Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Lucky Last

Hi pals! The time has come to wrap up this blog and drive off into the sunset. Our time on the inlet has drawn to a close. The moving van is arriving 7 am (urgh) on Friday and we're heading to a different out of town location. Castlemaine will be our new home, and boy are we looking forward to it.

When I started this blog I intended it to be an exploration of a non-urban experience. I had visions of recipes and photography non-stop gardening and all the amazing hobbies I would undoubtedly take up. Here's some of what happened in the last two years:

So much driving. The last six months or so Tracey reminded me about audiobooks and that's been great. If I never see the Monash Freeway again it will be too soon. My butt agrees!

A realisation of what matters most to us as a couple. This has so many layers. We decided we wanted babies, we realised that the wanky city stuff is important to us because it's an expression of diversity. Oh, how we missed good coffee and independent cinema and music venues and a good cheap parma! To go to a place where we didn't stick out like dogs balls. Community was something we ached for. Around here people mostly keep to themselves and when they didn't we kind of wished they would... different values grating on us in ways we weren't expecting. Never in a million years did I think that a friendly person like me would be lonely down here. But oh my gawd, loneliness rained down in spades. How we wished for a friend who lived three minutes down the road that we could pop in for a cup of tea with. Someone it was easy with. But everything was so far away.

Mental health stuff. The death of two far-too-young friends at different points. Solace in solitude but loneliness too. A LOT of television. Not a lot of going outside (killer mozzies and the terrible allergic reactions sending my system into itchy rage year-round). The feeling of low ceilings bearing down on us and the walls of our tiny house closing in. Size does matter - we didn't know that before.

I don't mean this to be a litany of complaints - more an honest look without sugar coating. It's been amazing to be without the city traffic the majority of the time. To have a chicken coop and get to know our lovely chicken ladies, to know what it is to eat eggs from happy birds, and so much beautiful green all around, the smell of eucalyptus such a tonic. My favourite time here on the inlet is during storms - it's so beautiful looking out at all of those gums waving around in the wind.

I've experienced learning to ask for a place to lay my head when the drive back home was too much. The generosity of friends sharing their living space with me for a night or two. We've hosted visitors who loved the quiet and the trees, and we've wished our house was bigger so we could all be more comfortable. There was one night in particular when we found a packet of Turkish fairy floss in the pantry, playing cards listening to Jesus Christ Superstar on vinyl when things went a bit weird. The laughter turning sinister and strange with a life of its own, all of us feeling hungover the next day. Turkish fairy floss - never again!

One night I came home and Tracey had lined our driveway with candles, and when I walked through our front door our loungeroom was filled to the brim with flowers, candles, and the woman I love singing her marriage proposal accompanied by guitar that she'd practiced in secret for weeks. How my heart swelled bigger and more open than I ever thought it would, being known and loved by this beautiful lady.

A phonecall arrived one Friday afternoon telling me Dad was in the hospital following a heart attack, and I reversed out of the driveway and sat with him and held myself together until he recovered.

We fought and made up and sometimes pushed two couches together and huddled under the doona with our dogs when times were tough and we couldn't face the outside world.

All of our whitegoods gave up the ghost at one point or another, even the oven died. I'll miss you most of all, fancy new oven.

A few months ago this house saw me getting my hairs and makeups did and getting all dressed up. Friends and family gathered and we all piled into the car and I met Tracey at the lovely winery under the big pine tree and we got married. We came back here that night and sat up in bed removing bobby pins (a mountain) and makeup (another mountain) as we lay in the rose petals with Clem our mini schnauzer and read all of our cards and cried and smiled and laughed. We felt weird that Taj our photographer wasn't there with us and often do when important things are happening now.

Two months on and I'm still delighted each time I catch a glance of that gold ring on my left hand, everything it means and all the love poured into it.

All of it is tied to this house. This place and all that happened over the last two years. It's been a steep and amazing learning curve. On to the next adventure. A big warm house, with room for all of us. See you there?

