Victoria’s choice

Image by Engin Akyurt from Pixabay

What if the man you married, and the father of your children needed emergency surgery? Would you drop everything to take him to hospital, be there when he came around and recorded every hysterical word to fall from his lips in post anaesthesial truth?

What if your first-born son needed emergency surgery? Would you drop everything to take him to hospital, hold his hand and be there for him every moment of the day?

What if, those two things happened simultaneously? In hospitals at complete opposite ends of the metropolis.

What if you had to make a choice?

If you choose your husband, your firstborn will never forgive you.

And vice versa.

It’s Sophie’s Choice.

But, instead of choosing I tried to do everything, including taking my two other spawn to and from school.

That I realised was a step too far and the two siblings skipped school.

At sparrow’s fart, I got in the car with the better half and he drove himself to hospital (westwards).

I got home in time to wrangle my son into the car and take him to hospital (eastwards).

I could do this.

Husband to hospital 7am.

Child to hospital 11:30am.

Husband collection: 2pm.

Child collection: 4pm.

How could this go wrong? My timing would be impeccable. I would be fantastic wife and mother with many balls juggling Cirque Soleil style.

It turns out that I do not have a future in the circus unless there is an opening in the clown department. No sparkly leotard for me.

And my husband had to get an uber home.

My guilt cannot be assuaged.

On the bright side. We got the teeth in a jar. They’re enormous chompers. Son refuses to even look at them. But then he looks like Calvin the Chipmunk and sounds like Daffy Duck so who can take that seriously.

I have used up all my Florence Nightingale today.

They have about 2 hours more of sympathy before Nurse Ratchet comes in for the next shift.

Pixie Dust and Pratfalls

Image by Free-Photos from Pixabay

All you need is faith and trust.

And a little bit of pixie dust.

Think of the happiest things.

It’s the same as having wings.

Until it isn’t.

Yes, like Britney Spears, I did it again. I fell from grace. Oops.

Seconds before I had skipped as happy as a cloud across the garage floor and leapt into the air like a gazelle. The plan was to land on some spilled dried macaroni pasta and make a deliciously satisfying crunch.

I jumped and my happy thoughts and pixie dust saw my feet rising of the floor, past my head and up into the sky. There was a moment when airbourne, that I thought I was flying.

And then I realised the opposite was true and in fact I wasn’t.

That’s when the pixie dust failed.

My initial landing would have won me 10 points on the gymnastic mat. It was the weight of my ego-inflated noggin that did me in.

Gravity is not something to be denied by a mere mortal such as I. My head hit the immovable force that is the planet Earth.

Tweety birds and sarcastic Tinkerbells flew around my eyes in dizzying circles.

Then I heard the laughing. The guffawing. The snickering.

After ensuring I was in fact still alive, my son and spouse were doubled over weeping.

I think in future I shall buy bubble-wrap and jump on it in private.

Thank you for all the good wishes

Beautifully illustrated by Kristin Oberholster from Sunshinegun

“How old are you turning, Mommy?”

“44.”

“44! That’s halfway to… death.”

From the mouths of babes. Or, in my case, a 14-year-old precocious teen.

My birthday came and went as birthdays do, and I expected it to pass with little fanfare due to the whole Covid-19 lockdown and the ever-increasing amount of candles. At this point, my cake would collapse under their combines weight.

But, thanks to social media and its handy little birthday alerts, I was inundated with wonderful messages and telephone calls. It was like that first experience of good champagne when it tickles your nostrils and you know that little fizzy bubbles are about to make you happy.

Even more surprising was the baked chocolate cheesecake my children cooked up in the middle of the night. At 2am. If that isn’t love, I don’t know what is.

The best gift of all was this little illustration done by the talented Kristin Oberholster at Sunshinegun. I laughed so hard it took me a while to really appreciate each nuance of my character she managed to capture. From the asshole cat that my husband loves more than me, to my indecent obsession with alien conspiracy theories fueled by deciliters of tea. Oh, and the hat. Can’t forget the hat.

Despite all the trials and tribulations that this horrible virus has wrought, this small display of love and friendship has meant all the world to me. It reminded me that small gestures, like small pebbles, can make big waves.

