A Loon-y journey

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E.L. DOCTOROW – Loon Lake

“You are thinking it is a dream. It is no dream. It is the account in helpless linear translation of the unending love of our simultaneous but disynchrous lives.”

There are so many things to think and talk about when discussing this book by E.L. Doctorow.

It is about obtaining love.

It is about wanting more from your life.

It is about the many forms of isolation.

It is life’s perversion at its finest worst.

And it is a random bunch of episodes, warped and brutally honest moments that are individual and yet oddly parallel to one another, leading to the same universal goal, that somehow makes it an unexpected whole, a whole that makes sense, yet still leaves you scratching your head.

Confused?

Questions abound in the reading of this novel. From the blurb, you know half of what to expect when you begin to turn the pages. Joe is on the run from authorities, and decides to follow a train’s route when he sees a flash of important people in the carriages pass him one night, including a young woman looking at her naked image in the mirror. Drawn to the obvious wealth present on the train, and hypnotised by the woman’s beauty, he follows the train to its resting point at a very wealthy man’s estate.

‘Very wealthy’ doesn’t begin to describe how wealthy this man actually is. The owner Bennett has his initials on everything, down to the cigarette boxes.

“He was very rich. He owned thirty thousand acres here and it was just one of his places. He owned the lake itself, the water in the lake, the land under the water and the fish that swam in it.”

”But not the dogs? (…)”

“Oh, no (…) Those are wild-running, those dogs.”

And here we have present a hint of humour, something also prevalent in Loon Lake. It is hard to focus on any one element in my review because they are intertwined and dancing with one another in sporadic points, but there is definitely some black humour popping up at various intervals.

With the humour often came some interesting life insight, such as this:

“I could tell that each of them felt badly used to be taking care of some tramp who had wandered onto the grounds. It was an affront to the natural order which made service to people bearable because they were higher than you, not lower.”

And this which I loved:

“And as for Mr Penfield I knew in my bones I didn’t have anything to fear from him. He had a way of canceling himself out if you let him talk long enough.”

So back to the story. What I thought would be the basis and location of the story, Bennett’s estate, ended up changing half-way through. I naively had believed this would be the scene of all the action, since that was all that was mentioned in the blurb. However, the story went further and deeper and darker than just wandering around some enormous estate, looking at lakes, and trying to catch the fancy of the prettiest girl there.

Not that those parts weren’t entertaining on their own. I guess the way the story stops and changes pace and moves in a different direction, often taking other character’s points of view, is something you would liken to real life: how sometimes we go here, we stop; we go there – but wait that didn’t work; we revisit this place, but only in our minds; and then we go back to where we started.

My first thoughts of the book were not much. There was swearing in the first page, which made me think perhaps I could do the same in my writings, however it’s something that I think is a bit borderline since my work is geared towards a young adult audience. Still, I was happy to read:

“Streetcars rang the bell on the whole fucking neighbourhood.”

This definitely was not the sole instance of swearing, and the crudeness continued not only in terms of language, but in behaviours (pissing was a recurring one), events, and really, really horrible circumstances that made you question humanity. The crudeness continued in the written word too, with Doctorow placing some really interesting ‘I’ references that jolted me out of my reader-state and ‘broke the wall,’ so to speak. Lots of jumping from one character’s point-of-view, to the narrator (author) back to the character in a matter of paragraphs. Without warning. Also the character never continuously spoke in the first person, with Doctorow often injecting a different narrative voice just to make you wonder what the hell was going on.

In one instance, the character Warren Penfield is speaking from his point-of-view, and then it changes to this:

“I acknowledge Warren’s lifelong commitment – cancel lifelong commitment – fatal attraction for any kind of communication whether from words, flags, pigeons or the touch of fingertips in hope of a common language, but we must remember how we are vulnerable to the repetition of our insights so that they tend to come to us not as confirmation of something we already know but as genuine discoveries each and every time.”

At first all of this was very jarring, but like the first time you read Shakespeare and needed to get used to the old-style language, or when you read Trainspotting and had no idea what was going on until half-way through the book when their lingo became second nature to you, so too did I eventually become very well-acquainted with his jumpy style of writing.

Aside from this jumpiness in many character point-of-views, changing from 1st to 3rd person, going back and forth in time between the two main men Joe and Warren, and a good smattering of poems, death notices (and one death notice where we are actually introduced to the character whose future death is foreshadowed before we meet him) there is the case of the run-on sentences. This is normal:

“The track went through some woods circled around a small mountain lake and then it started up a grade a long slow winding grade, I was not already in love with her but in her field of force, what I thought I felt like was some stray dog following the first human being it happened to see.”

This doesn’t show the full extent of the much-often absent comma, as the best example is at the end of the book, when Warren’s POV goes a full two pages without a single full stop. At an average of 11 words per 62 lines, that equates to approximately 682 words. That’s a lot of ideas in one sentence. Without googling, this must not be Doctorow’s first work. I’m sorry, but a first-time author would NEVER get away with that (and it kills me that so many things are out-of-bounds for us).

However, Doctorow does it all so well, and so absurdly, breaking the rules that it actually makes sense. He keeps us confused and guessing, up until a certain point before we are about to break with insanity, and then reveals the information we need so we don’t think we are going crazy with misinformation. He keeps us on our toes.

