YOU HEARD IT HERE FIRST, FOLKS….
In the year 2007 I resolve to:
I must do it, for the Intahnets has told me to.
Song of The Moment: Roadrunner Bo Diddley
Reading: C20 Ghosts still
YOU HEARD IT HERE FIRST, FOLKS….
In the year 2007 I resolve to:
I must do it, for the Intahnets has told me to.
Song of The Moment: Roadrunner Bo Diddley
Reading: C20 Ghosts still
A FAT MAN AND HIS DOLLIES
ON PRESENTS, AND THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN GIVING AND RECEIVING
Well, I gotta tells ya, I love receiving presents. Receiving presents is tops. But when it comes to my family, what I really love is finding presents. There’s a moment, when I’m standing in the shop, and I’m either there for a clearly-viewed purpose or just because I had a vague idea that something would be within these walls, and I see the perfect gift for one of my family and the thrill of AHA! zings across my skin….. brilliant.
This year, we made out like bandits.
The sushi kit I gave Lyn, the make-your-own-brain kit for Aiden, Blake’s CSI facial reconstruction kit, the PS2 version of the Playboy Mansion game that Cassie’s been begging after for two years and is now old enough to actually have, Erin’s Dora the Explorer toy computer, and Connor’s…… well, everything, really. He is two….. everybody got something that dropped the jaw, lit up the eyes, and resulted in a chest-hug and happy-squirm. The gifts were many, and varied, and some of them were bought and some of them were hand-made, and all of them were greeted with thanks and hugs and the occasional kiss. Christmas may be grossly commercial, and designed to skin your flint, but the truth is that it’s really what you make of it, and we managed to make it about giving this year.
And then there were the books.
Last year, Lyn told me the story of her childhood book. I told her how my best friend Seanie and I used to buy each other second hand books for Christmas when we were poor struggling Uni students. And we looked at each other, and a light went on over our heads. And we decided that we would buy each other a secondhand book every Christmas: something used, and loved, and on a subject that the other wouldn’t buy for themself but will find cool when they get it.
It’s not the getting, it’s the finding.
So this year, I received a book listing the 100 things that influenced Australia most throughout the 20th century (and ohhhh, the arguments I could have….) , and Lyn recieved Gladiatrix: Story of the Unknown Female Warrior, an examination and discussion regarding a European archaeological find wherein lies a female warrior figure unseen in any other ancient grave site.
Next year, who knows? It’s going to be fun finding out, though.
OVER…… IT’S ALL OVER……….
I think she likes it. (Camera-toting hubby breathes sigh of relief)
Lunch. The verdict? Buuuuuuurrrppppp….
Song of the Moment: Hungry Like The Wolf Richard Cheese
So, for those who don’t know, I’ll be in Brisbania for an extra week after my Clarion tour of duty, and during that week, I’ll be giving a couple of workshops. Get your pens and paper out, dahlinks, for the details. They do follow:
THE ART OF CRITIQUING
Thursday 25 January, 6-9pm
QWC Members $40, Conc. Members $35, Non-Members $50
Giving and receiving critiques is an important skill for any writer. Lee Battersby (that’d be me) will introduce you to proven methods of critiquing, suitable for writing groups and individual writers, and show you how they can benefit your writing. You will have the opportunity to practise using each technique on a supplied text, on your own work, and on works supplied by other participants.
THE PROPER CARE AND FEEDING OF YOUR GENRE: WRITING FANTASY AND SCIENCE FICTION
Saturday 27 January 10am-1pm
QWC members $65, Conc members $55, non-Members $110
War of The Worlds, Frankenstein, The Chronicles of Narnia… the speculative fiction genre- science fiction, fantasy and horror- represents some of our most enduring stories. Award-winning author Lee Battersby (still me) will lead you through a series of practical exercises for crafting attention-grabbing science fiction and fantasy. You will also learn how to research publishing markets and how to develop a unique voice. Lee will pass on skills for creating and publishing cutting-edge work.
