When I grow up (and some regulation trivia).

Responding to Emily’s Writers Reveal prompt, ‘When I grow up’, my piece is told from the perspective of a teenage girl, Summer Black, a fictitious yet real narrator. Unfortunately there are too many Summers in our classrooms and playgrounds. And the world isn’t always kind to them.

When I grow up

Our theme this term is ‘growing up’. Miss asked us to write an essay on what Scout learned in ‘To Kill a Mockingbird’, as well as a story beginning with the words, “When I grow up”. It’s an easy topic for me because I’ve already thought about it. A lot. It’s the only thing stopping me giving up. It’s my dream…I hope it will happen.

My new room has a view, a vista of the railway track. It’s bleak (trains aren’t pretty and they’re noisy, cutting the quiet with their dull clatter), but at night my window’s view transforms. When I lie in bed and look up, I see the opaque sky is remote and its vastness dwarfs me. On the sky’s black velvet carpet, silver gems are spread and sometimes they smile at me. When I stare long enough, I seep into the blackness – the dense infinity. The night sky makes me wonder, gives me hope.

When I grow up I’m going to be happy, I’m going to be skinny, I’m going to be happy. When I grow up I’m going to be happy and I’m not going to be me.

Miss Martinello gapes, “Summer, can I talk to you about your story…are you okay?” I meet her gaze with a perky shrug. “Perfectly, Miss. It’s fiction, right?

“Right.” She hesitates, touches my hand, a bird-like caress revealing her feather kindness – like a bird’s wing. I like Miss.

When I grow up I’m going to be happy. I’m going to shed the layers of fat, eviscerate the lard to the hard muscle and bone below. No one ever sees my muscle and bone. Not yet.

“Summer Black, Summer Black, she’s a slut, slut’s so fat!”

It’s Recess and I eat my apple, nibble at the carrot. Rabbit-like. My teeth are large – straight and white but they’re swamped, diminished, in my fat cheeks. No one sees my perfect teeth.

Mum wants to pack treats for school, choc-chip cookies, doughy rolls with cheese, but I won’t let her. I can’t eat at school. Fat people can’t eat in public, it’s a universal truth. Not unless they want to be vilified. Miss said ‘vilified’ was a good word – “expressive” – but it’s an ugly word for an ugly past-time.  So while my stick friends pile in chips, sausage rolls and pasta – hot and tempting from the canteen – they judge me.

“Summer Black, Summer Black, she’s a slut, slut’s so fat!”

“If they’re your friends, Summer, what the hell’s going on?” She doesn’t swear, my mother.  ‘Hell’ is about as bad as she gets. She believes one needs to lead by example. But she’s tall and slim while I’m my father’s daughter. Ex-father. So WTF?

“Summer Black, Summer Black, she’s a slut, slut’s so fat!”

I shielded Mum so long but not forever. All through my fat days, I tricked her. But when I started to purge, when the weight dropped and I resembled one of the wraiths from my favourite zombie movie, she gleaned something.

“Sweetie I’m worried about you, you don’t look…yourself.”

She means I look ill, crap. It’s the black arcs below my eyes, my pasty skin.

She clutches at straws, my dearest mother. “You’re not staying up all night on Facebook?” She has a vague but prevalent unease about social media. It’s a valid point. The schoolyard taunts were nothing to the trolling…

“I’m fine, Mum, and by the way, goths pay good money for this look!”

She laughs but it doesn’t reach her eyes.

“Summer Black, Summer Black, she’s a slut, slut’s so fat!”

I never should have let Jed touch me. But he was popular and I thought I’d be popular by association. Stupid girl! Stupid girl! Too clueless to know he was Claudia’s. Well not yet, but she had her eye on him…she’d baggsed him. I should’ve known he’d post it – thinly-veiled, no names – but they knew it was me. He even used alliteration, probs thought he was clever. “Fingering fat-girl totes not fun!!” Oh the irony, I didn’t even like him. I would blame the vodka shots but that’d be the coward’s way. It was me, Summer Black following Jed into the dark, enticing room.

All my problems coalesced after that. My group, of which Claudia is the leader – Queen Bee of the second coolest group in the Year 10 playground – led the pack. And deer-in-the-headlights-me was such an easy target.

“Summer Black, Summer Black, she’s a slut, slut’s so fat!”

It’s why we left, Mum and I. Left the neighbourhood. New school. At this school no one knows about my dark days, my fat days, my slut days. Except Miss, now. But I can trust her, even though she’s alarmed by my story. I’ve said it’s fiction but she knows. Some say going to a new school is just shelving your problems as you take them with you. But I see it as a fresh start. Everyone thinks I’m weird though, coz I hang in the library most lunch times. If the truth’s known, I’m scared. The steely bluffness is all front.

I still purge, but not as often and I hope one day I’ll stop. I closed my Facebook account but maybe I’ll open again soon. You miss out on a lot of stuff without FB. I’ve kept my Instagram but I only ever post skies. I like skies, they give me hope. They let me see that the world is beautiful, underneath.

 

Now for something less heavy – some regulation trivia:

I’m having a little break from blogging because I want to finish editing my manuscript. Even if it’s never a book, I want to finish. I’m halfway through but keep getting side-tracked into work and other frivolous things such as social media, coffee with friends, painting my nails. Oh and eating cake. Marie Antoinette has a lot to answer for.

But before I say my temporary adieu, I’ll post some pics. First a food-selfie. Love this self-indulgent genre. As if the world cares what I (or anyone for that matter) eats! In this case, it wasn’t even me. It was a random stranger’s breakfast trifle…and it looked so pretty.

Stranger's breakfast trifle.

Stranger’s breakfast trifle.

Blossom update. It’s official, I hate Blossom. She ate my berry muffin. Losing shoes I can cope with, losing triple-berry muffins I can’t. :(

Contrary to appearances, I'm bad.

