Showing posts with label 1980's. Show all posts
Showing posts with label 1980's. Show all posts

Sunday, 8 October 2017

Waiting For Rain

There it was. That sound. I knew what it meant. That ominous wail slicing through the stillness. It always filled me with dread. It meant that bad things had happened and the villains responsible were out there lurking.

I would edge my way through the shadows and end up at the side of my mum's bed. She always let me snuggle in next to her. The siren in the distance was still a sinister reminder. It signified that the world wasn't safe outside my cocoon. My home. My dog. My parents. Books and Barbie dolls. 

Sirens were not the only thing I was scared of. There was a list, including elevators, escalators, talking in public, cockroaches and blood. I never liked watching horror movies. 

I sit by the window tapping and remembering. It's a grey, dreary day and I feel nostalgic. I wish it would rain. 


I remember scrunching my toes up in tan sandals. The teacher called me cutie pie Vanessa. She had gigantic glasses and her hair in a bun. I had a red suitcase. 

I remember being forced to play volley ball. I hated volley ball. And all sport. 

I remember being thrown in the pool when I was five. My screams were long and loud. I still can't swim.

In kindergarten another girl also named Vanessa was mean to me. A boy had his dangly bits out under the desk. I went and told the teacher. 

I remember skipping around the edges of the playground. I think I had an imaginary friend, but I don't remember her name. 

In year five I went away for a school camp. All the other girls hated me on sight, mistaking my shyness for being stuck-up. 

I remember going overseas in 1981. I was ten. I had long red hair. Weirdly I don't remember being scared when the plane took off. I was terrified of everything else. I remember the vivid colours of the tulips. Playing records and eating gigantic bowls of custard. It was awesome. I remember my brother and I staring at the punks with their jagged Mohawks on the train. We rode bikes everywhere. 

I remember our next door neighbour teaching me to ride a bike in our cul-de-sac. 

I remember games of 'redlight' and sausage dogs. 

I remember barbecues and cracker night. The elated feeling of leaving school on the last day of term when the long summer holidays stretched before you. Before long the elation evaporated into boredom.

"I'm borrrred," I would wail.

"Hello, bored. I'm Mum," my mother would reply. 

But I always had books and music. And sleepovers with friends and cousins.
I remember when my Dad used to wear bright orange flairs and it seemed completely acceptable. 

I remember when my brother had a birthday party and no one turned up. Mum had gone to so much effort making cakes and chocolate crackles and various treats. There were no more parties after that. I didn't care. My birthday was in January. Everybody went away to the beach in January.

"They can have that," my parents declared and put the air-conditioning on. Summer was something to be endured in our family. 

I remember sitting in the sun all day at a school sport carnival. I went home bright red with severe sunburn. My mother was furious. I had asked to be allowed to sit in the shade and the teachers said no. 

I remember my auntie Evelyne taking me and my cousin to Luna Park. It was 1983 or 84. Again I suffered atrocious sunburn. Back at my aunt's flat she rubbed tomatoes all over my singed and painful skin.

I remember being called a red-headed match, and - my personal favourite - a red headed rat rooter. Nice.

I remember other kids saying things to me like: "Gee, your hair's nice. Pity it's not blonde." 

I remember old dears stopping my brother and I on the street or at the shops to ooh and ah over our red tresses and slip us each a twenty cent coin. A veritable fortune back then. You could get a whole bag of mixed lollies from the milk bar! Yes, I am showing my age. Sigh. 

I remember catching the old red rattlers to Central station and attending Ultimo TAFE.

I remember  walking through the dusty dungeons in the bowels of the State Library when I worked there. I remember feeling like a fraud. I was supposed to be a grown-up now. But I still couldn't look anyone in the eye or speak above a whisper.

I remember humiliating job interviews when I burst into tears.

I remember beautiful dresses my mother made. I loved dressing up.

I remember getting married on a warm November day in 1995. I was completely calm and contented in my lovely lace gown with a long train. I carried roses and raised my voice for the vows. 

I remember being told I would never have babies without IVF. 

I remember having an ultra-sound and being told I was already 26 weeks pregnant! It felt like being told I could fly. I had magical powers. Maybe I could twitch my nose like Samantha and magic up anything. 

