Yesterday I piled the babes in the car and drove 2.5 hours (3 if you count the two drive-through stops and my minor wrong turn) to Sydney. After some agitated city driving, and a little too much Faith No More, I was feeling like an angsty teen all over again. We’re here so I can finish my major assessment for Sociology and the babies can play by the sea. It hasn’t been as easy as I expected. There is a good deal of over excitement going on, and sickness at home is prompting an early return. But this morning I watched the sun come up, and all the tiny little boats in the harbour spring to life. The babies and I went for a 6.30 jog for coffee and sat by a little beach on our way home; I studied and the babies napped. My biggest fox splashed in the rock-pool through the day and I’m 55% of the way through my book. It’s been busy but nice.
What better way to start an open letter project than with a cranky letter to the person who irritates me most, most of the time.
An open letter, to myself.
Well hey there stranger. Yes, I’m talking to you, don’t do that thing you do were you sheepishly check behind yourself hoping this agitated tone is aimed at someone else. I bet you’re starting to panic a little right? Well you should, I have a bone to pick with you. You’re being an idiot. If we’re going to be perfectly honest with one another, I’d like to think that over the years I’ve gotten to know you well enough to be firm in this conclusion.
Don’t mistake me, I’m not quite self-loathsome just yet, but don’t push your luck. Even now, as I type, the list of other things you should be doing is building up like Hogwarts letters through the Dursley’s mail slot. Well why haven’t you jumped to it? See that kid in her jammies with the party whistle? That’d be a good place to start. She’s threatening to wake your entire house and shatter the only semblance of ‘pre-woken up child peace’ you might have today, in which to organise yourself. Why are you letting that happen? Too late. They’re awake, and already the list of things you need to do today has pushed into tomorrow morning’s pre ‘panic- they’re awake list’. My life is currently in shambles, and it’s all your fault. Don’t act like this is a shock to you. If there’s anything other than self organisation you are worse at it, it’s pretending that you’re organised. But before I get personal, let me remind you of your crimes.
Firstly, you shouldn’t be writing you should be studying. There are another six weeks left in this university term; two major assessment tasks, two minor essays and a novel and a half of readings for the week building up. You fell asleep last night with an e-reading on the history of human related climate damage on your face. You’re lucky it wasn’t the actual book, that shit would suffocate you. Get off the internet and read that novel you’re supposed to have written two thousand words on, you only have five days. I know what you’re thinking… “Five days?! Pfft. Get off my case, letter writing self! I have another two days before I need to act” WRONG. You have five days in which the likelihood of one of your children coming down with chicken pox, refusing to sleep for five whole days, breaking their arm, hunger striking or committing a crime is greatly heightened, just because you have a deadline. This word ‘deadline’ brings me to the next major reason as to why you are currently my least favourite person.
You have SIX weeks left of uni term, and you’re getting married in EIGHT weeks… Please, next time you think it’ll be fun to challenge yourself, remember following a potty training two year old around reading a book on flower arrangements while she poops on the white carpet. Remember the morning you did the school run, rushed to the library and realised your skirt had been undone and your underwear on display all morning. Because all the other mothers needed just one more reason to judge you, beside your lateness and unwillingness to sign up to canteen/reading/sport/all round irritating soccer mum duties. If you’re lucky, come Sunday I might make a tape documenting your current state and hide it somewhere in the house, so you can witness first-hand the ‘stained shirt, greasy hair, dumped middle age man look you’re rocking, just in case you ever think it could be a good idea to push yourself ever again. Ever. It’s not grunge-y, it’s greasy. Need I even say anymore? Ha.. Oh wait, you have just signed up for part time work. I feel I have appropriately demonstrated why my above accusation is correct.
I had so many plans for you of late that as usual have not come to pass. Early morning runs, vigorous exercise regimes, healthy eating plans and all sorts of household/ life organising activities. Screw you and your procrastination. And all of those super organised baking/exercise/mothering wizards Pinterest dangles in front of my face daily. Why aren’t you more like those ladies that can sew entire kiddie outfits from scratch while baking dinner, decorating and doing sit ups all at once? Up with this, I will not put.
