21 July 2012

The world is fucking mad

I was scrolling through the news this morning (so very 2012 of me I know) and the news was pretty bleak.  The Syrian president is amassing a personal fortune offshore while his people are slaughtered, millions are starving and we're not sure what to do about it, some maniac has opened fire in a cinema in Colorado and in Australia - mothers are demanding their preschoolers photos be airbrushed.

As I remarked on facebook - you've got to be fucking kidding me?

Firstly, how is that anybody can think a small child is anything but perfect.  Even in all their dirty grotty snotty smelliness?  How can you possibly think that looking at photos of themselves enjoying life to the full at preschool might be detrimental to their older selves just because they were not perfectly 'made up' for camera day.  How are you ever going to know that wearing Sesame Street knee high socks with a Hawaii themed green skirt and a blue knit jumper was your 4 year old's sartorial statement?

And how, HOW, when the world is so mental and so many people are living lives so full of pain can you possibly be instilling into your child that this shit matters?  That the way you look at 4 years of age is important?  What fucked up values are we giving credence to in our society?

We are so very privileged to live in a first world society.  But that doesn't mean the rest of it doesn't matter.  Somebody remarked that none of the stuff I mentioned in the first paragraph affects me so why get het up about it and that in itself is an attitude which drives me wild.

How can we NOT care?  How can we tell our children that we want them to be kind and confident if they don't know that the rest of the world is not as lucky as most of the people in their world?  No wonder people are growing up with some misguided sense of entitlement if they don't know that there but for the grace of god go they.  And how can you NOT care that you are living in a world where violence, hunger, pain are NORMAL for people?

It all upsets me.  The petty meanness of small children, the bigger less 'fixable' problems of the third world, the senseless violence going on around us all day every day.  And apathy.  Apathy really pisses me off.  I don't have the answers but if people don't stay angry, don't stay disillusioned by the world being so off kilter, with people being so nasty to each other, if acceptance of man's cruelty to fellow man becomes 'OK', if airbrushing your small person's photo seems reasonable, then that saddens me.  Because I don't want that kind of world for myself, let alone my children. Or you.  Or your children.

We really need to care that the world is fucked up.   We really do.  Even if we don't have the answers.

16 July 2012

Christmas in July

I have no idea where the idea for Christmas in July first originated but I tell you what - three cheers for the people that sorted it.  It is absolutely perfect.

Here we are - in the the middle of winter, nothing to look forward to because all our public holidays are done and dusted (bar one stray one in October), the weather is absolutely shite and then voila! Much wine, big hams, roasted vegetables, bread sauce, christmas decorations and festive tunes.

The afternoon progresses and before you know it the secret santa gifts have been distributed, the singstar has been cracked open and everybody went to bed in a haze of mulled wine fumes and with full tummies.

Friends, food and booze.  Have thee all a very merry Christmas in July yourselves!

12 July 2012

A pink sign for Holly

I was driving around today to the tunes of Jay Laga'aia trying to get my perfect children to have a day time sleep when I passed a pink poster stuck on a mesh fence outside some older style units just outside of Marsfield.  A teddybear and flowers were tied to the fence to accompany the poster which was simply encased in a very large clear plastic bag.

Being of a naturally nosy disposition, I did a u-turn and came back.  The handwritten sign paid tribute to a girl named Holly who had been found dead in one of the units late last month.  She was only 21.  No relatives had been found and the sign called for "Justice to be served for 'poor Holly'."

The sign touched me.  How horrid to die at the hands of someone else and and how horrid to have no family at such a young age.  Who knows what the story is and how it came to be but how beautiful that somebody cared enough to mark her passing.  It may not have been elaborate and it may not be permanent.  But it was bright, it was eyecatching, and it worked.  Now I too have Holly in my thoughts.

Rest in peace Holly.  And may justice be served.

11 July 2012

A splash of colour

Today as I passed through an industrial estate in my car I was struck by the beauty of a tree in glorious shades of red orange and brown sitting incongruously in front of a row of warehouses.  It was a short tree, slightly unkempt as if it had planted itself down one windy day and nobody had quite got around to moving it on.

Placed outside the warehouse beside it were four brightly covered outdoor chairs in green, orange, red and yellow.  Square and sophisticated, they looked like the cool gang and the little winter tree like the girl who stood out but wanted to fit in.


10 July 2012

The art of ink

I think it fair to say that strutting around the suburbs of Sydney with the word 'vagina' tattooed onto the back of your neck and tastefully decorated with a waist length rat's tail says quite a bit about you.  Particularly when you are a balding fellow with a marshmellow for a body and jeans that don't quite meet your shoes.  And while being intensely curious as to why one might choose to keep the word lowercase and put the quotation marks around it -  I'm more curious as to why you would permanently ink the word on the back of your neck in the first place.

