Saturday, 14 July 2018

Then And Now #FridayReflections


It often occurs to me that I essentially haven't matured much beyond the age of about twelve. Sure, I've gotten older. I've added a husband and some ankle biters.

Except they're not ankle biters anymore. Details. Hold it. Does anyone actually say ankle biters anymore? Oh right, I just did. So there's that.

Back to the maturity thing. In a lot of ways I've remained childlike. In the sense that I still love all the same things I did when I was twelve.

As a child I was known for make believin'. All alone I created fantasies. As I grew people called it self deceiving, but my heart helped me hold the memories...

Okay, that last paragraph is actually the words to a Carpenters song (Those Good Old Dreams). But that's my point. (I think I have one).




At age of twelve I loved:

  • Carpenters music.
  • Anne Of Green Gables.
  • Reading and books in general.
  • Dogs. 
  • Daggy movies and TV shows like The Golden Girls. 
  • Chocolate and cakie things. 
  • Barbie dolls. 

I still love all of them, except the Barbie dolls. I did manage to move on from those. 

Additionally, I was:

  • Shy.
  • Quiet.
  • Introverted.
  • A homebody. 
  • A daydreamer.

Some might say I've also suffered from a chronic case of the terrible affliction known as Resting Bitch Face since childhood. Especially considering my reluctance to smile in photos. Nice.

All of the above still applies at age 47. Sigh. Well, I guess I can summon up a smile for a snap these days. Sort of. Kind of. Maybe. Mostly. Okay, sometimes. Shut up.

It can be disconcerting to realise that you've never really grown up. But then again, adulthood is overrated.






And what is so wrong with all of those things anyway? It's not like I enjoyed setting things on fire as a child and haven't grown out of it! That would definitely be a problem. 

After all, even Resting Bitch Face has its advantages.




Winning!

What about you?

What were you like as a child?

Are you still the same now?

Linking up for Friday Reflections.

Monday, 9 July 2018

My Home Country #LifeThisWeek



I consider myself to be one very lucky chickadee to be born here in the Land of Oz. (Wait. What? Did I just call myself a chickadee? Get a grip, Ness). Not the same Oz that Dorothy visited. There are no wizards hereabouts. (Um. Did I just say hereabouts? Oh dear).

I mean the Land down under. Australia. Although maybe we are just a bunch of wizards and witches over here. A figment of your imagination. Australia doesn't exist, according to some conspiracy theorists. Could explain why my life feels surreal at times. Hmmmm. Interesting.

Alternatively, Australia DOES exist, but isn't actually a country. This nugget of wisdom came from a former Southern New Hampshire University Professor. I could be tempted to scoff and howl with derisive laughter at such a notion. But considering my own woeful ignorance of geography perhaps I shouldn't. I'm sure there's entire countries I'm unaware of. Oops.


I would defnitely forget the VB (beer). 


According to this comprehensive Buzzfeed listicle, there are some definitive ways to know you're a quintessential Aussie.  We call McDonald's Maccas. And apparently it's Straya, not Australia. However, I have to admit that I wonder if I'm somewhat UnAustralian. Which is not really a word, but neither is 'Maccas' so I'm going with it.

Here's why I feel UnAustralian:


  • I don't like sport. Participating in it, or watching it. I've said it before and I'll say it again: it's all bats, balls, BORING to me! 
  • I'm not really interested in the outback. I live in suburban Sydney and I have no interest in climbing Ayers Rock. Much to Mickey Blue Eye's disgust. He'd love to get one of those camper vans and trek around Oz. Not me. Sure, I'd love to travel more. But with decent accommodation that includes a private bathroom. None of this communal stuff for me. 
  • To be perfectly honest I can take or leave the beach. GASP! I know! Shocking, really. But THE SAND! And I don't like going in the surf because I'm scared of the waves. Plus, I'm very fair skinned, so it only takes ten minutes for me to end up red raw. No thanks. 
  • Also; I can't swim. I have a phobia of putting my head under water so I never learnt. And I don't really care anymore. My almost 80 year old father has never learnt either and he's OK. 
  • I'm ambivalent about meat pies. I like them if they're made with actual meat. But the sloppy grisly goop in most of them...Yuck! 
  • I don't really get into some of the classic  Aussie rock such as ACDC (or Acca Dacca as they're known). Sure, I don't mind hearing the odd Midnight Oil song because it reminds me of my brother (he listened to them all the time when we growing up), but I'm not a hardcore fan. 
  • I've never thrown any shrimp on the barbie. First of all, we don't say shrimp, we say prawns. Second of all, I've never known this to be a thing anyway. We have steaks and sausages on the barbie. 
  • Australia has a beer drinking culture. I hate the taste of beer.
  • I DO like vegemite, but only a very small scratching of it on buttered toast. 
  • I don't say things like "G'day mate" or "Bloody oath". Or call Australia "Straya". OK maybe I do use the odd mate here and there with my boys. But only because I get their names mixed up. Tell me I'm not the only one who gets their own children's names mixed up. Please?
I'm sure there's many other things that make me "UnAustralian", but that's a brief summary.  In spite of all this, I'm staying in my home country.

After all, we have Tim Tams (chocolate biscuits), Lamingtons (cakie things) and Caramello Koalas (koala shaped chocolates with caramel inside them) here. That's good enough for me! 

Straya. 

Love it. 

What about you?

Do you feel like you gel with your home country?

How do you know you're Australian (or not)?

Saturday, 7 July 2018

10 Things That Make Me Happy #FridayReflections


Hello again!  It's time for another groovy list type post! YAY! Well, I'm certainly excited. Because I'm listing ten things that make me happy. And that makes me...happy!

Because let's face it, there are many times in this gig called life when you feel flat, despondent, dejected, forlorn and just plain old blah. Shut up. Blah is totally a word.

Well, it's definitely a feeling anyway. I guess that's why I call it the blahs. Elton John can call it the blues. I can't stop him. But I'm sticking with the blahs. YOU can't stop ME. So ner.

It's important to have strategies in place to lift those blahs and hopefully feel better.

Here's ten things that make me happy whenever I have the blahs. I am challenging myself to not mention cakies whatsoever. Sure, they make me happy. Temporarily. Until I come down from my sugar high. And realise how frightfully fat I am. Sigh.

