Thursday, 18 December 2014

Fez Boy is a Reader!!

Lots of people like books. They enjoy reading and all as a very restful, occasional pastime. Not quite so many people are actually Readers with a capital R.

Readers get caught up in the story. We can't risk reading 'just a few pages' before bed, because we'll still be there at 2 am, glued to the book. We live in houses full of books and throw out useless things like spare towels just because we need more space for our books. (Everyone has books in their linen closet right?) 

We struggle to part with books. People will say "You need more space, why don't you get rid of some books?" and we Readers will look upon them with horror, because they might as well have told us to eat our own offspring to make more space in the house (it is possible this would work, but I'm not particularly recommending offspring eating, it would probably be simpler to buy a bigger house).

We cry when our favourite characters lose, we cheer when they win and we're broken hearted when they die. When we're caught in the throes of story, you can tell us the house is on fire and we'll just say "Mmhmm" and not hear a word. We can't help it, it's just the way it is.

I am a Reader. Captain Barnacle is a Reader. Exhibit B is a Reader. Cookie Monster is a Reader. And until recently, Fez Boy was a person who liked books.

This is ok. We're not about to tell any of our children how to define their own hobbies and he did enjoy the odd story here and there although he's been far more likely to read two pages and then announce "I'm bored now, what else can I do?"

Yesterday however, there was an epiphanic moment for young Master Fez.

I have recently acquired a copy of the graphic novel adaptation of The Graveyard Book. A librarian friend I know had tipped me off about a Neil Gaiman sale and like the junkie I am, I couldn't resist. It's ok, she couldn't either :P

Exhibit B and Cookie Monster, having both read the novel were thrilled to see the graphic version and devoured it enthusiastically. Fez Boy, seeing them, was intrigued. "The cover - oh gosh, it looks pretty interesting mum, is it scary? Will I like it?"

"Try it and see," said I.

Being school holidays, I put him to bed, still reading, at 9pm. At 11pm Exhibit B wandered past and said "Do you realise he's got his bedroom light on again?"

There was Fez Boy, newly transformed into a Reader, and so firmly glued to The Graveyard Book that I don't think he COULD have put it down even if he'd tried. I took it away from him, and feeling like the worst monster in the world, I ignored his begging cries of "Just one more page!!! Please!!!"

I know where that leads, there's no such thing as "just one more" when it comes to books.

He finished it this morning and now, as I write, all I can see is the top of his scruffy head from behind the pages of Coraline.

I can't tell you how pleased I am that he's had this experience. One can teach a person to read, but you can't "make" someone a Reader. It either happens or it doesn't. Fez Boy just got lucky. He found a story that set his heart on fire. A story that held him tight and thrilled him to his socks, words that dragged his eyes along the page with their demand to be read.

Now he's like the rest of us, just another book junkie in search of his next fix.

I think we're gonna need a bigger house.

Thursday, 7 August 2014

My John Hurt Moment And My Wonderful Son

Fez Boy turns 9 soon. As our youngest I’ll be darned if I can figure out how he got that old that quickly.

Anyway, as with his sisters, I’ve done my best to make sure he’s properly informed in a practical and sensible way about bodies, how they work, babies, where they come from and all those tricky questions kids seem to delight in asking at the wrong moment. I’ve always had the view that if they’re able to ask the question then they deserve an honest answer – no storks here please!

I’ve always tried to relate the baby question back to my own personal experiences. Each kid has been curious to hear about what it was like when I was pregnant with them personally. What it was like to give birth to them – not so much about what it was like having their siblings, but all about THEMSELVES.

Which led to me making a teensy weensy mistake with Fez Boy. You see, his big sisters were regular deliveries. He, however, got lost on the way out and was a quite scary emergency caesarean.

It wasn’t until he asked me a few weeks ago “If a lady has a normal baby in a normal way and there isn’t an emergency – how does it get out of her tummy?” that I realised I’d concentrated so much on how he was transverse and an emergency caesarean and I’d totally forgotten to explain ordinary childbirth to my son.

