couldn't get him started.   He let me down from time to time. He stopped taking me places.  I began to lose respect and that sense of safety that was the crux of our relationship, I just didn't feel he was strong for me anymore.  Sometimes I had trouble warming him up to do what I really needed done, and other days he'd be too hot and I didn't want anything to do with him.

And let's face it, I know I am not a spring chicken either, I could stand to lose a few kilos, but he's really getting old.  He's balding, and his skin is flaky, and I know I shouldn't throw stones but his looks are definitely fading to the point where I am embarrassed to be seen with him.  To top it all off his bits just don't work how they used to.

I love him, but I'm not in love with him anymore.  It's over.  It's been a hard decision. We've been together for more than 12 years, almost a quarter of my life. He's all the young men have known.  And, even though I am the one making the decision,  it's still devastating to me to imagine him alone.  It's not how I thought it would end.

But, even though I am sad, I can let you in to a little secret that I've kept from both him and the young men, a secret that I have been reluctant to tell my extended family because I'm worried about what they will think of me.   I've been seeing someone else for the last couple of days.  I'm so rapt ... and she's beautiful.  She has a smile that I just can't resist.  She sparkles, and she is smooth - so much smoother than he used to be - I could run my hands over her body all day - her curves are magnificent.  She encourages me to take care of myself, I want to look my best when I am with her.  I don't feel safe with her at all. But I don't feel my age either - instead I feel excited, racy, confident and...a little bit sexy.  It's just what I need.

So there it is ... out with the old...


Bits not working

Struggling to hold himself together

Flaky skin

Thanks for everything you have done for me old friend, I love you, but I'm not in love with you anymore.

Instead I am in love with her...

Sparkly and smooth

Not Bald!


It's early days, but I could be in love 

See you on the flipside - but you'll have to catch me first.  Whoo hooooooo!

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Nightwhore at the Diner - Perspective 4

This is the last in a four-part series. I know you are a 'read the end of the book first' kind of person but don't start here.  I know it's tempting.  But don't.  Scroll down for parts one, two and three.  Do it.

Edward Hopper  (1942)  Nighthawks at the Diner 

He was cool.  The coolness of a man whose guilt had already been assuaged by a salve of excuses and planned path of redemption.  It was a coolness  that had been interrupted earlier in the evening with a sharp pause of desire.  He knew she was the one as soon as he saw her.  She needed attention.  Red hair, red dress, red lips.  She knew what she wanted too and he was the one to show her, but she didn't know about the lesson she was going to learn.

He took her away from the bar as soon as he could, to this crackpot diner, the only thing open, where he could regain some calmness while he mentally worked through the plan. It hadn't been easy.  Their peace had been ruptured with a loud clatter of stainless steel as the waiter sent the milkshake cups flying when the latest customer had slunk in. The noise richoched around his head, puncturing his demeanour.  While she stared at her fingernails he shot death stares at the waiter while he willed his mind to be still.

He wondered what passers-by might think if they saw him there with the girl. Would they think, he wondered, of her warmth and his coolness?  Would they wonder why they were together? Why she would be with him?  Did they know?

At first glance she was beautiful, but under the skin he knew that wasn't so.  Warm on the surface but her soul and heart were slowly atrophying.  In the fluorescent light it was easy to see that the poison was reaching her skin.

It was the guilt that did it.  He knew from nights like this one.  Nights he tried to resist, but couldn't. Women he tried to resist, to no avail.  Urges he tried to resist, but failed.

The sex, and the blood, and the violence.  And then the redemption for it all.  He remembered every night like this. Different towns, different hookers, different dresses. But the scripts were all the same.

He spared a minute from his thoughts and glanced across the counter at the customer whose entrance had so startled the waiter.  It didn't take him long to put a name to the uncharacteristically solemn face.  Detective Seb Lazarides from over at 4th.  It was definitely time to leave.  He willed himself calm as he threw the coins on the counter and nudged her.  She put on her coat and he grasped her by the arm, leading her towards the doorway that bridged darkness and light.

For observers it looked as though he was leading her into darkness.  But he knew that the darkness was here, in places like this.  His truth was that he would lead her to the light.

Oh yeah.  She would atone for her sins tonight...


The policeman was still fussing with his badge as he rushed out the door to start his shift.  Slacks pressed, creased tightly down the middle, coal black boots freshly spit-polished, baton knocking against his leg.  His partner smiled a patient greeting.  "Did you hear the news?" he enquired.

