france – premier jour

Welcome to the second instalment in my stories from France. See the prologue here.

 

From the airport we make our way through the cold and still dark morning to the flat we will be staying at for the next two nights, it belongs to a member of Le Monsieur’s extended family and she wouldn’t be using it until new year’s eve. Now this will sound like a vomitous (is definitely a word) romantic cliché but I have no real clear recollection of my first train trip on the Paris metro because I was so fucking stoked to be with my love. I know there was luggage, and it was squishy for most of the trip but we got on the train very far from the centre of Paris so we did get to sit down. I know felt a rush of excitement as we disembarked the train, feeling sure we’d end up leaving luggage on the train or get separated after the pep talk Le Monsieur gave me about being ready to jump off quickly because we can’t make the trains stay at the station by blocking the door from closing like we can in Perth. I know also that I talked Le Monsieur’s ear off, not because I actually remember doing it, just because I know it’s what I do!

We got to the flat where I had a much anticipated shower, it wasn’t a particularly flash shower and it was probably in the smallest bathroom I’ve ever been in but I hadn’t showered in at least 24 hours and I’m a bit of a Barbie about these things so it didn’t take much to impress me at that point.

After my shower, when I was still only wearing a singlet and underpants, we opened up the windows to air out the stuffy apartment and appreciate the way the golden morning light danced across the facade of the apartment building opposite, while not quite hitting the pavement on the street below.

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It didn’t take long for the cold to chill me, the water in the gutters was frozen and the air was crisp. Le Monsieur asked me to hurry up and get dressed into the rest of my eleventy billion layers before announcing that he planned to take me to La Tour Eiffel!

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We walked back down the street toward the metro, well Le Monsieur walked and I almost skipped alongside him partly because his legs are much longer than mine and I have to skip every few steps to keep up with him and partly because I was terribly excited to be there. I waffled on and on about things that weren’t important at the time and that I can’t even remember now, and grinned stupidly at Le Monsieur.

“I’m in Paris, really, truly, actually in Paris… with you!”

On the way to La Tour Eiffel I’m warned not to walk on the puddles, because they’re ice and they’re slippery. Oh the cold! Now I know I’ve banged on about it a bit already but you’ve got to understand that the first day I was in Paris was also the coldest day of the whole three week trip, including the four days spent at a ski resort in the mountains! The damned puddles were frozen!

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Ok, so I don’t walk on them, but I totally stand safely on ice-less ground next to them and smash up the ice with the heel of my boot because frozen puddles are such a novelty for a woman born and bred in the land of the 9 month long Summer.

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We stroll along the Seine, and Le Monsieur films me on location telling a Bad Joke of the Day joke that I’ve been planning to tell for months. Here it is for your listening pleasure…

After filming that terrible joke we cross the road to get to La Tour Eiffel and FAR OUT! It’s so very, very, very excellent. We take ridiculous pictures and make a silly video to send to the sproggets.

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It’s here that I choreograph the first of what becomes a series of photos we call “peekaboo”…

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I wanted a picture of La Tour Eiffel from underneath, but I wanted it to be a picture that was ours, not some generic photo of one of the most photographed monuments in the world so,

“Hey can you please lean over the phone so just your eyes are showing like this…”

Yahoo, peekaboo!

We walk down the avenue away from the tower, through the crowds of people lining up to climb it, past market stalls especially set up for the holiday season – all selling the same mass produced souvenirs.

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Le Monsieur has his DSLR camera, he bought two new lenses for it before he left for France, and the camera and camera bag become a daily feature over the next three weeks.

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After La Tour Eiffel we walk across one of the many spectacular bridges that cross the river Seine and on the other side I make my first attempt at purchasing something in France. Naturally, I cock it up but the man serving me clearly speaks English, has a laugh at my expense and hands me the bottle of water, I take it and we head toward L’Arc de Triomphe. Boyo has specifically requested that I get a picture of it for him, so we take several…

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From there we walk down the Champs Elysees. It’s horribly crowded but we check out a few shops, looking for a warmer beanie for Le Monsieur and better gloves for me. We find a lot of ridiculous looking woollens and have a bit of fun playing around with them, but we don’t find anything just right.

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In one of the shops we see this really tall guy and get a picture for my brother-in-law who once had a wooden giraffe of which he was quite fond.

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At the end of the Champs Elysees we walk through another seasonal market, finally finding some warmer woollen accessories for the both of us there, and decide to head out to have a look at Notre Dame.

We pull out the map and eventually work out which route we have to walk and as the sun is going down we cross another beautiful bridge on the way to Notre Dame, pausing to admire the silhouette of La Tour Eiffel on the pink and grey sky.

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Also on the way we stop at Musée du Louvre, closed for the day by this stage, but still a spectacular sight. While there Le Monsieur has a brilliant idea…

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Just kidding, he just happened to stand under a street light.

We head on to Notre Dame, getting there well after dark.

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It’s quite spectacular and quite humbling for me to be standing next to a building that’s older than any I’ve ever seen before.