Contrary to appearances, I’m bad.

Note from Blossom: Please don’t tell my Queensland boyfriend Pablo but Freddy proposed and he’s already organised the cake… As well as ho-bagness, polygamy possibly runs in my family. ;)

Artist's rendition of Blossom and Freddy's wedding cake.

Artist’s rendition of Blossom and Freddy’s wedding cake.

And speaking of ho-bagness, this photo is from a new flirtless dog park. It was a bit boring.

No dogs to flirt with here...

No dogs to flirt with here…

Teaching Stuff:

One of the advantages of teaching is the longer you’re in the profession, the more you’re beyond embarrassment. As a new teacher I stepped terrified into my delinquent difficult Year 7 and 8 classrooms, with only a strong coffee and flailing courage to fortify me, as I plastered my steely ‘Sergeant Major’ face on. Over the years, I’ve made quite a few errors on the black/white board, (pointed out gleefully by stuents), worn non-matching earrings, different coloured shoes (it was dark when I got dressed), walked into class with my zipper undone halfway down my back and on another occasion with my dress caught up at the back – Jennifer-Hawkins-style (but without the fetching view).  I don’t think it’s possible to shock or humiliate a teacher after a while. You have lots of things said to you – a couple rude or mean – but mostly nice, weird, endearing and funny…or hilair.  The big perk of teaching is, it is always entertaining (Pinky’s latest post on Hector’s ear is a case in point!) Working with kids isn’t ever boring. When naughty challenging Year 10 student Jay said, “Hey Miss, does my neck look buff?” I, naturally, replied, “Yes, Jay, very buff.” The class cracked up but Jay looked quite pleased to have a buff neck. They didn’t get back to work for a while but it broke up the boredom of deconstructing a poem. :)

These moments mightn’t be as good as as expense accounts, free lunches or fancy company cars, they’re better. 

And as far as reprimands go, I pick my battles, carefully. I’ll never say to a gum-chewing student as one teacher did once: “If you don’t stop masticating, Thomas, I’ll castigate you!” (Kids aren’t aren’t great with sarcasm or malapropisms). :)

Finally, a sunrise. No photo-shopping, au naturel.

View from my room.

View from my room.

So enough about me, what about you? Did you ever embarrass your teacher?

Linking up with Essentially Jess for IBOT and joining Grace and FYBF. :)

 

My Friendly Stalker.

Photo credit: Pinterest

Source: Pinterest

I may lose a few followers over this post but in the interests of candour and bearing my guilty conscience, it’s a sacrifice I’m prepared to make. Besides, I have such lovely followers I’m hoping they’ll humour me or judge me too harshly for my lack of moral fibre. (They may just think I’m being flippant, as I’m inclined to be). :)

I am single, something I don’t often mention in my posts as I’m a bit private – online at least. But since starting this blog and reading many blogs, I’ve realised that the ones I warm to most are those in which bloggers reveal things about themselves, sharing their lives and exposing their vulnerabilities.

We’re not all perfect “except for you and me and I’m a bit worried about you” (as someone once said), therefore it’s heartening to occasionally see each other’s weaknesses and vanities.

Back to me, myself and I. I am of an age which Oscar Wilde said was sure to elicit pity and certain defeat…or something equally crushing. (They were so ageist in the nineteenth century). Anyway, I’ve had two husbands (husband one I divorced and husband two I lost to cancer) and while I’m not knocking husbands in general, you get quite picky the more husbands you’ve had. I won’t deny it’s been difficult being widowed relatively young, but there’s no point in wallowing. Basically after two husbands, I’m in no hurry to acquire a third hubs. So, apart from the episode with my hot Italian lover, (fact or flippant?) I am alone.

Enough lead in, onto My-Friendly-Stalker. Everyone knows I have two dogs, one Kelpie and therefore hyperactive maniac, the other, Baby Blossom (hyperactive maniac puppy). In order to prevent said dogs from:  a) harassing me day and night and b) destroying the house and garden, I run every morning at the dog park. This works for us by giving me the illusion of health and fitness, and them the reality of fun.

Heading down bush track to dog-park.

Bad blurry pic…heading down bush track to dog-park.

I’m getting to the stalker bit. Lately at the dog-park I’ve encountered a sleaze man who flirts with me. I wouldn’t normally write about someone flirting, I’d just abandon myself to the experience. HOWEVER this man Lothario is not just married but married to a lovely dog-walking woman.

Trajectory of flirty events:

  • Flirty comment 1: I’ve forgotten the details because I was running and puffing and obviously it’s very difficult to talk and run at the same time. Besides, Who is this man interrupting my important exercise schedule?
  • Flirty comment 2: Impertinent Man: “Hi, you again!” (accompanying grin). Me: “Excuse me?” (accompanying giggle).
  • Flirty comment 3Flirt: “Stop stalking me!” Me: thinking, “As if?” Pausing and digesting comment, scrutinising incorrigible flirt from beneath lashes – nondescript man…replying: “You’re stalking me!” 
  • Flirty comment 4: Libertine: “You’re making a big habit of this.” Me: Stopping and regarding Don Juan man with some interest. His talent in flirtiness is so impressive it halts said exercise regime. Simpering grin.
  • Flirty comment 5: After laziness and cooler weather caused momentarily running hiatus: Romeo: “Hi, where have you been? I’ve missed you!”                     Me: Swivelling mid-step (almost endangering ankle). This seriously flirty comment warranted careful consideration, as it has gone beyond what is reasonable on flirt spectrum. Flushed face due – if honest – to heat and pleasure combo. Examine flirt closely, noting that nondescript has grown into something like handsome (purely through skilful flirtiness). Me: “I’ve been very busy.” Experience epiphany as I recall in recesses of mind, nice wife. Despite epiphany, grin guiltily at gentleman evil flirt.
  • Flirty comment 6 or 7: Rake on a Monday: “I’ve spent all weekend practising my jogging so I can keep up with you!” Me: Flirty giggling escapes wanton lips.
  • Next encounter: After making a resolution to dump My-Friendly-Stalker by direct allusion to wifey: Me: “I saw your wife the other day!” Casanova: Nakedly flirty smirk.
  • Recent encounter: Wolf: “I’ve been scouring the park looking for you.” Me: Big smirk twists my lips. Again. Vapid giggle. Again.
  • Most recent flirty comment:  As I emerged from a grove of trees hanging over the running path, Philanderer: “That’s it, lurking in the bushes, waiting to ambush me! I’m getting an A.V.O. out on you!” Me: I won’t describe my exact words but suffice to say it involved a lot of high-pitched giggling.
Photo credit: Pinterest

