Posted on May 19, 2017
I originally wrote this in April 2015. I’ve revised it in light of Chris Cornell’s suicide. Vale.
ACT 1: When I was 17, I got drunk for the first time along Melbourne’s Yarra River. It’s where all students went at the end of the year to forget their high-school woes and to cut loose.
Someone threw up on a cop car (LEGEND!) and I pashed a lot of boys.
The thing is, a lot of us Catholic school girls, especially us wogs, grew up in tortuous communities where EVERY SINGLE step was measured by our parents, neighbours, people we met at a wedding one time, and people who knew our mother and father but we had not seen since we were ten. And either despite this, or in spite of this, we Rebelled with a capital R. I knew lots of Aussie girls who rebelled against being a teenager, but us wog kids, well we rebelled against so much more.
What is incredibly sad is that, at 48, I’m still rebelling. Or perhaps just reeling. What was Chris Cornell reeling from when he chose to hang himself instead of heading back on stage, then back to his family? What made him so sad that he didn’t see an alternative?
Guilt and Fear do not stop just because you get older. Sadness becomes deeper, more tonal, filled with regret, missed opportunities, death.
ACT 2: Being high is better than, well, not being high.
Some people hold onto their youth by listening to the same music or wearing the same clothes or even holding onto the same hairstyle as that time when they were most happy in their lives. Some of us hold onto the greatest moments, and we mythologise them.
I mythologise drinking, getting high, acting out.
Being high makes me think I’m a better writer, a victim, funny, a great friend and wife, more interesting, just more…
And because of this…
Sometimes it feels like I have no past (or just no weekend).
ACT 3: We didn’t have digital cameras in the 80s and I had no money while I was at uni, so that means I have no photographic proof of my memories, my most important memories that explain who I am, whether good or bad.
I don’t have proof of:
– My first acid trip where I saw a cicada that was the MOST GIANT FLY I’d ever seen.
– The time Maree and I made a 4-Season diorama in a shoe box (based on the children’s book, The trip).
– The time, in 1987, when a bunch of us chucked a bunch of dishwashing liquid in the Deaking Uni moat.
– The hitch-hiking posts at Deakin
– The house on Packington Street in Geelong with walls covered in graffiti.
– My “tomato” plants in Geelong.
– Passing out in public phone booths from not eating.
– Sit ins against HECS in 1986-88
– My purple plastic and flannel-lined raincoat that I picked up in that place on 13th Street near Uni in Eugene.
– The glittery blue bike I bought for a gram of weed in Eugene.
– The first time I met Jeff (although I have a t-shirt from the place where we met)…/
I also don’t see anyone from that time (late 80s). I have no photographic evidence, and a very romantic memory.
My memories of that time are hilarious, though, and it feels like I’m holding on REALLY TIGHT to a time that wasn’t real, a time that was so fleeting, a time that has no proof. No photos. No friends that still exist (despite Facebook).
Posted on May 14, 2017
On Mothers Day, I’m reminded of my childlessness, that I’ve never carried any number of children, that I bled for 8 days every 21 days for almost 30 years for no reason other than my body said so. But then I look to my silly family of six–husband (one so far), dogs (two), and cats (two), and remind myself of the wonder of the Mirena IUD (No. More. Blood.) and smile.
In all fairness though, I might not have any kids, but spending time away from home with my parents is like being around tween siblings without internet connectivity.
It’s Mother’s Day weekend and we’re at the weekender in Hepburn Springs, our go-to for a bit of solitude. It’s nice here, super low-key save for the cars heading into town (Daylesford) for brunch and a spa treatment, and there’s the odd flock of cockatoos screaming at the heavens. It’s cold enough at this time of the year where we can light a fire and don’t feel guilty about skipping a morning walk. Dad fiddles around with the trees, hacking into bushes and pulling weeds. Today he harvests a bag of olives from the front yard. Jeff and I read on our phones, give the cats our feet to tear up and largely ignore the barking dogs, but make sure to top up the fire. The house is sparse–it’s a weekender, after all–and there’s no cleaning to do, no laundry, no anything. We don’t even have music on because it’s nice to just read and chill after a week of work and to-do lists.
