Writing 101, Day Twenty: The Things We Treasure.

When we think about things we treasure we usually think about physical items. Our first teddy bear, jewellery given to us by loved ones, our first car, awards, trophies, photos, artworks… the list is never ending.

What I will be writing about though are my childhood memories.
Memories are priceless. They are something that you carry with you your whole life. Memories can be good or bad, make you feel over the moon or down in the dumps, they can bring both happy or sad tears.

Some of my most treasured memories are of simple things like when my grandparents would take me to the beach. Nan would pack sandwiches in the esky with drinks and biscuits. By the time lunch came around we would find that our sandwiches had literally turned into “SAND”wiches so we ended up walking to the near by kiosk and getting a large serving of hot chips and ice creams. No matter how we rinsed our cups out, they always ended up gritty too, but that just added to the experience.
My Pop and I would go fishing from time to time at a local river. We would catch small bream. To me, it didn’t matter if we caught anything or not- it was just lovely being able to spend a few hours with Pop, talking about nothing in particular, listening to him tell me of stories of his childhood and working years.
We would often come home with a couple of small fish that Nan would cook for tea that night.

A yearly pilgrimage to a Music Festival was another treasured memory. Not only was this a chance to relax for a week, spend it living out of a tent and a ute during that time, it was also a chance to watch and listen to the buskers and musicians. If we were lucky we could also get some autographs and watch the national finals of one of the main rodeos.

I have unfortunately lost some of my memories. I don’t know what is to blame, if anything at all but what I do know is that the memory loss I experience has only happened over the past 11 years. Over that time I have had to have 5 operations/general anaesthetics and it makes me wonder if there is something in the gas/medication that blocks out part of your memory? It wouldn’t surprise me if this is the case as I don’t know what else it could be.

I do know that I want to keep making new experiences with my family and friends in the hope that they will stick in my mind- never to be forgotten.

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Writing 101, Day 19: Free writing.

Free writing.
But IS it free? What part is free? Is it free because it doesn’t cost any money? Is it free because I am not restricted to writing about anything in particular?
In a way I guess this isn’t really free writing after all because we have been asked to write about 400 words. Possibly even more if we’re on a roll.

You know what? I just thought of something… What if I had’ve been a smart arse about this assignment and done something like this:
one, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, nine, ten…
Yeah, it would have been funny writing numbers, but it would have got very boring… plus where would I stop? Or would I stop at all?

The question is though- what DO I write about?
It’s no real use talking about the current weather here as it’s the middle of the night. Well, I’m not sure if it’s the actual middle of the night, but it is late. It’s currently 1:40am. I should have been asleep at least a couple of hours ago but here I am, still sitting up in bed typing away on the computer writing blog entries.

I never used to be a night owl. I liked staying up late sometimes, but I used to much prefer getting up early in the mornings, you know- around 6:30am or so.
That was before I had kids though. I’d get up at that hour and feed my pets, listen to music, write to my pen pals… even go to school or work, depending on what year you want to talk about.

Now though, things have changed.
Sometimes I don’t even know who I am anymore. Am I an early bird? A night owl? Am I even worthy of having the title of being a Mother?
I know I am a Mum, I’m a wife too- but just because I am a Wife and a Mum, it doesn’t mean I am a good one.
I do the best I can, but more often than not I feel that I am constantly being judged. I feel that no matter what I do, it is never good enough for anyone.

Some days I find it hard to function. I just feel I’m not up to doing anything. It’s those days when I get told that I don’t pull my weight, that people are disappointed in me because I “hibernate in the bloody room all day”. Some days I simply just don’t have the energy. I hate making excuses for myself, but it’s hard to explain an invisible illness to someone who has never experienced it.
It’s hard to explain to someone that I can feel fine at times, some days I will feel unbeatable and I will want to do a day’s hard labour, I feel up to spending the whole day cleaning, gardening, exercising, looking after the kids and more… but then there are other days when I don’t even want to open my eyes.
I’ve spoken to my Family Doctor and Psychologist about it. My levels of energy are related to some of my health issues (bad back, depression, my circumstances to name a few) but I hate using those things as “excuses”, but I don’t know how to explain how my energy levels can be so drastically different from day to day.

