Friday, 30 May 2014

Street Talk: Ross From Knucklehead Shipping Co.

This Street Talk happened completely by accident. Last Saturday night Dave and I had some time to kill in Paddington so we walked up and down the shopping strip, wanting EVERYTHING. We saw a sign saying "Knucklehead Shipping Co" and I said well we have to go into a shop with a name like that.

We walked in and there's this really smooth cool guy standing next to a mounted moose head. Inexplicably and without thought I said,

"Good. You've been waiting for us under the moose."

Silence. I died of shame when the bearded guy eventually told me that it was actually a deer. Dave laughed and I wanted to leave the shop immediately, but the guy with the Ned Kelly beard just started to talk to us like we were old friends.

"Actually, I'm not even supposed to BE here. I woke up in the Central Coast this morning, and get a phone call from one of my staff saying they were sick and couldn't come in today. So I drove all the way in. It was full-on. (Motioning to his thick leather chairs.) We had a live band playing so I interviewed them, I always ask the same five questions to all my bands. I'm just packing up now .... my girlfriend's on her way with a burger because I've had a few drinks and I'm STARVING."

The three of us then launched into the best, most vibrant conversation. Travel and art and social media and interviewing people off the street. Ross is originally from Perth but moved to Melbourne, and now Sydney. He founded Knucklehead Shipping Co off his own bat. The shop stocks incredibly well-made shirts, jeans, jackets, trucker hats. His team are musicians, managers and designers drawn together by a desire to see men’s fashion return to its former glory .... "to a level of excellence fit for a Bond villain."

I asked him if I could take a photo of him but he said only if it looked like the deer antlers were coming out of his head.

He tells us about all the artists on his record label, including Xavier Rudd.

"I love Xavier Rudd!"

He tells me to wait while he goes upstairs, then runs back down with Xaviers full back catalogue, for us to keep!

We bid goodbye because our movie was about to start. He said he can't wait for his whopper burger and I was all, Ross, fuck Hungry Jacks you have GOT to get yourself to Mr Crackles!

We stood there for a bit, followed each others Instagram, promised to keep in touch, and said goodbye.

(Ross I didn't actually asked if you wanted to be my Street Talk person so I hope you don't mind. Truth is, I fell off that saddle after the suicide of my beautiful baby brother last October. Meeting you has piqued my curiosity all over again and now I can finish what I started. Thank you so much - give us a call when you're in the mountains. PS I still think it looks like a moose.)


Previous Street Talks:

1. Noelene the Young
2. Megan the Mouse
3. Harpal the Australian
4. Darren the Artist
5. Jo the Interesting
6. John the Telstra Guy
7. Michael the Photographer
8. Peg the Lady
9. Jeff the Preacher Man
10. Andres the Cobbler
11. Honey the Prostitute
12. Mark the Masseur
13. You the Blog Reader
14. Jo the Podiatrist
15. Casey the Uni Student
16. Dream the Horse and Carriage Driver
17. Tamas the Hungarian Accordionist
18. The Dignified Trolley Ladies
19. Alex With The Studded Hot Pink Belt
20. Leaf The Fallen
21. Bel Of The Library
22. Jay And His Big Issue
23. Emma The Adult Shop Cashier
24. Teena, Saver Of Dogs
25. The Luna Park Face
26. Gary The Missing
27. Kristen at the Elephant Bean Cafe
28. Uncle Paul
29. Jess The Mama
30. The Two People At The Checkout
31. Alfie The Pourer
32. Breaking The Rules With Captain Starlight!
33. The Woman In Line At The Bakery A Few Weekends Ago
34. Dog The Dog
35. Julia Gillard The Person
36. Nancy The Badass
37. Bruce From The Psych Ward
38. Jeremy The Costumeless
39. The Women In The Morgue

Wednesday, 28 May 2014

A Sorrow Of Pallets.

These pallets were dumped in front of the church next to my sons school. It was very hard to see them there, day in and day out.

