Impatience

It’s easy to get impatient about all of this.  To get up and get going in your day and only be aware of the Next Thing that you are meant to be doing.  The Next Thing is hanging there all Damocles-like because you’d rather be doing Your Thing instead.  And every day that you’re not doing Your Thing means that the Next Thing could kill you and you’d NEVER get to do Your Thing.

But the bait is there, to just keep doing the Next Thing and you’ll be rewarded someday.  Some.  Day.

But that day isn’t today.  Not.  Today.

Today, you are expected to just keep doing the Next Thing and keep your mouth shut.

So… it’s easy to get impatient about all of this.  Because you’ve probably never been encouraged to just do Your Thing and say, “Fuck it.” to everything else.

Today, say “Fuck it.” to everything else, and go do Your Thing.

Go.

Making a Really Fkn Good Salad

There was a time in my life when, if someone asked me about eating salad, I would’ve responded, “Always do!  I pop that sprig right into my mouth just before I dig into the steak.”

Nowadays, I still don’t make it the Entire Meal, but it can certainly be a star.  This is the one I make with cheap and nearby ingredients.

First, go to your favourite Green Grocer and don’t buy this shit at Coles or Woolies.  The Big Boys probably spray it with Killyadeads or Cancerstarters and the Little Guys need all the help they can get.  Plus, they’re more likely to have locally-grown produce instead of garlic grown in a camp in China, fertilised with human excrement and then bleached white to hide it’s poo faults.

One head of Cos Lettuce.  In Americaland, we called it “Romaine” and I’m still not convinced it’s the same shit.  But this is the one you can get at the GG and it’s yum on sandwiches too.

Two tomatoes.  Go ahead and buy them by the bag if you go through them quickly like we do, and keep them for sandwich use as well.  Go sandwiches!

One capsicum.  In Americaland, we called ’em “Bell Peppers” or even just “Peppers” but that’s kind of dumb really.  Get a green one if you like paying less and hiding the fact that they’re in there from your 5-yo who has no reason not to like them other than she’s sometimes a turdface.  Really only using a half of one, but the rest can be saved for the orphanage.  Totally kidding!  Screw the orphans, use it for your sandwiches!

One cucumber.  The cheap ones, not necessarily the “Burpless” ones.  Yes, that’s what they’re called and they fkn rock in sushi, but in salads and Orphan Haters… I mean, sandwiches, you won’t know the difference.  Plus, they soak up spices like the tomato does, so are useful in ways that will probably get you laid.  You’ll only use about a quarter of it, so save the rest to use when you despise the poor yet love easy-make sandwiches!

One packet of basil.  I used to say “bay-zil” with the flat American “a”.  Then I must’ve heard it said “bah-zil” enough times to start calling it that, but wife makes fun of me every time I say it that way because she says it “bay-zil” without the American-ness.  You’ll only pluck a few leaves off, maybe 4 or 5, but you can use the rest for… something else.  Probably not sandwiches, unless you are Super Crazy.  Mostly, I bag the rest up and freeze it and will use it in a Thai and Lime salad that I’ll show you later.

One carrot.  Cheapest veg you can buy and SO versatile.  I buy it by the bag for cheaper than ONE FREAKIN’ CAPSICUM.  Bloody hell.  Anyway, get a cheese grater, the kind with the Big Holes, and prepare thyself for Salad Awesome.

Extra Virgin Olive Oil.  If you’re cooking, I mean even preparing meals, you need the 12 litre bottle in the pantry with the little 300ml glass bottle with dandy spout that you refill.  This shit goes in EVERYTHING and if you differ in opinion with me on this, then close this browser window, go out into the driveway, open the car door, then put your head in it and bang it shut on your head a few times.

Why “extra” virgin?  I don’t know.  For some reason, they wanted to use olives that haven’t even been kissed before.  Like, they’ve never even seen a picture of a Boy Olive’s penis, not even in Sex Ed class with all the other olives.  Shit is good though, use it in everything or do the car-door trick now.

One Lemon.  Not as cheap as they should be, and you can certainly use the $1.49 bottle of Chemically-Made Lemon Juice of Laboratory Acids, but it’s not as good, surprisingly.

Ready?  GO, GO, GO!

1) Pull out about 4 big leaves off the lettuce.  Trim the thick and tasteless white bottom, then give a nick to the top of the leaves where they’re kind of burnt-looking.  Then give ’em a rinse under the tap and shake ’em out, because I swear on your mother, I found a still-wriggling Lettuce Bug in that shit once right before it hit the bowl.  I’ve never told my wife this, so don’t you tell her either.

Lay the leaves in a stack, then run your Serrated Knife of Awesome up the middle, then lay one stack on top of the other and do it again, effectively quartering them.  Then slice at about 2cm thick all the way up.  Chuck ’em in the bowl to get a start on this salad and really feel your chest swell up with Cheffitude.

