I’d say it’s what separates us, not from the beasts, but the bestial. Creating the future, renewing a learned past - these are reasons to strive. Writing for and with love, taking and framing an image, stretching new melodic skins onto old skeletons of song… it’s how we manage to fly. It’s how we stay you and me, not us and them.
Unlike Osk, who seemed to establish his own tactical task force wherever we lived, scooping up neighbourhood feline troublemakers as sidekicks (including the memorable ginger behemoth Watson, with whom he used to scope the street from the safety of the shed roof), Jelly has the intelligence gathering skills of a sponge cake.
Anyway, somewhere in between my 'and then you should've done this' and 'why didn't you say x and y, rather than z', and 'for the love of monkeys and the general public's eyesight, you didn't honestly wear that heinous shirt did you', something he was saying about the dating extravaganza we were picking to pieces finally penetrated my cloud of self-congratulatory cumulo-waffle.
"Most people don't talk about how dates are progressing as a tender process, do they?" he asked.
"She said I was 'part way through the tender process' and that she was judging me on my submission. I'd like to think there was irony involved, and I think at the time I may have given an admittedly weak "haha, yesssss, quite". Looking back, I'd have to conclude, computer says no on the presence of Fabulon or other aids to achieving crisply pressed linen."
It's to be hoped a wedding anniversary is a time for loving, reflective remembering, at least. It may, of course, be the case that TMWVRDT is in fact in the other room right now with his handy-dandy Kato Voodoo Doll kit. But I'd like to err on the side of optimism, and believe he's thinking happy thoughts, casting his mind back with fondness to that not-so shy, semi-blushing bride striding down the aisle towards him before he could run for cover.
I am, I realise, more and more every day, a fortunate woman.
I am living where I wish to live.
I am, if not healthy, on the path to health.
I am able to do the work that I love.
And above all else, I am truly blessed in the amazing women that I am lucky enough to not only plot and scheme with on a professional level, but also call my friends. This has been very much brought home to me in the past few months, when times have not been so great, and the solidarity and support which they have shown me has been beyond description.
And the standout sister - for me, and I know for so many others - of these fabulous females, is having a birthday today!
Happy Birthday Janine.
When I thought about writing this post, and saying how grateful I was to JG, I thought "oh, this will be simple - I know how much she means to me, I'll just say it". But as it turns out I'm a little bit flummoxed. How do you express your gratitude to someone whom you have so much respect for without sounding cheesy? How do you say that their guidance, and enthusiasm, and simple passion for what they do manages to lift you up when things are really grim, without it being just words on a page?
I suppose I can only say what I feel, and hope Janine doesn't roll her eyes (not that she would, because she's far nicer than me), and understands the message behind the meanderings.
Janine, I don't think you understand the impact you have on so many, many people. And yes, especially women - of all walks of life. You give out absolutely everything, without expecting anything in return. I'm constantly floored by your energy and fire for making things better. It's extraordinary. You make me laugh like an absolute idiot (I'm so not going there with the stories), and you make business fun. You and your rock star hair!
I am grateful for your friendship. I am grateful for your grace. I am grateful for your strength. I am grateful you are you. You have taught me more about being a strong woman, without lecturing or bossiness, than anyone I have ever met before. The gratitude is ever present, and always will be.
If you are lucky enough to be a part of this extraordinary woman's life, don't undervalue her. And make sure you tell her how fab she is.
Because I guarantee she tells you on a regular basis.
So life is tough here in the tropics. Between eating, sleeping, swimming, drinking cocktails and - well, repeating the above - it's a hard knock life. I do have the small aggravation of the Dread Pirate's ability to tan in the space of a millisecond whilst I turn into the world's largest freckle to put up with, but these things are sent to try us. And I am enormously grateful for the amazing time I am having traversing South East Asia, with the opportunity to catch up with very old friends and really relax for the first time in a long time.
