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."


Friday, July 9, 2010

Do you really learn something new every day?

Well do you?  I don't know if I do normally or not.  I mean - I should! I am writing a PhD which is supposed to be about learning something new everyday. But this week it struck me that I had encountered a particularly steep learning curve.  Here's a sample:

Sunday:  I learned that I am unlikely to win a mother-of-the-year award if I cry when told my 19 year old son is moving back home after his all-to-short experience of living out.  I also learned that paternal instincts can be stronger than maternal instincts from time-to-time.  And I rediscovered that apologising and being forgiven feels good.  I learned more on Sunday than I did in the whole of grade 5.

Monday:  I learned that putting the toaster dial on two means that the sensitive, new-age, over-achieving smoke alarm will not be activated.  The downside is that you can't call the end-product 'toast'.

Tuesday: I learned that having the capacity to repay a car loan doesn't mean that you will be granted one, and that, when you are middle-aged, having some young, fresh-faced poppet who has never experienced the pit-falls in life powerfully decline your loan application is somehow twice as humiliating.

Wednesday: I learned that even in the protected and politically correct halls of academia, the word 'equity' doesn't hold a great deal of weight.  I  learned that helping yourself is the only real and logical option.  I also learned how much I want to finish my PhD and that I actually do want to be an academic despite learning the first lesson.

Thursday:  I learned that you can freeze raw pumpkin.  Who would have thought?

Friday:  I learned that when I finally get my car back from my son (who being a fresh-faced poppet finds himself being offered car loans left, right and centre) I will have to drive it with a broken quarter-glass, two busted up locks, a floppy door handle, a sheen of impossible-to-wash-off fingerprinting dust and a partridge in a pear tree.   I am thinking about getting a scraggy looking tattoo (something spelled incorrectly would be perfect), dying my hair black, taking up smoking and cursing at strangers so that I blend in with my bogan-mobile.

Excellent work.  Can't wait for next week's lessons.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

The cankle/knankle/thankle fiasco of 2010.

Have you ever had days that you won't forget - or met people that burn themselves into your brain like a hot scalpel during a full-frontal lobotomy?

I'll never forget last Friday.  It was the day that I bought my new running shoes.

I had gone to the sports store by myself, full of inspiration and cashed up with my birthday money (yes, I still get birthday money at the ripe old age of 40 something - I like to think of it as being paid compensation for my unfortunate birth date).

I purchased a new pair of sports shoes for an exorbitant sum.

The guy that served me was almost young enough to be my youngest son.  I don't know what flashed through his mind when he realised he had to serve me ... but thankfully he had been taught manners enough to repress his horror and/or screams of mirth and/or gagging as he gazed upon my resplendent knankles - (for those of you not familiar with this term - think cankles but extend the swollen jelly-look from the knee down) and/or imagined me lumbering along the road - all cellulite wobbles in running shorts, gasping desperately for breath like some ischemic, anemic, emphysemic basket case that had just escaped from an asylum.

But I regress.

They were nice enough shoes - but (be warned ladies getting on in age and considering buying the middle-aged man's equivalent to a red sports car) by the time the afternoon came by and I tried on said shoes with the intention of going for a short jog, my legs may or may not have been swollen a little, to the point where the shoes, which seemed so perfect in my haste to get away from the child's gaze before I scarred him for life, rubbed irreconcilably on said cankle/knankles.

I went to exchange them.  On my return to the store with my friends, both accomplished runners, we were served by a middle-aged lady, I like to think slightly older than myself, who, somewhat thankfully rated marginally higher on the unofficial comparative cankle/knankle score.  "Ah," I thought, "someone who will understand, a fellow 'blister sister'".   I stood by - expecting the empathy that comes with membership in the 'suffering woman club' to which those of us trying vainly to lose weight, defeat gravity, and maintain our youthful looks as we try to convince ourselves that 50 is the 'new 20', subscribe.

How wrong I was.

She started off nicely enough - a bit of banter, and light heartedness.  But after passing me the 3rd pair of shoes she began to turn into a shop assistant extra from The Exorcist.

"I have to stay here until 5pm this afternoon - I think I will go out the back and hang myself."

Huh? Did I really hear that?  I did push a bit of wax into my ear today when I was cleaning it...

After flinging the fifth pair in my general direction:

"We don't have many shoes in your particular size of large"

Really?   Did she just ....?   Maybe I should consider booking myself in for a hearing test...

And then, the clincher , exactly at pair number 8, as she pointed to my 33 year old male friend who had been providing me advice:


Is this your son?  Are you kidding me?  Am I deaf and mad?

