Thursday, 31 May 2012

Things They Didn't Tell You

There was an article this week over at the Sydney Morning Herald called The Rise of the Mummy Blogs:

A fifty-year old playboy-pendant wearing mumblogger makes the news.

Cate Bolt wrote a post yesterday called Look How Far We've Come.  It's smart and true. It addresses some things the SMH left out.

There's so many amazing Australian bloggers ... 32 of them have come together to collaborate on Things They Didn't Tell You About Parenting All proceeds go to Cate Bolt's Indonesian Orphanage, Foundation 18.

"This book brings together some of the best voices from Australia’s parent blogging sphere. We told the bloggers .... the book would be about all the things that no one tells you about parenting. We told them that ALL money raised from the book would go to Foundation 18 – they would be parents helping a parent to help children. And we waited. And then they told us."


You can buy it for $4.99 and make a difference. I just bought it even though I already had a copy. Might buy it one more time, just to be sure.

My chapter in this ebook is on one of the best and worst days of my life - the day of my second sons birth. And how it's ok to tell your children the truth about things. (May as well .. they find the truth anyway.)


Sample Image




I like new chapters. I like moving forward. My entire life I have been shrugging off labels ... I know who I am. Who other people think I am doesn't make one lick of difference.


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Tuesday, 29 May 2012

You Can't Choose What Stays And What Fades Away.

My husband Dave and I did indeed have a hot date last week at Sydney Opera House. He spent the day digging the footings for our new carport. I haven't seen him at work for the longest time ... tradies are the hottest guys in the world. (Sorry, suit guys.)


                               (I know you can see it. Feel free to call him for a quote.)


We drove down and I explained to him who Florence was, how her voice made Angels weep. We went out for dinner and talked about the world, internet dramas, writing, kids, our Spirits.

I am so deeply in love with him. Everything old is new again. I'm so proud of the choices he is making, the conclusions he has come to. He realised so much when he was in Mexico .. like how simply life can actually be lived, if he lets it.

He's letting it.

We both are, both ready to go on a whole new journey together. I feel blessed and deeply loved. When Dave and I are on the same page, mountains are moved. I have not felt such love for him since Ye Olde Happy Days of 2007. (Yes, I keep track of my marriage highs and lows.)


I wore my red boots on purpose. Same as that stripy scarf. When I broke down for a whole month last September, many tears were shed straight into that scarf. I grew emotionally attached to it, like its specific purpose in the world was for collecting all my tears. It seemed appropriate to wear it to a Florence concert, she even sang Breaking Down.


... all alone even when I was a child. I've always known there was something to be frightened of ... I think I'm breaking down again.

It's a strangely happy, jubilant song. Like, uh-oh - I'm breaking down again. WHOOPSIES.

A highlight of the night was bumping in to fellow-blogger, Mojito Mother herself Caz Makepeace.

                                                                 SO SMILEY. 

I've never really met her properly before, just known her from online. As soon as she walked over I felt comfortable and glad to see her. Not on guard at all. You know when you meet somebody and they just are who they say they are? There's no bullshit or pretense or sniffing each others tails? Just a warmth and honesty, straight away.

I got to personally thank Caz for this post she wrote specifically for me, the other week, about feeling guilty from witnessing poverty in other countries.

It was very cool to see her husband Craig talking to my husband Dave. When they walked off, I said, "See hon? Normal people." (He thinks Computer people are weirdos. He should know .. he's married to one.)

We hadn't been inside the Opera House since the obligatory school excursion all NSW students do when they are eleven.


                                           Jubilant, I say.


The concert was amazing, but I must confess.

SOMETIMES I HATE PEOPLE.

I had four hipsters in front of me, each clutching two beers and a champagne. Laughing and talking. Many cigarette breaks. (Sydney, where did all the hipsters come from? WHAT HAPPENED?) There was a toe-tapper sitting next to me, and a lyric-singer behind. I had to come to terms with all of these noisy and thoughtless people or I knew it would ruin the whole concert. I became one with the humanity.

The blonde hipster chick in front of me finished off her friends champagnes, one by one. That was fine - whatever. Drink away. I've had my fair share of drinking and do not begrudge her that. I did begrudge her her neck. It was long, like a giraffe. On top of that neck sat this:

                              EXHIBIT A: One very large and very hipster head.

A large head on a long neck is not conducive to concert goers behind you.

At one point, I lost all inhibitions and became just as annoying as everybody else. Used my go-go gadget arm to take this video footage of Florence singing No Light.



               I never knew daylight could be so violent. 

The best part of my night was walking to our car and talking about something so random and Dave suddenly goes, "You don't have to be sad anymore hon. Ya got me. Always have."

He walked around the car and I literally stopped in my tracks and used my scarf to wipe away my tears.


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Monday, 28 May 2012

Raising Feminist Boys

                                 Three Riley Brothers - Rocco, 4. Tim, 20. Max, 10.


I'm attempting to raise my boys as feminists and I'm not even sure what that means. Something to do with teaching them how to clean a toilet, having gender-neutral toys, not objectifying women. Respect, tolerance, fairness.

Rocco is all "big boys don't cry" at the moment. Every time he says it, I say "Yes they do." He asked if daddies cry, and I said yes, all people cry sometimes. And it's ok. It's gradually seeping in. "When mum? When did dad cry? What did he sound like? Did he have tears?"

His favourite colour used to be pink, which was completely adorable. Unfortunately, the amount of macho testosterone in all the other guys around here soon squashed that. One day I told him to use the pink pencil while colouring-in and he said, "Nah mum. Pink is a girls colour. My favourite colour is brown now."

BROWN. Furious, I asked the others. "Who told Rocco that pink is a girls colour? Who?" Sheepish looks, but nobody owned up. When Tim was 14, he started to buy those ridiculous soft-porn mags. (FHM, Ralph.) Always women with massive boobs wearing black lingerie on the cover. I LOATHE. He used to leave them around the house, so I'd toss them straight to the recycle bin.

I want my boys to know and appreciate the true value of a woman .. but also themselves. To realise they are deeper, with more feeling and intuition than the world gives them credit for. To respect themselves first. I encourage them to be nurturing and sensitive .. always ask them how they feeeeel about things. I talk to all of them honestly about sexuality. If they can learn early how to express their emotions instead of keeping them bottled up ... they're already ahead.

