Archive for the 'Outside world' Category


I feel a bit sweaty. The lawn is wide and well mown but dry. There isn’t a soul about. The sky is high and blue and sort of hopeful. But it doesn’t feel like autumn and I’m not dressed as though it is Autumn but I’m still a bit sticky, sweaty.

These days seem to stretch wide. And they are dry like the lawn I crossed before I opened the door. The door with a crooked open sign. The door that made me think, I’m not sure that I would want to spill my guts here. Maybe it doesn’t matter when you’re down and dry like the lawn you have to cross to open this door with its crooked sign.

These days see the sky high and blue and hopeful. To me they are just days but they are here nonetheless and I am grateful. I am managing to meander my way through with little direction, little focus. The focus seems just to be in the day; to watch myself move slowly and slightly aimlessly through them.

We’re here

I’ll write more soon but we’re finally here, altogether now and while it feels so nice to be a family again, I cannot help feeling loss. Tears well in my eyes as I inspect our new home finding the linen cupboard and the breadboards, the nappies and the toothpaste.  

I am thrilled at the making of a new home but I can’t help but wonder why, oh why, did we need to do this 800kms away from the people I love.

I’m not sure I’ve made the right decision but my first day, tired as I am, in this new house, in this new city, in this new state, must just be that – a first day, rather than a last.

All mothers love Raymond

I’ve written recently about the angst of working from home as a mother. It seems that others too are addressing the issue. While for a long time I’ve eschewed the label WAHM (thinking that soon I’ll be going ‘back to work’), I’ve realised from my reading in the blogosphere that this label now sticks to me.

How funny then to find a beautifully written essay by Raymond Carver in which he addresses this very issue: work and family balance. How to work well while looking after you children effectively. How to commit to your writing,  but also be a present parent. He speaks of similar struggles that we all have.

…the fact that I had two children. And that I would always have them and always find myself in this position of unrelieved responsibility and permanent distraction.

YES!! Could he have said it more eloquently. This is exactly what I find myself thinking time and time again as I search frantically for that 10 minutes (10 minutes for god’s sake) every day to write!

He also writes about his own assumptions about ‘writers’ and the lives he assumes they lead. This idea completely tapped into the excuse I seem to come up with time and time again as to why I’ve never truely committed to writing despite my passion for it.

At that moment I felt – I knew – that the life I was in was vastly different from the lives of the writers I most admired. I understood writers to be people who didn’t spend their Saturdays at the laundromat and every waking hour subject to the needs  and caprices of their children…..At that moment – I swear all of this took place there in the laundromat – I could see nothing ahead but years more of this kind of responsibility and perplexity. Things would change some, but they were never really going to get better. I understood this but how could I live with it? At that moment I saw accommodations would have to be made. The sights would have to be lowered.


He goes on to speak of the myriad and multitude of jobs both day and night that he and his wife were compelled to keep in order to support their family. So yes, on top of having children, Carver accepted mutual responsibility for their care in order that his wife assist in their financial support. And he tried to begin writing, to begin being a writer at the same time because it was compulsive. Because he had to. Because he’d ignited a longing that he couldn’t ignore.

In those days I figured if I could squeeze in an hour or two a day for myself, after job and family, that was more than good enough. That was heaven itself.

Oh yes it is.

And I felt happy to have that hour. But sometimes, one reason or another, I couldn’t get that hour. Then I would look forward to Saturday, though sometimes things happened that knocked Saturday out as well. But there was Sunday to hope for. Sunday maybe.

We’ve all been there.

But what I loved most about his essay – aside from the consistently spare and beautiful writing – is his comment that his children are his work’s influence. Asked time and time again which other writers have influenced his work, he cites his children has giving him more influence, more consistent creative fodder than anyone else because they were his everyday. “I’m talking about real influence now. I’m talking about the moon and tide.”  So, I guess, while having children and looking after them limited his opportunity to write, the fact is he wouldn’t be the writer that he is were it not for them.

Influences. John Gardner and Gordon Lish. They hold irredeemable notes. But my children are it. Theirs is the main influence. They were the prime movers and shapers of my life and my writing. As you can see, I’m still under their influence, though the days are relatively clear now, and the silences are right.

Sunshine and cleaners

So, I’m on the improve. Well, my mood is. You know, things find they’re normal rhythm again pretty easily. Everything feels like it’s slowly shifting downwards and then someone changes the gears and you start reversing back up again. Slowly sure, but up nonetheless.

