Thursday, 28 August 2014

Five Top Tips For Being A Better Blogger.

How did my blog Edenland even come to be like this? A few key factors - luck is a big one. I was blogging before blogging became so well-known, back when only weirdos did it. It's been a bit hard to share the online space with so many new douchebags but there are also so many good people out there sharing it too so that's cool. Pretty sure the internet is big enough for all of us. My blog isn't for everybody, it can't be. Nothing is for everybody, not even the Bible and why do they even call it Good News when it's filled with so much doom?

Anyway so I happened to be online during the rise in awareness and popularity of the online world. Seven years ago I'd tell people I'd blog and they'd be like, you WHAT? Nowadays it's a savvy marketing tool, a great way to make money, an instant way for companies to connect with their consumer. Luckily for me, the net is still a place for other personal bloggers like me to hang out, spill their stories. We all got 'em.

My writing evolved and became more distinctive, finely tuned. I kept pushing the envelope, writing things I know I "shouldn't" but hey, come on. Being a human is fascinating and ridiculous. Life is too important to be taken seriously. Loosen up a little. It'll all be over soon and then how much will you care?

In honour of this weekends Annual Problogger Conference, I humbly submit to you my five top tips for being a better blogger.

5. Whatever your niche, whoever you are .... just be your bloody self. The word that gets bandied out a lot: "authentic." It's hard to be authentic if you don't know what that means. Just be you - let your guard down, let some people into your place, your heart. Even if you're running a business blog you can still be you, you don't have to be all stuffy. Loosen your tie.

4. Write as if you're about to rush out the door in five minutes. Get it out. Keep the words clear and the count down. Once you have seven hefty paragraphs, sharpen your knife and whittle them down to five. And then four. You'll ALWAYS say stuff that doesn't need to be said and the more succinct and quick you are, the better the read. People are busy. You want to grab their attention, savour it, and then walk off leaving them wanting more. Like an orgasm that wasn't quite finished. They'll be back.

3. Do not expect a huge amazing loyal gathering of followers in one year. Maybe two, if you're good. GET GOOD. You want to be real and authentic? Then work through your issues. Get to know yourself. Own who you are. Don't be fake.

If you really want to, you can build up a big blog. Do you want to? Why? So much emphasis is placed on numbers and followers. Please know that if you write a post that resonates and touches just one person? THAT IS ENOUGH. You've made somebody feel something! A certain exchange of energies has occurred. That's a bit of magic. Somebody has connected with you. That's huge.

2. I have been used and burnt by people so much, in this blogging caper. Now I know better but man, so many people out there just using people as stepping stones! Bypass the stepping stones. Carve your own path. You don't blog for a week? Don't apologise, just write a post and get back into it. A constant blogging mantra for me has been "Never complain, never explain." You owe people nothing. But you do owe yourself some integrity and decency. Don't be afraid to disagree. Don't be afraid to state your truth. The fact that you have access to a computer means that you're doing pretty damn well in context with the rest of the worlds population. And if you get criticised or "hated" on, maybe it's good to nod your head every once in a while and think, "Oh hey yeah I can be a bit of a dick." Just because you're a blogger does not make you more special than anybody else. And if you end up having a "big" blog, it actually means you have more of a responsibility. Don't use your blog to get blatant revenge on people. It's silly and immature. Keep your focus on you. (I accidentally grew this big beast and the people who hate me in real life are all WHY that bitch get that not knowing I'm just as confused as them.)

Know this: when people say you need to be thick-skinned, to drink concrete to "make it" in this game? No. Just be you, as beautifully thin-skinned as you always were, because that's what makes you you. Feel stuff. World needs more thin skin. There was a defining moment for me as a blogger a few years ago when I was poised, I could taste it ... I could make myself the next big media "thing." But I pulled back, consciously deciding to ungrow my blog. Just because you can do something, doesn't necessarily mean you should. Did I make the right decision? Hell yes.

And lastly, the biggest blogging tip I can give anybody:

1. To be a better blogger, be a better person. The rest will fall into place like a beautiful pulled-pork sandwich with lettuce and mayo. Meant to be.


I am talking on a panel called "The Power of We"at the Problogger Event at the QT Hotel on the Gold Coast this Saturday at 12pm. Darren Rowse is Mr Problogger himself, and he is the real deal.  ABC Brisbane radio interviewed Darren and I about blogging yesterday, you can listen HERE

Moderating my panel is Emma Stirling from The Scoop on Nutrition who wrote a post about it HERE. Fellow panellists are Stephen Elliot from World Vision Australia and Carly Findlay. We'll be talking to bloggers of all niches and genres who would like to make a bit of a difference with their blogs, highlight a bit of social good. I'm really into that stuff, are you into that stuff, can we be friends?

(Basically I'm headed to a huge blogging conference for the first time in a few years and I don't know how I'll cope with that. Guess I'll just wing it like I always do, please come say hi! I won't mind at all if you mention my brother. I see a lot of room service in my immediate future. Also watching some mindless TV in the middle of the day underneath my hotel blankets because blogging conferences are  so much more overwhelming than school drop-offs.)

Wednesday, 27 August 2014

I Was Here, Motherfucker.

We escaped the mountains and went to Sydney on a Monday night! A poetry event at the Basement, featuring two of the worlds best spoken word artists, Buddy Wakefield and Anis Mojgani. I figure if I'm to burst on the poetry scene, I better study the masters first. These dudes have won multiple world poetry slams.

We had tickets for dinner and the show, got there early so walked around the Opera House to kill some time. I read Dave out a text that somebody sent me saying they think about Cam. I clutched my heart when I read it out, didn't care when I cried.

There's so much to not care about anymore. We stood and just looked at the Opera House just as the sun was setting, she is so beautiful, fancier than Iggy with her backlit toilet paper.

We walked up and down the stairs, milled, stared at her from the pavement and I said, "Hon, I just really, really want to make it to the Australian Poetry Slam grand final here in October. That's all I want."

I don't want much these days. But I'd love the chance to spit some shit in October, the chance to even to look forward to the month of October which frankly should be banned forevermore. Why do we keep repeating months can't we just make new names up? September was the month Cam was born and October was the month Cam died. How many times at school did he sit at his desk and write "15th October" at the top of the page, not ever knowing what would happen, what was coming?

I stood in the kitchen yesterday making myself a pancake - just one. Pulled out a plate and it was one of Cams big white Ikea plates that are stylish but don't fit in the dishwasher properly anyway and I just threw it so fucking hard on the floor it shattered into about fifty shards. Fifty shards of pain. Got another plate out. Ignored the broken plate on the floor fuck this shit. But then what if Dave got home and was all what the hell hon? So I swept it up and put it in the bin and flipped my pancake with Cams flipper and it was a shit pancake and as I was eating it a piece of my tooth came out and I spat it in my hand and I'm all OF COURSE my tooth just broke but it wasn't my tooth at all, just a tiny piece of my dead brothers shattered white Ikea plate, inadvertently cooked in my shit pancake.

Anyway so the other night my favourite part was watching Dave watching spoken word artists.

"Hon, I didn't even know shit like this existed."

We both had steak for dinner. It was beautifully cooked. First up was Buddy Wakefield, who is CRAZY. His words just fell into each other, there was no proper beginning or ending NO RULES! He was all over the shop and the stage and the page. He had this cool T-shirt on saying "Write Bloody" and I really wanted a picture so I took one with the flash on ..

.. and as SOON as I took it he stopped talking, looked at me and said:

"Did you get what you needed?"

And I said YES THANK YOU and he's all, here I'll pose for you so Buddy Wakefield made love to the ground for a while as I walked right up to the stage and snapped photos and everybody, everybody was laughing.

