Saturday, August 30, 2014

Love

Rod Stewart said it in his classic track "First Cut is the Deepest" and I recently heard a new track by Vance Joy, called "First Time" - featured HERE on the official You Tube video and was reflecting upon people that I have loved. I have been fond of people and of course, I adore my daughter but this is primarily about romantic love so I'll do my best to represent that time and these people that took a piece of my heart.

My first crush was Adrian Miles. I went to junior primary school with him and I used to ride past his house  - repeatedly. I used to gaze at him in school assembly.  If I had run into him while I was doing that, I would have been mortified. He is pictured here at my birthday party wearing stripes to the far left. I'm wearing pink and have a rocking fringe.  His best mate, Mark (pictured between us) would later chase me for years to be his girlfriend. Both the boys would come and collect me (and my friend, Abi) from our homes on their bikes. They would 'dink' us - which is, giving us a ride. It was a VERY BIG DEAL. haha

I had a few crushes during high school but none that went anywhere. I was painfully shy about making out and of course, that's what everyone was doing.  I liked a boy named Shane (for some weird reason, he was so mean and ugly to me) and I also liked a boy called Lloyd Jones. When I was about 15, I had a crush on a guy I worked with named Graham Ross who was a dick.  He just wanted one thing and I couldn't do it so of course, he dumped me. I was broken hearted.

The next first love, I guess you'd call it was Michael. I met up with him when I was 17.  I've already written a bit about him here so I'm not going to elaborate but I will share this old school prom photo. Some of you have already seen it. What on earth we were thinking I will never know. I know this pic causes him embarrassment even to this day.    I hated my shoes, loved my jewelry, hated my hair and we were both back at his place (where I stayed most weekends) watching Rage on the ABC by midnight pulling out copious amounts of bobby pins.  And I don't think we even had sex that night (isn't that customary?) because we'd argued. He thought I had flirted with my art teacher and he was right. I had a big crush on my art teacher, Mr McAlister. Here is a silly pic taken without the detachable skirt at my mother's house earlier in the day. I still have that dress and am trying to convince Carissa to wear it to a 'bad taste' party or '80's party but she won't do it! Spoil sport.


So directly after the long haired 'first' came Phil, pictured below with his porn-star mustache.  This island pic is on Hamilton Island. It's one of the world's most popular islands (and expensive) in the Whitsundays Region. We had been together for 3 whole days when this pic was taken. The blonde in front of us died soon after in a motor vehicle accident. Her name was Carissa and we named our daughter after her 5 years later.  He was 5 years older than me and we left Mackay for Adelaide soon after these pics were taken. And you can see that I was smoking cigarettes! Vile! We were attending our local TAFE college when this pic was taken. We were both studying hospitality and he pursued me relentlessly for months.



Seven years later, Phil and I separated. It was here in 1998 that I started playing trivia and met Ivan (aka Fumute). Out of respect for him and his family, I won't post a picture but I honestly believe that he was my first love. He made my heart soar and my body weak with desire.  There is no doubt that I loved him deeply and the feeling was mutual. Our chemistry was amazing and exists to this day. I've written about him before here in a both G-rated and X-rated posts.

I don't know if I loved Phil now. I don't know if I loved Michael. I wonder if they served as a sense of escapism from a life that was troubling me. I have no doubt that I was very very fond of them both and moreso Phil. He was after all the father of my child. I'm still 'fond' of him today and remain reasonably good mates with him but I don't know that I loved them. We had some awesome times together.

The reason I say this is not to disrespect them or our time together. It's certainly not to hurt either of them but the feeling I felt with Ivan was something that completely swept me from my feet. Ivan and I are still in regular contact and I still regard him very fondly. I don't love him in a romantic way but I was madly, head over heels absolutely smitten with him for many years.

The next person I was absolutely smitten over but never ever told was Michael - the sparky.  He's an Adelaide boy and while I doubt he checks this space anymore (he used to!) I also don't feel it's appropriate to share a pic of him. He has a family here and well - that's just not cool. There was a time that Michael loved me too but our loves didn't synch at the right time. Now I neither like or dislike him.

Some unattainable and long gone crushes include Thomas in USA that has long died and withered away. I also had a crush on the Adelaide based American, Greg. That could have developed into a deep love but my guard was always up and it ended because of that.  In fact, some months ago, he told me off for not being open and honest about my feelings towards him.  He wouldn't have done certain things if he had known how I felt. This is a life long lesson I have finally learned. Thanks to Greg. Michael and even USA Tom to a degree - to be open with my feelings and discuss issues rather than cutting them off like a wart on my heart.

