Wednesday, March 21, 2012

World peace... or maybe just a kebab.

Yes this photo is real. Really. I promise. Although unlike Jesus, I can't promise kebabs...

If we'd known earlier that Jesus endorsed Halal kebabs, the world would be a very different place today.

Had a big night out? Weary? Loaded down? Don't worry, just pop over to Jesus, he's promised us a kebab.

Reckon we might have just solved world hunger too. One holy kebab at a time. Yay for us.

And Jesus.

And kebabs.

And now I'm going to hell.

Do they have kebabs?

Monday, March 19, 2012

I sent you a text today...

I sent you a text today but I know you’re not there.
You left at about 5.30am on September 27, 2011. You left on your own terms, in your own way, as you did just about everything.
I miss you. I felt absurd relief when that text sent. I know sooner or later I’ll send one and it will fail. I dread that day.
Cancer took you, but this open letter to you, my darling Tiara Lady, is not about cancer. At first I wanted to vent, to rage and rant. How dare this hideous disease take you? How dare it rob you – and us – of the other thirty years or so that you were owed in your life?
But what would I want to say to you, if I had you in front of me, if I had your arms wrapped round me in one of your legendary, fiercely loving hugs?
Would I want to be angry? Sad?
I’d just want to say one thing – thank you.
You were so generous. Yes, yes I know you hate fuss but shut up and listen. There were countless times you put aside your own issues (and they were BIG issues) to give me comfort, guidance and just plain love. You were dying but you were always so generous, always giving of yourself. I know I’m not unique in this – you were always giving to everyone. Yes you were, don’t argue!
Remember waiting up when my plane was late and then getting me drunk in your kitchen? We regaled each other with stories from our pasts that made us both cough and wheeze with laughter. Thank you for forming the Happy Sisters Band with me, a singing group who can’t sing, sure to clear a room in ten seconds. We were available for weddings, bah mitzvahs, children’s birthday parties. Rumours of a national tour are sadly unfounded.
Thank you for asking me for help. I felt ten feet tall when you asked me to contact your doctor’s surgery when they were messing you around and you didn’t have the energy to sort it out. It was a privilege to be able to help out, even in the most mundane ways. Especially in the mundane ways. At chemo, even then you made me laugh. At last you got to have that special pink stuff that you’d admired so much when you first got sick. Hooray.
The image of you mentally spear gunning that chick from the bakery will stay in my mind forever (especially now that I’ve met her – you were right to pin her to the wall).
The sun catcher incident. You and the cleaner saw cat vomit on the floor, (you had five cats, it’s quite possible for there to be random cat spew around the place). She scrubbed the floor for half an hour before either of you realised the spot wasn’t cat puke, but a mote of light from the sun catcher. You were so ill you were in bed most of the time, and needed entertainment. You told me this simple glass ornament gave you hours of pleasure, watching the spinning motes of light, but I think you loved the cat vomit incident most of all.
Remember when I visited in a hire car and got stuck in your driveway, unable to get the car doors open? I kept unlocking the doors but I just couldn’t get them open. You heard me drive up and wondered why it was taking me fifteen minutes to get the groceries out of the car. You came out and watched as I desperately tried to escape the car. It took another five minutes for me to realise that locked was unlocked and vice versa so every time I was “unlocking” the doors I was locking them again. You had the most infectious, deep, throaty cackle of a laugh when you were telling someone how dumb they are. I miss that laugh.
You were always blisteringly honest. Nobody would ever die not knowing what you thought of them. I admire that.
Did you know the extraordinary, beautiful, amazing Karen has kept your Facebook pages up to help give everyone comfort? I know you hate fuss, but some of us need it.
Thank you for accepting me and loving me as if we’d known each other for just under twenty years instead of just under two. You took me into the circle of love without question or hesitation. You were an extraordinary person and I hope you know how loved you are.
On our birthday this year - 11 years apart but on the same day - I’ll be raising a glass to the photo of us on my mantelpiece. I hope you’ll have a glass of your whiskey liqueur and do the same.
I miss you, but most of all I’m thankful that I knew you.
Wherever you are, I hope you’re reading those texts, reading your Facebook page, and having a good throaty chuckle at all the fuss.
Looks like I’m not quite ready to stop sending those texts.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

What's behind your couch (or does my child have a "thing")?

