Saturday, January 29, 2011

DEATH AND TAXES




Let me preface this by stating I am basically apolitical.  If there is such a thing. 


I haven’t come from a vehemently Labor or Liberal orientated background.  In fact I am still naïve enough to just want someone running our country who gives a shit. Who, point scoring aside, just really wants this country to be great.  Great in an economical sense but more importantly, in fairness and equality.  Yeah, look, I told you it was naïve.

 

So, that being said, I have absolutely no problem with the flood levy.  Sure, we’ve already paid taxes and as such, our governments should be keeping some aside for this kind of thing. But let’s be honest, this “thing” is pretty bloody massive.  And who knows if it’s over yet.


Oh lookey here, cyclone to the west, cyclone to east, bushfires kicking our arse.  That’s the thing about disasters on an apocalyptic scale; they are pretty fucking big and as such, take our breath away as a nation.


So, the fact that we are already a country in deficit means we don’t have the money right now to pay for and rebuild basic infrastructure to get shit going again.  I simplify but that’s how it is.

 

In 2005, you were paying $11,922 on $50,000 a year.  In 2010, $9,050. (Including Medicare Levy).    What people seem to forget is we’ve had tax cuts a go go in the previous years.  Whether Labour or Liberal introduced these is kind of irrelevant, we all took them with very open arms.  So too the $900 stimulus.  The baby bonus, the First Home Owners Grant. The Education Tax Refund.  The Low Income rebate which used to be a pittance is now over $1,350 and cuts off at a much higher income level.  It has been a pretty generous 5 years.

 

Sure, I totally agree the tax system itself needs a massive overhaul.  Stop penalising the people who work two jobs and/or make more money for a start.  There is zero incentive to succeed the way it stands.  That discussion is for another day and for another far smarter, more knowledgeable person than I.

 

What always astounds me is that we are happy to hand over usually more than $10,000 for a real estate agent to sell our house, our most hard fought for, our largest asset, yet some of us absolutely spew about paying 1.5% in  Medicare to provide us with free hospitals.  Our car registration goes up every year and we pay it.  It’s another tax guys, it just goes to the state, yet when we get asked for a couple of bucks a week to rebuild major infrustructure, we lose our shit.  I feel we have kind of lost our perspective.  




 

And hey, if you've already made a donation, it's a tax deduction, hence reducing the % of floody levy you will pay.  

 

I always thought we paid taxes and levies to create a great, first world country.  One, where in times of trouble, we could be assured we would be looked after.  If not for that, then what??   


And hey, I know the argument is that we should already have the cash.  That we’ve all paid enough taxes along the way.  That the government has wasted our money on failed schemes.  I get that.  But here’s the thing, the fact is, we don’t have it.  So for now, we should pay it.  And then, well then judge away, that’s what an election is for.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

SCHOOL OF LIFE


Pretty much nothing to do with this post, but what an awesome chair!


So, do you think the teacher is just trying to mess with us when he sends our 7th grade child home with this?

 



The Recorder.  The Instrument of Hot Cross Shut the fuck up.



It’s the only logical explanation I can think of.  I mean, we’ve done our time.  We've heard Hot Cross Buns until our ears nearly bled back in year three, so what kind of fresh hell is this??

 
 

And serious question here, how in the hell does being able to play silent night on a recorder help you in the real world?  "Oh, holy shit, climate change? Let me just belt out a little Kumbaya on my recorder and that shit will be a distant memory"


No.  I’ve come up with some new ideas for the national curriculum.  Ones that will set these kids on the right path.  Give them some useable life skills.  Or at the very least, make them smarter than Warwick Capper.

 

SUBJECT ONE: DON’T PISS ON THE TOILET SEAT 

 
Here’s an idea. Take every single male child down to the toilet block.  Get them to do a wee.  When they come out of the stall, take them back in and point out to them, the piss that has been left on the seat or that has gone astray on the floor.  Direct them to the toilet roll.  Get them to rip off a couple of squares and WIPE THAT SHIT UP.  Oh, and if say, it was the last square on the roll, politely but firmly show them how to replace it.  These two disciplines alone may very well save their future marriage.

 

SUBJECT TWO: WHAT A WOMAN REALLY MEANS

 
I would probably suggest you hold off until around year eleven for this. It’s when proper relationships might develop.  Prior to that it’s all about going out with each other and then essentially ignoring each another.  They’ll get enough of that kind of action when they’ve been married for 20 years.
 

