Ghosts of Sydney Town!

P1. Such a funny feeling coming into a city. Particularly a big city. Like Sydney.

Anxiety is twisting in my chest like an slimy eel caught on a fishing line.

It’ll settle no doubt, once we’re at our accommodation and organised. But now, in a taxi, as the anxiety eel contorts back over itself in an endless struggle, I’m reminded that my roots are firmly planted in country soil.

Despite all this, I still love the city.

A lover of all things shiny and twinkly, city nights are really something else!

And the non stop activity is captivating!

When we were kids we would holiday on the NSW North Coast every Christmas, camping at the quiet sleepy riverside town of Pottsville.

We’d go into Surfers Paradise to shop and gawp at the city madness!

The tolls were a nightmare, and there would be a guaranteed argument between driver and passengers, but it was magic!

The utter highlight was the bridges, and changing signs!

You know the ones!

Like vertical Venetian blinds!

One minute they’re advertising coke, next thing (if your lucky enough, and the traffic is slow enough) you see it magically change to a Jupiters casino ad!

Whoa!

Told you, magic

The good old days.

Now cities change way faster than magic signs. But the traffic is just as slow!

P2. Parked up at our apartment, happy, blistered feet, Dan on the “balcony”, the sounds of the city (Friday night mind you) blaring through the open door!

Anxiety eel is long gone, and I officially love the rocks.

G1, G2, G3, you’re probably glad your not here because I would have been at my best “my god just look at that wall! Look at it! Look at that arch way! Touch that brick! Do you comprehend the history behind that brick” etc, etc.

the history is so freakin amazing!

The people are stupidly busy, pushy and terrifying, and the stairs and hills are doing my knees no favours, but the history! Sigh!

I love it!!

We had a small wander about after arriving, then headed to the Rocks for an impromptu pub crawl while awaited our ghost tour.

Very pleased to have thrown a few back in Sydney’s oldest pub (4x golds too mind you)! Then sat and ogled the Queen Mary 2 before teaming up with our Rocks Ghost host James, and 21 other tourists!

We spent 2 hours exploring the Rocks, entering buildings off limits to mere mortals, and hearing sad tales of convicts, murders, heartbreak, cruelty and a bizarre tale of a self dismembered penis.

Just as weird as it sounds.

It was a super cool tour! And I look forward to wandering back to a few places in daylight as they’re just so beautiful!

We rounded off the evening with a few more beers at a few more Rocks pubs, and pizza, and now, after being reassured all is well at home, are plotting Saturday’s Sydney agenda!

Note to self- wear sensible shoes from here on out.

Advertisements

The winner is…

Years ago, when the girls were little, Dan and I would get away, pretty much yearly, for a weekend together, just the 2 of us. It would usually coincide with a tattoo appointment for myself, but was also a chance to see shiny city lights, eat food I hadn’t had to shop for & prepare, and to ensure that we could happily hang out together as a couple, and not just as parents. You know, for when the kids are grown and gone, and we’re sitting on the porch, clearing our throats and talking about the weather.

“How bout that rain.”

*crickets*

“Sure is wet”

*more crickets*

Well the trips were mostly about tattoos.

But the other stuff was cool too!

Now it’s been a good few years since we’ve done that.

I found a tattooist I love only 2 hours drive away, and life’s just been far too busy for honeymoons away.

Until now!

Tomorrow, we fly to….Sydney!

I hope that was read in the Olympic announcement style.

Yes, Sydney!

Aside from an afternoon during a barefoot nationals, many, many moons ago, and 2 hour stints at the airport to-ing & fro-ing over seas, I’ve never been!

I am super dooper excited!

I have such a huge list of personal “Must See’s”, but sadly not the funds to back it, nor the time to do it all.

So I’ve summarised & culled, and have compromised with Dan down to an affordable, achievable list!

I’ll let y’all live it through me as we go, but must say I’m super looking forward to seeing G1’s namesake, the Rocks!!

What I’m not looking forward to is leaving G1 home in charge of G2 & G3.

