Thursday, November 18, 2010

Life Happens

Driving home yesterday I was listening to an interview with the fantastic Steve Biddulph who mainly writes about raising boys and manhood. He may well be a tree hugging hippie and I may disagree with him in some areas but he generally makes a lot of sense to me on many issues.

Yesterday he was talking about his new book The New Manhood. The thing that jumped out to me the most is he spoke about the five things that are most important to remember in life and how most cultures, at least previous ones, focussed on these when raising children. The four I remember are: 1) People die 2) Bad things happen 3) We can't control things 4) Life is hard.

He talked about how these days we seem to bring up children with beliefs that are totally opposite to these life truths. He is so right.

We are a society and a culture of deniers. We believe that modern medicine can "fix" anything and when it can't we're both surprised and disappointed. We think we can control everything that happens to us and are surprised, frustrated and disappointed when we can't.

I was reading a blog this morning and F was writing about a friend of hers who is dying of cancer at the age of 37, leaving a husband and two small children. A terrible situation. One of the comments was that it's a reminder that we should be vigilant about getting things checked, medically speaking. So true and yet so not. We live in a bubble where everyday we are told that we need to exercise, eat right, meditate, avoid stress, get medical check ups - all to "guarantee" our good health and long term survival. Sure some or all of these things can make for a good quality life; but you know what, sometimes people just die or get sick and then die. And there is almost nothing we can do to prevent it in any real terms.

It's funny how in my family I can't even talk about my wishes for my funeral, including my already created funeral playlist, because I get shushed. Talking about death is bad luck, it's like asking it in. But I don't think that way. We need to talk about death; be aware of it, be comfortable with it, be prepared for it. Death is not a punishment; it's a fact of life. From the moment we are created, nothing more than a fertilised egg splitting into cells, we start our journey towards death. Nothing is more certain. Yet we are more scared of dealing with it than with our parent's sex lives.

It's easier to go with the flow. But I want to make a conscious effort to talk to my children a little more about the realities of life. I don't know how to find the words, but I really want to try. It's not a matter of fitting it into normal daily conversation: "Where's your lunch box? By the way, do you know that mummy is going to die one day and that you are too... what do you think about that?". I can understand why we shy away from life's difficult conversations but I want to find the mental strength to introduce these topics so that my children do not grow up fearing this spectre and that they do not grow up thinking when bad things happen in life that everything will fall apart.

Life is ups and downs, good times and sad times and difficult times. But most people will get through most things, especially if they have family and friends for love and support.

The Outsiders

We watched The Outsiders last night. What an awesome film. A FIVE STAR CLASSIC!

Let's put aside the cast, made up of the who's who of '80s teen heart throbs (though how sweet was Rob Lowe as Sodapop Curtis? almost too pretty to be a boy - did I ever tell you about the time my friend M and I went in the live audience of the midday Ray Martin Show because Rob Lowe was going to be a guest... you know, when he was still sweet, before he came out as a sex addict - my god, he was good enough to eat, literally not figuratively).

Any old how, this movie is above and beyond just the cast, who are wonderful, despite their heart throb status. Seeing a young gorgeous Patrick Swayze made me a little teary.

The simple story, with a simple moral, is beautifully written, acted and directed. Just enough of everything and not too much of anything. These days there is hardly ever just the right amount; it's all either way over the top too much or annoyingly minimalist not enough.

So to end I'll just say, whether you're a greaser or a soc, be kind, be nice, love one another and stay gold.

Monday, November 15, 2010

The Loved Ones

Finally saw The Loved Ones on Saturday night. Just me and Big Jay... in the whole cinema. I'm hoping it's because we went to a 4:15 pm session on a Saturday afternoon and it's kind of a 9:00 pm session sort of film.

I loved it. Really, really loved it. It was just the right balance of horror and humour, with a good script, good acting and just enough gore and horror film dramatic tension. I was flinching and laughing and cheering in almost equal measure which was so satisfying.

Best of all it was just the right length, one and a half hours. Perfect. So many film lately just drag on and on, having little to say, just bloated on their own self importance. No! The Loved Ones says what it wants to say and then it ends.

However, if anything lets it down is the end. The very end. The second last scene is great; I was laughing and cheering. It should have been the end. But then it goes on for one scene too many. The piss weak scene. Sorry but it was.


Last night, Marianna was laying in our bed and we were both dozing off after a fun but tiring weekend. Suddenly she said to me "mum, you are like a pretend human". I was so stunned I had to ask her to repeat what she'd said. Then I just stared at her in amazement. She couldn't explain herself when I asked what she meant.

How does she know I'm just pretending to be a human? The scientists on my planet assured me this human disguise was 100% natural and would never be detected. Fools.

It's sort of funny but somehow too close to the bone.

Tuesday, November 09, 2010

Under the weather

Isn't that a funny saying? But so apt today. I'm feeling unwell, a yucky head cold which means my nose is running like a tap, my throat is aching and my head is throbing.

Last night we were literally under the weather as we watched, and listened to, the most magnificent storm roll over Sydney. Is anything nicer than being cosy inside your home, your children sleeping in their warm beds, while a huge, loud storm plays out in all it's glory outside your windows and above your head? Bliss.