"I haven't had time! I was out late last night at a club, just got in this morning and obviously I'm running late!" He winked.  Why, what's up?"
"Lucky bastard.  No wonder you've got bags under your eyes.  How the hell do you manage to  get lucky so often when you've got no bloody hair?  I'll have to get a leave pass and come out with you one night and get some of your magic.   I can be your wingman!"
"Sure, sure - just let me know when.  What's the news?"
"There's been another hooker murder.  Poor bitch, apparently it was ugly."
"Really? What's that? Ten now?"
"Christ, they better stop that bastard soon."
"I hope so.  The paperwork is killing someone."
"What's the first job today partner?" he asked, through a nonchalant smile that betrayed nothing.
"We've got to go over to the Southside.  She had a kid that she apparently left home alone at night."

His badge fixed perfectly on his lapel and knowing everything was in order, just the way it should be, the policeman looked up and began the short walk to the patrol car.  He was a knight to the rescue of the endangered child.

Redemption, it seemed, was waiting.

The end.

Nightwhore at the diner - perspective 3

This is perspective three of a four-part story. Parts one & two are below.

Seb was normally the kind of walking charisma who could bring life to a party of geriatric oncology patients.  A great sense of humour, a word for everyone, a man who left smiles in his wake.  Others envied his ability to look people in the eye, the effort he put in to knowing at least one thing about everyone in his immediate surrounds, no matter if he liked them or not.

They wouldn't recognise him tonight.  For once no one noticed his presence. And, for once, he was lost for words, his charisma shrunk by the world he found himself in.  He paced the street, kicking mindlessly through the detritus that lined the road from the hordes that, with their shadows, tracked this path earlier when the light of the day still offered some promise.  The trams and Lincolns and street vendors had gone, the staticy sounds of New York swing no longer riffed invitingly from doorways.

He wasn't supposed to be working, work hours were long over, his beat complete.  But he was never one to follow the rules.  He'd been looking for someone he didn't know, someone he didn't like, someone that, despite being out here in the stranger's world, he was no closer to finding.  It was hard to find someone who, he suspected, knew the rules even better than him.

The light emanating from the diner wasn't exactly inviting but it held the promise of a hot coffee.  Without much thought he found himself walking in.  Neither the waiter's startled surprise nor the clatter of milkshake cups as they bounced across the floor registered on his radar.  He slouched onto the diner's stool, his back to the outside world. He sat.

It may have been the door closing that nudged him out of his reverie long enough to notice the waiter about to ask him for his order.  

"Hey Sir. What can I get ya?" His voice grated on Seb who found himself wishing he could have just served himself from a pot without any need to break from his thoughts.

"Coffee. Black."

He summed up the resentment of the having divert his energy, even for just those few words, with a mentally muttered, "Fuck" before retreating back into his thoughts, his mind a cacophony of crazy as he struggled to subdue his feelings of despair and disgust. He needed to stop feeling shit.  He knew it was the feelings that were making him miss something simple.

Normally he would register the details insignificant to everyone else.  That the man sitting across from him had seemed suddenly uneasy. The click of the coins as they rolled on the counter, the scrape of the bar stools as they scored the linoleum.  That the man had grabbed the woman's arm a touch tighter than a lover might.  That the red dress didn't hide the loneliness of the woman whose companion was escorting her to the door.  But not tonight.

He vaguely registered the smell as the waiter released the coffee from its urn prison.  But by the time the man led the woman into the darkness Seb had continued drowning in his own thoughts, lost in an ocean of problems of people he could never know, in a mental prison of a murderer's making.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Nightwhore at the Diner - perspective 2

This is perspective two of a four-part story.  

It had been a slow night.  Not much was left of it, a few stragglers seeking refuge from the crisp air were all that remained.  As he bent for the steely coolness of the dirty milkshake cups under the counter, the sudden jangle of the doorbell made him jump.  The cups fell to the floor with a clatter, the aluminum clash enough to make his teeth jar like he had been chewing on foil, sour strawberry milkshake splattering up his legs, the stains seeping insidiously into the legs of his crisp white pants.

He'd been struggling to control his composure ever since Scarlett, as he had secretly named her, had walked in with the man earlier, hot flashes of red and white  drawing his vision as she strobed across his periphery.  The crash drew the man's attention to him.  He could feel the glare,  twin spears heading straight for his self-consciousness, feel the cold angriness at his incompetence.  He was annoyed with himself as he felt his face flush. His last vestige of composure since Scarlett sashyed in the door like a red tidal wave, stripped from him by the death stare of a stranger.