So will I fall in love again? I think I will. Although with whom and where I don't know.

I'm not closed to the idea but I don't think about it very much. Some of my friends want me to come on speed dates with them (groan...) and the thought makes me squirm.  I don't do online dating either (although I have dabbled...) so I guess I will likely meet someone through mutual connections or networks through work.

Until then, I'm ok. I'm rarely lonely but I expect that I will long for a partner when Carissa flies the nest once and for all.

Do you remember your first love? Did it 'cut the deepest'? Do you wish you had said or done something differently?

I grieved for a long long time after I broke up with Ivan so I think that grief places him as 'first love' although really, love is probably not a tangible thing to measure or compartmentalize......so I'll leave myself open to experiencing all manner of relationships until I'm scattered to the wind.

best to you,
Cath

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Suicide


It's everywhere and still silent. Still leeching into the homes of people everywhere no matter what their social standing. It seeps into the lounge rooms of every family like light through a cracked door.  No matter what their life experiences. The top class education, support and 'happy' outward exterior counts for nothing. " I knew he was upset but I didn't know it was that bad'  - it's inescapable. It takes the lives of celebrities. It takes the lives of sportsman. It takes the lives of every day mums and dads. It takes the lives of the beautiful girl. That fat kid.  The victim of sexual assault. The offender that can't see past his past choices.  The star football player. The plumber. The soldier. The kid next door. The child of a friend. It's brutal. It's final and it's an epidemic; it's suicide!

Today I received word of a school friend's son who has taken his own life.  Again, a person reached a dark point in their depression where checking out is 'their only answer' to the woes and grief that they're facing.  I look at his photos and see a fit, gorgeous young man. Playing footy. With a girlfriend. With prospects. Smiling with his mother and his brother. All of that doesn't count when you're buried in depression... the insidious disease that it is. People write about it. It is sometimes an outlet, seeping through the cracks,  for artists to create passionate work either in art or music, or plays; or drama - it's a creative source that feeds and destroys at the same time.

When I was living in the UK, I attempted to slice my wrists with a razor while I was sitting in the bath. I was only 19 maybe 20 and thought my life was done. It was a tumultuous time in my relationship with Phil and I felt alone, isolated and hopeless in dreary Bedfordshire. Looking bad, my troubles were NOTHING and I'm so glad I didn't do any serious damage. I didn't even scar. I'm gladder that I didn't succeed in my attempts. Whilst my life hasn't been spectacular, it's been a good run so far. Of course, at the time I felt buried in helplessness, was dead on my ass broke, unhappy in a relationship, resentful and couldn't go home. Where else could I go? It was surely the best decision. At no point did I think 'Mum would be sad'  - I simply thought 'this is the best choice' and was pretty locked into that way of thinking.

Phil's cousin, Jim, who I adore to this day, knocked on the bathroom door and that interruption and subsequent hug really prevented me from following through. To Jim's credit,  he never told Phil. He just held me for awhile and smiled warmly at me. We laid on our tummies listening to records for awhile and drank hot tea... and it was just what I needed.

Now as a 42 year old successful educated woman, I'm so happy that I got through that dark cloud.  My heart hurts for these young ones that make that decision not knowing that their depression or dark space can be a temporary place.  My heart hurts for the soldiers who have bruised brains from all the trauma they have seen or participated in 'in the line of duty'.  My heart hurts for people who are buried in depressions. There is a way out. Don't lose sight of that. Please - talk to someone. Get help.

 And if you go on anti-depressants, ensure that it's coupled with counselling. Either through a psychologist, a social worker or a psychiatrist.  Anti-depressants particularly SSRI's only lift the physical fog to give you a head start into the day ahead. The fog that it lifts provides clarity. This clarity is the optimum stage for receiving counselling. Don't be scared or intimidated by that C word. It's a clinical word sure but therapy comes in all forms. We all practice therapy.  It helps us unburden our psych of the stuff that invited the fog in the first place. The self-esteem. The worthlessness. The hopelessness. The 'why bother?'  - something started that........and perhaps it's complex. It's layered but it's workable.  What was life like for you before you remember the fog? You were there once. Can you be there again?