Plus I need to remind myself that there are plenty of other things out there that can help. And just back the hell away from the comfort eating. Seriously, Nesski.

Side note: my current Facebook profile picture is a photo of cakes with a 'So in love' frame. Told you. I need help.

Back to my list.

TEN THINGS THAT MAKE ME HAPPY




  1. Exercise. Unfortunately the feeling better bit comes after the actual exercise itself. So rude. However, it's always worth it. With this in mind, I made myself move this morning by doing some brisk aerobics. Then I ate a cupcake. DOH. See? Seriously. Need. Help. 
  2. Writing/blogging. It's quite therapeutic. With the added benefit that when I'm tapping or scribbling away I can't shovel food into my gob. That's something.
  3. Getting out of the house. Even a trip to the library counts. I hope. Because I rarely go anywhere else. Oops. Note to self: get out more. 
  4. Patting my dog. This is usually done in conjunction with singing ridiculous made-up-as-I-go ditties to her. Such as this: "Cookie, the amazing dog! Cookie, the amazing dog! Cookie, the amazing dog! She's an amazing dog!" Meanwhile, Cookie looks at me like a I'm a lunatic. But so long as the lunatic keeps patting her she'll tolerate it.
  5. Cuddles/playing Uno with Mr 9. Despite his issues with losing, we still have fun. Always. 
  6. Watching something funny. My current favourite is DVDS of The Golden Girls. Admittedly some of the jokes haven't worn well, but overall I still love it. And I can always laugh at the 1980s fashion. That hasn't worn well either. Tee hee.
  7. Sing. Badly. See above. Lately (besides made up ditties to my dog) it's the soundtrack of Hello Dolly on rotation in my head. Who cares how bad you sound if makes you feel better? Well, perhaps my family. But I put up with their noise, so we're even.
  8. Reading. Books and reading have always been my happy place. Hence my many trips to the library. It's fortunate that such a simple thing can give me contentment. I'm happier with a bargain book from an op shop than extravagant designer shoes or handbags. Winning! 😁
  9. Dressing up a bit and putting some lipstick on. I'm fairly low maintenance these days in regards to grooming. But sometimes it's fun to pretend you're one of the Golden Girls and get your shoulder pads/earrings and a bit of lippy on. I now have the required silver hair without even trying. Just call me Dorothy/Rose/Blanche/Sophia. 
  10. All of the above things work really well for a passing case of the blahs, but sometimes things get a bit more grim and I require professional help. Talking to a good counselor or psychologist really helps. Even though it's HARD. Well, it is for me. I don't talk. But sometimes I have to force myself. Just like exercise. 

Bonus things that make me happy: Notebooks and pens, listening to music, cups of tea, or a glass of wine. It's the simple things, really. Don't you think?

Anyway, that concludes my list.

Now I'm off to watch The Golden Girls. Which begins by singing the theme song. Badly. 

"Thank you for being a frieeend..."




Linking up for Friday Reflections. 

Do you call it the blahs or blues?

What makes you happy?

Monday, 2 July 2018

Taking Stock: July 2018 #LifeThisWeek




Making: I don't really make much besides mess. It's a gift of mine. Winning. 

Cooking: Lots of roast dinners and soups because winter. 

Drinking: The occasional glass of plonk. And approximately 12 billionty cups of tea. Just for something COMPLETELY out of the ordinary.

Reading:  Various library books, including:

The Lucky One by Caroline Overington.

Is it just me or does there seem to be a tendency for authors to go too overboard with twisty endings these days? I don't know if it's a post Gone Girl thing or something? Anyway that was the feeling I was left with after reading the above title. Draw your own conclusions, I guess.

Sisters and Lies by Bernice Barrington. 

I enjoyed this one. Highly recommended.


Trawling: Still haven't taken up trawling. Unless it's the library shelves. 

Wanting:  To watch Hello Dolly! starring Barbra Streisand again because I'm a dag.

Looking: For a Hello Dolly DVD at op shops. Didn't find it but did find the movie Shirley Valentine and season two of The Golden Girls. I like to live in the past. 

Deciding: Which daggy film and or TV shows to watch next. 

Wishing: Lots of things. 

Enjoying: Watching old daggy movies and TV shows. See above.

Waiting: Waiting, waiting, waiting... For what, I don't know. But if I keep waiting, surely it will come to me?

Liking: Electric blankets and hot showers. Although not together because that wouldn't end well. 

Wondering: What delectable delights we can have for lunch. It's only 11am, but details.

Loving: Hot soup and sleep ins. Although not together because who sleeps with soup? Well, I guess you never know. Have you ever watched an episode of My Strange Addiction? 

Listening: Songs from Hello Dolly which are on a permanent loop in my head. 

"We got elegance. If you ain't got elegance, you can never ever carry...

IT. OFF!"




Considering: Folding the pile of washing on the bed, but then I might be too overcome with the sheer and utter thrill of such a thing, rendering it impossible to return to normal life forevermore. Can't take that chance. 

Buying: A couple of DVDs and A Women's Weekly Basic Cookbook from a Salvos op shop. 

Watching: I think we've already covered this. 

Hoping: That my upcoming yearly mammogram will be all clear. I won't have it until August but that's coming all too quickly. Ugh. 

Marvelling: At how quickly the years fly by. Cliche, but true. See above.

Needing: To lose weight, de-clutter, exercise, fold the washing, cook dinner, hug a child. Well, at least I've done the latter. That's something. 

Questioning: Why I can't think of anything here but tonight when I want to sleep my brain will explode with ALL THE QUESTIONS.

Smelling:  Mandarins.

Wearing: Layers of clothing. Because c..c...c...cold. 

Noticing: That there's socks for cold feet and gloves for cold hands, but what about cold noses? Well, okay there's balaclavas, but I don't want to look like a bank robber. 

Knowing: I'd wear a god damn balaclava and walk around looking like a robber if I lived where it snowed. 

Thinking: I'm thinking that thinking is overrated.

Admiring: My dog. She's cute. 🐕

Getting: Ready for school holidays. 

Disliking: Cold noses. Well, I only have one. You know what I mean. 

Opening: Books, the fridge, my phone. Such a classy person.

Closing: Um. Books when I finish reading them. 

Feeling: Peckish. It's lunch time here, you see. Plus I'm always peckish. Shut up. 