As he clumsily started to wipe up the milk, he felt, rather than saw, the presence of the customer newly seated at the bar. It was more than just the faint odour of stale cigarettes and dampness of clothing newly traipsed in from the cold evening air.  There was a sense of hopelessness that hung from him like steam dissipating off a hot cup of coffee.  He slumped over at the bar, hat tipped down obscuring his face, his back to the street in an effort to block out the world.

"Hey Sir, what can I get ya?" He stammered, face still red, as he tried to redeem himself from the spilt milk fiasco.  The customer was sparse with his words, like it was his dying breath and he didn't want to waste it.  "Coffee. Black."

As he turned to the urn, he heard the clatter of coins on the counter and the low-pitched scraping of stools on the linoleum as Scarlett and her partner stood up wordlessly. As she put on her coat he caught a sense of her weariness, and the partner's cold indifference.  He watched as he grabbed her by the arm and led her through the doorway and into the darkness.

As he pressed the Bakelite tap and the coffee cascaded into the cup, he comforted himself.  "Just one hour till close..."

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Nightwhore at the diner - perspective 1

She couldn't believe that she was here again, close to daylight, surrounded by strangers, including the straight-laced jock beside her. She gazed pensively at her chewed up nails like a hooker at the bar but without the comfort of a glass of Jack.  She didn't know how she got here, she rarely did.  Nights like this normally ended up with some half-limp dick trying to prove he was the world's greatest fuck.  They rarely were. Instead, like life, they left her unsatisfied and looking around for more.  

The fluorescent light echoed around the room, bouncing off every flaw in the goddam place - she mustered up the effort to wonder what the lights were doing to her complexion. She sat for a moment, watching the promise of the waiter, his white coat masking his clumsiness as he wiped up the spilt milk.  The jock beside her was rigid and stiff, balding head covered by a nasty hat, probably thinking of his wife. She could hear it now, it was pathetic, his mind clogging up with ethics and righteousness while his dick grew hard at the thought of teaching her a lesson once they finished their drink.  

She had the sudden thought she could finish it now, run out into the street and away from this non-existence.  But the dark night held no promise of redemption, no brightly lit cab to take her away, only shadows, cold and pervasive risk.  Cold and dark outside, cold and stark inside.  She felt transient in her own life, a charade.  The jock gave her a nudge and flung some coins on the counter wordlessly.  As she got up to put on her coat she felt a sudden, fleeting bout of nausea and disgust.  

By the time he lead her to the doorway that bridged the light and dark, she felt nothing.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Probably too much information...

**Warning - upon reflection this story may actually be quite disturbing and a little too revealing.  Before you read on, I want to assure you that there was no lasting psychological damage.  Little kids do odd things. Sometimes there is no acceptable adult explanation.  Okay?

Let the story begin...

When I was a kid I was in love with Fraser McPherson (not real name) from across the road.  And, I am sure, in his own way Fraser loved me too.  I was five, and he was six - the dashing older man.  We went to the same school.  Our parents weren't friends, in fact, as far as I recall, we weren't really allowed to play together.

But you see, I loved Fraser, and Fraser loved my feet.  Yep, that's right. To be precise, he loved to smell my feet.  We would huddle furtively under a blanket - ostensibly playing cubbies, and after a quick reconnaissance of the out-of-blanket world,  he would smell my five-year-old feet. But it didn't stop there.  He smelt my feet out the back near the woodpile.  He smelt them in the shelter of the freshly built garage. It became a regular rendevous.  I would wait out the back in nervous anticipation until twilight, disregarding my mum's call to dinner, in the hope that Fraser would give the secret knock on the back fence.  Then there would be the secretive glancing around, before the shoes got whisked off, and Fraser copped a noseful. 

I had no idea then of why this was naughty, but even at five I knew there was something a bit wrong about it - I still remember how I felt nearly 40 years later, and how hard I tried to hide this secret child's business from my parents.  But now, as an adult I realise that it was incredibly disturbing and weird, and that Fraser must have had something a bit skewiff in the upstairs department.  Not least because my feet have always been large and ugly, so ugly that my husband has nicknamed one of my toes "E.T." So ugly that the closest I get to having my toes sucked is to gaze at pictures of Sarah Ferguson reclining langourously on a sun bed, her toes in the mouth of her soft-bellied lover.  But also because, much to my life-long embarrassment, my feet have always been smellier than Vieux Boulogne, a French cheese described as having "an aroma of six-week-old earwax" and emitting "a pleasant eau de farmyard, replete with dung and Barbour jackets."  It seems that Fraser loved a bit of toe cheese straight after his breakfast toast.

