Monday, 1 September 2014

The Cry And The People.

Missed my flight to the Gold Coast last week. Why? Because I left it to the last minute to pack because I didn't want to leave my boys but I left anyway, got on the next flight. Checked in to the hotel and when the guy was a little bit mean to me I CRIED and had to walk away.

I asked Megan if she could come upstairs with me and she did - it was the first time I'd met her in the flesh and I was crying but it didn't matter. More on that later.

Blogging conferences are not for everybody. Incredibly overwhelming, exhausting, loud, manic, busy. But also good! There's nothing like meeting people in the flesh. No computer will ever replace actual human-to-human contact. I got to see Mr Problogger again, he is just as wise and genuine and cute as always.


EYE SPY SMAGGLE!

I took a selfie after my social good panel ... which was AWESOME. Were you there? I love talking about things that mean things. Emma storified the session HERE ... I found out for the first time that when World Vision were choosing the right blogger to send to Africa in 2012, they weren't able to access my blog from their work computers - it was banned. And that the dollar value at the end of my trip came to either $200k or $300k I can't remember which. I'm no good with numbers. But it was a good number. They sent the right inspirational arsehole at the right time.

Later I caught up with the VeggieMama Stacey, who is such a polite gentleman.



She escorted me over to the Ahoy! party where I stayed for approximately 15 minutes - but before I left I quickly breastfed Katie Rainbirds baby. Her name is Juniper!

Yes she IS throwing a gangsign!

Kidding - I could hardly breastfeed my own babies! Katie is a baby wearing, boob-leading dynamo mama. When I got back to the hotel later I delicately sipped on a pouch of vanilla frosting and thought "This must be what it feels like to be Juni."



Guess whose hotel room was directly across from mine? Who I snuck over to every night? Who I caught up with for the first time in a very, very long time?


Mrs Woog and BabyMac and Styling You is who. I love this picture - don't you LOVE women who enjoy their food? Beth had a pizza, Woogs a burger and I ordered the black bean nachos. We pretended we were in America again and we laughed and laughed so hard, so hard and at one point during story time Mrs Woog paused and told me I will never cease to surprise her. I agreed. I am glad they don't give up on me.


On the first or second day I had to escape just by myself and as I walked across the beach towards the ocean I had huge gulping tears and the cry that is always present within me made its way to the surface. The sea ocean met my grief ocean. I walked up the esplanade and paid sixty bucks for a massage from a tiny Asian lady with strong hands. Bought a new black hoodie on the way back to the hotel. Skipped a lot of sessions but it's ok. There's always something going on. We can't get to everything, but I still felt like there was so many people I wanted to meet and talk to more.


Me and Megan went out to dinner - we didn't care where. Decided on Thai and sat down and looked at menus and realised it was Chinese but who cares, food is food.

Allow me to tell you a teeny story, to illustrate why I blog.

Two years ago an email popped up in my inbox from a woman called Megan. She is a librarian who loves books. I start reading her email and halfway through I had to sit down. Towards the end I was hunched over in a big silent scream cry. This stranger called Megan told me that she had desperately put some words into her search engine -  "death" "suicide" were some of the keywords. I guess SEO *does* work because voila! Up comes my blog. Megan was hurting real bad, her beloved younger brother had just killed himself until he was dead. Gone. Simon isn't here anymore. I emailed her back. I remember her reply back to me was something about how crazy I was that I blog so openly and yes, yes it is crazy. Because we're supposed to keep this shit in, keep it together, be fine upstanding members of society.

Anyway so obviously, now, Megan and I have the worst thing in the world in common. Worst. During dinner we talked about death, methods of suicide, the devastation of being left behind, the aching hole of grief and how we will never, ever be the same again and other people will go through their lives without feeling such things. I like that picture of us above - we're under a red traffic light. We had to stop.

I felt so bad because Megan told me that she had been repeatedly emailing me all year. She had? She had. I got back to my hotel room and searched in my inbox and there were SEVEN emails there over the past ten months that I had not read, replied to. So I went through them all and replied, wished her a happy christmas back, told her how very sorry I was for being so rude. My inbox gives me anxiety. Some days I get out of bed and do the very bare minimum that a mother needs to do and that's it. As good as it gets. Please - if you have emailed me recently and I have not replied, I am so, so sorry. I live in a fog. Things have been hard. I keep writing here because it's one of the very few things that can make me feel better. Sometimes I am having a dreadful, wicked awful day and I write and I feel better. But I AM getting better at replying, so you are so welcome to email me if you want to! And never apologise! I keep writing for me AND for you and I don't care how wanky that sounds.

I took another photo of Megan and I just before she was about to leave the conference.


We both set our jaws just so, both have eyes that say a lot, have seen a lot. I didn't want her to go! Told her she must come to the Blue Mountains as soon as she can. She says she even might. And we didn't even want a new friend because who has time for that when you feel so deeply shithouse on a regular basis? Megan is a bit further down the dead suicide brother situation than me. She gives me hope that I might be ok one day. I'm crying right now because I'm so not ok right now but one day I might because Megan said so. She told me about her compartmentalisation methods, her faith, how deeply loved her brother was too.

So yes there is all that brands and professional and business and learning stuff when it comes to blogging. But there is also the simple telling of a story, knowing that somewhere, somebody out there waves a flag back and says "Yes! I have felt that too!"



When I got home the house was empty and cold and I unplugged the FILTHY kitchen sink water because clearly The Cat In The Hat had been here while we were away, leaving an exceptional ring of doom.