Some early course subjects:

When she says nothing is wrong, something is very fucking wrong.
 


When she says she wants nothing for her birthday, dodge the bullet and get her something shiny.
 

When she gets her hair cut and/or coloured, notice. And then comment favourably. Even if you think it looks like shit.

 

SUBJECT THREE: ELECTRICAL EQUIPMENT INSTALLATION

 

No.  I am not suggesting we teach these kids to be junior sparkies.  I am merely requesting they be given a basics course in tuning in a Digital TV.  Also handy would be setting up a new DVD player and a separate course on the red/yellow and white cord of hell.

 

SUBJECT FOUR:  KEEP LEFT UNLESS OVERTAKING

Sure, again, year 12 minimum, but why the hell is this not a standard lesson when you learn to drive a car?  It’s pretty simple really.  If you don’t need to overtake, stay left.  On a four lane highway, far left lane is for exiting, third for cruising, second for doing the limit, 1st (the right lane) for overtaking or being a dickhead and going a hundred and eighty clicks.  That easy.



SUBJECT FIVE: SWEARING APPROPRIATELY

Now I know.  Swearing being taught in school??  No.  Not right. But seriously, all kids swear.  I still remember riding the school bus in year 12 and being told to go fuck myself by an eight year old.  Presumably because I told her to stop saying fuck.  I just think if we get it out of the way and explain the words, take away the mystery, perhaps inappropriate use might be avoided.  Like when my 4 year old told the guy trying to wash our windscreen at the traffic lights to “keep walking dickhead”.  That kind of thing.


So there you have Bern’s school of life subjects.  Sure, it may leave a little less time to learn the Triangle, but let’s face it, how many lessons do you need to do this: Ding.  I'm guessing one.



 

Got any more lessons you could add?

Monday, January 24, 2011

MOTY







It’s about this time, the call goes out around Australia for The Mother of the Year. 

 

This year, after my most recent efforts, I am throwing my hat in the ring.  Hey, it’s not every day you forget it’s your Childs first day of year three.

 

Let me explain.

 

Sam goes to a different school to Maddie.  For a multitude of reasons but put simply, because it just works.  Maddie goes to a Catholic school, Sam to a state school. 

 

So, when I knew Maddie was due to start back on the Tuesday, I immediately assumed that Sam would too, at his State School.  Sloppy parenting?  Ah, Yeah.  Did I read the newsletter?  Ah, no.

 

So, treading water this morning before the rush of uniform buying, hair cutting, school shoe securing was about to get underway, I was checking out twitter.  After reading a tweet from Rick, a great mate and one with a fair bit of knowledge on all things Department of QLD Education, I realised I may very well be the shittest mother ever.   Our discussion went something like this:

Him: First day back at school for the kids of QLD
 

Me:  Really?  Kids on the Gold Coast?
 

Him: Um. Yeah did you forget Bernfred?
 

Me:  No.  Yes.  Shit. 

 

It must also be noted that Rick is a 23 year old gay guy with no school age children and he had a way better idea about when my children go back to school than what I did.

 

So, this is 9am. School goes in at 8:40am.  We live 20 minutes away.  He’s in his PJ’s rocking out to John Farnham solo in the lounge room.  He was never going to take this well.
 


Me: “C’mon dude, guess what?  You get to go to school today!”
 


Nope.  He wasn’t falling for it.  Cue wailing. Cue meltdown.  Cue accusations of “But everyone else gets to stay home”.  Yep.  The sad thing was, this was totally avoidable.  If only I’d read a newsletter every now and again.
 


So we roll up, close to ten o’clock.  He has settled down, quite resigned to his fate. Although he does threaten Jack with death if he touches the crap on the end of his bed while he’s gone.  Which of course, just makes Jack all the more determined to wreak havoc the minute he gets home.   This is a standard conversation between the two of them.  I chose to ignore it.

I tentatively knocked on the classroom door and the teachers had all the kids on the floor, no doubt laying down the first day ground rules. The whole class turned around and looked and suddenly, kids from everywhere were on their feet, coming to hug him and welcome him in.  A rock star welcome complete with high fives.  Very freaking cute.

 

His teacher then turned her laser beam on me “We were wondering where Sam was, thought Mum might have slept in”.  Ha-ha. Very funny.  No, a much easier explanation really, she’s a complete fucking moron.