How does one get to have a foot fetish at 6?  Almost as disturbing is the question of why I lined up for this experience.  It did tickle, and I remember finding it quite funny, but, in the way of memories, the exact reason I participated is lost to me now.  We moved from that address not long after.  I remember being heartbroken, but in hindsight it was very, very much for the best.  What would have happened if we had stayed?  What kind of a person did Fraser grow up to be?  Curious, I did a quick google search on his name - but to no avail.  Perhaps Fraser became a horse farrier, or a shoe maker, a podiatrist, or even a serial killer. Or maybe, he became a specialised purveyor of stinky cheese.  I don't know, but it's interesting and kind of scary to speculate.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Memories lain...

We stack our memories. Layer upon layer they wait patiently to be unpeeled when we feel like wandering through memories lain.  But even though they are archived, seemingly safely tucked away, their essence slowly bleaches out like sun-worn timber. Only the strongest grains remain, braille touched with life-worn fingertips of memory.  The emotions, the smells, the visions flash up unsynchronised - lips move with no sound, disembodied emotions, sounds heard but no vision, smells.

Today's memories are new, raw, thick and emotionally charged in the storm of their making, unwittingly waiting to be compressed and subdued by memories to come. But the older ones are refurbished, gaps refilled, turned over and recast in the wellspring of our minds.  What do we keep and what gets discarded?  What does it mean to say "I remember"?


These could be my favourite childhood memories, but, in truth I can't be sure:

Sunday morning radio stories on crackly airwaves - Watership Down and Spike Milligan, Walt Disney World. Sunday board games day.  Being bathed, soapy warm and clothed in night's armour - pyjamaed before darkness made its dusk charge.  Heidi and Lassie and Skippy.  Solving the mysteries of haunted castles with the Famous Five, curled up legs on long car drives in the days when you thought there was nothing special about scenery.  Boats, trains and automobiles, tunnels and mountainous road trips through pine plantations. Competing to see whose lolly lasted longest, resisting the urge to crunch.  I spy. Home baked biscuits and cakes, rich chocolate tentacles wafting through the air and learning how to cook.

Walking home from school, misty breath through baby teeth and lips, gumboots crunching through the frost covered grass, a blanket of freckles no protection for a nose in weather so cold that it burned.  Frowny concentration searching for four leaf clovers, the perfect leaf, the deepest puddle, the cracks. Cold fingers wrapped around warm mugs of chocolate, breath blowing away the steam.  Musky lambswool and log fires.  Wallpaper.


Friday, September 10, 2010

A thank you letter to my invisible friend

Dear Murphy, my invisible friend.

For some years now you have been my constant companion, through thick and thin.  It was lovely that you were there on the day I was born, conspiring with mother nature to create the most memorable birth date for me.  For over 40 years I have never been able to live it down, and been forced to laugh at its 'aptness' through gritted teeth,  reminded annually of my clumsiness and shortcomings.  I'm in therapy now. Thanks for that.

You were there with me on another of the most important days in my life: when I arrived at the police academy for my first day of training - late.  And not only that, you made sure that the sun was shining as I walked past the 300 men sitting inside the hall with glass windows - shining brightly, very brightly -  right through my white skirt. I appreciate that you might have thought I was just like Princess Diana and wanted everyone to notice me, and, granted, heads did turn, but I would have liked to be remembered for something else.  Thanks for that.

You were there with me on my first solo self-driving  holiday when I was 19 and proudly heading up North in my shiny black and gold pin-striped Suzuki Mighty Boy.  Admittedly it was my idea to get the puppy, but thanks for ensuring he got loose while I was doing 100km on the highway. I appreciate that I survived my less-than-Mighty Boy flipping end to end ten times like a Matchbox car off a dodgy plastic race track.  After I grovelled and pleadingly flapped my blood-stained eyelashes at the hot, Adonis-like ambulance driver he reluctantly agreed to take the puppy as well, against strict policy.  Thanks for ensuring said puppy shat an unpuppylike amount of poo all over the back of the ambulance.  Yep. Thanks for that.

