Category Archives: Australia

What to write when you can’t write

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It’s almost impossible for me to sit down to write without first sifting through at least ten cliched topic ideas. The year in review, recent awful incidents domestic and abroad, how the summer holidays went, my increasing frustration at the unbridled gluttony of Christmas, resolutions for the new year, how good it is that my kids have grown up some. I could do a list, a top ten or a how to. Once I have sorted through all my crappy ideas, I then have to sit frozen for a period while I wrestle with the fear that I can’t write anything. The awfully romantic thing is that I wrote way easier and quicker and (I think) better when I was depressed and wanting to hurt myself. So now I have this worry that I’ve got nothing to say. After crippling self doubt comes the first few words, helped along by a nice lubricating glass of whatever it is at the moment. So then I worry that people will think I am too reliant on alcohol but I have already approached that unease and I prevailed. And then a few more words come, always in little spurts, a sentence at a time, scrutinised for repetition, banality and adages. You won’t believe how often I consult the dictionary and the thesaurus while composing a post. One thing I can’t stand when reading is obvious writer’s habits. A turn of phrase or way of expressing something that a writer uses over and over. So I am hyper vigilant to it in my own writing. Having said that I am in no doubt that most readers could find banality (!) and habits in my stuff.

Sometimes I end up with something I really like and think is good. Like this one. I really liked that one. Then most other stuff is simply OK. Maybe some of it is a bit boring to read, but I haven’t been game enough to publish something here that I think is truly crap. All writing wisdom says you have to just write, and write heaps of crappy stuff before you get to the good stuff. I think my blog is the writing equivalent of the girl who takes 200 selfies and posts only the one where her chin is just so, her eyes are open enough but not too much, and her hips turned just enough to make her look thin enough but not like she has too big of a butt. It’s a bit exhausting. I wonder if all the really cool bloggers I know and read have this problem. Or if their version of crap is my version of good. I’m sure they must at least occasionally write a bit of crap.

I wanted to finish with one of my original cliched ideas. Original cliche, see what I did there? A friend of mine recently wrote on Facebook in her Christmas wishes, I know for some of you today will be wonderful & for some it will be heartbreaking. We all get our turn at both in life. I thought that it was an expression of such lovely and true empathy. There has been a great deal of sparing of thoughts and thoughts going out to and thoughts and prayers being cast about in recent weeks. But my friend’s comment stayed with me right through the day, and the next several days. And I really did spare a thought. Lots of them. My thought sparing came with honest pain in my heart and a humble, joyful acknowledgement that all who were expected at my Christmas table were there. I always liked the idea that you could carry a bit of pain for someone at times when it was unbearable and make it (not less painful) just that tiny bit shared. So I hoped, in my thought sparing, that I did it at just the right time, for the many, many with an empty seat at the Christmas table.

You are not alone

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Next week, starting on Sunday the 9th to the 16th of March is multiple birth awareness week. It’s one of those things that, even as a mother of twins, I would usually pay no attention to. When I discovered I was pregnant with twins, despite the urging of friends and medical specialists aplenty, the last thing I wanted to do was join AMBA or BMBA or whateverBA or anything related to to twins or mothers’ groups or the like. I didn’t want to talk about it, be advised about it or have anyone cook me a lasagne for the freezer. I was in DE. NI. AL.

I lived in what I thought was normal for quite some years. I just thought I had lost myself and that my children had swallowed me whole. I just had to deal with it and come to accept what was a really difficult experience for me because they were my kids and nothing was going to change that. The sense of entrapment was profound. There was a constant sense of outrage, helplessness and despair that was unescapable. On top of that was the mother guilt, which every mother on this earth knows deeply. It’s about as real a state as the photoshopped cover of Cosmo. It’s not how life is meant to be. I didn’t really ask for and commit to help until I was desperate. There was no way you would get an honest answer to the question ‘how are you?’ from me, ever. I hated hearing ‘you’ve got your hands full’ or ‘it gets easier’ or the nauseating,’ twins! what a blessing!’. I simply couldn’t. I couldn’t ask, answer or listen.

