Wednesday, 18 February 2015

A Leopard Cannot Change Its Spots.

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Crappy day. Currently stealth-eating a piece of coconut jam slice in the library - no Megan there is not ONE crumb.

Just wanted to let you know I wrote quite a personal piece for The Hoopla today about the imminent executions of two Australians in Indonesia - Andrew and Myuran. Can you pronounce Myurans' name correctly? It hasn't been said much on the news for the past ten years.

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It's a bit exposing but MAN I feel for those guys. A whole lot. Anyway I'm late for class, gotta go, almost at the bridge.




 

Sunday, 15 February 2015

Why I Can't Award The Winner $1000 For The Lip Synch Awards - UPDATED!!

UPDATED - contact has been made! She is ok! She is still alive! I was so worried! I'm going to get her address from her mum. Oh my god I'm so relived.

::

Because I don't know where she is, where she lives, or even if she's ok.

It's a young, beautiful girl who sent me a lip-synch for the awards I announced back on October 15th.

Just twelve years old, she introduced herself, smiled shyly and laughed to me on a private You Tube sent through to me by her adoring mum who is doing everything she can to keep her daughter alive on a daily basis.

The pull of the dark is strong, even in the young. I understand her pain and struggle and all the things she's been "diagnosed" with. People like her were the whole reason I set up the competition in the first place ... to let yourself go, be a bit free, who cares what people thinks of you in this stupid world.

Her pain touched my heart and the fact that she still gets up every day and faces the world gives me hope. I've tried hard for months to track her and her mum down and I am a private detective. Futile. To no avail.

I'd like to thank everybody who entered these awards, every single entry meant so much. Thank you for having fun, for honouring my brother. You made me laugh, you made me cry, you gave me hope and you gave yourselves joy. I saw it in your eyes when you let go.

Just this week I learnt that the answer to almost all of our problems is just simple human connection. That's all.

So here is the original song my beautiful young winner lip-synched to - so beautifully. And so bravely.

It's a bloody awesome song.




So beautiful girl who I hope is still alive ... you won! Congratulations! And I can't find you ... so what to do?

Five minutes ago I donated your prize money of $1000 on behalf of my brother Cam to Foundation 18, an orphanage in Indonesia set up by my friend Cate Bolt to keep young girls out of prostitution and give them the childhood they deserve. So many of us were robbed of the childhood we deserved - children of all colours. Some overcome it. Some can't. Some go on to become a shining light for others, lead the way for those behind. Some become sad case stories.

Thank you for entering my competition, you precious girl. I used to lip synch to songs when I was at your age too, but only by myself, clutching my tape recorder. And I certainly never showed anybody WAY too shy. Thanks for letting me in, even though it was a brief minute.

I wish you could see yourself as the Universe sees you.

xx

PS Cate there was nowhere to write who the donation was from. It's from Cam Dogs Estate hi my brother killed himself have some money. He was the most beautiful, caring, funny, gorgeous guy who you'll never get the privilege to meet. It makes me happy that he's helped out your girls. x

PPS You should totally donate to Foundation 18 too. In Cams name. It'd make me happy. It'd turn something awful into something beautiful.


Friday, 13 February 2015

Edenland Channel - The Orphaned Washing Machine.

Yeah so I had to upload this whole thing on my crappy portable wi-fi. It's taken hours, all while waiting for the Telstra guy to come and he never came. For the second appointment in a row I've been here waiting between the hours of 9-1 waiting for a fictional imaginary internet set-up person who I no longer believe in any more. I'll write "fully-fledged Telstra Atheist" on my next census form. The guy at the help desk was furious on my behalf and really embarrassed and really, who cares that poor Eden has to wait for internet such an inconvenience *violin emoticon*

It just means there's no special graphics or proper news music at the end but who cares. It's not even proper news! But it DOES involve singing. (Even though Aimee sings waaaaay better than me.)