But in all honesty, my third and biggest problem with you right now is not your lack of academic/wedding/ house hold organisation, but quite simply this; you’re mean to me. Quit it. I’ve watched you tolerate all sorts of irritating and unprecedented behaviours and criticisms from others that would have led those with a normal level of patience to commit mass bully Boondock Saints style revenge, yet you still instruct the offender to “have a nice day”. Why are you nicer to check out chicks than you are to me? Even the bitchy ones?! Could you please take it a little easier on me and perhaps tell someone else what you think for a change? Stop over complicating my life and jump to my defence. I really didn’t want to partake in all those family fun run-esque events you’ve signed me up for in the past, I’m useless at selling raffle tickets and I don’t like baby minding/house sitting/dog walking or your aunty’s lingerie parties. And fyi my arms did not look like tuck shop lady arms in that dress on the weekend, I’ve personally seen the photos and you were wrong at the time. I did not appreciate the massive rant with hand gestures you gave in the car the other day when we were running late, frankly it was bizarre and I’m not the only one who thinks so. You need to have a cup of tea and calm your farm. Do not get mad at the children for trashing their
first, second, third out fits for the day, because you don’t have time to change them. Remember you told me this would be ‘fun’.
Frankly my relationship with you of late is mentally and physically exhausting and you spend all my money like some sort of abusive partner (on text books, cute wedding related things, sugar and guilt presents for the children- just because you can’t play with them right now doesn’t mean they need all of the Cupie/power ranger dolls). Yet you still have the nerve to call me fat.
Get yo act together woman, and treat me right, or I may just sleep past your deadlines, poison you with sugar and continue to be a general menace to all of your plans. Now quit your procrastination and get back to work or I’ll sign you up for canteen duty.
Sincerely, your irate self.
I know “wedding Wednesday craft day” isn’t supposed to be until tomorrow… But today I just couldn’t help myself. I was super excited to start making these babies I even let my tea go cold! And if there’s one thing I love more than putting my craft shoes on and getting busy with the PVA, it’s a nice cup of tea. So obviously this was seriously fun Craftea wedding work.
I’ve been deliberating over what diy decorating to settle on for the reception for as long as I’ve been obsessed with the beatiful and eclectic pictures in every wedding mag and blog I can get my glittery fingers on. Which would be since, oh, a week before we got engaged. And with an article I wrote being published by Off Beat Bride, today I got just the buzz of wedding excitement I need to get me moving. I’ve decided I have decoration anxiety; I’m so particular about what I like, and I see so many beautiful ideas every day that I’m considering a self imposed wedding media ban. Why can’t I have all of the super sweet wedding cakes?!
With just on two months to go, it’s time to get to work on the finer details and bits and pieces I was so excited to work on when we got engaged, but didn’t have enough space to store for months in the lead up. Last night I whipped up a prototype, and perfected these dream catchers today. I love them. I had a beautiful big one my parents bought me when I was young, and I wanted them to look like it. But they don’t they look better. I recycled lace off old clothes and tore up old curtains, table clothes and wheat bags to make these very-recycled chic little beauties. My dad even twisted up the frames from old wire for me. They required nowhere near the wizardry I expected them to, and I was able to knock four together in just a few hours while the babies played. If you’re lucky I’ll even post a tutorial. Any ideas on what might go nicely with these?
I’ve decided to jump on board the “weekly project” bandwagon, in an attempt to keep myself writing on a regularly basis and to establish some semblance of routine to my blogging schedule. Firstly, DON’T PANIC, I won’t be spamming you every week with a regular instalment revolving around my children’s latest annoying habit, new tooth or bowel movement. Nor will I be posting cringe-worthy “selfies” of myself doing one of the fifty things written on a pre-prepared list *insert picture of me eating breakfast thumbs up here…* No, I’ll be starting something I’ve been deliberating over for a long while now; The open letter.
Firstly, what is an open letter?
An open letter is a piece of writing directed to a particular individual, organisation, group, event, day, piece of random furniture in your great grandmother’s house etc. It’s a letter addressed to anything or anyone that has provoked an emotional or thoughtful response within you worth writing about. That letter is then made available to, and intended for reading by a wider audience. In my case, instead of following a list of pre-dictated people, I’ll pen an open letter, once a week to someone/something in particular that I feel inclined enough to praise/appreciate/vilify/or irritate.
