Friday, 26 December 2014

Bite your tongue

Before I left home to go to the family gathering, one of my sisters rang for a chat. We were discussing current politics. She suddenly blew up at me.  It was extremely vitriolic, and she accused me of being patronising, and a know it all. She dragged up things I had said and done, some from forty years ago, citing opinions and  attitudes of mine, which she had obviously deeply resented, not just then, but to this very day. When she had finished, I asked if I could reply, and did my best to put it into context, and to say that I had changed in many ways, that many of my attitudes and opinions had changed as I had matured, and that I had thought we had developed a better , more positive, and affectionate relationship.

I went to bed, but not to sleep.  The conversation repeated itself in my brain endlessly, and  my emotions churned into a sticky, unpleasantly textured mass, never resolving. And I did not lnow what to do. I did my best, at the time, to answer, explain and justify, thinking all the while that she really must dislike me, and had always disliked me. And that seems dreadful to me.

I cannot do conflict very well. I tend to brood. I cannot remember all the details of past conversations, and who said what to whom, and when and why.  I do not act with malice. I do my best. My best may not be good enough. But I do not seek to hurt, injure, disrupt, act with malice. I want to get on with people, especially family.  I am not always tactful, try as I may. But I have bitten my tongue many a time. When I was young, any sort of female aggressiveness, or outspokenness was very much frowned upon. I do not think that I have ever spoken like that to any of my siblings. It was, quite simply, awful. How to recover, how to get on an even keel?

I do not want to offend people, even when it seems to me that they feel free to dish it out to me. But it strikes me that I often come back from visiting family feeling rather battered. And I feel that I am losing my authentic and real voice, for fear of offending others. I cannot cope with the inevitable conflict, and avoidance seems the easiest, perhaps the best  strategy. I am alone.

Where is my real voice, and how can I find and express my true self? Truth is fundamentally necessary for me.  I cannot lie. But nor can I always tell the whole truth. Where does the balance lie?

My sister rang me the next morning, apologising, and it was sorted out and smoothed over as much as possible. But recovering from this is difficult, as it is hard to avoid the feeling that there has been and is a lot of dislike and resentment. On the Sunday we were both at the family gathering, but did not talk until later in the gathering. We have talked since, but it seems to be a situation in which you do not mention the war. I feel battered, and injured. And I feel that I am retreating, and not engaging in life. Irrelevant in all ways.

Monday, 15 December 2014

Seeing the distant family

Today I return home after several days in Melbourne. I stayed overnight with a friend and enjoyed hours of conversation and amity, and a good dinner at a local restaurant. Then I was staying with my daughters. One after the other, that is. My younger daughter is recovering from her radiation treatment, looks much better, although painfully thin, but is  able to eat more foods, speak more clearly and is becoming stronger. She has been through such a tough time.

My older daughter has put on he annual concert of all her young tapdancing students, and it was a wonderful show, brilliantly choreographed, excellently danced by her pupils of varying ages, ranging from preschoolers to early teens. The large audience of parents, relatives and friends had a great time, and were treated to post-concert chips, fairy bread and other things which are bad for you. My daughter's imagination,  dedication, ability and organisation are wonderful. My photographer daughter, her partner and father photograped everything, and I say comfortably and admired it all. i could not take any photographs because too manypeople obscured my view.

Yesterday we all went to the extended family gathering. I did not do a head count, but our numbers are legion. It was a good day. I met the youngest, a nephew's six month old baby, but he cried when I held him. I must smell foreign, or be losing my touch.

This morning I am sitting outside enjoying the sunshine as I type. I have to get my tax return signed, sealed and completed, and then go to the airport to return home.

Saturday, 6 December 2014

Power outage

A quiet life is something to be desired. The weather has been generally stormy, but my little area seems to miss the worst of the storms. But tonight, all of a sudden, the power flickered, went out, and then came back on. Cautiously, I went outside to see whatever could be seen. And the power line has come down. A tree just up the road has been struck by lightening, and branches fell across the road. Some of the neighbours called emergency services and they were here in the twinkling of an eye. 

Being a cautious and prudent person, I went outside to see what was what, and met another couple of my neighbours, and we talked to the emergency services crew and showed them that not only was there a problem up the road, but also on my corner, where there are two live wires lying across the road. A bit scary really. I am impressed by the speed with which emergency services people have arrived. They have taped the afflicted areas, put out witches hats, and are directing traffic. And they shooed me back inside, once I had made it clear that there were live wires lying across the road. I have found, and lit, all the candles, and have the torch, just in case Things  Get Worse.
These men seem very competent, impressive and calm.

This is an old area of Sydney, as is the infrastructure. It seem a good idea to have an adequate stock of old-fashioned things like matches, candles, batteries. Just In Case. These items seem to be necessary quite often.

Such events have shown me that there is no point sitting back waiting for things to be fixed. You have to make sure you tell them what has happened, just in case they do not know.
 And I have to say it certainly is an unexpected way of meeting the neighbours. Although we all live cheek by jowl, we do not necessarily see each other, let alone have the opportunity of talking to each other, except in such emergency circumstances. So I have learned to be more  proactive.

I just went out to see if they needed a cup of tea, which was declined. They are still waiting for the electricity people to come and fix the power lines. In the meantime I am making sure the candles keep burning. .

 In the dark , in the dark! Would you , could you, in the dark?

Wednesday, 3 December 2014

My spelling mistakes are typos, not spelling.

It was my turn to write the argomento for today's Italian class. I wrote on the subject of oratory, having been so deeply moved by Noel Pearson's wonderful tribute to Gough Whitlam.

Notwithstanding my diligent efforts,  I made many mistakes. You would think I would learn. I have just finished writing my bit for my other Italian class tomorrow. It probably contains just as many errors, if not more.  My learning curve is worsening. However, at least I know the difference between adjectives and adverbs, unlike Christopher Pyne, the Minister for Education, who this evening, in the course of defending his cuts to the education budget, twice used adjectives instead of adverbs. And a double comparative. How can he hold up his head? I dashed off a Letter to the Editor, but I bet it will not be published.

There were wild storms this evening, and I had to run around putting towels to soak up the water which was driven under the doors. The storms seem to come from the west. My area, generally, seldom seems badly affected.

There was a minor disaster. The garage truck has hit and broken a part of my brick garage wall, so I have had to ring the local council, to get them to make the garbage contractor fix it up. The garbage collectors damaged the wall in February this year, and I think twice a year is twice too many. Alas and woe.

In moves to keep myself in top of things I have booked my flights so as to attend the family gathering, arranged to see an old friend, and made an appointment to get my tax return done. And I have gone through the bookshelves again, and am discarding old books which I would probably never get around to reading. Such as novels by Evelyn Waugh. There are so many more recent books piling up, and it seems that these days I read more history and biography than fiction. And I am chucking out much of the blank writing pads which Dr P had, so old that they are foolscap and not A4. There is thus a little more shelf space available.

 I am reminded of the doleful and depressing advice given by Prince Albert, the Prince Consort, to his son, the Prince of Wales. "Life is composed of diuties... " he intoned. Bertie thought otherwise, and so do I.