Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Risky business


A couple of weeks ago, after helping Middle Son in to the car before he and Mr A took off for an early run to school for band practice, I ran up my driveway to get out of the rain and as soon as my (very wet) feet hit the garage floor they slipped out from under me and I landed on my back.

I promptly burst in to tears. I mean, yes, it hurt (I hit my head as I went down - not too hard though, thankfully. Actually, it was my foot that immediately started to hurt - I'd cut it on the lawnmower as I fell), but the tears were more due to the shock and frustration of what happened. Mr A immediately got out of the car to assist, and I could hear a woman in the distance - probably on her morning walk - asking, 'Is she okay?' After Mr A determined it was unlikely I had a concussion (although, I was under strict instruction to text him every hour to let him know I was still alive), and after giving reassurances that I was fine, Middle Son gave me a longer than normal hug goodbye (awww...) and they were on their way.

About five minutes later, the initial shock having subsided, I suddenly realised I had an enormous, shooting pain in my left elbow. I administered an ice pack, and ended up wearing it for the whole school run with my other two boys. It was on my return from school that I realised it would probably be a good idea to get my arm checked out. I headed to our local medical centre and within half an hour of my arrival I'd had an x-ray and the doctor confirmed there was no break, but that he could see 'something' in the x-ray at the base of my elbow that would require a specialist's opinion. He sent me home assuring me a specialist would probably see it within the hour and he would call if there was a problem.

Because I didn't hear from him that day, I assumed whatever he saw was nothing, and I thanked my lucky stars I'd escaped without serious injury. However, the next day (after waking up hurting all over ... ouch!) he called me back in to tell me I'd chipped (or cracked - I can't really remember) my elbow and needed to wear a sling for 4 to 6 weeks. (Great.)

So here I am, taking three times as long to type this one-handed - forced in to considerable downtime (something I've always wished for, but now realise is not much fun if it's not an option) and having to rely on Mr A to do a number of things that I just can't do at the moment. Simply because I ran up my driveway. I didn't base jump off a building. I didn't wipeout while on a surfboard. Nor did I parachute from an aeroplane or fall from a cliff I was abseiling at the time.

I'm a worrier. I don't take risks. I think about the consequences of my actions all the time. Perhaps that has a little bit to do with growing up being the sister of a girl who lost her life in a car accident. (My dear Mum worried/still worries about my safety constantly.)

But after my little accident, I'm questioning the concern. Mr A, for example, does a lot more stuff that I'd classify as 'risky', because he figures: you've gotta live life. (For example, it's ironic that a couple of days before my fall, he'd spent the day at superbike school racing around a racetrack on a motorbike doing over 200kms per hour - in the wet - and survived. All I'd done was run in my house.)

I'm not saying I'm about to do all, or even any of the things I've mentioned above (the only way you'd get me to jump out of a plane is if you pushed me). But it's got me thinking that although it's sensible to have concerns about safety etc, it's just as likely that fate will get you anyway, no matter how careful you think you are. May as well take a few 'risks' if there's something you really want to do.

Don't you think?

J
xox

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

No photos, please


Mr A recently had to renew his passport. It arrived just in the nick of time before he took off on a work trip. (Nothing like anxiously awaiting a passport's delivery just prior to leaving the country to get the old adrenaline going, eh?)

Anyhoo ... it prompted me to check if the boys and I are due for new passports any time soon. Good thing I did: turns out that all three boys require new ones. Promising myself I'd get on to that quick smart (that was about a month ago and I've still yet to look in to that. Typical) I looked hopefully at my own only to find, unfortunately, that I have another six years to go.

I say I looked 'hopefully’ and ‘unfortunately’ I didn’t need a new one because at the moment I believe I possess the worst passport photo EVER. No, really. I do.

I am so not photogenic. Especially when it comes to official documentation like a passport and/or driver's license. And from memory, my recent passport shot was done on the fly, hence I have three-day hair (as in, it was the third day since I'd washed it, and I was in desperate need of a good shampoo) and I’m wearing some horribly boring, beige kind of top that makes me look even more blah than what I would normally in a photo. (Add to that I'm not allowed to smile... ugh.) The next six years just can’t go quickly enough.

This is not the first time that I’ve been stuck with a really bad photo. In fact, there was one driver's license that – if it’s humanly possible – had an even worse photo than my current passport does.

In the early 90s – back when I still looked young enough to be asked to produce ID when entering an establishment for over 18s (because I was actually young back then!) I had the world’s worst driver’s license photo. Although I can’t produce the actual ID to prove it to you (thank, gawd) I can prove it with further evidence based on a real event ...

One night, I ventured off to one of my fave nightclubs in Perth at the time: The Hippodrome. As I arrived at the door, one of the two bouncers on duty asked me for ID. (I was probably annoyed at the time that I was all of twenty and still being asked for ID. Sheesh. I so didn't appreciate back then how great it was to be considered young!) Knowing how my shiny, new driver's license looked, I hesitantly handed it over.

