I’m a fake

brains

Techno overload

It’s true. I am. I pretend to be a Twitter user but I’m not really.  I know – now you’re all gasping in disbelief and unliking my posts and defollowing me. But before you condemn me, hear my pleas for mercy!

You see, I’ve had this Twitter account for several years. And every 18 months or so, I brush off the cobwebs that remember my password (not that hard, I only have two … oops, shouldn’t have said that) and get back online and try to be a Twit ..Tweeter … whatever it is. And I fail. Miserably. This is attempt number four. Hopefully, this one will stick.

Maybe it’s because I’m *cough* older. Maybe it’s because I discovered blogging and Facebooking first and there’s not enough capacity in my brain to take on Tweeting as well. Are Tweeters Facebookers too? Is it like Chocolate v Strawberry milkshakes? What is it about Twitter that’s so cool? High-profile entertainers seem to love it … in hindsight, perhaps that’s not such a great thing though. They seem to get themselves into an awful lot of trouble with just 144 characters. You’d think people who make their living via communication would be better at it … oh, wait. They have scriptwriters, don’t they? And you never hear of a scriptwriter getting themselves into trouble by saying dumb things in writing in front of millions of people (you can delete it all you want, Justin Bieber, but it will always be there screensaved on people’s phones, you sad has-been at such a young age).

I know that Twitter has street cred. I can see that, just by the reach this silly little blog has gotten in a few posts – far more than my old one did four years ago. I was so pleased the day I had more than four followers and one of them was not my family. It was a strange and exhilarating experience to think that complete strangers liked what poured out of my brain and onto the screen.  It’s like all those likes you get on a Facebook comment that you’ve crafted carefully to sound smart and witty and self-depreciating so that people will hear what you’re saying but noone will ever take offence or think you’re boasting (except for those seven weeks travelling through Japan and Europe – pretty sure people got offended at our boasting then. But screw them, we were on our honeymoon and our lives are generally too dull to post).

I just don’t know how to use Twitter effectively. Anyone got any tips? Why do you use Twitter? How does it fit into your daily life? I’d really like to know.

The cycle begins

Baby_bottle

Suck it up, sunshine

And not to put too fine a point on it, I’m a little bit crazy this morning … and the drugs haven’t even started yet.

One word of advice to any would-be IVF’s, especially over the age of 40. Don’t look at the internet. Don’t read the forums. Don’t look at the statistics (although you actually do have a far greater chance of getting pregnant than winning the Powerball jackpot tomorrow night, so that’s comforting to know).

The thing you have to remember is that someone usually does win. They do get lucky and for them, all the statistics are proven wrong.  I have personally known three much younger women who have tried IVF – two got lucky with their first round. The third struggled and proved to be hyperstimulated by the drugs and gained an incredible amount of weight in a very short time and was generally miserable for over a year, constantly beating her body into submission until finally – FINALLY – she got lucky.  I’d say there was a helluva lot of hard work and determination behind that particular ‘lucky’.

I’ve had one go. It really wasn’t that bad regarding the whole drug thing. I didn’t turn into a crazy woman because of them – felt quite normal, in fact. Normal, at that point, being stressed beyond your wildest dreams. I rather stupidly suffered freezer burn on my stomach because of a wayward icepack and the fact I’m not all that keen on feeling that goddamn needle piercing my skin. But physically, I’d have to say it was a breeze.

Mentally and emotionally … not so much.

My gorgeous NIH (the only person I would ever willingly jab myself with a needle twice a day for) and I recently went on our long and extravagant and totally fantastic honeymoon to Japan and Europe and on the tours, we met some truly lovely people … and a few stupid ones.

Now, I know people mean well and they’re trying to be helpful and positive but being told I just have to ‘relax’ and that will fix everything just makes me want to punch people in the mouth.

“Oh, really? That’s it? Gosh, I’m such a silly billy. I never realised.” :/

The truth is you meditate and do visualisations and work hard to just think that it all will fall into place and everything will happen the way you want and you’ll get that damn baby because goddamn it you’re so goddamn relaxed you’re almost comatose but then you go through the motions and everything looks ok and you only get 5 eggs harvested but hey it only takes one right so you hold onto that and remain positive and then they phone you on day 3 and say that one failed to launch altogether and two have since stopped cell dividing and one looks a little dodgy but there’s one, still one there and hey, you only need one, right? Right? And then you get the phone call on the afternoon of Day 4, the eve of the big Day, Day 5, where your one little egg is due to be put back in your basket and hopefully blooms and grows into a goddamn baby that will give you and the NIH who deserves a baby, who deserves a 6 a side soccer team of babies because he’s so fucking awesome with kids big and small and even your teenagers liked him when they were young and snotty and you love him so much it scares the crap out of control freak little you and  oh no oh kay that last egg you’d pinned all your hopes and dreams on has fallen over. *cue sobbing and promising each other you’ll never do this again*

And yet … a year later … here we are again.

