- Albert Einstein (1955). Died of an abdominal aortic aneurysm. See, you can be a genius and have an aneurysm. I could have told you that.
- Quincy Jones (1974) Suffered a burst brain aneurysm and survived.
- Bill Berry (1995) The irony of Bill Berry collapsing onstage with R.E.M due to a berry aneurysm is probably not lost on him.
- Sharon Stone (2001) Didn’t die of a cerebral aneurysm. See, you can be a red hot mama and have an aneurysm. I could have also told you that.
- Laura Branigan (2004) Died in her sleep of a cerebral aneurysm. The 80s have not been the same since.
- Neil Young (2005) Had an unruptured aneurysm that was repaired, but started haemorrhaging from his femoral artery a few days later (the artery they had used to access the aneurysm via endovascular surgery). Nice fuck up, there. He is still alive.
- Maryam D’Abo (2007) When I was a teenager, I wanted to be Maryam because she got to snog Timothy Dalton in the Living Daylights. She went on to make a documentary called “Rupture: Living with a Broken Brain”. The film debuted last Thursday in the UK, but it’s only available for streaming on BBC4 for UK residents. Pah!
- Peter Morrissey (2009) Survived a small burst cerebral aneurysm a few months after me. His brother Christopher Morrissey (Marcia Hines’ husband) then got himself checked, and they found an aneurysm which was then coiled. You go, boyfriend!
- Bret Michaels (2010) Had a subarachnoid haemorrhage from a suspected aneurysm during filming of Celebrity Apprentice USA. He went on to win.
- Tila Tequila (2012) Death wish? Brain aneurysm? Does anyone really know?
At some stage, I’ll tell you about my own experiences with a burst aneurysm (for those who haven’t heard my story already) – you may need to grab a chair for that one…
Got me a ticket to the Melbourne Problogger Training Event. Ooh yeah, baby.
The speaker’s line-up is sweet-as. I’m sorry, did I just say sweet-as?
- Shayne Tilley (can I consider Shayne a friend? Yes, I think I will for this purpose).
- Darren Rowse of course
- Sarah Wilson
- Nicole Avery (love her blog, Planning with Kids, for the record)
It will be like going to Lilith Fair but, slightly different. Geeks instead of Groupies. Sarah Wilson instead of Sarah McLachlan. Mumpit instead of Moshpit. You get the idea. I’ll go away now.
Anyone else going?
Scout has been asking us, in a variety of ways, if we can go and see grandma and grandpa (Husband’s parents) in Adelaide. They have been troubled by ill-health and injury in recent months – without going in to details, Grandpa has Multiple Sclerosis and Grandma is his primary carer, but she has been stricken by a broken shoulder. It is always a proper pleasure going back to Adelaide to visit them – the girls are lavished with affection (as it should be) and they get to hang out with their male cousins. Husband reconnects with his folks. I get to sleep.
Missives like the one above are “left” for us in obvious places. Scout clearly misses Grandma and Grandpa. This kind of request doesn’t come often from her – what is out of sight tends to be out of mind (even things in sight like, say, all of her clothes littered on the bedroom floor). But it made us sad, this letter, particularly as she’s written others of the same ilk only very recently.
Husband and I chose to live in Melbourne even though both sets of parents live interstate. I am from Lake Macquarie originally, and Melbourne is the place we call home. We love it here. We are surrounded by good eggs – our neighbours, friends, our school community – it all makes living in Melbourne feel genuinely like a home even though neither of us were born here. I won’t pretend it doesn’t suck to not be able to call on immediate family to look after the kids so Husband and I can have a wild and debaucher… ahem, perfectly pleasant night out on occasion, but living in a different city was a choice we made, so we live with it.
When I had my aneurysm, Scout was only 3, but our neighbours took her in for 3 nights without question, without trouble, fed Husband most meals as he was so preoccupied and came to visit me twice in the hospital, even though they had 2 kids of their own to manage. We could not have survived if we didn’t have that support.
