Commando

I’m not sure if I have mentioned that a year ago, I resigned my paid position and took some time off, for a few reasons which don’t matter in this tale. After a year, my job at home is almost done.

Last week, I attended a job interview, ready to get back into the workforce, and wow people with my skills. Well that was the plan, anyway. I agonised for two weeks about what I should wear, because horror of horrors, while I have been not working, I have gradually culled my wardrobe of old or ill-fitting items. Unfortunately, this included some of my work wear, and shoes.

In the end, on the morning of the interview, I raced into Myer at Chadstone (yes I know ‘raced’ and ‘Chadstone’ are mutually exclusive terms, rarely seen in the one sentence), found a suitable, stylish, not-like-everyone-else-has top, and wore it with my 5 year old navy slacks and my eldest daughter’s great shiny black flats (sorry honey, I think I mentioned that, didn’t I?). I took my usual black leather bag (too bad I only just noticed the unravelled zip and stitching on one side), which, now I think of it, is my only bag. In short, I was a bit cobbled together, but relatively OK with my look. The kind public servants who interviewed me didn’t wince or show any other signs of revulsion, so I guess it was all OK. I don’t think I got the job though…

Anyway, this aside is relevant, because it goes to my love-hate relationship with clothes. So, over the year, not having to dress for work, my standards have, I admit, fallen somewhat.

It started with the rationalisation that because I was out walking early most mornings, it was OK to go into my favourite coffee shop in my active wear, you know, runners, baggy trakkies and stretchy t-shirt, sometimes bra-less, and generally with unshaven legs as well. And over winter, I reasoned that it was OK to continue this habit, even on days I wasn’t out walking, and sometimes even past 10am, when the world and his wife were out in Oakleigh.

Once, I even wore Ugg boots down the street, just for a quick coffee grab, on a bitterly cold day. I was desperate.

As the weather warmed, I wore slightly less daggy knee length trakkies and even a new t-shirt. But then IT happened. On a particularly hot day in January, I travelled by public transport out to the wilds of Heidelberg, a trip which involved some walking, train, train and more walking, up a hill, on a 38 degree day. The trouble was, I was in my respectable, slightly stiff three quarter pants, which on this occasion chafed. Badly. So badly in fact, that as soon as I returned home, some sweaty and uncomfortable hours later, I ripped of the offending item, and my knickers, showered, then spent the rest of that day, and the next, ‘commando’, because I was sooo chafed.

And I liked it.

I haven’t gone commando for a very long time, probably 25 years, since that is the age of my eldest child, and who wants their little darlings describing their nether regions to the local kindy teacher (like the time 4y.o. told her teacher that my friend Linda and I always drank beer – we didn’t, but the kids couldn’t read the label on wine bottles at that age).

So there I was, 2 days commando, and having perfectly sensible conversations with my now grown-but-still-living-at-home children, trying not to laugh as I pictured their faces if I told them…oh, how I longed to!

With the job interview looming, I reigned in my base behaviour and tried to recall a more upmarket self, who shaved her legs, wore bras every day, and of course, always had knickers. I looked at myself more carefully in the mirror, made sure I had a good haircut, did my nails, and practised talking about something other than the latest Netflix series I had binged on. The interview came; I remembered to sit up straight, speak clearly and maintain eye contact, whilst wondering if I had taken the tag off my new top and done up my fly.

Then today, when I changed at the local pool, I realised that I had ‘forgotten’ my knickers. And of course, I still had to call in to get my coffee on the way hom01b48f44f2ec8a738373cd17485b26c91e81689f84e. Was this a Freudian slip? Have I crossed a line? Am I really descending into the slovenly grey-haired, saggy, baggy woman who shuffles round the shopping centre, looking into bins? (Because I have become more interested in recycling lately, strangely).

No, I will resist; when I get a job (please be soon), I will polish, preen and promise to wear all my clothes … at work.

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New Year

We enjoyed a lovely New Year’s Eve with friends we have known for over 30 years . In 2016, our youngest children graduated from Secondary school, and the four of us suddenly found ourselves absolutely free on New Year’s Eve, our 5 kids having dispersed to various ‘better’ offers. We decided to travel to Bendigo, where our friends live, and enjoy their semi-rural residence, out on the Strathfieldsaye Road.

When I say it was perfect, I mean this; we were greeted with champagne on arrival, and once we had settled our gear upstairs, we descended to the back verandah, where we relaxed with the ease that only long-time friends know. We gazed out at the national forest, which abuts the 5 acre block, occasionally seeing kangaroos moving through the trees, and enjoying that most marvellous late afternoon lighting of the forest and sky.

Then we decided we should swim, so we jumped in the 25m pool and frolicked like kids for an hour or two, before settling down to a delicious meal of smoked trout and pumpkin and spinach salad, followed by fresh fruit (which may have been alcohol-infused, but I can’t remember).  More (but not too much) champagne flowed, and we sat around the table talking until almost midnight, before retiring, old enough not to care too much about ‘staying up’.

