Passionate, Marxist Horror Writer, Leftie and All-Round Agitator Benjamin Solah very generously gifted me the “Honest Scrap Award”, given to people who post from the heart.
He said: "The acronym TMI (Too Much Information) would be accurate for Kath sometimes and her honesty and confidence in herself comes through with her funny stories about her past and present."
I'm not too proud to admit that my eyes misted up. Often, we bloggers put a fair bit of thought and time into our words; press 'publish' and wonder just, like a fart on the forest, who the hell might be listening, interested, educated or merely entertained by our efforts.
Being honest has been very liberating, as readers of my Appreciative August marathon last year might remember, but sometimes I do worry that some of my admissions may affect the way others see me. Benjamin sets a very powerful example of someone who is lives from the heart and mind - very passionate about the underdog, the oppressed and the unfairly ignored and couldn't give a hungry hippo's hernia about what anything else thinks of it.
Now as per the rules of the award, I’m supposed to pass the award on to seven worthy blogs for 'people who post from the heart' and list ten honest things about myself.
Ashleigh's Dump - Mr Dump posts as much from the bottom of his heart as from the heart of his bottom, bearing in mind that his blog is read by co-workers and management. He shies away from photographs of himself or the Dump household but there's real passion behind his (occasional) political rantings, a genuine desire to inform us about the intricacies of financial guff and a humorous protest at the Tea Tree Gully's council to disallow nudes in public art spaces has given him many an opportunity to show off the snaps from his European odyssey featuring many statues showing us their rudey bits.
Baino's Banter - Baino is a widow, who has raised two fabulous children (now in their twenties) on her own, has been made redundant from a job she did so well that she effectively set up systems well enough for them to save a salary and ask her to leave, she worries about her health, her children, her home, Triple JJJ top 100 votes, her animals and the pharkwits let loose in this world. She's currently twiddling her thumbs in a taxpayer-funded government job, enduring the frustrations of trying to look as though she's busy as the HR, recruitment, redeployment, restructure and reclassification bureaucracy wheels turn as though they're made of stone and ploughing through wet cement. When all else fails, she reaches for her smokes and chardy, and who can blame her?
Jung's Programme Notes - This chap - proudly based in Tasmania yet inexplicably fond of Collingwood and Big M flavoured milk - isn't fond of paragraphs but boy oh boy, his powers of recollection and being able to read an entire lifestory behind the girl in the blue eye shadow at a struggling book shop is compelling. And sad. And hilarious. His turn of phrase is always delicious as he inserts lines that have me laughing in admiration and then squirming in jealousy but I talk myself out of it when I remember his rather tragic tastes in music.
Bonding over lizards - Helen is PhD student in South Africa with quirky dyed hair, a part time job at a zoo and field trips for several months a year out in the stony desert lands where she has to catch lizards. She may have a brain the size of my arse but she still worries about whether to confront the slob who keeps farting in the laboratory, why some of her friends drive her insane and how she will survive Tai Chi classes whilst posing with a sword.
Adelaide from Adelaide - What this woman can say in one line is so genius I often melt. A forty year old orphan, novelist, stand up comedienne and currently expatriate in Dubai. Her reflections, recollections and observations are always intensely personal, thought provoking and beautiful, even if they're sad. She could scribble something on the back of a bus ticket and I'd rush to read it.
Copperwitch - There's not much JahTeh won't share - the agonies of putting her mother into an aged care home, the despair over the loss of her beloved son, the bitter divorce, clearing out a lifetime of stored detritus, her love of beautiful gems and jewels and the addiction to apple cake..... Always interesting.
Blogger on the Cast Iron Balcony - Helen is as her surname suggests - Smart. Able to write intelligently about feminism, education, health and current affairs and adds an extra dimension or three by adding generous dollops of humour and observations about her own life and family. She'll put up viewpoints that I haven't even thought of and has the unique ability to influence opinions and reactions. She's the kind of lady who should have a regular column in the Age. Or, dare I say it, The Australian, if only to offer up a brilliant contrast?
Deep Kick Girl - This feisty lady often has a few angry rants interspersed with ones about her children but for me, the best writing she's done was during her trip to Odessa, her birthplace. She describes the conflicting emotions of returning back there with her mother and sister, her dismay at the living conditions, wonder at the kindness of her mother's friends and relatives and depiction of a completely different way of living. It could honestly work as a serial or longer piece in a book. There were no photos to accompany each post and it didn't need it - each event was so clearly described it made me feel as though I was there alongside her.
There are, of course, many others, but they've either not been posting much lately (Blakkat, The Loaded Blog, RedCap, Simply Natural, Eleanor Bloom, Moo-Dog) or don't quite fit the 'too much information/from the heart criteria' but I love 'em and read 'em anyway (Man at the Pub, Writing, Projectivist, Lorna Lilo, Plastic Mancunian); or are new to me, so I'm still getting to know them (Just this side of Chaos,
Now I’m meant to reveal ten things about myself…
Now I’m meant to reveal ten things about myself…
1. On the many occasions I can't sleep, I do a self-invented meditation where I imagine I'm in a bedroom from my past - say growing up Murray Bridge, with the lime green seventies curtains, red candlewick bedspread, grey axminster swirly carpet, TV week ABBA posters stuck over the rose wall paper - and think about what I'd do to renovate it now. Unfortunately, this often ends up stimulating my brain instead of boring it to sleep.