I’m not super close to my folks, so we see Husband’s parents far more, but even so, visits are only a few times a year and tend to be an organisational palaver. As a result, Scout and Inky don’t get a lot of grandma/pa time. They have grown up with the impression that our local community and our friends are our family, which it is to a large degree. There’s no way we could function without the support of our neighbours and friends, but I sometimes wonder if there really is a substitute for blood. Their love for us is unconditional and much as our local community is precious and valuable, I doubt there will ever be a substitute for that.
I think Scout’s plaintive letter is telling us that she is also missing something from her young life. I see 4 tickets on a Virgin Blue flight to Adelaide in our near future.
I finally hauled my arse to the GP on Thursday as I hadn’t been able to hear for a day or two. I wasn’t profoundly deaf, but everything sounded like I was trapped deep under water. The GP diagnosed the diabolical trinity of secondary infections – ear infection (topped off with a perforated eardrum), chest infection and sinusitis. Armed with amoxycillin and pseudoephedrine (heaven help us all), Husband stumbled me home as I couldn’t drive and I slept for the rest of the day.
This morning, I woke at 3.30am in a blind panic as I couldn’t hear a FUCKING THING. Oh, except for the sound of my heartbeat drumming on my brain. Everything else was dead to my ears. At 8am, the whole family stumbled me into the Eye, Ear, Nose and Throat hospital in East Melbourne. I was fairly positive the diagnosis would be no different to that of the GP, and that the fluid in my ears was blocking the eustachian tube (cue rabid thumbing of Grey’s Anatomy, sorry, Gray’s Anatomy), but I was keen for a second opinion. I cannot afford to fuck around with my only good ear, you understand.
The wait was long. A couple of emergencies got priority (including one bloke who was blind drunk and had his eye smashed to smithereens) and after 3 hours of waiting in the most uninspiring waiting room EVAH I got into see the specialist, who confirmed that I had a slushy middle ear infection and it could take 4 WEEKS to heal. What? I don’t have 4 weeks. I have two children who need to be ferried about (it’s looking odds on that a trip to the Children’s with a croupy Inky is in our near future). OK, uncrack the Sads, Kimberley (autocorrect wants me to unfrock the dads, but we might leave that til I’m better, thanks) and be thankful that your hearing will improve over time, but it got me thinking about parents who actually are deaf. How the hell do they sort out the day to day minutia of life with kids? So much depends on being able to hear and respond to your progeny (and also shut them out when appropriate – I guess that bit would be easy). I mean, obviously they just get on with it and do it, but it would not be straightforward, no sirree.
This has taught me a valuable lesson. When you remark to your husband that you only want SILENCE and your Husband says “Be careful what you wish for”, then Be Careful what you Wish For. It may come true.
Right, so it’s Friday the 13th and I feel like Hell with a slightly lower temperature, so let’s self-indulge!
Being a horror film buff (I wrote my Honours thesis on “Representation of the Devil in contemporary film”. It wasn’t very good, but I got to watch horror movies all day every day for a year) I love these films, but you’ll notice that there are no films in this list from the past 6 years. Since having kids, my ability to watch horror films has plummeted to zero. Although I suspect every one of these would make me want to go and give my kids a big hug and be thankful they are not possessed by the Devil.
- The Exorcist (1973) – I did my thesis on this film, so it will be forever fond in my heart. That sounds wrong. Husband and I went to see the remix of it a few years ago at the cinema (the first time for him) and it gave him nightmares. I saw it for the first time when I was about 12 (WTF were my parents thinking?) and have seen it close to 100 times and it still scares the shit out of me.
- The Omen (1976) I had such a crush on the actor who played Damien when I was about 10. Clearly, I’ve always had a thing for the younger men.
- Ju-on (I and II) – holy man, these are terrifying. We saw Juon II in Tokyo at the cinema (one of the very few Japanese films that was subtitled in Japan) and I had nightmares that Toshio was sitting on my futon for weeks afterward. It was so fucked up, but so rewarding. In a fucked up kind of way.