2) Get that Huge-Holed Grater (and make all the jokes you can about that one girl in High School) and grate the entire carrot into the bowl.  If you just press the carrot into the grater, it’ll probably snap or be really hard and piss you off.  Hold it at a slight downward-pointing angle.  Also, only really push in when you’re pushing down, instead of pushing in all the time.  If you scrape down and pull the carrot away before placing it at the top of the grater again, you’ll make much less mess than just running the damn thing up and down and up and down.  Friggin’ bits of carrot get EVERYWHERE, and when they dry they look like bloody goblin eyelashes and that’s friggin’ gross.

3) Cut the capsicum in half, then pull the stem and all that weird packing-foam white shit out, bang the thing against your hand to get all the seeds out.  Then slice it every 1cm or so until you have a pile of { thingos.  Then slice those again, 1cm, and put that in the bowl.

4) Cut about 5 inches of cucumber off the main Phallus, make a few dick jokes to your wife, in code of course if the children are listening.  Claim that you spoiled her to the children, a joke they won’t get, then slice it down the middle into two halves.  Lay them next to each other and slice them lengthwise into quarters, and more if you’ve got a REALLY big one.  Cucumber, that is.  I’m not talking about your penis.  You might not even have one.  Weird, but it happens.  Then cut into half-inch sections (or smaller depending on how much you like the crunch and/or despise Dick Jokes) and chuck ’em in the bowl.  Feel free to continue making Dick Jokes, because that’s allowed.

5) Cut the tomatoes in half down the middle from the top, cutting that gross little Tomato Anus right in the middle.  Then, go in at a slight angle and “notch” around the Anus on either side and pull it out.  What’s that?  You’ve got a Tomato Coring Tool?  Why the farts are you reading this then?  You’re so awesome you should write your own blog.  Now eff off.

Once the asshole is removed, from the tomato not your kitchen, then sliced the half in half, down the top, then lay it on it’s side and slice in half lengthwise.  Then turn it and cut it in 1cm cubes pretty much.  I like to save this bit for last usually, because it makes your cutting board look like a bad Horror Movie about diseased hookers, but if you do it now it gives you a chance to rinse it before the BAH-zzil and forget about the hooker joke.  Dump ’em in.

6) Get a proper knife now, as the serrated one is going to make your basil look like Swamp Thing’s boogers instead of little bits of tasty awesome.  Just dice the shit out of it, up and down and up and down, nice neat little chops.  Scrape that into the salad bowl.

7) Grab the Never Even Masturbated Olive Oil, and give a swirling pour around the bowl.  Make 2 passes and get about a tablespoon in there.  OH!  And the lemon.  Cut that in half and squeeze one half onto your fingers, letting the juice dribble through to the bowl but leaving the seeds and crap behind.  Or just pop the top on your Lab Creation Juice and squeeze a couple teaspoons in there.

8) Mix the shit out of that bastard.  Toss it like you’re in prison.  Spin it and throw it and feel the fresheness that’s so fresh it washes your goddam soul.

Now this is kid-friendly.  They can get those crap dressings to put on it, even a squeeze of friggin’ ketchup or mayo, or they can get nutty with Paul Newman’s dressing and you can invoice them for the next bottle if they don’t like it.

Once the kids are served, you can pop open a tiny can of tuna that’s always on sale at the end of the aisles.  Lemon Pepper, or Sweet Chili or Hides Nasty Fish Smell flavoured, they’re all good.  Open one up and dump it in.

OR cut up a few slices of deli ham, or if you’re a povvo bum like me, buy the yarmulka-looking ends off those huge logs of meat they slice at the meat counter.  They usually sell it wicked cheap compared to the actual meat, so they’re a killer deal.  I chop up a half of one of those and dump it on the salad and BAM!  It’s a fully-loaded meal.

9) Bowl up.  Then get your fancy pepper, the one with the grinder in the lid, and use liberally.  The pepper parties with the basil in ways that erase all of the pristine qualities of that Olive Oil, no question.

Also a sprinkle of salt, if you’re so inclined, or some Grated Parmesan Cheese.  Yeah, I know it smells like that sock you forgot in your football locker over the summer, but used conservatively on this salad, and it’ll make you sing things.

That’s it.  You can make a friggin’ Healthy As F*ck salad that the kids’ll like (shhhhh, the capsicum is our little secret) and dress as they please, and then you can Jazz The Shit out of it for you and Wifeage, even slicing some chili peppers in there or some Kalamatta Olives.  If it makes a child whine like a broken fan, then you’ll probably like it.

This serving size is good for up to 4 kids, as a side, and 2 adults, as a main.  That’s provided, of course, that you’re okay with putting a slice or two of ham or fried chicken on it.  The can of tuna works too, but is so healthy I almost feel guilty about what it might mean to my heart the next time I eat a Whopper.

Days Don’t End Better

I’ve just gotten his nappy off in front of the tub.  I’ve carried him in here, happily coated in pasta sauce, trying not to get any on me, stood him up in front of the bathtub and announced, “It’s bath time!”  He’s ecstatic.  He’s working his little feet back and forth like it’s Dance Party USA.  I get his nappy off and he steps up to the edge of the tub, one hands his doodle, and pisses all over the bath mat.

In retrospect, his nappy felt incredibly empty for being on so long.  He’s always had a penchant for pissing as soon as it’s off.  These are good things, I tell myself, that mean it’ll be easier to potty train him.

