Tuesday, 31 May 2011

Burnouts and Donuts

You know that scene in the first Toy Story where Woody realises that Andy's birthday party is today and he has to tell all the toys? And after the meeting he says it last as an afterthought? "Oh and one minor thing .... Andy's birthday party has been moved to today."

Well, I am in the Top 5 Kidspot Bloggers. Sometime this week a Ford Territory will be delivered to my house for me to drive for a month. Because, I'm a blogger. And that's what bloggers do?

This makes me feel happy, amazed, embarrassed, and proud. Thanks to everybody who voted for me. The email came through on Sunday night and I was sitting on the couch with Dave and Max. I freaked. Dave is incredibly stoked. He said he should use it for a work car for the month, because, "You used my story hon so it's kind of mine."

For the next six weeks I'm to write a post each week on a given theme. This weeks theme is "My first car" ... Dave instantly started formulating blog posts. "To carry on the theme of it being about me, hon." Then he sat next to me on the couch looking at my computer screen, asking me that question that a lot of you know all too well, the one that chills your bones .... "How does twitter work?"

So, thank you. And buckle up - things MAY get interesting. Guerilla car tactics will be involved. I promise. Poor Ford.

For a full list of the Top 50, click HERE.

Monday, 30 May 2011

Turning Mistakes into Gold

"I've got this light
And the will to show
I will always be better than before." - Eddie Vedder


On my way to therapy this morning I thought, I'm fine. I got this. I don't need therapy anymore. On my way out of therapy this morning I wondered if I would need it forever.

I've spent the last few weeks decluttering my house - sifting through things, re-organising, cleaning. All the foreign things. Against my better judgement, I let Max watch a movie called Zombieland recently - bedtime has been terrifying for him ever since. So I've moved him back downstairs, and moved my office up. Dave is always on my case about my laptop being on the couch, cords and leads and chargers scattered around. I stay up late. I know I shouldn't, but it's the only time nobody will hassle me. My Australian friends say goodnight on twitter just as I'm logging on, to all the good mornings from the Americans.

There have been boxes of my stuff that I have been carrying around with me - since I was about twenty. Over the years I've peeked in there, half gone through them, and shut them up again. It has driven Dave CRAZY. For some reason, I went through every single box the other day. Just like that. It was hard, finding letters from my real dad, photos of my grandmother, my own scattered writings. To my astonishment, I realised I had been writing my whole life. "Dave! I've been writing my whole life!" And I peeled back some mouldy papers and started reading aloud but quickly stopped because there were children around.

I made the decision to just cull stuff. Be brave. Why was I holding on? I threw most of my writing away, scattered in the trailer. I randomly kept a few pieces. Later, in my new office, I read them to myself and blushed. I threw them in the fire and watched them burn, marvelling at the fact that I'm still alive.

I set up my new office, according to the colours of the Spy vs Spy grafitti art we got sprayed on Max's wall last year:

Basically, the whole space is a homage to those sticks of dynamite

            My Tretchikoff beauty. All I do is look at her and I get strength.


                              I'm a self-proclaimed honorary American

I bought that Statue of Liberty for $16.99 in a tourist shop in New York last year. Dave wants it but it's mine, and I remind him that he laughed when I was packing it in my suitcase. The print we got from a street vendor over there for $4, I got it professionally framed. Nicky is a vintage plastic bottle from Mr Pickwicks in Katoomba. Oh Nicky.


               Hulk stickers on the triangle window courtesy of Max

The funny thing is, the very first time I saw that view from that corner, way back in 2002 when Dave was building the house - I knew it was the best vantage point. And I thought wow, wouldn't it be great to write from there one day. But that room was our bedroom first, then the spare room, then Max's room. And now - it's my space. It's my Room of One's Own, leaving me simultaneously grateful, horrified, unworthy and excited.

It took so long, to get to that vantage point.


I'm ready. For exactly what, I'm not sure. All I know is, I'm clearing away a lot of the painful past once and for all. All those years I've spent running and I seem to have stopped.

A lot of this is, strangely enough, due to this blog. Maybe blogging has taught me how to write? No. Blogging taught me ... who I was? I don't know yet. But it's done something magical.

Thank you, Computer. You'll never know exactly how much you've helped me.

