Wait, What Now? No???

whitetrash

I got an ugly smack in the head yesterday.

We’ve been trying to book a professional cleaner to come in and super clean our wet areas – bathrooms, kitchen and laundry. They were absolutely filthy when we took possession of this house, and the couple we hired at the time to clean did a shit job. I wasn’t around to hover and supervise – I was still back at the old house packing – so ML just paid them and moved on.

There’s clean and there’s clean. When I clean it’s in the deepest darkest corners – behind the toilet, not just the toilet. Scrubbing the grout that clearly was never brown, it was beige…things that some men just don’t see and things that make me want to gag.

I’ve tried – I truly have. There is still so much to clean properly and small repairs to make, but I am only just barely making it through the day these days. I take an Oxy for pain, and then have about a half hour window between when the Oxy kicks in and the pain is slightly muffled – enough for me to do a load of laundry or really scrub out the kitchen sinks – before I fall into an Oxy mini coma. And my pain ramped up considerably since we moved – ML and I tried to do it all ourselves and neither of us had the strength or the energy to do so. We should have paid a little more money and had more of it done professionally. I would say live and learn, but we’re never moving again unless we ABSOLUTELY have to.

cleaning-bathroom

So….now that there’s a possibility that ML is sick, this house needs to be really clean. Hospital clean. Bleach clean. I can’t do it, ML can’t do it, so we’ve been trying to find cleaners to come in and do it professionally.

We called the highest rated cleaning company in the city – they do primarily commercial work, but will also do domestic work – for a price. A price we’re happy to pay. I called them, outlined what we needed done, gave our details, and waited for a call back with a quote. And waited.

When they finally called back, they told me they had no one “in our area” that could complete the job. Wait? What? In our area? This is a huge company…I’m pretty sure they could find us someone ….maybe not tomorrow, but next week is OK….but, no, no one IN OUR AREA…

And that’s when the head smack hit. We live in the “northern suburbs” of our city. It’s older and has always had a bit of a reputation of being a little “rough”. But, these days, the whole damn city is a “little rough”, and our much loved northern suburbs (it’s where ML grew up and where we’ve been living for years) is changing. A great deal of the old is being torn down, and it’s being “gentrified” (I love that word).  It’s slowly but surely being pulled into 2020+, and the new homes being built are beautiful, there’s acres of “green space”, new commercial buildings are springing up everywhere (at least they were), and this area is becoming quite beautiful. Yes, there’s still a lot of crime, but no more than in other parts of the city.

procleaners

These “professional” cleaners were not willing to come and clean our home because of where it is. We live in a beautiful gated community next to the park where ML and I married, our house is still pretty new, and has beautiful high end finishes. It’s just dirty. We’re not dirty. We’re not criminals. We’re two people who are ill and unable to rid this home of the grot left by the previous owners…and their non neutered cat. Neutered cats do not spray and leave their mark (and stink) – our Milly is neutered and she’s never left a single smell behind. Their cat had not been neutered and there are areas of this house that are just…there are no words.

Me – being the Polly Anna that I’ve always been, was sure that getting rid of the smell would simply be a matter of cleaning the offending areas. Nope – not quite that easy. Look it up. It involves crystals and enzymes and warm air….and it’s almost impossible to eliminate.

But it doesn’t matter. We’re on our own…living here on the wrong side of the tracks. It was almost funny for about a minute. I didn’t even react, I just hung up in stunned silence. I had just been spoken to like poor white trash.

If I didn’t truly understand racism before, I think I have a better feel for it now.

I’m grateful.

 

We Made A Good Start

Lotto balls

When ML and I had been married for about five years we won the lotto. Don’t get excited – it was only $10,000 – but it was $10,000!

We spent a year living right on Brighton Beach and had moved for my new job – up to the northern suburbs. A year in the salt air had taken the shine out of our bright red Camry, so we decided to upgrade our car.