Bouncer 1 glanced at it then promptly burst in to laughter. He looked up at me, still laughing, and said, ‘That’s gotta be the worst photo I’ve ever seen!’ I rolled my eyes and said, ‘Yeah, yeah - hand it over.’ But nooooo, he wasn’t finished with my ID yet. Instead, he passed it on to Bouncer 2, saying, ‘Mate, get a look at this. Is that the WORST ID photo you’ve ever seen?!’ Bouncer 2 took the ID and also promptly burst in to laughter.

Once I managed to wrestle my ID back, I muttered, 'Glad I was able to amuse you,’ then quickly pushed myself past Dumb and Dumber and entered the club, hastily shoving my ID in to the depths of my purse. 

A couple of hours later, exhausted from hitting the dance floor (where I always spent most of my time in nightclubs, because I really loved to dance - unless, of course, a member of the opposite sex was able to, say, distract me at the bar … * winks *), I stumbled out of the nightclub, ready to go home, lie down and rest my weary body after all my Vogue moves (or something similar). As I exited, I heard a laugh and, ‘Hey, there goes the girl with the funny ID!’ Bouncer 1 and Bouncer 2 were enjoying their second round of amusement at my expense.

Thankfully, that particular license was a twelve month one only. I couldn’t wait to cut it up when I got my new one.

Of course, even though I can’t wait to try again with a new passport photo, the downside is that by the time 2020 rolls around, I’ll be pushing fifty, with no doubt even more wrinkles to show.

Think I’d better hit the hair salon and the makeup counter at the local shops that day. *sigh*

J
xox

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

There'll be other George Clooney's

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Many are lamenting over the fact that George Clooney is now officially 'off the market'. Meh. I mean, don't get me wrong, I think George is rather gorgeous, and congrats to him and his new wife and all that, but am I crying in to my cappuccino right about now? No. (If it was Henry Cavill though, it might be another story... )

In the words/lyrics of the Rolling Stones, 'You can't always get what you want.' Disappointments are aplenty in this world, but, you know, so are the lessons to be learned from those disappointments.

I knew a girl once, years ago, who went to London on holiday and came back engaged. Although I didn't know her that well, I was pretty certain she left the country without a boyfriend, so her announcement really surprised me. In fact, it not only surprised me, but her close friends as well.

As it turned out, she had been engaged to her 'new' fiance some years before, but he had called off their wedding at the eleventh hour. They parted ways. Clearly, on her trip to London, they met up again and discovered they still had a connection worth exploring. And after a whirlwind renewal of those old feelings (the sort of heady experience, no doubt, that is heightened by the fact that at least one person is on holiday, and time is of the essence), they thought their union worth another shot.

So, this girl returned to Australia and went about planning (or rather, re-planning) the wedding they had hoped to have some years before.

And then ... guess what happened within weeks of the 'big day'? He called it off (again). Although I never asked (we weren't close enough for me to do so), and she never offered the information, I'm guessing she had always loved him and, although he had obviously held a fondness for her (why would he think he could propose - twice - if that wasn't the case?), his feelings for her were no comparison to hers for him, and in the end, he just couldn't go through with it. I believe he probably wanted to love her - it would be hard to give up someone who feels so strongly for you - but in the end, it clearly wasn't enough for him.

He was her George Clooney. (That's the impression I got of the situation, anyway.)

And yet, she eventually went on to meet and fall in love with someone else, get married and have kids - finally getting her happily ever after. Who knows if she ever thought about her ex-fiance (x 2) after that? Maybe. Quite possibly. But I'm also guessing, if she did - even if she continued to hold even a small amount of fondness for him - she accepted that it was what it was, and at least she had learned from the experience.

One thing I have learned over the years is that not all relationships are supposed to last forever. People come in and out of our lives for a reason - often to teach us what we want or, more importantly, what we don't want for ourselves and/or our future. When I finally broke up with my first real boyfriend (after a lengthy on again/off again kind of union), I knew - wholeheartedly - that he was not for me and that we should part ways. It was a difficult relationship - doomed, I realise now, from the start. I admit, though, letting it go was tricky, because I was afraid of the future. What lie ahead for me? Would I meet someone else? (I was eighteen. Of course I was going to meet someone else!) That particular relationship taught me a lot about what I didn't want from a relationship, and yet I can't regret it because it taught me so much (and eventually saved me from wasting time on other relationships I knew wouldn't/couldn't work out).

Another (albeit brief) relationship some years later taught me that mind games are both unnecessary and mentally exhausting - they're just not worth the effort (and nor was he). And yet, something amazing came out of that particular union - a husband for my best friend in the form of my ex-boyfriend's friend. (Did you catch all that? Maybe draw a flowchart if it helps.)