We decide to grab dinner at a place over the road from Notre Dame. I’m utterly exhausted by this stage, it being extremely late back home in Australia and despite my restful flight my body still wants to function on Australian time. Extreme tiredness and not being sufficiently layered with clothing to be warm enough have made me ridiculously hungry and I eat a larger meal than I have in recent memory.

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After our satisfying dinner we roll back to the metro where we spend a bit of time being confused over the huge number of trains available to catch before choosing the right train line and heading back to the flat. Day one is over. We’ve covered a huge distance on foot, seen so much and had a wonderful day reconnecting after more than three weeks apart. I’d call it perfection really.


The pictures in this post are all from my iPhone, and Le Monsieur has some that are of far better quality on his computer. I’ll get onto him about handing them over this weekend and hopefully post some really fantastic pictures of the same stuff next week. Until then, enjoy the story and stay tuned for pictures and stories from day two.
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france – prologue

“I’m not coming to France. There is nothing that will make me get on that plane.”

He sighs. Here we go again. I can hear the frustration in his voice as he patiently asks me,

“Why?”

I list a multitude of “reasons”. The same reasons he talked me down from a couple of days ago, and a couple of days before that, and a couple of days before that too…

I’ll miss my children. I’m afraid of flying. I can’t speak French. I’m afraid his family will hate me. I’m afraid of skiing. I’m afraid I will run out of money. I’m afraid…

It’s the day after Christmas. Tomorrow will be Boyo’s birthday. I have a ticket to fly to France the day after that.

Le Monsieur convinces me, again, that it’ll be ok. My sisters convince me, again, that it’ll be ok. My Mum convinces me, again, that it’ll be ok. My brothers in law convince me, again, that it’ll be ok. Even my twelve year old niece joins in with the chorus of people convincing me that it’ll be ok as she deftly picks apart every single one of my reasons to bail on the trip I’d been planning for several months.

The morning of Boyo’s birthday I wake before the sproggets. We are staying in a caravan at my elder sister and brother in law’s house in the south west of WA and even though it’s very early the caravan is flooded with the clear blue light of an Australian Summer dawn. Boyo lays asleep next to me, his impossibly long eyelashes dusting his smooth, pink cheeks. I don’t remember him coming into my bed overnight but in that moment as I watch him sleeping, studying his perfect just-turned-five-years-old face, I am grateful that he did.

I hear Girlie’s soft snoring from the other end of the caravan and realise that my eyes are wet. I’m going to miss them so much.

Boyo thinks his birthday is pretty much the best thing ever. He’s especially excited this year because he had gastro the day he turned four and today he is feeling well enough to make up for the lack of celebration the year before. His Dad drives from Perth to join us for a picnic under some gum trees. At the end of the day, we go back to my elder sister’s house. I’m packing up our things in the caravan in preparation for moving the sproggets to my younger sister’s house down the road, where they will stay for the three weeks that I am in France. I freak out again. My elder sister had spinal surgery in mid-December so she’s laying in her bed, recovering from being up and about at the birthday picnic. I go to talk to her. She talks me down. She suggests I visit my younger sister at work at talk to her about my concerns. I do, and on the way I call Le Monsieur and freak out at him (again).

Eventually, through the effort of those around me I’m calm again. We are at my younger sister’s house, in the room she has set up to be the sproggets’ bedroom for the next three weeks. We have read them stories, I have tucked them in, we are talking about my imminent departure. They are both so tired, but they don’t want to go to sleep because they know I will be leaving when they do. I decide that I’ve got to leave while they’re still awake, it’s the most fair way to do it. I cuddle my babies, I tell them I love them, that I hope they have a wonderful holiday with their Aunty and that I’ll see them at the airport in three weeks. I walk out of the room, hug my sister and thank her again for the incredible, generous and loving gift she is giving me by taking on guardianship of my babies while I do this thing I need to do for me.

It’s really late and I have a three hour drive to get back to Perth tonight. I have to go. I’m not even five minutes down the road when my phone beeps with a message that I don’t check until I pull over more than an hour later, I know it’s telling me the sprogs are asleep.

I call my Mum from the road side at midnight. The plan had been that I would call her when I got back to Perth, she’d pick me up from my house and I’d stay with her for my last night. I had cleaned the house and stripped the beds before we left to spend Christmas in the south west with my sisters but I tell her I won’t be home before 1.30am so she should go to bed, that I’ll sleep on the couch with a blanket and call her when I wake up in the morning. I get home and unpack, I potter about and finally lay down after 2.30am. Sleep doesn’t come easy. I tell myself that’s a good thing because it’ll be easier to sleep on the plane if I’m exhausted. I’ve never flown long haul before, but I’ve heard it’s horrid…

The next morning I call my Mum, she takes me to breakfast at Kings Park, for one last look at the beautiful Perth skyline before I leave, she tells me. I wonder if perhaps she’s worried I’ll fall in love with France and forget how wonderful my homeland is?

We run some errands, have a hair cut and a manicure, we are killing time before I have to be at the airport.

At the nail bar I hear that a plane has disappeared, suspected to have crashed into the ocean after a storm. What the fuck? Thanks for that one sky daddy!

