Saturday, July 24, 2010

Monday 26th July: Update

This was suppose to be my first block of time alone at home for 4 weeks, but X has chucked a sickie, so I am not alone much to my dismay. Here's the best I can do today: a loose consortium of thoughts and comments about life in our house over the past month:

  1. Birthday party: I had a birthday party of sorts a few weeks ago to mark my turning 37. Almost all the parties we have had at our house for the past 6 years have been about our daughters, and I am out of practice at the art of grown-up parties. At Salome's funeral, we had a lot of out-of-town visitors who we didn't get a chance to spend time with. I didn't want that to happen again at my birthday party so I only invited locals to my birthday party. In the 3 days before the party I had about 10 people cancel (that will teach me to have a party the day after the end of a school term) and the day before the party I was nervous and wishing I hadn't organised it. However the night went well and I had a very very very good time. I wish I had a reasonable photo to put here of me in my eurovision-themed fancy dress, but in all the photos I have of that night I look like a hyperactive drunken crazy woman and I refuse to believe I really looked like that. God knows I felt like a rockstar at the time, especially when that man lent me his rollerskates. And lets not talk about the karaoke at the pub afterwards. I had warned people that I'm prone to bad behaviour in public venues where karaoke is available, because I am a terrible microphone hog. When it comes to karaoke I do not limit my art by such right-wing concepts as 'pitch' and 'tone', and I certainly don't share. The Rock Star Within only gets unleashed once every few years, so there's a lot of pent up energy behind her. You'd best get out of the way, keep your head down and cover your ears. My karaoke performances are always brief and passionate, with 100% commitment to the song. I am good at using the whole stage. I work well with props and I do good floor work. I am not good at sharing the microphone or the spotlight. I do not forfeit the stage gracefully at the end of the song. It's about working with your strengths, and making sure you only do karaoke at a place where you'd never want to return.

  2. The hair: My hair was starting to get too long before my party. I wanted to have an Egyptian eye shaved into the back of my head, because I have a running joke with X about 'Mummy has an extra eye in the back of her head'. Apparently getting a shape shaved into the back of your head is expensive and in Newie it takes a while to organise. So I shaved it back to 12 mm again instead. When I originally shaved my head, there was a lot of symbolism in the act for me (see blogpost from My 3rd titled 'Please Sponsor Me' ). I would like to publicly proclaim that those factors are not directing my decision to keep on shaving my head. I am not feeling stuck in the stage of grief I was in. I am now shaving my head because much to my amazement, I really like how I look with a shaved head, and I love how low maintenance it is. Also when I eventually grow my hair out I know there will be an unavoidable 'toilet brush' stage, and I am not ready for that yet

  3. The job: I am 4 weeks into my new job now. The project I am working on is this one: . I am developing some supplementary info packs to tailor the 'Partners in Depression' programme to specific target groups, such as people who care for someone who has both an intellectual disability and depression. Using my psych skills while having a break from clinical contact is fantastic. My workmates are good company too, although I am stuck in my own office down a weird corridor... Yes you read right, the newest person on the team, the lowest paid, only working 2 days per week and I get my OWN OFFICE!!! Back in my brain injury job it was 7 clinicians for 1 office, like the 7 dwarfs. My new job is at a different site of the same health department, but in terms of resources, we're not in Kansas City anymore Toto.

  4. School holidays are overrated. X's behaviour was very difficult to manage over the holidays, so much so that I was counting down the hours for her return to school. So far this year we have made advances in reducing X's pinching, scratching, biting, kicking and hitting behaviours. That's a win for us and we cling to it for dear life. When X is wound up we need to watch her every second because breaching boundaries is her favourite hobby, and it often results in damage to property, her sister or herself. I feel like X's appetite for one-on-one time with me is insatiable. When she is tired or flustered it's like her frontal lobes are nonoperational and she has very little capacity for impulse control. Now that her body is bigger and stronger, this can lead to hair-raising behaviour, such as running straight across a road faster than I can catch her or throwing objects at my head with enough strength and accuracy now that they actually hit me. She and I have been at loggerheads over the past few weeks. I am finding it very difficult to enjoy her company, let alone to be mindful of how precious she is to me. Actually I find her exhausting and infuriating much of the time, and I often feel despairing of our parenting of her. But there she is every day, full-on and feisty, always on the look-out for an adventure (ie seeking risky behaviour 24 / 7 ), always curious about new things, consistently trying to connect with me by pushing my buttons until my fury at her behaviour brings me out of my shell and back to the present day with the 2 daughters I have still alive. X is a person who will not take a backwards step. One day I know I will be grateful for this aspect of her personality, but here in July 2010 it is giving me the super dooper hootenanny shits.

  5. The gym: I am still going to the gym 3 times a week. I go early in the morning so I am back on board at home by the time the house gets busy. I now feel comfortable in the gym environment most of the time. My favourite time to go in 7 am Saturdays, when all the beautiful people are still hungover in bed. There's a woman who goes at 8 am on Saturdays who looks about 75 and she works out with a personal trainer. She is inspiring. So are the people who are obese who work much harder than I do. I hardly ever see the Knights these days, but that doesn't break my heart. I was complaining to Matt recently that lately when I do my usual gym exercises, I can't seem to get my heart rate as high as it used to go, and the machines tell me I am not burning off as many calories as I once did. Matt said that seeing as I had been doing a gym workout 3 times a week for almost 2 months I don't have grounds to complain about getting fitter. So I guess I have changed my opinion about the gym. I doubt I'll ever be addicted to the gym, but it is a good exercise option for winter.

