Wednesday, August 31, 2005

I feel somewhat like I’m leading a double life. There’s the “external” me who goes through the day to day routines of life, work, home, family in a reasonably “normal” way. To the casual outside observer I’m probably my usual self. I still manage to read with my gorgeous son in the evenings, I still manage to do something resembling work during the day and I even manage to watch Oz Idol and place my tips in the online tipping competition on a regular basis. But inside I feel hollow, a shell and I’m starting to fear I won’t regain my joie de viere (I’m sure this is horribly wrong and I apologise in advance to any French speakers and especially to JB who is gnashing her teeth as she reads this).

Yes, I realize this is pathetic, self-involved hand-wringing of the worst kind but I can not pull myself out of this dreadful state. It’s almost like I’ve been attacked by termites, they have eaten my foundations, my “soul”, my “me” and have left a fa├žade which to all the world looks like the real deal. These termites are the adoption process and right now I wouldn’t recommend it to my worst enemy (of course the last sane part of my addled brain is yelling “she’s wrong, don’t listen to this crazy woman… it’s all worth it, the pain goes away, she’ll be singing a different tune soon…”).

But enough (for now) of these dark ramblings from the dark recesses of mind… Here’s an update from the real world…

Last Friday night we enjoyed the St Lucy’s Fundraising Ball. St Lucy’s is a special school for children with disabilities and our dear friend’s daughter attends. Each year they put on an extravaganza of monumental proportions in order to raise big bucks for various projects (this year it was a new playground and for the record they raised $120,000). Apart from it being on a Friday night (Friday not being a great night for me… tired, cranky… well, more than the usual) I managed to pull myself together, slap on some make up and away we went. It was generally a fun night. A great “party” band even had me up on the dance floor. The food was generally OK and there was a good atmosphere in the room.

However, a few points need to be made. There were two types of woman who stood out for me. There were the wealthy older corporate wives who had obviously had enough plastic surgery to make Michael Jackson envious. They looked like someone was dragging them backwards by their hair at all times, they couldn’t show an emotion to save their life and their eyebrows were only marginally lower than their hairline – very peculiar. Then there were the mums who obviously don’t get out much but relish any excuse. I am talking about average mums (like me)… not gorgeous but not ugly, normal bodies of various types… dressed up like they were going to the Academy Awards. Backless, strapless, gold lame… you name it, it was there and it didn’t look good. Now I’m not suggesting everyone needs to turn up in a [very nice, I must say] $39.95 Target skirt but surely there is some sort of happy medium. For *&#$’s sake – saggy boobs and bellies just don’t look good in strapless, figure-hugging red sequins.

Since Will was at mum’s until Sunday morning we did our favourite thing and hit the cinema on Saturday morning. We saw a sweet little Oz movie called “The Oyster Farmer”. We had wanted to see it because it was filmed around Brooklyn and Mooney Mooney on the Hawkesbury River where Jason’s uncle has a house and where we’ve spent a fair bit of time. It’s only about 20 minutes drive from us but it could be on another planet. Beautiful! It was one of those rare “little” movies which just told a “little” story about some “little” people but it was really well done, with a great script and very nice performances. If I had to make a criticism it would be of the overly explicit sex scene which really didn’t add anything to the film and must have been very uncomfortable for the poor young actors to film (sex on a rickety old jetty – ooh, the splinters in the bum don’t bear thinking about!).

We returned home to watch the Swans win (yet again… grand final here we come… I hope… oh please let us win against West Coast on Friday… I may cry…) against the hapless Hawthorn. Then we got stuck into some serious finger food preparation as we were expecting a few friends that night for a serious round of the new Trivial Pursuit Pop Culture DVD Edition which Jason got for his birthday. It was a great night marred only by the fact that Gianni (my partner) and I didn’t win – it was those stupid cricket questions that got us… damn you cricket, you stupid, stupid, useless sport!!!

Sunday morning Jason went off to golf and I tidied up. Then mum brought Will over and boy, were we glad to see him and he us. Great big bear hugs all around. Then mum and I hit the 50s Fair. “What is the 50s Fair?” I hear you ask. There is a house in nearby Wahroonga which is called the Rose Seidler House. It was designed and built by the famous Sydney architect Harry Seidler for his parents in 1948 and completed in 1950. It is a classic example of minimalist 50s architecture and, while surprisingly small, is quite stunning with its extreme use of glass walls to capture the beauty of the surrounding bushland. It is now owned by the National Trust who each year put on a 50s Fair. There were bands playing 50s music and lots of stalls selling clothes, shoes, handbags, household goods, buttons, fabrics, anything and everything from that era. What I loved were all the people who obviously had embraced the 50s subculture as a way of life and dressed head to toe in immaculate 50s gear. The women were stunning. I have to say it was a very feminine period in terms of style and I love it. We spent a fun couple of hours wandering around, checking out the stalls, touring the house and “enjoying” a dubious, 50s hotdog.

So now it’s Tuesday night. Still no news and I fear another night of teeth grinding will leave me with permanent dental problems (what’s the number of your dentist Kath?).

Oh, I must make a small retraction. Last night I finished Janet Evanovich’s “Ten Big Ones” which I think may have got a prematurely unfavourable review from me earlier. Look, it’s no Pulitzer Prize winner but it did get bloody funny and there is a classic scene where our heroine Stephanie, her sidekick Lula and their friend Connie are trying to “torture” a gang member in order to extract some information. One of the funniest things I’d read in ages. Had me giggling uncontrollably for ages, much to Jason’s disgust.

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

A “couple” night... before you have children you take them for granted, we certainly did. Jump in the car on a Saturday evening, movies, dinner... nothing special. But with a small child everything changes... for the best, of course… but I do miss those couple nights now that they require a certain amount of logistical organisation.

Luckily we have at least two very willing and able babysitters (i.e. my mum and dad) who are always very keen to have Prince Will overnight. So at fairly short notice my dear mum (aka Baba) stepped in and Saturday afternoon through to Sunday morning became couple time.

