Well, I Did Warn You...

I think, at this juncture, about the only thing I can say in my defense is that it didn't take me 12 months between entries this time. At this rate, I'll be keeping a regular blog no sooner than the age of 60 but it's progress! Progress is good.

In keeping with that theme, 2010 wound up being a year of progress. It's been a long road back to fulltime work, partially due to circumstance and an awful lot to do with me being emotionally ready for it, but a 12-month contract landed in my lap unexpectedly at the end of December and the new journey into Grown-Up Land commenced last week. So, without further adieu, I bring you my verdict.

I love it.

As most of you have probably figured out, I'm the biggest scaredy cat in the world when it comes to change. I don't like it and I certainly don't like instigating it, something that had more to do with my lack of fulltime work than I'd probably like to admit. Moving to Melbourne was a big step but I moved in with family, it was an easy transition because the foundation was already here. Someone else had found the house, had all the amenities functioning, I just slotted in with no real cause to be 'grown up' about it. Now I will admit that getting myself into a very good position with my current employer was mostly due to me but I feel very blessed in that I was lucky to find a school that is so welcoming and where the kids are, for the most part, a pleasure to be around. Teaching in Tasmania always stressed me out, I'm not sure if it's improved but I've found the Victorian system to be so much more supportive in terms of how much is done amongst colleagues rather than the individual teacher deciding everything. I actually feel like I know what I'm doing this term and that it doesn't matter that I've never clapped eyes on the VELs because my team filled in all those blanks during our planning day. I will learn this but I'm not being impeded from starting the year by not knowing it yet. It's awesome.

I also love my class. I was tremendously fortunate, I feel, to have been employed in a school that I was so familiar with because, aside from my two new students, I have interacted and got to know every child in my class through my work as a CRT. I know their names, I know their personalities, and I was able to judge just by looking at the list that I have a good group of kids who will not make me want to take every second day off for stress management. With that weight off my mind, I'm ready to fly. It will take me a while longer to feel any confidence up against my more experienced colleagues when it comes to the activities I invent and I have a lot to learn but it's manageable, it's relevant and the group of people I've been teamed with are so human and honest that I don't feel at all patronised or under-valued. Yep, this is exactly what I wanted and, for once, my comfort zone actually found a way.

Aside from all that, the year contained no major events. My grandmother has decided against a career as an acrobat and is responding well to alterations to her home as well as demands from all corners to stop pretending she's still 50. My family seem to be in a pretty good place at the moment, gymnastic geriatrics aside, and I feel pretty decluttered in terms of the amount of online baggage I kept trailing behind me. Cutting people loose is never easy but when they keep dragging you back into places that suffocate you and condemn you to making the same mistakes over and over, sometimes it's kinder on everyone if you just drift off quietly. It'll take me a while yet to figure out how I fit into this complex puzzle called life but one thing I am starting to learn is to not place myself in situations that bring out my flaws. Giving people just cause to think the worst of me isn't a great balm for an already battered self-esteem.

I want to look this happy, if not happier, at the end of the year! (If I look that skinny without weird angles, I will consider it a bonus.) So far, I have a pretty good headstart.

I'm Tired and I Want to Go Home

So the ANZAC Day entry didn't eventuate. I've been very slack with anything writing-based lately so that's hardly a surprise but I still feel a bit guilty. I enjoyed a long weekend because, years ago, a bunch of young kids who had no concept of what a World War even was got shot to death on the shores of a country they'd probably never heard about in their youth. It's difficult to empathise, I think, but reflection still brings about a mixed bag of emotions. Australia is so isolated from the reality of war even now because of the limited palpable threat that exists. I suppose intellectually we realise that everywhere is a target these days but the emotional realisation just isn't there, it's been a long time since we lost enough of our sons for the whole nation to feel the loss. And yet, when I hear that Last Post, I cry. Every. Single. Time. The power of music has been remarked upon time and time again and this wouldn't be the only instance where I've been moved to tears by a song but the poignancy of that mournful tune and the solitude of that single bugle is gut-wrenching. I know what war is when I hear it and I don't like it. Not one bit.

Anyway, it would be nice to report that I squandered the opportunity to reflect in a meaningful way about the soldiers who gave their lives so that I could be eating this chocolate today because something even more important came up but that's really not been the case. The internet and I have had a falling out recently, it doesn't behave at all appropriately and winds up causing me stress when all I want to do is escape the mind-numbing mediocrity of my real life. Some might argue that it's doing me a favour since tackling the problems in my actual life is a job I've been putting off for far too many years but those people are fools. Escapism is the new black. The internet needs to get its act together.

