Axe Murderers and Adulthood

The year I was 10 I was convinced I was going to die by murder.

I was a very serious, obsessive little creature and for no reason at all I developed this fear, out of thin air.  Or maybe out of all those horror movies I was crazy about watching.

But the terror was very real.  Every night the sun would start to go down and  I would feel the doom begin to seep in.  I would start to plan for the the night ahead. Put to bed at 8.30pm I would lie awake, stiff as a board, in tune to every creak in the walls, every crunch of the gravel outside my window. My bedroom was located at the back of the house and I was fanatical about getting up 10, 15 times a night to check that the back door, was in fact, locked.

I couldn’t tell my folks about this fear as the fear was undoubtedly completely unreasonable.  For one thing, I lived in a quaint little township of less than 2,000 people. The milk was still delivered to the letterbox and everybody knew everybody elses name.  The extent of crime in the area was limited to 12 year olds roof rocking their friends’ houses.  Further, my parents were fairly no nonsense people who did not rise easily to the neurotics of children (Once, for example, I fell out of the top bunk bed and scared the shit out of myself. Winded and waddling into my parents bedroom to share my woes, my mother, without opening her eyes, responded ‘Well you walked in here alright didn’t you?  Go back to bed).

Clearly, they were not going to be any help.

Miraculously, after a year or so of this personal nightmare the fear did abate and I have spent the majority of my adulthood in nonchalance about night, locked doors and being alone.  I began to congratulate myself on the conquer – how I could stay alone in a dark, unlockable hut in Laos, or on a roadless mountain without power or water, or just simply housesit alone for anyone, anytime, any place.  Thank god I wasn’t that scared little girl any longer.

But then I realised that wasn’t necessarily true.

The real truth was that I was just as scared as ever before, I just feared other things.

I fear failure, I fear commitment, I fear making mistakes, I fear aging, I fear love, I fear missing out.

I began to wonder about the fear of my 10 year old self and the fear I experience in adulthood. I wondered what the difference was or whether they originated from something similar.

I decided that in the end, I could narrow it down to one, simple thing.

It’s all fear of pain isn’t it?  All these different types of fear?  In childhood, pain is mostly limited to the physical – I feared how much it would hurt to have some wacko axe wielder do me in.  But as an adult the fear of pain is more emotional.  I fear I will not be able to handle the hurt of another heart broken, an ego shattered, a dream destroyed.  It’s a fear of the pain that stops me from doing the things I want to do, of being the person I want to be.  It hurts too much to fail – therefore protect yourself by not trying.

I have found that by identifying this, by simplifying it down to one thing, makes it all far easier to manage. I don’t have to think about the separate fears all so complicated that it becomes too hard to comprehend conquering them all.  I just have to remember that it is just the one fear, manifesting itself in different ways.  And then I can cultivate the knowledge that pain will not actually kill me. Pain is a natural and normal part of life’s cycle. Pain is the labour you go through before the birth of something more true.

So I’m going to take a leaf out of the book of my 10 year old self.  Because if she can conquer a fear of pain, then I can give it a crack too.

Linking up to Yeah Write this week – read and be read!
read to be read at yeahwrite.me

How to make an issue out of nothing at all

One of the biggest political issues in Australia today is the question of the ‘illegal boat people’.  This topic continues to occupy front page headlines week after week, month after month.  It constitutes large chunks of the argument between our political parties.  There is nothing like this issue to get people upset, rallied against the overpopulation of our country, rallied against the ‘obscene’ social security benefits they will receive, rallied against the ‘illegal immigrants’ taking our hard earned jobs, rallied against the terrorism surely to arise from people entering our country under such suspicious circumstances.

‘Illegal boat people’ really get folks hot under the collar around here.

The disturbing thing about the whole issue is that the issue does not exist.  It’s a smoke screen, a little toy the public has been given to fight over to keep them distracted from caring about things that actually matter.  It’s scary and oh so wrong.  Because the people who are suffering because of this little game have already suffered enough.  Which one of us is really the terrorist?

Before I get too carried away I would like to take a moment to break it down into the basic facts that have been forgotten or buried so that at least here, in this space of mine, it will be shown in black in white the difference between truth and fiction.

