Monday, December 1, 2014

Teaching by example - or - How not to deal with a 'crisis'

Let me share a moment with you, a recent incident in my life as a parent. This is a snap-shot of one of the not-so-good-moments - for your amusement, education or comfort as appropriate. I do not, by the way, believe this incident means that I am depressed, or not coping with being a parent. I believe it simply means that I am a parent. A parent with the temperament I had before I was a parent.

Hubby had been away for a little over a week, and was due home that evening. I had a large-ish to-do list to get the house perfect for his return and it was coming along nicely. I am used to a lot of help from my magnificent partner, so was surprised at how well I was coping on my own ('on my own' meaning continued day-care for child on my paid-work days - aka days off - and lots of extra help from mother.) But just as having a wonderfully happy child still includes whinges and screams at least several times a day; a together, happy mummy is still at the end of her tether at least several times a week.

Next on the list was testing out the new toddler-harness. Little-man was loving donning his cute new back-pack, but I had to see how he'd cope with actually being leashed before trialling the device in public (the result, as it turned out, was a complete failure... we'll continue to workshop that one.) I was still in my pyjamas and intended to stay that way, but the lace nightie just felt a little too revealing for our intended trip to the letter-box at the end of the drive. So I went to put my cardigan back on. The cardigan I had just taken off within the last half-hour. The cardigan I just put next to wherever it was I had been while I got warm doing house-work... I know I just put it down right next to wherever it was I had been... just right next to me in the room I had been in.. just nearby where it would be easy to find... just down for a moment in the tidy house that everything was visible in... in the house I have now checked EVERY ROOM OF AT LEAST TWICE. WHERE THE FUCK IS MY FUCKING CARDIGAN?!

Little-man followed me around during my increasingly ranty, shouty search - quite peaceful all the while. My one-year-old has already got used to mummy's silly temper (which I sometimes find unfortunate when he is being deliberately naughty and I have no scary-voice in reserve to shock him with.) He knows my tantrums aren't directed at him and are actually quite harmless. I am much like the Queen of Hearts in Alice in Wonderland - regular screams of "off with their heads!" being hurled around; all heads remaining firmly attached without question.

But eventually I cracked. One of the few things ticked off the to-do list was 'complete and put away laundry', and I was damned if I was going to dirty another top. Not when my plans were coming together so beautifully. Not when I was all set to only have the pyjamas and cardigan to wash after I changed into sexy-new-child-mess-free dress just in time to collect hubby that night. Not when all I had to do was find my cardigan. But the laws of physics were being broken, the impossible was happening to me, and as a result I couldn't even LEAVE MY FRONT DOOR.

My child was in the lounge, I was in the kitchen. So I fell to the floor and wept. I broke-down into much needed sobs, because life was just too much and there was nothing I could do about it. Then little-man entered the room and that's when he broke down. Mr happy-go-lucky burst into terrified tears. And mummy picked herself up off the floor that instant, and cuddled her darling baby and kissed his sweet head and assured him that everything was just fine.

And then I put on a different top and we collected the mail.

(The cardigan was right where I left it. With a pillow on top of it.)

Monday, November 17, 2014

I think we've been duped

I've considered myself a feminist for some years now, and have found many a time to be angry at the patriarchy.  But rarely have I felt cause to feel directly, personally furious at how I am specifically treated as a woman.  Today is a clear exception.

My job, as I've mentioned previously, is a little beneath me.  But I still take it seriously.  I am officially educated in the field in which I work, and as such am one of the more knowledgeable members of my branch.  More importantly, I take the time and effort to understand the policies and procedures relevant to our work and ensure that I understand them.  At present I am acting in a customer-service role, and am particularly diligent in getting the correct information to our clients.

My colleague in the same role has not the same level of commitment.  It is well acknowledged that he is a fun guy, but a know-it-all who espouses far greater knowledge than he possesses and is almost impossible to teach anything to.  He is also ludicrously unprofessional in multiple ways, and yet persists in holding down his job.