Mum takes me to the airport and after I’m checked in and she’s bought me a horridly overpriced lunch she confesses that she wasn’t sure I’d make it this far. Well, I’m here now having handed over my babies yesterday and my bags just now so I suppose I’m going to France. It’s time to board so I thank my Mum, take a deep breath and get on the plane.

My first flight, to Kuala Lumpur, is awful. The turbulence is bad and the news of the missing plane weighs heavily on my mind. I discover that I am an anxious flyer. I wish Le Monsieur was with me. I wish my children we with me. I’m in a horrid limbo of being stuck in a tin can bouncing from the part of my heart I left in my homeland and the part of my heart I’m traveling toward in a distant and unknown land.

I’m so relieved to land in KL and for a moment I consider asking to swap my ticket to France for a ticket back to Perth. That way I will still have to get on another plane but only once and not for 13.5 hours. My stopover is only two hours and before I’m really consciously aware of what’s happening I’m sitting in the departure lounge waiting to board my next plane. A french man sitting next to me tells someone that he’s just received word that it’s snowing in Paris. This news makes my heart skip a beat and I start to feel a bit excited. There’s snow, and there’s my lover, at the end of this flight…

As I’m sitting in my designated seat a flight steward approaches me,

“Excuse me madam, there are seats free at the back of the plane if you’d like a row to yourself?”

What luck! I’ve heard this happens very rarely, already this flight is better than the first.

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I move to the back of the plane and gratefully spread myself out across three seats. My first long haul flight is a dream, quite literally as I am able to lay down to sleep for 8 hours of the 13.5 hour flight. I’d had very little sleep at home the night before and so sleep comes easy. When I land in Paris at 7am local time my face, hands and feet are visibly swollen, but I’m refreshed and my body is already prepared for local time. I did it. I’m in Paris and I’m so close to seeing my love.

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I follow the crowds through customs, get a stamp in my brand new passport, collect my bag and walk through the arrivals gate. I scan the crowd for Le Monsieur, I see him before he sees me and I run toward him, launching myself at him. It is so, so, so good to see him, to smell him, to kiss him again. My eyes are wet, again, unsurprisingly because I cry at anything. He pulls himself away from me,

“Do you have another coat in your bag? Now is the time to put it on if you do, it’s very cold.”

We move to the side and I put on extra layers. I’m actually here. I’m in France. With Le Monsieur’s hand in mine I walk through the airport doors and a rush of cold hits me. I’ve never felt so cold in all my life and it’s time for our adventure to begin…

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lying on the floor in a puddle of sad

Lying on the floor in a puddle of sad.

That’s what Boyo was doing at the airport this afternoon when we took Monsieur Lapin Blanc to catch his flight.

In that moment, as I watched my child slump to the ground and cry I was torn between feeling utter frustration at his display and a desire to join him on the floor as he lay there crying. He had a freedom you see, that children have and most adults don’t. He felt free to express his emotions, not sanitised for socially acceptable consumption, just as they come.

Boyo was tired, and Boyo was overwhelmed. Boyo also wanted me to take out a personal loan to buy him a drink from the overpriced airport cafe because he didn’t bring his water bottle with him. I didn’t deal with it very well. I was tired and I was overwhelmed. I didn’t want to take out a personal loan to buy a drink from the overpriced airport cafe. Most of all, I didn’t want to be going home without Monsieur. My petulant inner child didn’t want to say goodbye to Monsieur because that’s hard. We said goodbye to Monsieur though, and went to a shop on the way home to buy comfort eating supplies (chocolate) and wrapping paper. Saying goodbye felt weird. I feel a bit weak. Knowing that it’s only for a few weeks, it shouldn’t be so hard, right? Well, it was. It is.

I know that Monsieur has his family waiting for him at the other end. His mother, his father, and his sister and her family are excited to see him after an absence of far more than three weeks, and he is excited to see them. I am pleased for him, that he has such wonderful things planned for the time he will have with his family. I desperately hope he has a fabulous time and I look forward to meeting his family when I join him at the end of the month. I just wish that saying seeya later didn’t feel so hard.

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un voyage en france

Six days from now will begin a six week period that is going to be a very challenging time for my heart.

The Monsieur flies to France in five days, where he will be spending three weeks with his family before I join him at the end of the month for another three weeks.

The sprogs won’t be coming to France with me, they will be staying in the south west with my delightful younger sister, where they will enjoy three weeks of classic Australian beach holiday time. Swimming lessons at the beach with their cousins in the mornings and lazy afternoons with the extended family – which now includes dogs, chooks and a lamb!

While Monsieur is away we will miss him, for three weeks I will be without my dear friend and lover, and then when I get on a plane to be reunited with him I will be leaving my sproggets, my babies. I will miss them terribly, and they will miss me. I haven’t even left yet and I am looking forward to being reunited with them. That, being apart from my family, is the big challenge for my heart. As for my holiday, I’ve never been overseas before so I’m excited and I’m terrified.