And another - a great guy that just didn't work out for various reasons - showed me I deserved someone who treated me well; a guy that didn't always put himself first. He showed me that nice guys actually existed, and I was worthy of one. (And I got that, and then some, in the form of my eventual husband.)

Some relationships last a few days. Some last a few years. Some last a lifetime. Some, like the girl I knew, make more than one appearance only to show us, once again, that our path was supposed to take a different route.

But what each and every relationship does - the good ones and especially the bad ones, both in loving unions as well as friendships - is teach us something. No relationship is a waste of time for that reason. It's about working out what that something is, accepting it, learning from it, then moving forward.

Take heart, ladies: There'll be other George Clooney's.

J
xox

Thursday, September 4, 2014

The BIG hot-shot "lawyer"

Not the actual "lawyer", but he looked kinda like this. 

Last Thursday afternoon, the boys and I were in a building waiting for the lift down to the car park. We were rushing off to dental appointments for both Middle Son and Eldest Son. After a short wait, the lift door finally opened and it was then I noticed my youngest boys had wandered off. I put my arm in front of the door sensors and called to them, 'Hurry up, boys. The lift is here!' It was then I noticed there was a man in the lift, dressed in a suit, tie etc.

As the boys hurriedly ran towards the lift, the man said to me, 'You need to hurry up. I'm in a hurry.'

Well, let me tell you, I wasn't particularly fond of his tone. It was rather aggressive, quite frankly, so I said - firmly - 'Well, I'm in a hurry too, and we won't be a second.' The boys were already making their way in to the lift as I said this.

He replied, 'Well, I'm in more of a hurry than you. I'm a lawyer.'

Now, call me crazy, fussy, particular - whatever you want, really - but I have this thing where I just don't accept people thinking they are more important than everyone else just because of the job they have (or the car they drive or the clothes they wear). In this "lawyer's" world, getting to a meeting might be important, but in my world, getting to a dental appointment on time is also (ie equally) important. I appreciate his time - I do - but he should also appreciate mine. To wait an extra ... twenty seconds (at best, for goodness sake) for the lift to move is, in my humble opinion, not a big ask. Am I wrong?

Anyway, because I was a little on edge as it was (it had been one of those weeks - chasing my tail and all that) and he'd managed to put me on the back foot twice in the space of less than one minute, I couldn't help but reply with, 'Oh, you're a "lawyer" [I actually did the open air quotes with my fingers as I said this], so that makes your time more important than mine, does it?'

He replied, 'Yes. My time is more important than yours.'

Well, I'm just blown away at this point. In fact, I think I scoffed out loud, because it was just so ridiculous what he was saying. And what he was saying was more than the fact that he was 'in a hurry'. He'd obviously summarised that I was a mother, so therefore my time was way, way, way low down on the priority list, as far as he was concerned.

So I faced him squarely and replied with, 'How do you know what I do? How do you know what my job is every other day of the week?' Or something like that. (I can't remember the conversation verbatim, but I was no wallflower, I can tell you.)

He said - now get this ... are you ready? 'Well look at you. It's obvious what you do.' The distaste is dripping off his words.

Okay, so I'm wearing my (very) cool red jeans, a blue & white striped top, a denim jacket, boots - yeah, I'm a bit mumsy - but I'm fairly decently dressed. However, I realise in this instant, it's not really about what I'm wearing. It's clear this man despises the fact that I'm a stay-at-home-mum and he absolutely believes - due to his own self-importance - that the stay-at-home-mother deserves very little attention and/or his time, indeed. I'm just in his way. I don't live in the real world. He does. Anything I do is nothing compared to what he does day to day. In fact, even if I'd announced I was on my way that afternoon to cure cancer, he'd have still thought his time was more valuable than mine.

I looked at the boys. They were in the corner of the lift with a look on their faces that said something like, 'Whaaaaat the heck is going ON?!' It was as if they just couldn't comprehend why this man was saying the things he was saying. (And why would they? They have no such examples in their own lives of such behaviour from grown men. Thank goodness.) So I turn to them, and as I draw an imaginary box around this guy with my hands, I say, 'Boys, I want you to take note of what this man is saying and how he is behaving, and I want you to promise me that you NEVER act like this man. Ever. This is the RUDEST man I have EVER come across in my entire life.'

You know what the man says? 'Well, you don't want to turn out like her.' (Which is just stoopid, because they are BOYS and I'm a GIRL. Just sayin'...)

At this point, I laughed. What the man was saying was nothing short of ludicrous and rather delusional to be frank.

The lift door opened. I said, 'Come on boys,' and as I exited I chuckled, shaking my head, because the situation was just so incredibly OUT OF THIS WORLD. A woman and her daughter got in to the lift as the boys and I exited. I muttered something like, 'What a rude man. I'm SO writing about this.'

