Tag Archives: memories

Remember When

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Those memory things on Facebook, they can either make your day or break your heart, can’t they. Some days it feels like all they show you is your dead pet caterpillar and what noxious weeds can do to your prize petunia; they can make you wonder why you wore what you did to a social event eight years ago and relive the cringe-worthy moment that you spouted your love publicly for a toad. Day ruined before it even starts. Other days though, you can see a pattern emerging, or evidence of change and growth.

Three years ago today, I was recovering from yet another broken ankle. This was the break that finally pushed me to see a different orthopaedic surgeon, who would reconstruct my ankle, repair my calf muscle and fix my Achilles – the steps towards being able to finally walk correctly after seven years of managing with an ankle I’d destroyed quite well after falling down some stairs.

Two years ago today, I was finally allowed to leave the house after being diagnosed with whooping cough. This was a scary time, I remember feeling like I was fighting for my life. Aside from just breathing, one of the main issues the doctor kept talking about was my co-morbidities. Isn’t that a reassuring phrase. The GP who was managing the whooping cough had written a referral to both a respiratory specialist, and also to the emergency room of the local hospital, just in case. As an asthmatic, whooping cough was quite problematic. But the other issue was my weight. It was a huge amount of excess load to be carrying around with me while I struggled from the nebuliser to bed, and back again. It also made treatment tricky – it wasn’t until the steroid dose was tripled that I started getting any form of relief.

Whooping cough was, I think, my absolute low point. At the time I felt like a victim. Like nothing was ever going to go right. That life was just relentless in it’s taunting and slaps. And even though I was surrounded by good people (albeit at a distance while I was in quarantine), I had a distinct feeling of being totally, utterly alone.

But evidently, something changed.

I had a slow recovery from whooping cough. Extreme tiredness. Trembling constantly because of all the medication and steroids. Gaining even more weight rapidly, again as a result of the steroids. But it wasn’t long after this that something shifted.

Because one year ago, on this day, I hatched the idea that maybe one day, I could be a personal trainer. And I referred to it so vaguely and so cryptically, that if I didn’t know that’s what I was talking about, I’d have skipped over the memory. But I knew what I was talking about.

I’d been going to the gym for about 8 months at this stage. Actually, maybe a bit longer. I’d made progress. I’d turned my sinking ship around and started sailing towards directions unknown, but I was OK with not knowing where I was going – I could feel myself being stronger and healthier and happier.

But I still had the issues of confidence and doubt. In that I had none of one, and a lot of the other. So much so, that when I finally squeaked the idea of being a PT out loud, I firmly believed I’d be laughed at and told to swallow a large dose of reality. But that’s not how it went at all.

As I spoke out that idea, it kept being met with unbridled joy and excitement. My people were confident in me, and urged me to push towards this goal.

I don’t think I’ve shared it here before, but I actually submitted my first expression of interest in the course around this time. When the information date rolled around, I panicked and didn’t go. I just didn’t go. The second time? I went.

Because now, on this day today, in 2017, I’m halfway through the Certificate IV in Fitness. I’m almost a personal trainer.

The facts?

I still have some weight to lose to be where I want to be. Not because of aesthetics, not because of the BMI – but for my goal of where I want to be. But I’m OK with that.

I still do not look like the traditional personal trainer. But I’m OK with that.

Already, I’ve seen that as an industry, there is a tendency to rely on how people look. In getting a job at fitness centres, how you look counts. And I’ve even seen and heard people commenting that they wouldn’t want a PT who doesn’t have a body they’d aspire to. But I’m actually OK with that one, as well.

I know my story. I know my truth. And I know that there are people that I can help, and perhaps best help because of this imperfect body.

And if nothing else, future Facebook memories will attest to that.

The point of this post?

As much as I hate the way the word has been trawled through crappy reality TV and cheap self help books, trust the journey. If you had told me on this day one year ago that I was indeed going to be a PT, I wouldn’t have believed you, even though the idea was in my mind. Certainly not when I was recovering from whooping cough. Not at all when I was sitting on my bottom watching my ankle change colours.

But sometimes, you can do nothing else but trust that somehow, you’re on a journey.

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Five

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I just did a very small amount of research to learn what milestones the average five year old child should be closing in on. Now, we all know there is no average child, and that these things should be fluid to allow for individual quirks and development, and so on and so forth. But hang in there with me. This is the site I went off, if you’re keen.

The milestones are in four categories: social, communication, cognition and physical. At five years old, kids should be:

  • wanting to please their friends, and be like their friends
  • showing concern and sympathy for others
  • speaking clearly and telling stories
  • counting to ten
  • copying shapes
  • using the toilet independently
  • balancing on one foot

… as well as several other key things.

Now look. I don’t know how much I agree with this list. I’ve met adults who struggle with some of them, and childhood seems to be such a small window, doesn’t it.

