As of today there is a gasbags-shaped hole in my Universe.*

March 7th, 2015

I am now in my mid 50’s and so are most of the friends that I made when I was little.
Today my kind and thoughtful stepmother gently let me know that my very best friend from when we were both aged 4 has died.
By way of explanation; my mate Moi was intensely private, complex and reclusive.
For some years now we had lost touch as she was battling a very aggressive cancer with what I can only believe were the wrong weapons. These being- Jesus, wholefoods and positive thinking. Turns out that there really can be no Atheists in a foxhole. My beliefs and presence did not support her wishes and I respectfully and regrettably left the Base Commander to fight her war.

Moi and I became close friends as our thoughtful kindergarten teacher- Hannelore Imberger knew that Moi’s house could get a bit rough and I did not have a mother. She felt we needed extra special care during the school holidays so she organised for us to go to her and her husband’s farm, next to the creek on Piggy lane in The Basin.

Moi, ever brave and protective, made sure I was not stepped on by Sampson the massive horse that lived on the farm.
I felt safe.
As a child I had Enuresis (bed wetting). I remember it was worse when I was not at home and I developed enormous shame and embarrassment around it. At the farm in Piggy Lane, I wet my bed a lot. Moi would quietly help me wash the sheets and put on fresh ones.
I felt accepted.

We went to the same school for a long time and remained friends. Throughout that time we tried to protect one another as we navigated the hell that is high school, teenage peer pressure and in/out groups. I was shunned/bullied as I was a hippy, nerd, geek, dag, kraut. Moi was shunned/bullied as she was a lesbian, nerd, geek, dag, kraut and as we found out many years later- bi-polar.
I know it was harder for her.

Moi responded to her struggle with life, the universe and everything like many teenagers do and abused pretty much everything she could get her hands on.
She took too many risks.
She took too many drugs.
She grew exceedingly angry. That included rage towards me and my desire to remain her friend.
We lost contact.

I changed schools for year 11 & 12. I started and finished a Floristy apprenticeship. She started and finished a Wool Classing and Sheep Shearing course.
Years went past with little contact.
The sheep of King Island had great hair cuts and the people of Darwin received beautiful bouquets.
I had become a mother to the beauteous and smart girlchild.
Moi had her heart broken over and over again.
We knew of each others’ existence through family and longed to reconnect with one another. Ours was an unconditional friendship, but neither of us remembered how to step onto that overgrown and ancient path. Was it even capable of holding our combined sorrows, hurts, scars and baggage?

Moi was one of 4 children. Two of her brothers were killed instantly in two separate motor vehicle accidents. One in 1979 (aged 22) and the other in 1985 (aged 27). In 1985 I was still living in Darwin and Moi was still in Melbourne.

After her brother Gerald was killed she went off the grid. I knew there was no point in reporting her as a missing person. I knew she was lost and she did not want to be found.
Weeks later she turned up in Darwin, at my door-  thin, tired and wet. She did not think it was at all remarkable or impressive that she had hitchhiked her way from the bottom to the top of Australia with little more than a pouch of Dr. Pat (tobacco), rolling papers and matches.
She stayed with me and the girlchild for some time. She walked on beaches and in bushland. She ate Mangoes and Laksa. She lay under the tropical sun. The warmth appeared to soothe her deep, deep wounds. We both knew that the scars would fade; yet remain visible. That said; her suppuration eased.
Moi left Darwin as she came. Without notice and on her terms.
I missed her all over again.

20150304_180546

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We kept in touch, but many more years went by where our lives did what lives do. She flew to Europe with her bicycle and rode it through the Pyrenees. I became a single mother.
Around age 14 the girlchild wanted to live with her father, in Queensland, for a year. This was explored and discussed and off she went. Just days prior to her flight, my mate Moi arrived in Darwin. Turns out that Moi had come to keep me company as she knew I “would be a puddle” as I adjusted to the ‘girlchild-shaped hole’ in my Universe.
She was right. I appreciated her being there.

When we were young and used to go out to the Upper Gully pub to see The Angels play and some idiot would hassle us as he invariably thought we were a lesbian couple and wanted to get himself immersed in us and his lesbian fantasy- Moi would, in her dramatic Contralto tone let loose with “unless it’s 12 inches on the flop we’re not interested.”
No one ever came back from that one!  🙂

My mate Moi was unique, thoughtful, wounded, blunt, funny, accepting and authentic.

We nicknamed her ‘gasbags’ as her name was Moira Gassmann-de Pol. Vale Moi. 25/12/1960 – 26/02/2015.
I loved her and I miss her.