The above quote doesn’t just show how thoughts change abruptly, displaying the real nature of the human mind, but it shows a beautiful element of Joe’s character, and despite the questionable acts he has done in the past, and does continue to do, he has some tender moments. Take this:

“She was happy on the move, alert and at peace, all the inflamed spirit was lifted from her. She had various ways of arranging herself in the seat, legs tucked up or one under the other, or arms folded, head down, but in any position definitive, beautiful.”

And my favourite, this one:

“Her grey eyes shone, her mouth stretched in her tremulous overbitten smile. I danced her out of there out down the corridor doing a fast fox trot full of swirls while I hummed the tune I had heard the night I came ‘Exactly Like You,’ Libby laughing and worrying at the same time, telling me to hush, looking back over her shoulder, giggling, falling against me every other step, brushing my cheek with her lips. And the light lay like a track along the carpet and shone in golden stations of the open doors.”

The crudeness of the novel had rubbed off onto my notes as I was reading, with the following associated with the above: “This guy can fucking do beautiful poignancy!” As another nod to how his themes intertwine and repeat, there is reference here to the terms ‘track’ and ‘golden stations,’ homage to the train he followed to make it to Loon Lake.

Ahh, the elusive Loon. First mention of it comes from a poem by Warren Penfield, before we even meet Warren! This spiked my curiosity, as I didn’t know what an actual Loon was, or even if it was anything, maybe a particular name or place. It is in fact a bird that grabs fish from the lake of the esteemed estate that it’s named after it. This following poem captures the metaphor of the bird, and the story, and the dual nature of things often present in this book, perfectly:

“A doomed Indian would hear them at night in their diving

and hear their cry not as triumph or as rage

or the insane compatibility with the earth

attributed to birds of prey

but in protest against falling

of having to fall into that black water

and struggle up from it again and again

the water kissing and pawing and whispering

the most horrible promises…”

Beautiful imagery is present there. Doctorow makes stunning use of precise details, painting vivid pictures, like this:

“The chief is not cold. He sits at his desk in a short-sleeved shirt. Arms like trees. His wrist watch appears to be imbedded in the flesh. His badge, pinned to his shirt pocket, pulls the material to a point.”

And this, which tugged at my heartstrings with its sadness:

“Warren knew they were poor and lived lives the colour of sag.”

I’ve mentioned crudeness, but the other notable theme is that of poverty, something both of our protagonists share in. Going back to the beginning, we discover Joe has had a fairly pathetic upbringing, and learns to become street-smart in order to get by. He is an interesting protagonist, because he makes choices that would normally make him a very complicated bad guy, only slightly worthy of redemption, rather than the man we are rooting for. Despite the fact that he is on the run at the beginning of the novel due to theft, we come to like him because we see that he’s clever.

He tells the story of how in his early years he stole a cart full of groceries from the fat delivery boy, and instead of taking the groceries for himself, delivered them to all the intended customers, brought the trolley to the store man, and gave him all the money down to the very cent. He scored a job out of this, and it is this event that we start to see, hey, this isn’t some ratbag kid chasing short-term goals. He is in it for the long-term… until he steals the wrong person’s property that is.

He has many ‘save the cat’ moments. There is much I want to say, but I’ll refrain for spoiler’s sake. Let’s just say that he ends up at a carnival, and there are a lot of really sordid, sad scenes. One scene that comes later in the book during a kind of flashback, was really, really distressing to me. I remember finishing that section late one Sunday night and just feeling so low, so crap. Knowing that somewhere in the world, not perhaps that particular thing, but something of the sort, was happening, and had happened, and maybe even would happen again, just made me so sad. Joe is an explosive kind, and despite his own very, very dubious actions, redeems himself in key moments.

“I wanted to do to her what had been done to the Fat Lady, I wanted the force of a hundred men in unholy fellowship, I went at her like a murderous drunkard.”

The whole reason I had sought out this book in the first place is because I had heard of a quote by him that really grabbed my attention:

“Writing is like driving at night in the fog. You can only see as far as your headlights, but you can make the whole trip that way.”

When later that week I was in a library, I went in search of some of his name and found Loon Lake. I hadn’t really looked into much of his work, or even been recommended any particular book, but seeing the mysterious tones mentioned in the blurb it seemed within my field of interest.

Despite my initial confusion with almost ALL elements of the novel, I still revelled in it, as I like going out of my comfort zone and exploring different forms of storytelling, be it in movies, music or books.

Confusion abounded in Loon Lake: Joe and Warren’s point-of-views were eerily similar, with similar heartbreaking backgrounds, had travelled similar paths to Loon Lake, and later, were in love with the same girl. Their personalities were so different, yet their journeys so symmetrical, that until they actually met each other, I was convinced they were the same person, just bipolar. However the events leading to their meeting, the events that unfold, and the things that happen after Loon Lake are truly fascinating.

The story felt goal-less when Joe was on the run at the beginning; I realise the enticing incident was the authorities chasing him, making him move on, but there were many pages and many continuous moments of crossing land where I just thought “what is pushing the story forward? What is Joe’s motivation?” I guess this story does mimic real life, as I mentioned earlier in Joe’s jumpy thoughts, where sometimes things just move along, move along, and then BANG! you’re given a reason to run.

