Saturday, 31 March 2012

Departure.

I'm just about to leave for the airport now ... completely buoyed by the support and love from homies everywhere.

World Vision Australia are on Facebook HERE

Their website is HERE

I am on Facebook HERE

I'm also on twitter as @edenland - sometimes I joke around there. I like using twitter to shake things up and culture jam. Please excuse any inappropriateness, I have a tendency to laugh at things that hurt me the most.

The official twitter hashtag for the trip is #EdenInNiger - Richenda and Joy from World Vision Australia will be tracking it.

World Vision on twitter is @WorldVisionAus

I'm on Instagram as Edenland ... and any photos I upload in Africa will have no filter.

Today at the doctors the U2 song Original of the Species was playing. Haven't heard it in years, and closed my eyes as I sat there waiting for malaria tablets.

I'm pumped, adrenalised, grateful. And I better go.

It's about time I told other people's stories instead of my own. Then we can make some noise.





PS I'M ALSO FREAKING OUT. In a mostly cool and manageable way.

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What a Thing to Do.



I will be flying to Africa today for World Vision, to blog about the upcoming food crisis in Niger.

I've known about the possibility of this for over two weeks now, but didn't think it would happen because my security background check was taking so long. When World Vision originally asked me if I was interested, I said yes straight away and didn't even think about it. I wanted it bad - more than any blog award, more than any accolade. I bombarded World Vision with my media kit and my stats and my reach ... things I hardly ever do, makes me cringe. I gave them everything. Hopefully I was in with a chance.

I've been living under this Maybe Africa cloud for a while now. When I got so sick last week and ended up in hospital, I was extremely upset that my chances were dashed. Then I got better. Days were going by and I *still* had no answer, it was so frustrating. I let it go to the Universe, then took it straight back again. I saw no signs, could not sense the future at all. So frustrating.

I don't usually let myself want things so badly in life, for fear of disappointment. It's easier to expect nothing.

But I just knew, in my bone marrow ... that if I went to Africa, I could do the stories justice. I could use all of my blog writing skills I've built up over the years, my whole-hearted voice. I found out about six hours ago, that I will be indeed going. Rang Dave straight away, needing his support like never before.

When I packed for Melbourne the other day, I actually packed for Africa. The most modest and drab clothes in the land, in a small carry-on bag. I said goodbye to my kids - my two sick kids - not knowing if I would see them in two days or two weeks.

"Bye sweethearts .... mum is going to Melbourne. But mum MIGHT be going to Africa."

Never has it been so hard to leave them. Never have I been so overcome by that guilt - it very nearly paralysed me. I left anyway, crying on the train all the way. It helps to imagine my boys as teenagers one day - men. Living their own lives, doing their own thing. Is it so bad, if I steal time away from them .. to do this One Big Thing?

My flight itinerary is utter insanity - leaving Saturday on a midnight flight to Doha, then Paris, then Casablanca, then Africa. Did you know that Casablanca is in Morocco? I didn't. It takes almost 30 hours to get there, on four planes. Five nights in Niamey, Niger. Then back to Australia. That's eight airplanes in total. Eight pilots, out there in the world. Doing their thing, eating dinner right now, going about their day. I wish them clarity. I wish them happy love time with their partners. I'd like them to do their jobs properly and safely so I make it over there and do mine. (Every time I'm on a plane I resist the urge to scream WE'RE ALL GOING TO DIEEEEEEEE.)

If I die on this trip I hope I at least die on the way back, AFTER I've done my meddlesome earnest heart do-gooding reporting.

I'm worried. That I won't write well enough or I will write too hard-hitting. Too truthy ... you KNOW I can't sugar-coat things very well. I hope that's ok. I'm worried I'll miss Easter with my boys and I didn't buy them any eggs. Worried about where I will go to the toilet in Africa, what I will eat, who will I meet. Worried about my bleeding heart dripping all over the floor and I'll trip over it and be useless.

Each day in Niger I'll travel out to the communities, talking to people about what life is like for them. I've had my immunisations, had pre-trip counselling, bought cotton flowy tops. What DOES one pack, for a trip to Africa?

I'll try to do another quickie post before I leave l tonight.

I know you all can't come with me but I'm bringing you anyway. I need you. The last few weeks I'd lie in bed at night thinking about what it would be like if I went, and imagining what your reaction would be. I strangely drew strength from support you hadn't even given me yet.If anybody ever asks you what does a blogger do, you're more than welcome to direct them to my next week's worth of blog posts. The West Africa Food Crisis appeal was launched by World Vision Australia HERE last week. It's a direct response to the crisis that is rapidly escalating, with around 15 million people in need of food assistance and some now surviving on wild leaves and animal feed. This crisis has not picked up by traditional media yet. Too boring.

1.3 million children in the region are suffering from acute malnutrition, with 400,000 suffering from the most severe form. Just numbers, really.

I'm going over there to make them not just numbers.

All those airport security screens and they'll just let me waltz through with the biggest weapon of all .... the Truth.







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Thursday, 29 March 2012

Silver and Gold.


Yesterday I hopped on a train down to Sydney to talk at a bloggers function. I was sandwiched to the guy next to me, so rested my leg next to his suitcase the whole way. Until I realised near the end that it wasn't his suitcase, it was his leg, and I was the weirdo pressing against him. Poor guy.

I liked his book.


Central Station in Sydney brings back so many memories for me ... some good, most not.



This morning I flew to Melbourne for the launch of the World Vision Australia Blog Ambassadors, of which I am proudly one. This is Richenda. She is the social media at World Vision, and has a heart of pure gold. She was married just a few months ago ... in Hawaii. The photos of her dad giving her away made me cry.



I spent the whole day learning about one of the most worthwhile charities in the world. Exhausting. Brilliant.

