Staging a #Fexit

I’ve staged a #Fexit.

That’s a Facebook exit.  Unlike the #Brexit I did not consult a whole country. I did however let my ‘friends’ know I was outta there, lest I miss something vital, like a baby, engagement, or self-tan gone hilariously wrong.  I asked them to pick up the good old dog and bone.

And I had several calls from my beautiful friends, God bless ‘em. All to see if I was alright. Staging a #Fexit has become a major concern, you see.

But there was no need for worry.  It was just time to be gone from the old FaceAche (wish I could claim this one but put your hands together for the ultimate wordsburger Ms Mari Budgewoi), for a little hiatus, a wee holiday.

Probably like everyone, there is a lot of my life that is mundane and boring. It is in those moments, whilst cutting the 65000th apple into a creative dodecahedron for lunchboxes, that I’d drop into FaceAche to look at other people’s non-boringness. But after a while I’d stopped seeing what I was scrolling through and was whizzing past a whole load of who knows what.

And it was making me feel far busier than I in fact was.  FaceAche sucks up nearly an hour of the average person’s day according to a recent New York Times article. “That’s more than any other leisure activity surveyed by the Bureau of Labour Statistics, with the exception of watching television programs and movies (an average per day of 2.8 hours). It’s more time than people spend reading (19 minutes); participating in sports or exercise (17 minutes); or social events (four minutes). It’s almost as much time as people spend eating and drinking (1.07 hours).”

More time than reading or exercising?  Well that’s not good.

If it adds up to that much time, don’t I have a better way to spend it?

But, like a smoker, I needed something to fill the space and occupy my hands where my habit once was.

So I looked up: “Is crochet or knitting easier for beginner?” Google told me crochet.

Google was wrong. crochet

Avoiding the temptation to inform the world of this momentous new knowledge on the FaceAche, I decided to defy the internet and try knitting. This is how that one ended up: 

knitting
Guess what you’re getting for Christmas

Much better.

Not only did I learn to knit, but I learnt that it’s reeeeally relaxing. Meditative, creative, and something you can do together – which face in phone is most definitely not. Yes, even the 11 and 9 year old boys wanted to do it and enjoyed it.

On my ##Fexit I found my brain space was a little clearer – which is fantastic for when you’re trying to be a creative type. It’s also fantastic when you have a lot of stuff in your head which needs to be organised or achieved – you do all this organising while you’re knitting and the achieving while you’re on your #Fexit, rather than when your head hits the pillow and should NOT be organising and achieving and keeping you awake.

On my #Fexit I feel like I’m on a holiday, not being connected all the time – you can put your feet up and stare at the view. I look at my children and husband rather than my phone – they look pretty good in fact. I now need to actually speak to my friends to find out exactly how closely their fake tan resembles Dictator Trump’s, or that their child got the Superstar Award this week. And I can hug someone in genuine congratulations in person, instead of clicking a Like button. I can choose what I want to investigate on the internet, not what’s fed to me.

Admittedly I’ve only been on my #Fexit for a couple of weeks. And in all honesty I haven’t staged a full #Fexit, I just took it off my phone. Because I still have a host of lovelies who live in other time zones that I need to check in on, and it would also mean having to ditch my blog page which I can never do!  However, just that little measure has given me back a real life, rather than the FaceAche one I seemed to be living.  I can highly recommend staging a #Fexit.

 

 

 

Advertisements

An unanswerable question

Cancer has been hanging on the edges of my life recently like a grim reaper smog. Five people have lost their fight in the last weeks, long before it should have been their time to say goodbye. Senseless, is the only word for it.

What, possibly, on this merry earth, can be good about cancer?

If a miracle doesn’t happen, then the good news is small – actually imperceptible. But maybe it is still present; found in the tiny intercostal muscles of life. 

Family and friends.  They come together.  They talk, cry, hug and laugh without restriction – because what is the point in fluffing about the issue when life and death are staring you bang in the face? They simply spend time, which in busy lives doesn’t happen as often as it should. They support; they may mend broken ties and hearts. If nothing else, they think about one another – even with no contact, there is heart in this. 

Strangers.  It begins with doctors, nurses, or one anaesthetist who threw out a meaningful line that stayed with your cancer patient to keep them strong. It moves into your community – help with the kids, meals on your doorstep, fund raising, prayers from the local church, a volunteer at the hospital, a sudden hug from a complete stranger who has found themselves in your world.  How far the reach of your patient, how much they are loved and how much you are loved.