And one last ditch attempt to try and find the winner of the Lip Synch Awards - I cannot track you down! And I'm a private detective who is now really worried because I always think the worst. So could the mother of the beautiful girl who sent me the private YouTube vid which has since been taken down please please email me - your beautiful girl won. I will not name her or publish the video I just want to know she's ok! You sent me a really long email describing her and there she was, describing herself to me. She's twelve. She's beautiful. Her name begins with G. 

Please email me on edenriley@gmail.com

Now try have a fairly decent weekend, ok you guys? #icing

Tuesday, 10 February 2015

Takes Commitment!

The best thing happened. Me and Rocco pulled into the servo for some petrol and ice blocks and immediately came face-to-face with this Wicked Camper van that had ALREADY been altered.


Commitment. Hmmm. I channelled Carrie Mathison from Homeland (I purposely pick shows that contain strong female characters so I can channel them irl what isn't that what everyone does?) and took a stealth photo of it before I approached the people sitting in the van. Knocked on their window. Rocco's like, "Mum, what are you DOING?" And I said I just need to ask these people a question.

They were two girls in their early twenties, British, absolutely lovely. I asked them if they hired the van like that or if they'd altered it themselves.

(I have a thing about seeing these revolting vans and now carry a can of black spray with me in my car wherever I go - because there's a lot of tourists with rentals up here in the Blue Mountains.)

The girls laughed and said they altered it themselves with black tape. That they'd asked Wicked Vans specifically for a non-offensive van but were given this one anyway. I told them about my can of black spray and they LAUGHED .. and I told them that following quite a community outrage in a few states the owner of the company John Webb apologised and had said that all offensive vans would be "phased out" within six months. I asked them what the van originally said.

"Oh it wasn't really too offensive but we just didn't like it. It said "Addiction takes commitment."

My blood boiled. I told them to have a great time in the mountains and we said goodbye and I wondered to myself, if I had seen that van unaltered there would have been nothing  I could do - you probably can't really spray paint a van at a crowded petrol station, what with all the chemicals. There are much, much worse slogans painted on these vans but this one I took personally. Because addiction DOES take commitment - you've got to lose your job, your friends, sleep in strangers houses, do things you would never have dreamed of doing back when you were an innocent kid at school. It's like when I see people wearing t-shirts saying "Rehab is for quitters!" And I want to ask them well, yes it is, what's your point?

Addiction destroys families, lives, children of addicts suffer so badly but you know what takes bigger commitment? Recovery. Regularly doing meetings, putting down drink and drugs, facing yourself, your family and what you've done ... moving forward on just pure faith at the beginning after relying on substances to face the day. Getting clean takes immense commitment. So does standing up for issues that you believe in.

This is Paula. Her site is "Questions for Us." Paula is a school teacher who started the 110,000-strong change.org petition against Wicked Campers and she's shown quite some commitment in raising awareness not just about these vans but other stuff too - stuff that we see around us and think, "Wow, somebody would really do something about that." Well, me and Paula ... and quite a few other people ... are the someones. We haven't met each other in the flesh yet but we will, to discuss phase two of our operation.

See this charming van?


I put it on my Facebook page and while mostly people were as disgusted as me, some people told me to lighten up, "there's more things to worry about in the world than some van company" and they're just meant to be funny. Of course there's more things in the world to worry about then some van company. But this van company has really pissed me off.

Paula joined in the discussion and informed everyone that that van was painted as a direct result of Hoopla editor Lucy Clark writing this piece about the vans. It was only then I realised the "Dear Lucy" above. WOW - a direct sexually violent threat to a female journalist in response to a piece she wrote on a very well respected news website.

Wow.

It's said that when you're parenting teenagers you have to pick your battles. My battle with Wicked Campers has only started, and it all began from the innocent voice of my six-year old son reading aloud the words "If anal sex hurts, you're doing it wrong." Then he asked me what anal sex was. Then I was at war with this disgusting company and their filthy values. Some people say it's all a clever marketing ploy to get their name up there and they've certainly done that! But it's not just the vans - it's the people who hire out these vans, the people who read these vans and do nothing .... surely John Webb is breaking some kind of obscenity laws? Somebody should do something about that.