- Village of the Damned (1960) – officially before my time, but still chilling (probably because of the lack of bells, whistles and special effects). Storytelling at its best.
- Battle Royale (2000) - the Japanese do evil children films unnervingly well. They do evil teenagers even better.
- The Bad Seed (1956) - there is something about this era of film-making, the Alfred Hitchcock era, that makes evil-child films so creepy and satisfying.
- Children of the Corn (1984) – 1984 was a great year. That is all.
- Communion (1976) Does anyone remember this film? I saw it when I was, like, 11 and used to scare the crap out of all my school friends with it when they came over for sleepovers. I think this says more about me than it ever could about the movie.
- The Innocents (1961) – a black and white classic, the movie version of “The Turn of the Screw”.
- Damien Omen II (1978) – the thing that freaks me out most about this movie is the massive aneurysm Damien “gives” his cousin Mark in the snow. This movie made me terrified of aneurysms from a wee age – they seemed so sinister, so painful, so silent. They weren’t lying.
Do you have a favourite Evil Child film?
So I’ve had a blocked ear thanks to this revolting flu (thanks, flu). Ordinarily, this wouldn’t be a problem except I only have one good ear, the right one. The other one is as deaf as a good mum on a bad night (“can’t hear a thing darling, I think it must be your turn to get up”). I’ve been deaf in the left ear since birth. It’s never been an issue (makes bad nights much easier) until a slushy parcel of infected gunk makes its way into the ear drum and I can’t hear a FUCKING THING. Sorry, what did you say? Don’t shout? Sorry, can’t hear you.
Everything is crackly. All I can hear is the sound of my own heartbeat echoing in my ears, which is pretty bloody troubling.
In desperation, I took to the Google to find non-invasive ways to unblock a blocked ear. A recurring snippet was to cook a half onion in the oven for 20 minutes, pop it in a sock and hold it to your ear. Apparently the oils of the onion suck out the blockage. Not sure how that was meant to work in reality, but I was willing to give anything a go that didn’t entail me actually putting something in my ear. So I sat in front of the telly (“Dexter”) with an onion-filled sock on my face, with Husband asking (repeating, actually) “Can I tweet about this?”.
For just a moment, I thought the onion-in-a-sock was working (or it could have been the clarity of Dexter’s vision playing dirty tricks on my already delirious mind) but of course, this morning I’ve woken up after a fitful sleep of jackhammering heartbeats in an even worse state, literally only able to hear my own voice.
And poor Inky, who has finally succumbed to the house virus, went to pick up her orphaned stripy sock this morning, only to find an ONION in it. She freaked out in that panicked way only toddlers can when they’ve encountered something not quite natural.
Methinks a visit to the GP may be in order. I may leave the onion at home.
Jane from Life on Planet Baby had a personal take on social media, considering those sites she participated in and deciding which ones she would keep and which ones she would throw out with the bath water. While social media is no doubt a powerful tool, particularly for those who write and publish their own blog, I have definitely felt a generalised sense of ennui from many of my friends about online media, particularly Facebook, and am painfully conscious of the unspoken, what I’ll call “antiflogblog” (that’s really hard to write. Would be even harder pissed) etiquette.
By antiflogblog etiquette, I mean striking a balance between linking from your personal page to your own blog content that friends might find insightful, without making a complete nuisance of yourself, prompting your friends to either block your posts or let out a resounding groan every time you link (possibly peppered with the words “shameless self-promoter”).
Jane’s article analyses Facebook, Twitter, Google+, StumbleUpon and Flout and rather inspired me to do my own bit of social media laundry. She looks at them from a personal perspective, but also from the point of view of a blogger. In the latter, we are coming from different places, mainly because she’s been blogging as a mum for two years, whereas I’m only starting my new blog. Although I’ve been blogging for over 10 years, I’ve never used social media to promote a blog, so the marriage of the two is something new for me, and, I must confess, rather awkward.