  1. It is NOT ILLEGAL to seek asylum in Australia.  End of story.  We are a signatory to the Refugee Convention which allows persons fleeing persecution, war and violence to seek asylum with us regardless of how they get here.  They are not ‘illegal boat people’ a term invented for maximum xenophobic effect;  they are persons legally seeking asylum.
  2. The newspapers (and Tony Abbott) will tell us that oh my god 6,879 people arrived by boat in 2010.  6,879 people!!  That sounds like a lot.  But this figure is never given any context.  The number 6,879 means nothing on its own.  If we’re talking about how many people showed up to your last BBQ then shit, yes this is a huge number of people.  But if we’re talking about how many people showed up to the last cricket match at the MCG then it becomes, well, it becomes this:
  3. Ie: nothing at all.  Yet this number has been used to divide a nation and incite hatred toward the persecuted.   All over a few seats at the MCG.
  4.  The reality is that asylum seekers make up just 2% of Australia’s overall annual immigration figures.    2 percent.  There are no newspaper headlines about not having enough room/money/energy for our annual migrant population.  There is no concern.  Yet somehow we have changed the laws of logic and swallowed the new set, whole.  Eg: If we do not have an overall immigration problem, and asylym seekers make up just 2 percent of that non-problem, then how did we end up with………….a problem?
  5. We didn’t.  We’ve been duped.  And the already terrorised are the victims of it.
  6. We are geographically far larger and far less populated than most countries in the world.  Yet when it comes to protecting and sheltering people on our empty shores this is how we measure up against other industrialised nations:
 Comparison of asylum seekers in industrialised
countries in 2010:
Australia……………………..8,250…………………………. 4.4%
UK…………………………..22,090………………………..    11.7%
USA………………………….55,530………………………..  29.4%
France……………………….47,790……………………….. 25.3%
Canada…………………….. 23,160………………………..12.3%
Sweden……………………. 31,820………………………..16.9%
 
And we wonder why the rest of the world looks at us like this:
 

7.    Overall, Australia takes on just 0.03% of the world’s refugee population and are the only country in the world that has an offshore processing scheme or a detention centre.  We are a hostile country to steer a boat towards, to do so means you are desperate.  Pray that you are never that desperate.

 I believe that we are actually good people, that just haven’t had access to the right information to encourage the good side of us.  The general public is bombarded by misinformation.  If we all knew the real facts, then politicians and the media would have less power to fear-monger us into making an issue out of nothing at the expense of the very vulnerable.

It’s Refugee Week this week.  It’s time to debunk the myths where you find them and find out more information here, here or here.  Spread the word.

Monday nonsense and other irrelevant things

I need a new couch.

I just decided this while sitting on said couch trying to think of something brilliant and witty to write in today’s post.  The thing is though, that it’s Monday night and I have just had a rather large weekend that included great events like attending a brilliant friend’s film premiere at the Sydney Film Festival (fun!) as well as a big birthday party featuring a lot of jelly shots and karaoke.

I’m just gonna let you sit with that jelly shot sentence for a second.  I know I had to.

Anyway, as you can now understand, I don’t have anywhere near the brain cell count to pull off brilliant and witty.  So basically kids,  if you’re looking for something to make sense today,  you’ve come to wrong blog.

Why bother writing today at all then, you ask?  Look savvy reader, that’s a good question, but I’m not up for answering questions today.

Back to the couch.   A friend gave it to me and it’s late 60’s vintage in an aqua green.  I love it.  But it’s starting to look a little past its used by date.  Faded in places, worn in others, lumpy on the top.  I’m a little OCD about these sorts of imperfections. I’m not sure how long I’ll be able to look at that worn patch before I start dreaming about it and end up having to get up at 3 in the morning to drag it outside where it can no longer infect my subconscious.

This is only a slight exaggeration.

I get obsessed.  I can spend an hour adjusting the coffee table so that there’s the exact right amount of distance between the couch and the chair.  And exactly centred.

I can’t handle it when things aren’t centred.

I wonder if I have a point today?

Ah yes, see the thing holding me back about getting a new couch is that it means I would have to own another thing.  I have a problem with owning things.  I’m like the opposite of a hoarder.  The more things I own, the more anxious I feel.  Owning stuff  makes me feel tied down and committed.  I always think  ‘But if I buy a new couch, what will I do with it when I move to New York?’  and then ‘I’ll just have to sell it again and I’ll never make the money back.  Let’s wait til we move to New York and then buy a new couch’.