Thursday, April 24, 2014


Yesterday arvo I was looking at the old facey (the social media not the one on my head) and felt great rage and that awful sinking feeling when I saw a picture of a man my friend posted. The rage didn't come from my man-hating lesbian status - I'm generally ok with anyone who isn't a jerk. This man had his face buried smarmily in the MX newspaper and was sitting in a spot reserved for people who need it. You know the kind, pregnant people, disabled people (or people with disabilities or however you're comfortable to read those words - I quite like the term crip, and refer to myself as such), elderly people. This lady I know is someone who needs one of these seats on a daily basis. That means usually having to ask people to move and all the feels that go along with that. Jerkface in the photo refused to give it up for her.

I know, right? What a tool!

The thing is this isn't an isolated incident. Happens quite a bit, to people with visible requirements (prosthetics, walking sticks, crutches). What a world.

I've been thinking about visibility a lot lately. A month or two ago my invisible crippledom turned a bit visible when I've required a walking stick to get around. It's all good - not a lasting symptom, although it's a pain the arse I should be ok soon, and I don't need it all the time, but when I do use my stick it's pretty amazing what happens.

Firstly, I turn into a wise elderly English gentleman with a pocketwatch, wearing a suit comprised entirely of houndstooth.

Just jokes - but really, initially I felt embarrassed. I'm so used to passing as just another person who yawns and sits a lot. If a friend was ashamed of me or anyone else for being criptastic, I would drop that friend like a hot spud - and how. As an aside - how ridiculous to drop a delicious hot potato. Put that sucker on a plate and eat it!

So I got over my misplaced ego attack, and using the stick in public resulted in things happening that have never happened to me before. Got on a plane using the lift, instead of struggling up the stairs and feeling like crap for days. Got moved to the front of the queue, less waiting on my feet. Went to the comedy festival and a lady walked with me to show me where the lift was at Bella Union, accompanied me to the room the gig was in, and made sure I had an aisle seat.

None of this was done in a patronising manner. It was all just friendly and nice and helpful. I turned up, whoever was in charge of herding people clocked a brief look at my walking stick and made good shit happen. This may be controversial, but I liked the help I received. Oh my lawd, just a bit of assistance makes such a mega difference sometimes. The lack of waiting on my feet, and walking up flights of stairs, and carrying heavy stuff means I get to enjoy the next hour or two instead of starting to recover from those simple things that create such complex issues. It was assistance with dignity, and that made all the difference. I didn't have to seek it out and get worked up thinking about the rejection that could occur.

Doing a bit of navel gazing about this leads me to believe that I'm a bit tuckered out from nigh on ten years of the crip. I've never asked anyone to give up their seat for me on the train. Nor have I been at the front of the queue for the plane before. Just how I would navigate those things happening on a regular basis sans walking stick is beyond me.

Thinking of my friend on the train, it's a gutsy move to ask someone to vacate their seat for you. They definitely should - but I wonder how many people consider what it's taken that person to ask. I still get very emotional, and it takes me by surprise, when I'm in the position of needing to explain myself to people. Is it shame? If so, it's misplaced. But it's there nonetheless. My friend on the train? After the man refused to give up his seat, she cried. And stood, in pain after a shit day with a shit end. I hope he saw her tears and felt ashamed of himself.

Over the years I've formed the opinion that there's nothing wrong with a public cry. If I'm sad, and my face squirts water from my eyes as a sign of this, then it's not a problem. I actually love it when people cry when they're talking to me about real stuff. My bestie Cat cries ALL the time. I love it! I don't want people to feel bad, but if they ARE feeling bad, I'd prefer their face explodes with tears than to hold it all in and feel worse for longer. You dig?

Recently Tracey and I did one of the most visible things you can do. We got hitched. We did it our way, with recognisable elements of a celebrant and a winery and a brilliant band and a great big crowd of friends and family and a photographer and a videographer. I think I need to write a post just about that, with mega plugs for all the amazing people who helped us to get it all happening. Hot dog, what a great day! It was like love Christmas.

