Friday, April 30, 2010

Free time, expecting cuddles and yum

It's Friday night and I'm enjoying having it to myself for the first time in about a month. Even if I'm just sitting at home on my 'puter listening to The White Stripes and eating crackers and dip.

I'm looking forward to visiting my friends and their two little boys tomorrow - my quasi nephews, one of whom is the three year old with Spiderman on speed dial. Hopefully I'll get a cuddle.

I know I'm definitely getting corned beef for dinner. Yum. My favourite. It'll be the first decent home cooked meal I've had in quite some time (I haven't been looking after myself very well, even when I've had the chance...). They're very good to me.

Speaking of anticipation....THIS TIME IN TWO WEEKS I'LL BE EN ROUTE TO NEW YORK!!!

I discovered some old White Stripes songs on YouTube today that I'd never heard. Sweet.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Watching over me?

Tonight while I was sitting at Grill'd on Degraves Street waiting for my burger to arrive, one of my Dad's old favourite songs came on the stereo - Judy in Disguise by John Fred and His Playboys. I couldn't believe it.

I have seriously never heard this song played by anyone anywhere else in all my 37 years, except for when my Dad played it (and now when it comes on my iPod). I got a bit teary, but it was nice.

It was a number one hit in 1968 when my Dad was 18. He and my mum used to hoon around in his Mini Cooper S (with giant daisies on the doors) with Judy in Disguise blaring.

This is the song:

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Dark showering, laughing and loved

I've developed a thing about showering in the dark. A friend recommended it as therapy for a migraine, but last night I did it even though I felt fine. It's just nicer in the dark. Perhaps the sensory deprivation makes it more relaxing? I imagine the water spattering on my shower cap is rain falling on the roof of a tin shack. 

I had brunch with a Twitter friend at Dimitri's Feast on Swan Street today. It's the first time I've eaten there and also the first time I'd met this friend in the real world. I've met so many online friends in the real world now that it no longer feels strange to me. 

 It was a nice way to while a way a few hours - conversation, laughs and yummy food. The hot chocolate was rich and thick, and the semolina pancakes with orange blossom syrup, pistachios and yogurt were delicious. *opens mouth and drools like Homer Simpson*. 

I met another friend for drinks in the afternoon and that was fun too. There's nothing like good conversation and laughs, is there? Part of me worries I'm being inappropriate by socialising at a time like this, but then I thought, life is for living, isn't it? It's healthy to want to spend time in life-affirming ways, right?

I came home to not one, but two, beautiful floral arrangements, one from my work (which was expected) and another from a friend, which was a nice surprise. I also got a lovely handmade card in the mail from a good friend too. I feel so loved right now. 

Laughter through tears

"Life is not meant to be easy, my child; but take courage: it can also be delightful"

This George Bernard Shaw quote, which I heard in conversation at a friend's birthday party, helped to inspire me to start this blog back on 1 September 2008. But this year, the quote has become more of a personal mantra. You see, 2010 has not been a good year for me and my family... 

I have hinted at these difficulties in a few recent posts, but now I have decided to reveal what has been happening, for several reasons. It would seem to go against the gleeful grain, but bear with me.

OK. This is what happened (deep breath): my father was diagnosed with a terminal illness in early January and he passed away yesterday. His doctors had given him a life expectancy of five years, but he was gone less than five months later, just making it beyond his 60th birthday. My quiet, funny, strong but soft-hearted, capable Dad...gone. Just like that. I still can't believe he got sick, let alone that he isn't here anymore.

This is the most difficult thing I have ever gone through in my life. After Dad was diagnosed, I was tempted to take a break from writing Gleeful. I thought, "How am I ever going to be happy again?" How would I find anything gleeful to write about, much less the enthusiasm to put fingers to keyboard?

But I soon realised how wrong-headed this was. I had a stern word with myself: Jayne, that is not the way we do things here, I said. If you stop writing now, you will be abandoning your faith in the idea that underpins this blog, that you can make yourself happier by being more mindful and appreciative of life's simple pleasures even when life isn't going your way.  If you really believe this is possible - and you do, dammit - you can't stop now. This ordeal will put that idea to the test like nothing else. 

And it has. And let me just tell you, this idea rocks (I can't claim it as my own). The past few four months - particularly the past four weeks - have been scary, emotional and exhausting, but they have also been delightful, in ways small and not so small.