As my mum has told me “oh for gods sake Alaina, I was out working and left home at G2’s age”. “After spending the winters riding a pony through the driving snow, over treacherous mountain ranges to a school we had to build ourselves with slate and chisels, whilst fending off bears and wolves”. Well maybe not that last part. Jokes Mumma!

Anyway, anyone who has teenage daughters can absolutely relate to my fears, mostly involving returning home to find someone wore someones shirt and consequently had an eyeball scratched out, or someone walked in someone’s room uninvited and ended up with their head shaved while they slept.

Think I’m exaggerating?

It was not that long ago there was a full on punch up over a hair straightener. It was insane.

And a windex spray to the face followed by a broom bashing over a bitchy face pull.

And just a few days ago a stomach punch after someone drank the cold water from someone else’s water bottle.

It’s like the arrow spins and lands on someone new each day.

The antagonist and the peace keeper. The irritated and the irritator. You just never know who’ll be who! Or what teeny insignificant thing will be the catalyst to disaster!

Girls can be meanies! Unpredictable meanies!

And petty.

Petty. As. Heck.

So yeah. I’m concerned.

But I know they’ll be fine.

They will be.

Won’t they?

They have to be.

Besides, it will nice to have them see just what I do round here darn it.

G1 has promised to be patient, and not to buy takeaway for them every meal, and G2 has promised to let G1 be the boss. G3, I have half hearted promises, so I guess we’ll see.

I’ve hidden all the windex just in case.

They’ll be fine!

To Sydney!!!!!

The sarong and the revelation

We have 2 budgies. Petrie and Pew.

Names you may recognise from such 80’s classics as, “The land before time”, and “Footrot Flats”.

Awesome movies!

They’re lovely little things, though they’ll avoid contact with us at all costs, and they’re budgie chatter makes for a beautiful background noise at home, and at the hut, and camping, and in the car. 

Everywhere.

But they can get sooooooo loud.

So, so loud.

Just ask Dan.

Our secret weapon for when the “crazy” chatter is on top volume, is a sarong.

Just pop that bad boy over the cage with a “shhhhhh, its night time”, and you’re met with blessed silence.

It works.

Every time.

I recently had a bit of a revelation about the sarong, and the revelation was that I have one too! A metaphorical one. For when the chatter in my head becomes too relentless.

This came on the back of a far bigger revelation, the revelation that I was grieving.

With the recent death of a friend, I found myself really struggling. Like all the great poets and musicians have written about forever, it was like a great heavy cloud had gathered over me, on me, and I could not shake the sadness.

This in turn made me sadder, and annoyed at myself that I couldn’t lift out of this fog. What on earth was wrong with me?

Then one little message from a friend threw my lightbulb on. I mentioned that I was feeling pretty rubbish, and she said something to the effect of “Well that’s what happens when we grieve I guess”.

 Boom!!!

This statement blew my mind!

I was grieving!

I know that this sounds ridiculous, of course I was. But for me, for the last 37 years, I had always associated grieving exclusively with the loss of a family member. Grieving is what happens when a parent dies, grieving is what happens when a sibling dies, grieving is what happens when a grandparent dies.

How foolish was I, to not realise, that grieving is simply what happens when someone, anyone you care about, dies, or even goes away?

This shines a great light on my broken heart from the passing of friends, and even the farewelling of pets.

Grief isn’t exclusive.

You can grieve a person, a pet, a place, a thing, a time.

Who knew!

I felt like Oprah, throwing confetti into the abyss of my brain yelling, you get to grieve, you get to grieve, you all get to grieve!!!

I regained my focus and worked through my sadness in the only way I know how. 

I swam, I painted, I listened to music and I rationalised with myself.

Like my beautiful budgies, my head can get pretty noisy sometimes. While most times this is very helpful, sometimes it’s heavy with sadness. 

Loud.

And so my second realisation, was that I have an inner sarong! 

I can quiet those bad days, those sad days, by throwing my metaphorical weaving of all the things that I love, over the top! “Shhhhh, it’s night time.”

Swimming, spinning, walking with my girls and playing with my pups, skiing. 

Staring at the sky, clouds and stars alike.

Reading, getting back to one of the 10 odd books that I started and then got too busy for.