And when he got back to his words everybody was crying, too - and feeling, and experiencing, being amazed and in wonderment. I brought a notebook with me in case I had to write down any quotes and he gave me a brilliant one.

"Cemeteries are the worlds way of not letting go."

The place was packed, Dave constantly in awe of how many people came out in the rain on a Monday night to listen to words. I was so struck by how, instead of propping up my laptop in bed and making Dave watch YouTube videos of Buddy and Anis, we were actually watching them perform live which is a completely different realm of experiencing something. This "real life" business - you can forget how good it is!

Somebody yelled out to Buddy "CONVENIENCE STORES!" And he thanked them, saying there is nothing better for a poet than to get a request. And he performed it. And it was just as incredible as the first time I watched it.

Then Anis took the stage, and while both these guys are American and poets and male - and obviously good friends - they are both completely different. I love them. Afterwards when I met Anis I thanked him for just existing and he signed his book for me and Buddy signed his book for me too and I had to tell him about my brother so I did and he told me that his dad did that too and I said yeah, so did mine and we smiled at each others pain and I walked away, feeling better that both those guys know my name.

I wonder why it feels so good, to have people know our name?

Anis performed Shake the Dust and there was a guy in the audience who had "Shake the Dust" tattooed on his arm. That guy would've freely felt it, hearing it. Can you hear it?

It was incredibly difficult being so uplifted because simultaneously there is always present in me the knowledge that my brother could not, would not be uplifted. So I cried through most the night, and then afterwards Dave and I both decided that Gelatissimo could not possibly be still open but it was!

And me and Dave were a couple of freedom fighters, arse-kicking survivors basking in the moon and the afterglow of a big night all jacked up on poetry and sugar and you guys I found a feather!


Technically a lot of feathers, still attached to the dead pigeon on the busy city streets but hey, you gotta grab your signs where you can right? Isn't that what we all do, seek meaning from the aching maw of nothingness? (Dave's all, you're not seriously taking a fucking photo of that?)

Then the parking machine charged us $32 instead of $72 so me and Dave were just high from life right there in the fucking car and I yelled TELL ME A POEM DAVE because we are all poets, desperately writing the pages with our hearts whether we know it or not and Dave said OK HON.

I showed that video to Max and he just said - wow, I have NEVER heard dad like that before.

Anis thanked us all for coming out, he hoped we'd all feel bigger than the world the next day because so often the world feels bigger than us and the truth is I didn't but still, his words really meant something.

" .. like my heart dancing precariously on the edge of my finger tips 
staining them as that same high school kid licking his thoughts using his sharpie tip writing: 
I was here motherfucker 
and ain’t none of y’all can write that in the spot that I just wrote it in 
I am here motherfucker and we all here motherfucker 
and we all motherfuckers motherfucker 
because every breath I give brings me a second closer to the day that my mother may die 
and every breath I take takes me a second further from the moment she caught my father’s eye. 

Where do people go when they die? 
What made the beauty of the moon? 
And the beauty of the sea? 
Did that beauty make you did that beauty make me? 
Will it make me something? 
Will I be something am I something? 
And the answer comes: 
I already am 
I always was 
and I still have time to be."

-Anis Mojgani, Here Am I

Thursday, 21 August 2014

ANOTHER Day? Really?

I have to write something just to get the cemetery post off the top of my blog. I visited the cemetery four days ago which is like a hundred years ago really Siri what is time?

How freaky is this world? Has it always been this bad or do we just have the technology to keep up to speed with how bad it actually is? It's freaking me out but I went shopping anyway and unfortunately for Rocco, they were all out of pooface.

 When I got to the checkout the lady beeped my stuff and Dave told me there was $120 in the savings account and $90 in the cheque account so I asked her to do a split payment but I have one of those new "wave" cards so money just got automatically deducted and I didn't know from which account and the people behind me in the checkout got the shits! And I only do words, not numbers! The lady had to CLOSE THE CHECKOUT while I rang Dave, freaking, to transfer money over online because how much is in what account hon WHUT and I was so, so embarrassed. But the checkout lady welcomed closing her aisle and told me she can't do maths either but her niece does, her niece is doing her PHD to become a professor and I said well, the world needs brainy people like her niece to make up for dumbarse people like me and we both laughed and she left to go on her tea break early and thanked ME.

Dave asked for lamb shanks but ever since my butcher Norm told me they were SHEEPS KNEES I cannot eat them so I made a whole roast leg instead and the house smelt like lamb roast instead of stinky boy.

And then I started a family tradition of watching a funny video clip at the end of dinner. It'll probably last for about three more days but hey, it was a great tradition while it lasted.

 I made the boys watch both versions of Tight Pants with Jimmy Fallon. Reannon got me on to Tight Pants and I'm forever grateful. I walk down the street singing Tight Pants in my head it makes walking down the street so much easier.

So then we all watched an entire series of hilarious videos culminating in Rocco demanding to watch the film clip of Cotton Eye Joe while we cleaned up and then this happened.

To think, all these years I thought it was Governor Joe!

Today I opened my eyes and was all oh for gods sake ANOTHER day? We just had one of those yesterday why do they keep coming? I married an early riser. Dave's whistling and getting ready for work without a care in the world even though he does have many cares in the world and I said from underneath the doona "Hon I hate mornings." And he's all OOOHHHHHH EDIE TELL ME SOMETHING I DON'T KNOW and ran over to tickle my feet.

I got up and looked at the veggie garden and thought to myself, one of these days I am going to weed that fucker and start again.

Today is not that day parsley anyone?

That reminds me I REALLY need to trim my pubes. 

I waited for my coffee to pour from the shity machine I bought and put next to Daves ridiculously expensive machine. Give me lazy pods or give me death.

 Then I drove Rocco to school and as I walked him in a sickening feeling came over me. It's book week fancy dress day?

"Um, Rocco, it's book week fancy dress day?"

We were surrounded by pirates and princesses and wild things and dinosaurs and Rocco's standing there in his school uniform, looking up at me.

"It's ok mum I didn't want to get dressed up."

I felt sick, knelt down to look him in the eye, told him we can go straight back home right now and get a costume, we can! And I didn't get a note about this?

"Oh I didn't give you the note mum. I don't want to get dressed up, I just don't."

And he really didn't but still I worried because I know how contrary he is and what if as soon as he sees all of his friends dressed up he wants to be dressed up too WHY IS PARENTING SUCH A MINEFIELD.

I walk him right into his class, his colourful class of book characters. He felt hesitant but then we saw like three other kids sitting on the floor with their school uniform on. I was so relieved and his teacher looked up to greet him and she was dressed up too and you know what she said?

"Oh here's Rocco, another Muggle! Come and sit down please."

Another Muggle. I walked out of school crying at her kindness and care and he's a Muggle. Rocco went to school dressed as a Muggle today and everything's going to be ok.

Tuesday, 19 August 2014

Never Visit A Cemetery With A Grudge In Your Heart.

Look this post *might* come across as if it were written by some kind of crazed, out-of-control fucked up woman. 

That's because it is! 

Let's press on regardless. Gene Wilder said we need to go back to go forward so if you come into the following words with me, you're going to need a torch, some deep breaths, and a mouthguard because I'm pulling no punches. It's ok. I've already lived it then written it - I'm waiting for you at the end.


On Sunday morning I got up and made breakfast, chatted to the boys about what to do that day, started writing a shopping list, the house needed a vacuum, all normal boring family shit. Dave was talking and I looked up at him and said,

"I cannot do this."