Tomorrow is the Digital Parents Conference here in Melbourne. All I can think is: has Max stopped vomiting yet? How did Rocco go at preschool? What did they eat for dinner? Is Dave nurturing them properly, looking them in the eyes, letting them feel heard and loved? How did I end up with a free pass from the sick house? And where can I stockpile all of this guilt?

About ten minutes ago, Nikki and Mrs Woog gave me a present that stopped all my thoughts in their tracks.




A specially handcrafted pendant from the delectable Uberkate. Sitting nestled next to the skull from my mother ... it's like I'm wearing my blog around my neck. Blog dogtags ... blogtags.

Feels like I've been wearing them forever. They make a clinking sound when they touch, kind of like a bottoms-up-I'll-drink-to-that-sound. Except I'm not drinking.

I'm just incredibly blessed.



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Monday, 26 March 2012

All About My Mother.

I believe it's time I wrote about my mother.

Me and Sue in '72. 

Isn't she beautiful? And so young. She's maybe, 25, in that photo? And already had 3-year old twin girls. She was married to a tall Scottish guy, who unfortunately got violent when he drank. Which was a lot. (The look on my face is like, dude, I may be a girl .. but you're an asshole.)

On exactly my fourth birthday, I remember a tremendous sense of rushing to get into the car. I was worried about the bulb I'd planted in the garden, but we were gone. To my grandparents, and my parents were divorced.

Can you hear me treading delicately, over this story? This is so many people's stories ... but back then, most of all, it was my mother's story.

A few years ago, my cover was blown and my blog was mentioned in a national newspaper. The very first thing I did was call mum and confess. "Um, mum, so I have this blog ..."

Then I raced home and frantically deleted some posts that were unfair. I never expected this blog to be ... this blog. But it is. If I were to start writing one today, would I write the same way? HELL NO. I was giddy with anonymous freedom, in the beginning. And man, I just had so many juicy stories, begging to be written!

I worried what she would think of it. At first she told me it was fantastic, then there was a sort of strained something that I just didn't want to ask her about. I've shared some ridiculously dark things, here. And to my mother's credit, not once has she ever criticised me or asked me to take anything down. It must be a strange thing, to be the relative of a blogger. My sisters and I laugh ... they say they sometimes log on thinking, what dregs from the past has she dragged up for us now?

The entirely peculiar thing is, it's starting to feel like my narration of my family's early history has played some role in deepening our relationships. (Cue hero music pls.)

My mum and I had a dreadful relationship when I was a child, pretty much. This is just a truth. She knows this and I know this and we both know why. The past few years she has gotten to know me so well. Especially on the hard time days where I haven't been able to talk to her. She's patient.

Mum has grown into one of my biggest supporters. She "gets" my dark, and my black humour. She sees that I have to pull apart and make fun of every terrible thing. And publicly, too. What a strange thing.

At the age of 42, she was left widowed with four children from two different fathers. With no money ... and her husband died from suicide, no less. It was a dreadful, rotten time. In 1988 there was no such thing as counselling, really. We just all got on with it. She got a job and works to this day, I just ticked off days until I could move to Sydney and start drinking like I REALLY wanted to.

So much happened, in those decades. If I were to describe my childhood in one word it would be "turbulent." Possibly the exact same adjective my mother would use to describe her own childhood. She has been making up for lost times and hurt feelings for so long now.

A conversation about a month ago had us both in tears. She knows, now, what it felt like to be me, growing up. She knows.

I didn't know she knew and she didn't know I didn't know.

So now we know.

And I love her the most deeply, and most strongly, I have ever loved her in my whole life. Forgiveness tastes like victory. We laughed and spoke for almost two hours. She said, "Eden, can you imagine what it all would have been like if I'd been with somebody different, and more stable?"

Our relationship is changed forever and will never be the same again. Just like that. Sometimes, the biggest things in our lives happen in just the blink of an eye. So hard, and so simple.

She gets me, in ways I could not possibly imagine. Her birthday present to me was a skull and crossbones necklace with diamond chips in it. She is fiercely proud of all that I do. The other night when I lay in bed crying, so very sick .. she was the only person I told.

She's been through so much in her life. And never given up. That makes her the hero - she is stronger than both of my dead dads combined. She's a goddamn warrior. She taught me you can change, at any age of your life. One of the happiest times I ever saw her was vacuuming while listening to Neil Diamond, full blast. I was about five years old and it was an in-between dad time. She was laughing. I didn't hear her laugh, much, when I was growing up.

So. That happened. Pretty huge. Truth is, I can never tell you all about my mother - I'm still learning.

(Mum, the goddamn answer really is love.)

Utterly fascinated to know about your relationships with your mothers. Any normal ones out there?




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Sunday, 25 March 2012

Picking the Bones

Last Friday I was so fed up with fighting the flu for so long that I took myself off for a big walk. I pounded the streets in my runners and thought, come ON body! Get strong! Halfway around my usual track my back started to ache so very hard. It was really strange. Suddenly I stopped and realised something clear as day - I didn't have the flu at all, I had a kidney infection.

Trying to walk off a kidney infection must be akin to trying to pray the gay away.

As soon as I got home I drove straight to hospital and got put on a drip. I was berating myself - how could I be so bloody stupid? I usually really listen to my body. The whole of last week I was sick at home with Rocco who was sick as well. I just kept pushing myself to get things done, googling "how long does the flu last?"

Yesterday it felt like I'd been hit by a truck. Could hardly turn over in bed. I could feel the antibiotics coursing through, but my kidney was just so sore. I wanted to take it out and tuck it up in a little box with a pink blanket. Read it some poetry. Feed it organic cranberries, and thank it for all its hard work. That kidney turned 40 when I did ... I've forced him to process a lot of things over the years. Things no kidney should have to face. My god I take my health for granted!

