Thursday 20 March 2014

Hey Ducky!

I am one big duck right now.
Beneath this smooth exterior (created by neatly plastering over the cracks), I am paddling like hell.
Wedding is in EIGHT WEEKS.
We are still having catering dramas that may make me throw my hands in the air and order twenty gigantic pizzas on the day because that's as much patience as I have left. And I better find some picnic rugs because I have yet to find time to go and visit the hire place for some actual chairs and stuff. 
I miss my cousin. I want to talk to her. I want her frustrating ability to piss me off when I ask a simple question and get one hundred ridiculous answers in reply. I want my phone to beep until I scream. Because it would mean she was still here. Shit. 
The house that dust built is slowly being brought into line but I fear we are creating more mess in the process of taming it, and I want it to be done already. The roses are driving me nuts because we are a high frost area and I have to wait until it is almost bloody Spring before it's safe to prune the poor bedraggled darlings.
On a happier note - a lot of plants that I vaguely recognised have been popping up all over the garden and my friend tells me they are violets and I stinking LOVE violets. So much that I want to give my garden a big squishy hug. Can you hug a garden? I think I will try. Although maybe out the back or behind the hedge where passing motorists can't see me.
The only reason I've managed to sit still long enough to write a blog post is that I am chained to my desk in my office catching up on Paperwork Mountain, and I needed to not be looking at bills for five minutes.
I haven't run since the Great Fall of Natalie on the main road. Not because I haven't wanted to, but because I seem to be stuck in a land where my gentleman friend only pops in occasionally and doesn't seem to live here even though I'm sure he does. Obviously we hit autumn and everyone wants to build a hundred roads and he has to take them all their rocks in a big hurry. Smushed up rocks to be technical. But all the same it would be nice if I saw him for five minutes where I wasn't still waking up over my bowl of coffee, or putting myself to bed. Or when he was snoring and I have insomnia. I'm over that.
It's all fine though. I'm calm, see? Just don't look at my legs. They are paddling like hell.

Saturday 22 February 2014

The House That Dust Built

Most people will tell you that renting is hard. It's part of the reason that so many strive for the goal of owning their own little piece of real estate.

I like renting. I like that if I want to get a job in Canada and move across the world in a week, I can, because there is no great big pile of bricks in a declining market holding me back. And mostly because if the air conditioner or the hot water service dies I just ring up and make it someone else's problem. I like a good handball, especially when it's an expensive handball.

We just moved, from our lovely house on the hill to another, much older, house nearer the main street and very definitely at the bottom of the hill. As evidenced by the pile of damp things in our shed after last Friday's Southern Monsoon. WonderMan needs to build us some besser block shelves before winter I think.

Yes, it's an old tudor style house. Yes the yard is overgrown and hasn't been watered since the pyramids were built. But it has a yard, which was the only thing holding us back from staying in our lovely hill top house forever. There's only so much concrete and paving I can stand.

I think the house is adorable and it looks like a home, sash windows and all. I'm not really in to all this smooth walled open plan modern stuff anyway.

But unfortunately I have to rent it through the most USELESS real estate agent in the district, because they command 85% of the property market. 

I spent FOUR HOURS doing the ingoing inspection report that looks like it was photocopied from the one done in 1985. I provided SIXTEEN pages of my own photos showing all the bits that had magically been "missed" in the agent's photos. And may have made a sarky comment about who I should address my bill to under my breath when I handed it in.

This house is all kinds of dirty. And I don't even mean it's been empty for a while and there's some dust. I mean food splatters on the underside of the shelves dirty. And on the top of the shelves. And pretty much everywhere. I mean crap that looks like it's been there since the house was built filling the cupboards that I am paying to put MY stuff in. Mould in the bathroom tiles. YUCK YUCKITY YUCK.

Yesterday I vacuumed my hallway and my loungeroom, and before I had even finished my ultra expensive vacuum cleaner was making a horrible noise. So I had a good look underneath and pulled out the mother of all dust bunnies jammed up amidst a metric tonne of dirt. This from carpets that were "professionally cleaned". Someone is pocketing some nice cash and laughing like hell.  