I’m going to France to see where mon homme grew up and to meet his family, although (coincidentally) France has been number one on my list of places to go for the longest time. I will be in way over my depth with my french speaking abilities, but I am excited about being immersed in a language I have wanted to be able to speak for such a long time. I think I’ll probably make more progress in three weeks, through necessity, than I have in a year of study.

We have some spectacular things planned from the moment I get off the plane. We will go to places Monsieur knows from when he lived in France, and we will go to places neither of us have ever been. I have been asking my faciverse what I should be taking with me and what I should be preparing for on the flight and I feel very prepared but for one thing…

I am torn between leaving my computer at home and taking it with me to keep a travel journal on the blog and Skype with my babies (although I can do that on my phone provided I am able to set it up with a pre-paid sim in France). What would you do?

 

 

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playing house

Hey Wildies! I’ve got a little story for you…

A few weeks ago Monsieur Lapin Blanc moved in with us here at The Wilde Space, and he’s brought the 21st century with him…

For the first time since I lived with my Mum I’m living in a home with a television, a dishwasher, a microwave and a toaster (this is big stuff).

The television has big speaker-doo-dahs attached to it and apparently we can play music through it but I haven’t made that happen yet. The TV is not plugged in to the part of the wall where the TV stations come in so it’s basically a fancy computer monitor for watching movies on. I’ve never had a desire to have a TV in the house before, and I certainly wouldn’t miss it if it weren’t here but it is a bit cool to watch some movies and series on it instead of watching them on a small lap top screen. I would prefer if it was hidden in a cupboard or by a curtain though, you see I do enjoy technology, I just don’t want to have to look at it if I’m not using it and we don’t use it very much.

The dishwasher, well I’m definitely into that!

The microwave, it’s still not better than using the oven or stovetop to reheat anything but I bought some wheat bags because I knew the microwave was coming… I’m sure I’ll appreciate it when my shoulder is playing up and I can give it a bit of relief with a heat pack.

The toaster, do you know how many crumbs those things spit out?! I don’t love that much (yet?).

The most exciting addition to the house though, of course, is the Monsieur himself. I’m not fantastic at living with other people, share houses never really worked for me because I’m a bit of a lot of a neat freak. Since becoming a single parent I’d really embraced being queen of my domain. Everything just how I wanted it, no requirement to accommodate another (adult) person’s stuff even if it wasn’t to my taste, the freedom to rearrange furniture on a whim… It was really wonderful actually.

Initially the thought of giving that up made my blood run cold, and only a year ago I would loudly announce to anyone who would listen that I’d never want to live with another man again. People laughed and told me I’d change my mind, and sure enough I did. It helped that Monsieur Lapin Blanc had proven himself to be a pretty fabulous dude with exceptional domestic abilities and a super human level of tolerance for my redecorating whims.

Now I’m happy to eat my words because, with Monsieur Lapin Blanc, I think that playing house is quite lovely.

 

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the suppository of all wisdom

Recently, us Wilde Things were struck down by a zombie flu. The sprogs fell first, and I made a few unkind jabs about Boyo suffering from Babyman Cold before I was hit by a tsunami of pain and misery. If I didn’t find karma such a horribly offensive concept¹ I’d possibly believe I’d brought it on myself with my sub-optimal empathy. I have never been as sick as I was a couple of weeks ago. 5 days in bed. 5 freaking days!

Once the worst of it was over I still felt too traumatised by the experience to make jokes, especially the joke in the title of this post, but now I think sufficient time has passed that I am fully prepared to make jokes at my own expense for your reading pleasure.

So, as I said, the sprogs were the first to fall. Girlie, as usual, was very stoic. She’s so good at being sick. She calmly² takes herself off to bed where she quietly rests until she feels sufficiently well enough to return to humanity. It’s really fantastic from the perspective of someone taking care of her, but it doesn’t make for a very interesting story.

Boyo, on the other hand, OH THE DRAMA! It’s gripping. Boyo royally sucks at being sick (hence the Babyman Cold jokes)…

One afternoon, before I was slammed myself, Boyo lay on the couch under the ugliest rug in the world and bellowed at me “Muuuuuuhuuuuum I don’t feeeeeeel verrrry well!” (on loop, with the occasional “I haaaaaaaaaave a headaaaaaaaaaache!” thrown in) for 45 minutes. Forty-bloody-five long, painful minutes. I was outside hanging washing on the line when he started. I knew he was as comfortable as I could make him, having been given suitable and sufficient pain relief medication, laying on a comfy couch under an ugly but very warm rug, and having a water bottle with him… There was little else I could do so I continued to hang the laundry out, expecting that he’d stop. He’s got stamina, I’ll give him that. When I had finished hanging out the laundry I took a deep breath, gritted my teeth and came inside. With all the restraint that I could muster I kindly reminded Boyo that I understood he was feeling rotten, that there was nothing more I could give him to make the pain go away, and that perhaps he might give his headache a chance to disappear if he stopped making that awful, loud, bellowing noise. He got it eventually, and then his snotty, tear stained face asked for a cuddle. All was then forgiven, because even if he is a horrid patient, he’s pretty damned cute.

