Tuesday, 29 November 2011

Why I am taking my ten year old son to the Eminem concert this weekend.

Back in 2002, Max was a baby with a mother who adored Eminem. I'd blast it from my old school ghetto blaster, because my car was so crap it didn't even have a stereo. Em was getting caned in the press and on the news and I could not love his balls more. I bought all of his albums and cassingles ... one which he sang with another distinctive rapper I didn't recognize at the time ... Jay-Z.

"Never been afraid to say what's on my mind at
any given time or day coz I'm a
Never been afraid to talk about anything.

Eminem may have matured and evolved ... but man does he still have that raw hunk of talent. Unbelievable. No wonder the black guys all hated him when he was a punk teen. He just waltzed into battles and blew them off the stage with his razor sharp wit and words. He said shit you're not supposed to. He told his truth and it was ugly and mean and horrible. And fucking beautiful.

He and I have a lot in common - lots of schools, getting bullied, failing at everything except English, no dad ... then years later, with specific demons to slay.

My first born son turns ten on Friday. He is so together and level-headed .. that's his nature, nothing to do with me. He loves Eminem - that has everything to do with me. He'll open his presents on Friday and there will be tickets for the show on Sunday night. You know what this means?

It means in ten years from now, when he's sitting around shooting the shit with his pals and they all ask each other the first concert they ever went to, Max can answer Eminem in 2011 for his tenth birthday. I'm proud of that. His mind and heart will be blown wide open because that's just what happens with amazing artists during stadium shows.

I don't mind Max hearing cussing, he knows he's not allowed to do it and he doesn't. I don't mind him hearing certain lyrics to certain songs ... frankly, I'm more offended by the shit that passes as music these days anyway. Ever broke down the lyrics to the latest pop tunes on your FM dial? You'd be shocked.

My biggest concern for him is that he'll want to leave the concert early - which will never happen. Mummy will be there with her age spot and hoodie until the last lighter is held in the sky, sweetheart. WORD UP.

Eminem is a saint, a sinner, a poet, a peddler, an actor, a shaman. A gifted magician. If he had a business card he'd have wordsmith on it too.

The deciding factor in taking Max on Sunday was the fact that Marshall is not afraid to tell his truth, however ugly. And I believe that is something to look up to.

No legacy is so rich as honesty - William Shakespeare, yo.


Thursday, 24 November 2011

Lesson 17: "If we do not advance .. we retrograde."

"A tight little world of Mummyland, symbolised by a mountain of unsorted clothes on the floor at the end of the bed. You can get the clothes into the washing machine. You can get them out. You can arrange them over the radiators to dry. But you cannot, cannot get the clothes back into the cupboards and drawers.

Until that pile at the end of the bed becomes a volcano of frustration and accusation and despair; ever growing, ever-depleting you. Until sometimes, alone, you are weeping and you barely know why, your hands clawed frozen at your cheeks. 'I can't do it.' Sometimes you even say it to your children, horribly it slips out - 'It's too hard, I can't do this' - bewildering them.
You weren't this woman, once. Despised this woman, once."

- Nikki Gemmell "With My Body."

Nikki Gemmell is much more than a story teller. She's a veil-lifter, a mood-catcher. A permission granter.

I spoke to her today about her new book, With My Body. She laughed and told me she'd never spoken to a blogger before. I was so nervous but she didn't mind when I stumbled over my words. I wanted to tell her who I was and what I thought ... where my own marriage was at and did she think we'll get through? I wanted to tell her that the young girl in her book was making me inwardly weep because she was me, with the aching for affection and the waiting for real life to begin. All those years ago.

(I didn't, because I also wanted her to think bloggers are smart and polished and professional.)

Nikki told me how she does not mind at all when she is used as a confessional, by other women. I suspect it happens a lot. "I've always been kind of on the outside, trying to connect with the truth of life, watching it as it all gets played out ... women tell me their secrets and I don't mind, don't mind at all. I'm interested."

A follow up to the hugely successful and somewhat controversial The Bride Stripped Bare, With My Body is Nikki's ninth book. She has four children, the youngest is four months old .. and has just moved back to Australia after 15 years of living in the UK.