I remember giving birth to my sons. 

Son number one:  "Here's your baby!" Mick held him and he streeeetched his little arms.  

Son number two:  "He has such expressive eyes," the  midwife commented. Mick passed out! 

Son number three:  The 19 week scan. "There is no heartbeat." Goodbye, little man. 

Son number four:  I was sliced open. He was so TINY. Perfect and tiny. Our family was complete. 

I remember the day Mick had surgery for bowel cancer. I sat with him while he had chemo-therapy. 

I remember going to Sea World with my family. I accidentally dropped my mobile phone in the shark tank. 

I remember giggling about all the silly things with my boys. 

I remember watching diggers and excavators with my then obsessed toddler son.

I remember my second son's collection of soft toys. His favourite was a dog, imaginatively named "Doggy". If we went anywhere without Doggy, we were in serious trouble! 

Being told I that I'm autistic at age 40 is something I'll never forget. I finally understood a few things about myself. 

There was the glorious cake my mother made me for my 40th birthday. Who could forget that?! 

Memories of all the amazing meals around the kitchen table in my parents house. My mother's cooking is THE BEST. 

I remember Mick shaving my head when I had chemo for breast cancer. I remember the beautiful hats my aunt made for me. 

I remember that I need to stop remembering and live in the present. Mostly I do. Except when it rains. 

I remember the wistful, wonderful, comforting feel of a rainy day. I've always been a pluviophile. That's what I've discovered. 

Rainy days still evoke a sense of nostalgia. When a siren sounds in the rain I am reminded of all the feelings. Feeling unsettled, then safe. Uncertain, then comforted. 

Sirens signify danger. Rain is healing. Soothing. 

When the rains falls, the sirens fade. 

I remember it will rain again. Soon.  

Do you feel nostalgic when it rains?

What do you remember? 

Thursday, 29 August 2013

The Nerdiest Girl In The School


TIME: 1983

PLACE: Boganville High School, the main quadrangle.


 Picture it.  A time when raging cases of TES were everywhere, (Tragic Eighties Syndrome). Bad perms, bubble skirts and Duran Duran....

  Noise and activity flurried all around me.  Shouts and laughter that didn't include me, pierced their way into my consciousness, as I sat all alone at the edge of the quad. I wasn't part of any of it, but a spectator, silently sitting there, alone, reflecting on my tragic life as a nerd-girl.

A group of girls appeared in front of me, all of them laughing, sharing jokes with the kind of effortless rapport that was alien to me.  I felt them looking my way.  I tried not to notice, tried not to care.  Just then, one of them broke away from the group, approaching me.

Squirming uncomfortably on my seat, I looked towards her hopefully.  "Hi, how are you?" she edged nearer, smiling. I mumbled something incoherent.  Staring at me quite innocently she asked: "I was just you shave your legs?"

It must be noted that, I did not, in fact, shave my legs.  A situation that, at a mere 12 years of age, did not bother me in the slightest. (Come to think of it, doesn't bother me in the slightest at age 42 either.  In fact, I might have to get Mick to run the lawn mower over them presently, as they are so hairy.) But I digress.

However, since it seemed to bother the other girls at school, I figured I'd ask my mum if I could begin.
Me, with all my friends, aged 12

"No," she replied "you're too young.  Once you start doing all that, you never stop.  You've still got plenty of time."  At this point, I imagine any other girl would have decided to completely ignore their mum, sneak into the bathroom, pinch a razor and do the deed anyway.  Not this tragic nerd-girl and Miss Goody Two Shoes.

I trudged back to school, legs still hairy, book in bag.  Books were my major companion at recess and lunch.  Another example of my tragic nerdiness.  I'd chosen books over flesh and blood friends. Here's how it happened.

I used to have something resembling a friendship with another girl in primary school.  I use the term friendship loosely.  It consisted mainly of her bossing and patronising me, like the time she convinced me to go to Jazz Ballet with her just so that she could then condescendingly tell this uncoordinated klutz that if I tried really hard I might be as good as her next year.  In all fairness to her, no amount of trying or practising would have ever made me good at any form of dancing!

