Ch-ch-ch-ch-changes…. (part 2)

So where was I? Oh yes… bonking the graphic designer. Ha! Sorry… I was starting work as the bookkeeper/office administrator for my dad’s new business. It was 1991. I was young, keen, enthusiastic but sort of aimless. I worked to live, definitely not lived to work.

As the years went by this job kept me secure and anchored through university studies, another relationship (and eventual marriage), trying (and failing) to have children, adopting children, building a house, selling a house, moving into a new house, selling the house, moving into an apartment, getting divorced… not necessarily in chronological order.

Basically this job was my rock, my home away from home, my constant in an ever changing world.

While it may not have tickled my creative spot I am eternally grateful for the privilege of a secure income and flexible employment during all of my major life upheavals. It can not be underestimated how lucky I have been to have fallen into a job which has allowed me to study and raise my kids on a solid foundation.

(May I also say how lucky we all were that this fledgling business with no right to succeed has gone from a turnover of around $100,000 a year and three employees to 16+ employees and a turnover nudging $5 million. Goodness knows we’re all pretty surprised around here.)

But in recent months things have changed and I have taken those changes to mean it is time to uproot. My dad has finally sold his share of the business and semi-retired. An opportunity presented itself earlier this year which, at first, I was dubious about… but then decided to throw myself into it. It seemed that life were nudging me to step out of my safety zone and test myself a little.

This opportunity is still changing in its form but in essence I will be operating a café situated in a beautiful park with an all abilities playground run by the wonderful Touched by Olivia organization. So I will be able to work with food (my love) and with my love (The Comedian) in a social enterprise environment with aims and goals I feel strongly about.

I’m confident of the future though it is still hazy in detail. I have become lazy and complacent after so many years in a safe and stable job I know inside out. But I’m not too old to learn and the part of me that isn’t shit scared is buoyed by the excitement of trying something new, testing myself and changing all the parameters of my life.

As I clean up files, shred old documentation, transfer data files onto a portable hard drive and make notes about what things I need to show my replacement I don’t feel very sad, right now it doesn’t feel that real. I’m sure as my last few days here approach I will feel nostalgic or something close to that but right now my feelings come in waves: fear, excitement, loss, uncertainty, excitement, hope. I’m unsure yet confident that all will turn out as it should.

Onward.

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Ch-ch-ch-ch-changes…. (part 1)

Ch-ch-ch-ch-changes
(Turn and face the strange)
Ch-ch-changes
Don’t want to be a richer man
Ch-ch-ch-ch-changes
(Turn and face the strange)
Ch-ch-changes
Just gonna have to be a different man
Time may change me
But I can’t trace time

(David Bowie “Changes”)

I’ve been at my present job for just short of 25 years. Well and truly over half my life time. It’s hard to get my head around at times. I started my working life as a typesetter. It was an accident really. I had little clue about what I wanted to “do with my life” (as we so grandly seem to say these days) when I left school a few months before my 16th birthday. I knew two things: 1) I wanted to make money and 2) I wanted to leave home. The first was a necessary precursor to the second.

I had been working after school and during school holidays at a child care centre where, at the ripe old age of 14, I would often be left in charge of a room full of toddlers. Because at 14 I actually felt more like an adult than I do now (because ignorance is bliss yo!) I took this completely in my stride and loved it. What I loved best was the money. My very own money that I didn’t have to ask my mum for. I could do whatever I pleased with it and that feeling was bloody intoxicating. Like your average meth head, I was hooked baby.

So the year was 1983 and I was in Year 10 and there was no way in hell I was staying on. I knew the workload that the HSC required didn’t work well with the amount of partying and slacking I was intent on doing. Plus it did not work with my plan of earning money and moving out of home (see above).

Despite the protestations of my parents (who had, after all, travelled around the world and survived countless hardships to provide me with this better life and these opportunities) I was dead set on being a working girl. So my dad lined up some work experience for me at the HCF art department (because what 15 year old girl doesn’t want to do something “arty”?). Of course the art department did not involve any actual art. We produced the brochures, posters and forms required to make a paper addicted 1980s corporation run.