The day we moved in we discovered the blinds that were supposed to go up in the back bedroom were still on the floor, drenched in cat wee. So that made my day. When I rang the agent her word's were "Oh there's never been a cat in the house." Well I don't know which planet your house is on lady but there has most definitely been a cat in here. It's pulled all the carpet where someone's been feeding it under the dining room table. The same section of carpet you managed to miss in your photos.

So we got that cleared up and then discovered that when it rained that same room got very wet. I'm pretty sure rain is meant to stay on the outside of the house, yes? One quick look and a blind fool could see that this had been happening for years and it got painted over every now and then so no one would notice. Well I noticed... and work starts in a week. 

Today I am soaking the mother of all disgusting range hood covers that were labelled Good/Clean on my inspection report. Yeah, you can always smell grease from your front door, that's totally normal I'm sure. 

There is not enough in place to protect tenants from unscrupulous agents.

And yes, I know there are bad tenants, but that's what landlord's insurance is for. At least there is some protection in place if you happen to own the home. 

Why can't we, as tenants, ask how many notices have been served on an agent? How many times they've been summonsed to a tribunal? Why can't we call bullshit on their laziness and scamming? This one person controls the one important aspect of our lives it would be very hard to do without - the home we live in. And if we call them out they can make life very difficult indeed.

At least I can take one good thing away from our move, and it's that we are doing the right thing. We got a five star rating from the previous agents which made me feel a whole lot better after the disappointing welcome to our new place. 

I'm off to call my carpet cleaner, so he can do the job that should have been done in the first place. And then I will get my butt out of my office (my own office!) so I can turn it into a spare room and put some Freddo Frogs on the pillows for my parents who arrive Monday.

And then I might set up a dust sculpture exhibition using only what I sweep off my outside walls. 

Wednesday 29 January 2014

Let me tell you a story...

This is a story of two girls. 

One girl started high school, embarking on an adventure, the next big step of her journey through life. With this step comes many things - excitement, fear, insecurity, worry. Things that we all experience during this time. 

Maybe the other girl just started too, I don't know. Maybe she is scared, insecure, worried about her appearance, maybe she is just overwhelmed by it all.

So this second girl points out to the first girl that she has a monobrow. 

A simple, throwaway comment, not even really malicious... Just a pointed comment, probably to distract attention from herself, possibly a reassurance to herself that other people have faults too. 

The she goes on her merry way and doesn't think about the first girl at all. It's swept past in her whirlwind of life and she doesn't care enough to think beyond speaking. 

That afternoon the first girl goes home and gets hold of her mum's razor and shaves her eyebrows off. Completely, utterly, just a wisp of pale white, bare skin to show they even existed at all.

And when her mum discovers this, well all she can do is stand, speechless, and wonder why her beautiful girl didn't come to her for help. Ask her what she should do.

So her mum hugs her close and tells her it was silly, but time will fix her troubles, and in the meantime they invented eyebrow pencil for a reason. Asks if next time her girl will come to her, promises she will always be here to listen.

Then she sits quietly in her room and wonders if the girl who pointed this out knows what she's done. If she will be the leader of the pack that will descend upon her daughter if they discover the truth behind the make up. 

She has a message for this girl: Your words have consequences far beyond your lips. Be kind. Be understanding. Be supportive. I hope that no one ever makes you feel as insecure as you made my girl feel. Those few words, flitting past in seconds, will be there on my girls face for the world to see for many days to come. You were hurtful, whether deliberately or not, and a tiny part of me hopes you aren't sleeping soundly tonight.

So now this first girl can go back to school with her pencilled in armour against the whisperers... And her mum can only hope she's given her girl enough strength to hold her head up and learn from her mistakes. Hope she has instilled a knowledge that her girl is fine, just as she is. Love bomb her every day and give her strength. 

The end.

