Cyclic Love

We were driving back from grocery shopping, the heat from the 2pm sun piercing the windscreen while the cool of the air conditioning battled it valiantly. We had shopped for a week, stocked up on some things we had run out of and tried to plan for a week of meals cooked in a little apartment where the only door with a screen and airflow faced the super-heated western sun.

I was cosy, next to my wife in the car. Other drivers had melted away, we were were the only car on the road. Coming to a stop at the traffic lights we were first in the queue. On the opposite side of the road a woman road her bike athletically, fitness and endurance were an obvious part of her make up. She cruised with ease across the crossing and turned her bike toward the other crossing, waiting, like me, for the lights to change.

Seconds behind her was a man on a bike, his helmet askew, his black sleeveless t-shirt revealing freckled skin, red and hot from exertion. He rode with the awkwardness of a man who was unused to cycling. His mounting of the curb was tentative and deliberate.

We speculated, my wife and I, as to their relationship. Were they friends, housemates, on a date, starting as a couple or long-term partners? The obvious thing was his regard for her. She had inspired this unfit man to jump on an ill-fitting bike in the middle of a hot Canberra day to go for a ride.

His face, that of a pale red-head more suited to dreary skies and colder climes, broke into a beaming smile as, between gasping breathes, he spoke to her and swung his borrowed bike around. She smiled back, encouraging. The lights changed, I drove forward, leaving them to struggle up the hill. The gleaming woman and the dreaming man.

Birthday Thoughts

Yesterday I became a year older. “Not a small achievement,” I thought to myself, considering I was convinced I wouldn’t make it past 40 years (I did, have, will continue).

Those were my silly 20-year-old thoughts. The ones you have where you look at your parents and believe them to be ancient. The ones where you can’t imagine growing ‘old’.

Of course, I am now older than my mother was when she became a grandmother. I am twice the age my father was when I was born. I don’t feel old, really, except when my back is sore and I’m limping along, but my mind is not that of a middle-aged woman.

My daughter doesn’t think I’m old. I’ve obviously modelled youthfulness to her. She doesn’t view being over 40 as a fate worse than death. She’s also good for my battle with body image. The thickening is happening and my inability to exercise is not assisting me in my battle to send it packing. She reminds me of all of the things I’ve said to her as she negotiates the maze of the 20s and the expectations on what women her age will look like.

There’s nothing more that I can share with you now. I need to keep things close for a while. I need to process the tumultuous times that have preceded my birthday, the twists and turns that have plagued my little family. We are all coming out the other side. Another year older, maybe wiser, not dead yet.

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Here is the delicious lemon meringue pie, made for me by my whizz-in-the-kitchen daughter, as birthday cake.

Just A Morning’s Musings

I’m back again. It seems a lot of you have stopped looking for me though. Sorry, I’m expending a lot of energy trying to pass my uni subject and while not exploding at the fourth years who are sharing the class with us. I can’t believe how laissez faire they are; no shows at lectures (which are done in day blocks, so easy to plan for), railing against the lecturers who gave them a grade that reflects their effort and understanding and now an email asking that their ‘role play’ go first because some of them have important stuff planned for the afternoon. Really? The whole day has been set aside, your lecturer has done this for a reason, you have been told that your part of others learning is to be there and give feedback and now you want to go first so you can leave early for ‘important stuff’.

I know, I know, they’re young and life is full of parties (a generalisation but a high probability). I can remember my youth, I can remember my callous disregard for others’ feelings or plans, I can remember this and still be appalled at their own entitled, privileged manifestation of my own behaviour and hope that they grow up soon because we have a role play to do and my mark depends on your commitment.

Okay, enough youth bashing, onto other things: Maya Angelou. As you read this I’m sure, if you are a reader, literary, poetically inclined, interested, feminist, womanist or concerned with the liberation of your fellow human beings you may have heard of this wonderful, powerful woman. Yesterday she died. She was 86, a life lived to the full despite the horrors she experienced and witnessed. Who among you has read I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings and not been left gasping, crying, reeling by its power?

I found out about another sorrow this morning too, a relative across the seas has also passed from this world. Much younger, not famous but no less valuable in their place in the world. Parent, sibling, beloved and caring family member, this individual takes with them a little piece of all who’s lives they touched. Go well and with love.

