Completed in Kaustinen.

I have been very lucky in life, I’ve had parents, grandparents, aunties, uncles and siblings who love me, who wanted the best for me and supported me when it was hard. But I never knew who I was really until recently.
I have always needed to know my ancestry, where I came from. Growing up in Australia, I always felt impermanent, transitory, temporary. Never with a sense of self beyond my situation. I had white skin that wouldn’t tan, a face that never fit, but an attitude that did. There was something missing. I was however, willing to be patient to find it. And I have.
After years (many) I finally got to meet my father in Finland. He left it twice, once at 3 and again at 9. His little brother was born on a boat to Australia. I Am a daughter of first generation immigrants. I can’t ever properly appreciate how difficult it was for my Grandparents and their children coming from Finland to Australia, but now I understand and have some scope to consider the differences and trials they really had to face in their new world.
I finally met the hole in my life. The gaping, unspoken chasm always inside me. I met my family. I had no expectations, other than to do meet and greets. What I found was much more than this. I found an innate understanding of the climate and landscape, as if it were the trees I never left. The streams to rivers I always found familiar and the sky, which seemed so large it made my heart ache. But the people. The people. My family. Something we reclaimed. It’s beyond words, their warmth, their familiarity that should have been strangeness, the food. Much food. Family is food and togetherness. I felt whole. I can’t speak or understand Finnish anymore, and it’s a regret I’ve held forever. It has also made my relationships very difficult with my Mummu and Vaari which has always been a sadness to me but, there’s always joy to come of sadness. I met my family. They love me and I equally love them. And although our time was short, leaving them at the airport I was filled with the same sadness of separation I’ve endured with my mother’s family. I knew I’d left home. I cried at the landscape through a plane window, I couldn’t control it. No matter what my parents, siblings, aunties and uncles would have me endure, no mind the torrent of nonsense that befalls us, I will always have Finland and Australia in my heart, and I will always be home.

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September 6, 2013. Tags: , , , . amusements, annoyances, Philosophies, Ponderings, Uncategorized. Leave a comment.

Today: My One Love.

Bumbfluff

Sappy Post Alert, Fluffers.

On the eve of a very important day I was reading my journal marked August 28th 1999 and I wanted to share with you a few things. A very public letter from a private past.

I have been in love three times in my life. These are the big ones, the core-shakers and king makers.

Number One:

When I was 14, a rosy-cheeked boy arrived at my school from another state. Fresh blood was always well received in our town and my friends and I (especially the girls) wasted no time in befriending him. I’ll skip out the usual filling of this story, charting the emotional turmoil high school can bring and with it the expected unrequited crushes and fancies, and just get down to what I remember most about this person.

Over the four years of being teenage friends, I fell in love with a…

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June 4, 2013. Uncategorized. Leave a comment.

Why I love Disney and learned to stop worrying about feminism.

There has been a lot of worry I’ve heard recently surrounding female Disney characters, Disney in general and what each teaches children. I’ve have listened to all arguments thoughtfully and I have decided to post this, not as a counter-argument, but as a recollection of my 8 year old self.

Disney delivered unto me a knowledge of myself, an aspiration for my talents and the ability to feel, yearn for and taste independence.

Most importantly, Disney made me love music. Deeply. It’s a life-long gift that I can’t describe the value of, will never be able to accurately articulate and still even the sound of it reminds me of how big the world could feel (in a positive way) and how much of it I thought was up for the taking. It may even be 80% of the reason I yearned to move to an international city. And all this for (at the time) $6.50.

When I was 8 years old, I walked out of the Hyperdome shopping centre in Brisbane (on holiday from a much smaller town) and felt as large as the world itself. I can still remember that feeling. My lungs were full of something other than air, my heart pounded and i felt like a ship surpassing the need for an ocean. I had just been to see The Little Mermaid.

I haven’t really kept up with many of the films since about the Lion King/Pocahontas, but The Little Mermaid grew like a crystal in me over the following years. It’s a story about a young girl in a strong patriarchal kingdom with an incredible talent that is willing to give it all away for a day of something different, for even a breath of independence. The longing for a different world was born. It helped that the female characters were writ large, and the songs amazing. Animated costumes entirely tertiary to the point.

I must highlight that I feel absolutely no different now, on recollection, to the day I saw it, the only difference being that I have a slightly more descriptive vocabulary and spacial awareness at 30.