It’s multiple birth awareness week. Can I tell you something? Having multiples is not like having kids close together. It’s not easier because you get it all over and done with in one go. It’s not the same as a house full of singletons. It is different. For some it will be a dream. For some it will not. For me it was complicated by the fact that at the very same moment I was scanned and found two little babies, someone very close to me was realising she’d never bear her own children. It was made harder because I wanted to bitch about my lot but I was surrounded by women in the painful throes of miscarriage, IVF and infertility. Fate deals a bitch of a hand.

It’s multiple birth awareness week. With a combination of good therapy, time, medication and prayer, I am getting my life back. I joined BMBA. I’m writing for AMBA. I am looking forward to BMBA Market Day (*details below). I even went to my day care centre’s ‘Mum’s Night’ tonight. SO not something I would have done a year ago. I am falling so deeply in love with my children; something I imagine most Mums do when their babies are born, but something that took me a little longer. It is no less exquisite. I am happy. The inner rage is gone. I am excited on Friday afternoons instead of apprehensive.

Even if you are not ready to ask, answer or listen, you are still not alone, we are here. There are lots of us who struggled hard with this journey, even hated it at times. We are here. If you need us we are here at the drop of a hat, but we will not force you because we understand that sometimes you need to hide in a cave for a few years. If you need a listening ear without advice, we are here. If you need to get drunk and feel numb, we are here. If you need someone to sit there right next to you and not widen their eyes at the amount of baby noise, then yep, we are here. Advice, you can get it anywhere. I am unlikely to give it. What I can give is empathy and complete lack of judgement. You are not alone.

Please consider supporting the Brisbane Multiple Birth Association Market Day on Sunday the 16th of March. 

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Vegemite is not the same overseas

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Pretty much the only time I eat Vegemite is when I am not in Australia. Certainly the only time I wave an Australian flag is when I am not in Australia. The only time I ever think a tattoo of the Southern Cross is a good idea is when I am not in Australia. I don’t celebrate our national day when in Australia. We are in an election campaign in Australia right now and when I hear we live in the greatest country in the world, I cringe. But when I’m overseas, I’m all over Australia Day, and I do think Australia is the best country on offer (or at least among the best).

I wonder what Americans would think of this attitude to my (lack of) national pride? I’ve seen in US election campaigns that it is polling kamikaze to suggest that The US of A is anything but the best. I look at wildly patriotic countries, especially South American ones during football competitions and I just can never imagine the same heated passion taking over our lazy-ass population. I remember my first trip to North America and thinking how weird it was that all the houses had flags out front.

Sadly, all things patriotic, at least when at home, have taken on new meaning since the mid-late nineties, when Pauline Hanson burst onto the federal political scene with her One Nation party and this very well known image of her draped in our national flag.  She and her party peddled half-baked, divisive policies that awoke the sleeping beast of xenophobia in this country. Just don’t ask her what that word means. The infamous Cronulla Riots in Sydney further sullied the image of wearing our national flag when, for a shameful week or so in 2005, national pride was used as an excuse to brutalise random strangers, destroy property and assault emergency service workers. Now, at least for me, the flag has become a symbol of an underbelly of racism that festers here in our best country on earth.

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I don’t celebrate our national day because it is the worst day to celebrate our birth as a nation. Australia Day is a celebration of the arrival of the British on our shores and their subsequent proclaimation of soverignty over an already populated country. Invasion, most would call that these days. I would love to celebrate Australia Day, just not on that day. I am, actually, a very proud Australian, off shore and on. I love lots of things about us. Our -isms, our humour, the attitude. I love the love of being outside that we have. I love the incredible beauty of our place. I love that we have snow, desert and rainforest all in one place. I love that Europeans freak out that you can drive for six days in Australia and still be in the same country. I love that we have the deadliest animals on earth here, and the cutest. Sometimes I even have a bit of Vegemite on toast.