It is important to note here (and will offer a small amount of insight into my personality) that I have no plan to move to New York.  No plan to move anywhere.  Hell, I don’t even have a plan to actually move off this couch anytime soon.  However, it makes me anxious to think that I wouldn’t be able to do so at the drop of a hat. 

I’m not kidding.  You’re talking to a girl who wouldn’t buy herself a pair of knee high boots for years because they were too big of an item to fit into a backpack and therefore constituted commitment/tie me down fear.

I think this is the definition of a first world problem.

(I also think the problem is that I’m a bit of a tight ass).

Well, hey – at least I own boots  now – I must be getting  kind of a bit better.

But maybe not better enough for a new couch.

Anyway, I’m going to go on ahead and let you get on with your evening.  I promise that next time you arrive here there will be more than a nonsense transmission.  There’s an important week coming up and I gots things to say about it.

Just not tonight.

Tonight, I gots some staring at worn patches to attend to.

Wintersun

Hello folks.  Hope you all had a lovely long weekend – unless you’re not from Australia in which case you probably just had a regular weekend.  I have been MIA because I flew to the great Far North Queensland for a little wintersun action with a very good friend of mine.  It went sort of like this:

Thurs 6.30pm – Plane lands in Cairns.  Get off and notice it is hotter inside the airport than outside.  Establish that the reason is because the air temperature has dropped below 30 degrees celsius, therefore Cairns people are cold, therefore they have turned the aircon off.  Woohoo.  This is my kind of winter.

Thurs 6.35pm – See dear friend, L and have big hug hello

Thurs 6.40pm – Establish that Jetstar (aka Onestar; aka Shitstar) has left my bag in Sydney.  Yay Onestar!

Thurs 7.05pm – Forget suitcase situation and get settled on balcony with L, red wine and view.

Thurs 9.05pm – Finish first bottle of wine and talk incessantly

Thurs 11.10pm – Finish second bottle of wine and begin to babble incoherently. Room begins to spin.  Decide now would be a good time to go to bed

Fri 8.00am – Wake up and realise that too much wine on your first night was probably not the best idea you’ve ever had.  Get dressed and head down to the dock for Green Island snorkelling excursion to the Great Barrier Reef!

Fri 9.15am – Ten minutes into boat ride establish that  wine mixed with boat ride on open ocean definitely not the best idea you’ve ever had.  Spend 45minutes on the back deck of boat breathing and making deals with self like ‘I promise to never drink wine again if we can make it off this boat without hurling over the edge’.

9.30am – Try not to listen to local lady tell you that you should never swim in anything in Cairns that doesn’t have chlorine in it.

9.35am – Try not to listen to local lady tell you that the crocs, sharks and jellyfish don’t scare her but then again, the seasnakes are kind of the pits.

9.37am – SEA SNAKES WTF???

Fri 10.00am – Hello Barrier Reef!!  Try to not annoy everyone with very specific questions about sea snakes.  How many sea snakes are there?  Are they common?  Have you ever seen one?  Just so you know guys, I will shit my pants if a sea snake comes anywhere near me.  Have I asked you yet if you have ever seen one?

Fri 10.15am – So did you say there were many sea snakes out here?

Fri 10.20am – Assured that there are very few snakes and that neither of my party have ever seen one out here.

Fri 11.00am – Get in water for some Barrier Reef Snorkelling Action!  Hooray!!

Fri 11.02am – See GIANT MUTHA SEA SNAKE

Fri 11.03am – *&^!!!@D)(D&*89d&!!@$%&)7^^8(+(&*^%$#@!@#)!@#$%^%$#$

Fri 11.04am – *^%@!@#$%^&*&^%$!!@#()(&^%$@#$%^&**&*&^%$%!!!$#@!@#$%^&*()

Fri 11.05am – Choke, panic, inhale water through snorkel, thrash, scream underwater and try to swim back to mainland.

Fri 11.10am – Get shit back together and calmly (not calmly) continue snorkelling.  Jump and inhale water at any sign of anything including shells, swaying coral or your own hand.