I honestly feel that living in the city (yes, I know I technically live in the suburbs- but I’m talking general city/country here) is what makes me feel like shit, but I doubt I’ll ever be able to live somewhere that is beneficial to my health. I feel that country lifestyles are so much healthier. Less smog/pollution, a lot of homes are on larger blocks which means there’s room to grow your own food, have pets, somewhere for the kids to play, etc.
I have expressed my desire for a tree- or sea-change to my hubby on many occasions, but it basically comes down to money- what we simply don’t have enough of. I’m not sure we ever will have enough. That’s pretty scary to think about but I think it’s a reality I have to come to terms with.
I feel like a pathetic example of a Mum- I have a hubby, 4 kids and no money to put a roof over their heads. Because of that, we’ve got no choice but to live with the in-laws.
It’s not fair on them (in-laws)- they have pretty much retired and should be able to enjoy their life and do as little or as much as they want but they are stuck with a full house.
It’s not really fair on the kids either as I believe they should be able to experience what it is like to truly be a child. Living in an extended family/multi-generational household is a lot different to living in an immediate family (Parents & kids) set-up.

Am I being selfish? That is something I constantly ask myself.
Am I restricting our little family? Myself? The kids? Hubby?
I don’t want anyone to resent me for not letting them have the life they wanted. I don’t want to carry that burden.
But when I find myself constantly trying to please others- I find that I am stopping myself from enjoy life. It is as though I HAVE to deny myself pleasure and enjoyment so that others can hopefully have the life they want.

I just don’t know what to think sometimes. It is also a reason why I don’t talk as much as I don’t want to come across as self-centred and greedy. Whenever I tend to open my mouth and say something, I feel that I always upset someone. That’s not the reason why I open my mouth to speak, but when I do, it makes me feel extremely worried about upsetting others. And if I feel I may have possibly upset someone, I get all stressed out, worried and anxious and nervous and upset myself, usually for no reason (if I believe what others say to me).

I just want to be happy. Is that too much to ask?

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Writing 101, Day 18: Why did they do that?

Mrs Pauley is a lovely lady. I don’t know why the police and those other people went inside her house. I heard Dad say something to Mum about her being evicted. Evicted; isn’t that when they kick you out of your home without you wanting to leave? That’s not fair.

Mrs Pauley is like a Nanna to me. Sometimes I even call her “Nanna Pauley”, Mum and Dad says it’s polite to call her that. Mum said that what she called her when she was little.
Mum has lived here forever, but not as long as what Mrs Pauley’s been living here for though. She’s been here longer than Mum… longer than ANYBODY!

My best friend is scared of Mrs Pauley. She reckons the house is haunted. She says Mrs Pauley is old and cranky. I think she’s just misunderstood.

When Poppy Pauley died everything changed. Everyone started behaving differently, well, not everyone- not me. The adults. The adults who knew them got very emotional. I get it how people dying isn’t good, it’s quite sad when you think about it actually. Someone who you love will never be alive again, they’ll never be able to talk to you. That’s not nice.

Poppy Pauley used to keep the gardens looking beautiful. There were always millions of flowers in the garden, all the colours of the rainbow but now that Poppy wasn’t around, the weeds had started to take over Nanna Pauley’s garden. That made me sad as I knew Nanna loved the pretty flowers.

She couldn’t look after them properly because she was in a wheel chair and it made things hard for her.
Now it looked like these people were trying to take her away from her home. Why would someone want to do that to an old person? It’s just not fair. Was it because the garden wasn’t being looked after? If it was because of that, I’d offer to help her and look after the garden.

All I can do is just sit here on the steps and watch… watch Nanna Pauley from across the street.
I can hear Mum inside, she’s whispering something to Dad. I’m not exactly sure what she’s saying but I heard her mention Nanna’s name a few times. It sounds like she’s crying too. I hate it when Mum cries. That makes me really sad. Sadder than when I had to bury my goldfish, my first pet EVER.

