Thursday, February 26, 2009

trying to see the world another way

and now I understand why we see the grace in small things...

in my toddler's weetbix smeared grin
in the exotic flavour of crushed coriander seeds mixed with dry roasted macadamia nuts
in the way my body feels grateful and virtuous after yoga
in the satisfaction that comes from giving a birthday present I bought in plenty of time
in the giddy sensation of  nausea mixed with anticipation that permeates a spanking new Word doc.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

sift the ashes

I had a meeting with a director last week and when he asked how I was, I said; well, you know...these fires, I'm really disturbed by them.  He looked at me strangely and I said, trying to explain, well you's throwing me off kilter, I'm out of whack.

And then he laughed, but kind of to himself. And the thing is, I wasn't making a joke.

The news of those Victorian bushfires has completely whipped my ass. 

Thankfully our tv reception is up the shit so I couldn't watch the news but I sure as hell surfed the net every chance I got. I couldn't read anything except about the fires and God knows I couldn't write, except stuff about the fires or emails to friends who were involved in the fires or emails to other friends about what they thought about the fires.

And every night I would lie in bed thinking about my family and I dying in a burning car or house. 

And then, mid week, a shark attacked a navy diver in Sydney harbour (last shark attack five billion centuries previously or similar) and he lost a hand, and another shark attacked a surfer on BONDI BEACH for fuck's sake, leapt from the water and tried to knock him off his board I heard, whereas everyone knows you're more likely to be knocked over by some dickhead in a hoon car racing up Campbell parade. Bondi is like two beaches around from where C takes Tricky swimming every morning, so now those half sleep burning dreams were alternating with seeing my husband and baby mauled by sharks, and then there was the plane crash in Buffalo killing everyone including the widow of a guy who died in 9/11 and we're back to the burning again.

I don't know what it is, I emailed one friend, but it's really bad. i can't do anything, I can't write anything, I'm incapable of cleaning or doing anything practical and I'm eating heaps and heaps of sugar.

And then she reminded me how after the Bali Bombings I was afraid to drive through the Sydney Harbour Tunnel (not the bridge for some reason, bridge was ok) but I had a tv writing job at the time which meant I had to drive through that damn tunnel twice a day and the stress it caused me...

And also after 9/11, glued to the tv (we had reception at that house), existing in this sort of suspended horror, permanent hand clasped to face, but even beyond that natural and widespread reaction there was the same post trauma-from-afar paralysis, the same but what is the point in doing anything?

Another writer friend, embroiled in Producer Shit, has friends in Victoria who were among the lucky -  who felt the wind change and saw the fire front, their certain death, turn away from their house. My friend shrugged when I asked How The Writing's Going, meaning How's The Shit Fight Going and simply said: It makes all that seem fairly meaningless.

It's the random violence I tried to work it out with my friend who reminded me of the Bali Bombing reaction, I think I'm freaked by how Bad Shit Happens and there's nothing you can do to stop it happening to you.

There's no real ending to this because the way I respond to what happens around me is part of who I am. I remember kids (boys, two) in my English class used to tease me about the overly emotional in my Creative Writing assignments, quoting back to me innumerable ghastly sentences that i had written, inevitably involving a tear making its way down some child's grimy face. Maybe even then the Empathy Glands were secreting overtime.  I dunno, thinking back, it didn't seem such a fearful time but I guess I was only about 14 and my mother was still alive.

Is it realising how much you have to lose? Life? Those you love most? 

With Tricky, having wanted and wished and hungered for a baby so long, is it fear that he could be taken, as randomly or as seemingly capriciously as he (and any other potential sibling) was withheld?

Is it knowing grief; deep scarring, heart breaking, gut wrenching, for one person and then imagining that multiplied again and again and again, hearing not just the cries of the dying but those of the people they leave behind?

And is it all that, and the fact that last week and then again this morning  I had the first of the pre IVF screenings, my forty first birthday on the horizon, my clock ticking again but my mind not made up properly, not sure that this truly is what I be trying again, am i only doing this because i feel time running away from me, and i don't want to be left without a choice?

and am i not properly appreciating what i actually do have? 

when so many others have nothing?

when all that Random Violence roams the universe?

me, rubbed raw, stilled by other people's pain



eating way too much sugar.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

and then there's this

Alongside the terrible loss of human life has been the devastating effects on the animals - livestock and especially native animals like the slow moving koala. Friends have forwarded on emails describing the harrowing sight of koalas falling from the trees, as they drove through the fires.

This photograph, of the firefighter and the koala, was sent to me today.

Click here for the clip.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

burning and drowning

We went to Newcastle on the weekend to escape the heat. 

Just writing that makes me feel sick. 

The death toll for the fires in Victoria has passed 170, they're expecting it to top 200. 

I can't stop thinking about it, people dying in cars trying to get away, people dying in their houses trying to shelter from the flames, people dying with hoses in their hand trying to fight the fires. 

What happened to the preparations? 
How could so many people get it wrong? 
What about building bunkers or cellars to shelter in? 
We talk about it, shocked, unable to comprehend. 
There are always bushfires, everyone knows that, everyone how could this happen?

