I am not old enough to have a nephew who is old enough to use Facebook. I am not old enough to have a nephew who is old enough to use Facebook. I am not old enough...

Bugger. Still not working.
crypticgirl: Kermit the frog smiling and waving a hand (woot!)
( Apr. 17th, 2009 01:35 am)
It's been a good birthday.

Thanks to everyone who sent me well wishes via various media. Thanks to the huggers-in-person. Thanks to those of you who quietly offer me love and support on a regular basis without asking for anything in return. Thanks to all of you really, for being your wonderful selves and being in my life. I feel like I learn so much from all of you on a daily basis.

No, I'm not drunk (...anymore). No, the impromptu ten pin bowling session with another half blind person (wherein the key questions in life became "Why do I keep getting so many gutterballs?" and "Is it my turn? I can't see the screen.") didn't cause any brain damage. I'm just feeling very loved at a time when I needed reminding of it. I may be alone in the sense that I'm not in a relationship right now, but I'm not alone in far more ways. I'll have to come back to this post when I need a kick up the bum.

After saying all that, talking about presents seems trivial. So I won't, except to say that I really appreciated Matt's gift because it was given with such generosity of spirit (he gave up his ticket to see Adam Hills so I could go), and I loved the card from my Mum. It just said lots of stuff about how she feels about me being her daughter. I'm glad we can express those things to each other.

I also bought myself a present this year, in the form of attendance at a workshop that I really enjoyed. I think getting myself a present should be a new tradition. :)

This year will be my last year in my twenties. I keep wondering where the time has gone, it feels like I've done so little with and there's so much left to do. In that sesne it would be great to be able to turn back the clock. On the other hand, I know I've had to go through a lot of stuff to get to where I am now, and where I am now is a pretty good place, relatively speaking. I look back on the person I was at nineteen and feel like I've come a long way.

I can only hope that when I'm thirty nine I can look back over the coming decade with the same sense. There are many things I want to do, yes, but a lot of it is fine detail. If I manage to grow as a person and work to make the world a better place in this lifetime then I will consider myself very lucky indeed.
crypticgirl: (home stuff)
( Apr. 9th, 2009 10:39 pm)
I spent five days in Sydney last week. It started out with two days at a major conference -- most of which was spent freaking out that I'd have to give my boss' speech, with all of two days to prepare. For me, preparation means memorising the whole speech. There's no way I can hope to read fluently and keep my place without having a sheet of paper up to my nose and that's not viable, as options go.

The speech seemed to go okay, which is a Good Thing given the prestige of the conference, which had keynotes from very prominent politicans, public servants and academics. The plenary sessions, where I spoke, were reserved for mere CEOs. I did not go into the foetal position. I did not swear. I did not resort to interpretive dance. GO ME.

About my time with my Mum. Cut for a serious case of tl;dr )
Today I got photos of my half sister and half brother. I now also have photos of my (older-than-me!) niece and nephew, my half-sister's kids. If you thought that might make me feel weird about the odd generational stuff in my family - my half siblings came along about twenty five or thirty years before I did - it gets weirder.

I have been a great-aunt for the last nine years. I have three great-nephews and a great-niece.
crypticgirl: (xmas)
( Dec. 25th, 2008 12:30 am)
When I was little my Christmases always went the same way: Get up before the sun to open presents. Eat chocolate for breakfast. Play with my 'new' things. New books or toys in my house were almost always second hand; growing up in a single parent household meant that buying things which had never been used before was a rare indulgence. Then we'd shuffle out of the house to go and have a bland Christmas lunch with my grandfather at the local nursing home. It was always thin slices of barely identifiable meat with watered down gravy and overcooked vegetables. My grandfather was always slightly surly with nothing much to say to us, and we were always writhing in our chairs, waiting to go to the river.

The river was our real Christmas place. It ran through a small farm owned by old family friends, hippies who grew most of what they ate and otherwise subsisted through the earnings of the husband, an accountant who I've never seen out of sandals and an old t-shirt worn down to the bare threads. They would invite all of their friends to their property for Christmas day - young and old, Christian or not. Many of their friends - and by association, my Mum's friends - celebrated summer solstice as a religious holiday, so Christmas celebrations were purely secular. There were only a few rules: Bring a plate for the trestle table set up on the riverbank. If you're male, you have to participate in a game of cricket or volleyball before you jump in the water. You can go into the water naked if you like, and if you want to wear swimmers you at least need to be comfortable with naked people around you.

