Friday, 23 July 2010


Every morning when I wake up, my jaw is locked shut. I can open it, clicking it painfully but it often continues to re-lock throughout my shower and breakfasting, much to my frustration. Throughout the day it clicks irritatingly, until sometime in the evening when - if I am lucky - it calms down.

After years - yes years - of this problem, I decided to mention it to my dentist a few weeks ago. He thought it was due to grinding my teeth at night and, maybe, my nail-biting habit. He was going to make me up a little splint. Then, luckily, in a moment of honesty, I said "...yeah... If I am trying to talk to someone, or drive, or watch TV, and I am not biting my hands, it's really hard for me to concentrate."

Deeming my problem "chronic" he referred me to a specialist.

I have spent the last month trying to stop biting my hands. It's felt like a break-up. My safe little crutch gone, I have developed a number of other twitches: twiddling my fingers, biting the inside of my lips, scratching at my cuticles and so on. But I have kept trying.

Today I went to said specialist and paid $400 to be told:
a) I am stressed
b) I am a classic personality type for teeth grinding / clenching
c) I clench my jaw at night, drawing moisture out of my mouth and placing enormous pressure on the joints
d) I need a plate - 24 hrs a day for 2 months, then at night. It will cost $900. It will cost $125 per weekly adjustments during the first month.
e) The plate will fix the locking. It probably won't fix the clicking as the ligaments have been stretched and may not bounce back.

He talked to me for about 45 minutes about stress and, having never met me before, described elements of my personality in depth, with disturbing accuracy:

"You are a worrier. You are over-analytical. You are a "what if" person, unable to make decisions because you are constantly pondering the options and you know that, once a decision is made you'll go over and over it. You may be sitting quietly and suddenly a decision you made years ago will start to plague you and your anxiety will shoot through the roof. You procrastinate. You are good at talking about what you think, but not how you feel. When a friend has a problem, they can call you and you happily provide sound advice but you are unable to apply this practical reasoning to your own choices."

And it went on..and was kind of intense...

This year I have had two long-term problems come to a very expensive head because I ignored them for years (vocal injury and now this). I think I had better call the podiatrist about my fusion foot before I step off the curb and it breaks...

Thursday, 22 July 2010

Last night, my mother's dear friend Peter passed away after 6 months of pancreatic cancer. Peter was one of Louise's oldest friends, a veteran from the heady days of communal housing, alternative families and queer-before-the-word-queer-was-trendy lifestyles my parents told me about when I was growing up. The years in London, before I was born, were retold as bedtime stories and through the photo albums lining our walls. I idolised the brown-tinged bell-bottomed hippies smiling up at me from English pebble beaches and little share house kitchens.

Peter was closer to Rowan growing up, coaching him in philosophy and Latin. I loved him as my mother's friend but we did not have a close personal relationship, despite running into each other regularly at Queerscreen events and the theatre.

So when I heard Peter had cancer, and last night when I got the message from Louise, I cried mainly for her, and for his family: two adult children, close friends and ex-lovers, and his lovely partner Rubens.
The past 5 years have not been easy to Louise. She has lost two brothers, the gorgeous Ingrid - another old friend, and two weeks ago, a treasured colleague. When life was hardest, Peter was there in ways only he could see she really needed. While others asked questions, imposed their own agendas and expectations, Peter took her to the opera and on picnics. Astoundingly intelligent, he talked to her about books and philosophy, not divorce and death, and he reminded her who she was and how much joy she could find in the world. He has been a true friend, and I know she will feel the loss of him daily.

Sometimes it feels like death is skirting the peripheries of my life, slowly circling closer. This big bad that frightens me so deeply, edging its way into my life, spiralling inwards, each time hurting that little bit more. I am terrified - cold and terrified - about the moment it will be not a mother's friend, or a cousin's father, but a sister or a close friend of my own. I am terrified that, unlike Louise - who is so much braver than she realises - I will completely crumble.

My mothers and their friends have taught me all I know about family. They have flaws, but you could never accuse them of disloyalty. Teresa told me yesterday how she happily skyped her first girlfriend from uni, Sydney to London, across oceans and what must be more than 35 years. They taught me that once you love someone, you should hold on tight. Some people don't like this little habit of mine - especially ex-girlfriends - but I have no plans to change. Once I'm yours, you're stuck with me, whether you like it or not. I make mistakes; I've hurt friends and I've of course been hurt by those I love. But I am still striving for friendships like my mothers maintain; epic romances really, with people they know so well and so deeply, but are still able to be suprised by and in awe of.

Peter farewelled Louise last week saying, "Enjoy everything, Louise." It's a pretty perfect piece of advice and one I want to heed. It's also something I couldn't do without my family and friends. I'm thinking about them today, and also about Peter.


Thursday, 8 July 2010

Sleeping my way to a better me.

Att: Customer Service
Ford Motors Australia

To whom it may concern,

I recently had the immense fortune of hiring a Ford Mondeo for a road trip I took through the USA's South West. It was Springtime and the wildflowers were in full bloom, but the weather was colder than expected and so I found myself looking at my little tent with trepidation. As the night air grew frosty on my first night in the stunning Yosemite Valley, I decided my Australian constitution wouldn't cope with the open air and I promptly set about creating a little bed in the passenger seat of my Ford.

I admit I was skeptical about the night ahead. I am not a fan of overnight travel, due to the typically uncomfortable seating of most transportation. An intermittent insomniac, I envisaged a sleepless night followed by a quick tent pitch or a flutter of the eye lashes at one of my travel companions in the hope that they might want to share body heat.

I awoke the next day, shocked and amazed. I had slept like a proverbial log. I felt more rested than I had in months and I bounded joyously from the car, refreshed and alive. I spent the next two weeks sleeping in the Ford Mondeo passenger seat and I had the best two weeks of my life. It was so comfortable that my insomnia was cured.

The night after I had returned the vehicle, I lay restless and devastated in my bed. I awoke the next morning with a familiar ache; the back pain that had disappeared for two blissful weeks had returned tenfold now that I was back in a regular bed.

I have spent years buying fancy mattresses, paying physios, doing back exercises and tossing and turning in vain. But two weeks in the passenger seat of a Ford Mondeo and all the pain was gone.

I truly believe that if I were to spend every night sleeping in such a seat my life would be greatly improved.

As such, I ask you whether it would be possible to purchase a passenger seat from a Ford Mondeo, or better yet whether any factory spares would be available in Australia - for donation, so that I may install the seat in my bedroom and sleep my way to a healthier, happier me.

I look forward to hearing from you at your earliest convenience.

Warm Regards,


The Blurb

For maevegobash: yeah, I just like thinking/writing/talking about myself. That's what blogs are for, right? For vegepalooza: I have been vegetarian for 25 years now - so that's always for me. My mothers cooked a storm up in the kitchen and I am carrying the torch filling my friends bellies at every opportunity. I love food and want to share my recipes, tips and tricks here to encourage creative vegetarian eating. There will also be a lot of vegan recipes for my friends with more willpower than me (sorry kids, I just love the cheese). Anyway enjoy, feel free to criticise and most of all Happy Eating!