People Peeping?

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A few days ago I was waiting for my student who was meeting with me for the first time. We had arranged to meet in front of the local library.  It was a glorious day – made all the more special after a week of relentless rain.

I was early as I am ‘painfully punctual’.  I tag that for myself as I must not be late and the annoying flip side is that I am impatient with others who are tardy!  On this occasion I was very content to sit in the beautiful gardens encasing the library, simply enjoying the breeze and the early morning activity between the gallery, park and library.

I left my phone at home.

I could not submerge myself into facebook, messenger, texts, google, duolingo (Spanish) or any number of gathered apps.  Mind you, I usually don’t pull out my phone when I am in a situation of waiting.  I like to enjoy the to and fro of my surroundings although I do resort to my phone if kept waiting too long.  Mainly in anticipation of an explanation!

On this morning though, at a perfectly civil time of the day in an absolutely normal waiting place – I noticed that the overall reaction to my sitting and looking out and around was – discomfort.

There were others in proximity – and you have guessed where this is going – they were all disengaged from the trees shading us, the shine of the sun which always seems brighter when missing for days on end, the softness of the air, the birdsong and the passing of workers, shoppers, students, toddlers, parents and people – a steady interesting stream of them.  For a host of reasons on that stunning morning in a pretty town square, everyone else in the near vicinity poised in a position of waiting or taking pause – were all fully invested in their devices.

 

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I mentioned discomfort and that is exactly the vibe I picked up more than once when a passer by mistook my lack of attention to a device as an over interest in their good self. It reminded me of other situations when not adhering to the new era of digital attendance in all situations (even walking and for goodness sakes crossing roads with real traffic – let’s hope the drivers are not on their devices too) has led to an aura of strangeness.  Do we feel compelled to look into our phones in any waiting situation so we don’t look ‘strange’?

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In a medical reception recently I was content just to wait without using my phone and had no interest in the usual out of date, cheap magazine fare.  I was ok with just sitting and waiting.  I noticed the receptionist raised her eyes to me more than once and I realized that I was making her uncomfortable because I was not following the new social norm or at the very least – the old one of flicking magazine pages.

Today it seems that connectivity is key and no doubt a whole lot of great connecting is achieved in all those ‘waiting’ situations.  There’s nothing wrong with browsing, gaming or using time wisely.  I just hope that there never comes a time when it is just not ok to just sit and wait, at least every now and then, especially when it happens to be somewhere very beautiful.

Fiction

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Done Deal

It was a difficult decision to reply to you.  In the end, my beautiful partner shared his    enduring wisdom telling me, “Perhaps this is a chance to give that broken boy a voice.”

For my part in the despicable behavior that went on between us, I am truly sorry.  I did not live my life that way before or after.  I do not think often of those terrible years but when I do, I still feel a worm of shame so deeply, it must surely be in my soul.  How could I have allowed myself to be treated so appallingly?  It was the darkest of times, ugly and hateful.

My life since then has been joyful, abundant and successful – but I have no intention of sharing my stories with you.  You were never worthy.  It is not my job to ease your guilt and yet, here I am, prepared to give you this one small memory.  I do so solely because you share a sliver of the outcome.

Take it and put me out of your thoughts forever.  I have gone, have been gone to you since that moment and I refuse to allow you to enter my life in any way.

It was a night when once again I had convinced you to come over to my place, to talk, to sort some things out, to eat together.  I was hopeful.  I was young.  I was broken and thought that only you could stop the hurt.  The apartment phone rang and it was you, calling from a phone box to say you would not be able to make it.  I recall it as though it was just a moment ago.  I held the receiver away from my ear and said calmly into the mouthpiece, “thank you for letting me know”.  I hung up before you could reply.  Before you could lie.  Before you could bruise me again and again.

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I remember thinking – at last you’d done the decent thing.  An act of deceny in the brawl and deceit that was our – whatever it was at that stage.  That simple ordinary gesture set me free.

I picked up my car keys, turned off the oven and went out to find my friends.  That night I felt unburdened for the first time in years.  I knew you would never be the person I had so wanted you to be.  I would manage.  I would get by.