Celebrating: My eldest son is turning 17 next week. Wait. What? Yep. My 'miracle baby' is 17! See? I wasn't wrong about the whole time flying cliche thing. 


Pretending:  To be a writer by participating in this Festival Of Words thing over at Write Tribe. It was fun!

Embracing: Writing more. And, I dunno, uncertainty about different things. What else can you do?

And that completes my June stock take.

Linking up for #LifeThisWeek. 

What are you loving in the month of June?

Image credit: http://hotbuysbazaar.blogspot.com/2017/07/july.html

Saturday, 30 June 2018

Open 24 Hours #WriteBravely #Day7




The car park was almost deserted under the welcoming glow of the neon sign. It was mostly a truck stop at this time of night. nondescript sedan swung into a car space. A woman got out and walked purposefully toward the door of the 24 hour diner. A place to rest along the highway.

She pushed the door open. The smell of freshly brewed coffee mingled with the icy air. Her glance swept over the near empty restaurant. A few truckers sat hunched over Phones or newspapers, sipping coffee. The woman paused before heading to the counter.

"What'll it be?" A spotty gum chewing young woman who was barely out of her teens asked.

"I'll take some coffee," the woman replied. "And the waffles with bacon and cream."

It figures, Spotty Girl thought, as she tapped in the order. The woman was tall and svelte. The kind of woman who still looked willowy even in a long grey coat. It looked expensive.

Probably Burberry or some other brand Spotty could never afford. Besides,  she would look a lumbering elephant in such a thing.

The woman had an equally expensive looking red scarf wound around her swan like neck and straight long blonde hair. She obviously spent a fortune on that hair. It was impeccable, even at this ungodly hour. She was almost a dead ringer for that Gwyneth Paltrow. Spotty couldn't stand her.

Blondie tapped her card briskly to pay, then slipped into a booth near the entrance. She bent over her phone. Every so often her eyes flicked towards the entrance,  then peered out into the dark car park. She must be expecting someone.

Spotty, whose real name, Frances, was emblazoned on the badge pinned to her smock type uniform, saw this kind of thing reasonably often during these graveyard shifts. Clandestine meetings. A secret rendezvous. Suburban soccer mums, middle aged dads. Meeting their lover in the dead of the night. Injecting some excitement in their otherwise stagnant lives.

Frances/Spotty poured endless cup after cup of coffee night after night and nobody ever noticed her. Nobody flirted or asked for her number. She was free to people watch.

"Order's up!" Nick, the short order cook snapped. She'd be scolded for daydreaming again. She shuffled over and placed the food in front of Blondie. There was no thank you. No acknowledgement. No common courtesy, as Trudie often lamented.

Her older sister had taken on a parental role since Mum had passed away a few years ago. Dad had taken off when they were little. She could barely remember him. Spotty set about polishing tables.

Minutes later, a man in a blue hoodie entered the diner and casually slid into the booth opposite Blondie. Her expression changed. Soon they were talking, their voices urgent. Blondie became more and more animated in between bites of bacon and waffles.

Spotty began polishing the tables behind them. Not that they needed polishing. But she had to keep busy, she reasoned.

"Are you sure?" Hoodie was saying. They huddled in closer.

"I just want her GONE!"

Spotty was all ears now. Perhaps Blondie was ordering a hit on her lover's wife? Or her husband's girlfriend?

Nah, she'd been watching too many episodes of Criminal Minds.

That's what Trudie would say. "You need to get out more! Meet people."

"I'm around people all the time at work."

That was just another bone of contention. "How can you date when you work night shift?" Trudie wailed. As if there was a line of men vying to date her.

Blondie was smiling now. Positively jubilant. "Can't wait till that bitch is dead!"

Spotty placidly kept polishing even as her heart skipped a beat
. She'd become skilled at eavesdropping if nothing else.

"Five thousand," Hoodie named his price.

Blondie pouted then smiled coquettishly "I can give you three... and...sex..." she laughed.

Spotty went back to the counter reluctantly as another trucker ambled into the diner.

Dawn was beginning to creep in through the darkness. The neon sign a beacon in the fog. Soon the breakfast rush would begin in earnest. Spotty's shift would end.

She noticed Blondie get up to use the rest room as she finished serving the trucker. Presumably to rid herself of all those calories. Women like her never digested such food.

Spotty was grateful it was knock off time. She didn't want the odious task of cleaning any resultant mess in the ladies room. Wouldn't be the first time she was roped into it, despite janitor not being her job title.

Outside, Spotty adjusted her backpack and lit a cigarette. A quick one before she got the bus back to the burbs. It was light now, with clearing fog. It was going to be a sunny winter's day.

Blondie was strutting back to her car. Spotty glanced back inside. Hoodie was nowhere to be seen.

Spotty watched the men approach Blondie. She didn't flinch when the plain clothed detectives flashed their badges.

"You're under arrest for conspiracy to commit murder."

Spotty stared. Holy shit! This was AWESOME. A real life criminal minds in the car park at work!

Blondie denied any wrongdoing as they continued reading her rights. But Spotty knew what she'd heard. Besides, it would all be on the diner's CCTV cameras. Blondie wasn't a very smart criminal for all her surface elegance.

The neon sign flickered off as Blondie was taken away.

Spotty headed to the bus stop, phone to ear.

"Trudie? You'll never guess what just happened..."

The End.

Written for Festival Of Words 2018 Day 7 using the above photo prompt. (And unlike Spotty, I've clearly been watching/listening to too much true crime stuff...😃)

Aaaaaand that's a wrap.  It's been fun!

Thanks for reading.

Linking up with Write Tribe for Festival Of Words.

Friday, 29 June 2018

Dear Maud #WriteBravely #Day6




Dear Maud,

I know your full name is Lucy Maud Montgomery, but I'm of the understanding that you preferred to be called just Maud. Without an E. Which is interesting, given that your iconic and beloved character Anne Shirley always insisted upon Anne WITH an E.

I know you received millions of these gushing fan letters in your time, and even after your time. So what could I say that hasn't already been said? Most likely nothing. But I'll say it anyway.

Just like many of your other readers, I feel like we could have been kindred spirits. I love the way you wove warmth and humour into all of your stories. The way you described the setting of Prince Edward Island in such a poetic and evocative way.