Thing is, mum doesn’t use an iPad, or a smart phone, she doesn’t read anymore and, while she enjoys a soak in the bath, she prefers a shower for its efficiency.
My mother likes to Get. Things. Done. And relaxing quietly is not one of those Things.
Instead, she talks to the animals. My mother doesn’t do silence. So she insists on conversation with the dogs, and when they don’t answer she looks to me and waits for me to answer on their behalf. She remarks about how clean and the tidy the house is, about what she’ll make for dinner, about how she’s happy to make scrambled eggs for mother’s day brekkie instead of going to Cliffys in Daylesford (but I’ve got my eye on a hash brown with aged cheddar). She laughs at the kitten and marvels at her intelligence (trust me, she’s just an average moggy), and tries to catch other, feral, cat as she stalks down the stairs on her way to the litter box. It won’t happen. That cat is not the cuddly kind. She says the dogs are So Elegant in their hoodies (They’ve just had a shave and are freezing. Plus I like to dress them up. Don’t judge!). They do look pretty cute.
My mother stands, a lot, because sitting is frivolous, although she says that it’s to keep warm. Sitting makes her cold. Plus she’s itchy (and needs to go to the doctor to see why she’s so itchy all the time). I go on reading, and when I’ve finished with my cup of tea she swipes it from my fingers before I’ve laid it on the coffee table and takes it into the sink to wash it. She even dries it and puts it away.
There’s no ironing to be done. No grout to clean. No spare room to dust. Dad doesn’t need a clean outfit to wear to the coffee shop or his social club because there isn’t one in Hepburn Springs. Mum’s routine is out of whack, poor love. So she washes every dish as it’s dirtied, and she laughs at the cats and dogs.
I think it must be hard to be the mother of an only child who didn’t have kids.
Mum was the last of her family, and all of her siblings had either died or were married by the time she was born. She lived with a widowed mother, and didn’t learn anything about normal mothering, just that desperation with which my grandmother held onto her because she was her last baby, the one she still had in her womb when her husband died in a bomb blast in the war. My mother was gold to her mother. The last. The only. The most cherished. So she never learned what it was like to be a normal kid.
So when she left her village, in among the linen and cloth nappies, my mother brought regret and guilt with her on the month-long boat ride to Australia, and she’s gripped them both with the strength of fighter. She doesn’t deny it either. She blames her mother’s death on her sudden departure, soon after marriage and childbirth. She regrets leaving. Reckons it’s all her fault.
I would never wish my mother’s mothering on a child. Maybe that’s why I never had kids (although I blame my eggs, actually). There’s far too much anger and sorrow in my mother’s mothering. Oh, and resentment, regret, and a lack of understanding of anything remotely related to kids in Australia.
It’s a little hard for us both on Mother’s Day, I think. Mostly mum, though. She didn’t get that chance to get better at motherhood the second or third time around, and she won’t get the chance to throw all the rules away with grand kids. She wants to indulge someone, many someones (I think), in a way she never could when she was scrimping and saving to pay of the mortgage before she turned 40. Back then she had no money or time to squander on reading anything longer than pulp fiction or an old Italian fashion magazine. She would sometimes spend her bus ride to work re-read the five books she’d come over to Australia with. Mostly, she looked at the regular faces who waited at the bus stop and made up stories about them.
I went to work at the clothing factory with mum when I was 14. I spent the summer in the basement of that factory on Flinders Lane, and 2 hours a day watching the regulars at the bus stops on our way to and from the city and she would tell me who’d missed the bus and who hadn’t changed their shoes or shirt.
Back then, at home, she was like a single mother to an only child, with dad working 80 hour weeks at the factory or with mates at the pub or cafe. There was no time for frivolity, just resentment and rage and the terror that she wouldn’t manage to get everything done before Sunday night.