As I lay, prone ... Dave did everything. Cooking, cleaning, organising his daughters party ... even the cake. It reminded me of when Rocco was born and it was me doing everything. Dave was so sick from chemo he just sat on the couch. I told him I had an inkling of how he must have felt and he laughed. I vowed to eat well for the rest of my life. Yesterday my stepson Tim came over to help and he made a beeline for my bedroom, jumped into bed, gave me a cuddle and told me I stank. I love that turdburger. Max had his first ever rugby league game yesterday and I was too sick to go. He scored his first try! Rocco has completely destroyed his bedroom out of protest. He has been SO naughty, and I've really listened to how much he gets baby-ied, by all of us. That's going to stop. 

It was the oddest thing, to watch this hive of activity all around me and not be able to take part. I marvelled in everyone's strength, and didn't feel like I'd ever be strong again. Worried that I had some terrible obscure disease and I would feel this bad forever. It must be SO HARD to live with an illness, or chronic pain. 

Little by little I feel better. I've drenched sweat through three hoodies .. I'm drinking cranberry juice but my friend said I can get some good gear from the health food shop - it has the "sourness of a thousand lemons," apparently. I can walk around, have a shower, and just had my first cup of tea in days. I took the garbage outside and felt the fresh cool air on my face - all over the front doorstep were the ever-present magical dog bones. They're magical because nobody can see them but me! Our dog gnaws on them until they're gleaming white, then she discards them and we all step over them. I knelt down and picked them all up, so grateful to be well enough to do one of my most hated jobs. So many people around the world are too sick to pick up mangy dog bones. I am so lucky.

I have some travel lined up this week which my doctor has cleared me for. (Unless my final blood results show something REALLY BAD.) My dad may have given me some dodgy genes, but he also gave me the genes for an incredibly strong and resilient body. I put a call out on twitter for some warm thoughts .. because I was freezing. Twitter did indeed send me some warm thoughts - some so very warm they made me cry. What is twitter? Apart from being a complete waste of time ... twitter is a living organism. A consciousness. A collective noun for humanity. 

I was supposed to do the weekly Fresh Horses thingo yesterday - guys, my horse was half-dead. Sorry! I was thinking about changing it to monthly anyway, to make them more meaningful. Next one will be in May. That doesn't mean you do fewer blog posts - keep writing anyway, for you. Write for you.

Um, suddenly my house is full of the opening theme song of "Ren and Stimpy." Rocco and I are the only ones here. He is supposed to be on a time out. 

In conclusion, I'm not dead. And if you're reading this, neither are you. Our bodies are unsung heroes. 

PS I almost named this post You have GOT to be kidney!  but thought I'd go for a more serious approach. 

PPS Paranoid that five days taking one antibiotic each day isn't enough and I'll get sick again .. back in my day, you'd take three antibiotics a day for two weeks. Is this how good modern medicine is now?




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Wednesday, 21 March 2012

Not a Handbag.

I saw my mum and two sisters last weekend, they had a certain 40th birthday present to give me. Had no idea what it was.


Oh wow ... a black leather handbag! Beautiful! Thanks guys!

IT'S NOT A BLACK LEATHER HANDBAG IT'S A BLACK LEATHER JACKET. (So much better than a handbag.)

Overcome with the coolness. I'd like to thank the Academy. (Memo to self: please stop eaten' all the cakies.)

Imma git this baby on.


Cat. Cream. Ate it.


They told me they bought it online from Viparo - an Australian fashion label founded by high school friends in 2008. They call themselves an "online fashion retail space for leatherwear." I can tell they're young and enthused - they're on Facebook, twitter, have a stunning blog - even have their own Instagram account. Seeing a young, hip, Aussie brand holding their own is pretty inspiring. They could teach other companies a lot about the value and relevance of social media. This is not a sponsored post at all. I'm just deeply in love with that jacket and how it makes me feel.

The buckles at the collar really do it for me. So cool, so tough. Thanks girls. SO MUCH.

::

The comments on my last post are the best part of my last post. (Thank you.)




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Monday, 19 March 2012

A Marriage, of Sorts.

To save my marriage, I had to torch it to the ground with petrol and a lit match.

So I did. Then I drop-kicked that marriage and booted it out of the stadium. Didn't know where it landed and I didn't even care. I didn't know what would happen .. slowly, the terror gave way to exhilaration and within me I found an untapped mine of power that I NEVER knew existed. Best thing ever. I knew, in my heart - that whatever happens, I would be ok.

The hardest thing was the not-knowing. My beautiful fellow-blogger, Kerri Sackville wrote in the comments to THIS post:

"Don't seek and don't expect. Be patient and wait until your mud settles and your water is clear. Be patient and wait. Your mud will settle. Your water will clear."

I really wept when I read that. Because it was all so muddy, but she let me know that it's ok to be muddy and sit with the not-knowing.

I honestly thought we were done - like, peering over the precipice to what was ahead and everything. We would always be friends - maybe we were meant to be together for this amount of time and that's it. I knew I was not going to stay out of fear, I was not going to stay "for the children." No way - this is me and my life. I would move mountains for my boys, I love them immensely, cherish them forever. But the thought of staying married just because of them did not even enter my head. Which is probably really selfish of me - but so be it. I deserve to be happy.

And so.

A lot has happened - shifts, and changes, and honest talking. There are seventeen sides to every story - and no way can I condense it all into one blog post and wrap it up with a shiny bow. Life isn't like that. Gradually I was heard, and listened to, and understood. Promises were made - big ones involving change and a less-stressful life. I will not live in a cyclone of busy, anymore. My husband Dave has a good, solid, loyal heart. I was amazed at his insight into it all - he's such a manly macho guy. He gets me more now than maybe ever. He sees me differently - probably because I see myself differently. He said he missed me so much that he even came here, to this blog. To see what I was up to. The things I'd written here blew his mind. Like a whole wealth of me that he never knew.

CUE DUMBARSE SOPPY MUSIC.

He can't quite believe that I write this way here. I said neither can I, hon. Neither can I.