Just like life, this story has everything: it has the ultimate goal, searching for love, searching for the one, and searching for the life that you believe you deserve. It does this in a perverse way. It has humour. It has sadness. It has desperation, and it has manic moments. It has frightening insights of bleak honesty, so harsh and eerie that it makes you shiver. There are scary moments – scary from humans, and scary because of life. Some things feel like a dream, things go back and forth, and you question many, many voices that are presented throughout. Like the Warren quote mentioned above where Doctorow ‘breaks the wall’ and begins with “I acknowledge Warren’s lifelong commitment…” this passage is also telling in the random thoughts and flashbacks of Warren’s, including one of his repetitions which is identical to another but refers to two separate incidences. When you read it, you’ll know what I mean. But it had me flipping wildly to the start of the book, muttering “I’ve read this before!”

Still, despite the frequent bleakness, and the fact that I probably won’t read another Doctorow book until I read a few really happy novels first, I did enjoy it, and it did have enough humour and insight that I appreciated. I would read another book of his. Just after a blindingly cheesy-happy one.

The ending is not really an ending: not to me anyway. It definitely isn’t one in the Hollywood movie-ending scheme of things, if we’re talking karma and what not. You don’t have very many answers as you go along, and it kind of just ends there, just kind of like life. Some things are tied up, and sometimes, some things are not.

All in all, this novel is a f*^ked up accomplishment of sorts. It has everything, as it had me feeling, and thinking, long after I finished reading. Well done Doctorow. To make a reader feel and think so hard, is testament to your form. Also, to read a book that has so many analogous yet confusing elements in it, yet still giving enough that allows the reader to make sense of it all, is an achievement. If you only like shiny happy things, you’ll walk away screwed up. You’ve been warned.

I’ll end on this page 76 quote that interestingly foreshadows the future of the story while also painting a terrific metaphor.

“…a loon was coming in like a roller coaster. He hit the water and skidded for thirty yards, sending up a great spray, and when the water settled he was gone. I couldn’t see him, I thought the fucker had drowned. But up he popped, shaking and mauling a fat fish. And when the fish was polished off, I heard a weird maniac cry coming off the water, and echoing off the hills.”

Please let me know your thoughts on Loon Lake in the comments below, I would love to discuss with you. 🙂

Life Rules by SmikG #2 About always moving and celebrating your small wins

Keep this list handy…

#2 Celebrate the small things. Forget that which does not serve you. Keep moving and looking forward, no matter how small your steps may be.

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Photo by Gaelle Marcel on Unsplash

Explanation: I’ve had a new approach of late, and didn’t realise how much I had implemented it, until I saw it happening in each part of my life.

I have been trying to eat healthier and more naturally, using healthier sweet alternatives when I feel I need them, instead of any processed forms of sugar.

I am generally a healthy eater. And I am highly realistic about what I can and can’t do. Each time I make the right choice for a meal I give myself a quiet pat on the back.

And each time I indulge in something considered ‘naughty’… I still enjoy the snack fully. I let myself appreciate each bite. Then I forget all about it, while reminding myself that I am being normal.

Be kind to yourself when you are trying, when you are learning. If you can’t forgive yourself and move on for not making the ‘appropriate’ healthy choice, then how do you expect others to forgive you for anything?

I am very realistic about these things. I don’t believe in limitation and diets. If you focus on those words, well no one is inspired to do better for their bodies. But focusing on health, vitality, energy and enjoyment, with treats when your body truly wants it, not just because you reach for it by habit… that is important.

Likewise with movement, and exercise. I am not doing near enough what I wish I could do. But I have a health app on my phone. It tracks my steps, my sleep, and my daily movement.

Some days I hit my target. Other days I smash it. Some I am not even close.

And still I move on, telling myself that each step, regardless of when and where it falls, brings me closer to health.

And then… there’s books. My love. ♥ The online book club I am part of reminds me on a daily basis how much I am not reading. Readers post books they are reading over the weekend, discuss their favourite authors, and what didn’t work in that last outback romance they just read in a 6 hour free block…

And I sit there bemoaning the fact that I have so much to write.

Hubbie reminds me of this. “You are writing a book! They aren’t!”

Sure. He is right. But still I try. A page here and there, a chapter a night, sometimes…

Then there are all those book reviews I have to do. And like I said, ALL that writing. Sure, I don’t have to write those reviews… but I promised myself when I started all this that I would, and if I break my promise to myself, what chance do others have to depend on me?

Harsh yes. Hard definitely. But one day I will be more caught up, when word by word, bit by bit I reach a stage I consider socially acceptable for a writer to be ‘behind’… LOL.

And despite all this… I keep moving forward. I don’t stand still. I may only do the tiniest thing every day, but I am still doing something. I am still, moving forward.

It’s the only way to go.

Note rule number 2!

I don’t have time for this

Time. People think money is the biggie… but seriously, it’s ‘time’ that is the valuable commodity.

It is precious. When someone gives you their sacred time, it is considered special, generous, kind-hearted even.

The downside with this is that there are many that think the absence of your time, is something bad.