If you don't have a connection with the psych/social worker, move onto someone else. You're worth it. You don't have to be polite to them. Find a connection and talk it out.Relationship is the key to any change. If you can't talk and form a 'relationship' with your worker, move on. Relationship building is the blocks of communication.  Don't let it bubble to the surface where you feel pushed into an inescapable corner. Suicide is not the answer.

RIP Zeke.

xx

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Reflections..


hi everyone,

It's been only 8 days into my three month placement at the rehabilitation centre. Our rehabilitation centre provides care for people who have suffered a spinal injury, a brain injury, a stroke, an orthopedic injury, experienced severe burns or had a body part amputated.

Some reflections so far:

They don't care for your pity or sympathy. After a bit of adjusting, they don't care what you think of their appearance on the street. The people I have met so far regard their status as LIVING as a privilege and they're not about to waste time thinking about how you feel or assisting you manage your reaction to their appearance.  I met a man who said that not dying from his massive stroke was a 2nd chance and whilst he grieves about loss mobility or cognitive functioning, he's so enthusiastic to repair and live his life to the fullest. He's just adapting ways to do that now.

Another bloke who lost his big toe after a serious infection disclosed with tears in his eyes that it's the first time he's had to really 'make it about me' where his previous roles in both his professional & personal life have been about serving others. These amazing people have taught me about the importance of expanding your vocabulary and having 'considered speech', watch your language and laugh and smile. They've also taught me to drive safer. The other day, this guy, maybe 60 with a walking frame stopped me in the corridor.  He was a bit embarrassed but he said 'Excuse me dear. Can you please pull up my pants?" and I did, with a smile. We laughed later, as I escorted him back to his bed that it was "too cold to have bare bum out on display. Maybe next week the warmer weather will permit that?"

I see a young man no more than 20 being wheeled in by his dad. I see the aged dad being wheeled in by his young son. Tragedy escapes no one.   So many of these people are here through no fault or choice of their own. They chose to go to town that day. Many didn't choose to speed. Or abuse their bodies. Or take risks... I am moved when I see the younger patients with brain injury limp slowly and make cups of tea for the elderly brain injury patients. Respect for the elders reigns supreme at Rehab even if you're worse off than them. It's an inspiring place and I'm so lucky to be there witnessing these moments, the dedicated professional motivated staff and the people...

Any given day, I'm walking (another privilege, I had neglected to consider) along the wards and I get a random 'G'day love!' this place is endearing.  The other day I was walking back to my car to drive home (another privilege) and I heard this beautiful classical music playing. Initially, I thought someone thought that everyone in the ward just HAD TO hear this magical piece and I smiled at thoughts of 'what happens after 5pm' when admin staff go home. I had heard blokes between them order pizza and play cards from time to time.  As I got closer, I saw this elderly paraplegic gent lean into an ipad that was mounted on his wheelchair and swipe the screen. As I got closer, I saw his oxygen tank, his permanent shunt and then realised that the classical music was in fact him playing the piccolo.  He was swiping electronic music sheets that looked very complicated to me. He plays music every single day as people walk to their cars..... such is his talented gift to us.  Finally, I attended a seminar on Post-Traumatic Amnesia the other day and the lady who delivered it said she remembers a man who shouted to her across the ward "I can still barr up!!!" and the blokes cheered from their beds and the nurses smiled.

          Every day and every night, I relax after work listening to music, emailing friends and reading. Occasionally I watch telly but I feel as though I should be doing something more productive so that's pretty rare. I have recently downloaded Spotify and transferred my favourite playlist from Last FM to Spotify. I don't know how to add people so let me know if you're on there and I'll figure it out.

Anyways, I have much to write but this post is long enough.  I hope you're well and thank you as always for reading my silly blog. And please, don't speed. Don't drink and drive.  I would be devastated to hear about any of you having such a serious accident. The consequences are dire.

Cheers,
Cath



Sunday, July 27, 2014

Separation

For the last maybe twelve or eighteen months, I've been gradually living a life as a person with no kids. Of course, Carissa is around but she's really independent. She will be nineteen this year. She's been driving since she was sixteen, working, studying and maintaining relationships since school ended last year. She loves to dance, hike, hang and laugh with friends, cook them stuff and well, she's forging her own way.

This means that I've been left to my own devices. Thankfully it's been gradual and I'm used to it now but it meant that I started to think of life 'beyond Carissa" and my role as her mother. I'll always be her mum obviously but she needs me less and less.

As I've mentioned before, she's doing one maybe two semesters overseas in Birmingham for her degree. After that, she intends to move to Melbourne with a friend. I think she'll do it. She's pretty focused and is planning for it well.