And then we hear 

about the ferocity of the flames, the speed, some people had ninety seconds warning, the black smoke that engulfed the roads everything went pitchblack, you couldn't see and people were panicking, the car crashes and the ember attacks -  showers of sparks and embers blowing against the house and windows, blown into every crack and crevice and then the windows exploded and the dying pets the children listening to their cats dying and the family who were well prepared who did everything right and built a cellar and everything 
and the fire came right over the top
and the neighbour watched as the house exploded
and we found them all dead in the cellar
and the couple who took their kids to the grandparents place and went back to their house to try and save it - and were killed, and the man who took his kids to their grandparents and lost them all...

we learn of escapes, the brother who went on his tractor to get his sister and seven kids and how it took two trips to race them back to safety, a family who sheltered in a wombat hole, a mother and her kids who stayed until the house was on fire then ran through the flames wrapped in wet towels and jumped into their dam, the people who ran from house to hose as one after another caught fire, a man and a woman losing everything and everything around them but their two children and they hold each other and stroke each other and smile

and we hold onto these stories, we cling to them, these bright spots of hope, these lucky escapes, because the dreadful finality of the other is incomprehensible

and one state above, the floodwaters are starting to recede and people there are saying but we're lucky because we're not in Victoria, we're lucky

we're lucky

Thursday, February 05, 2009

Mummy Is A Work In Progress

Yeah, so apparantly something else I need to add to the list of Things I Shouldn't Say To My Child is:

Everytime you run away from me like that another fairy falls down dead.

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Letter to a 30 Month Old Yes You Can Man

My darling Tricky

 This month you have managed to get quite an impressive handle on politely passive negatives (inherited from your mother I would guess)…

I don’t pink so…instead of: No. 

Let’s see how we go…instead of: Not Now

Mine don’t need it…instead of: actually I don’t want to do it at all, not one bit.

 Rather more worrying is another phrase you picked up this month, much worse than Daddy Is A Plonker and far less amusing. I don’t know where you first learned I can’t but it’s appearing quite frequently, delivered in a sort of frustrated whine, es

pecially when attempting to do something vaguely challenging like threading buttons or pushing playdough through the noodle extruder.  Yes you can, I chant back like some deranged Bob the Builder worshipper, and I help your little fingers to thread the button or extrude the noodles. I try to respond quickly to this because your next action is usually to fling to the floor whatever it is you can’t do. Yet another genetic trait inherited from your father along with hobbit feet and cheeky grins.

Most of all, we hear it in the bathroom because January has not only been the month of Ridiculous Heat it has also been the month of Big Boy Underpants.

Yes, for the record, toilet training has properly begun, with lots of urgent calls of  Mumma Wee Wee! interrupting  a game of trains or cars and ending, mostly, quite happily. The potty has been reinstated as an alternative to the toilet, the garden and the shower (when in tearing hurry). You are the king of Number Ones but so far Number Twos have whipped your butt so to speak, hence your polite refusals to perform on the toilet I can’t, no, no pank you, mine don’t need to do poos

How it makes me chuckle to think back to a conversation I had last year with another mother of a toddler, where I told her I thought we would “get the toilet training done in the week before Christmas.” Haw Haw. Your mother is a prat.

This morning you started daycare again after several weeks of being with either Mummy or Daddy or some other close family member like Aphwa or Aunty N. And so perhaps it should not have come as such a surprise when, after dawdling over your Weet-bix, you said rather nonchalantly: Mine don’t need to go to daycare today.

Yes, we said, smiling at each other, but we need you to go.

Mine don’t need to go to daycare, you said again, a little louder this time in case we’d failed to understand and then in a cheerful tone: where we go today Mumma? Mooseum?

We go to daycare today, I told you but there were no mor

e smiles. We buckled on your new sandals, we packed a spare pair of big boy undies and we bundled you and the two youngest Naughty Nephews into the car.

Off we go, we chirped in that maddening We Grown Ups Always Know Best tone as you frowned and tugged at your hair and refused to sing the National Anthem with me. (Have discovered it to be excellent lullaby and quite successful in sending you off to sleepy bobos.) And then, once at daycare, the waterworks began in earnest, the pouting lips and the angry screwed up eyes and buckets of tears cascading down from your cheeks and onto mine.  Your carer very sensibly took you by the hand and sent us packing, although I do admit to hovering outside the gate and peering through the slats of the fence to make sure you were ok. The tears had gone before we managed to close the gate but to be fair that gate has a very fiddly latching mechanism that takes all of …oh…ten seconds to complete.

January has seen you swimming at the beach with your Dadda, often beyond the waves much to your mother’s discomfort, suspended on your Noodle (not the play dough variety.) You kickaboo your legs and do your paddle hands and push the water away and you could do that all day, so much do you love the water and your dada and the sensation of floating self propulsion. You never say I can’t in the water. Although you do protest It’s Cold at times.

 You say: lie on my tummy Mumma and you giggle to yourself as I nod and yawn and say: ooh I’m so tired, is there a nice soft pillow somewhere? I position myself on your tummy and start to snore very loudly but before I can do the raspberry exhalation you laugh and squirm and bat at my head and then we laugh together for a while until I slyly manage to sneak the raspberry onto a bare patch of soft brown skin.

We go to the supermarket and you sit in the trolley with sultana bribes and help lob potatoes and miniature tins of baked beans over your shoulder. Once, you promised you would just walk…and instead you bolted from one aisle to the next with me in hot, embarrassed pursuit. And another time, carrying you against my chest, you wrapped your arms about my neck and held your cheek to my mouth and I whispered in your ear. And no actual shopping was done that day but the kisses were nourishing.

He’s still a baby, one of my friends gently noted the other day and I opened my mouth to protest, oh no he’s a big boy , to say how much you’ve grown and changed over the past months, but instead, seeing at your soft round cheeks and your wispy curling hair, I just nodded and smiled.

This afternoon, after daycare, all smiles again, we went to the beach and I looked with a sort of wonder at your footprints in the sand as you shrieked and ran to and fro from the waves.

Mine can run Mummy, round and round, mine can run!

And I thought yes you can, my big boy baby, running round and round, yes you can.


Love love love to infinity 

Your very own