Source: Pinterest

The art of flirting is an old one. A hang-over from bygone days before one night stands, hook-ups and sexting allowed everyone to indulge in a no-holes-barred kind of courtship. It’s all about the hint of attraction  – nothing stated or expected, yet everything implied. It’s a study in understatement, in the allure of temptation.

Very boring shot of dog-park.

Very boring shot of dog-park.

Oscar Wilde said on flirting: “A woman will flirt with anybody in the world as long as other people are looking on.”  I realise I am obsessed with that man but he is gay and dead – so it’s a lost cause :(

Oscar’s observations may have prevailed in London society in the late nineteenth century, but this is not the case in Sydney dog parks in the twenty first century, where unfettered flirting is taking place discreetly, as well in open spaces.

I have since dumped my friendly stalker twice, although he is oblivious it. I’ve varied my times and entered the park from a different spot to avoid him, encountering the wife and chatting amicably to her! Yet when I run into My-Friendly-Stalker he continues to flirt shamelessly, undaunted by references to wifey.

Very recent flirty comment: Man-whore:Flirt:“Hey, you’re playing mind games with me!”  Me: Vacuous giggling.

I tried and failed. Nothing inappropriate has occurred: No leering (under different circumstances, I’m not averse to a little leering), no impertinent questions or comments. No suggestions for coffee, drinks or detours onto the bush track (and there is a well-camouflaged bush track).

So, dear readers, what do you think? Should I surrender to these very innocent tete-a-tetes at the dog park, with impunity? Surely it’s a mild form of entertainment hurting no one (though I’m well aware of mind cheating). If I’m truly honest, I would not like my husband/partner/lover to engage in said flirting with anyone other than me.

Shall I find another dog park? Bear in mind this one is very convenient and time is a factor…must rush back to prepare for work. Of course, I can be rude or curt to My-friendly-stalker – avert my head, blank him, jog straight past him…

What do you say, condemn or condom condone?

Postscript: My second last foray to dog park involved light banter with Friendly-Stalker’s dog-walking bestie. Not prime flirting per se, but enjoyable banter (a slippery slope perhaps?) And yesterday’s visit to the dog-park involved a pleasant convo with a random dog-walker whose dog was a replica of my own. I’ve concluded that I am very promiscuous flirty by nature. Basically if it wears trousers and doesn’t have two heads (sorry to anyone out there with two heads but I must draw the line), I will morph into a femme fatale flirt. Unfortunately, as I alluded to in my last post about Blossom, ho-bagness does run in our family.

Heading to new gym equipment to work out now (dogs, not me).

Heading to new gym equipment to work out now (dogs, not me).

BTW there’s a lot of wit going down at the dog park. Today a dog-walker compared his alpha male dog to Vladimir Putin. It reminded me of Ed’s recent post with Rocky Tones and Putin in the ring. I feel the dog-park is the new hook up rendezvous  – a previously untapped dating site source of diverting entertainment (and not just for the dogs).

Source: Pinterest.

WHERE’S WALLY? Can you see the dog-stalker?            Source: Pinterest.

So, a philosophical observation and to quote Alanis Morisset, Isn’t it ironic that the flirty encounters occur in the dog park, wearing parka and leggings rather than tarted  glammed up with heels and eye-liner in a night club?!

Addendum: Just back from the dog park with some hot gossip. While all dog-walkers agree, “Whatever goes down at the dog-park, stays at the dog-park”, I had to share this: A dog-walker, let’s call her Belinda (real name rhymes with this), just revealed a shocking case of flirting sexual harassment at the dog-park. Under normal circumstances, I’d never make light of this behaviour but flirting is one thing, molestation quite another. Apparently, a dog-walker, let’s call him Ranko (real name rhymes with this), grabbed Belinda around the waist and rubbed against her – laughing and making strange noises (which my sense of propriety prevents me from divulging).

I now realise I’ve had a lucky escape. For better or worse, no one has grabbed me at the dog-park, let alone the rest. But then I am running and they’d have to be very hot cleverly flirty to make me stop! ;)

Tell me, have you flirted lately? Please explain…

Joining Emily’s Monday Laugh Link up and adding my linky to Jess’s IBOT (if it’s not impertinent to link twice!) :)

A tale of Twitter woe.

WARNING 1: Stop reading/looking right now if you don’t like cute dog pics.

WARNING 2: This post contains inappropriate material (as in a dog smoking and the use of the offensive sexist term ‘ho-bag’).

I'm an upside down kind of a girl!

I’m an upside-down kind of a girl!

Blossom McWoof’s life on Twitter was briefer than Tony Abbott’s red speedos. No, I’m not segwaying into politics, I’ll leave that to Ed at the Tunnel Presents… He lampoons with great wit and panache.