This means that my day-to-day role as Mum kind of ends.  No more cooking dinner, cleaning her room, doing her washing from time to time - all that stuff stops. I had anticipated this moment when Carissa was three. Me and her dad separated then and I always said I'd stay in Adelaide to foster a relationship between her and her Dad. Well, that time is over now. She fosters her own relationship with Daddio and Me - well, I'm a free spirit now.

I daydreamed for at least a month or two about just packing up and going to live in say San Francisco! Or, going to hang with my friend George in Montreal! Now, with a qualification up my sleeve, I was suddenly more attractive to more destinations, particularly Commonwealth ones.

And then I researched some post-graduate specialisations that I'm interested in and thought 'One day but I want a break now....' and then around the same time, I thought of my mum.  And I thought "Maybe I should go home while she's still on this planet'....

So that's the decision I made.  At the end of my lease, I will not renew and I will return to Mackay, in Northern Queensland, pop 166, 181 (Wikipedia, 2011) and spend some quality time with her. Mackay, when I lived there, was like a resort full time.  It was easy living, fun  and friendly. People were laid back and everyone knew anyone. Since then, the mining boom has attracted crap-loads of people and the culture of Mackay changed somewhat. I'll write more about that later but I will add that it's not a culture that sits well with me. At least, I make that assessment based on what I've experienced when I've returned of late.

So to counteract this cultural conflict, I'm going to live in the Northern Beaches no more than a 20 min drive from the city heart. I plan to work in social work, preferably Government, (probably child protection or a hospital) and experience a sea-change. Wikipedia tells me that Mackay has 31 beaches. Thirty one. That's a lot and my front door will open onto one of them.  Here are a few pictures of the view of the property that I'm looking at. When I say beach-front, I mean, beach front.  I don't see the point of a sea-change if I'm going to be living in suburbia.



 +

The properties that I am targeting are also furnished. I'm selling up most of my bits and pieces and will travel light and rent for 12 months in the first instance.

Carissa's independance has well prepared me to live without her.  Once I was serious about my move home, I sat with Carissa and we discussed it. She said "if you want to move closer to Nanny, I can move into Dads anytime' and we brainstormed any areas of concern and problem solved.   She feels as though at 19 the issue she had with Dad are non-existent and if things go wrong, she can fly to me or move in with some of her friends. I wrote to my old trivia friend, George today and said that I will probably grieve very hard for Carissa. I don't drink alcohol but I will probably partake in a glass or two of wine to self-medicate for a bit.  Skype, sure. Fly up, sure but gee... that is the biggest adjustment. Ollie is staying with Carissa... and Ace is coming with me. Ace has arthritis so the tropical weather will be good for his bones. I will miss Ollie almost as much as I miss my girl.

When I told her dad that I was doing this, he automatically assumed Carissa would be coming with me. I said 'No, Phil. She has intentions of completing this degree and flying to the UK. It means she's moving in with you.....she's happy to do that....' and he looked away before I saw his eyes went all misty. He loves that girl and he softly said 'I would love to be able to connect with her before she flies the nest completely...' and I agreed.

I used to swim here alot as a kid.. in the beautiful Finch Hatton Gorge. I plan to really live well. I plan to start a series of projects that I've had on hold, perhaps a series of short stories and take care of myself.



So there is no turning back now. I've starting selling furniture, stuff, dvd's, books, excess things that I will not travel with. I will pack up my car and drive from Adelaide to Mackay. It is a road trip across Australia and I will need the best playlist ever created!  I've done it before and it's a big big journey of 2510 kilometres or 1559 miles. It will take about 3 - 4 days and I won't drive at night. It's too dangerous with wombats, cattle or kangaroos that will wipe out my mazda at 110 kms per hour in the black night.  My mother does not know that I am coming home. I haven't lived in Mackay since I was 18... I expect she will weep.


So there you go! I thought I might set up some GPS tracking stuff on my phone when I go and if you're interested, you can track the trip.

Lots to do before then but there you go. You got the scoop.

Best of luck to you,
Cath
xx

Friday, July 11, 2014

66 days to go...

Just 66 days to finish my degree. Can you believe it? It has been a tiresome but exhilarating journey. I've met some amazing people and increased my social circles exponentially. I've been told that some students 'admire' me and that many are very grateful for my input. See, I am the admin of a facebook group for our social work cohort at Uni and I share and share and share. Whether it's a resource, advice about a paper, loan books, I loan my experience and I care about these students, especially the young ones. In a way, graduating is bittersweet because I will let go of that role but I am excited to have finally finished my degree too. It's been tiring working full time and studying full time.