It almost felt like I was there strolling through Lover's Lane, breathing in the majestic splendour of the White Way Of Delight.

I could taste the currant wine and plum pudding. I longed for a dress with puffed sleeves, even though puffed sleeves are quite ridiculous these days.

You made me fall in love with Gilbert Blythe. As well as girl crush on Anne Shirley. That's not weird at all, right?




Even many decades after I first read your books, I can still pick them up again and be enchanted. They're like familiar old friends. There is so much comfort and joy amongst their pages.

And Maud, I must confess, I love to dabble a little with writing. Tapping and scribbling away. For no other reason than it just makes me feel better. Just like your other heroine Emily Byrrd Starr, I need to 'write it out'.

As you wrote in Emily Of New Moon,
"Emily, in the delightful throes of literary composition, was lost to all worldly things." (p83).

YES.

But much to my chagrin, I lack your fire. Your fierce determination. Your drive and ambition. I read that you were so driven to write that you awoke early, even during frosty Canadian winters, and wrote. Myself, and many others are forever grateful that you did.

It haunted me to discover that ultimately you may have, in fact, taken your own life.

It pains me to think of someone who gave so many people so much joy, being in such distress and turmoil herself. I'm also reminded of one of my other hero's: the late great Karen Carpenter. And then I wonder why I seem to be drawn to such figures. Talented, humorous, kind but ultimately troubled.

I had always hoped that one day I may be able to visit Prince Edward Island and pay my respects. This possibility is becoming more remote, but I guess you never know.

In the meantime, I can revisit your wonderful words and characters.

Thank you, Maud, from a heartfelt fan and kindred. Thank you for the beautiful gift of your writing and imagination. 


I will remain yours respectfully,

Ness

Written for Festival Of Words 2018 Day 6, using the prompt:

Day 6 – 29 Jun – Write a letter to a person who supported your writing career, whether that be a friend, a family member, a teacher (even one that supported you at a very young age before you knew that it would blossom into a writing career), an author you’ve never met but have been inspired…

Linking up with Write Tribe for Festival Of Words.

Thursday, 28 June 2018

The Call #WriteBravely #Day5



Image credit: https://www.pexels.com/search/telephone/


Catherine knew she had to make the call. As soon as she opened her eyes the thought pierced her brain. The surgery would be open at 8.30 so she could get it out of the way. She was due at her Weight Watchers meeting at 10. It was just a formality. She was sure it was nothing.

"This won't kill you," her GP had said. Dr  Fiona McAllister had a forthright but reassuring manner. She had guided Catherine's hand to her right breast where she'd found the small lump. Catherine had felt an odd sense of detachment as she lay there for the exam.

Slowly she got up, put her bra and top on, smoothed her crumpled hair. Maybe if she focused on these simple tasks she could pretend this wasn't happening.

"I don't think it's cancer," Fiona was saying. Her actions belied her words. She picked up the phone to book Catherine in for a mammogram. She'd only come in for a routine check up. There had been no inkling of any worrying lumps or symptoms. Besides, she was young, fit and healthy. Wasn't she? Her hard work at Weight Watchers had paid off. She'd never felt better.

"How's tomorrow?"
"Fine," Catherine's voice seemed to be coming from far away. If she doesn't think it's cancer, why the hurry? Another voice whispered ominously in the back of her mind.

Common sense clicked back into place the following morning. She remained calm as the imposing machine crushed her flesh. The imaging staff were encouraging. It seemed almost certain that it was something small and benign. The results confirmed it. There was no need for alarm.

Fiona insisted on sending Catherine for a biopsy anyway. That's the kind of doctor she was. Thorough, as well as kind. It was one of the reasons Catherine never put off her appointments. Checking in with Fiona was almost like chatting with a good friend.

Catherine uncurled her legs from the bed and padded to the bathroom. She went through her morning ritual as she reflected on the past few weeks. She brushed her teeth, put the coffee on. Carefully chose her clothes.

Soon she was dressed and caffeinated. Time to make the call. To cross it off her to-do list. It was just a formality. Then the eerie voice surfaced again.

"They don't send you for a biopsy unless they're worried there's a chance of finding something."

She placed the call with shaky hands and a thundering heart. A rush of dread threatened to engulf her. Fiona was with a patient but would ring her back immediately. Catherine waited for the phone to ring and her heart to slow.

Danny had taken the girls to school en route  to his office. They hadn't been expecting bad news. She picked up her mobile phone and began scrolling through social media to distract herself. Seconds later, the landline blared.

"Hello," she said.. Her equilibrium had returned. Soon she could get on with her day.

"Hi Catherine, it's Fiona," the doctor was her usual warm but professional self. She didn't waste any time.

"I'm sorry, but they did find something."

"Fuck," Catherine blurted.

Fiona didn't blanch.  "That was my reaction, too when I read it."

Catherine was instructed to get a pen. Writing the words would make it real. This can't be happening.

Infiltrating carcinoma insitzu.

Infiltrating? She didn't like the sound of this. Why?

She thought of Danny and the girls going about their day. Blissfully unaware that their whole world was currently being turned upside down. Fiona wanted them to come to the surgery as soon as possible to make a plan.

She called Danny and got his voice mail. She left a croaky message. The words couldn't quite come out. He called back five minutes later. Her panic had clearly been discernible through the croakyness.

"They found something," she told him.

"Shit. I'm sorry," She knew he would want to be as positive and proactive as possible.

"I'm going to call Fiona and then I'll be home to go with you," her husband said. 

She hung up and immediately picked up the phone again to call her mother.

The conversation was brief. Audrey drove straight over.  The two women embraced. Her mother was always a tower of strength, but this would be so difficult for her. She always hated to see Catherine suffer.

"I'm going to phone Penny," she said.

Catherine paced while her mother placed the call. Penny was a good friend of her parents who was in the medical field. She would be able to recommend a good surgeon.

Audrey passed her the phone, but Catherine wasn't capable of small talk at the best of times.

"Look, it's a journey," Penny told her. It wouldn't be the first time she would hear that word.

But she would face the journey and the fear. She knew she would.

"She's stronger than she thinks," Fiona remarked later, as they sat in her office preparing referrals and appointments. The first of many more to come.

Catherine was slowly accepting her new reality. Later, when she reflected upon her "journey", as she was loathe call it, she realised something. Fiona's words that day had been true.

