It was difficult to drag myself out of bed this morning. After spending a stifling night in some of the hottest weather on record, I was not looking forward to the 41C/106F day ahead.
Relief was had as I walked into the kitchen and inhaled the magnificent smell of the ripening stone fruit on my windowsill.
Fresh mangoes, apricots, nectarines and peaches were warming in the morning sun and releasing their gorgeous fragrance into the room.
I selected one of the mangoes and it sat heavy, juicy and ripe in the palm of my hand.
I carefully sliced each side off the stone and slit the flesh so that it would fold out into perfect cubes of orange flesh.
I peeled off the rest of the skin and sucked the flesh from the stone, sweet juice dripping down my chin.
I scraped the rest of the delicious flesh off the slices with my teeth and luxuriated in the beautiful perfumed flavour.
The only problem with mangoes is that the flesh tends to be a little stringy sometimes. Sure enough, I had some mango flesh caught between my teeth. So I trooped into the bathroom to carefully floss my teeth.
And flicked half of my root canal-ed tooth across the bathroom.
Feck.« No, really?
The medical profession is not renowned for its empathy with pain.
For example, "This won't hurt a bit" directly translates to "This will probably hurt quite a bit". Similarly, "You might feel a slight pinch" will translate to "I'll have to peel you off the ceiling after this".
But there are two circumstances where any decent medical practitioner will take one look at you and give you a prescription for the good stuff.
Burns are pretty much acknowledged as the worst pain you can experience. Sorry ladies, you can take your childbirth and jam it right back up where it came from. A serious burn equates to some serious pain.
I was barely into double figures when a bout of unanticipated fire walking left me with second-degree burns to the sole of my left foot. The second last toe actually split like an over-cooked sausage. I had some hard-core painkillers pushed into me that night, along with tetanus shots and the rest. But not once did anyone even question how bad the pain was, they took one look at the medium rare meat at the end of my leg, assumed it was hellish and drugged me into next week.
I discovered the second circumstance last Thursday.
I have a filling that has been a bit grumbly for the last few years. It would get sensitive to temperature or pressure every now and again and just give me an odd twinge every so often. I pretty much ignored it.
Last Wednesday, it was starting to twinge pretty regularly and by 3am Thursday morning, I was insisting that Ghost do his redneck spousal duty and smack me in the mouth a few times to see if he could knock the damned thing out of my head.
Ice packs didn't help, but hot packs to the right hand side of my face helped me not want to kill myself quite so much. The sage advice of one of the methadone patients at my local chemist the night before that ibuprofen was the most effective drug I could buy over the counter had proved to be complete rubbish (and here's me thinking that an ex-junkie would know her product).
I staggered off to my local GP who promptly handed me a prescription for the strongest dose of codeine you can legally get.
I had an appointment with my dentist that afternoon and after 30 seconds of drilling and me physically assaulting him in the process, he decided that the tooth was "unapproachable until the infection settles down". Which directly translated to "SHE is unapproachable until the pain is managed".
I dragged my throbbing, swollen head home with a lame prescription for antibiotics and lay on the nice cool tiles in the bathroom where I could conveniently vomit in the bath when things got really bad.
Ghost established that there was no one around who would put me under and deal with the tooth and that our local medical clinic could not prescribe anything stronger than the codeine.
There was only one thing for it. We dragged my pale, cold-sweat covered, vomiting self to the emergency ward. And while I had to wait for a couple of rude buggers who pushed in line spurting blood and claiming to be actively dying or something, I finally saw a doctor who understood.
I didn't even have to finish the sentence. "Infected tooth. They gave me Panadeine Forte..."
"And it's not doing anything, right?"
And with that, she ushered me into the magnificent world of prescription morphine. One tablet and I could yank every tooth out of my own head with rusty pliers and still feel chipper.
No pesky questions about how bad the pain was, although she did check for allergies. Just straight to the good stuff. Mind you, asking me to vote for Howard at the next election or sending my own mother to Abu Graib in exchange for pain relief was not beyond the realm of possibility at that point.
