Words of Wisdom

Youth is wasted on the young.

Thursday, 26 August 2010

An Aversion To Laziness In The Use of the Expletive

I have to confess I am not adverse to using the 'f' bomb from time to time. Nothing like Himself of course, for whom it is as natural as breathing; I put it down to his background in the creative arts.

I am famously remembered by my parents for using it as I dressed for my first wedding. Well, there were waaaay too many flowers on that headpiece! It looked like I had an effing garden on my head! Anyway, my point is that I use it to effect, rather like an exclamation point (and yes, Headbang, I know that if I continue with that analogy I shall be digging myself ever deeper into an expletive grave.......) I will also admit that my need for exclamation and effect could be said to increase exponentially according to the amount of wine I have consumed but that is neither here nor there. The fact of the matter is that I object to hearing it all the time on national radio!

The occurrence of the 'f' bomb in contemporary song has increased past the point of having any point at all. Once the territory of angst ridden rappers who had obviously seen 'Platoon' too many times.......(dialogue: mumble mumble motherf****** mumble Gooks mumble mumble mother f****** Gooks), this pre-Elizabethan curse has moved inexorably from; the purposefully dropped expletive or descriptor; to an occasional, casual adjective or adverb; to the title of the song and main chorus lyric! Lily Allen started it with her supersweet message to George Bush "F You"and more recently Cee-Lo Green has given us a cheerful, soul version of the verbal 'finger'!

! (spoken with rolled eyes)

Given my own predilection for the word, I am somewhat confused as to why these songs bother me so much, but bother me they do. I find myself murmuring "Huh! Charming!" in schoolmarmly tones, to the obvious amusement of the BA. I have tried to pinpoint the source of my irritation and after much soul searching I have decided it comes down to one thing. Laziness.

I mean! In my day we were clever and amusing in our use of the word! Witness the crowd at an Angels concert spontaneously bursting into an improvised echo chorus at the query 'Am I ever gonna to see your face again?' ( No way, get f*****, f*** off!). Now you see, that is iconic.

But more than that, we could be smutty, angst ridden or suggestive with nary a mention of the 'f' word.

Here are some of my favourite examples:

Bette Midler does Long John Blues (one of my party pieces).

Patti Smith spews forth the horrors of working class America in Piss Factory (alright..she did say piss...but at least it wasn't an 'f' factory, although come to think of it that might have been appropriate)

The B52s do Love Shack: the BA and I heard this in the car the other morning right after one of the previously mentioned modern offensive songs. I looked at her and said "You know, there is no doubt that this song is about a place where people get down and dirty and yet there is not one explicit word in the entire piece. That's its genius." And she agreed. Because she is a good daughter.

Looking back, one does not have to think too hard about the nuances of the expression 'rock and roll' to be quite clear as to its meaning. Even in the safe, middle class genre of musical theatre people like Cole Porter gave us 'innocent, carefree' lyrics like these:

I'd like to stop for my baby tonight,
And blow my top with my baby tonight.
I'd like to stop for my baby tonight,
And blow my top with my baby tonight,
But I'd be a flop with baby tonight,
'Cause it's too darn hot.

("It's Too Darn Hot" from 'Kiss Me Kate': 1949)

No prizes for guessing what HE was talking about!

In my day (and before) there was currency in vaguely disguising the intent of your lyric; this is obviously no longer the case. And guess what? I think it is reflective of the inability of the Baby Boomers to wield their Flaming Swords!!

Your kids don't care what they say folks. They're happy to put the 'f' bomb into the title of a song cos they're pretty damn sure you ain't gonna do a thing about it. Oh you might roll your eyes and say 'In MY day' and write blog posts and even change the radio station from time to time but at the end of the day you'll shrug and say "Ah well, there's nothing we can do. The world is changing."

What a load of lazy b******* you all are.

No wonder the Y Generation are the way they are !

(That faint pop you heard was the sound of me, gently removing my tongue from my cheek)

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Sunday, 22 August 2010

Running Out Of Girl Germs

Isn't it funny how you never think you'll get to this stage in life. I mean, why do we think that? What's the alternative? Premature demise I guess, but we never think of that when we are smugly examining our cellulite free thighs in the mirror at 25.

Living a long, happy life actually includes aging whether we realise it or not in our frivolous youth. We regarded our mother's paunchy stomachs with pity. We assumed that if we exercised, stayed healthy and made use of all the latest age defying cosmetics, we would somehow avoid the decline that comes, not slow and steady like the tide, but in a series of shuddering jerks; rather like watching mud or sand break off a river bank through the action of water. As the years proceed, we watch pieces of our former selves fall away into the abyss, never to be regained.

