Thursday, 28 May 2015

Let's build a book fort with cushions and all lounge in there like the men of the Night's Watch!

Last weekend I went to the Sydney Writers Festival with Megan. I didn't really want to go - I just wanted to be with her because she lives in Brisbane and I really miss her. We were debating getting a taxi and then thought, why get a simple taxi when you can hire a WATER TAXI.

For ten bucks each, we chartered a magical water carriage to whisk us off to the land of books and authors. It actually felt magical, like a land at the top of the Faraway Tree.

She made me steal about seventeen Secret Seven badges

We were pretty much the only people there without kids ... it was awesome. So we soothed our guilt by buying our kids lots of books.

Megan just falls at the feet of children author Belinda Murrell and they chat like old friends for about ten minutes

My guys are loving the new ones from Will Kostakis

You know what's happened around our house now?

BOOKMANIA. So good. Watching Rocco dive headfirst into the Big Book of Tashi that I bought for Max years ago? Just beautiful. I read voraciously as a kid. Too much? Can you read too much? I've often felt bad because my boys don't read as much as I did when I was their age but now some kind of light has been switched on we're all reading together because Megan bought ME a book so I've joined in on the action too.

I had to text her this pic as proof I was reading last night because I haven't been able to read a book properly for years. Still cannot understand why - babies? The internet? Soul damage?

The highlight of the weekend was taking Megan and her husband Dan out for dinner ... in NEWTOWN. To Mary's - because the Daleys love their food and I had to take them for the best burgers in Sydney. It was like the time I took BabyMac and Mrs Woog to the Burger Joint in New York a few years ago ... there is NOTHING better than watching people who love good food eat good food. 

I almost had to leave before we'd even ordered due to an imminent full-body panic attack but man, I just really wanted a Mary's burger. And I wanted to watch Dan and Megan eat a Mary's burger. But the music was so heavy heavy thrashy and LOUD that we could hardly hear each other when we shouted and I felt old and as I went to the bar for cokes I tripped on the step and this cool guy laughed at me like Nelson from the Simpsons and I almost cried.

And then, when our fried chicken and burgers arrived, I almost cried again OH MY GOD.

See Megan about to lovingly cradle up her cheeseburger and take her first bite? I didn't make it obvious but I was watching her like a hawk and the look on her face when she bit into that brioche bun made everything worthwhile because sister appreciates the HELL out of a good burger.

She just squealed "Pickles!" because she loves pickles #weirdo and we thought we'd take some chicken back to the hotel for breakfast but there was none left. We ate it all :( It took three cokes each but we did it.

Thank you Megan, for bookifying up our lives. You really are the very best influenza on us. This morning Rocco was reading his beloved Tashi as I sat on the couch next to him, listening. He is the BEST reader. I stared at one of the illustrations for a while and to be honest .. I was a bit surprised. I'm no prude but this lady's boob was just POKING out, you know what I mean?

Rocco asked me what I was looking at.

"Umm ... her boob? It's like, pointing the exact same way her finger is pointing."

Rocco was confused until I pointed at the pointing boob with the erect nipple (tell me you see it too? It's enormous .. almost as long as her nose?) .. and he dropped the book and laughed so long and loud.


Wow. It's her chin! I need stronger glasses. Rocco laughed all the way to the car. He was late for school. We didn't care.

Megan is a very cool librarian with either a blue or pink streak through her blonde hair. She's heavily involved in the Children's Book Council of Australia and writes over at Children's Books Daily. Megan and I both fail miserably at apostrophes. She had six chickens all called Mavis but a fox gobbled them all up so her husband put the dead chicken bodies in their FREEZER until bin night. 

Mary's is located down a dingy hip cool alleyway in Mary Street, Newtown. There is no signage, just a red light so you feel like you're going to a brothel but you're not ... it's just way, way cool you guys. Helen from Grab Your Fork wrote a great review of Mary's HERE. Order the fried chicken as well as a burger but don't tell them Eden sent you because I tripped down the stairs, almost had a panic attack, and complained about the music. 

HAPPY INTERNATIONAL BURGER DAY EVERYONE! Where's the best burger you ever ate at? I can't answer that honestly until I try an In-N-Out burger.

(Beth you can go to Mr Crackles by yourself that's fine but *I* am taking you to Mary's. Just bring some earmuffs for Maggie. And us.)