As I lugged wood in, found the matches, lit the fire, unpacked the dishwasher .... I thought about all the times my brother Cam would have come back to his house and been cold. And not cared enough to light the fire because it was just him but he didn't care about himself. How he wrote in his note how lonely he was - of COURSE you were lonely, Cam! You pushed everybody away!

I would stay away out of respect for him because I didn't want to pressure him, didn't want to make him feel bad. It's bullshittingly awful, this hindsight. This constant postmortem not just of my brothers death, but of his life. Because if he were still alive? I would do things differently. I would march down there and piss him RIGHT off and stage an intervention because he was fucked up. My brother was so fucked up. (So was I. So am I. I thought he would make it through. Why is he there and I am here? What made the difference? At this point I believe in god as much as I believe in Cat In The Hat.)

I don't care much about myself either but I still lit the fire anyway because the boys were due home from the beach house. And when they tumbled inside with sunscreen hair, bearing dirty washing and chicken kebabs with garlic sauce ..... instead of thinking "Cam never had this Cam never had this" I FORCED myself to be grateful. I have this. I have this.

It felt like I hadn't seen them for a thousand years, and we all sat at the table and laughed and I told Dave all about the conference and how he is definitely one of bloglands hottest husbands. Somebody said we should do a Dave Riley nude calendar and sell it off my blog. There's a way to make some money hon!

It was great to be home. Until Rocco cried when Max held the book that I bought them from the airport wrong so Rocco had to go to bed and Max was annoyed and then me and Dave had a fight and the house was still cold.

It takes ages to warm up. I went to bed at midnight because I was typing up something for Dave, so today I'm feeling decidedly unfresh and flat. So are probably a lot of people. I'm not alone. I'm not. No I am NOT.


Thursday, 28 August 2014

Five Top Tips For Being A Better Blogger.


How did my blog Edenland even come to be like this? A few key factors - luck is a big one. I was blogging before blogging became so well-known, back when only weirdos did it. It's been a bit hard to share the online space with so many new douchebags but there are also so many good people out there sharing it too so that's cool. Pretty sure the internet is big enough for all of us. My blog isn't for everybody, it can't be. Nothing is for everybody, not even the Bible and why do they even call it Good News when it's filled with so much doom?

Anyway so I happened to be online during the rise in awareness and popularity of the online world. Seven years ago I'd tell people I'd blog and they'd be like, you WHAT? Nowadays it's a savvy marketing tool, a great way to make money, an instant way for companies to connect with their consumer. Luckily for me, the net is still a place for other personal bloggers like me to hang out, spill their stories. We all got 'em.

My writing evolved and became more distinctive, finely tuned. I kept pushing the envelope, writing things I know I "shouldn't" but hey, come on. Being a human is fascinating and ridiculous. Life is too important to be taken seriously. Loosen up a little. It'll all be over soon and then how much will you care?

In honour of this weekends Annual Problogger Conference, I humbly submit to you my five top tips for being a better blogger.

5. Whatever your niche, whoever you are .... just be your bloody self. The word that gets bandied out a lot: "authentic." It's hard to be authentic if you don't know what that means. Just be you - let your guard down, let some people into your place, your heart. Even if you're running a business blog you can still be you, you don't have to be all stuffy. Loosen your tie.

4. Write as if you're about to rush out the door in five minutes. Get it out. Keep the words clear and the count down. Once you have seven hefty paragraphs, sharpen your knife and whittle them down to five. And then four. You'll ALWAYS say stuff that doesn't need to be said and the more succinct and quick you are, the better the read. People are busy. You want to grab their attention, savour it, and then walk off leaving them wanting more. Like an orgasm that wasn't quite finished. They'll be back.

3. Do not expect a huge amazing loyal gathering of followers in one year. Maybe two, if you're good. GET GOOD. You want to be real and authentic? Then work through your issues. Get to know yourself. Own who you are. Don't be fake.

If you really want to, you can build up a big blog. Do you want to? Why? So much emphasis is placed on numbers and followers. Please know that if you write a post that resonates and touches just one person? THAT IS ENOUGH. You've made somebody feel something! A certain exchange of energies has occurred. That's a bit of magic. Somebody has connected with you. That's huge.

2. I have been used and burnt by people so much, in this blogging caper. Now I know better but man, so many people out there just using people as stepping stones! Bypass the stepping stones. Carve your own path. You don't blog for a week? Don't apologise, just write a post and get back into it. A constant blogging mantra for me has been "Never complain, never explain." You owe people nothing. But you do owe yourself some integrity and decency. Don't be afraid to disagree. Don't be afraid to state your truth. The fact that you have access to a computer means that you're doing pretty damn well in context with the rest of the worlds population. And if you get criticised or "hated" on, maybe it's good to nod your head every once in a while and think, "Oh hey yeah I can be a bit of a dick." Just because you're a blogger does not make you more special than anybody else. And if you end up having a "big" blog, it actually means you have more of a responsibility. Don't use your blog to get blatant revenge on people. It's silly and immature. Keep your focus on you. (I accidentally grew this big beast and the people who hate me in real life are all WHY that bitch get that not knowing I'm just as confused as them.)

Know this: when people say you need to be thick-skinned, to drink concrete to "make it" in this game? No. Just be you, as beautifully thin-skinned as you always were, because that's what makes you you. Feel stuff. World needs more thin skin. There was a defining moment for me as a blogger a few years ago when I was poised, I could taste it ... I could make myself the next big media "thing." But I pulled back, consciously deciding to ungrow my blog. Just because you can do something, doesn't necessarily mean you should. Did I make the right decision? Hell yes.