And just like that, when we needed it, we had enough to upgrade and buy a much newer car. That’s sort of how the beginning of our marriage was. Finding each other, moving around, finding jobs, starting a business – whatever we put our minds to sort of happened. There were some bad moments – we fought – mostly about money.

moneyfights

I’m a spender. ML is a saver (for which I am now eternally grateful). It’s not so much that I buy and hoard (although I do), but I love a bargain. And I can’t walk away from one.  I just can’t resist. And I’m happy to do a bit of a haggle – I did when we purchased my engagement ring and our wedding rings much to ML’s embarrassment.  He slowly backed out of the shop as I went to work. He’s used to it now – he encourages it.

Somewhere along the way….over the past two years or so….our luck seems to have run out. I’m sick, his Dad is sick, and ML’s life is all about staying strong and looking after us. It’s a full time job. Seven days a week with very little down time. I knew he was looking skinnier and more exhausted than usual, but not for a moment did I think he was sick.

2908 004We’re still not sure just HOW sick he is, but he is sick. And his Dad and I are going to have to find a different way to live. Dad’s cancer is back with a vengeance – the treatments he had bought him around six months, but this time round, he’s refusing more treatment.  So now there needs to be a discussion about moving into a home, and ultimately palliative care. He’s sad and disappointed – he truly thought he had another ten years. It’s his birthday today. ML bought him a lemon meringue pie and he was over the moon. Little things.

bedroom

My life is going to depend a lot on what his life is going to look like. We may be eligible for some more home care – I just don’t know where to start looking and ML doesn’t have the time or the energy. Right now, my first job is to get this house thoroughly cleaned. We had a cleaner come in when we moved in, but they did a shit job. This time I’m going to hover. Then the bedroom – carpet, drapes, walls – pristine and comfortable. A new bed, maybe some new paint and linens….I want him to be serene and rested.

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And bargaining? I’ve been doing a shit load of bargaining.  I know I’m good at, I’m just not sure anyone’s listening. Right now, any faith I had is sliding downhill. A little win now would be most welcome.

I’d be grateful.

The Waiting Game

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ML is sick. This is no surprise to me considering what he has been through over the past two years. His body was bound to rebel.

At this point, we don’t know what’s wrong. He has a series of symptoms that could add up to a few things, but there is one monster that sits at the top of the pile scaring the shit out of us.

He’s simply carrying on. Between Dr visits and a series of tests, he still cares for me and for his Dad – who is becoming more difficult daily. I’m no picnic either I know, but I do try to be patient and understanding while trying very hard to contribute around the house. The spirit is oh so willing, but the pain in my stupid broken body keeps me in my chair…making list after list of what needs to be done.

woman-peeking-behind-computer

And I’m trying my very best not to google Dr Google. ML made me promise that I would not go traveling down the internet medical rabbit hole and make myself crazy (crazier).

We’re currently waiting for the results from the last run of tests (why can’t Drs just pick up the bloody phone and make a two minute phone call). He’s seeing said Dr on Monday, which means another 3 days of pretending we’re not anxious and carrying on as normal. Then an appointment with a surgeon on Tuesday…and then we go from there.

communicate

We keep telling ourselves – “it could be nothing – or nothing too serious”…but we know each other too well to really believe it. We’re thinking the worst, and no matter what we say or do, we can’t stop. No sleep, massive anxiety, the same level of running around and juggling the 15 balls he carries in the air and we’re both on edge. The tears are just “right there” and we simply don’t discuss it. It’s like this enormous acid green monster sitting in the corner of the room that we’ve decided to ignore. It’s not working.

We just bought a house – we’re not even completely unpacked yet – these were supposed to be our “easyish” years. With my various illnesses, life is never going to be fun and carefree, but we may have had a little slice of peace. We may still have our slice of peace – positive thinking.

I’d feel better if ML were robust and strong, but he’s not. He’s skinny, grey, exhausted, stooped, and puts himself last in every way in his world of caretaker. If there’s a fight ahead of us, I’m going to have to magic some strength from somewhere and put on the gloves. If anyone has any ideas as to how this can be done, please share.

