Month Thirty-One

Sydney Opera HouseDear Husband,

This month has been so hard for me to write. Not because of something that happened and conversely, not because nothing happened either. I somehow just struggled to find the words to begin. Continuing is usually not my problem as you know. Once I get started with the intention of writing a page, somehow 6 usually eventuate but where to begin this time got me stumped. So maybe I’ll commence by telling you a couple of stories.

Story One

I once had a brother by a different mother. In another life and another land, I shared a family with a young teenager who had the sweet tooth that so often is found in youth.  Actually, junk food in general was like manna from heaven to this boy be it sweet or savoury but I believe that chocolate did hold a special place in his heart. So much so that after he had gone through his cache of Easter goodies, he was more than happy to start on someone else’s. With permission of course, which was why one afternoon he asked “Mama, can I have the Easter egg that is sitting on the window sill?”. Unfortunately however, the rights to this egg were not exactly hers to bestow and she told her son “That egg belongs to your father, you’ll have to wait to ask him when he gets home”.

“But that will take ages!” moaned the boy. Because after all, when you’re hungry, three hours is a LONG TIME. I’d hate to think of the emotional strain of knowing that chocolaty goodness could possibly be days or even weeks away. Although allowing that it is a mother’s prerogative to bribe and / or indulge her children on occasion, that was never really a possibility in the first place and a solution soon presented itself to the teenager. “I’ll tell you what, if you promise to do me a favour, I’ll let you have the Easter egg”.

“What will I have to do?” was the boy’s immediate reply. Which, I’ll grant you, is not an unintelligent question. He should have known full well though that the answer was something like help me bring in the groceries from the car or gather all the dirty clothes for a load of laundry. Tasks that were simple as opposed to shovelling snow on the sidewalk which would have been rewarded with money. Tasks that were also quick and not at all like, say, dedicating the rest of one’s life to solving the problem of world peace. Whats more, the favour was just as likely to be forgotten as it was called upon but it was decided that the unknown (as the favour couldn’t be appropriately defined) wasn’t worth the potential inconvenience and he finally came to the conclusion “I don’t want it then”.

Story Two

I was with a family member once when I was invited by friends to join them at their house for drinks. I’ve never been one to ditch present company in lieu of a fresh offer although on this occasion, I actually asked my friends if I could bring my family member along. This was what I ended up doing and the night progressed with conversation and laughter and apparently a number of undertones I wasn’t aware of at the time. It wasn’t till I got home that I received an sms from my friend which said “you know that you are always welcome but next time, leave your family in the car”.

It would be an understatement to say that I was livid. I was furious, outraged, pissed and angry. I thought the text was rude, inconsiderate, insulting and unwarranted. I’ll grant you in hindsight that my family member may have rubbed my friends up the wrong way and that they were entitled to declare a state of future unwelcome for that person but I think they went about it completely the wrong way. From their feelings of discomfort and defensiveness came my feelings of temper and hurt and I don’t think anyone won in that situation. And as it was, after we were no longer geographically close, we were no longer emotionally close either.

Story Three

I knew another someone who somehow managed to grow up bypassing those life lessons that we tend to assume are a by-product of reaching one’s maturity. Things like:

  • Money doesn’t grow on trees
  • If you want something, you have to work for it
  • Trust, once lost, definitely needs to be earned before it is bestowed

I am not sure if they were never realised, never understood or merely never deemed applicable because a good tantrum will solve just about anything – no matter what age you are.

I wonder about this person sometimes. I wonder if they regret some of their decisions or are even aware that they made them in the first place. I wonder if everyone around them stopped the messages from getting through or they blocked the awareness themselves. I wonder if truly learning these lessons is like getting your wisdom teeth yanked…Its painful, sure, but when you’re younger, it’s a whole lot less traumatic. And ironically enough, before it happens, you have it all and you think you know everything and then you lose something close to you and you become a whole lot more educated.

Story Three is not much of a story, I know. There is no apparent conflict nor is there a plot but together with the others, it creates a sort of picture. One from which I can pull out:

  • You don’t really get to choose your family
  • Some people just don’t get it
  • Others are plain lazy
  • There are ways and there are ways of dealing with situations
  • I agree with you wholeheartedly – some people really need to grow up

So thank you very much for your restraint, your forbearance and your patience. You know what I’m talking about.