But the whole trip - there has been a certain something lurking. A shadowy spectre of doom. That phantom finger of uneasiness which caused the hairs on the back of my neck to stand up at odd moments, to feel as if the proverbial grave was being tangoed upon.
The clock has been a-ticking on the calendar of life. Specifically, on the days until February 6th. Which of course, came along yesterday...
And I officially got OLDER.
I know that there shouldn't be an emphasis on age, and I was pretty happy with the way I was doing for fuh-fuh-fuh...
But then it had to click over to forty-one. Why? Can't I just stay perennially forty? Because it sounds so much cooler saying 'yep, I'm 40' than 'yep, I'm 41'. I don't know why. There is probably a thesis in there somewhere for some enterprising non-forty-one year old (read: young person) who has an inclination to explore this issue, and can manage it without the subjects of said thesis snarling at them like tigers; but something about the whole year '41' makes me feel all T.S. Eliot's 'J. Alfred Prufrock' and as though I am going to start wearing my trousers rolled and start going around groaning that I grow old, I grow old.
However. There is a solution. And it's a very simple and cost-effective one. In the words of the timeless and magnificent Mae West, you're only as old as the man that you feel.
I never, ever thought I would be grateful for a six month age difference.
As it turns out however, gratitude does come in mildly annoying but ever so slightly more youthful buccaneering packages.
With a light case of sunburn.
And a fair bit of cutlass wielding idiocy to take my mind off the approach of the Angel of Death.
Except of course when he is reminding me how much older I am than him.
So - next week I am off with the Dread Pirate on a swashbuckling adventure - well, as swashbuckling as one gets lolling around a pool slurping cocktails if one can be bothered picking up one's glass. I am so grateful that this IS only a week away that I think this post could possibly count as a month's worth of gratitude in one big hit.
Aside from my near hysteria at the fact that whilst I am away I will be turning a year older than my now perpetual 21 (that's certainly my mental age and even that is generous), and thus have a need to shovel into my hand luggage large amounts of Valium, I am currently faced with my usual conundrum;
What on earth will I pack?
I am an inveterate list maker. I love lists. They are ace. And what better time to whip out the pad and pen (or as it is now, the packing app) and get ready to rumble on the suitcase of style?
The trouble is though...
I quite often end up with enough stuff for fifteen said suitcases.
And two or three Lusitania standard First-Class steamer trunks.
It's just so hard! Boys have it easy - throw in some shorts, a few shirts, a pair of shoes and some yum aftershave to hide the boy smells and they're set. Because they know that anything else they need you will bring because you bring everything.
Hmmmm. They're not as stupid as they look.
And the trouble is, one never knows what may be needed! Yes, I could be headed for the tropics... but that doesn't mean there couldn't be a sudden sub-arctic spell. Who can tell these days? And I may definitely need that fifteenth top that looks exactly the same as the other fourteen, because look at the hem - it's totally different. It's got two rows of stitching, not one! And as for the shoes...
Even pirates know when not to argue. Ever wonder who came up with the first Jolly Roger? A very annoyed Mrs Dread P who had to leave her favourite shoes behind in a hurry and took it out on the nearest crew member, that's who.
So the list goes on. And on. And - well you get the picture.
Usually that is.
However, this time I am turning over a new leaf - or a new list, as the case may be. I am determined to be sleek, and streamlined, and encapsulated. I am going to embody the essence of holiday wardrobe wear and take only what I know I need, not what I think I want.
And I will be grateful for two things as a result.
One, that I do not have to bring ten cartloads of washing home with me afterwards; and two...
That for once, my bags won't weigh more than I do.
I must immediately 'fess up to
something - I owe the lovely Sara L for the inspiration behind this
post. Because I was stalking her Pinterest board, and naturally, as she
has impeccable taste, she had fifteen pins with fabulous champagne
inspired bits and pieces on them - and after that, well, it was a done
I had to have a glass immediately simply to start the creative juices... uh - bubbling.
