Friday, October 26, 2007

in which I record my dumbass tendencies for posterity

I never claimed to be clever. My dear friend Mr Woo doesn't call me Jellyhead for nothin'. It's just that sometimes I go months without doing something majorly stupid, and I convince myself I'm just middle-of-the road silly.

I went to the shops today on an present-buying errand. Gift purchased, I left the shopping mall to go fetch my daughter from school. I headed for where I recalled having parked my car. No car.

After wandering that parking level for awhile, I decided to try the next level up. Feeling a lot like Jerry Seinfeld, except without any friends, I strode anxiously around the top car park. No car. I began to feel panicky. Time was ticking away, and even if I found the car immediately, I was going to be late to collect Laura. I tried phoning the mobile of another school mother, to see if she could help. No answer.

Now sweating in the heat, and with tears prickling at the corners of my eyes, I headed down to a lower level. Except, in my haste, I went down three levels, effectively skipping the actual car park where my abandoned car lay waiting. Half running, I scanned the basement car park as I jogged. No car. By now the tears were leaking out my eyes and running down my cheeks. I finally came to my senses and phoned my best friend, Belly, who lives not far from Laura's school. Belly promised to go meet my daughter, and to let her know that she wasn't forgotten - that she merely has a hare-brained mother.

With shaking voice and tear-stained face, I stopped an elegantly-dressed woman to ask her if she knew where there was a taxi rank. Kindly, and without further questioning, the lady explained how to find a cab. Running now through the shopping centre, I ignored the heads turning my way and prayed that none of these spectators were patients of mine. If any were, they probably wouldn't be for long. I wasn't a sight to inspire confidence - professional or otherwise.
It's a worry when your doctor can't find their own car, cries about it, and then runs erratically through a public place.

I found the cab rank. There were seven people waiting ahead of me. With quavery voice, I asked the elderly couple in front of me if they minded if I jumped ahead of them in the queue. The husband calmly suggested I take the same cab as they did - after all, they were going to the same suburb. I gave up on my queue-jumping plan, and stood meekly next to the very short old couple. I hoped fervently that Belly had managed to wrangle her two small children into the car, find the school gate, find a park, and meet my daughter before she became upset.

A taxi-driver leapt out of the next taxi, and spoke with the passengers ahead of me. The waiting crowd frowned, and the driver spoke with the old couple ahead of me. The small, round old man turned around. "He says he's not going to take passengers for any long distance trips," the old man informed me. "These others want the airport. You go with him".

With grateful thanks, I leapt into the cab, and we drove to Laura's school. My daughter stood chatting happily with Belly and Belly's daughters. I burst into fresh tears, before quickly controlling myself again. Laura looked puzzled. She tells me she's only ever seen me cry once before. She told me she'd been 'not one bit' worried when she'd had to wait back with the 'uncollected' children. "I knew you'd come, Mum", she soothed.

I thanked Belly for saving the day. Fatty came home and we drove to the car park. We found the car. We came back home at last. I apologised profusely. And Fatty neither laughed nor grumbled, but instead went and picked up pizza for dinner. The man's a keeper.

As you can tell, I'm feeling embarrassed and dopey. So if you have any stories you'd like to share involving lost cars, crying for no good reason or neglecting to care for your offspring properly...... this is the place to do it. Ready, steady, go!

Wednesday, October 17, 2007


It seems to me that the wanting of something can become an entity all its own - that even when we no longer desire a certain object, a hoped-for-outcome, a special person - that the yearning itself lives and breathes still.

As a schoolgirl of fourteen, I had a silly crush on a dark-haired boy in my music class. He seemed to be universally liked, he was handsome, he was friendly yet somehow maintained a slight reserve. I was angular, pale and had a tendency to blush. I had plenty of friends, but wasn't wildly popular. I was desperate to be noticed, hoping fervently to be adored.

The boy was nice enough to me, but never showed any interest beyond friendship. I don't blame him in the least - I was so insecure, so hopelessly romantic, so doey. I think back to how I gazed at the boy adoringly, and it induces waves of nausea.

After a couple of years of being politely dismissed, I stopped the gazing. I still thought the boy was a decent guy, I still thought he was cute, but I didn't pine for him any more. I developed some self-esteem, and I realised there were other boys who actually did think I was attractive. I dated a couple of guys. The boy was just another school pal. One day I saw him on campus at my university. He had grown a beard, and I teasingly told him he looked like a terrorist. There was nothing left of my past hankerings for the boy.

And yet....... at least once a year, I dream about this boy. I dream that I am young and fresh-faced and a single girl. I dream that we are talking. Sometimes I dream that the boy says he wants to be with me; mostly I dream he tells me he feels nothing for me. I am overjoyed, or wretched with sadness. I wake from the dreams and shake my head in disbelief. I haven't seen this boy, now a man, in years. I rarely think of him in my waking hours. I am married to a man who I respect, admire and love passionately. It seems ridiculous that my mind would return to this 'boy' who is of so little consequence in my life. I can only surmise that my dreams of the boy recur because he represents my first experience with longing. The boy means nothing, but the yearning he invoked goes on and on.

In just over a week, I'll be attending my school reunion. The 'boy' will most likely be attending. I am somewhat ambivalent about the possibility of his presence. After all, I spent the final two years of high school being underwhelmed by him. But I cannot deny a degree of curiosity. I wonder what he'll act like, look like, be like.

Mostly I wonder if seeing this relic from my past will flush away these dreams of inadequacy and rejection, and the rarer dreams of mutual puppy love. It's a waste of brain space to dwell on this rubbish - even if it is during sleep!

