Thursday, 27 August 2015

It's Contagious.

This clip never gets old.

                  They start so small. With Edges's guitar and Bono singing, sitting on the couch. Will Smith looking on as Larry plays the fricking TAMBOURINE behind them. Adam's always been a bit of a wanker for me but and I'm not entirely sure if he's playing or not be he's still a vital part. They wouldn't be U2 without any of the four members.

The magic happens the further the song goes on. Bono stands up. Edge stands up. Something shifts as Bono calls for Jimmy's band Roots to join them which they do, acting all cool but the smile on one of the guys in Roots cannot be hidden. He's jamming' with U2 live, man. You can't act cool with that.

Then Jimmy stands up, Bono and Edge and Roots strumming up a fucken storm and you know what U2 do before every single concert? They pray and invite Spirit into the stadium.

So suddenly there's this Spirit of the music and the words and the joy and spontaneity spills out. It's captivating.

The song was written for the movie about Nelson Mandela starring Idris Elba who played drug lord Stringer Bell in my brothers favourite series, The Wire. (Cam even had McNulty as his Facebook profile picture. I'd say come on dude, put a photo of YOU up there. He never did.)

The lyrics are in reference to Mandela and his wife Winnie's marriage, how long it endured during the unendurable and then crashed and burnt after Nelson was released from prison. Funny how things turn out. I sing this song all the time in my car solo and I always think of Cam.

"I can't fight you anymore
It's you I'm fighting for. 
The sea throws rocks together
But time leaves us polished stones."

I remember weeping into the t-shirt on the shoulders of someone not long after Cam died, saying why couldn't Cam have waited to become a polished stone?

The tears on that t-shirt have long dried.

At the end, everybody in the audience stands up because they can feel something happening ..  perhaps aren't entirely sure what. But they feel it.

And Bono, one of the biggest influences on my heart and soul? That short arrogant caring poetic Irish dude? Still can't dance for shit.

Monday, 24 August 2015

Hearts Don't Break.

My plane touched down in Melbourne last Friday and I still don’t even know how planes work.

Suddenly realised I hadn’t been to Melbourne for a while. I love Melbourne but this time it felt different .. and not in a good way. The airport shuttle bus took me to the city centre and I wandered around there for a while feeling incredibly self-conscious and a bit sad and like a fish out of water.

So I did what any freaked out person would do in that situation .. saw a woman sitting down on the pavement with tarot cards in front of her and sat down in front of her.

She read my cards. Parts of what she said I can’t remember because everything she was saying was spot on and blew me out of myself. We both looked each other in the eyes pretty deeply. Her going rate for card reading was five bucks but I gave her a twenty, thanked her. The reading was worth so much more than money. Took a photo of a fire hydrant and thought, “Hello fire hydrant!” 

Because to me everything in the world is a something and it looked pretty cute. Way, way out of my comfort zone I went across town to the serviced apartments to stay with Kristy, the organiser of the Imperfect Mum Conference. We spoke non-stop for two hours. Kristy was balls-deep in organising mode and I just arrived by myself with nothing but myself to share. I’d already written my talk in my notepad to read out the next day because I STILL don’t know how to do a powerpoint presentation and I believe words are more powerful than images anyway. So I went to the conference but the word conference is too businessy. It was a gathering of people who had nothing but themselves to share.

Kristy and I.

The beautiful Nathalie.

And they did and I did and at the end during the panel discussion I was answering a question and imitated how little and small and high-pitched my voice was before I got strong to illustrate the power of how strong a voice can get. Then I busted out “You gotta lose yourself in the music the moment you own it you better never let it go you only get one shot do NOT miss your chance to blow coz opportunity knocks once in a lifetime, yo.” Then I got embarrassed for being a show-off, because sometimes I am a show-off. (I don’t think opportunity knocks once in a lifetime. It knocks every day.)


So the conference was INCREDIBLY INCREDIBLE and I had so many amazing conversations and just blurted all my stuff out every chance I got and I made friends that will last for the rest of my life. Joined people for dinner afterwards and was sad when I ordered the soft shell crab because soft shell crab means you actually EAT the soft shell and it kind of looked like a big deep-fried huntsmen. I asked everyone if they knew that genital crabs were actually crabs with little tiny nippers? Then I said let’s go dancing. Nathalie was there but she had to go home so she thrust $50 in my hand for her dinner and when I tried to give her $20 change she told me to give it to somebody who needed it, because that’s the kind of person she is.

