Stealing time to write this blog post. Pretty much every blog post I've ever written, I have stolen time from my family to write.
I'm so glad I did.
Dave's mother is here, I'm slowly teaching her the Chez Riley ways of living. Vital things like .... when you open something for Rocco, he always, ALWAYS must hold the wrapper in his other hand. If he doesn't he will scream out "MY LID! MY LIII-IIIIID!!!" And you will forage deep in the garbage bin for a piece of plastic wrapper from the cheese stick, and it will be the most pressing, important, vital thing you will do all day. Or at least until the next crisis.
Dave and I leave in two sleeps. I have been counting down from six months ago ... and now it's two sleeps. Milk at the grocery store now has a due date of when we will be away. On Monday, we will drive down to Sydney, park at my sisters house, kiss her and make her take photos (because they could be the last photos ever taken of us, and printed in next weeks paper under the headline "COUPLE DIE IN FIERY MID-AIR COLLISION.")
And this is after we kiss our boys goodbye. The longest I have ever been apart. I'm driving Max crazy, cuddling and gazing longingly.
Yesterday was Dave's birthday. He turned 44, which I'm pretty sure is a master number in numerology. He thought he was 43 all morning until I sat down and actually showed him the maths equation - "Look, hon, see? Born in 1966 = 44. You're welcome!"
I gave him an extra year for his birthday. I am SO thoughtful.
Yesterday, I spun out so badly that at the supermarket carpark I climbed into the back seat of my car and cracked open the biggest block of coconut rough chocolate ever made. And sat there, on my own, freaking out, munching. Looking up into the clouds, how pretty they were! People driving past looked in, expectantly, waiting for me to move my car. I was all, seriously dude - does it look like I'm moving? I'm sitting in the back seat eating chocolate! Freaking the hell out! Move along, nothing to see here!
We tell people we're going to New York, and they can't believe it. We can't believe it. It's outrageous. Ridiculous. Miraculous. Who does this? Why are we going?
For many reasons. I keep getting full-on flashbacks of two years ago when I was heavily pregnant, spending that last weekend with Dave, when he was bent over in pain from his tumours. I knew that life would never be the same again. We were going on a journey then too - a terrible, heartbreaking journey.
And here we are, two years later, a journey of a different kind. Everything Dave and I have ever gone through in our lives, has led to this moment right now. WANKER ALERT: I think every journey is actually taken inside yourself, not how many miles you actually travel. We've had to overcome a lot of darkness to get to this place.
Last night, after we all sang happy birthday to Dave three times (it's Rocco's favourite song) ... and ate the lamb and the chicken and all laughed together, I gave Dave his birthday present. A helicopter sightseeing tour of New York. He LOVED IT. Later on, I dragged my brother Cam into my bedroom, telling him I had the hugest dream about his father (my 1st stepfather, aka Dead Dad Number 2) .... and Dave walked in, interupting, telling me he had something for me.
He dragged me over to the table, telling me to keep my eyes closed. I glimpsed a red bag, I said what - a tool box for yourself? (Dave is not known for amazing thoughtful gift-giving. Bless.)
He laughs and is all, no hon, keep your eyes closed. His beautiful daughter was standing next to him, saying how cool it was and she wished she had one.
I opened my eyes to this -
And I cried and cried, straight away. Big heaving sobs. And Dave cried and *NAME REDACTED* cried too, so contagious was the deep cry I cried.
It's the best gift I have ever received in my life. Like Dave peered into my Soul like an Avatar and whispered, "I see you."
When I was a girl my grandmother used to look into my eyes, like really look, and see that I was an actual person. And she always said, "You know Eden, you're a very good writer. I think you will write, one day."
Years later, in the wilderness years .... the twenties of my discontent, the rehab shuffle and the misery and the attempts to not live in the stupid world any more .... I would wonder if maybe one day I would be ok? And get better? Maybe I could write about it all one day?
And I am and I did and I have.
And if we do die in a fiery plane crash, I will die the happiest, blessed, most fulfilled I've ever been.
(Except they can't identify me from dental records because I've cancelled three dentist appointments in the past two weeks. New York, you get to see my sticky-outty strange front tooth that broke the day before I went to Bullen's Animal World when I was ten years old. It's fixed, but needs to be re-fixed ..... I would rather pat a huntsman than visit the dentist. My sister said they could identify me from my tattoos, but I said no because they'd burn off in the crash. Maybe my panic gland will be all that's left, sitting buckled in my seat, listening to its teeny iPod. Because my panic gland is SO STRONG I DON'T THINK IT CAN EVER DIE.)
So. New York in two days. I'll be writing about it, oh yes.