The big delightful stuff

* It's empowering to face adversity and get through it. I was continually amazed at my ability to cope with things I never imagined that I would be able to get through. You just do what you have to do. I feel like I can face almost anything now. New York on my own for my first overseas trip? Pah! Piece of cake, baby. (Less than three weeks away now!)

* It's pretty darn nice when people tell you they admire the way you're handling things, that your Dad would be proud (even if you think they would probably do the same thing in your shoes).

* It brought me closer to my Dad and other members of my family. It also created a bond with my step-family, which didn't really exist before.

* It's strengthened my friendships and also brought me closer to people I've just met - or never met, like a legion of Twitter friends,  who have supported me through this, particularly in the past few weeks (Twitter really helped get me through the nights on my own at the hospital with Dad). Times like this make you realise that people are actually wonderful. Not that I'm a misanthrope, but sometimes we all need a little reminder. Every day lately I've been moved by the kindness and generosity of friends and strangers offering both practical and emotional support - or just a distraction.  If any of you are reading, you are awesome and I'm so glad to know you.

* It's made me appreciate (all over again) how lucky I am. Yes, really. I'm lucky I got to know my Dad as an adult, unlike a lot of people who lose a parent when they're young. I'm lucky I got to say goodbye. I'm lucky I've made it to 37 before going through something this tough. I've led a charmed life, really. There are so, so many people far worse off than I am.

Small delights

Even in the past few days, I've continued on my glee-spotting way. I honestly think I can't help it now. It's second nature. I'm inveterate. Here's some of the things that buoyed me up:

*  On Friday, two books I ordered from Amazon arrived unexpectedly early. One was the Book of Awesome, which I blogged about recently. It is indeed awesome. I adore it. I started to read it while sitting at Dad's bedside. I laughed out loud. I smiled. Its bite-size chunks of text made it perfect reading for the circumstances. 

* The other book was the pop up version of my favourite Dr Seuss book - Oh, The Places You'll Go! I read this at Dad's bedside too and it was also very fitting, being about getting through life's ups and downs, as it is. And the pop-uppiness of it is fantastic. Very detailed and intricate and just all round awesome. I'm very taken with it. I will post some pictures of it later on.

* Music. The CDs I bought last week (or whenever it was - time has passed in a blur) have really grown on me. The Angus and Julia Stone CD is heart-achingly, simply, delicately beautiful. The White Stripes live CD rocks - I love it more than I expected. Florence and the Machine is fantastic. All of them will remind me of this hard time in my life and I'm OK with that.

* One day last weekend I was walking down the steps of Flinders Street Station to the sound of a busker playing the bagpipes. I put my earphones in to listen to my iPod and...all I could hear was the bagpipes! What the dickens! The busker is in my iPod! What's going on!? As I crossed at the lights, I realised it was the bagpipe introduction of the White Stripes' live CD! The music was exactly the same (but then it was the bagpipes...).

* Last week I went to Myer to buy some travel accessories and a backpack for my trip. I arrived there to find 40% off travel goods. All right! Good timing, me! I got about $140 worth of stuff for $80, and I used a gift card to pay for $70 of it. I also got a $20 voucher for spending more than $75. Sometimes things just fall into place...

* Made up words. I made up a new portmanteau word - evilsome, which is awesome and evil at the same time. One of my Twitter friends used the word "whimmy" - in the mood to do something on a whim.

* Twitter helped me procure a gluten-free pizza while I was at the hospital. I idly tweeted "I wonder if I could get a gluten-free pizza delivered to the hospital?" A Twitter pal (the whimmy one, who is coeliac) replied with the details of a nearby place that does GF pizza. I rang them up and got it delivered. Never let it be said that Twitter is pointless.

* My friend's three-year-old son Nathan. He is such an adorable little boy. My friend told him I might be visiting and that I might be sad, and he replied with: "But Jayne is my aunty and I love her. She can't be sad if I love her." Aaaaws. My heart went melty. My friend tried to explain (as much as you can to a small child) why I was sad and he said that he would call Spiderman and ask him to look after my Dad. Gorgeous. 