Some green shoots grew on the black gnarled thing I booted out of the stadium ... and I had absolutely nothing to do with it. I was quite looking forward to my new Shirley Valentine life - but that's ok. I will never look at marriage the same way again .... it can actually kind of blow me. Upon looking around, there's a lot of people out there in loveless marriages. Too petrified of letting go. I'm relieved to know that I will never be one of those people.

I think a trick is to keep part of yourself separate - I didn't know I was so lost until I dug myself up again.

::

Dave came home just before and told me to close my eyes, he has a present. I asked him if it was some furniture that he picked up on the side of the road (bone of contention) .. he said no, it was a painting to put up in the bathroom.

Opened my eyes to this:

                             by Blue Mountains artist Cate Dudley


I said, "Parachute vagina, hon? Really?"

He was laughing. "It's actually called, Warm Wind in Her Hair."

I like it. She jumped out of the plane and has no knickers on and doesn't quite know where she'll land.

And she doesn't even care.




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Saturday, 17 March 2012

Picture This.

 Discovering new apps WAY too late at night and laughing manically.



 "Hey mum - I ate all your birsday cake HAAHAA."


 My tribute to Michael Jackson and Blanket. 


It just seemed the right thing to do.


That's what's been happening around here. You want to share some of your favourite photos lately? Easiest Fresh Horses EVER this week! Usually the theme turns dark no matter how hard I try ... but this one is happy and light!

Link up if you want, or you can use Instagram or Facebook. Open to all ... please try to get around to some different people and leave a comment. Comments are good for the Soul.



Edenland's Fresh Horses Brigade









And here's one last one ....


Caption this.




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Friday, 16 March 2012

Dear Blogger: You have value. Please work for us for free.

I predict this year to be huge for Australian bloggers. Bigger readerships, wider reach, more recognition in the public consciousness .... it's all fun and games until somebody asks to get paid.

Sometimes, the whole weird thing of blogging seems like we're trapped in the story of the Emperors New Clothes. Who's going to be the first to point out when something is clearly not right?

Today, the part of the small boy in the crowd will be played by ... me!

I will only be talking in generalisations here - do not want to hurt people's feelings, or burn any bridges. But for gods sake, if you want a blogger to do something for you, then offer them a fair deal. It's ridiculous ... the past month alone, I have been pitched almost twenty times. By digital agencies in the UK, big brands in Australia, a "mom" advertising blogging network in America, two big media companies. As well as the usual PR pitches and blanket press releases. Total value of pitches - $0.

Here's my deal - I mostly have no idea what I am doing and I'm floundering through. Despite my ballsy tough attitude, I have a low self-esteem. I'm not business-y, and cringe when I have to talk to "bigwigs." The past few months I have been really focused on my blog .. to see if I can earn money as a blogger. The minefields! The frustration! The entitlement! Last year I asked a big company - let's call them, Schmoogle ... if I  ran ads on my site, how much could I expect to receive? I sent them my stats and everything.

They got back to me with a magic number - $150 per day. I read the email and may have cried, walked to my husbands office and said, "Hon, I have arrived!" And we hugged and celebrated. For that one, shiny night ... I had MADE IT as a blogger. When I put my son to bed, the word "Disneyland" was mentioned.

It all came to an abrupt halt when I received another email the next day admitting an error .... Schmoogle meant $150 per MONTH, not day. I was not worth $1050 a week anymore. I was worth $37.50 a week. SUCK IT UP, SWEETHEART. Joke was on me!

Anyway, I digress. What I learnt most about Schmooglegate was to stop trying to earn money ON my site, and to try earn money BECAUSE of my site. This means contributing to places ... I can string sentences together. I have creative ideas. When my life isn't swallowing me whole, I can be QUITE the social media-maven-guru-expert-ask-me-how. What I see happening this year though ... is brands and companies who clearly see the value of what bloggers can do for them, but not offering any renumeration. Just the glory of being ... included? I call foul.

In a recent piece on Forbes called "People Don't Respect Free Work, So Charge Them for It." Selena Rezvani explains,

"If you are asked to pitch in your research, skills, or accumulated experience without some type of compensation now or in the future, I hope you will consider the request very carefully, with a bent toward saying “no.” Better yet, why not use the opportunity as a chance to negotiate better, more favorable terms?"

Why buy the cow if you're getting the milk for free?

I don't think I'm entitled, and I hope that's not how I'm coming across. I'm learning as I go here, and am very aware that sometimes as a new blogger, it is flattering and exciting to be asked to do anything. But every time you put an ad on your site, or do a sponsored post, it comes at a cost. And you need to work extra hard at your content to make up for it. Who wants to read a blog littered with infomercials and crap? Not me.

I've watched the blogging scene unfold over in America for years - the bitchfights, the monetisation, the cloaked secrecy. It's a much bigger market over there, with more money to be made, more slices of pie. (AMERICA, Y U ALWAYS BIGGER BETTER?) That doesn't mean there's not money to be made down here in Australia.

Right? *looks around awkwardly*

Last week I was email-bombed, again and again. By some dude called Lupe. He works for an international ad agency, could I please tell him how much for a text ad on my site for a year so he could send through the contract for me to sign and the money would be in my account in 48 hours! Finally I replied.

"Sure, sounds great! My price is $15,000 for the year. Look forward to receiving the contract!"

He emailed me back, mocking me with a big "Good LUCK." I almost replied, "Dude, your name is Lupe? Good LUCK!"

My free, unasked for advice .. is to bounce ideas off people you trust. See what deals are around, be brave enough to say no. Bloggers and PRs talk to each other. We find out what the other has been offered. It's a small community. I wish there was some kind of Bloggers Alliance, but there's not and never will be. Blogging is a strange beast. I love it. I hate it. I want fairness .... I don't want to be in competition with other bloggers, by companies who throw us a few scraps and expect us to fight over them.

We're worth more than that, surely.