Cam mentioned pallets the last time I ever saw him. We had a long rambling conversation, as usual. About many things. He expressed distaste and frustration at this stupid, shitty world. I agreed. He was getting towards the end of his tether in life. It was scary. What could I say to simultaneously express my understanding but also make him stay? My mind trying so hard to bring him back, encourage him to not take himself away.

He was always full of some plan, some scheme for a start-up. My brother was creative and clever and wanted to be rich and have a beautiful smart wife and build his own house some day. He wanted to MAKE things, make something of himself like he watched his friends do. Working in the mines or construction was not where his heart lay. He knew he could do better.

"Eed, I've been looking onsite and noticing all these pallets lately. You can do heaps of shit with pallets, I've started researching how to make pallet furniture."


"Ohhh, MATE, YES! Make them ... do it! We need a new coffee table. If you knock a few things up, we could sell them on my blog, start up an online shopfront. Awesome idea!"

We spoke about it for ages. A few days later I emailed him with heaps of photos of tables, chairs stools, all made from recycled pallets. They were hipster cool, colourful. I had utterly no doubt that my brother could make them.

There was still hope, see. There is always hope.

The policeman who was first on the scene at Cams suicide finally called me back a few days ago. I was driving home from the beach, and as soon as I saw the word "private" on my phone I knew who it was. Rocco was asleep in the backseat, thank goodness. During the whole conversation I had to actually gulp my cries, swallow them back down to be let out later.

He was really sorry that he couldn't tell me which way Cams head fell when he died. Because of the gas, the firemen had to go in first and turn things off, open windows, try to resuscitate, give the all-clear. But he did tell me that Cam lay himself down on the tarp towards the living room window, facing away from the front door. He literally turned his back on the world. I felt glad? Good, Cam. You do that. Fuck the world. I get it. And I know you had every right but up until that very last nitrogen breath there was still hope.

I am reeling, dealing daily with conundrums, confusion. If I understand why life was not worth living to Cam, how on EARTH is it worth living for me? His death has splintered and triggered everything that has ever happened in my own life. Faultlines, man. Beware. I will never love like this again. Love can go fuck itself.

The policeman told me that Cam was so meticulous in his planning and instructions and letters. That usually a suicide happens after somebody decides on the spur of the moment to just fuck check out, leaving a hastily scrawled note of goodbye. Cams father left a hastily-scrawled note. Cam didn't. He was a better man than his dad.

I asked the copper if he's been to any suicides since Cam. He said no, he hasn't. He told me that he still thinks about Cam. I told him Cam was a beautiful man. He told me he could already see that. He said he and his colleagues couldn't believe that Cam thought enough to leave them a note too.

Oh Cammie you would have been a great dad!

The pallets are gone, now. I'm not sure what's worse - seeing them there or not seeing them there. Their absence means that somebody eventually did something with them, and that somebody was not my brother.

The day after he died (he died/he's gone) we stood in his flat, going through the possessions that he didn't throw out. I found a plastic bag with a popular bookshop logo on it. Inside was a brand new unopened book that, according to the receipt, was bought just ten days before. It was called "How to Make Pallet Furniture."

Wednesday, 21 May 2014

Teach A Kid How To Write And They'll Never Be Lonely.

I've been back to my sons first grade classroom a few times now. His teacher asked me to please bring in the childrens book I wrote a while back. A room full of six-year olds, staring me down as I read my work aloud? NERVEWRACKING. To butter them up and get them excited I pulled out twenty-five notepads and twenty-five carefully sharpened pencils from my handbag.

"You guys, did you know that writing is MAGIC? It really is. All you need is a pencil and a bit of paper and you can write about anything in the whole world. Anything. You can think up a story right now in your head and write it out, boom, magic. That makes you a writer, straight away."

