Sunday, July 25, 2010

A tissue, a tissue...

After spending my life being somewhat stoic, I am rather surprised to have found myself turning lately into a huge sook. Where I once only cried at the really big things, like death and divorce and having the country run by people like Tony Abbott - now I well up for just about anything. For example last night I got all teary watching the final five minutes of The Bee Movie, despite the following:
1. I hadn't even watched the start of The Bee Movie, or the middle, or anything except the last five minutes,
2. I don't particularly like either Jerry Seinfeld or Renee Zellweger, and
3. What I saw was pretty damn daft (Bees landing an aircraft? I don't think so).

But that was nothing compared to last week, when F19, F15 and I curled up on the couch to watch a movie called Hachiko. Now at the time I was something of a captive audience as I'd been up since 3.30am and was therefore sort of cemented in place by sheer exhaustion. So what's the best type of movie to watch when one's eyes feel like a Bedouin campsite? A sad one of course, and take it from me, they don't come any sadder than bloody Hachiko. I was already welling up by the time Richard Gere dropped dead, and as the movie slowly worked its way through the next decade while the dog waited patiently at the railway station for his master to come home, I slowly but surely became a blubbering mess. But the fact is that Hachiko only represents the extreme of what brings me to tears nowadays. Instead it seems that I tear up over almost anything: happy, sad, even damn imaginary. I mean is it normal to cry when Homer Simpson goes out on a limb for Lisa?
It wouldn't be so bad if all these tears were flattering, with dewy eyes ever-so-slightly glistening with sensitivity, perhaps with a single tear trickling gracefully down one cheek. Instead of instantly giving me squinty red piggy eyes that just make me look like I'm auditioning for the occult. Looking on the bright side however (which my squinty eyes can only just make out), I was somewhat cheered by a recent discussion group where it emerged that I am by no means alone. It seems that many middle-aged women are in a similar situation. Crying at things that once wouldn't have rated a faint glisten. And I have to admit that made me feel a whole lot better - proving that not only am I a sook, but misery really does love company.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Empty nests - fact, fiction or fantasy?

This time last year I was watching my sanity slowly drain away beneath the trials and tribulations of a full house (which, believe me, is only rewarding with poker). It seemed everywhere I turned there were offspring, or friends of offspring, or the assorted belongings of offspring. The latter of which was spread throughout the house as if each one was marking their territory (or, in this case, my territory). Along with several mostly incontinent pets and the odd uninvited rodent. Then the eldest of the offspring (let's call him Yo-yo) changed university courses and promptly moved overseas (i.e. Tasmania) and, a few months later, his younger sister (F19) moved in with friends. By February this year it was just me and the youngest (F15) and... well, it was bliss. Minimal mess, minimal arguments, minimal everything. Two down, I thought smugly, and one to go.
Then I made my big mistake. I started planning what to do with all this spare space. Perhaps I could move the exercise bike and treadmill into the smaller room and turn it into a gym? How wonderfully motivating! What about refurbishing the other room and actually having an official spare room, complete with matching linen and an antique jug/basin set? How practical! How neat! Or what about a meditation room? A bedroom for the dog? Maybe even a present-wrapping room? How incredibly useful (especially at Christmas [seriously - imagine it]). I could go on, but you get the point - the delightfully decadent possibilities seemed endless. I should have known better.
First back was F19, who arrived with a carload of belongings and a rather sour disposition (courtesy of the fact that she didn't really want to be here either). Within weeks she had carpeted the larger of the spare rooms with detritus and I was left to cling to the possibilities inherent in the smaller room. Then I went on a week's holiday to Tasmania, arriving back on Sunday evening (to discover I had left my headlights on in the long-term carpark) and being followed almost immediately by Yo-yo, who made a lightening decision to move back to Melbourne and managed to change his university course, pack all his belongings and organise flights etc within twenty-four hours. I didn't even know he was capable of such productivity.
Don't misunderstand me - I'm very fond of all three of my offspring. But it's just that they seem to need me more when they live here. Other people tell me how hard-working they are, or companionable, or intuitive, or nicely-mannered - but when they're here they simply become lumps with optional attachments, such as ipods, and laptops and mobile phones. My lounge-room becomes a jungle of electrical cords and chargers and power-boards and people's legs - the latter of which always seem to number more than they should. And they stay up till the early hours, and then expect to sleep in - or rise at the crack of dawn and converse in stage whispers that would be audible in the next suburb across. While food disappears into some type of vortex, never to be seen again; leaving the cupboards bare no matter how many times I go shopping. Which makes an ironic contrast to all the things that remain full - like the washing machine, our data allowance, even the proverbial kitchen sink. And don't get me started on my bills.
Empty nest syndrome? I wish. Now I lie in bed and spend my time calculating whether I can afford a second mortgage - then I could just shift out and leave them to it. As long as my new place has just the one bedroom. Because spare rooms and gyms and present-wrapping rooms are all very handy - but why tempt fate?

Sunday, July 4, 2010

And they're off...

Those who followed my last blog ( will be aware that this year was to be my big Kokoda challenge (aka my very own midlife crisis), and that everything fell into a heap - including me - when I injured my knee. Well, on Thursday I headed out to Tullamarine airport at 4.15am (yes, I know) to say goodbye to all those who weren't sidelined by injury which, in the end, was less than half. That's right, out of the original nine who signed up for this adventure of a lifetime, five developed health issues (mainly foot and leg related, which makes us seem pretty pathetic given a guy without legs at all managed to do the trek a few months ago!). Ironically I said at the outside that a few would probably fall by the proverbial wayside but (a) I never expected so many, and (b) I never expected one to be me. For starters, I've never been overly fond of waysides. Not only are they usually rather boring, but you're more likely to be hit by a truck.

<- The intrepid trekkers and the ones who got away ->

(interesting to see that those on the right look considerably more relaxed)

There were some tears and hearty back-clapping amongst the 'wish you were coming too' and 'hey, thanks for talking me into this' stuff (the latter with a dollop of wholly unnecessary sarcasm), and then we rejects retired to a lovely little cafe in Brunswick to eat a hearty breakfast (I had an omelette with Gruyere cheese, portobello mushrooms and chives - which almost made up for not having gone). And while there we made plans for our 'next' adventure, which may well be Vietnam in 2011. But this time we're winding back the challenge part of things (particularly the uphill/downhill stuff), and upping the shopping/massaging/alcohol bit at the end. If there's one thing I've learnt from this whole debacle it's that, at our time of life, it's vital to include balance.