Somehow she had made it through the long road of surgery, chemo and radiation.  She'd faced up to something she'd never believed she could.

"I don't run from anything anymore," she thought.

The End.

But only the beginning...

Side note: This is a fictionalised version of my own breast cancer diagnosis, with names and some other details changed. Inspired by the following quote:


“The flower that blooms in adversity is the most rare and beautiful of them all.” – Mulan

Linking up with Write Tribe for Festival Of Words. 



Wednesday, 27 June 2018

Ticked Off #WriteBravely #Day4




Image credit: https://www.pexels.com/



Diane Smith had been smug and self important all her life. The fact that her time on earth appeared to be drawing to end had done nothing to change this. She'd delighted in telling everyone who'd pissed her off exactly what she thought of them.

First, her obnoxious boss. He could stick his stupid job. Then her ungrateful daughter. She'd always been a disappointment.  Next on her list had been her pathetic sibling. How she'd loved telling her sister Mary about her husband's affairs, including the drunken one night stand he'd indulged in with her years ago. Let them work that one out!

Never one to be deterred, Diane had then moved on to her hapless, doddering parents. Spitefully she spat out every injustice of her fifty six years. They were responsible! They'd never really cared about her. Refusing to loan her money over the years when she had debts. Well, they could have her inheritance now. She didn't need it!

The cancer was aggressive, so she'd been told. Sure, she was bitter. But if she had to go, she was going to make damn sure she went with a bang. Always extravagant, she'd taken it to a whole new level, maxing out her credit cards. She'd ticked off every thing she'd wanted on her wish list. Then ticked off every human who'd ticked her off over the years. Screw them! 

"Here's to bucket lists! And fuck it lists, which are even better!" She laughed, pouring herself a celebratory glass of wine. The doctors had been non committal about exactly how much time she had left. But she wanted to make sure she had extracted her revenge before she couldn't. 

She was still chuckling to herself when she answered the phone. Her mirth gradually fading to mortification as she heard the doctor's words.

There was a buzzing in her ears. She took in certain phrases. Something about a mix up. "I'm terribly sorry," the doctor's voice was anxious.

She didn't have cancer after all. She wasn't dying. Another Diane Smith was. She didn't spend more than a nanosecond considering that other woman.

The stranger with the same name who was about to have a bombshell dropped in her life. This Diane only ever thought of herself. For once in her life she was actually speechless.

The wine glass slipped from her hand and shattered into a million pieces. 

The End. 

Written for Festival Of Words 2018 Day 4 using the prompt:

Day 4 – 27 Jun – Write a story about a character who finds out that he or she is dying and has been knocking things off his/her bucket list and has finally reached the last item.

Linking up with Write Tribe for Festival Of Words. 

Tuesday, 26 June 2018

Little Lola #WriteBravely #Day3




Sleeping baby, comatose dad
Lola is lonely, woebegone, sad

Dad promised time to play
Silly old baby! Go away!

Now Lola has a tiny baby sister
She'd run away, they won't miss her!

Mum and dad are too tired, too busy
Two year old Lola is in a tizzy

A baby sister was supposed to be fun
But Lola thinks Ruby is kinda dumb

She cries and fusses, makes things smelly
Can't she go back in mommy's belly?

Lola ponders this with a pout
She isn't sure how the baby got out!

She tries to be nice, give Ruby her toys
But Mum says SHHH! Don't make noise!

She even sleeps in a big girl's bed
And Ruby has the cot instead

They could easily give Ruby away
An lady wanted her just yesterday!

She popped in from down the street
To coo at Ruby and say she's sweet

Yes! That's what she'd do!
Lola toddled off to number 22

Even on tiptoes she can't reach the bell
So she raps on the door, lets out a yell

Hey! She shouts, with a rat-a-tat-tat
But the only response is a fabulous cat

He must be the only creature at home
He's slinking around the garden alone

He slides up to Lola, lets out a purr
She squats to stroke his silky fur

Kitty cat curls up for a nap
Lola hugs him on her lap

Soon they are asleep in the sun
Lola's suddenly too drowsy for fun

She wakes up, magically in her bed!
Dad and Mum were filled with dread

Don't ever do that again! They implore
It's BOTH you and Ruby we adore!

They let her have chicken nuggets for dinner
Lola is happy, she feels like a winner

She'll learn to love her little sister
She peeks in the cot to sloppily kiss her.










Monday, 25 June 2018

Finding Fun In Every Day #WriteBravely #Day2


It's a truth universally acknowledged that life is full of dreary tasks. Mundane, joyless days blend into each other. You trudge through your monotonous existence like an automaton. Your life is so devoid of anything thrilling you become excited at the sight of a new kitchen sponge. Or perhaps that's just me.





But it doesn't have to be that way. As a wise woman once said: "In every job that must be done, there is an element of fun. You find the fun - and - snap! - the job's a game."

That wise woman was Mary Poppins. Okay, she's a fictional character , so would what she know? You're just gonna have to work with me on this, okay? I'm trying to help you here. Who said my blog isn't useful?

Anyway, where was I? Oh yes, making jobs fun. Here's a few ideas. Some sensible. Some silly. We are trying to have fun here, after all.



WAYS TO MAKE MUNDANE FUN



  • Put on some music. Preferably nothing weepy and melancholy. We're talking upbeat and inspiring. You could even make a playlist of housework music. Bonus points for pausing to warble into a hairbrush like the rock star you are.
  • Put on a timer and see how much you can get done before it beeps. You'll even get a workout at the same time by dashing about as if your butt is on fire. Let's call that multitasking! Sure, your work will likely be slap dash and sloppy, but we're trying to have fun here. Sacrifices must be made. 
  • Do the thing you detest the most. No, seriously, do it. Whether it be making a dreaded phone call, washing dishes or walking the dog. But do it wearing a tutu and a top hat. I dare you. Even if you don't have fun, your family/neighbours will have a great old time laughing at you, so somebody wins. 
  • Reward yourself with your favourite treat. I'm thinking chocolate or cakies. Pretty soon you'll be smashing that tedious to-do list. And smashing your scales with a sledgehammer in indignation. But let's not focus on the negative. 
  • Listen to podcasts. This is actually a sensible suggestion. It actually works to make something like folding laundry a little less sucky. Just be much more sensible about this than me and mix it up a bit from true crime podcasts. Those things are not exactly light entertainment. 
  • If you're at work, why not see how many people you piss off before knock off time. Try it at home, too. Don't let me stop you. 
  • Make a tally of how many times you hear certain jargon and buzzwords that set your teeth on edge. Reward yourself with the tallied number of glasses of wine when you get home. Cheers! 
  • Book your next vacation. Every time someone ticks you off just chant "Hawaii" (or insert any other location of your choice) under your breath. This will remind you of the reason for this bullshit: cash for vacations. 
  • When you are scrubbing your toilet, dress in head to toe latex to match your rubber gloves. On second thought, just pay someone else to do that. You may have to pay extra for the latex outfit however. 😉
  • If you usually cook dinner for your family, make it fun by trying new recipes. Drinking wine helps, too.