In 2002, when I started 35degrees.com, there was no Facebook, no Twitter, no Google+ – personal blogs were pretty new back then, so the commercial potential of them was mostly unappreciated and unexplored. I certainly never imagined I would make any money out of my little blog. That wasn’t my motivator. I wanted people around the world to read about our life and be inspired about travelling and working in Japan and for expats in Japan to share with me the hilarity of living in such an out-there nation. My hit rate was healthy – I had a few fans, fewer flamers, and I relied on word of mouth and forums to promote the blog, such as the Thorn Tree travel forum on the Lonely Planet website. Thanks to a mate, I even got a front-page spot on the Lonely Planet website, but word of mouth and search engines were my main sources of traffic.
Hang on where was I? Ah, 2012, thanks.
Jane’s article highlighted to me that most bloggers (including me) want actual interaction, commentary around posts (either in support of or against), and social media sites are not all created equal on that point. Facebook is far more interactive than, say Twitter, where any conversation around tweets is cumbersome and awkward at best. But then Twitter is an up-to-the-minute microblogging site and has never pretended to be a deep, interactive tool.
It also got me thinking about what it is I want to achieve from both my blog and from social media.
I want people to read my blog. Nothing has changed since 2001. The subject matter has shifted, but that’s it. I love writing and people seem to enjoy what I write, so I want both my friends and the rest of the blogosphere to read what I have to say. I want my readers to relate to my life as a mum, whether it’s sunny or shitstormy and have a laugh at a shared drama. I want Melbourne Mum to be an entertaining place where I can share my foibles and triumphs with the world in an honest (sometimes brutally so) way. Like Jane, I also want interaction with my readers. I want them to tell me if they think something I’ve written sucks, or if they thought it was the most brilliant fucking piece of insight they’ve ever read. I want people to tell me if I’ve made them laugh, or made them cry, or pissed them off and I want to hear their stories, so that the whole experience of writing is a more circular interaction. I’m sorry if that sounds wanky (why does autocorrect keep trying to change this to wanly?? It doesn’t sound wanly!), but it’s the truth. We’re all egotists in our own way, but we’re also part of the human race and being both humbled and gratified by our readers is one of the things that keeps blogging interesting. For me, anyway.
So far, Facebook has been my biggest source of traffic, so I can only assume that it is my friends and family who are reading my blog for now. That’s OK. I’ve stepped onto the Darren Rowse bandwagon and am completing his 31 Days to build a better blog to help better define and utilise my traffic sources. ”Melbourne Dad” tells me (constantly, I have a very short attention span) that “It is a marathon, not a race”, and he’s right of course. Melbourne Mum has a Facebook Page which has 10 likes. 10. Marathon. Not a race. Marathon. Not a. Deep Breath. 10. Of course, to promote this page, I’m linking posts to my personal profile and risk alienating the friends who are already a little bit jack of Facebook. As the traffic is predominantly from Facebook referrals, I guess I’ll be swallowing my inbuilt antiflogblog radar and fumbling on in this way for now (unless of course, they just, you know, “like” the page).
On a personal level, I don’t find Facebook overwhelming. I have a couple hundred friends, but can scan down a page to find those posts that most appeal to me. I don’t find it stymies my real-life friendships, but does mean I can easily keep in contact with overseas friends in one place. There is goodness in that. And conflict. I want to add to Zuckerberg’s coffers as much as I want to give Julian Assange a head job.
Twitter I’ve used on an off for a couple of years, but I don’t find it as useful as Facebook. Trying to put what I want to say in 140 characters is like trying to fit a 4.2kg baby out of a 4 inch fig bush. Probable, but not always comfortable. So as a communication tool, I find it restrictive, but I do love reading what celebrities are tweeting about (my current faves are Brendan Hines and Misha Collins – actors, but funny bastards in their own microblogging right). I’m not about to give it up just yet, but Twitter doesn’t fuel enough meaningful conversation around the topics that I like to read about.
