The most Sensible of all

sense-sensibility

JANE AUSTEN – Sense and Sensibility

“I shall call hills steep, which ought to be bold; surfaces strange and uncouth, which ought to be irregular and rugged; and distant objects out of sight, which ought only to be indistinct through the soft medium of a hazy atmosphere.”

This telling line comes from Edward, our protagonist Elinor’s love interest. And as is so common in an Austen novel, the questions of sense and who we are, people in general and how varying things drive us, take central focus.

From pride and our bias in judging others, to how we differ wildly in similar circumstances, and hold and present ourselves to the world in light of it all… Sense and Sensibility is a novel of character study, and a novel one at that. 😉

But isn’t a novel about people, and who we are inherently, going to maybe, bore a reader? All those questions of why, how, and then throw in class and money… how can that be at all entertaining? How can it fill 394 pages with tiny type, and keep you enthralled?

Why, it is fascinating simply by being the focus on one of the most interesting animals on the planet… humans! We are the most unique species, in all of our differing views, the things that drive us, our individual opinions and those things that light our fire… the way we respond to things or NOT, and even how we conduct ourselves in our day to day… Jane Austen takes these questions and applies them to, yet another love story.

An interesting one. (There is no other option for her).

The story focuses primarily on the two eldest sisters in a family of 3, after their father has fallen to illness and passed on. Elinor, our protagonist: reserved, careful and smart with her statements which are well thought out and considered before they are brought to air –

“…as Elinor had had time enough to collect her thoughts, she was able to give such an answer, and make such observations, as the subject might naturally be supposed to produce.”

And then Marianne, the slightly younger sister, and also you could say, young and immature in heart and nature. Because Marianne is such a polar opposite of her sister, it is this difference that makes the story move in such an interesting fashion. Marianne is passionate, liberal with her thoughts and opinions, and thinks anything that isn’t bold and brash and colourful is just plain boring.

“I could not be happy with a man whose taste did not in every point coincide with my own. He must enter into all my feelings; the same books, the same music must charm us both… to hear those beautiful lines which have frequently almost driven me wild, pronounced with such impenetrable calmness, such dreadful indifference!”

And an interesting picture begins to form. Perhaps Elinor says it best (and so eloquently as she does) in regards to Marianne’s statement about having no one to watch falling leaves with:

“It is not everyone who has your passion for dead leaves.”

The outline of the story is that Elinor has feelings for a man named Edward – he like her is serious, introverted and takes care before he speaks, but whether that is due to a regard for others or due to his own character, is either here or there. Marianne meanwhile falls head over heels for the animated and vivid Willoughby – a character to match her own, he is passionate and robust, and the two hit it off immediately and you can imagine nothing but a bright future for the two… or can you? It is a novel after all, and if the characters are happy at the start, you can be assured that romance will not ride a steady course right through to the end.

Not only does the love story for both girls take a decidedly different course from the other, both still with an emphasis on the unfavourable, but the way both girls take to their disappointments also varies wildly. It is summed up perfectly and with such eloquence by Marianne when she says:

“..our situations then are alike. We have neither of us any thing to tell; you, because you do not communicate, and I, because I conceal nothing.”

Marianne cannot be reminded of Willoughby and her distress at his parting; she seems to be reminded of him wherever she goes, as portrayed here:

“…and though her family were most anxiously attentive to her comfort, it was impossible for them, if they spoke at all, to keep clear of every subject which her feelings connected with him.”

It is so true how when you are missing someone, you tend to see them in every place you go, every song you hear, every spot of sunshine and drop of rain… all these things, in one way or another remind you of the absence of who you love. Their loss, amplifies the memories and the reminders.

Elinor on the other hand takes an entirely different approach. It reads:

“Elinor sat down to her drawing-table as soon as he was out of the house, busily employed herself the whole day, neither sought nor avoided the mention of his name, appeared to interest herself almost as much as ever in the general concerns of the family, and if, by this conduct, she did not lessen her own grief, it was at least prevented from unnecessary increase, and her mother and sisters were spared much solicitude on her account.”

We see this theme dominant within Elinor throughout the novel, and even though she can be ‘practical’ around her loved ones and play pretend that all is ok, she cannot hide from her true inner feelings only known to herself in private, and us the reader:

“In Edward – she knew not what she saw, nor what she wished to see; – happy or unhappy, – nothing pleased her; she turned away her head from every sketch of him.”

This quiet torment isn’t lost on Marianne who is otherwise preoccupied with her own unattachment, or even their mother Mrs Dashwood, who later reflects that Elinor’s suffering may not have been as grand, loud or excessive in display as Marianne’s, but that does not mean it was not as strong.

Even in happiness, Elinor is subdued:

“Elinor could not be cheerful. Her joy was of a different kind, and led to any thing rather than to gaiety… it led to no outward demonstrations of joy, no words, no smiles. All within Elinor’s breast was satisfaction, silent and strong.”

The starkly different characters that Austen paints does not stop with the two sisters. As is common in a Jane Austen novel, the supporting cast are hilarious, comical, and so vividly clear as your read their lines, it is hard to imagine Austen not basing these on actual people she came across, so precise is her description of them.