"Well," I retorted in my loudest, angriest, scariest outside voice, "I don't know how things are done where you were bought up, but in my safe little neck of the woods, we didn't start having sex at 10 years old - most assuredly not.  Where do you get off you cankley old cow?"  I gathered my stuff up, all huffy puffy, and with a final flick of my comparatively well-turned ankles, stormed over to the manager who  forced her to apologise profusely, before loudly and publicly sacking her and giving me a year's supply of free products from the store - "Not that you need them love.  With those exquisite ankles you must work out three times a day," he said.


Okay, so that last paragraph may have been slightly exaggerated/over-emphasised/thought about in the car afterwards/complete fantasy...

The true version is that I sat there stunned, tears welling in my eyes, any last vestige of confidence flayed from my ego, shocked and embarrassed in front of said friends, picked up my belongings and fled the store like a semi-spineless amoeba that only had enough vertebrae to form a tail between its legs.  I spent the next week annoying all my friends, workmates, acquaintances, even random people walking innocently down the street with the question "Do I really look old enough to have a 33 year old son? Really?"

I wasn't completely spineless. I did get a refund from that store - to which I will never return again- and eventually went to another store.

But I will not forget that woman.  I'm not one for revenge, but every time I run from now on and I need angry motivation I will close my eyes and recall her wrinkly face and humongous thankles - yes, that's right, thigh-ankles - thankles.

Her memory is indelibly inked in my brain, next to the apologetic 15 year-old who will hopefully have triplets one day after asking me when I was nine months pregnant if I could fit in a booth seat at a local restaurant, and the perky 20 something who congratulated me for being six months pregnant at a christmas function just a year ago.  I was old enough to be her mother.

Anyway, I'm off for a long, long run before searching the internet for some youth-rejuvenating products/reputable surgeons.

Friday, March 12, 2010

On small good things...

I have been reading about death and destruction all day, of the murderous and depraved ways that man can kill and injure fellow human beings.  Stories of laser and directed energy weapons that should, in any sane world, have stayed permanently between the pages of a science fiction novel.  Of weapons that make no noise, of which there is no awareness until the moment that the victim starts to fry, viscera evaporated, an ash shadow of their former selves.  Man-made anti-humanity.

It angers me that according to the 'officials' there are no victims in this game  - no mothers, fathers, daughters or sons.  No lovers.  Just vague, valueless references to 'collateral damage' or 'targets' in far-away countries like Afghanistan or Iraq.  Erasing the essence of humanity. 

According to this skewed version of reality there are only dichotomies and difference.  Good vs evil. Us vs them. Different landscapes, political, cultural and ideological differences. Places where it's okay to torture and to test new ways to kill.  Places where lives just aren't as important, unless those lost are our Anglophone 'brothers and sisters', which are tallied up and reported nightly on our news.  You know the stories... "Two Australians were killed in Iraq today" ... not daring to put any  faces to the statistics, and not daring to give any statistics that aren't 'ours'. Not reporting the misery.  Best left unsaid. Leave unsaid the way the targets are killed, because the means are unspeakable. Let's just talk about 'successful missions' and victory.

But I want to tell you.  Because the victim's relatives still have voices. They have been found for us, if we look, if we don't just lazily rely on spoon fed media images, distorting reality to sell news and politics and other shit.   We can see them for ourselves,  crowding in hospitals,  cradling the ones that are managing to live but may yet have no life; fathers, mothers, sons and daughters, bandages, blood and missing limbs, peering into wavering video cameras eager to tell their stories while they have a chance in the hope that someone, somewhere will repeat their story. Trusting that someone will help to restore their humanity.  They are on the internet, mediated;  we are spared the fetid smells, the sticky feel of blood beneath our feet, the flies, spared the very worst.  We can only imagine how it feels, but it is there to see. If we look.

On these days I come home,  feeling sullied, dirty, disillusioned, angry. Eyes burning from tears that sneak down my face.  Guilty that I am not being a 'good scholar' - dispassionate and objective. Guilty that I am  trying to be that person.  A myriad of tormented emotions hosted in my mind, my humour in hibernation.  Disempowered.  Frustrated.   

On these days I need to look for small, good things.  To remind myself that they still exist. The way the ducks have created a maze in the neighbourhood pond as they wend their way through the weeds.  Scribbly gum bark. The smell of my small nephews as they burrow into me for a cuddle.  The intentness of my son as he focuses on his latest web device, all eyebrows, elbows and frown. The lingering taste of wine on my tongue.  My lover's guttural, enthusiastic roar as his team scores a try in the football.  My cat asleep, resting his chin gently on my knee. The smell of my neighbour's dinner wafting with the breeze through my window.  The cool, dry evening after weeks of rain.  The anticipation of sleep.

