Category Archives: on being an adult

Numbers

Are weird things. Mine keeps changing and I keep changing with it. I just had my 40th and I’ve been thinking a lot about what that means. To me, and to people around me, and how we all have such different ideas on life, and who we are and what impact we want to have on the world.

I’ve really and truly reached and accepted the fact that I am now middle aged. The reality is that most of us live until we’re in our 80’s. 90’s if we’re lucky..some of us may even see a hundred, and hopefully we’ll be lucky enough to still be inside our own brains when that happens.

Growing older has always been a challenging concept for me. There have been many points in my life where I truly thought I wouldn’t make it past certain ages. I have struggled with depression for most of my life, and every year that I survived it for awhile felt like a victory. It still does, but…now it’s just easier. Now instead of wondering if I’ll make it, I’m able to realise that I have, and I like my days, I like my life, I like where I live. I like living.

I’ve lived a life, and it’s one I’m mostly proud of. There are definitely things that I’m super not proud of, but I know I’m not alone in that, so I’ve learned to let them go.

So what have I learned in my 40 years on this planet? Shit, so much. And I know that there’s still so much left to learn.

I’ve learned that people are just people. They’re all messed up and scared and fighting their own battles. Some are more successful than others, some understand things better and are built for things others find really hard to deal with. But everyone has a history, a past that makes them who they are, and a life that’s filled with love, and loss, successes and failures. Because all of us? We all have hopes and dreams.

I’ve learned that having friends in all age brackets is really important. Everyone has something to teach you. Even the people who waste your time. It’s definitely easier to pick these people out as you get older.

I’ve learned that trying new things and proving people wrong is still pretty much the best feeling in the world. Every time someone said I couldn’t, I did. And maybe I didn’t do it amazingly, or stick with it, but I still did it. Trying is really important. Failure happens.

 

You know what, I could go on and write a fucking novel and bore you all to tears, or I could just tell you that getting older is a blessing. I love myself more now than I ever have. I am so proud of who I am, as a 40 year old woman.  And in the words of the magnificent Roald Dahl “Never grow up, always down!”

Because this shit? It goes really fast. And don’t believe what anyone tells you you should be. At ANY age. All you ever have to be, is yourself. People can like you, or they can not. And exa fuckin’ exa to those guys. You don’t need them anyway. Here’s a picture of me being a responsible 40 year old woman.

40bday

40 is amazing you guys. Roll on the next 10 years. And the next, and the next… 🙂

Special thanks to these two amazing human beings for making all my dreams come true. <3

 

On bravery and editors.

Look! Two posts in one month! I know, you’re very spoiled. I hope that you’re paying attention to how much I love you all.

I realised what my real problem has been in terms of finishing my book. I got lost. I wasn’t sure what I was doing, and couldn’t stop thinking about all the plot holes and the many things I wanted to say but hadn’t. That has been making finishing the book extremely hard. So instead of waste my time idling away days in the way I have been (playing computer games, sleeping in, rolling around like a slug watching tv and angsting over life, the universe and my place in it) I did something about it!

I took some serious research steps and starting thinking about what it is I really want. What I need to do and how I’m going to get there. I read and read many different blogs and sites and learned all about the different kinds of editors and what you’re supposed to do, and how to get published and where to start, and I contacted an editor.

A pretty big name editor. An editor who I’d been reading about for some months and who I’d decided was way out of my league. Why, I wondered, would someone with such big name authors under his belt want to work with little old me?

Anyway, I left a question on one of his posts, and he replied! So I emailed him and told him my story idea, and felt pleased with myself for being so brave. I never expected to hear back from him at all, but an hour or so later, there in my email….is a response! A positive response! A ‘please send me your manuscript’ response!

Oh my gosh! What? Totally taken aback I sat there making weird noises at Ollie, and eventually worked up the nerve to send off my manuscript. Two days later he got back to me and told me that he’d like to work with me, and I rolled around all over the place in shock and surprise and total excitement.

He had a lot of things to say, and I’ll be meeting with him early next month to discuss where to go and how to fix the very many things that have gone wrong in my novel and I am so excited! I was starting to doubt myself and to have someone who has worked with some very big names out there tell me my ideas are good and that he’d like to work with me is such a huge boost!

I’m super proud of myself for following through, even though I was certain that someone of his caliber wouldn’t take me on. This being brave business suits me, I think.

Good job Kelly!

I am really bad at this blogging thing Internet.

I think it’s just because my life is uncommonly boring at the moment, which is odd, since I have moved to a new country and one would imagine that my life is full of riveting things to tell you. I’m not sure what to say in response to that, except that…it kind of isn’t.

Same shit, different city really. The thing about having decided to write full time is, I don’t have any hilarious work place stories to share with you. Because I’m working from home.  So I’m going to talk to you about how that’s going.

Most of you know that I’m a huge procrastinator. I found this great post by this super interesting guy called David. He wrote about procrastination on the Thought Catalogue. He writes: “It turns out procrastination is not typically a function of laziness, apathy or work ethic as it is often regarded to be. It’s a neurotic self-defense behavior that develops to protect a person’s sense of self-worth.” – It’s a great read, I encourage you all to go on over there and read it.

Anyway, I have been using my neurotic self-defence behaviours to protect my sense of self-worth for quite some time now.

