Sunday, April 15, 2012

Do what you love and love what you do…the rest comes naturally.

What the ‘rest’ is I am not quite sure – but if you don’t follow the first bit one assumes ‘it’ doesn’t come naturally…

For me, it’s writing.  I love to write. It is soothing, infuriating, calming, frustrating, painful and confronting. Putting pen to paper as they did in the old days has been replaced by pixels to screen, but the creative flow remains the same.

Team O’Connor’s genesis was in the form of a digital post card, chronicling our European travels with a toddler in tow. It quickly became a labour of love, a ball and chain, a hypnotic tranquiliser capable of lulling me into another paradigm, away from my roles as mother, wife and daughter.

And now it has come of age…

The blog has been nominated under the parenting category in the Sydney Writers’ Centre Best Australian Blogs for 2012 competition. The People’s Choice awards are driven by you, the readers. A click of your mouse on the above hyperlink, a valid email address and a vote for Team O’Connor may just see the rest come naturally.

M xx

Friday, April 13, 2012

Metaphorically speaking…

I was caught out this week. I had arranged to meet with some dear friends for morning tea at a place of complete decadence. While I have to confess, the very thought of that consumed all my mental synapses, I completely forgot that the venue in question was also home to a man-made beach and water park for toddlers.

There was nothing else for it…unprepared as we were, the short one had to strip down to her undies and a great spontaneous time was had by all.

Later that afternoon, I was overheard saying that we had a fabulous time and the short one had a ball in her knickers. It was about then that I heard a little voice, somewhat perturbed, asking after the whereabouts of said ball in her knickers. It made me stop in my tracks and consider what I had just said. Unless she had lined up for some gender re-assignment, I also would be quite perturbed by this flippant comment.

But it was this very comment that got me thinking…Australian English is such a colourful language, it embraces native speakers in such a way that we don’t think twice about the continuum of literal to metaphorical. We think nothing of expecting our young ones to ‘pull their socks up’ or they will be ‘in the poo’. Just the other day I asked the short one to ‘wrap her laughing gear around her vegemite sanger quick sticks so we could get on the frog and toad and get going.’

Now, I knew what I said…and many other Aussies would too, but for one who is just embarking on the journey that is language it was perhaps a little confronting. And I suppose, non-Australian English speakers would struggle to recognise it as their first language too.

Not for a minute though, am I thinking of tempering my language (except for maybe some of the bad…). Australians, sadly, have a poor record when it comes to linguicide (the killing off of languages). Many indigenous languages have all but vanished, and I suspect Aussie slang is fast heading in the same direction. Professional linguists may beg to differ that our colourful colloquialisms even constitute a language. But I for one do not want to see it all but go by the wayside.

So, I am going to throw my hat in the ring, for what it’s worth. A shut mouth catches no flies. Give us a hoy sometime and share your favourite Australian expression.

Friday, April 6, 2012

Curiouser and curiouser

With all things ballet enveloping what was once my easy-to-please daughter, I decided to take her to the real thing. She was fast becoming a true balletomane. We had ventured to the movies twice by this stage in her career and she mostly managed the two hours of darkened quiet confinement. So... I thought I would tempt fate that little bit more and book tickets for the family to see the Queensland Ballet’s performance of Alice in Wonderland.

What could have proven to be an expensive gamble certainly paid off.  We had many conversations prior to the big day about theatre etiquette and what to expect. Ita would have been proud, as clearly some of it stuck. She was not backward in pointing out other children’s indiscretions – usually with just enough tone and volume as to ensure they were not mistaken about her admonishments.

There are so many things to consider prior to embarking on such an excursion with a toddler…just to name a few…
  1. Timing – matinee or evening? I considered the health and welfare of all other audience members and went with the matinee option. Witching hour and theatre experiences should be mutually exclusive.
  2. Seats – prior experience taught me that darkened theatres seem to have an effect not unlike laxatives. Similar to all confined spaces that requires one to have allocated seating – go the aisle.
  3. Pack-a-snack – may be construed as bribery and what’s so wrong with that I ask? Just don’t be like those annoying people at the cinemas who spend half an hour trying to undo a cellophane packet that clearly requires something more along the lines of a set of hedge trimmers or flamethrower.
  4. Booster cushions – while theatre seats are built with adult height in mind, short people get a terrific view of the seat in front. We learnt from this cultural foray to get in early with the complimentary boosters.  Apparently they go like hot cakes, regardless of one’s stature. While our height-challenged one missed out, it was comforting to see so many giraffe-like people getting a bird’s eye view… of the gantry. I was sorely tempted to echo Lewis Carroll’s very words ‘Rule Forty-two. All persons more than a mile high to leave the court.’ Fortunately two of those said giraffes behind us knew the rules and took pity, handing over two cushions, affording our charge a great view of the actual stage.

Whilst all this pre-planning definitely paid off – I really need not have worried.  For two hours, our short one was transfixed. It was difficult to tear one’s eyes away from her face and watch the action on stage, the performance that we actually paid for! The sheer delight, enjoyment and involvement in the performance were quite incredible. She was clearly transported into the Wonderland on stage, so much so that when it finished she literally cried for more. Evidently my pre-planning had failed at this point in time. I hadn't considered the need to explain that live performances generally can not be rewound and played again.

As we turned from our seats, the giraffe behind craned her neck forward and said, ‘Your little one was so very good throughout that performance.  She obviously loved it.’

Hypnotic trances are like that. Complete envelopment in all that transpires. Moving beyond the literal, Lewis Carroll's words echoed true once again...trance is really fast paced. You are constantly dancing and jumping around. Our little Alice did not miss a pas de deux, a plie, a pirouette...she lived and breathed every last step.

A true balletomane indeed!