(Insert Leslie Neilson quote here.)


PS I still firmly believe that Schmoogle owes my son a trip to Disneyland.




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Thursday, 15 March 2012

Announcing ... the junkie vending machine!

I'm sick and cranky. When I'm sick, I don't take anything stronger than paracetamol. It's just - the best and right thing to do, for me.

As I stood in line today to buy some paracetamol, I heard a weird whirring sound. What was it?

ONLY THE BEST VENDING MACHINE IN THE WORLD.

Had to pretend I was texting, to get this photo. Because who takes a photo of a junkie vending machine?

A prescription drug vending machine, man. This is how far we've come. THIS is how humans have evolved ... with our ails and aches and problems and diseases. Some engineer drew up the plans for this baby, and it was made.

Technically, it's only for the registered chemist to use. But I predict these will one day be on every street corner. You know, for convenience.

Have you ever looked around the streets of your neighbourhood and noticed the huge chemist/drugstores, the massive liquor chain stores, the fast food outlets? And you got a strange feeling that all was not right, in the world? But then got rid of that feeling with a six pack of beer, some Xanax, and a triple bacon cheeseburger deluxe?





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Wednesday, 14 March 2012

Mum the Killjoy.

A photo of my foot next to a balloon in Katoomba Street last week.


Except it's not really a balloon, is it? I was walking up the street next to Rocco and he suddenly shouts out, "MY BALL!!"

Around about the time I noticed it was actually a blown-up condom, he picks it up and starts batting it around.

All I could think was, CUM BALLOON. So I walk straight up to him and batted it away. As I snapped this photo (I don't know why either) ... a gust of wind came up. We both watched as the balloon was pulled underneath a truck.

Rocco was mad at me. Rightly so - he doesn't know what a condom is. He just thinks his mother is a COMPLETE ARSEHOLE for knocking a ball out of his hands.



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Tuesday, 13 March 2012

I just like typewriters.


Yesterday I was sick and bummed around the house like a listless idiot, floundering. Suddenly, a van screamed into the driveway - parcels! I opened the door and was dismayed. The delivery guy was a creep. Chicks know when guys are being creeps, straight away. BAM. It's a sixth sense we have, having walked this earth with boobs for many years.

I made my face go as blank and non-responsive as I could. I talked like a robot, signed, then shut the door. It was two parcels - one containing a bevy of the latest Garnier products, the other was some books that my kindred Madam Bipolar had sent.

There was another knock at the door. I knew it was the delivery guy still standing there because I hadn't heard his van careen out of the driveway. So annoying. I open the door again, to his leery smile. You know how some guys make you feel naked, and not in a good way? Yeah. I wanted to punch this dude out so hard, grind his skull into the marks of the driveway he'd made when he burst into my space.

"I forgot this one!" It was hard not to show excitement at that parcel ... it was the Condom Dress I ordered after reading the posts by Mrs Woog and Nikki from Styling You.

As I signed again, I felt his eyes boring into me. Looked up, and he's staring at my d├ęcolletage. With a smile.

"So." He leans on my doorframe and gets all comfortable. (He's allowed to do that because he has a dick.)

"So, what's the significance of the typewriter?"

I just looked at this guy. Wanted to say, "YOUR FACE!" Nearby plants began to droop, such was the energy force around my aura in that moment.

"I just like typewriters."

He looked at me, speaking slowly. "You just .. like .. typewriters?"

My aura then turned purple and grabbed HIS aura by the balls and tied them around his neck. He must've sensed something, because in a POOF he was gone.

I shut the door and gave him the finger.

There was a time, years ago .. when I would have stood there and answered all of his questions. And smiled shyly and uncomfortably at his blatant lasciviousness. Girls are taught to be polite and good ... it took my twenties to shake the polite and good out of myself. I'm so glad I did.

A few months back, Alice Bradley from Finslippy wrote one of the best blog posts of all time. I keep thinking about it. Called "On being an object, and then not being an object."

It contains pearlers like this:

"I am 42. I am middle aged. Being middle aged renders you invisible to the kinds of creeps who dole out harassment, so you're mostly left alone. I'm really enjoying it ... to be a young woman in our culture means that you exist, from an alarmingly young age, for the appreciation of others. Therefore, your every feature is fair game for public appraisal."

This next bit blew my mind:

"It means you can't look sad or even neutral in public because a stranger, a man, will inevitably order you to smile."

TINK ... I suddenly remembered being a young woman, getting told over and over again - by men - to smile. What did I do? I smiled. It was polite.

Interesting that as I reach a time where my looks will be gradually fading, I feel the most powerful and secure. If a guy tries to engage in some banter, some uncomfortable questions I don't like, I don't have to engage. Simple as that.

And if the delivery guy googles my name, he will come here and know exactly why I like typewriters.



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Sunday, 11 March 2012

Forty.

Exactly a year ago I started documenting the last year of my thirties. 39 was ridiculous and boring so I decided to do something meaningful on the 11th of every month for a whole year.

I didn't realise it would turn out to be the biggest year of my life. (Click on each date for the link.)

March 11th 2011 Kicking it off with something small ... a video tribute to Eminem's Not Afraid in which I admitted to relapsing after ten years recovery. (Months later I watched Eminem sing that song live at his concert with my heart in turmoil. Glad I decided to believe his words even though I couldn't feel them.)

April 11th 2011 Owned up to something I'd never shared on my blog before ... I live in the Blue Mountains. It opened the door up to local people discovering this site. Awkward.

May 11th 2011 Biggest post ever. Me and my beautiful friend Vee snuck like ninja's into Nepean Hospital armed with her husbands artwork. We put them up and crept away. Our husbands had cancer at the same time. Mine is alive and hers is not. That day was hard and it sucked but I am fiercely proud of what we did. I read this post out at BlogHer 2011 San Diego, see HERE. One of the biggest honours of my life.