Five of us were left so we all went dancing but everywhere we went was strange so we walked from place to place looking for the right dancing place. Nightclubs have changed a lot since back in the day - for a start there’s not even a proper dance floor? I kept asking the security guards at each place, “Look, it’s been a while … is there an actual dance floor here or what?” I drank two red bulls and we decided to try one last place which was packed but it had not just an actual dance floor .. but a PODIUM. Young drunk girls with tight skirts and stilettos were dancing on the podium and I wanted to dance on the podium to show these young guns how it’s done. (See: show off.)

Cowboy boots, jeans, hair that was NOT sleek, a feather necklace and tattoos. 43 years old. Sober as a judge. I haven’t been out dancing since my brother died. I love dancing. Then I felt a hankering for something so I told the girls I’d be back and I walked around the nightclub. I was looking for something I just didn’t know what. A man? A conversation? A connection? I walked around twice and then felt really self conscious and went back to the girls. A fight broke out and I yelled PUNCH UUUUP and for some reason I really enjoyed watching it. Then I realised the cops were there and I freaked out until I remembered I had nothing to hide anymore. Felt good. Had a huge panic attack in front of the girls afterwards - HUGE. I've never had one in front of other people. I cried so hard. They were just so beautiful and talked me back to earth.

Got to sleep at 3am and woke up like I’d been hit by a bus. Here's where things got interesting. All of us packing up the place, tired and hungry and exhausted and as we all stood in the lift after we left I said “Oh. I left my phone on charge in the apartment.” The apartment with the keys left inside. We tried everything … I even asked Kristy to google “How to pick a lock” and this guy's You Tube tutorial on using two paperclips was MUCH easier said than done.

Almost two hours later I bid the girls goodbye, told them to go, I felt SO bad for making them all wait and told them I’d wait for the locksmith by myself. Hugged Kristy goodbye hard, she didn’t care. She said everything happens for a reason and thanked me because I probably avoided a huge catastrophe waiting for one of us had we all left on time. I like it when people think outside what people usually think. The locksmith came and asked my name and then told me his doctor was called Eden Riley and I said no way! The locksmith was gorgeous, put his headlight on like a miner and drilled the lock until it magically opened I told him I could kiss him, ran in and got my phone that was completely charged! Watching him put the lock back on I said, “So , theoretically, you could break into anybody’s house.” 

“Of course.” 

Then he googled his doctors name but it was Eden Raleigh and I said close, but no cigar. He left.

Because of what Kristy said, I felt acutely aware that every interaction I had with any person after that would not have happened if I hadn’t locked my phone in the apartment. My taxi driver was from Somalia. He fled in 1991 when he was just sixteen years old and hasn’t been back since. He misses his mother and brothers, but he’s married with three children of his own and they’re all teenagers who are so addicted to technology he has to go and check in on them in their rooms to make sure they’re still alive. He gets so fed up with it he takes the Foxtel card with him to work. After he pulled up at my destination we talked for ten more minutes until we said goodbye and how nice it was to meet each other. Then I went into 7/11 for a bad coffee and as the construction worker in front of me made his coffee he told me he can only drink a small one otherwise he’ll just be pissing all day. I laughed so hard and told him about my man bladder so big that even when I was heavily pregnant I slept all night without having to get up and go to the loo and once I sat down on the toilet so hard it broke. We both laughed so hard, standing there talking about piss. He left and then an old guy was swearing at the man behind the counter because the ATM had swallowed his card, “What the hell am I gonna do now?” I went over to diffuse the situation because it wasn’t the guy behind the counters fault. Told the swearing guy to call the bank first thing and they’d retrieve his card and it must be a pain in the arse but these things happen. He’d said if he hadn’t already got his money out the ATM machine would be on the floor.

I bought two bananas because my nan always said they were good brain food then I walked outside and felt really weird like I sometimes do in public. Like everyone is looking at me but they’re not, they’re probably too busy wondering if everybody is looking at them. I found myself standing in the exact same spot I’d had my tarot cards read. My bags were heavy so I stood there awkwardly, early for the airport shuttle. A woman came up to me and asked if I had any change and I said of course I do. She was beautiful. Had really bad teeth and told me I was the exact opposite to every person she’d asked and I suddenly remembered Nathalie telling me to give the twenty bucks to someone who needed it so I did. She was so relieved and told me she wasn’t going to use it for drugs and asked me my name. When I told her, the look in her eyes was so wistful. “Oh my foster carers used to take me to Eden when I was a kid, you know the town Eden down south? I’m transgender. The only happy memories of my childhood were when I went to Eden.” And the look on her face made me want to cry. She walked off and then I saw the tarot card reader walking up the street talking to herself. I wondered if she was talking to herself or somebody else.