Weather or not

Image by Free-Photos from Pixabay

“It’s very grey today,” he said sagely.

“Oh,” she replied looking out the window, “Yes, it is.”

“We can’t even see the city.”

“You’re right,” she said, looking at same view, “We can’t.”

“Is it raining? I think it’s raining,” he said astonished.

“It can’t be,” she replied in shock.

“I think it is,” he affirmed.

“Yes. Yes, you’re right. It is raining!” she said astounded as though precipitation is something quite novel.

“You know,” he saids, “They think it might snow.”

“Really? How unseasonable for this time of year.”

“Have you seen my long johns?”

This is verbatim our morning conversation.

As if, we were not simultaneously experiencing the same weather.

As if the weather was some strange inexplicable phenomenon.

Then I went into a Zoom meeting and had the same conversation again.

And then my father called…

If you’re lucky enough to be experiencing sun (my father), when the other party (me) is under an umbrella with raindrops slipping coldly down their collar, the utter glee of being warm and dry leads to unseemly gloating. 

“We’re experiencing such terrible rain.”

“Oh, are you? It’s lovely here, the sun is out and the sky is blue.”

“How lovely for you.” <insert sarcasm filter here>

Now that I have become hyper-aware of weather speak, so to speak, I’ve been avoiding it.

But, like the novel coronavirus, without the prerequisite conversations about the sun, or lack thereof, we don’t know what to say!

We just stutter helplessly like fish out of water desperately avoiding the only other starter conversation topic…

How are you?

With the unspoken caveat of, “Please don’t tell me. Please, please don’t tell me.”

It was 20 years ago today

AKA – The shoes I wish, I had worn.

Spoiler: It wasn’t the day Sergeant Pepper taught the band to play. It was the day I said, “I do”.

“Hi! Um… are you the bride?” asked a rather breathless and obsequious young lady with a very serious clipboard.

Ladies with clipboards are very rarely the bringers of good news.

I watched this one approach with curiousity and dread.

“Yes.”

“Oh. Well. Um. You seem very calm?”

“Should I not be calm?”

“Oh. No. That wasn’t what… It’s just that most brides are quite panicky about things… Um.”

“Hang on. I’m paying a very large amount of money not to panic. Please God tell me that there is nothing to panic about?”

“Oh, no! No! There’s nothing. I didn’t mean to… It’s all under control.”

My father and I looked at each other, shrugged and continued to make a rather sizeable dent in a bottle of Jack Daniels whilst admiring my very pretty delicate shoes.

That’s pretty much the way I’ve handled my marriage for the last 20 years.

Although the Jack Daniels has been replaced with tea and the pretty little (blister inducing, serial killing, demons from hell) shoes with fuzzy socks and fluffy slippers.

I have to acknowledge that my idea of sexy lingerie has also changed.

When once a skimpy little negligée was the ticket, these days Spanx are as sexy as it gets.

That way we can pretend that I have curves as opposed to just the one – curve, that is.

I was looking forward to this anniversary.

I had taken a day off and laid the seeds for a little weekend getaway. I had my eye on a little platinum sparkly number at the jewelers.  

Well, the best laid plans of pangolins and coronavirus and all that.

Instead, the only thing sparkly is my breath crystallizing in the frigid Arctic wind that has beset my home.

When I go to bed, I shall imagine that we’re spending the night in an ice hotel on some Scandinavian iceberg.

The sounds of my loved one‘s snores reminiscent of a growling polar bear.

Old Dog. New Tricks.

“woof.”

My eyes flicker.

“Woof.”

My eyes open.

“WOOF!”

I fumble for slippers and a robe.

I trip down the stairs with the left foot in the right slipper.

My poor dog. He must be dying for a pee.

I force the key into the Fort Knox security gate (anti-Zombie apocalypse and installed as coronavirus hit).  

I wrench it open.

The dog careens out.

Turns around.

Comes back in.

That was it.

In. Out. In.

No pee.

I went back to bed.

4am, I go through the whole charade again.

Then I’m hit with an epiphany.

This is new.