We started off at WBJ looking for suitcases for our upcoming (when? when? when?) trip. I found a huge red Jag suitcase at Myer; not only was it just what I wanted but it was 40% off the marked price. His Highness Prince Jason did not like any of the suitcases which were on sale and I thought that $300+ was just a little too much for a suitcase which may be used once a year - so we decided to agree to disagree. [Jason is now the proud owner of a suitably price reduced suitcase which he purchased in the city on Monday.] Since there was a little bit of time before our first movie started I popped down to the shoe department and guess what? Two pairs of shoes at 50% off the already reduced price (including a gorgeous pair of Italian purple suede loafers). Does life get any better? I think not!

Time for the first film. I love horror movies. Have done ever since I was 14 and watching The Evil Dead in the basement of my friend Aila's house. We would turn off all the lights in the house and watch it over and over, scaring ourselves senseless (we'd have to wait 'till her parents got home to go to the toilet as we were too scared to go up the stairs). Over the years I've screamed at the Nightmare on Elm Street movies, jumped during the Scream movies and in recent years tensed myself into a state of exhaustion during The Ring and The Grudge (those Japanese sure know how to scare the pants off you).

The Skeleton Key is a fine film in the suspense, bordering on horror, genre. It is not a slasher film and it is not as tension-filled as The Grudge (which I have to say left me a nervous wreck for days). It is beautifully filmed in and around New Orleans. The place itself has a tremendous presence and the cinematography is stunning, adding greatly to the suspense and foreboding which is built up throughout the film. The cast is wonderful - Kate Hudson, Peter Sarsgaard, Gena Rowlands and John Hurt. I really enjoy Kate Hudson, she is pretty without it being distracting and she is a very natural actress. If you haven't seen 200 Cigarettes you must. I think it's one of her first films and she plays a young clumsy girl out on a blind date on New Year's Eve. She is just gorgeous. 200 Cigarettes is a real ensemble piece with a cast of thousands (Courtney Love, Paul Rudd, Casey Affleck, etc, etc); lots of different stories and they all converge on the one NYE party in New York in the 1980s. Quirky and funny and perfect for all of us 80s leftovers.

I digress. The Skeleton Key focuses on Caroline, a young nurse saddened by the lack of care for terminally ill patients. She finds an ad for a hospice worker and travels out to the swampy boondocks to take care of Ben Devereaux, who has apparently been struck down by a stroke. Ben and his wife Violet live in a gothic old mansion filled with creaks and shadows and secrets. Caroline is given a skeleton key which opens all the doors in the house and with it she discovers the "secret" room in the attic (there's always a bloody attic and/or basement - don't these people ever learn?!). The story really wasn't what I was expecting and I didn't see the twist coming at all.

After this movie we enjoyed dinner at Kelly's which is a South African steakhouse. I had a cocktail called a West African Yellowbird and it was huge and yummy (I think it had rum in it and banana liquor). It made me feel good and I said to Jason that I should drink more (I'm generally a non-drinker) and he agreed, even suggesting he buy a cocktail book and make me cocktails at home. Not sure why he was so keen to have me drunk all the time! Dinner was delicious. I love a steak and was glad I ordered it medium rare. Generally I order medium but lately medium has been bordering on well done. Either I'm getting more blood thirsty or there is a consensus amongst chefs to overcook steaks. Whatever the answer, my steak was bloody enough for my liking and very yummy (no offence, but I'm so glad I'm not a vegetarian!).

Short space of free time between dinner and movie #2. We attacked the CD shop. I should have known better, having already burned a small hole in my credit card, but I was on a roll. Ten minutes later we came out with Martha Wainwright's beautiful new CD, Madeleine Peyroux's new CD (gorgeous old style jazz [but new] and she has an amazing voice), Complete Madness (for $10, all their hits and then some, it's frightening but I remember every word to every song, even after all these years!) and a double compilation CD of old swing songs (Jason's pick, he is such a boring old fart in a [reasonably] young man's body).

Then it was time for more cinematic entertainment. This time it was Wedding Crashers. I love Vince Vaughn and I don't care who knows it! I fell in love a number of years ago when I first saw him in a fabulous little black comedy Clay Pigeons and my love has continued to grow with Swingers and Made (however, it took a review of all these films for my love to survive the new Psycho - what were you thinking Vince, what were YOU thinking Gus Van Sant, shame, shame shame). Maybe it's because I have a thing for tall men, maybe I have a thing for that nervous talking thing (which John Cusack perfected in his early movies - see the dinner scene from Say Anything) – I don’t know why, all I know is I wouldn’t throw him out of bed for… ahm, having wind.

He is at his slightly manic best in Wedding Crashers. It’s very very funny and there were scenes which had me writhing about in hysterics, much to the annoyance of the old bag sitting next to me… who had surely wondered into the wrong movie for she sat still and silent throughout. Obviously left her sense of humour at home.

Overlooking the rather ugly “disagreement” we had on the way home about which of the new CDs we would listen to, we were home and in bed at 12:30. Sunday we enjoyed a small sleep in before heading off to pick up Will, JB and my grandma. We headed down to La Perouse to enjoy the winter sunshine and some huge seafood platters in celebration of my grandma’s 86th birthday. My god I was full, it wasn’t pretty. I swore never to eat again but it only lasted until about 7:30 pm when I finished off the “doggy bag” crab in front of Australian Idol (now there’s a mental image that’s guaranteed to scar you for life).

So overall it was a great weekend, filled with my favourite activities – shopping, eating, movies and spending time with my family.
So now it’s Tuesday and I really feel like we’re in countdown mode. Ring phone, ring! As that fine specimen of Australian manhood Lleyton Hewitt would say “COME ON!!!!” (do the actions with me now!).

Thursday, August 18, 2005

I love those Borders' 3 for 2 deals. Maybe it's just the George Costanza in me but I just love getting something for "nothing". I know I could buy the individual books at another bookshop for less but somehow those "3 for 2" labels dazzle me and I'm transfixed, like a rabbit in the headlights of the oncoming credit card bill.

Last visit I came away with the latest in the "No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency" series (which I love), a book about some Pommie bloke living in Paris for a year (am I the only human being left on the face of the planet who hasn't lived in Paris for a year and written a book about it?) and the latest Stephanie Plum (Janet Evanovich) novel. Now my friend Jan loves Stephanie Plum and while she is undoubtedly a spunky character the novels could have been written by a three year old with a nasty foul language problem.