That was fine by me. I did my week’s worth of work experience and fell in love with working in the city. There was nowhere I felt more alive than in the city. I loved working with adults (who strangely seemed to take me seriously), I loved being productive, I loved the hubbub of the city, I loved buying my buttered finger bun at the deli downstairs for morning tea.

The work experience led to me being offered a full time job as a “junior”. Looking back it isn’t impossible that my dad twisted some arms to get me in there. It’s never been expressly stated but as a parent now I wonder…

Anyway, in December 1983 I started full time work. In those days I was keen, eager and ambitious. I learnt the trade of typesetting and finished art quickly and progressed as different technology (cough… what passed for technology in the mid 1980s wouldn’t look out of place in a dinosaur museum today) was introduced. I moved from company to company and enjoyed the people and the challenges… oh, and the money.

Sorry I’m meandering… At the end of 1990 I was working part time at a small design/type agency in Surry Hills and wasn’t really sure what it or I was all about. I was bored and listless. So when my dad told me he was starting an engineering company with his business partner and would I come work for them as a bookkeeper I couldn’t see why not. I knew little about bookkeeping (though I had done an evening touch typing and bookkeeping course during Year 10 – who remembers the Receptionist Centre Girl ads?) and double entry journal keeping was certainly amongst my considerable skill set.

January 1991 I was ensconced in our new offices in Ultimo. It was mostly boring at that stage. Just me, dad and Bob. I was lucky if I put out one invoice a month. I think we turned over about $100,000 that year. Microsoft it wasn’t. But I kept myself busy by making sandwiches for us all for lunch, soldering the occasional batch of circuit boards, getting divorced from husband #1 and bonking the graphic designer who shared our office space.

Part 2 coming soon…

Mum’s The Word

This is a whinge of sorts so turn back now if you’re not in the mood. You have been warned.

I worked bloody hard to become a mum. None of this wham-bam-thank-you-ma’am-you’re-up-the-duff business for me. Years of tears, of tests, of hating myself, others, everyone, of hopelessness, of anger, of the usual pointless why-me-not-fair bullshit, then years of putting on the big girl panties and toughening the fuck up and learning to deal with bureaucracies and asshole pen pushers and waiting and waiting and waiting. So much fucking waiting. I’m not good at waiting (surprise!). I’m not good at letting others be in control (surprise!). But that’s been the story of my road to motherhood.

I may have been a more carefree and easy going person before all this but maybe I’m kidding myself. Maybe I’ve been a shithead all along.

Anyway, my babies did come along eventually. Not via the stork or the vag but via South America. They were hard won and loved so very much. They say love is enough but I don’t think it is.

Right now my babies are driving me mental and I feel completely crap because I DO-NOT-KNOW-HOW-TO-DEAL-WITH-IT.

Every day I wake up with a belief that I can do this mothering thing and every day I am proven wrong. The main problem seems to be that my children think a mother is a slave who does every little thing for you, requires you to do absolutely nothing to help yourself or contribute to the household within which you live, pay for and buy for you anything you think you “need” at the exact moment you NEED it and generally act as if your every whim is their only concern.

Undoubtedly I have contributed to this misunderstanding because I just get on and fucking do stuff…I work full time so need to make sure the laundry is done, the dishes are clean, there is food in the fridge and the floors get vacuumed on a reasonably regular basis. I admit that it’s just easier to do it myself than to spend half an hour arguing and cajoling my children to participate in the care of their own environment. They always have a bloody reason as to why they can’t do it: they did it last time (they didn’t), he/she ALWAYS does it and why doesn’t their brother/sister have to do it this time, they are busy and will do it LATER, they are not very good at doing it… the list goes on and on.

So rather than do the Supernanny thing and be consistent and force them (how exactly) to do the small tasks they need (should) to be doing I swear a lot, threaten the destruction of all their valuables and just do the fucking jobs myself. This is not good parenting, I know that… and worse, they know that. They prey on it. They have it down to a fine art form and I am defeated by them day in, day out.