You were there with me when my now husband asked me to marry him, by the pond outside our house at sunset amongst the hum of the insects and the croaking of the frogs, but you weren't really on top of your game that day, were you?  We managed to thwart the diarrhea and vomiting you thoughtfully bestowed on us that very morning with a wonderful series of painful butt injections from our local GP.  You were off your game that night, but you made up for it at our wedding, ensuring drought breaking monsoonal rain just as the ceremony started, sending my make-up fleeing down my face and my curls flat, and our guests bolting for cover. Thanks for that.

And I especially thank you for making sure that the mid-wife we had for the birth of our son was the wife of the milkman that my husband had accidentally run over with his concrete truck just a few months earlier.  We both know it was only his pride that was injured.  Still, I am sure you thought it would be a great opportunity for me to learn, and remember for eternity, the joys of a natural, epidural free child birth.  I did.  Oh, yes.  I did. Thanks for that.

Then there were the character building times you made sure that my pants ripped right down the butt when I was going in the door to my uni class, the time that I got stranded in China broke - at the most expensive time of year, the constant breakdown of vital electrical equipment at the time I need it most,  and the numerous occasions when I had the wrong notes for the right presentation, or the right notes for the wrong presentation.  And most particularly your help in ensuring I arrived late to an important meeting at one of the most secure military establishments in the world all flustered, sweaty, shaky and stressed, just days after the terrorist-threat was elevated, when trigger fingers on the AK47s were at their most tense and tenuous - I especially loved the angry Pakistani taxi-driver touch. Thanks for all of those.

But the piece-de-resistance, the crowning achievement of your life's work has been done.  I really appreciate waking up and finding a five figure sum miraculously in my bank account at a time when we are the poorest we have ever been.  I do, and I don't mean to sound ungrateful.  I really don't. I've been able to dream dreams about actually buying shoes that I can a: walk in and b: aren't thongs, and c: aren't made creatively from newspaper.

I've been salivating about buying another set of sheets to complement our one, threadbare pair.  About buying a bed that doesn't contain 18 years of bodily detritus and more lumps than a home-made custard made when you can't find the whisk after a few too many wines.  About actually buying a car that opens through the drivers side, instead of my current machine - you know it well Murphy - the one that got broken into after I charitably lent it to my son?  The one that now requires me to glance furtively around to make sure no one is watching me as I morph into some kind of stretchy super-hero, going through the back door, folding down the front seat and streeetcching to open the latch in an inhuman origami-like display of contortion, before flinging the door open with a triumphal and primal scream (only to have it slam shut and needing to do the whole process again)?  Ah! You remember now.  Thanks for that.

But, trust you Murphy, you teasing, spiteful pain in the arse, to make said five-figure sum, not a lotto win, not some much deserved backpay, but a payroll error.  A payroll error that we have to pay back, plus the portion that we didn't actually get, like tax paid and superannuation.  Thanks. For. That.

You have been a naughty boy and a dream-snatcher ... and I want you to kick you in your invisible nuts until your vans deferens dangle out your nostrils like quivering, gelatinous tapeworms and your eyes bulge larger than a 90 year old widow checking out Tony Abbott's budgie.

Your life's work is done.  Thanks for nothing.  Now bugger off.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Is it just me?

I was going through iphoto to look for a profile picture for the blog and realised that, even though there are hundreds of photos of my children, my husband, our camp sites, our cars, our boat, our extended families and random animals, there are hardly any photos of me.  And, the few that exist normally consist of me pulling all kinds of ridiculous faces.  

I got to wondering (out of idle curiosity only) what photos would be put up of me at a funeral...

Would it be this one - taken about 8 years ago?

Or maybe this one - taken four or five years ago when I was trying to cheer up a far-away friend?

Or this recent delight?  They just get better with age...

My eldest young man, who has some photographic talent, was supposed to take some nice family photos on our last Christmas away, but after a huge tantrum quit the family holiday in a Hilton-esque style huff.  Consequently I took some great photos of my husband, and our two other young men, recumbent on rocks by the sea, all windswept hair and trendy clothes.  In black and white, or colour, they look amazing, if I do say so myself.  

Afterwards the three of them scampered off to beer and pool respectively without thinking to take one photograph of me.  The result?  An impressive self-portrait of unfairness and self-pity, entitled "Of misery, pink swollen eyes, dripping nose (complete with nasal hair), worried frown, double chin and other assorted wrinkles."