Thank you for reading. Now go and have fun!
How do you make mundane tasks fun?




Thank A Teacher #LifeThisWeek


It's been a frightfully long time since I was at school. Thirty years, in fact. Yikes. How did that happen?

Happen it did. Quickly. Suddenly, I was 18, with no idea of what I wanted to do with the rest of my life. Still haven't figured it out, to be honest. I guess I never will. Oh, well. Sigh.

Anyway, long story short, I ended up enrolling in a TAFE course in library practice. I schlepped into the city replete with my infamous mullet perm. The 80s were just about over, but I hadn't received the memo.

Throughout my years at primary school and high school one thing had become apparent. I was excruciatingly shy and quiet. Furthermore, this was a heinous character defect.

There must be some sort of magical spell or secret knowledge I didn't possess. Knowledge that would enable me to come out of my shell immediately. If not, I was doomed.

It seems that being quiet is viewed as suspicious in our society. Case in point: have you ever noticed that a popular trope in fiction is the killer turning out to be the quiet unassuming character? 

Likewise when a gruesome murder takes place, neighbours of the perpetrator are seen on the news, appalled. "He was pretty quiet. Kept to himself," they mumble to the camera. The subtext being, all quiet folk are psychopaths waiting to happen. HMPH. Not true. Granted, I am weird, but in a completely harmless way.

Look, I'm getting to the thanking a teacher bit shortly. The point is, I had been conditioned to believe that being quiet and shy was tantamount to a crime. A hideous, awful, shameful flaw. Something that had to be changed at all costs. If only I tried hard enough,  I should be able to do the thing that people commanded: come out of my shell.





I grew to loathe those words. Sadly not as much I loathed myself. I desperately wanted to be bubbly and outgoing. The opposite of my true self in every way.

To complicate matters, I didn't know that I'm autistic at the time. I believed that all my struggles to communicate were simply shyness. And yes, I AM shy. Like I've said before, I scored the ultimate trifecta of social awkwardness: shy, introverted (yes, they are two different things) and autistic.

But to get to the thanking a teacher bit! As part of the library practice TAFE course we had to do a communication module.

My teacher for this subject was a lovely lady with the unusual name of Gill Goater. She wore dangly earrings and a warm smile.

It transpired that one of our assessments involved giving a speech on a topic of our choice. OH. MY. GOD. Naturally my shy little soul shriveled at such a prospect. The thing was impossible. A knot of dread settled in my stomach.

The dread was also suffused in shame. Here I was, ostensibly an adult and I was no closer to 'coming out of my shell'. The very idea of standing in front of the class set me quivering.

But Gill smiled at me and said something to the effect: I just want you to know that I know you're shy and that's okay.

Wait. What?

"It's okay to do things in your own time," she continued. I was thunderstruck yet thrilled. No one had ever said such a thing to me before.

The upshot of it was, she gave me a get of jail for free card. I didn't have to do the speech if I didn't want to, she told me. A funny thing happened. I mulled it over, as I am want to do.

A number of people in the class were from non English speaking backgrounds. A speech would be a challenge for them, too. Upon reflection, it didn't seem fair that they should have to do it, while I was excused.

I went back and told Gill I'd do it. She suggested a topic I knew a lot about: Why not talk about shyness? Explain what it's like. Make people understand.

So that's what I did. I don't remember exactly what I said, but I do remember that you couldn't hear a pin drop until I finished and the room erupted into applause.

Gill was beaming. "I'm giving you an 11 out of ten because I know how hard that was for you!" she said.

Shortly afterwards, she left to go travelling and we had a different teacher. But I never forgot her. So, thank you, Gill Goater, for your acceptance and understanding. I wish more teachers were like you.

Interestingly, I googled Gill's name and discovered she is now a poet, with a book of poetry in print. Highly unlikely she would remember me, but now I'm keen to read her poetry. 

Meanwhile, I now know I'm autistic. In retrospect, it could have been an even more interesting speech! It certainly explains why I could never just 'come out of my shell'.

But I've never become a murderer either. And never will! That's something.

What about you?

Is there a teacher you'd like to thank? 

Sunday, 24 June 2018

Together Again #WriteBravely #Day 1


Welcome to the Festival of Words 2018! What on earth is that, you ask? Read about it here. I'm joining in for the first time, because I never really knew about it before. But better late than never, as the saying goes!

So let's get this party started, as P!nk says... Or something...

For day one, I chose the following creative writing prompt:

Day 1 – 24 Jun – Use this sentence in your post : You’d never believe me if I told you that I _____________, but it’s true and I can prove it.

Here's my story:

TOGETHER AGAIN



Image credit: https://www.pexels.com/




You'd never believe me if I told you that I'm a murderer. But it's true, and I can prove it. You see, everyone dies around me. You might meet me and think I'm a regular person. I'm witty, quirky and quick with a joke. Fun to be with. You may even want to be friends. I would advise you against it. It could be fatal.

"It's not your fault," my psychologist told me. Her eyes exuded kindness and warmth. Warmth I didn't deserve. The day they'd taken away Blake's lifeless body, all those years ago, I thought they'd take me, too. Mum was still slumped on the floor. Her guttural wails sliced through the unnerving stillness. I felt frozen in time. Floating. Surreal. How could this be happening again?

After the funeral, Mum didn't get out of bed for weeks. I made her bowls of cereal and cheese on toast which lay untouched. The only things I knew how to make at age ten. I became the mother to my mother. Tall and mature for my age, people said. They shouldn't trust me.