So hi John Webb. My name is Eden and even though I got a lot of stuff happening in my life right now - I'm doing something about that.








(The only thing I apologise for about this video is calling backpackers stinky - that's stereotypical and wrong, sorry guys. I've got man glands so I'm probably more stinky than you.)

Then of course, the inevitable You Tube comments came rolling in:

ricardo bellos: "get a life you stupid mole so much for freedom of expression..your being close minded an its art form you may not like but art is meant to be controversial.. "

You Tube comments belong on a planet all to themselves. Anyway, gotta go, stuff to do, takes commitment to live my life these days.

See you soon John.

Sunday, 8 February 2015

Running With The Wolves

I unpacked all of my books and set up my bookcase and all this magic poured out.


I set up my favourite Skyway Restaurant desk and wrote the first chapter of my memoir. It's probably shit and will never see the light of day in the final edit. But that's ok.


There's so many different ways to write it. I could write twenty memoirs using different words but the essence would all be the same. I've never been so ready. See that Joy Division postcard? I bought it when I was nineteen - Love Will Tear Us Apart. I had no idea what that meant but I sure do now. The glass broke and the frame is long gone but it's still stuck there, still true. I've always been intuitive, always felt things years before I understood them.

Here's a photo of me writing my memoir:


I bought that card a few years ago from the local Catholic shop that I hate. It makes me cranky. Don't even know who this guy is but I like him. I took Max into that shop once to buy him some rosary beads which weren't cheap and by the time we got home the cross had fallen off. So I took them back the next day but the lady wouldn't let me replace them, said it was my fault. Oh, Catholicism! Always with the guilt! I told her I'd never be back and I haven't. One of the richest corporations in the world couldn't replace a cross for a small boy. I hate what being brought up Catholic has done to me. Weeks later I found that cross wedged in the back seat of the car but I threw it away. I'd already given Max an Angel card from a different place by then and Lord Himself knows we all got too many crosses to bear anyway.


I found a rare photo of my brother Cam and my baby Max together one christmas. Straight after I took that photo Cam made Max laugh and Max threw his head back and it hit the table. He cried so hard! Cam felt SO bad, I said "Mate, it's fine, don't worry! He's ok!" Cam used to come and visit me when I was pregnant with Max and he was still in high school. We talked so much, about everything. I keep looking back like a forensic scientist, understanding things and putting his suicide pieces together. It's been the most extraordinarily hardest thing I've ever had to live through in my life and I've spent all of this weekend crying a river so high that I was able to sail away in a little boat and keep moving, keep going. Tears make you stronger.

It's difficult to believe in a world my brother didn't believe in anymore. It's conflicting when I get moments of hope. And now, suddenly, everything has come together in a huge crescendo and I'm reaping the rewards of all the hard work I've been doing these past few years, looking inside myself, dismantling everything.


I used to be many things. And yet here I sit on a back deck of a new house looking at trees and sobbing from gratitude, from understanding, from the realisation that I'm more powerful than I could have ever imagined. Against all the odds.

I thanked whoever the fuck it is who has been watching over me for my entire life. When you don't receive the love you need early on, you can get it from other places, mystical places. Keep walking through that fire - don't stop. And you'll arrive at a place you've never been to before.


I said to whoever the fuck it is who has been watching over me for my entire life,

"You gave me a boy to love. And then you took him away."

I know that's not true but it felt good to say it anyway. My brother was a grown man who made his own choices and doesn't life deal us some crappy cards? Sometimes I get angry at Cam. "I had two dead dads you only had ONE. You are supposed to still BE HERE." Mostly I just tell him I love him and I'm sorry and I need him. Over and over I tell him that. Life doesn't get handed to us on a bounteous platter. You gotta eat a lot of shit sandwiches to get to where you need to be. There's so many wars in the world and on the "news" but the biggest wars are silently being waged in our own hearts. You can numb it, or run from it, go the ignore, fill it up with other stuff. But if you don't wake up while you're alive then you'll die sleeping. So many of us lose our way.