I feel sick about the younger two one day discovering porn. The other day I clicked on a link from a spam bot on twitter, on a whim. It was some of the most hardcore stuff I've ever seen and I was truly shocked. It takes a lot to shock me. There's a really dark side of this digital world.

Talking with my stepson last week, he opened up about how he's starting to "crack through the bullshit" of how guys talk to each other. How good it feels to have a proper conversation with one of his mates about normal things, instead of it all just about chicks and drinking and sport.

One day, I hope to crack through the bullshit of my four-year olds "only boys can be superheroes" mentality.

Rocco: "Ok mum. You be a girl, and I'll be Superman."
Me: "No, I'll be Supergirl."
Rocco: "NO. I'll be Hulk ... and you be ... a girl."
Me: "I'll be Hulkie Girl."
Rocco: "THERE IS NO HULKIE GIRL MUM STOP. I'm going to be .... Rockman. You can be a girl."
Me: "Can I be Super Rock Girl?"
Rocco: Huge, big, defeated sigh. "Can't you just be Rockman's mummy?"

Progress, people.


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Friday, 25 May 2012

Florence, God, and the Machine.

Woke up this morning and hated the physical world so I shot myself in the face. If you need me I'll be in the underworld all day.

I bought tickets off eBay to see Florence tonight at the Sydney Opera House. I've never bought concert tickets before, I've never paid so much for concert tickets before. They still haven't arrived and I'm starting to think I've been ripped off.

I just want to go on a night out with my husband, see one of the worlds most talented artists backed by a symphony orchestra and a choir. Dave doesn't even know any Florence songs but could see how obsessed I was about it. It's a one-off concert. A DVD will be filmed.

The seller of these alleged tickets is Ana from Newtown. I'm playing it cool. I want to trust Ana from Newtown, believe her pleas and promises to refund my money. I don't want a refund. I want to see Florence and the Fucking Machine.

If Ana from Newtown rips me off I will hunt her down. She will be my enemy and I will be justifiably outraged. We all want a baddie to hate. Ana can be my baddie, my nemesis. She will rue the day she ever thought to cross me.

I'm planning my outfit anyway. Organising my boys on a sleepover, acting as if. Ana could totally turn out to be a hero and get replacement tickets and meet us at the Opera House. That's if she's not busy deleting her eBay account and switching off her mobile phone.

It's so easy to be jaded in life .. mistrust people and question their motives. To never admit how much you want something. To play it safe.

I want this so bad. I want to sit next to my husband and weep at the songs that spirited me to Africa with such spirit. I want our souls to be blasted away and I want us to remember who we are.



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UPDATE: Ana was real. The tickets arrived. THE TICKETS WERE REAL. Florence was great. Best part of my night was my husband. Goddamn hunk'o'spunk.

We remembered.


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Thursday, 24 May 2012

DOIN' IT LIVE

"You're gonna do it live aren't you now, Eden? I will from this day forth picture you sitting down to do all your posts by getting yourself psyched up like Bill O'Reilly."

That was a message on my Facebook page from my friend and fellow-left-field thinker, Kirrily. She was talking about this video:



I laughed so hard. WE'RE DOIN' IT LIVE is now firmly implanted in my brain, to be used in any context. Kirrily says it's her catch-cry. "When I have to do the dishes, when I put off washing clothes til I have no more undies left, etc etc... makes everything feel more important and vibrant."

Who IS this Bill O'Reilly guy? No offence America, but would it be remiss of me to say that he's kind of a toolbag? This guy thinks so.




Let's all start doin' it live.

WE'LL DO IT LIVE. I'LL WRITE IT AND WE'LL DO IT LIVE.

Fucken thing SUCKS.

(Kirrily, I'm going to leave a little something on your Facebook page today. You're welcome.)


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Wednesday, 23 May 2012

Midnight Meeting.

I went to pick Rocco up from preschool yesterday and he wasn't there. A known Harry Houdini, I started panicking straight away. You know when your kid is missing and time moves like slow concrete and you think, "This is it. I will never see him again and I will be That Woman on the 6'o'clock news tonight."

Ten minutes I walked around, calling his name. I asked the teachers, other parents. Started to cry, rushed out onto the street shouting his name. Like, SHOUTING his name. Fifteen minutes. All the possibilities exploding in my brain.

Until suddenly I run up the ramp and there he was, inside. Sitting on the toilet taking a dump.

"Why are you crying, mum? I've been waiting for you to wipe my bum."

I still feel sick about it. Good thing is, it's re-booted my entire being. Am renewed. My son is alive! I get to keep him for another day! We got home, had showers, laughed about it over spaghetti, and I put him to bed.

I look up at midnight from my position in front of the fire and he's standing there. "Watchu doing, mum?"

I was putting the finishing touches to this piece over at MamaPop, about the Wiggles. My kids hate the Wiggles, but Rocco decided that in the middle of the night he LOVES the Wiggles, so he settled in my lap. To watch the Wiggles.

                                                                 Fake sleeping.

We argued, I won, and put him back to bed.

He kept getting up, demanding to watch the Wiggles. I told him he does not like the Wiggles. Repeat 3x.

Finally at 2.37am I crept into bed, trying my hardest not to wake Dave.

Rocco joined us at 2.38am, whispering in my ear. "Can I watch the Wiggles mum? I LOVE the Wiggles. They're so cute."


I laughed until the bed shook.

Do you have a lost child story? I heard some pearlers on the tweets last night.


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Tuesday, 22 May 2012

Award-Winning Hero Chameleon Leopard.

Yesterday I sat out on the front deck for a while and looked at my boots.



I walked around Africa in these boots. You never know where life will take you next ... the trick is to let go and trust where life will take you next.

Yesterday was a horrible day to be inside my skin. I got through. Today is marginally better. It's hard to explain.

My local paper wrote about my trip World Vision trip to Africa. Then the Mayor honoured my Sydney Writers Centre win with a mention in Council Chambers.

Over a decade ago I sat in those exact same Council Chambers and listened as the local community rallied against a proposed move of a drug and alcohol rehabilitation centre from Katoomba to Leura. I don't blame them ... I wouldn't want a group of vermin addicts moving next door to my house.