This book, "Ten Big Ones" is the literary equivalent of eating fairy floss. A brief moment of enjoyable sweetness with no nutrional value and no aftertaste. Each night when I'm finished reading I wouldn't be able to tell you what I had just read, even if I had a gun pointed at my head. It literally goes in one ear and out the other.

It's not that I don't like genre. Stephanie Plum is a "bounty hunter" from Jersey and her novels fit into the mystery/black comedy mould - however, they are not very funny or very mysterious. For my money Kinky Friedman is by far the master of this genre. If you haven't heard of him he is definitely what you might call a "character". He has a country and western band called Kinky Friedman and the Texas Jewboys whose songs include "They don't make Jews like Jesus any more" and "Get your biscuits in the oven and your buns in bed". He's even running for governor of Texas 2006. His books are super cool and very funny, he plays with language in the sort of way that really makes me laugh. He's not exactly a poster boy for PC.

If you're talking straight detective fiction I can't go past Ian Rankin's Detective John Rebus. The books are set in Edinburgh, Scotland and they started off very dark, have moved onto quite dark and are now relatively "light" but they are still bloody good. Strong prose, beautiful descriptions of Scotland and a great character in John Rebus. I went to see Ian Rankin talk at a literary dinner thingy last year and really enjoyed it, except for the fact that he looks alarmingly like my ex-husband Colin (who was also Scottish, perhaps they are distantly related?).

I'm also a fan of Sue Grafton's Kinsey Millhone. Her books are also known as the Alphabet mysteries because they have been named "A is for Alibi", "B is for Burglar", etc. These books are only marginally higher on the literary high-brow scale in comparison to the Stephanie Plum books but they are much more enjoyable. Kinsey is a great character and whenever a new book comes out I feel like I'm catching up with an old friend. They are also well researched and quirky. I can't wait to visit with Kinsey again soon. "S is for ...?"

Now don't get me started on gay American authors. What can I say, I'm a fan! It started with Edmund White quite a number of years ago and has recently progressed to David Sedaris and Augusten Burroughs. Edmund White's autobiographical early novels are not for the feint hearted. For a white bread hetrosexual female like myself it was a case of everything you ever wanted to know (and more) about the nitty gritty of male homosexuality. Beautiful, moving books but whoa, baby, too much information. I bought and made an earnest start on his biography of Jean Genet but I'm afraid it will take a bigger man than me to get through that doorstopper. It's huge, it's dense and it's bloody hard going. Only for the hard core Edmund White/Jean Genet fans.

If you haven't read David Sedaris or Augusten Burroughs - you must. Sedaris writes beautiful, dry, hilarious vignettes; stories about his family and his life. It is hard to describe his style but he manages to capture those everyday life moments in such a deadpan way and then hits you with a whammy at the end of each story. The two books I have are "Me Talk Pretty One Day" and "Dress Your Family In Corduroy and Denim". Both highly recommended.

Augusten Burroughs is a different kettle of fish. His childhood will immediately make everyone feel better about their own. After all how many people were given away as children by their crazy mother to her even crazier psychiatrist (who, just as an example, would tell the future by fishing out his poos out of the toilet and drying them on the outdoor setting). This period of his life is described in "Running with Scissors" (soon to be a major motion picture!). His later life as a successful advertising copywriter and a complete alcoholic is beautifully described in "Dry". His other autobiographical book "Magical Thinking", as well as his novel "Sellavision" are on my book wish list (are you reading this Jay?). JB and I went to hear him talk a few months ago and I really fell in love with the man (in a purely platonic, hetro woman/gay guy way, of course!). I would SO love for him to be my gay boyfriend. To dream the impossible dream!

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Political Science by Randy Newman

No one likes us
I don't know why.
We may not be perfect
But heaven knows we try.
But all around even our old friends put us down.
Let's drop the big one and see what happens.

We give them money
But are they grateful?
No they're spiteful
And they're hateful.
They don't respect us so let's surprise them;
We'll drop the big one and pulverize them.

Now Asia's crowded
And Europe's too old.
Africa's far too hot,
And Canada's too cold.
And South America stole our name.
Let's drop the big one;
there'll be no one left to blame us.

Bridge: We'll save Australia;
Don't wanna hurt no kangaroo.
We'll build an all-American amusement park there;
They've got surfing, too.

Well, boom goes London,
And boom Paris.
More room for you
And more room for me.
And every city the whole world round
Will just be another American town.

Oh, how peaceful it'll be;
We'll set everybody free;
You'll have Japanese kimonos, baby,
There'll be Italian shoes for me.
They all hate us anyhow,
So let's drop the big one now.
Let's drop the big one now.

Couldn't agree more, Randy! Hard to believe he wrote this in 1972. This is one of the songs on my new "Funny Peculiar" CD and I just had to find the lyrics (thank goodness for Google!). [Just for the record and to avoid any confusion I am not having a dig at our US cousins, in fact I quiet seriously support the vision of the world expressed in this song (well, at least my own variation on the theme).]

Can you believe those boring-as twins won BB last night? I mean you could paint faces on wooden pegs and they'd have more personality. Apparently it was very close but I really was sure Tim would take out the cash. Here's a tip - never bet on MY tips. Honestly I couldn't pick the winner in a one horse race. Last year I was in an on-line tipping comp for Oz Idol and I don't even think I picked one correctly - it was embaressing.

Life is cruising today. Feeling good, feeling fine, damn fine. Wish I could sleep better though. Had a dream the other night I had a baby girl and she was really, really fat - fat enough to be on A Current Affair or Jerry Springer - "the fattest baby in the world". It was weird.

Monday, August 15, 2005

I have removed the previous entry for reasons of national security (and to protect my butt from any more kicking). Don't panic, dear readers, all is well. However, I will have to kill all those who read the previous post as it was provided on a "need to know" basis and apparently you guys don't need to know (silly me thought you did).

