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.