Just this last weekend, I sat on my ass under a heated throw and watched all of Season 1 and Season 2 of Bates Motel. It was fabulous and I did it drinking copious amounts of coffee and tea from my new Noritake set (pictured) picked up for a bargain of $20 from a local garage sale.



Here are some other random pictures for you.


Planning to move back to Queensland within 12 months.


Pics of the broken glass where thieves gained entry to my house.


Ollie enjoying his sun bed in the now gone warmer weather.

Cheers,
Cath

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Wintery June in Adelaide



It's cold here.  I get that countries get buried in snow. People die because it's so damn cold. Iced roads cause accidents. I have not lived in countries like these so I can't compare but for my  humble existence to date, I'm cold.  Today the sun came out for like, 15 mins and my plants soaked up every single one of those minutes but aside from that, it's rainy, overcast, hail sometimes and it's 'sleeping with clothes on' type of cold.

So how are you?  I wanted to say thanks for the peeps that continue to stop by this blog and realised quickly that I'd deleted the wordpress site and emailed me. Thanks. You know who you are. For reasons beyond my knowledge, the stat counter for this blog continues to increase and increase. I still get a good 50-80 visitors here a month from all over the place. People from all places pore over pages for hours. Some quickly realise that 'pussy pics' isn't vagina and leave but the numbers are pretty consistent.  I thought it was appropriate to breathe some new life into this old space rather than dump it for a pretty, newer space. I also hovered the delete button and just couldn't do it. There are so many great posts here. On top of that, there are also so many great comments. Comments that still make me laugh today. I'm happy that a fair few of the old bloggers from those days are now active participants on facebook - the murderer of blogs.

This week, I've been at Uni for a long intensive course. It's called "Professional Development" and I find it batshit boring. I tried to get credit for it but my uni is lazy and will choose the easier answer of 'No, sorry' then, 'Sure. Let me sort all that paperwork out for you"  - and so I attend.  The content itself just bores me because I'm already familiar with it and I feel it's too basic and simple for our students. On top of that, there is a lot of pressure in the cohort about final placements for our degree. Within the assessment perimeters of the Bachelor of Social Work, the Australian Association of Social Work developed a cirriculum for practice on the job. Sure. I get that. It is to the value of 1000 hours and mostly they're unpaid. If you're already working in an agency, you might be able to tailor a placement paid but mostly they're unpaid hours. Broken into two, that's about three months unpaid. I was offered a very ...prestigious? No... honourable? Highly sought after? placement. The top of the pops placement. I can't name it because it's a place that attractions media scrutiny and I'm respectful over their business/clients. When I rang to schedule an interview, the  manager said that my uni had been slow to respond to him and as a result, he had to go with another student from a different Adelaide Uni. To say that I was floored would be an understatement. I was devastated. This placement is not just 'any' placement - it's the best placement you can get. When I told people that was where I had been provisionally 'matched' they said 'holy shit. I wondered who would get it!' or 'it makes sense that you would get offered that place'  - and other sweet complimentary things. I was a bit shaky during the conversation with the manager  but explained and apologized before ending the call. Armed with that biting sense of rejection, I marched into the office of the field education coordinator and closed the door. I was shattered that the incompetence of her team had compromised a massive career opportunity and I told her so.  I am not 15. I am a mature aged paying student with high grades and career path. You let me down. You are the service provider and this is what this pivotal agency had to say about your team and this uni. She apologised and said she would investigate. And then gently said 'where do you want to go?'

I couldn't really think straight and said that I'd get back to her. But man, was I wild.

Have you ever had the opportunity of a life time offered you after hard work, or maybe on a silver platter and then had it withdrawn just as quick?

I'll keep you posted.

lots of love,
Cath
x


Sunday, June 22, 2014

Month of Misery

I've had a really shitty month.

First a friend died. She was staying with her mates up in the Adelaide Hills and complained of a head ache. This friend is a fit woman. She hikes. She camps out. She's the first one at festivals - she's the bee's knees.

Her friend, a registered nurse, noticed it wasn't a normal headache and rang the ambulance. I guess she spotted stuff the average Joe like me would miss.  Unfortunately, my friend collapsed from the headache and despite being quickly transported to the hospital remained in a coma.