 

I can now add the above scenario to the time I didn’t answer my mobile when the school was trying to contact me because Sam was on his way to hospital.  That and the time I pinched Maddisons leg in the car seat buckle as a baby and couldn’t work out why she was crying.  As you can see, I will be tough to beat this year. 

Please make me feel better.  Any mother/father of the year moments you can share?

Thursday, January 20, 2011

DOING THAT THING YOU DO









Phil and I have been together 16 years in March.  Sixteen years.  We’ve been married for nearly 12 of those years. 

 
I have curious younger friends who question when I knew he was the one.   I reckon it was from day dot.  Not kidding, it just was.  Well, actually, no I romanticise the situation, it was from probably the 4th or 5th time I met him.  The first three times he was a complete arsehole.


So I guess the playground rules still exist.  You know - the one that picks on you the most just really wants to be your boyfriend.  That or he truly is an arsehole.
 
 

From  then on in, and after one particular night of excessive alcohol consumption and inappropriate groping, we were an item.  Rarely spent a night apart since and haven’t really wanted to.

  



Back in the early days.


But the honeymoon period only lasts so long.  There has to be reasons why you stay interested.  I’ve compiled a little list of things to watch out for, so you know he’s a keeper....
 


He is always more than obliging when you call him on his way home and say, no honey, we don’t need any milk, but could you please buy me some Super Jumbo tampons?  And then he buys them entirely on their own, getting the brand and size correct, and even manages to makes eye contact with the checkout chick when purchasing.


He, albeit reluctantly, trots off to the chemist and requests out aloud, in front of all the eavesdropping waiting oldies,  for some “cream for scabies”.    Even when the wide eyed salesgirl pretends not hear him and makes him SPELL OUT the affliction, he doesn’t run.   And to his credit, he doesn’t even appear to notice the looks of disgust that are being daggered his way from the clearly repulsed chemist staff.  There’s nothing good about scabies.  Or so I’ve heard. *cough*


He will keep the kids entertained when you have a hangover.  Even if he had an equally large night, he will be able to function and most importantly, make sure your children, are fed, bathed and don’t escape onto the road.  I got to test  this out on Fathers Day last year.  Yes.  I am well aware of how much of a truly shit wife that makes me.

 



He will wrestle with his children on the floor until he makes one of them cry and possibly need medical attention in his attempt to win WWF night.  Although I don’t recommend this, a recent study has shown, these are the kids that are going grow up to be smart and social.  It’s his version of homeschooling.


He will not tell you how to drive and/or park your car.  Oh wait, nope, he does this, Retraction.



He will not sympathy vomit when your child does.  Even though said child may appear to be doing their best imitation of Linda Blair and roundhouse spewing bright green chunks, he will solider on, taking control of the situation and cleaning it up so you can get down to dry heaving yourself and comforting the child.


He accepts that even though you have given birth to the children, they are equally his and as such, must partake in such activities as making dinner, preparing lunches and showering them.   Oh, and reading them The Very Hungry fucking Caterpillar again and again and again and...


He will sit through a very bad rom-com even though you will rarely sit through one of his movies that more than likely involves The Rock, explosives and swear words even I refuse to write.



And last but not least, he will ask you for a cuppa if he is getting up to get himself one.  I have been known to wait him out for hours for this, knowing full well he will crack before I do.

 

Jack and Phil discussing the finer points of UFC and not wearing shirts.


Of course, they are my observations and don't get me wrong, we are far from perfect. Perhaps there are things your partner still does. After all these years. That make you appreciate them and remember why you fell in love in the first place.  Feel free to share them below.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

VOLLIE



At first when I heard the term Vollie being bandied about, I thought people were talking about the shoes.  You know the canvas ones?  The ones I wanted desperately when I was in grade seven but my mother steadfastly refused to buy for me because, well, I was destined to be uncool for quite a few more years at that stage. 

As per usual, I digress, because Vollie is short for Volunteer.  And Queensland, you should be oh so bloody proud right now, because the one thing we are not short on during this flood crisis, is a volunteer.  A country that can say they had to turn away unpaid help because there were too many offers, is simply a grand Country.
 