If I had to write a list for what I’d want five year olds to be able to do, it would look kind of like this:

  • know who you are, and what you like and what you don’t like – but be open to trying new things
  • know that even though some things might seem scary, with people you trust helping you they might not be so scary after a while
  • be able to be as independent as you need to be in given situations
  • be able to play on your own happily
  • be able to play in a group happily
  • treat people, and yourself, nicely
  • be excitable and silly and roll on the grass at every opportunity

Beloved and I are celebrating five years together today.

When she left for work this morning, I told her our jobs today were to come up with a list of five highlights. Here are mine.

1. Beloved is able to grow her love for other people. She never seems to have an empty love bucket, and she shares that stuff widely. When we meet new people, she welcomes them openly. When we make new friends, they are friends for life. She’s like the Magic Pudding, but with love.

2. When she laughs she laughs loudly and it cannot be contained. It’s frigging awesome. The people around her start laughing and then she laughs more and it carries on and on. It’s just the best.

3. When I broke my leg on the cruise she tried to not get off at the different ports, because she didn’t want to leave me. I made her get off, but to think she’d prefer to shove me around in a wheelchair instead of seeing some beautiful islands blew me away. And she didn’t bitch about it, didn’t complain – the broken leg didn’t bother her one iota. Not because she didn’t care, but because for her, it was more about the being – not about the doing.

4. I have a collection of photos of my beloved bending over. She might be looking for a DVD, or weeding a garden, or putting shoes on – any time her bum is up in the air, I take a photo. And every single time, she looks at me with the same expression on her face. Shock, and a kind of bewildered “Again?” look. I tell her I am going to make a Beloved Bum Calendar but I haven’t (yet). But this is the thing. She seems to enjoy my quirks, my humour, my strange little heart. And she’s made me see that maybe, just maybe, I’m not as bad as I used to think I was. So I will continue to photograph her arse. Because it makes me laugh, but not as much as the expression on her face when she hears the camera snap.

5. Finally. Beloved has been through so much with me. Surgeries. The Aspergers diagnosis. My stubbornness. My lack of flexibility when it comes to achieving something. My over-parenting of the fur babies. My frustration with her technology skills. But she keeps on loving and she keeps on adapting and she keeps on telling me it’s OK. And with her next to me, it usually is.

My list of milestones for a five year old are pretty much a summation of our relationship.

And I wouldn’t change a thing.

Underground

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When I was a kid my brother and I were frequent visitors to the video shop. We’d stroll up and down the aisles and inevitably come home with a selection of movies that we had watched a hundred times before. Dad would wait in the car until one of us ran out and told him we were ready. Then he’d stroll in, sigh at the collection of titles he’d sat through a million times before, put his card on the counter, pay, and we’d go home.

One of the videos we hired again and again was The Labyrinth. Have you seen it? Sarah asks the goblins to take away her squalling brother Toby. Jareth the Goblin King comes and takes Toby, and gives Sarah a time deadline to get to the castle in the middle of the labyrinth so that she can get her brother back. And then, the magic begins.

Jareth is played by David Bowie. His train crash tights in Labyrinth made me giggle stupidly as a kid, but we knew all the words and all the moves to this movie. It’s still a favourite, and I now have the DVD version sitting in my drawer, waiting for my sister to arrive tomorrow for a tribute session.

The song everyone knows from Labyrinth is Dance Magic Dance. But the one I love is Underground. Here it is:

Bowie singing this one has always sent me back to being a kid watching videos with my brother. The Labyrinth has and always will be a favourite for my family. I wish I could let mum know that the Goblin King has died, but I guess she’ll see him soon.

It’s only forever, not long at all; lost and lonely, that’s underground.

That’s the bitch of all this, isn’t it. When someone leaves it really is forever. But how long is that?

I saw some social media warrior post something about how ironic it was that now David Bowie has died everyone is suddenly his biggest fan. I don’t claim to be his biggest fan. But his music, especially in Labyrinth, was the soundtrack to my childhood. The soundtrack to having mum. The soundtrack to the time before adulthood and being all grown up.

So even though I’ve never written about David Bowie before, just indulge me while I remember the way life was in that childhood time.

Vale, David Bowie. And thank you for the music, the attitude, the bravery, the willingness.

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Little Memories

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Mrs Woog posed a question last night, regarding the heat and whether kids should be sent to school.

It reminded me of a time, when I was in around year 4.

It was swelteringly hot at the time. I was in a demountable classroom at my tiny little primary school. I was partnered up with a boy named Luke, and we were learning about invertebrates and skeletons and the like. The teacher had (somewhat foolishly, given the heat) brought in a couple of tins of sardines. We were pulling these oily little fish apart to look at their skeletons, when like a mirage my mum appeared at the classroom door. She laughed about the smell in the classroom and said she was here to take me home early, because it was hot and she’d finished work early.