Thing is, I sat there years ago as a patient of that drug and alcohol rehab. I listened as one of the Councillors turned to me and my friends and with such a dark look, said:

"A leopard never changes its spots."

Like I said, vermin.

The rehab move was eventually approved. Nothing bad happened.

::

I chose my mustard cowboy boots today, to get some tough back. Don't feel so crash-hot .... swap you some accolades and superiority for some peace of mind? Like many people on the planet, I wrestle with dark shit inside of me. It's cool. Act cool.

My year five teacher was called Mr Gardiner. He was a huge arsehole. One day after lunch, he stood at the front of the class and said: "Right. Whoever is in The Barrie Gang ... stand up."

I sat there, shocked. Barrie was my last name .. he was talking about me? He snarled at me to stand up so I did, hot tears from being so confused. He barked at the class for the others in "my gang" to stand up.

Nobody stood up, because there was no gang.

At lunchtime a girl had gone to him and told him I wouldn't let her play "in my gang." Years later, I asked her why she lied ... she told me that Adrian Boulder had a crush on me and she wanted to get me back. She saw me as a happy girl who lived in a huge mansion. She didn't know I was completely miserable, with the force of a thousand sads.

I was systematically bullied as a child. Damage was done that I can never un-do. I also went to ten schools - maybe nine. I always forget. I have seen a lot and been a lot, in my time. A chameleon leopard, creeping around the world like a stealth warrior.

I never went to university because my dad had just killed himself and I was too busy drinking to care about anything normal. I taught myself how to live, and I've taught myself how to write -  here, in this blog, in this internet, in this Universe.

But man, I am no bully. I am not in a clique or a gang and never will be.

Last week, Janine from Shambolic Living interviewed me HERE. I loved talking to her .. I asked all the questions at first, because I'm constantly worried about what it's like for new bloggers, whether they feel excluded. (Janine it was such a bloody pleasure to talk to you, thank you.)

In conclusion, I used to be a fuck-up but now I'm the hero. Wait - that's wrong. I'm still a fuck-up. Was I always the hero? Are you a hero? Can we all be one? Am I supposed to be professional now? Why do my words keep getting twisted? Who moved my cheese? I'll have what SHE'S having. Are we there yet?


PS Thank you, Mr Mayor. Very much. I accept this honour on behalf of all the Nathan's out there.

PS Some days it's just as hard walking in my boots in my local supermarket as it is walking in my boots in Africa. Wherever I go, there I am. .

Monday, 21 May 2012

Lame Like a Grasshopper, Sting Like a Bee.

We are exhausted after the world's most crap indoor play centre birthday party. Three hundred bucks for some sausage rolls in a grubby room. This guy was cool with it though.



All he cared about the whole day was mo presents mo presents. Before he'd even fully open one, he'd turn to me .. "Do I have another present mum?"

More?

There was a Hulkie cake, made by my sister Linda.

HOW COOL?

Linda wasn't happy with her Hulk efforts .. "Too Frankenstein." Here's the Mario cake she made for my nephew Joe's party a few weeks ago ...


I KNOW! Linda is a personal trainer who lives in Sydney. She's taking on new clients at the moment. I hereby declare that she is now in the cake-making business too. A cake-making personal trainer ... she'll fatten you up then slim you down. GENIUS!

On the way home we stopped off at Bar Italia like we always do, for pasta, coffee, cannoli and gelato. By the time we got home, Rocco was fast asleep so I put him to bed with a sticky face and dirty feet. He played with his favourite present the next day ... the $9 bug catcher. He wasn't interested in catching a grasshopper, or a ladybug, or a worm.

That shit is too boring ... this guy wanted his very own bee.


I've never heard a bee so pissed off. FURIOUS. Rocco was high with power. He knew the bee was angry. He knew the bee could sting him. He carried it around for an hour, then I talked him into letting it go.

We took the lid off and ran inside .. fast. Shutting the door and laughing the whole way.

Rocco told me that I made him happy and that he likes my cuddles.

Everything was worth everything just to get to that moment.


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Friday, 18 May 2012

This Guy. On This Day.

"Hello, Wocco Shadow! I'm stomping on you!"

See that guy? Can you sense his determination, just from that photo?

It's his birthday tomorrow. He'll be four years old. I just put him to bed and he told me that in the morning, he'd like all of his birthday presents on the kitchen table, please. We must all then sit around and watch as he opens them.

I haven't wrapped his presents, yet - only just bought them. Tight ship, man. I'll be up late.



He is SO FUSSY about what he wears. Chooses his own clothes every single day. It's getting really cold now, so I argue with him every single morning about putting on long pants. He cries, then compromises by wearing pants over his shorts.



Today he pulled worms from the garden. He loves scaring me with bugs, especially spiders. He's not afraid. (To take a stand.)

I've felt overwhelmed all week. Not sure if it's from all of the blogging stuff, the huge changes happening around here, or the fact that Rocco's birthday is also the anniversary of my husbands cancer. (A few days ago I wished my husband a HAPPY TUMOURVERSARY, HON! Because I am romantic like that and remember important dates.)

Four years ago tonight, I crept up into my husbands cancer ward bed with him and spooned him .. as much as a nine-month pregnant woman can spoon somebody. We lay together for hours, the nurses giving us drinks of water and sad looks.

Everything was kind of off-centre and wrong, and left a mark in me that I'll never truly shake.

Rocco is a firecracker. A whirlwind of a tornado of a tsunami. I was completely, spectacularly unprepared to parent somebody with such a temperament, at such a hard time in my life. I've been willing him to get older since he was a baby .. not very fair, really. He never liked being a baby much anyway, always so pissed off that he was too little to do things.

He's big, now. And he knows it. Four? Four is big. It's running with purpose, gaining confidence, articulating needs.

I'm so relieved, and so proud. I'm throwing him his very first proper birthday party tomorrow. Outsourced it to a huge play centre down in Sydney with my sisters and his cousins. Rocco is MOST excited about the cake Aunty Linda is making ... he requested the Incredible Hulk. "Will it be green, mum? It HAS to be green."

I kissed his blonde three-year old head tonight. Then he wiped it off like he always does. He watched me look sad, so patted his head. "I put your kiss back on, mum."


I worry so much, that the circumstances and stress surrounding his birth has somehow affected him.

