Monday, November 24, 2014

So, It's not just me...

So I’m in Ikea – about a hundred miles away from school. I’ve calculated this round trip down to the nanosecond so I can pick-up what I need and bolt out without being late for pick-up.
 Except that I left the Sat-Nav behind in my other handbag from the funeral I attended a few days ago. Also the route to this store is as simple as navigating a plate of spaghetti with each noodle representing a freeway over or underpass. One wrong turn and you’re in Canberra getting looking for eggs to throw at the politicians. 

But I had this nagging feeling. 

You know that feeling that you’ve missed something? That feeling that you had so many balls in the air, but suddenly maybe you’re one short?

I am pretty certain Pinkster’s Jazz Ballet EoY Performance dress rehearsal is tomorrow night… I call another mum to double check and get voice mail.  The sinking feeling persists as I charge through Ikea’s entrance.

I enter the store  through the checkouts making my way backwards to the market hall. 
This is the only way to navigate Ikea when you’re on the clock – you must never EVER follow the arrows on the floor!
Meanwhile I’m working my way through emails wearing totally inappropriate reading glasses for the task.
I get to the textiles department and find my cushion covers, still scrolling through Gmail.  Ah! there it is the email from her dance teacher.  I find the correct one out of five PDF attachments and squinting at the screen look up her Jazz number and the rehearsal date and time. 

Today 3-4pm! And a “Please have your child dressed made up and signed in half an hour prior.”
It’s 2:30 NOW! I should have collected Miss Pink from school 30 minutes ago!   
Holy Shit!
I startle everyone in Textiles with my none too discrete expletive, but I don’t care – I just bolt for the exit. 
But It’s Ikea; I get lost somewhere in bathrooms and end up in rugs when I clearly should be in the bit that sells candles and planters.

Holy Crap!

I fight with the automated check-out, but after jeopardising her dance rehearsal, I’m not willing to make this a wasted effort – I am buying those suckers now if it kills me..
I drive like Fangio through the traffic, almost run up some guys arse only to be confronted with a bank of stationary trucks. After a pretty nifty illegal u-turn and a lucky pick for an alternative route, I zoom across town.

After dragging Pinkster out of class a full 5 minutes before the bell,  and throwing her dance shoes into the back seat for her to put on, I end up parked in a bus zone and we both sprint into the auditorium.
I’ve been telling her how sorry I am all the way and saying what a bad useless mother I am. 
She’s been telling me over and over that I’m actually the best mother in the world.

Miss Emily, her assistant teacher, meets us like an guardian angel, smiling and telling us it will be fine. 
‘She can rehearse in her school uniform and I’ll pop her into her costume for the photo shoot after.’
I gasp,“You’re doing the photos today?’ 

As Miss Emily grabs Pinkster’s costume and heads upstairs with my little girl she assures me; ‘it’ll be fine don’t worry, heaps of dancers haven’t even turned up at all – don’t worry!’
I managed to get her hair up, but no makeup. 
I need a drink.

As it turned out, my little trooper was apparently dropped into her costume and ran onto stage with a big smile, following the other dancers, like she’d been there waiting.

I’m so proud of her. 

I have 45 minutes now to go home, pull in the washing and the outdoor cushions before the looming thunderstorm storm hits. Also find her a change of clothes and a raincoat for pick-up.   

I gather up makeup and make sure I’m there early to fix her up for her photo.

I swear to you, I’ve been running around like a headless chook for the best part of this year. I blame my recent transformation into a single parent  for that;  I used to be cool calm and collected - punctual too.

I often feel if I could just have a pooh in peace, or get ten 'scream-for-mummy-free-minutes' to shower instead of having a quick hose-down while screaming back; "I'm COMING, OK??!!' that I might be in be in better shape overall.

Every morning it seems as though I rush into that school, like a human hurricane, flustered, wet hair and late as usual - with bags under my eyes so spectacular that you could probably sell the design to Samsonite.

Today I’m fielding enquiries for the sale of our second car, and potential tenants for our investment apartment, while playing hotel maid, trying to pack the lunchboxes and juggle homework, shopping washing and meals, cleaning up animal faeces...

But you know what?
It’s not just me!