Today he gave a client incorrect information.  He shared the situation with me, hoping for a laugh.  Instead he got a polite response that in fact the client had been correct in their 'ridiculous' assumptions, and his jovial response that they could ignore the directive they were following was inaccurate.  He didn't argue, but didn't really believe me.  Not an unexpected response from this character.

However, minutes later he brought up the same issue with a male colleague.  This man told him exactly the same information that I did, but this time our protagonist listened.  In fact as a result he re-contacted the client with the correct information.

The other man in question is higher level than myself (although he does not hold any qualifications in the field as I do).  He gave the information in a jovial, sharing manner, not the matter-of-fact, no doubt goody-two-shoes manner that I did.  But the real difference that swayed the uptake of the information was simply that I don't have a penis.  Even if I'd acted like 'one of the boys' - even if I'd told said know-it-all that I totally agreed that the facts are ludicrous, that obeying the law (this is technically a legal matter) is utterly unfeasible but sorry, we just have to toe-the-line and say the right thing - I would not have made the same impact.  Even if I was also higher-level it would not have mattered- I've seen the lack of regard he holds for his female boss.  You can act like 'one of the boys' all you like: if you aren't one, you're not in the club - and you don't get heard.

Perhaps we girls just missed the memo that professionalism is against the rules.  Or perhaps it was deliberately never addressed to us, because in the end someone has to do the work - preferably someone who doesn't matter too much: a slave, a worker, a black person, a woman.

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Shoes (this is not about shoes)

I have found the holy-grail - a pair of shoes which are both seriously comfortable (ie heavy walking for hours-on-end, day-after-day and feet-still-feel-great kind of comfortable) AND cute (as in I can wear them with girly summer-dresses and feel properly, Disney-princess-esque feminine.)  My initial reaction to this find was to feel overwhelmed and practically disbelieving that something genuinely desirable existed in a shop, within my price-range, in my size, and was found in a single afternoon of the hideous activity that is shopping.  My next reaction was to feel somewhat concerned to discover that perhaps I am as shoe-obsessed as any other girl - I'm just a lot more demanding.  But then it struck me - being demanding is the point.  Being as demanding as possible might indeed by the very definition of feminism.

The history of feminism (and indeed all activism) is the history of a select group of people being more demanding than the rest.  Activists are the people who are never satisfied, not content to accept the status quo just because it is the status quo.  They are the people who instead imagine how the world could be, should be, and then demand that this better world be brought into being.  They have a radar for inequality, for oppression, and they cannot allow such injustice to continue.  Not when something can be done.  Not when a better way is possible.  Not when they can demand change.

I tend to think of myself as an in-activist - I was born with that radar, but I'm not presently actually doing a lot to fight for the causes I believe in.  My excuse right now is that I'm rather exhausted fighting the cause of getting my just-turned-one-year-old (!) to sleep and eat and learn and be happy, but that's really not fair - I was utterly lazy before he came along.  I call myself political, but mostly it's all in my head.

But take me to the shops and that demanding nature comes out in full force.  I have often said that I might be more interested in capitalism if it actually lived up to the promise of offering me the things I want.  Instead what the glorious free-market produces is cheaply-made, lowest-common-denominator-pleasing, obsolescence-fuelled CRAP.  And the majority not only accept it, they lap it up.  They imagine this shit actually satisfies their desires, and learn nothing from the fact that they are continually having to consume more, more, more to meet their cravings.  Maybe if everyone were as demanding as me we'd all stop buying the crap, the shops would go bust from having to meet our demands, and the whole hideous system would at last come crashing down?  Maybe not.  In any case, I'm not going to pretend that being a grumpy shopper counts as my contribution to activism.