That night, that amazing night, I met the wonderful person who became and remains my world.  My everything.  My real family.

Your choice and decisions are your own, as are mine.  Door closed.

I see no reason to have further contact.

You will respect my decision on that.

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Thirty, really?

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What do I know about thirty?  Well, I have a clear memory of a time when I did not know a single person over thirty aside from my parents, their relatives and friends. When I began my first job at a law firm, I was left with about thirty dollars a week after paying board to my parents (back when this was normal and you felt proud to do so) and I can clearly recall celebrating my thirtieth birthday.

I was about three months pregnant with our second child and could not zip my skirt up fully but wore it anyway as the suit jacket covered the opening.  My parents came to mind our little girl Alexandria, who would turn three shortly after her brother Harry would be born.  We were living in our first house and I was a founding teacher at the spanking new school built for our growing bayside area.  We had fabulous neighbors whom we remain friends with to this day – although we moved away, travelled the country and the wider world with my husband’s military career which demanded resilience but also delivered adventure and financial security.

We spent a year apart when he was completing officer cadet training and became engaged mid way through that year.  We had no time to enjoy selecting a ring together so I was to narrow the choice ready for his brief return so that we could have an engagement celebration at my parent’s home.  My sister and I had some fun looking and as I was set on a gold band with a solitaire diamond, the choice was quite easy.  We picked the ring up together when he was visiting me for his short leave and it was sweet and lovely – but not quite the same as looking from scratch together.

So for my thirtieth birthday I wanted to go out together and select a pretty ring which is exactly what we did.  I love my dainty bowtie ring with diamond wings and a deep blue sapphire bow.  I wore it to dinner that night which was in a refurbished lighthouse on the bay.  Celebrating my o birthdays (really they should be called zero’s I guess) have been – interesting.  My one and only birthday party was my 21st – at home, under Mum and Dad’s house with friends, a bbq and a flin flam man (yeah it was that long ago).  My other 0 birthday for 40 was spent unpacking boxes in an apartment in Jerusalem looking for the 2 minute noodles I had stashed for our – three kids by now, (Annie born two years after Harry) whilst the UN had the military Dad in East Jerusalem at a particularly good turkish restaurant.  The date was the 6th September, 2011 and we could never imagine the tragic events that would soon alter our own paths and countless others across the world.

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Sadly for my 0 birthday for 50, I was losing my father and our sweet Mum would follow just five weeks after Dad had passed.  My birthday was a deeply private affair with just my children and my sister.  Military Dad was in the middle east, had been so for the past year and was awaiting the arrival of the new commander to do the handover.  He did not make it home to spend time with my Dad, but I am forever grateful he was there for the funeral and to help with the comforting of Mum.  My parents had given me five hundred dollars and wanted me to select a gift. With my sister again, I selected a solid, silver bracelet which I was able to show to my Dad and Mum.  Seven years on, I wear it daily and feel happy and comforted to do so.

There is another 0 birthday on my horizons – a 30th for our first-born.  Thirty, really and just when did that happen?  Alexandria turns 30 on May 4, 2019.  Her due date was actually June 15 which is my mother’s birthday but Alex showed her true personality very early on, as was her birth – which was six weeks early, complicated but able to be sorted out with time in special care.  I came home without her but after two weeks we were able to experience the full joy and absolute fear of taking our first baby home.

Now here we are, happily preparing to have a small celebration of her own 0 birthday.  This is a smart young women with outstanding academic and career achievements already gained.  She is married to Greg and they have faced the excruciating loss of Greg’s Mum Julie, a beautiful soul taken way too soon, bore it together and like any of us have ridden the waves of love, loss, fun and weariness in their family.  They have two tiny dogs, (‘rats’ the military Dad calls them secretly – well, not so secret anymore) busy jobs and a house in construction.  They live happily except for each winter in the southern and yes, very chilly part of the country!

So my baby is turning 30 – do I feel old? No time for that as I have been playing at organizing her boho themed garden party (oh lord do not let it rain) and making sure she has the very best afternoon possible.  It is a blessing, a gift to be so privileged to see my ‘children’ grow up.  I know how young thirty years into the world really is and how many more wonderful and fulfilling adventures and life experiences are ahead for our daughter and those whom she loves and chooses to share her life with.  30 – oh my, what a joy to celebrate.