Then I look at all the circumstances and stress facing all of us. We get through, in the end. Us humans are pretty resilient.





I love him as fiercely and as passionately as he loves me. Mistakes and all.


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Thursday, 17 May 2012

Know When to Walk Away.

This post is for the Victorian Government.
Sponsored by Nuffnang.

When I was a kid, I lived in a big fancy house with a billiard room. My stepdad had this old-fashioned poker machine .. the real coins in it would suspiciously keep going missing. Let's just say, my sisters and I went to the school canteen with a LOT of ten-cent pieces.

I've gambled a little bit in my time. Once I won $500 with a royal flush on the card machines ... the THRILL of that feeling, when you win big! My boyfriend and I discussed buying either an engagement ring or a new bed. (Thank goodness the bed won. I took it with me when I left.)

I used to work in the gaming area of this club, and would watch people come in and play. Most were there to have some fun, give it a go, and then move on. There were the quick movers .. come in, lay down a few hundred, bet big and then leave. Then the few who would just sit there transfixed, pumping the cash through until they had nothing left. It didn't make sense to me ... seemed like a waste.

Years later I was in group therapy with people who had addictions, including gambling. Lost houses, wives, families, jobs. Only then did I realise it was its own serious thing.


You have more chance of writing and recording a hit number-one song than winning the top prize on the pokies. More chance of finding buried treasure. Having a bit of a flutter and fun is great, as long as you set your limits and know your odds.

Dave and I have played the poker machines together a few times. He just picks any one, but I walk around using my special mind powers to choose. Which machine is feeling lucky to me? Which one is telling me something?

It's fun. Once I meant to hit the "Collect" button but I pressed "Gamble All" instead. We won, collected, then walked away. We only play what we're comfortable with losing.


 

This week is Responsible Gambling Awareness Week .. do you know when to fold 'em?

More information HERE. 


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Wednesday, 16 May 2012

On the Remarkables. (And Choking.)

Today marks the launch of Australia's first dedicated talent agency for bloggers, The Remarkables Group.

Created by talented leading Digital Specialist Lorraine Murphy, the Remarkables Group recognises a need for a coordinator of blogger and brand relationships in Australia. Lorraine brings her background in PR to "Assist brands in reaching their target audience by partnering with some of Australia’s most influential bloggers. The Remarkables Group can speak the brand’s language and knows the requirements of a great social media campaign."

The first five "Remarkables" have been announced:

Nikki from Styling You
Mrs Woog from Woogsworld
Beth from BabyMac
Sarah from A Beach Cottage

... and me.

I feel very excited to be part of such a big thing for Aussie blogging.


It's a long way from rehab.

MENTAL NOTE: Don't mention rehab when you're trying to appear professional. Shit.

::

If I were a food blogger right now, I'd write about the green curry paste I made from scratch on the weekend. With really crazy Asian ingredients, and oh my LORDY it was beautiful.

If I were a fashion blogger I'd write about wearing my denim skirt every day for a whole week, accessorising with different scarves.

If I were a savvy business blogger I'd write BUILD READER ENGAGEMENT ASK ME HOW.

If I were a political blogger I'd write about the Prime Minister of Australia Julia Gillard live-blogging today.

I am none of those bloggers. Well, actually I'm all of those bloggers and more - I'm a personal blogger. Us personal ones write about any goddamn thing we want to. It's strange and weird. Especially for me lately as I experience some elements of success, and I wonder when first-time people coming to site will realise exactly how batshit crazy and kind of strange and unbalanced I am.

~BOWS~

Also razor smart with a wit that could cut diamonds. And a heart. But always with the crazy.

Right now I feel like Eminem in that rap battle when he was talented enough to get up onstage but then he saw all the people looking at him expectantly. And he choked.

So in conclusion ... The Remarkables opened its doors, signifying a new chapter in the history of Australian blogging. And I choked.

That's cool. I'll be back again tomorrow ... I never choke for long.

(Too arrogant.)


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Monday, 14 May 2012

The first rule of blog monetisation: You do not talk about blog monetisation.


The second rule of blog monetisation? You do not talk about not talking about blog monetisation.

Unless you do.

The more seriously I'm taking my blog, the more pitches I'm receiving from people and companies. The other week a PR told me she loves my blog, then pitched me to write about booze. I'm not a diva, yet did think it was funny to receive an offer of a free bottle of spirits if I wrote about it on my blog.

I almost tweeted something tongue-in-cheek, but didn't want to embarrass her. I ignored the pitch, then received a very apologetic email from her the next day after she realised her error.

(If you're not sure what I'm talking about .... I sort of re-enacted Nicholas Cage in Leaving Las Vegas for my entire twenties. Especially the part about the prickly pear.)

So. The PR apologises to the recovering alcoholic blogger for asking her to review a bottle of spirits on her blog. Honestly, I didn't mind being asked. It felt like I was "normal," like, I could receive any pitches and write about alcohol freely just like all the other bloggers! She felt so bad, I emailed her back straight away to say it was cool and to please don't stress.

On a whim I wrote, "In fact, I used to drink that very drink and really liked it. I can write about it on my blog for a thousand dollars."

Blow me down she said YES.

I rang Dave. "You little beauty! You should have asked for two!" I thought about what I was going to write. Nothing too outrageous ... just a normal post with a few links whacked in and BAM. I can make a dent in my ridiculous credit card debt. Felt good! Until something kind of gnawed at me. I brushed it away - no! I can write about anything I want to. I'm my own boss.

Last weekend at my nephews party (which had a Mario impersonator who I was strangely attracted to) ... I mentioned it to my sister Leigh, asked her what she thought.

"No f*cken way! You can't do that! So wrong."

Thank goodness for honest sisters. I was so relieved .... of course I can't do that. It would be ridiculous. But above all of everything .. you know what it would be? Hear me stab myself in the eye when I type out this next sentence .... it would not be in keeping with my brand.

I just vomited on myself and I'm not even drunk. Why did I vomit? Because calling myself a brand makes me nauseous. Why am I not drunk? Because I'm a recovering alcoholic who has written openly on the internet about being a recovering alcoholic and I have a responsibility to myself and to people reading my blog.

So I wrote back to this PR chick and apologised, told her I couldn't do it but please keep me in mind for other stuff. She said she will .. she is really cool.

