(I'm not a musician.) I was taught as a child that I must not 'blow my own trumpet' as in talking about myself – especially not to say anything good about myself. I was also taught that much of what I could say about myself was nonsense and I needn't expect anyone to believe it. If I myself believed it, I must be insane. If not, I was obviously a liar. Telling my story, therefore, became a very confronting task. I am now in my late seventies, as I begin this blog, and it is only a preparation – things I write on the way to writing the memoir.

Tuesday, 30 August 2016

A Facebook Meme

(which could be expanded upon at some time)

1969:
Age then: 29 most of the year. (Birthday in November.)
Age now: 76
Relationship status then: Married to second husband, Bill Nissen.
Relationship status now: Widowed, from third husband Andrew Wade. (Have outlived the others too.)
Where I lived then: Beaumaris, Melbourne, VIC
Where I live now: Northern Rivers region, far northern NSW.
Job then: Mother of one baby, born March that year, and one pre-kindergartener born Sept.1967; foster-mother of teenager; carer of dog and cat. Voluntary work as typist for Save Our Sons (a protest movement of mothers against Australian involvement in the Vietnam War).
Job now: Light Worker. (Well rewarded.)
Was I happy then?: Too busy to notice.
Am I happy now?: Well content, with joyous moments. (Have I been happy in between? You bet!)
Kids then: See above. Two young sons, one teenage foster-son living with me, another foster-son by then living elsewhere (but we still claim each other as family).
Kids now: Adults! Including three step-children I didn’t have then. Also several step-grandchildren, mostly girls. (Current beautiful cat is not so much child as friend.)

Sunday, 21 August 2016

Looking for Ordinary

(on being asked to find a section of my life to which the word applies – and failing)


Ordinary, ordinary, ordinary, what is ordinary?

I say I love the ordinary. I say it is there that true importance resides. But when I examine my timeline for a period of life I can characterise as ordinary, there is none. No wonder I cherish the idea! 

It's in me, this lack – I have always been strange, odd, peculiar, different, out of the ordinary. It made for a lonely childhood, an awkward, self-conscious youth, and an uncomfortable adulthood. Confidence and self-acceptance only finally came with the don't-give-a-damn of age, from the late fifties on, my Crone years. 

So ordinary doesn't live in me; neither does it in the events of my life. Magical, poetical child (and youth, and adult). A family with a secret mixed-race heritage that my mother feared being known. When it was known, she had suffered for it; she didn't want that for her children. And we all looked so fair, no-one could tell. 

On the other side, a family with an obscure religion (Swedenborgian) and my father the rebel free-thinker from an early age. Seven children brought up on a tiny island, educated by reading, home-schooled so well that when I was a schoolgirl, my friends assumed my Dad was a University graduate. 

But his family was dirt-poor, and his father a charming alcoholic. It was my strong-minded Grandma who did the teaching. (I have a moment of realising that my own inner determination probably comes from her.) My Dad left school at 14. He had his father's charm (so did my brother) and became a good car salesman. By which I don't mean a shonky one. He loved cars and driving, and was able to impart that to customers and make sure they got what suited them. I guess there's a touch of ordinary – an ordinary job.

And my mother might have seemed like an ordinary housewife. She cooked and cleaned and had afternoon tea with her neighbour wives. But her background hid not only the racial mix (Anglo-Indian) but also bastardry. Daughter of an Anglo-Indian mother – my darling Nana, great love of my earliest years; and great loss, dying when I was only four – and an unknown grandfather, whom much was known of: Scottish, army bureaucrat, with the pointed ears my brother has, and whom we must thank for the fair skin. 

Our cousins, descended from different grandfathers, were fairly dark. My brother said once, after we were grown and knew the truth, about a photo of our cousin Richard with his work-mates: 'There were all these Aussie blokes with this Indian in the middle of them.' (But we couldn't have said that to Richard. Aunty Franki, his mother, my Mum's younger sister, always said the true stories Mum finally told us – which documents, photos, and other extended-family memories bear out – were 'a lot of rubbish'. And never mind their shining black hair, deep brown eyes, and sallow skin.) 

No ordinary adolescence for me, either, alternating between parents; and between Wicked Stepmother and Rich Stepfather. (Well, he seemed rich. Now I'd call it very comfortable. And he was kind.) 

As I got older, and all through life: unusual, even bizarre relationships – with men a lot older, or a lot younger; with unconventional men; with daring, adventurous men. Not the doctors and lawyers, dentists or accountants my elders would have liked me to love. (Oh, how those safe men bored me!) 

A life of jumping sideways. Yes, I did (after a false start) get the well-to-do husband, the nice house in a good suburb, the lovely kids. So long as you didn't look too closely. I did get the university degree – during which, at least I met a few others who didn't fit in. I got the excellent career and rapid advancement – until I threw it away to write poetry full time instead. 

Oh, and there was the nervous breakdown, the two divorces, the eventual widowhood. There were the explorations into personal development and esoterics. The foster-children and the steps. The sister who died when her house burnt down. The son whom I still can hardly bear to mention. 

Ordinary? Everyday? Normal? I can't find a slice of my life that's like that. 

But I start to see that 'ordinary', if not in the main events, is always there in the details. Those are the things I most love to remember about my years with Andrew, husband number three, who died four years ago. 

Yes, I love to recall our adventures in Peru, Italy, Scotland, Nepal ... but, yet more, I cherish moments in front of the telly, or cooking or shopping, playing with our cats, going for walks, reading and eating in bed. 

I cast my mind back, and find this thread of 'ordinary' through all my life. Does anyone live an ordinary life? Maybe for a day or week, surely no longer. But we all have a background of those customary details.

Driving the kids to school. Taking them and some of their team-mates to weekend basketball matches. Eating in the kitchen. Birthday parties with candles in the cake. Watching them grow out of their clothes. Listening to their homework. 

And now, little old widow lady with her cat, putting the washing in the machine, hanging it out on the folding clothesline. Remembering the long lines of wire the length of our backyard lawn when I was a child, propped up by big wooden sticks with forked ends. And the clothes boiled in the copper, fed through the mangle, and finally hung with wooden pegs. All that was ordinary then; normal. And many things I do are ordinary now. 

It's an ordinary Sunday here in suburban Australia. Quiet, almost somnolent except for some neighbouring radios. In younger suburbs there would be lawnmowers blaring, as fathers do the weekend jobs. Here, we are mostly elderly. That stuff happens during the week; we hire men to do it. In all the outward ways, I suppose, I am living an ordinary life.

My wild adventures now are private, unseen by the everyday world. The neighbours see me empty my mailbox, bring in my shopping from the car; sometimes they see me weeding or hosing my plants. My closest friends are aware of the witchy rituals in the back yard at full moon, the energy healing and psychic mediumship; even, some, my indoor altars and the offerings I have on my windowsill for the nature spirits. 

Only my fellow poets can glimpse the wild excitement of choosing words, crafting them. Only my fellow mystics understand the journeys into non-earthly realms, as well as deep penetrations into earthly lives not human. 

I cherish the ordinary – the alive, earthed, cosy, workaday moments; the continuity of an everyday human life. I realise I also cherish all that in earlier days I so often tried to run away from – the light that shines from all things, the beings who guard and guide me, the adventures of mind and heart, the being here. The being here.