How am I ever going to leave them? My two shining diamonds .... my biggest treasure, the reason for everything. The sun and the moon and all the planets and orbits and satellites as well. Everything.
I'm pretty sure, when the plane takes off next week ..... the invisible cord will ricochet it straight back onto our front yard. And Max will come out and say "Mum what the heck!" And I'll cry and say "I couldn't leave you!!" Sobbing. And then he'll berate me because nanna will be making him extra hot chips and he's quite liking time apart from mum and dad thank you very much.
And everyone else on the plane will be all, WHAT THE F*CK??
This is my online submission for Project Mom Casting, who are developing a new series featuring online moms.
I could be their Australian connection ..... once they cast the show, all of the bloggers can fly to Australia and stay in the holiday house that Dave built. I run the accommodation business and take bookings for it ... it's big and beautiful and sleeps twelve and we could all vote each other off and do vlogs and talk about being a mom. Except I would teach them all how to say "mum." (And maybe how to light farts.)
One week ago Dave and I went to court. For seven hours straight there were legal murmerings and whispers and angry faces and shouting. Mediation, in and out of the rooms, heated discussions. Until finally, after over a YEAR of legal wrangling and bullshit and vendettas and vengeance ..... it is now resolved. I haven't seen Dave smile so broadly in - ohhh, two years. He's smiling with his whole face and whole heart. This particular issue burnt him like a fire .... affected him on an emotional level much more than the cancer ever did. I have been doing 98% of the parenting for so long now. I get shocked when I look in the mirror and don't see the hundred year old crone I feel I am.
So - what was rightfully Dave's is now his again .... ours, even. People are such odd creatures, especially when it comes to money.
This has all brought forth a flurry of paperwork and activity and stress and angst, which won't end for another week. We leave for America in a little over a week.
I sat in the courthouse, nodding wisely with the legal team at appropriate times, pretending I had an inkling. I did have an inkling, but it was boring. My brain short circuits with facts and figures. Give me words and metaphors, THAT is where I live. I soon realised where Rocco's lost pinocchio toy from his Happy Meal went - in my handbag. At certain times my bag could be heard giving off a little high pitched squeal, which I ignored. Once we were all standing there together and I bumped the wall with it. "I'M A REAL BOOOOOY."
I stood there pretending I hadn't heard a thing. The lawyer stopped talking, I saw Dave wince out of the corner of my innocent eye.
Every day is a full one. Many moons ago, when I was only a few months clean, my sponsor had a party at her house. I remember going to the loo, looking through the stacks of books piled up near the sink. One was called "Daily Meditations for Women Who Do Too Much." I thought it was pretty stupid - who would do too much? If anything I needed a book for women who do too little.
I need the "Too Much" book right now. I have never been so busy and swirling. I made a will for the first time ever .... it feels like I signed my own death warrant, with all the talk of life support getting turned off and guardianship of the boys. Sitting in the solicitors office next Dave I said: "Great. Bet we'll die violently in a plane fireball."
He winced again. When we drove home there was a truck in front of us and I imagined it suddenly flying open and hundreds of dead bodies spill out all over the road, bones crunching under our tyres.
I look at the boys and wonder how they would live their lives if we died. It's Dave's birthday next week, I'm giving him a helicopter trip around NYC. What if his chopper crashes and he dies and it's all my fault because I dragged him across the world all in the name of blogging?
The only reason we are going to New York is because of Dave's penis. If he hadn't had a vasectomy, I wouldn't have done IVF, wouldn't have started a blog. I always thought I would shut my blog down after I had the baby .... my monkey. All bets were off when Dave got cancer. I blogged often and hard. I remember realising for the first time .... that you didn't have to have a "topic" to blog about. You could write anything, anything at all. Amazing. Mel wrote a wonderful post yesterday about blogging, why you shouldn't think it's not worth it.
Dave and I are mainly going on a trip together because he almost died. We were made painfully aware how life can turn on a dime, at any stage. It's like we're just saying "Fuck it!" .... and just going. Everybody around us is excited and amazed, some say they wish they could do that too. I say, you can. You can do whatever the hell you want.
My imagination is firing on all cylinders. So is my stress and anxiety and overwhelming-ness. I need more Rescue Remedy. My sister Linda is a Reiki Practitioner and Australian Bushflower Remedy Queen, based down in Sydney. I need to order a vat, STAT.
It's so cold here - the dead of winter. Seems obscene that I have to pack summer clothes - and I'm not really a clothesey person. Probably jeans, some tees ..... a denim skirt if I can get away with it. I have heard a vicious rumour that Americans don't wear thongs? (Which they call flip-flops ... they think thongs are G-strings, LOLZA)
Ok I have MAN FEET ..... no dainty sweet sandals for me. I own five pairs of Havaianas, all in different colours, including hot pink, black and gold, and a purple Grimace colour. Am I allowed to wear them, or will I look like a tourist freak?