But you know? I feel like I’m in a better place. As a couple, we are so much more stable and settled (possibly because I’m not so psycho and he’s not living WITH a psycho). Maybe, even though at my age the odds are against us, we’ll win the lotto.  At least I don’t feel like it’s the end of the world if I don’t win and I’m a little bit proud of myself for actually having another go, knowing now what I will go through.

Possibly that last paragraph was my false positives starting …Wish us luck 🙂

Where does creativity come from?

live large

I always need a push when it comes to leaps of faith …

At the start of every project, almost without fail, I look at a blank screen and wonder just how the f*#k I’m going to come up with something decent. Does everyone concerned with creating something feel the same way?

Back in the good ol’ days of full time yet tedious and incredibly stressful work, I used to relish doing the monthly report because it didn’t require creativity.  You ran a few reports on the computer, you added up visitors/circulation/amount of money spent on internet (divided by 4 to get number of hours total), you put calculations into a spreadsheet and set up the chart to work automatically … and voila! The monthly report.

Methodical. Formulaic. Safe. Fantastic for control freaks.

Nowadays, I don’t know if I’m going to be busy next week or be twiddling my thumbs (actually, I still have heaps of assignments to get done so technically I should NEVER be twiddling my thumbs but procrastination seems to be my middle name). I don’t know what type of job will be coming in or even if I’ll be able to handle it! Of course, in my more gentle, less critical moments, I realise that I always find a way to get it done. It may take longer than I thought (and I never charge the client for my own  ignorance!) but I always deliver in the end.

It’s just the process that is a struggle. I’m always super-sensitive to infringing copyright and would never blatantly copy someones work and pass it off as my own, but when I get stuck I go web surfing. I guess back before the internet, people massaged their creative juices by looking at the world around them.  I bet the first caveman didn’t worry too much about intellectual property when he fingerpainted that deer onto the wall of his cave.

Perhaps you can already tell I am procrastinating over a job.  It should be simple yet because it’s slightly left of what I usually do, I’m struggling with it. So much so that whilst I thought I had solved the problem and come up with something creative that the client would like, my brain woke me up at 2am with a loud and clear message that by changing it to a jpg file (as they’ve requested), the background that I don’t want filled in will, in fact, be filled in and it will look all boxy and now I have to come at it from a different angle.

Sigh.

I think it’s time to do a little surfing …

A little bit grey today …

robin grey

An open face. A tired and troubled soul. His ability to make us laugh will be sorely missed.

Everyone who hasn’t been living under a rock (or on a hilltop in remote Iraq avoiding being slaughtered … but that’s another blog entirely) has heard the sad news of Robin Williams’ passing.  I really didn’t want to get on that bandwagon – I don’t know him personally, I’ve never met him, I have no real rights to grieve his death – and yet … it haunts me.

Robin Williams reminded me so much of my dad – who also died at age 63. My dad looked similar, his laugh was just as loud and instantly recognisable and he also hid a struggle with depression and disease behind the jokes and sociable outward face he presented to the world.

As anyone who has lived with someone with depression knows, there is really nothing you can do to help them. My dad described it as being stuck down a huge hole and just not having the energy to pull yourself out.  For a long time, I didn’t really understand what he meant. How could you just not make yourself happy?  Especially when you have a roof over your head, money in the bank, family and friends that adore you?  Then I went through a very stressful and, to date, the most difficult time in my life …

“Ah. Hello, hole. I believe you know my dad?”

And Robin Williams, apparently.

See, the thing with depression is you never fully recover from it. It’s always looming in the background, ready to tap you on the shoulder when life’s hurdles start making you jump. A little bit of stress and all of a sudden, there you are. In the bathroom. Trying to put your makeup on to get to work on time whilst sobbing for no apparent reason.

You know what the reason is, though. And you learn to adopt practices to try and sidestep that gaping black hole both terrifying and tempting. You know it will actually pass, if you can just make it through the morning. The day. This week.

Dad used to give himself 24 hours. He was allowed to wallow at the bottom of the hole for a day and then it was time to resume the mad scrabble up the sides to reach the light.

Life for me has become so much better since my dark hole days, but every now and then depression gives me a little tweak, just to let me know it’s waiting for me should I ever drop my guard.  But back in the days when it wasn’t so great, those days when I would wake to a crying jag, I knew I’d have trouble dragging myself to work but once there, the people I worked with would lift my spirits just by being themselves and by lunchtime, the light would be breaking through the thunderclouds.