"Poor love," Auntie Lorraine said. "First her father, then her baby brother."
"So sad," sniffed cousin Sally. I didn't like her. She'd never visited before, why was she here now? Auntie Lorraine had always been in our lives. She was Mum's auntie really. My late Poppa's sister. I loved her. She wore brilliant coloured scarves and bustled about as she gossiped. She rarely mentioned my Dad though.

For years afterwards I replayed the accident in my mind. Dad's eager face when he saw me waving from the school gate. He stepped off the kirb onto the slippery wet road. I never knew if he saw the oncoming car. If his life flashed before his eyes in that instant. He bounced off the bonnet, hitting the ground with a sickening smack. My screams were swallowed by the clap of thunder as biting rain fell on the gruesome scene.

Six months later, Blake stopped breathing. They said it was SIDS. Sudden infant death syndrome. My already scarred ten year old psyche didn't understand. I'd been playing peek-a-boo with him. Maybe I'd left the blanket over his face when the phone rang and I rushed off to answer it. I'd murdered him, and I knew it. Could ten year olds go to prison?

Mum was never the same. She was there, but not really there. After a while I went to live with auntie Lorraine. Luckily she didn't have any children, or I may have killed them too.

"Your mum is sick, but in her mind, not her body," she explained. "Do you understand?"
I nodded. I'd made her that way. She'd probably die next. Because of me. She didn't. But she only made brief appearances in my life.

Months and years went by. I went to school, netball, piano practice. I was the good girl. I blended in, fooling everyone. Later, anger surfaced.  I became a bratty, belligerent teenager. This eventually morphed into a sarcastic, wisecracking twenty something. I was a chameleon, but drowning inside.

By now, Mum and I had an on again, off again relationship. She'd never remarried and moved around, living a nomadic life. I never knew when she'd flit through the periphery of my existence.

Somehow I'd survived university and established a career. Every day I expected someone to tap me on the shoulder. My secret discovered. I was a fraud. A freak. I didn't deserve a normal life.

Inevitably, Auntie Lorraine passed away suddenly. People I love always do. This time I planned the funeral. Mum turned up.

"Hello, Bethany," she gave me a wan smile. She'd put on weight, but it suited her. Her once coppery gold hair was streaked with grey, but her eyes were the same olive green flecked with hazel and underlying sorrow.

"Hi." I wanted to say so much more than that one innocuous word. Where have you been? I screamed internally. Then she surprised me by learning in to give me an awkward hug.

One by one, family, friends and strangers, paused to give me grave looks and platitudes, before leaving the wake.

"I'll help you clean up," Mum began clearing plates of half stale sandwiches cut in triangles.

"Leave it," I held up a bottle of wine from the fridge. Auntie Lorraine always had some on hand. She'd been fond of glass or two after a long day. "One for Auntie Lorraine?"

"Of course." Mum agreed. I poured and we clinked glasses.

"To auntie Lorraine," we both murmured. A few glasses later, we began to unwind. Or unravel. We were pouring out memories along with the wine. Laughter mingling with tears as we remembered what a remarkable woman auntie Lorraine was.

"I'm sorry, Bethie," Mum wiped the tears gently from my cheek.
"For what?"
"Everything. Especially not being there for you after Dad and Blake died."
I looked into her eyes and knew she meant it.

"You look so much like your Dad."
"It was my fault," I blurted.
"What?" Mum shook her head.
"Dad and Blake. I killed them."
Mum looked thunderstruck. Then everything came pouring out of me. I told her how Dad had stepped in front of the car because of me. About my game of peekaboo with Blake.

"I had no idea," Mum was sobbing now. "I thought you blamed me. You see, I blamed myself."

Then she explained how Dad had picked me up that day because she'd been unable to. She'd been suffering from post natal depression.

"And when Blake died, I felt so guilty. I felt like such a terrible mother, and that's why I was being punished. Why he was taken from me. You were only a child and it wasn't fair to you to be responsible for your baby brother. You did nothing wrong. You were only a girl. My beautiful girl."

She help me tight, snivelling into my shoulder. I tried to tell her I understood, that everything was okay, but the words were stuck in my own sobs. We had so much to say.  I knew I could never bring Dad and Blake back, but I finally had my mother back.

The next day we went to the cemetery together, armed with flowers. I finally felt a sense of peace as we placed them on Dad and Blake's crypt. Mum squeezed my hand. "We're all together again," she whispered.


THE END.

Linking with Write Tribe for Festival Of Words.  

Monday, 18 June 2018

An Experiment


Good morning, dear people! Or afternoon. Or evening. Depending upon where you are in the world. Of course there's less than zero chance that folks all over the globe are reading this, but it doesn't hurt to remain delusional optimistic.

Anyway, I trust you are feeling fabulous wherever you may be. I just thought I'd check in here for the heck of it, despite having nothing monumental to report, and bugger all snaps to share. That's me for you. Always generous, and thinking of others.

Besides, according to some dude called Ralph Waldo Emerson "All life is an experiment. The more experiments you make the better." Look, it's on the internet so it must be legit.




Therefore, I may as well treat this here blog post as an experiment. I'm sure I can pull something out of nothing. That's pretty much what I always do anyway.

But today I am taking it to a whole new level. Because I have decided. Why must we always DO ALL THE THINGS? Sure, it feels good to smash that to-do list, but what if we mixed it up for a change?

Did something COMPLETELY DIFFERENT. Something wild and crazy. Cutting edge and avant-garde. Something so daring and innovative it's never been heard of before and likely never will again?

You with me? Good. Let's try this groundbreaking experiment: instead of the ever present, ubiquitous to-do list, let's be bold and write a to DON'T list instead!!!

Yeah, okay, you got me. I did talk the idea up a bit more than is strictly necessary. A dash of melodrama never hurt anyone. Unless it's like actual melodrama. That's stressful. Screw that.

No, I mean pretendy type melodrama. Such fun! As Miranda would say. It works even better if you imagine rousing music in the background. Something evocative and suitably atmospheric. Perhaps the Harry Potter theme? Otherwise insert your preferred movie theme of choice. Done? Good.

On with the show.