Small good things for which I am grateful.

But I still can't shake the sorrow. I can't do enough. If I can do anything at all.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Ode to Chicken Pie (With alarming video)

I am sick.  My throat burns.

In an attempt to make myself feel better I bought a pie when I went to the shopping centre this morning.

I haven't had a pie for about 2 years.  Yet, from far away, this one was calling me - the pastry on top looked light, buttery and crisp, and I could feel the warmth emanating from the pie warmer, urging me to embrace the delights with in.  I eschewed the plain, podgy old meat ones, glossed over the potato topped pie (or potatoe if you are Dan Quayle) with it's crunchy yet soft white whirls, and rejected the temptations of meat and mushroom.  This is because my favourite pie is chicken - plump pieces of juicy white meat floating in an alluring cream sauce...mmmm... perfect in sickness and in health.  I passed over my $3.90 eagerly - hell - I would have even paid $4.50 just to get me some of that.

I cradled it gently and lovingly in my arms while I maneuvered the trolley through the shopping centre, each step laden with anticipation of the first bite, while at the same time paralysed with the fear of dropping it before it and I could have our wicked way.  I started the car, speeding through the traffic, pie perched precariously on my lap. For a split second, I contemplated leaving the shopping in the car just to rush inside and take it, to have it - the first passionate, tongue tingling love bite - but I didn't, wanting to delay the pleasure...mmmm chicken pie...

I dutifully bought the groceries in, and sat down before I sized up the pie, caressing it and taking one last look at its delectible-ness before I enthusiastically bit in, thrusting my tongue deeply into its warm, moist core... and... despite my throat feeling like both Alien and a super spiny Predator had gone a round or two in it,  I couldn't but burst into song...

Ode to Chicken Pie (sung to the tune of O Christmas tree…)

Oh chicken pie!
oh chicken pie!
Your pastry crust deceived me!

You looked so sweet!
So full of meat!
But your pastry crust deceived me!

My mouth was leaking oh so much
My tongue was drooling for your touch
But now I feel sick after lunch because
Your pastry crust deceived me

Oh chicken pie oh chicken pie,
Much pleasure thou can’st give me
Oh chicken pie oh chicken pie,
Much pleasure thou can’st give me

But when your pastry doesn’t snap
and you’re full of
Meat shavings and some jello crap
Instead of having chunks of meat
My cat won’t even eat this treat

Oh chicken pie, oh chicken pie
Your pastry crust deceived me

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Love letter

"You will always be my Odessa, my goddess." he says, wrapping me in a bear hug.  I lean into it, revelling in his strength.  "And you will always be my Oggie, my gorgeous one."  Odie and Ogie, contemplating a life together, thinking we know, like fortune tellers, just how it will turn out.  We rest, sated, new lovers, mouthing words, lovers slang. "I love you", "I love you more." I  trace the words tenderly on his back with my fingertips, challenging him to guess what I am writing. He always knows.

Time was short then, there was never enough. There was never enough of each other.

Neither of us realised then where our paths would lead..things wouldn't be perfect but that our relationship would transcend hardships and challenges and still have something left.

If someone were to ask me the secret what would I say? Never go to bed angry?  Compromise? Forgive?  It is all those things and more. It's remembering how it was but appreciating how it has changed.  It's looking at the life you've created together,  beyond the surface, through all its faults and problems, but still thinking that you wouldn't do it differently.  It's having strength for each other, and still having strength for yourself.  It's about being annoyed and angry, but getting past it. It's seeing the imperfections in each other, the worst of each others nature, yet loving each other anyway. It's being able to still make each other laugh.

We're not twenty year olds any more, there are no flowery endearments, lovers slang replaced by the warmth and reliability of two people who know each other the way that no one else knows them.  We laugh about how things have turned out, how they used to be, and still make plans for the future. His fingers follow the marks on my stomach from bearing his children, the extra kilos, the scars from some injury or another.  His fingers and gaze wander up to my face. He doesn't see the marks, scars, lines from our journey through this life we have built, he has his own.  "I love you," he whispers.  "I love you more."

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

On men...and mammograms

I have to have a mammogram today.  Nothing serious thank goodness, just the last in a series of checkups for a lump that looks routine.

But it got me thinking about who invented these mongrel machines and how it came about.  And of course, having looked it up on Wikipedia the knowledge guru, they were men - Patrick and Jack.  They sound like  innocuous but manly names, like they would own hands that know how to caress, stimulate and tweak the more tender parts of a woman's anatomy.


