‘ “It was a dark and stormy night…” The cliché line was written in font reminiscent of a typewriter’s singular offering, with a deliberate smudge of the printed words for added authenticity. The otherwise blank sheet of paper was wrapped around the platen of the typewriter cake* from the iconic Australian Women’s Weekly Children’s Birthday Cake Book, with pastel icing of sage green and peachy creme, mint slice platen knobs, liquorice typebars, a musk stick space bar and keys of multi-coloured smarties. The aspiring author blew the candles and made her usual wish of publication before slicing through the cake as party guests whooped and cheered. That was me, Mek, 80s tragic, birthday cake baker, engineer, and increasingly, adopter of the label ‘writer’ as one of the many facets of my identity…’
That was a snippet of my 500-word statement that formed part of my application for a university course that has been on my radar for quite a while. Continue reading →
I’m late in posting this, partly due to the same reason that this birthday has stood out a little from the rest. In addition to the invite that brings out the inner graphic designer in me, months of space-themed crafting, days of number 5 cookie baking and careful imagining of a cake that took till the early hours of party day to execute, this year we also had a separate celebration on the Queen’s birthday holiday for our little prince—a Yarra River cruise with his grandparents, and not long after, a second celebration of his 5th voyage around the sun with 20 of his closest friends, followed by a slightly more terrestrial event that shifted the focus from star gazing and cake eating, with commencement of our new living arrangements. Knowing this was going to be the case, I tried to savour every single moment leading up to his day even more than I normally would. I was squeezing him a little tighter, telling him I love him far more frequently, and making a greater effort to be present, even in unremarkable moments (how special it has become to yet again be asked to close my eyes as he hides underneath the dining table and I feign surprise at his disappearance). Moments that from now on will happen only for half his week and half of mine, with what will feel for my heart like an eternity between cuddles. Continue reading →
My boy recently marked his fourth whirl around the sun, giving me reason to channel my creative energy into party planning (with barely any energy for this or that). With months of build-up, the anticipation resulted in the full spectrum of almost-four year old behaviour, from the excited-yet-gentle questioning ‘is it my birthday yet?’ to the frustrated, foot-stomping, lego-throwing, angry exclamation that ‘MY BIRTHDAY is NEVER COMING!!!’ Continue reading →
It was with a heavy heart that I worked my way through the Sandersons that had spent the better part of their youth at Henfield Primary School. There was a whole brood of them- some related, others just sharing a relatively common name. James, Felicity, Veronica, Sandra, Jack, Noel, a lot of Kates, and many Peters. Finally. Cynthia. Occasionally I received a phone call from an ex-student or the parent of an ex-student, usually with an inspired idea for a 21st or wedding. Otherwise, the time capsules were returned to the ex-students themselves at the 20 year reunion- enough time would pass by then for there to be an appreciation of the insight into what their 10 or 11 year old selves could give them.
Cynthia’s mother had called grasping for something, anything, of her daughter. I knew who she was immediately when Mrs. Sanderson told me her daughter’s name. For the past year, her face, smiling with a hand proudly holding a medal that hung around her neck, had been plastered around railway stations, at local convenience stores and occasionally on the news in what has been shorter and shorter segments as time moves on and other missing persons, wars, government budgets and natural catastrophes compete for screen time. Not for Mrs. Sanderson though. Her grieving voice told me that the world and all its news had stopped for her and her husband the day Cynthia went missing. 17 years old, at another milestone in her life, having just finished high school and celebrating on the Gold Coast during Schoolies Week. No one knows what happened to her, or at least no one has come forward with what they know. All her mother wanted was one more piece of her little girl. Continue reading →
When I imagined life as a mother, it wasn’t tending to a two month old at 3am or changing a protesting one year old’s nappy that I pictured, but rather, long conversations with a verbose toddler questioning everything around him…and that time has come! At the age of 2 years, 4 months, 5 days, 14 hours (approximately) my boy has reached a significant milestone. Today he uttered his very first “why?” and with the release of that one syllable, changed the course of our lives forever, asserting his mind and sharing its wondrous workings. The momentous occasion was in response to his daddy telling him I had gone to work. Why? Oh, if only he knew I ask myself that very question four days a week. From now on, I am going to have to in turn question myself and the ‘truths’ I share, as well as expectations I have on everything from the need to say please and thank you, to the reason he must get up off a supermarket floor that he is glued to with the formidable adhesive formulation that is will power, snot, and tears.
Aside from the inevitable instances where I will likely wish he’d get on with what I ask and not question things, I am excited about conversations to come; the broad range of topics I will have to research and learn alongside him; and, the fresh take on things I have taken for granted, waking up my comparatively dulled sense of curiosity and wonder.
Why doesn’t the moon fall down? Why is it called a zipper? Why do some camels have one hump and some have two?Why did the chicken cross the road? Even thinking up hypothetical creative questions is hard work!
I expect there to be plenty of questions I will not have neat answers for, but will encourage his interest nonetheless: questions about our very existence, death, bigotry, inequality, the nature of time, the future. So let the fun begin- I have no prepared answers and will have to take it one question at a time. Actually, I do have one prepared answer- if he ever asks:
Why do birds suddenly appear every time you are near?
I’ll break out in sudden song like they do in musicals and respond with:
Why do stars fall down from the sky, every time you walk by?
Depending on where we are and whether he is at the age of being embarrassed by me, that may be the last “why?” I ever get.
Has a child every stumped you with ‘Why?’ Please share the question and your response, to help me compile a FAQ list that I will carry on me at all times for reference in the event of no internet service.
Today is our wedding anniversary- Mr & Mrs Billingup; a date I’ll never forget, curved round my ring finger with his initials, the permanence of ink marking the impulse of a fleeting moment. Looking at it now, I can laugh at that tired old joke my girlfriends used to make, the BB of Bryan’s initials implying a best before date. Holding the last of the photographs, I wished away all traces of that day as I threw it on the fire and watched the edges curl to weightless ashes.
I have a goal! The title and accompanying image might give a hint as to what it is. I am working towards finishing my second draft novel writing course by the end of October (it has been on hold since April). At the end of the course I’ll have a solid synopsis, which will allow me to get real value out of NaNoWriMo 2016: tackling the feat of completing a novel (or at least 50,000 words of it) over the course of November.
An idyllic [writer’s] retreat smack dab in the middle of your crazy life.
Yes, if I can’t have a beautiful mountain top cabin with a view of a cascading waterfall, the accompaniment of bird song and fragrance of spring blossoms and a perfect coffee, I’ll take the virtual version. Continue reading →