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Fuck Politeness

This is a revolution, not a public relations movement

So the day I’d thought would never come, did of course!

I finished work and Mini FP was sick so instead of the planned Master Chef party for Mini TBO we stayed home, mooched with Buffy and packed bags for the Coast part of our holiday (four nights on a farm in Bulladelah followed by four nights at Mum’s for Christmas). Up early to hand the bags over to lil sis who’d generously offered to come and pick up presents and baggage for us and off to the docs to make sure we had an emergency script to hand for antibiotics and/or prednisone to hand while we were away in unfamiliar areas. Had brunch with a friend then came back home to pack for the farm.

Headed up to the farm Sunday morning arriving around lunch time having stopped for pub grub and supplies. Immediately went into my ‘nesting’ zone of storing everything away in appropriate spaces as if it was in fact my house then went to visit the animals. We had a delightful time on the farm. The goats were extremely intimidating at first – some of the grown ones are quite large and barrel chested and jump up and are prepared to use hooves or horns to get the most food. But after a while we worked out that showing them our empty hands kept them at bay and that they (well rather most of them) were simple enough to believe us if we showed them one open hand. Some of them would look at my empty hand and look up at the food container perched on top of my head and look back and forth and then just trot away accepting it. Later when I had the feed held behind my back two of them were looking at my empty hand, then staring at my other arm then pushing at me and showing me their horns like ‘Come on lady we’re not that stupid!’.

We were a little confused over paddock locations and which animals were in what. We knew there were some bulls around that we’d been told to stay away from but we weren’t sure if we were headed into the cow paddock or the bull paddock. So we left the kids on the outside of the fence and went in to find the cows. We walked and walked and walked and then in the very corner we spotted them in the distance. And they spotted us. They looked, they mooed and then they started moving. So we shimmied back towards the gate telling ourselves they weren’t moving that fast. Though when we looked back they were certainly covering ground. Now after we’d met them, fed them, patted them they were far less intimidating and it might seem silly but when twenty cows (who you think might be bulls) are bearing down at you from the distance and covering that distance at an impressive speed and the fence you could have climbed is, you suspect electric? It’s a little daunting for two city slickers like us. We skedaddled silently towards the gate, me silent because I did not want to acknowledge that I thought we might be idiots who had put ourselves in a dangerous situation and finally we reached the gate just ahead of the charging herd. It turns out they just love their food. They thought we had it, they started to come towards us, we started to walk away they started to run. I guess they thought their food was leaving. We just saw several tonnes of behooved and possibly testosterone-fuelled beef charging at us and I’m pleased to say that though my neck broke out in a cold sweat neither of us wet ourselves.

Turns out they were cows with one young bull. He was fine. The instructions said he didn’t like to be patted and I was so okay with that. But he took food from our hands and was gentle with us. The cows were rough with each other, locking horns and bashing at each other for food, but if you moved suddenly they’d do this skittish little dance and rush off. If the cows had behaved like the goats I would have been gone from the cow paddock and never re-entered but they were quite lovely to feed. There were two sheep there who hung with the cows.

I really did adore the goats though…after their feeding frenzy subsided they were gentle and silly and would follow you everywhere bleating. I have a friend who lives on a farm who said he had to start doing his running program elsewhere as the goats initially would follow him which was funny until he realised they’d run way past when it hurt them and they’d be wheezing and sputtering.

A lot of our time was spent sitting on the back veranda in the shade just watching the gum trees and the little birds with the sticky-up-y tails that would come and hang out in a nearby shrub. It was a lovely relaxing break and I wished we could have stayed there a couple more days.

We headed back on Christmas Eve. I realised when I got to Mums that I was really sick with an infection so I had to find a docs and get a script and sort myself out. We went off to a carol service, set up a tree and went to midnight mass. I managed to sleep right in on Christmas day and presents and brunch were delightful, really. Mum had new outdoor furniture and it was extremely pleasant being outside to eat and there were pastries and fruit and ham and cheese and that was fantastic.

But you know…this is my parent’s house. The one I payed a fortune to have two cleaners go into and spent a day of my exam prep cleaning it with them. We each spent four hours on it and only managed to sort out the top floor (well that still ignoring the two rooms my sisters occupy). But the areas we did were spotless. You know, the carpet was still bad but we’d really done an excellent job on a filthy house. So this was what? A maximum of six weeks ago? More like four or five. But I turn up and the house smells stifling again. The bathroom was covered in dust/hair/grime. The toilet was filthy. I just…how do you see that someone has spent their money and time doing it and refuse to even wipe down a fucking surface? So it was back to thongs in the shower. I can’t quite understand what it was but I just could not breath. My asthma’s been playing up and I have an allergy to cats. There are  two in the house and the windows don’t get opened much since my family seems to have an issue with fresh air and because the cats might push the screens out and escape/fall. By the last day I was there I was thinking ‘So fucking WHAT, let them escape!’.