With the rest of the month, we enjoyed what little summer there was to be had this season. We enjoyed a particularly nice morning where we took Reuben to Bondi beach to catch up with one of my high school friends and her 18 month old. The sun was out, there was a warm and gentle breeze, not a cloud in the sky could be seen and it was fun to watch the puppy romp through the water with a little German shepherd. What was not so much fun however was the torrential rain that was plummeting down by the time we got home. It was absolutely pissing. Which was pretty much this last Summer all over. It rained a good two thirds of the time and I think Summer didn’t actually show up until the 27th February. But then it disappeared just as quickly so it may as well never have really come at all.

Apart from beer fridges (your new one), beaches, birthdays (Neighbourette’s son) and merely being this month, the only other noteworthy thing was that big thing in the corner. You know, the white thing with the trunk. The elephant in the room that neither of us wanted nor knew quite what to do with at the time? The one that began with an “M”. Part of me thinks it should have been one of those ‘better luck next time situations’, and in a way it was but I think it actually surprised both of us at the time as it was also not cool. What do you say when your wife has just had a miscarriage? I can’t help you with that because I certainly didn’t know what I wanted to hear. Which was partly why it was easy for me to not say anything immediately and let you race out the door to play golf. You had been looking forward to that game all week and I wanted you to have that. There was nothing at home that couldn’t wait.

When you did know however, there was nothing that you could do anyway. You can’t fix it. You can’t make it go away and you couldn’t tell me anything I didn’t already know. It’s not my fault. It’ll be ok. It doesn’t mean we won’t be successful in the future. The chances are like 1 in 6 so its very common. Its often the body’s way of protecting itself and keeping healthy…I was telling myself all that stuff already. It doesn’t stop you being sad or upset though. About the only thing you could do was be there for me but you seemed to think of that as being strong for me which meant that you didn’t really talk to me about it much and internalised your own hurt. I think we’re doing a lot better than some other couples who have been through the same experience. We seem to be adjusting fairly quickly and looking to the future and not the past but occasionally a feeling or a memory catches you unawares and you think crap! that sucked all over again.

But here’s hoping for bigger and better in the future. We have an indulgent wine weekend to look forward to and plenty of other things besides and I’m glad you are there to share the journey with me.

Ever yours,

Your Loving Wife

* Photo from last year’s Vivid Festival

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Yes…Maybe

Dear Optus,

For a company that has “yes” as their signature motto, I have certainly been hearing a lot of “no” recently which has not impressed me in the slightest. As a customer, I really do not like to hear “no, I can’t accommodate your wishes”, “no, I don’t want to give you what we promised” and “no, I won’t help you today”. It tends to leave a sour taste in one’s mouth. Of course, you might argue that I shouldn’t really expect much more from a telco. It wasn’t so long ago that I would start foaming and spitting at the mouth like some crazed lunatic if you so much as mentioned Telstra in my presence but I still like to think that it is possible to get actual service from my phone and internet provider. I should have known from the first phone conversation however that there were going to be problems.

I got a call at the end of last year from someone in an overseas call centre. Sure, she might have been an Australian in Melbourne with a strong foreign accent but she also might have been somewhere in the Philippines or India or wherever your outsourced call centre happens to be. My husband told me once where it was because he used to work for your company but I don’t really care and its not important. I’m just saying I know you outsource these things. So I got a call telling me that I was a valued customer (which I incidentally found a little odd because at that precise moment, my bill was actually overdue) and that I was eligible for a special holiday offer. It was made crystal clear to me (despite the fact that I don’t believe English was her first language) that I was being offered 1 year’s worth of internet for $20. That’s what she kept repeating. This whole offer was going to cost me $20. What was slightly less crystal at the time was the manner in which it was going to cost $20 but we eventually sorted that out too.