And lastly, the biggest blogging tip I can give anybody:

1. To be a better blogger, be a better person. The rest will fall into place like a beautiful pulled-pork sandwich with lettuce and mayo. Meant to be.

::

I am talking on a panel called "The Power of We"at the Problogger Event at the QT Hotel on the Gold Coast this Saturday at 12pm. Darren Rowse is Mr Problogger himself, and he is the real deal.  ABC Brisbane radio interviewed Darren and I about blogging yesterday, you can listen HERE

Moderating my panel is Emma Stirling from The Scoop on Nutrition who wrote a post about it HERE. Fellow panellists are Stephen Elliot from World Vision Australia and Carly Findlay. We'll be talking to bloggers of all niches and genres who would like to make a bit of a difference with their blogs, highlight a bit of social good. I'm really into that stuff, are you into that stuff, can we be friends?

(Basically I'm headed to a huge blogging conference for the first time in a few years and I don't know how I'll cope with that. Guess I'll just wing it like I always do, please come say hi! I won't mind at all if you mention my brother. I see a lot of room service in my immediate future. Also watching some mindless TV in the middle of the day underneath my hotel blankets because blogging conferences are  so much more overwhelming than school drop-offs.)

Wednesday, 27 August 2014

I Was Here, Motherfucker.


We escaped the mountains and went to Sydney on a Monday night! A poetry event at the Basement, featuring two of the worlds best spoken word artists, Buddy Wakefield and Anis Mojgani. I figure if I'm to burst on the poetry scene, I better study the masters first. These dudes have won multiple world poetry slams.

We had tickets for dinner and the show, got there early so walked around the Opera House to kill some time. I read Dave out a text that somebody sent me saying they think about Cam. I clutched my heart when I read it out, didn't care when I cried.

There's so much to not care about anymore. We stood and just looked at the Opera House just as the sun was setting, she is so beautiful, fancier than Iggy with her backlit toilet paper.



We walked up and down the stairs, milled, stared at her from the pavement and I said, "Hon, I just really, really want to make it to the Australian Poetry Slam grand final here in October. That's all I want."

I don't want much these days. But I'd love the chance to spit some shit in October, the chance to even to look forward to the month of October which frankly should be banned forevermore. Why do we keep repeating months can't we just make new names up? September was the month Cam was born and October was the month Cam died. How many times at school did he sit at his desk and write "15th October" at the top of the page, not ever knowing what would happen, what was coming?

I stood in the kitchen yesterday making myself a pancake - just one. Pulled out a plate and it was one of Cams big white Ikea plates that are stylish but don't fit in the dishwasher properly anyway and I just threw it so fucking hard on the floor it shattered into about fifty shards. Fifty shards of pain. Got another plate out. Ignored the broken plate on the floor fuck this shit. But then what if Dave got home and was all what the hell hon? So I swept it up and put it in the bin and flipped my pancake with Cams flipper and it was a shit pancake and as I was eating it a piece of my tooth came out and I spat it in my hand and I'm all OF COURSE my tooth just broke but it wasn't my tooth at all, just a tiny piece of my dead brothers shattered white Ikea plate, inadvertently cooked in my shit pancake.

Anyway so the other night my favourite part was watching Dave watching spoken word artists.

"Hon, I didn't even know shit like this existed."

We both had steak for dinner. It was beautifully cooked. First up was Buddy Wakefield, who is CRAZY. His words just fell into each other, there was no proper beginning or ending NO RULES! He was all over the shop and the stage and the page. He had this cool T-shirt on saying "Write Bloody" and I really wanted a picture so I took one with the flash on ..


.. and as SOON as I took it he stopped talking, looked at me and said:

"Did you get what you needed?"

And I said YES THANK YOU and he's all, here I'll pose for you so Buddy Wakefield made love to the ground for a while as I walked right up to the stage and snapped photos and everybody, everybody was laughing.


And when he got back to his words everybody was crying, too - and feeling, and experiencing, being amazed and in wonderment. I brought a notebook with me in case I had to write down any quotes and he gave me a brilliant one.

"Cemeteries are the worlds way of not letting go."

The place was packed, Dave constantly in awe of how many people came out in the rain on a Monday night to listen to words. I was so struck by how, instead of propping up my laptop in bed and making Dave watch YouTube videos of Buddy and Anis, we were actually watching them perform live which is a completely different realm of experiencing something. This "real life" business - you can forget how good it is!

Somebody yelled out to Buddy "CONVENIENCE STORES!" And he thanked them, saying there is nothing better for a poet than to get a request. And he performed it. And it was just as incredible as the first time I watched it.




Then Anis took the stage, and while both these guys are American and poets and male - and obviously good friends - they are both completely different. I love them. Afterwards when I met Anis I thanked him for just existing and he signed his book for me and Buddy signed his book for me too and I had to tell him about my brother so I did and he told me that his dad did that too and I said yeah, so did mine and we smiled at each others pain and I walked away, feeling better that both those guys know my name.

I wonder why it feels so good, to have people know our name?



Anis performed Shake the Dust and there was a guy in the audience who had "Shake the Dust" tattooed on his arm. That guy would've freely felt it, hearing it. Can you hear it?



It was incredibly difficult being so uplifted because simultaneously there is always present in me the knowledge that my brother could not, would not be uplifted. So I cried through most the night, and then afterwards Dave and I both decided that Gelatissimo could not possibly be still open but it was!





And me and Dave were a couple of freedom fighters, arse-kicking survivors basking in the moon and the afterglow of a big night all jacked up on poetry and sugar and you guys I found a feather!

IT'S A SIGN!