Tuesday, 26 May 2015

TUTORIAL: How To Make Poocake.

Firstly, give birth to a long awaited-for IVF baby. Watch that baby grow up during some dreadfully traumatic cancer fiascos and the deaths of a number of incredibly cherished people in your life. Then lose your mind, half your spirit, your faith, your marriage, your sobriety.

Keep re-building. Don't even question why or ask how - if you need a hint look to people who have struggled before you for a bit of hope. Especially strong, tough, feisty, unbreakable women. Will yourself to be like them.

Find yourself continually surprised that even when you KNOW you cannot go another day .. you go another day. And another.

After you've gone many days, you come to a clearing. And your baby is about to turn seven.



Organise the biggest birthday party he has ever HAD. Change mobile phone numbers as soon as you send out the invitations so other parents cannot tell you if their kid is coming. #handy

Completely outsource everything - the decorations, catering, venue. Everything. Except the cake. Upon asking what kind of cake he wants, don't bat an eyelid when your child answers back "POOCAKE" because you wouldn't really expect anything less. This guy inexplicably shit over pretty much everything during his entire formative years, so you're down with a poo cake. How hard could it be?

In keeping with the outsource theme, buy everything pre-made. The cakes, the icing, and the packet of Flakes that you're just going to dump on top without caring one bit because it's impossible to stuff up a cake decorated with pretend turds.

Upon showing your child he will gasp and for a second you'll falter but when he yells out "IT'S SO PERFECT MUM!" you know that your job is DONE and you may fail, stuff up, and barely get by in most things in life but by God you can parent well. You just want to be a loving and supportive mother, and take the job of educating and loving and teaching your children so extraordinarily seriously that you would do anything humanly possible to shield them from horrors and heartache in the world. And you will fail. And you will talk about failing to them. And your children will keep loving you anyway no matter what ... because you are their mother and they know, they can just *feel* how much you adore them. So very much.

Even on dreadful days.

Ask your 13-yro to take some action shots of the candle-lighting and later at home you really, really regret wearing leggings as pants that day fml.

It's important to remember that if the birthday boy gets sweaty and bossy and shoeless and his hat breaks ... do not care, do not say one word. None of this matters, the only vital thing of concern is that he has the best birthday ever because lord knows he's watched a lot go down in his seven years on the planet so far. It's not important that you never found his other shoe - it's really not. What's important is out of all of the cakes you've painstakingly taken HOURS to make from scratch and decorate until 3am, crying ... including that particularly tricky Bart Simpson cake back in '08 for his older brother .. this is hands down the best, easiest, laziest birthday cake you've ever assembled. Don't even worry about not icing all of the crevices or you notice later there were fingerprints in it or the fact that it tasted much less nicer than it looked - you pulled it off.

And is that not what motherhood essentially is, in this increasingly crazy, sped-up, neurotic, competitive, bullshit world?

Successful mothering is a series of just pulling things off, one after the other. And hoping for the best.

You detest every single thing about this party. It's noisy, annoying, germ-filled. But it's worth it for the look on your kids face and the fun that he has, losing himself with joy on the slides and trampoline, surrounded by all of his friends.

You've been at this game for a long time now - you know to choose your battles. Do NOT sweat the small stuff, ride through the hard days and keep giving it your all. A lame, lazy, hastily thrown together poocake party at the local aquatic centre every now and then never harmed anyone!

And when your kid sits perched atop the table long after all the kids have gone with their crap lolly bags, and he complains that he wasn't ready to finish his party and no he does NOT know where his shoe is and how long until he turns eight? You look up at his dear little face, the face that formed in your womb and without even missing a beat you tell him he is banned from asked when his next birthday is. BANNED.

He just munches on popcorn, without saying a word.

Then you all go home and collapse and play video games. Order pizza. Fight. Love. Shout. Cuddle. The love you feel for your children is one of the last true and real things you have left in your life. Love harder. Keep going. And make them promise that you're allowed to come over and visit them when they grow up and move out of home because you're going to miss this gig like hell when it finishes.

Friday, 22 May 2015

The Video Diary Of A Flabby-Armed Woman.

This morning I woke up feeling so worried and sad that I cried while making the school lunches, careful that the boys didn't see me.