Personally.  Strength – born of a love so great you would do anything. If you’re a survivor, you’ve had strength to fight to stay for your family.  If you’ve been strong for your loved one in their illness and passing, has this, without anyone knowing, showed them you will be resilient so they can go in peace?  There is also strength in the legacy: Why wouldn’t you follow the simple procedures science has given us to avoid cancer? Why wouldn’t you live your life fully and with heart, be healthy and giving, and know what you have is precious? 

The tiny, imperceptible goodness in cancer seems to me to be that it shows us the most important thing is to love one another.  As much as you can.

cancer

 

 

 

 

Olympic fever

If you ever think you’ve made it and can rest on your laurels, think of Michael Phelps. He wins his 20th Gold medal – the only person in history to do so, next closest was a tally of 9 gold medals for gymnast Larissa Latynina.  Is he thinking “yes, I’ve made it”?  No, he’s thinking I still have work to do – and goes on to win another 2 and very likely more. Michael_Phelps

If you ever think you’re in a bad mood and don’t want to talk to anyone, think of Cate Campbell.  After a loss in an event the whole world said she would win easily, she has to immediately stand and explain to the whole world how she feels about it – and graciously. “I’ve always said I didn’t need a gold medal to have self worth and that’s being put to the test at the moment.” What a woman!!

If you ever feel you’re never going to make it because you’re not getting the same opportunities or luck as everyone else, think of Yusra Mardini.  After her house was destroyed in Syria, she fled her family, friends and war torn homeland, on a refugee boat with 18 others. When the boat began to capsize she swam and pushed that boat with a couple of others for three hours to shore to save the lives of the remainder on the boat who could not swim.  Less than a year later she is at the Olympics.

If you ever need an example of perseverance, think of Fiji: After their country was destroyed by Cyclone Winston, the team still manages to go on to the Olympics and then win their first medal – a mere Gold – in the 60 years since they started attending. fiji 7s

And if you ever think you’re fighting an uphill battle, think of Simone Manuel. Although she is part of a population where 70% of African American children cannot swim; a population who consistently have their swimming funding cut to the point where the pool you have to train in has unsafe chlorine concentrations, she still became the first African American woman to win not only an individual medal, but let’s make it a gold one, in Olympic swimming.

If you ever think you’re not good enough, believe like an Aussie basketball Boomer.  Facing the Dream Team from America, who have won 17 medals at their 17 Olympics games, 14 of them gold, they vowed not to be star struck or think their dreams were unattainable. As the American’s alighted their luxury cruiser and the Aussie concertinaed themselves out of their tiny cots in the Olympic village, they went on to be the first team to be winning at half time against the American’s in 12 years. No win in the end, but certainly an upset.

And if you ever think it’s all about the winning, who received the longest and loudest cheer whilst racing in our Olympic history?  In a race where his competitors could have been dried, dressed and having tea by the time he finished, if he’d had any, we met Eric the Eel. In his post-race interview he said: “I am feeling good, I am feeling happy!”  

Sure we are not Olympians, but we can all excel in grace, humility, persistence and hard work, just like these incredible athletes.

 

Hung Household

 

Not to be out done by our country’s not-so-Prime Minister, I find myself this week sitting constantly in a Hung Household. Also known as school holidays.

As the Speaker of the House it is my principal duty to preside over the House and maintain order in the House, uphold the rules of procedure, rule on points of order, and protect the rights of backbench members. Except sometimes this Speaker feels like a backbencher as well.

Kicking off the debate is the Karate Party – oldest boy child with some sort of testosterone surge going on. His policies revolve around the importance of all sport, sleep over’s and TV. He is also well known for his strict policy that all younger siblings being kind to one another – called his protection policy.  He gets a lot of votes from the Upper House (Mum and Dad) for this latter policy.

The Karate Party is sometimes in close alliance with the Always-Right Party (also his younger brother and second in line in the Lenehan Senate).  At other times the two parties are in complete opposition.  The Always-Right Party can swing the Speaker of the House with clever arguments and the odd tantrum.  But no matter how hard he tries, the Always-Right Party will never, not even a tiny amount, influence the policy of the party who sits next down the line to him in the Lenehan Senate….

…Which is the Sustainability Party. The only female on the floor, the Sustainability Party has to fight for her life for equality and a voice.  Aptly named, this Party can sustain a high pitch wail for much of the day and sustain a nagging argument for an entire week.  She can persuade one half of the Upper House (Dad) easily on her policies using these methods and a tiny twist of her little finger.  

Then we have the Shooting Party. It’s a simple policy for this last seat in the Lenehan Senate and three year-old boy: All older siblings, the Upper House and any visitors to Parliament must be shot with a Nerf gun. Great antagonist to the Sustainability Party’s main policy of wailing. Interrupts the Always-Right Party’s sense of what’s right in the world, and is always testing the patience of the Karate Party’s protection policy.  