Technically a lot of feathers, still attached to the dead pigeon on the busy city streets but hey, you gotta grab your signs where you can right? Isn't that what we all do, seek meaning from the aching maw of nothingness? (Dave's all, you're not seriously taking a fucking photo of that?)

Then the parking machine charged us $32 instead of $72 so me and Dave were just high from life right there in the fucking car and I yelled TELL ME A POEM DAVE because we are all poets, desperately writing the pages with our hearts whether we know it or not and Dave said OK HON.

video

I showed that video to Max and he just said - wow, I have NEVER heard dad like that before.

Anis thanked us all for coming out, he hoped we'd all feel bigger than the world the next day because so often the world feels bigger than us and the truth is I didn't but still, his words really meant something.

" .. like my heart dancing precariously on the edge of my finger tips 
staining them as that same high school kid licking his thoughts using his sharpie tip writing: 
I WAS HERE 
I was here motherfucker 
and ain’t none of y’all can write that in the spot that I just wrote it in 
I am here motherfucker and we all here motherfucker 
and we all motherfuckers motherfucker 
because every breath I give brings me a second closer to the day that my mother may die 
and every breath I take takes me a second further from the moment she caught my father’s eye. 

Where do people go when they die? 
What made the beauty of the moon? 
And the beauty of the sea? 
Did that beauty make you did that beauty make me? 
Will it make me something? 
Will I be something am I something? 
And the answer comes: 
I already am 
I always was 
and I still have time to be."

-Anis Mojgani, Here Am I

Thursday, 21 August 2014

ANOTHER Day? Really?


I have to write something just to get the cemetery post off the top of my blog. I visited the cemetery four days ago which is like a hundred years ago really Siri what is time?

How freaky is this world? Has it always been this bad or do we just have the technology to keep up to speed with how bad it actually is? It's freaking me out but I went shopping anyway and unfortunately for Rocco, they were all out of pooface.


 When I got to the checkout the lady beeped my stuff and Dave told me there was $120 in the savings account and $90 in the cheque account so I asked her to do a split payment but I have one of those new "wave" cards so money just got automatically deducted and I didn't know from which account and the people behind me in the checkout got the shits! And I only do words, not numbers! The lady had to CLOSE THE CHECKOUT while I rang Dave, freaking, to transfer money over online because how much is in what account hon WHUT and I was so, so embarrassed. But the checkout lady welcomed closing her aisle and told me she can't do maths either but her niece does, her niece is doing her PHD to become a professor and I said well, the world needs brainy people like her niece to make up for dumbarse people like me and we both laughed and she left to go on her tea break early and thanked ME.

Dave asked for lamb shanks but ever since my butcher Norm told me they were SHEEPS KNEES I cannot eat them so I made a whole roast leg instead and the house smelt like lamb roast instead of stinky boy.


And then I started a family tradition of watching a funny video clip at the end of dinner. It'll probably last for about three more days but hey, it was a great tradition while it lasted.


 I made the boys watch both versions of Tight Pants with Jimmy Fallon. Reannon got me on to Tight Pants and I'm forever grateful. I walk down the street singing Tight Pants in my head it makes walking down the street so much easier.

So then we all watched an entire series of hilarious videos culminating in Rocco demanding to watch the film clip of Cotton Eye Joe while we cleaned up and then this happened.

video

To think, all these years I thought it was Governor Joe!

Today I opened my eyes and was all oh for gods sake ANOTHER day? We just had one of those yesterday why do they keep coming? I married an early riser. Dave's whistling and getting ready for work without a care in the world even though he does have many cares in the world and I said from underneath the doona "Hon I hate mornings." And he's all OOOHHHHHH EDIE TELL ME SOMETHING I DON'T KNOW and ran over to tickle my feet.

I got up and looked at the veggie garden and thought to myself, one of these days I am going to weed that fucker and start again.

Today is not that day parsley anyone?


That reminds me I REALLY need to trim my pubes. 

I waited for my coffee to pour from the shity machine I bought and put next to Daves ridiculously expensive machine. Give me lazy pods or give me death.


 Then I drove Rocco to school and as I walked him in a sickening feeling came over me. It's book week fancy dress day?

"Um, Rocco, it's book week fancy dress day?"

We were surrounded by pirates and princesses and wild things and dinosaurs and Rocco's standing there in his school uniform, looking up at me.

"It's ok mum I didn't want to get dressed up."

I felt sick, knelt down to look him in the eye, told him we can go straight back home right now and get a costume, we can! And I didn't get a note about this?

"Oh I didn't give you the note mum. I don't want to get dressed up, I just don't."

And he really didn't but still I worried because I know how contrary he is and what if as soon as he sees all of his friends dressed up he wants to be dressed up too WHY IS PARENTING SUCH A MINEFIELD.

I walk him right into his class, his colourful class of book characters. He felt hesitant but then we saw like three other kids sitting on the floor with their school uniform on. I was so relieved and his teacher looked up to greet him and she was dressed up too and you know what she said?

"Oh here's Rocco, another Muggle! Come and sit down please."

Another Muggle. I walked out of school crying at her kindness and care and he's a Muggle. Rocco went to school dressed as a Muggle today and everything's going to be ok.

Tuesday, 19 August 2014

Never Visit A Cemetery With A Grudge In Your Heart.

Look this post *might* come across as if it were written by some kind of crazed, out-of-control fucked up woman. 

That's because it is! 

Let's press on regardless. Gene Wilder said we need to go back to go forward so if you come into the following words with me, you're going to need a torch, some deep breaths, and a mouthguard because I'm pulling no punches. It's ok. I've already lived it then written it - I'm waiting for you at the end.