Something happened this weekend that made me wonder about kids. Well, not all kids, just mine. Have you ever found undies behind your TV? I’m guessing not.
I was searching for something the other night and, having failed to find it in all the logical places, started to look in the illogical ones. Like behind the TV. I didn’t find what I was looking for but was mildly surprised to find a pair of The Child’s undies down there, nestled between a couple of CDs and some dust bunnies. Carefully wielding the BBQ tongs, I slowly pulled the offending undies out from behind the TV in a move reminiscent of so many games of Operation. What possessed him to throw them there? Who knows.
Let me explain. My partner R and I share our lives with a 7 year old cyclone, AKA The Child. Now, I know that small boys are by nature pretty gross. And beware, if you have a beautiful, cherubic 3 year old boy, it won’t belong before you know exactly what I’m talking about. The “OMG I’m not going to look in your schoolbag I’ll just empty it into the bin with eyes and nostrils closed and throw the bag into the backyard in the hopes that smell will eventually disappear” kind of gross. A friend of mine, a mother of two little grot-monsters,  told me once “Oh little boys are just horrible”. I didn’t believe her. I should have.
I’m wondering if The Child is the normal kind of 7 year old boy gross, or if he has thing.
As in, “my child has this thing where…”
The long-suffering and patient R decided to give the house A Really Good Clean this weekend. We both work, so giving the house a really good once over, instead of the cursory “that’ll do” doesn’t happen that often. He seemed content to proceed through the house until he got to a particular section of the loungeroom. From the sounds coming down the hallway, I realised he must have Moved The Couch.
Did you know that the crust from a ham sandwich petrifies to solid concrete after two weeks behind our couch? Who knew that we had a geological anomaly of archaeological significance right there behind the old three-seater? And who knew that this area of our house has become a blue suede Bermuda Triangle, from whence foam darts, foil tops off strawberry custard pots (custard side down of course), chewed gum and lolly wrappers couldn’t escape?
I see a pattern here. Knickers thrown behind the TV, assorted food thrown behind the couch. Should we place a laundry basket and rubbish bin in every room in the house? No, because even in the bathroom some days he can’t seem to put the toilet paper in the bowl; it becomes a gruesome little ball on the floor, ready for mummy to find.
Yep, my kid has a thing alright.
I can see you all queuing to come visit this house of random object throwing – not.
But before you start donning HazMat suits, picking up flamethrowers and pointing well-manicured, bad mummy accusatory fingers at me…

Friday, March 2, 2012

Is smart the new sexy?

