The weekend

For my birthday the kids and David got me a toy car. It was a cool car. A cooler person, would know exactly what make and model it was, but I just watch Top Gear for the writing. So the toy car was a bit odd until I realised its full metal body housed a gift voucher from Red Balloon Days (yes I’m a huge fan). The voucher was to drive a V8 super car around Eastern Creek raceway in Sydney and be driven around the track by a racecar driver. The latter was exciting, the former absolutely terrifying.  So my reaction at first was not what David had hoped. I mean, what husband really wants his wife to be intimidated by a gift?

But raceday was still 2 months away.. 2 months of silently stressing over how I would get through it. Being on show, being judged, being clumsy, being mistake after mistake. Being not good enough or not fast enough or not careful enough. All bizarre thoughts to have but the overwhelming one was a fear of not being. Not being really there.

Wow what a weight! And a wait.

So this weekend was the big day and you know I dreamt I had already done it. I dreamed I was actually 80 and I was having a big party. Someone stood up in front of everyone, my kids, my grandkids, my friends and all of their offspring too and said nice things but not real things. So I stood up (walking frame assisted), and I yelled, “hey, you don’t know the stuff I’ve done all you are is all the stuff I haven’t”. It made sense in my dream but somehow reads weirdly in the cold click of day.

Anyway I woke up and started to think about all the things I have done.

I’ve been to Disneyland and gone on Space Mountain mulitple times even though I was only 5. Why? Because I wanted to and my Dad was no wuss.

I’ve been whitewater rafting on the Nymbodia River near Coffs and the Trusili River in Nepal.

I’ve looked across the valley to Mt Everest having walked there from Lukla on these fat strong legs.

I’ve ridden on the back of a Harley.

I’ve sung in Eisteddfords, published poetry and entered creative competitions that I never had a hope of winning.

I’ve jumped out of a perfectly good plane with a man and a parachute attached to my back.

I’ve taken my friends out on a catamaran on Sydney Harbour for fun, for the hell of it, to show myself that I am still alive.

I’ve gone gliding – gift from Optus coworkers.

I’ve stripped off and had a hot stone massage behind a waterfall on a tropical island.

I’ve travelled to London, Paris, Rome, Prague, Copenhagen, Almhult, Shanghai, Geneva, Fiji and other places too.

I’ve swum with dolphins and seen dugongs from the bow of another catamaran in Monkey Mia

So all this stuff I’ve done, none of it was or is perfect. And it wasn’t some better version of myself that did these things. It was just this uneven skin and blubbered form, the addled brain and disproportionate disposition. It was the selfish, confused, introverted, extroverted, optimistic me. How can I reconcile any of this? I don’t know how.

But I can add to the list, that I have now driven a V8 super car at about 190kph with the windows down – because that’s how I wanted it. And for the record – it was awesome :)

Race Day

Race Day

On a trip because journeys are so reality tv

I really do hate the term “journey” now. It has been subverted. That’s my thought this week.. all the good normal words that have been overthrown and replaced with new meanings. Like when someone says that someone is “special” putting those verbal inverted commas around the word. It isn’t fair. If I say you are special – it is because I think you are someone beautiful; in spirit, mind or body.  I don’t call you special to highlight some detrimental difference, to pull you down. Bastard word subversions!

So I am disowning the “journey” of the realitytv world where contestant A experiences personal growth between episode 1 and episode 10. Instead I will “trip” like they did in the 60s, unknowingly falling into a new place. Starting at point X and landing at point 3. But I will steal back from the 60s the idea that such trips had to be substance enhanced. My trip starts every morning at the push of a button – the alarmOFF button at 5.10am.

Out of bed like I did when I delivered morning papers aged 12. Stumble through exposed brickwork of the unfinished door to the office. Clothes. iPod. Mobile phone. I have no pockets. Why don’t they make running clothes with pockets for all our digital aids? New shoes – earned from 2 weeks of consistent runs.  Another word perverted but I don’t mean that. Out the back door and it is always warm and windy. Start running.

Stop running. Breath is definitely snagging in my throat. Not sure why. But here is a man with a jar in his hands and he is eating something from it.

“Good morning, what is that?” I ask. pant.pant.pant.

Effort from running or from breaking my preferred silence in favour of connection with a complete stranger?

“It *was* muesli. But it is *now* mush. I put it in this jar and shake it with my milk and it goes mushy. Perfect breakfast grub” he says.

Grub – another perverted word but Ican live with it because I didn’t wake up cranky. More running. Open grass filled with bunny rabbits eating their morning grub. The Curl Curl sharp shooter doesn’t come over the hill into Dee Why. So they are safe and yet they flee from me because I am big and foreign.