And he said, "Well that's ok then hon we can pick Max up first THEN see the movie, do the shop afterwards?"

And I told him no, I can't pretend. I cannot play happy families today. I cannot do this. I cannot do this. I walked into the bedroom to get dressed and decided right there on the spot, whatever the fuck I needed to do that day then I was just going to do it. Dave blasted my favourite song in the living room -  the room where we all do our living because we're living and not dead. Future Islands "Waiting On You." I love that song, I love the way the guy feels his shit. I want to perform my creativity the way this guy performs his creativity. I walk into the kitchen and me and Dave had a bit of a dance-off to see who could dance most like the Future Islands guy, then I told Dave where I was going that day.

Needle-scratch. "You're what?"

"I'm driving down to Picton to visit my dads grave. Well, Cams dads grave. My real dads grave is in Cooma but I have nothing to say to him. I have plenty to say to Cams dad. Hon, I gotta let some shit go."

(Aside for anybody who might be reading my blog for the first time right very now: my real dad was a violent alcoholic who died from alcoholism. My stepdad of eleven years killed himself in 1988, his son was my brother Cameron who killed himself last October. I miss my brother. I miss my brother.)

I looked at Dave and he looked at me and I held his face.

"I know it's weird but I just need to do this right now. It's all I want to do today. It will relieve some of the pressure and don't worry, I won't do anything stupid I'll be back in time to make green chicken curry and watch the room reveals on The Block."

I'm a grown woman. My husband kissed me goodbye with trust. I drove off in my car for a leisurely Sunday afternoon drive down to visit my second dead dad. (There are three in total. Fuck all the Fathers Day paraphernalia in all the land, is what I'm saying.)

IT FELT SO GOOD TO DRIVE OFF THE MOUNTAIN. I took a piece of paper and an HB pencil to do an etching of his cremation inscription thingy. I blasted some Macklemore but mostly Eminem. It's always Eminem, lately, channeling the fury. It takes an hour and forty minutes to drive from my house to Picton cemetery and I get there and when I parked the car I sat there deciding whether to piss on his grave or not. No. It would be disrespectful to the other dead people in the cemetery so I refrained.

I have only ever visited his grave once, in the early nineties. My boyfriend at the time drove me in his shitty red Mazda. He was the manager of the Red Cow Hotel Penrith, I was the barmaid. During our breaks we'd run upstairs to his hovel of a room, chainsmoke cigarettes and play Sonic the Hedgehog on his Sega. True fucken love, people.

So I see the cremation people in the cemetery in their mini-building and think, there he is. And walk over to see him. I kept checking to make sure that nobody was around because I was about to yell really loudly. I didn't even have anything planned to say. I was ready except .... he wasn't there. I looked and looked and looked. He wasn't there.

No seat for you!

The rain was PISSING down. I crossed the street to look in the other part of the cemetery but it was just all old abandoned graves. RIGHT next to a childcare centre.

And I'm looking and I'm looking and I start getting the shits. You know those days you're looking for a dead man to yell at and you can't find him and you feel him laughing at you? DON'T HIDE FROM ME YOU FUCK. In desperation I turned to Rocco's girlfriend, Siri.

"Siri, how many fucking cemeteries are there in Picton?"

She told me she was sorry but she couldn't process my request right now. So I tried to google it but there was no reception in the cemetery because dead people don't use phones, dumbnuts. Then I FELL OVER and the piece of paper that I brought with me to etch his headstone got wet and I looked around at all the graves and thought how fucked we're all going to be when the zombie apocalypse came. There are a LOT of dead people just right there in the ground, you guys. And frankly, nobody gives a shit about them anymore I mean come on what is this.

There's not even a headstone on there. Just a forlorn empty can of Jim Beam and cola. Somebody needs to do something about this disarray.

And then I literally found Jesus.

And I was like, "Jesus, Jesus - why so serious? YOU GET TO BE DEAD. It's us living people who feel all the pain now, dude."

Then I fell over again probably because I took a photo of Jesus just to mock him and it was like the scene in Poltergeist at the end when the rain is filling up the empty swimming pool and the corpses suddenly appear because they removed the headstones BUT LEFT THE BODIES IN THERE!! GO TO THE LIGHT CAROL-ANNE!

In cemeteries, the place where the recently dead people are buried? Most colourful. All the beautiful flowers and new dirt. Fresh meat. New grief. I read some headstones, some beautiful inscriptions, but none applicable to me. Just like the Fathers Day card setup in the post office - never applicable to me. It's cool - I can handle dead dads, I can handle trauma, addiction, cancer, recovery. I can handle a fuckload of stuff. But the death of my brother, I cannot handle.

Finally I worked out I was at the wrong cemetery so got in my car to drive across town to the other cemetery and I'm going to try keep this short but you guys? He wasn't in the other cemetery either.

And I KNEW this was the right one because I remembered it from those years ago, it's across the road from the pub. I walked around and around the fucking gravestones, nada. It was like my dead dad #2 was scared of me. By the way he wasn't the greatest man that ever lived. He didn't really give a shit about anybody except himself, became a millionaire overnight under suspicious circumstances and filled our mansion with crates of Dom Perignon, a billiard room, Lladro, red velvet lounges. Bought a Rolls Royce, racehorses, diamonds, Mercedes, a Model-T Ford. Had an office in Bankstown. He was a pretentious, rude, arrogant wanker who treated waiters like shit. An acquaintance once described him as having "the personality of a hat rack."

However, my dead dad #2 was Camerons father. And he loved Cam. He didn't love me - treated me with disdain, indifference, and contempt. He used to tell me to fuck off a lot. Exact words: "Get out of my sight." With a wave of his pompous hand. One day I was watching TV and he said,

"Eden, was your father a glassmaker?"

And I flushed. My real father was a glassmaker? I thought my real father was a computer genius who worked for IBM? I was about to learn a bit about my real father? OMG! Nobody ever talked to me about my real dad I couldn't believe it, finally! But dead dad #2 didn't mean that, it was just his way of saying move out of the way I was blocking the television. Get it? A glassmaker because glass was invisible? I'm thinking my real father WAS a glassmaker because when I was a kid growing up I was very, very invisible in my house. To everybody. Except Cam.

So on Sunday I was all confused because I couldn't find the gravestone I wanted to yell at, and my head was all, this is what happens when you bring a grudge into a cemetery, Eden. I even knocked on the church door but nobody was there. It was SUNDAY. This is a spiritual emergency! Churches are BULLSHIT.

So as I walked across the bridge towards Picton Information Centre three cars drive past me and spray water ALL over me. I was absolutely fucking drenched, thinking, is this day actually really happening? Is this my actual life? The wind blew my umbrella inside-out. I saw a sign at the mechanics for shock absorbers and I thought I could use a few of those.

My therapist says that my grief over my brothers suicide is widening and deepening because it has triggered and roughed up every other single thing that has ever happened to me in my life. I loved Cameron for thirty-three years straight. I understood when he couldn't love me or my boys back because how could he when he didn't even love himself? He didn't really give a fuck about my kids or my family. He wasn't perfect - he had quite a bit of his dads arrogance to be honest but he was a beautiful guy also funny and witty and I just fucking loved him and when he died, where did the love go? Like a car accident when the car suddenly stops but you keep hurtling forwards smashing your body into pieces all over the place. Ever since Cam died I'm covered in pieces of his flesh and his bright red blood and I can't wash it off I'm Lady Macbeth I colluded because I agreed with him that the world was too hard. He begged me to understand. So I thought I could wash a bit of his blood off in Picton.