Anyway, enough of this gibberish. It has been a hectic but enjoyable weekend. Friday was your very basic pizza in front of the tv night. Pizza sure has come a long way since a Four Seasons was the apex of the gourmet pizza experience. We enjoyed a Fu Choo - which had marinated prawns, brocolli, capsicum, baby corn and honey sauce with seasame seeds - yum.

Big Brother on Friday night was pretty good. The three bozos had to do challenges, the worst of which were walking along a narrow walkway thingy but getting to choose how high up it was (both the boys went for 20 metres) and they had to untie two ribbons along the way, and then there was the "bug challenge". There were three seperate bug challenges and each contestant had to choose which they "wanted" (my choice would be: get me the hell out of here!). The first was finding a pingpong ball in a container full of crickets (Vesna), the second sticking your head into a container full of mealey worms and finding a pingpong ball with your mouth (Greg) and the third was sticking your head into a container and having them fill it up first with crickets, then mealey worms and then cockroaches (Tim). I have to hand it to Tim, he handled this last bit of horror in a completely calm manner - as if he did this sort of thing every day. I would be freaking out in a major way. Just the idea of swarms/herds/flocks (?) of cockroaches swarming over my face is enough to make me shudder.

Anyway, last night Vesna was kicked off BB so that leaves the two guys. I wish I could summon the energy to care but I really don't. Greg seems nice enough in a completely "devoid of personality" sort of way. However, I think Tim is going to win. I certainly didn't pick him to win at all. He is not attractive and he is "old" by teeny bopper standards, so possibly the idea that the only people who vote on BB are 12 year old girls is not quite true. I'm sure he is nice and everyone says what a "gentleman" he is, blah blah blah but to be honest he's probably just a bit too lefty for my personal tastes. Mind you he's intelligent so I'm sure we could have a good old debate about the state of the world but the fact remains that he's really not my kind of person. Newtown middle-class lefties just don't ring my bell any more.

Now Saturday Jason went off to work at the City to Surf set up and I took Will shopping. On a good day Will is quite a good shopper and as long as I don't keep him out too long and have something good to look forward to at the end to bribe him with it all works well. We ended up getting groceries, getting the new "Funny Peculiar" CD (very funny and peculiar) and having a good long potter around Myer. They were having a 50% off the already reduced prices sale (music to my ears/eyes/wallet). So I stocked up on some great winter clothes for Will for next year, got some new pillows and even managed to get a present for our new nephew Alexander (congratulations to Troy and Anna).

Then it was off to my dear friend Margaret's house for some tea, gossip and a chance for Will to play with her girls, Lili and Ella. A quick cuppa turned into half the day and I didn't get home until mid-afternoon. Then my best laid plans turned to poo as a few "quick" phone calls turned into one hour marathons. By the time Jason got home the washing was still sitting there unhung and my poor ears were vibrating. Got to see Jay for less than an hour before he rushed off to watch his Sharks get a whomping from the Roosters (Rugby League, for our overseas visitors). Will was meant to go but it was a bitterly cold night and I opted to keep him home and warm.

So Will and I had left over pizza and watched "Funniest Home Videos" in bed. Will loves that show - there is something universally funny about small children and animals hurting themselves and people doing stupid things at wedding - we just can't get enough. Then Will fell asleep and I watched one of the most stupid programs I have ever seen. It was on Foxtel and it was called "A Makeover Story" and it involved two of the Sydney Swans being "made over" by an anorexic American bird known as the "make over coach". Basically she got them stupid haircuts, put them in (generally) stupid clothes and said "Aussssie" (say "s" like snake) a lot. I love Ryan O'Keefe and Amon Buchanan and I can not think what they did wrong to be selected for such a ridiculous show.

Since I was watching the Discovery Health channel (why would they have "A Makeover Story" on a Health channel?) this program was followed by a baby program whose name escapes me. It involved following four couples through a famous IVF program at St Luke's Hospital somewhere in the US. While it was a nice enough documentary (though a little close to the bone, even after all these years) what I found quite upsetting was the way they "dumped" the two "failed" couples and oohed and aaahed over the two successful couples. Two couples got pregnant and we followed them through pregnancy and childbirth. But the two couples who were "negative" were wiped and we got no update on what happened to them: did they try again, were they successful, did they give up, did they adopt? You can't just involve us in the lives of these people and then just move on without a backward glance. Very poor documentary making IMO.

Sunday I was up early to head down to Bondi for my annual volunteer stint at the City to Surf. The adoptive families' support group, Australians Caring for Children (ACC), which we belong to conduct various fundraising activities throughout the year to raise money to help orphanages in Colombia, Bolivia and India. One of the "traditional" activities has been running a water station at the end of the City to Surf "fun run" (an oxymoron if ever I've heard one - you can not seriously put "fun" and "run" in the same sentence, as far as I'm concerned). Apart from it being hellishly cold on Bondi Beach first thing in the morning (which it actually wasn't yesterday) it's quite an enjoyable day. My only beef is with the organisation - whereby there are too many plastic cups, not enough sheets of cardboard and the water is hard to actually get a hold of - but all that is a long and boring story and of interest only to those who work on the day.

I was home by 2:00 pm and happily watching the Swans give those smug Brisbane Lions a good and thorough lesson in how to play AFL (strong words but give me my moment in the sun, won't you?!). A very happy Jason and Will returned home from the game demanding that we plan our trip to Melbourne to watch the Swannies play in the final (which we are all convinced is unavoidable at this point). He is now sulking because our upcoming trip around the world, with a very important stop in Colombia, does not seem to be a good enough reason to miss watching our beloved Swans in the grand final. Well, for a start they haven't even made the final yet and secondly... well, we just can't and won't and that's the end of the story (which translates to something like: "because I said so"). We'll just have to wish them well from afar.

Now for tonight's BB final... who will win? who cares? apparently I do! but I still don't quite know why... My post BB resolution is to read more and watch less crap ... oh, who am I kidding...

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

You would think being a seven and a half year veteran of the adoption wars I might have some sort of handle on things. You would think that, somehow, my hide would have grown that little bit thicker and I would have learnt to be a bit tougher, more mentally disciplined.