June 11th 2011 Did something outlandish and controversial .... WENT TO THE DENTIST. And finally got a crown put on my tooth. I can smile now.

July 11th 2011 My Meddlesome Do-Gooding post. I had a stack of children's books I wrote and sold them all to people who donated to Cate Bolt's Foundation 18 Project. Cate made a whole orphanage in Indonesia. You can donate if you want. Instead of a manicure or a meal out or something. But be careful - cynical people might accuse you of having alterior motives.

August 11th 2011 Is my nine-minute blog documentary - the Edenland Bloco. It documents what it felt like on my trip to America last year, reading out my blog post at BlogHer to all those Americanos. Looking back, I was on the way down again. I knew it but didn't want to face it.

September 11th 2011 "Unbreakable" was intended to be my last ever blog post. It details the reaction of my son watching 9/11 footage ... but the very last paragraph of that post has nothing at all to do with 9/11. And everything to do with my own horrible, spectacular, breakdown. I've never told anyone that until right now. I'll talk more about it in the coming months, I guess. It all seeps out eventually - may as well name it and own it.

October 11th 2011 A post I wrote about the heavy overcoat of shame I've been wearing my entire life. For someone with no shame, I sure do have a lot of it. I failed at finishing Brene Brown's (amazing) online workshop. I feel shame around it. HA! One day I hope to read the book and watch the DVD. Pesky life keeps getting in the way of me learning how to live life better.

November 11th 2011 I wrote about Madeline Spohr. I dreamt about her and her sister Annabel just last night, actually. They were playing together, and it was so beautiful.

December 11th 2011 Sometimes, on the 11th, I'd have a certain idea in my mind but then on the day I'd end up writing about something completely different. This month I wrote about Nathan.

January 11th 2012 You have the right to remain ridiculous. (Yes - you!) I took a ride down a hill with my son filming, then I fell off and skinned the hell out of my knees. Then my other son pissed on me.

February 11th 2011 I knew I had to do something Big - something drastic. I don't like team sports because I mostly don't like people but I joined a team anyway. Roller derby. I have much to say about it.

::

So that's it.

I got sad that all the other things I had planned now won't be part of my Year of Turning Forty series. Still have never seen a sunrise or been in a flash mob or visited Scotland as an adult. Today I had a Sydney Harbour Bridge climb planned but I cancelled it. Couldn't be bothered - so tired.

I realised that I can still do all of those things - and more - anytime, I want to. We all can. I think it's good to keep pushing ourselves out of the way, standing up to life and saying, "Ok arsehole ... what next?"

This morning all of my guys - ALL of them, even my biggest guy who is my husband - walked into my bedroom and sang happy birthday and gave me the gun picture I've had my eye on for a while.

I call this photo, "Truth is a Weapon."


I feel completely different but exactly the same. Before brekkie I blasted the country version of Gaga's Born This Way. Rocco walked over to dance with me but changed his mind. "Just cuddle, mum." He let me cuddle him, and I wept for everything I've ever been through, for my friends who won't make it to forty, for the sheer fucking gratitude of it all. Making it this far, after everything that happened.

I shaved my legs in the shower and set the table and made a coffee .. all extraordinary things because they are so ordinary. I don't need to climb a bridge to make a statement about Recovery and Redemption and Faith ... I'm living it every day. Along with thousands, millions of other people on this planet. Just because I have a blog doesn't make me more special than anybody else - I know that. A lot of you are aware that something deeper happened here over the past year. Some of you aren't, and pore over my words to use against me. You can't. Stop trying.

Thank you to my sisters and brother and especially my mother. For understanding and not getting cranky when I tear our family years apart out of rage and anger. And letting me put it back together again and trying to make sense of it all.

Mostly, thank you.

Last year my blog saved my life. I can repay you using the only way I know how ... little pieces of my Spirit, interspersed on the blog page. I am the strongest, most powerful I've ever felt in my life. I was powerful at eighteen using my looks and my body, but this is a completely different power all together. IT IS HUGE. And real, and intense.

Out of everything I have ever been through, the hardest to bear was the Nothing. I thought the inside of me was empty, and kind of worthless. Like the Nothing in Neverending Story, rampaging through everything and turning it dark. I want you to know that it's not real. That you are enough. You have value, you have something to say, you do revolutionary acts every day and you don't even know it.

Do you know how many hurdles we have to get through before we're even born on this planet? It's a wonder any of us are here at all. But we are, man. As bumbling and strong and weak and fucking AWESOME as each other.

This is what forty looks and feels like.



Computer, there's much work to be done. Can you imagine, what's going to happen next?

In the words of Eminem: "The world aint finished swallowing my wad, I ain't finished blowin' it."




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Saturday, 10 March 2012

Words.

In dire need of some Fresh Horses today.

If you were invited to a birthday party and the party-thrower had an open mic ready for you to say some of your favourite words, which ones would you choose?

It's a hard one ... there's so many great word formations out there. All made from 26 letters. Words tie the world together. And have the power to tear it apart.

Something from Nelson Mandela would be good. Or an obscure poem. A rap, an old love letter, a postcard, a philosophy.

Right now this second I would choose to read out this:

Don't believe the devil
I don't believe his book

But the truth is not the same
Without the lies he made up

Don't believe in excess
Success is to give
Don't believe in riches
But you should see where I live
I .. I believe in love

Don't believe in forced entry
Don't believe in rape
But every time she passes by
Wild thoughts escape
I don't believe in death row
Skid row or the gangs
Don't believe in the Uzi
It just went off in my hand
I .. I believe in love

Don't believe in cocaine
Got a speed-ball in my head
I could cut and crack you open
Do you hear what I said
Don't believe them when they tell me
There ain't no cure
The rich stay healthy
While the sick stay poor
I .. I believe in love

 Don't believe in the 60's
The golden age of pop
It glorifies the past
While the future dries up
Heard a singer on the radio late last night
He says he's gonna kick the darkness
'til it bleeds daylight
I .. I believe in love

I feel like I'm falling
Like I'm spinning on a wheel
It always stops beside a name
a presence I can feel
I .. I believe in love

"God Part II" - U2

What would you choose, to read out at this fictional party?



