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On this Tuesday morning, Australia- particularly Sydney- has already been through a harrowing day and night, most of us having gone to bed wary of what we might wake to this morning. As an armed siege unfolded from yesterday morning in a busy Sydney CBD café, we saw five hostages escape and were heartened. People we know worried for family and their safety through the lockdown.

Today, it wasn’t to be as we’d hoped without loss of life: two names and faces were released this morning, bringing a chill of harsh reality as the story continues to fill itself out. No, we are not used to this. We are so fortunate, not to be used to this. Flags will fly at half-mast.

Social media has and continues to bring us upsetting information. The gunman, also now dead, was out on bail for a list of horrific offences. Our justice system has a great deal to answer for. I can only hope these events and the fallen will finally bring some much needed attention to this. It can’t be for nought. It stands to reason there are others out there like him still. It is inexcusable.

BUT horrible circumstances can also bring out the best in people and this is what I need to highlight. Forget the detractors. The outpouring of support with the #illridewithyou hashtag all through Twitter was a beautiful thing to see (brilliance, @sirtessa). And there was so much more. I want this time in Australia’s history to reflect this above all else. This is the Australia I identify with and am so proud of.

I was moved to write this today to the people I know and love online:
“Maybe it’s the smaller groups I feel more comfortable with; maybe it’s my impeccable taste in human beings or, if I’m feeling karmically blessed, the types I attract. But I want to say again how proud of those in my networks I am to know, see and hear.
Tragedy is tragedy. I’d never diminish lives taken, suffering or healing needed. There are losses and irreconcilable injustices in this world but hate is not the answer to hate; it’s the opposite.
If this changes us in any way, it should make us more open, not less. More giving, not less. More understanding, not less. Yes, our justice system needs reform.
For those who are now shaken, angered or made to suffer fools my thoughts and sentiments are also with you.
In the conduct of many, and in that the outcome could have been worse I’ve seen much to hold faith in yet. Thank you.
#illridewithyou

 

And I am grateful. I am and I choose to be. Grateful for the safety of my loved ones, to be safe in my home, for my friends, for the love still in the world, for the soft bed I fell into last night. Grateful for how the events have been handled, by Sydneysiders and the authorities. For the supreme blessing that I live in a safe country where mercifully, scenes such as yesterday’s are the overwhelming exception to the rule and not our daily reality. Grateful for gun control. Grateful my kids have been protected from that which they are not yet ready to know.

My sincerest thoughts are with the families of those taken. For them (and for all victims or survivors of any violence), may their loss be honoured with much needed change. But it should not change who we are.

Special note: I’d originally decided I wouldn’t post today. I agree with those who suggested it would be a respectful move not to hit the internet with our regularly planned frivolities. But then I felt a need to honour the day after and look at the things I am grateful for in the wake of such unpleasantness. It helps me make sense of the world and to not be beaten by it. If my words today help anyone else, I can only be thankful for that too.

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One Sunday last month, up popped the dreaded, nasty little square on our calendar with too much writing in it. My girl’s two most exciting days of the year had most cruelly, been timetabled concurrently. Rather than having full enjoyment of each (preferably different weekends), we had to split our day between the biennial school fair and the dance concert/ fun day.

The concert itself began at 2pm, so we had to start the day at school. First photobooth and treasure hunt checkpoint duty, then to the stage for junior choir. After that, we could breathe a bit. I let my Little Miss wander with friends while I finally got a look around. Hello cake stall! Perfect treat for the dance concert after-party table: super cute watermelon biscuits!

At time to leave, my girl was nowhere to be found. When she was found, refused to go.
“But I haven’t been on the rides! All my friends are here! It’s NOT faiiiiiiirrrrrr!” (No, it really wasn’t.)
I’d seen this coming. I coerced, convinced and did my calm best to get her out and home for costume change and snack en route to the theatre.

Oh thank heaven for pretty, innocent watermelon biscuits

Oh thank heaven for pretty, innocent watermelon biscuits

Outside the school gates, a group of anti-Liberal activists approached, collecting signatures against cuts to education. Oh my. Now? For that cause, (as with the firies and ambos the week before) I was prepared to scribble on a clipboard. Only the plot quickly thickened…

“Did you know we’re losing Reading Recovery at school and literacy is being deprioritised as… (leans in and says under breath) oh look, here’s the local representative for the Napthine government responsible for this education disaster..”

I looked left, right, saw no one. And that is because she was standing so close behind me I turned and got a fright as off she went:
“Are you aware we are giving $3.5 million to upgrade your school? Are you aware I am replacing all the chickens that died in the recent storms…?”

Unfortunately by Monday morning, billboards all around school were defaced like this. (It wasn't me, promise! I don't condone that kind of thing. Names hidden by me.)

Unfortunately by Monday morning, billboards near the school were defaced like this. (It wasn’t me! I detest that kind of thing. Names/ numbers on poster hidden by me.)