AND IN THE INTERIM, A GIFT OF EGO-RUB
I’ve got a post to make about Christmas, and I’ll do it in the next day or so, promise.
But in the meantime: I received an email from Ellen Datlow today.
She’s taking Father Muerte And the Flesh for Year’s Best Fantasy & Horror #20.
There will be celebratory beer this evening. Oh yes, there will be beer…..
Heh. For a giggle, check out the result, Luscious got for this one as well:
|Your Stress Level is: 72%|
You are prone to stress, and you’re probably even pretty stressed right now.
Life’s problems seem to pile up on you, and this often makes you feel depressed and burned out.
Learn to take time to relax and enjoy life, even if things are stressful. It’s the only wa you’ll get through the bad times.
Lyn did this one for me last night, and with her answers I ended up being Fozzie. You can make your own decision as to who is more right 🙂
|You Are Animal|
A complete lunatic, you’re operating on 100% animal instincts.
You thrive on uncontrolled energy, and you’re downright scary.
But you sure can beat a good drum.
BUT WHAT WOULD LYN SAY?
|My Fortune Cookie told me:
Saturday very favorable for romance. Try a single person for a change.
Get a cookie from Miss Fortune
You know, I should so something serious and merry-xmas-love-ya’s-all-peace-on-earth-y, but, you know, 5 kids and Xmas preparations make Lee a busy boy…..
|My Peculiar Aristocratic Title is:
Reverend Earl Lee the Unique of Chalmondley St Peasoup
Get your Peculiar Aristocratic Title
AND IT’S ON AGAIN
The Aurealis Awards short list has been announced. There are some good names to be seen, some surprising names, and amongst them, me.
I find myself strangely unmoved, perhaps because I’ve read almost none of the other entries. I’ve no idea how to gauge myself against them, no impression of how well I’ll do. And when you’re nominated in categories with Sean Williams and Margo Lanagan, there’s probably no real point in getting worked up about your chances.
Anyway, here’s the full list (apart from the children’s novels, which will be announced shortly.) Congratulations to all involved, and warmest pats on back and arms round shoulders for their nominations and Honourable Mentions to my good pals Adrian Bedford, Stephen Dedman, Sean Williams, Juliet Marillier, Anna Tambour, Martin Livings, Deb Biancotti, Simon Brown, Lily Chrywenstrom, Carol Ryles, Affi Miffaz, and Dirk Flinthart. May we all link arms and sing something horribly sentimental at the after party.
Honourable Mentions: White Tiger. Kylie Chan (Harper Collins); Harsh Cry of the Heron. Lian Hearn (Hachette Livre)
Honourable Mentions: Ghosts of 1930. Lily Chrywenstrom (Borderlands #6); The Bridal Bier. Carol Ryles (Eidolon I)
Honourable Mentions: Love Affair. Jacinta Butterworth (C0ck); One Night Stand. Dirk Flinthart (Agog! Ripping Reads); Under Hell, Over Heaven. Margo Lanagan (Red Spikes); Mosquito Story.A.M. Muffaz (Fantasy Magazine #4)
Childrens Short Stories
Song of the Moment: Absolute Beginners David Bowie
Reading: line editing some short stories
OH, SO THAT’S WHAT IT FEELS LIKE!
Thanks to the wonder of G-docs and lunch hours, I’ve just finished the first draft of In From the Snow, a short story that’s been kicking around for far too damn long in my In Progress file. Clocking in at a midgie’s willy below 7200 words, it’s the first story of decent length I’ve finished in what feels like forever.
I’ve set a target of three new stories finished before I leave for Clarion, as well as completing the line-editing of the 6 I have in draft mode. IFTS has been a long process, so I’m pleased to have it under my belt, and happy with the general shape. It’s a fairly loose draft, as it’s been written in a series of short bursts over a long period, rather than my usual habit of quickly blasting through the 1st draft and taking time over the fix-ups in drafts 2-∞ : there are plenty of POV changes, a few holes here and there, and lot of slippage, but the spine has a good, solid feel, and it’ll all come together in the fix up.