Still, life goes on. And on and on and on. I'd like to tell it to get over itself but I fear it might take me too literally and I have no clean underwear in which to be buried. Work has been slow but steady, providing me with enough income not to be panicking at this point in my "Tell Centrelink to Screw Itself" campaign. Life in our household has gone on much to the usual routine, I took Grace to ballet the other day and even managed to get to the Post Office on Thursday to send a Mother's Day present home. I bought two Tamagotchis and have already killed one of them. I've started taking kelp tablets and I'm waiting on my healthcare card to turn up so I can go to the doctor because I have a feeling my thyroid might have taken a vacation, and my sleeping patterns have returned to normal, allowing me to be up at 7am without feeling like a complete zombie. If I'd known I just needed to eat seaweed to feel marginally human again, I could have been chowing down for years. I remember only too well all the boating trips where the water was riddled with kelp and other frond-like lifeforms that I choose to believe were plants and not freaky marine creatures though I will admit it's somewhat difficult to tell. Heck, I could have been eating more sushi. This was not what I envisaged "eating my greens" would entail. Nevertheless, there has been improvement so whether it is actually my iodine levels or just that my body is a pawn in the game my mind likes to call "Fooled You, Sucker!", I will take benefits and run.

Kind of like my Centrelink days.

And that's about it really. Maybe next time I'll talk about something a little more "social commentary-ish" because I have a few topics in mind but, for now, I leave you with this.

I really have too much time on my hands.

Entrophy Sets In

No, I'm not dead. I feel ancient but I'm still hanging in there. Had a whole week of work, gradually starting to feel human again. I'll do a proper entry for ANZAC Day tonight but, for now, here's some photos. Enjoy.

There's actually a story to this whale, the story being that he has completely vanished. I'm pretty sure this photo gives a reasonably accurate depiction of his size so you can imagine our astonishment at his disappearance. This is not a toy for which hide-and-seek is an easy accomplishment and yet he has somehow managed it. Sneaking something that size out of the house is not an especially easy thing either so the only explanation is that we have a black hole somewhere in this house. I wish it would centre itself around my trash.

This one is for Bryan who seems to not know what a cow is or has some other nefarious reason for wanting me to take photos of them. This was taken at the Royal Melbourne Show in 2009. The petting nursery is one of the best exhibitions, I think, especially if you have a pressing urge to have your behind sniffed by various animals.

I have decided I want one of these. Scale model, remote-controlled R2D2. If the kids at school think I'm awesome for playing Pokemon, imagine if I took that in for Show and Tell! (As an aside, I may be considerably less cool once they realise I was lying about there being a secret level on Pokemon HeartGold for people over the age of 12. Children should be less gullible, I'm doing them a favour, really.)

After a week like last week, one of these would be handy, I have to tell you. Anyone else for a mulligan?

Organisation Schmorganisation

One of these days, I might actually get my act together.

So I'm off Newstart Allowance. Not because I have a fulltime job, that would be laughable. That would mean that I actually finished modifying my resume, did some job hunting, figured out what the hell I can actually put in for and was then not only successful in securing an interview but actually managed to receive a job offer. Employment baffles me a the moment since I have absolutely no idea what I want to be doing and I get the feeling that even if I did know, my only options for securing a chance would be some strange loop-the-loop practise because the job market and I seem to be at constant loggerheads with each other. I admit my confusion, demoralisation and disenchantment whole-heartedly. It's some kind of genius when you can't apply for graduate positions because of when you graduated instead of your actual experience since graduating and struggle to find jobs you can apply for as a result because everyone wants the cheaper graduate option and struggle again to find jobs outside of the teaching profession because, apparently, once you have your Education degree, you can't possibly want to do anything other than teach in schools with it. What a ridiculous notion that one might actually entertain applying their skills elsewhere or that people might actually just decide they want a change.

Don't even get me started.

No, I'm off Newstart because I forgot to lodge a form. They didn't owe me anything but I forgot anyway and then I didn't have the NEXT form so that was late too. I actually sent forms in this week but they crossed over with the cancellation notice that arrived today and, naturally, because of Easter, there were a few days lost in terms of being able to do anything anyway. I don't know how I feel about it. I suppose I should contact them but, at the same time, I've hated being on benefits because of the amount of hoop-jumping they put me through so maybe this is a good thing. Bad for my hip-pocket and that's worrying me a little but perhaps destitution is an added incentive to remotivate myself. I'm inclined, I think, to wait and see if they contact me once they actually get my forms but we'll see how I feel Monday. Can't do anything over the weekend anyway.