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In the meantime I pray – not to the God of my youth – I lost my faith in him long ago – but to the God, or energy or whatever there is out there testing us. It’s all I’ve got for right now. I can’t even hug him because he’s out in public running errands all week, and with his Dad every day, and there’s still this stupid Virus overstaying it’s welcome. I need a hug so desperately, and I know he does too, but it’s just not worth the risk.

If you have a God, or whatever it is you call upon in times of trouble, please put in a brief word for us.

I’d be so grateful.

Meltdown

angry

I had a meltdown tonight.

I have them a lot, but I have medication and “tools” to get through them. I also do my very best to hide them from ML. They’re ugly, they involve a lot of ugly snotty crying, not being able to catch my breath, some pacing occasionally, followed by exhaustion, valium induced relaxation and, sometimes, if I’m lucky – a nap.

This meltdown happened in front of ML. In fact, I don’t think he’s ever seen me this bad. This one was directed at him. It was caused by a bath tub plug. It involved hysterics, a slammed door, and hysterics. Crazy, “what is happening here” hysterics.

It just all sort of slithered up my legs today and took up residence in my heart and in my head. Aren’t we all getting a little hysterical? Isn’t it all getting just a little too much for everyone? Just me?

Ah yes – the bath tub plug. I should explain.

plug

It’s been a rough week. It’s been a tough day. Things have been rough and tough for a while now I know, but today just threw me down on the ground. When I’m in full panic/anxiety mode, the smallest thing can break me. Today it was a bath tub plug.

I walk a fine line of meds. I can’t mix pain killers with anti anxiety medication. It’s a dangerous mix that can make my brain tell me to do things that are dangerous and harmful…like taking more meds….and more meds….until the pain and the anxiety all goes away and I can fade into black. At best, black is unconscious, at worst…well you probably know the answer to that.

Today the pain was bad, but the anxiety was worse, so it won the meds lottery. I took a couple of valium and tried to breathe through the pain. It didn’t work. The pain’s grip grew tighter and I decided a warm bath with epsom salts might relax me, and might help with the pain.

I do need help getting in and out of the bath when my pain levels are high – something I HATE. To not be able to bathe myself ON MY OWN makes me feel small and useless. ML was getting his dinner ready, so I was determined to do it on my own. It’s a slower process and as long as I’m careful and prepare everything properly, I’m usually OK.

curled

Getting in was OK. It was the getting out part. I couldn’t get the plug out. We have one of those cheap rubber plugs that I have been wanting replaced since we moved into this house that I just can’t get a grip on. And the suction of a full tub makes it almost impossible. I also have stupidly long nails that need to be cut but I haven’t had the energy…and you get a perfect storm of useless panic and anxiety. I had to call ML for help. And he got it – full on in the face. I lost it. Howling, crying, slamming, “why haven’t you bought a new plug like I’ve been asking you to for weeks” attack. And it escalated from there.

And now I feel like shit. It’s such a stupid little thing, but it was a moment of proof that I cannot manage on my own.

logic

ML is sick. We don’t know what’s wrong with him, but it could be bad. And at the very least, it could mean more time on my own trying to look after myself. And it terrified me. I can’t even take a fricking bath on my own…how am I going to manage everything else?

He still loves me. I’m grateful.

The Coronavirus Prayer

By James Parker

CHINA-HEALTH-VIRUS

Dear Lord,

In this our hour of doorknobs and droplets,
when masks have canceled our personalities;
in this our hour of prickling perimeters, sinister surfaces,
defeated bodies, and victorious abstractions,
when some of us are stepping into rooms humid with contagion,
and some of us are standing in the pasta aisle;
in this our hour of vacant parks and boarded-up hoops,
when we miss the sky-high roar of the city
and hear instead the tarp that flaps on the unfinished roof,
the squirrel giving his hingelike cry, and the siren constantly passing,
to You we send up our prayer, as follows:

Let not heebie-jeebies become our religion,
our new ideology, with its own jargon.
Fortify us, Lord. Show us how.
What would your saints be doing now?
Saint Francis, he was a fan of the human.
He’d be rolling naked on Boston Common.
He’d be sharing a bottle. No mask, no gloves,
shielded only by burning love.
But I don’t think we’re in the mood
for feats of antic beatitude.
In New York City, and in Madrid,
the saints maintain the rumbling grid.