Happy Birthday Alpal, see you soon honey bunches.

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New Zealand

 

NZ

Why?

Senseless hatred.

Families broken, shattered.

But YOU, are nothing.

WE are STRONGER!

US! YES!

YOU will never divide.

Prayers, well-being and strength to all those impacted by the horrendous criminal acts perpetrated in Christchurch, March 2019.  May the loved ones and families find their paths again, one step – one heartbreaking step at a time.  All our thoughts and deepest hopes for coping are with all of you.  

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Naughty Little Secrets

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Let’s face it, we all have them!  A secret crush, a gross habit or those cheeky pranks pulled long ago – we all have those little deeds that we tuck away.  For the last twenty odd years I have been a devoted watcher of “Bold and the Beautiful.”  Now, that may not seem like much of a secret but there is no-one outside of my immediate family who would believe it! It started innocently enough as a young Mum when a playgroup I joined would plan the activities around the early afternoon B&B screening, which centred around the outrageous competition between Brooke and Taylor for Ridge’s ever wandering love!  I was writing my thesis at the time and secretly and smugly felt above all the soapy drama.  Look how that turned out!

I often wondered myself why I persisted with this particular soapy and came to realise that it had become somewhat of a constant in the touch and go life of a military spouse.  Just a little snip in the day that was always there regardless of the state or indeed the country we were calling home.  My kids are now adults and they love teasing me about watching B&B.  Even though it is possible to download and record pretty much anything these days – I still do it old school and plonk with a cup of tea most afternoons.  I call B&B my daily brain and booty rest.  By the way, Brook and Taylor are still at it!

I have been very good at keeping the secrets of others. There have been a few, none illegal – thank goodness! Being a confidential caretaker can take its toll.  I know I lost a dear friendship in such a role.  As time passed and relationship decisions were made, I could see that my knowing what had happened would be a hurdle and sure enough as time went on the friendship distanced and eventually ended.  That secret though, I have never shared it.

As much as we all have our little secrets, we also love to divulge them especially if we can do so anonymously.  It can be a great relief to spill the goods on ourselves in a manner that can never be traced.  It’s fun and cheeky or sometimes a way to give some air to a deep ache.

What is your naughty little secret?  Is it something funny or a cheeky revenge secret? Do you honour a secret anniversary that nobody else knows about?  Have you spilled a secret that caused havoc?

 

 

 

Where Christmas Is White

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Lost in the lovely chaos of Christmas and summer but better late than never.  I found a little time somewhere in the holiday crazy wonderfulness to write a little, but forgot to post.  I couldn’t leave it behind so here’s to a little late Christmas joy!

A white Christmas in Australia means sand between the toes! I have lived in the USA, the Middle East and in the UK and it is true that a cold, snowy Christmas or holiday season is truly exquisite for many. Steeped in traditions centered around crackling fires, delicious mulled wines, silly sweaters, beautifully lit churches, winter frolicking and snow sports, could it possibly get any better?

Well, not necessarily better – but certainly different, though still with all the joy and sparkle of celebrating family, friends and wishing to be generous and hopeful for all people.

Here in the summery southern hemisphere it’s all about the extended school holidays, beach, boating, chapel services under the stars and on the sand.  Bare feet rule! Mulled wines give way to icy champagne and cranberry cocktails and chilled beers peeping metal heads out from icy blankets!  Many of the trimmings are understandably different with an emphasis on outdoor cooking, seafood, seafood and more seafood. The retail organised chaos at the fish markets around the country claim the news headlines.

The handed down traditions from migration trails are alive and well this year and I tapped into them as I was hosting for the first time in our forever home having recently retired.  I cooked chicken on the bone resting on cranberries and basted with an orange, ginger and garlic sauce.  The potatoes were mashed with cream and parmesan and placed next to the sweet variety of spuds roasted in rosemary and garlic.