Quiet day today, onset of uterine rebellion. Two more days left of sleeping in before the possibility of work returns. Booked tickets tonight for my mother, brother and I to go see our football teams play each other at the end of June, that should be amusing. None of us have been to a football match before, not at this level, and I am certainly no particular fan but the experience will be fun, as will being able to gloat when our team beats my brother's. (After robbing us at the Grand Final last year, it's the least they can do.) I may have to clean my room before then since Grace has a standing threat to tell my mother on me but we'll see. I told her tonight, as I put her to bed, that when Mum and Michael are here I would sleep in her room on the top bunk and we could have a girly sleepover. She thinks it's called a sleepover because I'd be sleeping over the top of her and if she gets too uppity about my cleanliness, I'll put the fear of Karen in her by reminding her that the Saggy Baggy Elephant bum might just fall through the top bunk and squash her. We read that story tonight. She didn't correct me when I started pointing out the similarities between me and the principle elephant though she did reassure me when I asked her directly that I didn't look like an elephant. I asked her for her interpretation of my appearance. Her reply was "a saggy baggy chicken".

Serves me right, really.

Pre-caffeinated Wisdom

Ugh, I really hate that I'm addicted to caffeine.

Sometimes, I wonder how it happened. I don't tend to drink what I would consider to be an excessive amount of coffee and, when I do drink it, it's only decent-quality instant coffee, (if there is such a thing), as opposed to anything strong. I would have, I should think, maybe one or two mugs a day except when I am working. That is probably my downfall but even then, I think my intake increased by a mug. Maybe two. I always thought addicts were the ones who had upwards of 8+ mugs a day.

Foolish me.

I think I proved yesterday just how dependent I am on coffee in the morning to make me feel human because I suffered through until about 11am thinking that I was 'coming down with something' because I was lethargic and still yawning and then, with one miraculous brew, I was saved. I don't think I'll wait as long today. I tried to cut caffeine out because it was the easiest way to deal with my slightly elevated blood pressure; I guess I'll have to start exercising instead.

Before I juice myself up though, it occured to me last night that some further explanation might be needed as to why I felt the sudden need to start up a blog. To be honest, a lot of the motivation and drive came from the blogs I actually read. This is something that started a couple of years back when I was a member of postcrossing.com, merrily swapping postcards with other people around the globe. It was a good hobby because, at the time, I worked in an office so there were no issues getting things in the post and my 'feature wall' drew a lot of comments, mostly positive. At about the time I was winding down because I had too many postcards and not enough money, a fellow postcrosser posted something on the forums that pointed me in the direction of Christi Thomas and I have honestly never looked back. As a teacher and Peter Pan advocate, children draw me in far more effectively than adults tend to and when I first started reading her blog, Christi was still alive. The journey her mother has allowed readers to take with her has been a real eye-opener and I constantly struggle to use the Thomas' example to make me a better person. The jury's still out on whether I've made any progress but the seed was definitely planted.

After 'finding Christi', I found myself submersing in the culture of blogs and journals online for children living with cancer, maybe not a topic people would consider particularly upbeat but that's because they don't know these kids. As a teacher, children are constantly motivating and impressing me on a daily basis. Cancer kids and their huge armies of warriors do more than impress me; they blow me and my little ship completely out of the water. When have I ever known pain and sacrifice and true heartache? For that matter, when have I ever known pure, unadulterated joy? By comparison to these families, barely ever and I'm constantly humbled by their honesty, humour, humility and...wait, did I say honesty? Crap, alliteration fails me again. How about 'huge hearts'? (Double point score!) I am both something and nothing as a result of touching base on a daily basis with these amazing people and I feel very grateful. They lift me up.

As I began the daily ritual of checking on 'my kids' and their families, one thing began to stick out for me as a reason for why I was taking the time, outside my own selfishness. I am not particularly good at putting myself first, or even second and third, and for a while it worried me that I was sharing in something that I wasn't really connected to. Was it voyeuristic? It wasn't creepy that I was looking into a family's private moments and absorbing them with all the love and devotion of a daytime soap advocate, was it? For I while, I struggled to find a motivation that wasn't entirely self-serving and then a few commments across several blogs that seemed to touch upon the same point made me realise that, for these families, their reader-base is vital. Whether their child is still battling or won their eternal youth, blogging seems to be more than just a way for the families to keep people up-to-date and to vent when things get tough. Don't get me wrong, those things are paramount, but a common fear amongst parents, especially if their child has earnt their wings, is that the world is going to forget. The world goes on, new things are created, things change, entrophy continues, and their child isn't there. The footprints stop and families appear to live in understandable fear that the tide is going to reach up so far and with such persistence that, eventually, the imprints that do exist are going to vanish. I think I can just about empathise with that without being presumptuous.

