To share a meal

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I’ve just thrown dinner in the oven. For some reason when I did the groceries this week I was hit by an urge to recreate a meal that I used to have with a couple of friends when I was at uni. It was generally on a Wednesday night that we’d meet up and have dinner. This was when I was doing my Masters, and I was working at a school casually, teaching English as a Second Language (ESL). It was a good job that I was petrified at, but managed to floss my way through because of the friends I had at the school.

We became good friends. I was at their weddings. One was at my mum’s funeral. We celebrated birthdays and hirings and firings and moving houses and adopting and accidents and near misses and life and grief and hope and disappointment and joy. And constantly through that time were these Wednesday night dinners. Usually fortnightly, unless we could do weekly.

The dinner that is in the oven? My memory tells me that it is great. But I am having a wondering, a moment of panic, thinking that it might have been what that time in my life represented that made it good. Because I loved those girls, loved hanging out with them and learning with them and growing with them.

And I can write this knowing that they won’t be reading it. They most likely have no idea this blog even exists. In fact, part of me wonders if they remember that even I exist, because I haven’t spoken to them in several years now.

Since I came out. Since who I am suddenly became completely unpalatable. Since I no longer fell in line with who they thought I was.

I’d really like to text them or ring them and let them know I’m cooking that meal. The one we giggled over. Shared thoughts over. Played games around. Talked about god and work and school and relationships.

I never thought it would end out this way. And there is gap in my life that they’ve left.

But the dinner still smells good.

Image by The Naughty Corner

Image by The Naughty Corner

Chicken & Asparagus Bake

Put 2 cups of cooked spiral noodles in a casserole dish. Throw some chunks of (raw) chicken breast on top, with some asparagus and some broccoli (or whatever veges are in the fridge). In a bowl, combine a tin of Cream of Asparagus soup, a cup of water, 1/3 cup parmesan cheese, 1 tsp mixed herbs and some salt and pepper. Pour it over the chicken. Top with breadcrumbs and grated cheese. Cook at 190 degrees for 45 minutes. 

The Crescent Moon – Now she is two

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Two years ago, I was in my car driving to a hospital to be there for the birth of a precious little creature. And the way time passes, it just so happens that two years later, Little Miss A turns two. Little Miss A, it has been a long time since I have seen you. We live in different states now. I miss you. I miss your sister and I miss your mums very much. 

I’m re-publishing a piece I wrote for you, Little Miss A. It remains one of my favourite pieces ever, because it reminds me of how totally privileged I felt to be there, under the crescent moon, with your heart beating strongly as a part of the universe. 

Happy birthday.

Image: Supplied

Little Miss A, at 2. Image supplied.

Although I don’t know it, there is a crescent moon in the sky.

You were born on the day of a night of the crescent moon.

When I arrived at the hospital, your sister met my eyes and smiled. Our eyes became mirrors of excitement and confusion, with neither of us sure of what was happening but both knowing it was something big. Your sister and I touched hands, and she wriggled in her wheelchair, arching her perfect three-year-old neck so that she could follow me, with her eyes, to where I would sit.

Your sister and I hid our nerves and our tears by looking at magazines. I laughed when she paid too much attention to a male underwear model, but really I was waiting to hear if you had been born.

Your mum is one of my best friends, you see. She’d asked me to be in the hospital for the day you arrived. You were in a hurry, though, and dates were brought forward, then times, until finally, by the time I made it, you were already well and truly on the way.

Behind a closed door, they were setting you free from the confines of your protective cocoon.

But here with me, on the other side of the door, was your sister.

Your big sister.

She was in her chair, surrounded as always by people who love her. To love her is to join her family, and to join her family is to be loved.

And you were going to join this family.

Your sister and I read the names on the walls, and looked at pictures. I paced, and waited.

I was excited about meeting you, yes – but more than that, I wanted to see your mum.

The afternoon was coming to a close by the time you arrived. You were carried out. You were held as if you were as fragile as a hand grenade. You were presented with awe and delight and shock.

We made all the same noises at the same time.

Even your sister.

You were passed from heart to heart, and tears were fought and poured in equal measure. You were greeted and snuggled and talked to, your photo taken with every passing second as you found your place in this life.

Ten fingers, ten toes. Perfect eyes, perfect hair, perfect lungs. And immediately, naturally, accepted into a perfect family.

A perfect family, who knows and embraces imperfection as perfection.

You are alive. You are a life.

In this moment, in this heartbeat, in this world – that is enough.

You were perfect.

And you are perfect.

And to know you is to love you.