A fantastic passage that very accurately paints a clear picture of many characters is this section:

“Here comes Marianne,” cried Sir John. “Now, Palmer, you shall see a monstrous pretty girl.”

He immediately went into the passage, opened the front door, and ushered her in himself. Mrs Jennings asked her, as soon as she appeared, if she had not been to Allenham; and Mrs Palmer laughed so heartily at the question, as to show she understood it. Mr. Palmer looked up on her entering the room, stared at her some minutes, and then returned to his newspaper. Mrs. Palmer’s eye was now caught by the drawings which hung round the room. She got up to examine them.

“Oh! dear, how beautiful these are! Well! how delightful! Do but look, mama, how sweet! I declare they are quite charming; I could look at them forever.” And then sitting down again, she very soon forgot that there were any such things in the room.”

The subtleties and nuances on display here are so obvious in reading, and they paint such a vivid picture of each person. Another example of character is here, with the animated Mrs Jennings talking:

“… and how forlorn we shall be, when I come back!-Lord! we shall sit and gape at one another as dull as two cats.”

Some of these lines are so ridiculous, I think they surely came from a real person, they are just that outrageous to make up. Nonetheless, Austen’s ability to show character through dialogue is remarkably strong and a true talent.

Elinor makes her own observations on character when thinking about Mr and Mrs Palmer:

“…wondering at Charlotte’s being so happy without a cause, at Mr. Palmer’s acting so simply, with good abilities, and at the strange unsuitableness that often existed between husband and wife…”

Perhaps Austen’s character descriptions ring so true, because at their foundation they do display the genuine human condition. Regardless of this being written over 200 years ago, human emotions are fundamentally the same, and whether we have servants or not, how we react to misfortune, to good news, and to others, will remain as is through the years… subject to our own personal character of course.

It led me to calling out ‘I know people like this!’ when I read the following. In talking about her sister Marianne’s temper, Elinor thinks:

“Opposition on so tender a subject would only attach her the more to her own opinion.”

Ha! Tell me you don’t know someone like that!

Again with Marianne, and also her mother, Elinor reflects:

“They gave themselves up wholly to their sorrow…”

You know there are people who just get on with it and try to move on when something bad happens, and then there is the aforementioned, who wallow in pity and feel it in every part of their bones, body, and soul, and let ALL who pass their path know about it?

She captured that perfectly.

Even the practical Elinor falls prey to this pity at times, with the humorous thought:

“After sitting with them a few minutes, the Miss Steeles returned to the Park, and Elinor was then at liberty to think and be wretched.”

And there can even be stark differences between two outwardly passionate people, especially where matters of the heart are concerned. Here Elinor is observing Marianne at the shop compared to Mrs Palmer:

“Restless and dissatisfied everywhere, her sister could never obtain her opinion of any article of purchase, however it might equally concern them both: she received no pleasure from anything; was only impatient to be at home again, and could with difficulty govern her vexation at the tediousness of Mrs. Palmer, whose eye was caught by everything pretty, expensive, or new; who was wild to buy all, could determine on none, and dawdled away her time in rapture and indecision.”

Perhaps it was most hilarious (or I found it so as I have a child and know it to be true!) at the following observation early on in the novel:

“On every formal visit a child ought to be of the party, by way of provision for discourse. In the present case it took up 10 minutes to determine whether the boy were most like his father or mother, and in what particular he resembled either, for of course every body differed, and every body was astonished at the opinion of the others.”

SO TRUE.

As is the case with a Jane Austen novel, you (at least I) find things to be highly fascinated with, at the very least because of the time and era her stories were based in, as well as the way she writes and how she paints certain characters… well this time it was the reoccurrence of a certain word… monstrous.

Monstrous pretty. Monstrous glad. Monstrous lucky. There were so many ‘monstrous’ mentions, and by so many differing characters, I almost went around saying it myself… monstrous!

And then again, the era difference came through strongly in specific moments. Not just with their hierarchies of class or strong dependence on continual income through inheritance, but in the way they dealt with stress, or sickness.

Wine. Now I know that people do de-stress with a glass of red, I am not throwing stones from my glass house, since I do it too. But when you are sick with agony and distress and feel weak with an aching head, and the treatment is, wine?

Hell maybe they had something going there.

This is what Elinor ‘procures’ for her sister upon receiving some devastating news for her. It allows her to finally ‘speak.’

Of course.

And on another slightly more comical note, when Marianne leaves a room beside herself with sadness, Mrs Jennings laments:

“…how it grieves me to see her! And I declare if she is not gone away without finishing her wine! And the dried cherries too! Lord!”

Excuse me for a moment for being so blunt… but lady, the girl doesn’t give a shit about your cherries. She is heartbroken!

Be prepared, for there are a lot of characters. I am ashamed to say it took me well over a year to start and finish this book, to no fault of the novel, but moving house happened somewhere in between the reading, and every time I read the book in dribs and drabs, I honestly had to turn back to earlier pages and remember who everyone was, and why so many names seemed so alike… from Dashwoods to Steeles to Ferrars’ and Jennings’… not to mention the Sirs, Colonels and Lady’s! Keeping them straight was a task, yet towards the end of the book it was slightly easier to remember a cast you had been acquainted with for a while already.