And why you'd grow a rat's tail.  But that's another rant.

I'm a fan of ink.  Well done ink.  I loathe the kind of tattoos that scream out 'I got a tattoo because they are so cool' but I love the kind that adorn bodies in a way that is essentially meaningful to the owner.  And you know the difference.  Tattoos that tell a story, indicate a strength, a common theme.  Not the ones you pick off the wall when you stumble in drunk one evening and decide to go for a rose on your right shoulder blade because life is a garden. Or the ones that indicate you've killed a guy.  They seem unnecessary on so many levels though I concede they are essentially meaningful to the individual.  Even if slightly mainstream.

David Beckham's ink.  Yum.

Ke$ha's lip ink.  Yuck.

Pink's ink. Yum.

Good Charlotte's ink.  Undecided.

Old sailors.  Awesome.

Balding fat man with 'vagina' tattooed on their necks.  Vomit.

I don't mind if people get their tattoos wrong though I am always amused when the small tattoo on the hip that used to be the name of the love has become an intricate drawing that must have really really hurt.  Probably more than the breakup.  I mean it's your body.  If you don't take the time to check your spelling, grammar or chinese translations that's between you and your wallet.  Actually, poor grammar is never excusable.  Especially when permanent.

Anyway.  Just remember that if you got the celtic tribal armband you owe it to tattoo artist and the the world not to get bingo wings.  Ever.  Even when you're 101.

9 July 2012

Bite your own massaged perineum. I say each to their own.

So your mother gave birth in winter, in the Alps, with nothing but a goatherd and a yodel.  Your besties all did Calmbirth and pushed their babies out with a gentle sigh and a conviction that all that prental perineal massage was a good thing.  Your other friends scheduled caesareans and booked nannies so they could be back at the gym by morning.  Your grandmother got to lie-in for six weeks while her hired help looked after the wee angels and when your dad had major abdominal surgery sure as fuck nobody sent him home with a baby to care for and strict instructions to get rest.

The fact is - there is no such thing as a perfect birth.  Birth is messy and painful and that is just when you are the birth partner.  There is so much emphasis on the birth that it seems to pass people by that they actually have to take the baby home and raise it until they become independent.  Which depending on your parenting style could be anywhere from 16 to 60.

I had a rubbish first birth experience.  And I had gone in with no birth plan and no expectations.  My plan was to try and push her out my hoohar but if I needed gas, drugs or even a caesarean to ensure she came out healthy I was willing to give it a go.  In the end, the whole thing was one hideous fuckup after another and I had to have an emergency caesearean after 54 hours of going nowhere.  And that was 2.5 weeks after she was due.  I ended up with post natal depression, PTSD and the enduring feeling that somehow I had done something wrong.  I was so utterly exhausted that while entranced by my daughter it took me a little while to be smacked in the face with that 'mother love' thing.  And now, if you were to do anything to either of my perfect children I'd hunt you down and hurt you.  Love is like that sometimes. 

And I had no expectations. I was viewing it a bit like bungy jumping.  I'd read up on it.  I knew the risks, I knew about the adrenalin but I was basically going to have to step off the platform and experience it for myself. 

And yet even after the birth of my second daughter 19 months later, which was much calmer (bar the bit where she forgot to breathe on her own for a couple of days) - I still struggle with judgement that comes from 'not doing it right'.  

I am absolutely infuriated when I hear people judging other people's experience.  It shouldn't matter.  If faffing around on your loungeroom floor with a midwife works for you - great.  If a planned caesarean works for you - whoopy doo.  If you want your extended family there and to video it so you can show it at their 21st - super!  

So when I hear people say "Well I did it all with no drugs in 45 minutes darling, its just a case of mind over matter" I want to punch their smug faces.  Great that it worked like that for you but their experience is going to be unique to them and their aim is to have a healthy baby not a socially acceptable birth.  There is no gold medal for this process.  Your child doesn't give a crap how you deep breathed or drugged it up to get them out.  They are just thankful for the life you gave them.  Nobody is mentioning their mother's caesar scar or breastfeeding when winning Oscars or in their presidential acceptance speech.  

Big sigh.  Deep breath.  Good luck to all of you about to embark on the most exhilarating, exhausting, baffling and brilliant adventure ever.  And that's parenting.  Not the freakin' birth. 

7 July 2012

The tyranny of good medical care

You know what it is like.  You move to a new city.  You end up with some kind of illness and trot yourself off to one of the medical centres that promise the world and deliver nothing but lessons in boredom when you have to wait the best part of your adult life waiting to get into see a doctor who writes a medical certificate, prescribes drugs, asks for your medicare card and sends you on your way - all without actually asking you why you'd come to see them.

