Monday, May 30, 2005

Missing: Words. And Child.

I lost my words for a couple of days. Mostly because of the absurdity of what’s been happening. Every time I switch on a light in the house, it blows. Our power fails at least three times a night. Our car broke down for the second time in as many weeks. Last time it was the starter engine, now it’s the timing belt. I suspect mechanics simply make these words up to mock car-less chumps like myself who have no choice but to cough up cash every time they mention a muffler. I never knew my car needed a timing belt. Isn’t a fan belt enough? (Any girl knows more than one belt at a time is just bad fashion sense).

So there we were on the highway. We had to push the car to the side, put Bub in the pram and start the long walk home, dodging tooting cars as we slugged down the highway.
Being a weekend, no one would tow the car and no mechanic would take it. This Morning (Monday) we finally got someone to take it. The Smug Mechanic opened the bonnet, then shook his head. What? Looking through me, to R (women are invisible to Smug Mechanic unless they’re holding a cocktail and wearing heels, apparently) he muttered ‘Not good, not good at all’. After a splay of words that involved ‘valves’ and ‘two to three thousand dollars’, he closed the bonnet. Then he mentioned other words like ‘difficult to get the parts’ and ‘at least a week. If you’re lucky’.

R and I walked out of there feeling like we’d been gang raped then sent an invoice. No matter, I said. We will attempt The Switcheroo. If we borrow my parents’ car (the only other car with a baby seat), my parents can borrow your parents second car, and we’ll be right. And so it was. Until… Ten Minutes Ago.

A call from R. My parents had a prang in his parent’s car. They’re okay but the car is written off. R’s parents are in a flat panic. My parents feel horribly guilty. And between us, we’re paying for the Smug Mechanic’s holiday to Reno.

And all this is clutter because there’s something else that’s sitting in my heart and head all the time. It’s something I haven’t had words for but I think I’ll find them now...

Two weeks ago, my brother’s wife was due with her baby. We were so excited that little O would have a cousin her age. Everything was going great with the pregnancy. At 39 weeks she had a scan that showed the baby was progressing wonderfully, and that she would deliver any day soon. A day later, she stopped feeling movement. Concerned, she called the doctor. He thought she was being over-anxious but told her to come in anyway, to put her mind at rest. He put the Doppler to her belly. No sound. The baby must have moved. Let’s try another position. Nothing. After ten attempts to find a heartbeat, the doctor stopped. The baby was gone.

g o n e

Where does a healthy, viable baby go exactly?

She was told to wait a day before they induce her. So that the baby can shrink.

s h r i n k

She spent a day with a lifeless baby inside of her, not telling anyone what she was going through. Then she spent the next day labouring through induced contractions, to give birth to death.

No explanation. The baby was perfect. A little girl. My brother looked at the baby but my sister-in-law couldn’t look, couldn’t stand to have the image of this perfect little still being indelibly marked into her memory.

They buried her little body the next day. My sister in law still leaks milk for a baby who will never suckle. An almost-being, all that potential gone.

And there I was, worrying about my car.

Rest in Peace, little soul.

Friday, May 27, 2005

History Vomits Itself Up

And so it begins. My chubby nine-year-old niece is being sent to her first dietician. I want to grab onto her parents with such force that I knock the sense into their flabby heads. I want to scream ‘Nooooooooooooooooooo’ in a way that echoes perpetually in their silly skulls. Bright, funny, loving, my niece is a delightful child. She’s reliable, mature for her age, and, as her family perpetually tells her, she’s the ‘Good One’. So what does she do when she doesn’t feel like being the Good One?


I’ve seen her overeat when she’s anxious, bored, frustrated, tired, upset. I’ve seen her sneak food. I’ve heard her mother telling her she’s not “allowed” ice-cream after dinner. I’ve heard her father say, in front of her, to her mother “Your Daughter is eating chocolate again”. I know the signs, and, sadly, I can predict exactly what’s going to happen. There will be some success with the diet. At first. She will be a Good Girl and eat her 30 grams of cereal and grapefruit every morning and she’ll lose weight. Everyone will approve and compliment her. The diet’s a success. By Golly, she’s CURED!

But no one will ever address the real issue of why she overeats.

Slowly, almost imperceptibly, she’ll start to gain weight. More than she lost. Her parents will tell each other “Your Daughter is being bad. Maybe she needs a new dietician?”.

