Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Writing Avoidance Techniques, or What I thought about last Thursday

In Bed with the Boss (Mills & Boon Special Releases)

Did you know there is an entire Medical Romance series within the Mills & Boone cadre? I have stopped drinking for a few months, and since I feel like an idiot sitting for hours in my usual writing space – a bar – with only a mineral water to justify my presence, I have had to resort to the local library. And in our busy library full of chatty people, the quietest corner is tucked into the romance section.

I must admit that Doctor Delicious, a large print medical M&B romance, caught my eye. So did The French Doctor's Midwife Bride, an elliptical title that leaves me longing to know more. The Surgeon's Pregnancy Surprise was surprising, indeed, for who if not a doctor knows how babies are made – but then, I suppose we all forget things in the heat of the moment.

Up until now I have been fairly happy as a WOLGER*, and indeed the house is being painted and the plumber has just fixed our hot water service. Looking at these titles, however, makes me wonder if I am missing something.

Would I have more fun as The Sheik's Blackmailed Mistress or as The Sheik's Wayward Wife? Or would the desert sand irritate my buttocks? Perhaps being At the Greek Tycoon's Bidding might be more comfortable; a yacht with clean linen sounds nice.

I'm probably too leathery to pass as The Millionaire Tycoon's English Rose, but I might enjoy being Pleasured in the Billionaire's Bed or, more submissively, Bedded at the Billionaire's Convenience. Yet the latter title has an off-putting lack of alliteration; Bedded at the Billionaire's Behest would have worked better for me.

It's certainly a bit late to be The Desert King's Virgin Bride; to be honest, I'd have to say that I'm more The Lusty Lawyer's Lovely Lay type.

But wait! It seems I have lived a M&B romance. For on spinning the rack I see The Boss and His Secretary, nestled right next to Accepting the Boss's Proposal. And many years ago, I did.

Though come to think of it, I proposed to him. I'll have to write my own book. How does The Secretary's Saucy Suggestion sound?

*Wife of lawyer getting excited about renovations.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Just one bed

'When I grow up,' announced my three year old, 'I want a house with just one bed in it. I don't want to live with ANYBODY. And I don't want any kids!'

I was shocked. I found myself wanting to yell, 'No! Having kids is the best thing you'll ever do!' because it is, it really is. It just comes at a price, and that price is solitude.

Right now, I am keenly aware of this price: my sister has recently moved into a flat all by herself, and I am ever so slightly sick with jealousy.

No one touches her stuff. No one turns on her bike lights and leaves them to go flat; no one scribbles on her crossword with bright orange texta; no one leaves fridge magnets strewn across her kitchen floor. No one has fist fights while she's trying to concentrate, and no one throws a tantrum when she gets off a tram. She doesn't have to talk first thing in the morning, and she never has to remind people to pack their lunch, practice the piano, or use their inside voice. She can cook what she wants; and if she doesn't feel like cooking, she can have a bowl of cereal. There are never piles of corn flakes under her kitchen table, let alone day-old spaghetti strands glued to the floor.

More than anything, she doesn't have to listen to chatter twelve hours a day. Yes, it's delightful; yes, it's revealing; yes, it's funny. It also drives this reflective introvert completely and utterly insane.

There are hours, even days, when I long to have a little place of my own, just a room with a bed, a table, a chair and a great big pile of books; and perhaps a pot of geraniums to brighten the window sill. And yet of course I feel guilty for wanting that, when I have an airy house, an affectionate family and the chance to read every night when the kids are asleep.

So when my three year old articulated my secret longing, which I am so careful never to voice aloud, I was shocked.

Yet it was such a wonderful thing to hear her say. She's the youngest of three, and her whole day is dominated by other people's rhythms: school drop off and pick up and reading with the class; eating when I'm hungry and resting when I'm tired; going shopping when she wants to stay home and catching up with friends when she wants to play with mum.