Tuesday 10 December 2013

Where does all the wibbly wobbly timey wimey go?

If I stay still enough I can hear the sound of time whooshing by. I wonder where it's all going?

Although I do mourn the loss of precious moments, they are most precious because I remember them, not because I'm paused within them for the rest of eternity. 

I'm sitting in the deep lull between the crashing waves of time marching ever onwards, standing at the back of the picture watching the world rush on.

I don't want to hurry these next few days. I want to give them all my heart, all my attention. I want to remember them forever. 

My oldest girl is standing on the cusp of her new era. Tomorrow we will stand beside her as she graduates from primary school and moves on to the next stepping stone. 

I'm proud, oh so proud, slightly overwhelmed and nervous. I have many hopes for her future, which when put into words all become the same thing.

I hope she is happy. I hope she laughs. I hope that when someone knocks her down she will get back up and dance in their faces. I hope I can be everything she needs me to be.

That time I was talking about, it doesn't go anywhere, it becomes a part of us. Deep inside is every moment we have lived, and every now and then they flutter past, so brief and fleeting. 

It flows through us and into these beautiful little souls that grow and change and make our passing time sparkle and glow. 

And now it's time to loosen yet another string, so she can gather her own time, winding and twirling it around her soul and building herself as she goes.

I can't wait to see her begin.


Sunday 24 November 2013

Christmas - Y U Make Everyone Crazy?

Every year I hope for... something better. Mostly that people will burn their arsehole gene along with their yule log and maybe just once I won't be left feeling like I am just not worth anybody's time.

Woolworths has earned my wrath already for playing dreary carols in between really bad eighties one hit wonders. 

The local Subway shop had it's decorations up in October. Defying even the reasoning of "They get them up early to get people buying early" because, really, who the hell buys presents at Subway? The Penguin stickers are already peeling, just like my rapidly fading good cheer.

I would like, for the first time ever, to take a holiday over Christmas, with my family. Without it causing family row #447.

So I give up on it because it's all just too hurtful and then, of course, I must endure the obligatory guilt trip with the weight of a thousand elephants because I'm being SO FUCKING TERRIBLE to my parents by wanting to not spend my only time off depressed and miserable and living in everyone else's shadow. 

And all around me people are slapping on their fake smiles, hurling awful tinsel everywhere and pretending Christmas is about JOY and LOVE.

I know lots of you feel the same way. Why does it all have to be so hard? Why can't those around us just pull their heads out of their butts for a teeny weeny second?

I don't know. I've never had the answer, but I'm like a dog whose owner latched the doggy door - I just keep trying, banging my head and wasting time better spent sleeping in the sunshine. 

All I can tell you is that Christmas is a holiday engineered to remind you why you moved so damn far away, just in case you forget.

And the sky won't fall in if you spend it at home. I promise.

Thursday 14 November 2013

Of planes and trains and tears...

I flew out of Adelaide at 6am on Friday morning. With my exploding heart wrapped tight  so it wouldn't spill onto those beside me.

(Qantas does a nice breakfast service, by the way, if you are ever considering flights at that ungodly hour. You're welcome.)

Brisbane greeted me with sunshine, and a tiny hire car, which was saved from it's extreme petiteness by the fact that it was bright, bright red. I loved it instantly, even though the air vents rattled when I played the radio too loud. I played it too loud anyway.

Met up with my cousin and uncle, hugged them because I had no words. I still have no words that I can give them, all I have is love, and it feels like it will never be enough.

A morning ticked away as we sat, restless. Distraction was sought, and found. The Railworks Museum, a soothing balm to electric nerves and shattered hearts. A tour guide with simple words, so matter of fact, who must have wondered at our grimaces parading as smiles, as we thanked her in small voices.

Lunch. Stillness. Conversation of the mundane, the everyday. Panic rising as the clock ticked on, towards the minute we could not postpone. 

Changing, smoothing, painting on a face we could hide behind. A hundred little movements in preparation, swallowing the tears and pretending we could hold on to our dignity.