I was given the gift of just sitting there and talking with these beautiful kids about my favourite thing ... storytelling. Bringing words to life. Breathing yourself onto the page. Making worlds appear. I was teaching them an art.

There was a mad scramble for the brightly coloured notepads. Three girls stood sadly in front of me, all the pink ones gone. I told them how lucky they were to have a black notepad, because black was only ever the colour I use and you get to feel like a spy, writing things down, reporting on the world! They bought it.

The #qanda session was next, where they all strained to ask me questions. A lot of kids forgot their questions and just wanted to talk. Somebody needed to use the bathroom. Somebody elses lead pencil broke and they cried until I rushed to hand them a sharpener.

But the main focus was about writing. We all wondered aloud, where DO ideas actually come from? I said maybe all the ideas were floating around in the air and they just had to reach out and grab one.

Then it was reading and writing groups again. I had a bad headache and even worse PMS but I listened to them all and their noisy selves for as long as I could stand. My patience is as thin as it's ever been, but we made it to the end and oh the beauty in watching them write their own stories! Magic houses and dragons and bees. Princesses, heroes, mums who work, dogs that fly. Miss Eden, I wish to be a writer like you! The sentences and spelling needed work and the punctuation atrocious, but they're progressing beautifully.

It's vital they learn the rules. How else will they know how to break them when they're older?


Monday, 19 May 2014

Lay Down Five, Wake Up Six.

Huge news - Rocco woke up SIX this morning. He counts down to his birthday all year long, so I felt under some pressure. Even though he begged I said no to a birthday party as he had a huge one last year complete with jumping castle. The rules are you get a party every second year.

The first business of this morning was to come in to mum and dads bed at 2am, fall asleep, kick everybody stupid and then surprise! Birthday pool of urine.

But who can be cranky at this blondie who refuses a haircut?

Spent an inordinate amount of time yesterday assembling Incredible Hulk cupcakes for school.

                                   Push Hulkie PUSH

I bought a 24-mini muffin tin, baked chocolate cupcakies, turned some vanilla icing green, printed out some free cake toppers from the internet, and got the sprinkles ready. It's been exactly six years since Dave got cancer and was a dead man walking during the birth of Rocco. I iced all twenty four cupcakes slowly, enjoying watching them both defy the odds and wrestle like crocodiles.

"A family party" has been requested for this afternoon. All he wants to do is hit the piñata. I accidentally bought one of those safe alternative piñatas where you pull the string instead of hitting it ... hopefully it works the violent way too because god knows this guy loves hitting the crap out of things.

Happy sixth birthday, Rocco. Yes you're allowed to bash the piñata all by yourself until the lollies fall out. I like how you already know the importance of grabbing the happy moments from life when you can.

Friday, 16 May 2014

Dealing With What He Did There.

I've been carrying the seven-page official police statement on my brothers suicide around in my handbag, waiting for the right time to read it. I knew I needed to read it but I kept putting it off until it was all I could think about. So this morning after school drop off I parked in a carpark and read all the in-depth details. I knew I would cry. I also knew that it would not break my heart because a broken heart cannot break again.

It's written by a 24-year old Constable from Newtown police station. I can't go to Newtown anymore, just cannot walk the streets in the place where my brother spent most of his adult life. It's one of the most vibrant places in Sydney and I can't go. I think the only reason I'd visit is to be stealth weirdo and see who lives in Cams flat now. He took his own life in a flat in Newtown and other people live there now probably making eggs for dinner sometimes and laughing at the tv where just months before my bro laid down and took his last breaths into, according to the police report, a "full-face gas mask covering his face connected to a gas bottle labelled nitrogen."

My very thoughtful brother Cam wrote a note to the police and fire brigade.

"First responders, I am so sorry you have to deal with what I've done here. I thank you for your compassion. Cameron."

I didn't start crying until I got to page five.

".. observed the deceased to be wearing a red jumper and black shorts. The tarp he was laying on was approximately two metres by two metres. I conducted a search of the premises and it appeared as though the deceased was in the process of either packing or unpacking his belongings as most things were in boxes."