When they're not at school, her two older sisters try their best to boss her; meanwhile her parents insist she use her manners and wait for them at every single road crossing. No wonder she dreams of a time when she can set her own agenda and be left in peace, and it was lovely to hear her articulate that.

Too, I was encouraged to realise that at least one of my children can imagine a life that isn't exactly like mine. Of course I'd love her to experience the joy of having children; but if she wants to live alone before or even instead of having them, how wonderful that she is not so dominated by me that she feels my life is the only option.

So instead of protesting, I breathed out my shock and asked, 'would you like to live all by yourself one day?'; 'oh yes!' she cried, nodding emphatically, 'all by myself.'

Then she took my hand and asked me to come have a cuddle in her bed.

I guess solitude is something that she, like me, is prepared to wait for.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Guess Who?

I was poking round a traditional op shop, dark and tiny and located at the back of a shopping strip, when I found a Dutch version of Guess Who? – Wie is Het? – with the beguiling hand written label Improve your German! ‘Tee hee hee,’ I thought, and picked it up to give my kids. They can play Guess Who? just as well with Philippe and Lucas as they can with Richard and George, and with any luck they might even play it in German or Italian or any of the other languages in which they know half a dozen phrases – sadly, like whoever wrote the label, this doesn’t include Dutch.

Then I turned my attention to the stacks of linen, and there, carefully folded, was an Onkaparinga blanket. These gorgeous blankets, incredibly soft and warm, were once manufactured in the Adelaide Hills; they are the stuff of my childhood. This particular one was pink and green and absolutely perfect, so I snaffled it up. On the coldest nights, we sleep under a hodgepodge of picnic rugs and crocheted lap blankets; whenever we have a family stay, we are a blanket or two short; there was no question that we would use it.

Thrilled, I paid for the game and the blanket, then tottered around the corner to pick up something for dinner. At the grocery store, the assistant asked me if I had found the blanket at the op shop. ‘Oh yes,’ I gabbled, ‘I’m delighted – I have three girls and this will be perfect.’

‘I’d hope you’d give it to the homeless,’ she snapped as she totted up the bill.

I stood there gasping, my mind racing in frantic guilt overload – was I really such a thoughtless bitch? – and found myself right back in an argument with my mother, who has been dead these eleven years.

Op shops are for those who need them, she said, and you can afford to shop somewhere else. Stop being so selfish!

But there’s too much stuff in the world, I muttered, and anyway, far more is donated than the op shops can ever sell; the rest has to be shipped overseas or sent to the tip.

The homeless are freezing to death, she said. There are people on the streets who need that blanket!

My kids are cold too, I said, and anyway, the homeless wear their blankets until they are fetid and then throw them away. This is too beautiful to throw away!

So the homeless shouldn’t have beautiful things?, she asked.

And on and on it went. We debated whether op shops are fundraising stores for charities or opportunity shops for the poor; we agreed on the need to limit manufacturing waste and share resources but argued about what that really means.

I couldn’t win. Her voice runs round my head like a broken record.

On the other hand, she’s long dead; perhaps, I thought, I might have the last word on this one. So I tossed my head, stood up straight, and said rather briskly to the shop assistant, ‘We give thousands of dollars to charitable organisations every year; I feel quite good about taking this blanket home.’ Then I grabbed my change and the groceries, gathered up the blanket, and stalked off.

Later, when I unfolded it, I discovered to my delight that it was a double. I have been sleeping under it ever since, tucked in safely with the comforting heaviness I remember from childhood. My daughters are asking to nap under it, and in less than a week it has become a fixture of our household, one of those items that will be used for decades, an object of nurture and care.

And even I can now see that this a good enough use for my mother, their grandmother; she must be pleased. As for those voices in my head who masquerade as her, like the predictable characters in a game of Guess Who? they have yet again been unmasked as demons; they can just fly away.

Until it's time for the next round.

Guess Who?

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...