She is a hugely talented writer. Gifted. With this book she has taken the pulse of married women with children, and delivered a stunning manifesto .. on how to unlock a woman, how trapped we can feel by the choices we make. It's an intensely personal look at a woman's sexual awakening, as well as a look at if we can ever really know another person.

Sentences keep taking my breath away. "You look at some of the school dads around you and just know they'll be 'dirt' - cheeky, playful, a bit of rough. But you'll never do anything about it. Don't need sex anymore. You wonder at the shine of those women who are man-free by choice: some widows and divorcees you've seen over the years, nuns, septuagenerians; those precious few who no longer seek out men and are strong with their decision and lit with it. You recognise that glow. Unencumbered."

I was reading the book last night, my two boys sleeping soundly in my big comfortable king-sized bed beside me. My engagement ring dug into my pinky and as I turned it around I remembered how desperately I wanted to be married. And how profoundly difficult this road can be.

I haven't finished it yet but I adore this book. It landed in my lap at *just* the right time. I can't wait to see what happens next.

I asked Nikki if she has always wanted to be a writer. "Oh yes .. since I was ten years old. My father gave me a copy of Jane Eyre and I gobbled it up. I remember being so taken by the protagonists journey, my heart in my mouth in terms of what she was going through. And it just connected with me, reached out and grabbed me by the throat. I wanted to be able to do that. I want to move people, if I can."

She can.

Sony have offered me a Sony Reader Wifi Touch to give away, pre-loaded with With My Body. It's the world’s lightest 6-inch reader, has a battery life of up to one month, and storage for up to 1,200 books. Worth $179 each, Sony are giving me one as well, which is very generous. (I told Nikki I would have jumped at this interview with her anyway.) After dissing e-readers for years I can finally make an informed decision on the future of real-live books you can hold in your hand.

I have some incredible international readers as well, and I was sad that you could only enter if you were an Australian resident. So I put a copy of With My Body on my overdrawn credit card at my local bookstore and as soon as I finish reading it (which won't be long) .. one of you get to win a real-live copy you can hold in your hand.

Nikki wondered if the overseas readers would be interested in a uniquely Australian protagonist and I said of COURSE ... the beauty in her writing is that she speaks the Truth. And Truth is universal. Then we got onto a tangent about how she has written the book in these beautiful vignettes and called them 'Lessons' .. some only a few pages long. She purposefully wrote them as snippets, morsels that are so easy to read in this information-laden world we live in. "It's almost like books these days are competing  .. with everything else that's readily available on the internet."

So, if you'd like to win a Sony Reader or the actual (dogeared) book - tell me a something. About your marriage, or motherhood. Fatherhood, singledom - anything. Tell me a Universal Truth that will make me feel connected today. I'm all out of sorts, and my head tells me you are all living wildly amazing and fulfilled lives while I worridly sit here on the couch eating Nutella.

I have problems saying goodbye to people on the phone .. it's so awkward. As I blurted out "Do you have an email address"  Nikki was trying to wrap it up and I could hear her baby squawk so I just quickly said goodbye instead. And that was that. Sad. But I get to look forward to every book Nikki Gemmell ever writes, ever.

(There will be two winners - an Australian who gets the Sony Reader, and an international person who gets the actual book. Winners chosen randomly in one week on Thursday 1st December. DECEMBER IS NEXT WEEK OH MY GOD.)


Wednesday, 23 November 2011

I was going to write out a big important blog post today. But then I found this.

I thought Siri was Tom Cruise's daughter.

(Thanks to one of my favourite bloggers, Mel from Stirrup Queens for the link.)


Tuesday, 22 November 2011

Am I even allowed to do product reviews like this?

This is what's left of my L'Oreal "Refined Ruby" lipstick after Rocco got bored in the car while mummy was getting talked off the ledge by a helpful stranger after a meeting. Please note, Rocco has also destroyed my cute-a-button purse I bought from Anthropologie. Does anyone know how to get lipstick stains out of material? I love that purse. And man I miss that lipstick.

I was sent this Clairol hair dye. I miss having rich red hair - man I used to be hot. A stylist hired by P&G recommended this brand specifically to me. I've never dyed my hair myself before, and am terrified. But I can't afford a professional dye job at the moment because bloggers get paid in product so I will use it. My greys are coming out again. Is it hard to dye your own hair?