Two weeks ago, my mother’s dog came to spend the night.

At the witching hour he barked. And I let him out.

And then he did it again. And I let him out.

And again.

At some point, he (Angus), and Charlie (mine) clearly had a confab about their people and their failings. I think there might have been a bet. Something along the lines of, “I bet you a bone that I can teach my person to get up in the middle of the night for no reason whatsoever.”

That goofy, happy face that I translated as, “Oh good, I’m so excited she’s going to let me out to pee!” actually means, “Check this out. I can make this idiot woman get up and open the door whenever I bark. I’ll wait until she’s just fallen asleep and… WOOF! I could do this all night.”

Yeah, and he even got the cats to watch.

There is nothing more humiliating than the cat watching you with utter disdain. I shrank in his estimation to the size of a smallish pellet of salmon-flavoured gourmet cat food.  

I feel ashamed.

And lied to.

And easy.

Turns out an old dog can teach this old bitch new tricks.

Pen for hire

I am hardly ever at a loss for words. Usually only when a teenager cleans up without being asked. It happens. Rarely, but it does.

Most of the time, I am quite erudite. However, now that I must resort to shameless self-promotion, I find it a little challenging.

I’ve sold all sorts of things for other people, but (like following good advice) it’s easy to do it for others and hard to do for yourself. Perhaps I should hire another writer to do it for me? The thought has crossed my mind, but needs must and all that good stiff upper lip stuff.

Basically, I’m in the market for a writing job – permanent, freelance you name it. (I draw the line at wedding invites. Thanks to the pangolin-eating moron that started this pandemic I find myself armed with a pencil without a word to write.

If you feel like feeding the hungry mouth of a copywriter, please feel free to drop me a line. This fish is hungry and will bite (as long as the lure isn’t a Brussels Sprout).

the camel incident

Maybe it’s time we spoke about the camel.

Childhood is a minefield of trauma. Which is why psychiatrists make so much money. Still, there are somethings you don’t mention to a paid mental health professional. Things like a deep, wet-your-pants kind of terror invoked by camels.

Majestic horses of the desert meandering from oasis to oasis. Very Lawrence of Arabia. Mirages of pyramids, Persian carpets and mystic scents of myrrh and sandalwood. All beautiful images, but nothing I needed to personally experience.

You see, there was this camel. An odoriferous, spittle-coated camel. We eyed each other with wary hesitation. My parents felt that a camel ride was essential to our travel through India. Neither the camel nor I shared this sentiment. It was the only thing we agreed upon.

In the face of united parental excitement I had no choice but to be dejectedly deposited on the back of said camel. Let’s give him a name. Curtis. I was unceremoniously boosted on to Curtis. Curtis turned his, sprayed me with ropes to spit and we locked eyes. I think that’s the moment Curtis and. I decided to loathe each other.

Also camels are biologically not engineered to carry the human form. That’s why they have a hump. It’s clearly not meant to balance a saddle precariously on top of.

And then, it stood up.

Not in one fluid motion . It stood up on one side leaving me horizontal with the sand and then stood up on the other, careening me over to stare at another patch of identical sand.

That’s when the tears started.

It hadn’t even moved yet.

And then it did.

That’s when the screaming started.

I begged. I pleaded with God, my mother and every single deity to please let me get off.

My mother in between bouts of uncontrollable laughter refused to allow me to dismount until she had snapped my photo for posterity.

And then, her film ran out. So, she had to reload the camera.

My mouth was stuck opened now in silent screams due to my voice having given out. What seemed like an eternity later I was unceremoniously dumped upon the ground by the maleficent beast of the underworld.

I got my parents back though. They gave some rupees to spend at the market. So, I bought a python. I had to take it back. But the look on their faces was absolutely priceless.

Actually, I think mother said, “Darling. I don’t think we’ll get it past Customs.”

The Pandemic and the Pangolin

“Mummy, how did the world end?”

“Well darling. Some idiot ate a pangolin.”

Why on God’s green earth would you want to eat an animal as inedible looking as a pangolin? Is there even meat on a pangolin? Enough for a meal?