But while we are at it, can I say, what kind of daft name is Fanny? Why, Austen cast that name perfectly I think 😉

At the end, things wrap themselves up perfectly, as is common in this type of classic literature… but Austen’s clever storytelling definitely has you stressing and guessing ‘how,’ repeatedly. In fact she writes herself into such a corner, that at one point I could see no way out! And then, an escape hole!… and not the garish “wake up and realise it was all a dream” weak attempt to solve everything and bring everyone to some kind of equilibrium. Austen managed to untangle the situations she had set up so brilliantly, doing it so realistically, and using the one main important trait the whole book was about: sensibilities.

And yet it was this thing that slightly irked me. Sure I was content with the ending… but the way it came about, and what was said… no, not really. Sacrifice and settling were themes that prevailed, and in one such situation the matter of ‘duty’ was heavily featured… I was at first quite jarred by this sentiment, but I took a step back and looked at the time this book was set in… and even though I was in complete disagreeance with the choice and how it came about, I was understanding that that is just how it was at the time.

My frustration due to my preference for passion and outward displays continued with the theme of ‘settling’… what? This seemed like a bit of a weak explanation for me, and even though things evolved to something grander and fuller, still this was something that upset me. I could understand the story, the realistic ending, sure, but it was something that did not sit well, even now as I think back. I still like the story, and yet this one thing, maybe more so than the ‘duty’ theme, irritated me to no end. I wondered, just because I disagreed, does that mean it was not right, it was not true? Many questions may arise when reading this book, and nothing more so than the ending will have you questioning: what would you do? What would you be happy with?

This novel in short, is a great character study on why we do the things we do, what drives us to do them, and more specifically, why we do the things that we do when in love. What makes sense for some can be completely alien for another, and yet it is in these differing ways that we learn about each other, we grow, we experience something we have not been privy to before, and we gain an enormous insight into the ‘monstrous’ complicated human condition.

And that is what Jane Austen does so well, and explores methodically with great humour, wit and sensitivity.

I will close on some lovely observations. I loved the insight and attention to detail in the following expression:

“Mrs. Ferrars,” added he, lowering his voice to the tone becoming so important a subject…”

Oh wow. Just magical. Her observation of how people speak and react is another level. She has to be one of the greatest writers of all time. And lastly, this gem:

“But it was too late. Hope had already entered; and feeling all its anxious flutter, she bent over her sister to watch – she hardly knew for what.”

Ahh… Goosebumps. If you haven’t already, please do yourself a favour and read this book… it would be highly un-sensible, not to. 😉

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

Advertisements

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.

jennifer-regnier-1416925-unsplash

Photo by Jennifer Regnier on Unsplash

 

 

 

Love on the Rocks

The Rocks Mornington
1 Schnapper Point Drive Mornington

(Visited May ’17)

At the end of a very long Tuesday in early May, where Hubbie, baby girl and I pretty much ran to the reaches of all parts of this city, we settled back in our new home turf to head out to dinner. It was at a destination that had been organised as a surprise by Hubbie, so the surprise itself was known to me, with the destination meant to be unknown by me at the same time… but when he said the menu had primarily seafood, well there was only one local place I thought that was fancy enough for the occasion we were celebrating. 8 years of wedded bliss 🙂

And so it was, that we predictably headed down the Main Street, and kept heading down the Pier ‘til we reached the end, to the rocks.

The Rocks, at Mornington.

My, was I glad Hubbie had pre-booked. A fireplace greeted us nearby after we had climbed the winding stairs, and after our waiter glanced through the already-full room that weeknight, he led us to a table for 3.

I was actually, extremely pleased that it was so noisy. It was a poshy destination, that you couldn’t deny, but I was happy to hear the well-to-doers talking loudly and happily from all corners of the room, filling up the room with a bustling and fluid atmosphere. Though it was a ‘nice’ restaurant, it was actually quite cosy, with wooden and sailing paraphernalia throughout to add that necessary beach-side effect, and yet it was done so tastefully. There was fairly ample room in the large dining area we were in, with an outside area that we could view from through our side window, that was currently empty, but would be an amazing spot in Summer. Oh the joys of beachside living.

IMAG4031

We perused the menu first for the celebratory drinks, and I opted for a local red, while Hubbie went with a … beer. Of course, what else.

Yes, my wine was on the $$$ side, but it was fantastic. Divine. Truly a red worth celebrating love with. ♥♥

And soon after we ordered the food, it didn’t take long for the first few plates to reach our table:

Seafood dumplings, shallot, ginger, chilli oil

IMAG4034

And Spaghetti napoletana for baby girl

IMAG4033

It was a basic pasta for baby girl, but even that, it was done well and kept both her, and US busy (and me a bit OCD-mad) as I tried relentlessly to keep her clean from sauce-stains. Fortunately for this order freak, she is a little OCD too.

I turned my attention to our entrée when I couldn’t take it anymore, and was happily impressed. The dumplings were yummalicious, and the combination of flavours made it a delightfully spicy explosion in your mouth. They didn’t last long on our table.