::

"The ways in which a person's online persona contradicts or reinforces their offline existence is presumably destined to become an entirely new field in psychology." - Catherine Bray

"Cyberspace may even be an altered state of consciousness, a dream-like world, that addresses a basic human need to experience oneself and reality from a different perspective. It is psychological space that becomes an extension of one's conscious and unconscious mind ... we could even imagine the global network that comprises the whole internet as larger transcending mind or "self." Which reflects the evolution of human consciousness."
- The Psychology of Cyberspace by John Suler

Autumn Leaves. Winter Arrives.



Brace yourself baby ... it's gonna be a cold one.

Thank goodness for snuggies, thermal underwear, ugg boots, slankets, and beanies. And hot water bottles. And cuddly stinky boys - we have *plenty* of those.

Thursday, 26 May 2011

Do it. Be it.


Ever since my horrible lost weekend last February, I have aquired the expensive habit of buying greeting cards ... for myself. To help me through life, because life is incredibly hard and dangerous and DUMB.

We need all the help we can get, right?

I saw this one and my heart sighed. BRING ON THE FRESH HORSES!

We are all our own protagonists, having our own journeys. It never stops.

Be the hero of your own life. And when it gets tricky and too hard (oh it will, constantly) ... call on some fresh horses.

To keep you going.

Keep going.

Wednesday, 25 May 2011

Oh Nicky you're so pretty.


It's only fair that the children of bloggers get to reap some bloggy benefits. This morning, Rocco rolled over and poked me with his finger to wake me up. In my bed, where he always runs to in the middle of the night. My love-seeking missile. We drove down to Sydney to see Mickey and Minnie Mouse, at a launch for the new Disney Junior channel.


I hadn't been to the Opera House since I met Bono. I miss Bono.

So - Sydney drivers - WHAT THE HELL?? I was a jittery mess by the time we arrived. Sucks to be you, city slickers. All the way in the car, Rocco kept saying he wanted to punch Mickey. I told him, repeatedly ... that he can't punch Mickey.

We ran into the Opera House and what does Rocco do? Punches Mickey. Lucky it was just a cardboard cut-out, I was so mortified and apologised to the laughing guy at the door who picked Mickey up. We turn around just in time to see the cardboard cut-out of Minnie. On the ground.


Moving quickly on, I saw Rocco run towards all the other Disney cut-out characters. My heart sank, until I realised all along that he was actually hugging them, not punching them. The PR girls and Disney people watched and laughed as he hugged all the signs. A waiter offered Rocco a choice of apple or orange juice, and then another one offered him a muffin from a silver tray. He looked at me like, MUM THIS IS AWESOME!

             You know you're at a launch in Australia when they serve vegemite sandwiches

We sat down, it was packed. Heaving with suits, mums, celebrities ... and children. All patiently listening to the official speeches before Mickey and Minnie arrived. Soon they did, with Rocco bursting into spontaneous tears. I said mate, why are you crying?

"I just need Nicky mum."

                                     Tears before playtime

He then took off. And ran straight towards him. I adore his boldness.

                                                  Hey Nicky

We went to another room with pirate games, puzzles, and prizes. It was very cute. But Rocco didn't want the pirates, he wanted Nicky. So we went back upstairs, to the celebrity section, and pretended we were celebrities. Took our places in line behind Matt Shirvington and Katrina Warren. And waited. And waited. And waited.

                                              So boooooored


 

                                    If I play dead, will Nicky come?

Nicky and Minnie had to have a break, by this stage Rocco was running around, punching balloons. We waited behind the velvet ropes. Suddenly Nicky was back. NICKY! NICKY! It was our turn.

We finally stood in between the world's two most famous mice and Rocco sobbed and cried so hard. What did Nicky do? He soothed him, gently patted his hand. Even the photographer stopped, came over, asked Rocco his name and helped him to stop crying, while everybody waited. I always notice when people are kind to my children, and I was so grateful. He stopped crying. Gangsigns were made.


My favourite thing is the T-Rex sticking out of my pocket. Rocco named her "Karen" apparently she has "sharkey teef mum."

::

It was over. Rocco hoovered up more food, and tried to climb the Opera House glass walls. "Like Spider Man mum. He will rescue you because you are a girl." I told him that girls rescue boys too, and I would rescue him. He disagreed. We argued for a bit. Neither of us backed down. Neither of us ever will.

Walked over to get a swag bag that included a Nicky Mouse doll that Rocco stuck into his mouth so hard he gagged and the PR lady kind of laughed, but had this look on her eyes like, what?