There was gravy, plenty of it – spiced with home grown herbs simmering as Paul Kelly’s, “I’ll be making gravy” blasts in the background interrupting the loop of more tradition Carols and the heavenly harmonies of ‘Na Leo’ from the Hawaiian Islands.  Cold sliced ham and a fresh take on the Caesar salad – crisp baby cos with tips dipped in homemade dressing then panko crumbs with lashings of crispy bacon and no less than a dozen fresh eggs cooked with still bright yellow yokes, gives us a hot or cold option for the day.  There has to be roasted carrots with almonds and plenty of greens tossed in butter.  We went old style with a twist and celebrated at our long table overlooking the lake. Happy days with all the kids/young adults and their partners home with us and at the table dressed in a variety of swimmers and t-shirts!  Christmas on the Sunshine Coast in Australia.  Bucket list worthy!

We started a new tradition this year.  Borrowed from a dear friend of Texan origin who spent this holiday season grieving the loss of her husband and the father of her three exceptional young wonders.  Shelly invited us to their home on Christmas Eve when we lived in Florida and we were warmly folded into their awesome long held tradition of Mexican fare for extended family and friends.  This year we used her authentic recipes and all chipped in to cook up a feast – our new tradition in honor of the good times and friendship we shared with this beautiful family.

One final mention of the boat.  Boxing day boating is a new treat for our family – new boat, new tradition.  We packed drinks and munchies and loaded up the ‘Patricia Joan’ (named for my husband’s dear Mother who passed this year) to take the whole lot of us in various groups across the Pumicestone Passage to the white sands of Bribie Island.  After such a wonderful but busy Christmas day, lolling about in the crystal waters was wonderful.  Later as we sat in the shade of the umbrellas watching our precious three and their partners playing beach cricket in the water we could not have felt more blessed.  Christmas and special holidays whether north or south of the poles are most special when shared with loved ones.

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Fiction

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Voice of Frankie

I plan to kill a rapist, a liar and a politician.  Now I imagine that you might be thinking that you have discovered the first and far too obvious twist in this tale already and that you believe that all three are one and the same person.

Well, you would be wrong.  They are indeed three individual and very distinct people.   Now why would I want to kill anyone, let alone three people?  I have a simple answer for that.

They all, deserve to die.

Two for their sins and one because he was just too fucking stupid and busy whoring himself to the media to hear the truth and lacked the intellectual capacity to read facts and be advised. Thus, the far smarter liar got away with his twisted obsession and stripped the rape victim emotionally bare and inflicted selfish pain deeper and more life changing than any physical attack.

Let’s diverge for a moment and discuss the media. Incompetent, lazy, talentless lot that they are, feeding poisonous unsubstantiated bullshit to the 24/7 frenzy.  They missed the real story.  Political interference.  Illegal release of documents.  Lies and deceit.  Absence of protocol leading to misery for the innocent and an open crack for the snake of a liar.

My God I have been patient.  But all that has changed now.  I no longer have the luxury of time. I must say though; I have not wasted the time which has been served to me. Not a moment has been squandered in the wait to see each one of these cowards delivered to the oblivion they so deserve.  Oh no, I have been exceedingly patient, but do not, for one moment interpret that as inaction on my part.

Because I have been active.

I have used the years wisely.  And it will be my right and my pleasure to see each one of them take their last filthy breath with my eyes on them.

So, what is your question, your thoughts streaming ahead of my words?

Is there an order?  Are they to be killed together?  Which one is first? Just how are they going to die?

Well of course, there is a precise order! Details, years in the making.

You don’t go about planning murder without meticulous detail, not if you intend to get away with it.  And I do intend to get away with it.  Just not in the way that you might imagine.

I will tell you this much.

There will be a suicide, a murder and an assassination. At the end of it, I intend to get exactly what I deserve.  Plans such as mine require assets.  Not just financial capital of which I have abundance. Though with regards to money I have liquidated and distributed my wealth, to the worthy.  Contacts have been crucial.  My time in the east has served me well.  An eye for an eye – they get me.