Polishing a turd

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Well it’s day four of quarantine. Day two of treatment that my body is tolerating, so three more days to go. If you missed the last blog, I have whooping cough.

Yesterday was spent making soup, yelling at the dogs who seem to have developed a passion for nonsensical barking, crocheting, washing Harry’s bottom and sulking.

But I really have been trying to make the best of it.

Soup. Image by The Naughty Corner

Soup. Image by The Naughty Corner

Every time I am on the nebuliser, I am crocheting. So far I have made six beanies. My GP has assured me they won’t be contaminated, but I’m Glen 20-ing them anyway. There’s a reason for this, but I’ll tell you more about that in a later post, because it deserves a post totally dedicated to that reason.

I have a scratchy bit on two of my toenails and it is making me very frustrated.

The cat killed a mouse and ate it on the front verandah.

Oh hang on. Making the best of it.

So, I didn’t have to feed the cat dinner that night, and I’ve got toenails, yay!

Look, I know it could be much worse. And for many other people, it really is much worse.

But as true as that is, it’s also kind of invalidating. Because this sucks. But I’m trying to let go of the things that shit me and frustrate me, and I’m trying to focus on doing what I need to. What I need to do? Breathe. What I want to do? Visit my family and watch movies and make a bed on the lounge and snuggle up and have a steady supply of beverages and pity lavished upon me. I want to make sure my beloved gets Friday Night Pie Night and I want to play with the dogs in the park. I want to fix my toenails.

And then! Then, in the midst of all of this, I stumbled across a video that just filled my heart up with joy.

This is Ethan. According to the page I saw his video on, when this was recorded Ethan was 6 years old. He has Autism, and apparently brilliant parents. Doesn’t this just make you want to weep with joy?

You go, Ethan. You’re a bloody legend.

Something has gone terribly wrong

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There are times in life when it feels like the world is plotting against you.

I had a fairly mild cold last week, more uncomfortable than anything else, but being prone to yucky chest infections in colder weather, I saw my GP. She didn’t think there was much to worry about, did a couple of swabs to rule out any nasties, set me up with a nasal spray and some antibiotics and sent me on my way.

Have you ever had a nasal swab?

The pain. My god, the discomfort.

It’s exactly what it sounds like. A bit swab type thing straight up the nostril. In fact the GP warned me by suggesting it was essentially nasal rape and there was not one word of a lie. The involuntary tears! The swearing!

And then, a couple of days later, the result:

Whooping Cough.

Now, I’ve been vaccinated against this monster so I can only put it down to having a dodgey immune system post surgery. But the thing is, it’s combined with asthma, so I am one miserable little bear at the moment. Add to it the headache, the sore chest and back from coughing, the trembling from the amped up asthma meds and the still a bit ouchy post op leg, and well. There is a lack of happy face atop my neck.

I had a lot on this week. Assessment stuff at Tafe, First Aid course on Friday, visiting my family this weekend for my sister’s first mother’s day as a mummy, and just to be with them for what is traditionally a pretty shitty time of year. Starting hydrotherapy again. Meeting an old friend of my beloved’s. All cancelled now, as I spend my time sucking on the nebuliser.

And then. Then.

My dear Mrs Cuppy rang last night. You see, when I was getting myself organised to move in with three dogs and a cat, it became very apparent that my Stevie bunny wouldn’t really deal with the move well. So, she was taken in by the Cuppy family. They loved her and fed her and were scared of her, just like I was. But then the phone call. At the age of 5, Stevie had taken herself to the quietest corner of her hutch and curled up and died, hopping away to greener pastures where she will terrorise my mum and whomever else pauses long enough to scratch behind the ears of a blue eyed bunny. She was very loved by many people, feared by most, and creator of noise enough to keep the occupants of the duplex I lived in awake all night long.

Stevie. Image by The Naughty Corner

Stevie. Image by The Naughty Corner

So you see, I’m a little bit over it today.

did attempt to start the day well. Thought I’d sneak Harry inside to wake up my beloved with snuggles that only a hairy white fluffy dog can offer. And he is extremely hairy at the moment. Well overdue for a haircut. But still very lovely. I plopped him onto the bed and he looked around in a very pleased manner. Then he had a shake, and began the walk towards my beloved.

And as he moved, I was confused.

Because when he shook, a shower of brown confetti had scattered across the doona.

I said the fateful words: “Something has gone terribly wrong!” while Harry took a careful seat on the sheet. He then stood up and sat on my special pillow. On both, he left a Seal of Harry Approval.

You see, when you are a fluffy white dog, in desperate need of a hair cut, you tend to get dags. And if you have a fresh dag, and then shake with great vigour, said dag will spray across a radius that is approximately queen bed sized.