I can hear the people telling Nanna to get out now. Telling her they have to get the locks changed. That sounds scary. Where will she go? what’s going to happen to everything in her house?

I wish I could help her.

She just said something about how she doesn’t have any money but can pay the bills once the will is finalised. I don’t really understand all that but if the money in my money box would help her, she could have it. Have it all.

I’m getting sad now. I don’t know what to do. I want to be brave and not look scared so I guess I’ll just slouch forwards a bit and cradle my chin in my hands, that way it will just look like I’m bored, but they won’t be able to see my lip quivering and the tears falling out of my eyes and onto the bottom step.

I can’t help but stare. I don’t know what to do. Nanna Pauley is looking over at me. Her eyes seem very distant and she is being wheeled away by the police man. Even the police man seems sad.

I remember when I was little how I used to go and visit Nanna and Poppy Pauley. They used to tell me stories about their sons. Stories about all the funny things their boys did, about how they used to play on the street, they even chased my Mum once!
The boys don’t live there. They moved out before I was born. They used to visit a lot. Mostly after they finished work I think.
OH! I think one of her sons is a police man. I remember now… a few times she had a police man visit. He didn’t always wear his uniform, but I could tell that he was a police man- he just looked like one.

I think it was her police man son who was taking her out of the house. He looked the same as the man who used to visit.

I don’t know… this is getting scary for me now. First, Poppy Pauley dies… now Nanna Pauley is being taken away. I don’t like it. It’s scary. I don’t want to see anymore.

I think I should go inside. Maybe ask Mum if I can go to my best friend’s place for a while. I just want to feel safe right now.

Writing 101, Day 17: Speak Up.

Standing firmly in place
Sun washing through my hair like a lathered mess
Voice inside me quivers.
Unable to speak but knowing I must
It is my turn to shine
To shine like a torch in a dark tunnel
A tunnel that is long and dark-
almost never ending.
Almost.
My eyes gaze over the sea of faces in front of me
My palms become sweaty.
All eyes are directed to me
They are waiting
Waiting to hear what I have to say.
I have to speak
The words cannot come out
It is not stage fright
My lips are not sewn shut.
I am scared.
I admit it- Public speaking terrifies me.

 

This was written in a style that I loosely connected to Karin Taylor’s style of poetry. She is one of my favourite artists.

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Writing 101, Day Sixteen: Circling like vultures.

(Part 3)

Circling overhead, the menacing birds reminded me why I had taken on this job.
To reunite people with the things they loved so they wouldn’t feel lost, so they wouldn’t have a part of their own soul dead inside their hearts.

The assortment of items that came through my warehouse was unbelievable!
From things such as phones, teddy bears and jackets to more obscure things like prosthetic limbs, false teeth and jars of kidney stones. I had honestly seen them all.
Some things had obvious value, other items looked worthless but I am sure they were priceless to someone as each and every item has it’s own story.

Take the raggedy old blankie for example. That was a truly moving reunion. It belonged to a middle aged businessman. It was a blanket that had belonged to his Mum. It had been on her bed while she was pregnant with him and she kept her son warm with the blanket during his childhood. She was tragically killed in a house fire the day after he left home. The blanket, what was left of it, was all he had left of his mum. Losing the raggedy old blankie forever would have killed the businessman.

Seeing children reunited with their toys is always lovely. Some children are so very thankful. Some even go to the trouble of writing to me to thank me for finding their best friend. I keep every single letter and picture that I receive from the children. I really appreciate their gratitude.

I have met many characters during my time here too.
One in particular that stands out would be the lady who lost a container of rocks. Well, that’s what I initially thought they were. They didn’t look like anything fancy or of any value but that’s where I couldn’t have been more wrong.
Once the lady and her container were reunited she went on to explain what they really were and allowed me to have a good look for myself.
Those rocks were in fact fossils and gemstones. It was amazing. I knew that fossils and rocks came from the ground, but when you’re only used to seeing these objects in museums or jewellery stores, it does come as a surprise to see them in their raw state.
I must have had a look of amazement and disbelief on my face as she asked me if I would like to choose one to keep. I didn’t need to be asked twice. I thanked her over and over and pointed out a small piece that I felt drawn to. It was beautiful, the detail was so delicate. It was something I will treasure until the day I die.