There was a $19.95 per month plan. You were going to put me on that for a 12 month contract and give me a free device. You were then going to apply a $10 per month discount making the plan $10 per month. Times 12 months in the year, this contract was going to cost $120. You with me so far? As a special holiday offer however, you also offered me a $100 rebate which would appear as a credit on my 2nd bill. Thus being subtracted from the $120 to leave me a total out of pocket expense of $20. This is where I seem to have lost you. I just got my 2nd bill for the new internet service and there was nary a $100 rebate in sight. So I called and found out that not only had this discount not been applied but that there was apparently no notes on my account, no historical offers of this sort in your promotions database and no information you could find whatsoever to suggest that I should get this money back. See, more “no” again. So Houston, we have a problem.

Now we are going to gloss over the fact that this was sold to me as “all this will cost you is $20” which was in fact a blatant lie. I found out towards the end of the call that as I would be receiving the device in the middle of a billing cycle, I would be charged pro-rata for that time until the first full billing cycle commenced – without the monthly discount. We will also gloss over the fact that I was told that if I accepted, the device would have to be delivered on the 29th of December, no exceptions. A day when I would be away on Christmas holidays. A day when I could not guarantee my whereabouts and availability. A day that was in the end not in the middle of January when the device was actually delivered – after I had rung to request its whereabouts. We will be glossing over these facts. What we will not be glossing over is the fact that I was promised a $100 credit on my second bill and I want to receive it.

Whilst I was on the phone and being passed around from person to person, I was told a couple of times that I wasn’t able to get the $100 I was promised but as a goodwill gesture, you were prepared to give me a $50 credit on my account. Goodwill my butt. $100 is a drop in the ocean for you. A grain of sand on the beach. A Chinaman in China. “Goodwill” would have been crediting me $100 and giving me a couple of month’s access for free. A “Goodwill” gesture might even have been to up the size of my plan without the cost for the duration of the contract. What you offered was a “paltry” gesture that inspires no “goodwill” in me whatsoever. I for one really don’t think it is unreasonable to expect that you will fulfil a promise that you made to me. Its not a crazy idea. It happens all the time. Really.

Now I suppose you are going to turn around and tell me that you have no problem accommodating my request as long as I can prove that you as a company made it in the first place. That’s great. How in the hell do I do that? Your employees are the ones who have not done their job correctly so I have nothing in writing and funnily enough, I am not in the habit of recording my own phone conversations. But wait, you are. Here’s a wild idea Optus, how about you prove how incompetent your staff are by finding the recording where you apparently sold me something under false pretences. I can tell you what day I got the call, I can tell you roughly when I got the call, I can tell you I spoke with a woman (or a man with a very high voice! – does your whole gay-centric call centreness extend to your outsourced call centres?) and I can tell you that the call lasted for over half an hour so why don’t you perform a customer service and tell your customer “yes, you are right and I will gladly help you out”. Or, you know, you could just save yourself the hassle and give me my hundred bucks. It may not mean much to you but it sure means something to me.

Yours,

Your Long Suffering Customer

Not Week Nine…

Dear Button,

You’re not really a button any more. I’m sure you’re not. Maybe you weren’t meant to be here, maybe you didn’t want to be here or maybe it was my body that didn’t actually want you here. For whatever reason though, I’m convinced that on the weekend I had a miscarriage. Which is the only way I have been able to think about it.

When you’re pregnant, I think the euphemism “with child” is a much nicer way to express the condition than “up the duff” or having a “bun in the oven”. It’s a bit antiquated, sure, but I think it shows a connection between mother and child and expresses the sentiment fairly accurately. Now that I have had a miscarriage, the euphemism would be that I have “lost the baby” but that somehow seems wrong. Not because of the word “lost” like I lose my bobby pins or my small change (I would still use the word “lost” if I were talking about my husband or even my dog), but because to me, “lost” in that sense implies more of a connection to somethingone than I had with what I guess I still thought of as a curiosity. I’m not saying I didn’t care. I did. My neighbour could tell you I burst into tears on her because I care but now its more like “well, it happened”. Its not like I lost a parent or even a lifelong dream. I lost a plan. I got a disappointment. I have to make a readjustment.

I never saw you, I never felt you and I never learned anything about you. I never had much proof you were even there. I wasn’t sick, swollen, itchy or many of the other things that can occur early on in gestation. I never made it to the first scan. I never saw my body change. I never felt like you noticed what I did or didn’t do. In a way, because I never felt like there was much evidence that you were there, I was always kind of unsure as to whether you’d stick around. I didn’t know whether you’d be like one of those guests at a party who show up quietly, partake of a drink and a canapé and then take off before saying hello to the host. I knew you were there but we never spoke to any of the same people and we never connected. I thought you might be an awesome addition to the party but as it turns out, you weren’t. So now I’m planning the next event.