Being a single mum does not give me a satisfactory excuse for this situation. But it does add to my feeling of isolation and unfairness-ness and frustration. I have no back up when the poop starts flying. It’s just me versus the childlings and I am outnumbered and outwitted.

I have realised that all they retain is the negatives. I will say and do 100 positive things a day for and with them but it’s the few negatives I say in anger and desperation that they remember. “Why do you ALWAYS yell at us?”… “Why are you so MEAN?”… “You’re not baking something AGAIN?!”

So I’ve just learnt that like all relationships parenthood is a lot of tears. I came to parenthood through oceans full of tears and my parenthood journey is a lot more tears. It’s not how it looked in the brochures. To be frank I’m fucking sick of tears.

I don’t know why but writing this has made me think of this scene from my favourite movie Say Anything:

Lloyd Dobler: You used to be fun. You used to be warped and twisted and hilarious… and I mean that in the best way – I mean it as a compliment!

Constance: I was hilarious once, wasn’t I?

Like Constance I was hilarious once. I was warped and twisted and full of life and now I’m worn out and a little tired and a little sad and a little what-the-fuck-happened-to-my-life.

(No need to call the authorities… regular transmission will resume shortly.)

August

Tomorrow is the start of August. I’m excited about August. There are special things happening.

A day which isn’t meant to mean anything but means a lot to me.

A big birthday for someone very special to me.

August was meant to be the end of something but looks like it won’t be. It’s the month before September and for the past six months or so it’s been SEPTEMBER in my mind. A month of change, a looming month, a pivotal month. But now it’s unlikely September will be that month so I’m refocusing on August and letting September go, setting it free.

It’s amazing how some days seem like a battle, like nothing will ever work out, like nothing is worth the trouble… and other days everything seems so easy, what will be will be, the future’s not ours to see (nod: Doris Day), life is just how it is, nothing more, nothing less.

This time last year I was getting ready for the New York trip with the Joker. My goodness I love New York, it’s my happy place. I yearn for the streets and the light and the smell and the bars and the $1 oyster happy hour, the surprises around each corner, walking, my sister. I want to go again; often I get an attack of NEW YORK. My brain starts to work out the logistics of just going, next week. But I don’t. I’m an adult, of sorts. It hasn’t much to do with August… except I’ve been to New York in August/September two years in a row and my heart is telling me to go.

But instead I’m going to stay right here and jump into August feet first… and see where the road takes me.

Pop Up

This blog is badly neglected. I don’t know why. Well I do: mainly laziness and an “I’ll get around to it” attitude. I think about it often, every day just about. I read other blogs and I intend to visit mine. Regularly I have an idea for a blog post that feels so very important at that time, it just about writes itself in my mind instantly…  usually when I’m driving or pushing the trolley around Coles or doing one of a gazillion other things. But when I’m actually near a computer all inspiration evaporates and I lazily spend my time reading others’ writing or mindlessly scrolling Facebook. Bad habits: I’m completely made up of them.

There is a lot of stuff swirling around me right now. Almost every aspect of my life has either undergone changes or is about to undergo changes and yet I can’t write about most of it. Some is personal, some is temporarily secret, some is hard to grasp and wrangle into submission with a couple of hundred words in a blog post.

I walk a constant and ever evolving tightrope between gratefulness, joy, satisfaction, plenty and yearning, frustration, crazy anger, defeat.

I want to process my life and thoughts through my writing but I am overwhelmed by too much and not enough.

By no means is this a whingey  post. I didn’t pop up to whine about anything. Life is pretty fucking marvellous really. Wouldn’t be dead for quids. I guess I’m just trying to put into words where I’m at right now. Somewhere and nowhere, like everybody else.

I’ll leave you with my go to song of the moment. You know I’ve been having a very public, very annoying yet totally beautiful love affair with Mr Frank Turner for the last two years and this song has been my almost daily mantra for the past few weeks. I’m all about the lyrics and this song says everything I need to remember right now.