It probably helped that I did look pretty rough. The right side of my face was swollen, I was soaked in cold sweat and I don't know about you, but I'm never at my most attractive when I'm dry heaving.
But it did the job. Not only did I get the morphine (in convenient, easy to swallow capsules!) but she threw in some valium, just in case.
Fuck steak knives, this was a great deal!
Anyway, four days later and things are much better. No, I'm not irretrievably hooked on morphine, although popping a couple before my root canal tomorrow morning as back up is appealing.
But I have learned, that when the going gets tough, the tough go to the emergency ward. That's where they keep the good stuff.« No, really?
[All credit to Joelle for the title.]
OK, OK, it wasn't all bad... there was Continuum and London and lots of other cool things.
I'm sitting here with an icepack against my face, wishing I could drill my jawbone right out of my face and swallowing painkillers like they were candy.
I FUBAR-ed a tooth just before Christmas and I'm cranky, dammit!
I can't talk properly, my face feels swollen (it's not) and as if I've been smacked upside the head with a cricket bat.
Actually, that's not a bad idea... (I've already asked Ghost if he could punch me until the tooth came out. I was half serious.)
But 2005 had some spectacular lows, and not just for me. I've lost a family member, serious illness has sprung up on Ghost's side of the family, there is bad ju-ju in my own family and while my therapist expresses her continued pleasure with my growth and progress, that black dog is still at my heels and only little white pills are keeping him at bay.
I know there are plenty of people out there who are not sad to see the back end of 2005. Here's to a 2006 that r0xx0rs our little s0xx0rs off.
And to a dentist who uses lasers instead of drills. :(« No, really?
I have been promising photos from Continuum since, well, since July. Now I've finally got off my arse and here they are. Courtesy of Medge & Bean and Michelle, I present, Continuum, a story in pictures.
We join our heroes as they searched for the signing that usurped their initial lunch with the guest of honour. Tree really knew where she was going, really she did.
Not that she cared if anyone believed her or not.
While there were fortunately no pictures of the anal bleaching part of the debate, one of the participants was so empassioned, he could barely stay in his chair.
There was fierce competition at the ball, including this English author chappie doing a terrific impression of potted plants. While Michael Moore didn't win a prize, the wolfman and Cap'n Jack were worthy winners.
Good things can't last forever, and the con had to come to a close. But the silliness continued as Neil ulitimately realised what a mistake it was to try to share a Caramello Koala. He also posed for what is possibly the worst photo of him ever taken.
The End« No, really?
Wheeeee! Today I finally got to see MirrorMask!
I discovered, through the lovely DrJon's blog, that the Melbourne Science Fiction Club had organised a screening at the Cinema Nova. (Other Melbourne readers can still catch it, it's running there for a week, along with the Hoyts in George St Sydney for my friends north of the border.)
I spotted both DrJon and Baralier, but I wasn't being particularly social, so I didn't say hello. [waves] Hello!
There was a lovely raffle with posters, a MirrorMask book and other sundries. We won a poster and would have won another prize, but I said they could draw our ticket again. One goodie was enough for us.
The movie was totally beautimous. Much eye candy and Dave McKean illustrates the screen gorgeously. Some of the lines had the audience in stitches and it all sounded terribly Neil-ish. I left feeling quite entertained and thinking that a copy on DVD would go down very nicely thank you very much.
Yesterday brought a couple more welcome pics from the UK. Here's a good one of the blushing bride with some random wedding crasher. [grin]« No, really?
So, what did you get up to in November, me?
Well, me, let me tell you...
A couple of months ago, the company organised a bowling night. My talent, or lack there of (although I did finish the night with a turkey--three strikes in a row), was noted (it's all in how you hold your little finger) and somehow I was shanghaied into participating in a ten pin bowling team for the Australian Corporate Games.
I also signed up for this. Ghost thought I was completely mad.
Because I planned to write 50,000 words in 30 days?
Hell no, I was going to do it in 20 days.