So I did.

His eyes got bigger and bigger. “Really? Mum vaginas really stretch like that? Doesn’t it hurt?”  Yes, yes it does, quite a bit. And yes, by the time it’s over, a mum is stretched in just about every body part she can name and in some she can’t, but that’s ok, it’s like an elastic band, we eventually ping back into something approaching the regular shape.

I watched him absorbing all this new information. Feeling a bit guilty that I’d somehow managed to forget to explain it properly the first time. Bad Mum me, shame, shame.

I was expecting him to respond with a bit of the usual “eeewww icky” kind of comments. But then Fez Boy said something that impressed me and amazed me.

Those big, awestruck, astounded eyes turned to look at me. “So you mean every mum I know has done this, unless she had an emergency or adopted her baby?”

”Yep, that’s right.”

“I can’t believe this!! Girls are just so incredible!!”

I might have made a mistake in the Biological Explaining Department, but somehow I’ve done something very right in some other department where it matters so much more.

Good Mum me, so proud of my boy.

* and if you don't know why I call his birth my John Hurt moment then you should watch Alien again. Specifically the chest bursting bit. At least from my perspective, it was a LOT like that :P

Thursday, 31 July 2014

Another Reason Why I Hate Breakfast Television

Haven’t blogged for ages I know. This could be because nothing terrible has happened to fire me with righteous indignation. Or it could be because I’m lazy. :P 

And this subject? Well, I do know there are more important things happening in the world today, thanks for pointing that out. But this is my blog and this is something that is still giving me the irrits every time I think about it. And I’m thinking about it – it’s like a sore tooth, I can’t leave it alone.

To the subject at hand!

This week I had my annual mammogram. This is not bloggable, it’s just a pain in the bum. Or in the boobs really, but hey. As part of the process, a lot of waiting is involved, in hospital waiting rooms, with bad magazines and commercial television. I always take a good book.

I’d zoned out the television, it was on of those dreadful breakfast programs that have advertisements and gossip masquerading as news stories.

But then they mentioned San Diego ComicCon and my geeky ears pricked up. Only to be brutally disappointed when I heard the next bit of the blurb. A fashion article. What’s Hot and What’s Not. At ComicCon.

Let that sink in for awhile – what is hot and what is not in fashion at ComicCon . . . . . I had hopes it might be just a weird non-geek way to introduce the coolest cosplays. But no, it was all about what the guest celebrities were wearing.

Leaving aside the myriad evils of hot/not fashion articles (ie body image, conformity, hypersexualisation and why is it nearly always women they pick on?) it’s bloody ComicCon you morons!! Yeah, maybe such-and-such does look like she just finished dropping her kids off at soccer (one of the worst “fashion” comments I heard). But maybe that’s just because she knows her fans care about her and her work and her skills, we don’t care about whether she looks intimidatingly super fashionably up to date. We aren’t about to judge her based on what she’s wearing!!

The worst comment by far though? One of the fashionistas talking about convention attendees and about how it’s so cute when they wear their little costumes. I’ve heard some patronising bullshit in my time but that nearly had me exploding in the waiting room. The trouble with yelling at the tv is that the bastards can’t hear me. :(

Geeks go to conventions. They go because they are fans and story addicts. They go because they want to share with other geeks and thank the people who help put shape to their favourite stories – either as actors or writers or artists or any of the wonderful jobs involved in dreammaking.

They don’t go because they want to look at "clothes horses" and be all judgy about them wearing the “wrong” shoes.

I have always been keen to proselytise for the geek lifestyle. If non-geeks (my kids call them “straights” as in the Cookie Monster saying “Should I wear my blood-spattered Lady Macbeth t-shirt to the park or will I just scare all the straights?”) want to jump on our bandwagon and join in the fun that’s great. I aim to practice inclusive geekery and encourage my kids to do the same.

But this is too much.