Less than 36 hours after setting up her profile, Blossom’s account was closed with the hurtful words “that user is suspended”. OUCH or I should say, WOOF! Twitter needs to work on their interpersonal skills and bedside manner. They didn’t reply to my email in which I lamented this brutal closure and politely requested they reconnect, but perhaps @BlossomMcWoof wasn’t big enough to warrant a reply (with only 3 followers and one of them was her mother). But it was early days – it takes a while to build a decent following…well a week, at least.

7 month old Blossom hadn’t trolled anyone in her short Twitter-life, not even a DOG, but she’d flirted outrageously with Queensland bf, Pablo Escobark.

My Frenchy Look.

I am Pablo and this is my Frenchy Look.

While Debonair Pablo’s Frenchness was intensely alluring, that minx Blossom was also attracted to his drug-lord persona. She’s that kind of a girl – excited by life in the fast (and dangerous) lane…

Pablo - Mexican drug lord.

Appearances are deceptive: I am Pablo, Mexican Drug Lord.

Trouble is Blossom’s Sydney boyfriend, Freddy, doesn’t know about Pabs. So perhaps it was for the best Twitter stepped in.

Flirting with my Sydney  bf (don't tell Pabs).

Freddy on left. Please don’t tell Pabs! Plea to Pabs, please don’t tell Freddy!

Are we bored yet? Hope not, there’s more…

Blossom’s mother is Poppet and there is a striking family resemblance:

Poking my tongue out at random strangers is fun!

Poking out our tongues at random strangers while driving is fun!

Plus we share a penchant for taking selfies:

Love is cuddles.

Is this my best angle?

Unfortunately Blossom has a tendency to be slutty (which we’re hoping she’ll grow out of). Although de-sexed a month ago, she jumps on her brother and tries to hump cuddle him. It’s not as bad as it sounds – they’re not blood related (no incest here). Nate (Nathaniel – why oh why do Pet Rescue give their dogs human names?) isn’t very impressed.

Give me a break!

Give me a break!

Pets seem to acquire more inventive nicknames than people. Matriarch Coco has the funniest repertoire I’ve ever heard. :)  And speaking of nicknames, Poppet has taken to calling Blossom ‘My little ho-bag’ (teen-speak for femme fatale). At least ho-bagness doesn’t seem to run in the family…so far, it’s confined to Blossom.

For my next post, I’m writing about flirting (human, not dog). Alana wrote brilliantly on this topic recently. Apparently the definition of flirting is “acting amorously without serious intent”. Watch this space.

Addendum: As I type, Blossom has just wrecked a 5th pair of shoes (my favourite flats). Grrrrr! If she wasn’t so cute and adorable I’d sent her off to the glue factory (as Napoleon did with poor Boxer in ‘Animal Farm’).

Pre-Blossom:

Lovely bead-studded bow.

Lovely bead-studded bow.

Post-Blossom:

Droopy beadless bow, dripping with saliva.

Limp and droopy beadless bow, dripping with saliva.

Do you have a cute or destructive force in your house? Or both?

Joining Trish and My Little Drummer Boys today for Wordless Wednesday and linking with Grace and FYBF.

An award and other important trivia…

 

lovely-blog-award-logoMy favourite UK blogger, Vic Briggs has misguidedly generously tagged me for the ‘One Lovely Blog Award’ and I’ve accepted because Vic lied said really nice things about me, and because:

(a) I am hugely susceptible to flattery and compliments of any kind although I am too modest to repeat them and repeat them to everyone.

(b) Awards are like stickers dispensed in the classroom – they make you feel good.

Vic writes beautiful poetry, travels widely (taking glorious photos of everything) and as well as this, her tips and insights on writing and life issues (not to forget the dashing Cumberbatch) are clever and entertaining. One day I’ll traverse the Indian Ocean and meet her for tea. So thank you Vic, I’m honoured you thought of me.

Now I must reveal seven random facts about me and I’ll start as Vic did, with something on eyes:

1. I have green eyes (more pond than forest), but unlike Vic’s gorgeously (adjective not adverb) dazzling ‘Mad Hatter’ gaze, my eyes are ineffectual. If only I could swap them for Julie Bishop’s death-stare-eyes. I’d be a lot more effective in the classroom.

2. Tea is the only thing I could never give up if I were marooned on a desert island. I’d have to make bark or shell tea. Or die.

3. I left the town I grew up in many years ago yet still hanker after red-dirt plains and gum trees.

4. I am very embarrassed about how little I’ve seen of the world. I could use child rearing as an excuse, but it would be just an excuse. One day.

5. One of my main obsessions is kindness to animals – they’re at our mercy. I can’t even kill ants. Pathetic I know.

6. I think Oscar Wilde was one of the cleverest men to ever live. His insights spoken 200 hundred years ago, still resonate. This magnet is on my fridge.

Excuse the specks of food (it's on the fridge)

Excuse the smears (probably food – it is on the fridge)

7. I’m flippant to a fault. I’ve been known to make inappropriate comments at school assemblies (frequently) and funerals (infrequently). I sometimes wonder if I’ve ever really left the adolescent mindset.

8. I love shopping but I only like stores with mirrors that make you look taller and thinner. I want one of those mirrors for home.

I’ve listed 8 things, not 7! Only a self-indulgent narcissist (is that tautology?) would break the rules this way.

Next, I am to nominate some bloggers for this ‘lovely’ award (lovely in the broad sense of the word). So here is a mix of bloggers who are brilliant at words, pictures and/or food.

Pinky Poinker because she can turn the slightest topic into scintillating reading.

Debbish a consummate blogger with an impressive range.

Alana  a consummate blogger with a wealth of experience (that shows).

With Some Grace has lovely insights on life’s many vagaries.

Putting in a Good Word  an interesting ‘outside the box’ perspective.

Zimmerbitch  shares a rich chronicle of beautiful photos and anecdotes.

Bake Play Smile every post makes me hungry, every time.