You see, on the 22nd of November, I was flying 17,000km to surprise the very divine Chiliflower (who you may remember from such adventures as 'starring' in a movie, getting old or getting hitched) for her wedding.
So, while I was writing like a demon and preparing to fly to London, I was also training for the games on the 20th.
OK, he's right. I AM completely mad.
We acquitted ourselves decently and managed not to come last!
In the meantime, I also managed to finish Nano, just in time to get on a plane.
The look on Chili's face when she opened the front door (expecting the gas man) was priceless. I only wish I had a photo of it to show you. Imagine a goldfish with blonde hair, then imagine it bursting into tears.
Totally worth five screaming babies between Melbourne and Dubai (who knew the little suckers could make that amount of noise for 14 straight hours?).
For the record, both Guy (her partner) and her parents knew I was coming, I wasn't just going to lob up and expect a seat at the wedding!
Oh, and there were some wedding preparations, too.
But this was the real reason I was there.
The ceremony was gorgeous. I had no time to cry, I was too busy grinning with glee. They were so happy together and it was all so wonderful that grinning was all I could manage. The two of them just looked so glorious.
The reception was wonderful and the rest of the trip was amazing.
If it wasn't for the rotten cold (which I managed to give to the happy couple) and the fact that I'm blue because I miss them even more than before, it would have been the perfect trip.
In the meantime, I shall just charge Ghost with the solemn duty of locating a decent webcam and a copy of the latest version of Skype!
Oh, and finally get some sleep...« No, really?
Angie Hart seems to be writing the soundtrack of my life recently, and a Splendid job she's doing of it too.
Back to the world of the chemically enhanced, I'm afraid. Hence the blog silence. Some periscope down time to sort out my head. But here is some random stuff to keep you entertained.
Why I Hate Flying
Only During Usability Testing...
Who said usability testing was dull?
Continuum photos to come, promise!« No, really?
You know those days where you have to fly interstate for work and there is terrible turbulance, causing several runways at your destination to be closed and keeping you in the bumpy air for an extra 20 minutes and you're working on a project that you haven't been properly briefed on and you find yourself in a room full of grumpy clients and you have no idea what you're there for and they aren't giving anything away and you have to wing it and you know it's going disasterously (and you find out later that the client agrees) and afterwards your cab driver can't get you to where you're staying and you're locked out anyway and you have to sit on your suitcase on the street waiting for someone to let you in and your project manager isn't answering his phone so he can help dig you out of this hole you're in and you end up going out for dinner only to realise you're walking slap bang through the bad part of town and when you make it back to your room in one piece you get a phone call from your brother telling you that he and his partner have 30 days to move out of the apartment they moved into only a month ago because their landlord defaulted on his mortgage and you finally go to bed only to discover that you've been wearing your underwear sideways?
Yeah, I hate those days.« No, really?
It all began with anal bleaching.
It went downhill from there...
Actually, it began a long time before that.
I'd seen the brochures last year and thought, "It's about bloody time that Neil Gaiman bloke came down to Melbourne..." So Ghost and I booked our tickets quick bloody smart. Having missed out on attending Fiddler's Green last year, despite being on the organising committee, be buggered if I was going to miss out on seeing him in my own backyard.
I was going to ensure I got some time with him this time around. I was determined, I was driven, I was shameless.
Shortly afterwards, thingies of various stripes were asking if there would be couch space at Chez Ghost and Tree. Margret and Our Lady of the Squeakers were the lucky ducks who got the opportunity to get up close and personal with our floor.
The fun really began the Thursday before the con, when my mobile rang and a familiar English accent politely introduced himself and we had a long chat about the nature of fame, poorly designed air conditioning controls that make the baby Jesus cry, the availability of black jumpers (since some pointy headed git had sent his heavy leather jacket home not thinking it would be THAT cold in Melbourne in winter) and the necessity of avoiding a situation where certain black clad authors would be forced to wear something with a cockatoo on the front.
A lunch date was swiftly arranged and us thingie types prepared for the con (which consisted largely of purchasing outrageous amounts of Mint Slices and Tim Tams for consumption at the con).