I love sending and receiving letters. The written word is my most favourite go-to means of communication. Give me a pen and I’ll articulate myself perfectly, give me a person and I’ll make them tea whilst desperately recalling the-25-topics-to-talk-about-when -you’re-in-a-social-situation, and eventually resort to “the weather”. So it’s no wonder, when I think of something useful to initiate a year-long project based around, I go straight to the written word. Although in all honesty it was my fiancés idea, if he counted up the amount of times I declared “I’m writing an angry letter!” we’d easily have enough letters to fill a book. But it doesn’t have to be angry. Ever tried a lipstick or contraceptive pill you love to bits? A trolley boy who’s really made your day? Irritated by a politician or public figure with their Rosary beads firmly wrapped round your ovaries? Or had a Charlotte York-esque “I rue the day you were born!” speech bubbling away inside you for years? The open letter is the proverbial soap box for you.
I find myself regularly, discussing something that’s managed to stir some form of emotional response, be it outrage or adoration, but never get around to writing it (if I had, Donna Hay would have scraped her home made macaroon mix by now – It just doesn’t work, Donna.). So instead, I’ll be documenting devastation or delight here, once a week – I can’t promise it’ll be on a specific day – let’s not go crazy, I said it’d be a routine, not a regiment…). But I can promise it will be 50 blog posts worth of better writing than all the paint shops in the world have different Shades of Grey.
The last week or so has been dominated by uni work all round. We’ve both been swamped with assessments. And with Daddy-o being away for work a bit lately, we’re falling behind. On top of a teething baby fox and a “big girl toilet’ training girl fox, come Saturday we were in dire need of delicious food. My fiancé cooked an amazing dinner on Saturday night of bbq-ed steak with French lentil and chickpea salad. For desert, to accompany the election converge I packed up study early and cooked banana cake topped by coconut icing (with help from the little ones, of course). They had to go to bed before it cooked, but we woke up to the sounds of little chairs scraping across the floor, so little hands could easier reach the goods sitting on the bench. Their initiative was rewarded with banana cake for breakfast (hey, it’s Sunday). I on the other hand left them to their cake and took my coffee back to bed along with some toasted, gluten free vegan bread (neither of these apply to my dietary preference, but to understand just how awesome this bread is, you need to understand that it doesn’t contain any of the conventional “bread” ingredients) with a huge helping of honey. You can find it here.
Today I found myself studying demographic trends in lesser developed countries and longing to be outside. Coming from someone who hisses and threatens disintegration in the sun, this is new. My email notification pinged and it’s a note from my mother in law describing her exciting Icelandic and Scotland adventures, I got a little bitterly jealous. I’m getting to the point with uni work, where instead of counting things I’d rather be doing, I’ve narrowed it down to things I’d rather not be doing, which is pretty much anything that involves torture or listening to Tony Abbot speak (which could be considered one in the same…). There are so many things I want t do, but not enough time to do the things I have to do as it is.
So in an attempt to boost my concentration and nourish my body a little better at a time when I need it to be at its best, but don’t have time to look after it the way I should; I’ve decided it’s time to start taking better care of our eats. We eat pretty well, but our babies could use a few less “treats” here and there, and when they do, I want to encourage them to be as healthy as possible. At the same time, I refuse to be too hard on myself when I have them in a healthy eating routine, only to find a grandmother stuffing gummy bears in their faces.
On Sunday I cooked Vegan samosas for dinner, they were pretty fiddly but delicious. I also made raw mint patties for desert while our beautiful baby foxes set up camp playing together in the lounge room. Having said that, I think I may need to take smaller steps with the baby foxes, who, after I made them a yummy and nutritious meal, polished off half a Cole’s meat lovers pizza… each. Ah well, small steps.