I put up with Miss Patronising, or Pat as I shall call her, the type of person who might patronise God himself, because I simply didn't have any other friends - other than imaginary ones, and I figured being patronised and condescended to was preferable to spending every minute of school life achingly lonely and friendless.

Anyway, during 6th grade, she unceremoniously dumped me as a friend, steadfastly ignoring me and leaving me in the dust for a cooler group.  Consequently, when she rang me during the Christmas holidays, shortly before starting high school, I possibly should have been on guard.  Instead I scurried over like a timid mouse after any crumbs.

I suspect we might have had the Barbies out at one stage.  As we were about to start high school, you might expect Barbies dolls to have been a bit lame at this point, but I continued playing with them unperturbed.  Pat, on the other hand, was clearly worried, as she began to give me disdainful looks as her lecture began. 


"You know, you have to act tough in high school," she began, importantly "otherwise you'll have no friends."

 I carried on dressing Barbie, oblivious to the seriousness of her tone. "But don't worry," she added "I'll still hang around with you, as long as you stop reading books."


I gaped. Stop reading books? Wouldn't it be easier to just stop breathing?  Did she mean all books, or just Enid Blyton books? I mean, I kind of knew that I was getting to old for my frequent trips up the magic faraway tree.  A place where I seem to have permanently remained.  Off with the pixies. 

There was NO WAY I could stop reading books.  The thing was impossible.  Consequently the 'friendship' was over.  Gloomily, I trudged home, wondering where all the 'kindred spirits' from my beloved 'Anne' books were.

It wasn't long before Pat was surrounded by friends at High School, while I sat there. Alone. Reading a book.  So I guess she was right. Sigh.  Books will always be my best friend.

To make matters worse, just as I was about to start high school, Karen Carpenter died. Right when I was in the throes of becoming a major fan. I was heartbroken. Of course nobody, least of all the other girls at school, understood my sorrow. Liking the Carpenters went hand in had with reading books and not having a boyfriend. At barely 12 years old. Imagine. Spinsterhood here I come.

 I had been dreading starting high school. Boganville High School was considered to be the roughest school for "under privileged" kids in Sydney's western suburbs. For months I had been hearing horror stories about how the older kids grabbed the year seven kids and flushed their heads in the toilet by way of "initiating" them. Naturally, if you happened to be shy, quiet, liked reading and listening to the Carpenters it could make you a prime candidate for such treatment. I crept around the school playground with my head down, terrified that some sinister bunch of hoodlums would attack me at any moment and drag me into the toilets. Nobody even noticed me. After a week had passed I finally relaxed, realising that maybe some of these horror stories had been exaggerated somewhat.

One morning at recess, I proceeded to read my latest book in my usual position, not far from where the canteen was situated, when I happened to hear a conversation taking place only a few yards away.  Pat was leading it, my ex so-called 'best friend' from primary school. They were discussing Karen Carpenters death which was news at the time.  Pat was saying "Yes, its really sad because they were husband and wife (??!!) and they'd only just gotten married (??!!) and they'd just started out in their musical career.

Normally I was the quietest person on earth, but I couldn''t let that pass.

"That's wrong," I said, surprising them. They hadn't even realised I was there. I went on to inform them that Karen and Richard were NOT husband and wife, but brother and sister and not only that, they had been around for some time and had a lot of hits. Of course, I expected them to be interested and grateful that I had volunteered the information but instead Pat just gave me a withering look along with the rest of them and said "Oh really?" just as if she might have said "Big deal".    

Year 10 formal, circa 1986. I was
already stunningly gorgeous and
talented. So ner.

However, it was while at High School that I began the transformation from a mega nerd from Hell to the person I am today:  a mega nerd bogan from Hell a talented writer and gorgeous, smokin' hawt fox. Observe. I became a published author. Sort of. Kind of. Not really. Oh okay, it was only in the school magazine, but that counts, right? This is the blinding piece of sheer brilliance I wrote at only age 15. A fictional story that I wrote. Read it and weep:


Out here in the country, where everything is fresh and beautiful, it's difficult to believe that all the violence and crime you read about in the newspapers everyday really happens. The air is crisp and clean and the trees stand tall and majestic against the backdrop of a clear blue sky. Kookaburras laugh loudly from their perches and the smell of eucalyptus is heavy in the air.