Google+ I unwittingly stepped into it (much like stepping into unwelcome dog poo) when leaving a comment on Edenland‘s blog, and I signed up without realising it was a shitter version of Facebook. I put up a basic profile, but that’s all I’m doing. I can’t use both Facebook and Google+. That’s like doing the same presentation for the same client on both PowerPoint and Keynote. Talk about a version control nightmare. I don’t have time for this shit. That is all. I know Darren Rowse from ProBlogger loves it, but much as I respect Darren and his blogging prowess, if he told me to put a S&W with a half round of bullets in my mouth and pull the trigger, I wouldn’t do that either.
StumbleUpon – this is one of the few things around in 2002 that 35degrees “used” but I think it just kinda happened – I didn’t have to do anything for it to appear. I’m not sure I would use it these days.
Flout – I don’t know what this is, and I don’t think I want to know what this is. I read what Jane said about it, but still don’t know what it is. Clearly, this is not for me.
In an nutshell, I have discovered I’m not a social media addict and I’m probably not overusing it to promote my incredibly insightful blog (cough, splutter) but I need to be careful. I genuinely value everyone who reads my blog and particularly the commentary around posts and I don’t want to alienate real-life friends who read my personal posts in, say, Facebook. My mantra will be “Thou shalt not prostitute thyself in the name of shameless self-promotion”. Take the shameless out of it, and I might do that every now and then. But hopefully it will be of good value.
I recently dug up a couple of literary gems from my childhood (thanks mum and dad. No really, thanks). Look, shit was different back then, but I remember “The Runaway Balloon” by Rosamund Cross being a perennial fave. It was all very Stepford Mumsy, about 3 kids who buy three balloons – a golliwog, a red indian and a clown (an african, native american and fucked-up cosmetic madman to you) but Thomas trips and loses Golliwog (!) and there is much wailing and gnashing of teeth, but golliwog gets caught in a TV aerial (remember those?) and is rescued! Inspiring stuff.
I don’t know why I loved this book so much, because I fucking hate clowns, but then, why would you be someone who watches “The Exorcist” 100 times? Not for pleasure, clearly. But I digress.
In the literary landscape of 1974, the terminology of “red indian” and “golliwog” was perfectly appropriate, although no-one would ever write a book with these characters today, which makes me wonder whether in 2040, the next generation will take exception to the character names wicked witch (kindness-challenged woman) and ogre (unfortunate genetic anomaly). I certainly don’t remember being tarnished by the terminology, as politically incorrect and disrespectful as it would be considered in 2012, and I consider myself reasonably open-minded and respectful of difference.
Then there were other gems, like Mr. Pink Whistle’s Party (thank the Heavens for Enid Blyton) that are just too wrong not to read.
What book do you remember from your childhood that you would never read to your kids now?
Caveat: I wrote this post with the Mumflu, so don’t blame me if it doesn’t make a single thread of sense.
Scout has been coughing non-stop for the past 24 hours. All day. All night, every 10 seconds or so. It’s like chinese water torture (from my time in Sing Sing, clearly) and a pneumatic drill, all wrapped up in a bundle of soft, talkative love and it’s slowly driving me cuckoo.
It’s an irritating, dry, post-viral cough and I feel terrible for little Scout (who, in spite of coughing up a lung is merrily chatting away as usual - Mum! What do you get when you add 3 and 4? Mum? Mum! It’s 34! Hahahahahahaha. Mum? Can I watch My Little Pony? Can I play on Mathletics? Cuddles? Mum?) but I have the goddamn MUMFLU and today is mummy-getting-better day or we all will STARVE.
Thankfully the flu has now clogged up my ears. So not only the coughing is muffled, but so is Inky’s whinging for WAWA! WAAAAAAAAWAAAAA (aka water) and Husband’s insistence that not only does the fire-engine red coffee machine look hot, so does the sexy male barrister (sic) making it.
What are you like with your kids when you have a cold/flu?
Do you play dead on the kitchen floor with a blanket and a packet of Codrals wedged into your cleavage, while your kids empty Milo Duos onto your head, or suck it up and pretend you’re not sick?