By the time she’s my age, she’ll know the calorific value of everything from a jellybean to a piece of bitter gourd. But she won’t know what to do when she’s alone and sad and the compulsion to consume an entire tub of ice cream consumes her. It won’t matter that she knows the glycemic index of a carrot when she’s ridden with guilt and disgust at herself and her body. No dietician will help her deal with feelings of emptiness that can only be filled with three Kit-Kats, a jumbo size Crunchie and an entire packet of Oreos eaten in quick succession.

I wish I could go back to five minutes before I went to my first dietician, aged nine. I wish someone could warn me that I was heading down a path that would end in anorexia at age ten, a lifetime of deprivation followed by bingeing, and a never-ending battle with my weight. A battle that is narcissistic and dull and exhausting. I wish someone had asked me why I overate. Like my niece, I was The Strong One. I was robust, reliable, bright, mature, trustworthy. I wasn’t allowed to be vulnerable or weak. I wish someone had helped me address the issues behind my eating instead of putting me on a diet. But as I see my niece standing on the precipice of the same destructive pit I fell into, I shout out to her parents not to push her over. But they won’t hear me.

I can only hold out helpless hands and wait at the bottom with three Kit-Kats, a Jumbo Crunchie and a packet of Oreos, ready to catch her.

Thursday, May 19, 2005

How can I Fuck Up? Let Me Count the Ways...

So the producer, LK, came over to get my writing samples. At three this morning I woke in fright with a terrible realisation. One of the articles I gave her was a film review of a film her boss produced. I panned it. I believe my exact quote was that the film "overreached" itself and that it raised interesting questions and then "attempted to resolve them in a way that was facile at best". Facile at best? What sort of undergraduate wanker uses phrases like that to assess the film of a much higher being than herself? Given that I hadn't recently read the work that I was giving LK (yes, I gave her work that I couldn't stand to re-read), I didn't realise that I had panned the film. The way I remember it, it was a neutral-ish review. To contexualise - this film starred the luscious, lovely Kate Winslet. I remember quite enjoying the film but at the time of writing the review I was a lowly freelancer trying to make a buck. Like all lowly, bitter, impoverished, morally-bereft STUPID STUPID freelancers I did this by panning other people's work. Oh Lord, Karma is so cruel.I texted the producer at 3.05 AM asking her to please remove that article before she gives my work to her bosses. I hope the fact that I woke her up, ripped into her boss and clearly didn't read the work I was forcing her to read is not held against me. That's not too much to ask, is it?

Sunday, May 15, 2005

An Igloo with a View

Eskimos are always being held up as some sort of freakishly idealised anomaly of modern society. People go on about – did you know Eskimos have hundreds of words for snow, what amazing insight they have into nature and although Eskimos eat high fat diets they rarely get heart disease. Each time we hear about Eskimos there’s some tacit judgement about how we should be living our lives. I’ve never been convinced. I’ve always thought we were just making The Other exotic. I imagine Eskimo children saying - did you know Australians have hundreds of words for alcohol, isn’t that genius?. Until I heard this: Eskimo women spend the first month after they give birth holed up in bed while people bring food to them and speak to them in high pitched sing-song voices as if they’re infants. After that first month they return to their duties as mothers and wives, raising kids and helping their fisherman husbands, but for that one glorious, lush month they get to be babies again themselves. That’s truly inspired.

I’m going to become one of those people who quotes Eskimo wisdom. Especially when I want R to bring me tea in bed...

Friday, May 13, 2005

Ode to a Miniature Love

Am totally unsure what work to show the Uber-producers. Am feeling slightly paralysed. By slightly I mean tremendously. All my work suddenly feels too flippant, or too earnest. Too cheesy, or too cynical. Too hot, too cold, not cooked in the middle, overcooked...

Little O continues to delight me, however. She's at the stage of kicking tiny feet into the air, grabbing onto things and squealing with delight. When R comes home, she is so excited to see him she starts panting and beaming at the same time. "I know you. You're that guy I sort of look like". When someone else is holding her and she catches a glimpse of me, she lights up. Not since my Afrikaans next-door-neighbour, Yirkie, had a crush on me has someone been so unequivocally excited to see me.

And there is that constant amazement at having been a conduit for this whole new soul who's suddenly in the world with her own personality and her own sense of humour and delight and spirit. It's bizarre that so many people go through this and yet it feels totally unique, as if no person before has ever experienced the wonder of being a parent...

Wake Up, I'm Fat!