I went to the ticket machine to pay for my parking, the boys in tow. I turned around to make sure they were still following me, and as I did the doors to the lift started closing. The guy suddenly shouted out - yes, SHOUTED - (with the poor woman and her child next to him) 'You talk out of your ARSE!'

Niiiiice. I managed one last eye-roll at him before the doors were fully closed.

I thought about reporting him. I did. I'm sure there's footage of the exchange available from the lift and I have a few contacts. That footage could easily find its way on to our television screens before I could say, 'Take that, BIG hot-shot "lawyer".' But you know what? I have no interest in spending too much time on a man who deserves no more attention than he obviously gives himself. I hope he went home that night and felt like the moron he is, but somehow I doubt it. He is obviously FILLED with self importance and, I suspect, a lot of bitterness. As I explained to the boys later, we don't know what has happened in this man's life to make him this way, but his behaviour can't be blamed on 'a bad day'. There are many people far more 'important' than this guy who are in far more stressful situations day-to-day, and they wouldn't dream of behaving in such a fashion. Not only was he wrong to speak to me like he did, but to speak to me like that in front of three young children? Words can't even describe...

Mr A and I assured the boys his behaviour is not only unacceptable, but it's also not normal. Even though they said later they wanted to call him 'an idiot' or something, I told them how glad I was that they had remained silent through the exchange. I said name calling wasn't going to help - all that would do would reduce us down to his (very low) level.

People never cease to amaze me. I don't need to put his face on television. Karma will come back to bite that man. I guarantee it.

J
xox

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Easy listening

Adele. 

Maybe it's an age thing, but I've mellowed over time with my music choices. Well, not completely. I can still rock out a JT song in the car (my kids LOVE that. Ahem) or dance around the kitchen to a bit of Usher. (All I need to do now is install a disco ball in there, and I'll really have it going on.) And EVERYONE knows that housework is only bearable if there's a little Lenny Kravitz, Pink or even Nicki Minaj playing in the background.

But I have a playlist on my iPod that I play constantly - mostly in the car to and from school in the mornings. It's my 'Easy Listening' playlist. It's filled with more soulful, crooning-type songs (some sad, you might say) that I love to sing along to or just listen to and think about the words. The mellow sounds make me calmer, relaxed (Eldest Son says, 'Sleepy.' You say potato, buddy...). They make me think. Remember. Feel.

I'm constantly adding songs to it, and have around 40 songs on it now (Adele wins the 'most added songs to the playlist' award). I delete songs from the playlist on occasion too, usually when I've had enough of them and realise I constantly skip them to listen to the others.

Here are some of the songs on the list that I rarely seem to skip:

Already Gone - Kelly Clarkson

Amnesia - 5 Seconds of Summer (ok, that's a little embarrassing to admit, but I like it!)

Battle Scars - Guy Sebastian (feat. Lupe Fiasco)

Cry Me A River - Justin Timberlake

Don't You Remember - Adele

Gravity - Sara Bareillis

I Still Miss Us - Damien Leith

Jar of Hearts - Christina Perri

Keep Holding On - Avril Lavigne

Lovesong - Adele

The Only Exception - Paramore (Middle Son secretly recorded me belting this out in the car a few weeks ago. Little bugger.)

Only Love Can Hurt Like This - Paloma Faith (one of my current faves)

Resolution - Nick Lachey

Someone Like You - Adele (told you Ads makes multiple appearances)

Stay With Me - Sam Smith (LOVE this man's voice)

When I Was Your Man - Bruno Mars

You're Beautiful - James Blunt

I often play music when I write, too. Music can be a great writing prompt - like it was for 100RPM.

What's on your playlist?

J
xox

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Finding the funny again

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I used to write a lot more humorous stuff. My old blog, Mummy Mayhem, was filled with stories of parenting-gone-wrong, light-hearted, giggle-worthy stuff.

I haven't felt much like writing that stuff lately. I know what I write now is almost too serious. It's not the stuff people really want to read from me, because I was the one who wrote the funny stuff, you know? At the moment, writing the funny stuff feels ... forced. It's just not me at the moment. (Then again, I never did start this site for anyone else other than me. This is my space, and I'll continue to use it how I see fit.) Nevertheless, even though being funny is a big part of my life - I'm always the joker - I can't seem to get motivated to write funny.

I think it has something to do with Dad's death last year. The first six months after he died, it felt like I was living under a huge fog. I just felt so sad. To be honest, it was an unexpected sadness in a way, because it's not like Dad was fit and healthy and in his forties when he died last year. He was in his mid-eighties and crippled by dementia, just getting by day to day. But he'd lived a full life for almost all of those years before his dementia took over for the last few.