* Silly (and pleasantly distracting) Twitter conversations. I've been engaged in an ongoing exchange of words that sound dirty but aren't necessarily with one Twitter friend (eg flap, spatchcock). It's gone on for days and occasionally drawn in other participants. Juvenile, yes, but fun. I'm also constructing a Twitter fantasty in which I am Bionic Librarian, a cardigan-clad superhero fighting ignorance and stupidity with my trusty sidekick, Mysterious Library Aficianado (whose catchphrase is, "If you'd only read more books, I wouldn't have to kick your ass"), my Pearls of Destruction and Forcefield of Silence. Heeee.

* Saying "Laffter through tears is mah favourite ee-motion" (that's a Southern American drawl), a line from the movie Steel Magnolias, which I always think of when I laugh while I'm sad. There's been a bit of that lately, as you can imagine.

Last night I decided that I would write a post here every day until I leave for New York on May 14. And that's what I'm gonna do.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Furry kitten and dogs in blankets

I love to get real mail  - something besides bills and junk - and today I got the best kind of mail: a lovely, thoughtful and completely unexpected card. It was the best thing about my day.

It was a "thinking of you" card sent by one of my many wonderful online friends (who says online friendships are phoney?).  I got a little teary when I read it. People really are lovely.

And the card was adorable - a picture of a cute tabby kitten, printed onto flocked card. Cute and furry! I've put it beside my bed and I'll feel warm and fuzzy inside every time I see it.

Comfort food

Does anybody know what dogs in blankets are? The dish, I mean. Not snuggling canines. 

No? It's meat fritters, basically. You coat the sliced meat in batter and shallow fry it until crisp and golden brown. Mmm....crisp and golden brown. We used to have them often when I was a kid to use up leftover roast lamb (we lived on a sheep farm and ate a lot of lamb).

I made dogs in blankets myself for the first time at Easter when my mum was visiting and again last night. They were yummy both times. The nostalgia factor makes them extra tasty. I think they're going to be one of my comfort food staples.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

So awesome it hurts

I want to share my newest blog find with you because it's so wonderful that your life cannot possibly fail to be enriched by it.  You have my money-back guarantee on that.

It's called 100 Awesome Things and it's a countdown of 1000 "simple, brilliant things", like when your pet notices you're in a bad mood and comes to see you, finally peeing after holding on for ages, and wearing your favourites pair of undies. It's similar to this blog, only better.  It's cool, funny, insightful, sweet and touching and I've lost track of how many times while reading it I've thought, "I know! That's so true!".

Sometimes I have to stop reading and do something else for a bit because the awesomeness is too much to bear.

The blog is now also a book. *adds The Book of Awesome to reading list*

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

....and breathe

My life has been hectic and stressful lately, but tonight I'm having a quiet night at home to relax and catch up on things I've not had the time or energy to attend to. I also have the flat to myself, which makes it doubly nice. I'm sitting on the loungeroom floor in my pjs and I can see the city lights out the window. Love where I live.

Walking home tonight I saw them testing the LCD lights that are embedded in the shell of the new sports stadium, which has been named AAMI Park. It looked great. I can't wait to see what it's like when it's finished.

I'm uploading three CDs I bought tonight on my way home - Florence and the Machine's Lungs, the limited edition of Angus and Julia Stone's new album, Down the Way and the DVD/CD set of the White Stripes' documentary Under Great White Northern Lights. Yays! New music!

The packaging of the Angus and Julia Stone album is gorgeous. It's like a cloth-bound book with the title printed in gold lettering and it's fastened shut with a ribbon. Inside, lyrics and vintagey photos are printed on nice matte paper and - the best bit - is a frontispiece with "This album belongs to _________". How cute is that?  Listening to it now. I like it so far.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010


Sunrise on Monday

How fantastic is it to get home at the end of a long day...the kind of day when you're exhausted before it even begins, your head aches most of the way through, then your feet start hurting too, and  all the while you know you won't get home until after 9 o'clock...but when you do, you take off your shoes, put your pjs on and get into your comfy bed....

I'll tell you - it's bloody fantastic. The only thing better would be if there was somone waiting at home to give me a foot rub.

Monday, April 5, 2010

New bridge

This pedestrian bridge over the Yarra might not be new, but it's new to me and I think it's pretty cool. I discovered it on a sunset walk along South Wharf tonight.