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r we ok?

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What surprises me every time I go through this is that I didn’t see it coming.
There were physical signs. Since Easter I’ve had a feeling in my ribs - a sinking in my sternum and dull pain in the centre that can’t be relieved, or stretched out. It feels like I’m walking around with a boot pressing on my chest. My joints have been hurting, my hips and back, my shoulders, my feet. I was waking up at night, and started catching every bug that came along.
There were other signs too: last week I sat down to write a list, and ten minutes later realised I had been sitting motionless at the table, trying to think clearly. I sat down to edit a perfectly good paper that I’d written for work, decided I hated it, tried to fix it, made it more confusing, and then undid all my edits. I’m struggling to dress because I hate everything I own. I wear a lot of black to work right now, not because it represents my mood but because it’s so much easier to only have to choose earrings.
Cleaning up is impossib…

Frogging Mohair

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I recently made up a knitting pattern. It’s a sequence that’s more tricky than it looks, but makes a loose diagonal rib, so the cherry red mohair blend sort of twists and snuggles as I lift it in my hand. I got the ball of yarn from the Yarn Barn, a misnomer (not a barn by any stretch of the imagination, compared to, say, Pet Barn) which happily indicates to me that the owners, who spin their own wools, were far more interested in the aesthetics than the cogency of the chosen title.
It’s the first time I’ve made up a pattern, even though I’ve been knitting since I was young and knitting things for myself from my twenties. My then boyfriend would joke that I was actually a fifty year old in disguise – I liked listening to 3LO, knitting on trams and tending to pot plants. These are still my simple comforts, although it was easier to find time for them when I lived in one room at about sixty bucks a week, the internet was 28bps and I had little to do but essays and a bit of office temping…

Someone’s daughter, someone’s son #2

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It’s Monday night and I’m travelling to Princes Park to cry for a girl I never knew.
Today I talked to a colleague. “It’s all pretty sad”, he says. Like it was a storm, or an avalanche, that killed her.
As I walked to Elizabeth Street, I could see the number 19 tram stops were overflowing. Instead, I took the train up to Jewell and am tramming back down. I know how, because this is my home, the north. My car is nearby at Mum’s house. She followed me and my sister here when Dad left her, when I was pregnant.
Tonight, Mum has picked up my ten year old from Taekwondo, so I can go. Tonight, I am glad she does Taekwondo. I am glad she can run fast. I am glad she doesn’t take any shit, even from me.
I am leaving behind my child so I can go to Princes Park to cry for someone else’s. On the tram, a couple are looking at their phones, wondering where to get off. I interject, with a small smile. “Third stop”, I say to them. “My friend just texted. It’s near the tennis club.”
A woman my mother’s age…

Someone’s daughter, someone’s son

They’re talking on the radio about a girl who was murdered. Yesterday her body was found in Princes Park, raped and killed. Police issued photos and identities were kept close as the city waited.
Today, a young man turned himself in, and was charged with murder. A small dam broke, as finally, her identity was revealed: a 22 year old, intelligent inner city woman living in North Carlton and beginning a life as a comedian. Tonight, stories are being told of a beautiful person. She had a warm heart, a shy reserve off stage and room-grabbing charisma under lights. This young woman was loved by many good people, people who will grieve for her, and set up funds (and contribute to them), and hold events in her name. Which is right.

I have two daughters. As I listen, tears come. I can hardly breathe.
*****
We don’t know anything about the man accused except what was said in court today, which is that he has Autism Spectrum Disorder, and is “socially regressive”, whatever that means.
He was only th…

A handsome beginning

It’s 10 o’clock on a Wednesday in another inner city café. I’m waiting for a bespoke coffee and an avocado smash, after an early appointment. To my left is a person tapping on a laptop. Ahead is a chatty couple eating brekky burgers and beyond, on a larger table, are two colleagues and letting off steam about some work encounter and receiving longed-for sympathy. The coffee machine roars and gurgles, grounds are sharply tapped out, and fridges open and close. The furniture is upcycled 1950s, and the mod teacups and saucers are perfectly mismatched. Smooth, beatsy music glides above the street art on the walls. We are at ground zero; this is the murmur and rhythm of life in Brunswick.

This place has is a bit different though. For one thing, there are no beards. That’s because the couple, the tapper, the workers and the person waiting for a takeaway, are all women. The barista, waitstaff and kitchenhands: women. The staff are a wide variety of faces and bodies and shades and figures of s…

(S)mothering Sunday

I've seen lots of posts about Mother's Day this week, and I wondered how to reconcile all of them. One post was a beautiful tribute to women who feel pain because they are not mothers. Underneath was a comment in solidarity from a friend, and I realised that this friend - who was hanging out with me and the kids just the other day - is childless and just went through a divorce. While I was batting away my children so I could have an adult conversation, she was possibly feeling a hole in her life. My heart jumped into my throat for her.
Another post was from a mother who is right on the edge. She's wondering what she did wrong to have a sleepless baby, she's wondering whether she will ever sleep properly again, or if she'll ever stop having destructive thoughts about her life. This too shall pass, she reminds herself, the one thought that is tethering her to sanity.
I have teenagers now, and I had them young - I was a mum before 30, and sometimes I grieve, hard-edged …

Priscilla's secret

So the big kid and I watched Priscilla tonight, for predictable reasons. Australia ended its excruciating six-week festival of fear, pride and prejudice with a comfortable, blessedly uniform, vote in favour of same sex marriage.

I read an article in Overland a couple of days later by a young man in a relationship with a man in his mid-forties. The article was discussing his paramour's reflections on growing up gay in Australia in the 1980s and 1990s, describing his world as "pre-Priscilla" and "post-Priscilla". I remember seeing the movie once in the cinemas when it first came out. I must have been 18, and it was in the middle of a series of films that can only be described as Luhrmannesque - gaudy, camp, heartfelt and very sparkly. There was Luhrmann's Strictly Ballroom, P.J. Hogan's Muriel's Wedding, and, of course, Stephan Elliott's The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert. Priscilla, to me, was the weakest of the lot as a film, but th…