In between those plates and our mains, we kept ourselves busy. Looking out at the dark waters before us, drawing with baby girl, and of course, taking her to the loo repeatedly, because that’s what a toilet-trained toddler is obsessed with of course, the toilets of the world. Some other diners started to head home, we drank some more, baby girl took blurry photos of us, and then the mains arrived!

Hubbie’s Lamb shoulder – free range riverina, slow-cooked overnight on the bone with Asian flavours and roasted chats, with a side of chips

And my Spaghetti frutti di mare – todays seafood, hand-picked tomatoes from Puglia & evoo (chip additions courtesy of baby girl)

IMAG4038

Here is where I explain why I got baby girl pasta, and not chips, since I was having a hellish time keeping her sauce-mouth in check. If I were to get pasta, and she chips, although she loves BOTH, I wouldn’t have heard the end of it, as she would have been hounding me for bites, getting upset at the distinct spices in it, but then getting more upset because she still wants pasta. We had carefully conducted our plan however, and by this stage not only was she fairly full on her napoletana, but she now had Hubbie’s chips to peck on too. Score.

It wasn’t spicy. It wasn’t meant to be, but it had definite kick and flavour. Seafood, without being sea-watery in flavour, and the pasta was just… mmm hmmm. All the seafood was cooked perfectly, and though I’m not much of a fan of calamari, I still ate most of it, just because I was enjoying everything so damn much. I loved the pieces of salmon and the oiliness of the dish held it together so well, although that component did leave me feeling pretty full once my plate was empty.

It was a slightly different story for Hubbie’s meal. His ‘meat’ was cooked beautifully, to the point that it was falling off the bone, and it certainly looked inviting… but the problem didn’t lie in how it had been cooked. The problem lay in what it was. Because the menu said lamb shoulder. And it was shoulder. It just wasn’t lamb.

It was mutton.

I know, I know. Tell him to do his own food reviews. Believe me, if you think I can be critical, he is of a higher power. But he is allowed to be – he is a butcher after all. He knows his shit, and his shit, is his meat. He deals with it all day. Poshy restaurant or non-poshy restaurant, lamb should be lamb, and the overwhelmingly ‘lamb’ smell that was emanating from his dish, told him it was definitely not the above-mentioned dish, but the parent version. The smelly version.

It didn’t turn him off the dish, and he still ate it… but considering the calibre of the restaurant, he was disappointed, and had really believed they would at least put their money where their mouth was in terms of food quality.

The fussy butcher strikes again.

Things like this kill me, really, they do. I sit there across from him, hearing him complain, and I’m like really? Are you sure? But does it taste good? But see how it’s falling apart? ALL TO DEAF EARS. I enjoyed my dish but because he didn’t enjoy his, it just meant we were going home a whole lot faster.

He probably would have indulged in a dessert, but as it was, opted to share with me, and go a dessert wine. He had his vino to forget about the mutton, while I went for

Panna cotta with figs and pistachio crumble

IMAG4050

And baby girl kinda stayed still long enough through her intense excitement, to let me snap a blurry pic of her own ice cream and chocolate sauce dessert

IMAG4046

So yep, she enjoyed hers. After an oily pasta dish, my panna cotta was light and creamy, not too heavy, and the figs on the side gave it that freshness that accompanied my full stomach well. It was the perfect dessert to follow what I had eaten, however my usual preference would have been something much richer and decadent… maybe that’s for the day I eat a salad there. Salad for dinner? Nah, not happening.

We soon paid and left the restaurant with a much lighter wallet.

Food: 8/10. That score was a tough one to make. I don’t take to deception well, and yet I see the quality in the rest of the meals they prepared, bar Hubbie’s… their emphasis is on seafood, and you can find it in most parts of their menu, except for the grill. They also do breakfast, which on a clear sunny day, would be splendid.

Coffee: N/A this time.

Ambience: Really relaxed despite what I would have expected. The wooden beams and sailing decoration added a chilled vibe, reminiscent of a beach-style lifestyle. Well, it IS a beach-style lifestyle where we are! It was cosy, yet happily boisterous too.

Staff: They were attentive and friendly, but we didn’t have much to do with them, beside their taking our orders and delivering our plates/removing them from the table. I didn’t feel they went above and beyond the call of duty like other restaurants we’ve been to, but they did their job.

People: A well-to-do crowd. What does a 20-something guy do when back in his home turf? Why, Mother and Father take him out for some dining. Celebrate a birthday in style with 8 of your closest friends! Go out for a special dinner at that seafood place with your special someone, and smile at that mischievous girl at the adjoining table because she reminds you so much of your own rascally child at that sweet age – oh wait, they were looking at baby girl? The people there were actually really good with baby girl’s insanity: older couples, families and groups alike. An older crowd ruled that night, majority 40 +.

Price: $140ish. Phew. Wowza. Had Hubbie been happy, this wouldn’t have been a problem, it was a special night for us after all.

Advice: Definitely book ahead. Get something seafood (not hard here). Take in the views, (and I say that without even having seen the views!) If your partner is a fussy butcher, make sure he DOESN’T get the meat shoulder!

In a nutshell: I have not given up on this place, not by a long shot. I am yet to eat more seafood here, have a drink overlooking the water, have brekkie overlooking the water, have a coffee overlooking the water… I think I need to have EVERYTHING overlooking the water. The quality of food is above average, and though the price is up there and may make you flinch, remember that its mainly because of the prime real estate… everything is that much dearer when you are on the rocks.