Max asked for the day off so I gave it to him. Rocco is counting down the minutes to his big birthday party tomorrow ... he wants a poo cake, so I'm thinking I'll go with some Cadbury Flakes and plenty of chocolate icing. "There needs to be a toilet too, mum." 

(Seriously? What kind of kid wants a toilet on his cake?)

Then I watched this video diary that World Vision Australia​ put together of my time in Uganda.

Sometimes I panic and get so easily overwhelmed it can be very hard to talk myself down from my own ledge. Do you ever feel like you're not doing enough? Maybe us panic people should start a movement.

At first all I saw in this video was bad hair, crows feet, flabby arms, tired eyes. Then I watched it again and thought, maybe I'm just doing the best I can, and that's ok? I've met so many people from all walks of life during my trips with World Vision, and I have NO cause for complaint. I feel like us westerners have all gone completely mad, while the majority of people in developing countries are just trying to survive. And when I try and work out the meaning of existence of life on the planet it all overwhelms me so bad that my brain short-circuits and I eat chocolate, inappropriately.

If anyone needs me, I'll be on the couch drinking mochas and writing. Hopefully that's ok? Is that ok you guys?

Saturday, 16 May 2015

Life Should Be Fragrant.

This morning I spilt custard all over one of my favourite Bono photos:

Why is it my favourite? Well - that hand Bono is about to grab and hold for about twenty seconds straight while singing straight to that person in front of a crowd of 60,000 people?

ME. Me .. he grabbed my sweaty manhand.

U2 kicked off a new tour last night and so far they haven't announced any dates in Australia so I want to go see them overseas somewhere - maybe London or Spain. Ireland? Who wants to come with? Just general admission tickets ... then we can line up all day from 6am like I did in November 2006 and somehow ended up with the best vantage point ever.

EVER. Right at the end of the catwalk, where Bono spent the majority of his time. You could not pay for what I felt that night. Music is transformative and healing.

I'll never forget when the band walked out and Bono just strutted straight towards me, to the opening strains of "City of Blinding Lights" and he was wearing his black rosemary beads that Pope John Paul had personally given him and he was so close to me I reached out and touched his shoe. They had lifts in them, he's such a shortarse. He looked out at the huge, seething mass of humanity and I caught him say so softly that his mike didn't even pick it up:


Directly behind me. 

He was blown away by the crowd just as much as we were blown away by the band. I believe it mandatory to write "See U2 live in concert" at the top of your bucket list even if you think Bono's an arrogant shit or they're not that great ...  swear to heavens, you see U2 live in concert and you feel something bigger than you. You become part of something. The four guys always pray before they go onstage, asking for Spirit to join them.

Spirit does.

I was so close that after I snapped that photo of Bono I had to put my camera down. It seemed impolite to put my camera in his face when he was just a few centimetres away, mostly singing just to me because I'm *pretty* sure that a scrap of his soul recognised mine. You know when you know that you're cut from the same cloth as somebody?


I felt such pure, unadulterated joy that night. All real, all worth every single hard moment of my life up until that very second.

I've seen them play a few times since and even met and introduced myself to Bono in the Sydney Opera House carpark but nothing comes close to that night, when he looked at everybody in the crowd but his gaze kept coming back on me. And I didn't fangirl or scream or go nuts ... I just smiled at him, probably the biggest most beautiful smile my face can do. I thanked him with my eyes, for all of the hope and expression and pain and love in his music; and how much it's helped me over the years.

(It kind of shattered me a bit when he dedicated the song to Cate Blanchett ... wanted to reach up to his lapels and pull him down and say, ummm Paul I'm sure you mean EDEN RILEY??!)

That's a clip from the exact concert I was at. An indigenous young guy accompanied the band with his didgeridoo to the song "Kite." It's a song about how hard it is to let go when you don't want to - I watched it just now and teared up. It's surreal, knowing I was right there in front looking up as Bono cut the kite string. I remember watching it float off slowly, with the spotlight on it until nobody could see it anymore.


I've experienced a hell of a lot of loss in my life. Isn't it funny how you never know what's going to happen next? Never would I dream that I'd be letting go of so much since - my stepfather. My marriage. My brother.

Some things are much, much harder to let go than others. Oh boyo that's the truth.