His next biggest sister comes in behind me while I’m wrestling him into the water.  For as much as he Fuckin’ Loves Baths, he’s always funny about the water until he gets used to it.  Before you think you’re smarter than me, I’ve tried different temperatures and depths.  It’s just how he is.

His sister is standing behind me, hovering.  I hate when they do that.

“WHAT.” I say.  It’s not a question, it’s a challenge.

“I just…”, she thinks about it.  She’s been contrary and challenging all day, all week, and she can tell by my tone that she better come up with something good or I’m going to land on her like a pile of friggin’ bricks.

“I just like to watch Boo play in the bath!” she says chirpily.  She thinks that by chirping I’ll be more tolerant.

I’ve got my knees in piss, my was-clean Bonds shirt is now caked in pasta sauce and veg, I’m wrestling shampoo into the eyes of a kid that just wants to fucking play and me to leave him the hell alone, I haven’t had dinner yet because I’ve spent the entire afternoon trying to get wife’s computer internetted, a report ready for a committee meeting that I missed because I wasn’t told the new time, teaching chess to the maniacs at my kids’ school and braving Kmart to get some phone wire to finally, finally, internet wife’s machine.

Dinner’s late because dishes weren’t ready because shit is sometimes everywhere and whenever it seems that I’ve got enough of a gap to get the pasta boiled and the salad chopped, Boo shits.  The older kids can’t seem to exist for 5 minutes without needing to ask me something OMG RIGHT THIS MINUTE and then spill dinner down their selves while trying to watch tv, despite the 864 times I’ve said “hold your food over your plate, regardless of what your head is doing…”

I’m not in the mood for chirpy.  I want left the hell alone.  I say so, nicely, and she backs out of the bathroom and pulls the door shut.

Surprisingly, nobody disturbs us after that.  I’m able to bathe the Boo and he is annoyed at me, but clean.  He then stands proudly in the tub and grasps his doodle, like a challenge.  With memories of the scar on both his brother and sister’s foreheads from bath taps, I tell him to sit down.  He does.  For about 45 seconds, then he stands again, an impish grin on his face.

I give him The Look.  I point at him, then I point downwards at the tub.  He grins even wider in recognition, and sits. Happily.

Finally, the kids are in bed and I’m seeking escape from the absolute fuck of a day that I’ve had, the end of which was heralded by me spilling a jar of turps on my crotch. Sometimes, the best you can do is just get to bed as quickly and quietly as possible, with zero expectations.

I lay down in bed, nearly luxuriating, and wife comes in to ready her side for nocturning. I tell her a little bit of my feelings towards this day, she sympathises. Then I open up the apptop and find this hidden inside:

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It reads, “To maick love out of you” which I have interpreted to mean to make somebody happy using love. If you can see clear enough, that’s the boy and the girl (whether that’s me and 5-yo daughter or me and wife, I haven’t figured out) and they’ve got thought bubbles in the shape of hearts, with the top one that says “I wish” for each, and the one below has a picture of the other person in them. They’re thinking love thoughts, you see, about each other.

Here’s the inside:

Inside of Jade Card

The left side is her holding my hand with “I love you Dad” above us. The middle has a heart, with one half her and the other half me, and if you can see closely enough, the line between our eyes is Love Rays, with the word “love” above each of our heads. The right reads “I hope you love me” and has her on a chair with me in front of her.

Now, if read wrong, it could be interpreted as heartbreaking, that this little girl would need to live in confusion as to my love for her. That’s not what she meant though, I’m confident of that. It’s just her… way of writing. It’s like poetry.

Here’s the back:

“Love is the best” with a big heart overlapping a small heart. They look like they’re hugging.

Wife watched me open and read this, and then looked at it herself. One of those moments where you don’t need to say anything. You don’t need words for how this feels, because there aren’t any.

This city life

A fluffy, perfectly-storybook cloud drifts across the sky, low on the horizon, at the perfect angle to get caught up in the top of a formidable gum tree.  I feel that familiar desire lurching in my chest.  I need to live in the country.

The barbed wire on top of the chainlink fence immediately below the picturesque scene reminds me of where I currently live.  Not just in the city, but in a part of the city where a school so routinely gets vandalised that the budget was expended to give it these prison accoutrements.

Depressing, if you think about it, so I don’t.

It’s a beautiful and sunny morning, and the temperature reminds you that it’s the perfect time of year, when a jacket is only slightly too much and a singlet and boardies only slightly too little.  Jeans are fine, shorts are fine, sandals are fine, boots are fine.  The weather is fine.

The short walk to the park involves yet another freestyle song to an original tune.  If I had a guitar and a recording contract right now, I’d change the way you feel about your radio.  It matters little that the song is about my baby boy’s toes and the way his hair curls and that he enjoys sampling the tree bark surrounding our homepark.  The song may or may not involve the concept of a good poo and cartoons too.  To be perfectly honest, I don’t remember.  *Sigh* Goodbye record deal.

Neighbours we recognise are already at the park, and I secretly love when this happens as much as I love it when they leave and it’s just me and the Boo and my writing.

