Wednesday, December 17, 2014

What would you do?

In early 2012 I got a job as an Independent Observer working within the Immigration Detention Centres with UnAccompanied Minors (UAMs).

I sat in on over 100 different interviews, with different kids.

There were many kids who identified as coming from Pakistan and they mostly had similar stories. Fear of the Taliban, of the police, of young men reaching a certain age (about 15) and being identified as targets - you are either with us or against us.

Some of the stories were very worrying, older male relatives had gone missing but often I found myself thinking - 'what else happened? who died? Is just being scared a strong or valid enough reason for being granted asylum into Australia?'

It made me question my own ethical beliefs - how bad did it have to get before it's determined that someones life is in enough danger? Who has to die to enable you permission to come here? How many terrible things have to occur before it's acceptable for you to be called a refugee?

I know we can't accept everyone, but how can we say no - when these children have risked so much? When their parents were desperate enough to let them try? Can you imagine? Where is a safe place? Where is the future?

Then today we hear of the terrible atrocities occurring at Peshawar. A school attacked by extremists, killing so many children.

After 100 interviews I know that that the one thing these kids had in common was their desire to be safe and to get an education. EVERY kid said it. I just want an education. It is not safe in my country.

My heart burns tonight.
It burns for the mother of 3, Katrina Dawson, who could have been me, in Sydney.
It burns for the 132 students gunned down by these fucking extremists, who somehow sleep tonight, but I can only think their heads are filled with pain for they have gone beyond all that we know as humanity.
It burns for the Australians who instead of feeling compassion feel hatred, because there is no easy way back from that.
It burns for those boys that I met from Pakistan, who made it here, safely, to safety in Australia and who are now faced with such uncertainty - who dares send them back to that? The same judge who allowed the madman to walk free on bail and into the Lindt cafe? Who dares make these decisions?

What would you do? Will you ride with them? Or will you feed the hate?

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Silver Fox

Let's be clear. I'm not talking about George Clooney.
I'm talking about me. 35 year old mother of 2. Lover of 1.
No longer can I masquerade as brunette. I was a blond child, almost Aryan, which eventually settled into a dirty, mousey, brown.
I started to colour my hair at about 15, home jobs done by friends, everything from platinum blonde, to blue, to my personal worst favourite, the brown with blonde streaks.
That's where you placed a tight rubber cap over your head & used some sort of crochet hook to pull strands of hair through small holes & paint them a different colour. It really hurt.
For many years now I've enjoyed the hair salon. I love the ones that offer you coffee or tea, who massage your head thoroughly and - of course - have a wide range of magazines for my perusal.
Tomorrow  I enter such a place, to begin again.
My hair is grey. I can't think of any better way to state such a humbling truth. My regrowth speaks only truth. I am no longer producing pigment in my hair follicles. I dare not check my pubes.
So I am becoming a silver fox. Something of a Targaeryn I hope. Not too white, a sort of silver, not grey. My eyebrows are dark, ready for the change.
It feels like a rite of passage I'm experiencing about 20 years too early. That excites me, more than disappoints, because it means I'm maturing. I'm like the silver back of my tribe, on my head.
My brothers are both grey of hair. Dad was too. Good people. Handsome.
I'm ready to do this. No more colours. Just the silver fox. Foxy lady. From here on in. There is no going back from this. Is there?

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Disney disaster

Today we spent 8 hours at Paris Disneyland.
4 of these hours we spent queueing. To get in, for fast pass tickets, to use the toilets, buy food, see characters, go on rides.
It was revolting. The happiest place in earth was more like a heart attack inducing nightmare.
We ate hotdogs for lunch that were encased in a plastic sweet roll with an absurdly long pink sausage, covered in some sort of orange plastic cheese with dried onion over the top. Edible mostly due to severe hunger.
We lined up for 20 minutes to use our 'fastpass' that enabled us to return in 90 minutes to line up again for 20 minutes to ride Thunder Mountain (awesome ride but FUCK! Too much waiting).