By all accounts everyone had a really great time, and the love in the air was palpable. It's quite amazing to be smack bang in the middle of a love tornado - everyone's there to celebrate and acknowledge your relationship. It's pretty spesh.

Anyway, this somehow links back to the point which is visibility. I'm not sure how to say this so blurting it is probably best. But before I do - please know that I'm not saying this as a request for argument with my thoughts. Feel free to say and think what you like, but this is not a cry for "tell me I'm pretty" messages. It's painful to be honest sometimes, but adding light to dark thoughts often changes them.

There have been very few times in my life where I felt like I looked good, but on the day that Tracey and I got married, I felt beautiful. I was so happy. We both had the dresses of our dreams made by a very nice lady, the place was dripping with colourful flowers, and I had the biggest, gooniest smile on my mug the entire day. It was ace fun.

I grew up believing that I was the only ugly person in my primary school, and then my high school. I thought it was a secret that everyone knew but nobody talked about. So I just wanted to say, it gets better. Even now when I look at the photos that I'm in the first thing I see are my imperfections and faults, but I remember the feeling of being beautiful for that whole day. Tracey encouraged me to remember that feeling when I look at our wedding photos, and I can do that when I try.

This is what I look like in my dressing gown and jammies, with my wedding hair and makeup done, when I'm holding my chicken. 

Here I am all dressed up with Clem in his tux. We didn't bring our menagerie to the wedding, just dressed up the boys at home for photos like this.

What I'm trying to say, is that it's ok to feel beautiful even if the conventional world or your own nasty self-talk are not necessarily in agreement with you. It's great to go all out and be seen being proud of yourself and expressing love for your partner and your family and your friends (and your chicken).

If the parts of you that hurt are invisible, you're worth it enough to speak of them and as a result, move around in life a bit easier. And if the parts of you that hurt are visible and the guy on the train is an asshole and won't offer you a seat when you need one, he has every reason in the world to feel shame - and even though you have none, let that misplaced shame out through exploding water face and hopefully some of it will land on him.

All photos in this post were taken by the astoundingly talented Tajette O'Halloran.

Monday, December 9, 2013

Season of Giving

Holy moly folks, we're two weeks out from December 25. I've got most of my gift shopping done, how about you? Like so many people I have just about everything I need - as do a lot of my friends and family. There's a lot of traffic online this time of year about gifts. Our in boxes and news feeds are chock full of bargains if you buy NOW NOW NOW - and there are countless opinion pieces about where your holiday dollars should end up.

This is not one of those. I think you can do what you like with your money, but I'd like to share what I do each year.

I think carefully about the kids in my life and what meaning my gifts will have for them. Overwhelm them with piles of plastic crap and they won't remember anything, but just the right thoughtful things can give them joy. When kids get the gimmes, it's unpleasant for everyone - including them.

I like to make a donation. I'm not flush with cash, but I budget a bit each year to donate at Christmas time. It's a perspective thing - I have a roof over my head, I'm free from persecution, I'm relatively healthy and so is my family. Others are not as lucky as me so it's not a big deal to go without avocado or berries for a few weeks to top up the amount.

How to choose?

The good news is, you can't go wrong if your heart's in the right place.

Sarah Wilson often comes up with worthy causes, and with a following like hers she's in a great position to make a difference. I think that's ace. Last year I donated to one of the causes she listed, and also to the ASRC.

My folks have told me that they have absolutely everything they need, so they like to receive a card but not any gifts - so I make a donation in their name. 

Here they are, proving that everyone in our family pulls a very weird face whenever a camera points in our general direction.

This year there are so many causes that spring to mind I thought I'd compile a top ten (in no particular order) handy list with links and information, in case you're stuck for ideas. Every little bit helps - so even if you're like me and can't afford to give much, giving something is worth taking the time to do. Tell your friends and family - they might appreciate the idea, and then they don't have to spend any time at Myer or Chadstone and be trampled or elbowed or go cray trying to find a park.