The Lenehan Senate has been on a constant campaign trail this school holidays.  It’s a battle ground, with each vying for the Speakers attention, via methods of loud voicing of opinion and also by physical example. Such as this:  The Shooting Party wakes late, enters the TV room by stealth while all other parties are still, half-asleep, formulating their plan of attack for the day. Then, BOOM! he shoots them all dead. And it’s on. At 5.30am.  The Karate Party gets up to do what he does best, swinging and kicking and keeyah-ing all over the place. The Always-Right Party is trying to explain at 500 decibels that shooting people while they’re still half-asleep is taking unfair advantage, and the Sustainability Party has begun her day long sustained squeal.

hunghouseholdf

The Speaker rises to her feet.

No one notices.   

She raises the gavel.

No one notices.

She orders the Members to excuse themselves for one hour to their rooms.

No one notices.

She thinks about being history’s second only ever Speaker to permanently expel a Member from the House.

Instead she stages her own #Brexit.

 

 

Tales from a Soccer Sideline: 2020

 

“I’m devastated, 2020 was going to be his first year to be graded into a good team,” says soccer mum, India, carefully placing her newly lifted face in her hands so as not to create any wrinkles.  “A hip replacement, can you believe it?”

“Try not to worry India honey, he’s young, he’ll bounce back quickly and be back on that soccer pitch in no time,” soothes her friend Sydney, via collagen lip balloons.

They sit in silence, watching their tiny younger son’s play in the latest technology Protein Infusion® compression wear, and helmets with inbuilt multi-directional Bouncepads® for headers.  The Bouncepad® was the same technology Nokey had tried out in their football boots a couple of years before, which had helped shoot China onto the world stage of soccer (in a deal whereby China supplied the children to manufacture the shoes and the Chinese soccer team would be the first to use the new technology. Chinese children would do anything for soccer, said Nokey’s Marketing Director).

“Yes, I know,” continues India, rearranging her hands to her knees and off her face, deciding it wasn’t a good idea to tempt fate on the wrinkle front. “It’s just, you know, all those years of training – 6 hours a week of development squad when he was 5 years old, all the 4am Crossfit strength and endurance training before school every day, the evening academy’s year round in the freezing snow and the 40 degree temperatures… The Christmases we gave up! The 100 hours a week work I had to do to pay for it all….. For what? A hip replacement at 8 years old.  I can’t believe it.  He’ll never get back to a decent level before the month-long sleep over camp where they assess them for grading…” India cries at the injustice of it all, gently dabbing tears away along her cheekbones – rubbing your eyes was the absolute worst cause of major wrinkling.

“Have you spoken to the club’s doctor? Maybe he has some supplements little Ronaldo can take to get him back in top shape before the grading?” suggests Sydney, careful not to smile in admiration and stretch her lips too much as she sees her wee 2 year-old scissor-kick then roundhouse a goal from the other end of the pitch.Baby playing football

 “Oh yes, absolutely, he’s got a full regime ready to go as soon as I give him the go ahead,” nods India.  “Thank goodness all that’s allowed because we’re still at the junior, amateur, volunteer club-run stage of soccer.”

“Good.  Oh look!” Sydney points toward a mother, who dared wear a tracksuit to a sporting event and is kneeling down cuddling her son.  “There’s that silly hippy who still believes sport is for fun! Ha!”

 

 

My crappy new look

The other week I pictured myself stepping back into the glamorous, highly strung world of fashion, as a fashion editor sitting in the front row at Australian Fashion Week. Result: Grey roots, a pink shell tracksuit and lack of understanding of the uses for handcuffs, did not serve me well. 

So I decided to stick to my mission to be a Fabulous Authoress. Your outfit and hair do not matter because you’re always holed up at home, and as for the uses of handcuffs – I can make that all up in my next book.

But every now and then the Fabulous Authoress type must extend her nimble digits and leave the house to mingle with other writerly types.  Lucky for me, the Sydney Writers Festival was on the week after Fashion Week. So I decided to take my crumpled style ego, don whatever was comfortable and warm, scarf my roots and toddle out to all of Sydney’s Pier’s to see how I fit in.

Turns out, the saying that everyone has a book in them, is true: 

colourfuloutfit3.jpg
Be careful who you sit next to

There were all makes and models of humans at this event. In contrast to the all-black, praying mantis’ of the week before, this event was bursting with colour – all on the one body, most of the time.