The nice man with the little girl, who is almost Boo’s exact age, comes over.  “Ahhh… babee guhl!” he says animatedly to my little boy.

He gestures to his little girl, “Go… seesteh… seesteh!”

“Uhm… brother,” I say clearly.

He looks at me with surprise, “Bruzzuh?”

Then he shrugs, “My English… not good.”

I tell him it’s fine, and then I remember Wifeage telling me that, in the Chinese culture, they usually start cutting the boy’s hair quite early, and they keep it quite short for a while.  Only girls have long hair, which would explain why Boo keeps getting called “baby girl” by the Chinese greengrocer we love, Jimmy.

The little girl is fascinated with Boo, and frightened by me.  She moves in to kiss him and he runs away giggling.  Quite a pair.

As I’m struggling to learn from the man how to say his daughter’s name, which I still don’t know other than it sounds a LOT like “goodbye” in Mandarin (tze-deyon?), I turn to see that Boo is accosting the little boy on his bike.  The kid isn’t much older than Boo, maybe 3 or 4, but he rides the tiniest of bikes like a champ.  He’s sitting in his little Buzz Lightyear helmet, staring bemusedly at Boo, who is spinning the crossbar pad around and around while staring with fascination at the training wheels.

“Anything with wheels, he LOVES, ” I say to the boy’s mother.

She squints in the sun at me from beneath her headwrap, a symbol of her Islamic faith I’m guessing, and says in slightly-accented, but perfect, English, “Oh him too!  He’s always loved anything that moves, with wheels.  Anything that rolls!”

Her little boy has escaped Boo’s interminable examinations of his bike and is speeding away up the footpath and his mother leans around me to call out to him, “Hockena sheel a la biddy biddy biddy!”

I marvel, as I do, at the way bilingual folk can seamlessly switch, and look on with envy.  As I watch my little bulldog of a kid stomping around the playground, I wonder if I should get better at speaking my limited dirty Mexican around them.  I’m still undecided as to whether or not it will provide appropriate benefit to them to ask someone in Spanish if they just farted, or if they just smell that way.

The cloud has long since moved away, and the new angle I’m sitting at sees more of them coming in off the coast instead of crossing out over the hills.  There are more, and they are beautiful.  My little boy stomps up, shoves my hands off of the keyboard and puts his arms up. Time for a cuddle.  As I hold him close and breathe deep of him, I can almost feel the country life happening here.

I turn him to point at the clouds and for the briefest instant we’re both taken there before the bin truck roars around the nearest corner and the brakes scream in protest of their daily flogging as it pulls to a stop across the street. Something robotic then does what a man used to do not long ago before it roars to life again and travels another 30 metres.

We live in a circle.  Our street, our lives.

And sometimes the bin truck stays for too long.

A Moment

Just a typical morning here in the ‘burbs.  Older two trundle off to school, littlers with me.  One on my shoulders, chattering happily about how the car in the driveway we just passed has “magic glass” and how it’s made from magic and glitter and sandman’s sand and it takes bad dreams away.

She made it, she tells me, using “glass magic” that she could tell me about but it’s a secret.  Littlest blows raspberries and amuses himself by dripping the juice from his sippy cup onto his vegemite toast.  When I pick him up later, I will get to deal with a soggy, sloppy mess and a hungry child.  He’s happy enough.

Oldest was feeling the usual trepidation, stomach troubles, nervousness and anxiety that has plagued most of his short life.  It’s Thursday, so it’s his guitar lessons that he fears.  He’s the only scholarship student left in the program and feels isolated.  He has also forgotten to practice every week for the past 13 weeks.  Except last night.  I remind him of this, his head lifts, and I remind him as well of the flawless way he performed “Twinkle Little Star” for his sisters, without even looking at the guitar.  His chest puffs up and he announces proudly to me, “Ya know, I think this might be the first time I’m not nervous about going to guitar lessons!”

Oldest girl was running quite late, just one of those days that are all-too-common where I go to bring her a jumper and find her playing with her Monster High dolls.  If everything is going to distract her from her mission this morning, at the very least she is willing to attempt to entertain the toddler while he whinges at my ankles as I make their lunch.

No matter now though, and no unnecessary stress.  They are all at school, lunches packed and ready to be eaten, clothes clean and properly adorned, and I am here, in this cute and quiet park, watching my little brute stomping around an empty playground as if he owns the place.

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An icy wind is hiding in the leeward side of the sunshine, but I believe it to be human nature to take a day such as this and say “F*CK YOU WINTER” and soak in as much warmth as is available.  I have just been toddled into for a nice cuddle, the reason for which would appear to be for warmth alone, as the second his fingers had lost their chill he clambered off and scampered away, yelling, “Doh Dah DAH!” at a nearby crow.

It’s moments like this that used to freeze me with anxiety and even fear as I would picture the day, the events ahead of me, even if they were only as huge as “going to work” or “going to a client meeting”.  While I don’t have anything dreaded on my calendar today, this week, this month, and there is conversely nothing terribly exciting either… I still find it incredibly freeing to be able to look at a day like this, a moment like this, and feel appreciative it for what it is.

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At some point in your day, take a moment for what it is and appreciate it.  You won’t regret it.