My Slow Living Adventure makes simpler living enticing.

Peak Perspective a fascinating range of thoughts and personal experiences.

The Tunnel Presents – makes politics LOL (not easy in Australia where it’s all so tragic).

That Montreal Girl - takes exquisite photos.

I can’t say goodbye without something trivially important, and what better than a meme from my Pinterest junkie friend. It doesn’t need a segway, it’s self-explanatory.

Source: Pinterest

Source: Pinterest

In my previous post, I’d promised to write about flirting, where I expose myself to be wantonly susceptible to flirtatious attention (in addition to awards, praise and stickers). Next time.

A little story (and some regulation trivia).

Continuing on with my short piece, The Appointment, because I am too lazy to think of another blog topic and also because I like stories and wanted to see where this writing prompt would go.

Image credit.

All credit to: Urban Circus.

The Appointment – Part 2

Although feeling a little adolescent, Miranda silently chanted her mantra as she stepped onto the train: ‘You’re okay’. She’d had a few mantras over the past three years since “that awful business”, as her mother had put it. Kathleen O’Sullivan had only censured her daughter once but her bewildered expression stung more than any curt retort. Her father hadn’t said a word, but the look on his face spoke volumes – tomes. He’d already had his piece when she’d moved out and in with Jimmy: “’Shacked up’ with more like! You’re a fool, my girl, if you can’t see the real Jimmy…the man beneath that smooth front.”  Patrick O’Sullivan was proud of his only child. She was the first, the only, member of his family to go to university, but somehow that made the shock of her decision to live with Jimmy worse. It was 1963 and not yet commonplace to live in sin, at least not for good Irish Catholic families newly arrived on these vagabond shores.

Jimmy was everything that her father wasn’t. At times (not often, for she’d tried to expel him from her mind during the past two years), she’d wondered if that had been the attraction. Where Patrick O’Sullivan was dour and economic with his words – joking rarely and only in a grim, scathing fashion – James Nelson was warm and loquacious. Charming. There was no avoiding the fact that Jimmy was charismatic, despite the pain it cost Miranda to acknowledge it. He laughed a lot and had a way of looking into her face with a peering intensity that made her feel as though she were fascinating. No one before or since had ever made her feel that special.

Her mother was less critical and inclined to hope that Jimmy would do the right thing. She hinted about an engagement and Miranda’s heart ached that she couldn’t produce one just to satisfy her mother’s dogged sense of convention. She herself didn’t mind, so heady was her adulation of Jimmy. “Mum, I don’t care about the ring…it isn’t important. He loves me!”

Miranda blushed to think of it now. Enough! She swept the rogue thoughts from her head and opened her briefcase, withdrawing the contract and smoothing it over her knees. Is this skirt too short? She’d been a bit daring but then it was an informal kind of affair. Affair…what a faux par – a Freudian slip! It was an interview, an appointment, that was all. Miranda couldn’t work out which was the more daunting word for her meeting. She felt a bit like a schoolgirl, not a junior partner at Bradley, Stein and Parker.

Her heart began to pump at an eager staccato pace and to deflect her nerves, she at once began scanning the document. She knew just how much reading she could accomplish on the forty minute commute.

….to be continued.

Image Credit

All credit to: My Darling Darlinghurst.

Regulation Trivia.

On writing.  Apparently adverbs are the enemy. Experts of a high calibre have warned writers and would-be writers (who are writers anyway as they write), to avoid using adverbs because they’re clumsy and bad writing. My friend Pinky is working on a novel and she’s been advised not to go down the adverb-path-of-ruination, however, I am sceptical. J.K. Rowling got away with an abundance (but then she was J.K. Rowling) yet Stephen King hates them. Jane Austen rarely used them but ‘Adverb’ was Charles Dickens’ middle name. That probably gives us modern wordsmiths scribblers carte-blanche. :)

I’ve only included ONE adverb in the above little piece and feel very virtuous. But before I become overly pompous, I’ve used twenty four adjectives! :(

Food Selfie. I frequent a lot of cafes because I am a decadent and self-confessed cafe whore. Also, it’s easier to meet friends in cafes rather than subject them to my inferior coffee and cake. I recently blamed Poppet for taking ‘food selfies’ and posting them on Instagram but if I’m honest, snapping pics of nice food is a teensy bit addictive.

I simply had to take a photo of this when I caught up with some friends in the school holidays (that was 2 weeks ago, but we all know I’m a bit slow with posts). This gastronomical experience was a first for me – a Scone in a Pot. BizarreA purist would be appalled as I don’t think it’s etiquette to dig scones out of earthenware pots. :)

Scone in a Pot (bizarre)

All credit to: ME!!

Enough about me, what do you think? :)

  • Do you to prefer to have friends over instead of going to cafes? It’s certainly easier when you have young children. But then you miss out on all the gossip when you’re stuck in the kitchen frothing milk and opening packets serving freshly baked muffins.
  • What’s the rule on adverbs and adjectives? Do you like your prose richly descriptive or spare and economic? Seriously, life is too short to stress about parts of speech – even in the interests of your epic masterpiece!

I’ll leave you with a meme my Pinterest addict expert sent me. It highlights the perils of online dating superbly (another adverb – why oh why are they so bad?)

pinterest - pitbull

 

Next time, I am moving out of my comfort zone with a post entitled ‘My Friendly Stalker’, on flirting – a true story. However, on reflection, I may not as it shows my character in a very poor light…

Linking up today with Jess and IBOT because, well, it’s Tuesday. Joining Grace’s FYBF  for her bevy of blogging brilliancy. :)

Short Sojourn Shameless Selfie.