Mother rape, fratricide, cannibalism, retro-futurism, the Sawney Bean template…. all good, clean fun fun fun fun 🙂
Now to turn my attention to Mister Snopes, my attempt at a fairy tale for bad adults. It’s nice to feel so invigorated.
WHO ARE YOU AND WHAT HAVE YOU DONE WITH MY BONUS-DAUGHTER?
So Luscious is on the phone while I’m in the shower on Monday night, and as I’m drying myself she sidles up to me and says “Got some news.”
“Cassie’s coming to stay with us for a couple of weeks. She’s on her way now.”
My part in the kid-decision-making process has been completed- I’ve been informed. Battening of mental hatches commences.
Except since she’s been with us she’s been brilliant: taken part in the family stuff, gone in to her course with Lyn in the mornings, had lunch and girlie chats with her Mum, watched TV with us without complaining (She sat through Time Team and asked interested question, and we even watched The OC with her last night, so the love-fu is going both ways), and when lyn and I rose this mornign we discovered that her last act of the evening was to clean the kitchen from head to toe, just because. We even had a potential flash point over which bed she was going to sleep in for the duration, and how shocked was I when she acquiesced without a struggle?
She’s been fun, and funny, and polite, and interested in being an active part of the family.
Ascribe it to whatever cause you like: the distance from her father’s sorta-parenting-sorta-techniques; a calm before the storm; the rules we laid out before her in a calm manner when she arrived; a gift from the Giant Charlton Heston Impersonator In The Sky- I don’t really care.
This is the Cassie I wanted back when I wrote my big-ass Year in Review meme a couple of days ago.
Long may it last.
OH. MY. GODDDDDDDDDDDD…..
A quick note to everyone who has the feed for this blog flisted.
You might want to de-flist it for a couple of days, or put a hold on receiving it or something.
I’m updating some stuff around the blog and it’s dumping entries into the feed. So unless you really want to re-read all 440-odd posts I’ve made over the last 3 years at once……
Yon annual big-ass year in review meme.
1. What did you do in 2006 that you’d never done before? Saw my book published. Won an Aurealis Award. Won the Australian Shadows award.
2. Did you keep your new years’ resolutions, and will you make more for next year? No, and no.
3. Did anyone close to you give birth? Nope.
4. Did anyone close to you die? No.
5. What countries did you visit? None.
6. What would you like to have in 2007 that you lacked in 2006? An agent.
7. What dates from 2006 will remain etched upon your memory, and why? 20th January. Finally moved into our new house.
8. What was your biggest achievement of the year? I don’t feel like I’ve achieved very much at all this year. Maybe the publication of Through Soft Air, I guess.
9. What was your biggest failure? In my best Cerebus the Aardvark voice, “All of it!”.
10. Did you suffer illness or injury? Just the usual back and neck pain.
11. What was the best thing you bought? That’d have to be our house. Also, the canvas and paints for our massive dining room family artwork.
12. Whose behavior merited celebration? Luscious, as always.
13. Whose behavior made you appalled and depressed? I’ve tried not to keep track so much this year. Some peers, some editors, some family, me, the usual mix. Special marks to Cassie for several truly awful moments. She’s my big hope for 2007- I want to see the return of my favourite Bonus Daughter.
14. Where did most of your money go? The house. Clarion. Lyn’s massage course.
15. What did you get really, really, really excited about? Tutoring at Clarion. The publication of the book.
16. What song will always remind you of 2005? The David Bowie compilation CD Grant Watson burned for us.
17. Compared to this time last year, are you:i. happier or sadder? ii. thinner or fatter? iii. richer or poorer? Sadder, fatter, poorer.
18. What do you wish you’d done more of? Writing, as always. Being with my family. Seeing my children achieve their milestones. Travelling with the family.
19. What do you wish you’d done less of? Travelling to my day job. Having my day job. Dealing with other people’s former lives. Dealing with my own.