I went up to Brisbane via train on Friday evening to have dinner with some amazing people and I could name drop a few Huge  authors here, but I won’t, OK I WILL, they were Bec Sparrow and Kate Hunter.  I also got to finally meet Rick, Nic, Janey, Allison, and Annie, all friends I have made through blogging or online.  And the good news is, not only were they all completely lovely and entertaining (Kate & Jim, I am looking at you), I can report not one of them tried to kill me with an axe or, as predicted by Phil, try and involve me in a sordid swingers party.    Anyway, I went up to Brisbane, by my lonesome on the train and it was a like a ghost town.  I guess that’s what happens when a flood rips your city apart. 

But that night we got to talking about helping the flood victims and Nic told me about her best friend Emma.  And how her house had been inundated by water.   So I volunteered Phil but then thought about it.  I wanted to help.  And I kind of wanted my children to see this.  I wanted them to appreciate what they have, what they haven’t lost and for them to help others in times of need.

So, we loaded up the car and got going early this morning.  We arrived at the suburb of Westlake.  What initially struck me was that the colour was off.  It was like looking at one of those Hipstamatic photos.   Except I didn't need an app for what I was seeing.   The colours were dull.  There was no green.  There’s a burnt yellow.  There’s beige.  There’s no burst of brilliance.  Ironically, turn onto the next street, and it’s business as usual with a guy whipper snippering the shit out of his front yard.  It's almost like this was some cruel kind of lottery.
 




As the army trucks were rolling into town, we found Emma’s house.  Number 45.  I got out of car and crossed the road and put my foot on her curb.  I pressed on.  Past the whitegoods.  The drum kit.  The pool table. The electrical equipment.  The stuff that last week conditioned their way of life.   I tentatively knocked on the door and no one answered.  My mission of help was seemingly on Fail Street when a car pulled up.  A friend took me down the back of the house to find Emma on the back stairs, head in hands, talking on the phone.  Right there, in front of me was the still very heavy, the very fast flowing Brisbane River which was once no doubt, the showpiece of their home.   Now it was just seemed like a pissed off enemy sleeping on their back step.  

The bleach smell hit almost instantly and Emma’s husband, although mildly curious why a stranger was in his house, wasn’t surprised or rude.  Turned out they were all good.  The majority of what could be done, had been done.   But they knew of streets we could go to.  So we did, but the army had other ideas by blocking streets and ordering us basically back.  So we headed to Goodna.

Now Goodna copped it.    This is a picture my brother took.  Pretty good indication as to how high those waters go on Thursday.
 


It's raining Wheelie Bins.
 

Phil's brother and wife met us there and we walked down to a road where, word on the street was, it was rooted.  Word on the street was right.  The place went under.  There was a truck tyre on the top of a telephone pole for fucks sakes.    I have no pictures of this.  It felt too vulture like to take my camera down and start snapping peoples misery.  Phil took this one of me beforehand.  Look like I’m ready for action don’t I?

 



 

Yeah well, a certain 4 year old with a whinging problem kind of had other ideas about that.  I should have realised when he melted because he wasn’t the one carrying the shovel, we were going to have issues with him at the cleanup site.

And to be quite honest, it’s not a place for little kids.  There were cars driving constantly by, having a sticky beak. There were bobcats reversing in and out, collecting and dumping. There were gigantic trucks rolling down the road packed to its limit with debris.   Mud isn’t a word you would use to describe what is caked across the lawns and inside the houses.  It’s sludge.  It’s slimy.  It wasn’t just the smell, which is kind of hard to describe.  I mean clearly there is raw sewerage in there, but it’s like a putrid earthy smell.  One that has been long held underground and has finally been given the chance to erupt.  The place was and is a like a war zone.  The only things missing are the spent shells.


So needless to say, with the two younger boys arguing over the finer points of shovel ownership, we didn’t stay overly long.  Phil, his brother and his wife, Maddison and their older daughters stayed for the long haul. Best I could do was inflict the sight of my arse in tights and some dodgy baked goods upon some unsuspecting Volunteers and home owners.  But man, I wasn’t the only one. 



 

A little old Chinese lady brought enough fried rice to feed 1000 men.  Pizza Hut turned up with free pizza.  A guy was giving away sausages he was cooking on a BBQ on the back of his Ute tray.   Water was literally being handed out too fast for the Volunteers to drink.  The Gold Coast Meter Maids came by in a Ute, giving the guys a little bit of a spur on and some afternoon delight.  Someone else came around handing out sun screen.  The spirit was amazing.