ComicCon is ours. It’s not yours. I know folks out here in Australia who view it as some kind of Mecca. A trip to San Diego would be a pilgrimage to something beyond great. We go to our local events like Supanova and we love it – but ComicCon? That would be magic.

And when we go we’ll wear what we damn well please.

And we’ll expect our heroes to do the same.

Take that breakfast talk show bollocks!!

Wednesday, 17 April 2013

Way to go New Zealand!

Oooh, where to start on this one? First of all – CONGRATULATIONS NEW ZEALAND!! Well done you and thank you so much!! Good on Louisa Wall for sponsoring the bill!

Also, in keeping with the practically compulsory patriarchal tradition of only discussing female political figures in terms of their physical appearance and dress, isn’t Louisa Wall lovely? :D

Ok, now that we’ve done that bit, now for the hard part. AUSTRALIA WHERE ARE YOU?

How far behind do we have to lag on the question of what is right? Especially when, in this case, what is right lines up so neatly with what the people want?

Anyways, what I really wanted to talk about is just how horrible I find one of the particular arguments against same sex marriage.

It’s the “allowing same sex marriage will diminish and devalue the meaning of marriage” argument. This really gives me the pip – to the point that it’s actually getting harder to just plain state my thoughts and not start ranting and yelling and whacking people with the how-on-earth-did-you-get-to-be-like-this stick.

Speaking as a person with a marriage of my own, I think it devalues that marriage to have to hear my country saying “Hi there! Australia will extend this fairly basic civil right to only some of our citizens. We will exclude other citizens. Not for any particular reason, just because we say that our previous cultural conditioning is far more important than the present happiness and legal rights of some of our citizens.”

There are plenty of things that do devalue the ideal of marriage:

A country that for arbitrary and unjust reasons only allows some of its consenting adult citizens to marry, but denies that right to others;

Celebrity 3-day marriages consecrated by Elvis in the Chapel o’Love at Vegas;

Marriages conducted without love or mutual respect solely as a property/power liaison between families;

Forced marriages;

Liars, cheaters and those who, for whatever reason, deliberately misrepresent themselves in relationships (Yes honey, I DO want kids, lots and lots of kids); and

Abusers of power – emotional, mental, physical and/or sexual domestic abuse.

These are all things that devalue, debase, diminish and damage marriage as an institution.

But allowing two consenting adults who genuinely love and respect each other to marry? Nope, that one is only ever going to enhance marriage and strengthen our communities.

It will happen here one day. If only because we always claim every good thing from New Zealand as our own.

Tuesday, 26 June 2012

When Did Compassion Die?

Recently another boat full of asylum seekers sank near Christmas Island.

It’s a tragedy, a nasty horrible brutal tragedy and it hurts that while both sides of politics argue over the issue, people just keep drowning and parts of the Australian public seem to get nastier and more vicious.

I’ve been fretting on this since it happened and I’ve decided my blog might be a good place to discuss some of the problems this has raised for me. You see, since the boat sinking I’ve realised I know some people with really horrible attitudes. People who don’t see any problem with making public statements on their Facebook walls along the lines of “Why are we spending our money to rescue them? Doesn’t Australia have better things to spend their money on? Why don’t we just leave it up to Indonesia? It’s not our problem.”
It hurts to think that I know folks who would rather let people drown than see our country spend a cent more than they think we absolutely have to. When did compassion die? Where did we lose our heart? I’d like to think that once upon a time Australia did have a heart to lose, but I’m not so na├»ve I don’t realise that at least some of us have always been cruel.

The trouble is though, that once an injustice like this is seen, it can’t be unseen. All one can do is work out how to respond. A person’s facebook wall is their own, surely they can say what they please there? Should I ignore comments like that? Or do I argue against them? How do I argue against them effectively – so that rather than putting down the people making those statements, I’m planting seeds that might help change their minds?

All I really know for sure is that I don’t care how long I’ve known you, if you’re possessed of such a cruel and vicious heart then as much as I pity you,  you are no true friend of mine. You’re just someone I know.

I hope one day I can help you find your heart and change your mind.

