Not Your Shoe Size

When I was still in Primary School, some of the boys enjoyed teasing me. Just usual stuff, hair pulling, insults, anything really to get a reaction. Sometimes, the teasing would cross the line and I would cry. I remember Allister in Year 5, the one with the rats tail, telling me in his mealy mouthed, spit dribbling way, to act my age, not my shoe size. Back then I was ten. My shoe size was already a size 10; I looked down at him through my tears, narrowed my eyes and said in that scathing way only primary-aged-girls to primary-aged-boys can: “I am”.

It’s a funny (peculiar) thing, to reach your forties and feel less like an adult than you did when you were a kid.

Lately I find myself wishing I had a mum who could take care of things for me.  Having tantrums when people don’t understand me. Wanting to lie in the grass and ignore the calls for dinner. Playing. Being petulant. Speaking my mind and all manner of other childish behaviours.

I feel like this chick.

Maybe it’s menopause, my early entry into the M-zone is not surprising for me, it came early for my Mum and my sister too. I certainly find the addition of hot flushes to my life to be a hair-trigger into the tanty zone.

Maybe it’s Maybelline.  Pffft.

I don’t know, but adulthood sucks sometimes, doesn’t it?  I recently took a break from Facebook, something I would never have contemplated a few years ago. Back when I was sick, Facebook was my lifeline. I love Facebook. But my inner child was stomping her foot and putting her hands over her ears.  Too. Much. Noise.

For the first time ever, we asked for a home stay student to be moved to another family. I found it so hard to do, I was broken up over the decision. It was the beginning of me realising that I am overstretched, not coping, not ‘adulting’ in the way I believe I should. You know that dream you have sometimes, where you are running and running and running, but the ground doesn’t move beneath your feet at all? Maybe that is just my recurrent nightmare, but I feel just like that. I’m running, but not getting anywhere. My voice is being whipped away by the wind. I’m overwhelmed with all the business required of me, but I don’t have the resources to meet demands.

So I have been taking these steps back, wherever I can. Maybe all women get to this point at midlife. Maybe I’m just pathetic. I look at my life and I wonder if I will ever achieve anything. I look at my kids and I wonder if I am doing a good enough job. I look at my marriage and I hope that he will love me through this season too, because I am not the woman he met all those years ago. I am changing. I am regressing into the child I feel like I am.  I see the moody ineptitude of myself and I want to run away from myself and climb a tree, stay up there until the sun goes down and someone forces me inside for a meal cooked by someone else, followed by bed.

My shoe size is now an 11.
But in European sizing, I’m a 42.  My exact age.  
It makes me smile a bit to think that I truly am acting my age, and my shoe size. Either way you look at it.

Are you finding yourself hanging out a lot with your inner sole (soul) too?!

My Childhood in 5 tracks.

I’ve been thinking about what a gift music is.  I am not musical (it’s a tragic genetic mistake), but oh, I love music!  I can trace my memories by the music that I was listening to.  We were discouraged from listening to most secular music. I remember my delight when my Dad bought me a walkman with a built in radio when I was 11.  It was my covert ticket to the American Top Forty.  I had some tapes I was allowed to play (Amy Grant, Michael W.Smith, and Silverwind) but I wasn’t supposed to listen to the radio station. We only had one local radio station, so I would lie in my bed after lights out, looking out through the flyscreened louvre windows into the dark night.  Really FEELING the music on Kalang FM, you know? It was music of every genre which is maybe why I have such eclectic taste in music now.

I thought I would take myself on a tour of five most memorable tracks from my early years.  Want to come along?

I grew up in one of those happy clappy churches.  We took our sleeping bags to the night services and I’d fall asleep stretched out under the pews. I remember the sound of my Mum singing Scripture in Song choruses as she moved about the house.  We had a record player with lots of gospel records.  Like George Beverley Shea and Pat Boone.  My favourite was a singer called Evie.  I thought she was the prettiest thing ever, sitting in a field of daisies.  She sang lots of uplifting country gospel songs.  Listening to her music again, I can see where my early country music love came from.  Here she is singing “I’m only four feet eleven but I’m goin’ to heaven”.  All blonde pageboy seventies cuteness.

My big sister loved ABBA.  I think she had a poster on the wall and I ruined it by vomiting on it from the top bunk one night.  It wasn’t on purpose, honest!  I still love ABBA, in the way you admire the things that you know ‘belong’ to your older siblings. When I was teaching I used ‘Mamma Mia’ as my packup-time-cue every afternoon.  The boys always loved to sing “Yeah, I’ve been broken hearted/ blue since the day we FARTED”  Bahaha.  Some things never get old.

When I was seven or eight, I remember my singing with my sister after lights-out, the theme song for Greatest American Hero and ‘Don’t You Want Me Baby’ by Human League. This was an early influencer of my Sindy doll game plot lines.  I was convinced that the best pathway to love was for the girl to be a waitress in a cocktail bar.  Hello eighties synth pop.  Maybe this is why Mum and Dad wanted to have a say over what I was listening to.

My best friend Nikki had a tape she got back in Australia at the end of 1984.  It had the Axel Foley theme song on it, and this hugely evocative song (for me), Together in Electric Dreams.  
 I remember her lime green chenille bedspread, lying on our tummies and organising her collection of erasers.  They had sniffy flavours like grape and tutti frutti.  We would split our time between rollerskating, swimming, Sindy dolls, sucking on frozen green cordial and listening to her cassette tapes.  Ah, good times.  It was at her place, in a makeshift hut we erected, that I read the book ‘Where Did I Come From?’.  It was a disturbing book all about the birds and the bees and I will never be able to look a rotund cartoon man in the eye ever again! Those years being Nikki’s best friend were some of my favourite from my whole life.  
I miss you Nikki.