Friday - Part the First
Ghost, myself, Margret and Miss Mousey showed up at the Hilton to hook up with Reg and Matt and our lunch date.
Quelle horreur! He had been hijacked by a secret signing. We trooped down to the comic shop in question. The store owner made it clear that the signing was by invitation only. I made it clear that we were invited by the GoH. We stayed.
The man in black greeted us cheerfully as he came in and I checked with his handlers, the very charming Medge and Bean, that he had been fed and watered.
He had not. We headed out to source good sushi and some water. Miss Mousey was the designated sushi-approver as we trundled around trying to find something decent. Good raw fishy identified, we snuck back in and I left lunch-y goodness on the signing table for him.
We indulged in lunchables ourselves and made our way back to the hotel. Filling in time before the opening debate, I had the distinct pleasure of introducing Miss Mousey, Margret and Ghost to the joys of Monkey.
We also discussed the nature of fame further, where it was established that I was a complete attention whore and would most likely enjoy the sort of attention that famous English authors attract, while everyone else felt it was a bit of a hassle.
The mobile rang again that afternoon and I was most effusively thanked for the sushi. Another lunch date was arranged for the following day (although looking at the con schedule, I was somewhat sceptical that he would be able to make that one).
And so onto the debate.
When the first speaker for the affirmative opens with the contention that we are not natural creatures because we bleach our anuses, you know you're in for a hell of a debate.
And when Neil Gaiman suggests you try www.ismyanuspaleenough.com, then it's ALL over.
Poor Jack Dann did his best to try and moderate and Russell Kirkpatrick did his best to try to add a modicum of decency to proceedings, but the rest of the panel weren't having it. There were tales of unfortunately timed gas, golden possum showers, the assertion that all men are bastards and a certain amount of confusion about who was meant to be on which team and where the loyalties of the moderator lay.
A certain English chappy, who shall remain nameless, was a shameless vote whore, flinging sweets into the audience, offering us chocolate if we voted for his side and even threatening not to sign for anyone who didn't applaud for his team. Most unsportsmanlike!
My face hurt by the end of it and I may have required a change of knickers.
We retired back to our room to consume excessive amounts of chocolate and tell ridiculous stories and laugh ourselves stupid.
Saturday - Part the Second
Being the excitable little bunny that I am, I couldn't sleep, so I dragged as many people as I could find out of bed and down to the nearby boulangerie patisserie for a spot of breakfast. Yum.
We piled into our first panel of the morning and watched Poppy, Neil, Jack Dann and Fiona McIntosh discuss the perils of moving out of genre fiction. Interesting stuff.
Neil waved us down as he was leaving the panel and indicated that lunch was most certainly on and since he only had an hour before his GoH speech, how about we go down to the hotel restaurant?
So we did.
We six thingies, Bean, Medge and Neil piled around a table, ate nummy food, took photos and Ghost continued the discussion of the nature of fame. Neil indicated that despite the distinct possibility that having thousands of young Asian schoolgirls screaming your name could do your head right in, it was all worth it. I showed Neil photos of Pam and Caitlin and a lovely time was had by all.
Although he was less than impressed to find out his fabulous assistant had sold him out for 2.2kg (4.8lb) of Tim Tams.
We then zoomed back upstairs so as not to make the man himself late for his speech. I heard my first two chunks of Anansi Boys and saw the press kit for MirrorMask. It was most loverly.
We retreated back to home base (Ghost and my room) where we chatted about various things, ate more chocolate and called the lovely Pam, during which much squee-age ensued.
Margret and Reg went off to get Neil's sister, Nell Gurgle, to sign their books, Ghost, Miss Mousey and I watched Poppy talk on a panel about forensics in literature. Quite cool.
I ducked out after that to get my minty-fresh new copies of The Feast of St Rosalie, Liquor and Prime signed (did I bring any of my old Poppy books? Did I buggery... [mutters darkly]) while the rest of the thingies congregated to hear Neil, Robyn Hobb, Richard Harland, Tony Shillitoe and Kim Wilkins discuss fantasy and fairytales. I only caught the questions at the end, but it was fascinating anyway.