So, me, I'm a footprint warrior. My one job? To remember. In some cases, the memories are still amassing and those long lines of appearing footprints are the most awesome things on Earth to watch form. In the cases where the line has stopped, I cherish what was achieved, feel blessed to have been allowed access to the breath-takingness of some of the best kids on the planet and I remember. Remembering is vital.

And now I'm sharing. I'll keep adding blogs as I find them and whilst I'm sure not all of them will fit this theme, expect that many will. Helping to keep someone's memory alive is an honour I didn't realise I had for a while and if I can convert more readers to my zombie hoard, that'll be a job well done. So that's why I blog. In the first instance, as a means of maybe forcing myself to get on with that process of improving my situation but also to act as another link in the chain. Didn't realise I was passionate about this kind of thing? Well, now you do.

So go read. Go on, I dare you. I double dare you. Race you there.

This Just In.

Something is afoot in this house.

Also, trash photos as promised! I found I had them on my harddrive after all, which only goes to show that the reason I have no space left is because I keep doubling up on things.

An entirely intentional photograph of trash. She even threatened to show my mother.

Yes, Grace, I need to do laundry. Karen always needs to do laundry.

Karen's behind is the butt of many jokes. Apparently, I am fine though. It's not like an elephant's because it is not grey. And I don't have a tail.

This is actually stuff belonging to my brother, I have several things belonging to him in my room where I keep them for storage. This, as you can tell, was a properly set-up shot. Because, naturally, that was on the floor to start with.

I have to say though, she took all of those. She's proving to be quite a dab-hand at photography. Between the pair of them, with Grace's artistry and Cordelia's blatant desire to rule the world, we might be onto a winner.

Crud Collecting

Today I think I will talk about trash.

For whatever reason, I'm sitting here on my bedroom floor, in front of my little heater, having utterly failed to motivate myself to get showered and dressed yet and as I glance around this room of mine that contains all that is me, I find it a little self-righteous of life to have so neatly and metaphorically planted so much trash everywhere. Since I have never lived where I have had an entire space of my own, always being allocated only a bedroom amidst shared living space, I have always thought that my room was just an analogy of my life, or at least my head. I live in my room, I live in my head...you see how it works.

And now my room is full of trash.

Most of it is junk food wrappers. And soda cans. A lot of it is packaging and by that I mean the five thousand layers that things come in, including that layer of impenetrable plastic that never fails to slice open your finger after its refused to cooperate with the pair of scissors you're trying to plunge into it. I'm still waiting for the day where they indivdiually wrap face tissues. You know it's coming.

What annoys me most about this trash is that I swear I clean up mountains of it daily and though I have a sweet tooth, I can't fathom that I get through enough food for it to be multiplying at this rate. It's clearly procreating in my sleep, which is oddly how I feel about my sense of misanthropic despair at times. I go to bed and when I wake up, more crud. More crud on my floor, more crud in my head... My life is full of crud!

Which is not to say my life sucks. I'm lucky, just lazy, and I constantly try to keep my head far enough above water so that I can actually start being productive because I'm infused with a sense of guilt that there is absolutely nothing wrong with my life and countless millions out there would probably kill for it. Fight to the death with sporks kind of dedication. I actually kind of like my life sometimes but chemicals will be chemicals.

And children will be children.

A few weeks ago now, Grace went around with my little point-and-shoot camera taking photos of just about everything. (I should probably add at this point that I live with my cousins and their two children. Grace is 4, Cordelia is 1. They're my pseudo-children, the ones I substitute into stories because I don't have my own.) At any rate, I told her she could take photos of whatever she liked since I figured a 4-year-old is probably only likely to take shots of the floor, walls and ceiling if she manages to hit the right button at all.

She took a photo of my trash.

At some point, I will find it and upload it because I passed on all her photos from that day, including the huge closeup of my butt, onto her mother but let me just tell you that this was perfectly in focus and framed in such a way as to look decently artistic. A 4-year-old made my trash look good.

Now there's an analogy I can live with.