There is one song that defines my seed of girlhood/womanhood/whatever the hell you’d like to describe it as, and ‘Part of Your World’ encapsulates many of the opinions in the paradigm I hold to today. The point of the music where my heart surges still is when Ariel sings about her appreciation of foreign items and terms and longs to be ‘out of the sea’, but particularly her desire to elevate herself:

‘Betcha on land, they understand, bet they don’t reprimand their daughters; Bright young women, sick of swimmin’, ready to stand.’

That vocal crescendo has made me feel the same way ever since. The dreams I’ve chased, the geography I’ve crossed, the regrets I have for not doing things I should have, the life and equality I believe I both deserve and receive are due to that particular line. If your character could possibly be defined by one line, then that may be mine.

I have Alan Menken to thank for this. My love of musical theatre was born that day. I’ll remember it for life. I won’t probably remember Ariel’s sexuality, her assumed need to escape the long lost cultural paradigm of patriarchal society (I never grew up feeling it existed) or her desire to date a two-legged, forgotten-named handsome prince, but I will remember her voice (Jodi Benson) and the power given to her to choose how to use it. That’s true feminism to me. Delivered by Disney.

March 30, 2013. Tags: , , , , , , , , . Philosophies. Leave a comment.

The time of my life.

I divide my life into a series of moments. Those that think the entire situation is the key do not know me. I grew up in a family that were taught to accept and value people for who they are. We live in a world full of messages, full of emotion, where we’re told it’s ‘okay to be who we are’. It’s one thing to hope that and quite another to live it. We all enjoy colloquialisms, puns and puerile fancies, but…there will be people that won’t accept you for these qualities. But, it’s okay. It does get better. When you decide what you will survive and what you won’t, you have a choice. You can let other people know where you stand when you feel they have crossed your line. Or worse, you will have to put up with the indifference they have shown the people you love. It is up to you. But know that the attitude pervades and affects those that find it suffocating to even contemplate being themselves. If you knew what that felt like, you wouldn’t do it, so spare a thought for those who do. The moments they experience, like yours and mine, are exactly the same as the short, human experience allows. Don’t waste it. We all are deserved of love.

April 15, 2012. Tags: , , , , , , . Philosophies. 1 comment.

The Horror.

So, imagine you’re at a work do. You’ve caught up on drinks after your participation in the event is over. Everyone else is way ahead of you. There’s that guy on your floor who has been on your ‘list of things to do’ for a while and you’ve finally got around to it.
There are a gazillion reasons not to but you ignore them and take them home.
It’s all fine, not the horror story that could have happened lying down after your guest has drunk 10 pints of dry cider (just one of those gazillion reasons it was probably a bad idea) but you think, ‘hey, I’m a modern woman, I’m allowed’. The brilliance of the story is the punchline payback for all those reasons I didn’t compute. Apparently, 10 pints of cider wreaks havoc on your stomach lining, as I discovered all over my toilet, door, wall etc. the next morning.
Now, I’ve done worse than this in my time, so it’s no big deal….but it makes life interesting when they work behind you. And haven’t spoken to you since.

I like to amuse myself, fluffers, thus the joy of work-life balance continues.

November 7, 2011. Uncategorized. 1 comment.

Teaching is for life.

This post is dedicated to Mrs Sally Eales

I think of all the best lessons I had in my life. Most of them were in drama or music. While most people were thumbing their nose at me from their biology classes, I was actually learning about the human condition and how fragile life really is. I may not have a better job than some of them now, but I’m quite glad I spend my life wandering around with the insight I do have.

I recently found out about the terribly tragic and severely untimely death of one of my youngest students last week and I can’t help but recount years of words, of poetry lessons and characterisations and duologues and what it all meant to me. Being on the receiving end of the lesson was one thing, but facing children with half facts and diminished confidence is quite another thing altogether. Facing little people who have the magical ability to see right through you, at fifteen, is something I never took lightly.

I was a strict teacher. I was strict because I was mostly scared. There is a fine line with twenty eight year olds you quickly discover, and that line is the difference between chaos and control. You can’t walk into those lessons wanting to be their friend. Of course you want them to like you, because at fifteen and sixteen you want the world to like you. But if you want them to like you too much, you go home with a massive headache that won’t be removed with sleep. Saturday morning classes were the worst. The kids were off-schedule. They’d had their breakfast and been dressed in their civvies, the party of the weekend was begun. That party would often erupt at 9.30 at Norris Road. At my darling, and very brave (possibly off her trolley), teacher Sally’s place.