We retired back to the rooms to lounge about, solve the problems of the world, eat chocolate and text the lovely Mr Gurgle to thank him for letting us witter on at him over lunch.
Then it was time to prepare for the Maskobalo.
Matt and Margret went in mufti. Ghost put his hat on backwards and declared that he was Michael Moore and tried to interview people using my mobile phone. Reg came appropriately attired in tails, a blood red waistcoat and a spiffy white bow tie, Miss Mousey was truly stunning in white, stripey goodness and I threw on some belly dancing bling. Photos to come, promise!
The Mistress and I got our groove on while the boys observed approvingly and Margret retired to the video room. Some of the costumes were truly inspired, including the most incredible wolf I've ever seen. Medge came as Cap'n Jack Sparrow and had the walk, the gestures and the speech right down. He richly deserved the prize he won. Bean had thought to come as Princess Fiona, however, given the choice between dinner with Neil and painting herself green, she chose the sushi.
Much dance-y goodness ensued, with the pair of us dancing like crazed monkeys for a couple of songs, retiring to catch our breath and then squee-ing with delight when another good song came on and racing back to the dance floor. And the stripy one did not manage to accidentally proposition Neil in his role as a judge, no your honour, she did not.
I'm going to burn in hell for that one.
Just in case you think I'm making it all up, you can see us in the background of this photo, printed in The Age the following Tuesday.
Neil sent Eddie Campbell's lovely daughter Hayley over to find us so that she could see Miss Mousey's incredible tattoo. She also remembered me, ironically as the person who bought the white chocolate Tim Tams as a drunken welcome gift when I was up in Brisbane some years back. Well, there are worse things to be remembered for...
We were turfed out of the ballroom and settled on the floor amongst the salon that Ghost and Bean had managed to cultivate in the foyer. We chatted, took more photos, I taught a couple of attendees the secret of good shimmies and finally, on to bed.
Sunday - Part the Third
Not so much with the springing out of bed bright and early this time around. I had makeup smeared from forehead to chin, and for the first time in my life, I ACHED from dancing. Yep, really getting old.
We all went our separate ways, packing, grabbing breakfast, checking out panels and checking the weather (if you were Reg).
Medge and Bean grabbed us and let us know that another lunch was in the offing. I suspect that we were being used as an excuse to keep the signing that Neil was supposed to do before lunch to a manageable length, but if it meant the opportunity to chat privately with him again, then we were happy to be used.
I queued with all the others who had missed out on a Nell Gurgle scribble while others checked out the panels. Medge and Ghost eventually had to play line Nazis to ensure that Neil got a break, and believe me, they are not two gents to be messed with.
The delightful Hayley Campbell and her boy and a lovely author bloke whose name I don't recall but think was Sean someone and his daughter accompanied us and we had a brief, but lovely lunch where more photos were taken and Neil almost managed to concuss Miss Mousey.
And there was no irony in Neil and I discussing health and fitness tips while we loaded our plates with dessert. None whatsoever.
Nor will I squee over hearing that he thinks I look gorgeous since shedding 120 marmosets.
Well, maybe a little.
We managed to miss the opening of Poppy's GoH speech, unfortunately, because it sounded really cool. But I got to hear her read a Doc Brite story, which was very cool indeed.
The next panel, Reinventing the Creation Myth: Gods and Monsters, was a very interesting one. Now, prior to writing this, I discovered that the moderator of this panel has a LiveJournal and may likely read this.
He was, to not put too fine a point on it, a bit of an arse-hat. We all walked out of the panel with the distinct impression that he had a series of terribly pretentious points that he wanted to make regardless of what the panel had to say and that he was somewhat miffed when the panel went off on its own merry way anyway.