Did I mention I had the best facial of my life on Saturday? After a week at home with all three little foxes, and daddy away, I started unravelling a little towards the latter half of last week. My first major assessment of the uni session was due Friday, and a few stressful all nighters had me a little referenced out. On Saturday morning daddy and the babies dropped me off for a facial and massage. It was amazing. Everything .The music continually playing reminded me off Elizabeth Bennet running through the fields of Pemberely , and there was a huge pot of lemongrass and honey tea boiling away in the corner.
That’s a bum. Wearing home-made panties.
With wedding related emails filling up my inbox and a list full of “to-do-closer-to-the-date’ jobs that could take us to our first anniversary, the topic of matrimony seems to be frequenting my conversations beyond anything I’d previously expected. Unfortunately so to do the opinions and unimpressed expressions of every old dame, who’s inbuilt radar has spotted my engagement ring and the sticky fingered kid hanging off it. And with every questionable-twist of the too-old to-wax-lip, my matrimony related decision-making process, comes slightly un-done and I’m left asking myself; if the decisions I’m making about our wedding, which will ultimately be the bunting draped rocket that launches us into married life, are the right ones for us?
Of course, I’m not waxing on about choosing flowers, wine, dresses etc (which are of course stupidly important, but I’m sure with enough wine will be less so on the day). I’m talking about the decisions that dictate how much, and what kind of tradition we’ll be incorporating into our marriage. This I know, is the female fiasco that plagues every slightly inclined to call herself feminist thinking bride to ever question the merits of ‘something blue’. With the very foundations of what marriage is, being passed down in a sugar almond shell, it’s up to every woman to decide just what exactly she’ll take from the woman before her, and what she’ll pass down to those that will hit the aisle in her footsteps.
Don’t get me wrong, tradition (obviously) has never been our thing. Our three children will be present at our wedding and there certainly was no bending down on one knee (I can handle surprise babies, but I think a surprise proposal would have put me out cold). We talked about getting married, as a form of mutual decision, and I practically announced to my fiancée, when I decided it was time. We openly discussed ‘the ring’ and I designed it myself. My godfather is a “bridesman”, and our daughter will be our flower girl (or err.. she’ll thud down the aisle first, and take down anyone in her way).
Don’t get me wrong, old ladies aside, marriage in this country is obviously not what it used to be. My dad isn’t expected to split with five thousand a year, and my property doesn’t instantly fall into my fiancés lap the day we get hitched. No one is expected to trade cows for my hand, (although I’m sure they wouldn’t say no to a case of beer). However, whether you like it or not, with something as age old as marriage; tradition always manages to rear its white wearing, virginity flaunting head. From small things like something borrowed something blue. To bigger, scarier things; like being given away at the altar or throwing off your maiden name, like a bride’s nightie (see what I did there?). Marriage can be as steeped with tradition or as uniquely different as you want it to be.
I feel that at the end of the day, it’s about harnessing the beast and taming it into something we’re comfortable with, something we can call our own. If we were getting married so we could buy a house, start a family and choose a dog, I think it’d be different. I think we’d be more prepared to do things the way we’re told to; but that wouldn’t be for us. I don’t need a piece of paper to tell people it’s socially acceptable for me to go fourth, procreate, and co-own a fat Labrador, I’m quite happy living in Bull terrier sharing so called sin. That’s not what marriage is about to me. It’s about taking something traditional, something that our parents did, and turning it into something new and different. Something that suits us, and that I’ll be happy to pass down to my daughter, to tweak and rearrange and make her own. It’s a way of saying; I want to spend my life with this person, on our terms, not the terms our parent’s laid out, not the terms that anyone else believes dictates the roles individuals in couples should play. But on the terms we choose for ourselves and each other, demonstrated through whatever treading or trampling of tradition is necessary.
It’s about not feeling obligated to anyone else outside of our marriage, taking into account what your families think, but having the audacity and the respect for ourselves and each other to say ‘no, that’s how you did it, but it’s not for us.’
So this is where I’m at, somewhere between the red flowers or the white, and choosing whether I want to be “given away” like something ready for the op shop. Or declaring that I give myself, not as property, but to our marriage as an equal half. If I want to wear a flouncy white marshmallow dress I can, if I want to wear a sequined mini I can do that too, but no one can tell me otherwise.