Edenland's Fresh Horses Brigade



(If you are about to add a link in here that has nothing to do with my meme? Please don't. I am really stabby today.)






I was seventeen years old at that concert above. Neigh.




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Thursday, 8 March 2012

The importance of being earnest: why Kony is not a black and white issue.

"I will be as harsh as truth, and uncompromising as justice .. I am in earnest, I will not excuse, I will not retreat a single inch. And I will be heard." - William Lloyd Garrison


Years ago, in my favourite rehab ever, we had theory once a week instead of group therapy. SUCH a relief. Each Friday we'd sit in front of the whiteboard set up in the dining room and listen to statistics on getting and staying clean, as well as the varying models of whether alcoholism and addiction was a disease.

This kind of blew my mind open. And whenever my mind gets blown open, I show it. I'd sit right up the front and nod, furiously. I'd take notes, man. NOTES. IN REHAB. This information was astounding to me - and important. I was learning things about myself and how I ticked that I never knew before - really valuable shit. What if I wasn't the worlds biggest arsehole after all? What if I *could* get better?

After a few weeks of this, the therapist had had enough. "Ok Eden, you can stop with the act now."

I was so shocked. And confused. What act?

"You keep sitting there, mocking this session. I've had it. Stop it or leave."

It took me five bumbling minutes to explain that it wasn't an act - I was completely and genuinely interested in learning about what makes me tick. I knew she didn't believe me. Years later she believed me, when she saw my beaming face as I pushed my newborn baby in a stroller.

It's taken me a while to realise that I am an earnest person. It confuses people, then disarms them. I like to ask questions, be passionate and vocal about what I believe in.

Yesterday, my 14 year old stepdaughter came to me and asked if I had heard about the Kony video. I hadn't. She told me how cool it was and how she was going to get involved with her friends in April. I watched the video, and was so roused that I posted it here - and I never post twice in one day.

Then I tweeted it, and posted it on Facebook as well. It was going ballistic by that stage. Then, the negative press and tweets started streaming in. I realised that I had just completely put my weight behind something I don't really know that much about - certainly had never heard of the Invisible Children foundation before.

I wondered if I'd done the wrong thing. I've since read conflicting reports about it this morning, questioning the motives of the charity and the film makers. There is no doubt that that film is BRILLIANT. So well shot. So emotive. Is it a little too slick? Maybe. Does the guy have brown hair in one shot and then blonde in another? Yes. Why is he dying his hair? I don't know. Does it matter?

Do I think this film and global mission is suspect and driven by alterior motives of money-hungry fame? Gee I hope not.

It's easy to get cynical about things we see and read theses days, especially when the whole world is at our fingertips. It's easy to take potshots at people who are trying to make a difference, who are idealistic and who believe in the greater good of humanity. What I really like about the Kony video is the active engagement and involvement of young people. Facebook is a powerful entity, whether we like it or not. These teens have been on the front line of this technological revolution for a few years now. Quietly joining mindless meme after mindless meme. Every day our children get bombarded with images and ads and meaningless garbage and nobody says anything. Along comes a powerful thing they can link up to and feel a part of - and it's not even about the latest jeans campaign. It's something really quite important. I like that .. I remember what it feels like to be sixteen years old, realising for the first time how meaningless and futile this world was. Powerless.

This Kony movement is polarising but man, I hope it ends up good in the end. I hope they catch him and I hope it's made a difference and I hope young African children are spared the same fate as those before them. I hope Jason Russell really is the good guy.

I believe in teaching our kids that they have a voice. To not just sit there passively, waiting for life to happen to them. To make a goddamn difference, in the big issues as well as the small. To care.


I'm earnest and idealistic like that.



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Wednesday, 7 March 2012

KONY 2012

"Nothing is more powerful than an idea ....
whose time has come."


This is how the world should be. This is revolution.






This extraordinarily well-made and powerful film signifies a huge leap in global consciousness. Let's make Kony famous .. he really deserves it.

Website www.kony2012.com
Facebook 
Twitter  @invisible #stopkony #kony2012




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So THAT'S where a woman keeps her strength!

Filmed this a few hours ago. You'd be nuts to miss it.






The awesome thing about the day I bought this, was that once I worked out what it was, ALL of the older ladies surrounding me at the market stall started laughing. Really loudly. True story.



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Tuesday, 6 March 2012

Waiting patiently.

In a Katoomba alleyway .. this angel has totally dropped his glasses and can't find them because he can't see without his glasses.


Feels like I have nothing of value to say right now. So many Big Things Happened just in one week .. I can't keep up with such themes. Such archetypes. So I'm struck dumb by the Bigness instead.

Here's a poem I wrote:

I see the leaves turn yellow/and summer can suck my dick.

Every year at the change of season, me and my American friends are all, "Oh I send summer up to you now." "Here's your winter ... rug up, it was a cold one, tee hee!"

Yeah, ain't nothing funny this year. I'm reading of spring up in North America which means autumn is on its way down here and WE NEVER HAD A SUMMER. Like, the sun comes out these days and I look up at it, blinking. And just go back inside. You're too late, arsehole.

This is my very last week on planet earth ..... in my thirties. On Sunday I will be forty, hot damn. Forty is big. Jesus was tempted in the desert by the devil for forty days and forty nights. At the end of every single U2 concert, Bono sings "40" .. a snippet of a song they wrote years ago, based on Psalm 40. It's a power number, a master number. If I was twenty and knew in my head what I know now? I may have ended up punching a hole in the world. But I didn't ... I only know what I know now. Guess that'll have to do.