Today I decided to dye my hair Siren Red. Partly to draw attention away from the fact that my arse is Ambulance Large. I also had my very long hair cut short in manner of romantic comedy heroine who realises that her life is changing and she can no longer be held back by her fear of intimacy. Only romantic comedy heroines don't wear dresses that come in size Tank, Elephant or Tent.

Feel strong desire to fall pregnant again so I can have a legitimate excuse for my gargantuan belly. That probably doesn't rank as one of the top ten reasons to bring a new soul into the world, does it?

Hopefully no-one will report me to the Smother's Group.

O is four months old today!

Thursday, May 12, 2005

Tiger Lilies are Raunchy

R bought me a bunch of tiger lilies for mother's day. They've started blooming and each time I walk past them I have the urge to ravish R. There is something dreadfully suggestive about their luscious pink lips. I've pasted in a picture of one for inspiration.

Wednesday, May 11, 2005

This tiger-lily is making me horny. Posted by Hello

Tuesday, May 10, 2005

Clear as Puddles When Stepped In with Muddy Galoshes

How I envy normal people. People who call radio stations to enter competitions, who fetch their kids from school and eat sugared cereals, people who have real jobs in banks and gyms and law firms. I’ve always felt like I was floating somewhere to the left of them, somehow removed from the forward swooshing of real life. I learned very young to Act As If. Act As If you care what the footy score is. Act As If you’re talking to this man because you’re interested in his theory on why reality TV will never last, when all you’re wondering about is whether he’s a slippery fuck, the kind who seems to leak sperm through his every pore.

I keep questioning whether moving to Australia was some horrible mistake that I should have extricated myself from years ago and am now too far gone to remedy.

And I watched The Apprentice. It must be cool to be as sure of things as Donald Trump appears to be. Clarity, no matter how misguided, must be wonderful.

Monday, May 09, 2005

Rich for a Night

My lovely friend K treated me to a night at the lush restaurant Tetsuya's. The thirteen course degustation menu was like sliding through velvet. There were other people there. Rich people for whom this was an ordinary evening. I felt like someone would expose me in my faux suede boots and polyester skirt. But the waiters all played along, allowing me to pretend too. Can't sleep and am obsessiong about the truffle parmesan butter. Oh sweet truffle parmesan butter, when will you be mine again?

My First Mother's Day

Sponge cake is pointless. There's nothing chocolatey about it at all. I shall never buy it again for mother's day.

O is 16 weeks now and delighting us with her giggles. I feel so much more connected to other parents and children than I ever have, like suddenly I'm hooked into life rather than just observing it and writing about it. It's a very real, present feeling. So strange for me who is more comfortable being outsider / observer. Also am forced to be physically present for someone else. Have always been so involved in the intellectual, cerebral aspect that it is refreshing to be grounded in the physical (am aware of the irony of me analysing it).

I went to visit a friend in the maternity hospital today. She had a little girl on Thursday. Tiny, 2.6kgs. Can't believe O was that little. So sweet and scrunched up. My friend is so funny, bombarding the midwives with questions. Then asking me everything, as if if I tell her all the answers she'll pass the motherhood exam. I explained to her about the startle reflex. She just thought the bub was cold.

This time is so fleeting and hard to clutch onto.

Today we went to a grower's market and R ate snails. I admit I tried some snail pate. I told R not to ever mention it again as the thought is making me sick. So, instead of talking he made the snail symbol. I have now banned the snail symbol. R argues that symbols can't be banned. (Incidentally, also on the banned list are the words "Khlav Kalash" from The Simpsons episode where they go to New York. R kept asking me to make him some Khlav Kalash. After 4 days I banned it. He has not found a symbol for Khlav Kalash).

Wednesday, May 04, 2005

I'll be a Doctor, yes...

Went to a talk last night by the head of Paediatrics at Royal North Shore Hospital. It covered the basic things that can go wrong with kids (choking, burning, drowning, becoming liberal voters) and how to deal with them. Everyone else found it frightening, but I kept thinking "Mmm, I'm enjoying listening to a medical lecture, maybe I should study medicine after all, or maybe something para-medical. I could be a nurse. It would be noble and interesting... but white isn't a flattering colour for me, and I'm not sure about the bedpan factor... Then again, nurses have long been the object of male fantasies. Maybe being a nurse will up my sex appeal... not that I want lecherous old men with gangrene leering at me as I connect their catheters... ". In my haze of fantastical self-involvement, I managed to miss the three most important things to do if you suspect a child has meningococcal disease.

Suppose I'm destined to be a writer after all.