::

On Sunday morning I got up and made breakfast, chatted to the boys about what to do that day, started writing a shopping list, the house needed a vacuum, all normal boring family shit. Dave was talking and I looked up at him and said,

"I cannot do this."

And he said, "Well that's ok then hon we can pick Max up first THEN see the movie, do the shop afterwards?"

And I told him no, I can't pretend. I cannot play happy families today. I cannot do this. I cannot do this. I walked into the bedroom to get dressed and decided right there on the spot, whatever the fuck I needed to do that day then I was just going to do it. Dave blasted my favourite song in the living room -  the room where we all do our living because we're living and not dead. Future Islands "Waiting On You." I love that song, I love the way the guy feels his shit. I want to perform my creativity the way this guy performs his creativity. I walk into the kitchen and me and Dave had a bit of a dance-off to see who could dance most like the Future Islands guy, then I told Dave where I was going that day.

Needle-scratch. "You're what?"

"I'm driving down to Picton to visit my dads grave. Well, Cams dads grave. My real dads grave is in Cooma but I have nothing to say to him. I have plenty to say to Cams dad. Hon, I gotta let some shit go."

(Aside for anybody who might be reading my blog for the first time right very now: my real dad was a violent alcoholic who died from alcoholism. My stepdad of eleven years killed himself in 1988, his son was my brother Cameron who killed himself last October. I miss my brother. I miss my brother.)

I looked at Dave and he looked at me and I held his face.

"I know it's weird but I just need to do this right now. It's all I want to do today. It will relieve some of the pressure and don't worry, I won't do anything stupid I'll be back in time to make green chicken curry and watch the room reveals on The Block."

I'm a grown woman. My husband kissed me goodbye with trust. I drove off in my car for a leisurely Sunday afternoon drive down to visit my second dead dad. (There are three in total. Fuck all the Fathers Day paraphernalia in all the land, is what I'm saying.)

IT FELT SO GOOD TO DRIVE OFF THE MOUNTAIN. I took a piece of paper and an HB pencil to do an etching of his cremation inscription thingy. I blasted some Macklemore but mostly Eminem. It's always Eminem, lately, channeling the fury. It takes an hour and forty minutes to drive from my house to Picton cemetery and I get there and when I parked the car I sat there deciding whether to piss on his grave or not. No. It would be disrespectful to the other dead people in the cemetery so I refrained.

I have only ever visited his grave once, in the early nineties. My boyfriend at the time drove me in his shitty red Mazda. He was the manager of the Red Cow Hotel Penrith, I was the barmaid. During our breaks we'd run upstairs to his hovel of a room, chainsmoke cigarettes and play Sonic the Hedgehog on his Sega. True fucken love, people.

So I see the cremation people in the cemetery in their mini-building and think, there he is. And walk over to see him. I kept checking to make sure that nobody was around because I was about to yell really loudly. I didn't even have anything planned to say. I was ready except .... he wasn't there. I looked and looked and looked. He wasn't there.

No seat for you!

The rain was PISSING down. I crossed the street to look in the other part of the cemetery but it was just all old abandoned graves. RIGHT next to a childcare centre.


And I'm looking and I'm looking and I start getting the shits. You know those days you're looking for a dead man to yell at and you can't find him and you feel him laughing at you? DON'T HIDE FROM ME YOU FUCK. In desperation I turned to Rocco's girlfriend, Siri.

"Siri, how many fucking cemeteries are there in Picton?"

She told me she was sorry but she couldn't process my request right now. So I tried to google it but there was no reception in the cemetery because dead people don't use phones, dumbnuts. Then I FELL OVER and the piece of paper that I brought with me to etch his headstone got wet and I looked around at all the graves and thought how fucked we're all going to be when the zombie apocalypse came. There are a LOT of dead people just right there in the ground, you guys. And frankly, nobody gives a shit about them anymore I mean come on what is this.


There's not even a headstone on there. Just a forlorn empty can of Jim Beam and cola. Somebody needs to do something about this disarray.

And then I literally found Jesus.


And I was like, "Jesus, Jesus - why so serious? YOU GET TO BE DEAD. It's us living people who feel all the pain now, dude."

Then I fell over again probably because I took a photo of Jesus just to mock him and it was like the scene in Poltergeist at the end when the rain is filling up the empty swimming pool and the corpses suddenly appear because they removed the headstones BUT LEFT THE BODIES IN THERE!! GO TO THE LIGHT CAROL-ANNE!

In cemeteries, the place where the recently dead people are buried? Most colourful. All the beautiful flowers and new dirt. Fresh meat. New grief. I read some headstones, some beautiful inscriptions, but none applicable to me. Just like the Fathers Day card setup in the post office - never applicable to me. It's cool - I can handle dead dads, I can handle trauma, addiction, cancer, recovery. I can handle a fuckload of stuff. But the death of my brother, I cannot handle.

Finally I worked out I was at the wrong cemetery so got in my car to drive across town to the other cemetery and I'm going to try keep this short but you guys? He wasn't in the other cemetery either.


And I KNEW this was the right one because I remembered it from those years ago, it's across the road from the pub. I walked around and around the fucking gravestones, nada. It was like my dead dad #2 was scared of me. By the way he wasn't the greatest man that ever lived. He didn't really give a shit about anybody except himself, became a millionaire overnight under suspicious circumstances and filled our mansion with crates of Dom Perignon, a billiard room, Lladro, red velvet lounges. Bought a Rolls Royce, racehorses, diamonds, Mercedes, a Model-T Ford. Had an office in Bankstown. He was a pretentious, rude, arrogant wanker who treated waiters like shit. An acquaintance once described him as having "the personality of a hat rack."