I guess I wrestle almost daily with the guilt that for a good portion of the latter years of my dad's life, I lived on the other side of the country and saw him just occasionally. As I wrote in my last post, there are days I feel like I've robbed my parents of another daughter ('another daughter' meaning in addition to my sister, Valda, who died in 1971). I know my parents supported - fully - my decision to move to Sydney back in December 1995 with Mr A, and recognised how happy I became living here. However, I also know, being a parent myself, that not having your children around would be difficult. So unimaginably difficult, but it's how life goes. Both of my parents left their hometowns to live in Perth many moons ago, so they got it/get it.

After the six month mark following Dad's death, I felt the fog begin to lift a bit. Certainly, now, the sadness is not as present as it was. It will always be there, of course, but at least now I can go days and days - sometimes weeks - before feeling low. Certain situations trigger the sadness: A friend's father experiencing a similar health situation my dad did in his last couple of years of life; a sad television show. Like Offspring. I watched that show for the first time the other night and decided, although very good, I couldn't watch it ever again. It was too sad watching a wife trying to live her life now that her husband is dead. That longing just to see him one more time ...

But it's getting better. It is. I'm feeling uplifted more days than not now, so I know my heart is mending. It will never forget, but it is mending.

The funny will return some day. Soon, I hope.

J
xox

Monday, May 5, 2014

Back in time

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Over Easter, Mr A, the boys and I headed back to Perth to visit our family and friends (both Mr A and I are originally from there). I knew, from the outset, it was going to be quite the emotional journey. I haven't been back to Perth since Dad's funeral and I was very anxious about seeing my mum. Driving to see her for the first time, I burst in to tears. I guess I didn't know what to expect but in the end it turned out fine. (However, saying goodbye at the end of our trip was awful. Just awful. But this is how it goes now.)

I also had the strangest dreams there, recalling people I hadn't thought about in years. Many were from my high school days - people I was never actually close to or even friends with. I spent ten nights in Perth tossing and turning, waking and dozing - my mind swirling with memories.

Memory overload.

As I always do when I head back, I caught up with the few friends I keep in touch with from high school (the ones I'm actually close to)! It's always easy, relaxed and fun. I love seeing how their lives have moved forward, how much their kids have grown. When I'm there, I always realise just how much I miss their friendship. They know me. Really know me, like only old friends can.

The great thing about having history with people is not only that they know you so well, but you share a past with them. Most of the time, that's a good thing. Sometimes it's not. Some memories from my life in Perth I'd rather forget. Not because they're 'bad' memories, per se, (although there's a few of those too), but recalling them reminds me of how different I was back then. I'm not completely removed from who I was in high school - I still muck around and make jokes and fail to focus for long periods of time on anything that slightly resembles 'work'! - but essentially, I've changed. Matured. Grown.

You see, when I head back, I feel as though I'm revisiting my high school days. I'm not just traveling the width of the country, I'm going back in time.

Like many others I know, I didn't hate high school; in fact, there were parts of it I just loved. I didn't have a particularly bad time there, but I was a kid and I made mistakes and choices I wouldn't make today. When I get together with my friends we reminisce etc, which can be lovely, but also a reminder of the awkward, insecure teenager I was.

It's interesting - I've been discussing this with my dear Perth friend, T, since returning to Sydney, and she said she always saw me as confident and outgoing. To some degree, I think I was those things, but underneath I had many insecurities, like many teenagers do. In fact, it was only after I moved to Sydney that I finally became the confident, independent, happy person I perhaps seemed to be in high school. When I head back to Perth, I feel almost as if the old Jodie returns.

Being away from my mum and my sister, especially, and essentially robbing them of another daughter/sister (it's not even close to being as awful as losing a child to a car accident like my sister, Valda, was, but you know what I'm getting at) is not something that makes me even the slightest bit happy. In fact, there's a lot of guilt, sadness and regret that goes with that at times. But for some reason, living in Sydney really suits me, personally.

My Mum saw the change in me when she visited Sydney for the first time back in 2000 when Mr A and I were married. We were walking around Watson's Bay one sunny, January afternoon and she said, 'Living in Sydney really suits you, Jodie. You seem happier here.'

It's true. I am. 

I think it's because I really grew up here. As in, made the transition finally from a girl to a woman. Perth will always have a special place in my heart - I have many great memories from growing up there. Great, great memories. I'll never stop going back, but when I get back to Sydney I feel like me again.

And that can only be a good thing.

J
xox

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Quirky stuff people do

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I'm a Virgo. (Please don't hold that against me.) I'm not in to all the Astrology stuff per se (except for a brief time in the late eighties/early nineties when I read my star sign every Sunday looking for any guidance about my non-existent and terribly unsuccessful love life) but I do think there are similar traits that people born under the same star sign possess.

Apart from many other things (some not so positive) Virgos are analytical. Sometimes to the point where we think way too much about stuff we really shouldn't bother thinking about, but it's what we do.