This time of year is further complicated with end of year events and fund-raisers, Christmas dos and the like.
It was at one of these extravaganzas that I got talking to other mums who said they felt completely out of control and feeling that finger by finger they were losing their grip on pretty much everything.

‘Really?’ I asked incredulous. The stories passed around that night were very comforting. It seems that during my breathless sprint during school run, I hadn’t noticed the other sprinters on the field.

One of my friends apologised for cancelling a play-date because she’d been stuck in traffic. Turns out she was stuck in traffic because she’d had to make an emergency run to the toy store having forgotten her youngest child’s birthday the following day.

Another mum had two sleepless children up in the night -same night as mine, and to add insult to injury she’d had a formerly house trained puppy, like our new kitten, making a multitude of mud pies with his bottom all over the rugs!
Most of my peers apparently are also running on empty, over-committed, with sleepless nights, and family issues to deal with.

Thank God.

If It’s not just me, then I must be.. normal. 


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Monday, November 17, 2014

Writer's Block

Australian Society of Authors asks that all manuscript chapters be submitted in hard copies, doubled spaced single sided A4 paper and  held together with one bulldog clip..

I frantically rummage around in the desk drawers and I find only two options. 

They are novelty bulldog clips that were a Father’s Day present for Mr Frenchie way back. They seemed like a fun idea  at the time.

Following a garbled text message to my ex-neighbour - the exquisite human being and incredibly gifted author Jaclyn Moriarty, (who fortunately only moved a block away) came dashing up the street with a handful of 'plain' bulldog clips clutched in her hand. 

She is my rock and my cheer squad through  this process.  And thanks to her, my ‘baby’ left the building by post that afternoon.  It’ not like she hasn’t better things to do either, being a prize-winning, best-selling, does-it-for-a-living kind of author, busy finalising her third book in the Colours Of Madeline trilogy.  I am in awe of her talent and her endless generosity in encouraging me to explore mine.

So this opportunity came up with not much time to get my chapters ready, but it's worth it if I can gain a professional mentor and editor to help me polish my 'finished' manuscript to a publisher ready state.  I’ve italicized the word finished because it is not, strictly speaking, finished. N
ot quite.
But I figure, the short list won’t be announced until December, the winners announced a month later so they can’t possibly want to see an entire draft before February… surely not.

I’m only about 20k words short. Piece of cake, (eh hem).

Further  motivation was another opportunity to land a deal with a New York literary agent, this deadline is only end of January. I have to submit my first 8k words of my finished manuscript; again using the term finished loosely.
I completed a synopsis and project plan for the first submission, so that’s done.  I’ve edited the first several chapters which amounts to just under eight thousand words and they’ve not asked for a literary CV like the ASA so I’m as good as done. (uh-huh)

Well yes, about twenty thousand words behind done.

This all fell in my lap on Halloween week at the end of which my little daughter had invited some girlfriends over for a party “with decorations and games and special food, mummy!’

And I hadn’t started making her custom hosiery at that stage.

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Little Monster

Have you ever tried to get a particularly squirmy six-year-old to hold absolutely still for forty minutes? I know. What WAS I thinking?

I really thought, this Halloween, that I’d had a reprieve from the usual design,  pattern cutting and sewing deadlines.  Pinkster’s new Monster High obsession led her to imagining herself as Frankie Stein and a lucky pit stop on the way to the Fabric store scored me a readymade Frankie Stein dress that cost less than the materials would have. 


I was well pleased with myself until the art director asked how she would make her skin green? She has high demands of authenticity this one.

I looked at her skin, barely recovering from another bout of eczema and I told her there was no way I was putting green paint all over her arms and legs.

So Sewing reprieve over, I needed to make my first pair of panty hose and a matching tee-shirt.  It wasn’t so bad, I cut a longer leggings pattern, so they would go over her feet, and shaped and tacked them before altering them to have a heel in them and they almost extended to her toes. I used a very sheer stretch dance fabric – luckily in  the exact colour I needed.
Similarly, with the shirt I cut the sleeves long so they extended over the backs of her hands and put a few stitches in each to make a tunnel for her thumb, keeping the sleeves stretched long and covering a good part of her hand.

