The pause between the breaths

The elliptical printed hospital gown that is loosely draped around my fathers body that is emaciated from the organs who have decided to fail him, long after he failed them.

I’m sitting in a hospital room. The walls are white and stark with a carefully measured antique blue feature wall that compliments the faux wood cupboard and floors, not too mention matches perfectly the elliptical printed hospital gown that is loosely draped around my fathers body, which is emaciated due to the organs who have decided to fail him, long after he failed them.

The room is loud with the sound of an Italian folk song coming from the TV (The Godfather is playing), the compressor for the bariatric mattress and the bi-pat machine that mimics breathing and pushes my fathers chest up and down, doing more than we can to keep him alive.

Earlier today my step-mother looked at me, “They don’t know,” she said, “they don’t know that your father is not an ordinary man.” I turn my head to look at him—it appears that all evidence is to the contrary.

So we spend hours with tearless faces staring at small screens with digits on them that swap and change like watching keno, but the cash prize is life or death. I watch the zig-zag lines move up and down for so long that even the anomalies become a pattern, except when there is a pause, and a flat line, and for a moment you wonder if this is it.

Later sitting beside this man’s bed and looking into his gluey eyes that are almost closed but still see me for a moment. The reality of flying out in two day is hitting me hard, knowing that I will never see my Dad in this lifetime again.. there is nothing that  prepares you for that.

Waiting for the when

Sunday morning

It’s not looking good

Daddy’s getting worse, they don’t know what’s wrong…

I have to hop a plane

flying out in the morning,

kids crying and me… crying for the lack of them, anxious for the lack of him.

Someone near me farting on the plane, fourteen hour flight.

Good lord really?

Really bad coffee, brown water, I must have landed in the grand ol US of A

Welcome back

Another two flights

I see the spot at the airport where he usually stands… there’s nobody there.

Empty spaces speak loudly,

Heart monitors and bipat machines speak loudest of all…

almost.

Smiles and laughter, I love you scribble with shaky hand.

And now we wait… we sit and we wait

and breathe until we don’t.

 

Bloody Australia Day

I can’t erase the echoes in the ears of the lynched. And sayin’ it’s just a good day for a beer and a barbie, but if that was the truth, so would any other day just without the bloody remembrance.

I was born on this land. The land of the Burramattagal people of the Darug mob. This land that for 60,000 years their people have lived on, cared for and protected this land, and until I was an adult, I knew nothing about them.

w2028920parramatta20courtesy20of20national20library20of20australia20nla-pic-an207690900-vI love this land, it is the land that my feet have walked on for a lifetime. I love her and she has cared for me. My children were birthed here and their feet a hewn by this ground and she by them. It cared for my ancestors when they were forced from their own land in Ireland, I am the first of my American ancestors to walk here.

Bloody abos was a term I grew up hearing. Racist jokes and slurs now echo in my head evidencing the colonial mindset which still prevails and the mouths and minds of many. As much as we acknowledge the original owners of this land, and respect their elders, we are still standing on the land which was stolen, with no intention of giving it back.

The truth is that we are an English colony,  till this day. We are the benefactors of the invaders,  the indigenous people of this land have very little choice but to suck it up and adapt. But that is not the story we’re sold.

The truth is we are celebrating the invasion of what is now called Australia. It is still a yearly ‘f you’ we took over, live with it, to any indigenous person that might have enough hold of their own identity to know their origins. We may sell it to ourselves saying… oh well we’ve transformed the meaning of the day, it’s now just celebrating this great country. But if I’m honest with myself, it’s like transforming the word nigger, it still doesn’t lose the hundreds of years it was uttered to degrade. I can’t erase the echoes in the ears of the lynched. And sayin’ it’s just a good day for a beer and a barbie, but if that was the truth, so would any other day just without the bloody remembrance.

If the people of a colony acquired through bloodshed ever sit with themselves quietly and contemplate the land on which they sit and don’t look away, their brash “get over it” attitude might change to one of true humility, respect and gratitude.

