Saturday, 6 December 2014

Long Distance Love

Just recently, Dr Dad returned from a business trip to the other side of the globe. When he’s home, he hates to shop. Despises it. To be perfectly honest, as much as the weekly supermarket visit makes me want to bellow “Who died and left me in charge of trivia?!?…” it’s even more painful when he comes to help.

After almost thirty years of living with me, he still seems to think that the shopping list is a complete and total inventory of every item that we actually need/ will probably run out of/might fancy nibbling on at some stage. Nor does he have the vaguest understanding of how two teenagers can stand staring into the expanse of a vast fully stacked pantry and a double-door fridge that is groaning under the weight of stunning seasonal fruits and vegetables and declare disgustedly that there’s never anything to eat.  I swear; if you ever hear that the end of the world is nigh, head on down to our place. There’s enough in our cupboards to keep us all going until the smoke clears.

But truthfully, he whips that trolley around the supermarket aisles so damned quickly that on a number of occasions I have had to ask if I had missed the news that the sky was going to fall at 11:13 precisely, or whether he was just shooting for a personal best.  

When he’s away, however, if time allows, he shops for gifts to bring back for us. It’s kind of sweet, really.  I guess the habit harks back to those days when the kids missed him when he wasn’t around. Way back in the days when they made those ‘Welcome home, Daddy’ banners and knocked him over with enthusiasm as he came through the door. He’d let them rummage through his bag full of random documents and dirty business shirts for their surprises. A reward for each of them for being good while Daddy was away, and a prize for me for surviving.

He has no idea that these days they don’t even notice he’s not around.

This time, he arrived home in the wee small hours. We were all snoring. Even the dogs didn’t stir as he tiptoed in. But he did his wonderful good-dad thing, despite having been travelling for almost 27 hours straight, and before falling unconscious into the bed next to me ( by this stage I was, of course, just pretending to be asleep because surely nobody wants a welcome back kiss from someone with evil bed-breath)…before falling into the depths of jet-lagged darkness, he had begun to unpack his bag.

So that when we got up in the morning, there it was. His London shopping. Spread out on the table in neatly ordered groups so that we knew who was getting what. His way of telling us that he loves us and he missed us. 
You won't be surprised to hear that the Bombay Sapphire and wrinkle creams are for me. 

Thursday, 4 December 2014

The Blog of Eternal Stench

From overload to withdrawal… that’s how it feels having completed the November Nablahblah blogging challenge and then taken a few days to cogitate on why and what and whether I’d do it again… And I have to confess, I find myself back in the same sort of mess I was in before I started.

During November, I took a tangled ball of yarn — different colours, different textures, different ply —  and managed to extricate enough usable lengths to knit thirty squares of varying sizes. Disparate patterns. Some more pleasing than others but all of them creatively challenging and, to some degree, satisfying.

Word by sentence, I knitted my way around the maze of beginning a blog, through the labyrinth of self-doubt. I turned at the prickly hedges of uncertainty and increased beyond the black holes of despair. And at the end of the month, I cast-off with a sigh. Challenge met. Indeed, more than that, I felt some degree of joy and pride that I had developed new skills, practised some old ones, and met some talented and like-minded writers …and readers…along the way.

But in the four days since I stopped, I’ve fallen back into the Bog of Eternal Stench. And I'm pretty sure I dropped all the squares in too.

It wasn't actually my idea to write every day for thirty days. That's something else I fell into. At the Gunnas Writing Masterclass I attended back in September, Catherine Deveny talked about and how November was to be the month of writing. She told me about the challenge in that writing workshop I hated... the one I cried for a week after... the one where I was sure I felt my arse hit rock bottom. 

And then on October 31st, Gael over at The Vinyl Edition sent me a message to say she was going to give Nablopomo November a go. So I said I'd join her. Just like that. Why not?  Nothing to lose. Stop being a gunna. Maybe it really would help the happy hormones surge. Maybe I could find an opening for the light to shine in on the demons of the dark space inside my head. And for the most part, it did.

And yes, I met some 'incredibly helpful' worms along the way.

But this week, I fell back into the stinking quagmire of uncertainty. My bog of qualms. 

After my month of blogging, I still have fewer followers than you can count on one hand. I spent November reading and commenting on all sorts of blogs. Learning about what others do. Hearing what others say. But numerically, I failed. 

During the month, I found myself checking daily to see if anyone had visited my post, left a comment, noticed me. Pathetic. Embarrassing. Needy. Fail.

History repeated, regurgitating images and feelings from that time nearly fifteen years ago when we lived in a towering apartment block in Kuala Lumpur and I would click on the dial-up link every time I walked past the laptop...every time... hoping for an email from home. A connection to outside. Proof that I exist.

So in the past few days, I have examined my ugly need for validation. I have confronted the shallowness of my not having grown out of the need for approval. I have stared at the bubbling mud and breathed in the rancid fumes of self-loathing at my blog of eternal stench...

And I have decided that I will just keep on going until I reach the castle.

Sunday, 30 November 2014

...the applause jobs

Somehow I’m often the person in the line who doesn’t step backwards when a volunteer to do a particular less than glamorous job is needed. Yep… just call me Muggins  —it’s a whole lot nicer than a heap of other names I’ve been called over the years. And I’m not playing my tiny violin or trying to pump up my own tyres here, truly I’m not. What I’m actually trying to get at, and Part II of the Legend of Lawnmower Man, has to do with what I call applause jobs.  


 Any SAHM will understand what I’m trying to say, and working mums will get it entirely. Ninety-nine percent of the time, the trait I'm going to expose is connected to the Y-chromosome. 

 Yes, I will own that I’m being just a wee tad on the sexist side of politically correct here. OK. More than a wee tad. A shitload. But I’m not going to take it back. Not ever ever ever… So there… And you can’t make me. Because, with apologies to Jane,it is a truth universally acknowledged that even a man in possession of a good wife needs applause.

One of the reasons Dr Dad loves to mow the grass on his Yee-hah-check-me-out red ride-on lawnmower is that after he’s finished, everyone can tell what he’s been doing. He is rewarded with:

“Wow! That looks great.”

“Gee, how long does it take you?”

“Gosh, it must be hard to keep all of this in check.”

 There’s no applause for any of these:



Nobody notices when all the invisible, crappy, repetitive, kill-me-now-I'm-dying-of-boredom, please-God-don't-make-me-do-it-all-again-tomorrow brain-atrophying jobs have been done. But you can bet your left tit that they'll all comment if they haven't been done. Somehow, all those who-died-and-left-me-in-charge-of-trivia tasks amount to zippedy-doo-dah. But cut the grass or dig a hole or burn a goddamn sausage on the bar-be-que grill  and it's:

Truth be told, I actually quite enjoy spending a few sunny hours on the beastie cutting swathes through the waving tussocks myself. In fact, I have been known to slash the occasional obscenity across our tiny acreage as a kind of ride-on-mower created way of flipping the bird to those annoying helicopters that buzz over our block all summer. But nobody ever thanked me for that.

There's a theory that people who choose only to do the applause jobs are the ones who have never recovered from being a kid like this:

Because of course, as I've said before, EVERYTHING is ALWAYS the mother's fault.