Um, I am a Finalist in BlogHer's Voices of the Year.
I feel incredibly honoured to be a part of this ... "Immediately after the community keynote, at a reception and Gala, the kirtsy team and BlogHer are working to transform the words and images of our 90 keynoters into healing action for the Gulf Coast. Inspiring works will live on after the conference, raising money to help fund the long-term recovery efforts the Gulf will need."
Dave will be staying away from most of the BlogHer mayhem, but he'll come to this with me. It will be nice to show him that I am a part of something bigger and better than just slow love-making with my slowcooker. Dave is the builder and doer and amazing one in our relationship. He is the Captain, the Ship, and the Sea all in one. I'm the undercurrents. The worrier warrior, the freaker-outer, the crazy one who takes Pinocchio to court.
Ok nobody is allowed to write any beautiful comments. I haven't been online much and feel wracked with guilt about it. Instead, please share one cool thing you are doing this weekend to remind yourself that you are really alive.
I'm just walking around having one slow gigantic panic attack.
HOW CAN I FLY HALFWAY ACROSS THE WORLD WITHOUT MY CHILDREN. WHY AM I GOING TO A BLOGGING CONFERENCE IN NEW YORK CITY. WHAT THE FUCK IS A BLOG ANYWAY. WHO DO I THINK I AM. WHEN IS THE NEXT CATASTROPHE SCHEDULED?
Today was a terrible day, in which I tried to do it all and just failed.
So I did this instead.
Poor Tim - he even went and fetched a lamp from upstairs and let his toast go cold, because he thought I was going to interview him.
Last week I drove down to my sisters house in Sydney. I had this in the back of my car:
The cot she let me borrow for the baby, back when the baby was still in my belly, before any cancer came to our house. It was exciting to give it back to her. I will never ever have a baby again. EVER. That thought would once make me so despondent; now it makes me want to dance a jig.
The jig is up. I will never be clucky again - fact. I love my boys so much. Bigger than anything. But thank goodness they will soon be bigger than anything.
I was riding solo and so was Leigh.. I had come to teach her my bachelor ways ...... I arrived at her beautiful house out in a leafy suburb with a picket fence and cute garden, ran up the path, peered in the window and saw her cute little face squinted at her computer. I bashed loudly and scared the shit out of her. "I'M HERE!!! WOOOOOHOOOOOOOO!!!"
Some people bring flowers. I brought these puppies.
Oh yeah baby. We were both starving for lunch so we jumped in my car and I let her drive and I was all like, "Mate where have I been for two years?? I am SO sorry!"
I have been an unwelcoming, uninviting hermit. With both my sisters. I have had too many kids in my house. It's the busiest I've ever been in my life and I don't handle busy well.
My twin sisters are both married with two children each - both had a girl first, then a boy. Both had their kids very close together, so they fully understand where I was coming from in the mental health department.
We went shopping and laughed heaps and ate burgers. I tried on a cute pastel polka dot sundress .... she was in the changing room next to me and asked how did it look?
"Great! All I need is a cow to milk."
I came out and showed her, I looked like a frickin' rainbow milk maid. We just laughed. This is why I stick to wearing black - I can't do cute. You can take the heroin and alcohol out of the junkie, but you're still left with a motherfucking badarse who can't wear frills.
She took me to Cronulla beach where we had a photo shoot:
Then we came back to her house. She sneezes like a pussy and told me it's bad feng shui to leave the toilet seat up. I made her watch the news at 6pm. I asked her what century are we in?
A good friend is somebody you can ask what century are we in, without being embarrassed. She laughed and told me it was the 21st.
We baked our meat with roast potatoes and simple salad. She had this bottle of salad dressing that was called "Glaze" ...... it tasted SO YUM. We called it "Julio InGLAZEious."
I saturated my salad with it. I drank it from the bottle. Later when she was uploading pics, critiquing each one, she turned to tell me something and saw me cutting the plastic GLAZE bottle open with my steak knife.
"I need it."
She let me have it. I licked it clean.
We talked and laughed til 11.30pm but then I had to go to bed because I had to get up early to come back and relieve Dave of childminding so that he could take his friends daughter in to jail for a visit to see her dad.
I picked this girl up on my way home .... she climbed into my car and told me how excited she was to see her daddy. "He's in jail, did you know that?" I said yes sweetheart, I did know that. I let her buzz open my sunroof and stare out of it in wonder. She asked me what would happen if it rains? I explained that the car would fill up with water and can she swim? Her eyes went wide. BUTWE'D DROWN.