Tuesday, 8 May 2012

Budgets, lottery tickets and all those other bits of paper

What is a lottery ticket?

It’s a piece of paper.

It’s an excuse to dream.

It’s a way out of that treadmill, that grind, that painful crawling step by step life where we reel from bill to bill running as fast as we can, just to keep up.

It’s a magnifying lens. The less money one has in one’s everyday life, the bigger one’s dreams are around that little piece of paper. 

It’s a chance to have a house with an inside toilet. It’s a chance to send the kids to a good school – gosh yeah, maybe even university. It’s a puppy and a kitten and chickens and a yard to put them in. It’s a car that doesn’t breakdown and a stove that can actually bake things.

At least until they draw the lottery.

Then we see that fickle piece of paper for what it truly is – that sham, that slut, that seller of impossible dreams.

Lured in by the promise of greater happiness if we just lay down our dollar, one feels cheap and tawdry, taken for a ride.

It’s a dollar that won’t be seen again in a hurry . . . . .

. . . . unless of course we were to win the next lottery.


Anyone else notice that they announced our new Federal Budget on the same day as one of the biggest lottery draws in Australian history?

I can't work out if that's ironic, amusing, kinda sad or possibly all three.

It seems very unreal sometimes. They're talking in terms I really have to concentrate to take in. All those zeroes on the ends of their big numbers just don't mean anything at all.

How much is enough and how much is too much? Both in terms of the national budget, the household budget and the lottery. 

It's hard not to be depressed at the way that most people only move when their hip pocket is affected. Got a justice issue that needs support? Forget ethics or morals, consciences or hearts, find a way it will affect people's wallets - that'll get some action taken!

There's nothing insightful here today. I'm too gobsmacked by the multitudinous zeroes to be able to think straight. It would have been even worse if we'd won . . . . 

Sunday, 1 April 2012

Even Nostalgia Ain’t What It Used To Be

There’s a nostalgia festival been held here recently. It’s held every year and is usually bunches of fun. There’s hotrods, rock and rollers, cover bands, market stalls and to top it all off – Elvis impersonators!! Last year they even had a Vegas style Chapel O’Love where couples could renew their vows, officiated by an Elvis and a Marilyn.

It’s all a bit silly and a good time. The trouble is, I find I’m getting nostalgic for things I didn’t get to experience the first time around!! It seems a bit unfair to me really and totally bass-ackwards, but there it is.

One of the big problems is the music. There’s some great music out there and quite a lot of it has a few decades on me in age. It’s hard not to listen to it then think “Wow! Imagine how cool it would have been to see them live.” Some of the bands are still kicking around, often with a little more restraint than they’d have shown fifty or sixty years previously. But as it happens, if you go to one of these gigs, they’re full of people the same age as the band saying “You've really missed out you know, they were even better back in the 60’s and the 70’s!”

You see, only young rockers actually die, usually at 27 if urban myths are to be believed. Old rockers just end up looking as though they’ve been tanned and cured and turned into leather. Keith Richards is now so pickled and preserved that he’ll never die, he’ll probably just explode from the pressure of all that music running through him.

However, I digress. The nostalgia thing. It wasn’t something I thought much about till I married Captain Barnacle. I always felt a little like I’d missed out, but hey, it was no big deal. Then I went and married a man who not only was around in those now nostalgia-ridden days, but did all the coolest stuff!!

People sometimes ask if I notice the age difference between us, and truth to tell, I don’t. It’s only a number and it doesn’t mean anything. Except of course for when he’s telling an anecdote about some great band he saw and then I get insanely jealous cos not only did I not see them, but even worse, I never had the chance to see them!

Things are as they are, I’m happy and I wouldn’t change anything. For a start, all those sci-fi stories warning about accidentally meddling with causality give me nightmares. I just can’t help wondering what it would have been like if I’d been of an age to meet him when we were both young and crazy.

Like I said, I get nostalgic for the things I didn’t actually get to be a part of the first time around.