When I sat down on the bench this old woman walked by me and we both smiled at each other so she came over to tell me that she couldn’t stop. If she stopped she’d never get going again. And that her grandson kept telling her that she was very old but she was NOT to die yet. “I’m 87. He wants me to die when I’m 92 … who wants to live until they’re 92? Not me. My husband died when he was 47. Heart attack. He worried too much.” I made a mental note to stop worrying so much because I don’t want to die at 47. The woman was Chinese and had hair that just sprang out from her head in tight white curls. “My grandson asked if his grandfather was an Angel and if he was, do Angels get hungry? I told him Angels don’t get hungry, that all they need is love.” 

I sat, completely spellbound by all of these people. When I got on the bus I found myself crying, holding my hand over my heart, feeling it beat. Still pumping. Hearts don’t break. If you think your heart is broken put your hand over it and feel.

See? Still working. Open, not broken.

After all that, I wasn’t looking for anything anymore. Not a thing. As the plane flew I looked down at the clouds from above.

When I was a kid I used to think you could sit on clouds. Even though I know you can't, they're still magical.

Thursday, 20 August 2015

In Celebration Of Weeds.

Maybe we've got it all wrong.

Maybe it's the weeds we need to celebrate ... the feisty, hardcore things that grow and thrive in the most unlikely of places.

In crevices, through edging of sleek paving, underneath doorways, on the side of ragged cliffs.

On top of buildings, sides of buildings ... especially abandoned buildings. Especially the places where nothing is supposed to grow - weeds grow.

And not just grow. THEY THRIVE, with their majestic root systems and hardy stems and leaves reaching towards the sun. You don't see tulips growing through cracks in the sidewalk. You don't see bunches of peonies springing up suddenly on medium strips of a busy highway. It's always the weeds, doing the hardest work, lifting themselves up in places they are not meant to be.

It's the weeds that get ripped out in a moments notice because they're ugly and just not supposed to be there. 

Maybe we've got it all wrong. Maybe we've got a lot of things wrong and need to start looking at the world sideways and inside out.

Imagine watering the weeds. Imagine letting them grow when and where they want. Imagine if they deserved to be here too.

Friday, 14 August 2015

Why I Came To The Problogger Conference 2015.

I wasn't sure if I was going to come, always on the verge of not. But I'm here and I'm glad and I'm sharing with Megan a hotel room up the road straight out of the set of Bold and the Beautiful. It's so bad it's good. I got there first and she just walked in and laughed and laughed.

Presented without comment #BrookeRidgeBrookeRidge

I accidentally found out why I was coming to Problogger while I was waiting at Sydney Airport, phone on charge, being sniffed out by other techno homies who needed to charge their devices. I became boss of the electrical socket, telling people which one worked, which one was broken, just take the massage chair lead out and use that one, etc. Suddenly a woman came and sat next to me and I had one of the most inspiring, incredible, synchronistic, mind-blowing conversation of my entire life. I can't say what we talked about, too full-on and private. But she changed me, that chance encounter and the way her and I found each other in that whole big busy airport. We needed to meet and we did, by some invisible forces guiding us to each other. Unbelievable. (Then I sat next to a really cranky pinch-faced lady on the plane and knew if I took my hoodie off she'd look at my tattoos so I didn't take my hoodie off because I wasn't in the mood to be judged right then.)

This is what it feels like to meet other bloggers. I write on this website to connect and identify and share my stories with people who in turn identify and comment and share themselves. Giving up little pieces of us .. blogging for me has always been about sharing my life and my stories with people. I've ended up on incredible adventures, met amazing people, met arsehole people, travelled the world to conferences and places I would never had gone otherwise. Through my World Vision Ambassadorship I had the honour of visiting the most remote areas in Africa with villages so secluded they looked like pictures straight out of the Bible. The biggest honour I've had through my blog is the crazy big stuff that happened on account of me sharing the crazy big stuff. I've faltered a lot in life so I've faltered here. Especially lately after the brutal grief and pain following the suicide of my brother. And all the fallout that happened afterwards. And then the fallout from the fallout. Gotta owie.