Nothing deep or philosophical today…

It’s school holidays and we escaped the city to see a family member starring performing in the chorus of a production of Legally Blonde. Reece Witherspoon made a guest appearance Family member autographed my program, though I’m not one to name-drop. IMG_1656The seaside hotel had a tolerable view of the sea.   Poppet on balconyOn a raving recommendation, we eschewed the hotel buffet (what were we thinking?) and had breakfast in a cafe on the beach, where the prices were pretentious and we queued to get a table, then waited so long for our food that we began attacking the serviettes (or is it napkins - I never do know which?) Of course, Poppet posted her elegant meal on Instagram. Hand up if you remember a time when we ate food instead of taking a photo of it?

What's that darl? #thecastle

Just eat it!

There was a sunrise where the sun spilled like molten gold into the ocean. It was worth sacrificing sleep for.

Sunrise.

Molten gold.

Last week was exciting as Pinky made an impromptu visit to Sydney and we caught up. It’s a bit daunting meeting blogging friends as you wonder whether your online persona equates with your real persona. Pinky is just as warm and lovely as her blog reveals. This brilliant overexposed selfie showcases my new teapot, courtesy of Pinky (pink of course).

Teapot selfie.

Teapot selfie.

Next time she comes to town we’re planning a blogger-fest so if you’re in the vicinity (and even if you’re not) please join us. :)

It is Wordless Wednesday and I must avoid waffling at all costs. Over to you and your views on some very important trivia.

  • Do you resent paying high prices in trendy cafes and restaurants? Do you actually complain or smile sweetly and vent privately?
  • Do you take pictures of food or are you sensible and mature, and just eat it?
  • Do sunrises or sunsets move your thoughts to poetry?
  • Have you ever attended any blogger events? Please share!

Linking up with Trish and My Little Drummer Boys and Wordless Wednesday and joining With Some Grace’s FYBF.

*Clutching the baton*

While this post deals with the much vaulted topic ‘Why I Write, I must first be consistent with my reputation and blog title – Important Trivia - and start with a meme.

 

Image: Pinterest.

Image: Pinterest.

An array of dazzling blogsters, from the famous Mrs Woog to the infamous Pinks Pointer (JOKE), to that feisty queen of hawt hot (spelling counts – at least in my classroom blog ;) ), the Fab Mumabulous…it’s now down to little moi. *Attempts stoicism under pressure to be entertaining and witty. Loses battle and buckles. Reaches for wine tea*

This move of Pinky’s has propelled me from blogging complacency to posting twice in 3 days. “Ho hum” you say but for a novice who only posts once a fortnight, this is traumatic!

As I’ve alluded to previously, I don’t have a niche. I am niche-less.  But rather than be scarred by this gaping hole of niche-lessness, I’ve acknowledged – like many bloggers before me – that as well as narcissism, blogging in any form, is therapy. Coupled with abundant coffee and cake, wine and cheese or magic tea, it is far more enjoyable to baring (or is it bearing??) one’s soul to an expert.

Work Stations (pretentious moi?)

I rather like the term ‘work stations’. It’s a bit like the ‘learning spaces’ that schools and education are fond of, and lends a certain gravitas to my frivolous penning.

I am incapable of remaining in one spot.

Desk, kitchen bench, gazebo and garden.

Desk, kitchen bench, gazebo, garden.

Down to the business:

Flippancy aside, I was flattered – honoured – to be mentioned by Pinky, whose eloquent wit is legendary in the blogosphere. However, such an honour involves reigning my usually wayward ideas into the semblance of order:

Why do I write?

In short, because I enjoy it. I didn’t write as a teenager as I thought I was much too cool for doing anything so nerdish. But one of my best writing memories is sitting beside the sandpit writing long-hand, while my toddler made a castle. I was lucky enough to have this manuscript published by Penguin as a little teenage novel – This Summer Last – a big fluke really, since it’s not high literature. It’s about loss and deals with the theme of grieving. Heavy stuff I know, but I’d just heard a true story about a family who’d experienced a sudden death of a child and I thought about how difficult this would be. I based my book around their inability to come to terms with the tragedy.

Again fortune beamed kindly on me and I won the Ashton Scholastic Award for Older Readers with Jake, about a damaged city kid, fostered by a family in the country. There was another book but before you hate me for all this insufferable bragging, they’re all out of print and only available in the National Library Archives. Haha, so much for fame and fortune! ;)

I got very busy with more kids and teaching in High School so writing took a bit of a back-step until recently when Poppet was badly bullied, (cyber and face-to-face). I wrote So Not Funny, as a parents’ and teachers’ resource, releasing it as an e-Book. I was advised to start blogging, but have never before used my blog space to promote my book (except now – please don’t hate me!)

How does my writing differ from others in my genre?

I’m not sure, except that I am VERY flippant and much of what I babble about is either tongue-in-cheek, ironic, silly, or all of the above. I probably include too many chook and dog pics, but hey everyone has their Achilles’ heel.

 How does my writing process work?

Randomly. As the above fancy collage suggests (for a non-techno person aren’t you impressed?) I am hyperactive and can’t sit too long in one spot. So when I’m not in the classroom or attending to domestic/family/farming matters, I’m hyped on tea and writing something.

What I’m Working on.

I won’t bore you because I’ve already written a post about my brutal rejection by a large publisher for my latest literary masterpiece little manuscript, Non-Compliance. Suffice to say, I am EDITING. This is a painful process, involving a self-discipline that is quite foreign to my character. So, my writing consists of:

  • shopping lists.
  • marking students’ work and writing tactful suggestions on essays, stories et al.
  • new units of work to stimulate class into brilliant adequate English skills.
  • ‘to do’ lists (to make me a more efficient, productive and better human being).
  • posts – the best fun of all.

Now it’s my turn to pass the baton to two bloggers, and it was a difficult decision as there are just so many brilliant bloggers out there. I’ve chosen Deb and Susan, each accomplished and eclectic in her own way.