As I walked back to the car, a little defeated and despondent because I hadn’t got to help as much as I wanted to, I saw a guy standing on his roof,  Karchering the living shit out of it, holding a beer.  He waved and looked at me like he had just won the lottery.   I felt like crying.   I want to bottle the way we all feel about each other right now, because it is so very special.  Keep up the amazing work Queensland. And to all in the lower states now affected by the flooding, stay safe. x 

Thursday, January 13, 2011

WE ALL SMILE IN THE SAME LANGUAGE







So by now, it's pretty obvious that 75% of Queensland is basically screwed.  Well at least for the time being.  The flood affected areas are many.   Too many.  My heart breaks daily as I watch the constant streaming flood coverage.    Not the ones about people losing their houses so much, which, don't get me wrong, is awful, but more so, the loss of human life.  Particularly those of children.  This I can’t bring myself to fathom.  A four year old boy being ripped from his mothers arms?  Nope.  Can’t bear it.  I have one of those and I know I joke that he is a veritable hurricane on legs, but bugger me if I could EVER  live without him.


 

So, so. There is rolling coverage on most channels.  For mine, I have barely looked away.  Be it on TV or the internet, I have gasped, cried and generally watched in awe as our Premier, our Emergency Services and Rescue teams, have rescued and looked after Queensland.  You are all bloody amazing.  We on the sidelines have nothing but love and respect for you all.

I figured there has been enough sadness, so I have a little bit of a "What the Fuck?" for you all.  Hopefully it will give you a giggle.


 

When Mum was alive, we would always rock up to her house and there would be some random gadget she had bought from some equally random mail order brochure.  One that you and I do not seem to receive in our mailbox.    The one that stands out was the plug in bug repeller that was anything the fuck but.  Hello mozzie bite central.

 



So when the other day, whilst housesitting our friends  house, the brochure from HERE got delivered, it stirred up fond memories. Ones of Mum.  And ones of, well, simply WTF?

Exhibit A
 
 

Personal Massager, soothes aches and pains.  Yah Right.


Are you going to tell Grandma or am I?  Deep Satisfying Massage?  Soothes aching muscles?  Yeah, in your vagina maybe. Are they seriously trying to convince poor, unsuspecting old ladies that this isn't a dildo?  Perhaps the oldies convince themselves it's a claytons dildo.  The dildo you have when you don't actually have a dildo.
 

There was much talk on the Mamamia website about a paisley Poo Catcher. Go here to read about it.  Well, we can’t all go to holiday destinations and lose our minds, but we can go to Brightlife and get ourselves one of these babies!

 



Brand new (awesome, pesky second hand paisley Kaftans are not my bag) fashionable (Hmmmm) paisley print.   Figure flattering.  Really?  Two words - Demis Roussos.

 
The Bug Cap


 

This is something I can totally see my mother LOVING!! It’s a hat, but in a situation say, where she gets attacked by a 1000 angry bees,  she can just whip down the clipped backed net and voila, protection.  Oh Yes.

  

 

I'll let you take in the above. Then I'll ask you, who does not want this sitting at their workstation?  It’s a toilet.  It’s a clock.  It can hold your business cards. If only you could actually shit in it, life would be complete.

 

I hope you’ve had a laugh.  I hope you’ve smiled. Because the last couple of weeks have been complete shit for a hell of a lot of people.  It will pass.  Things will get better, but until then, just keep swimming. x

Monday, January 10, 2011

WHAT KIND OF FRESH HELL?




This was going to be an energetic, positive post. 

One about how from the minute it ticked over to 2011, I had a good feeling.  A feeling that good stuff was going to happen. Not just to me, but to those around me that I know and love.  How I was going to make this year different.  I was going to get fit.  Eat Better. Drink Less. Write more.  Get organised.  Ring people back. Ring people just to say hello. Pay bills on time.  Be Motivated.  Be Passionate. 


It’s a long time since I’ve felt this way.  And to be honest, speaking for myself and totally not wanting to jinx it, it has been wonderful.  I have run almost every day.  Even in the rain.  We have made inroads getting stuff organised around the home.  I have written a few paragraphs.  They may very well be complete shite, but they are a start.  We have spent time together as a family, and as an added bonus, I have had zero thoughts about running away and/or rocking in the foetal position in the corner. 



So it feels very wrong to speak about the above when today, an online blogging friend of mine lost her husband.  She is now a widow with two young children to not only support financially, but also emotionally which I am so afraid, may be beyond her capabilities for quite sometime to come.
 