That was a great day.

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Nothing Without Labour. My primary school emblem.

I remember another time at primary school.

I’d lost something in the playground, and had pilfered permission to go back to the playground to search for whatever it was I had lost. In a moment of ten year old logic, I climbed up the highest bars we had in the playground. Now, ordinarily I wouldn’t have attempted to climb these bars. They were really high. But up I went. Got to the top, turned myself around, and gazed over the empty playground. Then I realised how high I was. My friend Paul came trotting out of a classroom and asked me what I was doing. I shouted down to him that I was maybe a little bit stuck. He climbed up and then we climbed down together. I can’t remember if I found what I had lost.

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Miss Naughty Corner, in Kindy. Nothing much has changed.

The bus trip to and from school was long. I remember we were among the first kids on the bus and the last ones off. But in the morning as we came close to the school, there was a particular hill. And if you were in the back seat, and you bounced up and down and timed it just right, when the bus hit the bottom of that hill you’d get jolted up in the air. Another friend of mine lost her front tooth that way. But it was OK, it was a baby tooth.

This last memory I’m going to share with you is a bit fuzzy. Kind of like the lights are fully turned on in this part of my remembering, but I do like this memory.

It was very early in my schooling career. I think it was my first ever day of school. So I would have been 5. My sister, 9. And I remember her helping me get dressed. I had Strawberry Shortcake shoes. And a lisp. And for some reason I think my clothes were hanging over the grate that surrounded the fireplace, but then logic kicks in and I think but it would have been summer, why did we have the grate in place? Then adult reasoning kicks in, and to be honest I can’t imagine my parents packing up the grating just because the fire wasn’t being used. But yeah. My sister. Helping me get ready for school.

I loved primary school. It was small, it was safe, it was familiar. The wheels fell off a bit in high school because it the high school I went to was freaking huge. But isn’t it funny, how sometimes memories creep up behind you and embrace you and carry you back to a time when things were easier and gentler and nicer.

What was your favourite thing about primary school?

 

 

Sandwiches for lunch

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Why are cheese slices square but deli meats round?

It’s the big issues that worry my head on a Monday.

I’m currently listening to my beautiful beloved ranting at a Toll reminder notice, silently thinking about the Tolls I racked up in the trip to and from Sydney over the weekend. It’s good to be home.

The thing about the cheese and the deli meats occurred to me for one reason or another just a moment ago, but now it has reminded me of my Dad, and how he used to make our sandwiches for school. The family favourite was chicken loaf, closely followed by tomato sauce sandwiches. He even had a preferred fillings list that he taped to the bench, and every morning we’d trundle off to school, knowing that our sandwiches were going to be edible.

My brother and I were quite young when we were playing outside one weekend. I’m not sure why but we ran inside to make sandwiches, which then were stuffed into brown paper bags and shoved onto a rock while we rode our bikes on the driveway. He’s four years younger than me. We rode our bikes and performed skids and used one hand then no hands in our ever extending quest for greatness. Being someone who lived in their little creative imaginary world, I remember drifting away to a place where I was a member of the T Birds, from Grease. Remember those guys?

Source: Unknown

Source: Unknown

What I discovered while I was searching for that image was who Sandra Dee is! She was an actress who portrayed nice, virginal girls. Aren’t you glad I am so easily distracted?

Now, why I wanted to be a T Bird and not a Pink Lady has become clear (T Birds get the girls, der). However I was so caught up in my imaginations I didn’t notice what my brother was up to. So when we threw our bikes to the ground, grabbed our sandwiches and sat down on the grass to eat, I had no idea what he was giggling at.

I too a bite of the sandwich, and I remember feeling quite puzzled. I chewed, swallowed. Something was wrong with my Vegemite. I took another bite. Chewed. Opened my mouth, letting the sandwich therein drop to the grass. Had I put the paper bag inside the sandwich? How did I get dirt in there?

At this point my brother began to giggle.

I didn’t want him to know that I realised I had been pranked, so I never asked him about it. I actually don’t recall how the situation ended. But I do know I never conceded defeat.

I can still taste whatever the fuck it was he hid in my sandwich. And I remember the texture, too. The resources available to him offer me some comfort, knowing that at worst, it would have been dirt.

I’m pretty sure it wasn’t on Dad’s list of preferred fillings, though.

Have you ever eaten something that you shouldn’t have? By accident, or on purpose?

A Trip Down Mammary Lane

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In particularly foul weather, at the bottom of one of the footpaths at my primary school, an accumulation of water would gather. It seemed to be constant that we were reminded not to jump into the puddle on the morning assembly, but without fail my socks would be dripping wet and the legs of my class mates splashed with this puddle water by recess.

I have never been good at retaining the finer details of life.