Some of the people I have told about this tentatively ask if I’m ok and whether I think I’ll be ready to try again soon. They prepare themselves for a distressed “no, I couldn’t possibly just yet” and so seem surprised by my somewhat pragmatic nature. Sure I’m ready to try again but it’s a maths thing. See, the midwife told me not to try immediately. She advised me to wait for a normal menstrual cycle first. The problem is however, if that first full cycle comes 28 days after the miscarriage and then ovulation comes 14 days after that, the estimated due date would then be smack bang in the middle of the Christmas/New Year period and I have decided that is out. I don’t want to be worried about popping over Christmas and what kid wants their birthday in the middle of the holidays when friends are never around and family try to merge two separate gift giving opportunities into one? No thanks. I am therefore happy to try immediately and if that doesn’t work, we’ll have to take a break for a month before trying again. No problem.

Now just so as you know, I’m not belittling the genuine pain (both physical and emotional) that some women go through as the result of a miscarriage. I’m not even promising that I would have the same reaction if this happens to me again…and again…and again. I’m just saying that right now, this time, I am really not falling apart. It didn’t hurt (well after the first day when I had some rather uncomfortable cramping moments). I know its not my fault. I know it doesn’t mean I won’t have a successful pregnancy next time. I know it doesn’t mean I’ll never have a successful pregnancy. I know its my body’s way of saying that one wasn’t healthy for you, I had to evict it on your behalf. I know that I got off luckier than some women because there have been no other complications or doctors involved but I also know that it sucks. Everything thing is fine but this situation? Its not “ok”. Its not like nothing really happened. For me or for Sparky.

On the plus side though, it was kind of nice to see my mother so excited by the idea that even though you weren’t any longer, the idea of you is far more real that it was before. She was upset for me of course but I think there was at least an equal amount of pleasure in the idea that she might really become a grandmother. Before all she had was a “we’re thinking about it”. Now she has an “it nearly did happen” and a “we’re trying to make it so”. So I guess for me, its better luck next time and for you, its now goodbye.

Alles Liebe,

Lexelah

Week Eight

Dear Button,

You are:

  • About the size of a gummy bear now or a kidney bean or you know, something that size.
  • Extremely jointy, with fingers and toes and elbows and knees. You can totally now do the Hokey Pokey!
  • Almost finished with the tail.

I am:

  • HUNGRY.
  • Moody?

Ok, can I just say holy crap I’m hungry. I had heard about this one before. One of my friends told me that she started taking two packed lunches to work for a while because she was going out of her mind with hunger on one. I wondered if it was really that bad. Now I believe her. I wake up hungry. That’s not so odd in the scheme of things I guess but I’m used to waiting an hour and a half for food. I have breakfast and then half an hour later I’m hungry. That’s a new one. I barely last till morning tea and then shortly after I’m hungry again. After I eat lunch, all I can think about is more food. I go through the snacks in my desk, I keep making chocolate milk drinks so I can put something in my stomach. And I’m STILL HUNGRY! After a big dinner, there’s nothing better than a big bowl of custard. I only did that once by the way but still. Hungry.

Apart from that, the only thing to add is apparently “feisty”. This is an objective observation rather than a personal feeling but apparently I have been displaying a somewhat more “to hell with it” attitude than I ever have previously. This could be because:

a)     This person knows me better now and I am being slightly more candid

b)     Sparky is being more annoying than usual (sorry honey, you know I love you to bits but sometimes we really do get on each other’s nerves)

c)     Pregnancy has lowered the I-should-keep-my-trap-shut floodgate and my inner fishwife is coming out

Just possibly it might be a combination of all three.

Bis dann,

Lexelah

My Funny Valentine

Dear Husband,

I hate Valentines Day. I think you know that. Its not because I’m anti-love or romance, or because I was always single on this day until I met you have now formed some vendetta against an unidentifiable target. I think its great to express your love and affection to others. I merely object to the insinuation that you must do it on this day and the ensuing attitude by many (not you) that you only have to do it on this day. I also object to the commercial nature of the day and the premium on flowers and restaurants. And while I’m at it, I also object to the feeling of exclusion that is inspired in many of those without a valentine.