Love Your Sister leaves me in a blubbering mess whenever it comes on the telly. I love what Sam is doing for his sister Connie, and the difference it's making in spreading awareness about early detection of breast cancer. Check your boobs! If you don't have any boobs, check your partner's boobs! (If they say it's ok).The donation button is on the front page of the website. Sam must have a very sore bottom after riding so many km's around the country on a unicycle. Think of your bottom, think of boobs. Donate.

Bowel Cancer Australia is a cause very close to my heart. I lost a friend who was 30 years old just before Easter this year to cancer. I miss Rel every day, and just like breast cancer, early detection is a big factor in survival rates from bowel cancer. If there's something up with your butt, or your poop, or your energy levels in general - get a check up and if your doctor isn't caring enough about what's going on, get a second opinion. Rel went to a doctor about six months before her diagnosis complaining of stomach pains and very low energy, her test results came back with low liver function, but the doctor didn't recommend any further investigation. By the time they caught it, she was stage four (there is no stage five). If something is wrong, get tested. There's test kits available on the Bowel Cancer Australia website, as well a a big donate sign on the front page. Other places that I'd like to suggest in memory of Rel are The Gawler Foundation who provide amazing support and wellness retreats for people with cancer, multiple sclerosis and other serious illness, and the Make A Wish Foundation who make dreams come true for young people who have terminal illness. When your time is running low and there's been a lot of investment in medical costs, there often isn't a lot left over for fun and bucket list items. Both of these foundations made a big difference in the last few years for Rel. See her blog for more info about her journey.

PBS is your local friendly community radio station - if you like supporting purveyors of fine tunes by underrepresented creative types, you can show your love through purchasing a membership or just making a donation. A PBS membership is also a really good Christmas present for any freeloader PBS listener you know - start them off in the right direction for a year and they may keep subscribing. Yay music! Yay Melbourne!

It's 2013, and there's still a crapload of discrimation and shizz going on for queer folks. The good news is that the next generation are starting to show us old fuddy-duddies how its done. Minus18 is a brilliant organisation based in Melbourne who do all sorts of things - run underage dance parties for queer kids, questioning kids, and their friends. They're backed by Victoria Police and do an absolutely brilliant job. A safe space to explore who you are is essential for good self esteem, and Minus18 provide amazing services and online resources like this one. You can donate to Minus18 here. Why is this important? Because suicide rates are still high amongst GLBTIQ young people, and anything that cuts through isolation and reaches out is literally a life saver.

The Royal Children's Hospital is fricken amazing. My niece was airlifted there from Mildura last month after coming off her horse and knocking her head quite badly. The care and facilities there are absolutely world class - all of the staff I encountered were respectful of Sarah as a human and never spoke down to her, something that doesn't always happen with children. She spent a couple of days in the ICU and now she's right as rain. What initially could have been a severe brain injury with lifelong impact was healed and I will be forever grateful to the RCH for their amazing work.  I know they have a big appeal in April, but why not chuck em a bit of love in December and shake things up a bit? Their donate button is at the bottom of their home page.

Dudes. What the actual Uck is going on with the treatment of asylum seekers in this country? If you have rage about this and also a heart, donate to the Asylum Seekers Resource Centre. They do very good things for new arrivals, like not sticking them in concentration camps, or sending them home where their ethnic minority is in constant danger of hate crimes and death. The ace things they do are outlined here. If you live near Melbourne and need a cleaner or some catering, contact the ASRC and they can help you out as well as providing an asylum seeker with employment. Yay! Seriously, I've used their catering for events before and it is yum town. It's a scientific fact that ethical catering taste 900% more delicious. The ASRC website's home page has a donate button.