Maybe the dreams will disappear like so many strands of old spiderweb. But maybe they won't. Maybe my secret heart will keep on longing aimlessly - like the long-ago girl who wished for love but believed herself unworthy of it.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

flora and fauna

I'd never visited the South-West of Australia before, and I savoured the sights everywhere we went. Here are a few photos to entice would-be visitors, to bring back memories for previous visitors, and to allow others to live vicariously
This was a treetop walk in Walpole, where you can stroll along (or wheel yourself along - the walk is wheelchair friendly) 40 metres above the ground. Talk about having a bird's eye view!

This peacock boldly waltzed through the beachside cafe, unperturbed by the attention he received.

Flowers in the wildflower section of Kings Park, Perth.

A quokka, sitting pretty. These small hopping marsupials are found only in Western Australia, and mainly on Rottnest Island.

A red tingle tree, showing the staining patterns that make these trees so eye-catching.

Laura, feeding a Western Rosella with wild birdseed given to her by another tourist.
Happy Weekend to all!

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

making believe

My kids are reassuringly kid-like. They do all the things I've seen and heard other children doing. They giggle, they wail, they butt heads (literally) and they hug each other. They charge from one end of the house to the other, leaving a trail of toys strewn in their wake. They tell me I'm beautiful and they tell me I'm mean. They make up imaginary friends. They come up with words that have meanings known only to them. So I don't know why I should find their latest carryings on so intriguing, but I just do. Maybe it's because I wish I was half as creative as they are.

When I write, I write about my life, my patients' lives, my family and friends' lives. I write everything based on the truth (or at least my version of the truth!). The only creative part of the process is finding words and phrases to convey meaning, to build atmosphere, to tell a story. I haven't written a work of pure fiction since high school English class.

While on holidays, I realised I'd been hearing the kids using a certain funny name over & over. I quizzed them about this - 'Where did you hear that name? Is it someone from a movie? Did you see something about this on TV?'. The kids sounded miffed as they retorted that no, they had made up this title themselves. It started as a joke, they patiently explained, as if there was no chance of me ever having done anything similar.

It seems one day, Ben (or Laura - neither of them can recall who) put a hand down onto a coverlet in the rented unit, and found it felt a bit damp, slightly slippery. "Ewwww!", they squealed, "This bed's all greasy!"
The other child, beginning to giggle, sputtered hysterically, "Greasy Grandma's been there!"

And so it went on the entire holiday. At times of peak boredom (probably whenever Fatty and I declared it was Quiet Time, during which we were not to be disturbed from our reading and coffee drinking unless in the event of gushing haemorrhages or other such crises), a sudden cry would come from the children's bedroom.....

CHILD 1: "Stop! Don't sit down there!"

(unintelligible response from child two)

CHILD 1, now crowing in delight: "Greasy Grandma's been sitting on your bed!"

Why Greasy Grandma? I don't know. Neither of their grandmothers are remotely greasy! It makes no sense. Unless there really is a Greasy Grandma, who silently slides her way sinuously across sheets and quilts, coating them in a fine layer of oil, giving bedding that 'slept in' feeling that has us pulling linen off the mattress and heading for the laundry.

Has Greasy Grandma been to your place today? Better go check your beds.

Sunday, October 07, 2007

it does a body good.....

to see new and beautiful places.
But it does a body a whole world of good to come home, too. I missed you guys! I spent last night reading your blogs and thinking how much I have come to be fond of all of you. For instance I am sad that fifi is going away, and I won't have her bright and quirky posts to read while she's gone (though of course I do want you to have a wonderful time fifi!)
I discovered that my wicked friend Heather was trying to sell my soul to the highest bidder! You just can't tame those Texas wildcats. But seriously now -thank you Heather, for keeping the home fires burning and posting for me!
I also remembered something I discover every time I go away on holidays to escape my life:
I actually like my life. I like my home, I like my job. I love my family and I love my friends. I even love my goddamn dog.
Now. If only I loved washing dirty clothes as well.

Tuesday, October 02, 2007


*Most of you who read Jellyhead's blog regularly can probably guess who I am. I came to play at Jelly's place while she is away on holiday guzzling wine and cavorting on the beach.*

My friend Jellyhead called me tonight. She's away on a two week vacation thus we've not been chatting almost daily as per our usual routine. I'm suffering greatly. I think she may need to take me with her on her next holiday. I'm just sayin'.

I told her, "I almost hacked into your blog to write a guest post but wasn't sure how you'd feel about it." She answered, "Aw, that'd be okay so long as you don't reveal anything about me." I giggled, "Girl, I am gonna tell alllllll your secrets."

Then she said, in that lovely Australian accent, "You DO know how much power you have, right? Knowing so much about me?"

I assured her that I'd never tell her secrets to the world*. After all, she knows my secrets too. I also let her know that I don't feel powerful -- only lucky to be her confidante.

But I've been thinking tonight about how right she is. In my opinion, learning to love and trust someone new is an act of unparalleled bravery. We have to screw up our courage in order to let ourselves be seen and known -- the good and the bad. We have to emotionally disrobe and stand naked and shivering before we can be wrapped in the warmth of friendship and love.

Jellyhead's right. We hand over immense power when we decide to love someone new. And then we have to pull the soft cloak of friendship tighter about us and pray that no one walks away with our heart.

*Those of you who really want to know some of Jellys's secrets can send me payment in the form of cash, check or money order.

(Just kidding, Jelly. )

(And, I MISS YOU!)