The other day I was analysing thinking about certain traits that people I know possess that could be considered kind of quirky by some. Like, for example, one woman I know always reads books this way: She reads the start of the book then she goes to the end and reads that, then she resumes reading from where she left off near the start. What the...?! I hear you ask.

She does this because she finds if she doesn't know the ending, she spends the whole book worrying about how it's going to end, and feels she then doesn't spend enough time focussing on the characters themselves and the storyline itself. Knowing how the story ends settles her enough to, as she put it, 'Enjoy the book fully.'

Not how I would choose to read a book, but I bet she's not the only one.

Another friend of mine, who has never been a big make-up wearer herself, loves ...  LOVES watching make-up tutorials on YouTube. She reckons she's literally spent hours watching make-up being applied online. I can't tell you how much this revelation surprised me!

And me? Well, I reckon I have a few quirky habits/interests. For example, I can't cut raw meat without wearing plastic food preparation gloves. The idea of the raw meat getting under my fingernails? Ewww.

People are fascinating creatures, aren't they?

Any quirky stuff you do?

J
xox

Friday, March 21, 2014

Flash Fiction Friday

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I doubt this will be a regular thing. I'm increasingly becoming pathetic at doing ANYTHING with any hint of regularity lately. (Especially exercise. I really, really need to exercise more. Must. Exercise.) I just thought it might be nice to write a flash fiction piece and because it's Friday ... gotta love all the alternative 'F' words, right? I'm sure there are PLENTY of Flash Fiction Friday memes and posts out there. I'm not joining in with anyone, or asking anyone to join in here. Just doin' my own thing, you know?

However, I'm already cheating because I'm about to publish here a piece that was published some time ago in an eBook 100 RPM - 100 Short Stories Inspired by Music that I have links to on this site (see above and to the left?!). I entered my story in to a competition and, along with many other authors included in the book, it was chosen to be published. Although unpaid for, we all got to keep the rights to our stories.

Now a good amount of time has passed, I figured it time to publish my piece here. (But if you want to check out a heap of great short - very short, ie 100 word! - pieces, then you can always follow the links and download it.)

In short (no pun intended), when writing our stories for the eBook, we chose a piece of music to inspire a story and it had to be 100 words in length. I thought that would make it easy - what's 100 words, eh? - but to get a story in to only 100 words? SO challenging!

To be honest, I have changed one word below from the original published piece. A word that I used in my original submission, but was edited during the editing process. I agreed to the change at the time, but now every time I read it I just feel my original word works better! Maybe I'm right, maybe I'm wrong. (FYI - In line 2, the word 'Suddenly' was edited to 'But' for the eBook.)

Anyway, enough of my ramblings. Without further ado, here's my piece from 100 RPM:

GONE
Inspired by: "Already Gone" by Kelly Clarkson 
She stood before him, head down, fiddling nervously with the heart-shaped key ring - a gift from him. Suddenly, it slipped from her fingers, crashing to the pavement.  
She stared at the pieces; the loss was overwhelming. Blinking back tears, she looked up and met his gaze. 'I have to go,' she said. 'I'm sorry.' She turned away quickly, trying to ignore his agonised expression.  
'Wait ...' He reached out in vain to stop her. In seconds, she was in her car, the engine running. She paused to look out the window at him. 'I love you,' she whispered. 
Then she was gone.  
*   *   *

Dramatic, huh? I see the word 'She' too many times in this now, but I'm proud of it anyway. I wonder if the Kellster would like it? :)

J
xox

Monday, February 24, 2014

My writing space

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Many years ago, Mr A and I went to see a house that was for sale. At the time, we weren't thinking of moving or anything, but we wanted to get an idea of what sort of home we could eventually move to within the next few years. (That's my long-winded way of saying we pretty much had nothing better to do one Saturday. Oh, how times have changed since then - thank you, Saturday sport.)

The house was great. Very big. WAY over our price range, unfortunately (which we didn't realise until we got there and asked the agent the price - gulp!), but gorgeous. The thing I loved about it the most was the study. It was a fairly plain room, but had huge potential, mostly for its position. It had french doors leading out to a small patio, overlooking the backyard pool. I imagined myself sitting in there, my desk facing the french doors, the walls painted a pale green and the existing wooden bookshelves removed or repainted white. Oh, yes. I had it all planned. It was going to be ALL MINE, and Mr A's study would be relocated to an upstairs spare bedroom.

From that moment on, whenever we looked at a house, I would always compare the study, or study space, with that house.

The house we live in now has a study, with enough desk space for two. (I loved this house so much when we saw it, that it became the first house that I didn't compare the study to the one in that other house!) The study here is nice enough, but note quite what I had imagined for myself. I'd always imagined my own space. (And there's no spare room in this house for Mr A to create a study in, unfortunately!)