“Uh… yes… I read it in the newsletter…” I stop to catch my breath, caught between two sides of play. Then it occurs: when else will I get such a stellar chance to air my views? I am a confrontation avoider but this one is my barrow- so for my kid, and those like him, I will push it, blast it…

“Yes!” I say, “Yes I AM aware you are giving money to the school… to upgrade buildings. As a parent of an additional needs child for whom I have long fought and who’s struggled just to keep up with peers, I do wonder why it’s so important to invest in real estate not long after Rudd’s capital injection, when kids like mine fall between the cracks of mainstream and special school, a very large crack indeed…”

(The protesters rally around the sidelines, with popcorn.)

“Oh,” says the MP, “but that is a federal issue…”

“Is it? Is it?” I push back, “Oh I’m well aware there are health support packages families can’t always access providers for… but isn’t it the Victorian department of education that changed criteria to render most additional-needs students now ineligible for school support? In the very place they need to be every day to learn? My son’s school funding was cut by secondary level, no one wanted to know about his needs, which didn’t just stop. He struggled, there was bullying and now, thankfully he’s safely in a small independent school which we will afford, despite my having to stay home which was never our plan. How about we invest less in property, more in people and productive futures??”

INHALE. EXHALE. CROWD MURMURS. PREGNANT PAUSE. KID STILL FUSSING, PULLING MY ARM.

“I’d love to talk to you some more about this in my office…” she smiles a hard smile, hands me a card, shuffles back on her crutches as the table of clipboarders quietly mumble my supportive asides.

And that Ladies and Gentlemen, is the sign you have smacked down a politician. As I left I heard her continue to have words with the protesters about their conduct. She also, was not having a great day!

Shoes? You don't need shoes! The show must go on!

Shoes? Dancers don’t need shoes! The show must go on! CAKE afterward!

Driving home we had an extreme near-miss (F***ck!) as some lunatic in a 4WD with bullbar nearly collected us from a side street, then at a loss, shook his fist for good measure. More fools. We took a breath, pushed on, got Dad, made it to the theatre: the performance went fine despite the fact I’d forgotten the bless-ed ballet shoes, and I can tell you- that tiny cup of pink champagne at the cake table afterward? WENT DOWN A BLOOMING TREAT. Too much adrenalin for one day.

To round off: this week I hear our local member has surrendered her perch (just like her boss, our outgoing Premier). Oh well.

Have you ever given a pollie or rep what for? How did it go down?
Have you ever had two big do’s on at once? How did it go down?
Ever forgotten your dance shoes, had a half cup of pink champagne? How did it go down?

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What Did Cats Do Before The Internet?

December 2, 2014

Like it or not, few marriages have been made in heaven such as that of the feline persuasion and the Interwebz. Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, I Can Has Cheezburger, Lolcats, Youtube, Twitter. You name it, cats are ALL OVER IT. They’ve gone from objects of worship to ridicule and laugh bait and back again. Funny cat […]

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Tom’s Diner

November 28, 2014

On my first ever visit to New York in 2012 (a lifelong dream), this awestruck tourist was taken to Tom’s famous restaurant. Naturally it had rightfully made it onto the list of must-see cultural landmarks of the city (and no, I did not do the Carrie/ Sex and the City tour.) Tom’s is widely known as the inspiration […]

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The Mug That Stayed

October 31, 2014

In my kitchen cupboard sits a battered old mug, no longer white. With a small chip on its lip and my name printed below a dated floral posy, it continues to justify itself among the prettier vessels more fit for common use. Along with me for the ride through every home and house move since […]

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Storm Shadows

September 8, 2014

“Mummy, lie with me. I can’t sleep, I’m scared.” The wind howls outside her windows, whispering things she does not wish to hear. I am here. She joins me as I place my head at the foot of the bed. For the next little while we are too smart to try to trick sleep over […]

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Challenge Accepted, Walking the Walk

September 2, 2014

Wisdom: The things in life you regret most are the ones you never did. A truth that resonates with me enormously. Confession: I was born a creative, musical type but also an anxious one, conundrum. I love participating; hate the idea of being watched. I love nothing better than live music shows but crowds make me so edgy, I […]

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There Is Always Art

August 19, 2014

You know those mornings you wake up and the Fuck You Bird is already singing? “Those” mornings. The ones that don’t behave, you can’t put a foot right and just want to go back and start over? Yeah, those. Last week was all about sick kids so I’ve been keen to get them back into routine. I […]

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Ass Buckle

August 12, 2014

Ever wished you could just change buttocks whenever it took your fancy? Well why the heck not- we want everything nowadays. Why be stuck with what your mama gave you when you could have a full suite of sweet arse? You’d have a brand new bottom collection in your wardrobe and accessorise according to outfit […]

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Uncookery: Jaffle Weather Edition (Time for Toasties)

August 5, 2014

Hibernation season is well and truly here. I took a nap and forgot to blog for a month. When I woke it was freezing…and I was hungry. My intro to a long overdue Twitchycorner Uncookery post! For those of you unfamiliar, Uncookery refers to food-based posts completely devoid of flair but full of ideas for […]

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