In short, some covidiot went to lunch and set off a pandemic that has wrecked the world. Well, that’s what they say. When the conspiracy theories sound far more credible than the actual story I’m tempted to go with the official story. Who on earth would make up a tale so bizarre?

What it has brought into stark reality for me (like the world in the morning when I put on glasses and see my sleep-mussed face in the mirror – horrifying clarity) – is just how little actual life skills I possess. Basically, I’m a bit of a dud in a global crisis. I’m not even a good gardener. I suppose I could write the spin? Not very helpful.

Now that my job has been torpedoed by a single-celled organism, I find myself having to look at my old world with new eyes. It’s at turns exhilarating and abjectly terrifying. I’m still in the free fall hoping to land on a bed of feathers but concerned that it may actually be very sharp rocks.

I can’t really tell because I’m too scared to put on my glasses and a blurry world seems less intimidating than the cold hard truth.

If only I knew who that pangolin-eating mofo was, I’d steal the TARDIS, go back a few months and sic a Dalek on him. (That’s a Doctor Who reference. My daughter kindly suggested that I add this note for those who don’t know the Doctor. So sad.)

It befuddles my brain that the world (and my world) has been brought to its knees by a takeaway lunch.

Smash and grab

I was a woman with a plan.

If some asshole was going to hijack me or smash my car window I was going to go medieval on his ass.

I was going to be a hardcore Ninja assassin.

I was going to scream and shout and let it all out. I was going to stab him in the eye and punch him in the face.

I was going to floor the accelerator and drive off with him clinging helplessly to the car door.

Only, as it turns out, I didn’t.

I just sat there.

I think I made a sound that could only be described as an eep.

I was sitting in traffic, minding my own business, complacent in my daily route and listening to a podcast about crop circles. Just another trip to work.

Until my quiet solitude was rudely broken by the loud bang of shattering glass. It rained over me. But before I could comprehend that, the entire upper torso of a human being launched into the car and grabbed my cellphone. Just as suddenly he withdrew and ‘poof’ was gone. It took seconds.

I didn’t scream.

I didn’t fight.

I didn’t do anything kickass at all.

As a result of my inertia I am equally as annoyed with the thief (may he have a shitty Christmas) as I am with myself. I should have done something. Not sat there stricken dumb.

And there are the waves of self-recrimination.

What if I had another cup of tea before leaving the house?

What if I had taken the earlier off ramp?

What if I hadn’t had used Google Maps?

What if…?

Shocked panic gave way to intense rage which has simmered down into exasperation leaving me irked. I’ve never really had cause to use that word before, ‘irked’, but it seems to fit this situation quite aptly.

Dealing with the administrative aftermath was almost as taxing and traumatic as the smash and grab. I had to come to terms with the utter incomprehensible way in which our police service barely functions.

I went to a police station.

I was directed back to my cell provider for a blacklist number, which they didn’t want to give me because 3% of their revenues come from resold stolen phones.

I went back to another police station.

This time I could report it, but the forms would have to be sent in the mail to the first police station, which could take anything from 2 weeks to never.

Only then would I get a case number.

And then…

Everything is on paper. Labouriously written out by hand. Assigned a number in the big book and left to gather to duct in a filing cabinet somewhere.

How crimes are ever solved here is an utter mystery. It’s like the dark ages. Forget CSI, this is anarchy.

Not that I’m expecting anyone to solve the crime of the daylight robbery, but what if was far more serious? If a serial rapist rapes a different woman in a different neighbourhood every day, the cases will never be connected. This is because there is no national database or searchable record keeping.

And, here’s the rub. You see, even if someone programmed a simple interface where the cops could input the case data on a national scale, with searchable keywords, and even if that person went to the head of the police and gave it to them for free, it still wouldn’t be deployed because of the bureaucratic red tape, tender fraud and the fact that someone’s uncle’s cousin twice removed didn’t get the kick back.

I can’t solve this endemic problem, but I am going to take another shot at solving mine by going back to the police station this morning for another try.

I am somewhat resigned to the fact that my car will be windowless until the new year and that I will have to muddle my way through a digital world without a cellphone.

I feel better now that I’ve had a rant.

So, thanks for that.