In this case, the opposite of something good, such as giving your time, does not equal bad – the absence of time.

It means just that… the absence of time.

No emotion should be attached.

No expectation.

No letdown.

Nothing more, nothing less.

There can be a whole bevy of reasons why you cannot give someone your time. The options in being time-poor are limitless.

There is family – your immediate family, or your extended family.

Parents – you could be caring or assisting for your elderly parents, sick parents, widowed parents. They could need a little or a lot of help. They can live in your home due to their vulnerable state, or they may live on the other side of town and require you to drive once a week for… groceries? Doctors appointments? Company and companionship? And that’s on a good week.

Siblings – you could be helping them with their families, or just lending an ear to some concerns. You could be looking after their kids, driving them around town, or cooking for them if they have been unwell.

Then there’s the whopper, KIDS. Just your own kids, and you can be met with responsibilities of childcare, school, after-school activities, and then the social occasions that come with all of the above. None of this includes the every day routines of keeping your kids fed, slept, washed, entertained and in a state of happy health and learning.

This list doesn’t include your time spent with a developmentally challenged child. It doesn’t include the challenges of a child starting school and dealing with separation anxiety, nor does it include a teenage child, exposed to drugs and alcohol and sex, and the concerns and minefields involved in navigating this tricky field of adolescent development.

This list doesn’t include meetings and illnesses and dentist appointments, nor does it include the hours dedicated to getting your kids asleep, getting them awake, and then getting them to listen to you all other times.

As you can see, that is just one area where you can be extremely time-poor.

Another area is work. Commute to and from, hours spent at workplace, and unfortunately for some the work of bringing it all home… homework.

This does not include school, or study. Again, travel time. Study time, which needs to be fit in around all the other life responsibilities and obligations you have (see above list).

You might have activities of your own: yoga, local basketball team, or that art class you’ve started experimenting in. We all need something to work towards, and the pursuit of happiness and life fulfillment is a worthy one, and one that will make our time on earth a far more enriching experience.

Then there is health, and I don’t mean that of the body… that of the mind. Mental health. The things that plague us in the middle of the night, the worries and anxiety that creep in during daylight hours, and the insecurities that prevent us from moving forward and  make us immobile in our day, that keep our hearts heavy and cheeks tear-stained… those are the ones that make a tremendous and negative impact on our time. Because we stay stuck in it. Unable to go forward. Desperate to take the first step yet not knowing how.

I haven’t mentioned partners. I haven’t mentioned friends. I haven’t mentioned our own ills. I haven’t mentioned our furry friends.

I haven’t mentioned, the routine of eating and sleeping and hygiene and clean clothes.

I don’t know about you, but I am exhausted just reading the above lists.

Oh, that’s right. SLEEP.

You can see the picture I am painting here though. Time is precious. Time is hard to come by.

If someone gives you their time, GOOD.

If someone doesn’t give you their time… GROW UP.

This is what I’ve come to realise lately. There are those who expect nothing from you and are there to lend a hand or an ear when available… and then there are those who look to the past, compare your life with theirs constantly, and expect you to fight and eat and breathe their existence, chasing after them as if they are the Sun, and you the Earth, necessary to orbit around them… 365 days a year.

My response? I’m sorry.

I don’t have time for this.

I’ve come to some hard realisations lately. People who I thought were always there for me are too demanding. They need my reassurance constantly.

I am not your parent. You are a grown person. I have my own shit to deal with and let me tell you, I am doing you a favour by not letting you into that.

I have realised that people I haven’t been able to be there for constantly (i.e. time issue) have recently been there for me in ways I never expected. Happily. Wholeheartedly. There was no “she wasn’t there for this so I won’t be there for her.” No comparing. No judgement. No ill-wishes. No guilt.

I had people who were simply there for me, without question.

It opened my eyes. It showed me my relationships in a new light.

People are always changing aren’t they? And so even those that make us happy/sad now, might make us sad/happy in the future, just as abruptly…

But my main point? Time. Time is of the essence, we don’t have enough of it, and if someone is going to make me feel guilty for failing to make them the focal point in my life…

Sorry not sorry. I should be the only focal point in my life. It is MY LIFE after all.

I just don’t have time for this anymore.

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Photo by Jesse Parkinson on Unsplash

 

 

 

Rainbow after the rain

I have been seeing a lot of rainbows lately.

It’s made me think of them, their meaning and emergence in our atmosphere, and specifically, the metaphor we can use for them.

I saw a rainbow out our lounge room window just the other morning before dropping off baby girl at school. We were eating breakfast, and amidst the grey skies and falling drops outside, I spied one half of a rainbow, across the water:

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But that wasn’t the first one I saw that week, and it would not be the last. It was only when driving home from school later that day, amidst wispy rain, that we saw one again.

As I explained to baby girl what had to happen in order for there to be a rainbow… something struck me, in my casual explanation.

“There has to be rain, and sunshine,” I told her. “And then a rainbow will appear.”

I was immediately flung deep into my whirlpool of deep thoughts, as I often am, tuned in to my surroundings as I am constantly used to taking mental notes… life as a writer, empath, or both.

There has to be rain, and sunshine, for a rainbow to appear.

Huh. Even life was teaching us lessons.