But just before I leave the subject of blogging, one of the things I love most about this type of writing is – corny n cheesy as it sounds – the friends I’ve made. And the comments. I think I can safely liken the high of a delightful comment to a hit of ice (in my cocktail of course).

Credit: Pinterest.

Credit: Pinterest.

I can’t claim credit for any of the silly pictures I include in my posts – they’re down to Poppet and a funny dog-friend. (I do, however, claim credit for being consistently silly).

Over to you. What’s your best skill – within or without the blogosphere?

Just added my link to the delightful Always Josefa and Maxabella Loves and their ‘Why I Write’ link-ups. Joining With Some Grace’s FYBF, as it’s Friday. :)

The Appointment.

 

It’s been months since I wrote any fiction in response to a writing prompt, but inspired by Lydia (Where the Wild Things Were) and her ‘first of the month’ writing prompt (and as a nice foil to my current regime of editing), I embraced this creative little project and wrote a short piece of 100 words entitled ‘The Appointment’.

 

As Miranda stepped outside, a blast of air tussled her carefully blow-dried hair. Buttoning her jacket, she wound the scarf twice around her slender neck.

Winter had arrived. Breathing in deeply, she lifted her chin and strode the well-worn path to the train station. Her calm gait was at odds with the thoughts in her head, which ricocheted like the remnant gold leaves flung high by the helter-skelter wind.

The appointment. A fifty minute slot (they were precise), could make such a difference to her, to everyone. Its power loomed and Miranda dipped her head and repeated her newest mantra.

 

Some clever person once said something like, “It’s not about originality, it’s what you do with it that counts.” What prompts you? External stimulus or do you have a fertile imagination, just bursting with original ideas? :)

Flogging today With Some Grace and FYBF.

A little tableau of trivial importance.

IMG_1367 Poppet sent me this. It really isn’t the sort of thing a girl should send her mother, being inappropriate on all levels. I sniggered then began doubting my parenting skills, while acknowledging how hard it is to raise children to be decent, well-rounded individuals. Parenting is a challenge, requiring an abundance of these liquids qualities: wine, patience, ingenuity, Buddhist-calm, kindness, alcohol, patience, resourcefulness, tolerance, humour, energy, Zen, empathy, champagne, liquor, aperitifs, patience. Unlike the classroom, where you’re on call for a 50 minute period per grade per day, parenting is relentless. And just when you think you’re through the taxing early years, they morph into teenagers and cause you more worry and angst.

This quote by Oscar Wilde is food for thought: “Children begin by loving their parents; after a time they judge them; rarely, if ever, do they forgive them.”

Skeleton tree.

Skeleton tree.

A few posts ago I was going on about the beauty of Autumn leaves. Well, our Chinese Tallow tree is a skeleton that signals winter. It is no longer “Winter is coming”, winter is here. (BTW I’ve seen all 4 seasons of Game of Thrones and I don’t recall it ever being Summer. Did I miss it, is it just me?)

 

So after the hottest May on record, I’m welcoming the cold and its accompanying haute couture uggs and trackies, but especially food like this, Mini Cottage Pies. Cool weather makes me hope global warming is an illusion…

Blossom and Poppet. Lots of selfies go on Blossom’s ‘story’ on Snapchat. For blog Poppet tells me Shapchat is all about the narrative and not just fleeting photos to interest and dazzleI obviously misuse Snapchat because I just send the 3 people on my list, photos of the cake I’m about to eat so they’ll be very jealous.

But seriously, dog or Ewok? Those ears are growing exponentially! It’s a pity the Star Wars prequels and sequels have waned because Blossom might have scored a cameo appearance. IMG_0962The Pecking Order: In the little coop, chicks Lasquisha, Lacy, Cinnamon and Princess are fast growing into hens. IMG_1384 Lasquisha continues to dominate. Not content with pecking her minions on the head, she now jumps on them.

I'm Lasquisha and I'm GORGEOUS!

I’m Lasquisha. Get in my way and I’ll jump on your head.

A similar dynamic exists in the big coop where Madam Peck is bullying the new pullets, Cherry and Merry, who’ve taken refuge in the shed.

"Has she gone yet?"

“Has she gone yet?”

"Don't mess with me!"

Madam Peck.

For an ex-battery girl, she has a lot of attitude. On the one hand, it’s great she’s recovered from the first traumatic 18 months of life in a tiny cage. On the other hand, you’d think she’d be more sensitive, a little kinder to her flock. This is probably what George Orwell meant in Animal Farm – the oppressed become the oppressors. A grim world view…but on the plus side, there are DUST BATHS. In the chicken world dust baths aren’t just fun, they eradicate lice and other parasites. (I wonder if it works for headlice?)

Chook equivalent of bubble bath.

Cherry and Merry in dust bath (equivalent of bubble bath).

Our local florist had this quotation written on her blackboard and it reminded me of the concept of average and our endless quest to rise above it.florist quoteBlooming is an individual thing and everyone’s blooming is different. I see it in the classroom when the ‘under-achiever’ has a good idea that sometimes eclipses the confidently brash student’s idea. The tentative smile of delight on her/his face – the bloom – is wonderful. :)

And while I’m on the subject of average, a few months ago in A Waiting Game I wrote excitedly about a manuscript that had survived the publisher’s slush pile – the first harrowing step in the process to turn Word document into book. Well, the waiting is over – my manuscript has been jettisoned declined.

Image courtesy of Amalie Howard

Image courtesy of Amalie Howard

The word rejected is never uttered in these ever-so-polite letters. How the world loves euphemisms! “We have decided not to proceed with an offer of publication at this stage”. Evidently, and I say this with no sarcasm (for they do know their stuff), my ‘book’ lacks structure and its context (Sydney in 50 years) needs work. Oh well, back to the drawing editing board. It was the first draft, so what was I expecting?!