Have you ever been back to your primary school? It’s stunning how we managed with such miniscule equipment, particularly when it seemed to be enormous when we were students. At my primary school, the back field was huge. Turns out it really wasn’t. The monkey bars that looked so damn near impossible to conquer have been ripped out and replaced with Styrofoam cups or something equally less dangerous.

Yes, I’ve taken a stroll down memory lane. My sister and I went to the Christmas Fete at the primary school we went to yesterday and it was great. I bought two tambourines and a pair of maracas for $3. Can’t WAIT to get them out for a surprise concert. i also got scammed with the spin a wheel thing. Turns out that not every ticket was $2 – I just stumbled along during a more expensive round. Didn’t win a chook.

But we had a sausage sizzle and checked out the classrooms and the toilets. I saw the place where I jumped in the puddles, much to the horror of one particular teacher who really should have known better than to forbid such an appealing act. I saw the classrooms I spent time outside of, for one discrepancy or another. I saw the room where the assemblies were held each week.

It was standard for kids to offer to perform at these assemblies if they had a special skill or something. I decided I simply must share my talent with the world, and volunteered to perform at the assembly one week. I was nervous. I was excited. I was going to be the BEST THING IN THE WORLD.

Then I sat down at the piano.

Now, I cannot play the piano. I can kind of bluff it now – but certainly when I was in primary school, the closest I had ever gotten to a piano was the electric toy keyboard we had at home, and the keys had numbers, which were printed on each individual key. Totally not a piano.

I think I covered my lack of skill quite well.

I asked the teacher to show me where the “5” key might be. This was when concern registered in her face, a concern that my growing confidence failed to assure.

I was ready.

I plinked and plunked with no regard for timing or musicality. I sung the note numbers under my breath as I took random guesses as to where they may be located on the piano. The result was a bizarre minuet that only I could hear the melody in.

I stood after a time, and smiled. Thanked the teachers, and returned to my seat on the floor.

My friends were giggling. So was I.

This story used to be really embarrassing, but I think the great thing about getting older is that you regain dignity and the ability to act confidently in public settings.

It was as I drove towards home that I realised that the uncomfortable feeling in my bra wasn’t a wire poking out to say hello. It was the end of my sausage sizzle, with a piece of onion attached, nestled happily amongst my ample bosom. Holding the sensory reminder of countless sausage sizzles past, I sniffed at the sausage and considered eating it.

Then my clutch died and I had to get the train home, abandoning the car and dealing with a fellow passenger on the train who had a strange pair of slippers and very long toenails.

But that is another story, best reserved for a later trip down mammary lane.

 

 

 

The Memory is Bigger

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My sister and I went to the local rural show yesterday. I grew up in the Hawkesbury, and my family still lives here. So when it was planned for me to come down for a few days, top of the priority list was spending quality time with my family going to the Hawkesbury Show.

I have always believed that the Hawkesbury Show was just as good as the Sydney show.

However it was with the rose glasses of childhood that I held this conviction, I discovered yesterday. The Show was awesome – very cool and full of all the stuff I wanted to see. But it is tiny. Very, very…. compact. It does have almost everything that the big Shows have. Just… less. But I think this is a good thing. It meant it was easy to see everything and because it wasn’t in my current suburb, I could run amok.

I took photos of bulls with big balls. Think cricket ball in a knee sock. Man. How do they even walk with those things hanging around? Total tripping hazard, right there.

I laughed at kids face-planting in the mud. Mud is a tradition at the Hawkesbury Show, and I saw three kids go belly up on the slip’n’slide that substituted for footpaths.

I reeled in horror with each and every sighting of tights as pants. This is a fashion trend that seems to be in full swing here, closely followed by animal print happy pants. While lining up to get in to the Show, we counted eight tights as pants wearers, and I think a good half dozen animal print happy pants. It was hard to tell. The leopard print really assisted with natural camouflage.

I wondered about the white pants the wood choppers wear. White pants, Volleys and singlets. I love the wood chops.

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It’s funny. As a kid, the local Show was big and awesome. It’s still awesome, and for many of the same reasons I loved it as a kid. If I’m in town when it’s election time, I love going to my old primary school. But again, the size of the place stuns me – how on earth did we play on such little play equipment? How did everyone in my school fit in the little classrooms?

Memory doesn’t seem to leave room for the changes we go through in the times that lapses between when the memory was made, and when we revisit the memory. I forget that I’ve grown up. I forget that I’ve seen bigger and different Shows now. I forget that as I’ve grown, I’ve been exposed to far worse fashions (denim undies, anyone?).

I think what I’m trying to convince myself of is that memories are formed in a time when we were in amongst it all. Somewhere, in the spaces in between, context and growth isn’t accounted for. With this in mind, I approach the tenth anniversary of my mum’s passing remembering that in the last ten years, I have grown and changed. I am in a new context.

I hope that this will make the grief seem smaller, no less important – but perhaps more manageable.