Friday, February 27, 2015

Our girl gone

Yesterday, our girl left home...

Bonnie Frances: Between nought and nineteen
not to another city or land, mind,
though a bridge is now between us;
a bridge too far.

When she was three months old
and having feeding problems,
on advice, I took her in to see a specialist.

Oh how she cried when I handed her over!

The woman doctor passed her back to me, fairly promptly, a surprised look on her face.

She stopped crying instantly,
the second my fingers clasped her tiny torso,
before her fragrant breath could touch my neck.

'That's amazing' said the specialist:
'I've never seen that in such a young child before.
She's very astute.'

Then she had me repeat the exercise
one more time.
My girl did not let me down.

Then she screamed the whole way through the examination --
our girl, not the doctor --
taking breaks in my arms to catch our breath.

Nineteen years later, it seems she is more likely to scream
when she's near me than anywhere else.

Everything, but one thing, changes
between nought and nineteen.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Dead flowers

A year or so before she died, Nora Ephron made two lists, one with all the things she wouldn't miss when she died, and the other with all that she would miss. I find this idea extremely appealing.

On the list of what she wouldn't miss, a list of twenty-four things, perhaps one for every hour of the day, she included 'dead flowers'. But on the same length list of what she would miss, she did not include flowers, though she did include 'spring'.

This intrigued me somewhat, as I totally understood why dead flowers and not living flowers, yet I wondered why this made sense. On the surface it seemed a somewhat strange kind of sense.

Perhaps it went without saying that she would miss flowers if dead flowers made it onto her relatively short list of things she wouldn't miss. Perhaps spring covered flowers. Or perhaps liking and missing flowers was too much of a feminine cliché for Nora.

But instead of these simpler explanations, I wondered if this strange sense did not hide a deeper truth about the greater clarity that there is in death than in life, a clarity dead and living flowers amply symbolise. A dead and dry, shrivelled up and shapeless flower that was once a bright and vibrant creature replete with extraordinary colour and form, is so clearly a miserable specimen that not missing it almost goes without saying, though I dare say I wouldn't have thought to put it on my list.

But the beauty and wonder of the living specimen, though obvious, as obvious as the beauty and wonder of life itself, is, at the same time, somewhat elusive. Perhaps because it's wonder is too obvious; too in your face. Too cheerful. But more than that I think it's because we take flowers for granted, most of us, in exactly the same way that most of us take life for granted, until its over, or almost over.

But not dead flowers. I never fail to regret the passing of a flower I have seen or 'known' alive. My feelings on dead flowers are much clearer than my feelings on living ones, and so it is and always will be, I believe, as with human life and death.

Nora Ephron (1941-2012), for those who don't know her, was an American satirical writer, commentator and critic, probably best known for her screenplay for When Harry met Sally.

Saturday, February 21, 2015

No news is no news

Patience is a pain in the ass and whoever said no news is good news wasn't, I wager, waiting for news from publishers. They were probably waiting to hear if someone had died. I'm waiting to hear if someone will live -- namely me.

It's been TWO WHOLE WEEKS since serious interest was expressed in my book from two different publishers in two different countries -- as you well know, my loyal and long-suffering followers. Since then, silence; the vapid, vacuous, venomously vexing void.

You see what I did there? I showed off how many V-words I can string together sensibly in a sentence, ergo, how well I can write. If this isn't enough to convince those out there in the venomously vexing void that I have what it takes, then I don't know what would be. Not that they would be likely to read my blog. Or would they?
I think I've said enough.

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Let me eat cake

Twenty-four hours is an arbitrary time frame and quite inadequate, in my educated opinion (I have a PhD), to the task of celebrating properly the day of ones birth, a momentous occasion if ever there was. Which is why I like to celebrate a birthday week, as I am doing, just incidentally, as we speak. My 49th birthday week, no less.

That said, I have no objection to anyone eating their entire birthday cake in twenty-four hours or less and acquiring, by means of subtle and if necessary unsubtle persuasion, a second or third birthday cake to last through the week. This would be particularly justifiable, say, if you were unfortunate enough to be required to share your first birthday cake with not one but two teenage males, which doesn't seem fair in the least, but happens nonetheless. And if that birthday cake happens to look like this one, with real berries on top, then I would say it's practically your duty to get your hands on at least a second birthday cake with real berries on top before the week is out. On it.

Meanwhile, I'm spending my birthday week waiting for confirmation from the publishers who have expressed interest in publishing my book to tell me if they will indeed be publishing, and if that's not reason enough to continue eating cake for as long as it takes, I don't know what is. Let me eat cake.    

Saturday, February 7, 2015

A sweetener for my scars

I've long felt that if something good is going to happen something bad has to happen first or at the same time, or hot on the heels of the something good, like highs attract lows and vice versa to create the weather.

'Ups and downs' annie taylor
Highs and lows in life are about as predictable as the long-term weather, not that predictable, but more predictable than you would think.

And so... my present troubles with my skin that have made it difficult to work or go outside without scaring children and other small animals -- our cat looks at me funny these days -- made me think something good might be on its way for me...

Then the day before yesterday this letter from a publisher in Australia turned up in my Inbox:

"Dear Sacha,

Thank you for being patient with us. I am afraid I have to say that I could not follow the title of your book's advice...because I laughed out loud at pretty much every second sentence. I find it absolutely delightful and extremely funny.

I will be speaking with my Publisher about it tomorrow and hope to be in touch after that.

Kind regards..."

Pity the book is a tragedy (just kidding, it's a memoir of my childhood. Sorry, can't give away the title yet but when I can, you'll be some of the first to know. There's a clue in this email), but otherwise this is positive feedback indeed from the 'publishing manager' of an albeit relatively small publisher in Sydney. But you have to start somewhere and I didn't fancy self publishing, whatever the upside.

It's not in the bag yet but it's nice to have made a total stranger, at least one, laugh. I hope this doesn't mean my scars aren't going to heal. They are certainly taking their time about it, as if they, too, are waiting on the publisher.

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Scarface mum

I put this photo of my latest bout of skin cancer up on Facebook and Twitter recently and kind of regretted it, and eventually took it down, so... now I'm posting it on my blog! It all makes perfect sense.

Sorry. I can't seem to help myself.

But the difference here is that my boys, who reacted strongly to the Facebook and Twitter postings, describing it as a shameless and pathetic act of attention seeking, don't read my blog unless I link it to Facebook, which I won't do in this case. I'm not silly.

The thing is, though, that it's my face and if I can't put my face on my Facebook account then what good is it, my face or my account? I reckon I should be able to show my face where I want, whatever state it's in, without anyone thinking I'm pathetic. I know that's asking a bit much in the case of this face and my boys, who have long wanted a regular mum who doesn't embarrass them at every turn and been all out of luck there in oh so many ways, but still I don't see why it's such a big deal for them (or their friends!). My daughter has had much less to say about it and I think, at a push, might even respect me for showing my face at a less than flattering angle.

Meanwhile... if anyone out there has figured out the secrets of time travel, please let me go with you back to the seventies to make sure I NEVER EVER EVER EVER EVER EVER EVER GO OUT IN THE SUN.


Sunday, February 1, 2015

Black glass poem

Black glass

Was the title of my first poem

I wrote it on the toilet

Last night's moonlit white sink

Reminded me of that

Black glass poem

With its 'haphazard hem'

Where is that dressing-gown now?

Quilted turquoise and embroidered lapels

It wasn't that old and haphazard was it?

How is it possible to misplace a whole gown?

It suited me, too, if memory serves.