Painting, ahhh, getting that image from my head to paper then to canvas. Getting lost in acrylic paints and imagination.

Music. No explanation necessary.

Hugging. An instant fix. And my crew are great huggers.

My mind still chatters, I still think. 

During all these activities I think, but I’m rational, and kind, and wise in these spaces.

I cannot tell you the problems I’ve worked through and overcome, the ideas I’ve sprung, while swimming up and down our town pool. 

And I don’t know if this is just me. 

I think some people probably don’t have loud heads! So they don’t need a sarong.

Some people have terribly loud heads, but no sarong.

Some people haven’t found their sarong.

Some people don’t think they need a sarong.

But it’s so valuable to have.

Trust me. 

I now know I have one, I’ve always had one.

And it works. 

Every time.

“Shhhhhhh, its night time.”

Tieri Maths

Pluses of a teeny country town;
1. You know ALL your neighbors 

2. You can leave your doors/cars unlocked, ALL the time

3. You’re allowed to venture EVERYWHERE

4. You have a huge, gigantic extended family, and you love EVERYONE of them 

Minuses of a teeny country town;

1. You’re neighbors ALL know you. 

Consequently, your neighbors, left, right, back yard, across the road, and diagonal in every direction, can all report on your whereabouts, and activity, on call.
2. You actually leave your doors/cars unlocked

You leave yourself open to the renegade few, who rob you of your trinkets and small change, with the use of matches and dumb luck. Only one time though.

You are randomly, yet consistently vulnerable to hungry possums and gremlins, who are either in your pantry, robbing your icing sugar, or hovering at your doorway, angry, noisy, terrifying and forever embedded on your memory.

Young punks will steal your car, using stolen siphoned fuel from other trusting homes, drive to emerald, and wreck your sunnies.

3. You venture EVERYWHERE 

Not even the city, or in our circumstance, town, limits, mark the end of your journey.

Sorry Mumma, but we did go to Emerald for fast food! Breaking down in the drive through of the Maraboon Tavern on our way out of town (not our car). And to Lillyvale, purely for fun, swimming and swinging out the big old gum tree. 

I guess knowing every back road and fire break by heart just wasn’t enough.

Keeping it in town however, there honestly isn’t a patch of Tieri I haven’t a memory for. Usually dodgy, but always relatively harmless and great fun. 

Eg. Riding in the old Bongo Van on Halloween. With young blokes (one of them Dan) sliding the door open to flour bomb trick or treaters, before venturing to the motorbike track to let off sparkler bombs.

Or, Footy fields + massive lightning storm + boys + cars + best mates + young crazy brains!!

Just a few crazy nights of many.

4. You absolutely love to bits, EVERY one of your huge, gigantic extended family 

This is always amazing when, no matter the distance, time or circumstance, you can run into someone and simply click back into the “good old days”, having a very clear and strong bond that only small towns can create.

Staying in touch is no problem with today’s technology, but even without that tech link, the bond stays strong.

The reason this is a minus? 

When you lose someone, someone from your town family, my Tieri town family. 

It breaks your heart. 
It rekindles old memories. 

It sends the tears, like heavy summer rain drops down your face.

It blocks your chest.

It blurs your head.

It hurts.

My heart and head hurt tonight. 

It’s impossible not to. 

I’ve blogged about this before. The touch one, touch all mentality of small towns. 

I’d never swap it for the world. Regardless of the pain.

Thanks for being part of my crazy teenage life Clint. 

Hay Shed. 

Live album. 

Cruiser Utes 

and Burbon. 

All memories now tinged with sadness, but thought of with a smile, from when we were in our prime.

Cheers my friend, and endless love and strength to your family.

Fly high xx

Grief and Jellyfish

They say that people who have been stung by our notorious box jellyfish (and survived), suffer a strange phenomenon for years after.
They leave a very wicked scar these jellies, and the story goes that the scar flares up and even causes pain, whenever the victim returns to the sea.

Fascinating!

Now I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately and have come a conclusion. 

I see death as a jellyfish. And grief as her sting.