Coming or going, Cam .. what's it gonna be? In or out?

I never lost hope that he could have come good, in the end. But he didn't, and every time I read an inspirational life quote now I want to punch something. My brother tried really hard to live, to stay, to make something of himself. What happens when you can't keep trying and keep fighting? Was he just a weak fuck who failed, not like all you strong ones who know all the goddamn miraculous answers?

I finally made it to the end of the official police report, stuffed it back in its envelope, and cried some more. Then stopped, cried, stopped, etc. I'm used to this, now. I believe people when they tell me it gets easier because it really does. Grief gets easier not because it's any less painful, but because we get used to feeling such shocking, extraordinary pain.

There's a lot of different reasons why people end their lives, big and small. My brother Cambo was not where he wanted to be in his life. His self-esteem was shot. He compared himself to others. Every breakup with a girl he would hit this biggest wall. I've talked him through a few breakups. Why couldn't he just have knocked a chick up? Why can life not be that fucking easy?

After I read the report this morning, I drove to the lake, put my hood on, and went for a huge walk. There was nobody around so I cried out loud and punched the branches as I walked past. Random, vicious mutterings to my dead brother. A few days before he died I emailed him a Mountain Goats song that Black Hockey Jesus once emailed to me when things were dire. It helped me out. It didn't help Cam out. I knew he was in deep shit when he wrote back, "Thank you for the song, Eden." 

He never called me Eden. When he was little he couldn't even say Eden so he called me Dee Dee. I rang the 24-year old constable at Newtown police station today to ask him a question but he wasn't there so I left a message. Now I'm waiting on him to call me. He'll probably ring at a really inappropriate moment - while I'm grocery shopping with the boys, or at school-pickup when I'm trying so hard to stay incognito.

I just need to know, which way did Cams head fall when he died? Surely that's not too much to ask. Obviously I'll want to spill details out to the young Constable as well, like how Cam loved eating all the prawns in the fried rice first, how he was born with a teeny hole above his eye and he told his kindergarten class that's where he got bit by a huge shark. How he could have been the entrepreneur he always wanted to be if only he believed in himself a bit more. I could ask the Constable, if Cam had read more inspirational quotes, would he still be alive?

But the Constable won't have the answers to lives unanswerable questions even though he's an officer of the law. So I just want to know, did Cams head fall to his left, his right, or was it just straight-up staring at the ceiling? Because I'll be picturing it in my mind for the rest of my life and I want to get it right.

At the end of my walk around the lake the tears eventually dried on my face and for a split-second, all the trees around me felt like they were leaning in, telling me how sorry they were.

Tonight I'm making spaghetti bolognaise for dinner and on the weekend both boys have soccer and we might go see Godzilla and I think I'm going to start planning a holiday and life goes on, it goes on.

Thursday, 15 May 2014

Everything Must Change.

Today is exactly seven months since my brother killed himself. The fifteenth of anything will always be another month further away from him. The pain has been unrelenting, excruciating. I don't get out much, anymore.

Last night me and a whole bunch of people read out their work at the Carrington Ballroom for the Blue Fringe Arts Literary Awards. These awards celebrate the creativity of people with a lived experience of mental illness. Before I read my story I talked about my brothers suicide note and how he wrote that he just couldn't be "that guy" who needed help, that he didn't want the stigma. I guess I'll just scoop up his stigma and dump it in with mine, because I have plenty anyway who'll even notice?

Delicious, delicious stigma. It's lumpy on the way down and tastes best with maple syrup. I sat next to a woman in a knitted rainbow jumper and she kept talking to me. I liked her. We had a huge chat about dealing with mental illness. She really wants to decrease her meds one day, she was sad that she never got to have children. She asked if I had a house and I pointed to Dave and said yes, he's a builder and he builds houses so I'm lucky. The woman in the knitted rainbow jumper and I both agreed that everybody in the world has mental illness anyway. We laughed. She clapped hard when I received the Most Inspirational Award. Dave clapped hard too, his eyes welled up with tears.