I used to promise myself to concentrate on the fun jobs that I enjoyed and the crappy stuff could wait a day. (I was the boss, which was handy.) I was gentle and kind to my soul, making no demands and forgiving transgressions (“You want that cupcake? Have at it. You can exercise it off tomorrow”). I tried to go for a walk in the sunshine, or in summer tried to do a few laps at the pool. Or just settled for a bath.  Anything that would soothe and re-balance the chemicals in my brain causing me to feel funky.

Did Robin have little rituals and promises he made to himself? I’ll bet he did. But the recently revealed fact he was in the early stages of Parkinson’s Disease must have been just too much. No amount of rituals or promises would spare him from traveling that path. 

I hope he knows that he took a piece of the world’s heart with him when he died.

He will be missed.

Turning points

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Turning points … almost like a rebirth

It’s always easier looking back and seeing the turning points in our lives. We rarely see the corner coming and odds are we never accurately predict what that corner will bring.

The big ones are pretty easy to recognise and semi-prepare for – leaving home; getting married; having children.

I never saw the dissolution of my first marriage coming … although looking back, it seems pretty goddamn clear that it was years in the making.  Likewise, my second marriage was a bit of a surprise but a really good one.

However, it’s the almost inconsequential happenings in our lives that often bring the most surprising results. Take as an example the story of how a dedicated librarian turned into a graphic designer …

We moved often in my first marriage – partly because he was in the Army for the first 7 years of it, partly because the man could not sit still to save his life. And library jobs are hard to come by. As any good librarian knows, you have to wait for someone to die or leave town before an opening comes up (preferably the latter … otherwise it’s just awkward).

Hence, in my not so huge working career (three kids are a handful on their own without a work schedule demanding your attention as well) I have completed a Bachelor of Library Science and a Graduate Diploma of Info/Library Science plus worked as: weekend Cash Office for Woolies; Learning Centre coordinator; Barmaid; Canteen convenor and Casual Typesetter/Graphic Designer for two local newspapers (not at the same time) in between the rare and precious library jobs in a primary school, private high school, TAFE college and public library.

I think the varied experiences and different locations made me a better librarian – at least, I was able to relate to people from many walks of life!  But who would have known that the first stint in a newspaper doing Graphic Design (which I got because I’d done Colour Theory and basic brochure design as part of my library technicians course) would, 12 years down the track, put me on the path to being a qualified Graphic Designer?

And the second step in that road would be feeling trapped in a library management position plus the misery of multiple miscarriages forcing me to find something to distract myself with and looking into online study courses.  Initially I was going to do Bookkeeping (methodical, controlled, useful) but Graphic Design popped up … and that was that.

I’m struggling to finish the Diploma in time as I’ve had a wedding and a long honeymoon in the middle of it to totally distract me, but there’s the option of extension and I already have clients that are happy with my work. How awesome is that?

If someone had told me 18 months ago that I would be happily married, out of the management role, working freelance and enjoying all aspects of my life, I would not have believed them. But looking back … well, it seems inevitable.

Eggs over easy, thanks.

Sperm-And-Egg-Cell

“This is Ground Control to Major Tom. You’ve not quite made the grade …”

This post is a little personal but hell, it’s my blog and I’ll share what I want to.

The NIH and I have been trying to reproduce for *oohh* about 3 years now and so far we’ve had several failures to launch … which, if you’ve read my previous post, you’ll understand has not been gracefully received by myself.

We had one go at IVF last year and it didn’t go well.  The drugs were fine. The jabbing myself or getting NIH to jab me with a needle every night was fine and the initial retrieval was pretty easy. I did get a freezer burn injury from holding an ice pack on for too long but that was just my stupidity.

However, the little guppies-to-be didn’t make it past Day 4 so we didn’t even get to transfer stage. Probably a blessing in disguise, as we had our wedding to plan in January and as a consolation prize for our trauma, we went on a 7 week honeymoon to Japan and Europe because we could.

But now we’ve recovered from the trauma; we’re back home and things are very calm and pleasant for both of us, we’ve decided to give it another go. And if this doesn’t work, we’ll look at egg donation because I’m edging over the hill and time is really running out.

I already have three grown-up children but NIH doesn’t have any and believe me when I say he deserves to be a Dad for all the right reasons 🙂  When we first started dating, he told me he wanted 5 kids. I choked on my coffee then sputtered that unless he counts my three as his and we have twins, it probably will never eventuate with me.  Now that we’ve gone through 4 miscarriages and one failed IVF, he’d settle for one.

I’m often asked why I’d want to have more. since I already have three and essentially I have my life back.  Sometimes, I’m not sure how to answer that myself.  I guess because my kids have all grown into gorgeous young adults whom I truly love, not just as their mother but as one human being relating to another.  Maybe because I’d love for NIH to experience that unshakably deep, overwhelming love and adoration of another little person even if they do decide to keep you up all night, throw up all over you and generally curtail your social life.  Maybe because I felt I had at least one more child in me (metaphorically speaking) but the ex was not happy with Number 3, let alone any more.  And because I want to experience raising a child with a dad who actually gives a shit about his kid and gets involved in their life.