I still feel sick and I don’t know why. I’d like to work that out.

I’m thinking of getting coaching for my writing. It’s like a drug (not writing that is). I know it’s bad for me and it only feels good (or at least easier) momentarily but then I feel total crap for not doing it. So, I’ve come to the point where I can actually admit I need some help and am voluntarily checking myself into a 12-step coaching programme. I hope I see the light soon!

Oh, and we’re getting the house cleaned by professionals this afternoon. Thank the lord. It  has become crazily overwhelming and made me feel like shit all week – how crap the house looks that is.

Anyway, due to the lighter note round here, I thought I’d share the following. You know, I attribute much of my shift back up to the inspiration I receive in the world around me. It’s up to me to seek it out because when I find it, it lifts me higher and highter. I am deeply grateful for this. 

listening to:

and LOVING it

coveting: this website. I love his work and his words.

reading: sweet read. I’m enjoying it alot.

looking at: this beautiful site. It touches me deeply. Grief (death) is something I actively avoid contemplating and I know that I need to be more open to it. The expansiveness that this guy demonstrates to the impending loss of his father is remarkable and meaningful.

eating:  this bread which just makes me feel warm inside.

watching: finally finished Series 2 of 30Rock (llliiizzz llleeemmmooonnn). Great laugh-out- loud amusement

What the flat-white hell?

Many years ago I worked in a cafe in a busy, business district. We worked hard and churned out coffee after coffee. We were proud of how quickly we made good coffee; of how well we remembered our regulars and their orders; of how many commendations we received; of how hard we partied while at work; with how much money we made; with how much money we quietly stole.

We had many regulars. The cafe was staffed only by young women, attractive, bubbly, helpful. We had as many female regulars as male, but yes, the men seemed most happy when they returned. We were invited to Friday night drinks, to parties, to lunch, on holidays.

One guy was quiet but he came at 11 o’clock everyday. He didn’t say much but always ordered a flat white. We chatted sometimes. For me he was a challenge because he didn’t say much and I was outgoing and irritating so I made him talk. He started coming twice a day. Once at 11 and then at 3. He still didn’t say much but in a strange kind of slow way we began getting to know each other. He was cute but I had a boyfriend and he was no cuter than the many of other guys who traipsed through regularly. And they were more fun to flirt with.

One afternoon as the cafe was closing, I walked outside to pack up the table and chairs. He was sitting on his own at one of the tables. The sun was low in the sky and people were hurrying past to the train station. I was obviously surprised and he was obviously awkward and we really didn’t know what to say to each other. He asked me out for coffee. I laughed, ‘flat white?’ He said (without laughter), ‘No, when you finish work. We could go to the beach.’

I’m not smart in these situations. I never have been. I said yes. I was happy to but I knew it wasn’t sending the right messages and I also knew I simply wasn’t that keen. We went. It was fine but slightly strained. He talked more and I laughed too much. He dropped me home. My boyfriend was in the lounge room with my flat mate. They’d been wondering where I was. I said I needed a shower.

This guy then started coming on real, real strong. He visited the cafe a lot. He wanted more walks, more trips to the beach. I was uncomfortable but pretended not to be and at no stage did I say I had a boyfriend.

Easter was coming up. Easter always means days off and drinking and hangovers and chocolate. He asked me whether I wanted to go away with him and his friends to a place he had on the coast. I said I couldn’t, I was going away with my mum. He was disappointed. Sad and kind of frustrated, like he’d been working up to asking me and all the adrenalin was now making him ansty.

I left work early on the Thursday before Easter. I wasn’t going away with my mum. My boyfriend and I had planned a camping trip to the beach. We wanted to get away early Friday morning so I bunkered off Thursday to pack. And buy a tent. I forgot about a sleeping bag.

My coffee guy came into the cafe after I’d left on the Thursday and spoke to my co-worker, who also happened to be my flat mate, who by this stage had guessed something weird was going on. He asked where I was, she told him, innocently, of my camping trip away with Matt. Coffee guy lost it. Yelled at her. In front of customers. Derided me and cursed my lack of candour.