We ran some beans off. Rocco told me he wanted to jump into the water. I believed him. I knew Rocco wasn't scared of Nicky, so I asked him why he cried.

"I just love Nicky mum. I love him."


Rocco fell fast asleep after five minutes. I drove through Sydney, marvelling at her beauty. I wanted to get out and buy a notebook and new pen and sit in museum cafes and write. I wanted to explore, meander, amble, gather my thoughts and mentally take stock of my existence in the world. All those years I lived in Sydney - I never realised how gorgeous the landscape and the buildings are. I was too drunk.


Had to make do with snapping photos. Then I looked up ...


It's Centrepoint tower! Eons ago, I was offered a job at Centrepoint. With my own office and everything. I said no, because I knew I wouldn't be able to keep it. I was too drunk.

One of the biggest regrets in my life, is never having a career. Just a succession of really crappy jobs. I looked at all the buildings, snapping photos like a crazy tourist. SYDNEY IS AMAZING! Who knew? I was so excited I did a short video.



In conclusion: I almost got decapitated in traffic today, Rocco loves Nicky, Sydney is aching to be explored, never be afraid to look stupid.

And lastly: I am so glad I'm not drunk anymore. Well I am. DRUNK ON LIFE, BABY.

Monday, 23 May 2011

Help me win $5000 and a New Ford Territory for a year

... alternatively titled, "Drive."

I had to ask my husband Dave permission to publish this post. It's his story, not mine. He said yes! As part of the Kidspot Top Fifty Bloggers competition, those who want to be eligible for a chance to be in the Top 5 must write a blog post using the title above, around the theme "drive." It doesn't have to be about a car. Mine's not about a car.

Mine's the story of a fatherless father and his curious wife. It's a doozy.

::

My husband Dave remembers sitting in class one day when he was about ten years old. Everybody had to make a father's day card. He made one for his mums boyfriend, but it felt stupid so he scrunched it up. Dumb card.

Dave spent a lot of time in boys homes as a kid. The local coppers deemed him "uncontrollable." He tells us funny stories of SOAP ON! SOAP OFF! Underneath the funny stories is a wealth of pain. He never knew his father, who left Dave and his two older brothers with their mother, when Dave was just a baby. Dave's mother raised the boys herself, working nights sorting mail at the huge postal exchange in Redfern.

By the time I met him in 1999 ... Dave had lived the life of ten men. He was 33, I was 27. (I had lived the life of ten women. Snap!)

We hooked up. We had a baby. Dave was in the middle of building his dream home for us back in 2003 ... one morning, out of the blue, I asked him if I could find his father. He laughed, and said sure. We thought he would have passed away years before. My own father had died in 1984 from chronic alcoholism, and my stepfather of eleven years killed himself in 1988. There was carnage everywhere ... I needed to know if our son Max had at least one grandfather out there somewhere.

                                            Dave and Max, 2002

I pushed Max in the pram up to our local library, and searched for all of the F. Riley's in Australia. There were dozens. I printed off 166 phone numbers, walked back home, and told Dave I was going to start calling them. He was out in the sunshine, washing his car with his daughter - laughing at me and my crazy idea. I pointed to my printed pages.

"Mate, check it out. There's even an F.G.E. Riley in Punchbowl. I'll call him first."

Dave's fathers name was Frederick George Ernest Riley. I dialled the number, and as soon as that guy said hello, I knew I had found Dave's dad. I shit my pants, and did what I always do in high pressure situations - lied.

"Oh yes good morning, I'm calling to see if you're interested in getting cable television installed?"

F.G.E. Riley laughed. A laugh that was the exact replica of Dave's older brother. "Oh no love - I live in a housing commission flat. I can't afford cable TV!"

I thanked him anyway and hung up. Dave could see me from outside, he had this strange look on his face and I mouthed to him through the window. "I found your dad."

Dave was livid. "What the hell did you do that for! Bloody hell - what did he say? Aww, don't even tell me. I don't wanna know."

We were both so shocked. Nobody had known where Fred had gone. We thought he had moved up to Queensland. But he didn't. He was in PUNCHBOWL, Sydney. Just over an hour's drive from us.

(Many years have passed, since I printed out those pages. It always struck me as odd, that Fred had put all of his initials on his telephone account. I think he wanted to be found.)

Dave calmed down a bit, and I told him that I had to go back inside and call back, to tell Fred exactly who I was and why I was ringing.

"Fine - but I don't want to talk to him."