The proper definition of the rainbow occurrence is something like this:

  • It is a natural spectrum that occurs in the sky after rain falls.
  • As sun shines onto falling rain drops, it causes reflection and refraction.
  • The rain drops act like tiny prisms, bending in the sunlight to be reflected back to us as the band of colours that we see as a rainbow.
  • This is why the rainbow is always directly opposite the sun.

Hmm, I pondered. There has to be the presence of both rain, and sunshine.

And if you were looking at it from a non-geological perspective, not focusing on the fact that the planet needs both rain, and water to replenish and renew, to grow and keep things living…

Well, most people tend to regard rain, in their every day life, as a nuisance. Bad.

And they tend to think of sunshine, as a welcoming smile on their face… Good.

And just like the rainbow to the left of my vision as I drove along in the rain, it dawned on me.

Even Mother Nature says there has to be the presence, of both good, and bad, in order for something beautiful and miraculous to occur.

Because that’s what they were, right? Miracles? Considered a sign of good luck in many cultures, with the pot of gold at the end of it the answer to all of life’s problems…

And so on this last weekend, in amidst grey skies and endlessly rainy days, and coincidentally or not, the Winter solstice, the shortest day of the year where we receive the least amount of sunlight…

We also received rainbows. A sign from Mother Nature, that despite this cold Winter, a respite is coming?

That despite the long and hard days, the hours of sunlight per day will be increasing soon?

That sometimes, bad things have to happen, before we get good things coming to us?

Maybe, the raindrops falling from the sky are the horrible hardships we endure, where we question life and the world and ourselves..

And the sun is our effort and determination to not give up, to keep pressing on, and to see it out no matter what. Our Hope.

And our rainbow, is our reward at the end of it all. Glorious, multi-faceted, a glow that takes over our whole life sky. But we had to go through rain, then sun, to see it through.

So remember… the presence of both good, and bad. In order to see a hue of miracles. 🌈

Think of that next time you’re going through a hard patch… you may just find your pot of gold… but it’s important to keep that sunny disposition, even through the rain.

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Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash

Somewhere in Queenscliff…

Circa 1902
59 Hesse Street Queenscliff

(Visited February ’18)

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Funnily enough, this was the only new place we dined out at, at the back end of our Barwon Heads getaway. We had returned to BeachHouse Barwon Heads, from a previous trip over, so no foodie review there, and then the following night we decided to stay in and do our own bbq while away – a very good idea.

But upon returning home via the Queenscliff to Sorrento ferry, we had a little extra time on our hands, and decided to chill, hang around, and grab some lunch on what was a still and sunny February Summer’s day.

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Circa seemed like the perfect choice. Both a hotel and restaurant, the seating outside was ample and in a nice and bright position, the menu looked appealing, and then there was the greenery abounding which made us feel relaxed and like we were eating in someone’s friendly and quaint backyard.

 

It was an order up at the counter type thing, so after perusing the menu and making selections, Hubbie went up to make our food and drink order, coming back with some necessary holiday-lunch BOOZE.

Well for him anyway. I had an OJ.

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We were positioned with one of our favourite table numbers, so that was already reason enough for feel good vibes. There were other families about eating there, but it wasn’t packed, oddly enough, being a Saturday in Summer.

Soon, after several trips to the loo with baby girl (she gets slightly obsessed with new outhouses when in new places) our meals arrived.

And they looked good.

Now, seeing as the website was still in production as of this writing (and by now let’s face it they’ve probably changed their menu), I have to best describe our meals without their insider chef’s knowledge. So here goes…

I had the Chicken Curry with rice and pappadums

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Hubbie had a Pulled Pork Burger with chips on the side

And baby girl had a Fish Fillet atop chips, with a side salad and tomato sauce

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We were all pleasantly surprised by our meals. Hubbie loved the Pulled Pork, I was in awe of how moorish and comforting my curry was, with the oh-so-necessary and amazing addition of rice and pappadums, and baby girl happily ate away at her clean piece of fish… and when a child is catered for as well as her parents, in terms of quality pieces of food… not only is she happy, but I am too.

It was really very good. We weren’t expecting it to be horrible, but we knew being a hotel it might just be, you know, ‘casual’ lunch fare. Meanwhile the tastes were impressive and spectacular, and we immediately vowed we would we back on our next ferry ride over the Port Phillip Bay.

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Food: 7.5/10. Simple, but scoring high because it was what it was, and was amazing at that. Points for that.

Coffee: N/A on this visit, we were only slightly spoilt by coffee choices back over in Barwon Heads 😉 But judging on their food, next visit, a must.

Ambience: Very casual and relaxed out there in the front yard, with the sun shining down, local folk striding by amidst out-of-towners (ahem, US) and holiday vibes just abounding. Inside there is seating but I wasn’t privy to checking that out, though on a warmer day, I reckon head out, it rules.

Staff: We didn’t actually have much to do with them, other than at ordering, and them delivering our food to us. I often bemoan the task of going up to a counter to order and pay for food, rather than receive the full table service usually afforded to more formal eateries… but having said that, in this case once you have eaten your food and are done, you can just up, and walk off! Bill has already been settled! Quick exits are sometimes necessary with unpredictable kids… and ain’t that a positive 😉

People: Locals and out-of-towners as already mentioned. Many groups. It’s a hotel, so a mix of all, though probably an older, family-friendly generation is the majority.