But with old age comes a little softening, the recognition (perhaps) that there is another way (maybe). She overfeeds the dogs and dances with them. She takes them for walks and indulges them by letting them sleep on the couch in front of the heater. She would make lunch and dinner for us every day if I wanted. She would call and talk for hours, but I’m just too busy to listen. I just want serenity now, because I got so much rage for so long, so I seek the quiet.
My mother tells me how lucky I am to have avoided having kids (geez, thanks mum). She says they’re too much worry. She reminds me of all the travel I’ve done, of all the travel I’ll do, that I’ll never have to cry over a child. She would have been a great nonna, my mum, because she makes her own pasta, still makes Sicilian donuts for St Martins Day, she sings to dusty old Italian tunes, and is an expert seamstress. She would have taught her grand kids how to embroider as though ants with angel wings had sewn the stitches. She didn’t have time to teach me, what with all the preparation for Mondays, but she’s ready to share her gifts now.
I wish I had time for her, but I’m too busy, what with all the preparation for Mondays. I’m too busy seeking silence. I don’t regret not having kids, not at 48, but I do wish I’d given my mother someone, plenty of someones, to share herself with, so she had someone to talk to other than the dogs.
Posted on March 6, 2017
I’ve been abandoned, and I have abandoned. Here’s the list:
Bernadette Luvara – I left town with my parents when I was 10. We didn’t have Facebook. Sorry.
Nicolina Grimaldi – I felt superior. I didn’t respect you. Sorry.
Nancy Camarda – I left for uni. I felt like a loser. Like you wouldn’t get me. Sorry.
Maree Lavecchia – We were everything. We loved. I left. You cursed me. Sorry.
Anna Lazarevic – You had a kid. You didn’t get me. I felt judged. Sorry.
Connie Athanasiadis – You had a kid. I didn’t get you. You resented me. Sorry.
Rachael Kacen – You had a kid. I hated it. Sorry.
Samone Bos – I don’t understand. I’m jealous. Sorry.
Posted on March 6, 2017
Would you like to some Australian/Italian coming-of-age fiction set in Victoria in the 1970s? My novel, “Floating Upstream”, has been enrolled in the 2017 Smashwords “Read an Ebook” promotion, which means it’s FREE for a few days, as is my book of poems and short stories, “Girls”. My writing focuses on girls and women who are less than perfect, and simply trying to work shit out in a culture that doesn’t want them to grow and move on.
You can find both ebooks here. Simply use the code SFREE and download for free!
I’d love to hear your feedback. I’m on Goodreads here.
Posted on February 19, 2017
So I read about The 100 List recently. Sounds like a bucket list kind of thing but it’s a little different. It’s not a list of things you hope to do before you die. It’s a list of 100 things you will do while you’re alive.
Same Same but Different?
So this is a keynote speech from the guy who decided to do this, Seb Terry.
I’m working on my list right now, with some help from the interwebs.
- Abseil Down a Waterfall
- Attend a Murder Mystery Dinner
- Attend a Music Festival
- Attend a Unique Small-Town Festival
- Attend a Vipashna Retreat
- Be a Bridesmaid
- Be a Game Show Contestant
- Be a Member of a TV Studio Audience
- Be a Self-Made Millionaire
- Be on a Radio Show
- Be on a TV Show
- Be the the New York Times Bestsellers List
- Bid at an Auction
- Bird Nest Soup
- Blow Glass
- Bone Marrow
- Catch, Cook & Eat a Fish
- Century Egg
- Climb an Indoor Rock Wall
- Complete a big embroidery to hang on the wall
- Create an embroidered wall hanging
- Dance at a Rave
- Día de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) | Mexico
- Día de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) | Mexico
- Do a Belly Dance
- Do a Charity Walk
- Do the Hollywood Walk of Fame | California