The Lort Smith Animal Hospital do so many wonderful things. Located in North Melbourne, they provide budget vet care for people with a concession card who have pets. I adopted my cat Gingko from there nearly 14 years ago. We are pals - and she controls the remote in our house. Gingko says donate to the Lort Smith, or I will stare into your soul until you melt inside!

Equal Love is a good one to donate to if you think it's totally lame that Tony Abbott and a bunch of other jerks think my lady-loving relationship shouldn't be legally recognised in the same way as heterosexual relationships. Like Britney Spears and K-Fed, or Elizabeth Taylor and all of her husbands. I think we can all agree that Kanye and Kim will be 4 EVA though.

Anyhoo, Ali Hogg (convenor of Equal Love) works harder than anyone I know to try and get marriage equality happening in this country. You can donate to the cause through their home page.

That's all from me. I wish you a zenny Christmas and a safe and fulfilling new year.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Creative Cheerleaders


Before I start - I hope I haven't given you the wrong impression. This is not about the type of cheerleading portrayed in the film Bring It On. It's a great moviefilm. I myself have watched it many, many times.

Allow me to explain. A few months ago Tavi came to Melbourne to speak at a writer's festival, and her keynote speech was televised on the ABC's Big Ideas. I watched it on iView one fatigued afternoon and was amazed when she told me who I am.

A creative cheerleader. I've always felt creative but found it difficult to define what I create.

Earlier this year I met Mirka Mora at a lunch thing, who asked me if I was an artist. I said no, but I write some things. I felt uneasy about saying this - like it was fibbing. You can't fib to Mirka Mora! Anyway, then she looked up my skirt and we had a champagne, because that's what you do when you're with Mirka.

Having always loved music, I've played a few instruments and could interpret the heck out of things other people had already written when I was younger and my arms worked. Want to know the bassline or vocal harmonies of music I love? I can hum it off the cuff til the cows come home. I can cross stitch someone else's pattern with the best of them. Soft toys? Give me the cut outs and I'll sew them together with so much love you'll feel it bursting out of the seams. Don't even get me started on a mix tape.

Other people's creativity really melts my butter. I think if I wasn't able to stand on some kind of soapbox and yell "Hey you guys, look at this! Listen to this! This made me SO happy and I hope it makes you happy too!" then my life would hold a lot less meaning and fulfillment.

How lovely to come to a place where I understand part of my purpose ('part of' because the best is always yet to come). Thanks Tavi. So I whole-heartedly cheer for love, music, and various other things. It's a lovely life to lead, and to understand and own that it's a creative process in itself is pretty sweet.

As a side note of cheer, the shades of blue that Romy Sai Zunde use in her paintings make my belly go flip flop. Absolutely amazing.

When I write and conduct (but it feels more like a sincere kind of performance) weddings, I'm cheerleading for their relationship. Yo! Everyone here at the wedding - these people are in LOVE and that is ACE! Let's all  feel good about it - me and a bunch of other carefully chosen people will tell you the story of this couple for the next 10-15 minutes. Then we can all feel feelings together that will really give this a sense of occasion.

That wee snippet of time doesn't come easily or quickly, and so much energy goes in to creating the right feel and space for two souls to sign that mystical (and often legal) contract. Sure - it's creative, but it's paraphrasing what has already been said. My job as a celebrant is so much about listening and giving the couple the space and time to speak to, and from, each others hearts.

Tavi founded and writes for a marvelous website for teenage girls called Rookie. I've ordered a couple of the Rookie Yearbooks for my niece who is pretty shy, and has the most beautiful heart. I hope when she opens her Christmas presents this year, the pages crammed with words and images and amazing style inspire her and give her a world where she feels fizzy and bright*.

It's so energising to see the truth sometimes. I wonder about that - why it's so refreshing to see honesty in film, literature, music. It stands out. I guess my version of truth is very different to someone elses, and that's why I'm more into Neko Case than One Direction, but the other 32 year old woman living around the corner is hot for that boy band like a moth to a carefully constructed unkempt hairdo. Every day we're in these Venn diagrams - the things, experiences, thoughts I believe in and connect with intersect with yours, and that makes us feel a certain way when we're communicating.