Price: $ 76.00 Pretty decent wrap-up. 3 meals and a few drinks. And of course since it was so tasty, worth every cent.

Advice: Sit outside on a warm day. If there is a curry on the menu and you don’t mind some heat, eat it, don’t be afraid. It is amazing.

In a nutshell: A really lovely place to dine at that is unassuming but delivers on taste. If you want to sit outside, enjoy the local surroundings and watch the world go by, then this is definitely your place.

And I mean, who wouldn’t want to enjoy some fine food and think about, I don’t know… how amazing life is?

Oh that’s right, the frame ‘circa’ their interior walls covers that TOO. 😉

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Afterword: This restaurant does not operate under the name Circa anymore after some new owners took it over last year… but I sure hope they kept that curry recipe…

 

Girl, don’t forget

It’s an exciting time when you fall in love. More so, when your man pops the question – there is joy, elation, satisfaction, deep fulfillment and often, a yearn to keep and want everything to be as easy and pleasant as that stage, forever until the end of time.

Keeping things smooth sailing however, sometimes results in us forgetting about ourselves.

Forgetting where we came from.

We try so hard to please, make the family happy, make the relatives happy, live and act the picture of a perfect couple, play the part and smile and laugh… that we often forget, about ourselves. 

Our wants.

Our needs.

It is not a conscious thing. Our self-ignorance is unintentional, as we throw ourselves whole-heartedly into the man, the life, the family that we wish to spend the rest of our lives in. We are so consumed with love and passion, that all else falls behind. All thoughts and desires, goals and dreams and big-thinking falls to the wayside as we embark on an exciting new chapter.

We focus so much on this new part of our lives, on our union with this amazing partner… that we forget about the individual who got there. The individual who has been left behind.

Ourselves.

To my younger self, and to my daughter who will someday read this… and to any other girl out there, beginning to embark on such a romance.

Remember.

Don’t forget yourself.

 

Girl, don’t forget – A POEM.

Girl, as you fall in love, don’t forget

The things that made you laugh, and what lifted you when you were sad.

Girl, as he holds you hand, don’t forget

Your parents who held it before, and who lifted you when you would fall.

 

Girl, as he kisses you sweetly, don’t forget

The lips that touched your head, to mend bruises, to maintain your even breath.

Girl, as he bends on one knee, don’t forget

You are more than a man, a union, a wedding that will consume all of your days.

 

Girl, as you plan your big day, don’t forget

Your parents are happy for you, but struggling to let go.

Girl, as you practice writing your new surname, don’t forget

Where you came from, and how far your maiden name travelled to get to you.

 

Girl, as you get married, don’t forget

Those who cheered you on are still with you, even though you are blind in your happiness.

Girl, when the day is done, don’t forget

To look back on the photos, and observe the smiling faces in the background.

 

Girl, as you go about your life, don’t forget

There is more to your day than pleasing those around you.

Girl, as you argue with you husband, don’t forget

That your parents yelled at each other too.

 

Girl, as you say yes to yet another request, don’t forget

What set your stubborn 16 year-old self on fire.

Girl, as you remember what you used to love, don’t forget

That no one told you to stop loving after all.

 

And girl, when you get to that day, when you realise you DID forget…

It is not too late to start again.

And girl, when you tell your husband what you love, please don’t forget…

That you are your own person, and will do it anyway.

    ~ Smik G.

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Photo by Jennifer Regnier on Unsplash

 

 

 

Your passion and your loved ones may not hold hands

Hey writers.

Not ‘aspiring’ writers, or ‘published’ writers, ‘wannabe’ writers or ‘successful’ writers…

Just, writers.

I have something I need to share. It’s important.

No doubt it is something we all, as ‘writers’ of the world, have had to face.

Many will be facing it right now.

And if you haven’t already, you’ll be sure to come across it in your writing life.

At some stage, you would have told some of your loved ones, be it your friends or family, that you wish to write.

You want to write. You do, write.

Even if they have already known it for most of your life, even if it is an assumed thing, writing being your background passion and all… no doubt there will have been a moment where you have said out loud “I am doing this.”

I AM GOING TO TRY MAKE A LIFE OUT OF IT.

You are nervous. You are excited. Hell, maybe even like me, you hold off telling most people out of intense fear of their reaction, and only share your personal news with a total of 10 people over a 5 year period.

And when you share that news with your nearest and dearest…

Excited in the prospect of them being sooo happy in you having discovered your life’s purpose, and have chosen to share something so intimate with them…

Relieved to have released a deep-seeded fear…

What do they do?

NOTHING. You tell them, and –

(crickets chirping).

Yup.

There is something you need to realise on this writing journey. And more widely, something everyone needs to realise as they go through life and discover what it is that drives them crazy-happy with a passionate fury.

It is a thing I myself have had to wrap my head around and come to terms with.

The people you love, may not necessarily love your hobby.

They may actually, not think very much of it.

They won’t hate it. But, it might be something of ‘meh.’

Just, MEH.