Birthday Cards

Jade’s going through a phase lately where she makes cards.  At some point somebody, probably me, taught her how to fold a bit of paper in half and then make a “little book” out of it.  We encouraged her to make one or two here and there for Christmas and cousins birthdays, and now she does them all the time.

Every day.  Several times a day.  Seriously.

Like someone turning on a light, her reading suddenly became ‘actual’ reading instead of ‘I figured out what they were doing in the picture and guessed really well’ reading.  About that same time her cards started taking on a real creative quality to them.  Her drawings got such incredible detail that now the fairies have love-heart-shaped hair clips and are clearly winking with one eye (and possible have false lashes on, but I didn’t press the point).

As with most things Jade, it evolved, and did so in way that was completely unexpected, and magical and wonderful and aboslutely f*cking hilarious.

There is a stack of cards near me, too many to put up here, but I thought I’d start this off with her latest and get back on this blogging pony.

The Front Page

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The curly-script writing is something her mum taught her, in one of those throw-away-5-second, here this is neat, sessions. As she does, she now does it to EVERYthing. The top apparently reads, “I Made This”.

It really says, “Imad-tres” but if you’re writing to fairies, they’ll understand it. So will meth addicts.

Underneath that is Flying Mummy the Fairy. On her dress is a light, a counter, a candle with some fire and the little blue square thing is her wand that has a lovely spell-helper spirit that lives inside it.

I love that the rest of us have to remain ground-bound while mum flies around in a magically-awesome dress. She’s winking too, as if to say, “Be good to me sugah, or I’ll fix yo’ ass with my little smiling wand of bitchslap.”

Underneath that, is her sister who is so happy to see her cake that she’s screaming. On the bottom right is me, in the kitchen (where I spend a lot of time) with a pan on the stove that has heat coming up. I have my arms in the air and my real-man armpit smell is coming up into my face. I am also screaming “Happy Birthday!” and “Awgawd” about my arms.

I also love that Georgia’s party hat also looks like some sort of alien that’s cheerily glooped its way onto her head to suck out her Life Force. Once again, mummy flies as a Fairy Queen while Daddy slaves in the kitchen. WTFMATE. I was smelling my own armpits only yesterday and telling her that I smell like a man, so I’m pleased that made it in.

The cake… check out the flames on the cake. Jade is FIVE and she drew different coloured/types of candles with the flames in two colours (as you do). Amazing. The picture on the cake is of a cloud with a little white spotty teddy that lives on top of the cloud. The dots underneath the cake are sparkles that spilled off while I was magicking the cake.

The cake is brilliant and amazing and nobody showed her how to do that with the candle flame, she just did it. I’ve never seen a spotty teddy that lives in the clouds, but I don’t smoke as much crack as she does. I’m really impressed that it made it onto the cake though. Smoke away child.

The Inside

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The left page has simple little cake, decorated with love, and lots of glittery sparkles going up in the air because the candle is magic.

I had to double check that they were magic sparkles (as in fireworks) because I thought they might be spankings.  I’m going to suggest that for the next card.

The right page has some really interesting stuff on it, because that’s George looking at an array of gifts, all unwrapped. There’s a red ‘Sitting Seat’ above her and the green sitting seat below is decorated like a present, but isn’t really. All of the presents at the bottom of the page are the same ones that were above, but are wrapped now.

I love how Victorian it all becomes at this point.  Like we need designated areas where we just sit.  “Oh not there, that’s not a sitting chair!  That’s a present chair!”

The presents are: a dress, a little round-pantsed costume, hair lackies, a Jack-in-the-box, a picture frame, a Magic Box and another Sitting Seat.

How excellent that they’re all lined up and not wrapped, then they are?  Dresses costumes, hair things, a random-and-unconnected-toy, and seats with only one designated purpose.  Does this kid know her sister or what?

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As awesome as the front and middle are, the back really brings it home.

The top has a butterfly wedding. One butterfly at the top is shouting at the other, because he’s mean. The ones getting married are Lilly and Trilly.

You can probably guess what side of the Marriage Equality debate we fall when a couple of butterfly gals have hooked up and are getting hitched.  NO idea why one of the wedding guests is shouting at another one, but is it really that odd?  Nay.

Below them is a butterfly doing a giant fart “BLAP!” and the one above her is shouting “AAAAAH!” because it smells so bad. That’s Jade sitting in the middle of it all, just enjoying the garden and hoping the butterfly doesn’t blap so hard she poos.

Butterflies farting.  I can’t say much more than that.  Seriously.  Say it out loud.  “Happy Birthday!  Here’s some butterflies farting!”  WIN.

It probably doesn’t get better than that folks, I really don’t think it does.

My Morning

It’s still fairly dark when the first alarm goes off.  Despite it being the classical music station, 7:04 AM is when the news is on, so my hopes for gently easing into the day are dashed with a rumbly baritone voice detailing deaths in Syria.  Good morning.

2 snooze buttons later and I’m struggling into my jeans in the dark, closing the door with an armload of laptop, phone and shoes so as not to wake wife with going in and out.  Mechanically stumble through the house slapping the kettle on and opening the shades to the first brilliant rays of the day’s sunlight, sometimes doing a double-take and wondering which bright light got left on all night before figuring out that, on this fine morning, Mother Nature has the lighting needs covered.