A couple of days later I was beginning to feel a bit yuck, and so began my five days in bed. Most of it is a blur, and to be honest I think I sucked at being sick this time too. Usually I like to think I’m pretty brave, I’ve had several surgeries and I think I have behaved pretty reasonably during recovery from those…

This flu though, oh my good earth! I’ve never been so sick in all my life. I dosed up on pseudo-ephidrine, paracetamol and ibuprofen (because I’m not a hippy anymore) then I lay in bed groaning and being generally pathetic while Monsieur Lapin Blanc did all the domestic things. MLB says he knew I was really sick because I wasn’t talking. Normally I could talk underwater with a mouthful of marbles and I wasn’t talking, I was just being a useless, complaining blob of sick.

One night, maybe day three or four, I called my Mum and in very Boyo fashion, I cried at her.

“I’ve never felt more sick in all my life. The pain killers are doing NOTHING. No. That’s not true, they are doing something. They’ve made me constipated. Waaaaaaaaah. I can’t cope with being snotty, cough-y, achey and have a clogged up bum too. What can I doooooooo?”

Mum is a registered nurse/registered midwife and Mum is my Mum, so she knows how to fix everything.

Much like I had said to Boyo just a few days before (the parallels are astounding), Mum said there was nothing more we could do about my pain if I was already taking pain relief, but she could help with the constipation… Mum suggested two options. I could take Coloxyl®, but I know they take about a day to work (unlike a close personal relative of mine who recently took 6 Coloxyl® in 12 hours because she didn’t know that [insert LOL here]) or I could use a glycerine suppository, which she has in her medicine cabinet in bulk because of the whole midwife thing³.

Having tried neither option before, but having very recently heard the story of aforementioned close personal relative’s experience with Coloxyl® overdose, and having heard no stories about glycerine suppositories I decided to choose the latter. I was desperate to relieve at least one of my sources of discomfort, and glycerine suppositories are squishy bullet shaped things that are essentially just like a gummy baby, they’re cute and harmless right?! Let’s just forget, in a sick and irrational haze, the fact that administration of a suppository is up one’s arse while administration of Coloxyl® is oral. I’m not sure WTF I was thinking because, aside from the longer wait for Coloxyl® to work, I’m sure a sensible dose of any oral laxative would have been my preferred choice had I actually considered the options.

So Mum comes over with the suppositories, I cry at her about how terrible I feel and in a moment of clarity I remember where Boyo’s dramatic tendencies come from. I mention this. We laugh because I’m a drama queen but not too much because it makes me cough and I don’t like that because I’m a drama queen. Mum offers to insert the suppository for me. Awwwww fuck. No thanks. That’s going a bit too far, I’m not THAT sick! Mum leaves, imparting the wisdom to aim the suppository at my belly button, to make sure I get the right angle. Mum is the suppository of all wisdom.

So with Mum gone, it’s just me and the suppositories.

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I’ll spare you the details from there on, but I’ll impart a bit of my own suppository wisdom…

  1. These work very fast.
  2. They are very effective.
  3. I don’t think gummy bears could do what glycerine suppositories do.

 


¹Too many wonderful people I know have had awful things happen to them and I just can’t believe for a second that it’s through any fault of their own.
²Those who know her know that Girlie’s default state is neither calm nor quiet… ever.
³The first poo after giving birth is a frightening concept, one could be forgiven for believing one’s insides will evacuate through one’s anus, so having super soft poo is pretty helpful.

If you would like to try your luck at being the suppository of all wisdom, have a look at Stop The Boats.
posted by wildecrafted in journal and have Comments (2)

the get active challenge

Hey Groovers!

For the past couple of months I’ve been using fake book a fair bit less than I used to. I don’t have the application on my phone so I have to open up my lap top to log on and after spending many hours on computers at work* I just don’t feel terribly inspired by that thought.

I’d have to have been living under a rock though, to be unaware of the #icebucketchallenge. Admittedly, it did take me longer than most to cotton on but I’m up to speed now (unlike my shitty internet which is ridiculously slow, thanks iiNet #firstworldproblems #amiright).

So I stumbled on the ice bucket challenge a few days before someone nominated me to do it a couple of weeks ago. I haven’t done it. I don’t know that I will do it but, since the nomination I’ve been thinking about it a bit.

I’ve been involved, on and off, in various direct action activist campaigns for at least a decade now and I’m all across the awareness raising and publicity stunts. I think it’s great that the ice bucket challenge has raised awareness of a horrifying disease. It’s an undeniably clever publicity stunt. People are noticing it and people are talking about it.

For every friend who has posted a video of themselves being drenched with icy water there was at least one friend posting criticisms of the campaign.

  • People aren’t donating money.
  • The money people are donating isn’t being spent on research.
  • The money that is spent on research is spent on animal testing.
  • Water is being wasted.
  • That shit is annoying and really fucking irrelevant…

 

So like I said, I’m all across awareness raising, it’s super important to get your cause out there right? I am concerned though, that a bunch of people have chucked a bucket of cold water at their heads and then pat themselves on the back for their activism. How many of those who participated in the challenge actually donated money? How many of those who criticised the campaign got involved in a way they believe is more meaningful?