This can come across as seriously disappointing, especially for someone like me, who has held off on expressing this hobby and passion of mine, to loved and near and dear ones, for years and years and years simply out of fear.

And then, when the moment came… often I realised, it was a bigger thing for me, than it was for them.

And that is ok.

There may be a whole bevy of reasons why your loved ones and your passion aren’t immediate besties… or for that fact, EVER AFTER besties.

Your loved ones may be really busy.

Your loved ones may not know much about your passion.

Your loved ones may find it suddenly difficult to comprehend your sudden discovery at said-passion, and this in turn may highlight some difficult and unanswerable questions for them… those being, what are their passions? What are they doing in their life?

How are they turning their flame on in the routine of life?

Humans are a fascinating and extremely complex breed, and so you can be assured that all of the possible answers will not even begin to fill the paragraphs of this post.

You will notice I have not mentioned a fairly common reason for lack of excitement at the realisation of your passions… and that is jealousy. I have omitted it because real loved ones will not be jealous. They may exude mixed feelings, because of the sudden need to reflect on their own lives. But they will not be envious. They will not see red simply at your long and topsy-turvy journey to getting to your own pre-determined successful, “I’ve made it” destination.

Jealous people are shit people. They are not your loves ones. Keep them at arms length.

They can go f%*k themselves. You need a strong and supportive circle, so get rid of that crap immediately.

Safe to say, you will realise very quickly and easily, who YOUR circle is.

And as is my case, I’ve realised that my circle don’t necessarily have to start a book club for me.

And why should they? I am the only star in my life… as they are the solo star in theirs.

We all have different shit going on. We need to look humbly around us and realise that.

It’s not personal.

It’s just, LIFE.

Your loved ones and your hobby don’t need to get along. They don’t need to go on long walks together. They don’t need to watch a movie. They don’t need to see each other, scream out in delight and exclaim “it’s been so long since I saw you!” before enveloping one another in a giant hug.

As long as they nod some kind of acknowledgement to each other when they pass… that’s cool.

That’s to be accepted.

Our passion isn’t necessarily anyone else’s. And whether you have held off for 5, 10 or 20 years to tell anyone, it won’t be anymore impressive than if you decided yesterday during brekkie you wanted to be a writer after finding 7 grammatical errors in the local paper.

You need to let go of the idea that your loved ones will be as excited for you, as you are excited for you.

In many cases, this won’t be the fact.

And that’s normal.

We can still love our hobbies…. and we can still love our friends…

But we’ll just make sure we see them on alternating weekends 😉

(Note the below is idealistic, yet highly unrealistic!)

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Photo by Alexis Brown on Unsplash

 

 

The difficult pursuit of Happiness

How do inspirational quotes make you feel? Happy? Elated? Like you can take on the world?

Our modern world is consumed with the notion of happiness – obtaining it, being it, and revelling in it. Often the pursuit of it however, becomes a journey littered with insecurity, frustration, and disappointment.

That is because of this very real and true fact: a full, adventurous and passionate life, will also undoubtedly come with its fair share of trouble and difficulty, challenge and sadness. In many cases, equal to any experiences of ‘happiness.’

We spend so much of our time trying to be happy, that this can often make us more depressed. Suppressing our normal day-to-day feelings and ignoring the root of our dis-ease, can cause us more harm than good, delaying the emotions that will inevitably surface at a later point in time.

I am not saying that trying to be of an optimistic disposition is a quality you shouldn’t try to adhere to and live by. It is certainly a better headspace to be in, and learning to be happy in a very consumeristic world riddled with technological issues and social media problems, old-age tests of character and identity involving family and friends, petty fights, injustices of race and class and sexual orientation and gender… well, finding a simple thing to be grateful for, such as something beautiful your daughter said to you, it can be the one thing that saves you in an otherwise upsetting and disappointing day.

I keep an online gratitude blog. Not to promote my profile, send a false image of myself out into the world, or even to pretend all is right in my life. It is not.

And even though I practice gratitude every day, I am by no means exceptionally skilled or a master of my craft. In the words of Dicky Fox in one of my most favourite of movies, Jerry Maguire…

“I’ve failed as much as I’ve succeeded.”

On that note, back to inspiring quotes. I love to read them, see them, put them up on my walls… hell, I even have a daily calendar that gives me a new quote to ponder every day.

Sometimes they speak to me, and other times they don’t. Today’s one jumped out at me in a very real way:

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And then later on social media, I saw another that triggered some sad tags of my heart.

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Translated from Croatian, it reads

“Don’t give up if it’s hard. Give up if it’s not important.”

Both of these quotes, though uplifting, have a certain degree of realism and ‘life is scary’ knocked into them, enough to keep you humble, yet also lift your head towards the clouds and give you Hope.

Well then, how do those quotes compare to this more positive one?

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How did you feel reading each? Did you feel better reading the cheerier, latter quote? Or did the ones with a real sense of everyday life grab you more? Is it purely based upon experiences and life circumstance, or do you think we are bound to feel better about ourselves when reading a more realistic quote, as opposed to a super-happy one that we feel forced to be like? Something that we are meant to aspire to, even if on that particular day, we may be better off just staring off into the sunset with sadness in our eyes?

Something to consider.