20. How will you be spending Christmas? With Lyn & the kids, kicking back as far as possible. We’ve even set things up so we don’t have to cook! I believe music and paddling pools will feature large 🙂
21. Who did you meet for the first time? Iain & Lynn Triffitt. Launz! Gillian Pollack. Karen Miller. Tansy & Finchie’s daughter Aurelia. Maia? The lovely Jo, Wuffie, Jim Frenkel, Russell Blackford, and undoubtedly a whole bunch of other people at Conflux. Bound to be a bunch I’ve forgotten: I have a tendency to think I’ve known you longer than I have. The usual mass of online personages.
22. Did you fall in love in 2006? Stayed in love. Much better.
23. What was your favourite TV program? Time Team and Battlestar Galactica. Yep, I’ve found another SF TV show I think is decent. That brings the total to….. uh…… two?
24. Do you hate anyone now that you didn’t hate this time last year? No, I don’t really have the energy for hate these days. A lot of people wearied me, though, and I’m slowly cutting my exposure back.
25. What was the best book you read? It’s Goodnight From Him: An Autobiography of The two Ronnies by Ronnie Corbettwas really very engaging. Marvel 1602. Doom Patrol: Down Paradise Way, and The Painting That Ate Paris. Beside Myself by Antony Sher.
26. What was your greatest musical discovery? It was a case of new stuff by old fellows this year. The Bowie 89-99 CD hasn’t left high rotation since Grant gifted it to us, and the 3 CD set of his earlier work has remained a constant companion. Besides that, Songs From the Labyrinth by Sting and Edin Karamazov is by turns beautiful, haunting, and fascinating. I’ve been turned off the radio this year by the proliferation of rap and hip-hop every time I tune in, so I’ve missed most of the new music coming out. I’m hoping 2007 will rescue me from being an old man.
27. What was your favorite film of this year? Capote. Children of Men. Otherwise, it was a pretty ordinary cinematic year.
28. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you? 36. The kids made me breakfast in bed, Lyn took me out for lunch, and I spent the rest of the day reading my Ronnie Corbett book and watching my Dave Allen DVD. And Chuck McKenzie claims he never left the 70s… :).
29. What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying? An absence of ex-husbands.
30. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2006? Fat.
31. What kept you sane? Play time with Connor. A little de-stressing ritual Lyn and I developed, in which we make up a platter of finger foods and lie together on the bed, drinking wine and eating brie, honeyed cashews and the like, watching something together on the TV: a slice of utter us-time amongst the chaos.
32. What political issue stirred you the most? Australian politics is overblown and boring, and I avoid it as much as possible. Meet the new boss, same as the old boss…..
33. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2006. Not a single person in the world cares about your plans as much as you do.
34. Quote a song lyric that sums up your year.
Life has a way that’s unpredictable
But you can’t spend it waiting on a miracle
— Believe, Bernard Fanning
Every single one of them. Every. Single. One.
The goals I set myelf for 2006, back in December 2005. And I failed to achieve every single one:
Okay, so I’m going to: lose 10 kilos, write 10 stories and attempt to sell as many, write and sell a new novel, and I’ve set an amount of money I want to earn over and above my regular wages to contribute to the mortgage. Odds anyone?A nice task I set myself is to start each year by beginning a new story on the 1st of January, no matter what projects I’m already working on.
I’m so not doing this for 2007. I have two goals for the year, both of which hinge on the actions of others, so this time next year, when I’ve failed to achieve those, I can blame other people!
Always thinking, me…..
A SENSE OF PROPORTION
I have a strange bipolar sense of my achievements this year. If I list them objectively, then by any set of standards I’ve had a pretty good year: published a book; won a couple of awards; worked on a couple of fantastic projects; wrote a Doctor Who story and patted my inner child on the head with it; was commissioned to write a screenplay for a motion picture; moved into my new house….
Yet my overall emotional reaction, when I look back over the year, is one of disappointment. I don’t feel like I’ve had a good year. So where the hell does it come from? Well, there’s a lot of personal stuff, stuff that doesn’t see the light of blogging, but that happens every year, and I plough through and take comfort from my wife and children, and that hasn’t changed. So what is it?