We laughed together. For a second, I wondered what it would be like to have a daughter. I pulled the thought out, checking for any regret or wist.
Not any. Not one. No how. NEVER AGAIN.
Anyway, I just gave the cot back.
The next day, Leigh text me:
"I just made a tuna salad sandwich. But there's no GLAZE to put on it, THANKS."
I don't know what I love about this photo more .... the fact that he scrunched it up after being cranky at me one day, then smoothed it out before putting it back on his corkboard. I asked him did he scrunch it: "Yes mum! HA!" We laughed about it, him with not a trace of fear. I love it. I love him.
Thank you for your comments on the Babygate post. Thank you. I was appalled when I came here this morning and realised that yes, I actually did compare my son to the antichrist. But he really is the sweetest, most gorgeous antichrist the world ever saw. Just then he ran up to me: "OH MY GORD MUM YOU CHEEKY BOY." And ran off again. I have pretended I'm the boss all week, which his shifted his behaviour considerably.
In an upcoming post I will show you a photo which clearly illustrates why I have not been able to respond individually to comments, or get around to many blogs. Please be warned: it's one of the most disgusting photos you'll ever see. I'm not joking. I haven't even shown my sisters yet. You are so welcome in advance!
I'm sick. HOORAY! Means I'll be all better by the time I nonchalantly jump on a plane and travel to NYC in less than three weeks. You Americans thinking that Bali is exotic are funny! An Australian travelling to Bali ..... it's like going to a local beach. Dirt cheap fares, man. Neither Dave nor I have been - apparently haggling is rife. I fail at haggling; Dave is a champion. He hates haggling next to me because I accidentally always end up on the other guys side.
Max and I threw caution to the wind and decided to take Damien Rocco to the movies. I warned Max: "Mate, we'll either last five minutes or the whole film. You wanna do it?"
"Let's risk it, mum."
Shrek 3D was a big success! Not a screaming meltdown or stray poopy nappy in sight! Parenting for the win!
Early the other morning, Rocco came running into our bedroom, looked at both of us, then yelled out: "YOU F***CK."
I am so ground down by him lately that it took every inch not to scream up in his face "NO CHAMP - YOU F*CK."
He sleeps in a big bed, so runs around the house at all hours of the night. Plonking himself down next to me at 3am one morning, handing me the remote. "Watch Buth and Woody."
I took him back into his bed, he got up again - three more times, screaming to watch Toy Story.
Changing his nappy is a nightmare. He shouts and kicks me, tries to put his hands in his shit. Getting him dressed into his clothes is a tug'o'war. He screams when I put him in the stroller, so I relent - then I run after him as he bolts down the street, narrowly getting missed by cars.
He rules all of us with his tyrant ways.
It's not funny anymore. It actually never WAS FUCKING FUNNY. I have had ENOUGH. Yes I love him, of course I fricken love him but sweet Jesus I am a nervous, twitching wreck. He yells into my face. If I get cranky, he yells into my face LOUDER. I asked him to get into the car the other day or I would carry him to the car ... he pulled his head back and headbutted me square in the face.
I smacked his bum. Cushioned by his nappy, but still.
- Photo taken by me in a cluttered antique shop on Parramatta Road, Sydney March 2010
Be bold. Be courageous, generous, thoughtful. Think deeply. Manners are free - say please and thank you a lot. Unparent yourself. You have more freedom than you will ever know. When you feel fat and ugly and unloved, know this: you will look back at photos of you and realise you were beautiful all along. True!
Don't live in anybody else's shadow. Live in your own shadow. Make friends with your shadow ... you can't outrun it. Wherever you go, there you are! When you are judgemental of someone, gently remember that you are actually judging yourself. Be kind to yourself. Forgive yourself.
You are ok! That is the basis of a very wise rehabilitation program used for recovering drug addicts and alcoholics - throughout all the muck and mire and garbage, all we ever really want to know is that we are ok. You are ok!
Breathe. Stop living in your head. Grow up. Then grow back down again.
Look at old people more. Imagine all they have been through, all they have seen. They're fascinating. (Especially the really grouchy ones.)
You are stronger than you will ever know. Stop judging your insides by other people's outsides. You are where somebody else once was. Evolve. Notice your evolution, feed it. Watch it grow.
You are never too old. It's never too late. Things are never that bad. Realz. I thought all of that and have travelled back in time to tell you the tale.
Did you have great parents? What a blessing. Dud parents? Forgive them. If you can't do that, try to understand them. If you can't do that, wish them peace. It's hard.