However, my dead dad #2 was Camerons father. And he loved Cam. He didn't love me - treated me with disdain, indifference, and contempt. He used to tell me to fuck off a lot. Exact words: "Get out of my sight." With a wave of his pompous hand. One day I was watching TV and he said,

"Eden, was your father a glassmaker?"

And I flushed. My real father was a glassmaker? I thought my real father was a computer genius who worked for IBM? I was about to learn a bit about my real father? OMG! Nobody ever talked to me about my real dad I couldn't believe it, finally! But dead dad #2 didn't mean that, it was just his way of saying move out of the way I was blocking the television. Get it? A glassmaker because glass was invisible? I'm thinking my real father WAS a glassmaker because when I was a kid growing up I was very, very invisible in my house. To everybody. Except Cam.

So on Sunday I was all confused because I couldn't find the gravestone I wanted to yell at, and my head was all, this is what happens when you bring a grudge into a cemetery, Eden. I even knocked on the church door but nobody was there. It was SUNDAY. This is a spiritual emergency! Churches are BULLSHIT.

So as I walked across the bridge towards Picton Information Centre three cars drive past me and spray water ALL over me. I was absolutely fucking drenched, thinking, is this day actually really happening? Is this my actual life? The wind blew my umbrella inside-out. I saw a sign at the mechanics for shock absorbers and I thought I could use a few of those.

My therapist says that my grief over my brothers suicide is widening and deepening because it has triggered and roughed up every other single thing that has ever happened to me in my life. I loved Cameron for thirty-three years straight. I understood when he couldn't love me or my boys back because how could he when he didn't even love himself? He didn't really give a fuck about my kids or my family. He wasn't perfect - he had quite a bit of his dads arrogance to be honest but he was a beautiful guy also funny and witty and I just fucking loved him and when he died, where did the love go? Like a car accident when the car suddenly stops but you keep hurtling forwards smashing your body into pieces all over the place. Ever since Cam died I'm covered in pieces of his flesh and his bright red blood and I can't wash it off I'm Lady Macbeth I colluded because I agreed with him that the world was too hard. He begged me to understand. So I thought I could wash a bit of his blood off in Picton.

Alan from Picton Information Centre didn't bat an eyelid that I was dripping wet I think he was just grateful for a visitor. He assumed I was a woman innocently visiting her dead fathers grave, wishing to pay her respects. He showed me maps, told me the history of the churches of the surrounding towns and it took everything in me not to say, "Alan dude? I appreciate your shop being open for me on a Sunday because fuck knows that church isn't. But this dead dad isn't even my real dead dad. Even my real dead dad isn't my real dead dad. I'm angry, cold, and hungry. It's complicated. Can you help a bitch out or not?"

We both agreed that St Marks had moved the cremation mini-building somewhere else we just didn't know here. I backed out, thanking him. Passed Picton barber shop where apparently you can get a lap dance AND a haircut.


Fuck this world.

Here's a thought - maybe some people don't kill themselves because of mental illness, they kill themselves because the world is bullshit. Dead dad #2 killed himself because he was about to be arrested and sent to jail. Also he lost all his precious money. My brother was eight years old when his father died and he was never the same again.

My dead dad #2's brother Ian tried to kill himself once, by slashing his wrists. He slept in our library for weeks. I used to creep in there and marvel at the bloody bandages. He ended up dying of something else, can't remember. It was pretty sad. Uncle Ian liked me, even looked me in the eyes and treated me like an actual person.

So I left Picton - frustrated, fucked off, soaking wet. Thought I may as well go visit my grandmothers old house, see her garden. She made the most BEAUTIFUL gardens, wherever she lived. She told me once when she was pruning roses why you had to cut them back. It seemed ruthless, but my whole life I've never forgotten to chop myself back when I need to, to get rid of the parts of myself that are not needed, in order to keep growing, keep going.

I drove past her old house and the garden was dead. There were four souped-up cars and utes in the driveway.

Fuck this world.

For this day to mean anything, I was left with only one option.

For the first time in my life, I had to visit the place dead dad #2 committed suicide. You know what's fucking hilarious? He did it at Oran Park WHICH DOESN'T EXIST ANYMORE BECAUSE THEY TORE IT DOWN.

But I drove there anyway yes I did and by this stage I was mental. Seething. Saturated. Sad. Worn down. I drove past the house we lived in at Pindari Avenue Camden when we found out he'd killed himself. It looks forlorn and unkempt too.

I parked my car at the new Oran Park housing project. I climbed the barbed wire fence. I was wearing a thick grey hoodie, new jeans, and my black and gold Nike hi-tops. So this was the place, I thought.

My brother Cameron drove here when he was about 23, with the intention of killing himself in the same spot his father did. Had a plastic pipe and everything. What made him NOT do it that night? I do not know. What made him drive off into the night and keep living? What made him finally do it in October last year? Hundreds of answers to those questions.


It was deserted and the sky was trying to tell me something. Fuck off sky, I don't believe in you anymore. I looked around at the trees, the landscape, the hills. The last place dead dad #2 took his final carbon-monoxide breaths. I had a few things to tell him, where was a good place? Up this dead-end street seemed a good a place as any. So I walked up it. And I started talking. Shouting.


I can't remember exact words. But every word was passionate and furious and sorely needed to be said. Every single word needed to come out of my mouth.

"Oh hi, just in case your spirit has been sitting in a tree over there for the past 26 years, I just wanted to tell you that your son is dead. And you fucking killed him, I didn't. I tried EVERYTHING I could to keep him alive. Everything. You never got to see what a beautiful man he grew into and fuck you so hard. And your gravestone isn't even there anymore and I don't care."