The reason, I think, is that I identify myself so heavily as a writer. Nothing terribly awful or unusual about that, as far as I’m concerned: nobody weirds out at a plumber who identifies himself with his job, or a Public Servant (Maybe a proctologist, but, you know….) A lot of people at my day job identify themsevles via their work, and as I don’t give a rat’s arse about my day job, and I give a big rat’s arse about my writing career (You know, that really doesn’t come out quite right, does it?) I figure I’ve got one identificational landmark in the bank….
So writing is a large part of who I am, and while I’ve been working on big things all year, I’ve really not written, finished, and sold anything. I’ve grown used to that routine. I average ten or so story sales a year, and it’s come to mean something central to my perception of myself as a writer. That little kick, that little buzz, that comes with the acceptance letter, the cheque, and then watching from afar as the magzine is put together, as they send you a pdf of your illustration, you might get a sneaky peek at the cover illo, it hits the shelves or you do a reading at the launch….. it’s a fucking wonderful state of affairs, and apart from the collection (a schemozzle for another time…), I’ve not had it this year.
Fuck: I’m an addict. I mean, genuinely, without a sense of irony, to all intents and purposes I have developed an addiction to the act of writing and selling short stories. And it’s affecting my moods.
That really disturbs me, actually….
WHO AM I TO ARGUE?
NOW THAT’S SERVICE!
Knock, knock, knock on the door the other evening, and who should it be but Angela Challis and Shane Jiraiya Cummings, purveyors and head bods of Brimstone Press, personally delivering our contributor copies of the Book of Shadows and Australian Dark Fantasy & Horror 2006.
We live a suburb or so away from Ang and Shane, as as Ang said, by the time they paid for postage they could drive the things over and have a conversation to boot. So they did, and a fine conversation was had, including the deep, dark secret history that Shane shares with frogs. (All true: ask him about it the next time you see him)
In the meantime, get over to Brimstone’s website and have a look. The books are beautiful, more so in the, uh, flesh. And the line-ups within the pages are as good as anything you’ll see come out of this country this year.
We’ve received a medical diagnosis that will change a few things over the coming year. It’s nothing to be alarmed about, and for the moment it remains private and ours alone (we’ll tell people when we’re ready to do so), but don’t be surprised if we pick and choose our social commitments very carefully over the next year.
Our focus has become increasingly narrowed upon our family in recent times. This will remain so for the foreseeable future.
5 THINGS ABOUT 2006
Oh yeah, it’s end of year meme time. And, you know, baaaaaa…….
Five things that 2006 taught me:
1. Friendship can have a mileage limit
2. My career goals are mine alone, and I’ll take whatever measures are necessary to achieve them.
3. Writing may not be what makes me happy, but I am unhappy without it.
4. Friends don’t let friends do Prime
5. Lyn, the kids, writing. All else is negotiable.
Five personally significant events of 2006:
1. Being contracted to write the The Memory of Breathing screenplay
2. The decision to move to brisbane in January 2008
3. Moving into our new house
4. Lyn’s recent medical diagnosis
5. Aiden coming to live with us permanently
Five things I want to do in 2007:
1. Secure an agent
2. Complete my second novel, and a non-genre novel
3. Sell Napoleone’s Land
4. Save up the money to move to Brisbane
5. Become independent of all non-family obligations. Everybody is the hero of their own story. I wish to recapture the right to write that story as I see fit.
Five people I’d like to know better in 2007
Actually, that’s your job. I’ll just keep turning up and shooting my mouth off. You guys just have to stop being afraid to come up and say hi 🙂
Besides, I’ll have 16 Clarion students and the week-after-me tutors to meet. My list is already filling up….
Song of the moment: Velvet Goldmine David Bowie
Reading: Australian Dark Fantasy & Horror 2006 Challis & Cummings (eds)
CHRISTMAS TOYS FROM HELL
“Mummy, I don’t like the way Santa touches me…”
I HAD TO USE MY LJ NAME TO GET THIS, BUT…..