Before we moved in, I thought about creating a study space for myself in our bedroom, because the bedroom is fairly spacious. Mr A thought that a pretty good idea, but when we finally moved in, I changed my mind. (A woman's prerogative, you know.) Although it's a lovely outlook from the bedroom, I couldn't imagine myself sitting in there, writing at my desk, as cute as I'm sure I'd have made it look!

I soon found another option. You see, we have a nice, large kitchen bench, and at one end of the bench we have some cupboards hidden behind some fold away doors. Underneath the kitchen bench is more cupboard space. There's a lovely outlook from the kitchen in both directions and the light in there (here) is fantastic. I realised I didn't need an actual 'study', just a study space, and the kitchen bench meets every requirement I can imagine. (Besides, it's also close to the coffee machine. Very important.)

My 'desktop' is my laptop on the bench and my pens, pencils, stationery items etc are in the bench top cupboard behind the fold away doors (that I mostly leave open). I have even adorned the shelves with photos of my family and best friends. Everything else I need is stored underneath the bench top in the cupboards there. Perfect.

Moving here made me realise that you don't really need an actual study per se these days. Most people work on laptops and iPads anyway so we're all pretty portable. At best, you need a filing cabinet somewhere (which you can put pretty much anywhere). And besides, I don't just write at the kitchen bench. I also write on the couch, outside on the balcony, while lying on my tummy on our bed ... wherever I feel like it.

Whatever works.

Where do you write?

J
xox

Friday, February 21, 2014

Book Club: Barracuda



I met up with my Book Club last week. We went to a Lebanese restaurant. The food was so yummy, but the aftermath probably wasn't worth it. There must have been a ton of salt - or perhaps MSG - in it. A number of us were so thirsty all night and felt terrible the next day! Bummer.

We were there, of course, to discuss our last read: Barracuda by Christos Tsiolkas. 

Due to a lot of noise at the restaurant, the book was mostly discussed in groups of four. I do know, however, that most - like me - felt it hard to put the book down. We were engrossed. I found it an interesting look in to society: putting a boy from a low income home in to a fancy-pants school filled with privileged, entitled boys after receiving a swimming scholarship. (This brought up the topic of a certain Sydney private boys' school that was accused of poaching boys from other schools and offering them sporting scholarships to boost their own sports program. Hmmm. Interesting.) It's also an interesting look in to Australian society. Like he did in The Slap, Tsiolkas puts a magnifying glass over modern day Australia. 

Here's a spiel about the book on Booktopia:

Tender and brutal and blazingly brilliant, the new novel from the acclaimed author of the international bestseller The Slap takes an unflinching look at modern Australia - at our hopes and dreams, our friendships, and our families - and asks what it means to be a good person and what it takes to become one.  
He asked the water to lift him, to carry him, to avenge him. He made his muscles shape his fury, made every stroke declare his hate. And the water obeyed; the water would give him his revenge. No one could beat him, no one came close.
His whole life, Danny Kelly's only wanted one thing: to win Olympic gold. Everything he's ever done-every thought, every dream, every action-takes him closer to that moment of glory, of vindication, when the world will see him for what he is: the fastest, the strongest and the best. His life has been a preparation for that moment.
 His parents struggle to send him to the most prestigious private school with the finest swimming program; Danny loathes it there and is bullied and shunned as an outsider, but his coach is the best and knows Danny is, too, better than all those rich boys, those pretenders. Danny's win-at-all-cost ferocity gradually wins favour with the coolest boys-he's Barracuda, he's the psycho, he's everything they want to be but don't have the guts to get there. He's going to show them all.
He would be first, everything would be alright when he came first, all would be put back in place. When he thought of being the best, only then did he feel calm.
Should we teach our children to win, or should we teach them to live? How do we make and remake our lives? Can we atone for our past? Can we overcome shame? And what does it mean to be a good person?
A searing and provocative novel by the acclaimed author of the international bestseller The Slap, Barracuda is an unflinching look at modern Australia, at our hopes and dreams, our friendships, and our families. It is about class and sport and politics and migration and education. It contains everything a person is: family and friendship and love and work, the identities we inhabit and discard, the means by which we fill the holes at our centre. Barracuda is brutal, tender and blazingly brilliant; everything we have come to expect from this fearless vivisector of our lives and world. 

Apart from Danny finding it challenging fitting in with his new peers, there is also the flow-on affect the move has with his family and his old friends.  

It's essentially a story about social displacement, and yet more. I love how Tsiolkas doesn't sugar-coat Australian society. Through his characters, he shows Australian society's warts and all. 

I love the following quote from the book. Clyde, a Scotsman, is discussing Australians:

'You all think you're so egalitarian, but you're the most status-seeking people I've met. You call yourselves laid-back but you're angry and resentful all the time. You say there is no class system here, but you're terrified of the poor, and you say you're anti-authoritarian but all there is here are rules ...'