I get to feel all self-righteous, right? Especially since I have a sponsored post soon for something that I really believe in.

You know what makes me uneasy - what if I was offered $5000 to write that alcohol post? Or $10,000 - who could say no to $10,000? As more money gets poured into blog advertising down here in Australia, I have to ask myself, how much am I worth? How much are you worth?

I've been analysing the pros and cons of blog monetisation, and one thing has become very clear:

The true transaction of a sponsored post is not between the blogger and the company, or even the blogger and the PR firm. The true transaction of blog monetisation occurs between the blogger and the reader. It is the reader who pays. You pay with one of the internet's most scarce and precious resources ... your attention. Why do bloggers get paid? Because of the people reading their site. Simple.

So if I'm really going to do this thing, I'm going to need to do it well. Spend extra time on a sponsored post to make it interesting. To give and to keep giving pieces of me, like I always have. Refill my reserve tank of respect and trust. I've heard blog advertising likened to watching your favourite show and then an ad comes on. Do you throw the remote down, turn off the TV and storm out, never to return? Or do you think, man ...  annoying. But I'll sit here until my show's back on. (Sometimes, the ad can even be clever.)

I was interviewed on Radio National yesterday (HERE) - a few questions were about "selling out" on my blog. I answered as best as I could, with my standard, "You need to do it mindfully. Blog readers aren't idiots" line.

Blog readers aren't idiots. Hopefully, neither am I.

                                                                    Mario! Call me!


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Friday, 11 May 2012

Being a Mother is Not the Most Difficult Job on the Planet.

Late-night YouTube surfing with my husband recently, we came across this gem from Bill Burr.

 

Bill's take on motherhood being called the most difficult job on the planet: "Really? Oh yeah, all those mothers who die every year. Black lung .. from inhaling all that coal dust."

By the end, Dave and I were chortling, crying from laughter. Because it was ridiculous, right? "Mothers are bending over at the waist .. putting DVD's into players. I don't know how they do it!"

Bill believes that any job you can do in your pyjamas .. is not a difficult job. "Dude you're thirty-five years old playing hide-and-go-seek. YOU'RE LIVIN' THE DREAM."

 The next day Dave rang me from work, still laughing about it. "Morning hon ... just want to see how the coal mines are today?" I laughed back, told him my black lung was sore.

Then I got off the phone and really thought about. Everybody knows that motherhood IS hard. But why? Like seriously let's cut the crap .. why's it so hard?

Well, because you have to wipe every orifice of every child until they grow old enough to wipe their own. That's a lot of orifices. You're in charge of the laundry, cleaning, nutritious meals, annoying playmates. Silent farts, silent screams, forgotten dreams. When your kid wants toasted banana bread, you cut him a slice and put it in the toaster. It burns and disintegrates. You turn the toaster off at the wall and use a knife to stab the pieces out. Your kid cries harder as you turn the toaster upside down in anger and out comes the banana bread. Followed by a mountain of toast crumbs.

You eat it angrily, because your kid sure as hell won't.

You can't blast a music DVD at midnight like you used to. Have sex properly. Go to a museum when you want. Drink a cup of coffee. Take a piss. You try to live up to some idealistic expectation and fail .. always with the failure. You never feel "proper." You worry that your child will be taken by a pedophile. You worry they will be picked on at school, bullied. You don't let them ride their bike by themselves, even though you rode your heart out your entire childhood. What is UP with that? You hate their homework just as much as they do but pretend to be all official-like during the supervision.

Some parts of motherhood are boring as batshit but you're never allowed to admit it.

It's hard. Just today my three year old son had to do an emergency wee while out in public. Do you know how embarrassing it is, to feel the stares and the tsk tsks of people? Do these people think for a second I want to be standing in a car park next to a kid taking a piss in the wind?

If the hand that rocks the cradle rules the world, then the hand that wields the toilet brush cleans the skids. We wipe mice shit from behind fridges, we wipe faces, we wipe arses. There is no trophy. No lifetime achievement award, no glittering career. We put all our nit eggs in one basket, and we must live with that.

Motherhood has helped forge the person I am today, strong and fearless. That person would now like to reach for higher, more amazing things, but I can't. I have to look after my children. That's my choice and I'm fine with it. Doesn't mean it doesn't sting a little.

Some days I envy the man who leaves home every day. Swapsies - give *me* a roofing job in the middle of summer. Let me sit down at smoko and scratch my balls and feel all worthwhile and important.

Because the truth is, stay-at-home mothers can do this job in our pyjamas if we want to. That's what makes it suck so much, because obviously it's not a proper job, right? Just killin' time, babysitting until these pesky kids turn 18 and we can have our lives back?

Or do we have minds to shape? Spirits to nurture, hands to hold. Eyes that pierce your arseholish ways with lightning speed. It's not right to just think, well, they have a house to live in, food to eat, clothes to wear .. they're fine. We are in complete charge of HUMAN BEINGS. The responsibility makes me sick with panic, worry, awe. We guide and lead, let them shine, look them in the eyes and mean it. Tell them they can do anything. Parent them better than we were parented. THAT'S our job. It freaks me out every day. Every goddamn day I think I'm not doing it right.

So Bill Burr is completely right, motherhood is not the most difficult job on the planet.

It's the most important.


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Thursday, 10 May 2012

Looking for me? I'm underground.

Yesterday I picked a weed from the dirt in our driveway and I thought, that would be a cool photo. I should put it on my blog, make it symbolise something.


That's the beauty of blogs .. you can mould them like clay, into anything you want.

You know what happens, if you keep blogging? You. You happen ... you cannot help but show yourself, what you think, maybe even who you are. It doesn't always have to be deep or heartwrenching .. it just has to be - you. It might not be easy but it's simple.

Blogging cuts through the cyberworld like a machete. It's so cool - like a secret. I love blogging with a passion. I cannot not do it. My glasses are blog-coloured. When I publish a post, a whole weight has been lifted and I feel lighter as I walk through the world again. Walking through the physical world is tough .. it's full of sharp edges and trapdoors. Sucks.

An email came through to me last night from a 13-year old blogger called Ellie ... she blogs about bullying, self-esteem, and "making a difference in the world." Asked me if she could interview me on her blog .. of course. (I'll link her here, once I get HER MUM'S PERMISSION.)