I am so close to having the first draft of my novel done. Like, seriously close. What happened is, way back when I decided to really give this a proper go, I worked like a demon on getting the ending written, and then hated every little bit of it. It was a total cop out. It was a forced ending to a story I wasn’t entirely sure how to finish, and it made me really frustrated and unhappy. But I was finished right? So it was all going pretty well.

That meant that I could realistically take myself back to the beginning of the novel and start to fix up a few typos and errors and all those boring bits that repeated themselves. But the whole way through, I’ve been unhappy with the ending. So I deleted the whole thing when I made my way back there, and am currently in the process of rewriting it.

It’s great, I’m liking it, and I hope you will too. It doesn’t feel forced any more, and it’s working itself out into a slow progression of proper endingness. I’m happy with it. I am enjoying writing it. So, why am I still procrastinating?

Good question.

I got back into it today, and I was checking out the last time I’d written anything on it. I’d been very impressed with myself for having finished a chapter and having written another good 1700 odd words. The date was 14 March and I sat here today, congratulating myself on having written so much only four days ago and then getting back into it again. I was quite surprised that those four days had felt so much longer than they really were.

And then I checked the date and realised that today is actually the 18th of April, not March and it’s been an entire MONTH since I last wrote anything! Ahh procrastination. Ahh the joys of working from home! Days all blend together and the next thing you know, a whole month has gone by and you’re still procrastinating over finishing your work. It’s really hard you know. I love to work to deadlines. As much as I always say that I don’t, I do. Because I have always completed my work by the due date – well, on the due date. Usually with only a few minutes to spare.

The problem is, I’m only responsible to myself right now, and I am the Queen of irresponsibility. For goodness sake, I had my first child when I was 19! I am far more likely to get up in the morning and decide to spend the day faffing around online, playing computer games and if you’re lucky, baking something less than extraordinary.

There’s also this dog…for the past two weeks, it’s barked incessantly from about 9am to well after sundown. Every damn day. And, now it’s the school holidays, so the kids are home. And, Ollie’s home all day everyday too. I have housework to do, and people to feed, and music to listen to and gardens to pretend to work in, and spiders to imagine are lurking in every crevice. Oh, you have no idea how exhausting it all is!

Yeah, see? Are you seeing my problem now?

I have a feeling that once I have this first book out of the way and thrust out into the world for people’s reading pleasure/horror, this whole writing thing will become a little easier. It’s just this first time, you know? My fragile self-worth is completely tied up in this first novel, and I’m scared to death that it’s not going to come out reading like all my hopes and dreams.

So it’s a lot easier to sit and procrastinate on it, and wander through life blissfully doing all manner of other things.  But I promise it’s coming. I’m about two and a half chapters away from having this end completed. It reads really well, I’m happy with it.  I’m giving myself a couple more months to go through the second and third edits before I start handing it out to beta readers and once I’ve gauged an opinion, I’ll be working towards finding an editor – I have three potential people here in Adelaide I’m considering right now, and then hopefully, hopefully it will be ready to release into the world.

Thanks for sticking with me. You guys are all awesome.

Much love
Kelly x

it’s just a different style of living

I’ve been reading a lot lately. A LOT, a lot. As in pretty much everything I can get my hands on. Cook books, novels, short stories, blogs, biographies, poetry, websites, the backs of food cartons and even some instructions. I KNOW.

I think it’s because I’m having trouble actually focussing enough to sit down and write. I do a little bit, but nothing that’s actually thought provoking or creative. Just general chatty stuff and a lot of moaning. It’s really hot here in Adelaide. I don’t know why I didn’t expect that, but I really didn’t. I figured I was a heat rat. You know, the kind of person who did better in warm climates. I’d been living in Christchurch for 16 years. I spent my entire twenties and half of my thirties there. Before that, I’d been in Nelson, and a teenager. My life consisted of a lot of weekends spent swimming at the river or in the ocean, and basking for hours in the sun.

Christchurch was a completely different environment. It was mostly grey, and we were never close to a beach or any rivers that were worth swimming in. I had small children, I didn’t drive and I was coming to terms with how different my life was from what I’d imagined it would be, in a city that seemed grey and cold. I’ve never really found it easy to make friends, and because I couldn’t get around all that easily, it was pretty tough. So the idea of moving some place warm filled me with total joy!

Don’t get me wrong, it still does. I love the fact that there is so much sun here. That I can go to the beach and actually get IN the water because it’s warm enough to do that. But I still wasn’t really prepared for just how hot Australia is. My mum said something the other day, it seems simple enough, but I tend to get lost in my own whining and forget I’m an adult. She said “it’s just a different style of living”.

I don’t adjust all that well to change, but I was definitely ready for one. The past two years were strange, and interesting, some of it was awful, some of it was amazing, but it was time to move on and everything kept pointing towards the fact that that’s exactly what we needed to do. Australia didn’t seem like such a big lifestyle change. It really is though.