Wake the oldest boy first, as he can be the slowest to rise and it’s best to give him sole attention instead of being peppered with tales of dreams of ponies and fairies were I to wake the girls first.  Doesn’t matter anyway, as inevitably when I am in the toilet for my morning ritual the 9-yo comes and taps on the door, every single time.  The 5-yo joins her minutes later and I hear them whisper conspiratorially before they disappear back into their shared space.

It’s cold this morning.  Asscold.  And the heater is struggling.  Cuddly robes are passed around and are the first search of the day.  Uniforms, socks, underwear, shoes, hairties, jumpers and hats are next, in that order usually.  I’ve just finished making my coffee when a delighted, ear-piercing, squeal comes from the baby’s room, signalling that he’s not only awake, but eager to join his siblings in the morning reverie.

When he sleeps in, I can get the other kids to school and then come back to a quiet house and a gentler morning.  When he wakes up with the kids, it’s nice for all of them and they get less shooshing from me, but it makes every little aspect of readying 3 kids for school exponentially more difficult.

For some reason, today he is in a fantastic mood, and chooses to stomp around chewing on a toy rather than pull his sister’s hair while I attempt a ponytail plait.  He even lets me make all the lunches and drink about half my coffee before I notice that the 5-yo is still half-naked and shivering with one pink sock half pulled-on.  She feigns helplessness as an attention-seeking move against her baby brother.  She knows I know this, yet does it anyway.

Oldest boy gives me a bro-hug and turns to leave before I point out that he’ll need something warmer than his t-shirt.  After he’s zipped up and left, 9-yo girl bounces towards the door with a good-bye before I remind her of the same thing, and also her lunch.  And her homework.  And her shoes.  Jesus Christ.

Olders are off, merrily.  Putting pants, socks and a jacket on toddler takes 7 minutes.  I know because I timed it.  He grudgingly packs into the pram and 5-yo opens the back patio door for me proudly, then stands mostly in the way, sweet thing.  We navigate through the assorted detritus on our back patio and scramble our way, late, across the now-quiet neighbourhood streets on our way the 3 blocks to school.

The same cars are parked on the dirt behind the school.  The same mums (and one dad) wave Good Morning while the same ones don’t.  Breakfast Club is put on every other day in the mornings, a joint effort of the far-reaching church down the road and the Food Bank.  Some mornings it’s a beautiful bacon and egg baked treat and others it’s a stale bit of toast slathered in margarine and Vegemite.  Today it’s both, and the 5-yo gets a cup of milk (she had pink milk at home too) and I lose her in the crowd while finding the softest bit of bread for the toddler’s aching gums.

There she is, sitting with a Malaysian family eating a rice, egg and cheese mixture from a bowl they’ve clearly given her.  Bad enough that the church and charity know that I actually need their help feeding my kids, I don’t need the more-povvo-than-me refugees knowing it too.  With grand smiles and rosy cheeks, they talk to her in simple English and to each other in Malay.  They’re all just noises to my child, I know this.  She believes it’s the inflection that counts, so she joins in the conversation with her made-up words and noises that are so similar to their language that they squint at her in concentration for a few seconds before figuring out that she’s just talking nonsense.

They smile and laugh and I imagine their feet getting cold because she’s charmed their socks right off.  She does that.

A horrific wailing erupts as the school siren announces that the day has begun.  It means little other than put your hands on your ears, but it sometimes gets kids moving quicker to their classrooms.  The same kids are the same amount of late.  It’s accepted.  Most are indigenous Australians.  Misplaced by this society, this culture, a step behind in integrating.  A step sideways rather than behind, perhaps even two or three.

The classroom is half-filled with semi-noisy little ones and a handful of mums.  Some are still chewing on their stale Breakfast Club meals and I realise that 5-yo still has the bowl of rice.  I would know the Malaysian woman if I saw her, so I make a note to find her later.  No need, she’s ambled by with her 2 in tow and I thank her and apologise and she responds with an even bigger smile and says, “She WONDERFUL!”

I know she is.  I know she wonderful.

The toddler wiggles out of my lamp to stomple around the classroom and promptly falls over into the side of the bin.  He gets half up and goes over the other way.  I worry briefly about bourbon in his bottle before remembering that he’s new to the concept of shoes.  He does his angry crybark and starts pulling at them, so I take them off.  He promptly leaps to his feet and struts towards the wooden blocks as if this place were laid out simply for his sake.

The children line up to go to the school assembly but mine isn’t done with her milk and it’s cold enough out that I want her hands in her pockets, not on a cold drink.  The Amazonian South African teacher says something to me in a thick enough accent that I feel tempted to just smile and nod.  The Helper Teacher with her peels away from the double line of little heads and says she’ll take my child up with her when she’s done with her milk.  Pleased that my imploring look worked, I turn to find my smallest troublemaker only to find that he’s sweetly chirruping at a cartoon of two girls stopping at a “STOP” sign.