Oh, and because I can…

And that my friends, is a quote that makes me feel GREAT.

What they don’t know

It happens everywhere. It probably happens to you, and it definitely happens to me.

Someone speaks nicely to your face… but when your back is turned, the knives come out.

That is a fairly strong example. So let’s narrow it down a bit, and let’s make it a little less brutal, and a tad more ‘everyday life.’

Let’s say someone says beautiful things in front of you… but then doesn’t hold the swear  mute button long enough when they mention you to others.

And what do you do, if you see this? If YOU are privy to this? Do you tell the betrayed? Do you tell them that their ‘friend’ doesn’t treat them with the same love behind-the-scenes as they do in front of the whole world to read, and see?

I have thought of this scenario a lot. Because I have been in it. I am in it.

On the issue of forgiveness, an issue I have toyed with a lot in my life, I have questioned…

How do you forgive someone who has never said sorry? How do you forgive someone who seems ‘changed’ in front of your face, but reverts to two-face when they talk about so-called ‘loved ones?’

Is it any of my business? I mean, if they were being rude to me, sure, I could most definitely step in and speak up. But when they are airing grievances about another…

What should it matter to me?

The problem is, IT DOES matter to me. Because I am all about integrity.

I don’t think you should suck face with someone who you compete with behind their back. I don’t think you should chase them when you compare your child against theirs. I don’t think you should give them loving names, when the names you use behind their back, are anything but.

How does this differ though, to the things we say inside our heads? In the quiet places where no one but us can hear?

Does it differ? Let’s say we don’t like how a person goes about their life. We don’t like their attitude. We don’t like how they criticise others constantly, yet shrivel into nincompoops when they get one smidgen of retaliation in return.

We think “I don’t like that. I don’t like them as a person anymore.”

We say this in our heads.

And then a brutal person, will say it out loud…

Does this differ?

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Photo by Amadeo Muslimović on Unsplash

Do we have any right speaking the words of another, when privately in our heads we are just the same?

But, there is a difference isn’t there. Between someone who tries to make themselves better than others to another’s detriment, and to those who merely see the fakery and don’t wish to promote it any further.

I may say things in my head, but that’s because, I believe ‘they’ deserve it.

I spent several years wishing to sever ties with someone completely, and then kind of half did it… now I’ve spent the next lot of them wondering if it is at all possible to do, and if I would do it, would I feel good about it?

There is such a thing as a toxic person. One who does no good for you. A judgmental, critical, self-obsessed, domineering and dogmatic person. One who plays the victim, them versus the world, and if you don’t play your cards according to their game, them versus YOU.

At one point, in the present day, if you see this person trying to somewhat make a better life for themselves, do you forgive? Do you forget? Do you move on with your life, with your relationship with them, if they say sorry?

What if they never say sorry? What if they go on with their life pretending nothing ever happened, with no acknowledgment of your past hurts, betrayals, hurtful words, snide comments, rude remarks, put downs, ignorant sneers, harmful actions, and gross gross negligence of your loved ones… what if they were slightly different, but never made proper amends to YOU?

And what about if they were different to you, but continued to speak badly about others…

NOW we are full circle. Now, you get it.

This is where I struggle.

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Photo by CloudVisual on Unsplash

I am ALL for retribution. In particular, my main motto with those who do wrong, are that they need to be held accountable. They need to PAY.

What would the wronged do, if they knew how disparagingly their friends had spoken about them to others? I’ve seen this also in my work life, where one particular two-face smooths everyone over to their face, and then uses all manner of trickery, lies and under-handed tactics to diminish their character to other colleagues.

But then… they suddenly learn. Or so it seems.

Should these wronged people forgive and move on? Can you accept that people can change for the better? Is it better to know, or not know, what people have said or thought about you?

Do you hold onto hating the angry person that used to exist? Or do you give them the benefit of the doubt, and hope that the nice words they say to your face, are mirrored when you walk away?

At what stage do we forgive? Where is the fine line where we say “this person is a relation in time, so I forgive” or “that guy generally includes me in everything at work so I’ll let that mass nasty email he sent about me, slide.”

When do we let go, and when do we just say NO?

And when do we turn our cheeks the other way, and when do we stand up and speak out to help others?

I still have no answers. Please inform me if YOU do ♥

Musings on a grey day

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Why do we feel like we must do it all? Why do we try to do the things others do, when we can just do what we do best, and leave the others to themselves?

Why can’t you just let me do what I do, and you do what you do? Let’s both do what we both do best, for ourselves.

 

An open invitation that has an expiry date. They do exist. You think that you are always welcome, but there will be a time and a place where that line will be crossed… and when it does, the relationship will shift, it will change, and suddenly, you won’t feel so special anymore.

I get it. We screwed up. We know the line that didn’t exist before, actually DOES.

 

How strong can a relationship be, when the slightest of slights, can affect the main tree? What does it say of others, and ourselves, when we let these things get in the way of something true, something good, something real?

I am sorry.

 

Does distance really matter? Why must it be so hard to catch up? Why are there always excuses? You go to the ends of the earth for some, and others, will give you their slated, default response, and you must accept it.

Accepting it, hurts. Because you know there was a time, when they would have flown with their own non-existent wings to see you.

Why are you not here?