How did they come up with the idea that a woman should stand there, half-naked, and have her tit squeezed until it becomes as thin as a home brand Belgian waffle that you buy in bulk from Coles?  Had they ever wondered to themselves how it might feel to have their testicles put through a laundry mangle?  Did they ever consider placing their nuts gently on a board, being blindfolded and then having someone smash them with a mallet while they made polite conversation about the amount of rain we have been having - and waited for an answer?  Now, just relax, it will only hurt for a second (mwahhahaha).

Or here's an idea - did they ask their wives?

Did they ask their wives if they preferred that all  mammogram operators be 20 something year old females, with perky breasts that have never been mammo'ed?  Did they ask if it would be a good idea if said perkies had repertoire of inane questions that they pull out when you are at your pancake flattest, in the belief that by involving you in mundane conversations you will retain your dignity and somehow misplace the fact you are half naked, deoderant-less, in agony, and $375 poorer?

I don't care about the freakin' rain love, or whether or not the price of cheese has gone up - all my focus is on  trying to stop my teeth clamping together as the skin on my face is gradually pulled down towards my belly button, and hoping that my mental will alone will stop my nipple popping off and splatting you in the eye.  Yes, bimbo, put your safety goggles on...mama's coming ta get ya.'s going blue...holy mother of God...

Stupid Patrick and Jack.

Please someone, invent mammograms for men.

On brackets

I never realised how many brackets I use when I write (until I looked at that last post).

The one where I consider having to grow up

I am almost 44 years old and it seems to be an appropriate time to be circumspect about my life and perhaps even (gulp!) grow up.

Yep - control your gasps of horror - I've been considering buying a twinset and a pearl necklace to match my veiny legs, whispery moustache and nefarious body hair (see previous post for the gory details).

"What bought this on?" I hear you ask (or I would, if I had any readers!).

Just a few short weeks ago I found myself in a theatre watching Avatar, (predictable story and characters, fantastic special effects, still worth seeing, 7/10) when I felt my face start to burn, like a cauldron of melted lead.  My chest and legs quickly followed suit. No amount of furious fanning could soothe my burning brow and my husband, much to his joy, found he could read his watch dial from the glow of light emanating from my sweating face.

Is. It. Possible?

I'm not like other women who reach a certain point in their life and bemoan the loss of their children and their femininty, a life where service to others and menstruation somehow validates womanhood.

Not me. I always thought I would vigorously and whole-heartedly embrace the newfound freedom that comes with 'being a certain age',  live wildly, finally guilt free and grasping adventures from where ever they may come.

Well, in reality the first part is true - begone false indicator of womanhood - I am ecstatic to finally see the end of these false idols.  But recently the 'certain age' thing has started to hit.

Firstly, there is something about getting older that renders you invisible to the other sex.  Not that I am actually interested - I am more than happily married - but some harmless ego-massaging when someone looks surreptitiously your way doesn't go astray once a year.  It just makes you feel a little bit more sparkly (my apologies to any rampant feminists out there).   It used to happen all the time, but lately, no matter how much I suck in my gut and stick out my boobs (both of which take a considerable amount of work these days!) I have no sly-peeking guy joy, despite feeling only twenty from the inside out - barring previously noted aches and pains! And, as an added bonus, I have to be careful just how much I suck my gut in - suck it in too much and my boobs fall off their carefully maintained ledge to dangle near my belly button.

And then there is the sad realisation that I am almost middle-aged (the 'almost' part is wishful thinking), still at university, have never had a career, and am broke.  Of course, all these things are related, but it doesn't make it any easier to deal with 26 week gaps between haircuts, one set of sheets, rotating through two pair of shoes and hoping that no one notices that you wear the same clothes out as you do to work because they are the only ones you have. I can't afford adventures - unless you count driving ferociously  like Stig when I am trying to get the young men to work/school on time.

As for living wildly - I had five glasses of wine on Friday night, accidentally took Quinine tablets instead of Nurofen, and was sick as a dog all Saturday - it wasn't even safe to burp.  And, even as I am sitting here typing the blog I have a bandage wrapped tightly around my calf to ease the throbbing of my varicose veins. It's so obvious that my body is 'maturing' (too freakin' fast) but my mind and wallet have yet to catch up.

And then there is the eternal goal of living 'guilt-free'. Ha!


Anyone got a bottle of red they want to share?  Does shopping for a twin-set while drunk count as growing up?

Thursday, January 21, 2010

On fighting...