I rang back and told Fred that I was sorry to disturb him again, but I wasn't really selling cable television.That I was trying to find my husbands father, and my husbands name was Dave Riley. There was this hugest silence. In that silence, I thought - if he hangs up, I will just pretend to keep talking and go back out and tell Dave it was a false alarm and it wasn't him at all.

(And I would have travelled down to Punchbowl to punch Fred in the nose.)

Finally he spoke, audibly shocked. "MY boy Dave?"

I said yes, his boy Dave. I then spent the next fifteen minutes telling a complete stranger who his three sons had grown up to be, what they did for a living, and the names and ages of all of his grandchildren. How sad is that? People live the saddest lives, sometimes.

Eventually I got off the phone. I couldn't promise him that Dave would call. The whole thing was so random and sudden. I looked at all the other Riley's in Australia - first phone call, man. POW.

Dave was feeling a huge amount of emotions. He was giddy. He got on the phone and rang his friends, and his brothers, and his brothers friends.

I went into our bedroom, and sobbed into my pillow. Like, really huge sobs that heaved me. I didn't know why I was crying, until I realised that all the excitement and adrenaline I got caught up in ... was Dave's. He got to decide whether he wanted to see his father or not. I didn't have that luxury of choice. I would love to see my dead dads again. Would I hug them or slap them, or would I just walk away? Leave them pining for ME for a change. I don't know. I'll never know.

That day was a big day.

::

Dave ended up calling his dad, and chatting on the phone. They arranged to meet - I was still living vicariously through him. I kissed him, wished him well, sent him on his way.

Hours later, he came back home. I flew out to the driveway to greet him. "How was it hon? How'd you go? What did he look like?"

Dave was careful with his choice of words. His dad was living in a dark flat in a seedy part of town. His only company was his pet budgie, Bluey.

"I think .... I think I got my drive from my mum."

Why did Fred not try to find his sons? I don't know. To my eternal frustration, Dave never asked him. I so would have. I would have asked him a ton of really inappropriate things. He would have answered - people often do.

To this day, Dave still talks with awe about how I found his dad for him. I love it. It's like, I'm the hero. When I turn sixty, I plan on opening a private detective agency.

Fred Riley died less than two years after meeting Dave. On the way to the funeral a bird flew into our windscreen. During the funeral we were ushered to sit at the front of the room. People gasped when they saw Dave - the likeness is uncanny. They looked like they had seen a ghost. Max was just 2, the only grandchild there to see him off.

At one point, Max looked at the coffin, looked at me, and said, "MUM - IS FRED IN THAT BOX?"

It was a Shakespearean moment, giving everybody the laugh they needed after the sombre sad.

::

I watch Dave soap Rocco up in the shower, laughing at washing Mr. Stinky down the drain. I watch Dave build a cubby house with Max, for Max .. and I watch him play soccer with Tim, punching and ankle-tapping each other out of the way.

He is a beautiful man with a huge heart. None of Dave's boys would ever scrunch up their father's day cards.

::

Click HERE to vote

The Top 5 will be announced next week. All of them receive a Ford Territory for a month, to undergo certain challenges. Well done Kidspot and Ford Australia for raising the profile of blogging in Australia. I'm getting quite sick of the "So, what IS a blog?"

The winner receives $5000 and the car for a year. Somebody needs to tell them there is no WAY they would want  the car back after a mummyblogger has it for a year. Unless they *like* kids vomit on seatbelt buckles.

Thursday, 19 May 2011

Mummy didn't punch the cake; daddy is alive. It's win-win!


All Rocco wanted today was a dinosaur cake. This kid has been counting down his birthday since back in December, when a newly 9-year old Max opened all his presents complete with a chorus of wailing. "I WANT! When is mine? Mummy, when is mine birsday? WAH."

Today, this very day right now, is Rocco's birsday. He is three. It is the official end of babydom.

For the past few nights, he's gone to sleep clutching a book ... a birthday cake making book. No shit. The pages are all worn, his teeny heart set upon a huge green T-Rex. I pride myself on cake decorating, man. Over the years I have done Shrek, Spiderman, Mario Galaxy, Lego, Buzz and Woody. My personal favourite was walking into a class of first graders carrying a very impressive Bart Simpson - I got a spontaneous round of applause.

The trick is to buy the sponges ready-made. If you bake it yourself, you're exhausted before you've even begun. Cutting corners and outsourcing - isn't that what good parenting is made from?