There's the chunk of us that is our comfortable weight. For years I was 53kg...and I mean years! After I had the Baby Angel in 1995, I was quickly back to 53kg albeit looking a little gaunt and wan. At 40 I was suddenly a stable 58kg. As another decade approaches I wallow in 64kg misery. I feel like I am wearing a sumo suit.

As the oestrogen leaves the building, there is the decline in skin tone. At 40 I bemoaned my deep sun damaged lines; now I observe with horror the crepey skin of my neck and the sag of jowls at my jawline.

There is the desperate 6 weekly visit to the hairdresser to cover the ever more obvious grey at the roots.

How did I get to this place?

But the physical changes that dog us are only one side of the cruel hormone depletion joke. There is also the change in your brain. Things which would normally cause us to sigh in exasperation or laugh indulgently now spark an inferno of rage; minor concerns become 'wake at night' worries; a workload which has until now been an enjoyable challenge becomes a ball and chain like drudge.
And it is here that I find myself, four months shy of 50 and on the girly scrap heap.

Not a pleasant sensation.

I hope you will all cut me some slack; although slack seems to be the 'word of the day' at the moment where my body is concerned.
What sadistic asshole put this campaign together? Like they thought we would appreciate a picture of a 25 year old doing menopause her way??? ie NOT doing it!!!!!!!


Tuesday, 17 August 2010

Lessons in Life: Shantung Nightmares

Dear Baby Angel
So although I hate to say 'I told you so' (and you and I both know that is a out and out lie), aren't you glad we finally went for Drama, Biology, English, Maths Studies, Media Studies, Psychology and History, and gave Design Textiles a miss? Because after all, if you have to have your mother tell you to unpin all your pattern pieces and fold the fabric in half before you pin them on again, you've got to admit that designing and creating a garment for a Year 11 subject was going to be a challenge. And stressful. Especially for your mother.

But all credit to you. You're determined to learn how to sew. You've selected the dress pattern. You've been committed enough to insist we visit Spotlight straight after two strenuous netball games which resulted in us both squelching in our shoes from the driving rain. You came straight home and started the job. Oh and did I mention you chose this bright red shantung fabric?

Here is the lesson in life. Shantung is an out and out b**** with which to start your sewing career. Most shiny fabrics are. It slips all over the place! That is why is took you over four hours to pin out and cut 5 pattern pieces. That and the fact that you were watching a movie at the same time.

Still, I guess you have a year until your formal so there's no rush although I suspect the dress will be even more out of fashion by then than it already is .

Remember, selvages are the edges of the fabric and the words 'cut on fold' ARE important.

(Year 11 Textiles indeed!!!!!!)

Wednesday, 11 August 2010

Cos The Times They Are A Changin'

What a time of life I'm in right now.

Who is that middle aged lady wearing her mother's dress?

No, really, that IS my mother's dress.

As well as my seemingly sheer vertical descent into middle age, the Baby Angel and I have been talking about her subject selections for next year, her second to last year of school (hopefully)!
It's a really weird feeling. I mean, it doesn't seem that long ago since she was this little girl in her first year of Reception in Southampton UK. Now we're discussing the relative merits of Biology over Drama as a Year 11 subject.

She doesn't really have a clear idea of what she wants to do when she leaves school so it's a case of leaning to her strengths and keeping her options open. Lately she's taken an interest in fashion and has, in rather typical 15 year old girl style, started keeping a notebook full of fashion designs she's drawn. As a result she is considering taking Design/Textiles as a subject next year, never mind the fact that up until this point in time she has shown no more interest in sewing than the pencil case she made in Home Ec in Year 8 or the puppet she put together in Year 7, which, as it turns out, was decked out in her preferred post school option as......wait for it......................................... a dress designer!!!!!!!!

How can one mother not know her own daughter that badly?

No but really! I have spoken before of her lack of craftiness and so I am a little reluctant to get too enthusiastic about this particular subject choice because, to be honest, it sounds like a lot of hard work for ME! On the other hand, I didn't start really crafting until I was in my late teens so perhaps her talent is lying dormant, waiting to be nurtured and developed?

There is a real sense of gravitas about the whole conversation however, regardless of my flippant manner. I mean, these choices will shape her immediate future. Biology or Drama? Society and Culture or Media Studies? The key thing is to choose subjects which will get you a decent ATAR score. In my day there were one or two 'standard' collections of subjects. I did the science focused: Maths I, Maths II, Physics, Chemistry and English. I did this because my dad said I should. My sister did the more Arts based five: English, Australian History, Ancient History, Economics and Biology (the token science). There were few variations on these groupings, perhaps an Art or a Music thrown in there. No Drama for goodness sakes and definitely no Design Textiles!!!!!! Is it good that there are more choices nowadays? I don't know. Perhaps we are suggesting they specialise too soon? Who really knows what they want to do at 15? (Except you Prof J, I know you knew!!!!:-D)

Next week she is off on work experience. She will be working on a Kindergarten class at the school up the road; although her choice was more about convenience for transport than a real desire to experience teaching. Unfortunately for her she has teaching in her blood as not only her mother and father but grandmother and in some ways grandfather(Uni lecturer) are all teachers. Oh, and her aunt although she had the good sense to get out!

