Tuesday, November 30, 2010

For Sale: Thin Skin

Rejection is never fun.  Whether it's being picked last for lunchtime dodge ball or that boy who you thought liked you, but really doesn't... being told you're not good enough is no fun.  And whatever they tell you, just because something doesn't kill you, doesn't make it good for you. 

I had hoped that in December I would be able to share my joy with you all when I won my first ever writing competition, or in this case, a mentorship program with one Australia's peak writing bodies.

I had hoped to fast track my writing journey, to avoid the years of disheartening failures and rejections.  I had hoped that my unedited, uncontrolled and untrained writing would earn me a scholarship. I was obviously living in some fantasy land inhabited by talking rabbits and freakishly big headed gnomes.

You see, they're right to reject me.  But it still hurts.  But the thing is, it doesn't hurt as much as I thought it might.  I'm not crying into my pillow, nor have I drowned my sorrows in a generous glass of something fruity from the south island of New Zealand.  Instead, I'm hamming it up with you good people.

Before I embarked on this journey to become a writer one of my main concerns was that I take things very personally, hate confrontation and, let's be honest, just want to be liked.  None of these things hold me in particularly good stead to take on a career where the rejection rate is astronomical.

But my good friend Amanda, who actually is a writer and has given me the confidence to attempt this as a career (http://becomingafictionwriter.com/) told me that rejection is made a bit more palatable because it is rarely face to face, and usually comes via a letter, or in my case, a very polite but ultimately unhelpful email.

She was right.  I'm disappointed but not broken.  Chalk that one up to experience, and submit the work elsewhere.  Just because they didn't like it, doesn't mean the next publisher won't see its potential and send me a cheque for $10,000.

Well that's me for tonight, I have a prior engagement: my friend the talking rabbit has just poured me a glass of something yummy.

Monday, November 29, 2010

The Voice in My Head

The voice in my head is fierce. 

She is confident, articulate and ballsy.  She says what needs to be said, even if it is difficult and painful.  Especially if it is difficult and painful. 

She doesn't ramble or make excuses.  She can think on the spot.  She keeps her cool.  She is not afraid of confrontation.

She is everything I am not.  She is everything I wish I was.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Christmas Comes Early in the State of Commercialism

Our three and a half year old has been begging to put the Christmas Tree up ever since they appeared in the shops in mid June, or whenever the big chains had decided they had milked enough out of Easter and it was time to move onto the Festive Season.

So in early November, thinking we were being smart, we told her that when the Tree went up at daycare, we would put ours up.

The tree went up at Daycare the very next day.

So true to our word we hauled the Christmas Tree out of storage.  However, because our 10 month old is now crawling and trying to pull herself up on things, we thought it might be prudent to avoid the 6 footer with all its baby crushing ability, and simply put a small tree on a table. 

I hauled a decades worth of decorations out of the cupboard, thinking I would let the eldest child chose a few decorations to put on our tiny tree.  Silly old Mum, doesn't she know, there's no such thing as a three year old who can make a simple choice.

So now the tiny tree is groaning under the weight of practically every bauble, star, candy cane and novelty ornament we own.  Not to mention the Christmas lights that must be turned on every day, so the girls can stand/sit under it and admire the festivity.

Our final yuletide effort was the classic and classy 'Santa Stop Here' sign, now covered with a fine layer of sawdust, wedged into a pot of geraniums on the front verandah.  Santa can't really miss the house at the moment, it looks like a circus tent with its red and blue tarps.  It's probably visible from space.

The downside to this early Christmas cheer is that every time we walk past the Santa Stop Here sign, the three and a half year old gets sad that Santa hasn't been yet, and no amount of explaining the concept of mid-November versus late December is sufficient to satisfy.  It almost breaks my heart.

Oh well, I guess I can drown my sorrow in the Hot Cross Buns that should be out in the shops shortly after New Years.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Diary of a Voyeur

This could be me, or it could be you.  Let's call her Jane.

Jane wakes up and the first thing she does is peek out through the blinds at the neighbours who are having a row in the street.  The wife is in her pyjamas and her hair is a fright.  Jane smiles inwardly.

