It's funny how some negative emotions and events I thought were vastly 'over' and dealt with as some of life's harder lessons learnt can easily return and give me a big bite in the arse when I'm least expecting it.
Take today for instance. After taking Sapphire to tennis coaching and doing my share of the weekend drudgery (changing the beds, washing, drying, folding, ironing), I decided to sort out some of my held onto crap and give the spare room (or My Orifice, during weekday school hours). My ability to maintain an orderly lifestyle is not unlike a framed tapestry: it looks quite nice on the front because all the loose threads, knots and mistakes are hidden in the back under the cardboard lining. Ditto with my liberal use of bookshelves, folders, filing cabinets and plastic storage containers - hermetically-sealed chaos.
The first few steps are always fun because it is obvious what needs to go:
- The official CSIRO diet book and Aussie Women's Women Fat and Calorie Counter - straight into the Salvos donation box because I hadn't even bothered to open either of them - after all, why get depressed when you're going to eat what you want anyway?
- A Filofax black leather business card holder - a useless corporate gift that I'd feel like an utter wanna-be Git if I'd ever used it to store my mates' cards in;
- Melways 'Great Melbourne' Map book 1996 - why had we held onto this for so long?
- Fifteen cassette tapes - I've either got them on CD (also outdated) or can download em and we don't actually have anything to play them on anymore except inside our ancient Mitsubishi;
- Rollerblades - a misguided gift to myself for Christmas, 2006. Not even one per cent of the fun I remembered having on my roller skates back in 1979;
- The Labor Market Ate My Babies, by Barbara Pocock (2006) - this was flung out like a burning hot frisbee, with the rapid fire strength and anger of a hundred Roided-out shot putters.
I threw out of my hand-written notes, photocopied articles, booklets, website downloads and drafts relating to 'Work/Life Balance for Dummies'. It's all referenced or saved on disc and data stick and I hardly felt as though I was going to re-read the ABS reports on working families from 2004 again. My tax returns from 1990 to 1998 also got the flick - surely if the ATO had a problem with me during those years I'd have heard from them by now.
And yet when it came to my medical records from 1995, I couldn't. There were MRIs, cat-scans, blood tests and written reports about my pituitary prolactinoma; a non-cancerous brain tumour that had created a life for itself at the base of my brain, directly behind my eyes. About the size of a fruchoc it had started squashing my optic nerves giving me migraines, blurred vision and an unwanted and fruitful supply of breast-milk. It had cleverly fooled my body into thinking I'd just given birth and needed not to release any eggs on a monthly basis but instead go on full time duty as the neighbourhood wet nurse.Of course, once it was finally diagnosed and dealt with, the tumour shrank to a grain of rice but, sadly, I could still lean over a meeting table and offer to whiten your tea if push came to shove but it's a small price to pay for not eventually going blind and insane with the pain. So, the medical mess stayed.
Same with my baby diary. Written when I was pregnant with Sapphire, I'd tentatively titled it 'Up the Duff' and posted my masterpiece off to get professionally edited only to drive home from the Post Office and hear Kaz friggin' Cooke being interviewed about her baby info book (done with her usual wit and cute cartoons) called, yes, 'Up the Duff'. *sigh* Nope, can't. do. it. The diary will have to stay, if only to bring out to scare the living crap out of Sapphire if she chooses to become sexually active too early.
By this stage, my fingers were grey with the dust that only old paperwork can produce and my bones were aching from kneeling on the floor, re-reading my tragic journals from 1988 where, at the ripe old age of twenty, I wondered if I'd ever find a bloke to love and envied the girls who didn't need to spend a hundred bucks getting their hair spiral permed. Or in 1992, when I was dating a Kiwi at the bank I worked at in London whose idea of a romantic night out was to get rat-faced at the Railway Bell pub in New Barnet and hope I'd have enough strength to bodily lift him onto the train carriage. Or perusing the photos taken at Love Chunks' and my wedding in 1995 - just before my tumour was diagnosed. I can see how sick I was, and the sheer terror that a migraine would come and ruin the day. If anything, photos of me since then have shown me to be much healthier and happier. Gotta keep 'em though, if only to brag that the material used for my outfit only cost twelve bucks.
Finally we got to the paperwork from 2007 - year of the Bullying Bulldog and her evil henchwoman, Turdkey. I'd kept all of their incriminating memos, emails and meeting minutes and somehow earned a bitter victory after many months of intimidating, lying and envy. I couldn't help myself: I read through them all and felt again the gut-wrenching feelings of 'why me', and the despair and betrayal I'd felt. Tears were threatening to erupt and, once allowed, I knew it was going to be impossible to stop.
Karma Kath, Karma, I kept telling myself, yet I still boiled with anger over the ability of an 'esteemed and respected academic' to treat a lowlier person so badly and escape only with a few raised eyebrows in the vice-chancellors' office.
Taking a deep breath, I surveyed the reading material on my desk. It perhaps signifies that my next 'serious' book will be based on some of my own experiences and also those of other women I've spoken to.
And if that doesn't get off the ground, I'll focus on my first humorous novel, tentatively titled 'Stink Pot'.
Sapphire reckons I should start working on 'Stink Pot' after I regaled her with a few tales.
I reckon she's right.