Fri 11.15 – 11.45am – See giant sea turtles, beautiful coral in pink, electric blue, green, yellow, spotted and striped.  See Barracuda, giant sea clams and an array of unidentified colourful fish.

Fri 12pm – 4pm – Relax on white sand in brilliant sunshine overlooking perfectly aqua water.  Decide winter is the bomb.

It was a beautiful weekend that included horseback riding through the Daintree Rainforest and onto the beach.  It included dinner at Port Douglas and long walks on the Esplanade.  It included the best Mexican food I’ve ever had in Australia and long ribbons of deserted tropical beaches.  But mostly it included catching up with one of my oldest friends – one that I’ve known since my days in Canada, one who was witness to my fake wedding, and one who by pure coincidence now lives in Australia.  It was a bit like those worlds colliding that I’ve mentioned before.  Who would’ve ever thought we’d see each other again, on the other side of the world, completely out of context, both living in the same (but different) country again by some bizarre twist of fate.

Lovely.

The Clucky Paradox

I met me a friend’s brand new, four day-old baby girl yesterday. 

 Oh my dear god do I love babies.

 Let me just say that again.  I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE,  babies.  Always have loved the babies.  And cats.

 Anyway, no matter how many times I meet a brand new baby (and there have been many times.  I am a 32 year old woman, folks, I am surrounded by brand new babies), they never cease to completely floor me.  It’s like a religious experience or something.  I mean, you really want a miracle, just check out a miniature human being that just got made out of thin air and was living under water yesterday and is now sucking it’s sweet little, perfectly formed thumb, out in the daylight, like it ain’t no thing. 

 How did they get here?  

 And then I always look at the mother in amazement and say ‘dude, can you believe you made this??’, and then I look at the stomach from whence this baby just came and already it seems improbable, preposterous, ridiculous that this tiny little version of a real live human being was sitting in there just yesterday.

 I mean, really?  You grew in there?  You came outta there??  Are you crazy??

 Now don’t take all this waxing lyrical the wrong way – this does not necessarily mean I am clucky.  You see, as much as I love babies, the jury has still been out on how I feel about children.  You know, the kind that walk, talk, go to school and generally stick around for 20 years.

 Not nuts about that idea.  In fact I’ve always been somewhat mildly terrified by the walking, talking variety of child.   They’re so demanding. Always needing to be entertained and fed and stuff.  Parents,  always say some variation of this theme:

 ‘It is THE hardest, most exhausting, challenging, difficult thing you will ever do.  You will be tired, distraught, frustrated and at a loss.  You will not shower or sleep or have proper adult conversations BUT, it is the most rewarding thing you could experience’.

 And whenever I heard this I always thought:

 ‘Well that sounds risky’.

  These anti-children thoughts were, however, challenged earlier this year when  H and I took a trip to Uganda to do some volunteering.  Volunteering with children was not on the agenda due to the sweaty, anxious mess they tend to make of me,  but once we got there, circumstances dictated that volunteering with children was exactly what was gonna happen.  70 of them.  Aged 5 to 15.

 Cue sweaty anxious mess.  I just dont know what to do with them.  I’ve never liked children’s games (even when I was one), I don’t know what they want to talk about and I generally just have the patience of a gnat.

 But one day, about a week into surviving the volunteering, I was squatting outside in the dirt watching them play hopscotch, soccer and elastics in their lunch hour.  I was hot, exhausted, dirty and mildly annoyed.  I had been yelling teacher-ly things all morning, I had been frustrated, distraught and at a loss.  And as I sat there in this state, I was suddenly struck by an overwhelming thought:

 I would do anything for these kids.

 It was accompanied by an intense pain that seemed to come out of the sky and smack me square in the chest.

 My first thought was that I had malaria.

 But then I realised with unfathomable certainty that I had just experienced that elusive paradox that parents always bang on about.  Despite all the crappy stuff, I was head over heels in love.  And it didn’t make sense, but it didn’t make it less true. 

 Weird.

Anyway, I was thinking about all this when I was holding that brand new miracle of a baby girl yesterday, and I thought well, maybe I’ll have them, and maybe I won’t.  But until I decide, at least I’ve got you to coo my heart out to.

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