There were thousands of people there. Maybe 20000? Summer fucking holidays in Paris. We watched the Grand Parade with most of them, which was exciting for about 3 seconds when the kids actually spotted characters they knew, but otherwise a mosh like crush of tired families trying to squeeze joy out of all the money they spent getting into the place.
I tried hard to enjoy it. Josh & I went on Space Mountain which was super cool, we found an awesome Pocahontas play ground that the kids would have spent all day in if they could, we saw Elsa & Anna from Frozen but FUCK! So much money for so much time queueing. We actually could have gone to a playground & had just as much (more) fun. I wish we had of used our 5th day out of 6 in Paris doing something else. I thought it would be way more awesome than it was. The best part about it was that the kids uncle Nathan came with us and they just fully loved it. He has this wonderful calm & fun nature that especially Leo just lapped up. It was a pleasure to watch my children light up with him.
Next time they will be doing it at a doggone playground though & we will never visit a theme park during school holidays EVER again. Fucking disney .

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

singapore smugginess

Let's start with Singapore. Amazing skyline, complete efficiency, magnificent hotel room. We got upgraded as our booked room didn't have the kids beds made up : 2 rooms, huge spa bath, 21st floor. We felt like rich folk!
We had one day of sightseeing and delicious food eating, then spent a day at Universal Studios. It was brilliant. The crowds to enter were enormous /terrifying but once we were in the gate : no problems! We splashed out and got 'express' tickets which got us to the front of every queue. Expensive but totally worth it as we only had one day. Favourite rides were the Transformers and The Mummy, although the Madagascar boat ride is pretty cool too and one we could all enjoy. We also hired a stroller which was a fantastic investment considering how much less the 3 year old whinged once she was in it.
We only had 3 nights in Singapore and have agreed we will definitely go back. Such a great place to visit. We spent a few hours at the airport and that was remarkable, so orderly and comfortable. You can recharge your devices, shop & even have a foot massage. Loved it.
Then we got on our Singapore airlines flight. More excellence with our own individual screens, a plethora of movies, TV, music & games to choose from : I was in a state of euphoria. We each had an extra seat & the kids were quiet & happy most of the time. So I invested my time wisely & watched 4 movies! The Other Woman - it was OK but I'd hoped it would be funnier? Divergent - fairly true to the book but totally creepy that the brother & sister were the same actors who played lovers in The Fault In Our Stars. Gross. The Birders Guide to Everything which I absolutely loved! Funny, sad, simple - just a cool film to disappear in for 90minutes! Finally I watched Labor Day which starred Kate Winslet & Josh Brolin - I really liked this one as well, it surprised me and i'm glad I persevered with it.
Eventually we landed in London! But that's a whole nother  story I'll save for next time! 

Tuesday, July 1, 2014


I'm writing this blog about my experiences with the birth control product called Mirena.
It's a plastic IUD that needs to be inserted by a Doctor. Apparently it's more suitable to women who have had babies, which I assume has something to do with a stretchy cervix.
I had mine inserted at about the beginning of 2011. It hurt. I remember squeezing the nurses hand and feeling like I might cry, I was a bit shocked by the pain.
That was the worst of it though. From then on I didn't know it was there. My periods reduced to almost nothing, about 2 days spotting once a month. Amazing, considering since the age of 12 my periods have been violent and bloody 5 day affairs.
The only negative I noticed was sudden flushes of anger, which I can honestly say I had never felt before. I wasn't sure it was related to the Mirena, I actually thought it was more due to parenting 2 children and a severe lack of sleep. I have also gained about 15 kilo since it was inserted, but there are numerous factors that I can attribute this to, mainly my liking of wine and chocolate.
I had almost forgotten about it. They can stay in you for up to 5 years, but late last year my friend decided to have hers removed. We discussed the pro's and con's and for the first time I thought hard about what I had inside my body.
This is what happened. I had it removed by a GP, easy. 24 hours later I'm at the beginning of a monster period, that lasts for about 10 days. I'm surprised I don't pass out from blood loss. There are clots of it, gushes of it, several pairs of underwear thrown away.
I start to keep track, moods, bleeding, ovulating, chocolate binges. This was 6 months ago. I'm back to 4 weekly cycles (Before children I got my period every 4 weeks on a Thursday. It was like clockwork. I knew I was pregnant by about 3.30 on a Thursday before the lines on a test would have been able to tell me). I feel more in control of myself now I know what sort of hormone surges I'm experiencing - in case you're interested I'm particularly irritable during both ovulation and pre period days.
The shittest thing now is my periods. They are FULL ON. The last one lasted 8 days, with 5 days of heavy bleeding. I feel depleted, wounded and gross. In some part, I blame the Mirena. Was my uterus wall just storing up blood & lining all the time it was in me? Or is this my bodies response to not doing things naturally - panic bleeding?
I have searched online for other peoples experiences. It seems a lot of women feel a great deal better after the removal of their Mirena, but I'm not finding any follow up as to how their bodies are coping in the months after it is out. So this is my contribution. Bloody and seeking vengeance.