It's been a big week and weekend, probably the biggest of the year in terms of physical workload. I enjoyed it but I'm glad it's over.

Saturday was my dad's 70th birthday party which we held at our home. Just a small get together (dad's not the most social person on earth), finger food and drinks on our deck. This involved lots of shopping and cleaning (may I take a moment to thank my wonderful hubby Big Jay who rolls up his sleeves and helps out big time during these stressful times when I'm running around like a headless chicken on crack) and a great day of food preparation with my MIL, my sister J and her friend R (who had flown in from Ireland only two days before). There's something gorgeous and old school (damn you Cake Boss, I can't get that phrase out of my mind!) about a group of women hanging out in the kitchen, preparing food, talking, laughing.

Sunday was the kids' school fete which was bigger and better than ever after being cancelled last year because of the BER (may the fleas of a thousand camels infest your armpits JGill). I was in charge of the cupcake and gingerbread man decorating stall and because I had only ever seen it done once (at a chocolate festival I attended in Melbourne last year) and because I had no idea how many kids we would get through I over ordered big time and spent lots of time worrying about whether we'd have enough icing, smarties, serviettes...

The day was fun and my kids certainly had a ball but our stall was on the quiet side and we had lots and lots of uniced cupcakes and gingerbread people leftover. So after getting home absolutely exhausted on Sunday evening I sat up and iced about 50 cupcakes to take to the canteen on Monday (those cupcakes might as well get used up and I have never met a kid who doesn't love a cupcake). At least I got to watch the last two episodes of True Blood while I was icing away and all I can say is Alan Ball you are a wicked man, why do you keep us hanging like this at the end of each season.

I barely got any sleep on Sunday night, having gone to bed very late (I couldn't stop myself watching My Big Fat Gypsy Wedding, which was rather interesting reality tv) and then woke up on Monday with this head cold. Took a lot of effort to get through the day at work without collapsing face first onto my keyboard.

Then last night Marianna and I decorated about 50 or so gingerbread folk to take to the canteen today... And then, because a martyr's work is never done, I sat up and finished cutting out, addressing and packaging up the invitations for the Year 6 farewell (which I am co-ordinating, being a Year 5 class mum this year).

I have woken up this morning feeling like someone has used my head for a ball during a particularly energetic AFL grand final. I suspect I'm in the final half of my 48 hour cold but I'm not at my best and would give almost anything to get back into bed with my Kindle and finish The Mermaids Singing which strangely seems to be a book I can't quite get into.

Despite all that whining I do feel a great sense of achievement and also relief. I am definitely on the downward slide of the work mountain which builds up at this time of the year. While there is still lots to do between now and the big day on the non-denominational festive season calendar a huge part of the pressure has now lifted.

So onwards we march... my personal little reward is going to be seeing The Loved Ones next Saturday. What an awesome little horror movie that is promising to be. This blog is about nothing if not about tangents.

Wednesday, November 03, 2010

This funny feeling

It feels strange not to have to write every day. It was certainly a challenge to write something each day for Rocktober (though I did cheat once or twice by writing more than one installment on a single day). I enjoyed it but it did weigh on my mind and at times I would go blank, not being able think of a single song worth writing about. Other days I would be driving along (driving seems to be the time I am most able to think) when 10 great songs would pop into my mind.

This is the time of the year - late October/early November - when I feel like I'm being sucked into the path of an oncoming freight train. There is so much going on with school commitments (being a class mum I'm involved with the school fete and the year 6 farewell function plus there are the events which must be attended like Dance Fever and the school presentation day), work end of year stuff (like organising the Christmas party and ordering gifts for clients and staff), general kid stuff (like Marianna's dance concert which involves three rehearsals in three completely different parts of Sydney) plus assorted birthday parties, general social stuff like Christmas parties and other end of year catch ups and general social events which just happen to fall during this time of year. Don't get me wrong I love the social stuff and I love being busy but this is definitely what I call too much of a good thing. With so much going on I barely have time to draw a breath and I am always thinking about the next thing which means I am hardly ever "in the moment" enjoying the thing I'm doing right now.

It's all feast or famine in life, isn't it? When I visit my grandmother in Shady Pines I see all the very elderly folk who have nothing but time now. Their lack of physical health means they can no longer do the things they used to do so they fill up their days around the home playing cards, reading, chatting, sitting. To someone like me who is always rushing through, spending half an hour visiting before running off onto the next errand, this seems blissful. What I wouldn't do to have an hour to sit in their lovely garden with a book and a cup of tea. We each look at each other jealously in some ways, wishing for a little of what the other has.

I try, and generally fail, to each day appreciate and enjoy what I have and what I'm doing right now. My pace, and stage, of life means I hurtle through each day, manically getting my tasks done (mostly without any real joy, simply because there just isn't the time to enjoy any emotion except frustration because nothing is ever done fast enough) and the little spare time I have is usually spent daydreaming about my long lost (at the time not appreciated) youth or planning for some event in the future.

But when I do have a moment like this one, when the children and I have had a lovely morning with no-one yelling or complaining (it's still early though), the pre-work morning tasks are mostly done and I'm typing this while the kids get a short burst of The Goodies, I take a breath and think how very lucky I am at this moment... and I savour this beautiful funny feeling.