Alan from Picton Information Centre didn't bat an eyelid that I was dripping wet I think he was just grateful for a visitor. He assumed I was a woman innocently visiting her dead fathers grave, wishing to pay her respects. He showed me maps, told me the history of the churches of the surrounding towns and it took everything in me not to say, "Alan dude? I appreciate your shop being open for me on a Sunday because fuck knows that church isn't. But this dead dad isn't even my real dead dad. Even my real dead dad isn't my real dead dad. I'm angry, cold, and hungry. It's complicated. Can you help a bitch out or not?"

We both agreed that St Marks had moved the cremation mini-building somewhere else we just didn't know here. I backed out, thanking him. Passed Picton barber shop where apparently you can get a lap dance AND a haircut.

Fuck this world.

Here's a thought - maybe some people don't kill themselves because of mental illness, they kill themselves because the world is bullshit. Dead dad #2 killed himself because he was about to be arrested and sent to jail. Also he lost all his precious money. My brother was eight years old when his father died and he was never the same again.

My dead dad #2's brother Ian tried to kill himself once, by slashing his wrists. He slept in our library for weeks. I used to creep in there and marvel at the bloody bandages. He ended up dying of something else, can't remember. It was pretty sad. Uncle Ian liked me, even looked me in the eyes and treated me like an actual person.

So I left Picton - frustrated, fucked off, soaking wet. Thought I may as well go visit my grandmothers old house, see her garden. She made the most BEAUTIFUL gardens, wherever she lived. She told me once when she was pruning roses why you had to cut them back. It seemed ruthless, but my whole life I've never forgotten to chop myself back when I need to, to get rid of the parts of myself that are not needed, in order to keep growing, keep going.

I drove past her old house and the garden was dead. There were four souped-up cars and utes in the driveway.

Fuck this world.

For this day to mean anything, I was left with only one option.

For the first time in my life, I had to visit the place dead dad #2 committed suicide. You know what's fucking hilarious? He did it at Oran Park WHICH DOESN'T EXIST ANYMORE BECAUSE THEY TORE IT DOWN.

But I drove there anyway yes I did and by this stage I was mental. Seething. Saturated. Sad. Worn down. I drove past the house we lived in at Pindari Avenue Camden when we found out he'd killed himself. It looks forlorn and unkempt too.

I parked my car at the new Oran Park housing project. I climbed the barbed wire fence. I was wearing a thick grey hoodie, new jeans, and my black and gold Nike hi-tops. So this was the place, I thought.

My brother Cameron drove here when he was about 23, with the intention of killing himself in the same spot his father did. Had a plastic pipe and everything. What made him NOT do it that night? I do not know. What made him drive off into the night and keep living? What made him finally do it in October last year? Hundreds of answers to those questions.

It was deserted and the sky was trying to tell me something. Fuck off sky, I don't believe in you anymore. I looked around at the trees, the landscape, the hills. The last place dead dad #2 took his final carbon-monoxide breaths. I had a few things to tell him, where was a good place? Up this dead-end street seemed a good a place as any. So I walked up it. And I started talking. Shouting.

I can't remember exact words. But every word was passionate and furious and sorely needed to be said. Every single word needed to come out of my mouth.

"Oh hi, just in case your spirit has been sitting in a tree over there for the past 26 years, I just wanted to tell you that your son is dead. And you fucking killed him, I didn't. I tried EVERYTHING I could to keep him alive. Everything. You never got to see what a beautiful man he grew into and fuck you so hard. And your gravestone isn't even there anymore and I don't care."

I kept spitting. I'm not usually a spitter but I had so much spit to spit so I spat, and spat. Contemptously.

"And he even drove here once to kill himself just like you did but he DIDN'T. He kept trying and fighting to live. He tried really hard but now he is DEAD. YOUR SON IS DEAD just in case you were fucking wondering. And I CANNOT CARRY this guilt and pain and shame around so here, I'm giving this to you. THIS DOES NOT BELONG TO ME. AND FUCK YOU. You were a SHIT dad and a SHIT stepdad. And I fucking HATE you for treating me like shit and letting other people around me treat me like shit. I did not deserve that. You were a fat fuck. And Cam loved me the most HE LOVED ME. So, he's dead and you broke his heart when you left and I hope he doesn't visit you in the afterlife because FUCK YOU. GOODBYE. FUCK YOU. YOU MOTHERFUCKING ARSEHOLE."

Spat my way down the street. I have never in my life felt as purged as I did, and I still wasn't finished. It was like I was in a magical nether place where he could hear me and as soon as I hopped back over the barbed wire fence I was back to the real world again - the hard world that you keep living in regardless.

I spun around. "Oh and by the way, not that you give a shit, I ended up having two sons. AND I LOVE THEM. AND I SHOW THEM THAT I LOVE THEM. And I have stepchildren too who I really, really care about and love also. LOVE. NONE OF IT THANKS TO YOU YOUR SON IS DEAD AND THIS IS NOT MY FAULT FUCK YOU MY LIFE IS HARD BUT I'M STILL HERE I AM STRONGER THAN YOU WILL EVER BE."

Jumped the fence, broke the spell, took my shoes off to discover I was wearing rainbow socks that looked EXACTLY like Mork from Orks suspenders, which was so fitting. The death of Robin Williams has greatly affected me. I feel jealous of his kids, because his legacy was amazing and beautiful and they knew they were loved. Robin Williams showed me that kind and gentle and caring men exist. Dead Poets Society got me through some tough times. One of my favourite films of all time is What Dreams May Come. Some very heavy discussions taking place on social media about suicide. People are disagreeing, people are talking, good. GOOD. FINALLY.

I drove home. Felt different. Lighter. Got out of the car and washed the cemetery and Oran Park mud off my shoes, scrubbed them clean.

After I watched my third dad die an awful death from cancer, I flew to New York with Dave and said hon, imma need a pair of black and gold hi-tops to get through this next bit.

So I bought those hi-tops and I got through it. When I say I'm gonna do something, I do it.

Last Sunday I could have walked across the road to Picton pub and got myself absolutely smashed. It was tempting. There was a guy playing guitar and singing Doors songs as I trudged angrily through the cemetery. "Doncha love her madly ... wanna be her daddy?"

It was like a scene from a strange, weird film. Except this is my life and I live it and and if I go get drunk in a bar, it'll fuck everything up so I didn't. I came home and cooked green chicken curry for dinner and watched television with my family.

When my children talk to me I look them in the eye and I ALWAYS tuck them into bed and I tell all of them they are amazing, they are loved, that the world will wear them down but you have to keep going even though I don't believe it much myself. And I apologise so many times when I fuck up as a parent, because I do - a lot. But I don't abuse my kids. I don't treat them like shit, like they're a hindrance or worthless. The buck stopped with me.

I will never go back to Picton or Camden or Oran Park again. Ever. I exorcised some demons but I ain't no ghostchaser, lord knows they chase me everyday I don't need to go out hunting them down.

I have more hardships in life to face and I'll need to be strong for them. I'll live with the anguish of my brothers life and death for the rest of my life. It will never "be ok." It will never "mean something." I can't work the world out, can't quite say why my brother is not here and I am. Exactly a year ago I was in hospital for my depression and exactly a year ago he wasn't in hospital for his depression. Exactly a year ago both of us were fighting for our lives but now only one of us is standing so I stand for both of us now. I've got a pair of brown cowboy boots with aqua stitching being sent to me from the USA. Bought them online last week and they cost over two hundred dollars.

I'm gonna stand in them. They're my poetry-performing boots and I need them to get through this next bit. And the next. And the next. Until I die. Then I'm dead. What a relief.