Life has been exceedingly difficult and full of a lot of suffering these past few years. But I am still here, even with a bit of hope. Even making some new plans! And just because I may not write in this space all the time does not mean I have fallen apart or everything has turned to dust. I just can't write when my life feels especially too heavy to write about. It'd be inappropriate and wrong. So I haven't. No biggie.

I've been blasting a lot of U2 lately which is an awesome sign because when I'm going through incredibly rough times, they're the LAST band I listen to. Too much pesky love and hope and faith and grace and resilience and it's so easy to be jaded and morbid ugh siri what even is life?

Life is this thing that we're all in, together. Whether we know it or even like it, we're living it. Some of us better than others. Thank god it ends eventually - I'd never drink from the fountain of youth. I'm here, I've experienced and felt and done stuff. Beam me up when you're ready, Universe.

You ever wonder what's next?

Monday, 11 May 2015

The Spiritual Cupcake-Eating Competition

For those of you who still believe in time ... happy Monday! For the rest of you - did you know that love is the most potent and transformative type of energy there is? No wonder I had such experiences when my sons and brother were born. If we don't love ourself we cannot love other people, it's important to keep our bodies clear because it can be difficult enough to keep renewing ourselves in such a negative world, and our souls purpose on earth is to evolve to the highest level we possibly can.

Our souls purpose is also to have as much fun as we can. Here's me and my two young lads having a cupcake-eating competition yesterday, on the beautiful banks of the river running through Dubbo.
(Little did we know the icing was *so* rock hard it would be like biting into cakies made from sharp sharp razorblades #wegottaowie)

So have a lovely day today. Live deeply. I am.

Saturday, 9 May 2015

Road Trippin' With My Two Favourite Allies.

 Fully loaded we got snacks and supplies.

"It's only a three-hour drive!" I told the boys. "It's good to go to a place we've never been before!"

Rocco turns seven soon and still had never been to a zoo ... I don't like zoos, they make me sad. But I booked us in at the Zoofari Lodge at Western Plains Zoo Dubbo and we headed west young man. Unfortunately my information was wrong and it took five and a half hours to drive, not three. Max shrugged it off but when Rocco told me he was bored for the forty-second time I said "Mate, I'm bored. I'm just as bored as you - driving is boring. The sun's in my eyes. Have a sleep, that was the last time you were allowed to tell me you're bored."

Max did his usual ninja change-mums-phone-background pic while I was in the toilet at the servo. I drove and drove and lost hope, said "Max there is no zoo. We'll just be driving for the rest of our lives. Until you're a grey-haired old man with a long beard. Zooless. Driving."

He laughed and we played games and talked while Rocco slept and then we got to the zoo. Late, but we were there.

We got the Eland cabin. I told the boys it was short for the Edenland cabin but apparently Eland is a kind of buffalo? 

This guy was full, FULL of questions. Very good ones.

"Is there a spider exhibit because I need to see a spider sleeping. Hey how does a giraffe sleep? How many animals are there at this zoo? Is this zoo even any good? Is a rhino horn made out of wood? Can I eat all your blue Starburst?" (No way, dude.) After an African buffet dinner we headed out on the bus for a night-time spotlight tour. We all stood outside the hippo enclosure expectantly, waiting, waiting.

We waited for so long. The zookeepers kept flashing torches and it looked like the scene from the talent show at the end of Sound of Music. "And now .... the Von Trapp Family singers!"

No hippo. Walked up to visit some beautiful creatures called Bongo? Kind of like an antelope. All the kids lined up and hand fed them carrots and it was so cool to be out so late feeding animals in the dark and sleeping in a ZOO.

After a hippo called Happy did a poo and then sprayed it all over the concrete to attract the females by shaking and wiggling his bum (Rocco was BESIDE HIMSELF) ... we went a bit nuts on the bus.

The boys fell asleep at 10pm but I lay awake for hours, so annoying. Finally drifted off but got woken straight back up by the sound of sex noises. Like, REALLY LOUD and passionate sex noises. I tried to figure out what kind of animal it was - bird? Giraffe? Fell back asleep. Again woken up by sex noises so completely primal that I finally understood the meaning of "animalistic." I was also in awe, embarrassed, and after five moaning intense climaxes over as many hours I really felt like a cigarette. Took some video at about 1am this morning on Climax Number Four but the sound is too graphic - here's a screenshot.