Bless the mailman, and equally bless
the bus driver, vector of steadfastness.
Protect the bravest, the best we’ve got.
Protect the rest of us, why not.
And if the virus that took John Prine
comes, as it may, for me and mine,
although we’ve mostly stayed indoors,
well—then, as ever, we’re all Yours.

Until further notice,

AMEN

 

Racism or Fear?

racism

Is this the face of racism…or fear?

I am not a scholar or claim to have the answers to this worldwide dilemma, however I do believe that it is as simple as this.

As humans, we are wired to fear the unknown. It’s what is supposed to keep us safe and alive. For example, I would not enter a dark cave without knowing what is inside out of fear. The same is true for people who are not “like us”. Different colours, languages, religions, cultures – these all come together and form a picture of something people fear. Our job as intelligent and loving beings is to educate ourselves. Find out about people who are not the same colour, or live their lives in a different way.

We fear what we do not know. This must change. We must challenge ourselves to overcome our fears and turn it into curiosity. There is a vast richness of all sorts of people in the world – instead of fearing them, get to know them. Ask questions. You will find that we, for the most part, are more similar than we are different. Above all, we all wish for a more caring and compassionate world for our children.

For the sake of future generations, please take a moment to consider my words, and if you agree, or disagree, speak out. Communicate. Keep the conversation going.

I’d be grateful.

 

History Will Always Stand

lincoln

Yes, the whole world has moments in history that are shameful and we all wish they could be erased.

But tearing down statues and monuments is not the answer. They should be left there to remind us of what went wrong. Where does it end? The slave trade was world wide  – and still is very much active today. Just spend a couple of months in the middle east and have a good look around.

We’ve all spent years looking the other way. There’s always a few who will speak the truth – but is anyone listening? Really? We shuffle our feet and hang our heads, but international commerce was built on the backs of slaves and we all know it.

We also know that there is no equality even today. It’s 2020, and women still earn less than men, black sportsmen get called monkeys on the sports field, our police forces – who I always believed were “Peace Keepers” – and judgement systems are terribly flawed, but life goes on.

alm

It isn’t until something shakes the world to it’s core, and then we may take a tiny step forward after all is said and done. But really, fundamentally, nothing has changed.

So, yes, absolutely, tear down a few flags and topple some statues – but again – where does it end? Are we really going to allow for the Lincoln Memorial to be bulldozed? Yes, many of these men had slaves, traded slaves, transported slaves and got rich by doing so, but they did a lot of good as well. One cannot cancel out the other, but we can not change history by erasing some pieces of brass and stone. The men and women remain very much a part of history – good and bad – and whatever they did can teach us so much about ourselves.

I’ve had my own racist moments – moments that I’m ashamed of. They taught me something about myself. As a person with morals, I cannot pick and choose which groups of people I like, and which I don’t. There are an awful lot of people in this world that I fear, that I don’t have a great deal of respect for, and that I just don’t understand. But, that’s my issue – not theirs. There’s a need to put things into context, consider the times, consider the lack of knowledge. Again – no excuse, but our laws and opinions change daily. My Dad always used to say “times don’t change, people do”, and he was right.

It’s up to each and every one of us to look within and decide what is acceptable, educate ourselves, and learn from history and what is truly happening today. A black man was killed by a white police officer and it was caught on film. In the US – this happens almost every day. Unless the people change, these times will remain the same. Accepting and befriending our Chinese neighbours who keep bringing food to our house because they know I’m ill. Appreciating a piece of indigenous art just because it’s art – not because it’s indigenous.

Yes I do cringe at every racist thought and act throughout my life. But I’m smart enough to know that one by one, with time, we can change the times. We all need to take a good look within and decide how we can make the world a kinder, friendlier place, and in my opinion, tearing down a few statues isn’t going to make a lot of difference tomorrow, and the tomorrow after that.