So Rocco is completely dinosaur-crazy, which is refreshing. There is no licensed dinosaur character (yet) ... so it's all generic. His passion lies with T-Rexs. Too easy.

Last night, after getting home at 7.30pm and lighting the fire, vacuuming, wrapping twenty presents, showering stinky boys ... it was time to decorate the cake. Dave tried to tell me how to do it, I told him for the gajillionth time, that he was not the boss of me. (He's the boss at work, comes home and tries to tell me what to do. There has been a lot of I AM NOT YOUR APPRENTICE shoutings, before he's gotten the hint.)

It was 9.30pm. I began to weave my magic.


Alas I had no skewers to secure the head, so had to ask Dave for structural help anyway. Which he loved. He carved out this cool Pacman shaped head, and thought he was SO clever. I thought of BabyMac's post about cake wars with her husband.



It was time to start. There was no traction, so I had to ice the whole thing with my fingers. I had to layer so much on there to get it to look cool. It took much longer than anticipated. So frustrating. Whose dumb idea was this? Why was everybody in bed but me? Should've outsourced from Michel's.

Dave's head looked .... wonky. I twisted it and turned it. The head icing started to melt from my hot clammy hands. (Dave affectionately calls me "the clamster." I affectionately call him "the dickhead.")

I watched, in slow-motion, as the Pacman T-Rex head disintegrated before my eyes. Like Michael Jackson; it just had too much work done.

                             Right before the Great Fall. Chin? Gone.

It was close to midnight. I needed to make more icing and cut another head out. All I really wanted to do was punch this stupid dinosaur cake to smithereens, go and wake Dave up and say YOUR CAKE HEAD SUX but I didn't because I have wonderful self-control.

(If a mother calls her childs birthday cake a c-bomb in the middle of the night and nobody hears it because they are all sleeping after not helping her vacuum ... does it even count?)

I iced a whole new head, the image of Rocco's reaction spurring me on. But it wasn't what I thought it was going to look like at all. It had become a lowly stegosaurus. Pffft.

That showed him!

He loved it. That's all that matters. He still thinks it's a T-Rex. He opened all of his presents with glee and with gusto. I was tired, but happy to see him happy.



Later, as I took this photo, I noticed two pieces of hair sticking up. And the burning love I felt for this little creature - this boy, this baby t-rex - outshone all the struggles and the PPD and the crap and the tricky circumstances of his birth.



I do not doubt my love for him anymore. The relief in that sentence makes me cry.

Happy Birsday, Rocco. Life will hand you many a stegosaurus, my sweetheart. May you always see a T-Rex.

XOX

PS Champ, you're three. You can start sleeping through the night any time you want to.

Monday, 16 May 2011

Little Things, Big Things ... and all that's in between.

I found myself walking up the main street of Katoomba yesterday with Rocco. Who, every three steps, kept playing dead. Like a puppy.



The first seventeen times it was hilarious. Then I had to carry him. He was so cute, and little, and cuddly. I needed a photo right then in that moment because I felt so bloody happy. I asked a stranger to take one - he totally thought I was a tourist. Maybe I was.


A tourist of happy. I'm allowed to wear such footwear because it's FREEZING up here.

We came across a busker who was singing and playing the guitar. I asked Rocco, would he like to put some money in the hat? He's all, MONEY IN THE HAT MUM QUICK. I gave him $1.50. He ran past and threw those coins in the hat with such force that the other coins already in there flew out. Like lawn bowls. Then he just kept running. The busker - mid-song - stopped playing because he was laughing so hard.

My son makes buskers stop playing.

::

I called Rocco back, because I know how much he loves music. He jumped on his trike and sat there, in awe of the busker. He was singing "From Little Things, Big Things Grow" which is a protest rock song by Paul Kelly, about the land rights struggle of Indigenous Australians. It's a beautiful song with beautiful lyrics.

I looked at Rocco. How little he was, and how big he is growing now. In that moment, I realised three things.

1) He is turning three this week.
2) Dave's cancer diagnosis is turning three this week.
3) How completely crap it is that Daves cancer is so closely tied to Rocco's birth.

I text Dave: "Hey hon. Happy Tumour-versary!" And thought of how they grew so big, in his body cavity. From little to the size of grapefruits.

::

I forced myself to watch Rocco again; watch him just be in the world. Here's 29 seconds of him just being in the world.