After all, we had survived our first adoption which involved:

* Being sent to the marriage counsellor by our social worker who claimed we had "communication issues" (but then didn't ask us how it had gone or anything about it??).
* Crying myself to sleep at night feeling certain we would fail the adoption process and be "rejected".
* Feeling the most incredible joy at being allocated our son and then the incredible misery, confusion and frustration at having to wait for 11 months until we could bring him home.
* Learning that DoCS, who were charged with processing and co-ordinating our adoption, knew nothing about how the Guatemalan adoption process worked and were willing to do nothing to learn more about it.

You would think after all that I would be able to cope with whatever frustrations our second adoption was going to throw at us.

Well, if you thought that you would be wrong, oh so very wrong, my friend.

Over the last forty-eight hours I have experienced so many up and down feelings I feel like I'm on a runaway rollercoaster. Why am I feeling so crap? Well, it's hard to explain really. I guess I could sum it up by calling it the "unknown" - for me that is the scariest thing in the world. For when you have a "known" problem you can stare it in the eye, grapple with it, attack it from all sides, pit your (superior) wit and skill against it and ultimately come up victorious. But when you are staring at a great big vat of nothingness, a giant void in the microcosm where your life should be, it's very hard to know how to fight it or what to even fight.

The "unknown" in this case is how much longer we may have to wait until we are allocated a child. We were initially told that the wait would be 12-18 months but we took that as the very outside, something would need to go wrong for this to be the case. Most of the people we were friends with who had adopted children from Colombia in recent times had waited much less than that, sometimes as few as four months.

We had also not stipulated sex or race, figuring that would increase our chances of a speedy allocation (not to mention that we didn't really care whether we got a boy or a girl and whether they were blue, green or pink with yellow polka dots).

However, we chose the orphanage with which there was very little track history. Only one other Sydney couple had adopted from there and that was in about 2000. Another couple had their file there waiting for an allocation when we sent our file. They were allocated in March 2004 - after a wait of no more than 12 months. So these were our only "guiding lights" and they were fairly dim.

Add to this couldron of non-information the fact that ICBF (the Colombian equivalent of DoCS) decided to change the adoption goalposts in 2004. They clamped down on private orphanages, putting pressure on them to give preference to Colombian couples wishing to adopt (which we would have assumed would already be the case). Other changes were made and a type of payment was introduced whereby the families of single mothers were given a small amount of money for six months to encourage them to keep the child. How all these changes affected intercountry adoptions it's hard to say. All we know is that things slowed down immensely all around. There was only one other allocation to a Sydney family in 2004 from a different orphanage. Now it is mid August 2005 and there have been no allocations so far (except for a mysterious sibling allocation which was announced only yesterday).

So my brain runs around looking for answers and there are no answers to be had. Then yesterday, on one of my email lists (what did my life look like before email lists???) a well-meaning adoptive mum from the US who is currently in Colombia sent a post which sent a shiver down my spine. Because of the unfortunate way in which it was written and because of my bleak outlook I interpreted in the worst possible way - private orphanages in Colombia were no longer allowed to do intercountry adoption and we would need to start from scratch - i.e. send our file to another country. While this vague concept had been starting to surface as an option in my weary mind anyway I wasn't quite prepared for the shockwave this sent through my entire being. I was devestated and totally shocked. Yesterday was one terrible afternoon.

A few phone calls and emails later things didn't look so bleak. Within a few hours I had hid rock bottom and bounced back somewhat. But I was still back at square one - facing the endless abyss and not having a clue how much longer we may need to wait for our allocation.

Imagine this: You get a phone call saying you have won a million dollars (or insert something else which represents your greatest dream) however you are told that you will need to pick up the money from an undisclosed place at an undisclosed time. To just sit tight and a phone call we be made to you to tell you when to collect your prize. You are so excited, you plan what you are going to do with your winnings, you ring all your friends and family. Then some time passes and still there is no phone call. You try to get on with your life but the news is still ringing in your ears, it's always at the back of your mind. Then more time passes, you start to get anxious, you can't go far from home because you are waiting for "the call". You can't make plans too far in advance. People start asking you "so, when are you getting your prize". Then the real anxiety sets in: what if it's a hoax? what if there is no prize? what if "the call" never comes? You start to resent the very idea of the prize. You want to ring and say "forget about the prize... I don't want it... I just want my old life back". But you can't. You keep thinking that despite everything "the call" is going to come later today or tomorrow or next week. You jump every time the phone rings...

Are you starting to get a picture? This is pretty much how I feel. I am fully aware that there is a flip side to my story and that the flip side is not a happy one. That for me to get "the call", to finally hold my "prize", another woman on the other side of the world is going to have to experience the sort of trauma I can not even imagine. I live with that thought every minute of every day and yet it does not take away from my own selfish misery, it only helps to put it into some sort of perspective (but only on my "better" days).

I'm sorry. I really just needed to get that out. I know that I will feel better tomorrow or the next day or next week and that I needed to make an effort to record my really bad days because they will one day be forgotten or will at least fade into the vagueness of time. Of course I want to stop feeling this way and forget these awful feelings but I also want to acknowledge them and to be able to touch them again one day on one of the many days in my future life when I will need to regain a sense of pespective - which for me is essential to holding onto my sanity.

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

Well, after two weeks of illness the Blanter/Curtis family is now back in the land of the (semi)living. Jason and I still have a bit of a persistent cough hanging around but generally we are fighting fit - Jay even went back to the gym this morning.

Unfortunatley I am slipping back into my adoption "depression" again - it's been a month since the last bout and I'm beginning to wonder whether it's a cycle associated with the "other" cycle or if it's just a feeling that another month has gone by. On Thursday it will be 20 months since our file was sent to Colombia. We were told 12-18 months for an allocation when we started and I regarded this as the "worst case scenario". At no time did I think we would still be waiting after 20 months. I am trying hard to keep my spirits up. Logic tells me that we will soon be allocated our much longed for child and our lives will be returned to us. But the fear and the anxiety persist and are very hard to shake off. The stupid "what ifs" and "we should have..." and "if only..." circle round and round my addled brain.

Anyway, enough self indulgent bullshit. Get a grip, girl!