We went on an epic trip as a family at the end of 1986, winding our way up the Big Sur in a station wagon.  Dad had a thing for what we called trucker music.  My bro and I still sing Roger Whittaker’s ‘I’ve gotta leave ol’ Durham Town’ for a laugh.  ‘Trailer for Rent’ reminds me of these times too.  I saw Yosemite National Park from the drop down back seat in the boot of the car.   And then I was a high school girl.  Already six foot tall and going to my first school social under the Year 7 block.  Wrapping my arms around Michael Francis for my first ever slow dance.  I Just Died In Your Arms Tonight by the Cutting Crew. I was all hormones and idealism. I was 12 and he was 18, but I couldn’t understand why that caused such a fuss. I was to learn. But that is another story for another time.  😉

And then, boarding school.  Sinead O’Connor, Tracey Chapman, 1927.  RAGE on the common room TV.  I had my own stereo tape player with a speed dub function.  I was living the high life!  And there was ‘serious’ young love. Shaun Welsh played me Richard Marx, LOUD, from someone else’s boom box in the Bell Tower. Right Here Waiting for You. It was a grand romantic gesture. Breaking my adolescent heart with the torment of his own.  And then there was Roxette, It Must Have Been Love.  I shared a dorm with fans of Guns n’Roses, Metallica, Jon Bon Jovi and Janis Ian.  I watched the movie ‘Beaches’. I discovered Bette Midler. Barbra Streisand. These years were the years of heartache and homesickness.  I remember the smell of the boarding house, the flat ham sandwiches and pink afternoon tea cake, bruised apples and gingham table cloths.  Licorice, my secret horse.  Anthony Rees playing the piano and nights in the common room, hanging out. Semeka Walshe’s beautiful shoes with covered leather buttons.  Knox city, public transport, rat dissections and learning to smoke.  Alice, Tracey, Julia, our Fijian princesses.  Being a disappointment to my brother, but knowing he loved me just the same. Aw. Big years.

I never hear the music of these early years without being instantly transported.  It’s strange, the way music can do that.  Time warp you right back to where you were, the sights, sounds, smells.  They all seem attached to the music for me.  This year for my birthday, I am asking the hubster for a ‘mixed tape’ CD.  Forty tracks for forty years.
Here is the playlist:

ABBA -One of UsThe Carpenters -The(7)

What songs were the soundtrack of your young years?  Got some old favourites?  I’ve been listening to mine on youtube today.  It’s taken me back. If you’ve got a minute, why not go there and type some of your old favourites in?  It’s as good as a time travel holiday.

What will you be typing in to the search box?  Where will you go to today?  I’d love to know what your favourite songs are…

North of Normal

Book Review

Last time I was in my favourite bookshop, this book insisted on coming home with me.  The title intrigued me but the subtitle even more so.

I didn’t have a wilderness childhood, but I could see that Cea and I already had a few things in common.  It looked like a memoir I wanted to read.  I do like a good memoir… I wasn’t disappointed.  A good book to me is always evidenced by how much I need to keep reading it.  If I am frustrated by the interruptions life imposes on my reading, it’s a good book.  If I have devoured it within days, it’s a good book.  Cea’s memoir of her unique, fascinating and disturbing childhood is definitely, a good book.  She writes well and her story is un-put-down-able.  I couldn’t get enough.

Years ago, back during my own left-of-centre childhood, my brother used to wear a T-shirt with
“ARE YOU NORMAL?” emblazoned across the front.  I loved that t-shirt.  We were missionary kids, we were nomadic, we were often the new kids at school: feeling ‘normal’ was out of the question.  I attended thirteen schools, so being different was the only normality I knew.
Small wonder the title of this book called to me.

I found a lot in there to relate to.  And some things that blew my mind.  Far out man.

Cea Sunrise Person belonged to a hippy family who followed their convictions out into the Yukon wilderness.  Their lives were unusual, their boundaries flexible.  Things that most people would consider strange, were part of daily normality for them.  Cea grew up living in a tipi, with no running water, electricity or modern conveniences.  She was the only child in a family of grown children and two grandparents.  Every summer, they hosted visitors who had come to learn their way of life. They lived without convention, wore clothes only when the weather made it necessary.  Drugs and free love were by products of their lifestyle.  For Cea, her early childhood was the only normal she knew.  When she was around 5 her mother embarked on a new relationship and they left their wilderness home.  By default, Cea was forced to live the life of a homeless wanderer.

Her journey through childhood and early adulthood is a tale of overcoming.  She is testament to the power of measured, thoughtful self-analysis… and courage.  Her victory over her circumstances and arrival in a place of wholeness and contentment is inspirational.  I thoroughly enjoyed reading about how she triumphed in spite of the difficulties life placed in her way.  It’s no ordinary “I overcame” story.
She’s no ordinary person.
She’s Cea Person, and I recommend her memoir.

And how is this for an opening paragraph:

I rolled over in bed, reaching for the warmth of my mother under the bearskin blanket.  She wrapped her arms around me, and I pulled Suzie doll into my chest so we were three spoons.  The birds were just starting to call.  Through the tipi poles above, I could see a patch of lightening sky.  Any moment now, our canvas walls would begin to turn from gray to orange.  It was the time of day I liked best, because it was the start of everything…

This song seems like the perfect accompaniment for this book.  It puts me in mind of all the idealistic hippies who looked for utopia and found something less.  And there is something in the sweetness of these two that puts me in mind of little Cea, lost in the wilderness of her family’s creation.  Here’s to all lost little girls, wherever they may be.  May they find their way.