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Sex Ed

Since my eldest child has turned 8 we have hit a new learning curve.
He asks questions about everything. He talks incessantly about footy. He stays up later, uses his manners particularly well.
He and I have watched the first four Harry Potter films and are reading the Philosophers Stone together at night. That is awesome.
Recently he announced at the dinner table that his friend Brad (not his real name) had been watching youtube on his Dad's computer and he saw a video of 2 girls licking a guys doodle (I'm quoting here). There was an awkward pause then Josh hurriedly got up to clear the table and I managed to squeak - Oh. Goodness. That's a bit gross. He agreed with me and no more was said (until later that night when I nearly wet my pants laughing).
So when he innocently asked me in the kitchen recently 'Mum - how do babies get in Mum's tummies?' - I thought, yep, let's do this.
I looked at him carefully and asked 'Are you sure you want to know?'
He replied 'Um...Yes....'
This is what I said
"So a man puts his penis inside the ladies vagina, some stuff called sperm comes out of the penis and meets up with a teeny tiny egg from the woman. Together that makes a little baby, that takes 9 months to grow & then comes out the Mums vagina as a lovely baby."
 I used to hate using the 'correct' terms for our 'rudeparts' but I must admit I'm growing quite fond of saying things to my children such as 'No vaginas without knickers at the table please' and 'No fiddling with penises in front of Mums thank you'. So much more effective than 'willy' or 'fanny' (yuck!).
He looks appalled.
I say "So what do you reckon?' and he says "That is the most disgusting thing ever."
I snort laugh but I am pretty pleased with myself - no awkwardness, just basic and accurate information retelling.
"you might change your mind about that one day" I say
"Yuck Mum! No Way!" he says
I can't help myself. "Well how do you reckon you were made then pal?"
He looks disgusted. Shakes his head and walks away. I wonder whether I should follow up with him, ask him if he has any questions.
5 minutes later he is back in the kitchen. 'I'm hungry' he says. 'Mum did you know West Coast Eagles won their first premiership in 1992?'
And we are all a little bit wiser, but still footy mad.