During breakfast, Jane scours the local papers, looking for familiar names and faces.

Jane takes her daily constitutional, walking briskly around the neighbourhood, eyes scanning the houses for anything of interest, while she keeps her head straight. There's no point advertising the fact she is peeking into houses.

Over morning tea, she peruses the real estate section of the paper, trying to imagine what life must be like in the picture perfect houses, silently judging them on their choice of decor. 

Online she enjoys the celebrity gossip pages, with the before and after pictures.  Over-inflated lips and dodgy boob jobs!  Really! Jane revels in the superior high ground.

She checks through her favourite blogs and websites, keeping up with the latest happenings.

On the way home, she can't help but stare when she sees two cars twisted at the side of the road, their occupants arguing about who is to blame.

While cooking dinner, Jane watches the news, but really only listens to the stories about people whose names she recognises.

With a glass of wine in one hand and remote control in the other, Jane channel surfs, stopping briefly to watch snippets of fat brides being yelled at by gym instructors, families with dozens of children and more on the way, medical shows with blood and gore, and extreme makeover shows.

Before she heads to bed, she selects a new book from her pile of biographies and autobiographies.

As a final thought, she sits down at her computer and logs into her blog, spilling all her secrets and thoughts to an unknown audience, who wait at their own computers for her to sate their own thirst for voyeurism.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Time Stops for No Mum

There is more than a grain of truth to the saying 'time flies when you are having fun' and even more in the saying [which I just invented] 'time stops when everything sucks'.

Yesterday three things happened. 

Firstly, nothing happened.  On the house that is.  All day the wind blew through the tarps, making them flap upwards a bit like a can-can dancer flashing her knickers.  Occasionally I thought there were men up there, walking on the roof.  But alas, it was just the wind and some rather alarmingly high stacks of roof tiles.  After all the action and progress of the first three weeks, this week has been rather quiet and lonely. 

Secondly, my eldest daughter turned three and a half.  So we threw an impromptu surprise party for her, complete with invitations, balloons, and party hats.  As Aunty C. pointed out, she is now halfway to 7.  Uncle N. followed this up by saying she is one sixth of the way to 21.  My baby can't be 21!

Thirdly, I went to Kindy orientation, as my baby, who is halfway to 7, will be going 'big school' in the New Year.  I still remember the day I found out I was pregnant with her.  I still remember the day she was born.  I remember the first day she crawled.  She can't be going to school already.

A friend and I stood in the Kindy playground last night, in the dark, discussing how we are fighting to slow time down.  With our eldest children off to school, and our youngest coming up to their first birthday in a matter of weeks, we can feel this special time slipping away.  The time of having a Baby.  Before they are walking and become toddlers.  Before they start throwing tantrums.  Before they start talking (and talking back).  While they still have those fat rolls on their thighs and they can still put their feet in their mouths.  Before they have a mouth of teeth.  While you still count their age in months, not years.

So a plea to keeper of time, speed up the building process, but slow down the aging process.  I'd like to keep my baby for a bit longer please.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Renovate or gestate?

Last night I stood in my new bedroom.  Sure, it didn't have walls or a ceiling.  Or a bed.  But it actually looked like a room and felt like a room and it was very exciting. 

There wouldn't be much privacy should you want to spend the night, because the tarps no longer fit over the top much like clothes no longer fitting over your tummy when you are 9 months pregnant, but after only two and a half weeks, there is now a recognizable house up there.

After a painfully long conception (I'm just going to keep on with the pregnancy analogy) while we battled with the local council about what we were and weren't allowed to do (no designer baby for us), things have happened rather quickly.  I guess this is like 'showing' early on in pregnancy. 

But I am prepared for the fact that it probably is all show at the moment, and the rest of the build will drag on forever. 

The first few weeks have been sheer hell, the noise and stress and frustration is the home renovators' version of morning sickness.  Being woken early, not by nausea but by the sounds of tarps blowing in the wind or the sound of an air compressor starting outside the window.