Nine andrewsarchus coupling? Ohhhhhhhh *boggle*….
Check it out. If nothing else, at least we’re not talking about writing 🙂
THE MOST BEAUTIFUL FACES IN THE WORLD
Connor suffered a nightmare yesterday morning and woke me up, screaming and crying my name. I went in to his room and picked him up, whereupon he immediately reached out and locked the death-grip-hug around my neck, and snuggled his face hard into my chest. This was one boy who wasn’t going to take well to going back in his cot. It was just before 5am, so I brought him into bed with us. He slid across me chest into the crook of my arm, wriggled about a bit, and fell back to sleep.
Disturbed by my re-entry, Lyn rolled over into the crook of my other arm, wriggled about a bit, and fell back to sleep.
So there I was, on my back, wide awake, arms around my beautiful wife and beautiful son, and enough light in the room to see them clearly. And they looked so peaceful, so restful, their faces unlined and clear of worry or upset, their hands resting against my chest so lightly, their skin so soft and smooth against my arms, that it was impossible for me to go back to sleep. I was entranced, looking from one face to another, until the alarm went off an hour later and the day began.
It’s the loveliest morning moment I’ve had to myself in a long time.
UP IT GOES!
The Christmas Tree went up on the weekend. Lyn and her kids didn’t do Christmas for years, so the raising of the tree is a big moment for them, and, you know, Erin and Connor are 5 and 2 🙂
Every year we create a new decoration to hang: in 2004 we made a star & bauble-shaped hanger, last year it was little crackers, and this year I made a bunch of frames from pop sticks, which we decorated and drew a picture to fill. Cassie chose not to be with us, for the first time, and she’s got some apology ground to make up after a performance and a half on her last visit, so there’s still a frame and paper waiting for her. But the rest of us gathered around the textas and glue, and enjoyed our annual craft moment.
And then the tree came out of the shed, and the box of decorations, and the kids slowly and inexorably lost their minds 🙂 Erin had brought home a big bag of self-made decorations from school, so the paper plate wreath and the cardboard streamer had to find homes, as well as the tinsel and the extruded plastic cheery things. The dining room was cleared of table and chairs. The branches of the this-is-not-coming-to-Brisbane-with-us tree were folded down. And then the riot began– candy canes and crackers and tinsel and picture frames and climbing Santa figurines and the hat for the top because we don’t do stars and angels and the teddy bear and the wire reindeer and the ceramic Santa kicking the soccer ball and baubles and the indescribable scribbly things and the other ceramic Santa bouncing the basketball and Connor’s eaten one of the candy canes and oh well I guess we’d better have one as well and the hangers and the danglers and the balls and the wire things and this one’s broken and when did we get that one and wait a minute wait a minute! Move that one and that one there and step back everyone and……
And you know what? It looks great 🙂
Aiden unwraps his new Hitler action figure with optional red party wig
Still life: loonies with tree
Still life… wait, we did that gag, didn’t we?
Shove the lid on, wrap the box, and who can we send them to?
Song of the moment: Jump, They Say David Bowie
Reading: Endangered Species Gene Wolfe
THE YEAR IN REVIEW MEME
Gakked from Wheatland Press, the year based around the first line of the first posts from each month. Doctor Freud, white courtesy phone, Doctor Freud, white courtesy phone…..
JANUARY So what was the point of packing away all the kids toys, when everybody just goes and buys more for them than we’d packed?
FEBRUARY Received a phone call from the stylish and altogether frabjous Jason Nahrung last night.
MARCH I was going to give you the text of my speech, for some sort of posterity reason or something, and forgot.
APRIL Thanks to the kindness of the lads at Aurealis, I have 10 copies of their latest issue, #36 currently sitting next to me on the bookshelf (that’s right, I work from a bookshelf. It’s cramped, but cozy…)
MAY Blake and Cassie go back to their Dad’s house tonight, having spent the last week with us for the school holidays.
JUNE When I started writing, I wanted one thing: to sell a story.