It's important to let the stigma out for a run, every now and then. The death of Cam has left me with so many unanswerable questions that break my heart every day. The grief has cracked me wide open and everything must change. Some pretty amazing stories and poems were read out last night, by people who are on the outskirts of a lot of things. We shared our stories like cavemen, to prove we were not alone.

My brother died alone. He died all, all alone.

This morning Dave and the boys and I all got up early for no reason. I cleaned the kitchen while they rumbled on the couch. Dave told me I HAD to listen to this song so he put it on loud, and we danced like New Years Eve/from sheer relief. I haven't danced in over a year.

I danced for a woman in a knitted rainbow jumper and I danced for my brother who never could. But most of all I danced for me.

Wednesday, 14 May 2014

The Day Joe Hockey Pissed Off The Receptionist.

Back in 1996 I applied for a job as a receptionist at a very cool North Sydney advertising agency. So keen for the job that after my interview, I posted the boss a tin of Keens mustard with a note that had just five words written on it.

"I'm keen as mustard. Eden."

I got the job. I was twenty-four years old, and when I wasn't hungover I was the best receptionist in town. This job was perfect because the bigwigs knew I was a writer who had previous experience writing radio ads for 2GB. Could hardly believe my luck - only beautiful people worked in advertising agencies. There was even a pinball machine and lounges for when we needed a break.

One day this guy came bustling, hurtling through the door looking for one of the agency owners. The bustling guy was in a big hurry and stressed me out immediately. His name was Joe Hockey, and he was about to be elected into the Australian Parliament. But he needed signs - lots and lots of big-arse signs saying the same thing but in different ways.


I told him the person he was looking for wasn't in and would he like to leave a message. Joe was furious! Tried calling my boss on his mobile but there was no answer. Joe Hockey abruptly left without leaving a message.

Joe Hockey rang the next day, and the next. He was so incredibly rude and flippant and in a rush and RUDE. A lot of people don't realise how much power a receptionist holds in her busy, phone-answering hands. I did not like Joe Hockey, not one bit. He didn't look at me, he treated me like a piece of shit. He was a ruthlessly ambitious, suit-wearing, power-hungry arsehole. Also rude.

Call me old-fashioned but I have this penchant for treating people fairly. A Prime Minister or a toilet cleaner, an executive or a skateboarding teenager. I look people in the eye, I say please and thank you, and I don't treat people like pieces of shit.

Joe Hockey was a real peach. He wanted his signs BIGGER. He wanted them BEAUTIFUL. And he wanted them NOW. He also wanted them free. My frustrated boss let slip to me that he was doing this for Joe as a favour. Joe Hockey was a very demanding and intimidating man, but because I knew that my boss was avoiding him, I could have a little play. It was awesome.

"Oh Joe, you just missed him! Yes, again! I am *so* sorry ... can I take a message?"

"Hi Joe just letting you know that as SOON as the art department finish up some important jobs, they'll do the adjustments you asked for. Yes I know this is important too! I'll be sure to let him know."

I accidentally forgot to give my boss all of Joe Hockeys messages, so that when they finally spoke, Joe was MAD. I innocently let the scary precious art directors know that Joe said he needed his signs immediately, and what was the hold-up? Once Joe called me from his car and he was so awful that I just sat there in silence until he hung up.

Finally, eventually, the signs were made and ready. Joe-Joe bustled in, unaware that he'd pissed off pretty much the entire agency. All he wanted were his VOTE FOR JOE HOCKEY! signs, and they were finally in his hands. He lifted them all up by himself, sweaty and huffing. Nobody helped him. My boss stood behind me and we woodenly said goodbye and watched him lurch out.

"Eden, remind me to never do anything for Joe Hockey again."