Add to that, most of my beloved state of Queensland is a disaster zone due to flooding.  Mother Nature is mighty pissed at Queensland it seems and isn't quite finished with us yet.   The Gold Coast has escaped most of her fury, although there are reports that we are about to get over 300mls of rain in the immediate future, (and if you look HERE, you can see if you're house has the potential to flood).  But right now we are doing OK.







But this evening I saw this.  This is the main street in Toowoomba.

 





It’s been described as inland tsunami with an 8 metre wall of water.  Current reports are that 4 people are dead, including a little boy and his father.  6 missing.  This just does not make sense.  Toowoomba is on a hill for goodness sakes!  


Let’s not forget the rest of Central Queensland, who are doing it so tough.  We will all be affected by these
floods. Anyone who eats fresh fruit and vegies. Anyone who has a saltwater pool. Anyone who uses electricity.    Basically everyone.


What about the poor people who were living pay packet to pay packet, which let’s face it, is a lot of us.  What do they do when their job simply does not exist anymore?

 

Our friends Mark and Nikki, who we caught up with a few days into the New Year, have spent the last week in hospital with their gorgeous and beautiful one year old, Joel.  Seemingly out of nowhere, came a leg infection so bad, so hairy, they had to operate.  No one should have to see their one year old anesthetised.  Shitful start to 2011.
 

Other bad, bad stuff has happened to people I know and love in the last week and it’s hard to write an “It’ll be right mate” post when right now, a fog has descended and won’t be lifting anytime soon.

 

So to all those out there doing it tough. For whatever reason, this too shall pass.   It always does, it's just a case of when.


Cheezy but true, sometimes you’ve got to pass through a storm to catch sight of the rainbow.   


And as Dory says, “Just keep swimming, just keep swimming”.   

That's it, I promise I'm done with the cliches'.

Much Love. XX

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

THE GREATEST GIFT





Blood.  Pretty Necessary stuff.  Even for the likes of Edward Cullen and his vampire gang. But they shit sparkles and date women 80 years their junior, so they are irrelevant.  Let me start again.


Blood.  Pretty necessary stuff.   So necessary in fact, without it, quite simply, we would cease to exist.  

So how is it then, that I have gotten to 35 years of age and never donated any of my own?

It’s not like I am not well aware of the dire need for specific blood types.  It’s not like I don’t see it in my local newspaper every single day.  I can’t plead ignorance when I spent what felt like an eternity at the Gold Coast Hospital just over a year ago.  I am an aware person.  I know this stuff.

 Sure, I can write off the combined 6 years being pregnant and breastfeeding.  But there was plenty of time in between.  Perhaps it’s because like a lot of things, unless it affects you directly, you don’t feel the pressure to do anything about it.   And you become apathetic.

But today, today I gave blood today.  And it felt unreal.

Seriously, What in the hell have I been waiting for?  It was dead easy. And this is coming from someone who has a fairly large aversion to needles.  

I turned up to our local blood bank after reading the instructions on their website, making sure I had something to eat and stacks of water.  Within 10 minutes, I was in an interview which went through a very detailed history.  Had I gotten a tattoo within the last 6 months?  Nope.  Do I weigh more than 50kgs?  Um,  Hello!   Do I think I have AIDS?  Negative.  Do I engage in risky sexual activity?  Dude, I’ve been married 10 years, we are lucky to have straight sex.  Once I passed all that,  next came the haemoglobin test.  Teeny tiny prick on my finger and the reading was made.  I JUST made the cut off.  Seems I’m at the lower end, but still all good.

Next I was led into another room where I waited for a very busy, yet very lovely nurse to put me into a fancy chair, gave me a ride and prep me.  I chose not to look at the needle they would be using.  Instead I turned to my right to see a girl, a young girl, donating blood.  She smiled at me but had her earphones in.  She took them out and said Hi.  Her name was Shay.  And she made me believe in Angels.

At this point, the nurse was still sussing my arms out for veins.  It appears I’ve got pretty shit veins.   Let’s hope that pattern continues when the varicose veins want to attack me one day.    Shay kept looking at me.  Before I knew it, I blurted out “How old are you?  You look like a baby”.  Shay was 16.  Next thing, the needle was in.  Pinch the soft part inside your elbow.  That’s it, that’s how much it hurt.  Then I was left to chat with Shay.