I would have filmed longer, but he let go of the steering wheel and was reversing backwards as fast as he could go so I had to run and stop him. Otherwise he would have gone straight onto the road. Probably yelling at cars to get the hell out of his way.

Saturday, 14 May 2011

We Are All Made of Stars

              Photo from the awesome morgueFile

On Monday morning I drove two hours down to Sydney, thinking my man bladder could cope. I was wrong. By the time I hit Parramatta Road I was busting. In the Cross City Tunnel I was in agony, and by the time I hit Double Bay I knew I was going to wet my pants.

I haven’t wet my pants for decades, and wondered what it was going to feel like. Flicking the radio off I crouched, gasped, breathing like a mofo, over the steering wheel. Suddenly, some public toilets appeared before me like a beacon of Hope. THANK YOU GOD. Miraculously swinging my car into the car park, getting out and staggering like I was walking over hot coals, not caring who saw. Didn’t even lock my car.

When I finally let go of that wee?

WOW.

Not long into it, a man shouted into the women’s toilets. "Anybody in here?"

“Um, yeah.” He was probably a cleaner. He was definitely in for a long wait. Kingdoms were lost and won in the time it took for me to complete that wee. I remember being a young girl, listening to older ladies do the longest wees and I found it so repulsive.

I am a repulsive older lady. When I finally finished, I came out of the stall and watched in the mirror as I braced myself - for the tyre iron to belt me in the face when “the cleaner” stole my purse.

It didn’t happen! I didn’t piss my pants! Best day ever already.

There was a bum sitting on a bench right next to my car. I walked past, looked at him drinking his Riesling straight from the bottle. I could tell he wanted to say something to me so I kind of stood there, waiting.

“You …” he lolled his head around, shut one eye, then finished. “You are a fucking SLUT!”

Except he didn’t just say SLUT, he said SEEELUT for added effect.

I thought it was the funniest thing. He continued.

 “With yer fucken four wheel drive and yer fucken BABEEEEE in it. Fucking. Seeelut.”

I said mate, I don’t have a baby in my car! How are you doin’today, anyway?”

Instantly he changed, and laughed, his face crinkled into a smile. “Hahahaha oh love! I dunno how I’m gonna get home!” I said mate – where do you live? He laughed and pointed a short distance away.

“Just over there! AHAHAHA!!”

We laughed together. It was Rosebay – something told me he hasn’t shared a laugh with too many people today. He told me he was from Alice Springs. I said I’d never been there, but I’ve heard it’s amazing. He was so drunk he kept talking over me, but desperate for me to talk to him at the same time. I told him it was a beautiful day. I told him – “Mate! You’ve got it bloody good, sittin’ in the sun with your radio, watching the day!”

He looked up at me, fair square in the eyes. “Oh sweetheart. I’m FUCKED.”

I leant over close to him. I had so much compassion – I know exactly where he is, in that Lost and Hopeless place. I spoke directly from my Spirit to his Spirit. “Mate – we’re all fucked!

And we had the last laugh, together, standing in the ritzy park next to the fancy boats. The bemused hoity toity businessmen and the hot mums with babies steering WAY clear of us.

 I finally got to my sister Linda’s house in Bondi, regaling her with stories of wee and alcoholics and Hope. I’ve thought about that beautiful bum ever since.

One day, I hope we all can see that there is no us and them. There is only us.

::

A continued big fat thank you for the overwhelming response to the Every Little Thing post. It was even featured on the awesome Schmutzie's Five Star Friday site. Sadly, Blogger has been down for over a day - preventing new comments, and losing a large chunk of the comments already there. Vee is watching and reading with amazement, every single comment that comes in. Me too. And Alexandra. Cancer touches a lot of people, you know? Sucks, man.

Thursday, 12 May 2011

Web Log Entry #397

                                          Gangsigns on Bondi

I'm completely resting on my laurels, now, after yesterday post. I may never do anything meaningful again - surely I've scored a multitude of Spiritual brownie points .... enough to get me into heaven, with Buddha?
Truth is, before I met Vee in the hospital foyer on Tuesday, I couldn't find a car park. I drove around and around for forty damn minutes. I was running late, and at one point I drove into the carpark across the road. Smiled sweetly at the old guy and asked him if I was allowed to park there? "WHERE YA GOING?" Ummm, the hospital? "NUH." I drove around to get out, passing several empty spaces. Poked my head out the window - sweetly asking him, what if I was going to the chemist? "NUH. YOU'LL HAVE TO LEAVE."