I suppose she could do worse for a career.

Come to think of it...nah. Teaching's pretty gruelling* :-)

But while all this is going on I am dealing with my own changes. There's the hot flushes. Oh. My. Goodness. Now I know what my mother was on about. I'm telling you, I've got to get this sorted out before Summer because, despite the coldest Winter in decades, which we are currently experiencing, I am reduced to wearing layers so I can throw them off at the drop of a hat when I turn into Furnace Girl!!!!! Actually, that has been the only benefit of these damnable things; the other morning when I was getting up at 4.45am to do some prep for the day's lessons because I had fallen asleep at 9pm the night before (*see previous comment about teaching), I was resisting the emergence from my cocoon of sleepy warmth into the 2 degree bedroom air when WOOSH.....hot flush! You've never seen anyone leap out of bed so fast! So, quite useful really.

And tomorrow I'm meeting with another school to talk about a possible job next year. Do I leave my gruelling but familiar current position to take on the stress of a new appointment? It could be a return to primary teaching. Do I want that? Do I want to give up the Maths and focus on Special Ed again?

Change is all around me.

Monday, 9 August 2010

I Love Ma Gal

Even though she is driving me mad with her teenage mood swings and arguing with me about her social life and nagging her to do homework and trying to get her off the couch and into bed at a reasonable hour and driving her everywhere at all hours.......

And she did do a beautiful job of cleaning the kitchen last night without a single prompt.
Thanks for being you BA.

Sunday, 8 August 2010

SOOC Saturday: Wild Sky

Haven't been taking too many photos recently; I don't know, I seem to be swamped with work and family, the camera never seems to make it into my hand. Back near the beginning of July though, when we were still on holidays, there was this sunset from our balcony and I took the time to take a shot. I present it here Straight Out Of Camera. I don't know, you think you'd get tired of sunsets but the variety of light and colour we get here in winter never ceases to take my breath away.

Today over at Slurping Life, Melody is talking to us Straight Out Of Heart as she too finds that life is so full and frantic that she's being forced to live it rather than document it. Stop by and check out some wonderful photographic links as well as experiencing the amazing life of this extraordinary lady.

Wednesday, 4 August 2010

Thank God We Didn't Lose Her

My my my. What a start to the week it's been.

I have got to thank God for answering our prayers regarding my dear friend V.

I really want to have a bunch of photos to illustrate this post but V and I met in the waiting room of the Babies' Health Clinic in 1995, a number of years before the digital camera became de rigeur. We were both older, first time, professional mothers and both having moved about a bit were in need of a support network. Our first encounter, waiting for our babies' 6 month check (or whatever it was) was easy, fun and struck a common chord. We didn't exchange numbers, it seemed forced, so we went away from our encounter just knowing that there were kindred spirits out there.

A few months (weeks? it all blurs into one nowadays)later, I signed up for a baby massage course. Southampton being the small town it is, V was there, as was another significant person in my life, L, my water birth mentor.....but that is another story.

From then on it was 'full tilt' as the football types say. There were a group of us from baby massage and we made a commitment to meet regularly. Some of the happiest times of my life were spent with the three families that made up our baby group. We all were older parents, had limited support networks and had only one child. So we leaned towards each other.

V in particular had an amazing story. Her son was the result of IVF conception in the US whilst her husband was there on a research grant. Initially, three embryos implanted and it looked like she was going to have a big instant family but after 8 weeks she lost one. Time passed and at 12 weeks they were due to fly back to the UK at the end of her husband's study leave when she miscarried again. This time the doctors read her the riot act and told her she must be admitted to hospital and put on bedrest for the time being to ensure the safety of the remaining embryo. Unfortunately, with the end of her husband's contract came the end of their US health insurance not to mention the fact that they were booked to fly out of the country in three days time! Against the advice of the doctors she flew back to the UK as planned. Miraculously, she did not miscarry and her little boy was born in June 1995, 6 weeks prem but ok! The doctors decided to induce her to ensure the baby's safe arrival and afterwards, in typical V style, she exclaimed,
"You know I wish I could have felt just one labour pain, just to know what you are all talking about!"