I asked her why she was giving blood.  She simply answered “Because I don’t like seeing people sick”.  Her beautiful soul, and I’m not being a total hippy here, just radiated through.  She told me about her boyfriend, her rowing, her last year of school.  And get this, she is in Australia for two weeks on holidays, from New Zealand.  She doesn’t even live here.  How many freaking 16 year olds do you know that would even contemplate donating blood, let alone take precious time out of their day on an overseas vacation?

Within 5 minutes I was done.  Seriously. Finished.  I felt fine.  Shay was feeling a little worse and was beating herself up for being weak.  I felt like giving this girl a hug.  For the first time in my life, I felt like a mother which is insane considering I’ve been one now, for 11 years.

We went out to the waiting room where we were offered food, milkshakes, biscuits, you name it.  Before she left, she came and touched my arm and told me she had loved talking to me today.  Her father was clearly wondering what the fuck was going on, but I simply said to him “You have a very special daughter”.  He seemed to visibly relax and agreed.  
 
So what did Shay and I achieve today.  Sure they sucked 500ml’s of blood from us, but what happens now?

Well, with our blood, we:

 Helped transplant patients prevent possible infection after surgery.
Prevented possible Hep B infection in people who suspect they may have been inadvertently infected.
Helped people who have been badly burnt and/or in shock.
Helped adults and children who have Haemophilia
Helped people with liver and kidney problems

The list goes on.

The thing is that one day; we all could be on that list.  None of us know what life has lurking around the corner.  None of us are immune.  

Next on my list of things to do is a Plasma donation.  This is basically the stuff that suspends our red blood cells.  It’s vitally important and can be made into 13 different products.  One that could help a little girl with an Immune Deficiency disorder, with regular infusions, lead a relatively normal life.  You need spectacular veins for this however, so we’ll just have to see if I’ve got what it takes.

I cannot stress enough the painlessness of this procedure.  I just about skipped out of there, drove myself home and had some lunch.  If you’ve been considering it, please do it.  One hour out of your day.  And you will, make no bones about it, save a life.  



Go to the Australian Red Cross Website to find out more.

Monday, January 3, 2011

RED SHOES


So can a pair of shoes determine what kind of day you are going to have?  What about what kind of season you will be living through?



Bern Morley's Red WedgesI am not a hippy, so normally; I would say a definitive – NO.

Why was it then, after wearing my new, lovely red wedges that I adore, I ended up in the Emergency Department at our local hospital, not once, but twice?

Now, these aren’t expensive shoes, nor are they are brand labelled.  In fact, these imitation leather, I believe the word is synthetic upper, high wedges were purchased at Target.
They were $8.92 in one of those, had to be there at the right time, 40% off the lowest marked price clearance sales.

I had first seen these shoes about two months before and had immediately loved them.  But red shoes, I thought, were for zany people.  Ones that wore bright green spectacles and were the brightest beacon in the room at any social event.  I just straight up passed them over for a similar pair of black ones.  Same cut, same design, just black.

And I wear a lot of black.  Particularly for two reasons:  a)  It trims down the appearance of my particularly large arse and b) I spill stuff on myself.  A lot.  Black is always going to be my new black.

But then one day, for no particular reason,  I wandered into Target, and there sitting in the clearance bin, discarded along with 2 pairs of gold lame’ slip on sandals that would make Demis Roussos proud,  were my red wedges.  Size 9.  I tried them on with my black work pants.   Great news, they fit.  Extra great news, they were comfortable. Fucking excellent news:  They were less than ten bucks!  SOLD.

The very next day, I went to work wearing my new Red Shoes.  Along with black skirt, a black top and a little black cardigan.  And I loved myself sick.  Compliments flowed.  Well, I work with 3 other people, so they I guess, they leaked, rather than flowed, but they were forthcoming none the less.

Just after lunch an unknown number flashed up on my mobile.   I ignored it with some flippant remark like “If they want me bad enough, they will call me at work or stop blocking their number”.     Turns out they did want me badly.  Very badly.  My eight year old son had fallen from the monkey bars at school.  Standard schoolyard folly one would think.  Except this wasn’t standard.  Basically not much connected his elbow anymore to the rest of his arm.


So after sitting in the ER, having being told his break was “as bad as it could possibly get” and being told they couldn’t guarantee he would ever use his arm again”, I put my head down, focused on my stupid red shoes and cried into my knees.

