Laundry

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Yesterday’s clothes lie in limp dejection on the floor

Coated in the myriad stale scents of life

If only I could shed my skin with such cavalier ease

I’d put it in the wash and hang it in the breeze

Iron out the wrinkles and bleach away the stains

When I put it on again it’ll be several times smaller

And I’ll wiggle and breathe in deep to close the zipper

For a short while I’ll look brand new

Until the signs of wear and tear appear

Because you can’t hide forever from the truth

Choking on our Cosmopolitans

Cosmopolitan cocktail with lemon garnish

When I started this blog, it was sort of a twisted therapy.

My version of a letter in a bottle.

A way of releasing all the words that bottled up inside me and setting them free in an act of catharsis.

I’ve been silent here for a while. I’ve had to be.

The borders between real and virtual blurred somewhere along the line.

I have to worry about what the people I know in the real world will think when they read my words.

What they’ll see that they don’t want to, that I don’t want them to.

I have to find this new voice – a sort of happy pretend voice.

In the meantime I can’t shove letters into empty bottles and trust the tide to wash them away anymore.

Honesty is a trait we all say we value, but the truth is, that honesty scares us stupid.

Sometimes, coating it in sugar candy is the only way to help it go down.

Even then, we don’t really like the thinly disguised bitter taste.

It makes us choke on our Cosmopolitans.

Do I really want to know?

eye

Do I really want to know?

Or just keep my eyes closed

And choke on the questions

 

Do I really want to know?

When the answers will shatter

Every window in my world

 

Do I really want to know?

The truth

 

I don’t know

 

Maybe the nightmares

Are better

Maybe the pain

Is less

 

When you have nothing left

To lose or to give

Does it even matter?

Which end of the rope

You tie into the loop

You place so gently around my neck

And tighten

Until there’s no space left to breathe

No voice left to call out for help

No tears left to cry

No helpful arrow

Pointing to the door

No way out

 

How you could you leave me here?

In the dark

All alone

And turn your head

And just walk away

 

If I’d kept my mouth shut

Or closed my eyes

Could we have pretended for a little longer

That everything was perfect

Is this what you wanted?

To watch me break

Does it make you happy?

To know you’ve destroyed

The best part of me

And left me nothing

To salvage

To rebuild

 

Treading water

Counting sheep

Holding on

Hoping for a rescue

A white knight on charger

And a golden sunset

And a happy ever after

 

More fool me

No, more fool you

Attack of the Ninja

 

Ninja are a vital ingredient for success. Just look at the movies – even Jane Austin has some ninja moves. Alright, I may be stretching the truth a bit there, but even then, Ninjas are everywhere.

In their efforts to become Ninja, my children attend karate twice a week, led by a Sensei who rates shortly below God in their esteem. Only too often I have been threatened with the wrath of Sensei should I not provide ice-cream after dinner.

Arriving for collection I noticed the Sensei had his arm in a sling. Asking the eager young Senpeis what was the cause, I was told the following:

Small boy 1: “It was amazing! He took on 10 Ninja who crawled out from under his bed!”

Small boy 2: “No, it wasn’t, 23 Ninja attacked him in the bathroom!”

Small boy 3: “That’s not true. It was 36 Ninja and he defeated every single one!”

That sounded pretty cool. The unadorned truth wasn’t nearly so interesting. He had an operation on a tendon in his shoulder.

I looked at him in piteous contempt.

“Sensei,” I said, “I think you should stick to the boys’ story instead.”

He replied ruefully, “It is no good telling them the truth, you know, they don’t think it is interesting enough”.

Point taken, although he was absurdly flattered that they believe absolutely he could take on an army of Ninja and remain standing. As would I.

Which brings me to question: What is the plural of Ninja? I have assumed they are like sheep only in black and slightly more vicious.

The Strait Jacket and the Spray Gun

When you are losing your mind when all around you are keeping theirs, it is very irritating to have someone tell you that truth. It hurts less when it comes from your mother, although knowing that everyone else was thinking it is hard to bear.

Mother: “Darling, I’ve been reading your blog.”
Me: “Oh.”
Mother: “I know you’ve had a hard week, but have you been taking your anti-anxiety pills?”
Me: “Um…”

Bugger. I hate it when she’s right. I had run out of both the anti-anxiety pills and more importantly my Eltroxin. The thing is when I’m taking the stupid stuff I feel fine and forget why I’m taking them in the first place. For some reason unknown to medical science my thyroid ate itself a few years back and I have to take hormone replacements. Without them I pass out, become irrational and believe completely that I am sane and it is everyone else who is nuts. That’s why we have mothers – to remind us that sometime is not them, but you.