She was operated on quickly and doctors released blood on the brain - an aneurysm.  She was still under sedation for about 2  - 3 days recovering when she had a major stroke and became brain-dead.  The machine sustaining her life was turned off about 5 days later with close friends and family around.

Although I hadn't seen this beautiful woman in a few months I really felt her death. My daughter who was fond of her too also grieved. We remembered the beautiful smile and the gifts she'd given us. Those of friendship and knitted winter woolies. I sent my sincerest condolences to her daughter.

The Thursday before Jean's ashes were due to be scattered in the beautiful Mt Lofty Ranges, I was burgled.

The burglary really rattled me. I really cried. And then cried some more.  I was anxious. I felt unsafe. I felt violated. And I was furious.

They stole alot of gold and my daughter's Mac Book Pro.  I was angry about the Mac Book Pro because she had worked like a dog checking groceries for a good 12 months to save for it. Also all of her uni papers were on it and photos from year 10, year 11 and year 12, including her graduation and senior ball.

I was furious about the gold because although they're expensive, they're also really sentimental. My mother's mother' wedding ring. A matching set of earrings and ring (all diamonds) Three beautiful 18k bracelets with heart padlocks given to me when I birthed Carissa - like I said, devastated.

The threat to my security really made me fearful to leave the house again. Of course, I had to return to work eventually but the thought of leaving Carissa here by herself frightened me. What if they came back? What if they raped her? What if ..... what if....

It is those what if's that both arm and disarm you, in my opinion, for your recovery.

I had to stand outside of my house and really assess the weaknesses and then reduce or stop those weaknesses from being opportunity to burgle again.  Of course, everyone has an opinion about burglaries. Some say 'they'll be back within a month'  or  ' give it a week'  or 'my brother was burgled and this is what happened to him.....' or worse "I know how you feel' ....

None of that is useful or soothing or supportive to me.

I found myself stopping people who used the home invasion as leverage to launch into their own tirade. I said 'I need to stop you there. I don't have any capacity to make this about you, right now. I'm feeling sad and vulnerable about what happened to me'  and sometimes, they'd get it. "oh, sorry. Yeh right"

Or , yes yes I know but I have to tell you about my sister in law, well, this and that and this some more.

Never in my life have I felt like getting married and getting a Bull Mastiff in the same weekend.

We're recovering now. Slowly.  Very mindful of our surroundings. Our behaviours and our vulnerability and like I said, closing those opportunities.

We now have big fuck off chains around the gates to our property. It's a pain in the ass but I can sleep at night now. Without the Mastiff.

Cath


Tuesday, April 15, 2014

The Inevitable

I should have just raised her terribly and she’d be pregnant at 15 with a loser boyfriend that she doesn’t want to leave. But no, I have to go and raise her with dignity and grace, quality education and poise – and what does that get me? Alone!
Carissa is talking about moving into Adelaide University dorms as a taste of ‘what’s to come’ when she goes to UK as an exchange student. It would of course allow her to live independently, establish her own routine, get street smart, and be her lovely self without a voice that says ‘ Do you want poached eggs with or without avocado on the side?”  What right person would leave my cooking is beyond me but you know how kids can be.
Of course, it stung to hear this but if she’s going to live outside of the house, the first step would be local. At least to let my heart catch up a bit and allow me to smother her from afar. I jest. I have to concur that it would be a wonderful experience for her and if I’m really honest, a gradual transition of what’s to come would be easier on my arteries.
Part of Carissa’s degree includes a semester (or two) exchange and she has chosen Birmingham as one preference and is also considering Suffolk – only because of it’s proximity to London.  She said ‘You could come with me, if you want but we’re not living together’ and my heart caught a snag again on that spinster shadow that’s perpetually looming.
Last week, I sliced a piece of my thumb off making HER favourite potatoe dish.  I applied pressure but this thing would not stop bleeding. It was too deep and too thorough so with my wrapped tea-towell flounced into said betraying child’s room and said ‘See. If you were not living here I would have surely bled to death. You’d come home to do your washing and my carcass would be here with some over-fed cats……’ she cruelly laughed off my pain and took me to the doctors where they tended my wound.
Of course I’ll visit her but I can’t imagine living in Birmingham for a year. What a dreary fucking country. Kev’s posts have really put a depressive cloud over UK for me and I’m still thinking about it.  She was due to travel Jan 2015 but Adelaide Uni said it’s unfair of her to push in, despite being brilliant, so she has to wait until the next round. I’ve got plenty of time to hold her close in my country….
So that’s it from me.
Take care,
Cath