He managed to completely reinterpret questions from the audience into his own agenda and it was a relief when Neil whapped him over the nose with a Harlan Ellison quote. Then the panel finally got interesting and stopped being a platform for this guy's personal opinions. Good stuff, although fisticuffs would have been cool too.
This also may have been the panel when a certain black clad gentlemen muttered something about minature Daleks being studded for her pleasure, but my memory is somewhat hazy at this point.
Ghost had to work the next day, so sadly he bailed at that point, and we were all flagging. The rest of us sat in the foyer for a bit and I read aloud Chapter Six of The Black Crusade by Richard Harland, one of the chapters that carries an explicit warning on the cover that it should not be read aloud, in public or at all. Hilarity ensued.
We then toddled into the Young Adult Fiction/Genre Writing panel, more to get front row seats for the final panel of the day than for anything else. But it was a bloody good panel and we thoroughly enjoyed it. Props to Robin Hobb, Richard Harland, Russell Blackford, Lili Wilkinson and Tony Shillitoe (whose works I'll have to track down because he struck me as a really cool bloke) for running a smart, funny and interesting panel.
The Worst Ever panel was anything but. Lucy Sussex took it a bit seriously, although she won worst ever book hands down, but it was all in good fun and we all got to share some truly horrible reading and viewing experiences. Miss Mousey and I simultaneously reacted when Danny Oz mentioned worst music in a film. Ladyhawk all the way, people.
Of course, having written Ghastly Beyond Belief, Neil was almost overqualified for the panel, but fun was had by all.
The closing ceremony dragged on interminably (Poppy was yawning, poking faces and giggling over Richard Harland's GoH gift) and it was a welcome relief to finally escape. Miss Mousey grabbed Neil on his way out for a farewell hug as she was leaving the following morning and missing the signing at the State Library on Monday night. We all piled down to the casino so Margret could see giant balls of flame and we could get something to eat.
As we straggled back to the hotel to collect our bags, who should pull up in a cab but Poppy, Jack Dann and Neil. We stood in the hotel foyer as Margret discoverd that Jack Dann went to school next to her home town, Miss Mousey and I chatted to the lovely Poppy and we all caught up with a very tired looking Neil one last time. Massages were given, hugs exchanged and, as we made our way up to the rooms to collect our stuff, Neil promised to be nice to my mum at the State Library signing.
Farewells were made to Reg and Matt and we girls piled into a cab back to Chez Tree & Ghost.
It's Tuesday, I'm still utterly exhausted and I don't expect to recover from the excitement and sleep deprivation any time soon.
Neil is just the single-most delightful famous person on the face of this earth. I'm eternally grateful to him for being SO generous with his time. He's witty, charming, smart and just an all round nice guy. I really hope, despite his hands dropping off with alarming regularity, that we continue to be lucky enough to spend time in his world.
The Continuum committee did a splendid job overall, although I suspect they may not have realised the bubble effect Neil has. Scheduling a one hour signing for the man? What colour is the sky in their world? But it was fun. Even the venue was good, despite them charging me for two rooms for two days (and the fuckers STILL haven't credited me for the overcharging).
All in all, it was a splendid three days. I consider myself enormously fortunate to have been a part of it all. And thingies are just the bestest people in the world.« No, really?
Dear Big Brother
I am writing to say that I was shocked, horrified and appalled by your most recent episode of Big Brother Uncut (a compilation of the naughty bits of Big Brother that can't be screened during prime time).
I don't know what sort of message you were trying to send, but I was embarrassed in front of an overseas visitor while watching your program.
Because there was not a single willie to be seen! SCANDALOUS!
For weeks, there have been boobs, wangs, butts and girl bits all over my TV on Monday night. A plethora of naked flesh has been there for us to enjoy. So, when I turn on your show to demonstrate to my guest the sort of thing us crazy Aussies will show on TV, what do we get instead of rude bits? We get boring segments about vaginal wash, Cleveland Steamers and which contestants will take it up the arse. Yawn.
Please bring back the willies.