I had a lot of plans. I was going to start being a morning person for one. THAT hasn’t happened. The problem is, we don’t really have a bedroom here. The loft, which sits over the kitchen and living area, is all open, so it’s not particularly quiet or private. It is also so hot that Ollie and I have probably spent about 7 nights up there since we moved in. Our bedroom is mostly the lounge. This sofa bed lounge suite is most definitely one of the best things we thought about doing. I don’t know what we’d do if we didn’t have a bed to retreat to on these hot nights. It’s not very easy to get to sleep, so those extra hours in the morning are still as important to me as they ever have been. *sigh*

It’s taken a lot more time to settle in than I thought it would. And as much as I adore this little house, it just doesn’t feel like home. It belongs to someone else, there’s no easy way for us to hang pictures, and it’s hard to really make it feel like it’s ours – when it isn’t. The heat is oppressive too, so we can’t really have people around yet because you just sit in here sweating like you’ve just run a marathon! Never imagined I’d ever say this, but I am so looking forward to Autumn finally catching up with us and cooling down this place. I’m not used to sleeping in my own bed! That’s crazy talk to me! I’ve slept far more often on the sofa bed than I have in my own bed.

But in saying all of that. I love it here. I really do. Things are a lot more accessible in this city. It’s only a 10 minute bike ride to the city centre which I wasn’t sure of at first, but now I really love. And when they say that Adelaide is the 20 minute city, they’re not lying. Pretty  much anywhere you want to go is only a 20 minute drive away.

The food here is to die for too. It’s all so fresh and so easily accessible. I’ve tried foods here that I had never even heard of at home. I’m sure we had it, but I have no idea where you’d have found it. Here, you just go to the markets and it’s all there.

I feel bad that I complain so much about the weather. I am sure that our poor family members think I hate it here. It’s not that at all. I just got used to the cold I suppose, and we’ve been stuck in the same rut for so long that breaking some of the habits we’ve formed has been incredibly difficult.

I needed to figure out how to work through this exhausting heat, and that’s what I’ve been doing rather than any real writing. I’ve been working out a lot and trying to change some of the extremely bad and damaging habits I’d sunk into, with some really amazing results.

The last time I went to the doctors in NZ, I was overweight, had high cholestrol and blood pressure (something I’ve never had in my life – my blood pressure has always been extremely low), and I was pre-diabetic. Insulin resistant. It was actually pretty devastating to realise what kind of a state I’d let myself get into over the last couple of years. I gave up my blog..I turned away from a lot of things and people I cared about and never really realised just how depressed and stressed out I was.

Now that I’m away from all of that, I can look back and see why I did the things I did. Since we moved here, I’ve started to do more, I’ve changed my diet and I had a range of blood tests done a few weeks ago. When I went back for the results, everything…EVERYTHING came back normal. Normal blood pressure, good cholesterol levels, good sugars and I’m losing the weight I gained. In the course of two months, my health is back to normal. I literally cured myself from becoming diabetic!

I’m really proud of myself actually. I was pretty down about my health, and I fixed it, just by having the opportunity to think about what I’m doing to myself, instead of worrying about what was going to happen next.

I’m looking forward to being able to put more energy into writing now. Because if I can do that for my health in this hot little house, then I can do anything! *flexflex*

Waiting for the Miracle (or some cool weather..which would be a miracle)

I really wanted to update more than once a month, but it’s just so HOT here internet.

The room we have the computers in is the hottest room in the house, which means that if I am out here for any length of time, all I’m really doing is wilting and looking at pretty things instead of being creative and thoughtful and writing!

Speaking of writing, that has come to a little bit of a halt. Obviously moving countries has given me reason to be lax. Terry Brooks says it the best really: “Fiction writing is a twenty-four-hour-a-day occupation. You never leave your work behind. It is always with you, and to some extent, you are always thinking about it. You don’t take your work home; your work never leaves home. It lives inside you. It resides and grows and comes alive in your mind.”

This is pretty much exactly where I’m at right now. I have been writing notes and thinking up plots and fixing the holes in my head, but I haven’t actually written anything yet. It’s so hot! Hot hot hot! And when it’s not hot, you get this little moment of pure pleasure where you go “let’s go out!”

We are doing a lot of things here at the moment. Starting new routines, becoming better at cooking, eating, shopping and living. It’s gone past the holiday stage but not completely. We are still sort of figuring out what it is we’re all about in this new country, and finding the cohabitation with large bugs and HUGE SPIDERS all a bit overwhelming really.

In saying that though, Siobhan and I are back to dancing, and really loving it! We are being very challenged which is great, and have a beautiful and inspiring group of people to dance with. We are hyped and even go on the super hot days when we’re likely to die. Which is pretty much exactly what I did this week.

I am however, determined to get my fitness levels back up to something. Anything!

It’s a very long story, the short of which is that stress and unhappiness and quakes and almost losing my husband along with just normal day to day life crept up and kicked me in the arse. I put on a LOT of weight and stopped looking after myself. Actually, if I’m going to be honest, I haven’t looked after myself in YEARS. I dieted on chocolate and coffee and lost 10kgs. But ruined my health in the process. I was tired and weak and my last doctors visit announced that my normalcy of low blood pressure was well and truly gone. I had high blood pressure and cholesterol and have become insulin resistant.

This has been pretty devastating for me, but I have no one to blame but myself. And my first instinct was to throw a complete childish paddy and eat everything and anything in sight. Which meant I piled on the 10kgs I lost again and felt even worse. The moving business didn’t really help. In those last few months, we ate a lot of take aways and fast foods, and I wondered and lamented and wailed and gnashed my teeth wondering why I’d put on all this weight, and bitching about how life wasn’t fair.