Last night, Treasurer of Australia Joe Hockey handed down one of the most malicious, awful budgets this country has ever seen. Targeting the poor, the old, the jobless, the single-parents, the mentally unwell. I'm shocked and horrified, but not surprised. (We are one of the richest countries in the world but 8 billion dollars in foreign aid has been cut? Joe-Joe, you have blood on your hands. Actual blood from the people who are going to die from your budget cuts.)

So, what to do besides furious hand-wringing and angry-tweeting? I'm not even sure. Maybe just continue to try make a difference in life when we can. Help other people, and teach my children the value and importance of treating everybody they meet with kindness. It sounds lame but it's all I got.

Tuesday, 13 May 2014

The Inner Crone.

Today I have no words (not one!) so I'm borrowing some from author Elizabeth Gilbert. Two people sent me this on the same day last week. I love it. Here's to burying our dreams and butchering another radioactive boar!

In Praise Of The Inner Crone
by Elizabeth Gilbert

OK, we all know about the "inner child", right?

The innocent being who still lives inside of us, who needs and deserves love and care, and whom we sometimes have to channel in order to learn self-compassion? I'm a big fan of the notion of the inner child.

These days, though, I spend less time thinking about my inner child and more time focused on my INNER CRONE — the old lady who lives inside me, whom I hope to someday be. Because she's a serious badass. The really old ladies always are badasses. I'm talking about the real survivors. The women who have been through everything already, so nothing scares them anymore. The ones who have already watched the world fight itself nearly to death a dozen times over. The ones who have buried their dreams and their loved ones and lived through it. The ones who have suffered pain and lived through it, and who have had their innocence challenged by ten thousand appalling assaults...and who lived through all of it. The world is a frightening place. But you simply cannot frighten The True Crone.

Some might consider the word "crone" to be derogatory, but I don't in the least. I honor it. The crone is a classic character from myth and folklore, and she often the bearer of great wisdom and supernatural power. She is sometimes a guardian to the underworld. She has tremendous vision, even if she is blind. She has no fear of death, which means: NO FEAR. I keep a wall of photos of some of my favorite crones, for inspiration.

This is a Ukrainian Babushka who lives in (get this) Chernobyl. There are a group of such women — all tough elderly peasants — who have all recently moved back to the radioactive area around Chernobyl. You know why they live there? Because they like it. They like Chernobyl because that's where they came from. They are natural-born farmers. They hated being refugees.They resented being shunted off their land after the catastrophe. They hated living in the shabby and crime-infiltrated and stress-inducing government housing in the city, and they much prefer the independence of living off the land in the most contaminated nuclear site on earth.

They have formed a stupendously resilient retirement community there, in what some would call the world's most terrifying landscape. Is it safe? Of course not. Or, whatever. After 90 years of hard living, what does "safe" even mean? They drink the water. These women plant vegetables in that radioactive soil and eat them. They butcher the wild pigs that scavenge around the old nuclear power plant, and eat them, too. Their point is: "We are old. What do have to fear from radioactivity? At this age? Who cares?" All they want is their freedom. So they take care of themselves and each other. They cut and haul their own wood. They make their own vodka. They get together and drink and laugh about the hardships of World War II and the evils of the Stalin years. They laugh about everything, then they go outside and butcher another radioactive boar and make sausage out of him.

I would put these women in a badass contest against any cocky young alleged badass you've got going, and I guarantee you — the Chernobyl crones would win, hands down.

We live in a society that romanticizes youth. We live in a culture where youth is considered a real accomplishment. You look at a seriously powerful classic crone like the woman in this photo and you see foolish we are — to imagine that the young offer much for us to aspire to, or learn from. No wisdom like the wisdom of survival. No equanimity like the equanimity of somebody who plants a garden right on top of a nuclear disaster and gets on with it.

So these days, when my inner child gets all fluttery with the panic of living, I just ask myself: "WWMICD?" Or, "What Would My Inner Crone Do?"

