What goes around comes around

Karma pic

Two weeks ago, while I was at work, someone used a crow bar to bash their way into my home. They then proceeded to steal my most valuable possession – my laptop – with some four years of my writing on it.

I didn’t find out until the next day because I was at a sexy sleepover the night before. Unbeknownst to B and I, while we were scoffing Baskin Robbins, there were police traipsing through my apartment together with an upstairs neighbour, whom I’d never met but who’d discovered the break in. Even though I’ve lived there for nearly three years, no one had my phone number to call me.

Later that same night, my part-time housemate got home very late from work and encountered a busted in front door, and a note from the coppers asking me to please call them. Unable to raise me from my blissfully unaware slumber, the only sensible and safe decision was for her to stay at a friend’s and leave my home open to the night sky.

The next morning after yet another failed attempt at an early gym session, I checked my phone to find her urgent missed calls. I didn’t listen to her voicemail before I called back so she had to break the news to me over the phone as I stood there in my nightie and sadly listened.

The first thing I asked about was my laptop because I think I knew that it was gone. Then I asked after a few other bits and pieces as she wandered through the apartment recounting the sobering scene as she went. They had been quite conscientious – for robbers – we learned. They hadn’t tipped over shelves or emptied drawers just for the bloody sake of it. In fact, thankfully, they didn’t steal very much at all.

Within five minutes, after a supportive and much-needed hug from B, I was in the car for the short drive home. I was in a strangely resigned state while I drove, but I did also nearly hit a dog, so maybe there was a little angst in there as well.

I reluctantly bounded up the stairs to be met by my forlorn housemate and a door that had been worked over so well it wasn’t really a door at all anymore. I was soon to learn that my next-door neighbour’s apartment had also been attacked in the same horrific manner. They are overseas. I don’t think that is a coincidence.

This is not the first time I have been the victim of a break in. Back then, some 10 years ago, they again stole my computer so I guess I have some history in losing my words to pricks who probably can’t even spell karma.

This time, however, I am more sanguine with what happened, which does sound a bit like an oxymoron I admit. For one, they stole very little in a material sense. It can all be replaced. Two, I got a very nice new green solid-as-fuck door that no bastard is likely to ever get through. Three, I met heaps more of my neighbours who I know have my back, and mine there’s, from this moment on. Four, they stole all of the downloaded content, whose origins may allegedly be a little bit suspicious, so my slate and my conscience is clean. Five, being in love and being a bit lazy of late, means that over recent months I made very little progress on my screenplay. Sure I lost the first 10 minutes of it, but I think I can remember how it goes. And I truly think this time it will be even better.

So when it comes down to it, my philosophy over the past fortnight has been that those fuckwits may have invaded my home, but they’re not going to invade my head. I am the winner in this battle because I truly believe that what goes around comes around.

The trouble with spelt

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It was when I could taste the difference between two types of organic spelt flour that I knew I was in serious trouble. You see it appeared I’d strayed dangerously into the sordid territory of food wankery.

Every week, because I am a feminist magazine editor who also likes to bake, I make my boyfriend a spectacularly delicious concoction called very simply a Booeybanananutberry loaf.

This mealy-mouthed morsel is so named because it features my man’s nickname and the loaf also contains mashed up bananas (preferably organic), blueberries (preferably fresh but usually frozen) sultanas (out of a packet but how can dried grapes not be organic?), walnuts (ditto packet but they are nuts after all), which is then all mixed together with organic spelt flour and full cream milk (ah, yes, also organic).

The trouble began when I was a bit slack getting to the over-priced health food store in time to purchase the necessary nutty-flavoured new but actually very old flour (it’s been around thousands of years apparently) in which to bake the aforementioned morning tea treat for my lover.

Surprisingly I found that the local supermarket, which increasingly stocks whole foods and other ridiculously expensive healthy bits and pieces, also sold spelt flour and it was even organic. Into my basket it went, along with my soy vegie roast, curly-leafed kale and goats milk yoghurt. I then paid the $89 bill for four solitary items and drove home in my fuel-efficient motor vehicle.

It would be safe to say that no two meals I’ve ever cooked have ever been the same – and it’s not because I am a culinary boffin who bravely “doesn’t follow recipes”. No, they are usually quite different because I generally forget one or two of the more important ingredients through pure ignorance and/or absentmindedness. Recently I actually forgot the berries in said loaf even though it has a berry bloody obvious name. I even ate a piece of it and didn’t notice anything was amiss until a few days’ later when out of the blue I remembered one of the missing principal ingredients. Better later than never I suppose.