The Rocks Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

An open letter to those I love…

A critical letter.

So often in life we talk to those closest to us about those that upset us. Shit us. Rev us up the wrong way. We critique them and bad-mouth them, complaining ’til the cows come home about all the things we so detest about these people.

How do I hate thee? Let me count the ways…

It is so easy to poke the finger and make negative comment when it is about people we do not care much for… and yet when our loved ones make us find fault in them, it is a bit harder to swallow.

You don’t want to hurt them. You don’t want to make them sad. You don’t want any suggestive words spoken to affect the relationship. You remain quiet, hoping they will fix themselves, by themselves.

They never do.

So here is my open letter:

Dear loved one,

I know there are people who have lied, and deceived you. I know you have been hurt more than words can say, and that in turn has left you distrusting and guarded, speculative and wary.

But believe me, people are not all out to get you. Please do not squint your eyes at everyone. Firstly, that is rude. Secondly, I hurt for you when you do that, and like the innocent people you judge unfairly, they start to judge you back… and I can’t stand that. I can’t defend you. I can’t win.

Dear loved one,

We have so much to say, right? But please let me say it. I know you think you can read my thoughts, or you know where I am headed in my speech. But I want to say it anyway. I want a chance to be heard. I just want to hear myself talking out loud, the way I let you do so often.

I may not go on as much, but that is because I get side-tracked and my mind never stops. I may not divulge so many details, but that’s because I am afraid of getting hurt. I may not express it all, but that’s because I fear the blab-mentality.

Please, just breathe. Don’t assume.

Dear loved one,

Don’t get all prim and proper on me now. Where has that spark gone? That glint in your eyes, that constant youthful laughter? Life is hard, I know it is hard… YOU know it is hard. But try to remember where it all began. Make it simple again. Don’t try too hard. It’s ME here. Remember that.

I want you to start the day laughing, and don’t stop ’til nightfall. Then I will know you are back.

Dear loved one,

Please say more. I know you have been knocked down. I want to hear you speak more. I want to hear your voice. I want you to muck about as you used to. Most importantly I want to see you smile.

Don’t lose Hope, loved one. I haven’t.

Dear loved one,

I know you want to make me happy. But listen to my version of happiness – don’t impose upon me YOURS. When I say I want something, please understand that is what I mean! You know me well… but I know myself better.

Dear loved one,

You are not the first, and you are not the last. Calm the f^%k down. Also, grow up.

Dear loved one,

Maybe when I wronged you, you thought it was intentional… but I didn’t realise what I was doing. However, you ‘getting me back’ is a conscious decision. Don’t play games.

(TIMES TWO).

Dear loved one

I know you wonder, ‘what happened?’ I honestly can’t remember anymore. But I thought we were stronger than a slow and prolonged absence due to ‘assumptions.’

Pretty weak huh?

Dear loved one,

I don’t know… do you actually like me? Or do you want to keep me around so you can continually judge me? I try to respect you and give you the friendship our years deserve… and yet I find myself hating you more.

Do you hate me more with every day, too?

Dear loved one,

You actually don’t know everything. Try to sound surprised, because I know you are.

 

Very Sincerely,

SmikG.

 

 

 

 

 

How to vote in the same-sex marriage postal survey

Here’s the thing: the outcome of Australia’s same-sex marriage postal survey will not impact me greatly.

I do not identify with the individuals who will be negatively affected in a possible majority ‘No’ vote.

I am straight. I am happily married – we said our vows in a church. And I have a child.

However, I do identify with them, as a fellow member of the human race. I am a member, and they are too.

Firstly let me start by showing you how I have voted:

IMAG5881

(and you will see that I have taken care not to include the lower barcode in this pic, in fear of the vote being deemed invalid, or risk of it being used by online scammers).

And now, a bit about myself.

I was raised in a fairly traditional European family. I was taught to respect and listen to elders, do as you’re told, and work hard.

We have a large extended family unit, and this only grew as the years passed. Family came to Australia from overseas, and so too the numbers went up up up.

When I was about 16 someone in this family unit came out.

It was my first time, being in the proximity of this knowledge. This ‘kind.’

Maybe I had been sheltered. Maybe it was a different time then. Maybe because it was so close to home…

… But the news really shook me. I felt altered. This person, who I had grown up with, who I had looked up to, who I had made some of the best childhood memories with –

was not the person who I thought they were.

Maybe because I was almost 16, maybe because it was that oh-so-pivotal and dramatic point in my teenage years – but I seriously felt lost. I didn’t know, what and who I knew anymore. The history that I had between myself and this person, didn’t appear to exist anymore.

To quote Gotye, they were “somebody who I used to know.”

Time went on. I still saw this person. They were still a part of my life.

And an important realisation surfaced. Through the continued interactions, continued laughs, continued memory-making…

… nothing had actually changed.

This theme grew stronger and stronger throughout the years, when I entered the workforce, and met more people who were gay and lesbian. And to date, I have lost count of the number of people in my life, both in personal life and at work, who are gay or lesbian.

I learnt a lesson very early on. There was nothing wrong with these people.