Ask yourself that same question. See what she tells you. One thing I can promise you she will never say? She will never say: "WORRY."

She will more likely tell you: "ENDURE."

Wednesday, 7 May 2014

Scenes From A First Grade Classroom.

Yesterday I helped out with reading and writing in Roccos classroom. As soon as I walked in I almost cried, mostly because anything slightly emotional lately makes me cry. (Yesterday, a mountain made me cry.) Sitting down in a chair and being called Miss Eden by a class of twenty delightful six-year olds who were so excited I was there? Cry.

Rocco has the best teacher. Last week I told him he had an amazing imagination and he said,

"I know! My teacher told me."

She noticed. I love good noticing skills.

Do you know how the roll is marked in schools these days? Electonically. The teacher sits at the magic whiteboard, and as each students name (and photo!) comes up on screen she calls their name.


Then she presses a button and the roll is dispatched to the school office. Electronically. Blew my mind.

The kids are studying Australia this term so straight up they sang Give Me A Home Among The Gumtrees, complete with hand actions. The little girl who started the day in tears was having a wonderful time in five minutes. A boy sat on the ground and just kept reading his book. The girls at the back were laughing hysterically. Rocco kept turning his blonde head every three seconds to make sure I was still there.

They then performed another song in my honour - The Skeleton Song. (Though back in my day it was called Dem Dry Bones and had much more of a sinister overtone.)

Suddenly I had Roccos reading group clamouring around me in a circle and they all took turns reading a story about baby mice. I said I didn't like mice because they stink and they looked at me horrified.

"You can't say that!"

The rest of the class swirled around us, all in their own circles, noisy and chatty and falling off chairs. It was completely absurd. One Ralph Wiggum-type character I took a real shine too - right in the middle of his reading he stuck his hand down his mouth and said,

"I can feel the inside of me!"

The children were instructed to treat me like a teacher. They got as close to me as possible, falling over themselves and their words to be heard, so I had to get a bit strict. Rocco took it upon himself to help me out. When it was his turn to read I was quietly beaming and bursting with pride, because he is off the wall when it comes to books. He's one of the best (the best?) reader in his class, which isn't too shabby considering he's the youngest. His pronunciation, inflection, tone, flow ... all top notch.

The next book we read was about a housewife who couldn't stand all the noise in her house. I related very, very much to this story. Then the kids had to write about their best holiday ever. Watching how the girls interacted was fascinating. Apparently, they ALL had best ever holidays in Port Macquarie? What were the chances! In fact, they all holidayed there at the same time. Actually .... turns out they're *pretty* sure they all had holiday houses next to each other. Port Macquarie is where it's at, people!

The quietest girl finished first so I asked if I could read her book. A few pages back she drew a picture of a princess holding a magic wand and wrote:

"If I had a magic wand I would wish to be as beautiful as a princess, so beautiful for ever."

I told her that she was so beautiful, more beautiful than any princess I had seen. She blushed and kept stealing glances at my tattoos.

Towards the end I started to reach my noise limit. I asked the teacher how she did this by herself and she just laughed because she just does it, you know? The children gave me a round of applause. Rocco clapped the loudest. I promised to go back again next week.

Monday, 5 May 2014

Instructions For A Bad Day.

The weekend was even good. Dave made chicken soup that fed us all for two days. Max had a sleepover and Rocco went to a pool party and didn't need floaties. Phoebe Rose came up to stay, Tim rang me for a kale salad recipe and made me laugh so hard I wheezed. Life hums along of its own accord.

We all braved the chilly Katoomba wind and went to a party at Meredith and Kevins house. Dave often tells me about his clients, so for a while it was all Meredith this and Meredith that. I thought Meredith was a dear little old lady with a few cats and lovely teacup collection. No no - Dave showed me her Instagram account one day. She is a young, brunette, incredibly vibrant artist.