But I'm here, right now, listening to Darren Rowse and keynote speakers .. surrounded by a huge array of people who have websites about all different things like a mixed bag of fruit. I'm back connecting again, trying not to freak out, taking the next steps to something .. bigger. I don't even know what that is yet. It's exciting. It feels good to be excited again. And happy .. a little bit happy.

Monday, 10 August 2015

When Eden Met Maggie.

I first met Maggie when she was an embryo. However I think I've known her my whole life.

My friend Beth knew how tricky certain dates on the calendar were for me last year and that they all started with the first day of spring so you know what gift she gave me? She rang me up on the first day of spring to tell me she was pregnant with a baby, she was to bring a new Soul into the world. Now, instead of the first day of spring signifying the last day I ever saw my brother ... it's now the day I first heard of Maggie's existence.

And boyo does Maggie exist.

Words can hardly describe this baby. We're all in agreement that Beth has actually given birth to the Dailai Lama? She only has eyes for her mama but I swear .. when I met Maggie, she recognised something. Saw something in me that I'd long forgotten, or never even really knew was in there.

I'd set up my little cottage with the sole purpose of impressing Beth and I did that. And we talked for maybe four hours non-stop. I lost count. Just talked and talked and talked. And ate baked goods and laughed. When Beth bit into her very first bee-sting? I told her the look on her face was like she'd just been crowned Miss Universe Australia, she was so overwhelmed with the pastry, cream, and custard. Asked me with her mouth FULL ... "What sorcery is this?"

Picture is fuzzy because I was in too much of a rush to get eating with my friend. I love people who enjoy their food as much as I do. (Beth, your eyebrows are on point - AND fancy red lipstick.)

Maggie just lay there and cooed, mostly slept. I kept looking at her. Her mere presence was something ... extraordinary. The very best gift I've been given in a while was to see two of my favourite girls.

After a while it was time for them to leave and I apologised to Beth that we didn't go anywhere and she said she didn't want to go anywhere and I didn't want to go anywhere either. When Beth took a torlet break before her big drive back home, you bet I grabbed Maggie and took a series of selfies that would make Kim Kardashian proud.

Eden: "Hey Maggie, It is SO lovely to finally meet you in actual person."
Maggie: "So Eden have you even BRUSHED your hair?"

Eden: "Maggie, pull my finger."
Maggie: "Dude, I'm on full-cream breastmilk. Pull MY finger."

Eden: "Maggie stop trying to grab the camera."
Maggie: "It's not a camera it's a phone and you're doing selfies wrong and your shellac is chipped."

Eden: "Maggie I'm completely and utterly in love with you and thank you for the hope and when I think about you in the world I cry and when I read your mum's post about us meeting I cried. I've read it a few times and every time I read it I cry and the last time I read it? I was weeping and found myself apologising to God whatever that means and I suddenly noticed my tears were so pure after my apology and I had been forgiven and you did this, Maggie. I'm not sure how or what or why .. but thank you, for doing this."

Maggie: "Love. The answer is and always will be love. Simple. You take care, Eden."

Eden: "I will. I will take a lot of care."


Monday, 3 August 2015

To Write Love In The Snow.

It snowed up here in Katoomba recently. Not just snowed ... it SNOWED.

I was staying in a hotel at the time and went outside late the night before - really late, just as the snow started gently coming down. It was magic. Snow makes everything magic. It was so quiet!

Bruised. Cracked. Never broken.

The next morning I was joined by a certain young lad who had never seen snow before and we played in it the entire day.

Literally, the entire day. We rushed downstairs to gather the snow up and take it back upstairs to my room to make snowballs to throw.

We walked up the street and everything was white, there were snowmen everywhere, everybody was happy. Snow brings out the joy in people.

 Even the car got in on the action .. though we didn't drive anywhere.

My mum was staying up the mountains at the Carrington and took this photo ... she got snowed in!

He declared it .. "The best day of my life and I'm only seven!" Said he wished it was the same day over and over again for his whole life. I told him if he had the same day over and over again he'd get really bored. That no two days are ever the same.

"No WAY would I get bored of that day!"

It's funny how things turn out. if I wasn't staying at that exact hotel at that exact time, he never would have had that day. And neither would I.

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