P.S. Yes, the lovely Margret is safely ensconced at Chez Tree & Ghost and very much enjoyed going down to Phillip Island to see the penguins. Even if it was bloody freezing and we had to wait ages before we could get up close and personal with them.
She also enjoyed going to the giant earthworm display, even though there were no giant earthworms, just wombats to pet, kangaroos to feed and psychotic alpacas. But there was no worm porn, nor did Tree end up swapping spit with any marsupials.
And we very much appreciate the Girl Scout Cookies she brought with her. Mmmm, Girl Scout Cookies...« No, really?
Before I get onto my well overdue meme-age (as tagged by the lovely JaNell quite some time ago), I'd just like to reassure my legion of readers that the photo in the previous entry was very carefully posed to make me look as much like Audrey, Sophia or Jackie as possible. After all, none of them were known for their double chins.
I think it's impossible for me to get that thin, even if I wanted to. So have no fear, I still have dangerous curves!
Now, on with the meme.
Total number of books I own
Enough that the collection is listed as a separate item on our insurance.
The last book I bought
Sadly, work related. But still a good read. Design for Community by Derek Powazek. Horrifically, I can't remember the last novel I bought.
The last book I read
A lovely, fluffy bit of romantic, detective trash, The Green Mill Murder by Kerry Greenwood, borrowed from my mum.
Five books that mean a lot to me
Imagica by Clive Barker
Sandman by Neil Gaiman (OK, technically that's a series of books, but it's my meme!)
Jitterbug Perfume by Tom Robbins
The Princess Bride by William Goldman
Spares by Michael Marshall Smith
Since I'm so late with this, everyone's done it, so I won't tag anyone else. But if you've not done this one yet, feel free to join in.
You know what's really nice?
Arriving at work in your new sunglasses and triggering an argument amongst the guys about whether you look more like Sophia Loren, Audrey Hepburn or Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis in them...« No, really?
The number one thing feared by all presenters?
Sudden gut wrenching cramps followed by an immediate need to dash to the facilities.
Incidentally, did you ever notice that when you drink hot chocolate with marshmallows from a takeaway cup with a lid, the warm, partially melted marshmallow coming through the opening in the lid feels bizarrely like you're being french kissed by your drink?« No, really?
Note to self: when you check into a hotel and you just cannot find a room with your number on it, you're not stupid...
it just means you're checked into the PRESIDENTIAL SUITE!
Sweeeeeeeeeet.« No, really?
In my experience, it's the coffin that finally undoes me.
I've not yet lost anyone that I've been inextricably close to, so I've not had to experience the heart-hurt that must occur with that. For me, the finality is not with the news, it's seeing the solidity of the casket, alone, in the corner of the room.
It tells you bluntly that the person you love is there, in that tiny, confined space, and that this is it. The end.
She was my great aunt, a gorgeous creature with snow white hair (that she got in her mid 30s, there but for the grace of L'Oreal go I), sparkling blue eyes and mischevious wit. I remember discussing with her the importance of beautiful lingerie, not for others, but for one's self.
Even the last time I saw her in the cardio-thoracic ward of Monash Medical Centre, she was quipping about nobody needing to see her 81 year old bum exposed by ugly hospital gowns.
I didn't know much about her. She left home young to join the air force because it seemed to be a good idea at the time. She lived with her friend, June, for most of her life, travelling with her and nursing her in her last days, but was incredibly indignant if you suggested they had 'that' sort of relationship.
She smoked (which was her ultimate undoing), drank gin and tonic and had a wicked sense of humour.
The reality of the plain brown coffin in the corner, covered in fragrant gardinias, finally brought it home to me that she had gone. Even though I'd known about her passing for almost a week, it wasn't real until I saw that box.
Until that point, I had been feeling my mother's grief and her burden, concerned more for her than about what had happened. But, as I took my seat, as 'Begin the Beguine' began to play, and as I stared at the coffin, it all came crashing down one me, the reality of her being gone.
"All the trappings of death are for the living. It is the final reconcilliation. The last farewell." - Neil Gaiman, 'Cerements', Worlds' End« No, really?