See I told you - it's ok! *I* am the monster like Grover at the end of this book! 

Now let's dance.

Friday, 15 August 2014

Look You Guys, I Don't Mean To Brag Or Anything But Going Back To The Gym Has REALLY Paid Off.

Sweat droplet by sweat droplet, I have worked my way back down to a body shape I am happy with.

My abs? Rocking. I asked Dave to take a photo of them yesterday and he's all, "You sure hon?" And I was all, "Why WOULDN'T I be sure?"

It's taken me 42 years but I finally, FINALLY have a six-pack.


I don't think you're ready for this jelly and don't be jelly haters it has taken A LOT OF GRIEF CAKE to get my tummy to push through the bars like that.

Yes, I have gone back to the gym and it does indeed make me feel stronger, mentally more than anything. But I don't go every day. I should be there right now but the fire was too warm this morning so I promise to myself to go for a run but I won't. Then I'll look at the clock and think ok, I'll go for a walk before I pick the boys up. But I won't.

Somedays I get to the gym, other days I don't. I have lost a lot of my weight but this stubborn bit is hard to lose and two babies came out of that stubborn bit so that's pretty cool. I finally managed to squeeze my arse into some new jeans, and with a flowy top I look ok and fuck man, that's more than alright for me.

I had a boyfriend once (actually I had many but this guy was a real charmer) who looked at my legs and actually winced. "Oh, you've got a lot of moles." For years afterwards I hated and hid the moles on my legs but now I show them off in summer along with my varicose veins, crinkly hands, toe hair made of steel. You know what's happened in the last ten months? (Ten months today since my brother died SAD CONFETTI) .... my hair has fallen out. Like, really, really badly. Dave had to unclog the shower drain. Clumps all over the floor, throughout the house. It's from stress and probably shock. One day I bent to pick something up (PROBABLY MY HAIR) and Rocco peered close to my head and said, "MUM you are BALD."

I contemplated getting it all cut off short but I just can't. Right now I still have the same hair that Cam looked at last year and I can't part with it just yet. And, you guys, it's starting to grow back! Baby fuzz on the sides. So relieving. Maybe healing.

I am who I am, motherfucker. Ain't no motherfucker tell me otherwise. Isn't it supposed to be a privilege - to age, to live, and be healthy?

The look on my face on the photo above is the look on the face of a woman who has pressed her bare skin against a cold steel fence in the middle of a Katoomba winter. Dave's snapping away (I LOVE HIM) and suddenly one of his workers - Reece - drives up, right to where his bosses wife is standing there in her bra. Dave yells PUT YOUR FUCKING CLOTHES BACK ON HON and I laughed and laughed and so did he.

And I couldn't look Reece in the eye properly afterwards, mumbled something about doing something stupid for my blog, he was just laughing too.

(I guess it's more of a seventeen-pack, if you count all of the individual flesh pouches poking through.)

Anyway Dave can't hassle me about nudity, he gets in the nuddy every chance he gets. Especially at the beach house where he always washes himself off like a dog in the backyard like that scene with Hugh Jackman in the film Australia.

So many unanswerable questions and awful happenings around the world. Some answers include but are not limited to:

Cake for no reason.
Crying for lots of reasons.
Let your kids have ice-cream for brekkie who cares.
Being comfortable being in the nuddy, your body does a lot for you the least you can do is accept it.
Be sad.
Keep going and if you can't, just sit down for a minute have a little rest distract yourself and don't listen to your head.
But mostly love. Big stupid fucking love.

Wednesday, 13 August 2014

Inspirational Arsehole.

Oh hey you guys I just wanted to check in and make sure you were ok. Because there's a lot of stuff going on inside and outside of ourselves that's a bit freaky and tricky.

Yesterday I had to take a walk in the rain and came across this beautiful ramshackle shed and thought how perfect it was.

Us humans are just works in progress, that's all. That's cool. My boys arrived home from school and there were cupcakes. Max unpacked the dishwasher without being asked and Rocco showed me the picture he drew at school.

"We had to draw something local mum so I drew the Three Sisters see their dad is on the ledge, waving to them? I made a paper airplane out of it but then I got into trouble. Can you please google Katy Perry Roar so I can watch it but DON'T sing mum."

I'd made the best slow-cooked beef stew with chickpeas and chillies and stuff I chucked in straight from the pantry. Dave loved it. I made pancakes for dessert and Rocco cried because it was past his bedtime but I made him one this morning and we were in a rush so I put it on some tinfoil and he ate it in the car on the way to school, said it was the best pancake he'd ever had please can I make some more?

Dave left me a note before he left for work early.

He's being doing those smiley faces on his notes for the entire time we've been together, fourteen years. And signs his signature on everything, even birthday cards.

DETERMINED to track down those elusive Bushells strong tea leaves today, I took the note with me straight after school-drop off. Bought all of his things he wanted, I like that he spelt Chia correctly but he PRONOUNCES them Chai just to piss me off. I abhor spelling mistakes and mispronunciation but have learned to live with them and love them, actually.

So before I had any coffee or breakfast or even put a bra on, I found myself in a shop trying on jeans that would not fit. Skinny jeans, babygirl jeans, boyfriend jeans .... are you shitting me right now? I just want jeans.

I used to be a size 8, now I'm a size 14 and as my friend Shae would say WHATEVER BRO. I just need jeans that fit, have been wearing the same black ones I bought for $12 from Temt (THEY FORGOT THE "P!") for two years now and they're all bent outta shape.

Went outside, put my hoodie and sunnies on down the big hill outside of the library and a guy walked past me and said "I'm too old for hills like this" and I was all "Me too!" and he laughed and said "yeah but you're only 21" and I REALLY laughed and then I a bit cried, from his kindness and spontaneity He's a well-known busker in town with a bit of a facial deformity and an AMAZING voice. I've put heaps of gold coins in his hat, over the years. We're all just human you know? Being all humany. We're just fucking human.

So now I'm home writing this before I have a shower and yes, wash my hair ... to see if you're ok. I am. Even though every morning for over nine months now when I wake up there's this brief window before my life hits me right in the face with "Your brother is dead." Except this morning it was my brother AND Robin Williams and jeez, hasn't that outpouring of loss spread out across the world? I don't think people who take their own lives have any idea of how their death will affect the ones left behind.

You know something awesome? I have never seen Good Will Hunting. I've always meant to but never got around to it. I'll hire it this weekend from my favourite shop Civic Video Katoomba after I pay off some late fees and watch it with my boys and it will be good. What a legacy Mr. Williams left behind, what a beautiful body of work. What an incredible man.

The Best Tribute To Robin Williams Yet

And lastly by the way if you ever wanted to know what Gods voice sounded like it's right here in the depths of Bonos throat at the beginning of this song and he's not even forming proper words.

I love you, Computer. Keep that spark warm today because it's fucking cold outside.

Tuesday, 12 August 2014

This World Is So Hard To Live In, People Keep Dropping Like Flies.

Trigger warning on this piece but fuck it. Life needs a trigger warning.

Yesterday I raised a sweat at the thought of going to the grocery store to buy my husband some tea leaves. He's very particular about his tea leaves, likes them strong like the man he his. His preferred brand is Bushells Extra Strong and we've been out of them for two days so I limped nervously into Woolies, desperately hoping I wouldn't see anybody I knew. I don't know why I feel this way I just do. It's odd that I've mustered up the courage to step onto five different airplanes and travel to West Africa to visit starving children and filthy refugee camps for World Vision but sometimes I find just stepping outside of my house so very, very hard.