Then I imagine we will enter the second trimester.  The house will begin to look like a house.  People will begin to compliment us on how well it looks.  The final payment won't yet be due, so it won't be so unwieldy that we can no longer walk (or afford food).  We will feel energised as we can imagine the finished product and what colours we should decorate it with.

Then we will hit the final trimester.  The interest repayments will begin to swell up, and we will start retaining discount vouchers and coupons in order to save money.  Instead of screaming 'get this baby out of me' I will be screaming 'give me a hammer and a paintbrush... let me up there!'

Finally will come the day we can move in.  We will think it's all finished and done, but it won't be.  Instead of nappies and breastfeeding, there will be carpeting and painting.  But until that day, I can continue to look forward to sleeping in my new bedroom, one storey closer to the stars, a new addition that will change our family forever.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Disappointment is a Dirty Word

What is the worst thing about disappointment?  The frustration or the powerlessness?

The frustration is what makes you angry.  The powerlessness is what makes you sad. Or lethargic. Or depressed. 

Right now, I'm angry.  It's all so unimportant really, in the scheme of things.  Trying to sort out kindy days and day care days and uni classes.  Hardly world peace or developing a new type of green fuel that will change the world. 

But the thing is, it IS my world.

First I was disappointment by daycare, who couldn't manage to find places for my two girls on the same days.  But at least I got places.

Then I was disappointment by kindy, which despite a very specific phonecall to confirm which days my (to be) 4 year old will attend next year, has seen fit to change them.  Now kindy days and daycare days and my uni classes all clash. And I am powerless to change them.

And I am disappointed, because this is my life right now.  My eldest child attending Kindy and my baby starting daycare so I can return to university to Become A Writer.  This is my life. 

And something will have to give.

Monday, November 15, 2010

How to Sleep Like a Baby

'So where exactly is your baby sleeping?', the nice builder man asked me.  We had a plan of the house in front of us, and I jabbed at the corner of her bedroom where her cot was located.

'Oh that'll be ok then', he said.  'At worst, some plaster might come down on her change table though...'

For some inexplicable reason, my 10 month old had decided to go back to sleep after her morning feed.  The same 10 month old who is not normally known for her predilection for sleeping, had fallen asleep and stayed asleep during the most incredible noise - men walking on the roof, throwing tiles, air compressors, hammering, shouting...

We had been told that we should make ourselves scarce this week, as the roof was fully removed, the air conditioning uninstalled and reinstalled, and the new floor hammered into place.  'It might be a bit loud', they had told us.  'You might want to get the kids out'.

No worries.  Last night I had packed the portacot, the laptop, a basket of clothes and nappies and toys, three meals for the baby and one for me, and I had planned on abandoning ship long before 7.30am. 

The only thing I had forgotten was to tell the baby. 

And so she was sleeping, like the proverbial baby.  In a room that was literally shaking as the men hammered posts outside her window, and removed the roof from above her head.  There was dirt showering down on her ceiling, and circles of sunlight showed around her light fittings.

Maybe that is the secret to a sleeping baby. Noise and lots of it.  Either it creates a sense of nostalgia of sounds from inside the womb.  Or perhaps she was awake and crying all the time and I simply couldn't hear her over all the noise.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

My house as a ship

I came home today and the roof had disappeared, replaced by billowing red and blue tarps, attached tentatively to my house by a few ropes.

Even in the modest breeze it feels like a gale is blowing and it sounds like... actually I don't really know how to describe the hollow, ominous noise of dozens of massive tarps flapping and whipping in the wind.  When the wind rises and the tarps blow up, I can actually see the skeleton of my house.  I feel so vulnerable and unprotected.

With the massive scaffolding surrounding my house like a metal and wood rigging, and the tarps filling like sails, I can imagine the house literally floating away in the next stiff breeze.  It's all very Peter Pan.

I just hope that this particular adventure is not one of the 'ever-after' sorts, and we get to keep our feet on the ground.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Technology is making me backwards

I realise that what I am about to write could well raise the ire of those of you without a dishwasher.  I am well aware that there are many many people way less fortunate than me who make do without fancy technology, many who make do without electricity.  Or houses.