- Do the Hula
- Donate Books
- Donate Clothing
- Drink Absinthe
- Drink Juice from a Fresh Coconut
- Eat a Meal Cooked by a Celebrity Chef
- Eat a Raw Diet for a Day
- Eat an Insect
- Eat at a Food Truck
- Eat at a Michelin 3-star Restaurant
- Eat Fondu
- Eat Fondue
- Eat in a Pitch Black Restaurant
- Enter Something in a Food Competition
- Explore a Rain Forest
- Explore the Acropolis | Greece
- Explore the Ancient Ruins of Petra | Jordan
- Explore the Galapagos Islands | Ecuador
- Explore the Van Gogh Museum | Netherlands
- Extract Honey from a Bee Hive
- FESTIVALS & EVENTS
- FESTIVALS & EVENTS
- Float in the Dead Sea | Jordan/Israel
- Fly First Class on Emirates
- Fly in a Helicopter
- Fly on a Trapeze
- Foster animals
- French Quarter | New Orleans
- Get a Caricature Drawing by a Street Artist
- Get a College Degree
- Get a Fish Pedicure
- Get a great book publishing deal
- Get a Henna Tattoo | India
- Get a Tattoo
- Get a Tattoo
- Get Acupuncture
- Get Hypnotized
- Get my PADI license and go diving
- Give a Ted Talk
- Go caving
- Go on a Cruise
- Go on a Cruise
- Go to a Drive-In Movie
- Go to a Health Spa
- Go to a Tattoo Festival
- Go to the Movies by Myself
- Go whitewater rafting
- Grand Central Station | New York
- Have 15 Minutes of Fame
- Have a Facial
- Have a Housecleaner
- Have my brows threaded
- Helicopter into the Grand Canyon | Arizona
- Hike the Inca Trail | Peru
- Hike Through the Crooked Forest | Poland
- Host a dinner party with strangers
- Hug a panda
- Hunt for Wild Mushrooms
- Jelly Fish
- Join a Flash Mob
- Kite Surf
- Learn about gypsy healing
- Learn French
- Learn Roller Derby
- Learn Spanish
- Learn the Alphabet in Sign Language
- Learn the German Wheel
- Learn the Hula | Hawaii
- Learn to play guitar to a level of satisfaction
- Learn to play piano to a level of satisfaction
- Learn to surf
- Learn to Tango with Jeff
- Learn ukulele
- Leave My Mark in Graffiti
- Lose weight and keep it off once and for all
- Make a Wish in the Trevi Fountain | Italy
- Make Mosaic Art
- Make pottery/ceramics
- Make Soap
- Marvel at Plitvice Lakes | Croatia
- Meet Dr Phil
- Own a Successful Business
- Own an Original Piece of Artwork
- Own Investment Real Estate
- Own Julia DeVille Jewellery
- Participate in a Japanese Tea Ceremony
- Play a Pinball Machine
- Play a Song on a Harmonica
- Play Bingo at a Bingo Hall
- Publish all the books I write
- Raw Oysters
- Read 15 books a year
- Record a Song
- Relax in a Natural Hot Spring
- Renovate our home and finally just enjoy it
- Ride a Camel
- Ride a Segway
- Ride in a Gondola
- Ride in a Hot Air Balloon
- Ride in a Tuk Tuk
- Ride on a Cable Car
- Ride on a Scary Roller Coaster
- Ride on a Subway
- Sea Urchin
- See a Broadway Play
- See a Cirque du Soleil Show
- See a Coral Reef
- See a Las Vegas Show
- See a TED Talk Live
- See Cappadocia’s Fairy Chimneys | Turkey
- See Gaudi’s La Sagrada Familia | Spain
- See Patti Smith perform Horses
- See the Dalai Lama
- See the Eiffel Tower Glitter at Night | France
- See the Hanging Temple in Mount Hengshan | China
- See the Mona Lisa at the Louvre | France
- See the Northern Lights | Alaska
- See the Pamukkale Hot Springs | Turkey
- See the Pyramids of Giza | Egypt
- Sell everything (ok, 80%) of my belongings
- Shoot a gun
- Sing a Karaoke Duet
- Sing Karaoke in Berlin
- Sleep in a Treehouse
- Sleep in a Yurt
- Sleep in an Overnight Train
- Smoke a Hookah
- Snorkel/dive the Underwater Museum | Mexico
- Stand in Front of the Taj Mahal | India
- Stand Under a Waterfall
- Start a Blog
- Start a Blog
- Start a Charity/Foundation
- Stay Awake for 24 Hours
- Stay in an Underwater Hotel
- Step Foot in all 7 Continents
- Swim in Jellyfish Lake | Palau
- Swim with Pink Dolphins | Amazon
- Take the Walk of Faith, Tianmen Mountain | China
- Take a Self-portrait photo of myself on the 1st of the month for as long as I desire.