So I'm standing in the tea and coffee aisle, no fucken Bushells sorry Dave I have to pick another brand because I can't go into a different shop. Which one would Dave choose I though to myself idly, and I know he likes Dilmah bags so I'll get him Dilmah leaves. Then I turned around straight to the biscuit section. That morning was Dave was ramming an antibiotic down our dog Opies throat and discovered a whole heap of duck shit just sitting there in his mouth.

"He'd just scooped up duck shit and was savouring it like a fucken Mint Slice hon!"

Ever since he said it I felt like a Mint Slice and just as I grabbed a pack for after our chicken risotto a woman behind me asked me if I could help her choose some coffee.

I turn to look at her. I much prefer talking to strangers than people I know (hence this whole entire website) so it was cool. We chatted. She was about sixty, with two long pigtails tied up by terry towelling hair bands. Her skin was wrinkled. I liked her, told her that yes Moccona was good and they have cool jars you could use afterwards but out of all the instant coffees I prefer Nescafe Gold. The woman then starts picking up jar after jar of coffee, reading out the descriptions in wonderment.

"How could there possibly be so many? This is insane! I just want some coffee! Did you know they did an experiment on SBS recently (this is where I relaxed the tight grip on my basket because I'd be here for a while) where they gave a group of participants a choice of THREE jams to put on their toast, and another group of participants a choice of TEN jams. And you know who was happier?"

"Um, I bet the group of three jams were happier?"

"YES! They were!"

And we talked about how bullshit it is that we have so much choice in the world. There's too many things. Shit's cloudy. How are we supposed to make sense? Why do some people in the world get so much stuff and other people get so little? There's people living in parts of the world that are so ravaged and wartorn and bullshit, and we stand in coffee aisles confused as fuck. And always, at the back of our minds a little guilty because we KNOW that most people in the world got it bad and we are all connected but so isolated at the same time. I believe that we feel other peoples pain, subconsciously. We're all in this together. I would like to give the entire Kardashians a piece of my mind.

I told the lady I had to go but good luck with her coffee. She ended up choosing a green bean, laughing because it will give her anti-oxidants.

I picked up my boys on the way home. Brought in firewood. Started the risotto. Told boys to have showers. Dave got home and yelled at Max for spilling his moisturiser all over the carpet. I banged my mortar and pestle so hard crushing the garlic for the kale salad that bits flecked off and I picked them out as best I could but still. I bent over, breathing deeply, having a panic attack when usually I hide them so well! Dave said, what's wrong hon and I tried to explain.

"Some parts of me never grew up and I'm still a kid and I never, ever feel ok or worthy and my brother died hon! Cam is gone and the thought of him putting that mask on scares me, it fucking scares me scares me so bad."

So he hugged me tight and what was there to say? Nothing. But he hugged me tight. I gotta man to hug me tight. I got my kids. It's all I need to get through, fuck the world.

The boys ate and I left to go to a recovery meeting and I cannot express how relieving it is to get into your car, drive to a church hall or community centre room, sit in a circle of people, and spill your shit. I shared a big share. Before I even said anything about anything I apologised in advance. And I wept at the injustice of my brothers life and the raging pain of his death. And I admitted that I don't even want to use drugs or booze right now but I can see why being dead is attractive because we don't feel our feelings when we're dead. I joked that if only I could have a general anaesthetic when I feel so bad, then wake up a few hours later all better and pick my boys up from school.

I shared about how anything I've ever been through in my life is nothing compared to the utter desolation I feel around my brothers suicide. That yes it is hard to be a woman in the world but fuck, it's hard to be a man in the world too. IT'S JUST HARD TO BE IN THE WORLD. And I'm so privileged, so lucky to come to a meeting like this and be real and honest and talk about how I get through the day, and listen to other people get real and honest and talk about how they get through the day.

I had a dream last week that woke me up in the middle of the night - I had the answer! People need to just come together at the end of each day and eat and talk and maybe dance together, light a fire, dance around, burn shit. That's all. That's it. Our lives are too complicated, we cannot keep up. It's all too much and we've all gone completely fucking insane.

I'm angry that so many people suffer to the point that taking their lives is their only way out. It should not be like this. Suicide is the worlds number one killer. Suicide takes more people than car crashes. Our whole dialogue needs to change around it. What does the word "depression" actually mean? What is "mental health?" I'm sick of all the terminology around this. I like to call it "spark." We're all born with it. And sometimes people lose their spark, or it grows dim, tired, cannot be revived. My brothers spark was gone years before he killed himself. His unfulfilled potential is a tragedy.

Here is the pillow my brother laid his head on, the tarp he laid down on, the window he looked out of, as he died. Yeah I took a photo. I did. I tried asking the copper questions like, was the window open? Because I wanted to know if the bottom of those curtains caressed him as he took his last breaths. I'll never know. I'll never know if he was walking around his flat a screaming wreck before he did it god I hope not I hope not. I hope he was calm in his decision. I hope he was at peace. He's certainly at peace now but this should not have happened and I'm angry at our society, angry about the stigma, angry at our isolation from each other, angry at myself for not meeting up with people more because of my insecurities and fear and anxiety.

My brother was SO meticulous about everything. We are in no doubt that this was not a spur-of-the-moment decision. The last time I ever saw him we spoke for three hours straight and he was in and out of his storm clouds and I was trying, again and again and again to coax his spark out because I knew it was still in there somewhere. We talked about places to go to get help, suicide hotlines, I asked him if he'd seen the new ad campaign geared specifically towards men where the guy on the ad is smoking a pipe saying manly men get help? Cam said he hadn't seen it so I told him I'd email him the link.

I didn't email him the link. Didn't fucking email it I don't know why. It probably wouldn't have made a difference. Maybe it would have. Apparently some manly men do NOT get help. Doesn't make them less manly, just makes them pretty fucken dead.

I'm sad for people who kill themselves and MAN am I sad for the people they leave behind. There is no way Cam could know the utter devastation he has left behind in so many lives. He looked me in the eye and told me he'd googled "painless suicide."

It was painless, Cam. But not for us.

Robin Williams died. I just found out about twenty minutes ago and he is the whole reason I'm writing this. I'm still crying. He's one of my very favourite actors, brought joy and laughter to so many people across the world and at the bottom of the news article I just read it said that it's unclear how he died but if you're feeling depressed please call ReachBlueDog on 1800-EVERYBODY IS KILLING THEMSELVES.

I'm shocked but then I'm not. I'm sad and frustrated and Robin, dude, I am so sorry you were in so much pain and my god I am aching for your family.

You know how many Robins are out there in the world right now, wanting to die? A lot of fucking Robins. People are in a lot of pain. I keep saying "suicide is an epidemic that nobody wants to talk about properly!" That is until it happens to somebody close to you, then it's all you think about, in between trying to stay upright and keeping pieces of mortar and pestle out of your salad.

I don't know how to end this .... actually, that's exactly what Cam wrote in his suicide note. But he fucking ended it alright, oh yes he did.

So. Apologies in advance for this post. I'm all out of pink ribbon to wrap it up in. What can you do? Stay calm. Give your dog antibiotics. Ignore bullshit status updates. Pat yourself on the fucking back. Send somebody a link. Don't die today. Maybe tomorrow, but not today. Meet up with a friend. Eat a Mint fucking Slice instead and wash it down with a real cup of tea. Real. Be real. Have an honest conversation with one person today just one that's all. That's enough. I promise.

Friday, 8 August 2014

"Mum, it's time I read the vagina book. PROPERLY."

Rocco has been obsessed with the word "sex" ever since he found out it's a bit rude. He says it as often as he can, in innocent conversation. I'm filling out a form in the middle of a busy post office and he screams "WHY DOES IT SAY SEX MUM THAT SAYS SEX." And I flusterly explain it's asking me if I am a boy or a girl, because that's my sex.