I’d spent many years growing up on the hill at her house. I remember every stone and lump on foot in her precarious drive, and years later, learnt about them in my car as well. I also learnt to ignore the constant opening and closing of the sliding door that lead all students in and out of the drama room. We were always safe and cared for there. And in return, I wanted to give that to my students. There are many who I won’t remember of course. Not necessarily the quiet ones either. You learn to develop a will that aims to seek out character, hidden or not. It is because of Sally that I still have that will, and I think of it as quite a gift. My one transferrable skill.

I remember one of my favourite students who I occasionally got to sit with was a boy named Michael. Michael had one of the most profound effects on me of all my students. He started within me a fascination for autism (which it was known as then). Michael was a brilliant boy, with a lovely character, who didn’t react well to emotional pressure. He taught me patience. We would read a poem and he would copy my inflections, and I would listen, fascinated by his own rhythm. Somewhere there was a joy for language that I could see, hidden from others who may not.

Alex, the grandson of my teacher, was the add-on to his two older sisters when they came for lessons with the other children. Alex wasn’t particularly ‘in my class’ but he was often left to my charge with the younger children. There was something knowing about that quiet little boy that I found unsettling and almost completely bound to. I felt I had to protect him. You know when someone just looks quiet? That was Alex to me. He had these serious, dark eyebrows that would betray the lack of engagement on his face. I took to reading those as to the levels of his happiness and intolerance for the lesson. Teachers shouldn’t have favourites, but Alex dictated my lesson with those eyebrows. He could have got away with anything.

Another of my favourites was an over-excited, sweet thing called Lucy. She was eight when I started lessons with her class. Something completely shone out of her. Although she was a normal little girl, there was a sense of playful defiance and guts and humour. I adored her immediately. It happens that I still adore her now. That’s the thing with teaching. It’s a completely mixed bag. There are those you never forget, those you lose, and those who you get to watch grow up. Who then in turn are around to teach you lessons. We are all here for each other.

Every student who stops to speak to me, or remembers me from those hideous high school musicals I am astounded and proud to have been blessed to see them again. So grown up, mostly very well turned out. Every one of them.

My teacher needs me now, she needs all of us. All those faces she invested her emotions and frustrations (often frustrations, though not undeserved) in week by week, year on year, can hold their hand out to her and send her love. Especially the students that she never forgot and always kept in touch with. I was blessed enough to be one of those.

On Friday, she is seventy-eight. I remember her turning sixty, being presented with flowers at a school assembly. I hadn’t known her for too long then, but I was strangely very proud. I am very proud to know her now. She lost her beloved grandson last week, dear Alex, and my heart just aches. All our hearts ache. There is nothing we can change other than to share the stories with her about how she changed our lives. She certainly changed mine. And all because she knew I needed some pocket-money and could help her teach. For that, I am eternally grateful. In my short lifetime, she has taught me the ultimate value of being a teacher.

Happy Birthday Sally. All my Fondest Love. Always. x

August 16, 2011. Tags: , , , , , , . Philosophies. Leave a comment.

Today: My One Love.

Sappy Post Alert, Fluffers.

On the eve of a very important day I was reading my journal marked August 28th 1999 and I wanted to share with you a few things. A very public letter from a private past.

I have been in love three times in my life. These are the big ones, the core-shakers and king makers.

Number One:

When I was 14, a rosy-cheeked boy arrived at my school from another state. Fresh blood was always well received in our town and my friends and I (especially the girls) wasted no time in befriending him. I’ll skip out the usual filling of this story, charting the emotional turmoil high school can bring and with it the expected unrequited crushes and fancies, and just get down to what I remember most about this person.

Over the four years of being teenage friends, I fell in love with a man whom I thought to be honest, upstanding and wise. When he got his driving license (a year before I was due it – thus the excitement), I was proud at being the first person he came to pick up. My mother also trusted me being chauffeured around by this ‘responsible young man’. We tasted adult freedom. It was delicious. Every time he came to pick me up and opened the door for me (as was taught him by his wonderful parents) my heart would skip. Friends knew (and he knew) I completely adored him and although he deftly side-stepped any of my trademark, ham-fisted attempts at intimacy, I felt we had something. And, I desperately hoped there would be more.

It turns out, I was right. There was more. There is more.