I always thought 40 was old. Guess what? IT IS. Come on. You should see my hands. And my neck. But I did hear a quote that "Forty is the old age of youth." I like that very much. I get to be a goddamn youth elder for the next decade.

I have been planning the BIGGEST party ever. Went searching for a group of Turkish women to pitch a gozleme tent in my front yard. Debated whether to hire this cool band I like, or force everyone to dance on my back deck to my Top 40 favourite songs of all time. I googled caterers, weighed up desserts, and wrote out the BEST invitations. (Skull themed.)

Then I cancelled it. So relieving! Maybe forty is about doing things in life that you are comfortable with, not because you think you are supposed to. I worried too much about whether it would be a fun party. And questioned why I would invite a bunch of people to my house to watch them drink.

Alcoholism is not for pussies, kids.

The response to my last post has been incredible. I've only made my way around a few bloggers who linked up so far but I will come visit everybody in the next few days, I promise. I love seeing your Instagram shots and twit pics and emails about it. Extraordinary.

I write about angels and demons a lot, one day I'll explore vultures. They're an entirely different beast altogether. One has taken roost on my shoulder this week - I'm feeding him pieces of my raw flesh, bit by bit. Soon I'll stop and he'll fly away. Always happens.

I have no idea how to end this post, but then again, I didn't really know how to start it either. Guess I'll just do it anyway.






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Friday, 2 March 2012

It's a Sign.

My guardian angels are probably catatonic right now. Hunched over, talking to themselves ... I hope they're getting paid overtime.

I'm pretty sure that everybody is born with one guardian angel but get allocated more if needed. Somewhere down the track God got on his red phone and barked, "What's this bitches problem? Send her down some more, Jesus." And Jesus is all, "Yes, Father?" And they look at each other, confused.

Sometimes I'm sitting in a recovery meeting and I'm listening to all these amazing people talk about incredibly difficult, powerful things .. and I picture all of our guardian angels lined up outside on the roof, talking to each other. Shooting the shit. Smoking cigarettes and comparing stories. No demons allowed, man. That's what makes meetings so sacred.

Guardian angels are real. You know how you have these little beliefs or omens about the world .. signs, that everything is going to be ok? My friend Brooke used to see the clock and if it said 4.44 or 2.22 she'd shout GOD'S THINKING ABOUT ME. (I say the same thing, except I substitute the word "God" for "Bono.")

So my own personal theory is: if I see a feather on the ground it means that a guardian angel has *just* been there. True story. I've been taking photos of guardian angel feathers for a few years, think I have over thirty by now. Here's a sample, all taken in the past three months.

Hark, angelproof!








I always feel slightly stupid when I take the photos, because people want to look at what I'm doing. I do it anyway. Life's better lived outside your comfort zone. I never touch or move the feathers, either. Just snap and walk away.

My favourite thing about this post is that YOU (you! yes you!) will always think of guardian angels when you see feathers on the ground now (you're welcome). By the way .. you know what gave me such a strong sense of a higher power? Seeing evil in the world, first hand. There is no way evil like that can exist without an opposite. Word up, homies.




Edenland's Fresh Horses Brigade



This is yet another instalment of the Fresh Horses Brigade. A weekly series where some pretty amazing people seem to converge and share stuff. I'm really looking forward to hearing everybody's take - what's your own personal sign that things will be ok? That you're safe, in the world. That something or someone has your back.








(This is one of my most favourite posts I ever writ. True story.)


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Thursday, 1 March 2012

Parenting: I would have gotten away with it if it weren't for those pesky kids.

Max, 10. Rocco, 3. My cool dudes ... my turdburgers.


Having two children is too hard - true story. But what am I going to do about? Keep bumbling forward anyway.

I honestly do things with them and think, "Nobody else would do this." Like the whole world is in on a parenting secret except me. I let Rocco sleep in Max's room sometimes, just so I can get a full nights sleep. I leave strawberry bubble gum in my glovebox to bribe Rocco to get in the car. If they come to me and say they're bored I say .... "Good. Be bored." Why should I be the CEO all the time? (Chief Entertainment Officer.)

To be a parent means you have such power. It's nauseating.

Rocco turns four in May and is hanging for a birthday party. He's never had a birthday party - I've been too far deep in my own issues to give him one. Where DOES undiagnosed and untreated post-traumatic stress go to die? The sound of a newborn baby crying in public makes me clench everything. SHUT IT UP. I ached and yearned for my miracle IVF baby Rocco for so many years. Just as he came he got pipped at the post by my husbands cancer and all bets were off. I will never, ever be clucky again. I used to look at babies and cry from the Want. Now I shy away with a cold heart, wondering why anybody would have babies. Then I feel bad and think, sorry, baby! Nothing personal! Then I wonder what other people think when they see babies. When I catch a new young mother looking at me looking at her baby I want to say no, I am not coveting your baby. Not at ALL.

Am weirdo.

During the last decade the whole world has sped up to such a point that there is intense pressure on all of us in every aspect of our lives. Especially in parenting. A lot are doing it right, a lot of us are doing it wrong - hell, my back-up is comparing myself to the mothers I was in rehab with. Works a treat - I don't have to read you a bedtime story son. I'm not pushing you in a stroller in the rain to score drugs, that's why. Stop complaining.

Most of us waver and falter and completely screw up and start again. It's a fluid thing. One minute I'm patting myself on the back for all the awesome things and the next I'm crying in my pillow because I yelled at my kids right on bedtime. I was so close! I look at the breadcrumbs on the breadboard and feel the EXACT rage a Colombian dictator must feel. I look at my kids in the rear view mirror with such love and joy I cannot contain.

Stupid awesome life and it's stupid awesome challenges. One day I'll have all my shit together and be the Best Person in the World. Until then I'll be miming it like Marcel.


"Waiting in a stinky public toilet for my three-year old to finish taking a dump so I get the privilege of wiping his arse."


The joy and the shit, man. Joy and shit.




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