This is the strongest and truest I've ever been and I'm just sitting on a chair on a Sunday, looking at the trees. Just being. Understanding so many different things all at once. I'm not done yet. I got shit to do, poems to slam, kids to raise and bills to pay. I've always had this theory that when somebody you love dies, they'll watch out for you and give you strength. I could be wrong but I'm pretty sure my brother is giving me all the strength and love and power to me now, all the stuff he couldn't feel or do when he was alive. He wanted me to keep going. He banked on it. He knew I had kids and couldn't follow him. Fucker. Everything I do from now on in my life I will do for and because of the both of us. He saved me in my childhood and I couldn't save him in his adulthood but that was not my job. It was his. One day I might believe that. I'm still very far from forgiving myself about his death and I'll carry my sadness like a cross for the rest of my days, a cross so big it could never be wedged in the back seat of a car. So I'll need to be strong.

Have you ever re-evaluated your entire self and made huge decisions based purely on instinct, intuition, a knowing that you're on the right path? Yes? No? It feels absolutely extraordinary and though it's full of pain and tears, you're suddenly on the other side looking at things with a completely different set of eyeballs as if the actual Creator of this whole stupid shebang switched them out of the sockets of your skull while you were asleep. To wake you up.



"Write.
What you know
and let your feelings show.
Be who you are and give all that you've got
It's easy and as hard as this
Though you try to resist

It's just the way of this world
Let it be your oyster, your pearl
Make you an honest girl
Let it be your oyster, your pearl."

- Sarah Blasko


Thursday, 5 February 2015

Now I Know Why I Love Skulls So Much

So many people have asked me why I get tattoos of skulls and I always stammer and say, "Um, because I just like them?" And feel like an idiot. I feel like an idiot 95.7% of my life.

But suddenly now I know why - skulls can't hide anything. They're real as fuck, just bones and a jaw and teeth and sunken eyes. Naked. Bare. There's no secrets with skulls.

We are all doing ok, over here! I love my husband Dave - so much. I love him so much that I left him because let's face it, how much would it suck to live with me? A helluva lot and I should know, I live with me 24/7. It blows. My brain has fallen onto hard times. My  mental decline has been sure and steady - diagnosed with this, being treated for that. And then UNDIAGNOSED with Bipolar. I take medication - but I've recently, painfully learnt that medication only helps so much. You still gotta live with your shit. Owie.

Thing is, exactly a year ago I was in hospital (AGAIN) but 12 months later I'm sitting in a classroom with a whole heap of other people whose common bond is they want to HELP other people and I don't even know how I got there. We've already talked about Australian government policies, aged care, mental health funding, drug and alcohol facilities, difficulties facing parents, youth work, suicide. And I've just sat there soaking it all in thinking "Holy shit I really need to be doing this right now." Nobody knows a thing about me. My brother Cam paid for the entire course and it wasn't cheap. I'm not on Centrelink payments - used to be for many years, and they kept me alive and I'm very grateful, but it's my turn to give back.

On the day of enrolment I walked outside the campus I spoke to Cam like I always do and said, "Well bro, I have no idea what I'm doing but thank you for helping me."

And as for packing up all of my stuff and finding a new house and leaving my family home? Yeah that was a pretty painful day. But I knew I was doing the right thing. I have apologised to Dave so many times, for being so broken after Cam died. It can't be helped. You love someone that hard, you're a massive goner after they die.

But I didn't die - still here, still loving all of my family just as much. It's impossible to sum up fifteen years of a relationship into a few paragraphs on a blog my GOD we've had some times! But it's so relieving to have space, for me as much as him. Because of my policy of (mostly) not talking shit about people on my blog, Dave has become somewhat of this incredible gorious human. Which of course he is - for years I've teased him. "Yeah, you're SAINT DAVE on my blog." But of course - he has his own issues, his own stuff, he's not a picnic to live with sometimes either. He even has faults and does shitty things and can be a real arsehole but I've never written about all that. There's certain mechanisms at play, same as in any marriage. I told him recently "Hon, it was like living in a tsunami. I can breathe now!" And he laughed and said he never wanted to be a tsunami. We don't which way the wind blows, but our dedication to our kids is rock solid which is all that matters for the moment.