Good news:  his operation was successful.  An overnight stay. Yet, my red high wedges had one more appearance to make during this particular hospital stay.  See, my dear husband, stressed to his eyeballs, went home, grabbed me a tracksuit to sleep in, but no other shoes.  No shoes, no walk in a hospital ward, so if you happened to see a dishevelled lunatic wandering around the kids ward on the Gold Coast, wearing a mismatched tracksuit with high red wedges, you would have been looking at me.

Not one week later, I got ready for work, but knew something wasn’t right.  I put on my work outfit, yep black and my red shoes, first time since the last time.    Sam was lethargic.  And hot.  And well, just scaring the living shit out of me with his pale listlessness.  I think every parent knows this particular feeling.

I still went out that morning appearing to go about my business as normal, yet inside I just knew it would be anything but.  Sam and I went directly to the ER.  See, his arm had a 5% chance of getting an infection.  Highly unlikely the doctor informed me.  Well, you know what doc, after the year I’ve just had, highly and unlikely are just two words that I have heard bandied about one too many times.

So after a full day of having Sam assessed in the ER, we were admitted.  Likely infection in the arm.  Bad if it gets in the bones apparently. Sam, eight, small, the light of my life, just lying there, whilst I looked down at those god damned red shoes again and commenced my best impression of a prayer.

The next week was not pretty.  Countless cannulas, enough antibiotics to kill a hippo and equal amount of tears to break the outback drought.

Within two months, my mother had died.  My two sons had ended up in hospital with various degrees of broken bones.  My own mortality was tested.  Those shoes went to the back of the closet.


So, have I worn them again?  Have I tempted fate?  You betcha.

They are shoes, not the precursor to seven shades of shit that seem to have previously accompanied them.   Of course I always knew this; it’s just hard when you associate shite times with an inanimate object.

They now are starting to look a little dog eared.  They have scuffs and the weather is getting cooler and I want to wear boots.  But they will remain in my cupboard until next summer.

Next summer which can’t be as bad as the last.  I refuse to believe that. 

(This was a guest post on @gabfran's wonderful blog Calveat Calcei just over six months ago)

Saturday, January 1, 2011

iPod Shuffle

 

 

Because it's holidays and I am in lazy mode, I thought I'd do this post tonight.  Feel free to join in on your own blog or in the comments.

 

Instructions: Put your ipod or media player on Shuffle. The the first fifteen songs that play must be written down, with a short explanation of what it means to you (if anything) 

 

Home by Michael Buble - I have no excuses for myself.  Judge me harshly 

 

Because you Loved Me - Celine Dion - OK, I have no freaking idea why this is on my iPod.  None. I think someone is fucking with me.  

 

Big Love - Fleetwood Mac - Because I lub Fleetwood Mac.  They got me through 1993  

 

The Way You Make Me Feel - Michael Jackson - Am a bit of a bandwagon jumper. Jumped on that sucker when he died and got every song he'd ever sung.   

 

Grace - Jeff Buckly - I got a little on myself in the great Tax Off Season of 1997 and thought I was going to be the next big script writer.  I listened to A LOT of Jeff Buckley.  

 

Sunshine - Ricki-Lee - Let's face it, I could have quite easily lied and said this NEVER came on.  Even omitting this would be lying.  It is a catchy song "You had me hellooooo"  OK, continue to judge.  

 

I'm Free - Kenny Loggins - Footloose.  I will defend this until I die.  Footloose and Kevin Bacon and I were meant to be married. 

 

Heartbreak Warfare - John Mayer - Sure, he's a bit of a dick, but his voice is heavenly.  

 

You're the World to Me - David Gray  - Probably my favourite artist. EVER.  

 

Cherish - Madonna - My girlfriend Bronwyn and I used to dance around her living room pretty much every afternoon to the Like a Prayer Album.  Madonna had it goin on.  

 

Begin - Ben Lee - Am a Ben Lee tragic.  One album I listen to from start to finish 

 

Work - Kelly Rowland - I do believe I intended to exercise to this song.  Oh Yeah  

 

Sunday Best - Washington - I only just got this CD yesterday.  And this song and this particular line "Holy Shit, you Sure can turn it on" makes me particularly happy.  

 

No You Girls - Franz Ferdinand - Just a hot song

 

Mad World - Gary Jules - I don't have a story.  I just think it's a vividly beautiful song.


    I've put the songs below in case you're unfamiliar with them. 


















































    Go on, I've shown you mine, show me yours..