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Crappy Customer Service

I didn’t wake up cranky. I slept well. I felt great. Bit over studying but that’s to be expected.  I just didn’t want to think about anything, anyone or do anything today. I just wanted to lay on the sofa, drink copious amounts of coffee and water.
Then, I had an argument with the girl at the local chicken shop. Even when I am cranky, I don’t typically lose control of my emotions. I don’t explode. I sleep. Sulk. Listen to music. Email a friend but tonight I exploded. I rarely complain to customer service people. I might politely send a steak back for an extra five minutes but I’m one of those people who is exceptionally chatty and friendly to customer service staff.  I figure they deserve politeness. I don’t like it when people are rude to waiters, check out operators, Maccas staff – whatever. Don’t do it.
Then, tonight, I just exploded. It started when the chick at the shop was just rude. She kept asking me a question, then cutting me off before I could complete the answer.  Chicken, not veal, chicken. Chicken please. Can I have chicken? No manners – just give me your money, not listening,  no thanks, no ‘cheers ‘and here – have a bag of food thrown at you. I have never experienced this at our local chicken shop before and I quickly obeyed her wishes and silently left – embarrassed.
To make it worse, my order was wrong.  I rang the shop when I got home and yelled at her. When she denied the order was wrong, I saw red. She might as well have thrown a red flag in front of an already angry bull.   I drove like an idiot to the shop  and threw the bag of food on the counter, “Don’t you like having food thrown at you? Oh, me either.  Perhaps you can show me where the chips are? I’m obviously blind’
Then, she proceeded to ask me, no less than three times, what my order was. Even though she had it in her hands. Going cold.
I paid $22 even, I said, as if to jog her memory of 2 minutes ago.  I’m sure it’s on your system.  Did you charge me for the chips you didn’t pack?  Maybe if you weren’t so caught up being such a rude bitch you would have got my order right!?” 
“I can’t believe how rude you were before. I’ve been coming here for a long time and have always had lovely service from everyone here’ 
I wasn’t rude, she said.
Yes you were. I assure you I have better things to be doing than sitting here arguing with you while our dinner goes cold.
She responded that it wasn’t her responsibility to check the bag before handing it out. “You handed it to me. You took the money. You don’t think it’s good customer service to check before you hand it over?”
Then, the heavy comes out. He’s the owner, I think. He asks me the same questions, she has. This isn’t useful but I try and calm down.  I’m not phased by his bulk or dick and I won’t be intimidated.  He offers me the chips (which aren’t even for me, damn it!) and I accept – off I go. She’s very polite now, even sarcastic ‘have a lovely weekend!!!” when she hands me the bag. I feel like jumping the bench and stabbing her but instead I say “thank you” and leave. I vow to drive 10 miles further and never grace that place again.
I NEVER lose my cool like this. EVER.
Instead, I might just avoid that place. Leave an unfavourable, non-abusive review online. Tell a friend but never ever do I go back there, swear at someone and complain.  My behaving in such a way is just unheard of.
Have you ever lost it at a retailer?
Yeah, it was shameful. And she was pregnant.
And I don’t even regret it. I’m probably gonna get struck by lightning tomorrow.
Cath
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Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Bub