Sometimes I feel so exhausted after having a short (but feels long) conversation with another human being I literally need to lie down and zone out for awhile to recalibrate. I've been trying to work out what that's about - what the common thread is. Why does it offend my nervous system so much if someone is outside the intersecting circle?

An example: we tried a couples pack delivery from a local fruit and veggie company. It came with eggs and milk we had no use for (the chickens provide more than enough for us and we drink soy) so Tracey and I offered it to a neighbour. We stood on her front step for an eternity as time marched on and so did her sentences. On and on and on about work, her children, how much she loves to talk, how other people are annoying. (Are they? Are they really?)

It was impossible to interject. Oh, how we tried. To level the playing field of conversation. To see if the neighbour had any interest whatsoever in anyone outside of the inner circle of her Venn diagram (herself). She did not. Tracey and I both have experience in workplace conflict resolution and I noticed us each attempting active listening, "I" statements, etc.  I wonder why it's so exhausting to be at the bum end of interest like that? It doesn't really matter in the grand scheme of things - perhaps it's disheartening to reach out and be met with a solid wall of need and take.

The last thing I want to do is be unkind and be hatin' on folks. What is dull and overly needy to me is undoubtedly fascinating to another. Just like some shoes don't fit my feet but look fab and feel comfortable on someone else. Do other people feel it in such a physical way or am I a bit freaky deaky? Who knows. (The irony of blogging about myself isn't lost on me either).

It's pretty great to know what makes me happy, so I can head in that direction and tip the balance toward more smiles and less blahs.

A couple of my favourite creative cheerleaders are Brandon Stanton (Humans of New York), and Michaela McGuire and Marieke Hardy (Women of Letters). How about you?

* Weirdly, I had to wrap the yearbooks before I looked through them properly because I found the experience too overwhelming. I also thought that maybe if I read it then all the magic would have been spent - and it was a gift for someone else.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

You know what really grinds my gears?

Hi there!

Long time no write. I've been treading water. Mopey, painful, miserable, wintry water. Sitting still a lot. Walking a little. Recovering a lot from little walks. Walking again. Trying my best.

I've managed to keep my 365Grateful shots posted daily since beginning over a month ago. It's a lovely ritual. Usually I take several photos every day, and reflect on all the things I'm grateful for just before I sleep (or try to sleep). You can take a look here if you like.

It's led to being present a lot more often. That can only be a good thing. Even being present with frustration (at lack of energy/strength/movement) and pain, really sinking into it can give it permission to go away sometimes. Ok, I've seen you, I acknowledge you, now please go away. Me time. Happy time. Peace and tranquility, and a giant packet of chips. Yeah! It works a treat sometimes.

Yesterday was unbelievably bad, as far as pain and frustration and just not accepting limitations - absolutely not willing to lower my expectations any further and all the rage that comes with that. So I felt the things and did all the stuff that usually helps, went to sleep miserable.

Today I woke up with energy and clarity and movement. Amazing! Thought it best to capture it when it happens so here I am.

It's really lovely to focus on things that are good, parts of your life and the world that you're grateful for. I'm pretty good at that in general (it may not sound like it in this post, but trust me). I'm not so good at allowing myself to express when I'm pissed off. So I started a list in my phone of things that annoy me, but are actually no big deal. It makes me laugh to read the list so I thought I'd share it with you.