I believe that as a people we show great generosity, compassion and understanding. The Australian spirit is famous all over the world for a reason. But if charity starts at home, maybe it’s time that we really show these people the respect of generations of lives destroyed and lost in the name of colonisation.

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ANZAC Day and remembrance days are two days around all our dead that are treated as sombre and sorrowful moments. Yet on this day we don’t give the original people of this land the same respect.
So when do words and ideals translate into action and belief?

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Getting my head ahead

It’s university holidays, you’re home with the kids, as nice as the possibility of sleeping in is, planning ahead for February is literally going to save your already paper thin sanity.

Every year that I go back to study, I find myself becoming increasingly time savvy.  Improving is a good thing I think, it’s evidence that not all my practice and stuff ups have been in vain.

3d9df6ef66775253b8cc7f26c6329fadFor those who don’t know me and haven’t ready the ‘about’ page, I’m a single mother of two who is half-way through the arduous trenches of a double degree. I’m loving the subject content as I am a info nut, but being a full-time parent and full-time student has its challenges and at times everybody else’s. If you are starting out on this road or are just gifted with an appetite for the sadistic, feel free to listen to the narrated car crash.

So, always keen to get things tucked away, I have done what I can, I’ve enrolled in my subjects for the year. All except one that is, I can’t decide on my minors for the life of me. Choices are:

  • Sociology – learn the science of people and how people make public policy (thrilling I know). Before I had so many choices, this was my choice
  • Photography – this is probably is my top or second top choice, I’m studying journalism, so this could come in handy.
  • French – made the list as it’s still a dream of mine to parler vous francois
  • Philosophy – I’m a classic over-thinker…  this is probably a perfect fit, or perhaps more fuel for the fire.
  • Politics – also journalism friendly.

At the end of the day it probably doesn’t matter and all choices will lead to adding fries to that order (joking) but for now this is my obsession, that and one or two other things, but we’ll leave that for another day.

So I guess my point today is that planning is MASSIVE when studying with kids. I’m now at the stage that I kind of understand what is required with all my final assignments and would recommend starting them as soon as you get them or at least make decisions on the subject that you are going to research or photograph etc.  Make sure it is something that you are personally passionate or curious about, that way you’ll be pursuing something for yourself, not just because you have a piece of paper with a question on it.

So for now it’s school holidays, I can hear my children in my bedroom talking about farting then laughing their heads off. My eldest daughter and I just finished playing one of the board games she got for Christmas and now I’m about to shower and resurrect my house from the rubble ( a task I complete about five times a day). The melodious scream of my youngest daughter comes from my bedroom, apparently there is a homicide in progress, that’s the only possible solution I’m sure.

Because my head is in the game I used the last of my grant money from last year to buy some of my books for next year, and I’ve read one (Passing, Neila Larsen) and am deep into the next one (Grapes of Wrath, Steinbeck) which I am really enjoying having time to immerse myself in a real paper book (which is severely swollen from a pool incident – children have no respect). As an aside, Steinbeck is a freak of nature.

I’ve ordered d’bomb planner. One of the senior year students put me onto them when I was in first year, the passion planner is the best student diary that I’ve found yet.

I’m plotting and planning how I can get a massive whiteboard (stay tuned – insert evil laugh here), and I’m trying to get all the equipment that drove me crazy having to drive back and forth from my campus (1hr away) to get.

Although I sound busy in mind, the truth is this time is a gift. A time not to rush, to take care of my house and my kids, to go touch the ocean and luxuriously let my mind trip over my thoughts like a burbling winter stream tripping through the forest on the way to the ocean. (Ommmmnnn ;-))

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Cooked in a Squat

By some miracle I’m sitting in an 8:30 lecture. Just praying that I didn’t leave a child at home. A conscientious account of a journalism student who is afraid of the phone.