V is an extraordinary person; a little eccentric but with a huge heart and the most generous of natures. V was always organising outings for the 'baby group'. She had always heard about things or seen things that she thought would be great to do together: country farms, museums, castles, steam train rides, theme parks....When the millennium was on its way, the neighbours around where she and her husband were living, organised a Millennium Ball on their common ground and you can bet V was in there on the committee; hiring marquees, booking DJs and moving and shaping the events. It was a wonderful night and an extrordinary way to bring in the new century. Most of us had 'sensibly' planned to put the children (who were four at the time) to bed back over at V's house, with her 70 year old maiden aunt, before midnight; but V declared,
"Oh no, no, no, imagine when the children talk about the millennium in years to come and people ask 'where were you?', and they have to say, 'we were in bed'!" And so, against our somewhat uptight English characters, we let the children stay up until midnight! Of course, they had a great time and in the end it was V's husband who went home to bed with the kids while the rest of us partied until dawn. Including the maiden aunt!!

V and her husband moved to London in 2000, just before the children started school. They were lucky enough to be able to buy a beautiful house in the northern suburbs with an inground pool (most unusual in the UK) and so of course we were often invited up for sleepover weekends with plenty of swimming and trips on the Tube to see the British Museum or a west end musical. V loved to throw children's parties too; Halloween, Christmas and of course birthdays. She would often ask me, as the most theatrical friend she had, to do some kind of 'turn' at these parties; story telling or organising games, while she prepared and dished up mountains of wickedly indulgent party food and fizzy drinks and wondered why the children were bouncing off the walls and she was exhausted by the end of it! :-)

I also developed a wonderful relationship with V's husband. A medical specialist, who loves all things Macintosh, sci-fi and IKEA, Dr D's dry sense of humour and cynical approach to everything would leave me gasping with tears of laughter. It could be said that Dr D was perhaps unprepared for everything having children entailed. As ordered and obssesive as V is expansive, Dr D became a bewildered and uptight observer of childhood behaviour.

"V, V,' he would call, "the children have destroyed the lounge room, we're going to have to rebuild it from photos!"

I'm sorry, the thought of it still reduces me to giggles here.

V would call me from time to time and say,
"Come up to London and play with my husband, he's driving me mad!" and I would dutifully pack the Baby Angel into the car and we'd make our way up to find D enthusing over the latest sci-fi DVD or Mac computer program or gizmo or gadget. Being a teeny bit nerdy myself, D and I would have a fab time sitting up watching movies or playing with the latest camera or computer game and I would rib him unmercifully about his taste in techno trance music while we plotted and planned together to make our fortunes by coming up with the next 'Maisie' or 'Mr Men' style book and merchandising empire.

The UK is a long way away now and those baby days have sadly gone. To be fair, they are replaced by even more exciting phases in our children's lives and all the kids are now facebook friends, although, come to think of it I suspect V's baby has recently 'unfriended' me. Worried his parents might view his site through me perhaps? Don't know...but I do know I can still see his site through the BA so hahahahahahahaha F baby! You cannot escape me :-D

This past year V, an inveterate smoker, has had to face the breast cancer beast head on. After successful removal and treatment, in consultation with her specialist, V opted for a bilateral mastectomy, just to be sure. Last week D let me know she was being admitted for the routine (albeit major) surgery and later I received a text message saying all had gone well. I have to admit I didn't think too much more about it as the weekend progressed but then came the shocking news on Sunday night; she had gone into liver and kidney failure, was in ICU and was fighting for her life.

I think all those years of being an insulin dependent diabetic have taken their toll and the surgery was too big a strain on her system. I couldn't believe what I was hearing, V is such a big personality, such a huge character, that the thought of her going was too much to bear. More than anything I struggled to think of how Dr D and F would cope, two much loved, nay (dare I say it), indulged blokes who are slightly socially dysfunctional at the best of times! V is the glue that holds the family together and the magnet that draws people in. The thought of the boys on their own was unthinkable.

And so I called out in desperation to my friends from the blogosphere and the facebook community. And you all answered.

Thank you, thank you all for your prayers and well wishes. D is convinced her amazing turnaround was a result of our prayer and that she was lifted up. The ICU staff were amazed and the specialist who had called D in and given him the 'prepare yourself' speech, was full of smiles and relief by Wednesday. She is a resilient cookie!

And so I say, in all sincerity, Thank You God that we didn't lose her. I haven't seen her since 2005 and I don't know when I will see her again, but knowing that she's still in the world fills me with relief and joy and the hope that when we do make our way back to the northern hemisphere, sometime in the future, that we'll all sit down to one of her amazing Tandoori lamb roasts and open a bottle of bubbly and tell stories of our baby days, just like we used to. Some friendships are just like that.