We don't fight as often as we did in the new blush of love, when we thought we knew each other, but didn't really.  Or even in the middle of our lives together, when we were burdened with children, debt, and stress.  But occasionally still they come.

Normally I am the sulky and petulant one, the one that holds onto grudges.  I am loathe to let go of the hate and anger, clinging on to every last shred of it, eagerly trading my dignity and compassion for self-righteousness and indignation. Clenching it in my fist until the ache of it spreads through my entire body.

It's me that storms off in the car leaving a blackness of mood, squealing tyres and the acrid smell of burnt rubber assailing the air.

Tonight he was me.

I want to scream and shout and rant, to kick walls until the pressure is released from my brain.  I want to hurt and gouge and rally at the unfairness of it all.  I want to feel my fingers push into flesh and squeeze with all my might, my arms straining, my teeth clenching until I hurt him back.  My eyes feel like they will burst from my head, my neck will soon snap with the pressure, my tendons are strained, I am sweating and overheated, too angry to breathe I am breathless... LISTEN TO ME. JUST. LISTEN.

But he's gone.

He'll come back.  He'll skulk into the bedroom hoping I am asleep.  I will try to ignore his presence, the sound of his breathing will hang in the bed beside me, both tense and unsleeping.  Eventually the sweat will cool, my eyes will droop, the anger will be replaced with guilt while I fight my way into an exhausted sleep. I'll hang on to one last thread of anger, vowing not to touch him all night even with the most miniscule piece of skin, every nerve in my body knowing just where he will be found.

Tomorrow everything will be soothed over.  I will be him. The peacemaker.  Sorry that I yelled.  I was attacking the black dog, not you.  Sorry that I didn't have the patience to stop and understand why you didn't understand ... why you acted that way.  I didn't think before I reacted.  It's not you, it's the dog, it's the nervousness about things new.  I will be patient and compassionate. It will be okay. It will pass. And I'm sorry.

I will make it right. Tomorrow.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

On becoming famous...

Well...who would have thunk it.  Today I got an email from the "Who's Who in the World" series editor asking if I was interested in sending my bibliography to be considered for inclusion in their venerable anthology for 2011.

Naturally this cracked me up.

According to the email inclusion in Who's Who in the World offers...
  • "More than just a personal achievement; being honored in a Marquis Who's Who publication offers prospective business contacts an authoritative, full representation of your credentials and accomplishments.   
  • A historical archive of your achievements, recorded for generations to refer to time and again.
    Exclusive offers that are available only to members of the Marquis Who's Who family.
I congratulate you on the achievements that have brought your name to the attention of our editorial committee."

Well, first of all buddy, I don't have any achievements, unless you count surviving the raising of three teenagers (thus far) and one half-hearted journal article that may or may not have been read by anyone, and of course this prestigious blog of which there is only one follower!

It made me wonder how I had come to the attention of the crack 'editorial team' and what it takes to be asked, and I subsequently came up with my own, and I feel much more appropriate letter of solicitation.

Here it is for your reading pleasure:

Dear Generic House-wife of Brisbane,

Our highly trained, eagle-eyed editorial staff have spotted your name written in almost indecipherable cursive on the bottom of a shopping list, wedged under a baby-seat, perilously perched on a wonky shopping trolley at a Woolworths Grocery Store.  As such we have decided you are a "person-of-note" and would like to include your tell-all bibliography in our series "Whos-who in Woolies".

This year we have added a special category - the Black-Hole of Aisle 6.  Please, therefore, feel free to include all stories, parables, and other ethically sensible anecdotes and moral fables of your experiences in the aisle that contains glad wrap, personal lubricants, gardening shears and floss.

Your worthwhile stories will be judged on creative merit (truth is optional).  Your stories will give hope to thousands around the world (who may or may not purchase this anthology, and who may, or may not be able to read) that struggle to complete the maze of Aisle 6.

Naturally, your participation comes at no cost to you - except of course, your standing among your peers who may laugh and sneer at your conceit and vanity in applying to have your details included in this anthology, alongside various other note-worthy wankery types, such as Trev from Rangaville whose name we found on a note in a bottle of XXXX in a drain near Cronulla, Australia Day, 2005.

If you choose to enter your name please attach the following code to your entry:  IAMANEGOMANIAC

We look forward to culling your application from the pile of known and unknown wankers.

Stay tuned for some exclusive offers, including one year of unlimited spam from Nigerian Ponzi Scheme operators and possible cyber-attacks from someone in China trying to solve the mystery of Aisle 6.


Iman Editorand Yourenot