But today my dishwasher broke and it cannot be fixed for a few days.  Therefore I will have to get my hands wet and dirty and wash dishes the old fashioned way.  In the sink.  With my hands.  Having lived in a house with a dishwasher for five years now, it has been a while since I have had to wash dishes by hand.

(Of course, there was the six weeks earlier this year where I was washing dishes in the bath tub when our kitchen was being redone, but that probably doesn't count.  Actually, it's something I prefer not to think about.)

My point though, is not to moan that I might have to do some actual work, but to point out that there are basic skills we are losing because technology is there to do it for us.  And our children will not know any different.

The Blonde Bombshell, at three and a half, knows how to load and unload a dishwasher.  She knows how to fill the washing machine, where to put the detergent, and which buttons to press to start a load*.  She knows how to put a DVD in the machine and turn the TV on.  She knows how to use a computer and how to send text messages on a mobile phone (I didn't teach her that!).

And I guess it is my job as a mum to make sure she grows up knowing how to wash dishes properly by hand, how to cook a meal from scratch, how to build a cubby out of chairs and old sheets, how to make paper mache and how to amuse herself without staring at the TV or relying on computers and electronic gizmos. 

I guess she needs to learn to be a kid 'like in the olden days'... when we used to catch lizards after school, and use an old icecream bucket of water to paint the fence or driveway.  When we could spend an entire weekend building a mini golf course in the backyard out of nothing more than plastic piping and bits of wood (thanks Dad xxx).  Where a grassy slope and old cardboard box made for a rollercoaster and some borrowed props and plenty of imagination made for a crowd-pleasing variety show.

So in the spirit of technology-free childhoods, I guess it will be acceptable if we eat off paper plates for the next few days.  Picnics in the backyard and tea parties on the floor.  Nothing to do with the fact that I don't want to wash dishes, you see, just making it fun for my children!

*Before the overly concerned amongst you call Child Protective Services, I am NOT using my daughter as child labour.  She's just a very useful engine**

**Yes, I am aware my child is not actually a train.  She is a human being.  She just likes Thomas the Tank Engine and being told she is helpful.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Mother Love

For the past few days it has been just my baby and I, the two of us in our own little world while her big sister is at Grandma's and Daddy was away.  The house has been quiet and we have spent many hours on the floor as she learns to crawl and begins to explore an increasingly larger space.  I have been falling in love with her over and over again. 

It almost hurts, the love I feel for my children.  There is a fierceness there that doesn't exist in any other type of love, mixed with tenderness, and pride, and fear.  The exquisiteness of this type of love has been beautifully portrayed by Lilly Blue at http://www.littleboattree.com/2010/11/held.html and the ache doesn't go away just because the child is absent.  Or being annoying.

Yesterday I watched my two beautiful daughters at a family gathering, and I couldn't have been more proud.  I may be falling apart, wrinkling, spreading, with soggy biscuit on my cardigan and in need of some TLC, but my children are so perfect, so bright and sparkling and through them I feel renewed.  Purposeful.

I wish I could bottle this feeling of right now, so I can bring it out again and again, as the girls become tweenies, and teenagers and hopefully one day mothers themselves.  I write because it is the closest thing I have to recording a feeling, or capturing an emotion, to remind me of how it feels when things are still new, and bright and sparkling. 

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

It's hot out there

I currently have two, half naked young men, liberally covered in tattoos lounging on my front verandah.  Some of you may think I am the luckiest girl in the world, others may shudder at the thought.

Today the scaffolding is being erected: a great spider web of concrete covered metal attached to my house. 

There have been a lot of alarming sounds, from small metal objects pinging against the windows, to the thud of heavy wooden beams being dropped on bricks, and what sounds like war cries coming from the guys as they stand on my roof.  The three and a half year old Blonde Bombshell tells me they are 'hurting the house'.