My husband and I are having a Mexican standoff with this amazing new Oral-B Braun Triumph toothbrush. It's an amazing piece of machinery ... so I've heard. I haven't used it. I kind of gave it to Dave as a sweetener for spending the day in Sydney a few weeks ago, and now the true ownership of the brush is up in the air. We can both use it, as it came complete with four different brushes. Technically, the entire family could use this toothbrush. Dave used it once and just kind of ... abandoned it there. So sad.

(Harriet from Oral-B, I'm so sorry I haven't returned your email. As soon as I use this baby I will let you know how it goes.)

(Please note the ridiculous glass-brick in our bathroom. Dave picked it. Reminds me of the reception area of Jetset Travel in North Sydney circa 1990.)

Lastly, here is a video of me doing a Pantene Swish.

There's a few reasons why I don't like this video.
1) My eyes look weird.
2) My hair used to be long and now it's short. I am never satisfied.
3) My eyes seriously look weird - like, Gilbert Grape's brother.

Right at the end of my shoot, the camera guy told me I did really well. I said thank you ... I could have been a model but I went to rehab instead. All the film crew laughed because they thought I was joking.

You can upload your own Swissh to HERE and win $10,000. Personally, I think this guy's got it in the BAG.

So. Why do bloggers talk about products on their blogs? What's in it for us? Why do PRs court bloggers? And why would a certain purple drink sponsor two Australian women bloggers to fly halfway across the world?

Next Wednesday the 30th November, I'll be talking in Sydney at Naked Communications #nudiversity with Mrs Woog. You can email Lorraine Murphy from Naked for more info. It's a free event. We'll be answering questions and having some laughs. I'll be laughing and pretending I know the answers to the questions. Because after almost five years of this, I still feel like the biggest rookie in town.


Friday, 18 November 2011

The Giant Cupcake ... best vlog EVER.


I read and savoured every comment on my last post three times. It's like, you save me. I'll go back and read them again. You give me faith in human nature ... all of you would have stopped to help that family too. I like to think most people would.

I see you, seeing me. Thanks heaps. HEAPS.



Wednesday, 16 November 2011

Changing the Bad.

This year has been tough. I just weighed it up .. it could even possibly be my third-hardest year ever. I've lived 39 years and a lot has happened .. third-hardest is pretty hard. If all my years were at an Olympic Medal ceremony, this year would be up on the podium clutching a posy of flowers and tearfully accepting bronze.

I always wanted to be a journalist, but like most of the intentions and dreams in my life, it didn't pan out. And yet, having a personal blog is like being a journalist for yourself. Reporting your own life to the world.

I have to hold back a lot, lately. Things have gone from bad to ok to bad to worse to HELL to back to just being plain bad. I've been putting up with bad for so long, I actually became used to it.

Change the bad - that's what I did. Finally put my hand up and said, "Enough. I have had enough." And really mean it, you know?

Things have been TOUGH. Even my suspected aneurysm has taken a back seat. I've hardly thought of it ... I can't even feel it anymore. At this rate, a hospital stay would be warmly welcomed. Nobody to expect anything from me. I told Dave I would love a buzzer, for cups of tea.


On Saturday, I drove with Rocco in the car to a recovery meeting. It does not matter what I am recovering from .. we are all recovering from something, trust me.

My sister was minding Max and I drove to the meeting, woke a cranky Rocco up, strapped him into his stroller, turns out the meeting wasn't there anyway. Put him back in the car, fold up the stroller, etc.

All the stupid boring frustrating bullshit minutae of life. I got the correct address and turned on my GPS navigation, which told me to go around and around in circles. It's not possible to punch a disembodied voice. I tried. Tears of anger are always the hottest.

Finally we made it, late and flustered. Rocco ran around spilling water and complaining about the teacake and distracting the hell out of me. I was asked to share and I did ... halfway through, the chairperson rudely asked me to stop sharing so he could ask somebody else before the meeting finished.

In all my years of meetings, this has never happened. You're not SUPPOSED to do that. My anger was beautifully justified, because this guy was so clearly in the wrong. I have been to meetings where a person has droned on for twenty minutes. Instead of judging, I try to use the opportunity to practice my tolerance. And goddamn patience.

I packed up Rocco and left in a huff. FURIOUS.