Sunday morning, the boys went off to catch up on some work commitments (sigh), while my girlfriend and I went into town for a walk, and of course, extended chat. We talked of kids, parents, work and life dreams, loss and grieving, and when we had laughed, walked and shed a few tears, we went back home to the pool, and did handstands and ridiculous kid competitions in the pool.

For about 24 hours, life felt absolutely right, filled with promise and just complete. We none of us made resolutions; if I did, it would be to have more of those moments of absolute peace with the world, in-the-moment acceptance and optimism.

Roll on 2017, I’m ready.

 

Christmas 2016

 

xmas-2016

This week has been really tiring, or maybe I’ve been really tired. Last weekend, we hosted
and baked for a Christmas lunch for 24 people, my husband’s side of the family. It was a lovely event; as I wasn’t working, I was able to spend the whole day prior cooking and preparing for our multi-diet family – vegan, vegetarian, gluten-free and paleo (I think). And when we had put the immensely long table (well, five tables) together, it looked great; bon bons, food of every type, shining cutlery and glasses, and as you looked down the room, the lovely Christmas tree at the end.

So we had a lovely afternoon, and I only forgot to put out the cranberry sauce until we were half way through the main course, which is not bad. We checked, rechecked the fridge, oven, BBQ and spare fridge in the garage, disgorging their tasty contents, whilst packing in the desserts that family members brought (I hate making desserts) and arranging the drinks in the ice-filled laundry trough.

Then suddenly, the day was through; the dishwasher went through three cycles before we had to declare for the day and hand-wash the remaining mountains of serving and baking dishes. Despite forgetting to tell the kitchen helpers not to put the silverware in the dishwasher, they somehow knew, and I found it soaking in the sink, ready for the final cleansing. And the five of us who remained, sat down for a well-earned rest, with the 8m mega-table still intact. That would be Sunday’s job. So after a very lazy Sunday, the week cranked up, and we resumed normal activities.

Wow; 274 words before I get to the crux of Christmas 2016.

Today, I went to Church, looking forward to the Carols service, but felt so sad, and sniffled through much of the service.  You secallum-turkey-2e, I couldn’t stop thinking about my brother and sister in law, and their beautiful daughter, who on Christmas Day will be ‘celebrating’ their first Christmas away up in Brisbane (they moved three weeks ago), and without my beautiful nephew (who was killed three months ago).

Having had such a lovely distaff Christmas last week, I am coming down – how will it be for our Brisbane three? For the rest of us, hosting Mum and Dad for a couple of days, all conscious of our missing family member? What should I say or do? I am afraid that when we ring them on Christmas Day it will be just tears and no words, or that we might all pretend it didn’t happen, and that will be worse. And although part of me is glad they are just having their first Christmas alone, it is hard not being able to pop in, even for a few minutes, to acknowledge how much we are all missing their beautiful boy, and how our pain can’t even scratch the surface of theirs.

So, I guess we will go through the motions, but to be honest, this will be a Christmas to both forget and remember.

 

That’s not my name!

When I was about 10, I somehow fell foul of my grade 5 teacher. Although I tried hard, my work never pleased him and, being left handed, I found it hard to keep my work smudge free. My homework book was littered with comments about my untidy work, and I often lost marks because of it.

Unfortunately, my teacher always called me Christine, no matter how many times I politely explained that my name was ChristinA. One day, about half way into the year, I was so sick of him writing unkind comments in my book that I took a pen to one of his comments and wrote (quite neatly) “Dear Mr Edmonds, my name is Christina, not Christine.”

When I received my book back, the teacher had written, in red pen, a half page list of what names he didn’t care if I owned, because my work was still messy and untidy. He marked that night’s homework with an even lower mark than usual. His creativity with my first and surnames was to be commended, although I didn’t quite see it at the time, and nor did my parents, when I showed them.

This is possibly the first time I recall being VERY ANGRY with a grown up; with all the dignity that a skinny 10 year old with knobbly knees and a pony tail could muster, I continued to be polite in class, but stopped attempting to answer questions, and unless addressed correctly, didn’t respond to my teacher at all. I did however, pay attention, so at the end of the year, when the Grade 5-6 Coordinator came into our class, he announced to everyone’s surprise, that I had come first among the Grade 5 girls (alas only 5th overall). Suddenly, the matter of my moniker was settled – my teacher never again called me by a wrong name.

When I hit high school, I told all the teachers I wanted to be called Tina, and to this day, there are many people who don’t realise I am indeed Christina. For what it’s worth, people who don’t know me still try to shorten my name to Christine, or Chris, Chrissie (heaven forbid) and on one occasion only, Teeeeen. I have perfected my death stare, still too polite to make a big thing of it verbally.