On my appointed baking day, which is after our two-hour Latin dance session in preparation for a flash mob (also very hip), I threw together all of the ingredients, gave it a bit of a stir and into the oven it went. Three quarters of an hour later, it was done and I carved two skinny slices off for our obligatory taste test.

We munched happily on the warm goodness, which also thankfully appeared this time to have all the requisite ingredients. But as I chewed, I realised something wasn’t quite right. The Booeybanananutberry loaf was tasty there was no doubt about it but just not as delish as usual.

Quizzically, I looked over at B and raised my eyebrows as a means of asking, “what do you think of my extraordinary efforts in baking you this loaf every week which I pretend I don’t need praise for?” He smiled sexily back which insinuated to me that all was good in the world of boyfriend loaf baking. But I frowned in reply and mumbled, “it doesn’t taste right”. And it was at that moment that I realised the horrendous truth about myself. My palate had become so dignified, so very up its own tastebuds that I could tell the difference between two types of ancient spelt flour solely dependent on their location of purchase. What an absolute wanker.

I said as much to B, while simultaneously recognising that my words would forever mark me as a culinary snob of the highest order. He responded, “yeah I know” which thankfully means he’s as much as foodie knob as me, something I’m clearly quite happy about. We can now revel in our very own, over-the-top organic-only food nirvana for some years to come.

We might even try camel’s milk, which I hear is soon to be the new “it” tonic for the modern, overly-health conscious generation. Who knows, maybe one day B and I might even be munching on camel toes too, which will most likely taste much better to him than to me.

 

The dying of the light

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While I’ve never been known for fits of melancholy, I’ve been doing some unhelpful dwelling about death of late.

Like so many before me, including some of my friends and cousins, when you’re watching a loved one embark on their final journey you often start to consider your own mortality at the very same time. And that’s a double dose of depressing.

The ebb and flow of life, and the people you encounter in it, means I’ve already been to more funerals than a trainee undertaker. But, thankfully, not since my grandparents died more than 20 years ago, I haven’t been to one that’s an immediate family member.

And hopefully I won’t for some time yet but as Alzheimer’s continues to rob our mum of any twilight years whatsoever, from time to time I have to admit that melancholy does settle uncomfortably within my bones.

They say losing someone to Alzheimer’s can be one of the toughest losses to endure. Not only does that person often not understand what’s happening to them – and in our case why the majority of her friends have deserted her because it upsets them to see her so afflicted (cowards)­ – but the system we have learned provides very little help either.

Until very recently, we were totally at sea, struggling to decipher the spaghetti-like mess that is Australia’s social services. All the while not one medical practitioner was providing continuity of care, or salient advice, so we relied on our gut instincts and whatever would minimise mum’s levels of confusion and discomfort.

For her own, and other’s safety, we also had to stop her driving, when as far as she was concerned there was nothing wrong with her at all. In mum’s reality everything is totally fine. If someone told you that you couldn’t drive anymore, how would you react? Well, mum reacted in exactly the same indignant way, but thankfully her carer and husband holds his nerve and comes up with evermore creative strategies so she can’t find the car keys.

Lately she’s having delusions and thinks she grew up in England. She also is adamant that the people in the telly can see her. And a bit like with small children, we struggle with how to respond to these imagined issues when she will never understand the answers that we give. In the grand scheme of things, as long as she’s not hurting herself or others, I suppose what harm can it be to go along with some of her more preposterous and fanciful suggestions?

All of these challenges, we face day by day and thankfully, soon, help will be at hand. My step-father has done an amazing job in what can only be described as utterly soul-destroying circumstances as he watched his partner of some 35 years change into someone we mostly don’t recognise. Yet she remains his wife and she remains our mother even if she is nothing like who she used to be.

Over the past six months, both my brother and I have met two awesome men who each have equal parts strength and softness. Sometimes I wonder if they’re guardian angels sent by God to help us as we rage against the dying of our mum’s light. And it’s a heartbreaking juxtaposition that we’re both embarking on wondrous new lives of own as our mother’s slips permanently away from us.

Mum no longer recognises her nieces and nephews. One day far too soon she will no longer recognise us either. And yet we will continue to love her for everything that went before and for all the memories of her that will remain for years after. Her light will linger long after she has gone. That’s one of the few things of which I am certain.