Things That Annoy Me A Lot But Are Actually Not A Big Deal 
  • Hashtags on Facebook. #whenthey'resolongthatitakesamicroscopetodecipherwhatthehellisthepointjustshutup
  • The sign at the 7 11 advertising hot chocolate, spelled "Hot Chockee"
  • Every time I go to the post office to pick up a parcel, they ask me for ID. Every time they say "but this isn't the address" and I say "turn it over". I live in the worlds smallest town. Come on. 
  • Misuse of their/there/they're. See also your/you're. This creates huge balls of fury in my gut. 
  • Attempting to stream a television show on the Channel 10 website, being interrupted by the same ad three times in a row, and halfway through the episode it gets stuck and you can't see the end. 
  • People asking you things they can Google, which leads you to Google it for them. How about this? How about in the time it took you to ask me something, you look it up for yourself? Man!
  • When people say "badge" but they mean "brooch". A badge is a flat round disc, attached to your shirt with a safety pin. A brooch is a whole other thing. Calling a brooch a badge makes it sound cheap, nasty, and like it's twenty cents from the local primary school fete. 
  • Don't even get me started on public transport users.
End rant. It's good to laugh again!

Tuesday, June 4, 2013


You gotta love hopping on board someone else's applecart - thanks Romy for blogging about 365grateful this morning. I'm in.

Here's why. As winter rolls in it becomes easier to stick my head under the pillow, give in and sit in my aches. Some awful muscle memory kicked in this past Saturday and my muscles and connective tissue and mind all recalled that cold feeling. Heavy limbs drag down my heart and the black dog curls up inside my head, and it feels like there's nothing I can do. Last year was a doozy - days on end (or was it months?) spent crying and spinning around the endless litany of "you're a dickhead/fool/loser/idiot" with the cruelest parts of my internal monologue hissing at me, quietly, but louder than anything else I could muster. Crying into the sink as I washed dishes. Urgh! Fuhgeddaboutit.

I'd like very much to not disappear into that again, this year. I think my partner would wish the same for me and for us. All of us are different, but I identified with some of the feelings in this article and this one. It's a shitty, shitty illness. Mine came about after about six years of chronic pain wearing me down. That pain is quite a lot worse in winter (think Tin Man from the Wizard of Oz pre-oil can), and my body remembers that, and despair sets in. Melancholia. Whatever word you want to give it, it bites the big one.

What we are, we attract.  What we think, we attract. Saturday meshed into Sunday, and Sunday into Monday. I made french toast with cinnamon and maple syrup - Tracey prefers hers savory, and I forgot (there are no spaces for memories), and it was like a punch in the guts. I went back to bed. So much time in bed. Heavy and sad and lost, head pounding. I got up for work, went through the motions talking to the invisible people at the other side of what I was doing and got stuck in a traffic jam on the way home. Feeling intense anxiety and sadness for whoever was in the accident that slowed down our lives a little, picturing them in the ambulance, seeing their family in my mind hearing the news that someone had happened to the person they loved. It all seems like too much.

That night I got a fantastic nights sleep, and woke up completely different on Tuesday morning. Interested and productive and mobile. Today I'm grateful for that shift. Yesterday it was like I'd dodged a bullet, I was absolutely delighted in my own different perspective and lighter outlook. Hold on to it, please.

It's energising, feeling grateful. The majority of the time I can articulate what it is that I'm lucky to have, be, think and feel in my life. Sometimes a fog rolls in and it's tricky to see what's what. Maybe this will help.

"In early 2008, in an effort to fight depression, Hailey started a year long photographic project which involved taking one Polaroid photo a day of something she felt grateful for. Initially this was a chore but eventually it became a delight."

This is part of the view from my desk, and it's something I'm so grateful for. That enourmous gumtree in our front yard is 80% of the reason we moved to this house. So lovely in every season, smells amazing in the rain and flowers in the spring. I love being surrounded by so much green, and the smell of eucalyptus lets me know I'm home.

So that's day 1. Will you join me? 

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Lovely sleeplessness - part two of Losing A Friend

It's 11:47 and it's been bucketing down for a good hour, that lovely blankety feeling mixed with the slightly buzzy awakeness of the 19th hour of being awake. The peak after the dip.

It's delicious, this quiet house feeling. This is the time when things get done that can't possibly happen when there's washing to be done, dishes to put away, mail to sort, chickens to feed, fire to stoke, kitty litter to change (finally). This time - slightly mad, a bit itchy and everything feeling so sneaky - is when the best things happen.