The book touches on a number of subjects. Some of us thought perhaps too many in one book. (To me, it's frustrating when authors try to tackle too many subjects in one book. It feels as though they're trying to write three books in one because they can't quite not write about their storyline ideas. All it does is frustrate the reader and confuse him/her!) And certainly there is one point in the storyline, when Danny finds himself somewhere he doesn't want to be (I'm trying not to give too much of the storyline away!) and there are some moments that were stomach-churning to read. Tsiolkas isn't afraid to show a side to his characters that potentially make them unlikeable and yet continue to give them depth. 

I, personally, love that in an author.  

In any case, Barracuda is incredibly well written, engaging, interesting and real. Maybe too real for some? Not me.

Thumbs up!

Our next Book Club choice is The Invention of Wings by Sue Monk Kidd (author of The Secret Life of Bees).



You can read a little about the book on Goodreads here. To be honest, I was a little disappointed at first that we didn't have yet another Australian author, but it's always good to mix it up, right? Besides, I'm only a couple of chapters in and I'm already hooked.

Our next meeting is set for Friday 18 April. If you want to read what we thought, check in here about a week after that.

Happy reading! 

J
xox

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Notes for Mum


I needed a little notepad to write quick notes to teachers or to accompany forms when posting etc, and I found a gorgeous one late last year. Every page has different, cute little pictures on it.

The notepad gave me an idea.

Remember the old days when we used to write letters? As in, pick up a pen, grab some paper and write? Well, I rarely do that these days. Who does? With email and texting, we're pretty much covered communication-wise, right?

But my Mum comes from a time when everyone wrote letters. She doesn't have a computer and probably couldn't even work out how to turn one on, nor does she text. So, I decided that I'd use my lovely notepad to write her short letters containing memories of my childhood. I've written a few so far, including one about how I loved going to the garden centre on weekends with Mum and Dad - always begging them for a plant, that I would eventually kill. (No green thumb here.) Then I wrote about how watermelon always reminds me of summers in Perth and eating it on our patio with she and Dad, the  afternoon winds (AKA The Fremantle Doctor) whipping through and cooling us down. I'm sending one today about my memories of the vegetable garden Dad set up in our backyard and how much I enjoyed coming home from school and eating ripe baby tomatoes with my friend, Teresa, as an afternoon snack.

The letters help me recall fond memories of my childhood, and I hope it gives my Mum a little entertainment when she receives them. She misses my father terribly, and seeing I'm not there to visit, it's my way of letting her know I'm thinking about her.

J
xox

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Books I love: Barracuda, Return to Life & Gone Girl

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I've already read three books during these school holidays, which is something of a recent record for me. I'm usually only grabbing a small bit of reading time each day at best, but I'm spending a lot more time with books at the moment. (Not to mention that I don't watch a lot of tv these days either.)

I finished our latest book club offering, Barracuda by Christos Tsiolkas. LOVED it. Couldn't put it down, and it was so well written. I'd really recommend you pick it up this summer/winter (depending where you are) and give it a go. Can't wait to discuss it with my Book Club in Feb.

The second book I read was Return to Life by Jim B Tucker, MD. This is a non-fiction book written by a scientist who has studied kids who seem to recall a past life. Interesting. I'm a healthy sceptic of all things supernatural, but love reading about this stuff and forming my own opinion. There's one case in particular in the book that I defy you to not believe in - even a little! It's the story of James - a kid who seems to have been an American pilot during WWII - fascinating stuff! Towards the end it started to get a bit technical and I found myself skipping pages (I like reading the case studies the most), but worth a read if you're in to that kind of thing.

The third book I picked up was Gillian Flynn's Gone Girl. Brilliant. Couldn't put it down either, but admittedly was a little disappointed with the ending. Not sure if I'm completely comfortable about the ending, but it was definitely a great read. (And you might love the ending - I don't know!)

I'm now reading a classic I've wanted to read for a while: Emily Bronte's Wuthering Heights. Let's see how that goes. There are a number of other books I'm itching to read and I'm one of those readers who often start and stop with books - or have a few on the go. I just thought, after the last few books I've read, it might be nice to pick up a classic.

Whatchya reading at the mo?

J
xox

Saturday, January 4, 2014

A new beginning


I have entered 2014 with a renewed sense of hope and happiness. There's something about a new year that gives you a sense that you can leave behind all that wasn't great during the previous year and start afresh, don't you think?

Mr A asked me the other day what new year's resolutions I have. The first one to spring to mind was, 'To write more.' I don't necessarily mean here, but in general. I've started a few pieces of writing over the past year or so that have been mostly neglected because there has been so much else on. As I said to Mr A, I'd like to set aside some more time to write this year.

So I will. I plan to, at least.

Happy 2014. Hope it's a good one - for all of us.

J
xox