See, by now you know I think awareness raising is good, and I think donating money to “good causes” is better, but I truly believe that volunteering your time and energy is the best gift you can give to a cause that’s close to your heart.

So instead of, or as well as, chucking buckets of cold water at each other let’s get active in our communities.

If you can spare it, flick some cash in the direction of a charity that does work you can get behind.

If you’re able, donate some blankets to a homeless shelter, or buy a sleeping bag and give it directly to someone who’s roughing it on the streets.

If you’ve got the time, volunteer at a soup kitchen, a community garden, a youth centre, an aged care facility, a community centre…

Whatever! Think about what you’re passionate about, what you think your community needs to be a better community, and work out how you can help make that happen. Everything we can offer counts. Collectively we can make change.

Some of the campaigns and organisations I’m really passionate about include:

Suicide prevention – today is World Suicide Prevention Day. Suicide has rocked my life several times since I was a teenager and for many years I’ve told myself I’ll volunteer with a suicide support service when the sprogs are older and I’m able to commit the time and energy required. Check out lifeline.org.au (13 11 14) which is a national crisis support and suicide prevention service or thesamaritans.org.au (13 52 47) which is a WA based crisis support and suicide prevention service.

Refugee rights – my favourite grass roots refugee rights group is the Perth based Refugee Rights Action Network (rran.org) and I really get into the work the Melbourne based Asylum Seeker Resource Centre (asrc.org.au) do too. There’s heaps of activist and advocacy groups Australia wide though, do a bit of research and get informed. Australia’s treatment of refugees and asylum seekers in an international disgrace. You can write letters to politicians, you can meet with politicians, you can hit the streets with RRAN, you can get along to activist and advocacy group meetings, you can write letters to asylum seekers detained in immigration detention facilities to let them know you care (never understate the power of reaching out like that).

Domestic violence – check out womenscouncil.com.au for info on some DV support services in Perth. Check out the Reclaim the Night movement, see if there’s one near you. Lobby politicians to make this an issue. Donate to women’s refuges. Talk about this issue. Just talking about it is so powerful.

Look I could preach at you about things I think are important for an age. An absolute age. I’m one of those bleeding heart hippy types. The point I’m trying to make though, is that you can do so much good in your community with your time and your money, even if you don’t think you’ve got much of either to spare. In the time it’d take you to film yourself being soaked with icy water you could make an online donation to a charity that does great stuff. If you’ve a bit more time than that to spare you could write a letter to a politician. If you’ve got more time again you could volunteer somewhere excellent, even for an hour a week.

I challenge you to get active. I promise it’ll make a positive difference to your life, and to the lives of others.


 

 

*In kimba news, I have a job in a really great community legal centre now – yeah boy!

posted by wildecrafted in activism and have Comment (1)

confessions of an ex-housewife

Almost three years ago I wrote this post in which I ranted about the difference I perceived between stay at home parents and housewives. Now I’m revisiting that post to eat a massive slice of humble pie…

Firstly I must apologise for the gross overuse of exclamation marks in that post!!!!!!!!

Secondly, well, despite my assertions otherwise I totally was a housewife and I am paying for it now.

One thing I did get absolutely right in that post was this bit:

I have temporarily given up my career to parent our children…

As a result, while Bean’s earning capacity has increased, time spent out of paid employment has meant my earning capacity has decreased. That is a significant sacrifice to make for my family!

Between finishing high school and having my children I spent much more time studying than I did in paid employment. In my first year out of high school I studied one year of a three year advanced diploma in theatre lighting design, after that first year I left to study an advanced diploma of naturopathy, and on completion of that course I worked for a while in the south west of WA before traveling to Northern NSW to do a permaculture internship. All of these things were really interesting and I gained a lot of life experience while studying them, however I never really established a career in these or any other fields before Girlie was conceived.

During my relationship with Girlie and Boyo’s father I didn’t have paid employment. I stayed at home with our children and I did the lion’s share of the housework. I was a housewife.

Now that we are separated and I have become the sole, full time carer of the sproggets I am really paying for that choice. While their father left our relationship with a useful qualification and an impressive CV I left with one (economically) useless qualification and a bit of two other qualifications, all of which I had before we began our relationship anyway. During our relationship their father was able to further his career significantly with my support, and I thought that was 0k because it was all going to benefit our family and I knew it would be my turn next. Unfortunately I was naive and my turn never came. I left before I got my turn.

I now rely on a parenting pension and child support while I study to gain a usable qualification so I can independently support myself and our children in future.

While I am entitled to receive child support payments to help care for our children the reality is that I haven’t received any money from their father since February. The child support agency told me they’d get onto it immediately, but their idea of immediate is three months and counting. Due to his comfortable income the mythical child support that I receive from the sproggets’ father is an amount that causes my parenting pension to be reduced to just covering my rent and nothing else. Since February I have been relying on loans and charity from friends and family to put food on the table while the sum of my overdue bills is now in the hundreds. There is no guarantee I will ever see the child support that I am owed, that our children are owed.