I’ve found that in publishing – for self-protection at least – you shouldn’t be too optimistic; hopeful and doggedly persistent, but never overly confident or presumptuous. But manuscripts are a bit like babies, they make us a little protective and sensitive to criticism,. So I’ve devised some rules:

  • Rule 1: let go of ego.
  • Rule 2: develop the skin of a tyrannosaurus.
  • Rule 3: share manuscript with an expert - a paid mentor or a clever friend who will tell you the truth, even though you will hate her/him forever be hurt or offended and probably both.
  • Rule 4: Give clever friend a VERY nice present.

My 1 year Plan:  EDIT. Don’t waste time. In spare time (after school work, family and urban farming duties) be more disciplined, EDIT, refuse coffee/drinks with friends. Work harder, EDIT, avoid being frivolous, EDIT, avoid whiling away hours on social media. EDIT.

I don’t need an epiphany to tell me that this 1 year plan may not run to schedule.

Over to you. What is your biggest challenge and what do you need to be more disciplined about? What virtuous goals are on your 1 year plan?

Linking up with My Little Drummer Boy and joining Grace for FYBF.

Average is the new black.

Photo courtesy of imgquotes.

Photo courtesy of imgquotes.

I have a weakness for dog quotes/pics and Andrew Rooney’s little message made me reflect on the whole concept of average. It made me realise some sobering facts:

  1. I’m okay at some things but don’t really excel in any.
  2. I’m a pretty average blogger who probably hasn’t found her niche, if one exists. And do we need a niche at all?

I know you will stampeed might reassure me and say, “Nonsense, you’re great, you’re special.” (BTW this blog post is not a fishing for compliments exercise – though who doesn’t like compliments?) Anyway, my average epiphany got me thinking… Is average okay? Is it alright to be quite good  at a few thing but genius at nothing?

LOOK AT ME!!

LOOK AT ME!!

Look at this amazing pic I saw on Pinterest about refusing to be average and soaring to dizzying heights. Soaring. I’d try it but it just looks like so much EFFORT. Plus those muscles are seriously scary and I don’t want to scare people.

Perhaps we were more content when we were allowed to be average. We were more relaxed certainly, before all the reaching our potential pressure to rise above everyone and excel – to achieve our dreams, become rich and famous or the very best. Maybe just doing something quite well is okay, yet it doesn’t seem to be valued in our aspirational times. Maybe putting in a modest day’s work, caring for loved ones and languishing on the sofa watching Q and A  Offspring is okay, after all.

British/French writer and philosopher Alain de Botton proposed an interesting theory in his book Status Anxiety. Status AnxietyEssentially, de Botton says that life was happier back in feudal times when we were locked into serfdom and didn’t expect to rise above our stations. We weren’t aspirational, we didn’t hanker to be lord and lady of the manor because there was just NO CHANCE it’d happen. No matter how hard you worked as a serf, you could never own any land. It was an austere life and we mightn’t have been consciously happy – working hard for the squire, getting old and bent at 25 and dying of old age at 35. Yet we weren’t consciously feeling inadequate or striving to be well above average. We might have been content. We didn’t covet celebrity because we didn’t have celebrity.

That said, Elizabeth Woodville was something of a fashion icon. She looks hot comely in that elegant ensemble…I might have coveted that, serf or no serf.

Flippancy aside, our raison d’etre in feudal times was average. It was probably average until the Industrial Revolution created the middle class and allowed some movement between the classes.

As I was contemplating what to write about for this post – preferably something illuminating and insightful – I came to the conclusion that I have no real expertise. I’ve NEVER received a trophy for anything in my entire life, even though I did sports, music and dancing as a child (I got a ribbon once but the memory is hazy). What does this reveal about me, that I am mediocre? Why do we fear mediocrity so much? It’s such an awful word – mediocre – it’s average in a bad way, but what is average in a good way…normal, typical, unexceptional?

Dusting off my average-ego I faced the fact that there is no topic on which I can eloquently waffle knowing that I am shedding light and wisdom.

Book reviews: I’d like to write these because I am the suppository of wisdom averagely clued up on books, but it occurs to me that I’m not well organised enough to read and review books with any kind of regular discipline. And there are some bloggers who do this very well – definitely not averagely.

Politics: I’d like nothing more than to weigh into political debate, lampooning our reigning politicians and government with zeal and acid wit…But over at Crikey, The Hoopla, The New Matilda – among others – they cover this very unaveragely. I’m content to read their articles, giggle and shake my head at  human folly.

Nature: I’m a HUGE fan of the natural world. As I’ve said before (probably very inappropriately), “Who needs cocaine when you can gaze at Nature and get high?” But can I translate this passion for Nature into brilliant photography? No, though I do participate in Wordless Wednesday and the Weekly Photo Challenge to try to show off showcase my talent averageness.

Urban Farming: I’ve alluded to my genius attempts in the vegie patch in Transgender Hen. I’ll leave you today with proof of my teetering on the brink of below-averageness with these before and after pics of my amazing deficient ability. I took a photo of a recently purchased hydrangea last Spring as it sat resplendently in a pot on our deck: potted beauty This is that same hydrangea recently, after I released it into nature and dirt and soil….so it would die flourish. But before you dis me completely, grab a microscope and examine the photo carefully. Do you see a minute green shoot? Not HOPELESS after all – just the wrong side of average!IMG_1326Maybe I’ve come at this from the wrong angle.  Maybe it’s the trying, the effort that counts…perhaps that’s good for us. The trying. We like to rise above average and shine a little even if the end result is a bit averagey.

Over to you. Are you a bit, very or below average? And are you cool with your this? (Or maybe you’re a little bit genius?)

Linking today with Essentially Jess and IBOT. Joining Grace for FYBF