I was fucking furious. And as I drove past him I twisted my whole head out of the window, and matched his tone. "WHAT ABOUT IF I'M GOING TO THE CANCER WARD?"

And I drove off, starting to cry because it was all too triggering and familiar. And I felt guilty that I just shouted at an old guy. Who's dumb idea was this? Decided to go snag a free car park at the cancer clinic. I knew that all you had to do was say your doctors name at the boom gate, and they let you in. Like magic. So I drove around there, and waited in a line of cars. Then I looked into the line of cars, and realised that I was in a line of cars of people who were all there to get their chemo. And I thought to myself, Eden - you think *you're* having a bad day.

I drove off, away from the magic boom gate. Five minutes down the road I had completely forgotten about my gratitude, gnashing my teeth in anger at the lack of spaces. It must be human nature, to take everything on the planet for granted.

::

This whole "blogging caper" is getting really quite big in Australia, as well as for me personally - it's been the biggest week ever. Monday night saw the launch for the Kidspot Top 50 Bloggers in an art gallery at Darlinghurst. It was incredible to be with such amazing and inspiring women. I stayed at my sisters house that night, woke up on Tuesday to go to the hospital to meet Vee, waged a illegal Guerilla Art Campaign that has touched a LOT of people, raced home to pick up the boys and cook a roast dinner to prove I was still a good mother. Supervise homework, read books, chat with my beautifully prodigal stepson. Stay up until 2am blogging, then get picked up by a private car five hours later to be driven to Vaucluse for a product launch. Leaving Dave and the boys waving me off in the driveway, looking as bemused as I felt.

Mrs Woog wrote a wonderful recap of the day and what it meant to her here. I walked into the event wondering if it would be worth my while, and it was pretty bloody amazing. P&G actually flew a SCIENTIST in from overseas, to talk about the technology behind the making of their products. I saw him and thought oh, how cute - a white labcoat. But he was really a real scientist - with experiments and data and everything.


My house does not smell like shoes or farts today, because I've sprayed Ambi Pur everywhere. And this is NOT sponsored - I'm not getting paid for writing about it. I even told Dave about their "nitrogen can technology" and he laughed at me. This guy standing next to Mrs Woog is the nose behind the fragrances. His name is Jin Jun, and regaled us with stories of being in Provence, France. Gaining inspiration from bakeries, and lavender fields.



Check out Kim holding Baby GoodGoogs - Woogs, you just got photobombed by a baby!
In charge of catering yesterday was Peter Kuruvita from Flying Fish restaurant. Halfway through eating my seafood pasta, I realised how noisy and fast I was going. Like a Simpson. I really hope nobody noticed. As I was telling Peter that it was the best meal I'd had in ages and I'll make a booking for Dave and I ... Woogs and Kim from All Consuming walked up behind me, accusing me of flirting. That's the cameradierie and boldness of bloggers, man.

This is the lady behind the Mother Media event with her daughter. (There was a creche there). Thank you, Brenda!


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A whirlwind week.

Out of all the things I saw, places I went, and people I met ... it is this photo that has made a lasting impression.


The comments and emails pouring in to Vee, Alexandra and I are unbelievable. Thank you.

Those two little hands resting on the canvas - is the real reason I blog. 

Wednesday, 11 May 2011

Every Little Thing

This man isn't in the world anymore. Cancer took him away.


I've known his wife for years, I found her in blogland. It was a rarity, back then - to find another Aussie blogger. A Sydney one at that! Vee and I were trying to fall pregnant, writing about our IVF and how tricky it was. In March 2008, her husband Alex was diagnosed with cancer. I felt sick for her. Two months later, my husband Dave was diagnosed with cancer. She felt sick for me.

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Today, the 11th May, marks one year since her husband Alex passed away. Their beautiful son turned one a few months ago. Vee has been a single parent, all this time. Can you imagine?

I'll never forget something Alex wrote. To paraphrase: People often tell those with cancer to fight, just keep fighting. Fight hard and beat this thing. But what of the ones who fought - hard, and yet still died? Didn't they fight hard enough? Sometimes it doesn't matter how hard you "fight."

I used to quote Alex, often, when people would tell me to tell Dave to "just fight!"

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Last November, in a post called Essays from the Deep ... I wrote this:

"The absolute worst thing about the cancer ward, was the artwork. I remember holding everything together, carrying Rocco in the sling, walking through it all .... but it was the artwork that made me despondent, want to slit my wrists. I'd always told myself that if Dave stayed any longer in that ward, I'd take down some of our art and hang it on his wall.