If Ever I Stray

Forgive me someone, for I have sinned
And I know not where I should begin
Some days it feels like you just can’t win
No matter what you do or say.

Things didn’t kill me but I don’t feel stronger
Life is short but it feels much longer
You’ve lost that drive, you’ve lost that hunger
To pull yourself through the day.

But if ever I stray from the path I follow
Take me down to the English Channel
Throw me in where the water is shallow
And then drag me on back to shore!

‘Cos love is free and life is cheap
As long as I’ve got me a place to sleep
Clothes on my back and some food to eat
I can’t ask for anything more

Come on everybody sing it 1, 2, 3, 4

We’ve all got secrets that we hold inside
The worst little things that we try and defy
The worst one of all that you never can hide
Is that you’re never quite as strong as you sound

So I’m sorry baby, for the times I’ve hurt you
Sorry friends, for the times I desert you
Most days it feels like I don’t deserve you
No wonder that you’re all still around

But if ever I stray from the path I follow
Take me down to the English Channel
Throw me in where the water is shallow
And then drag me on back to shore!

‘Cos love is free and life is cheap
As long as I’ve got me a place to sleep
Clothes on my back and some food to eat
I can’t ask for anything more

Come on everybody sing it 1, 2, 3, 4

Come on and join me in the water
Swim for hope
Sometimes it’s hard to remember
I couldn’t do this on my own

If ever I stray from the path I follow
Take me down to the English Channel
Throw me in where the water is shallow
And then drag me on back to shore!

‘Cos love is free and life is cheap
As long as I’ve got me a place to sleep
Clothes on my back and some food to eat
I can’t ask for anything more

I can’t ask for anything more

The path I chose isn’t straight and narrow
It wanders ’round like a drunken fellow
Some days it’s hard for me to follow
But if you’ve got my back I’ll go on.
If you’ve got my back I’ll go on.

Happy Happy Joy Joy

Sometimes things happen which are just happy happy joy joy things. Today such a thing happened. No, McNulty didn’t get run over by a truck. No, Fred Nile didn’t get discovered in a parliamentary closet wearing a gimp outfit buggering a goat. Much, much better than that.

Frank Turner. Is. Coming. To. Australia.

Frank Turner is my gift from The Joker. When we first met he said “have you heard this?” (I’m paraphrasing) and played me a bit of “Photosynthesis” and then a bit of “Substitute” and I fell deeply madly in love with two men in the one moment. No matter what happens with The Joker he’s given me the gift of Frank and I’ll always be grateful. No-one really gets my obsession but Frank talks (sings) directly to my heart.

Since I first heard him I’ve longed to see him live. Frank is awesome live. To stand in the audience and sing along, badly and loudly, to his songs would be a spiritual experience.

Imagine my joy when an hour ago I checked Facebook to find that he’s coming to Australia to perform at the BluesFest next Easter.

Such bursts of excitement are rare and this one took me back to the moment I was invited to meet the Chili Peppers before their 1995 Sydney Entertainment Centre show. I remember getting the letter in the mail from their touring company and actually screaming and jumping up and down (I was a lot younger then).

When you’re old/er and a little tired and a little downtrodden by life and ex’s and kids and boring jobs it’s nice to get that alive feeling, the adrenalin pumping, the excitement surging.

So a year and a half after first meeting Frank Turner I’ll actually get to see him live and in the flesh, hopefully with The Joker by my side. Is there anything better than having something awesome to look forward to?

Old dog, new tricks

It’s refreshing and exhilirating that even in middle age one can try something different; something one may have been worried about, been scared of or had simply avoided because of the fear of the unknown. It doesn’t have to be a big thing, it can be a very small thing, but it can live in your drawer labelled “taboo” and can easily be avoided and ignored. But then you try it because the opportunity arises and the world doesn’t end, an ambulance is not required and, in fact, you realise it’s actually really fun, wonderful actually.

Such moments don’t come along every day but when they do a new little door opens, a new little part of you is discovered. A personal tiny fireworks moment. I’m so thankful for such moments.

I hate to keep quoting that modern sage but as Justin Bieber says “never say never”.