I know it’s simplistic and that there is so much attached to the current order of the world. It all comes down to who has the most money at the end of the game. And if that involves stepping on a few necks to get there, is that OK? We all know it isn’t. It’s time to look at what’s going on, and change what’s happening today. The shame of yesterday is done. Learn, understand, communicate, be kind.

I get called “Polly Anna” a lot. I don’t care. I have to believe that there is good in everyone and that people can change. Laws can change. Attitudes can change. History can not. Acknowledge the shame, own it, learn from it, and carry on in what can, hopefully, be a better world.

Be grateful.

Winter In Aus

rain

It’s freakin cold right now and I love it. During the day I layer up if I’m puttering around the house…but it’s the nights that are bliss.

A hot bath with Epsom salts and a few drops of scent, fake LED candles glowing (cats don’t understand flames and hot wax), thick fluffy towels, warm jammies, thick socks, a favourite scent and then…being able to snuggle under layers of covers. I have a blanket/throw fetish and have a beautiful collection – each one softer and fluffier than the one before.

bathtubBecause of my health – chronic pain, severe reflux – I sleep sitting up in a really comfy cushy reclining chair. I have a special wedge that sits under my knees and keeps me sort of upright. I have a series of pillows – I love down pillows, and a pile of blankets. They’re wrapped around my feet, around my shoulders, and the rest draped over the balance of me. All that sticks out is my nose. It’s winter cuddle heaven. If I’m lucky, my sweet fur baby Milly will hop on and find a warm little nook,  get comfy, purr, and fall asleep. She snores – sweet and soft. It makes me feel loved and happy.

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Sleeping in the summer in Australia is hell. It’s a constant battle of trying to get comfortable, staying covered (I can’t sleep without covers – it’s the Canadian in me I suppose), while sweat pours from every part of my body. It’s ugly, uncomfortable, and true sleep never really comes.

But winter – with the rain hitting the roof, and the odd thunderstorm – makes me happy. I love that we live in a part of Australia that has actual seasons. But Autumn and Winter are definitely my favourites.

In the summer I miss Canadian winters and snowy Christmases terribly. It’s easy to forget just how cold the winters are, how hard it is to get around, how short the days are, and how long, dark and cold the nights are.

I can’t honestly say what I prefer. I live in a country full of snakes and spiders, but can sit and listen to coo coo birds and kookaburras chatter early in the morning. Brightly coloured budgies fly around outside like that’s just normal. We’re going to plant a lemon tree and a pomegranate tree that will actually bear fruit we can enjoy.

budgies

We’re less than half an hour away from the beach. If I could leave the house, I could dig my toes in the sand and breathe in the scent of the ocean air. I may be able to do that again one day – who knows.

But it’s our winter nights that bring me comfort. I sleep in little blocks – I don’t sleep through the night anymore, but even sitting cuddled up in blankets in the dark and silence is restful and peaceful. Of course, everything around me is scented with whatever fragrance is in favour, and waking up to the delicious scent of last night’s choice is such a treat.

Finding joy right now is difficult. Winter nights may not bring me joy, but they are soothing and reduce my anxiety. Every little bit helps.

I’m grateful.

We All Matter

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I am white.

I have blonde hair and blue eyes.

I come from a middle class background and currently live a slightly less than middle class life due to illness. I have been judged for this. It hurts.

I live in Australia. I was born in Canada. My parents were born in the Netherlands.

I have suffered the ignorance, assault and anger of others due to being a woman who may trust too much.

I have had moments where I felt racist.

I wish I could go back and change every one of them.

I have friends of every race, colour, religion, economic status and background.

If something about them frightens or confuses me, I ask them to explain.

They are always happy to.

Any fear we may have, and misunderstandings we may have, are born of ignorance.

I am not perfect.

I have had opportunities to change or correct a racist situation and have done nothing.

I was raised as a Christian – a Protestant – and taught to treat my neighbours as myself.

I have turned my back on organized religion, but being kind stuck.

I believe a life well lived involves doing justice, loving kindness and walking humbly with my Lord.

I don’t know what to do to change the world.

I do know what to do to change me.

I’m grateful.