This Euphoria Won’t Last, Will It?

Today I stand before you all as a mother of a 21 year old. It’s a big day for me and for the pup. She has survived 21 years in my care and I have survived the caring years. I remember when she was born, the post labour euphoria was amazing, and I stared in wonderment at the little life before me.

You might be thinking what’s all this survival stuff? Well, for all of you out there who have yet to have a child, I have a secret to let you in on; parenting is an endurance sport. Luckily, for me, I can see where my and the pup’s father’s endurance has started to reap benefits. It feels like an amazing accomplishment to have helped a small soul become a unique being, with their own will and thought and passion.

And the pup’s survival. Well, I was a complete novice at being a parent before I had her, and every step of the way was new to me. She continues to be my most enduring experiment. As she is my only child I can’t use any of the lessons I’ve learned from her on any other children. This is probably a good thing.

I’ve collected presents for her for this birthday over time, things that reflect her personality and taste, things that reflect the lovely person she is growing into, with interests varied and weird (but endearing). She asked me how I knew what to get her and then answered her own question, “because you’ve known me for 21 years?” To which I replied that I only know the bits she has chosen to show me. That she has many more facets to her than just her mother’s view of her.

She still tries to shock me, it’s not worked yet. If she actually went to university and completed a degree, that might do it (I’m ever hopeful of that shock). I’m trying to dare her to be her best self. I hope the next 21 years are a grand adventure, that she gives herself the chances to take, the challenges to surmount and the joys to cherish, and I hope I’m there to see them all along the way.

Strangely the euphoria hasn’t really worn off from that first moment I laid eyes on her. It’s ebbed at times, in those hard teenage years the euphoria was difficult to capture but it snuck through on occasions, showing in unexpected times, and now, watching the adult she is becoming, it’s just rumbling under the surface, swelling my heart and heightening of my senses. I grew this child. I helped make this adult. She is lovely and kind and smart and fierce. She is grabbing her life and making it hers. I’m so relieved.

In The Cold, Hard Light Of Day

It’s happening again. One of our dogs is having a seizure. It’s only just started in the last few days; she’s an old girl and already had cancerous growths removed three times, the first time when she was only six years old, and the vet thinks that one of them might now be an intracranial tumour and causing the fits.

Tonight’s fit, or series of fits actually, are bad. I think she is reaching the end. After the first tumours were found we were told that she would keep growing them and that one day there would be one that went inside and we’d not know. Chemo wouldn’t stop them, nor amputation.

Over the years the tumours have appeared all over her body but always just under the skin. After her last surgery we decided that there would be no more (she was 10) as the operation and anaesthesia knocked her around so. It’s been three years without an op and with relatively slow tumour growth but now we have the fits. I think this is the beginning of the end, a very fast end probably, relatively.

The vet said that she may fit until she goes into a coma. I think that might be the path she is on. I’ve given her some medication. It’s human medication but the vet told me I could use it, it won’t harm her. It may calm her down and decrease the fits, she’s had four in the last half hour.

Our other dog looks at us bewildered and confused. He has never coped well when she has been away for operations, always treating her like some alien invader when she comes home groggy from the anaesthesia. Tonight he is not that bad but he has jumped away once when she started kicking him while having a seizure, I can’t blame him for that, it is a bit disconcerting.

Ah no, seizure number five. Shorter this time but quite strong. She’s now very exhausted. Her breathing is deeper. I think (hope) the drugs are kicking in and she will be sedated enough to have no more tonight.

I know you are all probably thinking that instead of blogging about this I should be taking her to the vet or at least calling the vet. Well, I’ve already had the conversation with the vet the first time and it’s now 10.50pm and vets charge really big bills anyway, never mind when it’s after hours.

We all love her. We all really want to be sure she is ok. We are up with her, touching her head, stroking her gently, trying to keep her clear of obstacles so she won’t hurt herself. Her girl came to visit her this week and she will be back again tomorrow. We will all have to make the hard decision together, I think, tomorrow, in the cold, hard light of day.