I know of course that this is not how you see the day. I know you continually like to do little things for me regardless of the day. I also know that you could make a fair argument that I don’t have the same qualms about the commercialism of Christmas or Mothers Day etc. Theres just something about Valentines Day though that says to me if you’re going to do something then buying a box of chocolates for your husband is a cop out. The sentiment of this day requires more than a token gesture or a random gift. Its not about physical things. It requires effort. Which is why I felt a bit guilty when you gave me this.

You found the gift that I could appreciate for the time, the effort, the thought and the lack of money because you know I would have throttled you if you’d actually bought anything. You also let me know though that in considering and creating this, you had been catching up on the past months that I had written about but that you had not yet taken the time to read. You then made the comment to me however that I used to occasionally write nice things about you but that the last few months had been somewhat negative and for that I’m truly sorry. I write things usually because I feel strongly about them. Sometimes that comes from my own amusement but often from frustration. I try to be fair and admit when I contribute to that circumstance but sometimes I probably don’t do myself any favours – or you either for that matter.

So I just wanted to let you know:

  • I love that when you decide to focus on me, it really is like nothing else exists for you in that moment. You give me your attention, you watch and you listen. You consider and respect and you are honest with me. Of course, bets are kind of off if Mythbusters is on tv…but you know that I’d probably get a nervous tick if I wrote anything too sappy…
  • I love that you always want to be aware of what is out there. I don’t think I give you enough credit for constantly looking at options and possibilities…for everything. I know I have previously made the comment that you can jump from one thing to another or that some of the ideas I’ve heard seem a little crazy but the flipside of this is that you don’t want to settle for second best…and you married me.
  • I love that you have a heart for people. You have more compassion for others than a lot of people I know and you are usually willing to put yourself out at a moment’s notice if someone you know is in need.

Happy Valentine’s Day,

Your Loving Wife

* Photo taken of new blooms in our garden

I Have Just The Thing For You

Dear Car Salesmen,

Yes, I know that by addressing this to you en masse I am lumping you all in the same bucket. I also know that really, it is only a specific number of you that give the rest a bad name. I will admit that in the past weeks I have met a number of lovely salesmen whom I believe are not completely full of shit but then, even the best of you would have to admit that some of you really are pretty stupid. Either that, or you think we are. Which in my book, kind of makes you stupid anyway.

Take Mr Car City for example. Upon us asking you the ticket price on a car that was clearly unmarked with flashy neon signs and absent of the usual paperwork that sits on the passenger visor, you wandered over to the car. You opened the driver’s door, poked your head in and looked around for about 5 full seconds before pulling your head out and telling us it was around $19,990. Wow, you can value a car that fast? From the driver’s door? That’s pretty talented. What? You’re one of those salesmen who does in fact know their stock well and you were just familiarising yourself with the vehicle to make sure you were giving us the correct price? Well, we might have been able to go with that if you didn’t completely undermine your position by confirming with your colleague who answered without a moment’s hesitation that it was in fact several thousand higher than the figure previously advised to us. And that was before you tried to excuse the fact that you were an idiot by saying that the car had only come into the yard several days prior. A fact which my husband found a little hard to swallow as he believed that the car hadn’t moved from its position (right up the back of the lot) in the three weeks since he had last seen it.

Then there was Mr Auto Alley who was all smiles when he was asking us about what kind of cars we were looking at buying. We spent some time explaining that our search was not so much around a budget or a specific make or model but rather the requirement for room in the back for a car seat and room in the boot for a dog. Finding room for a car seat is relatively simple but finding room for the dog is not. We have a very big dog so in addition to the width and depth of the boot space, we are also looking for height. Like 90cm and above kind of height. We are also looking at older cars that are more likely to have a squarish kind of space rather than one in the newer style which appears to mean aerodynamically tapered off. We explained that we had a Great Dane. We thought that was sufficient. Mr Auto Alley then told us that he had helped many families with large dogs find suitable vehicles and went on to point out about 4 cars that were completely unsuitable. What part of “Great Dane” don’t you understand? In the scheme of things, this is not a “large” breed dog, this is a “giant” breed dog. Have you ever tried to find a suitable car for a full grown Great Dane or Irish Wolfhound? I think not. So perhaps you should do us a favour and shut up till you know what you’re talking about.