*****

The rapist was first.  I knew he would be easy, living so isolated in his self-imposed prison of guilt and shame.  Well that’s not enough.  He has to pay more than that for the lives he wrecked.  Yes, more than one victim.  Usually young and naive with inexperience.  Boys in the bodies of men. The coward certainly stalked and picked his prey.  Fitting that he shot himself with a hunting rifle.  Such an unknown and uncared for old man, no one was looking too hard into the circumstances of his not so terribly unexpected end. People knew about him all right.  Alcoholic.  Exactly why no one cared much to see him finally in the ground.  But I had him on his knees first, blubbering over his sickness and thinking I could care less about the things his own Daddy did to him. That just made him all the worse in my thinking.

The next one was my specialty and the one that kept me going when I thought I might have doubted my own reserves to see this through.  And to think that it all became possible by a chance sighting of his unforgettable wife with a curly headed boy in a south side drug store.  One simple, unplanned run of the mill moment and I had the means to have access to the liar, by far the ugliest and most dangerous of the three cowards.  If you knew how he manipulated a victim, just a boy really, but a boy on the cusp of manhood trying to make his way in the world who fell prey to a vile monster only to be manipulated for decades by the liar, intent on covering his own back.

A cunning man is a dangerous man indeed, but one that is both highly intelligent and a pathological liar, well, now that was a challenge.

She sleeps separate from him, in a back room.  I know because I acquired an exceptional drone from my contacts.  The car is kept on the driveway – helpful.  It was a cold, dark morning – perfect.  Helpful too that he was the type to spend obscene money on a bicycle and liked it to be seen.  Timing was crucial and everything went to plan.  I rolled that car down the dark drive moments after him.  Snug in my beanie and blonde wig. Lights off.  My device worth the outrageous amount I paid to override the system – easy.

Perhaps he heard the familiar engine as at the moment of impact he turned his head.  There was not a split second of hesitation, the intention to be of brutal force with his orbit high and the road landing a guarantee of the end.  My last look was planned, I wore a long black coat, black pipe jeans with ten inch heels on my boots.  She is very tall, his wife.  I rolled him over with my foot and the universe rewarded me as he opened his eyes for the last time to see me.  I bent down close – the last words he heard – gutless liar.  Do you think I went too far framing his wife?  She knew, she knew from the days before and after as he lied and manipulated others in an attempt to hide his vast shortcomings.  She can see what it is like to be wrongly accused, have ugly press.  Shake up her pathetic life.   Any half decent lawyer should get her sorted out in a relatively short time.  Had I wanted to frame her and give her a jail stint, I certainly could have.

Now the big wig, interestingly that was the easiest of all. He personifies the term ego maniac. Thoroughly obsessed with himself, he likes to give off the persona of being an everyday sort of guy.  Just one who throws lavish expensive parties for his mates and their old school friends then hides it with other government funded shows.  He is unworthy and dumb.  Old, out of shape and past his due date but his assassination will ensure the book – the real story will roar up the lists with the proceeds already tied to victim support.

I have been telling you that timing and planning are everything.  Well, ironically not for this one.  He broke from schedule.  His ego served him to me.  He drove his own car with his wife to the main mall.  Maybe he is not so stupid after all, this act was guaranteed to give him a lot of media coverage.  Just an ordinary guy giving his extraordinary visitors a little family time in his own publicly funded palace.  The coffee shop is an open space.  Way too easy, almost disappointing.  There will be some minders around but they will hesitate here in public.  I look harmless, that age where a woman begins to become invisible.  My aim is better than good and I get close enough to look him in the eye, his face open to the accolades he expects me to bestow on him.  He may live.  If he does it will be with far reaching and life shortening disabilities.  I knew where to aim.  Most likely he will die.

The media would have loved that I sat down and finished his coffee.  The adrenaline which had propelled me dissipated quickly and the weariness I felt settled in my bones.  I was surprised that my removal was not rougher.  The hundreds of phones made my exit almost regal.  I kept my head high and my eyes conveyed no remorse, no fear.

The care here is more professional than I expected. End stage cancer is not for sissies and I am doing better than I would have in the public health system.  I won’t make trial and that’s ok for every detail, document and proof has already gone to press in my book.  Dedicated to the real victims, both of them.

*****

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