99118097_xsSo I’m sitting in the university library.  By some sheer miracle of physics I delivered my children half-dressed and unkempt to before-school-care, and arrived at my lecture with five minutes to spare.  Dumping my bag I decided that coffee was the only thing that would bring meaning to my life, so I hopped out and grabbed a very long and very black coffee and some pear and raspberry bread to massage my thoughts into action. Arriving a respectable ten minutes late for my lecture. Staring at the ground as I cross in front of the lecture. If I don’t make eye contact she won’t notice the coffee and paper bag in my hand.

Aced the lecture, now functional I participated in my student life. Lecture’s finished, hopped (I’m doing an inordinate amount of hopping this morning)  over to the always over crowded library where three-quarters of the campus population tap away at Apple laptops or anxiously prepare crib notes for their presentation that you know some member of the group hasn’t been involved in, but has turned up today, smiling ready to accept the accolades. Bastard.

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Finished last week’s blog post (as now most university communications work requires an online blow-by-blow) and now I’m trying to avoid the inevitable phone call that I have to make to finish an article I think I’m writing (5 days till due date). I HATE calling people that I don’t know. It makes my stomach feel like it’s lined with a dank smelling river sand and a slow crawling bottom feeder is making it’s way up my spine. I’m going to be an awesome journalist. Seriously.

 

Parenting in academia

Your final assignments are due and your children decide to make pancakes…all over the kitchen. It’s a race against time, sanity and cleanliness.

2016-06-03 16.50.44 The weekend from hell. Three final deadlines are burgeoning or past. Single parenting with no jobs has climaxed in a pile of unpaid bills such as internet and mobile phones. I’m disconnected.

Dissolved to laughter and despair, reading papers by social scientists, neurologists and statisticians while my six year old climbs on my lap and my nine year old begs me to come watch a movie and my refusal deposits her onto my office floor bemoaning the aspects of her boredom. Whilst I bemoan my place of intellectual solitude and my space of playful parenting… all at once.2016-06-04 17.17.47

There was a routine in place all semester that as Murphy’s Law would have it, it and Netflix dissolved on the final weekend of session when everything was due. This is the study roller-coaster domestic style. How do children manage to use every plate in the house before four o’clock in the afternoon.  Of course there were pancakes and toast, the evidence of their existence is covering the kitchen bench.

” But mum, I’m hungry…” of course you are darling.

2016-06-05 16.04.04It’s funny when you decide to study as a mother of small children, it’s such an idealistic act.  The motivation is almost purely directed towards an ends… but there is no way of predicting or describing the moments of chaos and inspiration that exist in the middle. But for now the chaos… lots of flour, sugar…mountains of  sugar (warning: things may appear larger than they actually are), honey, bicarbonate of soda, jam, the list and the stickiness goes on.

Thank goodness the report was digitally submitted, otherwise the pages would be stuck together.

Never too much Shrek

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It’s Friday night and I’m sitting on the lounge with my youngest daughter who’s dancing on the lounge as Eddie Murphy’s donkey sings out “I’m a believer”. This is about the third time she’s watched Shrek tonight. Bad mother you say… hmmm yeah maybe, but she’s been happy relaxing in here while her momma has been cooking, washing clothes, washing dishes, doing the readings for her research project, making bread, folding towels, feeding the dog, cooking dinner. You know doing nothing like most women 😉 Granted I did take the time to shovel all the dog poo. ( Just a word about the sheer amount of poo that my dog generates… I am in bewildered awe. How can that much feaces come out of one small animal, I ask you.)

So I figure that I am going to air my pain, and frankly funny life in a sarcastic and smart ass way, I apologise in advance. Now my daughter is narrating the movie (that she has just rewound for me – awesome) that is playing on the screen.  I’m going to cause world war 3 and get her to have a shower and go to bed. Thrilling I know. Can’t believe I left my wine at my friends house.

Have fun it’s Friday!