We had chosen the perfect spot for our holiday, a quiet little cottage in the midst of the country. The mysterious guy my sister was heartbroken over was sure to be forgotten here. Mum was already looking cheerful - and me? Well, I was just trying to rid myself of this strange eerie feeling. A premonition of something awful about to happen. What could possibly  happen out here where the people are greener than the grass?

I walked slowly, admiring the scenery. My mind was racing. What was this feeling? I tried to ignore it, but something told me I was living each day, waiting. For what, I didn't know. But I was soon to find out.

Jessica flew past me on horseback. Horse riding was  her passion, but I stuck to bikes. Even though we were sisters and looked alike, our personalities were entirely different. Jessica was adventurous, daring and very naive. She had just been hurt recently by some guy my mother and I had never even met. I watched her slowly gallop into the distance and settled down under a tree to enjoy the sunshine.

Glancing around, I searched for someone, but there was nobody. I had the odd feeling that someone was watching me. It had been happening on and off all day and it was beginning to give me the creeps. There's no one here, I told myself, determined to shake off this feeling of gloom. But it was there.

And it was still there moments later when I looked up and saw Jessica's horse galloping towards me, but no sign of Jessica. Panic gripped me, my mind full of horrifying visions of Jessica lying wounded from where she had fallen off the horse. Not thinking of the stupidity of my actions, I hurried in the direction from where the horse had come.

It was only when I was lost in a maze of trees that I berated myself fiercely. "Jessica! Where are you?" I called loudly. No answer. And no wonder. I stopped short in utter disbelief. For there she lay at my feet. Not wounded, but dead! There were no words to describe my emotions at that moment. My common sense told me that she couldn't have been killed just by falling from a horse.

"Jessica! Oh my God!" Tears were streaming down my face as I dropped to my knees beside my sister's still body. There was the unmistakable sign that a knife had been used to slit her throat. Somebody had killed her and that somebody was still lurking around waiting to kill me too.

I heard  the foot steps at that moment and turned rising to my feet. There he was. I was face to face with my sister's killer. He wasn't menacing at all. Just an ordinary looking guy. But he held a knife in his right hand.

"Hello, Anne." He knew my name. "Yes, I know you, your sister's told me all about you." He answered my unasked question.

"But she's dead now and I'm going to kill you, too." He stated it calmly, as if it were something he did everyday.

"No!" I fled past him before he could move. Just a moment ago I had found my sister dead. It was all a dream, it had to be a dream, I thought as I ran and ran. I knew he was right behind me.

It's amazing how fast you can run when you're afraid. I raced into the cottage, yelling to my mother, I rushed to slam the door, but he was stronger than me and pushed his way in, grabbing me.

My mother screamed, spotting the knife. He held me in a vice like grip, moving the knife towards my throat. He was bereft of reason, only wanting to kill, destruct.  He didn't seem to realise that my mother was there, quickly phoning the police. But we had to do something fast before I was dead.

Using all my strength, I kicked him hard in the shins and ran from his arms. He dropped the knife in my escape and I grabbed it quickly. He looked around the room as if he didn't know where he was. Then suddenly he fell to his knees, crying.

He was still there crying when the police arrived. A crazy man, familiar with drugs and the guy my sister had been heartbroken over. He was taken away in the back of a police car. We never saw him again. Never wanted to either.

My mother coped well with the funeral, but we both went to pieces afterwards. My sister was only eighteen and she was dead. Dead through the insanity of a very sick man. I realised that I would never forget what happened, but life had to go on and somehow I would face it.


Needless to say, I'm still painfully woeful highly skillful writer, as this boring as batshit bogan blog proves. It's also comforting to know, that thirty years later, I haven't matured beyond the age of twelve. After all, being a grown up is totally over rated. 

Linking up with Rachel at The Very Inappropriate Blog for The Lounge.


                                 What do you remember about your teenage years?