Today the winners of the Sydney Writers Centre Blogging Awards were announced. I have won my category of Best Personal/Lifestyle Blog. And I have also won the whole thing ... Edenland has been named Best Australian Blog 2012.




This makes me feel anxious and nervous. Also thrilled. A bit terrified ... I have a highly personal blog. GREAT. Can I have a do-over?

I'm not used to being good at things. For many years in my life, I was good at nothing and struggled with everything. At the back of my head, I would think ... what if, one day, I could be ok and maybe write?

My grandmother would look me in the eyes when I was a girl and tell me I was a writer. I believed her. I don't know how she knew.

I would like to thank the American infertility blogging community, specifically Melissa Ford from Stirrup Queens. The entire blogosphere can learn something from the way those bloggers help and support each other. They held my hand in 2007 when I went through treatments to fall pregnant with my second son Rocco. And then when I was pregnant. And then when my husband Dave was diagnosed with cancer a few days before the birth and my metaphorical car drove off the cliff and crash landed, bursting into flames and I emerged form the wreckage an angry, jaded woman.

Wait, where was I? See ... being a blogger means you hold the hand of the reader and walk them down some paths. Terrain. Rubble. Wreckage. Fields of flowering weeds plucked from your driveway with the roots attached and you hold one with a bunched fist with your tattoo showing. Symbolising triumph.

The Australian blogging scene is coming into its own. I feel so lucky to be a part of it.

Thanks mum for not being cranky when I wrote so much. Thanks Linda and Leigh for willing me back home last year. Thanks Mrs Woog for making me take my blogging seriously. Thanks to all of the judges of the Sydney Writers Centre Blog Awards. I'm kind of honoured.

And thank you for reading my blog. What's going to happen next? Can you pass me the popcorn?

I hope I go ok in all the media interviews ... really wish I was a recovering brain surgeon, instead. BUMMER.

Rose from the Sydney Writers Centre asked me for a headshot this week. Headshot? Sure, I'll have a look.

I found this:





No, not suitable. How about this?




An impromptu beach rodeo *probably* wasn't what she had in mind.

This?

... so I was like, no way! And she was all, UH-HUH!

I can never take myself too seriously. Life is too important for that.

Finally I emailed Rose a selfie I took at the Eminem concert last year, which she used.  It's entirely appropriate, considering I blast Eminem before I write most of my blog posts. It ignites something in me, gets my critic out of the way. Gives me permission to be bold.

(PS Media .. please go gentle! I'll bring lube. xx)


“I want to thank anyone who spends part of their day creating. I don’t care if it’s a book, a film, a painting, a dance, a piece of theater, a piece of music. Anybody who spends part of their day sharing their experience with us. I think the world would be unlivable without art.” - Stephen Soderburgh's Oscar acceptance speech in 2000 for Traffic.


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Tuesday, 8 May 2012

Badass Women on the Internet.

You know what's cool? Women who stand in their power. Better than that? Women who stand in their power who write on the internet. Here's three that I know of .. they're kind of my mentors, I just forgot to ask them.

JUSTINE MUSK

I have no idea how I found Justine, all I know is that sometimes I'm reading her posts and I cannot believe I didn't pay anything to read her posts. How can something so valuable .. be so free? Justine is a published author, a rebel, a misfit. Her blog posts are filled with gold, attitude, information, power. And BADASSERY. She talks a lot about being a "Creative Badass." Sometimes I click over and everything she has written I can relate to in my life, right at that very second. The strangest thing. One of the things I love the most about her is her bio picture:


See how her head is tilted up? And she's not smiling? Loving. I have a long history with not smiling in photos. She's even kind of sneering. LOVE.

 Justine's post on ambitious women is outstanding. Why the world needs more ambitious women. (And ambition is not a dirty word.)

Next up:

SWEETNEY

Sweetney is Tracey Gaughran-Perez - Gen X-er, writer, editor, self-confessed geek. I'd heard of her for a while. It wasn't until I read this post where she defended Kanye after the whole IMMA LETCHU FINISH incident .. that my ears perked up. Who was this female blogger, who had the balls - nay, the ovaries, to go against popular opinion? Unapologetically? I like people who are not afraid to speak their truths and my goodness do I adore how she does that. She is so funny, and whip-smart intelligent. She created the smart pop-culture site MamaPop and also BlogHer's annual best party, Sparklecorn. (Sparklecorn is the best party of all time. OF ALL TIME.) Sweetney also does the non-smile.



Sweetney almost invented bad-assery. When I meet her, I'll want to impress her so bad. Maybe with my mad num-chucking skills.

Lastly, there is Australia's own badass. Which means she is a badarse.

CATE BOLT

She's a fearless warrior who will tell you she's not. A swearing, grumpy humanitarian. You know what she built out of thin air? ONLY AN ORPHANAGE. I could not do what she does. I aspire to be more like her ... she's a voice of reason and truth, stands up for what she believes in, and her own children are starting to kick arse too. I'm proud to have her as a friend, this once-homeless ex-music journo tough cookie. Here's a post she wrote about Sarah - a fifteen year old girl she talked to on the streets of Denpasar, selling her body. You know, the usual mumblogging post.

Cate is the founder of Project 18  .. and her newest site, the Giving Bowl is PERFECT for your Mother's Day presents.



In conclusion, I obviously look up to women who don't smile. And I believe women are stronger than men .. sorry fellas, but I really do. (Especially in Niger.)

Last month, after the Digital Parents Conference in Melbourne, I sat talking to a bloggy friend Deb from Bright and Precious. She is another smart, amazing woman. She remarked on the language many women have used to define their blogs. "Meaningless thoughts ... scattered random nothings." And how this was not true, that what women are doing now, in this present day, with their writing on the internet .. it can really hold a lot of power and strength, if we let it.

I admire the women who let it.


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Monday, 7 May 2012

We must all be haunted.


There's new ghosts in town.

They're with me when I fill up my car with diesel. They're with me when I take my son to school, as I unpack the dishwasher, when I check the trouser pockets before a laundry wash.

They just stand there, watching.

A week ago I had a de-brief with Richenda and Joy from World Vision. I'm struggling because I saw the worst poverty the world has to offer. You can never un-know something. At first I was chatty and laughing. About different things .. my kids, life, blogging. Then Richenda asks,

"Ok so Eden .. how are you? How are you really?"