But … how do you ask someone to donate a piece of themselves for you? My sister in law would do it no questions asked (in fact, she said exactly that when I told her) but she is only a couple of years younger than me.  The doctor suggested my daughter, since she’s 22, but no. I just … I couldn’t.

I don’t have BFF’s that are under the age of 37. I have quite a few acquaintances that would qualify and one in particular who has done IVF and knows the routine. But it’s such a big thing to ask!

I don’t like asking for directions, let alone asking someone to jab themselves for two weeks then go under general anesthetic to have their eggs retrieved.  I guess there’s two choices to make here – either I get over my embarrassment and humiliation … or I get NIH to do it.

Failure to launch

hueys001

Failure and I are not friends

Failure.

I don’t do it well. Not at all.  And I didn’t truly realise this until the last few years.

You see, I’ve always worked hard and most of the time, I got what I wanted. Or at least, if I didn’t get it, I pretended I didn’t really want it anyway and could write a story in my head of why, in fact, not getting what I wanted was a good thing and therefore not REALLY a failure at all …

Which is kind of what I’m doing right now, having failed to get my RE motorcycle learners licence even though I’ve done 5 lessons so far and have previously ridden a moped for a few years and know how to ride a bike safely.  The most humiliating thing is, I’d pretty much posted on Facebook that after today, I would be a card-carrying bikie chick and now, after everyone’s liked and commented, I have to say “Nuh. False alarm. I missed out by one mark” and all because I’m overly cautious combined with terribly hopeless at judging distance accurately.

Of course, when I put it in perspective it’s not such a big deal. I just do the test again and finish my prac. I know I can do it but now the storytelling is starting in my head …

“$650 to do a course and get a licence that you may not ever use because you don’t even have a motorbike and even if you do shell out money for one, will you ever ride it?”

But the competitive part of me is already saying “Well, shit. Next time you’ll know the answers. You can do this. Bugger the cost and the fact  you may never use it. At least you’ll have proved a point to yourself.”

But hooo boy, I’m pissy today!

Staying the course

How do you keep striving when things seem out of reach?

How do you keep striving when things seem out of reach? (Pic: Oliver Jeffers “How to catch a star”)

My second child and oldest son started Uni this year after a two year ‘gap year’ after high school in which he worked for a supermarket chain then as a pizza delivery boy in between holing up in his room playing multiplayer somethingorother games on the computer he custom-built himself.

He turns 20 today so technically he is a grown man and free to choose his life and the consequences that go with it. But that doesn’t stop his mother who carried him for 9 months (and fretted until the 7 month mark due to previous experiences), fed him, bathed him, clothed him and loved him from worrying when she receives a letter from Uni that indicates all is not going as well as one would hope with first semester results.

I feel shitty for opening said letter but in my defence, I thought it might be something to do with the campus accommodation, of which I’m paying half for and his father is paying the other half.  It wasn’t about that.

My new and improved husband (NIH) has never had children but I rely on his advice at times, especially with the boys, since once upon a time he was one. Plus he and my son are strikingly similar in character.

I’m not mad. I’m sad. Heartbroken, even. The last thing a mother wants for her children is pain and disappointment. But I also recognise that life sends us these lessons to teach us something about ourselves. 

I just hope he learns that sometimes you get thrown from the horse and the best possible thing to do is to get back on up there and try a different handhold.  That there are things that we want in this world that we have to work extremely hard for and that nothing worthwhile is for free.

I hope he takes a deep breath, buckles down and has another go. He wouldn’t be the first student to go through this.  Lord knows, I did and so did my NIH – we both quit after our respective 2nd years, a decade apart and states away.  I went on to get married and have children and do all my degrees and diplomas externally, achieving excellent results because I wanted it and worked hard for it. I essentially found a different handhold.  The NIH is getting ready to get back on that horse this year and I hope he finds a different handhold too.

I want my kids to have wonderful, perfect, happy, productive, secure lives … but even as the control freak in me wishes that, the little voice of realism whispers that I didn’t have that, so why should they? They’ll never learn anything with a life like that. I think Hollywood kids have proven that point over and over again. And although I have been through some pretty shitty times, I actually like the woman I have become (and it only took 45 years to achieve :/ )

Maybe this is a turning point. Maybe it’s a good thing. It certainly explains the recent interest in changing courses …

All I can do is hug him and treat him for his birthday, hope he feels safe enough to talk to me about it whilst I hide the tears and ignore the ache in my womb that wants to shield him from all life’s slings and arrows.