The weekend just gone was fun. Jason had a corporate golf day (have you ever heard of such wankery?) whereby Apple Mac paid for him to bludge off work all day, play golf at one of Sydney's best golf courses, eat and drink to his heart's content and THEN by some mathematical miracle his team came second and they all won an iPod. Now is this the greatest non-work invention of the corporate world or what? Not that I'm in any position to complain about people slacking off (I've made it into an art form) but COME ON!!! Golf, food, drink, iPods = a work day? Please explain!

Will and I went to Surry Hills on Friday afternoon to look at Julia's (my dear sis) new flat. Oh, it's so very cool and wonderful. I yearn for the inner city life (and we are working on a plan, stay tuned). While it's very nice and very cool I'm afraid she won't pick up there - it's 99% gay with the token chickie babe thrown in. However, she has been told to find us both a gay boyfriend - I haven't had one since my teenage years and I do miss that "Will and Grace" style comradarie.

We then went to mum's and indulged in a seafood banquet in honour of JB's iminent moving out of the maternal home. I was ear-deep in mud crab and loving it. It's a hard life but someone's got to do it.

Saturday morning Will had a physio session (which he loves) followed by a haircut (which he also now loves). It's funny Will was TERRIFIED of having his haircut as a young child. You just had to walk slowly near a hairdresser and he would scream blue murder. For a few years there we were reduced to cutting his hair by having Jason (in the nude) holding Will (in the nude) in the shower while I cut his hair with the hair clippers. There would be screaming and crying and Will would be pretty upset too. It was an ugly scene. Then I found a new hairdresser at Pennant Hills I started going to and I asked her if she would mind having a go with Will. She was very gentle and playful with him and we managed our first proper hairdresser haircut without any hysterical screaming. After that it got better and better until now when we can just walk into any hairdresser/barber and he'll happily sit down and get his hair cut. He always asks for a "spiky" cut which is really cute.

On Saturday the young hairdresser who cut his hair must have been a bit bored with all the short-back-and-sides he does day in, day out because after he cut Will's hair he put it all up in spikes or little horns (or what we used to call a Statue of Liberty in my punk days) all over the front of his head - it was so cool and cute. I wish I'd made a photo.

Then we dropped Will off at dad's (who took him to Sydney Aquarium for the zillionth time this year - dad's now bought an annual pass!) and went off to help JB get her new flat ready for habitation. First off though we had to have some sustanance and we walked down to her "local Chinese" which just happens to be the "world famous" (well, there's a picture of Bill Clinton and Laurence Fishbourne eating there) Harry's Signapore Chilli Crab restaurant. Of course, we didn't have Chilli Crab (even I'm not up to that on a Saturday morning) but we did indulge in some very good salt and pepper squid and those yummy wide stir fried noodles.

Refreshed and replenished we got stuck in. I started on the cleaning and Jason took JB to Paddington to collect her stuff from her "office". By mid afternoon all her stuff was back at the flat and I had managed to scrub the bathroom to within an inch of its life and was half way through the kitchen (with big Jay's help - he's a must for those high, hard to reach places). Then we left JB to it and went home for some child free ... ahhmmm, rest.

On the way home JB rang to say that mum, who had come for a visit, had fallen down the little flight of stairs outside of JB's flat and JB had locked herself out while running to help. After a few panicked phone calls the drama was averted with the help of a friendly locksmith and all was well.

Saturday night we met up (again) with JB to attend the Boronia Park Public School Fundraising Trivia Night. I am a sucker for Trivia Nights and this one, being a fundraiser for Will's school, was a must. Obviously because we smell or are otherwise offensive in some way the people who were meant to sit on our table sat on another table without telling us - how rude! So it was just the three of us for most of the night - eventually we were joined by two more lost souls. While I have to say our trivial knowledge is respectable it was only good enough to earn us 17th place (out of 21 teams). I even remembered that Pb is the periodical table code for lead (and science was by far my worst subject at school - hard to believe for those of you who are familiar with my abysmal grasp of geography).

Sunday morning, after very unhappily waking up at 6:00 am to watch the recorded Swans vs Essendon game (who are the winners? WE ARE!!!), we set off to pick up Will from dad's. Then it was the long long drive up the F3 (I can not believe I used to do that drive every day - was I insane? don't answer that!) to visit Jason relos and to show them some old home movies which a friend of the family had transferred from Super 8 to DVD. This is where my shiny new laptop came in very handy.

Then it was off to Erina for lunch. [Our lives are like a Car Rally. We drive here, there and everywhere, with the occassional stop to see people, eat, shop, etc. But most of the time I feel liek we're just chasing our tails.] Now this was fun. We met up with our dear friends Aila, Craig and his daughter Madison, Jan and John and their gorgeous little baby Emma (whose not really all that "little" having two gigantors for parents). We went to Wagamama which has just opened up at Erina Fair. If you've been living under a rock or in a cave Wagamama is the new Japanese-fusion style place which started in London and is slowly taking over the world. We've been to the King Street Wharf one a few times and have always enjoyed it. It has a fun, informal atmosphere and decent food at fairly reasonable prices. On Sunday we sat outside in the lovely sunny courtyard area and enjoyed catching up.

Upon arriving home on Sunday afternoon we decided we could not tolerate our pig-sty of a house for a moment longer (our cleaner skipped her regular visit when we were sick so things were getting out of hand) and got stuck into a mini-super-powered cleaning session. With the floors de-fluffed and the bathroom de-yucked we were ready to kick back and enjoy some Sunday afternoon relaxation. I had made some six-hours-in-the-oven lamb shanks on Saturday night so we enjoyed those for dinner with some yummy couscous with stir fried veggies.

Then it was Big Brother eviction night. Who cares - Melanie got the boot. I really must say these are the most boring, non-entity bunch of nobodys I've ever come across. I really don't care who wins because I am hoping they all spontaneously combust before the big night. I don't even think that would make for interesting viewing at this point. There is now less than a week to go and I just can't for the pain to be over. I'm only watching out of (bad) habit so it'll be nice not to have to look at those boring sods any more (if they are boring, what does it say about moi? don't answer that!).