But you know, I’d lean on a kitchen bench and my arm would get stuck because of the combination of dust/steam and grease that had been settling there for years but was never wiped down with a cleaning product, I’d see the cat food spoon on the wooden chopping board, there was no bench space because it was all taken up with new stuff Mum had bought with no where to put it. I had to clean behind the computer area because Mum bought a new computer and there were ropes of thick dust and cobwebs. You can’t use anything because it’s not clean – I won’t dry up there because the tea towels stink, I bought a new dishbrush because there’s is three years old but Mum likes it b/c it’s ‘pretty’. I’m fairly certain it’s also a biohazzard but never mind. You know, it’s not just a little ‘lived in’ or that Mum’s a little ‘behind’ in the housework. It’s fucking disgusting is what it is…and no one else sees it or says anything. Meanwhile I get more and more sick the more time I spend there. Sigh.

So you know, spending time with my family was fine, it’s just that it’d be nice to be able to do that AND be able to breathe AND to not be eyeballing everything wondering if it’s safe to eat/drink from etc.

Anyway, we got back Monday arvo. I’m still detoxing from the Coastal stuff (the feeling sick/being unable to breathe/knowing everything smells like dust and cat and closed-in-house but also the depressing conversations with Mum where she said she knows Dad lies to her/has money from some other source with which to go drinking etc and is not happy but will stay) and of course I walk back into this small unit and have to wash every item of clothing and unpack while sick. It’s been slow going. But I’m getting there. My lungs feel better this morning (I guess they’ve processed the half tonne of cat fur they ingested over the four days at Mums) and I can see I’ve made some progress around here.

But I got an email this morning to tell me my friend Maria died. Maria and I used to hang out a bit more. Initially someone gave me her number to line up lifts to school for my son. Then I stopped by one day, was invited to dinner and that was that. We’d spend a bit of time smoking cigarettes together, talking shit, having bbqs etc. Then I got full time work and then I started seeing TBO and then I started studying again and I really had no time at all. She got sick around this time – ovarian cancer. I was unsure of what to do given we’d not seen each other as much and I knew the Mums at school were kind of stampeding her house to visit. I also felt really nervous about how to handle it – did I discuss it with her? Pretend it wasn’t happening? Eventually I went over and we sat and talked like we used to. She discussed her will with me and her concerns her ex husband (an alcoholic) would get the kids. I offered to do the legal work for free though she ended up pursuing it in some other way. I really didn’t see her much after that. She couldn’t have visitors who were sick and between the four of us someone was always germ-y. She was always friendly when I did see her but I was feeling bad for not supporting her more even though I had no idea how to: her sister was here and not much information was coming out to friends. Initially we’d taken turns cooking meals but with Jackie here with nothing else to do that wasn’t really required. Just before Christmas I saw her and she looked so frail. I called her sister and asked if I could do anything to help. She just kind of laughed and said ‘I’m not exactly strapped for time’. I wondered out loud about a gift of sending them all to the movies…and of course she couldn’t – a big air conditioned room full of people carrying all kinds of germs? I realised that my continuing attempts to offer were more about making me feel better than anything else and that I needed to accept that there was nothing I could do that would make it better or worse.

It’s a hard thing to realise and I think there’s still some guilt over not *making* more time (though to be honest I haven’t been able to make more time for friends I was closer to. I adored her but we spent time together when our kids did and had some good laughs together including getting uproariously drunk one night and all the adults having an impromptu sleepover and Maria and I crying with laughter over the volume of Mark’s snoring – but at that stage I didn’t even have time for socialising with older and closer friends) and that was triggered when someone asked how I knew Maria and her close friend said ‘Oh Maria used to give her son lifts’ and I was left blinking and thinking ‘Was that a dig?’. But if it was, whatever, you know? She was a brilliant, vibrant and friendly woman. We had some good times together. The level of our friendship peaked when our kids were hanging out a lot, and ebbed when they stopped being so close and when I got stupidly busy. Things change. I am sad this morning that she’s gone, and that her children now have to negotiate what that will mean for their lives when one is just starting High School and the other is in the middle of puberty and could do with her mum around. I wish we could have found some way to make her better, but that’s how these things go. It’s sad and there is no way to make it not sad/to change it/to undo things I regret.

I’m not sure when her funeral will be. I suspect it’s going to be when we’re in Melbourne. Anyway…I don’t really know how you end a discussion like this. I’ll miss her and I desperately wish I could do something to make life easier for her kids, but I doubt there’s anything I can do.

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