And so, I’ve done endless loads of washing today. Rescheduled Harry’s groomer. Cancelled first aid, my weekend with the fam, tafe, hydro. Sucked on the nebulizer, made beanies. Grieved a small white rabbit. And while generally I am pretty adept at finding a bright side to situations, tonight I just want it all to go away and for it all to be made magically better.

But at least now, the doona is now clean.

Rest well, Stevie.

The Blue Balloon – revisited

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A year ago, I wrote a post about buying a blue balloon. I’ve been meaning to blog this week but we’ve had what was essentially a cyclone rip through Newcastle, and things are a bit of a mess. We’ve made it through OK, and have opened our home to people who are still without power.

With tragedy all around, and a warzone atmosphere with helicopters and sirens and trucks surrounding us, it’s been difficult to blog.

But here is what is beautiful: People are helping people. People are helping animals. People are demonstrating their humanity.

So it’s somewhat fitting that I repost The Blue Balloon for you. I wrote this out of my own tragedy – losing mum. Twelve years ago this year, this week. After 12 years it’s not so much the sadness that bites at my heart. It’s the simple longing.

This is the Blue Balloon post.

http://thenaughtycornerofsocialniceties.com/2014/04/23/the-blue-balloon/

Game On: 10 Steps to Understanding NRL

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My beloved is an avid footy fan. The Manly Sea Eagles are her team of choice. And my God, isn’t she a woman of passion when it comes to her boys in purple.

Image by The Naughty Corner

Image by The Naughty Corner

It’s Sunday morning, there were three (yes, THREE) games on yesterday and she watched two and a half of them. And we’re about to watch the second half of the third game. Even though we know who the winner is. And this season, it’s a pretty safe bet that it won’t be Manly.

But wait, it’s not all bad. You see, I’ve adopted the “If you can’t beat them, join them” mentality, and I have now randomly carefully selected a team of chumps sportsmen to barrack for. I like to call them the Pandas, however they’re the Panthers. And now that I have a team, I like to think I am somewhat of an expert on the game. So here is what happens in a typical NRL game.

1. They players are all neat and tidy and they do a funny back slap hug shaking hands thing. Then they make a line and run onto the field. Ladies shake pom poms and the crowd either cheers or jeers.

2. Someone plays the National Anthem. The players put their arms around each other. Most of the players stand there like they have a problem with their footy sock, like it’s slid down in their shoe and they’re not sure if they can do a full game with their sock like that. One or two will sing. Then there is another big cheer and everyone stops hugging and they run into positions on the field.

3. One team gets the ball and they throw it to each other then run forwards, directly into the other team. The other team encourages the player with the ball to have a little rest on the grass, then they do a massive “STACKS ON!” and all lie on top of him. This happens six times, and they either do a big kick or they run towards a white line then have another lie down, this time with the ball as a pillow.

4. Sometimes, during the six run and lie down sequence, a player will do something that is considered thuggery. Everyone yells and dobs and points and waves their arms around. A man, who wore pink last year but this year is wearing yellow, comes and huffs and puffs. Then he will make a decision and the players grunt and groan and wave their hands.

5. When players do a lie down over the line with the ball as a pillow, the man in last year’s pink or this year’s yellow will make two hand signals. The first indicates whether or not the player has tried hard enough. The second is to get someone else to look at the footage to decide if the player has tried hard enough. The someone else is known as the Video Ref, and is apparently a bit of a fuckwit. But the pink (or yellow) ref seems to like to keep the Video Ref in the loop, and so most things go to him to have a look at. Then a swirling sponsorship logo loads on the big screens and if it is red then they player hasn’t tried hard. If it is green then the player has tried hard enough, and everyone does the back slap hand shake cuddle thing again.

6. If the logo goes green, then one player from the team who tried hard gets to kick the ball through the goals. This is called converting a try. I am not sure what they are trying to convert the try to. But this is done by giving the ball an almighty kick and hoping it goes through two metal posts. I think this seems a little unfair. Because sometimes they choose to kick the ball from a very odd angle, or from a very long distance away from the posts. And to be honest it would work better if they could take the ball a little bit closer. The other thing that might help is if the player were to lick their finger then hold it up to see if there is any wind.