But back to shoes (this is really not about shoes.)  While contemplating all this, it occurred to me that shoes are definitely a feminist issue.  There are the jokes about all women (all proper women) being addicted to shoe-shopping, and then there are the jokes about 'women who wear comfortable shoes'.  As with every other aspect of our appearance and behaviour, women are policed by our culture to stay within some very strict boundaries.  We should have a dear little obsession with pretty shoes - to stop us thinking or talking about anything too serious - and if we don't, then we're clearly man-hating, un-feminine (imagine!) women who don't deserve to have our voices heard by any self-respecting man.  And I notice - if we're not allowed to wear 'comfortable shoes', then we must be meant to wear un-comfortable shoes.  Our footwear is meant to be painful and to restrict our ability to WALK - because we are women.

I think the patriarchy might still be in operation.  And I think I'll just keep right on being a demanding woman (in some very nice, very comfortable shoes.)

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Biding time (not yet moth-balled)

Having a shitty job in my teen years and early 20s was fine.  Like living in a filthy share-house, suffering a hideous public hang-over, or indulging in a regrettable one-night-stand, these jobs were simply a right-of-passage, all part of the shaky beginnings of independence.  But still having a shitty job in my mid-30s is getting beyond reasonable.  And it's entirely my own fault.

I've never had a lot of ambition.  Let's be honest - I'm just bloody lazy.  I guess I've always achieved enough to get by without putting in too much actual grind; armed with an immunity to caring about the yard-sticks of others, the bare minimum effort always seemed to be enough.

But here I am as a result: earning less than I could; doing work I find demeaning; surrounded by people I can't respect.  And I'm starting to be embarrassed by this.  I'm clever, I'm educated, I'm married to an impressive enough individual yet claiming to be a feisty-independent-feminist type who can't be measured by her husband's success - and I have nothing to show for myself.  If I'd at least created something artistic on the side I could point to that as my 'achievement' in life... but I can barely manage to keep this blog alive.

But I'm still young enough to have hope.  I'm aware that at present I'm somewhat forced to be treading-water career-wise while the little one is still so little.  (And no, the lad does not count as an 'achievement' - any idiot can have a baby... indeed, many idiots do.)  In a few years we should have our little family completed, and be ready to move onto greener (and greyer) pastures abroad to pursue our dreams.  Meanwhile we're in the twilight years of caring for babies; the chrysalis stage before we emerge back out in the world... as beautiful butterflies?... well maybe moths anyway.  We'll have to avoid light-bulbs... or perhaps I'm taking the metaphor a little far.

Okay, here is the plan.  Hunker down in my cocoon, ignore the day-job as much as possible for my sanity (writing blog-posts at my desk is a good start), and look forward to a more fruitful and satisfying lifestyle in the just-discernible future.  Looking forward to seeing you out there then. :)

Friday, August 15, 2014

A parent's perfect friend

A parent's perfect friend is infinitely patient - like the perfect parent, they will put up with hours of crying, babbling nonesense, capriciousness, inconsistency and obstinance - all the while cheering for more... and they'll help with the child too.

A parent's perfect friend has a maginificiently exciting life with which to regale the bored parent, yet be available whenever the parent needs them, and never tired of hearing stories about the child's sleeping / eating / pooping schedule or lack thereof.

A parent's perfect friend will be independently wealthy, and thus available during weekdays and at 3am and able to treat the parent to lunch... somewhere with beautiful views and delicious food and safe play areas.

A parent's perfect friend will be seriously interested in spending stacks of time with a strung-out parent and their pre-verbal child, yet - of course - have no children of their own.

A parent's perfect friend is - clearly - imaginary. :)

Monday, August 4, 2014


I am still without a post to write.  (Or, for that matter, a satisfactory pseudonym.  A current work-in-progress.)  In the moments between the physical, present and all-consuming work of child-care I have been indulging in profound and vague creative moods, thoughts and sometimes even entire sentences.  But for the moment they are not coalescing into the sort of paragraphs that would fit here.