The initial sting of grief, no matter how well prepared you are, is paralyzing, intense and agonizing.

It feels like you’re there in that moment forever, when in reality time passes as it always has.

The tide comes in and out. The world turns. Life goes on.

And like it or not, you go with it.

The jelly, death, drifts off with the current. Unaware of the damage it has done.

You heal. Slowly at first. Tender. A scar now sits where the sting hit.  

And before you know it. You smile again. You laugh again. You love again.

But like a jellyfish sting when you near the ocean, the scar flares with different triggers.

A memory. 

A song. 

A smell. 

A sound. 

A date. 

And for a while that burn, that pain, is as real as the day it was inflicted.

I know this.

I feel this.

But, unlike that day, you’ve seen the other side of this. 

Your scar is old now. Tough. 

You wear it like a badge of honor. 

Like a tattoo.

With pride.

You know you’ll weather this pain, as you’ve done before. 

And the sting is there to remind you of how far you’ve come, and of the gap left behind by death. 

Which should never be forgotten.

Tomorrow marks the 22nd year of my fathers death, and my scar has been itching all week. 

Tomorrow is my day to figuratively step into the ocean and grieve for a day, let the memories wash over me like waves, indulge in some smells, sounds and tastes that take me back. Let it sting.

Float on my back with my face to the sun, and smile. 

Remember, and let love warm every inch of me. 

Jelly’s just do what they do. Death does what it does.

Pain subsides.

Scars remain.

Love is eternal.

And life goes on.

Mirror, Mirror…

I turned our girls bathroom mirror into a wall of decay a few months ago. Actually, a year or so ago. 

Possibly 2. 

Anyway, it served its purpose on encouraging tooth brushing, much like the photo from Womens Day of Danniella Westbrook from EastEnders with a deviated septum discouraged nose picking when they were little. 

But my wall of decay slightly freaked out tradies doing repairs, and more so lately, freaked out the now teenage girls visiting friends. 

So it had to go.

It took me very little time to decide what to replace it with.

I would have loved a “clean up after yourselves, you animals” wall.

Or a “for gods sake, leave the hairbrushes/remote/phone chargers where you found them” wall.

Or even a “if it’s not yours, don’t wear it” wall.

However, despite the definite need for these walls, my brightest idea outshone all the rest. I made a wall of self worth.

I tell them all the time, but sometimes, like with a vision board, if you see it, and read it every day, you start to believe it, and achieve it.

So every morning, they will see themselves, in all their baggy eyed, bed haired glory, and, hopefully, reaffirm their self worth, self belief, and confidence.

I don’t want them thinking their shit hot, that’s not the point. The point is, to make them understand their worth. 

They, like every daughter, everywhere, are worth more than any beauty magazine will have you believe. 

Worth more than any ridiculous mannequin in a store front. 

More than any selfish boy who won’t let you grow and explore the world.

More than any sweet talking boy who has no interest in what makes you so wonderful.

More than any maths/English assignment.

More than any grade.

More than any bull shite instagram/Facebook post.

More than any “like”.

More than trying to live up to any expectation.

That they’re worth more than gold.

Your purpose, my girls. Your job in this life. Is to go out there and be uniquely you.

Use your manners. 

Be kind.

Be respectful.

Be responsible.

Put that empathy to use. Always.

Understand that you were born into privilege with a safe house, stable family.

Also understand that this is undeniably party responsible for who/where you are, but that YOU are responsible for the rest.

Your hard work.

Your kindness.

Your resilience.

Your dedication.

Your common sense, will get you everywhere.

Believe in yourself, and you can do absolutely anything.

Hopefully, my new wall will do all of this. Whilst also reminding them that the old wall was there to remind them to brush their stinkin teeth.

And maybe the next plumber to call through will leave with a grin, and an incentive to encourage his daughter or son. Instead of a furrowed brow and a sideways glance.

The second pic is a message from my G3. 

“Why are you so annoying Mum”

They really do love me. 

Be kind people!!!

18 tomorrow 

18 tomorrow Leaving the proverbial teenage years behind, stepping into the boots of an adult.

How’d you get so big?

You can now do nearly everything legally.