"You never told me Meredith was hot!"

He built her this studio from scratch:

Meredith sent me one of her books with a lovely note after Cam died. People are so kind. It was her 29th birthday party yesterday and all of these people came from all over to celebrate. I met her for the first time, and fascinated by my preconceptions I wrote her a poem called "Things I Can Tell About Meredith Just From Looking At Her Art."

She told me she would read it when she was tucked up in bed that night. Good. (She does have an amazing teacup collection.) Her website is HERE.

Later, when I was all tucked up in bed I watched a video on my portable communication device under the covers.

(Thank you Vicky for the link.)

Now I know why I love weeds so much.

Friday, 2 May 2014

A Permanent State Of Undress.

Back in the mental health unit a few months ago, my thick thick file was accidentally left in my room. SCORE! I opened it up to discover page after page of my blog posts. It was like a really fucked-up version of Neverending Story but without Falcor. The strangest thing. A nurse or doctor is reading my blog, printing my posts out, holepunching and then adding them to my file. Didn't really help my paranoia but eventually I thought fuck it, who cares? Who cares if people know my stuff? It's not going to kill me. Why do so many of us hold our cards so very close to our chest, desperate to keep our struggles to ourselves?

It's important to share what this human experience is like. Obviously I'm on the extreme side of sharing and I'm not saying we should all walk around sprouting our own personal wailing walls every day. But it's dangerous if all we show is polished, filtered, unattainable lives. I don't give a fuck about soft furnishings. Plenty of people do but if you're going to "put your life out there" in this strange, unchartered world of social media internet craziness, you have a responsibility to dig a little deeper.  Life isn't a pretty Instagram photo with a thousand likes. This is beginning to bug me so much and I can't grasp why ... I think it has something to do with the next generation of children growing up online. And where my brother thought his life should have been compared to everybody else, before he killed himself.

A beautiful male nurse with kind eyes called Jens handed me an application form when I was hospital, for the Blue Fringe Literary Awards. To be eligible to enter you must have a lived experience of mental illness. I prefer the term mental wellness but whatever. I told Jens that I'd enter, and that I wanted to win. I wrote my short story in 46 minutes on the day the entries closed. And I won. So now I have to read my story out at the Carrington Ballroom in Katoomba in a few weeks. I HATE my story, it needs editing, it's rushed, the themes could have been pulled out and arranged so much better. I actually hate everything I write which is probably because I hate myself but whatever. I'll read it out, and I get to listen to everybody else reading theirs out too. They'll all be collated into a book and I'll dedicate mine to my brother who lost his battle with battling. I'll most likely cry, I'll most likely feel embarrassed at being what society views as a "mentally unwell" person but I have a feeling that the entire human race is probably a little mentally unwell and it's not just me anyway? Even the cushion lovers?

I rang the hospital to tell Jens but the nurse wouldn't put me through. Maybe she thought I was some kind of weirdo stalker crazy person. HA.

So can the person who holepunches hardcopies of my blog posts please let Jens know I said thanks?

And can we all start thinking a little bit about sharing the hard stuff a little more? I want my kids to grow up not afraid to feel and express the full gamut of life and experiences and emotions. Gamut. Now THERE'S  a word.

Someone in the comments to my last post said that grief was a form of madness. Someone else said that I have lost a piece of my heart forever. Others say Cam will come back to me in some way and boyoboy do I hope that happens. A lot of people further down this well-worn path tell me that it will will get easier. Stopping and shouting back to me, "Eden, everything you are feeling is ok! We have been there and we know. Just keep walking." You have lost daughters, sons, parents, sisters, brothers, babies. You know the drill. I'll keep walking because I hear you. Thank you for echoing me back. Some very important kind of energy was exchanged, some kind of truth.

After my last post my stepson Tim text me this:

"Your words are your weapon, Eden! A very powerful weapon!"

And I cried because sometimes it really is worth the embarrassment of people knowing my shit.

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