2. I hated university. It was a big, unfriendly place for a country bumpkin who thought Adelaide was huge, and English lectures hosted several hundred students who'd all scarper the moment they ended, with attitudes of 'I've got friends outside of here; friends I went to private school with' and I'd wonder why tertiary education felt as intimidating as year nine all over again. Most days I was hidden in the library and, as expected, I graduated three years later (no supp exams or delays for me) to absolutely no acclaim whatsoever and got the hell out of there.
3. My most favourite books were read outside of university when I was at my first real job, as a graduate trainee at the ANZ bank (I've written before about their dubious wisdom in hiring someone with 'Major English Texts' and 'Roman Art and Archaelogy' for home loans, bank-telling at lunch times and accounting). I just wrote a list of books that I'd hoped we'd cover in uni but didn't, found most of 'em in a second-hand bookshop near the bank and read 'em. This is where I discovered Lolita by Nabokov (quite a read at 21, let me tell you), all of Thomas Hardy's novels, Catch 22, Exodus by Leon Uris.... even To Kill a Mockingbird.
4. We all wish for superpowers, but mine tend to be very, very minor ones. The current one is for any litter that my eyes alight on to instantly disappear - zap! - gone. Of course, I might then get obsessed with this skill and end up with a rotating head ala The Exorcist trying to spot every piece of litter within a 5km radius, but for now, just the streets of my local neighbourhood would be a good enough start. Other superpowers include the ability to remove washed tissue from dark laundry loads with a click of my fingers; to see secret tails on human beings to determine if they're genuine or not and the ability to digest chocolate so that it gives me my daily intake of fibre, vitamin C and iron.
5. My poor cuticles are literally picked to bloody shreds. My nails are fine, I've never chewed them. Cuticle shredding is a terrible habit; this continual checking of my fingers: Oooh there's some loose skin by the edge of the nail there, let me nibble at it and pull it off..... only to reveal a thin angry line of fresh red blood that I have to suck dry until a bandaid is put on. As the finger heals, it produces more raggedy skin that I again see, have to pull off to tidy it and so the filthy little game continues. At any given time at least five of my fingers are ugly, red and sore. I'm at them when I'm thinking, watching TV, sleepless, worried, hungry, on long boring driving tips, reading. About the only time I'm not destroying them is when I'm typing, knitting or running which goes a long way to explaining why I strictly adhere to all three.
6. I talk to myself and Milly all day. I have no doubt that the neighbours on both sides can hear. As I'm sitting outside cooling down after a run, Milly will trot up to me and I'll say, "Hi there Spunkle Buns, how are ya?" and ruffle her ears. When I get up to go inside, I'll call out, "Hey Millsy, wanna come in and do some work with me?" If I observe something, she'll get commented to: "Milly you are not going to believe what that tool Andrew Bolt has said today," or if the door bell rings, "Wanna answer it, doggie?" She stares at me, tail wagging slowly, leaning forward for a lick of my hand as I reach to pat her head. Much time has been wasted stroking her coat and singing songs with her name inserted into the lyrics but there are worse ways to deal with writer's block.
7. If you want to let me know that you hate me, then cook me a meal consisting of chicken drumsticks that are pink near the bone and have dark veins on display, accompanied by sweet potato and pumpkin and a big glass of beer. My appetite will disappear; I'll go pale and quiet, so you'll have a cheap dinner guest and no interruptions.
8. Even now, at age forty or about 340 in dog years, I'll occasionally let one rip under the quilt and stick my own head under to smell it. Sad, isn't it? Sometimes I'm utterly repulsed by what my body has produced and other times I'm a tad impressed. This is all done under the cover of darkness and never, ever when Love Chunks is awake.
9. When I was holidaying on my own in Dublin, I had a week-long fling with James, a guy from London (way, waaaay back in my back-packing days of '91-'92). We met because he was staying at the same BnB I was but was there for work (something in IT I think). He took me out to dinner, we went to groovy Temple Bar pubs, had lots of fun and then when I left for London a day earlier than he did, I said, "I'll call you," and never did. Deliberately. For the next few months after that, I used it as a brag story to my girlfriends, a kind of 'Heh, that'll sock it to those evil men who do that to us' revenge-tactic but since then I have felt very mean and small about it. So James, I'm sorry. It honestly truly wasn't you, it was me. All me.
10. Sometimes Love Chunks makes me cry. He'll be sitting alongside me as we sip the coffee he made, or be watching a footy game and I'll look over and see his kind blue eyes and the intense expression of concentration of his face as the footy's on and the tears will start. I'll see him hugging our daughter, helping her with the year five-level maths homework or putting up the new coloured party lights in her bedroom and I'll cry. He'll be scratching Milly's belly, crooning, "Oooh you're a beautiful dog, yes you are," or he'll be lying by my side and I'll smell his warmth and it'll start me off.
The tears spring from a varied mixture of love, gratefulness, emotion, relief, comfort, security, familiarity and passion among other things that I don't even have the capacity to properly fathom. Whatever the reason, every day I wake up and am so thankful he's chosen to do all of this with me.