And this told me something. The sexual orientation didn’t make the person; the character did.

There were straight people who shit me.

There were straight people who I loved.

There were gay people who shit me.

There were gay people who I loved.

And lately, these gay people that I love (and some straight too) have been getting very vocal online. They’ve been getting vocal, because they want the same rights as every straight couple has, to be able to get married in Australia and have their union recognised legally.

I was sitting quite impassively on the subject for a while. I always knew how I would vote. But like I said, it didn’t concern me.

A quote sparked my interest though, and took me by surprise.

It was questioned, that when our children asked us in the future how we voted at this time, whether we would shy away and feel guilty, or whether we would be proud and say we had made a difference to the way people live their lives.

To the way people are able to live their lives.

That’s what it comes down to. Gay and lesbians do not have a say, nor do they have a right, to make their relationships official in the court of law.

I couldn’t help but think of women’s rights, and how it took so long for women to be able to ‘acceptably’ work… AND to be able to vote.

I work, and I vote. But if I was born before 1902, that wouldn’t have been at all possible for me. People back then made history, allowing me and every other woman in this day and age to do what shouldn’t just be a privilege, but a basic human right.

Think of the Aborigine people. We have come a long way, but in some respects, we still have a LONG way to go.

It has been progressive, has it not? People will argue either way, and yet if we look at the rights that Aborigines receive nowadays, they are vastly improved from how it used to be.

But for gays and lesbians, NO.

I didn’t think I needed to speak up, to give them a voice. It didn’t affect me, you see.

I read another story about a gay man preaching his case. He said under current Australian law, his brother, who he hasn’t spoken to in years, would have rights over his remains and his estate if something happened to him… his brother who he is estranged from. Who he clearly does not have a relationship with. Who he does not want anything to do with.

His brother would have rights, and yet his partner, who he is happily committed in a relationship with, would have none.

I read that, and I thought “that is just not fair.”

And then days earlier, the clincher.

The church where Hubbie and I got married, well they sent me a text. In summary, they were asking everyone to not be pressured and bullied by the same-sex marriage vote, and to vote NO in the plebiscite.

A direct quote:

“vote no to protect the holy sacrament of marriage, the family unit and the future generations.”

I was stunned. Stupefied. I told Hubbie, and we had a good, LONG discussion.

How dare they? What has it got to do with them? Gays and lesbians are not asking to be recognised by the church. The churches can continue to dismiss their relationship and deny their wishes to be married in their ‘sacred’ house… gays and lesbians are wishing for their unions to be respected and recognised legally.

By law. In the courts. Not in the church.

Marriage will still be sacred… because what is sacred, is LOVE. Let’s not pretend us ‘straight’ people are perfect. Divorce, adultery, abuse, both mental and physical… need I go on? Whose to say we are the only ones that can do it better? Straight people have been screwing it up since the beginning of time.

How will the family unit be affected? In what regard? From what I know, I’m fairly certain you don’t really have a choice to be gay or straight. You’re “born this way,” as another artist sings. Whether your parents are straight, or gay, I don’t think none of that will affect the family, or how their children will orient themselves sexually.

Straight couples produce gay children. Case closed.

And, future generations? Don’t we have an overpopulation issue? Like really? Will us ‘straight’ couples not be able to produce enough babies because of all the sudden gay and lesbian couples popping up everywhere?

Give me a break.

If anything, “church.” I am even more pro-God, anti-church establishment, than ever before. The man-made restrictions constantly placed upon the general population by the churches shits me to no end.

This law, isn’t going to make gay and lesbians go away. It isn’t going to make them disappear. And they shouldn’t have to. They are people, they have dreams, hopes and wishes, and theirs is to be respectfully recognised if they choose to marry the person they want to spend the rest of their life with. They have a basic human right, like so many of us.

They have a right to be recognised.

Like Aborigines do.

Like women do.

We all have a right. We have a right to be respected. We have a right to be heard.

We deserve the right of freedom. We deserve the right of public speech.

We deserve the right to marry who we want to.

We deserve the right to not be discriminated against for our race, colour, or gender.

We deserve the right to not be discriminated against for our ethnicity, work place, religion or geography.

We deserve the right to immunise our children, how and when as we wish. We deserve a say in this also, highly debatable topic, and need to be respected and listened to, our concerns understood and discussed, not pushed away in the corner and off to the ‘too-hard, crazy-person’ basket.

We deserve to be recognised by law, when we love someone. Let it not be based on gender, race, geography, or religion. Let it be based, and guided by, only the heart. 

And this is how this post came about. I was passive about the topic of same-sex marriage, still voting ‘YES,’ but neither feeling here nor there…

But then I realised, my voice was even more beneficial, because I was part of the middle group. The group that didn’t know how it affected them. The group that lay undisturbed from the decision. The group that would sleep well after the votes were cast, either way.

I am NOT a lesbian gay activist. I am not one way or the other. But I do believe in a person’s right to do as they choose, especially if they are not hurting anyone.

And they are not hurting anybody.

My voice is as important as every other humans out there.

And for the gays and lesbians, their voice is as important as MINE.

Please be a part of the ‘YES’ movement. Make a positive difference to our ongoing history. Be someone your future children will be proud of.