But by far THE HARDEST PART was putting these on her to fabric paint the stitches on her new green legs and arms.
Hard enough to paint fine lines on  stretch fabric but when you have a ticklish six year old to contend with well this was tough.

Then we had to stand her in it while the paint dried, at one stage she walked to the mirror to look and smudged the stitches on her thighs. So I had to stand her with her legs a bit apart and her arms out. Then the paint dried on her too.

We both had a fit of giggles when I’d run the bath and had to peel  off the nylons, stuck to her skin with paint. She went into the bath with black stitches painted on her skin, but fortunately it washed off her whereas it stayed put on the Fabric. 

The neck Bolts became my next challenge. All the stores had ‘just sold out’ of Frankenstein neck bolts!  I went to a discount store and bought a boys building play set. I had to buy two actually because each set only had one plastic nut & bolt, but at only $3 each didn’t exactly break the bank. We were also very close to the 31st so I didn’t fancy trying to make some from modelling clay.  I made a choker for Pinksters neck, painted the obligatory stitches on that then make little holes and screwed the plastic bolts through.

Without going into too much detail over the finishing touches this was the result.   

My pretty little girl was completely unrecognisable. Just ask her Pre-school friend who got a hug on the trail and froze in shock.

My Frankie also had her heart set on a mini Halloween party, so I had to organise cut-outs and craft supplies for ‘build a bat’. Also a spider web with several teeny tiny spiders for a game ‘Pin the Spider on the Web’.

Halloween week I had a very important writing deadline which I managed to meet by the 28th October. (more on that later) so I had a whole three days to suit her up, decorate the house and prepare for the party and the trick or treaters – who were still arriving after my Frankie had been tucked into bed!

It took me over a week of doing not much, to recover. 

As it turns out my custom hosery is wash-and-wear; with the stitches still intact. yay!

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Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Mid-life Crisis on the School Run

I'm getting odd looks from the odd mum at school.

One morning Pathologically-chatty-and-ever-so-perky-mum-who-is-on-the-committee-for-everything looked me up and down and with a thin smile, asked in a very sugary tone; "where are you off to this morning?"
I answered "actually right now I have to take the dog to the park.."
She raised her eyebrows above her head;  "In those shoes? Good luck!"

I looked down at my feet, my new leather wedge sandals bought on sale for $35 and shrugged as I untied Orange dog's leash from the tree outside the school gate.

I thought, hey, it's almost summer, I have treated myself to some new sandals, yes I'm in a denim mini-skirt - it's hot.
I've also recently dropped a lot of weight and with it my jelly belly hiding loose tops, and I've dusted off some very old but back in fashion pre-pre baby clothes.  This is the sliver-lining of months of stress, so sue me if some days I just feel like dressing a bit nicer and feeling a bit more attractive.

Call it a midlife crisis. I can neither afford, nor have the inclination, to purchase a brightly coloured sports car; I have new sandals and an old skirt instead.

But I'm starting to feel after some of the looks and comments recently that I'm expected to frump it up a bit.

That afternoon I walked Orange dog past a single dad who is usually completely engrossed in the charms of one particular single mum. I've been walking past them with my pooch for a year as good as invisible.

That afternoon, he broke away from single mum and made a bee-line for my orange companion.
"What a handsome fellow he is, I'll take good care of him while you go in?  I love dogs!'
Orange dog is prone to grinning when he's fussed over to this extent and I told this man, "if you pat him like that you'll probably get a smile out of him."
He said "I can make lots of people smile when I pet them a lot.." and he gave me lewd look (practically wiggling his eyebrows Groucho Marx style).


I stalked into the school grounds and the first 'friendly' I came upon I asked; "Tell me honestly, do I look like a tart?"
A startled look; "No, you look summery and nice! Why?"

I told her about Single Dad's petting comment and she laughed her arse off; she called it mens-mid-life-sleeze-crisis.

Anyway, I've worn jeans almost everyday on the school run since,  but reading this article from The Style Insider, apparently I'm ahead on trend with my pre-pre-baby denim skirts.

So next hot day, maybe I'll pluck up the courage again and ignore the odd disapproving look.  It's not like I'm wearing denim cut-offs so short that my butt cheeks are hanging out back and the front pocket linings are hanging down my uppper thighs.. I'll leave that fashion faux-pas to the nannies..

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