There were older couples, young grungy students, well-dressed women, and street-cred blokes.  There were young mums with babies on their front, some who looked dressed for a wedding, and others who looked as if they’d just crawled out of a marathon Game of Thrones session.  Red hair, green hair, brown hair (I hope Dr Seuss was there) and grey which is the new blond.  They all had two things in common: bright, wacky eye glasses were on just about every face.  And, they love to drink champagne – I imagine Sydney Harbour had a few writerly piss-heads sloshing about in its waters at the end of that day.     

And me? 

I’d been sitting at home all week writing about toilets.  Yes, someone paid me to. In a lovely matching coincidence, that beast that is a tummy bug came to visit our house, which gave me endless opportunities to research my topic. “Curvaceous ceramic bowl, pure as the white of an angel… Top of the range is the “Wind Tunnel” with an extraction fan for all those memories left behind…. Recline, relax, the Leatherette seat is as comfortable as your Nick Scali lounge…”  I was buried in literal crap, and I looked like it too.

Creative genius at an all-time high, and (bypassing the handcuff trend) bleach-scented yellow rubber gloves my look, the day of the Festival arrived.  Sick myself now, my husband rolled me out of bed like a hot dog out of its bun, and sent me on my way. I think I was out of my dressing gown, but I can’t quite remember.

Of course, there is no crappy ending. I forgot I was sick, and suddenly stepped into my element – completely ensconced in the atmosphere, the brilliant authors I was listening to, in taking notes for my own books, and in feeling like I was a part of an industry, a group, some form of the working world which I usually think everyone else is participating in except me. A day of unadulterated inspiration, surrounded by an accepting, champagne-swilling crowd, who’ve all been there done that crap and now wear the wacky glasses to prove it.

I must get me a pair.

toilet glasses1
Do I fit in?

Oliver Octopus and the Soccer Dilemma

Oliver Octopus storms off the field

Giving the ball a good angry peg

He is all crazy and cranky at soccer today

Because arms don’t work as well as their legs

blue ring octopus

Oh yes, he has eight, and you’d think that’s enough

But, as all of his friends always say

An arm has a hand and not nearly the strength

Of a foot in a boot during play

 

His blue rings burn bright in his firey anger

And everyone nudges away,

Because, although he looks pretty and beautiful

If you touch him you can call it a day

 

“Yo Oli!” yells Annie Anenome,

Waving glamorous red arms in the air

“I hear you, my friend, I’ve only arms too,

Plus my bottom’s stuck down, so unfair!”

 

“What about me,” cries Lawrence the Limpet

“You all whinge about too many arms,

But at least you don’t have only one slimy foot

And are as slow as a sloth on a palm”

 

“Oh I know,” says Oliver Octopus

“It’s so lovely you both understand,

But though using hands is allowed in fish soccer

These hands can’t thump balls like feet can.”

 

Slowly his 60 blue rings fade away,

As Oliver is calmed by his friends.

They all bask in the sun in the shallow rock pools

Just below Bilgola Bends

 

The next day comes round, it’s the Rock Pool World Cup

Oliver looks at his arms with great shame

Lacing stud-mittens on eight floppy hands

He doesn’t want to go to the game.

 

Blue rings start to glow in unhappiness

When along slides Stanley Starfish

“What’s wrong with you, sorry old sucker?

Playing soccer? Today that’s my wish!”

 

“Come on,” says Stanley in his don’t-argue way

Grabbing Oliver, a ball and some tea

“We’ll play right up here on this nice flat rock ledge.

Now you dribble the ball over to me.”

 

As he stands there a-waiting, his arms on his hips

Oliver wonders what on earth that he means

A dribble is something old Lawrence might do

With his foot, his slime-making machine

 

“It’s easy”, says Stanley flicking his hands

“Especially for ones such as us,

You see having good arms means that one’s good at dribbling

We can take it around just like thus”

 

And Oliver watches in pure amazement

As Stanley takes the ball from one end

He flicks it and flacks it between all of his arms

And right into the goal it is penned

 

“You see, my good friend, we play smart with our arms

Not hard like those crabs in their boots,

We can cleverly manoeuvre the ball on the pitch

Up sidelines, and passing to shoot.”

 

“And watch this – pass the ball please,”

So Oliver Octopus does

Stanley jumps up, a star jump we’ll say,

And blocks that ball, all arms a-buzz  

 

“So go, my good friend and win that World Cup!”

And our Oliver, he does comply

That soccer ball is his, the entire tricky game

The opposition were really fish fry

 

“You see,” says the Starfish, his arms round his mate

“You don’t have to be the goal shooting star,

Everyone’s important in a team game like this

And you were the best by far!”

 

Oliver comes out glowing, but not with blue rings,

“Boy that ball you really know how to dispatch!”

Said the opposition, shaking hands as they left the field

And Oliver is made man of the match!