It’s taken me a few months to admit to myself that it’s my own damn fault and to face up to the consequences like the adult I strive hard not to be. The past three weeks have been hell. I have been slowly trying to repair this damage, and making choices that contradict a lifetime of bad habits. It’s been hard, but I’m getting there, slowly. People always say “you didn’t put on that weight overnight, you won’t lose it overnight”.  The truth is though, you always feel like you DID put it on overnight, and when it doesn’t just come off over night, it can be really demoralising.

Exercising in this heat is something else. Today I had sweat literally pouring off me. Running down my back! I do not like to sweat at all, but despite all my inner protests I did it, and 44 minutes later was on the floor doing ab and back work.

Yeah, I’m proud and showing off.

I feel a lot better than I ever have. Particularly now that my withdrawls over lack of salt and sugar have worn off. I no longer really crave chips or chocolate. I never, ever thought I’d say that. Ever!

So, I hope that you’ll forgive me my lack of actual writing right now. I am reading a TON of books and keeping up with writerly type things, and considering attending a full day writing workshop coming up in March, and definitely, definitely still living in my world with my characters and planning their next moves. They are far from forgotten.

I have also become a lot more confident with driving a GINORMOUS car we’re borrowing from family in this GINORMOUS (don’t even laugh – there’s a million more people here than there were in Christchurch, it’s HUGE) city…AND I have a bike, which I totally adore, and I know where the library is.

So if my husband does not get his arse off that computer chair next to mine and get out to work, I will leave him behind for the glorious, and air conditioned deliciousness of our local library.

God. Why aren’t I there right now?

*melts*

I Don’t Know What’s Wrong With Me!

This is I suppose, a testament to the fact that I am a bit of a hermit. I know my way around this city, because I have followed the exact same routes for as long as I have been driving here (8 years – in case you were wondering). I do not drive by way of street names – because I forget names. I mean, I write the names down and follow my directions by street names, but I know where I am because of the landmarks around me.

Of course, the earthquake has ruined that. And the terrible roads on the east side of the city mean that I don’t go over there very often at all anymore. It’s just easier to stay on this side than to have to battle through millions of road cones and dodge massive potholes and road workers.

Yesterday, I met a friend for coffee in the city. I was excited to be going into the city, because I don’t do it anymore at all. We have been to the city approximately three times in the past almost two years. I knew where the place was, sort of, so I didn’t bother to write myself instructions. You see, the difficult part of navigating your way through Christchurch these days is that all the roads in the city are blocked off, so the ways you normally went, you can’t go down anymore. Which means that you are even more reliant on the landmarks to give you some idea of where you are.

But this doesn’t work either, because there ARE NO landmarks left in Christchurch! I drove into the city, knowing that I needed to get to the corner of Tuam and High Streets. I knew if I went down Manchester, I’d find it. I went down Manchester, and there was a road block, so I turned down a street without actually seeing a street sign (turns out it was Tuam St) and drove straight past the cafe and ended up a street and a half away with no clue at all of where I was.

So I call Ollie, and he’s like “what street are you on?” I don’t know what street I’m on. There aren’t any street signs! “Well, what’s around you?” “Uhm. Nothing. Just empty spaces and rubble.”

“Oh. He says.” “Yeah” I reply. I’m looking to my right, and seeing the street running parallel to me (Tuam St, the street I’m looking for) and it took us ages to figure out, that’s probably the street I was looking for. So I just parked in one of those big empty spaces, that used to be probably a good 6-8 buildings at one time, and I make my way down the street. Nothing at all looks familiar to me, until I finally see Alice’s and I’m like “That’s Alice’s! It must be close!”

Turns out, the cafe is now in the old Alice’s and I’d driven right past it without noticing. Actually, I’d pulled into a carpark opposite – but it was full and I had to find somewhere else, and I still did not realise where I was! You see, the new Alice’s which was also a mission to find when I first went looking some months ago, used to be at the end of a blocked off street. That street is now not blocked off and so I did not recognise where I was at all.

Hopeless.

Today I ended up going across the city to a mall I am not all that familiar with. That was fine, because I’m pretty good at finding my way there. Except, when I left I could not for the life of me find my car. “I can’t find the car!” I frantically text Ollie. He doesn’t reply. “No really. I can’t find the car!” I text again. Meanwhile…I find the car.

Driving back, I decide I’ll get to our side of the city by 5pm, so I should just go pick him up from work. I go down the ring roads, towards the motorway and it’s all good. Except the motorway has been expanded and made HUGE and NEW and so I just go on straight down it, like I always do. But they’ve done something weird to it, and I’m going “wait a second…wait a second…” and I can’t wait a second, because hello? I’m on the motorway! “It’s fine!” I tell myself with waning confidence. “I’ll just keep going straight, like I always do and I’ll end up at Blenheim Road.” Yeahhhh…no.

I’m driving, and driving, and I see a sign, and it says “Timaru.”  I’m going to Timaru, and the freakin’ motorway is neverending! How on earth am I supposed to not end up in Timaru! I don’t have the gas to get me to Timaru!!! What if the motorway just stretches out all the way there and there is no way off?

There was a way off.