So many things in life are hard. The best and most worthwhile things in life are the hardest of all.
Take a walk every day for at least twenty minutes. Your hips will thank you when you're sixty.
Imagine punching the whole world in the face, every once in a while. Feels good doesn't it? Rebel. Be free. Don't believe in The Government .... there is no "The Government." Believe in the good and the light in others. All of the darkness in the whole world cannot put out the light of one candle. Remember when you were a kid watching cartoons and the goodies always won? The baddies never win.
Be a badass goodie.
Hate is not the opposite of love - fear is the opposite of love.
You are not less than anybody else. You are not less than anybody else.
Don't worry if you think you have married the wrong person. Everybody marries the wrong person. Try to live together and move forward anyway. Keep going, and growing.
Never ever ever ever ever give up. Don't kill yourself - you'll miss the ending.
Have compassion and time for people who do not know as much as you yet, the same way others had compassion and time for you at the beginning of your journey. Stay away from the haters, the crazymakers, the users. Nourish your body with whole foods. Feed your brain as well as your mind.
Write letters. Learn the tango, even if you're single. Especially if you're single.
You are forgiven. You are ok.
All is well.
Especially when it's not.
When you master how to do all this, please give me a call on 1-800-FLOUNDER. Because most days I have no flaming idea what I'm doing.
*EDITED - I've had comments on this post, but they are not coming through to Blogger. Is anyone else having the same problem?
I can hear New York, in the middle of the night. It hums, beckoning me over. My soul can sense the vibe and see the streets already. It's pretty outrageous that we are going. I can't believe we are going. I have been planning this for a year now. At first it was so cool and amazing, lately it's just terrifying.
All of our tickets and flights and hotels are paid for. (Insert maniacal nailbiting here.) I have been reading up on things to do .... the Guggenheim, Chrysler Building, hear gospel singing in a Harlem Choir, Central Park. Eat a street pretzel. Get the ferry. See a Broadway show. Have sexy love time with my husband without saying, "Was that Rocco? Is he coming in? Quick hurry up. Don't worry about me, just finish."
Neither Dave or I travelled in our twenties. Too busy making sandcastles out of shifting sands. He has never even been to the US. I can not WAIT to see Dave Riley's reaction to America.
We are leaving the boys behind and flying halfway across the world by ourselves, because we are selfish like that. Some people can not BELIEVE we are taking a trip by ourselves. They don't agree - I don't blame them, I'm not even sure if I agree. But by God I need a break. I am stale and stagnant and stressed out. Dave is worse.
I totally stuffed up with the hotel reservations. When I originally made the booking I was so giddy that Dave was in remission that I agreed with the first recommendation the travel agent suggested. Put a deposit down, and THEN did my own looking online. I asked for a refund but they said no. I begged - they felt so bad that they upgraded our hotel. It's right near Times Square now. The photo up the top of this post? A bar in our new schwanky hotel. I showed it to Dave and told him that one night, I want to sit on that couch all dressed up, and get our photo taken. We will. Then we will probably have to tip the waiter for taking the photo? Tipping is big there, right?
Dave's mother is coming here for the first week, then my mother and stepfather will come for the remainder. The boys will stay in their own environment, still go to school and daycare. I will miss them beyond belief, and every time I see a child over there my heartstrings will tug. I need to miss them.
We fly back to Australia after NY, then fly back out to Bali and stay in a luxury villa for five nights. With our own private pool and chef. I'm pretty sure they wipe our bums too.
Every year I have read about BlogHer. Last year I thought man, I really want to go. When I found out it was in NYC I HAD to go. So I decided to go. Saved up. And now we are going. Who knew you could do such things? Not I, not at all.
Any person who says they have no regrets in life is either a liar or just boring as hell. I deeply regret wasting my twenties. I wish I had travelled, by myself after I finished school. Before I had children. I never really "lived" before I settled down. Settling down was not even a conscious choice for me, it just kind of happened.
Going to New York is a life-long dream. I have heard it is like its own country. I'm expecting to be blown away, inspired, my creativity renewed. I get to meet some wonderful friends - I have never met another blogger. Do you really exist? Maybe you are just one person who has created the world's biggest hoax, dripping hotsauce on your keyboard in Peru?
I get to have a second honeymoon with my husband. The one who didn't die. We keep patting each others fat tummies and armflab, cocking our heads to one side. "Hon! Winter fat! Tsk tsk!" I'm contemplating getting a spray tan, for the first time in my life ..... if you're going to BlogHer, just look for the tall red-haired oompa loompa.
Watch out, America. The Riley's are coming to steal your summer, eat all your chocolate, and bitch about your crap coffee.