Monday morning we had to get up at 5:00 am to drive Aila and Craig (who had stayed the night) to the airport to start their holiday. After staying up last night to watch the final, not very satisfying, episode of Desperate Housewives, I have had a great night's sleep and feel reasonably human today.

OK, enough belly button gazing - back to the mines (or at least the pile of invoices which must be issued today which are piling up on my war zone of a desk).

Thursday, August 04, 2005

Check out my friend Kath's blog "Blurb from the Burbs" - I've added it under "Links". She is very very funny (both "ha ha" and, you know, the other way). I've just about blown a headgasket reading her entry about colds - I can SO relate!

Oh! and I'm now the proud owner of a brand spanking new Sony laptop. Woohoo! It is very cool and shiny! There's a lot to be said for nepotism. It sure works for me!

Wednesday, August 03, 2005

The great, late Jim Morrison said it best "people are strange". Are they what! Friday night, desperate for some healthy (I use the word advsidedly) adult interaction, I drag my sick and sorry arse to the playgroup mums' night out. This is a fantastic and much anticipated event whereby all the ACC playgroup mums disentangle ourselves from our offspring and significant others and go to a restaurant for some half-decent food and not-so-decent conversation. Here's the scene: about half a dozen of us are at the restaurant waiting for the others. A woman (not one of ours) walks in, looks around, comes over. She says she's looking for a "mother's group". We say "we're a mother's group". She tells us she wasn't sure whether her dinner was tonight or next Friday so she came down anyway. We are all smiling politely and waiting for her to bugger off. She doesn't. She says "I'm here now, you don't mind if I join you?". Obviously the answer is "of course we mind, you crazy cow, piss off" but what comes out is "no, we don't mind, do join us". At this point she sits down and acts like it's totally normal to gatecrash a mother's group dinner with people you've never met in your life. She stays for the whole evening, eating, chatting, pretending to be a normal person.

Now some of our mums thought this was fine, a bit whacky, but generally OK. No people, this behaviour is not OK. It is bonkers. It wasn't a speed dating night for desperate and dateless adoptive mums. Maybe I'm overlly protective about these get-togethers but I have a pretty strict criteria - you must be an adoptive mum (or at least come with one - sisters, friends, etc. are allowed under certain circumstances), you must hate DoCS and have dedicated your life to opposing their evil deeds (OK, that last one is optional but certainly preferable and to be strongly encouraged). Strangers desperate for a night out, while to be empathised with, should under no circumstances be encouraged. Call me mean-spirited, call me cold and heartless, but "find your own damn friends" I say.

One good thing about being sick is I got to finish two books last week. I had finally finished "A Widow for Year" by John Irving the week before last and gee, was I glad to get that finished. Those John Irving books are so engrossing they sap the life out of you. I felt like I had been reading "Widow" for about ten years. Not one of his best though. So then I started on "Post Mortem" by Ben Elton. As with all his books (except High Society which was just too much hard work, terribly depressing despite the comedy) this books was really entertaining and I got through it in two days. It's a murder mystery (which I love) but with a twist. The protagonist, the detective, gets involved in a bit of nostalgia and joins Friends Reunited, the website which allows you to go back in time and find your old school friends. I could really relate to all the 80s references and I just found it a fun read. Highly recommended, especially if you were a teen of the 80s, like moi.

Then I got onto "In the company of cheerful ladies" which is the fifth (?) in the series of The Number One Ladies Detective Agency books. As with all the others this was a lovely gentle book which left me feeling happy with the world. Nothing like taking a quick visit to Botswana and the world of Mma. Ramotswe to refresh the perspective and wash away my usual jaded attitude. If you haven't discovered these beautiful, gentle books yet (as Mr Meldrum would say) do yourself a favour...

Have I mentioned my love for Antony and the Johnsons? If not, I should have. I "discovered" the devine Antony at a very special and amazing night I attended in January of this year at the Opera House - "Came So Far For Beauty" a tribute night to Leonard Cohen's music. I only went because of Nick Cave and came away with not only Antony but a love for some previously unheard of (by me) musicians such as Rufus and Martha Wainwright and The Handsome Family. Anyway, Antony is a giant, New York-based, transgender singer (feel free to re-arrange those descriptors in any order you like) whose voice and demeanor just blew me away on the night. He is like a fallen angel - his voice could not possibly come out of his body and he doesn't quite seem to reside comfortably in his own body. Yet for me he is musical magic: his voice is beauty, sadness, joy, bitterness, hope - every emotion and so much more. If you would like to hear one of my favourite songs "Mysteries of Love" please click here http://www.theworldofadam.com/mystery.html . However, Antony's songs are not all love and kisses, far from it. One of my favourites is called "I fell in love with a dead boy" and another "Fistful of Love" has much more emphasis on "fist" than on "love".

What can I say? I have eclectic taste in music.

Tuesday, August 02, 2005

I really shouldn't be writing this, I really should be using abseiling gear to climb on top of the mountain of paperwork which has bred on my desk during the past week... but blogging is just so much more fun than actual work. Anyway, I can't establish a connection to the bank to make some important payments so I need to while away some time somehow...

Last week was really, really bad. There is a good reason I never considered a career in nursing - I hate sick people! Including myself. In fact, myself more than anyone. Being sick sucks. It is boring and annoying and really just a waste of time. I'm not much of a laying around in bed person... unless it's with John Cusack or Anthony Keidis or... oh, ok my husband, sheesh! Bed is for sleeping and occassionally for reading on a Sunday morning and very occassionally for ... well, you know, the other stuff.

Will came down with the flu first. He was sick by Sunday lunchtime and was really bad on Monday and Tuesday. High temps (is there anything scarier for a parent?), coughing, runny nose, the whole shebang. By Tuesday afternoon he was on antibiotics and I was feeling like we might get on top of things. Tuesday night I was feeling decidedly crap but didn't want to deal with the idea of getting sick myself.

Wednesday morning I went to work for the first time that week, leaving Jason at home with Will. I managed two hours' of work and I was home in bed by 11:30 am. It was terrible. I must have had a really high temp because I was shaking uncontrolably, I couldn't even talk (hard to believe, but true). I somehow managed to drive myself home and fell into bed. Thursday I was somewhat better but still unable to get out of bed or do anything useful. Will and I spent the day in bed watching the three Harry Potter DVDs. As Will would say "We like Harry Potter, don't we!".