 

(Part 1): https://cockatooscreeching.wordpress.com/2014/06/07/writing-101-i-was-once-lost-but-now-everything-else-seems-to-be-lost-instead/

(Part 2): https://cockatooscreeching.wordpress.com/2014/06/24/writing-101-day-13-finding-a-new-love/

 

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Writing 101, Day Fifteen: CANCELLED

CANCELLED

It was like I had just been stabbed in the back. Or had I just had my right arm cut off? Was it as bad as both things happening at once?

I had just read the sign that hung off the fence, swinging at an obscured angle, but it was real nonetheless.

The show was cancelled. It was done. Kaput.

The show I had attended each and every year of my life up until now, was now no more.

Devastating didn’t even start to describe how I felt. I was beyond disbelief. I guess you could say it was a surreal moment. Surely this wasn’t happening. I didn’t want to believe it.

I wouldn’t believe it.

I pinched myself hoping I’d wake up from this nightmare.
Nothing- no change. I pinched myself again, harder this time.
Nothing.
Over and over I pinched myself hoping to wake up but I had to come to terms with the fact that I WAS awake.
This WAS real.
It WAS happening.

There was no more show. After over 100 years, it was no more.

Falling to a heap on the ground, I put my hands to my eyes which had, by this stage, began to well with tears.
I couldn’t contain my emotions any more- I started to sob, silently at first but it soon turned to loud crying, almost to the point of wailing.

I had to do something. It couldn’t end like this.

It couldn’t.

 

 

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Writing 101, Day 14: To Whom it May Concern

Dear Glue,
You told me that you would stick around forever. You told me that we would never be torn apart.

You lied.

I should have never trusted you. I don’t know why I ever did. I was warned about you. All the things you claimed you could do, but when it came down to the nitty gritty- you didn’t have a clue. DID YOU!?

You never really understood what permanent meant. You only ever wanted to be like the sticky notes… just get up and move on when you feel like it. You never wanted only one… you wanted to have as many possibilities as you could imagine.

“Stuck like glue” is a saying for a reason. It wasn’t said for you to make a joke of it.

I’m over it. I’m moving on.

I’m going to start seeing Superglue. He stays put. He won’t go anywhere after setting in for the long haul.

I’m over you and your crap.

From Me.

 

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Writing 101, Day 13: Finding a new love.

(Part 2)

The little village where our farm was located was full of mystery. As a child I loved to explore. There was always something new to find. Looking down rabbit warrens and wombat holes was always fun. I would always anticipate a pair of eyes looking back at me, but never actually experienced it and in a way I am glad too, as if there had have been a set of eyes looking back at me, I think I may have had to change my pants!

The thing that most fascinated me though was finding little fossils. The fossils were found in pieces of clay and rock, usually near a dam, quarry or waterway of some description. Tiny little fossils- I think they were imprints of ferns or leaves and what looked like teeny tiny reptilian footprints.
I’m not 100% certain if they were in fact fossils or if I had a vivid imagination (I hope both are true), but at the time- it was so very exciting for me. It was as though I was finding things that no human had come across ever before.

Fast forward about 20 years and you’ll find me in the same position.
Dressed in old “play clothes”, squatting down over a pile of rocks in the middle of a quarry looking for fossils. Not knowing exactly what to look for but believing that when I find it- I’ll know what I’m holding. Actually- it’s not just fossils I’m looking for. Any pretty rock will do nicely- I have always enjoyed collecting rocks. It couldn’t be any old rock though- the rock had to “speak to me”. I had to have some type of connection with it, be drawn to it in one way or another.