I took the way off and had…yeah, you know it…no clue where I was. So I call my husband again, and bemoan the fact that I have no clue where I am, and the stupid motorway was taking me to Timaru.

All I can think about is that in FOUR DAYS TIME, I will be living in a completely new city and I’ve been in this one for 16 years now and I’m still getting lost!

He’s amused. I’m just tired and want to go home damnit!

It was easy enough to get there though, once he’d given me directions, it turns out I was only about ten minutes from home. Apparently I didn’t really want to pick him up after all.

Literary Heroes

It’s a well known fact that I have many literary heroes. Some of my biggest ones are New Zealand authors, the top three I would have to say are Frank Sargeson, Janet Frame and Keri Hulme. Obviously it is now too late for me to ever get the opportunity to tell the first two how much their writing influenced me, and to be honest, I never in my wildest dreams imagined I’d get to meet Keri Hulme. She just always seemed like one of those far away mystical authors who I could imagine, but never actually, for real get to meet!

Well, guess who came to the Christchurch Writer’s Festival this year? I was so ridiculously excited, and then the website gave me grief when I tried to book tickets, so I gave up and figured I’d just go along on the day and try my luck. Which I did, and I was lucky enough to get a front row seat. There were three authors – Keri, Hinemoana Baker, and Gerry Te Kapa Coates. They were all amazing. I was so impressed with Hinemoana’s reading! Her poetry is just stunning, she is such an impressive speaker and singer and so very engaging. Gerry’s work was also incredible. I loved listening to them speak about their backgrounds, their writing and there is really nothing quite like hearing an author reading their own work.

But I won’t lie. I was there for Keri. When she got up to speak, it was obvious that it didn’t come naturally to her. She shook and took a while to warm up and I just felt so connected to her. I first read The Bone People in New Zealand Literature 1 way back in 2003. I remember when I got it, along with a long list of other books which I would need to read that summer. It was the last one I read, and I would go outside and sit on my back porch with my coffee and just read while the girls were in school.

I never expected it to grab me in the way that it did. I’d never bothered to read NZ literature before this. As a “bad girl” student in high school, if I was asked to read a book for class by a teacher, you could bet that was a sure way to turn me off it immediately. I missed out on reading a lot of great books because of my desire to be the ultimate rebellious teenager. The Bone People kept me riveted from start to finish. I related so much to the writing, and the story and the entire feel of it.

It was so nostalgic and so tragically, beautifully what it means to be a New Zealander. I laughed and I cried – I REALLY cried, and I was really sorry when it was over. That book is one of those life changing reads for me. It encapsulated my New Zealand, in a deeply profound and dramatised way and I connected so strongly to her writing style. In the same way that I feel connected to Janet Frame’s and Frank Sargeson’s, all of whom were introduced to me over the same time period. I read them when I most needed to. They changed my life and the way I felt about my own connections as a writer, and a New Zealander.

I took my copy along with me in the hopes that there might be some way to get her to sign it. I actually didn’t think it would be possible. I thought that they would just speak for the hour, there would be a few questions and then it would be over. But the end came and when the speaker said there would be book signings, I could have peed my pants! I bought Stonefish too, and Koiwi, Koiwi by Hinemoana Baker. I took my books with me and approached the desk, and was third in line instantly. It was really surreal to be honest. I know that’s probably silly, but there she was, just sitting right in front of me, alive and stunning and a little nervous and signing books and I just thought “this woman wrote a book that defined who I am, without her ever knowing me – that changed my life and made me feel my own experiences as a New Zealander through someone else’s words. This book made me feel less alone.” And I started freaking out!

Ollie and the girls came in and found me, and I was trying to calm myself down and just relax and remember that she’s a human, and I’m a human and that if I cried, I was going to look like a total WEIRDO and freak the poor woman out! And then suddenly there we were, face to face and I’m looking at her and shaking like a leaf and babbling like a total dork!

She was very kind and I think a little surprised by my adulation. I kept saying things like “The Bone People changed my life. I can’t believe I’m really meeting you! I’m shaking! I had all these thoughtful things I’ve always wanted to say to you and now they’re gone!” She signed my books and gave me her email address and told me to contact her. I almost burst into ridiculous tears right then and there. It was one of the most incredibly awesome moments of my life and I came over all hot and turned bright scarlet and tried so hard to be a normal human being. All the time going “you’re one of my biggest inspirations, you’re the reason I write too!” She said all the right things and was just the most lovely woman ever!

 

Unfortunately, I was so overwhelmed and starstruck, that by the time I got to meet Hinemoana, I was a complete trainwreck! There was a lot I wanted to say to her as well, but I only really managed “Your reading was so beautiful. I love your work. Thank you so much for signing my book for me!” Before I hurtled out the door and almost ran through the park screaming! Ollie and the girls were all concerned about the redness! “Are you okay? You’re bright red all down the back of your neck! And behind your ears!” He said, concern all over his face. And there I was, overcome with emotion, dying of the heat (why did I put my coat on before I lined up?) And raving “I JUST MET KERI HULME AND SHE GAVE ME HER EMAIL!!!!! DID THAT JUST HAPPEN? I’M GOING TO DIE NOW OKAY?!”

As you can see, I didn’t die. Here I am, trying my hardest to look normal and not like a complete freakazoid, with Keri Hulme!