By Friday I was getting better but Will had developed a horrible, non-stop cough - all day, all night - it just didn't stop and I was getting scared he would do himself an internal injury. Nobody in the house was sleeping - it was like the Land of the Living Dead, but not as pretty. The stuff from the chemist was as good as useless. Back to the doctor we went. She gave us a brilliant cough syrup and we had our first, in a week, good night's sleep on Friday night. I felt like a new person Saturday morning.

Now it's my big boy's turn. Yep, the big Jay is sick. I was amazed he lasted this long with Will and I contaminating the air for a full week. He's been in bed since yesterday and will be going to the doctor (who must be heartily sick of our family by now) this afternoon. At least I'm at work and I don't have to look at his sick face all day. Gee, I hate sick people!

OK, enough sickness for one blog. Well, at least the physical kind. Let's backtrack a little...

The weekend before last was amazing, the best we've had for a while. We dropped Will and mum off at the Opera House, where she was taking him to see a children's production, and headed off for a "couple" day. The sun was shining and it was a totally beautiful Sydney winter day (bring on global warming, I say). Driving through the city we made an on-the-spot decision to have lunch at Jackson's Landing, a new harbourside development at Pyrmont, near the Casino. We hadn't been before and I had heard that there was a fabulous gourmet (isn't everything these days?) fish and chip cafe opened up down there.

As soon as we drove down there we were in love. It's a spectacular part of town and the park on the water down there affords a breathtaking view of two of my favourite Sydney landmarks - the Harbour Bridge and the Anzac Bridge. We bought our super yummy fish and chips and sat in the park gazing at our beautiful city. Why would you live anywhere else? After lunch we went for a walk and made a pact that within five years (unless we change our minds and/or get distracted by something else... oh, look what's that pretty thing...) we would buy an apartment down there and enjoy a city lifestyle. I've been playing this tune for some time but Jason's been reluctant, not wanting to swap our slice of suburbia (a pretty nice slice I must say) for the delights of city living. I get butteflies in my stomach just thinking how mindblowing it would be to sit out on our deck and have that stunning view every day. We'd be able to walk to Chinatown for yum cha every weekend (if that's not heaven then I don't know what is), Jason would be able to walk to work and we'd have the beautiful city of Sydney as our backyard.

After this little bit of daydreaming was over we went to the movies. I was really starting to despair of ever being entertained at the cinema again. But then we saw Sin City and my faith in film making was renewed. It had everything that's been missing for me at the cinema - i.e. entertainment. I want to fall into a movie and go for a ride and with Sin City that's just what I did. It's very violent and brutal but also funny and quite original - it left me with a very similar feeling to when I first saw Pulp Fiction - WOW! I wouldn't say I enjoyed it as much as Pulp Fiction - I really loved the multi-layered story line and the twists in the narrative - but it was certainly in the same league and with a very similar flavour.

As a quick aside, my sister and I went to see Me and My Sister on the Friday night. It was a French comedy-drama and I really quite enjoyed it. It's wonderful that Julia and I can work together all week and then still enjoy each other's company enough to socialise together out of work as well. (Most of the time) we get on so well and make each other laugh - it's like having my best friend with me all the time. Cool! [Don't get a big head when you read this, JB]

OK, in case I hadn't had enough movies for one weekend, when we got home from Sin City we had some dinner and decided to watch a movie on Home Box Office (without Will to entertain us there is so much time to kill). So we picked The Village. I was hoping I could still enjoy it even though I knew what "the twist" was, but I didn't really. It was a half decent movie but because I knew what was going to be revealed at the end I just couldn't get into the suspense of it.

Sunday we met up with Mum, Boris, Will (who had stayed the night at mum's) and Julia at The Summit for lunch to celebrate Jason's 36th birthday (yes, that's right, he's my toy boy!). The Summit is a revolving restaurant at the top of the Australia Square building and while my general theory is to avoid revolving (read: revolting) restaurants, this one is an exception. Jay and I went there for our anniversary in January this year and it was spectacular. One of those restaurants that does wonderful food, has amazing service and garnish the whole lot with a breathtaking view. We had been raving about it for months which meant that this lunch was bound to be a disaster - but it wasn't!

On a clear sunny day the view is forever and it really was gorgeous. As before the service was lovely - attentive but not in your face like some silver service restaurants can be. The menu reads beautifully and the best part is that the food tastes and looks as good as it sounds. As before I went for Oyster Mania to start. It's a half dozen oysters done a different way each - but not cooked (Oysters Kilpatrick are a crime against humanity and whoever Kilpatrick is, he ought to be ashamed of himself). IMHO an oyster should not be cooked - it should be served naturally with a wedge of lemon or, if you have a very confident chef, it should be served with a few select dressings which enhance the beautiful oyster flavour. This is what Oyster Mania is - the oysters are presented on a long plate, three on the shell and three in shot glasses - each with a gorgeous dressing. A must for the serious oyster fans.

Then I had the chicken which was served with rare scallops and a seafood bisque. Again this was a stunning main course - except the waiter told us the chickens were a month old which made me a little sad ... only a little, I'm such a carnivore I'm sure it would only be minutes after the plane crash in the Andes before I would be tucking into my fellow survivor's thigh with a half apologetic smile.

I was going to have the hot chocolate pudding for dessert but that would have taken 20 minutes and we were all over it by then so I decided on the dessert selection plate (is there a better combination of words in the English language?). What a work of art! Four tiny sweet morsels beautifully arranged on a long plate. Too good to eat! Well, not really - I managed. As my boss Bob would say - "I love food! I wouldn't eat anything else!"

So now we come to the end of the nice part of the weekend and the beginning of the bad, bad part. The part where this blog starts - the SICK part. After that beautiful weekend of warm weather, Sydney sights, great movies and fabulous food - the crowning glory is a very sick child, soon to be followed by a very sick mother, a very sick dad and a patridge in a pear tree!

I don't know about you, but I need a Bex and I good lie down!