I kept spitting. I'm not usually a spitter but I had so much spit to spit so I spat, and spat. Contemptously.

"And he even drove here once to kill himself just like you did but he DIDN'T. He kept trying and fighting to live. He tried really hard but now he is DEAD. YOUR SON IS DEAD just in case you were fucking wondering. And I CANNOT CARRY this guilt and pain and shame around so here, I'm giving this to you. THIS DOES NOT BELONG TO ME. AND FUCK YOU. You were a SHIT dad and a SHIT stepdad. And I fucking HATE you for treating me like shit and letting other people around me treat me like shit. I did not deserve that. You were a fat fuck. And Cam loved me the most HE LOVED ME. So, he's dead and you broke his heart when you left and I hope he doesn't visit you in the afterlife because FUCK YOU. GOODBYE. FUCK YOU. YOU MOTHERFUCKING ARSEHOLE."

Spat my way down the street. I have never in my life felt as purged as I did, and I still wasn't finished. It was like I was in a magical nether place where he could hear me and as soon as I hopped back over the barbed wire fence I was back to the real world again - the hard world that you keep living in regardless.

I spun around. "Oh and by the way, not that you give a shit, I ended up having two sons. AND I LOVE THEM. AND I SHOW THEM THAT I LOVE THEM. And I have stepchildren too who I really, really care about and love also. LOVE. NONE OF IT THANKS TO YOU YOUR SON IS DEAD AND THIS IS NOT MY FAULT FUCK YOU MY LIFE IS HARD BUT I'M STILL HERE I AM STRONGER THAN YOU WILL EVER BE."

Jumped the fence, broke the spell, took my shoes off to discover I was wearing rainbow socks that looked EXACTLY like Mork from Orks suspenders, which was so fitting. The death of Robin Williams has greatly affected me. I feel jealous of his kids, because his legacy was amazing and beautiful and they knew they were loved. Robin Williams showed me that kind and gentle and caring men exist. Dead Poets Society got me through some tough times. One of my favourite films of all time is What Dreams May Come. Some very heavy discussions taking place on social media about suicide. People are disagreeing, people are talking, good. GOOD. FINALLY.

I drove home. Felt different. Lighter. Got out of the car and washed the cemetery and Oran Park mud off my shoes, scrubbed them clean.


After I watched my third dad die an awful death from cancer, I flew to New York with Dave and said hon, imma need a pair of black and gold hi-tops to get through this next bit.

So I bought those hi-tops and I got through it. When I say I'm gonna do something, I do it.

Last Sunday I could have walked across the road to Picton pub and got myself absolutely smashed. It was tempting. There was a guy playing guitar and singing Doors songs as I trudged angrily through the cemetery. "Doncha love her madly ... wanna be her daddy?"

It was like a scene from a strange, weird film. Except this is my life and I live it and and if I go get drunk in a bar, it'll fuck everything up so I didn't. I came home and cooked green chicken curry for dinner and watched television with my family.

When my children talk to me I look them in the eye and I ALWAYS tuck them into bed and I tell all of them they are amazing, they are loved, that the world will wear them down but you have to keep going even though I don't believe it much myself. And I apologise so many times when I fuck up as a parent, because I do - a lot. But I don't abuse my kids. I don't treat them like shit, like they're a hindrance or worthless. The buck stopped with me.

I will never go back to Picton or Camden or Oran Park again. Ever. I exorcised some demons but I ain't no ghostchaser, lord knows they chase me everyday I don't need to go out hunting them down.

I have more hardships in life to face and I'll need to be strong for them. I'll live with the anguish of my brothers life and death for the rest of my life. It will never "be ok." It will never "mean something." I can't work the world out, can't quite say why my brother is not here and I am. Exactly a year ago I was in hospital for my depression and exactly a year ago he wasn't in hospital for his depression. Exactly a year ago both of us were fighting for our lives but now only one of us is standing so I stand for both of us now. I've got a pair of brown cowboy boots with aqua stitching being sent to me from the USA. Bought them online last week and they cost over two hundred dollars.

I'm gonna stand in them. They're my poetry-performing boots and I need them to get through this next bit. And the next. And the next. Until I die. Then I'm dead. What a relief.

::

See I told you - it's ok! *I* am the monster like Grover at the end of this book! 

Now let's dance.




Friday, 15 August 2014

Look You Guys, I Don't Mean To Brag Or Anything But Going Back To The Gym Has REALLY Paid Off.

Sweat droplet by sweat droplet, I have worked my way back down to a body shape I am happy with.

My abs? Rocking. I asked Dave to take a photo of them yesterday and he's all, "You sure hon?" And I was all, "Why WOULDN'T I be sure?"

It's taken me 42 years but I finally, FINALLY have a six-pack.

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I don't think you're ready for this jelly and don't be jelly haters it has taken A LOT OF GRIEF CAKE to get my tummy to push through the bars like that.

Yes, I have gone back to the gym and it does indeed make me feel stronger, mentally more than anything. But I don't go every day. I should be there right now but the fire was too warm this morning so I promise to myself to go for a run but I won't. Then I'll look at the clock and think ok, I'll go for a walk before I pick the boys up. But I won't.

Somedays I get to the gym, other days I don't. I have lost a lot of my weight but this stubborn bit is hard to lose and two babies came out of that stubborn bit so that's pretty cool. I finally managed to squeeze my arse into some new jeans, and with a flowy top I look ok and fuck man, that's more than alright for me.