Friday, 15 March 2013

Frocked Up

It was 1986. I was 15 years old and madly in the throes of an Anne Of Green Gables fixation. I always had been since I'd read the book at age 10, but now there was also a current mini series starring Megan Follows and Colleen Dewhurst. I loved it. So naturally, when my formal came around I wanted a dress with puffed sleeves, just like Anne had always longed for. Marilla wouldn't let her, but Matthew sneakily got her one.

Happily, my mother wasn't like Marilla and obligingly sewed up the puffed sleeve extravaganza in mint green taffeta with white polka dots and a satin bow sash. It looked like a typical 1980's bridesmaid's dress. Ignoring this, I loved it and thought I was quite special in it, which is apparent by my pose. Love the hand on the hip. That was as close to an attitude as I've ever had.

Initially, I wore it to a cousin's wedding. On that occasion, I teamed it with lace pantyhose and fingerless white lace gloves,like the ones Madonna wore. Thus, I cleverly and creatively, in my mind, combined my love of Anne with my love of Madonna.

I honestly don't remember much of the actual formal itself. It was in the school hall, where I probably hovered around awkwardly as usual, not fitting in with the crowd.  But at least I got to wear my puffs. I most certainly did not have a date. There was no Gilbert Blythe for me. Sigh. Not that I was remotely interested in boys anyway. There were so many much more interesting things. Like Anne Of Green Of Gables and Carpenters records.

There may have been a rousing chorus of That's What Friends Are For at the end of the evening.  Several class mates started bawling. I looked on, from my awkward position in the corner, impervious. I didn't know what friends were for, since I didn't have any. Impossible to believe, when I looked like this:

LOOK at the puffs!!

Two years later, in 1988, for my Year 12 Formal, I was so much more mature and sophisticated, going with elegant black. This time I decided to forsake sleeves altogether. However, the bow/sash became larger than ever, attached to a tulle bustle with little colourful diamantes decorating it. I had a lovely 'up' do, instead of the 'big' Eighties perm for a change. I finished the look off with some bling, which is not very visible in this photo. The carpet we used to have was quite eye catching, however. As well as the lovely lace doilies on the lounge chairs.

Incidentally, I actually have one of those chairs in this house. It rocks. Not in the sense of being awesome. In the literal sense of, it is, in fact, a rocking chair.
Which is more dated, the dress, or the carpet?

We set off to the Formal, which was in a function centre this time. I took along a girl friend,who didn't go to my school, oblivious to the thought of this seeming, erm.... odd. (Not that there's anything wrong with they say).

In those days your parents dropped you off in the station wagon and you didn't think anything of it. There were no stretch limos or any of the over the top goings on of today's teens, who think they are all some kind of celebrity strutting down the red carpet. Seriously? 

Another school friend arrived shortly after us, dressed in some sort of weird Cyndi Lauper meets Carmen Miranda get up, featuring every colour of the rainbow, and some I'd never even seen before. She managed this on her face as well, with green mascara clashing with purple eye shadow. It was quite blinding. There was fruit and feathers in her hair. People gushed over my dress, saying how lovely it was then turned to hers and said things like:

 "'s different."

 Or "It's"

She pouted at this, looking quite peeved. Long story, but there were times when she'd been a bitch to me (and other times,when she'd been kind and the only friend I had). On that night I seemed to only remember the bitchy moments, so I was not that sympathetic.  I flounced about in my frock, loving the swish of my tulle bustle.  While other girls would have been horrified for their mother to sew them a frock, I thought it was awesome. There was no chance that I was going to experience THE HORROR of another girl turning up in the SAME DRESS. I was unique. I was special.  I was frocked up.

Linking up with Cathy from The Camera Chronicles for Flashback Friday.

What did your formal frock look like? Do you like getting frocked up?

Saturday, 24 March 2012

Bad Hair Life

My hair is alarmingly grey. Presently, I desperately need to dye my hair and have decided on the D.I.Y version to save  a few dollars.  Micky Blue Eyes recently resigned from his job (recently as in six months ago) so this means I need to be thrifty and economical as opposed to the opulent, lavish lifestyle I used to lead.  Damn, there go the trips to Paris and designer clothes. Sighhhh...