I was at home. I lived close by in a soul less house positioned too close to the corporate world to be homely. I’d bought my tent. I was listening to Indigo Girls and dying my hair. There was a knock on the front door. He stood there fuming. “How’s your mum?” he said. “I thought you two would have left by now.” “She can’t leave until tomorrow,’ I lied. “We’re catching our flight first thing in the morning.” “Bullshit.” Crap. How the hell? “I spoke to Carla at the cafe. Seems you’re off camping. This is bullshit. Total bullshit. You’re a f**ing liar.” I shut the door. He knocked again. And again. And again. Finally he stopped. Then my phone rang. “If you were happy with this guy, you wouldn’t have been hanging around with me.” “I’m sorry. I really am. I’m sorry if I gave mixed messages. We never spoke about it. I didn’t know what you wanted.” “Crap. You knew exactly how I felt.” He was really mad. Strangely mad.

I went away with Matt. We had an OK time. The relationship was unravelling. I hadn’t said that to coffee guy. Too complicated to try and explain. Anyway, it would have just confused things for him.

Coffee guy didn’t come back to the cafe. He must have been embarrassed. But he kept ringing and he came round the house a couple of times. It was the same conversation each time. We were perfect for each other. I must be unhappy with my dude. What was I doing? Once Matt answered the phone both of us knowing it was going to be him. Coffee guy tried to convince Matt that he and I were perfect for each other and that we both needed to face up to that.

Then the calls stopped at my urgent and pretty upset request.

2 years later I bumped into coffee guy again. We became friends. He invited me to a party. I talked to his friends. One guy told me coffee guy was looking happy for the first time in three months. “Why? What happened?” I asked. “He just broke up with his girlfriend of 7 years. They weren’t working but he’s been pretty upset. He can’t stop talking about you though.”

What the hell? the dude had had a girlfriend. The whole time. When he visited the cafe. When we went to the beach. When we talked on the phone. When he implored me that we were made for each other. When he told my boyfriend the same. He had a girlfriend.

Shock moon



the here and now

I’ve been crazy busy working, trying to see old friends as they whish quickly into town and then out again. I’ve got a lot I want to write about but I just thought I’d pop in quickly to share the here and now.

Right now:

reading: beautiful stories and woven narratives full of subtle suspense.

listening: to funkaroo, uplifting, pretty music. I don’t know anything else that they do but this makes me smile and they’re so young they could seriously be toilet training.

watching: alot. Dinner on Friday night consisted of sitting around a computer screen, drinking beer, screaming with laughter and pushing away tears of grace. Check this out.

eating: the tango-ist of cheese with hearty bread.







Thus explained

The lovely women above us heard it all (except our baby crying – they heard not a whisper of this). They did hear a woman walking up and down our back lane on the phone to the police genuinely fearful of the welfare of our child. I’m not embarrassed and shamed that our baby was crying (note intermittently and not desperatly). I just think it’s amazing that we now live in a society in which babies crying is not accepted and is instead read as a sign that the baby is becoming deeply and psychologically damaged! Give me a break.

Apparently, as the two police walked away the male officer said “She (I) looked totally shattered.” Yes! because my baby doesn’t sleep, because I’m trying to fix it, because I’m trying to cope.

My baby is fine. He’s happy and healthy and he hugs me with gusto. No problem here officer.

…..and so they called the police

S’s sleep is simply appalling at the moment. After a few days away in which every nightly whimper was necessarily leaped upon and quietened with a bottle or a hug or his favourite back rub, he now expects the royal treatment and argues loudly and profusely if it is withheld.

We decided last night that we’d had enough (I’ve been over it for a while but C insists on them sharing a room) and moved A into the spare room so that when S woke and screamed blue murder he’d at least have some semblance of a chance to sleep through it.

S screamed at 10pm and at 12pm and then at 2.30pm he went hell-for-leather. After 30 minutes I went in, rubbed his back and gave him his dummy. Silence. For 3 minutes. 20 minutes later I was back in armed with a bottle thrust forcefully into his mouth. Silence. For good. I stumbled back to bed (now having been awake for almost 2 hours) and slowly drifted back to sleep.

Fast forward 5 minutes to banging on the window. Shouting. Our back grill door being fiercely rattled. I completely freaked out. C got up and we both tripped out the door to see what the hell was going on.

At the back door were not a bunch of armed robbers, desperately trying to get in and steal what little we have to offer (note robbers) but two police, a man and a woman.

“Um, we’ve had complaints about a baby crying.” (WTF. Yes babies cry….a lot)

“Yes, that’s ours.”