Is it me, or are there suddenly a lot of autistic characters on our television screens? Maybe, having just had my son – rightly or wrongly – diagnosed as High Functioning Autistic (HFA)recently, am I now more acutely aware of the traits that are apparently part and parcel of the autism spectrum? Am I just now more likely to notice these behaviours of Asperger’s Syndrome, and HFA?
Taking a quick look across an evening’s viewing, I’m tempted to think it’s not me. Who hasn’t noticed the ubiquitous Sheldon Cooper from Channel 9’s incredibly successful Big Bang Theory? Here is our socially helpless genius, a world-beating physicist on his way to winning a Nobel Prize, whose Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (knock-knock-knock-Penny), and germ phobia give rise to a regular round of chuckles each evening in houses all over Australia (mine included). Sheldon is played lovingly by Jim Parsons, who captures his character’s discomfort with social norms, inability to spot sarcasm and rigid thinking processes perfectly and portrays them with comedic perfection. Sheldon doesn’t understand friendship, can’t deal with changes to his routine, and finds emotion mysterious, illogical and therefore unnecessary
We love Sheldon. We adore his eccentricity, his helplessness and vulnerability. We love him despite the fact that nobody – not even we – are allowed to sit in HIS chair.
Still on Channel 9, let’s take a look at Sherlock. This is a luscious series of movie-length episodes centring on an updated 21st century Sherlock Holmes, played by the enigmatic Benedict Cumberbatch, and his trusty friend in sleuthdom, Dr John Watson. This is a new version of the genius detective created by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle back in the late 1800’s. Watson, played by Martin Freeman revisiting the Everyman role that is his forte (go re-watch The Office), is the perfect foil to Cumberbatch’s difficult, unpredictable and often unlikeable Holmes. This Holmes is super-observant, has a lightning-quick mind, but is a man of habit, who shuns emotion and finds the strictures of friendship difficult. Eye contact is infrequent, and human relationships – for the most part - redundant. He is often socially obtuse, trampling over the feelings of those around him as “the case” is paramount and humans irrelevant. In a recent episode Watson even tentatively remarks to a colleague that Holmes has Asperger’s Syndrome.
We admire Sherlock, despite his shortcomings. Maybe we believe we can make him feel emotion, if we could get our Geek Girl hands on him. In a recent episode a female adversary commented upon meeting him, “Is smart the new sexy?” We see Sherlock’s sex appeal, his unavailability, aloofness, as ultimately alluring.
The other show that I’ve been watching of late is Sci Fi’s Alphas. This is an appealing science fiction show about a new sub-species of humans who have various highly-evolved human senses and abilities. The group of Alphas seek out other Alphas, a little like X-Men, but in a much less superhero style, with gritty realism and some less expensive effects.
One of the Alpha group is Gary Bell, played by Ryan Cartwright. Gary can see electromagnetic waves in the air, which comes in handy for tracking down perps, listening in to mobile phones and tapping into the CCTV network. This wonderful power comes with a down-side. Gary is a young man who lives with his mother, is withdrawn, unable to communicate normally, cannot make eye contact and is frequently rude. He talks incessantly and can’t cope with changes in his routine. Again, this character exhibits some clearly autism spectrum traits, while being highly intelligent.
We empathise with Gary, and see his worth to the Alpha group. He is a the genius of the group.
There are other examples of characters who exhibit strong symptoms of HFA and/or Asperger’s (sometimes overtly, sometimes more elusively) from television present and past… Adrian Monk from the series of the same name, Spencer Reid in Criminal Minds and Jerry Espenson in Boston Legal. I’m sure there are many more I’ve missed.
We love our Aspy’s and HFAs on television, otherwise they wouldn’t keep writing them into shows. Smart is the new sexy… we value these people for their genius, we admire them, we’re prepared to overlook the difficult aspects of their characters. We find their brains incredibly sexy.
So what might this mean for my little HFA? Will people in his future value his mind, accepting his foibles? Will they see his strengths while putting up with his constant chatter? Will they mind his rigid thinking and work around it because they see his potential? I wonder. Would we put up with Sheldon’s Roommate Agreement in real life? Would we accept and still adore Sherlock, even after he’s torn our character to shreds in front of our friends, with no thought for the consequences? Would we want to be Gary’s mother, living with the never-ending verbal narrative and his inability to be flexible?
I don’t see any of these often funny, lovable characters forming long-term relationships in the shows we see them inhabit. I see them being valued as almost Rain-Man like assets. I wonder, look my son, and worry.

So there were these five frogs on a log...

... and four of them decided to jump off.

I've been wanting to get back to writing for so many years it doesn't bare thinking about. Oh god, is it bear or bare? See? I'm rusty.

I decided long ago to get back into it.

I was a frog on a log.

So after four of those five frogs decided to jump off, how many were left on the log?

You're wrong if you said one.

Five. There are still five frogs on the log, because deciding to jump doesn't get you off the damn log. You have to actually jump.

This blog is my jump off the log.