It feels awful to say it. But give the right, of basic human rights.

P.S And oh, just so you know…

Screenshot (1)

WordPress votes ‘YES’ too.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Loving and hating your friends

I have a friend. Every so often, she does something that confirms to me, her firm place in my life as a true, close, long-standing friend.

She’ll make a loyal gesture. Unexpectedly say or do something kind. Go out of her way to help me.

I have a friend…. Every so often, she does something that confirms to me, her firm place in my life –

As that person who shits me up the wall with her irrelevant, unnecessary competitive comments. She’ll say something judgmental. She has no ability to censor her mouth from bullshit. She tries hard to beat you at life, in general.

The above two friends are the SAME person.

I’m always swaying wildly with the pendulum on this one. I love her. I hate her. I wanna hug her. I wanna strangle her.

After I had baby girl, she actually had a dig at me for using certain pain relief while I WAS IN LABOUR. It is perfectly acceptable pain relief, and yet for her, who had not actually passed a baby from her nether-regions at that point of judgment, went on to say I could have risked my baby.

Fuck off.

She speaks highly of herself to raise her level of awesomeness, even if it means hurting someone else in the process. She doesn’t appear to have the awareness to think, before she speaks, to ask herself if what she is about to say to make herself sound soooo good, is actually going to put down someone else nearby.

Or she just doesn’t care. She is my friend, so I’ll go with ‘she doesn’t think.’

This friend is competitive. She will level whatever it is at your playing field, even if she has the up-front disadvantage, the later start, so that she keeps up with you at all costs… AT ALL COSTS. I mean, life is about winning, isn’t it?

???

However. This friend has been my friend for a LONG time. She has always been there for me, through thick and thin. We may disagree, a LOT, and I hate her competitiveness, and her judgmental nature, but at this stage I think too much has transpired between us to end this thing called friendship.

It doesn’t mean she doesn’t drive me up the wall with rage at times.

I’ve been thinking of something that happened recently. And in regards to her, and generally the way we think as a society. I’ve been wondering why we are so predisposed to hold onto the negative, when we can choose to focus on the real positives of a situation/person/event?

This friend recently helped me out. She willingly offered her assistance to me, where she had to organise something for my sole benefit. Still when I saw her later, she showed so much kindness, happiness, love. Every time something like this happens with her I think ‘wow, maybe we are reconnecting in a mature, adult, post-teen way.’

And then I’ll see her again, and she’s indirectly putting down my child’s inabilities, by praising her own child.

She’ll make remarks like “people don’t do that anymore” when I am in fact doing it.

(Because if she isn’t doing something, that means NO ONE is. I mean, she is EVERYONE, after all).

These incidences, good and bad, have been rotating around in my mind for days. I can’t let go of the negative. It’s driving me a bit insane. I wonder if it’s because the negative happened more recently, and is therefore fresher in my mind than the good. But I’m not too sure on that one. Good HAS happened, and yet the good is not strong enough to outweigh the bad that was said, inferred, suggested… that bloody knowing tone.

As a gratitude gal, I know I should be focusing on the good stuff, but with repeat offenders such as her, I just find it so hard to let go. It’s not like it was anything HUGE. But as it is with straws on the camels back, the littlest of twigs can set you off. And when it comes to things suggested at, especially in reference to your own children… let’s just say the lioness in me roars wildly on that one.

I didn’t say anything about being shitty, I never do… and maybe that’s where the fault lies. Speaking up and actually asking her what she meant, would not only have cleared the air, but would have gotten things off my chest and out of my tumultuous mind. I would feel better, and maybe I’d make her self-aware in the process.

I could have been more upfront, but I wasn’t, because long ago, I used to be VERY upfront and speak my mind more freely. That got me into a bit of trouble, which is why I am so careful now to watch what comes out of my mouth. I’ve learnt the hard way, once something is said, it can NEVER be unsaid.

So maybe this is all me. Maybe this is my battle, trying to learn how to deal with people like her, by learning how to first approach the issue in the first place, knowing how to act and what to say and how to feel. That’s ok, I can deal with constructive criticism, I get that.

Maybe this is all MY thing, and nothing to do with her. My own drama, my own insecurities. Me making too much of little, repetitive, annoying, childish mind games of hers.

I’m not sure. But one thing I do know for sure. Although our negative experiences may be clouding the happy rays of light she has shone my way, there is something stronger than the shitty moments, that beats it all.

The friendship. The loyalty and the history we share… nothing can beat that.

(Although she would try to).

And that’s why I’m back to square one again.

I lied

The other day when I was writing about coffee and tea… well, I lied.

Today at 4pm, I had my first sip of caffeine for the day in the form of a cappuccino. And that sip was so warm, so soothing, yet also so hot, that it touched my soul.

Love and sex combined, and I found my soulmate.

Coffee vs. Tea…

My boss made the most brilliant comment regarding these two caffeinated beverages.

So a while ago I’m at work, about to head off on my usual, post 9:30am coffee walk with colleagues. I ask her if she wants us to get her a coffee – she stops and pauses, and after some to-ing and fro-ing in her mind, she makes it up.

“No, I think I’ll have some tea.”