Thursday, June 12, 2014

My Friend Dom

When I was at Uni, maybe 14 years ago, my friend Liza introduced me to a guy she had met at Uni House called Dom. He had been cooking his fish fingers in the shared kitchen and offered to share his long neck of VB with her for dinner.
It was the beginning of a wonderful friendship for our little crowd of ladies and this wonderful man called Dom. He had seriously good op shop style, mostly dressed up with thongs, he wore black rectangular glasses and his eyes twinkled when he looked at you. He was a skinny but very handsome man. Women fell in love with him, easily, but so did men and that was his thing. He loved all of us, but only bedded the men ;)
One night after too many wines and a serious heartbreak (mine) Dom and I slow danced, repeatedly, to Ben Harper 'Another Lonely Day'. He was so comforting, so kind. He made me feel valued, and beautiful. That's not easy to do! But he did it every time I was near him, just because of how he treated me and how he looked at me. Always with love and kindness.
Once we went to a 'Stretch and Strength' class together and toward the end we made eye contact. Bad idea. My nostrils were flaring, my shoulders shaking, tears pouring down my face as I try desperately not to burst out laughing. He had this wonderful cheekiness about him, that was so infectious.
My favourite Dom memory, is a written one, an email I had written to him lamenting my recent weight gain. His was a short reply, but perfect. 'Oh darls, me too - don't worry - I can't even find my penis at the moment'. Oh I loved him for those words.
Last week I was scrolling through Facebook and I saw that several people had posted on his wall. Time slowed down as I read message after message of condolence, RIP, Can't Believe It. Dom had died, suddenly, whilst out for dinner with friends. He was about 37.
The outpouring of grief on facebook has been remarkable. It turns out, unsurprisingly, that Dom was loved by everyone who knew him. There is so much love on his wall it is overwhelming.
I can't write on his wall to join in on the collective grief. Part of me wants to, I want to shout out - I LOVED HIM TOO! But I can't. Instead I wrote his family a card, telling them some funny stories of Dom & I and offering my condolences. It will never be enough. The world is a little less light without Dom in it. I can't bear to imagine how they must feel. But I'm sure they must be comforted in some ways, by all this love that their Dom created. I was so lucky to call him a friend. I will never forget him.

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Ms Clare Remembers

I'm 13, it's a sunny Christmas morning and my Dad dies, exhausted and consumed by a cancer that was strong enough to steal this mans life, his future.
I try to forget him, to let him go. It's too much, too hard to remember the good times, so instead my teenage angst and terrible grief leave me with only the sickness, the sadness, the dead father. It hurts, mostly in my heart but often in my head.
But this isn't about losing him, it's about finding him again.
So years later I'm an adult and I'm staring at my now grown brother up brother across the dinner table.
He says - Can you not be so creepy?
I say - Sorry, it's just - do you know who you look like?
And he smiles and says - Well I have been told I resemble a fuller faced Eddie Vedder
And I say - What? No, oh, well, maybe, sort of....No, I mean, you look like Dad.
He looks a bit surprised, then smiles, proud, says - Well that's good.
And I can see that my Dad lives on, here in the face of his son.
Later that year my first child is born. The moment I meet him, I know him. I recognise him. He is of me and I am of him. For the first time in a long time, I feel my Dad, alive, in me, in my child.

Finally, my daughter. This little, amazing girl, who shrieks with joy when she sees her Dad, who welcomes him home each day by barreling into his legs and throwing her arms around him. So I remember what it is, for a girl to love her Dad. She looks at him like he is the best man alive, her strong, funny Dad. And he gathers her up, holds her close and loves her because, for him, she is the best little girl in the world. And I remember. That was me. How lucky I was to be so loved. How wonderful now, to bear witness to it all again.
How good it is, to remember.

(This was a spoken word piece I did last night at Wild Words, an open mike night for writers. It got a wonderful response from the crowd and I am still walking on air a day later! I felt very nervous to read it, for it's truth and it's emotion, but, I'll be honest, I totally nailed it ;))

Tuesday, April 22, 2014


We went camping over Easter. It was excellent, but it did get me thinking.

C - Stands for Crapping. I will not poo with my companions 10 metres away. No way. I will hold that   shit in.

A - Stands for Alcohol. 10.30am - anyone want a beer? Sure. Love one. Cheers.

M - Music. Don't. Not your doof doof, not fucking Redgum, please not Chisel. Just listen to the birds. Seriously. Just birds. Try it.

P - Park, as in Nature Park. Don't leave your fucking toilet paper around. It disgusts me. Burn that shit up. Or drip dry.

I - Itchy. Inebriated. Irritable. Me at about 3.30pm after having my first beer for breakfast.

N - Nap time. Camping is exhausting.