Luckily another writer, the writer - Shakespeare himself - wrote some perfect words... on the subject - love.  These beautiful words are the ones that regularly haunt me throughout my experiences, witnessing and philosophies of love:

Sonnet CXVI

Let me not to the marriage of true minds
Admit impediments.  Love is not love
Which alters when it alteration finds,
Or bends with the remover to remove:
O, no! it is an ever-fixed mark,
That looks on tempests and is never shaken;
It is the star to every wandering bark,
Whose worth's unknown, although his height be taken.
Love's not Time's fool, though rosy lips and cheeks
Within his bending sickle's compass come;
Love alters not with his brief hours and weeks,
But bears it out even to the edge of doom.
   If this be error and upon me proved,
   I never writ, nor no man ever loved.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Garden caravan

A rare pictorial post.  This is where I go in my mind when I'm stuck somewhere... like this "work"place.  It's much prettier in my mind. :)

Monday, June 9, 2014

Gifts of life

These are the gifts that I have gained.  Motherhood is this glorious thing that no-one can share; a private battle of love all my own.  Love is a curse, a marvellous burden we choose to carry as a trophy.  And these are the gifts that I have gained, the gifts just for me.

When it comes to mothering, I am apparently a 'natural'.  This doesn't actually mean (necessarily) that I'm a 'good' mother (whatever that might mean), just that I give a superficial impression of being suited to the role.  I get to enjoy the twin gifts of being seen to be a good mother, and of feeling that it might be true.  It's just these things... that I'm physically comfortable with my child, confident handling him.  My large hands feel designed to hold his little body as I rock him, my prominent hips fitted for him to sit.  It's that he enjoys my particular brand of tickles, is soothed by my cuddles, awed by my voice.  It's that our temperaments are in agreement, seeming that I can intuit his moods.  I want to remember these precious things when he's gone (ie grown - no longer mine), find a way to keep these gifts beyond the limitations of the short time I have as a mother.

The second gift is this: I lost my self-consciousness with birth, and I hope never to find it.  Once you've been in that room, sweating and naked, screaming at a group of strangers who are helping you push another human out of yourself... well, worrying about how people on the street might see you becomes a bit ridiculous.  I've heard of mothers who feel silly talking to their child in his pram, or even - in the privacy of their homes - singing made-up songs to entertain a fractious little-one in order to do the house-work.  I have absolutely no affinity with these mothers.  Ageing chips away at adolescent self-consciousness; in my experience, birth destroys it with one fell blow.  There is a harshness and a confidence that comes from surviving any battle, a gift born of struggle.

And with this, I have recently discovered a little token of that monstrous wonder-day.  Before birth I dyed a streak in my hair, intended as a statement of my new life... it didn't look as I hoped and I've been wishing back my natural colour.  But it has presented one more unexpected gift - amongst the re-growth, in the new hairs that can be dated, there is a crop of silver.  Never in history has a woman been so thrilled to discover grey hairs.  I shall wear them un-dyed even more proudly than I planned - not just a sign of distinguished adult-dom, but my battle-scars.  Oddly, it is since becoming a mother that I have started, for the first time in my life, to take care of my looks.  I think it is about holding claim to something of myself, to not lose it all to him.  But even in my vanity, I will never attempt to hide the journey I have taken.

A truly beautiful face is one that shows that it has lived; I think I'm just starting to look beautiful.

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Reclusive Pear

I have always been one to take things to extremes.  As such, I can't just be an involved parent with a bit less time for people - I've quit socialising.  Well, not entirely.  But really most people are now off the list, and the simplest way to describe it has been to explain that I am now a recluse.

Days are long in this job, and I do get lonely.  Some days I feel that I left the world, and the world didn't miss me.  But I just don't have the emotional energy to look after anyone else - myself and the child are quite enough people to take full-time care of - or be polite.  So lonely is better than over-burdened.  Even beloved husband has become my saviour more than my companion.  I promise husband, we'll be ourselves again... someday.