I think there was also a rule about no dive-bombing off the log in the middle of the water. Of course none of us kids paid any attention to that one, so it wasn't really a rule.

I learned to swim in that river. Not in the same way you learn about in swimming classes at school, where they put you in a pool and make you practice careful strokes under a watchful eye. I learned to fight a strong current, to dodge others, to look for obstacles when you can barely see anything around you. I learned about tradition there, that tradition comes from a vision of better things and the desire of a lot of people to make it work. Sometimes, I learned, traditions also die. As the families grew up and the kids left the area the Christmases at the river have stopped. Barely any of us are local any more.

Since then I haven't really had a Christmas tradition. I've been hither and thither and yon, living in different parts of the country. Some Christmases have been with my mother by the beach. Some have been with the partner du jour and their families. One or two have been with my sister and her children, though I try to avoid those where I can because the temptation to say "Ye gods, why have you bought them ALL THIS STUFF?" is too great. Especially after a three hour repetition of the same battery-operated toy noise.

This Christmas day will be spent with Matt, cooking food and talking. He's in town because he's only got a short break and no desire to spend most of it travelling, I'm in town because Mum has just moved to a much smaller place and would like some peace and quiet. It'll be a good day, even if it doesn't get me any closer to building another tradition or routine.

I'm slowly coming to realise, though, that maybe I don't need a tradition or a routine. I just need good memories of Christmases past, and to create some good new memories out of the day right in front of me. So that's what I'll do.

Happy Christmas to those of you who celebrate it. And to all of you, may you have many good and loving memories to keep with you.
crypticgirl: Willow from Buffy with the words 'tell me a story' (storytime)
( Nov. 6th, 2008 09:23 pm)
Buying presents for my nieces has always been a problem. Sometimes it's a problem because I try my best to avoid cutesy pink clothes, even when my sister has requested that I give them clothing and the only thing in Target is a swathe of fairy floss shades. Then there are the problems caused by wanting to buy them books, which are entirely different. It's Baby Bird's birthday soon so that's what I spent Wednesday night doing.

The biggest problem is that I get completely absorbed in the beautiful and engaging picture books which abound these days. This might not sound like much of a problem until you get to the bit where I have to pick a finite number to leave the shop with, usually only one or two. It's incredibly difficult, especially if I have to make a choice in a finite period of time. I really should have learned by now not to go into the children's book section half an hour before the shop closes.

Fortunately, there are some kinds of books I like better than others. I like books with pictures that pull you into the world of the story rather than simply echoing what's on the page. I'm not quite sure what the distinction is, but I suspect it's a couple of things. Bringing the text into the picture instead of having them be two separate entities helps. Having the picture give meaning to an abstract set of words is good, as is making simple words seem more meaningful with more complex pictures which carry light and shade. I was perusing through the 'older' picturebooks mostly; you see much more simple, two dimensional, narrative stuff in the younger books, which makes sense. It's nice that Baby Bird is at the age where I can choose richer things.

Content is a bit trickier, even though I'm now operating with some idea of Baby Bird's current reading level. In my view, the ideal book for a kid has to have language which is mostly stuff they'll manage okay, but with some difficult words or new concepts thrown in. With my sister's kids I'm also careful about picking out books which might require high parental enforcement: this left me quietly sad that I would never be able to buy them any of Shaun Tan's picture books, which are beautifully illustrated, simply written stories about subjects children aren't readily exposed to, like depression, war and the interlopers who push the indigenous down. They'd be great for the Sundance Kid and maybe Miss Muffet, who could read at an eight to ten year old level, I think. But there's no way anyone in their house could discuss the underlying themes with them.

I ended up choosing a book purely on instinct. It's called The Tickle Tree and its about using your imagination to go to fun places. The language is very Jabberwocky, the words aren't in straight lines and after thinking about why I chose it, maybe I'm hoping that the notion that she can close her eyes and go to other places in her head will help Baby Bird to stop physically running every time the front door opens. Not that wanting to get out of her family home isn't a commendable instinct, but it's also not a safe one in a six year old.

Of course all this careful planning and scoping isn't going to make her like the damn thing.
crypticgirl: (Default)
( Oct. 2nd, 2008 09:25 pm)
I spoke to my half sister tonight for the very first time. There aren't really any words for this kind of happy.

I mean, I'm aware we may not keep in touch or that we may not even get along in the longer run, but I know her. I've heard her voice...