A guy ran out after me and talked me off the ledge. There are many ledges in my life. Thankfully, many ledgetalkers also.

Sadly, Rocco destroyed my new L'Oreal lipstick, caking it all over both hands and his face. But that's all that was destroyed - nothing else. Not even myself. That is called "a good day."

Drove to my sister at the holiday house, and sat there fuming and introducing myself to her friends as the true batshit crazy fucker I am. The pop of the champagne bottle signified my time to leave. One bottle between four people? Pussies. What's the point of even having one if you can't have twenty? You social drinkers do my head in. There's something wrong with you.

I drove off with Rocco, and immediately got flagged down by a heavily pregnant and distressed woman with her two children. Carrying very heavy groceries and hopelessly lost ... been in the mountains for just one day and they needed help finding where they were staying.

The twelve-year old boy ... I'll call him Louis. Louis translated English back and forth between his mother and I. They were from South America. He handed me a card with their address on it, in big letters it said "DOMESTIC VIOLENCE SHELTER."

The voice in my head said, "Eden, you thought YOU were having a hard day.

I felt chastened and grateful and sad and selfish and spoilt. I helped all three of them into their seatbelts, the three-year old girl smiling shyly at my three-year old Rocco. I assured Louis and his mother that my son didn't have a contagious skin condition, it was just smeared lipstick. They were relieved.

Their tiny unit was on kind of a compound, all joined up by a kids play centre in the middle of the commons. The mother didn't want me to leave. She was so tired. Her eyes held her pain. I said to her ... you have been through a lot, haven't you? She nodded yes - she could understand English, just not speak it. I told her I had been through a lot too. And that she would be ok and she was safe. Louis was the man and put all their shopping away. I asked him if he needed anything - he said, some DVD's would be great.

On a mission, I took Rocco and went and bought them new toys, a football, clothes, five DVD's. I looked around, anxious to buy them the whole world and fix everything. Instead of the KMart Wishing Tree Appeal this year, I'd do this. I spent hundreds of dollars that I didn't have and I didn't care. What *does* a family on the run want from the shops? If I were a non-English speaking pregnant woman with nothing, escaping my violent partner .. what new shit would I like? I decided new clothes. And a doll for the sweet girl. (Parents of girls everywhere, how do you not kill yourselves in the Barbie Doll aisle?)

Finally I found a brunette doll with green eyes.

Doing this does not make me a good person. I'm a complete arsehole - truly, I am. I'M A COCK. Doing this appeased my guilt, and made me feel like I could show a vulnerable family that people cared.

I went back and handed all the bags to Louis and he very officially accepted them all. Very matter-of-factly, showing no surprise.

I drove home, and noticed the break in the weather. My outlook and perspective on where I was at in my life had been turned upside down and inside out. One day, years from now, those kids will be grown up and living lives of their own and making their own choices. They'll probably never remember me. And I will never forget them.

(I know, right? Big things happen to me all the time. But that's it - the big thing wasn't happening to me. It was happening to them.)


Tuesday, 15 November 2011

Social media goes to hell ... in a *very* pretty handbasket sourced from Pinterest.

"Real isn't how you are made ... it's a thing that happens to you."
- Velveteen Rabbit

All I can say is ... what the hell happened? I blinked and now there are social media experts everywhere. Every corporation, every brand and PR agency ... wants a slice of the social media pie. Only a few short months ago, I was still being teased and looked at strangely for having a blog and being online. The next minute, those very same people were standing in line at my local cafe to "pick my brains" about how to set up a twitter account.

(Dear anyone .... you can pick my brains any time you like - I'm flexible! My consulting rates start at $100 an hour, thks.)

I was recently offered a job as a "Web Presence Professional." That's a job description now. After I accepted, the offer was quickly withdrawn .. I suspect it had something to do with the recruiter delving into my blog. (But that's a delicious and passive-aggressive blog post for another day.)

There is something creepy and scary about it - all of it. The facebooking, networking, branding, communicating ... something doesn't feel right. Why? I get close to an answer when I look into the faces of my two young boys, but I can't be sure.

I've been thinking about a follow-up to my Anti-Social media post for some time, but haven't been able to articulate it. Until I saw an television ad last week for a major global computer corporation. The extended family of a newborn are busy passing around the brand new baby, to have a hold. Except, it isn't a brand new baby at all ... it's a laptop showing video footage of the brand new baby. Ending with the grandad finally having a hold and the video laptop baby starts crying .. that goofy grandad making the baby cry!