Unfortunately, as you can see, I did not quite manage to look like a normal person. I’m pulling my special face. The one I reserve for those times when I’m trying to be serious and grown up. I need to stop pulling that face. It’s not working for me.

I wonder if this ever gets any easier. Somehow I doubt it. But oh! It was so worth it!

Pardon Me..

Wow! I have all this stuff to say, and I know that’s really rare these days isn’t it? I’m going to have to keep focus, which isn’t easy, considering I’m on my second glass of wine, nope, make that third glass. Okay now I’m scared. It was my second, and then I was interrupted, with talk and food and all that good stuff. So now it’s my third. Did I mention that the last time I had three glasses of wine, I horfed profusely? I am taking much more time drinking my wine this time around, and I think, that’s possibly the good thing to do. Right?

Anyway, I really do have all these things to say, but tonight I’m just going to talk about the fact that – I HAVE A NEW PHONE!  I know! You’re as excited about it, as I am, right? It’s a super cool phone that is also an mp3 player, and this makes me extremely happy, because Oliver, has stolen my iPod. What is with family members and the stealing of the mother figures things? It’s just not fair! I get something awesome, and the next thing you know, it’s no longer mine! It has been snaffled! Taken! Removed from my possession! Is it something specific to mothers? Are we just expected to understand and move on when our prized possessions are spirited away by our husbands, and our children?  Well I won’t stand for it!

Or I wouldn’t…if I didn’t have the coolest phone in the world. It’s not an iPhone, but it’s mine. And I’ll tell you, about the ordeal I went through, to get it.  See, it had been almost two weeks, since my phone was stolen, and I really was starting to truly miss it.  Like, truly. And we spent ages at the insurance office getting everything sorted out.  Thursday rolled around, and Ollie emailed to let me know I could go pick up my voucher – after lunch. He said.  So I had coffee with my friend and her recalcitrant child of whom no school will take right now, since he was expelled over a month ago.  Honestly, a month?  That’s just…it’s just stupid. The Ministry of Education is totally messing them around and it makes me hugely angry, and even more sure of my choice not to teach in the public school system.  So, we had coffee and we talked for hours, like we do, and I wandered off to the insurance company and picked up my voucher.

Then, I kid you not…I spent half an hour searching for the stupid store the voucher was made out to. I don’t take notice of these kinds of store names.  These are Ollie’s domain. He’s the one who finds them interesting, not me.  I went to where I thought it was, and it wasn’t there at all.  It was a different store. And then I got confused…where then, was the store I was looking for?  The mall has recently built a second storey. It could have been anywhere! I remembered, ther was an electronics store outside the mall, so I went there.  And nooo, that wasn’t it either.  Turns out, after much angst and woe, that the store was pretty much right next door to the place I’d just had coffee.  Who knew?

I didn’t. That’s who didn’t anyway.  So I go in there, and I thrust my piece of paper on the desk and I say “I have this, from the insurance company, it’s for a cellphone.”  And the boy serving me looks at it and panics.  He does.  He panicked. “Oh uhm. I’ve never done this before..” and grabs the oldest man in customer service history to help me. “Sorry” he says…”I’ve never done one of these before, you see…” and he runs away.  This old guy, is really helpful, but apparently the paperwork for such claims is very heavy.  First he had to call the insurance company – after looking at my ID to make sure who I was…and then he had to call the head office who were surprised I was in there so soon…since they had other claims sitting there which were MONTHS old.  Hello? Months?  No. I want my phone, and I want my phone now.

“You’re very eager!” He says.  “Yes.” I admit.  “I’m tired of not having a phone.” Which I am. It hasn’t been fun at all. I mean, I almost lost my child and everything. So we wait for the fax to come through, and then we talk about the fact that the phone they’re offering to subsidise me for, isn’t in.  But it’s not just not in there store…it’s not in ANY store. “Too old already” He says.  “Have you looked at what we do have?” And I sort of look at him blankly. “Uhm. No.” I admit. “Oh.” He replies, and then we do some more things which I don’t quite understand, and then we go look at phones.  Now, internet, this is where I must stress to you, the importance of this thing.  I don’t get to look at phones. I don’t get to look at anything electronic, without having Ollie spend at the very least, two weeks researching.  We, me and this lovely old man, are standing in front of a bunch of cellphones, and I am immediately looking for the one closest to the price I’ve been given.  There is nothing.

There is, almost $200 less, or almost $200 more.  I’m totally torn.  Except that there are two phones that I quite like. One is reduced, and silver and okay.  The other is not reduced, black, and super cool.  I’m looking at it going…hmm. So off he goes, because there is apparently something else he needs to do and he comes back and I say “I quite like this one, and this one.  But this one more.” And I’m competely going by look alone internet, because the truth of the matter is, I have never bought an electronic device, on my own tastes before. And I’m thinking…”this is -my- phone, I’m gonna get what I like…and I’m gonna get it…today.”