For the first time I can think of myself as one of four siblings, the youngest of three sisters.
crypticgirl: (Default)
( Oct. 1st, 2008 10:03 pm)
There are many sad things about visiting my sister's house. She and her kids live in a state of chaos, and it's both amazing and maddening to see how quickly they can flourish in the short time my Mum and I visit. Read them a book and they'll come back to ask for more stories, and they'll even read back to you. Catch them being good and they beam. Tell them when to stop in a quiet voice and they quickly learn to listen. Cuddle them and they will begin to see you as their personal couch... which is fine up until you get a shoulder rammed against the side of your pelvic bone, as I discovered.

I got a newfound appreciation for my Dad's ability to tell stories off the cuff while I was there. One night Miss Muffet wanted a story after they were already tucked in bed. I didn't want to encourage her to get up to grab a book because I knew the other two little ones would follow her straight away and we'd have to get out the industrial strength fishing nets again to round them all up. I came up with something, but it was the crappest crap that ever crapped.

In their house there is no music. The only ambient sound is either people arguing or the television. So one night when Mum and I were making the salad for dinner, I asked, "Do you want to sing something?"

It was a stupid question, really. Mum and I have been singing together for years. I can't sing very well at all most of the time because of my hearing, but singing with Mum seems to make it a bit better. The two of us sang our way through all the years we spent together after my sister left home. We'll sing almost anything - love songs, sad songs, Christmas carols in the middle of July. Especially Christmas carols in the middle of July.

So we began a very loud, very cheerful rendition of 'The Glory of Love' from Beaches (the Youtube clip can be found here, text lyrics are here). My sister just looked at us as though we belonged in an asylum. My nephew, who is sixteen and very, very used to our singing, gave us a shy grin before going back to pretending he didn't care. My nieces had all been playing in the backyard. Slowly three sets of hands and three sets of eyes appeared at the kitchen door. At first they kept their distance because they didn't know what the hell was up, and then they came in the door and stared and stared. They were fascinated.

The next day I was reading a story with Baby Bird who kept pointing at the page as though she were reading and making up sentences so she could 'read' to me, and I began to sing under my breath to her. Mum came past and informed me that I couldn't do that; the kids were starting to make loud and tuneless 'la la la' noises and my sister didn't want them to. I looked at her sadly. I didn't need to say that the kids *should* be making loud and annoying tuneless sounds to learn to sing. She already knew.

Still, that night is one of my fondest memories of my sister's kids. It was like watching a light go on behind their eyes, just for a moment.
crypticgirl: (Default)
( Sep. 28th, 2008 10:32 am)
This week has been many things, but 'relaxing' isn't one of them. Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday were work days full of meetings in Canberra and Sydney. The meetings - especially the ones with politicians - were really cool and a great learning experience, but as the people with hearing impairments reading this will tell you, any meeting is a huge drain on energy levels, especially if you don't know everyone concerned.

Then it was off to my sister's place for a few days to catch up with her and the kids as well as my exceedingly excellent mother. My boss sent me a text on the first day to say she hoped I was having a nice rest. This made me laugh uproariously, because clearly she has never spent time in a confined space with a sixteen year old, a twelve year old, a ten year old and a five year old ALL AT ONCE. That's without taking into account that the sixteen year old has an intellectual disability which means he has a mental age of about five, and the twelve year old has suspected ADHD. Alll of these kids have varying levels of developmental delays; the middle kids are in special education classes and the five year old will be repeating kindergarten next year because she's just not coping. Spending time with them is always delightful in many ways, but restful isn't the way I'd describe it.

Yesterday we scattered Dad's ashes and I left for the city to catch up with a friend. Said friend and I had a lovely afternoon walking around the Harbour and drinking cocktails, but this person is going through a very rough time of things at the moment (yes, even relative to what I've been through recently) so I spent most of my time listening and reassuring. We did talk a bit about my stuff too, but the balance was very heavily going the other way this time. This isn't a problem in that I love this person and being there is important, but it did leave me with a huge case of the sooks this morning because I wanted someone to be taking care of me for a fricking change.

The solution? I've poured myself a nice hot cup of internet at a local convenience store because even though I know I'll be able to use my own net connection tonight at home I need to feel like I'm in touch with people. When I am done here I have plans to duck into the Perfect Potion shop in the Queen Victoria Building, where I will try not to buy out the whole place before I meet up with Miss Maybe (whose identity should be clearly apparent to those of you who know her just from the moniker) for lunch. Normally I find Miss Maybe a little difficult to be around because it takes a lot to draw  her out on the heart of a matter; how she feels is kept very much under wraps. Today that makes her the perfect person to be with.

