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Growth Plate Fracture

In the days straight after the federal election, I stood in a doctor's waiting room, with a sad, soon-to-be panicked child. As I looked around the reception area for notices regarding bulk billing eligibility and restrictions, I had the strange realisation that this small regional medical centre did not bulk bill. Not for kids or pensioners. It seemed, not for anyone.

The election had brought Medicare into sharp focus, and here we were, city dwellers, usually with a choice of medical services at our doorstep, at a small town GP, shelling out $80 for a consult. A consult which had been conducted by a nurse, in fact, with the GP doing only a brief pop into the procedure room. $80.

Money wasn't the main focus for me, luckily, but I was aware, in this post-election mess, that for many, such a trip to the doctor for a kid's school holiday injury could break the weekly budget. After the GP, there was the X-ray in a neighbouring town ($90), a return to the GP, and the instruction …


It’s always a bonus to win something. Whether it’s a book, or a raffle, or a movie ticket. I recently won myself a ticket to a masterclass at the Emerging Writers’ Festival, thanks to the crowd at Writer’s Bloc. A chance to indulge myself in a world where I could learn about owning my own words, and selling them! I was so keen, that I gave up a day’s paid work to attend, even though this made me financially worse off. I don’t care! I won a writing class! And anyway, I can now see this as my ‘enjoyment tax’-more on that later.

The Masterclass-Freelancing for Life addressed how to make a living out of doing what you love, with topics such as finding your voice, avoiding pigeon-holing, balancing corporate and creative work, invoicing, using internship opportunities and marketing.

Here are a few take-outs from the day.

First up, we had Clementine Ford, who spoke to a room full of mainly white, educated, able-bodied people. Clem made the point that it is important for us as writers to…

The Receipt

Reading Patti Smith. M Train. In a cafe. Wearing a suit jacket, jeans and a beanie. Channelling, in a semi-ironic way, the image of Patti from the cover. 

Dark light, panelling, window light. I choose the seat by the window, triangulated with glass and plaster, softened by cushions, soft feather, rough fabric behind me. Panelling, channeling, there’s poetry hiding in strange places and emotions to tunnel, tunnelling though the cracks. In armour, in walls, in defences of solitude, behind a hard back book.
Patti reads and roams, into the images, creating new paths, melding the imagined with the real imagined. The voices of departed friends, William Burroughs being the flea, drawing blood, mining for words and meaning. The image of her lost Fred, hovering in shadows, light beams, objects in daily crypts, inside the desk drawer, a guitar pick, an old photo.
I leave the cafe and make my way to the butcher shop, Gruner’s. The only person there this morning is old Mr Gruner, Peter. Give a littl…

Fitzroy Streets make me cry

Fitzroy Streets make me cry. 

Jasmine scents, basil plants, fried coffee grounds on the gas stovetop. Purple love-bites wander downstairs, smeared mascara, bruised thighs. Paperbacks strewn on the dusty carpet, threadbare runners on the stairs. Overflowing gutters and fragile drainpipes, smashed-in cars and broken hearts-these are the days that float back on the warm air.

Cornflowers in a metal vase, Jonathan Richman and Billy Bragg playing from a tinny stereo. John Berger's Ways of Seeing, Karl Marx, Terry Eagleton, Helen Garner's Monkey Grip and Susan Sontag's On Photography. Pasta pots and ashtrays, tumble-down dunnies and creepers hanging low into the lanes. Dark night lights on the cobblestones.

Sunday night sessions at The Standard, with a roast cooking in the oven as the pedal steel wails. Heart strings playing, lurching gut, blushing over the beer order. A deep bass vibrates across the bar.

These Fitzroy street are filled with fever, tears and rage. Ornaments on a side…

The Year my Body Broke

For a person who had paid scant attention to fitness, food intake, fatness or not throughout most of my life, this past year has been confronting. In the year that I turned a ‘significant’ age, I found myself struck down by a black grief, but on top of that, a string of injuries. The loss of my father hit right on my birthday week, while I was away celebrating in New York. On return to real life a few months later, after the blackness slowly lifted, I found myself dealing with a progression of injuries which opened the door onto a life of limited mobility. The horror!
First, there was the leg injury, sustained after my excited attempt at two five kilometre runs. So pleased was I after my first run, that I headed out again the next week, solo, inspired by my newfound love of running. Shelve that idea. The pain in my lower leg became acute, the leg swelled full of fluid, and before I knew it I had a suspected DVT requiring an ultrasound. The injury is still an undiagnosed generalised tend…

Shadow of the Oaks

As soon as I saw it, I wished I hadn't.

There was something deadly ominous about the darkened room. Bare wood floors, panelled wood walls, slices of weak light coming in through the long, autumnal windows. Funereal. I could hardly process it. 

A sign.

The room was empty, the service cancelled, the food and drink all dried up. Finished. 

It was our last day in New York, and we had returned to the Oak Room at The Plaza to toast Dad with a negroni. At this stage, when we knew he was fading, each negroni seemed like a communion. 

The Plaza was one of the places him and mum had honeymooned. The last time we'd been in NYC, with kids in tow, we had blown a couple of hundred dollars on fancy burgers and lemonades for the kids, and champagne and wine with dinner for us. Spending mum and dad's trip gift money. 

That was nearly 5 years earlier. We had taken our girl to look for Eloise, the little literary inhabitant of the Plaza Hotel. The doorman played along, telling us she had only just…