He would write letters talking about sex, draw pictures of people "having" sex. I asked him what sex was and he said it was when two people take their clothes off and .... dance with each other.

He was kind of right.

Max was six when I gave him the sex talk so when Rocco announced that he was going to read the vagina book TODAY mum (I'd previously kept saying no) then I said ok sweetheart, you read that vagina book. And I got it off the top shelf.

                                          Seems legit.

Yeah he settled in. He read that book out loud to me in the kitchen as I chopped carrots, over and over again. He didn't flinch when it came to the penis in the vagina part, he read it like he knew it all along. We had to go to the shops so he just stood up and walked to the car still reading.

The ONLY time I interjected was during the page with a mum and a dad getting married.

I told Rocco that me and dad weren't married when we had Max, but were married when we had him. That families are all kinds, it could be two mummies or two daddies or one mummy or one daddy. Grandparents, adopted, fostered, stepped - ALL of the families. Rocco asked me can there be, like, three parents mum? Four? Can four people have sex at the same time?

And I'm driving thinking, my kid just invented orgies all of his own accord?

I told Rocco that sex is very special, you do it with somebody you love, that sometimes people do it not even to make babies but just because it feels good. And I asked him to solemnly promise that he wouldn't talk about sex with kids at school because some parents might not have told their children yet, they might be waiting for the right time and it wasn't up to Rocco to explain. He nodded VERY sagely.

We got to the shops and I turned around to realise the sex book was an actual pop-up book DEAR GOD MY SON IS STUDYING A GIGANTIC PENIS?

Phew. It was just one of those vanilla "mummy/daddy" families.

Last week was Education Week at school and the parents were asked to come in to the children's classroom and then have a book picnic with them before the concert. I woke up feeling so dreadful I had to tell Rocco that I couldn't come. He was really disappointed. I just couldn't face people that day, I don't know why it happens sometimes it just does.

But later as the clock turned ten I MADE myself put on some cowboy boots and went into his classroom. He hugged me so hard. Somebodies grandmother had already kindly helped him make a frog but we made another one anyway.

Soon the teacher announced it was time for the book picnic and as Rocco raced to get his book from his schoolbag I thought "Oh my fucking god he's brought the sex book. He's brought the sex book for the school book picnic."

But he hadn't! He'd chosen the 2011 Guinness Book of World Records instead so we sat out there in the sun together, reading about circus freaks and bug-eating championships and the largest amount of cigarettes some tattooed dude could fit in his mouth. All around us, the other children read nice, proper books with their parents. But the hooting and hollering became too much and soon we had a crowd of children around our book and I was apologetic to the school mums left stranded there and joked about being a bearded lady myself and the school mums? They laughed and we talked about facial hair and growing older and how boring book picnics were but we came anyway.

Schoolmums are not so terrifying. Rocco hugged me over and over. "Thank you for coming mum!"

It was a good day.

Thursday, 7 August 2014

Missing You Mad Dog.

A few years ago my brother Cam came to live with us. He broke down one night, I hardly ever saw him cry as an adult but he was very distressed, told me he came back from overseas just to throw himself off a cliff. There's a lot of cliffs up here in the mountains.

Both Cam and I have felt suicidal a lot in our lives. We related to each other. We sat up in his bedroom for a lot of nights, talking. I loved on him, propped him back up, made him laugh. He stayed for ... almost two years? I can't remember. Eventually we got the studio finished above the garage so he had his own proper place. My god he was a slob. I was with him when he realised the banks had wiped all of his previous debts because he'd been overseas for a while, he was ELATED. He worried a lot about money, about "making it," about being successful.

He got a job. He got a shitty little white Mazda with no heating. He started up a T-shirt company and really gave it a GO, you know? My brother was creative - we're all creative. Creativity is human and we all have it. He researched the fuck out of the T-shirt world, we'd spend hours talking about marketing and strategy and selling them. They were really cool T-shirts. I'd like it known to the world that my brother could have built a T-shirt empire if he really wanted to. But he got disheartened, the right doors couldn't or wouldn't open. He named his business "Straight Racer" which is a fucking cool name because he was a fucking cool guy.

I don't know where his fancy shirt printer is now. He ditched it, quit his job, and moved across the country to go make a bundle working in the mines.

Back then he'd sometimes mooch across from his flat and want to talk but sometimes I was busy, you know? With kid stuff and house things and being married and all that shit. Sometimes I didn't drop everything just to see him. Sometimes I got tired of seeing the tiredness in his eyes. I was tired too.

Someday I hope to get to a point where this doesn't burn. Fathers Day is approaching and that's the last day I saw him, on Fathers Day last year. I never liked Fathers Day and now I loathe it with a passion and every ad I see stabs me straight in the heart, straight in the racer.

Last year Cam told me on the phone about how low he was, like REALLY low. He told me he was done, he didn't want to keep on living, asked me to respect his wishes and not hold a funeral service if he killed himself. I was silent on the phone because I knew he kind of meant it, you know? Do you know what it feels like to continually talk your brother out of wanting to die? He was pretty much obsessed with suicide for most of his adult life. He was depressed since he was a little kid, his world turned upside-down when he was eight years old and his own father killed himself and broke our family for good.

After I was silent on the phone - I don't know if he could hear me silent cry - he begged me to please try understand. Of COURSE I understand, I said! I loved my brother so much I would do anything to make him feel better, even collude with him about his own death. Hi my name is Eden but you can call me Philip Nitschke.

Thing is, I still had hope. I never gave up hope that he would one day be ok. I sent a text to him on the day he died not knowing he was already dead. "Hey bro, just checking on. How are you doing today?"

I spoke with my psychiatrist at the time, my case worker, my therapist, Dave - everybody close to me. They told me what to say to Cam. I was desperate with worry but kept thinking that if he's talking so much about doing it, then he wouldn't actually do it.

Back when he lived with us I was making dinner in the kitchen one night and he was there watching, asking if he could help. I said yes, he needed to tell me something funny. (He was so funny. Nobody made me laugh the way he could.) So he tells me about the time he's staying at a YHA over in London.

"Eed, there was a snorer situation."

He said there was this guy three doors down snoring SO LOUDLY that even when he was repeatedly woken up by people to shut the hell up, he just kept snoring. Nobody could get any sleep.

Cam always had sleep issues .. sometimes he'd call me after not sleeping for three days straight, his mind would be racing with anxiety and shit and muck and he'd apologise but told me he needed to talk to me. I'd stop whatever I was doing and talk to him, usually for over an hour, sometimes two. My god he was hurting. It's so clear to me now that because I was so used to living with my own fuckedness, I just got used to living with his, too.

I really tried. I really really really tried.

ANYWAY so Cam's telling me about this snoring situation in the YHA and how he devised a plan.

"I attached two pillow to my ears."

I was like, what? How?

"I pulled the belt out of my jeans, wrapped it around my head, attaching a pillow to each ear."

I fucking lost it, stopped chopping, and was just crunched over with laughter.

"I could still hear the prick snoring! Nothing could stop that noise!"

                        Cam, you will always be my Diana.

I have wished for many things during these past nine months. I've wished so hard that Cam was my big brother, so I didn't feel so responsible. I've wished that he felt like he had to protect and take care of ME. Mostly I wish he received proper care and treatment years ago, before this all got so big he just couldn't live with it anymore.