- Tap Dance
- Times Square | New York
- Touch a Pyramid
- Touch a Tarantula
- Tour a Mayan Ruin
- Travel to India, Nepal and Tibet
- Try Bikram Yoga
- Try Cupping Therapy
- Visit a Temple
- Visit the White House | Washington DC
- Visit the Winchester House in California
- Volunteer at an archeological dig
- Walk a Suspension Bridge
- Walk on Hot Coals
- Walk on Stilts
- Walk the Great Wall of China | China
- Walk the Las Vegas Strip | Nevada
- Wear Colored Contacts
- Write 20 books
- Write a Children’s Book
- Write a cookbook
- Write a Love Note with Lipstick on the Bathroom Mirror
- Write a Song
- Write my Name in Wet Cement
Posted on December 19, 2016
Sometimes you want to disappear into your made up worlds. You want to have all of their lack of give-a-shits.
You want to much more than this thing you have now.
You feel owed.
Why are you still fat?
Why aren’t you successful?
Why do you hate it when someone looks over your shoulder to see what I’m doing?
What is your truth?
You’re incapable of creating when you’re here and now.
What happens when you’re fixed? Do you become irrelevant?
Do you die?
Posted on August 3, 2016
One day looks like the other day
Looks the same as tomorrow
Eat shit bullshit repeat
Joy is pretend
Found between the sofa cushions with a bunch of stale unsalted peanuts and one sugared almond
Joy’s the sugared almond
Costs a bunch and rots your teeth
Joy’s elusive, not an unsalted peanut which is everywhere
Like a sugared almond, Joy is for special occasions
And they’re distant as a memory
Repetition is a pack of unsalted peanuts
Always on sale
The olds buy them in bulk packets with bland labels
Everyone can afford repetition
‘s’just that I don’t want it
Day as today as yesterday as tomorrow.
Posted on August 3, 2016
Today I cried and made a choice.
Today I chose the wrong way but I know I chose it.
There’s nothing like walking into your bedroom to find your lover staring at the wall, defeated.
Because I made a choice.
He didn’t like.
At least I’m not a lamp made of skin.
I heard this. I don’t own it. I’m not Jewish.
But I’m told I lived in a kind of concentration camp.
I feel nervous at this because I’m not sure anyone is allowed to own the idea of the concentration camp unless they are Jewish.
But it resembled one – albeit with food and school and the rest of it.
My therapist describes my concentration camp as a solitary life, where a child cooks for herself from the age of six, where she has no friends, no family, not until after 5. Where bullies were the norm. Where she sat at the front of the bus, the low seat next to the driver. Where she was the last kid off the one hour bus ride home.
My therapist tells me that my concentration camp looks lonely. Where the adults are unpredictable, even in anger. Anger involves oranges flung at mum. Unpredictable anger where a car is driven towards a pole. Unpredictable anger who didn’t come home until late at night. Mum was sad an lonely and thought she was responsible for killing her mother, but didn’t worry about how she was killing me.
I don’t know who I am. Stories flood my brain and I don’t know what’s real and what’s a lie. My dreams feel more real than my memories, at times.
I made a choice tonight and I’ll live with it.
I grabbed a bottle and chose to drink it.
Should I feel bad that I feel great for the first time in months?
How did I make my therapist cry?
What does it mean?
I feel like everything I tell him is a lie.
What is it?
I’m told no at every turn.
And it makes me 15 again, want to say “fuck you, even if I agree, I’m saying yes”.
No to painting the bathroom blue.
No to more cats.
No to more dogs.
No to making.