Going to university and having our paths slightly diverged by boyfriends, girlfriends and new interests only made our bond stronger. We both had serious, big moments in our lives during that time, where the only hand I could see out of it was his. I always hoped that for this, I could repay him. I hope I did. I remember embarrassing myself at his 21st Birthday dinner, wanting to say something so meaningful and true and worthy of my love that instead of composing something, I burst into tears and was comforted by his Mother.

What I couldn’t say then, I will say now:

You taught me what love really was, what it meant to have patience with love and always meet each other’s challenges with calm, clarity and selflessness. Without you, I wouldn’t be me. You have the unique ability to anchor me in raging seas. You’ve done this many times in the last 15 years. And I hope I have done the same for you.

On your 30th Birthday Nathan, I want to give you the world. But the best I can do at the moment, is to give you a home full of love. One day, I will be able to give you all the other things you deserve. But for now, it’s the most special thing I can think of to give you, in lieu of a proper gift.
Happy Birthday, Nathan Adam Hatch. May the decade exceed your expectations and the love given to you be plentiful and true. I am proud to know you.

The Loves in my life were worth waiting for. You may not see them in the beginning. You may fuck them all up and revisit where you may have gone wrong. But realising true love doesn’t always show up in the form you expected it to, or play out in the way you envisioned is a gift beyond all things imaginable. It just takes a great friend such as mine, to show you the way.

May 9, 2011. Tags: , , . Philosophies. 3 comments.

How it really is.

I’m writing in my hippo pyjamas, looking the wrong way through binoculars at the last nine years of my twenties. My tiny little life for the last ten years has been shadowed by two continents, many more wars and invasions, changes of governments, the exponential coverage of religious fundamentalism, personal losses, many changes of address and the resounding inability to decide what I would like to do with the rest of my life. At this thought, after the immediate panic resides, I wonder if anyone else has this problem and; wandering the other day along Regent’s Canal, I decided that instead of publishing silly vignettes of what it is to live in my bubble, I shall probably scribble down what really weighs on my mind.

Fluffers, feel free to click off at any point.

If the assassination and burial at sea of the Poster Boy of Terrorism has concerned anyone else, I now seek their counsel. I am having trouble feeling anything except contempt for those who see any difference in the pictures of Jihadist celebration of the abhorrent attacks in New York and the celebrations witnessed yesterday at the same site. A miscarriage of justice, owed not only to Americans though, in this time, to us all.

Robert F Kennedy, a favourite Statesman of mine, once said ‘Fear not the path of truth for the lack of people walking on it’. Truth is not imagined, and it cannot be ‘framed’ by news outlets, statesmen, generals – it must come from within. And truth does not always seek to marry itself morally, for morals can add mis-truths to its delivery.

I have a question, that no doubt many others have:

‘How does this act differentiate any right from wrong ‘we’ desperately seek to deliver ‘justice’ for?’

Another is, ‘Why do we intentionally go blind when it comes to retribution?’

Also, ‘Why do we unflinchingly lose our humanity in direct response in inhuman acts?’

I can’t abide by it, for fear of losing my quest for humanity, something firmly instilled in me by my precious Grandad and a household requirement of my mother. I will be angry that Justice was not served, and in not doing so, further damaged. Which is where the longer-lasting tragedy lies.

I am angry and further disappointed with the powerful, but I still hold hope that many will receive good news gladly, but understand the implications of its failings and will learn that to see eye to eye with our opponent, it is simply not good enough to lower our sights.

And anyone is welcomed to disagree with me for, if they do, they too are included in the content of Robert F Kennedy’s remarks before the Joint Defense Appeal in 1961:

“Laws can embody standards; governments can enforce laws – but the final task is not a task for government. It is a task for each and every one of us. Every time we turn our heads the other way when we see the law flouted – when we tolerate what we know to be wrong – when we close our eyes and ears to the corrupt because we are too busy, or too frightened – when we fail to speak up and speak out – we strike a blow against freedom and decency and justice.”

I would have preferred decent, and humane, Justice. We all deserve that.

May 3, 2011. Tags: , , , , , . annoyances, Philosophies, Ponderings, Uncategorized. 1 comment.

I wanna be a producer…?

The infamous words of Max Bialystock.

I sang the same melody until last week, and now I wonder whether it was the long nicotine withdrawals that sent me towards the brink of dependency that no relationship has yet achieved. I’m talking about electronic dependency: my phone and facebook.  Never has a single ticket sale held me to such ransom. We’ve had laughter and we’ve had tears, but hopefully I may maintain the former all the way through to the chilly weekend.