*With thanks to Arundhati Roy

HoWARd tetchy, Rudd to blame?

February 6th, 2007

As is usual, on my drive home from work, I listen to PM on ABC Radio National. If it’s a late night I catch the repeat an hour later on my ABC Local Radio.

Used to the polished, experienced and all round in-control HoWARd for what seems an eternity, had me changing lanes with glee as I heard what can only be described as the PM sounding uncharacteristically tetchy.

“I think Mr Rudd is striving for a daily mantra without much regard to the consequences of what he says. He didn’t do too well with that farmer today.” – John HoWARd

Can it be that Rudd and Gillard and the polls and possibly even Amanda’s song with reference to first Australians, peace and multiculturalism has unraveled this consummate politician to the point where a girl like me can be a touch hopeful for a change of government which may be as early as August?

I sure do hope so.

“Indigenous Australians were here first, we are an immigration country, freedom is what we’ve enjoyed all our lives and we are under southern stars everyone knows the Southern Cross,” -Senator Amanda Vanstone.

backbenchers-vanstone.jpg

Image from here

Join us

January 17th, 2007

On the 34th Anniversary of Roe v Wade, 22/01/07, bloggers will be blogging for choice.

big_button_2007.jpg

Join us, read what we write- or do both.

He threw that drug away

November 8th, 2006

What does a man of god sell? Not much it seems.

I would think the minimum standard might be honesty and integrity. It is one of the reasons that a thinking, pluralistic public, such as Australia, is uneasy about allowing religion, and those that peddle it, to have much of a hold on the laws governing our society. This is evidenced in the resounding community response to banning abortion, banning stem cell research and placing chaplains in schools.

All too often religious types end up being discredited, much like the latest discredited preacher Rev. Ted Haggard. Ted, it seems has been preachin one thing and doin another. He was saying “drugs are bad” as he was buying speed. He was saying, “gays are evil” as he was having sex with a man. There you have it. Evidence versus belief.
In the US, Reverend Ted Haggard has resigned as president of the National Association of Evangelicals representing more than 45,000 churches with 30 million members.

Reverend Haggard admitted he had received a massage from a Denver man- Mike Jones, who claimed the pastor had paid him for sex over three years. Haggard also admitted he had bought methamphetamine. However, Haggard denied having sex with Mike Jones and said he did not use the drug and threw it away.

“Please continue to pray for Pastor Ted and his family, and let’s all continue to stand strong together for the kingdom of God. We will get through this together. Remember, New Life Church has never been a man, a building or anything else – we are a family.” – Rev. Ross Parsley, Haggard’s temporary replacement.

haggard.jpg

chaplains are not counsellors

October 31st, 2006

Is anyone else outraged at the complete lack of understanding that John HoWARd has for formally qualified counsellors and the need for evidence, rather than belief-based intervention? Currently, a school counsellor must have formal qualifications. They are drawn mainly from Social Work or Psychology.

This government is planning to fund chaplains in schools. In the announcement that I listened to on the ABC, Kevin Andrews was particularly tricky when he interchanged ‘counsellors’ with ‘chaplain.’

“I think there is a broad concern in the community, amongst parents and indeed amongst a lot of young people, that having someone like a counsellor – like a chaplain – that they can go to and talk to is very important. We’ve seen tragedies in recent days in schools, in New South Wales for example, and a lot of people want someone they can just talk to outside the normal (my emphasis) teachers in a school.”

Counsellors are informed by evidence-based practice, whilst chaplains are belief-based practitioners.

Perhaps I’m missing the point completely and the government is rolling out more of what in 2004 was referred to as HoWARd’s response to Latham’s “crisis of masculinity.”

Women have long made up the bulk of the numbers of graduates from the social sciences, whereas chaplains continue to be predominantly men.

This from then Minister for Education, Science and training- Dr. Brendan Nelson. Making Schools Better. A speech spoken by Dr Brendan Nelson at the Making Schools Better conference at The University of Melbourne. 26 August 2004.

“Finally, we are also taking steps to ensure that men are attracted to the teaching profession, particularly to primary teaching by offering 500 teacher scholarships for men. Last year, the proportion of male primary teachers was only 20.9%. This is a decrease of five percentage points over only a decade and the decrease will continue: there are currently only 18.8% of trainees who are male. This is a particular concern to the Government in light of the evidence that shows that boys are underachieving relative to girls and relative to their own performance from 25 years ago. Many boys have no positive male role models in their lives.”

I’d rather have school children talk to abnormal teachers at school than any sort of chaplain.

Highschool boys.jpg

nostalgic image from here