7. This continues for 80 minutes. Yes, 80. It’s important to keep an eye out for a couple of distinct moves. The first is the “rooting the air” move. This happens during the STACKS ON moments. The player at the bottom of the pile thrusts his crotch into the air with a tenacity that interests even this little gay duck. The second is the big group hug that my beloved tells me is called a scrum. I’m not certain of the purpose of the scrum. Basically, the two teams cuddle up close and someone pops the ball in at their feet, and then they push backwards and forwards until the ball pops out. Now, given the player who puts the ball into the scrum tends to put the ball as close as he can to his team, it’s a given that that team will “win the scrum”. But it would be more impressive, I think, if the ball was placed centrally.

8. At the end of the game, one team will have had a sleep on the ball more than the other, and they get points for doing that. And the team with the most points wins. They win the right to walk on the grass in a circle and wave to their fans, while the opposition’s fans throws things at them and swears.

9. One player is named Man of the Match, and I think his mum has to wash the team jerseys.

10. Between games, the players like to train, disgrace themselves publicly, and smile at each other when they stand in cold water.

That’s pretty much it, as far as I can tell. And it goes on and on and on. For weeks. And about halfway through the season, when all the players are tired, they suddenly mix them all up into two teams and they then play three Very Special Games, called The State of Origin. It is peculiar to think it takes three extra games to decide The State of Origin, because it would be much quicker to ask each player what state they come from. Then make a special graph, and the state with the most players is the winner. Quicker, and also removing three games of footy from the TV.

Because ultimately, that is what the game is about for me. Finding ways to minimise the impact of it all. And if that means I cheer for the Pandas when they run and lie down and play stacks on and hump the air, then that is what I do.

I’m classy like that.

The Shifting Sands

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My head has been completely occupied with thoughts lately.

I don’t think I have even told you about my emergency trip in an ambulance over Easter, or even the visit to my sisters. I’ve just been so caught up in the thoughts that are bothering me.

We live on a beautiful planet. And we’ve treated it like shit, but we’re learning from our mistakes. And we treat each other like shit, and for the most part, we’re learning from those mistakes too. As individuals, we know now that it’s OK to chase dreams and set goals and embrace what you are good at. Generations have changed now. Having a “proper job” and a “career” aren’t really the be all and end all that they used to be. It’s OK to be creative and clever and to have opinions and thoughts and dreams and goals. You can brag about your kids without being a wanker and you can be proud of your kids without being labelled a helicopter parent.

And I think the Internet has a lot to do with that.

And this is good.

The example I have in my head when I’m writing this, is my beloved. She creates awesome stuff with her interior design knowledge. Cushions and clocks and tables and all sorts of stuff. It’s great. It really is. Even if I didn’t totally love her, I would still think it is good. You can check out her Etsy store. But this isn’t about throwing publicity her way.

Because the other side of this is a Facebook page I’ve been made aware of that exists solely to “save” Australia from the religion of Islam. It’s a hate page. It offers frequent videos and rants, full of swearing and incitement to jump on the bandwagon to “reclaim” Australia. And I cannot tell you how ashamed the page makes me feel. Ashamed, but also concerned for the welfare of the person behind it.

This seems like a totally unrelated bunch of words at the moment, but bare with me.

Because here is where I am going with this:

For some reason, this hate page has very quickly grown in support and numbers. My beloved’s page is growing… but slowly. Same with the page for this blog. What is it that makes people jump on board with hate speech instead of creativity, is what I want to know.

Not because I want more numbers for me or my beloved, but because I think it might be offering an insight into what people really are passionate about. And this is a scary, scary thought. Because what if it’s the increased access to a ready audience that fuels this kind of thing. People who have these extreme “anti” viewpoints aren’t outsiders any more. There’s a heap of people ready to support them in their vitriol and not one stops to consider the well-being of the person behind the posts.

The thing is, everytime something like the page I’m talking about starts spewing forth opinions and hatred, more people rise. People who share the #illridewithyou hashtag. People who say “You do not speak for me”. People who can see beyond the actions of extremists and embrace humans, regardless of their religious beliefs. And for every ounce of ignorance, there seems to be double the weight in love and courage and humanity.

Because it just isn’t brave to be hateful and destroy.

It takes a lot more courage to love and create.

And yet somehow, this hate page has garnered a lot of support. And there are plenty more just like it.

Have we turned into a world that supports hatred? See, I don’t actually think that we have. I hope we haven’t.

And maybe, just maybe, that is the conclusion I’m looking for, in this blog post. Because I’m aware I haven’t said a huge amount, not really. And I’ve done nothing to empty the thoughts out of my head. But the crux of it is maybe those two words. And they might be what we need to take away when we see hate and vitriol on social media, alongside our friendships and our creativity and our passions. Two simple words, which are the ultimate response to hate and also to the pursuing of dreams. Just two words.

Here they are again:

I hope.