  6. Visitors: We have had several sets of visitors with us at our house over the last 4 weeks, which has been lovely. It was particularly good to spend time with some old friends who have known Matt and I before we were a couple, and for the decade since. There's something healing about people with people who have known us for long. It puts our current heartache into better perspective. One of our visitors is staying on for a while: Hermione the guinea pig will be staying with us for a few months while her family renovates and moves house. She's a sweet little thing, and I enjoy having her around.

  7. Plastic surgery: Did anyone else see the interview on 7.30 Report last week of Blanche and Bob? Below is a look at the worst plastic surgery I have ever seen. Blanche was a reasonably attractive woman and now she looks weird. When she talks her face doesn't move. It's hard not to compare her with Hazel and sadly for Blanche she was never in the same league. Blanche was outclassed by Hazel on every front, always will be.

  1. Election: I am trying but failing to care about the federal election. When either of the candidates come on the radio all I hear in my head is "You Haven't Done Nothing" by Stevie Wonder:

We are amazed but not amused
By all the things you say that you'll do
Though much concerned but not involved
With decisions that are made by you

But we are sick and tired of hearing your song
Telling how you are gonna change right from wrong
'Cause if you really want to hear our views
"You haven't done nothing"!

It's not too cool to be ridiculed
But you brought this upon yourself
The world is trying to pass us by
We want the truth and nothing else

And we are sick and tired of hearing your song
Telling how you are gonna change right from wrong
'Cause if you really want to hear our views
"You haven't done nothing"!

Jackson 5 join along say
Doo doo wop - hey hey hey
Doo doo wop - wow wow wow
Doo doo wop - co co co
Doo doo wop - naw naw naw
Doo doo wop - bum bum bum
Doo doo wop

You would not care to wake up to the nightmare
That's becoming real life
But when misled who knows a person's mind
Can turn as cold as ice un hum

Why do you keep on making us hear your song
Telling us how you are changing right from wrong
'Cause if you really want to hear our views
"You haven't done nothing"!

And here's a funny thing, Judith Lucy talking about how she coped with loss a while back

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Monday 19th July: A Poem

I typed this poem out for someone else a few days ago, and I love it so much I thought I'd stick it here too. The poem is by Petrina Barson, from her beautiful book 'Now We Are Four' which you can buy from

The Facts of Life


In the early days
I felt I wore you
like some logo
on my face.
Amazed only
when the woman at the eggs
could not read your absence
from the creases and
undulations there.
My traitor face -
bland as an egg carton -
did not scream at her.
I wanted to tell her -
standing there reading labels -
of all the things
I was discovering
that I had lost -
each moment cracking open
to find you gone:
only four places at the table;
only three pink sugared biscuits
left in the fridge (you helped
to roll them before boredom
eased you back to Lara
jumping on the sofa);
only two children
in the rear vision mirror;
only one direction
that this blessed life drags us -
heels banging on the road.


It's half your little life
since I helped you onto the see-saw
and we tipped laughter
into each others' faces.
Two birthdays gone:
some failed artist
totally lacking the repertoire
to sketch you at five.
And memory no better:
a three-toothed old lady
driving her trolley full of papers
into the wind.
For you are fading:
this precious pain
that is my ice bridge to you
melting in the grimy flow
of circumstance.
Now I bump into it -
one fact among others -
as the river pulls me
to its own end
gaily ignorant of rocks
and plates of ice
hurling me down rapids -
a bony glissando -
then rolling me over
and showing me
(the bright sky).

I particularly love the line "This precious pain that is my ice bridge to you is melting in the grimy flow of circumstance". I very much understand the idea that intense feelings of grief are one of the few connections I have to Salome, so when i feel the sadness less and less, it is bittersweet.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Friday 16th July: Brief comment

Pressed as I am for time, surrounded as I am by washing, occupied as I am with a new job and school holidays, functional as I am with my lack of tears and easier social graces, I just want to say that today in the act of purchasing for a friend a card to congratulate her on the birth many months ago of her daughter, I was stunned again to realise that I myself had a daughter only 6 months ago, that I loved that daughter as much as I love my other 2, that I clawed my way through that pregnancy, that I did everything I could to grow her well and safely, and that right at the end she got terribly sick and she died she died she died. I had a baby and she died. She lived for 2 1/2 days in NICU with tubes down her throat and god knows how many drugs being pumped into her, born with a brain injury which got worse before our eyes as those 2 1/2 days went on. A fat full term baby in amongst the tiny premie ones, who were more likely to live than her. She had a short life, with no good and only bad, and then she died.

I just want to say that I miss my baby Salome, that this is grossly unfair, that although Salome's death is not news to anyone it is still a daily event for me, that the pain is enormous, that I still fret for her when it is stormy outside, that a world where healthy full-term babies die from stupid everyday infections is a fucked up world. I miss my daughter.

That's all I want to say.

Now I will do the washing up, fold some clothes, cry some more, kiss X and K in their sleep and go to bed. The grief gets platted into the day, and I do my best to relax into it when its at its most intense. It's like contractions in that way.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Wednesday 14th? July: I'm still here!

House guests + school holidays + technical difficulties (melt-down of the power point nearest our computer) + back pain + a lot less hours to myself because of being back at work = no blogging in the last 2 weeks. But I am still here and I am overall doing OK. I am embarrassed about how much I miss writing my blog! It's an important way for me to process where I am up to. I've got a list in my head of topics I want to write about. I feel like I would need to write full time for a week to get it all out of my head (I write very slowly). But when? Soon, I am determined it will be soon.