Fair enough, I respond to her. I can’t contest – after all, it was only some years ago that I never drank coffee, like NEVER, and only drank tea. Blacks, whites, herbals… as long as this letter was in it  – T – I happily tried them all.

We start talking about how sometimes, you just need a tea. Coffee is great, sure, hell yeah… but there are some Sunday mornings where I wake up groggy from a big night, and immediately think ‘tea.’ I need the hot quench of the liquid to satisfy my dry throat. Coffee can be too milky and often not hot enough, and I’m not going into the business of burning my beans or milk just to get the coffee hotter. No, I repeat to them. Sometimes you need tea, and only tea can touch your soul.

You know that first sip? Ahh. I wrote about it in-depth in my review on a magical little Tea house in Carlton North called Travelling Samovar. That first sip can literally, send chills through your body.

And then the clincher. All this talk, and boss comes out with an almost perfect caffeine-to-life comparison.

“Tea is like love… and coffee is like sex.”

We all pause, wanting to say something, cheeky grins on our faces, yet not sure if opening our mouths at this point will exact to a good idea.

“Well yes,” I begin. “They’re both important.”

I almost said more, but stopped myself. Enough. Enough had been said, and enough of a picture was made in our heads as we headed off to our sex/I mean coffee walk.

You can’t deny the soul-touching elements of tea. But coffee is extremely vital. Every so often/ 3 times a week you just need to knock one back and feel the buzz rush through your body.

I think the argument should be that there isn’t a caffeinated beverage that’s better than the other. Tea and coffee are both important for so many reasons, and without each other, the other becomes bland, and empty. Monotonous. Incomplete.

You need balance.

I think this is the perfect metaphor 🙂

 

 

 

Blind Love/Hate

Isn’t it funny how

We’re aware of our partners weaknesses

yet we continue to excuse them

Explain them away

Justify them

to ourselves

to others

to the World

Their characters

Their behaviours

The words they speak

It all has a reason, doesn’t it?

 

Aloof – “He only has time for his circle of friends.”

Moody – “He works too much, doesn’t get enough sleep.”

Loose with words – “He likes to speak his mind.”

Uptight – “It’s only because she values tradition.”

Judgmental – “She’s hard on others because she’s hard on herself.”

 

Is love that blind?

Or are we too critical with indifference?

 

(Actually he’s egocentric;

Actually he’s insulting;

Actually he’s heartless;

Actually she’s choleric;

Actually she’s sanctimonious).

 

Should we be harder on our partners

and kinder to strangers?

Should we expect more of those dearest to us

and let the others look after their own, withholding all judgment?

Should hate be blind?

… now that’s a thought.

 

 

The true meaning of Christmas

‘Be Nice to People. This is a stressful time of year for many.’

Is what my daily calendar said to me on the weekend. I was fortunate to have the only problems of trying to find some last-minute presents amidst the madness of shopping centres, with the addition of cramming in time amongst work and baby girl and writing to make gingerbread cookies, and a gingerbread cheesecake for Christmas day.

I am so, so thankful to have these festive challenges. I will not call them problems.

You know what a problem is? Terminal illness. Disease. Young children fighting for their lives. Being unable to move, or speak, or do anything for yourself, because an illness has taken hold of your body and has you captive against your will.

I was thinking about the concept of giving earlier this month. It’s a time of year when there is such an emphasis on gifts, and an abundance of stuff, that the true meaning of Christmas is often forgotten. Along with family, and love, and appreciation, I believe one fairly prevalent theme behind this time of year is in giving to the unfortunate.

I was at a shopping centre and was stopped by a young guy trying to organise monthly donations to the Starlight Foundation – a fabulous organisation that grants wishes to children with terminal illnesses. Terminal and children. Those words should not belong together in a sentence.

I wanted to help, but I couldn’t dedicate my money in such a consistent manner as to be donating a certain amount every month. I wanted to do a once-off donation, but his stall that day was to gather as many consistent donations as he could. He let me off gently by saying “You can make a once-off donation online – just promise me you’ll do it alright?”

I often get letters by the Stroke Foundation too, ever since a family member suffered from one and I decided to donate. That reminder, along with the above incident, and Christmas lights strung outside houses and carols warbling about “good tidings to the world” ringing out through stores, I approached Hubbie with an idea.

On a particularly low day, days later, I went online and donated to three organisations. Two were for conditions that close family members of ours had been affected by – Stroke and Brain Cancer. The third one was The Starlight Foundation. I don’t go back on my promises.

They were the best presents I’ve given this year, and it’s not even Christmas day yet. I had been feeling low, but I knew it was no where near what people dependent on these organisations were feeling.

Together, Hubbie and I decided, that we’ll have a new Christmas tradition. Along with the Buble songs playing throughout our home in December, my kikki.K advent candle burning down to the number 25, and the smell of gingerbread occupying the house leading to the Merry day, we’ve vowed to make a donation to organisations important to us each Christmas.

Because, when you think about it – if you can buy $50-100 presents for members of your family, I’m sure there’s $30 or $40 bucks somewhere there to spare for an organisation that you think matters. If we all made a little contribution, no matter how small, imagine the tremendous impact it would make for the people with REAL problems at Christmas-time.

Just imagine. Now is the best time to make a difference.