They had me on speaker phone and I pictured my sobs echoing in their boardroom. I could hardly even get my questions out. I knew there was nothing they could do for me, really. But they understood. They are good women. All I had were wicked questions. Weird questions.

The more I think about Africa, the more I try to grasp the civilisation of mankind as we know it. The intrinsic way that I see the world is forever coloured by my own non-colour ... I'm too white to be objective about race.

In 1985, Sting hoped the Russians loved their children too. In 2012, I hoped that the Africans loved theirs.

"Do you think .. that the mothers love their children just as much as we love ours?"

They have so many children, see. They keep having them! How easy of us to say, Africans, stop having so many children. You cannot look after the ones you already have! When I was over there, I wondered where the dead children go. Do they get buried? Cremated? Do African parents ever get used to their children dying? Someone told me that's part of the reason why they have so many. Because they know that some will die.

The most wicked maths in the world.

Are black people real people? Are white people better than black people? Reverse it. Imagine if the African population watched their fancy flat screens in their fancy houses. Growing annoyed and jaded at the white people always hungry, always on the news, ribcages showing. Would the black people wonder if the white people were as smart as them?

Two African boys are in a village. Take one, and educate him in the west. Fill him with colourful and rich experiences. Put him back into the African village as a man. Stand him next to his counterpart. Who is better? Aren't they both the same? Are we not all born with the same potential, the same spark .. as the next person?

I wept so hard during my de-brief that I made Richenda and Joy weep as well. I didn't know what to make of what I saw. Still don't. Questions lead to more questions. Why does poverty exist? Deeply entrenched cultural beliefs. Unforgiving geography. Climate change. Corrupt politicians. All of this. More of this.

So there's these new ghosts, following me around, everywhere I go. That's ok .. I asked for it. I went on the Africa trip and I sought them out and I held them close, in my heart. May as well keep living my life as big as I always have. The new ghosts are African mothers holding their babies, African men with nothing to do but pray, malnourished African children, playing in the dirt.

They watched me be an idiot on the beach last weekend, and they came with me into the movies. They were there as I spooned my husband, laughed with my sisters, visited my stepfather in hospital. They heard me tell Dave that all I wanted for Mothers Day was a donation to World Vision, because I don't need anything. They heard him say, "Hon, you're allowed to have a present!"

 Am I? Why?

They're with me for life, now. Spurring me into action. I cannot push them away and don't want to. In a few weeks I'll release my own fundraising effort here, which I haven't asked permission to do because permission is boring. Fundraising is also boring. So I've decided to make fundraising meaningful and cool.

The most shocking, most heartbreaking thing, about these ghosts?

Is that they don't expect a goddamn thing.




West Africa Food Crisis - Donate now

PS I am aware that I think about this simplistically, using language to match. Can't help it. If you are some learned Professor with a gajillion PHD's who is about to leave a snooty comment, think twice. I will mock you mercilessly. Just because I care doesn't mean I'm a saint.


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Friday, 4 May 2012

Maybe she's born with it?

Last Monday Maybelline New York sent me to Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week in Sydney. I was DREADING it. Told my colleague Mrs Woog in the taxi that I didn't want to go.

Me: "I'm seriously scared. Completely out of my comfort zone. Wish I cancelled."
Mrs Woog: "So, you can travel to remote villages in Africa ... but you're scared of Fashion Week?"
Me: "Yes."

I'm going to confess something right now .. I never learned how to put makeup on. I went to too many schools to settle down with one steadfast group of girlfriends, I never followed fashion, and was pretty much a dork. Until I hit twenty years old and had so much pent-up rage that I exploded on the Sydney nightclub scene like a meteor.

A really angry, sexy meteor.

I'm now forty years old, still put eyeshadow on with my finger, not entirely sure which foundation is best for me ... and I'm Maybelline's latest covergirl.

KIDDING. I'm not their new covergirl, but they ARE sponsoring me to fly to BlogHer New York this year. I'm guessing they teamed up with me because they want to crack the mum market. They could have easily chosen a Gen Y beauty blogger, a young minx with no age spots or wrinkles. One day soon, Mrs Woog and I will fly to L'Oreal Head Office to get Maybelline NY and Garnier makeovers. I've never had a makeover .. not a physical one, anyway. More of a spiritual one.

Fashion Week wasn't as bad as I feared. I have a lot of judgement around hip cool airkissy people, but the ones I met were surprisingly refreshing and real. Nigel Stanislaus was the official make-up artist for Maybelline NY this week and he is the least-pretentious guy out. Homie Nikki Parkinson from Styling You blogged from Fashion Week every day .. I could not do what she did.

My favourite part of the day was this:


Chatting to Ruby Rose and Krink. (I was wearing a black $7.95 t-shirt from K-mart, odd socks, and unmatching bra and undies. Thank god for the toughness of a black leather jacket.)

Ruby is the proper Ambassador for Maybelline NY. We compared neck tattoos and I kind of fell in love with her. (Mrs Woog worked out the math, told me I was technically old enough to be her mother.) Krink is a famous street artist who was brought to Australia by Maybelline NY to create some art installations. We talked about bloggers, social media, 'real' writers, talent .. at the beginning of our conversation he made me jump through hoops. I'm a good hoop jumper. All I was thinking was "ACT COOL ACT COOL."

I'm looking forward to learning some makeuppy things. It's about bloody time .. the angry meteor has landed. It looks tired.




BlogHer '12


Maybelline NY on Facebook
Maybelline NY on twitter @MNYAU

I drove home after my big star-spotty day and got caught in traffic behind a hearse. After thinking fashion things all day ... I sat there wondering what the corpse was wearing.

Are you makeuppy or fashiony? Were you born that way? 


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Thursday, 3 May 2012

When did we forget our dreams?

A few days ago I was perusing twitter and came across this tweet from Schmutzie:




And I thought, well, whatever changed Schmutzie's life will most likely appeal to me too. Because I feel a sense of kinship with her. This is what happens, online. We sometimes find other people so of our own ilk, it's breathtaking. I like Schmutzie. She is Canadian, creative, real and human. She has a strong inner narrative .. we've met in the flesh twice. She is exactly who she purports herself to be.

So I clicked on her twitter link - (TWINK!):




I adore it. I knew I would.