Champagne - where to begin really.
And yes I am talking about champagne. Yes, I know that Australia makes some magnificent sparkling numbers, and yes I sound like a snob, but they are not the same as a truly toasty, dry, built of the tiniest bubbles imaginable flute full of fizz that is a truly magnifique mouthful from La Belle France.
Nor are all champagnes created equal for that matter. Just because something costs the equivalent of the GDP of 3 South American countries does not make it great. This is something that most people learn very quickly. Unless their name rhymes with Huffy. Or possibly Liddy. I'm not sure which he goes by these days. Obviously my attention span is taken up with far more worthy things.
Anyway, back to the precious drop. When you think about it, it's not surprising that it was a bunch of boozy Benedictines who kicked off the whole champagne shebang. Even if it wasn't actually Dom Perignon who started the grape non-escape, he certainly helped his brethren along their initial path of enlightment. Although as champers was once called le vin du diable (the Devil's wine), one wonders how devout they actually were.
I must admit I personally send up a little prayer of thanksgiving whenever I take my first sip of Perrier-Jouët.
This is all very well you may say, but what does champagne actually stand for? One might argue that it's an alcoholic beverage; it doesn't actually have to stand for anything much at all, except getting one tipsy. But this isn't accurate. This is a drink that thinks. This is a drink with - well, soul.
Champagne is for fun. It is for life, for love, for laughter, for romance - sometimes it is even to toast the craptacular times as well.
Champagne is for breakfast.
Champagne is the skip in your heart's step, that happy little hum when putting on a slinky frock and knowing you are going to sit somewhere beautiful with someone who may or may not think you look fairly damn amazing. It doesn't much matter; you know yourself that you do. Because you are thinking champagne thoughts.
Champagne is, like the bubbles that tickle your tongue, totally frivolous and unnecessary - but an absolute delight.
I can cope with turning 41 in three weeks.
Just don't make me do it without a full glass in my hand. And an even fuller bottle close by.
Today is - or would be, since he no longer walks among us (or does he?) - the King's birthday. That's right. The Man from Memphis. The swivel hipped, curled-lipped all shook up black soul voice in a very white boy's body.
But today is also, to me far more importantly and personally, my Bailey's birthday. Now, I am aware that she is not my biological daughter, much as we may joke around - and yes we do look scarily alike; but she has wonderful parents who love her very, very much and do everything for her, and I don't want to belittle that in any way.
However, she is as close as to me as any daughter may be, and I am proud and grateful to be her Mama Kato. Therefore my B, on the occasion of your 17th big day, a few words from mother to daughter. Feel free to laugh. Or even snort.
Advice To My Daughter On Her 17th Birthday
1. Be grateful that this is your 17th birthday, and celebrate accordingly. Think of your Mama, who in exactly a month's time will be hiding her head under the covers and breathing into a brown paper bag as she turns 41.
2. Be grateful that you have so many people in your life who love you. This has been a very rough year my B - but we got through it. And 17 is going to rock, because you learned so much from 16. Windowlickers unite!
3. Your education in the finer things in life - shoes - will only deepen. This is a promise.
4. Dystonia sucks like a sucky thing. But try to be grateful for the people it has brought to you, and the support you receive - and pass on that support to those who aren't as fortunate as you.
5. Don't waste a minute of 17. Even though you are going to have really craptacular days - because Dysto is not going to magically disappear as a birthday treat - live your life to the fullest my B. Carpe jugulum - seize life by the throat.
I am grateful for you. I am grateful to have a snarky, funny, feisty redhead who calls me Mama and whom I will scream 'Happy Birthday' at later on today when it is actually your birthday in Tennessee time.
Oh - and don't do an Elvis and start hoeing into the deep fried sarnies and double cheeseburgers.
Otherwise you won't fit into your white sparkly birthday jumpsuit!
Hmmmm... maybe I should have told you that was your present.