I did. I bought it, and with it, because it cost less than the quote was for, I got a 3 year extended warranty and a CD – because that was the cheapest thing he could find and it only took a full hour. AN HOUR!!!! What’s with that? It was insane.  So I get home, and I’m thrilled and squeeing, and emailing Ollie who emails back to go “Hey that’s a really good phone according to..I dunno, Consumer?” And I’m all “Were you doubting me?!??!!” Feeling very proud of myself.  Of course, I let myself down entirely with the whole putting it together business. I plugged it in to charge, and it did nothing. “Why are you not doing anything?” I asked it.  And realised, you have to put the battery in first. So, I put in the battery, and then realise, I didn’t put in the sim card.  Then I can’t FIND the sim card, and by the time I have, I notice that you can’t put the sim card in, if the battery is already in there. So, I have to take the battery out.  Which takes me 40 minutes.  You heard me.  40 minutes.

After I finally triumph over this, I put in the sim card, then the battery, and charge my phone!  I did threaten to use a knife to get the battery out, and then to jump on it until it fell out…which maybe scared it into submission. Anyway, the moral of the story is, I have a brand new phone which works as a music player and it’s really damn cool. AND!!! And internet, I not only chose it myself, but I figured out how to put it together and charge it, and entered all the inital date and time stuff…by myself. Also, I read the instructions manual. I know…everyone who knows me has just fallen over and died.

Suddenly, I feel like a grown up, and I’m not sure I like it.

I Think I’m Paranoid.

I don’t know what’s got into me lately, but I have this awful paranoia about everything lately. I think, a large part of it stems from the car break in, but mostly, it comes from personal experience, and the stories of friends.  Siobhan rang me from school today. This child, is the most trustworthy, smart, beautiful creature you’ve ever laid eyes on. To have her call me from school, is to put it lightly, extremely out of character. “Mum!” she says. “The teacher got the days wrong, and we actually have the wearable arts practice today from 4 until 6pm. So if you can come and pick me up then that would be good!”  I’m all “oh! Well. Sure. That’s okay.” We discuss Aleeya and Siobhan offers to walk her home, to which I tell her that Aleeya will be fine. She needs to get used to walking alone, and while she’s my baby and I don’t much like the thought of it, Siobhan was walking home alone at 6 – at that stage, to be fair, we only lived five houses away.  But still.  It’s a ten minute walk, it’s fine.

Aleeya gets home on time, and goes off to do whatever it is she gets up to, which usually involves scissors, lots of paper, and every piece of available crafting paper she can find. She showed me a card she made yesterday, it was astoundingly gorgeous. I was very impressed, and she was super proud.  And then, we bundled ourselves up nice and warm, because 6pm is pretty dark and cold, and wandered off down to the school.

We get there, and everything is dark. There are no people anywhere…my child is no where to be seen. We walked through the school, went into the office, and the woman behind the desk said “Oh, I don’t know.” When I asked her about the kids who’d gone off with this teacher.  Okay good. That’s a good thing to say to a parent. “I don’t know where your child is! Sorry! But you can wait in here if you like.”  Uhm. No. I do not like.  So we went out again, and wandered around, and saw some kids. “Are you looking for the Guides?”  They ask, very helpfully. Erm. No…No one is around.  Fifteen minutes later, no one is around, and there are no other parents.  There are nine kids on this trip, where the hell are the parents? You can imagine, that by this stage, I’m starting to panic a little.  Then I think, we’re sort of on the way home…maybe, the teacher dropped her off.

I don’t have a cellphone right now, and neither does Siobhan. Ollie’s put my simcard in his, but it has no money on it, and I have no one’s numbers anyway, so it’s of absolutely no use. I have no way to contact my 12 year old daughter.  So we start heading towards home, and turning around whenever it looks like a car is heading into the school.  We walked up and down the street twice. Aleeya ran into the carpark twice and came back with nothing.  It’s 6.30pm and any semblance of self control that I have, is slowly beginning to leak into sheer and utter panic.  Then we see another car.

We headed back for the third time, and Aleeya ran up to see if it was her sister.  This time..it was.  She comes walking down with another girl and she’s all “see ya!”  And I’m so relieved, and SO terrified that I exploded in anger. I’m yelling at her, and telling her how we just spent the last 30 minutes terrified because we didn’t know where she was. And I’m stalking off silent, because I can’t think straight, and Ollie turns up in the car.  We get in, and he goes “what happened?”  And I burst into a fit of tears and just hollared about how she said 6pm, and NO other parents were around and I thought something terrible had happened to her.

We got home and the poor wee soul disappears into her room. I’d been so mad that I’d told her she wasn’t going to any more of those things. She’s the model, she -has- to go.  It seemed right in my angryrelieved mind at the time.  And I’m still crying, and I know I’m stupid and wrong, so I go off to find her and sit beside her on her bed, and she goes “I’m sorry!”  And I went “No, I’M sorry! I was so scared, and I should never have gotten angry at you like that” And we just sort of cuddled and snerveled and comforted each other, and afterwards, she was perfectly content and fine, and I’m writing this, still misty eyed over it all.  God, internet.  I really thought something terrible had happened. That all the kids parents had been and gone and that she’d been taken by someone.