In this quarry and other dry creek beds near by, I did feel a strong connection. So strong in fact that I cannot wait to get back there again. It is just a shame that it is so far from where I am now. It felt like home out there. I had a special connection with the land out there. It was speaking to me but I had to be dragged away from it.
Maybe one day I will go back there. I will be able to respond to the calls from the unexplainable and help my spirit go home. I truly hope that my family- my husband and children, feel the same as I do and embrace our soul, our spirit and the unexplainable bond I have with the land and turn this into a lifelong adventure and journey to find the place that is home to us. To find a place that is special to all of us. We need to be somewhere that has a special meaning to all of us.

It is not here. That is something I am certain of.

 

(Part 1): https://cockatooscreeching.wordpress.com/2014/06/07/writing-101-i-was-once-lost-but-now-everything-else-seems-to-be-lost-instead/

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Writing 101, Day 12: Choose your own path to walk down.

If I hadn’t have gone, I would have never really known what was happening. Or what the severity of it was.
The biggest thing I learnt about the day was how I would feel (or not feel) when I got back that evening.

It would have normally been an average day. Wake up, watch some TV with the kids, get a few things done, go online for a while, do some reading, writing, maybe catch up with a friend briefly at the school gate.
But the phone rang. That changed everything. It meant interacting with people I hadn’t had any contact with for quite a while… until now that is.

I jumped out of bed, got dressed and said a quick goodbye to the family before heading out the door.

Cursing at the car for being all fogged up, I did my best to clear the windows before setting off. The roads were unusually quiet. Was it a week day? It was supposed to be… I think. I’m sure it was. Certain even.
I continued to drive on. Next thing I know I hear sirens. A fire truck speeds past me, lights and sirens blaring, driving towards where I had just come from. I hoped nothing was wrong back at home.
A minute or so down the road and another siren could be heard. I see more red and blue lights. This time it is a police car speeding past. I can only assume at this stage there must be an accident somewhere. I continue to drive. Again I see lights- and then another police car zooms past faster than the other one had been going. What was going on? I could not stop, I had to continue on my way. I had somewhere to be and I had to be there within the hour.

About another 15 minutes further into my journey I approach a 4 car accident. WHAT IS GOING ON THIS MORNING? Has everyone lost their mind? Does no one have any idea of what is happening around them? Does no one consider that there may be other people wanting to use the roads as well?
My journey comes to an end not long after.

Now it was the start of something different.
Time to look after a person who looked after me. After making sure everything was fine and the house was locked up, I got her into the car and off we went. I had nothing to worry about but I was full of worry as this was a lady who never called me asking to be taken to the doctor. To do that, I felt that something must have been wrong… really wrong.

We got to the doctor’s with enough time to spare before her appointment but like the morning had been so far… the waiting time was like a crash scene. The waiting room was full to overflowing of sick people. I couldn’t help but pray that I don’t get sick after being in a confined roo with so many other sick people, coughing, sneezing, snotty faces, germ-laden fingerprints everywhere. It wasn’t a place I wanted to be, but I knew I had to stay.
Almost 45 minutes after her appointment time, she was called in to be seen by the doctor. After what felt like an eternity, the door opened and out walked the doctor. She flashed a brief smile in my direction and then hurried off. She briskly walked back into her room not long afterwards, closing the door behind her. More talking then silence.
The door opened again. This time they both walk out and I am beckoned to, to follow them into the treatment room.

Armed with medication and scripts written out to get other medicines, she is seen to again- this time having a few more checks done and her medications explained to me so I know what she should be taking and when.
After all that was done, it was off to the chemist.

A trip to the butcher and green grocer saw us purchase the basic ingredients for a nutritious pot of chicken soup.
Now it was time to take her home as she was becoming weary and fatigued.

Once back at home I made sure she had some food to eat and then put her to bed to rest.
While she slept I made the chicken soup. It was not something that I made before, but from the love I have for her within, I knew just what to do.

While the soup heated up and then simmered, she slept.
When the phone rang, I’d answer it; relaying the latest news to those on the other end of the phone.
When she woke, it was time for more medicine. Hopefully this would be what she needs to get better- sooner rather than later.