Update: The next morning she was in a permanent state of seizure. We called the vet. There was no hesitation, she should suffer no longer. Our lovely, dopey girl was given an injection that gently took her life away. It was fast and humane.

It’s All Gonna Be Okay

It’s with some trepidation I go back to work tomorrow. Not because the work is hard or boring or awful as it’s none of those things, it’s just that I’m convinced that my workplace and my sciatica are inextricably linked.

I’ve made some changes to my work station to try and get a better deal for my back but I need to do more. I need a new chair and soon but how to do that when I can’t drive to work? The place where they have chairs is in another town, not just another suburb, and miles from the nearest train station. I also need to get an adjustable monitor stand or monitor and a foot stool.

That’s just for my desk. Then I have to stop sitting at all the other desks in the place, looking for emails and trying to find forgotten files, as none of them are set right for me. I have to stop just adjusting the chairs and tables and learn instead to let others do it. I have to take more breaks that I need to take for my back health and minimise the interruptions that needn’t happen so that when I’m in ‘the zone’ the work gets done.

When I get back there are two grants to finish spending, more grants to apply for, other projects to get organised, papers to check and getting ready for the new term (school holiday program to organise as well).

I have to remember to take it all a bit slowly. Don’t push, don’t stress, take my meds, eat regularly, drink water and just let it happen.

Then there’s study. You’d think that with three weeks off work I’d be way ahead but, of course, I’m not. I’m behind, floundering, but deciding to go ahead anyway (could have withdrawn up until today) finding that I know, intrinsically, what it’s about, and it’s just the reading and writing that I need to get my head around. Now that I don’t have to take as many painkillers I might even be able to concentrate on understanding the readings so I can do the writing.

It’s all gonna be okay.

The Pre-menstrual Blues – 24/03/2014

Today I pretty much wanted to cry all day.

Luckily for those involved in the making of today I only did it once, in front of my acupuncturist.

I nearly cried when my talented, hard-working wife was rejected, yet again, from a job she could easily and efficiently do.

I nearly cried when my daughter rang me to ask if she was reading too much into the fact that her boyfriend keeps avoiding spending time with her on weekends.

I nearly cried when the receptionist at my acupuncturist’s gently reminded me to ask him to discount my treatment again.

I nearly cried when I saw a be-suited man patting a dog that was sitting beside another man who was homeless, and the man in the suit was speaking to the other man gently and with compassion.

I nearly cried when the tram driver tried to shut the doors on me as I was getting on because he couldn’t see me and so all the good work that the acupuncturist had done could have been undone.

I nearly cried when I was filling out my special consideration form for university because this pain has made it impossible to study properly.

I nearly cried when I got to the station and realised that the next train was stopping all stations.

I nearly cried when I read all the facebook posts that glibly told my wife how to “get a job” knowing that she’s done all that and more.

I nearly cried when my phone died mid text.

It’s days like this that can really drain you or they can reaffirm your life for you.

For me I can proudly say that I didn’t cry at all those things, that I didn’t let the melancholy overtake me, that I sought joy in the very things that almost made me cry.

My daughter trusts me and talks to me about her worries and fears and triumphs and joys.

The receptionist (and acupuncturist) care that I don’t end up juggling non-negotiable bills to pay for their bill.

My talented wife has friends who want to help in whatever way they can.

Strangers can surprise and delight you with their care and compassion.

The jolt from the tram door doesn’t seem to have caused any damage.

The long train journey will mean that I’ll write this out by hand and hone it before subjecting you all to it on my blog.

The dead phone also contributes to the former and it means I must say “I love you” to my wife, on our anniversary of the first, um, time that we, um, fell asleep together holding hands, in person, when she gets home from her interim job that is paying her money and keeping the wolf from the door.

Filling out the special consideration form means I can see how much this pain has interfered with my study and I have made sure to put in an extension form too, thanks to the school administration officer who sent it through and was looking out for me.

Life is good, I have a caring family, good friends, a considerate work place, and, although life sends curve balls, it often sends homers.

This was written as stated, on the train home, and, although I said I’d hone it, I’ve not done much to take away the rawness.

I had plans on turning it into song lyrics, or building a more poetic cadence around it, but I decided to leave this. I might revisit it. I’m open to suggestions.