Monthly Archives: July 2010

bedtime blisses

I have been wrestled from the couch to the bed with the obscure demand by special k to “Come and lie in bed but not go to bed yet.”

I’m wide awake and still a bit in the dark as to what exactly he wants of me, but here we lie, side-by-side. (Okay, side by back – rare is the night when he feels compelled to lie towards me.)

We live in the inner city of Melbourne, right between two 24-hour clubs. We have mega-double glazing, so the sound is reduced to a pulsing hum.

“It’s like we’re in a ship,” says special k, just before he falls asleep.

“Like the waves crashing against the hull?”

“Or like the creaking of wood.”

I imagine it for a second, and he’s right. The sound has exactly that quality of the ocean that makes you feel insignificant, like you can’t even guess at its depths, like you’re pitting yourself against your own mortal coil by venturing into it.

(I was carried out to sea when I was ten – these feelings about the ocean may be melodramatic, but were dearly-bought all the same.)

what’s with vampires, anyway? (a naff little rant)

Just finished watching the second season of Being Human, and watched True Blood (s03e04) yesterday. So much blood.

I know vampires are huge right now, blah-di-blah. But what is it about those rivers of blood that makes me feel…

…safe?

It makes me think of the incredible description by Anne Rice in Interview with a Vampire when Louis drinks from his first human. I really wish I had the quote. Louis describes the way he can feel the heartbeat, the way he swoons inside the human until he almost dies with him.

Maybe that’s the fascination: vampires have intimate knowledge of what’s inside us, beyond DNA. They know, much better than us, what makes us human.

do gangsters get a free pass?

so we’re watching The Sopranos as per usual, and Tony’s just started having another affair. You’re kind of drawn in by the idea of him falling in love, until you remember his wife.

“What a dick!” I say, when this pertinent penny drops.

“Why?” says special k. “He’s the boss.”

“You wouldn’t do that,” I say, pausing just long enough for a nod of affirmation, even though it wasn’t a question, “so why should he?”

“He’s a gangster,” says special k, as though it’s all terribly obvious. “He’s not exactly morally sound.”

Which reminds me of something else I’ve thought a bit about:

Does love depend on morality? By which I mean, if the person you love – let’s say your spouse – came home and told you they’d committed a murder, would you still feel ok about loving them? Does the feeling depend on believing in the moral integrity of the person you love? And if so, is it really love?

And to finish the quiz, does Tony like his orange juice

a) with pulp,

b) without pulp

c) with some pulp

sibling rivalry

aren’t siblings weird?

There are these people you don’t necessarily have anything in common with, or even know, beyond the fact that your bodies are made of the same stuff.

But what a difference that makes. A tiny physical difference we can’t even see and it may as well be loyalty and love (if not always like) making up the fabric of our being and winding from my bones to theirs, effortlessly. There is an unquestionable alliance, the I Am On Your Team No Matter What.

This is a long-winded way of saying: my family are in town. My two brothers and sister.

Now I am Third Child, and today I don’t really mind. Today being third means I’m not responsible for anyone else, but I am allowed, by having no responsibility, to do everything I can to make them happy and to entertain and encourage them. I get to be court jester.

It also makes me smile to sit here with my two brothers, my father and my husband watching the World Cup final.

(We’re in the half-time ad-break, talking about the awfulness of a fourth Shrek movie, and the brilliance of the Hubble Telescope footage they’ll be showing in 3D at the Imax in October.)

catharsis

Me and special k have been watching a lot of The Sopranos recently, steadily working our way through the whole series. The last couple of episodes have been particularly graphic, and I’ve found my reaction puzzling.

There’s a rape scene in the stairwell of a private carpark. It’s filmed matter-of-factly, with no particular dramatic music, and in real time. It shows the woman (who we know and care about) struggle to her utmost but ultimately become powerless in the face of what is actually a very short-lived, spontaneous assault.

I felt everything you would expect: revulsion, fear, claustrophobia, nausea. I also felt, oddly, relieved. I thought: she survived that, and so could I, if I had to.

In another episode a young dancer/prostitute gets beaten to death by the mobster she thought was protecting her. Again, not premeditated and it just sort of happens and is awful and violent and suddenly over.

It was horrible to watch, partly because it is so taboo in our society for a man to beat a woman. But there was definitely, even in the smallest part, a reaction in me of recognition. Of looking a nightmare, a worst-case scenario in the face.

The greeks used to perform tragedies about sons unknowingly sleeping with their mothers and killing their fathers. They did it for the catharsis – the emotional experience of great sorrow and fear without the consequences real-life experience brings.

I guess we achieve the same by watching Tony Soprano eat Fruity Loops for breakfast and shoot people in the head.

day three: because I said so

I tend to get trumped by kid-logic, which doesn’t always make it easy to assert control. I had two moments of success today that make me think I’m getting the hang of the whole “I’m bigger than you therefore you do as I say” thing.

1. Ella sees it as a matter of personal pride and an important gesture of autonomy to snatch her hand from mine before we’ve reached the other side of the road (any road). She did it today and I gave her a talking to which, as per usual, she interrupted with her own account of things:

“Well anyway, Mum and Dad don’t hold our hands when we cross these roads. This isn’t even a road!”

The road in question wasn’t really so much of a road, it’s true, it was more of a carpark entranceway. This is where I normally get stumped. I think: You know, she’s right, it’s not really a road. I guess it’s not worth fighting over. I don’t want to have to come up with some hard and fast rule about ALL roads big and small when it doesn’t really make sense…

But this time I got it. I said: “It doesn’t matter if it’s a road or not. When I say you hold my hand, you hold my hand.”

Anna 1: Ella 0

2. Benji didn’t get much sleep last night. He had his first sleepover at a friend’s, and apparently they were talking till midnight. Good times.