G - Get me home. I'm tired, I'm hot, I'm hungover and I really need to do a poo.

Can't wait to do it all again soon.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

She Is Three

She is 3 and if she wants to blow bubbles in her drink, you better believe that's what she'll do.
If you try and prevent her, from achieving these bubbles, she will have her vengeance.
She is 3 and taking her to a pub, with your mother in law, for a relaxing foolish.
You can ask her politely to 'please stop blowing bubbles with your straw, darling.'
She will look you in the eyes and tell you - No.
You can remove the straw, which will ensure all other diners having a 'relaxing' drink at the pub are informed as to this travesty. You then give her the straw back, under strict instruction there is to be no more bubbles blown.
She starts blowing bubbles, again, louder this time.
'Darling - what did we just talk about? Aren't you going to drink like a Big Girl?'
I like blowing bubbles.
'Nobody here likes it darling. Daddy doesn't, Granny doesn't, Mum really doesn't and I'd like you to stop or I will have to take your drink away.'
I like to consider myself a person of considerable strength of will and it prides me that my daughter has inherited similar tendencies. So you understand, I had to take the drink away.
You will of course know, that this resulted, in some distress.
She cries. Repeatedly shouts, MY DRINK, MY DRINK. GIVE ME MY DRINK BACK. Repeatedly.
We grownups try to continue our relaxing drink. It's not really that relaxing. People are staring.
She climbs atop the table, screeching now, a desperate individual. Her Dad reaches out to get her from one side, I come in from the other and we have her arms....but not her legs.

Granny's glass of reisling gets kicked to the ground. It explodes on impact, soaking Grannys lovely shoes and scattering glass all around us. We are in a warzone and it is time to evacuate.
Eyes in front, screaming child over the shoulder, quick apology to staff member who currently despises me and my gorgeous family, back to the car.
She recovers, refuses to discuss the incident (never mind an apology) and Mum drinks a bottle of wine easily that evening. No problem.
I've never been loved more by anyone than this daughter of mine. Actually nobody has ever even liked me this this much. She is amazing. Just probably good to know for future reference that if she wants to blow bubbles, let her blow them. She is after all, only 3.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Wax off

Recently I paid a young Irish lady $55 to put burning hot wax on my vagina, then rip it off with some strips of linen.
I took 2 nurofen plus an hour before my appointmentt and was feeling pleasantly fuzzy as I lay back on her table.
Then she slathered boiling hot lava on my labia and the pleasant feeling vanished. 
She relentlessly applies the hot lava wax, then rips it off. Several times the wax hasn’t fully set and I’m terrified she’s about to tear a piece of my vulva off.
It hurts. Oh it hurts. I want to scream out but strangely I’m sort of embarrassed, like I deserve this pain for having such a hairy bush. 
I think the worst of it is over, after a terrible 15 minutes. I swear to myself NEVER again, then to my own surprise, when she asks in her pleasant Irish lilt if I would ‘like my bum done’ I say ‘yes please’.
Yes please? No, god, no. It’s too late. I have to lift my legs up and wrap my arms around them. My whole body is shuddering with the effort in keeping them raised.
Then she liberally applies more burning hot lava to and around my asshole and I’m clenching my fists and making strange gasping sounds, and it’s entirely possible she thinks I may be about to come.
I’m not.
All finished doll, she tells me kindly, pointing out the lotion and some hygiene wipes for my use. I smile weakly and as she leaves the room I look at myself in the mirror and wonder why did I just let this happen?
I pay my $55 and limp out of there, go to the toilet and my wee sprays out in 16 different directions. So far, this is not so great.
After a few days the red dots subside and I look less like I have some contagious disease. I feel lighter and fresher. It’s quite pleasant. But dammit my hairless vagina, sorry vulva, looks so vulnerable. Not like a proud and strong woman at all, more like a timid child. I decide the next $55 I have lying around will be spent on a full body massage or possibly a nice bottle of gin and I will never, I repeat NEVER, undergo such an outrageous procedure again.
The End.