You accept it.  Days, weeks, months, maybe years pass.  You need to see a doctor again.  You remember feeling vaguely dissatisfied last time but can't remember why so you go back.  You remember why and a little more convinced this time that you might have some kind of incurable cold that is going to result in death, you hunt down another doctor.  This pattern repeats itself until one day, you have to have some skin cancers removed and the doctor that you've booked in to see is running late for another appointment and actually, literally, misses the spot that needs to be removed but before you can tell her that she has left the building.  Faster than Elvis.

So that is it.  This time, you are going to get a proper doctor.  Especially because you are now uppus duffus and are trying to make sense of the language of breeding.  You discover a gem in the doctor world.  A man so brilliant, so kind, so "proper doctory" that you are inclined to believe he may be too good to be true.  But he's not. He is awesome, reassuring, sensible and never once randomly burns you with a laser and leaves to meet friends for drinks.  He is brilliant with children, talks about the reproductive system with the right amount of empathy and scientific detachment and explains things to you in language you understand. He never even laughs when you end up with an ailment more commonly associated with trees and when your child develops a 'cry loudly' reaction to him after watching him vaccinate her baby sister - he thinks it better that she finds him scary than you.

Basically, despite this man's inexplicablly large and ancient grey jumper worn all four seasons.  This doctor is the kind of doctor that makes people want to be doctors.

And it turns out he's too good to be true.  He disappoints. He's gone to donate his time to 'Doctors without borders'.  And his family have gone too because they hope to be able to stay for a year or two. And you know that part of why you have liked this doctor is because he is a truly kind man but it doesn't stop you feeling the discontent of a middle class first worlder because now, short of spending seven years obtaining your own medical degree so you can follow him to some third world country, you're going to have to find another doctor.  


4 July 2012

This state of origin malarky and the olympic spirit

I like to think of myself as endearingly ignorant about all things of a sporting nature, but I suspect to the vast majority of sports mad Australians, there is nothing endearing about my ignorance at all.  Which is why the State of Origin and the Olympics are so splendid for people like me.  I don't need to have a clue about what is going on but my allegiances are clear and I always know what the result was, ensuring I can engage in vague but meaningful conversation with other human beings.

Allegiance is easy - I was born in QLD - therefore I go for Queensland.  For the Olympics - I am Australian therefore when an Australian wins I am thrilled even if I have never heard of the sport. I know the basic rules of wheelchair rugby as a friend once played it and I know what sport Matthew Mitcham is famous for even though he has never starred in a bonds underwear advert.  This means I know enough to avoid the tedious conversations about how its 'unAustralian' not to like sport, but not enough to make people think I care enough to have a whole conversation about it.  

And well done QLD for their seventh win in row tonight.  Which I know despite watching Randling and QI, while playing words with friends on my phone and putting my daughters to bed.  Twitter is a marvellous thing.

Only 20 something sleeps to the Olympics - I must remember to maintain my patriotic fervour until then. A spot of Dumb Drunk and Racist should do it. Right??

2 July 2012

Judge me if you must but I don't like tuna

I really don't.  In fact, I don't like seafood at all.  I don't like a lot of meat and I don't see the point of seeds as I am not a bird.  I'm against cruelty to broccoli though appreciate that nearly any vegetable is enhanced by cheese sauce.  I like fresh salads and dislike anything smothered in dressing or sauces.  I'm allergic to mushrooms. I can not name a single chef on Masterchef and you'd sooner see me exfoliating with a cheese grater than you would see me willingly watching a reality food show.

All of which basically makes me an outcast.  Everybody is a foodie these days.  They read cookbooks on the train, can name every chef on TV and know their signature dish.  They will book to get into a restaurant weeks in advance.  People really really really reallly care about food.  And I don't.

I can quite happily live on cold sausages and boiled eggs for lunch for a week.  Every day in a row.  Or a cheese and vegemite sandwich.  If I find something I like I order it again and again because I hate paying for food I don't eat.  I like plain rice.  No really.  Just plain rice. And yet my friends say I'm difficult to cook for because I like things plain and simple.

And while I'm outing myself - I'm happy for my meat to be dead on my plate.  I don't need you to slice it off the backside of a passing cow and throw it bleeding on a plate just so I can claim to have a sophisticated palate.  Just cook my meat, throw some vegetables around and send it in. Being at the top of the food chain is a good thing people.  Embrace it!

I'm big on texture though which I'm given to understand means I'm not completely a lost cause.  Unless it was the time somebody convinced me to try an oyster at a very ooh la la new year's eve party and the very feel of it in my mouth made me gag - and it shot across the table into the lap of the boyfriend's aunt who I had only just met. Ooops.

And never try to find a recipe for weight loss if you don't like tuna and seeds.  Absolutely everything is based around a simple belief that everybody loves tuna and salad sandwiches.  Me, I like salad or I like sandwiches - I don't see the point of mixing them up.  And did I mention?  I really don't like tuna.