He has a small wooden bathroom vanity in his hand and his sister explains that there’s a dollhouse at the end of the bookshelves where he must have acquired it.  She says to him, in simple by direct terms, to put it back and points where it goes.  He dutifully toddles over and puts it back.  My mouth gapes in amazement.  He is 14 months old.

3 wet milk kisses later, we make our way home.  This is when the morning feels most alone, and it’s my favourite part, even if it isn’t always very nice to feel so lonely.  Littlest chews on his vegemite toast and occasionally comments on something comment-worthy, “ah-GAH!”  The cold sneaks through my clothes and turn my face toward the sun coming up over the hills of the Scarp.  Steam dances lazily across the steel pipes of the chainlink fence.  I stop for a second, and I feel everything.

We take the other side of the loop home because it gets the most sunlight and we pass no fewer than 7 houses filled with very different cultures.  They are Iranian, Turkish, Indian, South African, Chinese, Burmese, New Zealander.  Inside, they cook and they drink and they have music and clothes.  On the outside, they all have the same cream-coloured brick.  Welcome to Australia.

We take care not to bang the gate when we come home, keeping quiet.  I turn the radio up slightly and make some cheesy toast for the toddler.  I open the door for the cats to come out but only one does, and she instantly nags me.  I feed her but the toddler chases her away and bangs after her before becoming distracted by some speaker wires that have been pulled from the side of a box.  I put on his stories in the playroom and we’re gently greeted with soft voices telling us that today was brought to us by the letter “L” and the number “12”.  He smiles at this bemusedly and I watch him and wonder what he makes of this all.

I sit down and power up this laptop while corralling bits of toast and cheese that are being shoved haphazardly, yet happily, to the edges of the highchair’s tray and occasionally in his mouth.  111 emails start downloading while I am told that Venus in my 11th House of Career means that I shouldn’t just say random shit today, I should take an extra minute to think about it.  The stars tell me I should also be more patient with the big changes I want to make in my life, they’ll come in due time and forcing them early will only taint their arrival.  Sit and wait for now until big things happen?  Done.

I find that I’ve missed out on a 99 cent auction for a rare and collectable GI Joe ninja that sold for $53.  Guess somebody out there knew that he was rare and collectable.  I’ve won a 99 cent auction for a not-rare-at-all nor collectable swamp soldier and one for an enemy arctic soldier.  Somebody out there knew that they weren’t worth much.  They are to me, and I am happy.

Clients, committees and Facebook spill out of my inbox.  I make another coffee remarking inwardly that I could feasibly spend the entire day going through Facebook and reading and commenting on every article/post/status that I see.

I close Facebook and I open this document, and I begin to write.

The toddler is fed, he has yelled a bit, he has stomped around a lot, and I’ve cleaned his little butt twice from wees and poos.  He’s chased the cats and he’s ran crookedly at my legs to be picked up for a cuddle before wriggling free to once again chase the cats.  He’s eaten some mashed vegetables that come in a squeezable pouch and they lit up his eyes.  He greedily grabbed his bottle from my hands and drink-drinked on it until his eyes crossed.  He is now happily asleep.

Now I sit, in front of this laptop again, wondering about what in the hell I’m going to do with my life again.

Later, I’ll fold that pile of laundry and I’ll probably return at least half of those emails.  I’ll have gone to the shops for milk and bread and I’ll have done the dishes before they start to smell.  I’ll have fed the cats and the kids and I might have even picked up a guitar.  I’ll have paid a bill or two and I’ll have stopped to play with a toy or read a book to a small person.

And I’ll have done all of this without wondering what in the hell I’m going to do with my life, at all.

Who Are You

Who are you to judge me anyway?

I want you to do something for me, right now.  Ask yourself that question above.  Be honest when you ask and even honester when you answer.

Do you really think you’re in a position to judge me?

Do you really believe that you should be free to treat me differently because of things you think you know about me?

What is it that you think you know about me?

Do you reckon there may actually be more to the story?  Can you believe that there are things about me that you may not know, that may colour what it is you think about me?

Are you able to conceive that these things may be none of your business?  Can you wrap your head around the idea that these things might actually be the basis for what you think about me, yet you may never really know the details of them?

Knowing all of this, are you still satisfied with those thoughts you have of me?  Are you secure in the knowledge that your thoughts about me, good or bad, are based in factual experiences with me and not just things that you think you know but have no real supporting facts behind them?

None of this really matters anyway.  Not to me, at least.  I ask you these questions so that you’ll ask yourself these questions, and not because I want to ask you these questions.

We’ve already moved past that, you and I, even if you didn’t know.

You see, you’ve already told me what you think and how you plan on treating me thusly.  You’ve made it clear who I am to you and how that will affect our relationship.  Me asking you to ask yourself questions is just because I wish for the best in people, not because I’m hopeful it will change anything.

Not to sound too cynical, but I don’t really think this will change anything.

When I left my church at 15, you scorned me and looked powerfully disapproving.  You also softened that look and slapped me on the shoulder, wishing me luck.

When I left my home state for far away at 19, you wished I wouldn’t go so far away and you wanted me to want to stay home.  You also swelled with pride and encouraged me to find my own wings.