She seemed somewhat chirpier. Was it because I was there? Was it because I had been looking for her? Was the medicine working this fast? Could it be a combination of all of the above? I don’t know.
The main thing though, was that she seemed to be a little better.

I had to remember though that I still had my own family. I had just got up and gone. Forgotten about them for most of the day- not completely forgotten though as I had the constant guilt of knowing that I had left them behind. That guilt constantly gnaws at me.

Once night started to near I knew it was time for me to return to my family. Once I had made sure everything was fine, I headed off once again. This time towards home.

The drive home wasn’t quite as eventful as the morning drive. Pulling up into the driveway, I wasn’t greeted with smiles and hugs. I wasn’t greeted at all. Everything was in darkness. The door was locked, there were no shouts of excitement stating “Mummy’s home!” Nothing.

I rang the doorbell and after what felt like 5 minutes, the door was unlocked and I was allowed inside. Inside to my family.

I wouldn’t call it normality though as that’s not what I’d call it.

I don’t know what to call anything anymore…

 

 

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Writing 101: Day Eleven. Home is where you heart lives for ever…

A family of 4. It sounds quite typical, doesn’t it? Not for this little black duck- my family situation has always been a bit different to that of all my friends.
When I was 12 years old it was me, my Mum and her parents (Nan and Pop to me). Nan and Pop raised me more than what Mum actually did as Mum was only a child herself when she had me. Nan and Pop were parent figures to me, although I always knew that Mum was my Mum. It was just that we never got on as well as what my friends and their Mums did.

When I was 12 years old, we all lived (reasonably happily) in the house Pop had bought the year before he and Nan got Married. It was an old post-war home.
It was originally fibro with a corrugated iron roof, but over the years it had been clad with weatherboards and aluminium tiles.

My Pop had a beautiful garden in both the front and back yards. I loved to help him keep them looking their best. Weeding the gardens, mowing the lawns, fertilising, watering, dead-heading flowers, planting- I did it all, with Pop’s assistance that is.
Living in an older area (most people were around my grandparents ages), we would often have unofficial “garden competitions”. A lot of the time it was between us and a couple of other neighbours along our street.

Our house was on a 4 lane “main” road. We had a zebra crossing a couple of houses down the street from us and a large block of land across the road which had been the local hospital. The hospital relocated when I was about 7 years old. There were plans to do a lot with the land- an ambulance station, a community health centre, trauma centre, mothercraft society, nursing home… I think when I was 12, there may have been some of these buildings newly built here.

We lived in a Suburb on the cusp of becoming a city due to the number of people living there. It may have just become a city actually, I can’t remember exactly. There were only single storey houses near where I lived. There were only a couple of double storey places- I always looked at those houses like they were big mansions. Heck- I look at “brick houses” as being fancy, as compared to what I was living in… a brick house WAS fancy! (I would later grow up to understand living in a brick house isn’t fancy at all… living in an older house had a lot more character.)
A few blocks behind out house was a housing estate. It was full of Housing Commission houses (places the government rented out to low income/poor families). Unfortunately, around this time- the Estate got a nickname- “The Bronx”. It turned into a slum, there were a minority group of residents where the whole family did not have any respect or care for their home. Some would burn fires in close proximity to the house, there was an increase in violence, theft, burglaries, and hooliganism.
The media thought it would be a good idea to give a lot of attention to all the trouble that was happening and this in turn made things worse. Next thing we knew, there were often police helicopters hovering overhead, spotlights brightly shining down in our backyards looking for criminals.

Thankfully, the trouble was confined to that estate.
As strange as it sounds, it was still safe enough for me to walk my dog through that estate without worrying about being hurt. It was as though we had a mutual respect for each other.
The criminals and drug dealers knew we weren’t going to cause trouble so they left us alone. We left them alone because we had no need to interact with them, other than saying hi as we walked past each other (just to be friendly and community minded of course).

When I was 12, I lived in a little safe haven. A modest 3 bedroom house with 3 people who loved me and a lot of pets to keep me busy and out of trouble. I could walk to school in about ten minutes, had some great friends and didn’t really have anything to worry about.

How great it would be to be 12 years old again…..