It's the hottest day in months, at least 38 degrees.  Neither of them have hats or sunglasses... or clothes apparently.  Their shorts - commonly known as stubbies - are not leaving much to the imagination.  Their lack of shirts mean we can see their dragon 'drawings' all over their arms and backs, which the Bombshell finds quite fascinating.

But despite their otherwise apparent lack of sun-sense, I did see one of them liberally slather himself in suncream, which the Bombshell pointed out to me.  She said she was very proud of him.  Being about nineteen years of age, I doubt the compliments of a preschooler impressed him much.  But perhaps it means that tomorrow he might be wearing a shirt!

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Please stop hitting my car

Don't get me wrong, I like old people.  I even plan on being one myself one day. But please hear me those of you who are youth-challenged:  if someone is standing in front of you in a car park, waving their hands to STOP, and asking you to reverse your car, it doesn't mean go forward. 

The brake is the one in the middle, or possibly on the left if you have an automatic.  It is NOT the one on the right (well, it possibly is if you are in a country other than Australia).

I have had a very bad year when it comes to cars.  Things keep hitting me.  First it was hail stones the size of walnuts that took out one side of the car.  Then it was a caterer in a teeny little van who rear ended me on the way home from the shops - he took out the bumper and all the rear chassis. 

Then, when my car was in the shop being fixed, my mum allowed me to drive her car.  Two days later I was the front car in a three car pile up, where Mr P-Plater slammed into Ms Beetle and pushed her into Mum's Car. 

Today as I was loading my car with some groceries, a little old lady in her old lady car attempted to park in my car space.  It's the only explanation for why she ended up scraping the side of her car against my wheel rim (thank heavens for rubber rim protectors).

She didn't even seem to notice.  Not even when I tapped on her bonnet and said 'Stop!  You have hit my car, please reverse'.  She began moving forward!  This lady is why elderly drivers get a bad name. 

I did keep my cool, which is a change.  The last time someone hit me I yelled at them.  The first time someone hit me I almost cried.  This time I planted myself between my car and hers while she make her second attempt to park.  In hindsight, perhaps that wasn't the wisest thing to do considering her dubious ability. 

And after she parked, I watched her get out of the car and scurry away into the shops.  Not a word, not an apology, not a care that she had damaged her car. 

I let her go.  My car was fine.  But I didn't tell her she had parked illegally in a loading zone, so maybe karma will sort her out.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Waiting for God Knows What

It's the waiting that gets you.  The not knowing. 

Today, allegedly, is the first full day of our new building project.  I say allegedly, because it's almost 10.00am and the only the thing that has happened is that our neighbour occasionally sticks his head out to see if anything interesting is happening.
It's not.

More than 18 months ago, literally a lifetime ago, my husband and I sat down and decided we would add some rooms upstairs.  We are planning for the distant future, when we have two (or possibly three?) teen aged children.  I remember being a teenager.  I was hideous.  And there is no way I want to be sharing a bathroom with two (or possibly three?) hideous teenage girls.  My husband doesn't even like sharing a bathroom with them now.

And let's be honest, they won't be moving out before they're 30.  I don't see how anyone will be able to afford houses in the future, so assuming that we will be sharing the house with multiple offspring, boyfriends and girlfriends, hangers-on, cousins, aunties, exchange students and the inevitable dog, I will need at least a few more walls separating me from them.  And my own bathroom.

I won't be naming the company we engaged, just in case this whole process is all too much and I start slandering them accidentally on purpose.  But today was meant to be the first day on site.  I was expecting truck loads of tradies, mountains of materials, a chorus of curses and a glamorous porta-loo to converge on our property and start building my new life.  Nothing. 

You know the scene from Westerns, where the birds circle overhead in complete silence.   That's us.

I don't know why I am so surprised.  It's not as though anything has gone smoothly up to this point (but that's the subject of another post).  Yet I continue to hope, and I continue to wait.  Hopefully I will have something to report soon. 

(5 second later)

My god!  There is a man outside my window. And yes, it is a builder and not some random peeping tom. Talk about heart attack. 

And that, dear readers, is why we must never lose hope.
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...