And there it is, my heart, my home; the deep suck and sigh of the pacific ocean rolling out to a dappled distant sky.

The sun hasn’t struck me with her glamour yet. There is still time to be normal, average and unseen. Then two screams and splashes strike me instead. I watch as two teenage friends trade warmth for the still wintery waters of Dee Why pool. Splash splash scream scream talk talk talk talk talk. When do they breathe? When?

They are out now and I am trying hard to focus on one thing. The fisherman maybe with that incredible beach rod that he has carted out onto the rocks. Or maybe that surfer that paddles his long board with a paddle while he stands on top. Every morning, that must be hard work. Focus, be consistent, have a point.

Talk. talk. talk. drip.drip.drip.shiver.talk.talk.talk.

“You guys are so brave – was it as cold as it sounded?” forcing a natural non psychopath expression.

“It was soooooo cold. We came down yesterday in the middle of the day and it was alright so we thought we’d come down this morning but yeah like that was such a bad idea and think we’ll be um waiting a while before we try again. But there were these other people swimming hey. They are still there, we are just complete wusses cos those guys are still in swimming so you must get used to it or something”.

“If it makes you feel any better those guys only started this week too – and they usually start much earlier. And you are braver than me, I don’ t think I’ll be in til December.”

Feeling paralysed by the volume these girls would talk. Aren’t teenagers supposed to grunt at adults? I can cope with grunts. Better say bye before I am hooked into further conversation and start drowning. These girls are much better swimmers than I had assumed. As they walk off drip drip drip talk talk talk I realise I have now spoken with 3 complete strangers.

Walking now. Thoughts weighing down my feet. Even in new shoes they simply won’t budge when I am thinking too much. Maybe this is why those people in the 60s tripped with substances – so they wouldn’t weigh down their own feet by what they saw, what they learnt and what they felt. Barely can walk up the stairs away from the pool. Texting. Not watching. A more considerate person steps off the path to avoid me.

“Ouch – bloody stones!” he curses quietly.

“Oh man, I’m sorry!”pant. pant. hyperventilating.

“Like its your fault? Did you put the stones there? Don’t think so! She’s right.”

And here I am in shock that a. this person didn’t ignore me like everyone in the city always will. b.has the most beautifully decorated long board. All tattooish and awesome.

“Cool board. Can I take your picture?”

“What you must be a tourist?”

“No I live up the road – just I take photos of stuff. It is dumb. Sorry.”

“No good for you for being a local. I used to live up in Ian St. Do you know it? On the cliff? Had a big house and everything. Now I have a big board and a campervan. Ultimate downsizing but it is good right. This is what it is about.”

“What’s a house if you have everything to make you happy right here? Have a good one”

and I didn’t say thanks for the photo or ask him about the board. Which is why I’ll never be a journo. Plus I have no clue about deadlines – it is 6.10am and my real world is waking up.

Tweet:

“today I have talked to 3 complete strangers. It is just like twitter except you use your voice”

I think I’m funny but on the trip back home what I realise is that I am much more like those bunny rabbits. Frightened by anything bigger and foreign. Yet at the same time completely unaware that just over the next hill will be someone happy to shoot me down.

So I get home not having progressed on a “journey” but regressed while tripping over myself through my awkward attempts at social interaction. If only I could interact without analysis. If only I could be gay. Damn word subversions!!!

Social Responsibility

This week I read a news article about two Australian girls who updated their Facebook status to say they were lost in the storm water drains and needed help.

The fact that the girls had signal and could’ve called 000 for help slides underneath the overarching question of what would have happened if a friend had not taken action after seeing their message on Facebook.

And suppose that friend had asked the wrong questions too many times and too many posts later those girls had ended up in a worse situation?

I couldn’t help but recall the atrocious 000 emergency case in 2006 where a boy died who had mobile signal but could not get through the processes of the 000 line to find his rescue. Would his death had been averted if he’d sms’d a friend?

My concern is not the right or wrong of contacting 000 in an emergency, but what are our responsibilities as good online citizens to ACT upon information we read in people’s profiles?

If someone declares that they have young children and are suffering severe depression – who do we contact? How do we find the right kind of help for that person who is clearly reaching out without finding ourselves responsible for a worse situation.

We are all very good at passing messages on. I can retweet and via til I fulfill all the social rules of online copycatting. However when does my responsibility to act on information kick in and how  much shoudl I rely on what I read?

I’d like to think that the same rules apply online as they do off, however my social network is just that much bigger now, that I include all the online conversations I have each day.

I know quite a few people who would update Twitter that they were in trouble before contacting 000.

Actually, I am probably one of them.