“A few neighbours have called to complain. Do you normally leave your back door open?” (Yes, hot summer night and the grill in front of it was locked).

“Um, no. I forgot to close it.”

“So the baby’s been screaming?”

“Ah yes, he’s a nightmare – we’re having a tough time at the moment.”

“Oh, ok. We’ll go then. You should keep your door closed at night. Sorry.”

Let me explain – we live in a gorgeous, friendly, leafy section of Sydney’s most notorious suburbs. Redfern has had a history of violence, drugs, you name it. I love it for its colour but really it’s had a bad rap for a reason. It’s the beat that no new policeman wants. You never stop. There’s always a call. Always an arrest. Always a fight. Always drugs.

So WHAT THE HELL is someone doing wasting our taxpaying resources ringing to complain ABOUT A BABY CRYING!!

For god’s sake, I can only imagine in an area like this, the police have to respond to every call which meantions the word ‘baby’ and that’s kind of comforting but I tell you what, they were so embarrassed and sorry as they left. We looked haggard. We were beat. And to get our attention, they’d been banging on the baby’s window. So guess you decided to go for his 5th yell of the night…….

It’s not my party but I’ll still cry if I want to

When the boys were away, I thought it the perfect opportunity to hit the town in a way I hadn’t for a looooooooong time. A friend was moving to another city, and I’d already planned to pop in to say goodbye. Instead, the boy’s trip meant that I could actually make a night of it. Dinner, drinks, drinks and then hopefully, some more drinks.

Well pre-dinner drinks and dinner were lovely. Just four girlfriends sitting around chuckling about the sweet earnestness of the waitress, comparing nail colours, counselling about the protocol of gay blind dates, lamenting our family situations, laughing, scrambling to get each other’s most recent TV/podcast/film/boy/job/life recommendations, eating spectacular sushi, missing absent friends and DRINKING.

We made our way to the party after a brilliant meal and that’s when things kinda started heading a slippery slope downhill. I’m very fond of the friend leaving town. We’re not close but he’s extremely funny, kind and smart and I genuinely love the time I do get to spend with him. He’s unpretentious but scary clever and pretty artistic so I guess I wasn’t surprised to walk into a room of hopeful artists, writers, muscians and wanna-be depressos. I wasn’t fazed. I had my friends. We were still drinking champagne. Fine.

Well, not really. See, drinking anymore than my standard 2 glasses was something very foreign and I’m not sure my body was really in coping mode so things started getting pretty hazy as soon as I someone bought me another drink. My now absent drinking ability really is such a shame. My friends  probably share drinking more than anything else in common. I’m lucky that they are also very smart, funny, warm and kind but we definitely bonded over our shared enjoyment of debauchery.

Anyway, things started sliding pretty damn fast into crap when I got stuck with a black-lycra-clad mistress, rolling her kohl rimmed eyes (didn’t that trend go out almost 40 years ago now?!) lamenting the fact she wasn’t “back in Paris”. Not just “in Paris” but “back” there, giving me no other place to go (I trust me, my quick mental exploration of other avenues was comprehensive) other than, “oh, when were you there?” OH MY GOD, possibly the world’s most boring, self-indulget, wanky, only-in-a-film-script, one-side conversation ensued. Yes she lurved Paris, her children were divine (she was a nanny but that was said in a whisper), her family was special, ‘they’ moved around Europe but ‘they’ loved Paris best, yes she enjoyed many lovers of both sex (really, who-the-goodamn cares about that stuff these days: just say lovers plural), yes she learnt to read Proust in French blah-blah-blah-blah.

I was ready to go home. She clearly found me as boring as I found her because I didn’t say much (she hadn’t noticed I’d fallen asleep in my champagne glass) and she managed to find an excuse to leave to ‘find her umbrella’???? Can’t she do better than that – another drink, date, cigarette maybe but UMBRELLA? Hey, that’s just how boring I am.

Anyway, it as all over after that. Bye Bye Birdie – into cab – key in door – onto computer to blog for an hour – into bed: all quite pissed. I’m not going to push myself anytime soon to put those party shoes back on. They don’t fit anymore, at least not in the same way, and I need new ones anyway with a slightly lower heel. I can’t keep up with the young uns anymore who all seem to be moving between Sydney and Paris to my disbelief and strange, quiet envy.

July 2020