At 6am it started AGAIN and I thought, A MORNING SESSION? COME ON! It woke the boys up but they just lay there talking to each other and didn't ask what the noise was. (On our way to the early elephant and leopard tour I found out the culprit was one of the lions.)


I fell in love with that African elephant. Her name is Cuddles. The head keeper came over and asked me how I was going and I told him she was so majestic I felt like crying.

We all had two servings of breakfast and our behind-the-scenes tour was finished so we headed into the actual proper zoo part. Hired bikes. I fell off on the gravel and people laughed at me but I'm completely fine with that as I always laugh at people when they hurt themselves so it was just my karma.

We saw hippos, rhinos, meerkats, giraffes, wild dogs, otters, monkeys, lemurs.

A beautiful day!

Until Rocco wanted to stop riding and just go to the jumping castle. Max was thirsty. I was hangry, couldn't read the map, tired, and hormonal. Just as I gave up on finding the tigers and apologised to the boys I turned and shouted for them to come back. I was done.


YouTube is a verb now. We stopped at the giftshop and I realised we didn't visit the lions either ... but I'd had quite enough of them for one night. Discovered a new species of monkey.

Drove across Dubbo to a motel in the main street. Went for a swim. The boys have just walked across the road to a park and I realised there's a balcony so I'm sitting on it right now and this is the view.

I can hear the boys laughing from here. We're ordering room service nachos for dinner. Before the long drive home tomorrow we might visit the old local gaol, it's supposed to be pretty cool.

And it's true - it's good to go to a place we've never been before.

Wednesday, 6 May 2015


Last night I went to a very well-known website where you can chat online to somebody when you're in a crisis. You know all that stuff about "just get help" ... I thought I'd try it because it was after midnight and I didn't want to bug any of my friends and wake them up. So I key in how old I am, if I was at risk for suicide, and have I ever sought help before. Then sat there waiting. Then some rules came up so I thought ok I better read the rules.

I'd been re-directed to an Asian women dating site. The funniest, most ridiculous surreal thing EVER. I laughed so hard I cried. Man I felt better - then up in the real get-help chatbox came "Hello. What kind of day have you had today?" It was so stilted I almost wrote back "Are you actually a robot y/n" but I just clicked off and watched two hours of the best worst show in the world, Revenge. Then I went to sleep and woke up feeling better - for no reason at all. Feelings change and shift. I always forget that.

I had that picture especially framed for my brother, years ago. It's a limited edition print I bought off eBay with my credit card. I've been paying off my credit for years now, still no end in sight. The last time I saw my brother I walked him out to his car and then I remembered I'd been storing the picture while he was in Western Australia working at the mines he never should have been working at because the fly in fly out lifestyle is not conducive for people like him. At all. He stood there patiently as I ran inside to find it for him, I looked everywhere and took ages but I couldn't find it. When I walked back outside I could tell that he was just being polite by waiting. That he never wanted it back. By that stage, he didn't want anything but death. I hugged him and told him I'd give it to him the next time I saw him. He drove off and I wondered if that was the last time I was ever going to see him again. It was.

I can't even really talk about him anymore. Mute. It all hit me pretty badly ... finally my anger wore down and burnt itself out. Being so angry has proved exhausting. I'm not angry anymore. Just burnt, tired, and confused.

I live to see my boys and be a good mum. That's all I want right now. This guy has a birthday soon and has asked for a poo cake.

This guy is a man already. I quickly need to teach him all the things he needs to know before he grows up entirely and I hardly ever see him. I still need to teach him so much.

When I don't have my kids I eat shit like this for dinner - it's double thick custard on top of hot custard danish. I keep eating custard - every day. In honour of my friend Beth who is due to have a baby ANY DAY NOW. A baby .... a real live actual brand new baby in the world. New babies bring hope like nothing else can. I'm pretty sure Beth is going to have a boy. But yesterday I thought it might be a girl and I really want to name her baby so I keep sending her through baby names so I just emailed her: "MARIGOLD MACDONALD YOU'RE WELCOME." (Which is technically Lady Judith's daughters name from the latest series of Downton Abbey.)

Anyway I feel stronger. I even walk with purpose again. So many people ask me how I get through the stuff I've gotten through in my life and lately my answer has been "I don't." But maybe I can and will. I hope so. I'm trying really hard.

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