Schmutzie, aka Elan Morgan, doesn't even know how this cool cartoon impacted me because I haven't told her. Funny how people can influence and help others out .. and not even know it.

Thanks, Elan.

::

Your answers to the "What is a Blog?" were OUTSTANDING.  My mum painstakingly decided on all the winners of the giveaway. They were announced over here.

Some pearlers:

Five Frogs Blog "A blog is a voice. It's the expression of a soul, searching to be seen, to be heard. Sometimes it's a voice crying out in the wilderness, alone, invisible. Sometimes it's one of many voices in a chorus, ringing out with confidence. Either way it's someone reaching out to make a connection. That's why a blog should be honest, because a blog is you, your voice, your soul. That's how we make connections, and without them, what are we?"

Hespera's Garden "A blog is that vice-clenching pain in your heart that explodes through your fingers while the words in your head run at a million miles an hour. It is the shadows and the sunlight in your every day life. A blog is life. Transcribed."

 Laura L "A blog is a powerful instrument for social change. “The world will be saved by the Western Woman" - his holiness the Dalai Lama."

Applepip Sugar "A Blog is …. A voice for those who want to share their story
. And for those who want to listen.
 It is a war cry
. It is smoke signals swirling around and above and through us. 
In the Wilderness."


Tegan "A blog is an open window to the soul. Somedays we choose to have the curtains firmly closed and others we fling open the curtains with abandon! A blog helps people to not feel so alone. Some people may see them as nothing more than words on a screen but others will nod in agreement, glad to finally know that they aren't the only person on the planet who feels that way."

Sharron "What is a blog? I think it is like an onion. You peel away the layers, the mundane, the ridiculous, the crazy, the ugly and the beautiful. You peel back all of the superficiality and that is when you get to the raw, honest and often eye watering truth and that is where the true beauty lies. The hard part is to keep on peeling, even when it hurts, even when you don't like the person you see staring back at you from the page. Hating yourself but pressing publish anyway, because you know it is your truth. That is when you connect, that is when people see the real you. " (Sharron you won the flags!)

Katie29m "A bespoke soap box."

Muppethead "A blog is a shout in the dark, letting others know they don't have to be alone."

Mrs Woog "A blog is something I do about 4 hours after I eat a Vindaloo with a double beer chaser."

What is a blog, to me? I could write rivers on it. I could also answer in just two words ... shared humanity. THAT'S what I love about it the most.You know how some days, just being ourselves is enough? And we write to share stuff?

That.

PS I'm in awe of the comments on my last post. We've booked in a real estate agent and have started researching countries. We don't fuck around. I love how a lot of you have done this already. I love how a lot of you can live vicariously through us doing this. I love how you said how wonderful it will be for our children. I love how I will be making all of us do some earnest do-gooding wherever we go. I love that I have a blog. *SELF-CONSCIOUS, JEANS-CLAD BUMBLING CURTSY*


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Wednesday, 2 May 2012

The Masks.


The day I came back from a wrenching trip to Africa, my husband Dave left for a two-week holiday to Mexico. It was my idea that he go. I didn't say goodbye or wish him well, because I'm an arsehole. Marriage is indeed special. I struggled, while he was off on a trip exploring and discovering new things. Himself, I thought.

I just want him to discover himself.

I didn't feel so hot, and slunk into a cesspit of shame and fury. And hopelessness. I despaired of ever being happy again. Ever ever ever I'd had ENOUGH.

He returned home last week .. to find that Africa had indeed broken his wife. (Just a bit - it's fixable.) I'd given up all hope, and I mean ALL hope. Speaking in a flat monotone about decisions that obviously needed to be made ... I look up, to suddenly see a different guy standing in front of me.

Dave wants to change his whole life. Just like that. Simplify it, make it easier, stop stressing, stop achieving and striving and giving his whole life force to his work. Just like that.

We're going to sell our house and live overseas for part of each year. We're going to downsize and spend more time together and rediscover what it truly means to be alive ... with children. Why wait until we're sixty? Soon an agent will come and value our house while we plan on moving into another smaller one nearby. Dave strives and achieves, while I bumble and ricochet. He has enough self-esteem for the both of us. I metaphorically punch myself in the head every day. It's how I get through.

Last weekend we fell in love all over again - a rich, deep full love entered my heart, I swear I've only ever feel that kind of love for my children. Tangible. Undenying. Real. I've been with Dave since I was 28 and he was 34. Twelve years. Never have we been with anyone else. Our relationship has twisted and turned around, just like other people's relationships. If you don't grow and evolve with each other, somebody gets left behind. I understand deeply, how some people do not make it through together. I'm not sure you're always meant to.

We got massages, had lunch, talked and held hands and planned the rest of our lives together. I told him,

"Mate, you had the balls to build such a ridiculously huge and amazing house like this. You're going to need balls to sell it."

If it were up to me I'd buy petrol, light a match and watch it burn down. I'm sad about leaving my office wall and Rocco's buried placenta but that's pretty much it.

I've never liked stuff ... the most important things in life aren't things. (Spoken like the truly privileged woman I am. *BOWS*)

There is no time, there's only clocks. There is no "days of the week." There is no "order." Sometimes I feel like the loneliest and weirdest person on the planet, sent here to just ENDURE until it's my time to leave. Ask somebody in remote Niger how old they are and they laugh and give a rough estimate. They get up when the sun comes out, work hard all day, and go to bed when the sun tells them to. They don't re-assess their life. The only "issues" they have is finding food and water. Hopefully shelter.

I forgot how cool Dave is. How he is *just* as impulsive and hardcore and as unshockable as me. When we are running right, we can take on the world. I forgot. It all got lost, the past few years. Yesterday we stood in the pantry and I held his face and kissed him so deeply ... and he felt it because he knows how much I hate kissing. LOATHE. The two younger boys started having a punch up. His beautiful teenage daughter walked into the room, and then his older son rang on his phone. I just held him tighter and all of it swirled around us like a blur .. the house, the kids, the piles of stuff that we do not need. All we had was Love.

(Is this sickening? I'm sorry. The next crisis will appear, soon enough. Always does.)

::

In Africa I bought myself a red wooden mask. In Mexico, Dave bought himself a green ceramic mask.

We then met each other back at home.

And took them off.

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