If I had chosen to study or do paid work while I was still with my children’s father, instead of being a (fucking) housewife, I would have far more control over my life right now.

I would not be relying on external and unreliable sources of income.

I would be able to put food on the table.

I would not have overdue bills.

I would not be borrowing my father’s second car.

I would not be borrowing school uniforms for the sproggets because I have been unable to buy them their own.

I would not be answering every request with, “No, I’m sorry, we can’t afford that.”

If I could change anything about my past it would be the choice I made to stay at home with our children and believe that I would be rewarded for that*.

In the wake of last week’s announcement of the Abbott government’s proposed budget I am despairing even more than I was before.

I may have made a financially misguided choice to stay at home with my children to the detriment of career advancement but after finally having the courage to leave an unhappy relationship and embark on a course of study to enable me to establish a career,  I am now in a position of having to question whether I can afford to complete the university degree I am currently enrolled in. As a university student and as a sole parent I will be shafted by Abbott’s budget.

They really don’t want to support people to better their situation do they?


 

 

*It utterly disgusts me that our culture does not value the work of child rearing. I shouldn’t regret my choice to be a full time carer to my children when they were babies. With regard to the impact my choice had on their early childhood, I have no regrets, but I am bitterly sorry that we currently have a reduced quality of life because of that choice and I am terrified I will not be able to financially recover from that choice.

 

posted by wildecrafted in journal and have No Comments

where ya been?!

Bonjour mes amis!

Once again, there’s been what seems a lifetime between posts…

For now, at least for this post, I’m back. Back to tell y’all where I’ve been.

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The time of my hiatus from blogging has been a big one for my small family. Bean and I separated last year and navigating that has been difficult. It’s something I haven’t wished to write about in detail on a public forum because it’s not just my story, it’s Bean’s story too. Since Bean and I are no longer “we” and “us” I don’t believe it’s my right to share our stories in the way I used to on this blog. Our separation and its aftermath consumed my life for quite a time so it seemed easier to stop writing publicly than it did to write about anything and everything but the changing landscape of my family. Oh but now there is so much to write about! There are so many things to share that I think it will take a good many posts to bring y’all up to speed…

I’ll go with the “in a (very big) nutshell” approach for now so as to cover as much ground as possible in one post.

Last year I began a degree at university. I’m enrolled in a double major in community development and social + developmental psychology. I love it, it’s so many shades of awesome. After 6 years of stay at home parenting it was so refreshing to spend time talking to other adults about things that weren’t my children. I started uni a week after Bean moved out of my home, it was an intense time, but I’m proud to say I nailed it and I got consistently great marks.

The sprogs and I now live in the inner city of Perth which has been a huge change from living in Albany and Geraldton! We moved here, with Bean, in December of 2012. I’ve been in this house now for longer than I’ve been in most of my other adulthood homes. I love this house so, so much. My landlords are fantastic and I have relished the chance to care for this beautiful, old house. I had permission to paint inside recently, it’s an ongoing project as funds permit but I absolutely will be sharing a ridiculous number of photos of this house here on the blog. I’ll also be able to start telling tales of some adventures in the garden now the weather has cooled enough for plants to have a chance at establishing before being burnt to a crisp by the hot Perth Summer sun. I’ve already begun to potter around out there and I love the way it feeds my soul.

The lifestyle here is lovely. The CBD is a short walk or bicycle ride away and I have some wonderful local friends. The sprogs are both at the local state school, and while it’s not my ideal to have them at school at all (my ideal is unschooling/natural learning/life learning), it is a really lovely little school and they are both delighted with their teachers. It’s working well enough for our family right now.

I really, really miss living near big trees and breathtakingly beautiful, secluded beaches, but we live near a gorgeous big park with Morten Bay Figs and two large lakes that are habitat for turtles and birdlife. I also do get the chance to recharge in the bush every school holidays when the sprogs and I go on Interactive Adventures Camps.

It was October of 2012 when I started back as a volunteer at “camp” after taking a 5.5 year break to have the sproggets. Camp has been a huge part of my life for half of my life, and I am massively grateful to be able to share it with my sproggets now. I will be writing about camp a lot, although words really can’t express what camp is and what it means to us. Many of my very favourite people are friends I’ve met at camp. We are going on camp next week and we are all very excited. In the interests of the nutshell, and in doing justice to camp, I will stop writing about it for now but do stay tuned for more about camp in future posts…

My dear kombi Brigit is currently mid way through a restoration of sorts. She’s in a workshop now awaiting a fresh paint job after having extensive rust repair work done. I miss her pretty hard and I think my first drive in her after I get her back will be one of the sweetest experiences I’ll ever have. I am so looking forward to it.

Perhaps the biggest news, and certainly for me the happiest news, that I have to share is the introduction of a new character to my blog. It is with great pleasure I introduce to you, “Monsieur Lapin Blanc”.

 

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This man is utterly delightful and all three of us Wilde Things love him almost to the point of chest explosion.