There's been a sharp tip, with the "media" part of social media now taking over. It's like a big, shiny, ostentatious brass boom band in the middle of town. Even mommyblogging has come of age (or eaten itself .. I can't decide) with the new Babble Voices creating a brand new space for a lot of well-known and popular bloggers to create an extension of their blogs, together.

The information superhighway has now seven lanes, with traffic backed up as far as the eyes can see. Bumper to bumper. Is this the new rat race? The currency is not money, but time and attention. It's too much. It can lead a person to feel quite exhausted, jaded - and very, very overwhelmed.

The future is here. Babies are playing with iPads like toys. Teenagers brains are getting shaped by so much technology. I worry for everybody's alpha waves.

It's hard to know which direction we're all headed .. have you ever imagined what would happen if there was a global blackout with no more computers? I love computers - I love social media. But it's crazy. What are we all doing? Where are we going? Are we being mindful and balanced? What are we teaching ourselves and our children?

Now this is a cool ad ... I love that it's made by the world's leading chainsaw company. I don't understand the correlation, but man there's a great message.

The outside world is starting to resemble a dream. But it's not a dream, it's real. With real jasmine to smell and everything! It's like, those episodes of Star Trek, and whenever anybody needed to clear their heads they'd take a scenic walk in the hologram room made to resemble nature. Because they were on a spaceship and didn't actually have nature.

Last time I checked, Earth still has nature. And real people and warm tea and actual conversations and everything. Sometimes even hugs. And the sky - seriously, how fucking cool is that sky? Have you seen it lately?

Watching video footage of a brand new baby is amazing. Holding one and smelling that smell? That's priceless, miraculous ... but most of all, it's just bloody inimitable.


Friday, 11 November 2011

Some stories stay with you forever.

A few weeks ago I counted up on my fingers how old Madeline would be turning today .. surely not four? That's too old, that's a proper little girl running around. Not the sweet baby I've always seen her as. I was pregnant with Heather at the same time, for a few months back in 2007.

Maddie was born premature, and faced extraordinary battles in her life, but always came through.

Until the time she did not.

Along with thousands of other people, my heart broke when she left. To me, she will always be *the* most beautiful girl this world has ever seen. Ever.

She lived on this earth with her gorgeous parents for seventeen months.

Her mum Heather blogs every day at www.thespohrsaremultiplying.com

I often think of a post she wrote not long after Maddies passing. It is called Hand Prints.

How can you get through something like that? Heather and Mike are still working it out. I wonder how they are, often. Heather is very honest and open when she writes, but I expect there is a wealth of thoughts and feelings that she holds back on. There's a photo widget on her blog called "Mamarazzi" ... which holds only Maddie photos. It remains untouched to this day, these rows upon rows of the most beautiful baby girl. There's a finite amount of photos in the world, of Maddie. They are so treasured.

Maddie is a big sister now, with a firecracker of a girl called Annabel arriving on the scene about twenty months ago. Annie reminds me of Rocco ... robust and quick and smart. And a bit naughty. She kisses her big sister's photo goodnight. Her parents are mindfully and actively parenting two daughters.

Her parents are fucking outstanding people and I would push the world off it's axis to ease their pain. But I can only lend an ear or some words .. or in this case, a blog post. They are doing a fundraiser this year, for the charity they started in Madeline's name called "Friends of Maddie."

Mike has recorded a song he wrote called "You are the One." It's available on iTunes for less then a dollar in the US, down here in Oz it's $1.69. I bought it and have listened to it over and over in my car. It's beautiful. You can read more about it on Heather's post HERE.

It's only a few clicks and a couple of bucks, but it would mean a lot to a lot of people.

Some stories stay with you forever. I will never forget you, Maddie Moo. Happy birthday.


Thursday, 10 November 2011

Carotid rhymes with garrotted.

I've had this sore neck for a few weeks, because of a lump. Aren't lumps brilliant? "Hi, I'm a lump. I could be nothing ... or I could be everything. AND YOU DON'T KNOW MWAHAHA."
My logic says that because my husbands lumps turned out to be the worst case scenario, then probability dictates I will be fine.