I had a boyfriend once (actually I had many but this guy was a real charmer) who looked at my legs and actually winced. "Oh, you've got a lot of moles." For years afterwards I hated and hid the moles on my legs but now I show them off in summer along with my varicose veins, crinkly hands, toe hair made of steel. You know what's happened in the last ten months? (Ten months today since my brother died SAD CONFETTI) .... my hair has fallen out. Like, really, really badly. Dave had to unclog the shower drain. Clumps all over the floor, throughout the house. It's from stress and probably shock. One day I bent to pick something up (PROBABLY MY HAIR) and Rocco peered close to my head and said, "MUM you are BALD."

I contemplated getting it all cut off short but I just can't. Right now I still have the same hair that Cam looked at last year and I can't part with it just yet. And, you guys, it's starting to grow back! Baby fuzz on the sides. So relieving. Maybe healing.

I am who I am, motherfucker. Ain't no motherfucker tell me otherwise. Isn't it supposed to be a privilege - to age, to live, and be healthy?

The look on my face on the photo above is the look on the face of a woman who has pressed her bare skin against a cold steel fence in the middle of a Katoomba winter. Dave's snapping away (I LOVE HIM) and suddenly one of his workers - Reece - drives up, right to where his bosses wife is standing there in her bra. Dave yells PUT YOUR FUCKING CLOTHES BACK ON HON and I laughed and laughed and so did he.


And I couldn't look Reece in the eye properly afterwards, mumbled something about doing something stupid for my blog, he was just laughing too.

(I guess it's more of a seventeen-pack, if you count all of the individual flesh pouches poking through.)

Anyway Dave can't hassle me about nudity, he gets in the nuddy every chance he gets. Especially at the beach house where he always washes himself off like a dog in the backyard like that scene with Hugh Jackman in the film Australia.


So many unanswerable questions and awful happenings around the world. Some answers include but are not limited to:

Laughter.
Love.
Cake for no reason.
Crying for lots of reasons.
Let your kids have ice-cream for brekkie who cares.
HAIR!
Being comfortable being in the nuddy, your body does a lot for you the least you can do is accept it.
Laughter.
Love.
Be sad.
Keep going and if you can't, just sit down for a minute have a little rest distract yourself and don't listen to your head.
But mostly love. Big stupid fucking love.

Wednesday, 13 August 2014

Inspirational Arsehole.

Oh hey you guys I just wanted to check in and make sure you were ok. Because there's a lot of stuff going on inside and outside of ourselves that's a bit freaky and tricky.

Yesterday I had to take a walk in the rain and came across this beautiful ramshackle shed and thought how perfect it was.


Us humans are just works in progress, that's all. That's cool. My boys arrived home from school and there were cupcakes. Max unpacked the dishwasher without being asked and Rocco showed me the picture he drew at school.


"We had to draw something local mum so I drew the Three Sisters see their dad is on the ledge, waving to them? I made a paper airplane out of it but then I got into trouble. Can you please google Katy Perry Roar so I can watch it but DON'T sing mum."

I'd made the best slow-cooked beef stew with chickpeas and chillies and stuff I chucked in straight from the pantry. Dave loved it. I made pancakes for dessert and Rocco cried because it was past his bedtime but I made him one this morning and we were in a rush so I put it on some tinfoil and he ate it in the car on the way to school, said it was the best pancake he'd ever had please can I make some more?

Dave left me a note before he left for work early.


He's being doing those smiley faces on his notes for the entire time we've been together, fourteen years. And signs his signature on everything, even birthday cards.

DETERMINED to track down those elusive Bushells strong tea leaves today, I took the note with me straight after school-drop off. Bought all of his things he wanted, I like that he spelt Chia correctly but he PRONOUNCES them Chai just to piss me off. I abhor spelling mistakes and mispronunciation but have learned to live with them and love them, actually.

So before I had any coffee or breakfast or even put a bra on, I found myself in a shop trying on jeans that would not fit. Skinny jeans, babygirl jeans, boyfriend jeans .... are you shitting me right now? I just want jeans.


I used to be a size 8, now I'm a size 14 and as my friend Shae would say WHATEVER BRO. I just need jeans that fit, have been wearing the same black ones I bought for $12 from Temt (THEY FORGOT THE "P!") for two years now and they're all bent outta shape.

Went outside, put my hoodie and sunnies on down the big hill outside of the library and a guy walked past me and said "I'm too old for hills like this" and I was all "Me too!" and he laughed and said "yeah but you're only 21" and I REALLY laughed and then I a bit cried, from his kindness and spontaneity He's a well-known busker in town with a bit of a facial deformity and an AMAZING voice. I've put heaps of gold coins in his hat, over the years. We're all just human you know? Being all humany. We're just fucking human.

So now I'm home writing this before I have a shower and yes, wash my hair ... to see if you're ok. I am. Even though every morning for over nine months now when I wake up there's this brief window before my life hits me right in the face with "Your brother is dead." Except this morning it was my brother AND Robin Williams and jeez, hasn't that outpouring of loss spread out across the world? I don't think people who take their own lives have any idea of how their death will affect the ones left behind.

You know something awesome? I have never seen Good Will Hunting. I've always meant to but never got around to it. I'll hire it this weekend from my favourite shop Civic Video Katoomba after I pay off some late fees and watch it with my boys and it will be good. What a legacy Mr. Williams left behind, what a beautiful body of work. What an incredible man.

The Best Tribute To Robin Williams Yet

And lastly by the way if you ever wanted to know what Gods voice sounded like it's right here in the depths of Bonos throat at the beginning of this song and he's not even forming proper words.




I love you, Computer. Keep that spark warm today because it's fucking cold outside.


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