October 2014

My mother doesn't take shit from anybody. She is kickarse in all the ways available. She is an empowered and balanced and amazing woman. If she weren't my mother already, I would wish that she were. Probably. No offense to my other, hypothetical mother. As far as role models go, she is the cream of the crop. She is a woman doing things in multiple STEM fields, being a caring and supportive mother and grandmother, and looking young and hot always.

Late in the night, I sometimes click on New Post and unravel two-to-three hundred words of some memory I have: bushwalking with shoes full of leeches, the vinyl couches in my childhood doctor's waiting room, buying clay from the little studio down the road. I love these stories. I write and reminisce and smile and cry and laugh. Here are my stories. Here is my patchwork quilt of life. Somewhere during the writing process, I realise that I'm the only person who will care about it. No one else can relate to the memory. No one else will have an emotional response to catching two buses to visit my boyfriend, or to eating bain-marie noodles in a dirty food court. So I save the draft and never look at it again.

When I was in my late teens, I went to Sydney to search for the person I loved. I had had my heart broken and I cradled its pieces in my carry-on luggage and we went to look for a new start together. In the first weeks I was there, I shared a bedroom with a friend of a friend, in his parents' house. It was a ways up the North Shore, and I slept on the train in a way I hoped was adorable and would attract suitable men or women. In the evenings I bought a bit of deep-fried chicken and bacon in pastry, and once a week we went to the RSL for dinner and trivia. I was never certain whether we were romantically involved, but I slept on his floor and he didn't wear a shirt to bed, and after three weeks he bought me a necklace.

The bleeding starts on a Wednesday morning. We are sitting at the counter, and he is drinking coffee and I am drinking orange juice, and through the window we can see the breaking waves. We are drinking and watching and talking, and if I let myself drink and watch and talk I can forget how I am coming unstitched in my guts. After an hour we get up from the counter and I go to the bathroom, and I know I will see it there, the red smear, but I go anyway and I wipe anyway and I breathe in and out anyway. I hold the paper in my hand and I look for the window that will show me the sea and I stand there for minutes or days, and the patchworked paper looks back at me.

Did you know that women who earn more than 66% of the total household income actually spend more time doing housework than women who earn 50% of the total household income? The Wife Drought offers this and all manner of other depressing factoids, and they are certain to resonate with women (especially mothers) everywhere. When I was a new parent, I had a "wife". Lily was a little baby, and I worked for myself full-time. I was 23 and I was tired for every waking moment, and all the times in between. My then-husband worked on Saturday nights, but otherwise his role was to undertake parental duties while I worked. I had an office away from the house, but I also worked from home sometimes.

For the first seventeen years of my life, I hung around in a very nice part of the world called the City of Burnside. I was born in Burnside Hospital, and for seventeen years never lived more than three kilometres away from it. My friends were down the road, around the corner. For ten years I walked to the very same pizza shop, the very same deli, the very same fruit shop. At the fruit shop they had apricot bars dipped in chocolate and they were seven for $2, and for ten years I bought fistfuls of them and ate them at the very same park. I love Fruchocs and Haigh's and Balfour's custard tarts and Vili's chicken pies and people who pronounce it as "dahnce", and the Norwood Oval and Coopers Pale Ale and buying rambutans at the Central Market and catching the O-bahn bus.