Anyhow, I'm not sure why I even bother, over the years my hair has almost had a life of it's own.  First of all, it was interesting enough growing up being a 'Ranga' the scathing affectionate term for a red haired person.  This meant putting up with all the usual jibes like: "Red Head Match!" or "Carrots!" Or, my personal favourite: "Aw ya, red headed rat rooter!", as I was innocently minding my own business.  That, or they would gaze at my hair (when it was very long) with worshipful eyes, sigh and say: "Gee your hair's nice.  Pity it's not blonde."

On the flip side, occasionally some old dear would stop my brother and I to ooh and ah over our hair and announce: "People  pay a fortune to make their hair that colour you know." before slipping us the odd 20 cents.  Which was a fortune back then.  You could buy a whole bag of lollies with it.  Now you wouldn't even get a single black jelly bean.  

I've lost count of all the bad hairstyles I've had over the years.  I've gone from having very long, straight hair, long enough to sit on, as a girl. Then, quite long, with a daggy sort of a fringe (a bit like Agnetha from ABBA). Incidentally, why do Americans call a fringe 'bangs'?

Mullet Perm. I don't know why I'm smiling.

Then, I had the first of many truly hideous perms, including the woeful 'mullet-perm'. See above.  In my defence it was the 80's so I was suffering from a severe case of T.E.S (ie. Tragic Eighties Syndrome).  In my early 20' s I progressed to the spiral or 'poodle' perm when I was frequently mistaken for Nicole Kidman.  Oh okay, never. Not once. I still don't get it.  I mean, the resemblance was uncanny.
Nicole Kidman eat your heart out.

In my mid 20's I sported a preppy bob, and being the height of the X-Files craze I was frequently mistaken for Gillian Anderson.  Oh okay, only once, and the person was being totally sarcastic and me being typically Aspie, I didn't pick up on it.  So it was nice to have that illusion for a while.

At age 30, I sported a short blonde crop and a pregnancy I remained clueless about, but that's another story.   Yes, too many bad hairstyles and bad hair days to mention.

Blonde crop. Also pregnant and clueless. Noice.

The problem is I have absolutely no idea what to request at the hairdressers.  I totally blame this on some of the idiotic books I read as a girl. This time in the form of teen romances.  The heroine was usually a shy, nerdy sort of girl who gets dragged along the hairdressers by her more outgoing sister or bestie.  Once at the salon, the hairdresser takes one look at her and knows in a nano-second the perfect style and cut to transform her from nerd to fox instantly.  Suddenly revealing cheek bones she never knew she had and perfect almond shaped eyes.

Nerd-girl walks out of the salon a new person, gorgeous, confident and naturally she gets the guy. I kept on expecting a similar experience of being transformed from the tragic nerd I was to super chic.
Imagine my consternation when on one occasion, at around age 15, I was transformed into Leo Sayer with a singed scalp instead.

I was far too shy to say anything to the hairdresser who had blessed me with this beautiful look.  Instead, I actually paid them money for the indignation and scurried home, mortified.  My mum took one look and went ballistic, dragging me back and demanding they fix it.  They must have permanently damaged some brain cells with the perming solution however, as, years later I happily sported a do that wasn't entirely dissimilar.  I don't know what I was thinking.
To achieve this look simply channel Leo Sayer. Or not.

Some years after I had left a job, I met up with a former work colleague. By then, I had cut my hair short. Surprised, she commented "What happened to your curls?" I then told her that I  used to perm it. She clearly couldn't believe that I had actually paid money to have my hair look like that, replying "Oh, I thought it was natural." Nope. I did actually pay for bad hair. So, why pay for it, when I can acheive the same thing at home, with a cheap and nasty DIY dye job. I think I'll give the home perms a miss though. I am off to cling wrap my hair. Classy.

I STILL have bad hair, without the perms. Sigh.

Linking up with Kirsty from My Home Truths for I Must Confess.

I'm also linking up with Cathy from The Camera Chronicles for Flashback Friday, after deciding I haven't embarrassed myself quite enough.

Do you have a 'Bad Hair Life'? Or do you love your locks?