I quietly fire up iTunes and at last I can hear this tune that's been swinging around in my head for days. Gently as she goes, my favourite parts are 'shiny shiny sky' and the oohoohoohs after ..'there's a window there'. I listen to music all the live long day, but moments to pass time enjoying something just for fun and to satisfy a want often fall short of getting everything done. This banjo! It seems to match my calmed heartbeat. Gorgeous. I've been waiting for yonks to have some time with those oohoohoohs.

So I've been meaning to write an update to this post. Yesterday it was two months (not exactly to the day) since Rel passed away, and I wanted to check in. How are you doing? Leave a comment, I'd really like to know.

I say two months because it was a Tuesday when I found out. I had just got my hair cut, I'd had acupuncture earlier that day, and I'd stayed in town on Monday night on a friends couch so I could do my city slicker appointments. I had talked with Sam my hairdresser about Rel because we both knew her. I told her she wasn't very well, worse than she had been before. We were worried. Then I got the call about twenty minutes later.

I will always be grateful to Dans for calling to tell me. There's some pretty hardcore bonding that goes on when that kind of information passes on from one person to another. It takes moments but you remember it for the rest of your life. A piece of your world smashes to smithereens and you know it. It was a difficult drive home down the Monash, I didn't know what to do (but I was driving so what was there to do but arrive at my destination?) It felt like such a lonesome journey knowing that Rel wasn't going to be around anymore.

Yesterday I had slept on the floor of my friend Adam Quayle's loungeroom, took myself out for breakfast and went to acupuncture, did a quick pop in at Heide to get something from the gift shop there and then went for my haircut. We talked about Rel, and babies, and life out of town, and trashy tv shows. I'm doing ok, I realised. I'm past the worst hideous parts.

I had hit the deck with a pretty bad flu about a month ago with nothing to do but lie there and feel miserable. Fever and an extremely runny nose and a lot of whining to my partner. Such discomfort for about a week. Lots of tv and sweaty sleep, soup and delirium and salty potato chips. I craved plastic tasteless frozen pizza, so Tracey went out and fetched some for me. It was such a crucial part of the grieving process for me, (the flu, not the pizza). I had to grind to a halt and sweat it out. I bounced back to functioning after the usual time and rest, changed ever so slightly from before the flu.

Now I'm at a point where I think of Rel constantly, but it's different. Every day I miss her, but there's no longer a confusion about when I'll be seeing her. No more tiny nanoseconds of crushing realisation. These days it stops me in my tracks more to try and imagine how her closest people are traveling along, my heart breaks for them and my eyes well and I wonder how on this everloving earth they are. No, that's not it. I wonder and I can send a message or make a phone call and find out. It's not that, it's more hoping they're ok. Hoping and wishing that this day will be kind to them. With such great love comes a ripping void at the end of a life, when we are apart. I wish with all that I am that this moment and this day and this week will be ok for Rel's people. I wish for bursts of happiness and light and laughter (but is that too much to ask?) if not now, then some day.

Yesterday after my haircut, instead of driving home and remembering feeling so horribly lost and alone I popped in on Dans, Rel's bestie. She kindly offered me Rel's mug to sip tea from and we had a lovely chat and walked her dog Bundy. Our visit had all the best elements - chats and dogs and records and tea and a walk and some autumnal foliage and honesty and connection. It did me good. Both of us, really.

I read a quote from David Steindl-Rast that Pip put on Facebook the other day "The root of joy is gratefulness" and it rang out like a bell. I am so grateful for cups of tea with my new friend, met through our old friend. It means so much.

Now as I sit here in the stillness listening to Sweet Jean on a low volume appropriate for 12.38 am, I remember that two weeks before she passed away Rel sms'ed me while I was on air and had played one of their tracks, asking about who they were. She looked them up but found nothing to buy yet on iTunes. Their album comes out over the next month or two, and I bet she would have loved it.