hi everyone,
My daughter is a genius. It’s official! Out of  a possible 99.9, she scored 95.15 for her secondary schooling results. South Australian secondary students wait with bated breath for these scores. There is so much pressure to score well. That score determines which degree you are eligible to enroll for.  To some that score determines your future. My girl, unable to sleep, picked up two girlfriends around 4 am and went to the Windy Point look out, with her Mac Book and watched the sun come up. As the sun rose, the scores were published online.  One friend burst into tears at her low score. Another friend was pleasantly surprised. Carissa thought there was an error in her score. Despite scoring repeated academic awards at her College, always receiving positive feedback from her teachers and always succeeding in her grades – she doubted herself.
By the time she made it home, I had left for work. She rang to tell me of the news. She casually said ‘Come for lunch? Dad’s treating,” and so I left the office and met her and her Dad at a local cafe. She hadn’t told him either and waited until we ordered, sat down with a glass of wine and then she told us.  I burst into tears. Philip looked at me as if to say ‘really?’ but he was always better at containing his emotions. I jumped up from my seat. Ran to her side of the table and just hugged her avoiding the interested looks from neighbouring tables.  I am so very very proud.  And I’m allowed to be.
For the longest time, Carissa has not appreciated being under any spotlight so she wasn’t prepared for the attention that followed. That same day, she was required for a press conference and photo opportunity. The CEO of the South Australia Certificate of Education (SACE) met her and shook her hand.  She appeared with about 20 others on the front page of ‘The Advertiser’  and about a week later, on page 7, a photo of her alone with her story. A little about me. A little about her Dad  - her biggest dreams and her hopes for Uni. Of course, people saw her, recognised her and text or called me and her Dad, and sometimes her. The Principal of the school saw it, rang me at work full of congratulations. Her teachers emailed her with how proud of her they were when she appeared in the paper.
In early February, she was honoured at a state ceremony to meet the Governor General at Government House.  “A nice man with a bow-tie” she said. Of course, me and Dad were there to witness it all mingling with other bursting parents. She also was sought out by the Deans of Flinders Uni, University of Adelaide and University of South Australia.  They playfully squabbled over which of their Universities Carissa would be attending. She had sticky orange juice hands and tried to avoid shaking their hands.
A week after that, she was contacted by the College Principal and invited to the Laureate Assembly at the College and we were there too. We had parents coming up to us who hadn’t really spoken to us in the many years we’d been there. “I didn’t realise Carissa was such a high-achiever!” they said. I felt like saying ‘Yeah. Now you want to talk to me, bitches!”  Private school can be like that….and I was never in the Chardonnay sipping crowd nor would I want to be. I felt like saying ‘Oh, sorry? Did you say that nasty daughter of yours, that broke my daughter’s heart is now pushing trolleys?” but I remained dignified and composed.
I didn’t really understand how high her score was, in the bigger picture, until the Principal explained how the scores worked in his speech. Turns out she was in the top 5 % of the nation. Holy shit! She had a photograph taken with the principal for the school newsletter as well.    This is a faded copy on my pin-board at home of one of the Advertiser shot.  I have an actual copy of the photograph framed on my desk in my office too and I sent one to my Ma.
Image
Now spoiled for choice, she deliberated with a number of sources for a good month or more.
Things like status were not an attraction to her. Money is not an attraction. Medicine? Should I do Law?  What about physio-therapy?  Could I be a veterinarian?  I hate blood. I hate the long hours in Law (she did two work placements in a law firm) What about journalism? Is it a degree that takes you somewhere? What kind of career can I get with history degree? Do I like psychology enough? Why don’t you attend that career expo coming up? My only advice was ‘Do something that naturally interests you. This natural interest will mean effortless engagement and you’ll want to attend class.’  You know how it is – can’t tell them. They have to learn for themselves.
My gorgeous girl is now a first year University student doing an advanced arts degree with two majors (Anthropology and History). The degree is for high achievers and only a small amount of students are invited to attend. Each student is allocated to a mentor for the entire degree and they’re also supported to do a semester or year overseas as part of their studies.   She figures she can do this degree to ‘find out where she wants to go’  for a career and I couldn’t be happier.  She’s evolving being surrounded by all these wonderful writers and readers, and history books and oh, it’s beautiful. While we’re eating dinner she comes out with ‘Did you know that about 300, 000 women were sent to their deaths in the Salem witch-hunts? or I get “Mum! Did you know that men were burned at the stake too?”  OMG Mum – did you know that blah did blah and then blah blah happened?” and me, well I’m just loving it.
I bought her a Uni hoodie, charged up her Metro bus card, provided all the shiny stationery she wants, new ink for the printer and listen to her recount her new learning over dinner or late night hot chocolates in my bedroom. She regales  F. Scott Fitzgerald and says ‘That Daisy was such a greedy bitch! What girl wouldn’t marry for love instead of money?’ Just today, she came home and said “I caught someone else rolling their eyes at that guy I was telling you about at the Anthropology tutorial. This guy is a ‘pretentious wanker who thinks he’s better than everyone else’  and Carissa was embarrassed but quietly roared with satisfaction when her tutor outed her as a first year student doing a range of 2nd year subjects.
All those years of ‘honey. Turn the Simpsons off and do your home work’  or ‘Re-read your work before you submit it’  or ‘Check your Harvard referencing is accurate‘  or the countless childhood relationships, the ‘no-hat, no-play’ policy,  the lost new jumpers, the scuffed black leather shoes, the private school fees/environment and well – everything, in the last twelve years of education is so worth it.
The world is her oyster and I’m sitting in the front row watching with glee!
Best to you,
Cath