I've purposely left the same photo of all of us at the beach on both fridges in both houses, told the boys no mater who lives where we are ALWAYS family. And everything will be ok.



I will always love him, he will always love me, and this break is so necessary and only I could do it. Fifteen years ago he was builder Dave wearing overalls and I had more money than him, working at a cafe in Katoomba Street saving up to go to Scotland. Then I accidentally made this incredible family and all this stuff happened and now we're here. I look back and think - what happened, when did it start going wrong? His cancer? My mental health? The fighting? Jim died, then Cam died, and then I just brokeded all up and barely hung on.

But I hung on, like a barnacle. my new house is bright and airy and can you believe I broke my favourite cup!


It just kind of disintegrated right in front of me. I had a funny feeling when I bought that cup and I had a funny feeling when it broke - not sadness. Everything ends. Love doesn't end and this will always be a love story regardless what happens but my cup broke, man. It finished. nothing lasts forever. It served its purpose, it was a joy to drink out of, and now it's gone.

I'm not replacing that cup. There was only ever one like it in the whole world. But I keep a shard of it on my windowsill, to remind me of how beautiful it was to drink out of.


Monday, 2 February 2015

Fearlessly.



This morning for the very first time I made Rocco warm milk with his rice bubbles, told him if he didn't like it he didn't have to eat it but when I was little one of my aunties used to make it for me and it was the BEST.

He loved it - ate two bowls.


Dave and I separated a few months ago. I moved out and found a place of my own, decked the boys rooms out first-thing because they come first. Always will. My room is still a wreck.. but here's the top of my cupboard.


Max started year eight last week. YEAR EIGHT.


They are both going ok - pretty well, actually. I told Roccos teacher this morning and she thanked me, because at the moment they're talking about families in class and who lives with who. I tell my boys it doesn't matter who lives in what house - that we will all always be a family, and when you're with your family, you are home. I never really bought any parenting books, just do it instinctively. Look them in the eyes, answer their questions, listen to them. Yell at them when needed. Hug them a whole lot. Rocco and I have had lots of sleepovers in each others rooms.

I seen a lot of stuff in my life so far. If this is the worst thing happening in my sons lives right now, then that's ok. They are safe, and loved, adored.


It's amazing what a fresh coat of paint, a cool doona cover, good friends, and some zombie posters can do for a guy.

I bought this container of wooden pieces for Rocco for christmas it is SO GOOD. You can make anything. You can make anything from anything. You don't need much.




I made a chicken - originally with four legs. Rocco took one look and laughed and laughed SO HARD. "MUM A CHICKEN HAS TWO LEGS!" And I was all, really??!

I'll never stop learning. I've already started back at college to do a Diploma in Community Work. The exact same one I started sixteen years ago before I got married and had babies. I might end up being a cranky old grassroots activist with purple hair chaining myself to stuff. I might even specialise in youthwork. Because who else is more qualified to help kids than a slightly middle-aged woman with tattoos and a lot of stories? Who else can teach them the power of writing, crafting a slam poem, believing in themselves? There's a lot of Cams out there. I'd love to maybe help steer a few in a different direction. Maybe not but at least I tried. When I was a girl and people asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up, I'd answer "A pop singer and give all my money to charity." (Obviously I wanted the glory but didn't care so much about the money.)

I've always wanted to help people, which is funny because I also really am a massive arsehole. Bono says the best place to be is right in the middle of a contradiction. Sometimes I wish I didn't care so much.

I'm not even supposed to be here.


The view from my new kitchen makes me happy. Needed to buy some new music to see me through this particular patch of my life so the album "I Awake" by Sarah Blasko it is.

I'm ok. Even when I'm not - I am.






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