TO-DON'T LIST

  • Don't give up. Unless it's smoking. You should really give that up. Says the woman who can't even give up chocolate . 
  • Don't forget to be grateful for the little things in life. Like m&ms. They're little. Did I mention I can't give up chocolate?
  • Don't think you have to fix all the things and be perfect. 
  • Don't mull over what's already happened in the past. 
  • Don't worry about what may or may not happen in the future. 
  • Don't be a piker (pyker?). Not exactly sure what that is, nor how to spell it, but still. Don't be one. 
  • Don't watch dumb reality shows. This one is for me, really. You can watch them if you want to. I can't stop you. 
  • Don't stop believin'. Okay, that's an Olivia Newton-John/Journey song, but whatever works. 
  • Don't forget to pat your dog. Unless you don't have one. In which case I don't even know what to say to you. You PSYCHOPATH.
  • Don't be a will-o-mo-wisp. On second thought, a will-o-mo-wisp sounds quite lovely. And if it was good enough for Maria, it's good enough for me. 
  • Don't rain on my parade. Okay, that's a Barbra Streisand song, but Babs is awesome so I'm going with it. 
  • Don't take life too seriously. No one gets out alive.
  • Don't forget to eat your five a day. Unfortunately it's not five cakies. Again, that one was for me. Sigh. 
  • Don't forget what your arms and legs are for: movement! Another one for me. Ahem.
  • Don't cry out loud. Just keep it inside. And learn how to hide your feelings. Actually, no. That's terrible advice. What was Melissa Manchester thinking?
  • Don't write to-don't lists then proceed to DO everything on them anyway. 
  • Ditto don't write to-do lists then DON'T do anything on them either. I like contradicting myself. Shut up. 
  • Don't worry about what other people think of you. As Dr Phil says: you wouldn't worry about what others thought of you if you knew how seldom they did. Besides, they're probably dickheads anyway. That last bit is from Dr Ness. 
  • Don't stay up too late. Unless you can sleep-in in the morning. Why not?
  • Don't get up too early. Mornings are stupid. See above. 
  • Don't take advice from random bloggers on the internet, who have no qualifications whatsoever to to give such pearls of wisdom, including me. Especially me. 
  • Don't begin frying an egg then walk away, get distracted, and forget about it until the smoke alarm goes off. Oops. 
  • Don't spend too much time on social media. Bahahaha! I'm so funny. 
  • Don't forget that social media is people's highlight reels. Things aren't always what they seem. 
  • Don't be cruel to a heart that's true. Okay, that's an Elvis song, but still. It's not bad advice from The King. 
  • Don't expect your folded piles of washing to put themselves away. They don't. So rude. 
  • Don't spend winter being a sloth creature on valium because summer will be back before you know it and you'll regret it. Just me?
  • Don't worry, be happy! Okay, that's some dude I can't remember's song. But it works to end this list. And now you'll have that lovely little earworm for a while. You're welcome!

Linking up for:



What would you write on your to-don't list?

Monday, 11 June 2018

The M - Z of Me


Now for the moment you've all been waiting for! Drum roll, please...

The illustrious list of all lists! The next installment of my personal alphabet.  The M - Z of Me! YAY!

Oh okay, it's not that exciting. Sniff. But since I've already regaled you with the  A - L Of Me, I may as well finish the thing.


So here we go: 

: is for Mum. These days I totally understand why my mother often said "She went mad and they shot her!" in response to my brother and I's frequent cries of: "MUUUUUUUUUUM!!"

In addition to being a mum of three boys, I'm also MARVELOUS and utterly MAGNIFICENT.  Modest, too.

Oh yeah, and I'm married to a bloke called Mick. I like to call him Mickey Blue Eyes. He does have blue eyes, so it makes sense. Moving on.

N: Now, this is a hard one. Snorts. Nah. Clearly it's for Ness. Which is my nickname. And the reason for the name of this blog.

O: Isn't it OBVIOUS? I'm OUTSTANDING.





Look, a bit of a 'dad joke' never hurt anyone. Except that one. Oops.

And there we have it. The O word that sums me up: OOPS.

Also, I'm quite odd. You may have noticed that. Case in point: I have certain obsessions: Cakies and Carpenters. Yep. I mentioned I'm odd.

: is for pretending. I pretend that I'm normal, but you've already caught me out with the odd thing. See above.

Q: could be a quandary for many folk. (Do you see what I did there?) But not for me. Because I'm quiet. Also; quirky. And very quaint.

R:  is for reading. I love it. Additionally, I enjoy rainy days. I'm reserved, often in my little own reverie and frequently ravenous. I do tend to ramble a lot here. No, I have not been reading the dictionary! Whatever gives you that idea?!

I would also like to believe that I'm much more resilient these days.

S: is for shy. Which is a shame because I'm truly SENSATIONAL. And you may have noticed that I always descend into self-deprecation. Sigh.

Seriously though, how do I stop that? Should I?

Then there is the fact that I'm a scatterbrain. I think I'm a weird cross of sweet and sarcastic. Not sure how that works. Perhaps it doesn't. I don't know.

T: is for teatotaller. Is that how you spell it? Anyway, I drink A LOT of tea. A TREMENDOUS amount of tea. I'm also very truthful and trustworthy. That's something.

U: is for unassuming and unpretentious. That's just the way I am. Totally unique, thank you very much. So ner.

V: is another hard one. Except it isn't. Because my name is Vanessa. Ness for short. I suppose you could say I'm kinda 'vanilla'. But people tend to forget what an exquisite flavour vanilla can be. Vanilla ice cream? Yes, please. Vanilla cupcakes? Now we're talking! What's wrong with a bit of vanilla?

W: is for woman. Pretty sure I am one. And I'm often wistful and whimsical. Two wonderful W words. Wow.

: is for xylophone. Which has nothing to do with me. I've never played one. I've xeroxed some things and had a few x-rays, does that count?

: is for yodeling. I can't do it, mind you. Unless you count my enthusiastic singing along to The Lonely Goat Herd whenever I watch The Sound Of Music.. Yodelay heeee! Yodelay hee heeee!! Join in! You know you want to.

Z: is for zoo. Well, I have been to one or two in my time. Plus it often seems like a zoo around here. Meanwhile, I feel like a zombie, so there's that, too.

Aaaaand, we're done here!

Cue trumpets, fanfare and fireworks!






Look, I'm just trying to liven things up around here. You got a problem with that?

Over and out.

Can anyone really think of anything about themselves for the letters X, Y, & Z?