This episode marks the origin of my ongoing sensitivity to spelling and pronouncing other people’s names correctly and never, ever assuming that it’s OK to shorten or otherwise modify a person’s name without their permission.

So what did I learn? I learned to stand up for myself; I found the pilot light of my anger, rarely lit, just waiting for the right injustice to ignite.

I also learned that to some people, you are only important enough to be correctly addressed (or clearly seen) if you succeed on their terms. Otherwise, they can call you what they want, because you have little worth. I never wanted to be so inconsequential to others again, that my name didn’t matter.

As the years have gone by, I often look at those children (and adults) who go unnoticed, or whose names don’t seem to matter to others, and I try to see them properly. Because although it was incredibly satisfying to succeed beyond expectations, I shouldn’t have had to – I was enough, left handed, knock kneed, English accent and pony tail included …. and so are we all, however we are put together.

I am curious about others’experiences – did you have defining moments as a child, where you found some unexpected kernel of character, gleaned from a difficult situation? Has it carried through to adulthood?

Blog Baby

OK, so I’m starting a blog, and yes it’s true, the hardest thing IS getting started, and I’m talking way back, well before blog niche decisions (what?), let alone what one wants to write about. What was I thinking, that people might actually want to read my amusing stories and nuggets of wisdom?

Firstly, there’s the site name and username, which until I attended my first blogging class (today), I had given no thought to. Did I care that the site name would have .wordpress in it, or should I pay extra (i.e.: not go with the free version) for the privilege of a more succinct site address? Did I want to link my own domain name to the blog (or was it the other way round?). As we were setting up our blogs in class today, apparently it would have been a good idea to think about that first.

Of course, all the witty and clever blog names that I could ever have thought up immediately deserted my rabbit-in-the-headlights brain, and after several false starts, I came up with ‘’’break in transmission.’’  My first and most brilliantly obscure thought was to call the blog Interregnum’, a word which has recently become a favourite, for no good reason.  However I could immediately see two problems;

  • People would always be asking what it meant (assuming that not all Australians are familiar with the term coined at the end of the reign of Charles I and immediately preceding what is known as the Restoration , and
  • Would have to know how to spell it – for instance, noting that it has a tricky double ‘r’ in it.

So I chose the simpler ‘Break in Transmission’, which is a tongue-in-cheek reference to my current state of being (unemployed); normal services will be resumed (at some as yet undefined point). And as I am not going to be a travel/garden/kitchen/craft/sewing/quilting/amazing life/clean house blogger, ‘Break in Transmission’ is suitably vague, for what I think is to be a so-called lifestyle blog.

Of course, if you know anything about me, you will know enough to understand that I am in no way qualified to advise anyone on an appropriate and successful lifestyle, having only mediocre success01b48f44f2ec8a738373cd17485b26c91e81689f84 in any and all lifestyle challenges (and yes, a few failures too – think indoor plants, cake decorating and poorly trained dogs). Assuming I blog more than once, we shall have to wait for the cocoon of my writing to reveal the butterfly within, or the pearls of wisdom to reveal themselves in the clam shell of my mind, or the hilarious witty repartee that bursts rapid-fire from these fingers, or something, please, anything!

I have put up my profile name, but I am not sure if I should change it, having just written Blog 2, which is called “That’s not my name”. I should probably just go by my proper name, but therein lies another dilemma – maiden or married name? I always thought that I would write under my original name, but will I offend certain persons to whom I am either married or parenting? And that’s another whole topic really, whether women should change their surnames on marrying – should I explore that before I commit to action?

What picture did I want to upload to my profile – well, I liked the slightly crazy one of me in a Christmas Akubra, but it did rather look like I’d been drinking. Then there’s the enigmatic one of me behind a genuine Japanese fan (too Geisha?) or the boring work shots, trying to look dignified and official, or me with Dalek Caan, on our Tasmanian holiday some years ago. None where I am looking fabulously successful, sporty and trim, probably because I am not fabulously successful, sporty and trim.

Having missed the second blog class, I returned two weeks later with neither blog post nor resolution of my dilemma, although I accidentally did the homework that had been set – to think of blog topics. However, my list, although it has swelled to 14, remains uninspiring, both to me and my imagined audience. Speaking of which, I posted an empty blog, and three people looked at it! Wow, it can only get better from here. I must thank my tutor and fellow blog babies for their kindness. Maybe next time they look in on me, there will be some substance. In the meantime, I note they have all put interesting blogs up.

My dilemma is this – I have a writing itch that needs scratching, after many dormant years, but I don’t know what to do with it. Is blogging what I want? Why do I want to blog, given that it will be competing with sooo many others, what wisdom do I have to share that will be both informative and not lead to defamation or wrongful advice claims?

The answer is that I don’t know. Perhaps if I write, that may become clearer, and you Dear Reader (I’ve always loved that term) will see. And perhaps I will quietly disappear off the Blogosphere leaving nary a ripple of words.