His blog moniker is French because, no prizes for guessing, he is French. I’ve been half arsedly learning French for about 7-8 years now but this man, this white rabbit, well he’s a pretty good incentive to try a bit harder.

Monsieur Lapin Blanc has come into our family with an open heart and enriched our lives in many beautiful ways. He is so wonderful to us and we are blessed to have him. In choosing to be with me he has also chosen to give his time, his energy and his love to helping me raise the sproggets. I believe he is an excellent role model for them and he is a complete dag, which means he fits in perfectly here. We relish the time he is with us and when he is not with us I miss him like an idiot misses the point.

So there, dear readers, is as concise an update as I am able to give. We are happy, we are well, and I am back!

posted by wildecrafted in education,journal and have Comments (7)

how i became a refugee rights advocate

This morning on twitter I retweeted this tweet,

“Lebanon has received more #asylum seekers from #Syria in last 24 hours than #Australia has in all of 2013. #auspol”

by Kon Karapanagiotidis, founder and CEO of the Asylum Seeker Resource Centre in Melbourne. Very soon someone I don’t know responded with this,

“@wildecrafted @Kon_K Who cares? You can bet they won’t be housed in air conditioned luxury & paid welfare in Lebanon #notourproblem #auspol”

Who cares? I care!

I’ll admit that lately, for the same reasons I haven’t blogged in almost seven months, I haven’t been keeping up with the news about asylum seekers & refugees or the awful race-to-the-bottom politics of the two major political parties in Australia like I used to but my values have not changed.

When I was 21 years old I went on a convergence from Perth to the Baxter Immigration Detention Centre (IDC) just out of Port Augusta in South Australia. At the time I didn’t understand the history of mandatory detention in Australia, and if I’m honest I didn’t really understand why I was going on the convergence.

I first heard about the convergence when I was at a friend’s house, we were sitting on her bed eating highly nutritious mi goreng two minute noodles when I noticed a poster on her bedroom wall that was promoting the 2003 convergence to Baxter IDC.

“Shell, what’s Baxter?” I asked.

Between mouthfuls Shelley told me what Baxter was and we talked about people who had fled persecution and wound up in prisons here in Australia, detained indefinitely without charge or trial. I knew some of this stuff, I’d seen it on the news at my parent’s house but I didn’t yet know that there were people standing up and saying it was wrong.

It was a couple of weeks later when I was hanging out at a feral little bunker of awesomeness called Groovy Space (the home of a local junk percussion band) that my friend Scoutt told me that another convergence to Baxter was being planned and it was happening in a few weeks. She asked if I wanted to come.

There were around 80 of us on the bus from Perth to Baxter. It took us 28 hours to get there, the bus had two drivers who took turns to drive and to sleep in a bed at the back of the bus, we stopped infrequently.

For the three days that we were at Baxter I experienced more than I could have imagined when I signed up to go. I saw a friend, who was well known for his non-violent direct action (NVDA) workshops, get punched in the face by a particularly aggressive police officer. I saw people trampled by horses. I saw helium balloons popped by cops holding pins. I saw the cuts on the face of a fellow Perth activist after his face was rammed into the ground by the police officer who arrested him. I heard our friend tell us about how he’d been arrested because he was holding a camera that had recorded the police brutality and of how the film was wiped clean when he received his camera back. I saw asylum seekers climb onto the roof of the detention centre and heard them call out to us. I chanted “AZADI” (which means freedom in Farsi) with the hundreds of other activists who had come from every state and territory in Australia to protest Prime Minister John Howard’s cruel policies.

While all of this was certainly powerful it was the experience of keeping an overnight vigil at the front gates of the centre with a small handful of the hundreds of convergence attendees that really affected me. We spent the night huddling together under blankets, running on the spot and doing star jumps in an attempt to stave off the chill from of the cold Autumn night in the desert. We discussed anything and everything, always mindful of the people detained in the IDC we sat before. As the sun rose that morning I was struck by the beauty of the vast desert sky. As I stood to face to rising sun the stars still glowed in the dark night sky behind me. I felt free.

The children, the women and the men who were detained at Baxter IDC could not see the horizon. They could not see the simple beauty of the morning washing over the desert. They were not free.

It was in that moment that I knew, I really knew, why I was at the convergence. It was at that point that I understood my own privilege in a way I never had before and it was at that point that I silently vowed to myself, with tears in my eyes, that I would fight for the freedom of those seeking asylum in Australia. They deserve freedom as much as I do.

We won some things during that period of the refugee rights campaign, and in 2007 when John Howard was finally defeated by Kevin Rudd we all had high hopes. Unfortunately since then we have seen a return to policies every bit as inhumane as those of the Howard era.

Thursday June 20, 2013 is World Refugee Day. This Sunday (June 16) the Refugee Rights Action Network (RRAN) are hosting a rally calling for an end to the mandatory detention of  asylum seekers and for an end to the awful policy known as “The Pacific Solution”. I will be there, with my children, because the least I can do is spend a couple of hours of my weekend marching for an end to mandatory detention and the closure of offshore immigration detention facilities.

 

posted by wildecrafted in activism and have No Comments