This is something that I dearly wished to tell Mr Used Car Yard as well when my husband informed me of his idea. Whilst my husband was out looking at cars alone, he tried to have a similar conversation with Mr Used Car Yard where he explained our requirement for use of the back seat plus the requirements for height and length in the boot space but this particular individual had a new suggestion for us. “Have you ever considered getting rid of the dog? That’d widen your options”. Well of course it would you wanker but quite frankly, no, we hadn’t considered getting rid of the dog. Since you mention it though, removing of one of the requirements may indeed fix the problem but to be fair, we did get the dog before I got pregnant so maybe you’d like to recommend that I get an abortion instead? No? Even so, I may only get pregnant again and then we’d have the same problem wouldn’t we so maybe you’d like to suggest that my husband get rid of his wife. That’d really widen up the options wouldn’t it? The front passenger seat would then be up for grabs.

So it would appear that we are either dickhead magnets in car yards or just unlucky enough to have found all these specimens of stupidity. Since we’re not done car shopping yet, I’m hopeful that I don’t run into too many more of you. But then again, sometimes there are those moments that just make you smile. Like when we went back to car city and found the office unattended and the car we were interested in unlocked. Since we needed to make sure that the dog would fit and since he was with us at the time, we may have put him in the back of the car and may have left a few paw prints for our troubles…oops.

Yours,

The Family Dog Owners.

* Photo apparently taken by Martin Usborne which I shamelessly stole from this website (this is not my dog – I do not own a harlequin).

Week Seven

Dear Button,

So this week I really am pregnant. I know you knew that last week but now I actually have blood test results that prove it. You probably think I’m a little weird but this actually made the wait to get the referral a little more bearable. I was not a happy camper whilst I was at the doctor’s office. The first time I was frustrated because she made me get blood tests before giving me the referral. Why is that necessary? Then the next time, I showed up at the surgery at 8am and they finally bothered to see me at 10am. They wouldn’t give me the blood test results in the mean time so I could go to another doctor and I wasn’t able to just pick up a pre-written referral. Grrr…

You are:

  • Growing, growing again and growing some more. By rights you should have started this week at 4 or 5mm long and reached an amazing half an inch by the end.
  • Now in the possession of a two-chambered heart, air passages in the lungs and cerebral hemispheres in the brains. So you could be smarter than me already.
  • Also in the possession of an appendix which is pretty amazing until you remember that its also somewhat redundant because we don’t use them anymore.

I am:

  • Missing the poop. Just so as you know.
  • Married to someone having empathetic symptoms (or perhaps that was someone taking over my symptoms?)

Anyway, there were a few new things to report this week. One night when I was cleaning my teeth my gums started to bleed slightly which I was given to understand could be a symptom but then they didn’t do it again so maybe thats a different problem. One thing I will say though is I miss regular poop. Not the sloppy stool that constantly seems to come from the puppy or whatever bowel movements that those in my acquaintance must currently make but that ability to go to the toilet as an adult and be done in under a minute. My ability to go to the toilet and be done in under a minute. I haven’t changed my diet or done anything unusual this week but lets just say the waste is not coming out as easily as the crap went in. That seems to be my main symptom though. Apparently Sparky got the rest of them.

Now I have heard of sympathetic pregnancies but this is a little ridiculous. Over the past week Sparky has taken to nanna napping like a champion. He wakes up tired. He goes to work and comes home exhausted. He peels off at 8:30 to go have a lie down. He’s not even 30. Then theres the fact that every time we walk in the front door, he always seems to be busting for the toilet. Or the fact that he’s been feeling a little nauseous of late. Or perhaps the aches and pains and bloating he seems to be experiencing. Not to mention the food cravings he has all of a sudden. The moody thing he had already but the rest of it? Seriously, its like everything I might have expected to go through myself, he has been feeling. I tell you what, if that is the case, he’s going to be an awesome husband to have if I’m eight months pregnant. I’ll probably feel like I could run a marathon.

Alles Liebe,

Lexelah