AUGUST Well, now this is an interesting sensation: woke up this morning at 5.30, and went in to deal with an unsettled Connor, and discovered something fun and wacky–I can’t straighten my back
SEPTEMBER These two worthy website are in need of a wee bit of cash in hand to keep themselves floating, and both deserve a nod in the direction of your wallet.
OCTOBER Well, we’ve known about one for a while, but congratulations to everyone who will be attending Clarion South in January of 2007.
NOVEMBER Added another 1007 words to The Corpse-Rat King over the weekend, breaking the magical 10K barrier and the magical 10% barrier all at the same time.
DECEMBER Lots of love and wonder to our beautiful daughter Erin, who turned 5 yesterday.
Song of the Moment: Oi To The World The Vandals
Reading: Endangered Species Gene Wolfe
5 YEARS IS A LONG TIME IN POLITICS AND OTHER PLACES
Tomorrow is the 9th of December (Thanks Lee, we were just wondering….)
It is also the 5th anniversary of the death of my first wife.
For those who came in late (in my best The Phantom narrator voice) my first wife, Sharon, died from an undetected infection 4 days after giving birth to my daughter Erin. The resulting compensation case is documented throughout my blog. Feel free to hit the archives if you so wish. Due to legal compromise I cannot reveal the name of the doctor in question. If you’re pregnant, and live in the Gosnells/Maddington/Armadale/Kelmscott area, feel free to contact me. I have some recommendations on who you should see.
But, the point of this all is: it’s been five years. Without overstating the obvious, it’s been my daughter’s entire life. I can’t remember the way Sharon smelled. I can’t remember the way she felt. If I concentrate, I can recall the way she spoke, but it’s more a matter of the tones and shadings applied to my own voice: slightly nasal, drawling, a sharp cut-through of Strine across the vowels. We had a long history, Sharon and I, but the truth is, she’s been dead longer than we were married. It’s time to put the past away.
I’m married to a wonderful, beautiful woman: Luscious. We have a vibrant and happy family of five children, including Erin and Connor, her younger brother who arrived two years ago. And for reasons both fair and unfair, much of our life together has had a shadow across it because of what happened on December 9th 2001. And it’s time that we stepped out of that shadow completely.
We have an amazing future ahead of us, but to do that, we’ve got to move beyond some things. Sharon was no perfect person: she had a sharp temper, a taste in music best described as abysmal (Shania Twain was a favourite), was addicted to a soapie-per-night habit, and left her underwear all over the place. She was a real person. The dead, especially those who die before their time, often suffer a sanctification by those they leave behind. I no longer talk with any of Sharon’s friends, because we don’t remember the same person. They remember a plaster saint. I remember something else: no less worthy, but a whole lot more real.
Erin has a right to know about her birth mother, and she’s at an age now where she asks questions and we answer them. Truthfully. And the older kids are interested, and they ask questions, and we answer them, truthfully. There are mementoes, and videos, and certificates, and documents and important things to share, and we will, as a family. It’s a part of my past, but it’s also a part of Erin’s past and as a family, our past.
Just over a year from now we’ll be living a continent away from Sharon’s resting place, and from the remaining members of our extended family. What we’ll take with us, apart from the furniture and Aiden’s finches, is an understanding of where we all came from, and a daughter/sister who understands how her life started, who was there, and how lucky she is to have had a mother who loved her enough to give her life, and another who chose to call her ‘daughter’ (more: to believe in her as daughter, in a way indinstinguishable from the other children. And it is returned: mother & daughter. No steps, no halves, no prevarication) , and who gives her the same love and comfort she gives all our family.
Five years is a long time, but the future is longer. When I look ahead, I see balance and love, and that’s what’s important to me.
DINOSAURS ARE THE COOLEST
Now we can clone them, and build an army of intelligent killer dinosaurs to rub out those we don’t like, and the French, and those other ones we don’t like, and that guy……
(Sometimes two things show up on my flist one straight after the other, and I get all excited…..)
Song of the moment: My Dirty Life & Times Warren Zevon
Reading: Endangered Species Gene Wolfe