When I left my top-notch university for an uncertain place with an uncertain direction, you scratched your heads at me but let me go, most of you never finding me again nor wishing to be found.  You also wished me luck and offered to pack me a lunch on my journey.

When I almost made the biggest mistake of my life, most of you stayed quiet and gave insincere congratulations.  When I dodged that bullet, almost none of you said a thing about that either.

When I made the biggest change of my life, I received scorn and ill feelings, had guilt heaped upon me in mounds and got so many puzzling looks that I wondered if I’d grown a set of tits.  I also got huge hugs, sincere congrats, and proud encouragement from places I’d never expected.

When I was new to a strange place, you treated my new-ness with ambivalence and showed more fear than joy.  You also welcomed me in as if I were returning home instead of finding it for the first time.

When things got hard, you sat back and acted as if you’d have it all sorted if it was your mess, and you still act that way this very day, this very morning.  You also showed me that come hell or high water, you’re going to stick around, by sticking around through hell and high water.

Know how I didn’t want to sound too cynical before?  It’s because I’m not.

It’s not that I don’t have hope that you’ll change, or that reading this will somehow make you think and will somehow affect the relationship that we have.  I don’t really think that.

Because during all that shit I listed out above, at all those stages in my life that I wrote out just now, you did those things because that’s Who You Are, and nothing I did or said to you seemed to make one tiny little fucking difference.

You were going to be that person the whole time.  And you were.

And you’re being them now.

Buzz buzz.

So the question, as always it might seem, is “What To Do?”

It’s capitalised because it’s a bit of a theme in this life of mine.  What should I do?  The overall structure of society heavily suggests that I need to be one of the hive, dutifully buzzing my way around and protecting the queen.  Getting up in the morning and going away all day, to spend time with people I don’t love (or even like sometimes), to use my time and energy making money for someone else, just so that I can have “security” doesn’t appeal to me.

For the record, we have absolutely NO security.  We’re so broke I actually had to borrow some of the letters to make this very sentence compl

Whoops.  Ran out.  Again.

Honey.  It makes the world go round, or at the very least it makes all the Worker Bees get up in the morning and buzz off to the hive, spending their commute listening to ads for products they should spend their hard-buzzed honey on.  All the while, the days pass and the years pass and none of them seem to notice that they’re not actually going to be queen someday, that there is only one queen and she’s always been queen and goddamit SHE’S never buzzing all goddam day!

By the time they notice… their wings are frayed and the honey isn’t as sweet, though there is a bit more of it than there used to be.  Their little bees are buzzing in their own directions now and, heartbreakingly often, it’s usually along the same paths.  The little bees may not have the best idea of who gave them these “opportunities” nor do they really notice if the honey is sweeter or more prevalent.  They usually only notice when there’s more buzzing at home instead of in a sealed metal box, inching its way toward oblivion.

I saw all of this happening to me, and it bothered the shit out of me.  I was watching it happen though and, like so many other bees before and with me, I let it happen because everybody else was doing it.  There was SOME kind of reward at the end, Special Honey, I was sure of it.  If I just kept plugging away, and was occasionally brilliantly buzztastic, then I’d get that reward.  The queen would notice and everything would change.

But nothing changed.  The days changed, the years changed, even the hives changed, but the situation didn’t, and it was never going to.

So I quit buzzing.

Quit the hive, quit the Death March, quit the Honey Dance and quit buzzing around solely for some nameless, faceless giant royal sloth, who was rolling around in my hard work and did nothing for me other than treat me for exactly what I was: Yet another member of The Hive.

It was hard for a while.  There are lots of flowers out there, but if you’re a bee on your own they’re harder to find and even harder to pollinate.  After a while, you make some other Solo Bee friends and you help each other out, and that’s excellent.

But you still long for more.  Somehow, you still yearn for flowers that are a different colour, growing in a different place.  If you’re me, only the flowers that grow in the countryside will do, for these city flowers are tainted by the daily buzzings of others.  They’re too close to The Hive for my liking.

Also, there is far less honey when you are your own hive.  The little bees still don’t really care, but they’re getting older and they’re starting notice.  Wifebee wears our lack of honey like a pair of wings made of lead.  She doesn’t fly as much these days.

The days pass, as they do, and we make more little bees.  They’re wonderful and bee-autiful, and they fill our hearts with the sweetest of honey, Lovehoney.

The Hive asserts its presence though.  See, even though I’m no longer buzzing for the queen, she still exacts her toll.  My bit of the honeycomb, my spot in the meadow, my most-frequented flowers, they all have a cost.  If I’m not buzzing for her, that cost is harder to pay.

The Queen accepts no such thing as Lovehoney.

Like so many bees before me, I know I’m special.  Somehow my wings are lighter, my stripes brighter, and I struggle to express the feeling inside that I am meant for so much more than just this Hive Life we’re all leading.  It used to be that when I heard other bees saying such things, I would scoff and say something like, “Prove it then!  Go!  Fly!  Stop telling us, SHOW us!”

Stingable as that behaviour was, I had a point.

It’s time I flew.  It’s time I stopped telling and started showing.

BZZZZZ.