I kept thinking, how the hell will I survive when she goes out with her friends?  I’m usually the okay one.  It’s Ollie who panicks.  But no..this time it was me. I kept telling her that I didn’t know what I’d do if I lost her. And I really don’t. Just the mere thought of it is crippling.  It’s like, when she was finally there in front of me, I’d been punched in the stomach. I couldn’t think rationally. I wasn’t “OMG YOU’RE OKAY!”  I was “YOU SAID SIX O’CLOCK! YOU ARE NEVER GOING TO ONE OF THOSE AGAIN!”  What happens, I wonder…in your brain to make you have that reaction. I don’t know, but I really hope I don’t feel it again. Tomorrow she’s going out to a Guide’s friend’s night with a friend, and then Wednesday she has another rehearsal for this show they’re doing. It’s not that I don’t trust her at all, I definitely do, she’s the kid I know will always do what I tell her to, even though lately it’s getting a little whiny and recalcitrant. She has a good head on her shoulders, but she’s still just a child, and she would be so easily overcome. You know? I just felt so incredibly helpless.  And you know what? It really didn’t help that I couldn’t call or text her.

I never thought I’d be the sort of person to miss a cellphone, but man, I really, really do.
x

Escape!

Oh the horror internet!  Truly. I felt 10 years old again tonight. I really hoped it wasn’t going to be as hideous as it was, alas, I was proven right. It -was- hideous. I have been very reluctant about this aspect of Siobhan’s enrolment ever since I read the letter.  “Forming Faith Together” it said.  “How bad can it be?” Oliver asked me, and I narrowed me eyes in reply to his question. How bad could it be? The name promises much awfulness. It just does. I picked the date the furtherest away, which just so happened to be today. I’m very glad I chose this day – the only evening offered, because it meant that Ollie had to come with me, although, I’m not sure that was such a good thing. I am so much worse with an audience you see.

I’m not sure if any of you will truly understand my pain at this sort of a venture – except my mother. I went to Catholic school you see. It did me no harm at all, in fact, I have very fond memories of Catholic school. Once I made friends anyway, the first year was hellish. But it was pretty good really, I learned good values…of course, I didn’t actually put any of them into practice, had sex and babies out of wedlock, thumbed my nose at tradition and refuse with a passion, to go to church. It’s not that I don’t appreciate religion mind you. I certainly do!  It gives a lot of people a lot of hope. It makes them feel part of something and loved, and gives them a larger family within their own community.  I think it’s great that people have faith.  I just don’t.  I don’t. I’m sorry, but it’s true. I spent a huge part of my University career learning about world religions and being very inspired and interested in them, but in the end, all that theory, all that learning and study and reading? It just makes you go “wow this is a great story!”

While I was growing up, mum and I attended church.  I know I’ve talked about this before.  About how every single time we went to church, we would burst into uncontrollable fits of the giggles, shake the pews and end up with aching stomachs and ribcages because we.could.not.stop! It was fun. It really was.  But all it taught me was that, I’m not very good at taking things seriously, and that if everyone else -is- serious, that makes it even more hilarious.  You can guess where I’m going right?

So we get there, and the place is full and the benches are arranged in a U shape, so everyone – as I had suspected, had to sit in “groups”.  We’re looking around and there are no free benches. “There’s one!” Ollie points out.  “I am NOT sitting right at the front.” I hissed in response and slunk around the back.  Yeah, NO ONE was sitting in the front were they? The fuckers. “Fine!” I murmured and lead the four of us up to the front of the hall where there is a completely empty U. Ollie narrows his eyes at me and murmurs back “couldn’t you have picked the one behind us…with.people.in.it?”  I’m perfectly happy in my empty U thanks very much, and said “go on then! You go first.” And he hunched his shoulders and glaregrinned at me.  I know how to beat him. I do.  So there we are, and another latecomer – we weren’t late, we were right on time…apparently that’s late, came in, just after Aleeya and I had squeezed ourselves on the same bench as Ollie and Siobhan.

I’m reading the handout they gave us, which said something about girls yearning to “do faith”..and I said “Siobhan, do you ever have a yearning to DO FAITH?” And I kid you not, my 12 year old daughter dropped to her knees on the ground and clasped her hands together and Ollie freaked out.  It was so great! She totally deserved the massive bowl of icecream she consumed when she got home. OMG!  Really.  And then the head mistress begins to talk…it was terrifying, I could not figure out where she was, the massive speaker next to my head was not fun at all.  Particularly not when she began to talk about students being able to have the knowledge to tell aliens about God.  I couldn’t stop, internet. And Ollie started too, and we were shaking the entire bench while the other woman and her daughter tried hard not to notice the fact that we were pissing ourselves laughing.

I thought I was going to have to leave, and all I could think about was the fact that I was at the front of the room and EVERYONE WOULD SEE ME!  That stopped me…momentarily. But I was ruined after that.  Then we had to talk about faith in our houses and why we were sending our kids to this school and what church meant to us, and then…THEN!  She started walking around the room with MICROPHONES!  I think Ollie lost his dinner at the prospect of having to talk. I was totally going to get up and say “uhm, yeah! What they said.” But the other woman, who had obviously decided that we were not good Christians stood up and talked for herself.  She was old enough to be our mother..and I couldn’t stop looking at her.  Granted, her daughter was 16…but if I’m that weathered when Siobhan is 16, I might cry.

It took an entire hour before they let us have hot drinks and biscuits, and I can tell you now the both of us were not at all interested in their hot drinks and biscuits. I think we were the first people out that door and in our cars.  But we weren’t the only ones, thank goodness.  I just can’t be trusted.  You can’t take me anywhere! If I’m not getting completely rottenly drunk, I’m wheezing with laughter over the faith and teachings of Catholicism.