Sunday, 16 August 2015

Spoil sport

Today, on my way to meet a friend for brunch I was enjoying the walk in the crisp morning air opposite Newport Park when I became aware of raised voices. I looked over to the parkland to see a man admonishing a young girl, who looked to be around fourteen. She was dressed in sports gear; on her back a bag containing what may have been a lacrosse stick, I can’t be sure, but she seemed to have just come from some type of practice.

The man’s stance was aggressive and his gestures intimidating. Not all his words were audible, however I caught “You’ve wasted my entire season!” then there were a few F-bombs thrown in for good measure. The girl was obviously distressed and humiliated. She dabbed a tissue to her eyes and trailed behind him. Then he stopped and turned on her again, screaming more abuse.

I was about to cross the road and say something, when the girl turned away from him and walked in the opposite direction, while he stomped away from her like a 2-year-old having a tantrum. The tension left my body as the distance between them lengthened.

I’m not sure what their relationship was. Was he her father, was he her coach; was he both? Please, no! It was telling that he was agitated and concerned that it was his season that was wasted, not hers. I wonder whose needs he was concerned about. It sounded like he was expecting her to do what he couldn’t. I wonder what sort of performance he expected to get from this young woman using those tactics. I was so glad she walked away from him.

All day she has come on-and-off to my mind. I have no way of finding out who she was, but if she ever gets to read this, I want her to know that she’s not a loser, he is. And, if he’s reading this I want him to know that the words ‘man’ and ‘coach’ in their true sense don’t apply to him. Bullies don't qualify.

If anyone should have been embarrassed about their performance today, it was him.

Wednesday, 29 July 2015

Stereo Stories @ VU Bar

Stereo Stories combines personal stories and popular songs, featuring writers and musicians onstage together. Stories of pathos, humour and love read with doses of jazz, soul, pop and rock. As writers read their stories about particular songs, musicians weave in and out of the narrative, playing parts of the song. 

Stereo Stories has been a hit at the Williamstown Literary Festivals and Newport Folk Festivals. The 90 minute VU performance will include some stories by students and lecturers of the VU Professional Writing and Editing course and some of the best musos in the land. 

THURSDAY 30 JULY, 7pm start.
VENUE: The VU Bar at Footscray Park campus, Building M.
Cost: $15, or $10 conc.
Bar and meals available. Books on sale.

RSVP TO or leave a message on 9919 2904. It helps the Bar with staffing.

See more about Stereo Stories here:

Friday, 10 July 2015

Call me 'cute'

Today I was listening to Life Matters on Radio National, in which comedian Dylan Moran was being interviewed and talking of life’s four stages: Child, Failure, Old and Dead. I understood the humour in that, but it got me wondering about where I'd sit on the continuum. I often still feel like a child and a failure (like most people who have lived long enough to screw up a few things), but I suspect that given my adult children have started referring to me as ‘cute’, I’m somewhere between the Old and Dead stages. It means I’ve hit that age threshold where keeping connected with the modern world are seen as me making an effort as the world moves away from me. Aww. Isn't she cute? 

Sometimes in your 20s and early 30s, middle-age and beyond looks to be so far away, that those in the younger age group are unable to conceive of what life is like so much further down the road. In fairness, what do they have to compare it to? Certainly not the depth of experience, the mistakes and the learning. Often there is an assumption that older people do the same thing every day. That they are not open to change, and yes, occasionally they try new things, which makes them, well—‘cute’. It’s hard for them to imagine that people continue to have dreams and aspirations and desires until the day they die. Sometimes these are silenced by other demands and by the perceptions and disinterest of others about how those in middle age and beyond should, or do, behave.

Coincidentally, the day before listening to the program, I had read an article in Overland Literary Journal, about emerging writers and questioning why it was usually young people who were entitled to emerge. As a more mature writer, and one not having had the opportunity in my younger years to follow this path, I do feel occasionally that I’m struggling with the perceptions of what I would bring given that I’m ‘emerging’ at a later stage. But it’s not stopping me. I will keep doing the work and finding new ways to improve myself. 

So, yes, I will remain ‘cute’ and possibly expand my cuteness. I’ve already warned my children that if I am hit by the proverbial bus, there is to be no reporting that the grandmother of *insert number at the time* was collected by the 903 to Mordialloc. No, no. They are to ensure that it adds—social worker, corporate trailblazer, writer, author, artist, teacher, mentor and a PhD candidate—to the descriptions of wife, mother and grandmother. While I love what those parts of my life give me, I was a whole lot of other things—ME—before them and I don’t want them forgotten because I'm ‘cute’. Some of my accomplishments started and carried through from my youth and others I have come to in later years. I have not stopped. Yes, I've been slowed down by heart surgery and chronic pain, but so what? The space between Old and Dead is full of possibility and vibrant, not just with desires and dreams, but with action and accomplishment.

In the interview, Moran said, 'People sort of look at older people and go, "Oh, they just wake up at the same time every day and they eat a cheese sandwich at lunch and they walk the dog." But it’s not like that. People are quieter about their inner life, but it’s still happening.'

He absolutely right and I'm not going to be quiet about it anymore. 

Image via The Nth Degree