I still want to. I'll go with Dave to his appointment tomorrow, just to be annoying supportive .... and I will tell him my plan to take new artwork down to his old stomping ground. Something with some light in it, for goodness sake. He'll probably tell me to go for it - he always does.

Imagine if I didn't even ask the hospital, if I just waltzed in with beautifully coloured canvasses under my arm ... and swapped it over with all the bad art. (Bad art! Naughty!)

I think I will."

Computer, guess what? I did. (Vee, go read your comment on that post - I told you it was your idea!)

Vee and I met for the first time yesterday. At Nepean Hospital, where Dave had his diagnosis and surgery and subsequent chemo. Sweet memories, man.

Her beautiful, gorgeous husband Alex was a talented artist. We got some of his art printed up onto three canvasses.

Then we waltzed inside the cancer ward at the hospital and put them up. Just like that. Vee had bought these sticky things and I did the dirty work with my man hands. No permission. We left a piece of the world goddamn less ugly than we had found it, and I am fiercely proud of us for that.



This is the first one we put up. (Dave actually chose this one .. it's a dog relaxing next to a Harley Davidson.) Twenty seconds after, a lady hobbled past, clearly a patient. She stared at it for ages. Vee's all, "So, do you like it?"

"Oh, yes - yes I LOVE art. It's what you see into it, isn't it. Yes. Yes I really like it.

Putting this one up was amazing. We're actually in a room. I was walking past and this guy was on an oxygen tube and I stood at the doorway, holding up my offering, asking him if he'd like some art in his room. He could hardly talk ... but I made out, "This is hospital property." I said oh yes, we were doing an art initiative. But so sorry to disturb, and I went to back out but he wanted to know where the photo was taken. Vee told him in Surry Hills. He stared at it for ages, said he liked it. I put it up - next to the clock. (Who puts a clock in a room of a cancer ward? TICK TICK TICK.) I chose this picture, these birdies on a wire. I looked at all of Alex's wonderful images, tried to see them through the eyes of a newly diagnosed cancer patient. I wanted them to be taken away, somewhere - anywhere other than where they were.



Just before that last photo above was taken, I said Vee .. we have to get out of here now. There were about ten nurses milling around by that stage. Can you believe not one person asked us what the hell we were doing? I love Australia.

This project doesn't stop there. Remember my friend Alexandra?

Here is the story of how we "coincidentally" met. Her verve for life makes me slackjawed like a yokel. We've been collaborating for a while now - Alex stood in LA last weekend and handed out beautiful cards. These cards.



Alex - father, husband, artist. Lost his battle with leio.myosarcoma on May 11 2010. From Sydney to Los Angeles - we're sharing the beauty he saw in the world. Please let us know where you found this card. Every little thing ... gonna be all right."






Strangely, it was the image of Alex's card next to the Royal Wedding papers that made me cry. A big world event, that Alexandra had somehow made him a part of.

Westwood Fox Theatre

Alexandra's tribute post to Alex is here. It's bloody incredible. She stood in busy La La Land, handing out flyers, noticing herself feeling rejected when people brushed past her. (Seriously - who gets shiz printed up and hands them out, for people never "met" yet? I LOVE THE INTERNET.)
 
I need to go to bed. I'm writing this out, scared that I'll leave something vital out. I want you to see everything, computer, but I need to publish it before Vee wakes up - it's 2.02am here right now. I would love if you commented, if you could spare a few kind words to Vee. And Alexandra. We financed this whole thing ourselves. I can now put "Bumbling Project Manager" on my business cards.
 
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Later, as we sat in the yucky courtyard in the kiosk at Nepean Hospital, Vee told me that she still can't believe that he is gone, that he is not going to walk in the door. See his son grow up.
 
And I looked up at the hospital and thought of the new pieces of artwork hanging in there. I noticed three birds looking down at us from the awning. Vee's blog is called Three Little Birds. She took some photos of them and I knew why and she knew I knew why.
 
Her man isn't in the world anymore ... but the world is a better place for him once walking it.
 
 
This guy adores his dads art - he cried when we took it out of his hands. I was trying to distract him with a photo of the amazing pink elephant  ... no dice.
 
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Cool thing that happens every year down here - Australia's Biggest Morning Tea
 
Alex was there ... Santa Monica Beach, LA 11th May 2011
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