After he was returned to me he was repeating everything Ella and I said, as kids do. Fair enough. I told him to stop, he did. Then he goaded Ella into copy-catting him so that he could whinge about it to me. I dealt with that. Then he started up the copying again and this time I’d had enough so I told him to stop and he didn’t and then I looked at him and said: “DON’T!” and I really meant it.

Not to be cowed without a fight, Benji said “No, you have to tell me what you’ll do if I don’t stop. I won’t stop until you tell me.”

Is this kid good at manipulation, or what? He knows exactly what the adult says next, he knows the script, so he pre-empts you and pulls the rug out from under you by doing it.

This is where I would normally fall down. I would bluster about and threaten him with something, knowing the whole while it made no difference at all.

This time, I looked at him and said: “There aren’t any consequences. You’re going to stop, because I say so.”

Anna 1: Benji 0.

Now my three days of child-minding are done, and nothing makes a grown-up house feel more luxurious than the silence the little skwawkers leave in their wake.

day two: silence is golden

My mum (hi Chez!) is a priest. During her annual family camp there’s this wonderful hour in the middle of the day called Golden Silence, when all the kids bunk down and the adults get a rest.

What my sister-in-law Kemi very cleverly did was keep Golden Silence going after the camp ended this year. So when Ella sleeps in the middle of the day, Benji knows he has to be quiet.

Ah, peace.

This morning we went to the zoo, which was mostly fun. Lions roared, elephants chucked dirt at each other and one little peccary ran about like mad for no apparent reason.

Then there were the fun moments of me saying “This way kids! I’m reading the map, and it definitely says Baboons this way!”

And them running off the other way saying “Two against one, you have to come!”

Then me looking at the map again and realising, of all dreadful things, that they were right, so I didn’t even get the satisfaction of bending them to my grown-up will.

By the time we arrived home I was fresh out of patience. Patience was not so present today.

And then, blessed be all things quiet, Golden Silence arrived.

Ella went to bed with my stuffed mouse, Boo, after tears of protest, because she really didn’t need a sleep at all. Benji wallowed on the couch for a while till my repetitive tapping at the keyboard sent him off too, his cheek pressed into the cushion, sprawled flat on his belly like a baby furry thing.

(Do any baby furry things sleep on their belly? Probably not. Sloppy metaphor. It’s late again.)

I worked for two-and-a-half hours, and by the time they woke up I’d worked enough spit back into my mouth for the next round of questions.

[A quick post-script: If you can, check out Cheryl's response to the previous post. She's got some really good things to say, especially for those of us staring imminent parenthood in the face.]

day one: the moment that forgives everything else

My girlfriends and I keep a continuous facebook chat going, so that we can be in everyday contact even though we live on the four corners of the world.

I recently wrote to them:

I’m still feeling clucky, but I also feel like everywhere I look, parenting looks harder than it looks joyful.

Blech. I just want to know that it’s also rewarding and that there are times when it’s fun and when you all come together and it works. And more than just moments every now and then. Pure biology might not count, if there aren’t nice bits like that.

I’ve also talked a lot with my friend Adrienne, who’s step-mum to a three year old, about how hard it is to parent other people’s children, when you don’t get the unconditional love in return. (Read here for my issues with my niece. Little people can be terrifying.)

But today, I am happy to report, despite all yesterday’s apprehension, I had a moment. The moment.

I was sitting on the couch with the day all wintery and cold outside, my nephew leaning on one arm, my niece (fresh from her afternoon sleep = warm, snuggly and silent) tucked under the other, readingĀ The Magic Faraway Tree.

“Saucepan, have a plum?”

“Crumb?” said Saucepan, in surprise. “Is that all you can spare for me–a crumb?”

“PLUM, PLUM, PLUM!” said Moon-Face, pushing a ripe one into the Saucepan Man’s hands.

“Oh, plum,” said Saucepan Man. “Well, why didn’t you say so?”

I am right back in a world that I loved intensely as a child – these were the first books I ever read to myself – and my niece and nephew’s faces are lighting up with the same imaginative joy.

If life’s about anything, then surely this is it.

I apprehend the day

special k wants me to write a post about him going on an adventure. So far he’s wandered into a forest, found magical bees with magical honey and gotten into a fight with a bear over it.

I might leave that for another day.

What I feel right now is that apprehension the day to come casts over the present moment. Just to clarify: I’m not entirely convinced about philosophies that tell you to “live in the moment”, so that’s not what’s bothering me.

But it does make sense to me that if the future I’m imagining has such pull on the now, so could a future I imagine differently with a very different kind of pull – one to get up in the morning for.

Does that even make sense? It’s late.

Anyway, I’m looking after the niece and nevvy for the next three days. My little bro was meant to fly to Melbourne and help me out, but in the grand tradition of Stef he missed his flight.

As he said, at least he didn’t lose his passport and have to pay $600 US to get it replaced. That did happen, among other things such as being apprehended for being a suspicious person. He’s not suspicious, just vague, and there’s that word apprehension again.

So he missed his flight, my three days with the kids are unrelieved. I love em, I just don’t know where I’m going to find the saliva to keep up with three days worth of questions.

choice

I guess I believe that you always have a choice in life, because most conundrums, if we’re really honest, are of our own making. So, choices – check.

The stupid situation I find myself in now is where I definitely have choices – but only to the exclusion of each other.

I’m enrolled in a Desktop Publishing subject, which I really want/need to do so that I know how to do layout/design. Pretty important for getting employed any time soon.

Unfortunately, the only times I can do this subject are 1. on a Monday, which is the only day special k and I have off together. This is our day for laying about, eating hotcakes and strolling down to the city library in the evening; or 2. on a Thursday evening when I have choir practice.

And you know how I feel about choir.

husband/choir/professional development…

ho-hum.