Fluffers, this week, on the post-eve of Australia day , it’s about home. I’m reconnecting. As you know we’ve had terrible floods and many people who live in the South West of Queensland have had their lives turned upside down. I want you to imagine living on a farm. Your day consists of getting up in the morning, checking the property, answering emails, taking orders, checking the papers, keeping an eye on the weather reports and employing or deploying farm hands. Day in, day out. Seven days a week.

10 years of solid drought have been broken. 10 years of counting the cost of livestock, crops, soil aridity and desalination required to grow healthy produce.

There’s no nice way for a pattern to be broken, but imagine this: the most extreme way. Three months of rain. Not the English kind. The Australian kind. when the heavens just open and it seems cessation is never on the horizon. Rain that you cannot see the edge of your verandah, never mind yard and let alone property. They know this rain. But they haven’t known it to continue for that long.

This water has to go somewhere, and because of the occaisional disastrous result of the drought-time practice of damming, unfortunately it heads down waterways.

Imagine you’ve headed into the closest major hub, 125 miles away, to collect the weekly shopping. three young kids in the car as your husband/wife staying at home to wait for delivery/call/etc. The rain has hampered your efforts for the kids to be playing outside and you pack three boisterous and cabin-fevered kids into Target to pick up a few things to get through the next month of school and home. You come out to 3 inches of water in a car park you left an hour ago, you think, ‘Shit, get the kids in the car and let’s get home out of this mess’. This water suddenly turns to a foot, and just as quickly a meter and then suddenly an inland tide is carrying objects toward you quicker than you could ever imagine.

The youngest child suddenly get swept off his feet but is still close enough to help up and the oldest child has packed the boot and shut it, getting your bag into the car while you ferry the youngest. Then a larger wall of water changes everything. It takes your middle and youngest child. You grab any of the limbs sticking out at you, they grab others. They can’t hold on. Which one do you choose to save? Although, imagine this when you don’t even have the panicked time to choose.

This choice faced many people in country town across Queensland two weeks ago. It’s a choice I couldn’t live with but reality for people I’ve never even met. But they’re people I know. They’re my people.

And, I feel powerless. I’m a hundred thousand kilometers away and I can’t get in my car and go and see people, or take them food, or comfort anyone who needs it, or even just help them clean up.

As much as I think I’ve moved on, it’s my home. It’s the only thing I understand without it having to be explained. I need to help. The only help I can offer is organising. As is oft said, charity begins at home and in this case, never has truer word been spoken. Both of my homes are going to help. I can’t sit by and watch any of my homes go under. And the only property I properly own is heart land.

January 28, 2011. Uncategorized. Leave a comment.

What to wear in snow.

It has to be said, I absolutely adore the vagaries of the English culture and have enjoyed watching them evolve or devolve (as each case may be) over the last six years of my tenure. Teamed with the slights of global warming, this makes a Friday and Saturday night on the mean streets of London (or generally the social pages of English newspapers) quite amusing to encounter.

As (now) a local, you can pick an intra-city weekend Party Tourist from a mile off. Identifiable characteristics of these include:

  • Inappropriate footwear – often something involving a two-inch platform heel incomplete with open toe (currently something to do with animal print or patent),
  • Short (usually flammable material) skirt. (Preferably flowy rather than the more protective body-hugger),
  • Light, usually pleather, jacket with non-operational zip,
  • Prosthetic scarf (in that it only does get you from A to B but doesn’t function as fully as the real McCoy),
  • 8 Denier hosiery. (It’s fucking freezing!)

Now. Girls. Really? In the last few years I haven’t been as ardent a purchaser of English Vogue (as it’s too depressing to wonder what your life would have been if you in fact made the right career decisions long ago) but I’m sure the ‘Hypothermia is Hot’ spread is still a while off. Hell, we’ve only just got girls with actual hips and breasts back onto the pages not sponsored by Slim Fast.

It’s -2 degrees. I’m cold just looking at you. And, honey, the curve spread was made for women like me so that we could consider buying haute-couture an actual option again. The curve itself is not an item of clothing. Please write this down if you’re having trouble following, you’ll thank me later.

It’s time to wear clothes. The more the merrier. At the very least, it will make your line up outside of the local kebab shop a much more enjoyable experience. And what’s more important, nobody wants to actually see your kebab before you’ve made it to the pash stage.

That is all.

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December 4, 2010. amusements, Concepts, Ponderings. Leave a comment.

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