I've also quit drinking.  (Again, not entirely, there will be occasional occasions for quite a few bevvies.)  It has only been two weeks since I got utterly messy at my Nanna's wake, but it feels like a real life change.  As little one has chosen this same time to suddenly cease sleeping through the night, there hasn't been a miraculous and instant feeling of freshness to the mornings, but there is a gentle improvement that I am looking forward to furthering.

Meanwhile I have covered my blackboard with a random list of "things I'm good at".  The purpose is not as it may have once been - a self-absorbed, self-esteem boosting exercise - but an attempt to workshop an idea for a book.  I may or may not write a novel someday, but for now, I feel that surely there's something I can write a more practical tract on.  Surely there is something, some unique combination of things, that I know, that others don't know, that they would like to know.  And surely if I put them in writing I can make some pocket-money out of... whatever it is.

In reality the way to make money in my life is to work for an employer.  And so, sadly, I head back to the day-job (part-time) the day after my first Mothers' Day.  And the little one starts day-care.  My little extravert is going to love it, and start the slow, steady process of breaking mummy's heart by not needing me.  I'm scared and proud and sad and happy that I'm raising such a happy, confident little chap.  I imagine that he might be quite surprised one day to discover that his hilarious, energy-packed, confident mother is also a shy person who doesn't work well with others.

Tuesday, March 4, 2014


Silence, white noise, serenity.  My new themes.

I am silencing the angry voices within by silencing the mean voices from without.  Bitter reflections on all the sins of the world - the petty, the immoral and the plain irritating - have for too long crowded my brain.  The only way is to avoid the irritants - to welcome actual silence from and toward the outside world.  The more reclusive I become the more attractive further seclusion grows.  I crave a larger city not for more society, but for greater anonymity.

The Bastard has, at last, cut contact without notice - an inevitable, not wished for, silence.  My prediction of phones that never answer now more literally true than intended.  Strange to have him alive in the world yet as though he is not; balancing those times when an actual death - the one permanent thing - manifests as mere temporary absence from the here and now.

The little one is rarely silent, but still wordless.  A noisy sort of silence.  When asleep the only sound the whirring of the fan and the crackle of the baby-monitor.  White-noise to soothe him and assure me of his continued existence.

And husband is playing chess.  A wooden set gives aesthetically pleasing life to his online world.

The future does not speak, nor the universe.  All is meaninglessness and I embrace it.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Perth - the things I need to say

At least half of my heart dwells thousands of miles away.  Thousands of miles which equate to days of travel costing thousands of unaffordable dollars... just to connect with half of my heart.  And the longer I am away from half of my heart, the more the distance grows.  Every day that I stay away, another connection grows weaker, another life moves on away from mine, another kindred-spirit risks tearing away from me forever.  Ghosts will gather in my heart and I will be left only with hauntings, severed cables dialling endlessly to lines that will never again be answered.

There are people who love this town.  I love some of the people who love this town.  And they can't understand why I hate it.  Yes, we are incredibly spoilt down here; the sunshine and the standard-of-living are difficult to find anywhere else on earth.  Yes, it is the place of my birth and my childhood.  But if I could have chosen my home-town, I would never have chosen this place.  For me the benefits, and the people I love who are attached to them, only make the pain worse - they are the things that keep me stuck here, they are both the gilding and the iron of my cage.  Some days, I wish for nothing more than to erase every memory of this place existing.

I am, against my will, tied to one of the most isolated cities on the planet.  And I cannot forgive this town for being that.

Some day we shall escape.  We shall find enough sunshine and enough money to sustain us on the other side of the world.  I will stay always with my closest loves, the core of my heart, my little family.  We will find a way to make a good life away from this hown-town which spoils us so cruelly.  I will reconnect with any segments of the half of my heart which remain intact.  And I will leave the other half of my heart behind... to tear, and sever, and fill me with different ghosts.