A GPS voice the only sound as I drove that little car to the chapel. Discussions over signposts and parking as we fought to put off the moment we would have to leave the little red bubble of safeness. The engine stilled, a sigh, giving in to the inevitable.

Hugs that shared our love and grief, small talk, three sets of round sad eyes that took my breath away. We walked, side by side, gently, slowly, to the chapel bathed in the light of the setting sun. 

Sat rigid, wound tight, trying so hard to be strong. 

One tear fell and then they were a torrent. A flood no amount of trying could hold back. My dignity mopped up with blue tissues. Dripping from my cheeks and splashing on my hands held tightly in my lap. Like waves racing onto the shore they were relentless, unyielding.

Some are still escaping, even now.

Goodbyes said, choked words exchanged. 

A slow drive back with bad jokes to break the silence. 

Rushing to shed the armoured skin. A taxi driver who thought he was Craig Lowndes in a minivan. Holding those dear little faces close and wishing I could soothe the pain inside.

Promising to write, promising we will always be here. Making promises to ourselves that we will never stop being there.

Laying down on hotel sheets, a 3am alarm. Showering, shedding the dust of yesterday's travel and preparing for today's. Silence in the lift. A smile from the midnight desk lady, back in that tiny red car, with the GPS my only company.

Daylight spreading as I enter the city, singing Katy Perry, loudly, badly. The long, dark, relentless airport tunnel. The beep of the toll thingy and the bustling car park.

A sip of hazelnut coffee as I wait for the call to board. People's faces - tired, excited, bored. Wondering if I look as hurt as I feel. Instagramming my knees because I don't know what else to do.

As I step onto the plane, I feel torn in two. Between my family who let me go but need me back, and those broken hearts I held so close only a few hours before.

I land, wait for my bag. Collect my car, ring Will. My big girl answers, I tell her I will be home soon. They are playing at the train park, a little voice in the background "I want to talk to mummy PLEEEEEASE". A tiny part of my heart splinters - there's no direct line to heaven, when they talk to their mummy it's a one way channel. Tears. 

36 hours after I stepped out of my back door I step through it again. Exhausted, broken, so full of the need to hold my family close it was like a searing pain through the last fifty miles.

Cans of Red Bull, friends to soothe the soul.

Sleep, blessed sleep. The never-ending tick of days passing. 

Writing as I promised. So they know my promises are true. 

Giving and loving all I can. Letting myself be loved. 

The world turns slowly again.


Thursday 7 November 2013

And so the dam bursts...

It's been so so long since I put words into this space. I took a break during a busy time and it just become longer and longer as the words churned around my head, building pressure and threatening to flood.

And so the dam walls burst... and I am here again.

Life has been like always - up, down, spinning round and round. The kids grow, change, surprise and amaze me.

There are parts that hurt, parts that feel like a piece of sunshine.

Right now my heart is exploding as I pack my bag for the hardest journey of my life so far. 

I'm weighing my carry on, checking I've got my boarding pass. Setting my alarm for 2:30am for the drive to Adelaide airport in the morning.

I have to go and say goodbye to someone very special, and I don't even know how I will bring myself to get in my car tomorrow morning because it hurts so damn much.

I keep crying in all the most inconvenient places - navigating the town roundabout on the school run, in the coffee shop, filing my car with petrol. The tears leak forth around my stone walls as I struggle to build them high enough to contain all I feel. I can't build fast enough, sometimes I have to open the gates and let them flow, mop the floor and wait for them to build again.

Everything I have done for the last few days has been filtered through a veil. I wrap it around me to shelter myself enough to get up each day and do what needs to be done. 

I've smiled when those around me needed my smiles. I wrapped my heart in armour, because it's not their pain to carry. And I have enjoyed all the crazy moments with this little family, because they are keeping me going, giving me love and letting me love them, because in some moments that is all I can manage.

And I will be back. Because now I have let the words flow, there will be more. So many more.

I promise.