It will be so nice to get back to my own space tonight. I'm sick of hotels and mattresses on the floor.
crypticgirl: (Default)
( Sep. 21st, 2008 06:02 pm)
In the lead up to the funeral, people kept telling me that the ceremony would give me a sense of closure. In some ways I feel as though the exact opposite is true. Yes, I've managed to tie off aspects of my relationship with my Dad. But at a time when I was already questioning a lot of things about who I am and what I want to be, this has spun me in different directions altogether. Some of it appears to be an accelerating of ideas and thoughts which were already happening, and some of it is completely out of left field. I think maybe his death is giving me permission to think and feel and see things I didn't want to before.

This is so hard. Change is never easy, but in the middle of grief and with no simple answers it feels like it's extra tough. I miss being sure about myself, or at least having the illusion that I was sure about myself. Some of the stuff I'm going through is ... odd, and it's calling into play almost everything I think and believe. Suddenly it feels as though I have no idea who I am or where I'm going.

I know that if I'm ever so sure of myself that I become truly complacent I will be living the kind of dull life I never want to have. I just wish it didn't have to be quite this interesting at just this point.
crypticgirl: (Default)
( Sep. 20th, 2008 10:31 pm)
I think it was [livejournal.com profile] rickybuchanan who first introduced me to the concept of chosen family, though in reality I'd been thinking about it for a while before then, just without the words to frame it. For me, chosen family means the people in my life who feel more like family even though they're not blood relatives. Funnily enough, I consider my Mum to be in this category because, as those of you who have met her can attest, my mother is made of awesome. She and I are very close.

more ramblings under here )
crypticgirl: (Default)
( Sep. 5th, 2008 12:28 am)
Thank you so much to everyone who has responded to my last post or to me in person or email with hugs, condolences, love and sympathy. I care very much for you all and deeply appreciate the thoughts. I intend to respond to everyone, but it's taking most of my energy just to hold it together at the moment.

I've gone to work the last couple of days in a conscious effort to keep myself around people. My office is full of stressed out people with far too much on their plates, but somehow we all find the time to care for each other when the proverbial hits the fan. Nobody minds if I need to go for a walk for a little while or just shut myself off with a cup of tea. With the help of my colleagues I've worked out that because this year has been so very crappy, next year I should be owed a million bucks and a Swedish masseuse boyfriend. And a pony.

(And yes, it would be preferable if the Swedish masseuse could show up riding the pony, which for the purposes of that fantasy will be known as 'the white steed'.)

The funeral is arranged for next Tuesday. I'll be flying up to Sydney for the day and coming straight back; I'd arranged to take some leave at the end of the month for a visit anyway. In some ways I think that will be better for all of us - Mum, Sarah and I will all have the space to process things a bit before coming together.

Speaking of family, my mother was tossing up whether or not she should contact my half sister (Dad's other daughter) to let her know. The last time they'd spoken was several years ago when Dad was really sick and it looked like he might die. Her response then was "I don't want to know anything more about him, even if he dies." I've no idea why. My bad experiences with Dad were very specific to being a disabled kid with a father who thought he could heal anyone.

So Mum was really torn about calling her. I suggested that whatever was said several years ago, she should at least know so she could tell her children and my half brother. When Mum rang my half sister said she was so glad Mum had called. Moreover, she said she wants to have contact with Sarah and I, and to know about us. I really hope this happens. She could fill in so many gaps about my Dad. I've never met anyone from his side of the family, and it feels like I have a very lopsided family tree. It would also be nice to know if there are other people out there who look like me. I'm very much my mother's daughter, but most of my physical appearance is from Dad's side. I'm not pinning too much on it, though - she may change her mind. It seems almost like too big a gift to come out of this.

As for how I'm feeling... well, it varies. I'm more familiar with grief than most twenty-eight year olds. I know it comes and goes and you can't predict two minutes ahead. Losing my hearing was so hard in part because I thought I should feel the one thing all the way through. After losing Jim nearly two years ago I already feel like I know what losing a father can mean in some small sense. I'm really just marking time until the funeral, when hopefully some doors will finally close.
crypticgirl: (Default)
( Sep. 2nd, 2008 07:54 pm)
My mother just rang to tell me that my Dad died this afternoon. He was 93 and we hadn't really had a relationship to speak of since I finished school ten years ago, but this is a shock nonetheless.


crypticgirl: (Default)


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