Hard truths don’t only fall to mothers. On a lightning trip back to these sunny shores from San Francisco to get married, my beloved father met me at the airport. Let’s bear in mind that as far as he is concerned I am the most beautiful, perfect being on the face of the earth. Whether I am or not is debatable, but he and I are allowed to think the other is perfect.

After 3 months of American supersized portions I was not as sleek and svelte as I was on leaving. My dad gave me a huge bear hug and then said gently, “My angel. You’re looking a little… podgy.” I spent the two weeks prior to walking down the aisle living on apple juice and spending about 3 hours a day in the gym. It was a truth only my father could have told me. Coming from anyone else it would have resulted in a total destruction of self-esteem and a possible cancellation of my wedding.

Truth comes from all shapes and sizes. One came from my son this afternoon. I was trying to master the art of the spray gun with mixed success when my mother called:

Small boy aged 9: “Mom! Granny’s on the phone.”
Mom: “Tell her I’ll call her back, I’m painting.”
Small boy aged 9 to Granny: “She’ll have to call you back she’s painting herself.”
Granny: “Sorry, is she painting the wall or herself?”
Small boy aged 9: “Both. About the same amount of paint is going on her as on the wall.”

From the mouths of babes.

Noddy and the Ninja

Once upon a time I dreamt of being a concert pianist. It was short lived dream. Its short lifespan was largely due to a fierce and terrifying Yugoslavian piano teacher. I was 5 and she spoke little English. We hated each other on sight.

My little fingers wouldn’t stretch to reach the keys and my feet dangled helplessly inches above the pedals. She would yell at me in her home language and swat my icy blue fingers. I did the only thing I thought I could. I stopped going to her lessons.

The charade went on until parent-teacher day when I had hoped my parents would give the witch a miss. They didn’t. I cowered behind the legs of a piano in a rehearsal room dreading the confrontation. Instead my mother emerged in tears, my father looking grim. They didn’t care that I hated piano lessons. They cared that I didn’t tell them how much I hated them or that the teacher terrified me witless. I learnt a valuable lesson that day.

Today I learnt another one. The karate Sensei informed us that our son has not been attending his lessons. This was troubling. Karate has always been a favourite of his and his non-appearance was a matter of concern. Even more so was the fact that when I casually asked him if he went to karate today he answered in the affirmative.

We then began a general conversation about truth and lies.
Me: “Can anyone tell me what a lie is?”
Small boy aged 6: “A lie is when you don’t tell the truth.”
Me: “Great, and are lies good or bad?”
Small girl aged 5: “Bad.”
Me: “Why are they bad?”
Small boy aged 6: “Because you can be found out?”

I guess so. Pretty decent reasoning, if not quite the answer I was going for.

Me: “Why do people lie?”
Small boy aged 9: “Because they want to fit in.”

That’s a pretty insightful answer.

The conversation also garnered other reasons:
• Because they are scared
• Because they don’t want to do something
• Because they don’t want to let someone down
• Because they know they have done something bad

This is when I came in for the kill.

Me: “So, I am going to ask you a question, will you tell me the truth?”
Small boy aged 9: “Yes.”
Me: “Did you go to karate today?”
Small boy aged 9: “Yes.”
Me: “I am going to ask you again. I know the answer; I want you to tell me the truth. Did you go to karate today?”
Small boy aged 9 quietly, “No.”
Me: “Why?”
Small boy aged 9: “I got distracted.”

ARGH! Small boys can get distracted by a bee buzzing past them, but try and distract them from a game of soccer or an episode of Phineas and Ferb and they showed remarkable powers of focus and selective hearing. I once took both of them to have their ears tested, labouring under the fear that both boys were hard of hearing, 800 bucks each later I was informed that their hearing was fine and their selective hearing highly developed. Thanks for that.

At least I managed to ascertain that he still loves karate, but that he needs to carry a loud and annoying alarm clock. He also learnt that parents are strange and sneaky beings who know stuff. Both boys have to go to the Sensei on Monday and apologise. The Sensei will then pronounce his judgement, which may well be exclusion from grading this term… or perhaps 100 push-ups. I love the push-ups as a disciplinary action. I use them often. My boys will be very fit by the time they get to 18.

I am very proud of myself and the way I approached this situation. I think I deserve a Noddy badge. I didn’t raise my voice. I didn’t get angry. I engaged and asked them to come to their own conclusion. I think I did pretty well. Of course, the next time he skips karate will be a different story. Them I’m going Ninja on his ass and he’ll see the value in knowing how to protect yourself from one seriously pissed off female. It’s a life lesson.