I thought it would just go away but it didn't, it got bigger. Today, the doctor didn't say, "Oh that's just a swollen gland." She asked me all these questions and I told her about the swooshy noise I hear and the light-headed feeling, and thinking I was going to faint. I laughed and told her that I've had an *especially* stressful week and when I get angry it feels like my lump pumps so much blood it's going to explode ... like, Homer Simpson after he ate that huge sandwich.

She laughed too and then she told me we need to rule out a Carotid Artery Aneurysm.

I KNOW .... isn't that the coolest thing? I could drop dead any moment. This is thrilling to me. I'll die on the operating table, of course. My Highly Dangerous Carotid surgery, with the HOTTEST carotid surgeon in town. He will fall in love with me, laying there. And Dave will feel bad for going to footy tonight.

So, I have an ultrasound and some bloodwork tomorrow. If it looks suspect, it will be followed by a CT scan ... the word biopsy was mentioned.

I think this is highly amusing. I know I shouldn't, but it's so absurd - there is no way I have a goddamn aneurysm. We just need to rule it out. Dave has had cancer ... he took the bullets for all of us, forever, right? Isn't that how life works?

Maybe I'm a tiny bit concerned - only because it feels like I have a goitre. So we still need to work out what it is. I wasn't going to write about this tonight, but I need to take the power away from it, lest it all build up like a hot air balloon of mania.

I'm blessed with some of the best blog readers of all time, and as google is not being of ANY help to me, can anyone tell me if they have any experience of this? I would appreciate it.

I know I'm fine.

I also know I'd like to be buried in jeans, my black skull t-shirt, and yellow boots. I want everybody to get so drunk at my funeral they vomit on my casket. I want weeping and hand-wringing. And bagpipes.

And the usual empty promises people make at funerals, vowing to change their lives for the better. And I want the single people to hook up and have sex in the bathroom.

And curried egg sandwiches.


Tuesday, 8 November 2011

I keep thinking about the nurse.

Last week, I was driving up Leura Mall and the battered car in front of me suddenly screeched to a halt and parked, right in the middle of the road. I thought, what the hell? And watched as a harried, annoyed woman got out and marched over to the pavement.

I sat there, amused, as all these cars banked up behind me. Someone honked, further back.

I watched this woman run up to a frail old man, scoop him into her arms, and gently but firmly lead him back towards her car.

In an instant I realised what happened - she was a nurse at the local aged care facility just down the road, and the guy was going for a walk when he shouldn't have been.

I looked at her car again, it had some faded stickers, and was quite old. She would probably rather be anywhere else in the world than holding up traffic one spring afternoon, at the risk of pissing off all the cars behind her. She probably works really hard for shitty wages. She hesitantly looked up at me, and I smiled my biggest warmest smile. I wanted my smile to say, "It's ok! Don't worry ... and you're doing a great job!"

She smiled back, really grateful that I didn't have my cranky pants on.

The old guy, trying to make a move .. I would run away too, if I was locked up in a home. He shuffled out and slowly eased himself down into the car. I wondered what kind of life he had lived until that point, all the things he'd seen and done.

I hope he'd had a good one.

I keep thinking about it. How we all have a shared humanity .. a social responsibility to each other. We are all the nurse. We are all the old guy. We are all the people waiting in the cars, needing to have compassion.


Friday, 4 November 2011

"I would believe only in a God that knows how to dance."

This is my beautiful and rebellious grandfather and stand-in-dad, Squizzy Taylor. He is showing me how to dance in 1975.

And this is me all those years .. and all that dancing later, showing you.


Tuesday, 1 November 2011

What's brown and sticky? A brown sticker, baked onto a windowsill for a year.

A certain person in our house is completely sticker crazy. He sticks them everywhere .... doorframes, baths, teddies, tables, floors. I've learnt to peel them off straight away, otherwise they bake on and I'm screwed.

He likes to "award" his stickers to us all. Very gravely, peeling them back and placing them slowly onto our hands. "You have to wear it all day mum."

"Ok mate."

During breakfast this morning, there was an announcement.

"Dad, you will be wearing one of my stickers all day today."

"Ok mate."

I laughed a dog whistle laugh until tears came. Because that sticker is a Dave Riley-sized sticker if ever I saw one.

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