Cigarettes and booze are there for the taking. Thank the gods you hate smokes and stink eye smokers. And you’ve exercised more caution and responsibility towards alcohol than your father and I ever did as teens, so I rest safe in the knowledge you’ll continue to do so. 

How’d you get so smart?

You can vote!

And I’m over the moon at your excitement about this. I remember my first election and how happy I was to have my say, and make my contribution to the country. And now you can do the same, and you take a vested interest in politics and the direction our nation is going.

How’d you get so proactive?

Your about a fortnight off getting your green P’s (provisional driving license). And I’m forever thanking my lucky stars that you know your limits. Pulling up to use your phone, and taking it steady, not racing your way around. (Except that one time which we won’t talk about.)

How’d you get so safe?

You are making a living. And saving for a future. You don’t take it for granted that you are on good money with your job. And every day when you rub your eyes at 5 & 4 am, you get out there and give it your all. Asking questions, listening, and taking on every job, large and small. Your coming home in the afternoons is my favourite part of the day. Listening to you talk non stop about your day, the people you work with and jobs done, takes me back to when you first started school. Except up to now, you’ve never managed to leave your shoes behind. Every day.

Your on the absolute right track, and you know how the saying goes, if you love your job you’ll never work a day in your life.

How’d you get such a great work ethic?

You can make your own decisions. Given, this has been the case for a while now. They say you are who you hang out with. And I must say, you’ve made smashing choices in friends. With the exception of very few, I love being around your peers. I love that they are there to step in when your heart is hurting, and a mums voice, touch and advice just is not wanted. I can rest easier knowing they love you enough to give you smart advice and compassion, until you are ready to let me back in.

I also love that you’re always there to reciprocate. I’ve seen you drop everything to help your friends. To be a shoulder for their teary heads, to let them know your there, regardless of their sometimes crazy decisions. Your there for your sisters when they need you. And your always there for me. You love your puppers like nobody can! And your compassion and empathy towards people and animals makes my heart swell. You have a stubborn heart, which will soften with time. You’ve had your heart broken, more than once, but it’s healed twice as tough. And is loving even in sadness.

How’d you get such a big heart?

You face problems head on. Something I’ve always struggled with. You face your fears, and take on new challenges without a backward glance. Cutting out behind a boat, climbing the rigging on sail boats, chasing boar pigs, or walking into a totally new workplace knowing no one. You are one tough cookie.

How’d you get so brave?

As much as it breaks my heart, you can do and go anywhere you want now. You tell me often. You have plans out the wazoo. With a calendar dotted with events and festivals. You sit with your sisters and plan your next outfit, but are as happy to rock out at a concert with your mates, as you are to head out the lake skiing with your family. I hope that never changes. I love your gypsy spirit.

How’d you get so adventurous?

It’s hard for me to relate to you now my darling. I was ready to have you, at your age. I went down a path I don’t want any of you to take. I made decisions before you were a twinkle in my eye that were not great. Your dad and I both did. So I do want you, all of you, to do as I say, not as I do. And I know that now, we don’t always set the best example of a healthy relationship. But we love you, and each other fiercely.

I’d like for your dad and I to take credit for every part of you. And I know we’ve definitely contributed, but there are many contributing factors to you G1. The major one being you.

You are responsible for you. You’re why you’re doing so well in your job. You’re why your friends love you. You’re why the bloody sun shines in my life. And you deserve absolutely nothing, but happiness, now and forever.

Always see yourself through my eyes when you look in the mirror baby. 

You’re amazing. And no, I don’t have to say that. You can be a real biatch too. 

I’d love to say a big “in your face” to the doubters and nay sayers who shook their heads at your teenage Mum and Dad. But the truth is, we had none. We have had nothing but love and support in our journey as parents. And like all parents, we make do with what we have, and do the best we know how. 

And when we see you, we know we’ve done a smashing job baby. Reaffirmed by the way others speak of you. And love you.

And that there is every chance your sisters will come out the teenage end ok too! 

It’s a ride that never ends, being a mum. But I wouldn’t swap it for quids kiddo.

Happy 18th baby, we love you xx