Most of the photos I have of us, I'm holding him. I would give anything just to hold him one more time. I don't know if he's around and I have no interest in seeing a medium. His death has left me desolate. Sometimes I imagine him just following me around in the day, watching me crumple, screaming in my ear "Eed I'm right here!" But I can't hear him and he can't hear me. I wonder if we're both just as frustrated as the other, not being able to communicate anymore.

But mostly I think dead is dead is dead. We're just animals, he's gone, and nothing makes sense except the curl of my sons shaggy sideburns and the way Dave says hello to me in the morning like it's a good thing that we get another day.

It's hard.

There's been times I've really missed not having a funeral for him, I wish I could have heard some stories from all of his friends and all of his family, so many people so deeply affected by his death he could not have possibly imagined the carnage.

He didn't know how loved he was. THAT is a tragedy.

                         I have NO IDEA why I never had a boyfriend in high school.

We're now headed into the final months of the first year without him and I gotta say, I gotta owie.

"If onlys" are useless and instead of telling him over and over how sorry I am, now I just tell him I love him, over and over and over out loud when I just cry and cry and cry. So annoying the body doesn't run out of tears. I been listening to Eminems "You're Never Over" in a  different light. It's helping. I been working on my words - fiery words. It's helping. I even read some literature on grief last night and thought, shit, I should read more literature on grief!

I friended a lot of Cams friends on Facebook after he died but I've had to gradually unfriend them: seeing them achieve things in their lives is too painful. I almost sent them an email saying something like "Sorry for the unfriend but your happiness makes me sad! Have a great life though and thank you for being my brothers friend you are awesome!" But I didn't. Grieving a person who suicided is a minefield.

One of Cams best mates Dave B. is running in the City to Surf this Sunday. He's raising money and awareness for the Black Dog Institute. I worry about how Cams death affected his mates that day, because the previous few nights they'd talked and talked with him so much, just as desperate for him to get help as we all were. Dave B. was going to pick Cam up on Tuesday morning and take him to a facility to get some help, but Cam killed himself instead. That's a pretty heavy thing to live with. That's a pretty heavy way to die. Cam said he didn't want the stigma of getting help, didn't want to be "that guy."

Dave B.'s City to Surf fundraising page is HERE if you want to have a look, maybe throw in some coins. It would be very appreciated. Thank you to people who have already donated,  for Cam, for me and my family. I saw "Anonymous" donated $105 the other other and just wrote "Missing you Mad Dog." Brought me undone so much right there in bed and I wept but kept telling my Dave I'm ok it's just grief, it's just grief hon I won't always be like this. (Lie.)

Part of me thinks fuck the Black Dog Institute, it didn't help my brother. To read anything on suicide prevention at this point claws at my heart in an awful way. Dave B. is a beautiful man for running on Sunday but I wish Dave B. wasn't running on Sunday. I wish he was getting together with Cam for lunch and a few beers and they were talking about how close Cam came last year.

I wish Cam was still alive but I wouldn't go all Pet Cemetery on his arse. I wouldn't bring him back, not the way he was. He was fucking miserable. Every day was a battle. He rebuilt himself so many times that in the end he just got too tired. I understand.

One day we were sitting on my front verandah and he was down, down low and I just could not think of a single thing to say to make him feel better. I told him everything I did, every trick I used to stay alive, until I was out of ideas.

"Cam, magic exists in the world. I KNOW it doesn't feel like it right now but I swear if you just keep going, things will shift and happen and change and you will feel a bit of magic. I swear it's true!"

He just laughed at me the shithead. I don't even know if I believe it much myself anyway, anymore.

He told me in his suicide note that *I* was strong. I would give anything for him to believe how strong he was.

I'm working real hard to channel my feelings into some shit. I got some stuff in place to look forward to. I'm still a crazed motherfucker except now I'm a grieving one too and I like to imagine I've taken Cams strength and love and pain and anger to use in my own creativity so whatever I do now I do it for the both of us. On behalf of him. I'm half of him.

"For you, I wanna write the sickest rhyme of my life 
So sick it'll blow up the mic,
it'll put the dyna in mite 
Yeah, it'll make the dopest MC wanna jump off a bridge and shit hisself 
Tap dancin' all over the beat, it'll jump off the page and spit itself 
Guess that's the best thing I can do right now Doody for you is to rep 
So im gonna fuck till I die, yeah I'ma do it to death 

And instead of mournin' your death, 
I'd rather celebrate your life 
Elevate to new heights, step on the gas and accelerate, 
I'ma need two mic's 
 'Cause the way I'm feelin' tonight, everything I can just do right 
There's nothin' that I could do wrong, I'm too strong and im just too hype 
Just finish the rhyme and bust it 

Excuse the corny metaphor but they'll never ketchup to all this energy that I've mustard 
So God just help me out while I fight through this grievin' process 
Tryin' to process this loss is makin' me nauseous 
But this depression ain't takin' me hostage I've been patiently watchin' this game 
Pacin' these hallways, you had faith in me always."

Tuesday, 5 August 2014

On Gaza, And Caring From Afar.

The other week as I literally ran out of Newtown I passed a group of people who'd set up a table on the side of the street, asking for signatures. Something about Palestine.

"No." I said it politely.

Dave called me back to say, shouldn't we sign this? I told him I don't know enough about it to sign it. I hardly know anything about the hair-trigger unrest and war and killings in Israel and Palestine. It's been in the news since as far back as I remember.

There's a lot of bad stuff happening everywhere lately, isn't there? My six-year old Rocco has been exposed to some news stories and for the first time ever is scared to go to bed, thinks people will come into the house. He makes me lock the doors before he brushes his teeth and he's having nightmares where people are trying to kill him. I've stopped putting the news on at 6pm like I always do. I tell him Australia is a safe country, we are ok, there's nothing to be scared of.

Over 1500 people have been killed in Gaza in the past month, many of them children. This is nine-year old World Vision sponsee Mustafa.

Photo - World Vision

Mustafa, his mother, and two little sisters were killed five days ago when a tank shell hit them as they were trying to evacuate.

Mustafa just celebrated his birthday. He liked playing football, puzzles, and board games.

World Vision have been working in Gaza since 1988 and the past year their projects over there have achieved amazing results with children, using psychosocial programs to significantly reduce their distress. All children have the right to live in safety, free from violence, fear and need. World Vision continues to call for a lasting and just peace for the region.

I walked Rocco to school this morning in the winter sunshine without a care in the world. He's going on an excursion today, SO excited. There was a small rock stuck in his boot so we sat down and got it out and when he got a stitch we slowed our pace and he grabbed my hand and told me I was the best mum in the whole entire university. (I just cannot correct him to say "universe.")

My kids are so lucky to not even know how lucky they are.

Walking past the destruction. Photo by Mohammad Awad, World Vision

A destroyed World Vision child-friendly space. Photo by Mohammad Awad, World Vision

World Vision distributed food packages to 130 families in Gaza during the brief ceasefire on Saturday July 26. Many of the families who received food packages are housing extra people who have been displaced by the conflict in their homes. Photo by Mohammad Awad - World Vision

More than 140,000 people are displaced, with the majority hosted in UNRWA schools. There are approximately 1.8 million people within the Gaza Strip, all are affected. 

This guy travelled to Gaza and came back to report on what he saw. He's so obviously moved and affected, and incredibly eloquent. I like him a lot. THIS is journalism.

It's important to spread the word. Thousands, millions of people around the world are hoping for a lasting ceasefire while these children are living their darkest nightmare. Light a candle. Say a prayer. Hold them in your heart.


If you would like to help people in Gaza, World Vision is dedicating funds donated to their Disaster Ready fund to this emergency between 5 Aug-5 Sept. You can call 13 32 40 or visit

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