Archive for August, 2010

On Charity

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , on August 30, 2010 by ladyredjess

For those of you who follow these posts and understand that I am not a morning person, you will appreciate the dedication it took to get out of bed at 4.45am, clothe myself and run in the darkness to the train station to catch the 5.45am to Murrarie to partake in the Bridge to Brisbane.  I sat very still and quietly in the carriage and was grateful that there were no loud noises.  However, as we passed more and more stops, and more and more eye candy got on, I perked up considerably.

I couldn’t believe the number of people at Murrarie.  Another train pulled in but a minute after the first drew away and the platforms were crammed.  Again at the starting line there were thousands and thousands more.  I couldn’t hear what the loudspeakers were saying so I had no idea what to do, and neither did lots of other lost folk milling around (who presumably did have their hearing).  However I found a queue, shuffled along to the starting line, and finally there was space to run.

The atmosphere was fantastic and I was so delighted to be surrounded by so many healthy people in a country with some of the worst obesity statistics in the world.  The sun came up, showing smokestacks against the dawn.  A man dressed as a dragon passed, holding his disintegrating, green plastic suit.  A truckie honked at us and a pack of girls cheered us on.  There was a tall man in only his multicoloured briefs and sneakers, his Facebook name texta-ed onto his bare back.  Various bands were stationed along the way, playing motivational music. I have a lot of respect for someone who can belt out an 80s tune at 7am in the morning.

By the 5km mark my thighs were starting to hurt but I remained pleasantly distracted by all the fit men.  By 7km even they couldn’t take my mind off my legs.  I stopped for a drink, worried by the waste of the plastic cups littering the ground, which sounded like ice crackling underfoot.  By 8km I was consumed with pain and by 9km I wished I had trained more.  But then we reached the showgrounds and I sprinted the rest of the way.  I found my t-shirt, delivered to me by a friend from work, and limped to the bus stop.  There were no buses from the Gabba for another half an hour so I had to walk home, feeling sorry for myself, but also elated that I had achieved a goal, however mediocre it had been.

There was also, of course, the fuzzy glow of doing something for something else, which is one of the reasons why I work for Autism Queensland.  Yet, since undertaking this venture and pestering people for donations, it has startled me how little people are willing to do to help others.  Last week I bought a Big Issue from a man sitting on his milk crate outside the post office.  I have never bothered with buying a Big Issue before, but he looked so pinched and pale with lack of nourishment that I gave him what was left in my wallet.  As I did so, I realised that even that small amount I gave him would have improved his life, however meagrely.

This post is a final, blatant request for donations to help Autism Queensland with their work in early intervention (fundraising closes tomorrow night).  For those of you who have all your faculties, are able to work, have a roof to live under and enough food and loose change to buy beer or coffee or a bunch of flowers, please spare a few dollars for kids who have a difficult life.  Trust me, you’ll feel better.

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On Camping

Posted in Uncategorized on August 20, 2010 by ladyredjess

It was with some consternation that Family received the news that I would be camping at Girraween National Park in the middle of winter, without a shower, and would have to carry my own pack and provisions up a hill.  Though I had been a rambunctious little girl who explored creeks, slashed my way through thistles higher than my head and chased sheep on our property, I was now a woman obsessed with frocks, handbags and skin products.  I hated dirt and couldn’t even kill a cockroach, though I had plenty of shoes with which to do so.

‘I like a challenge,’ I said to them all.

‘Maybe this is the new Jessica,’ they muttered.

I presented myself at J2 and P1’s apartment, and the latter drove us through the night to the national park.  It was black and disorientating when we arrived and set up the tents with some thirteen other people.  I couldn’t see their faces and, as having a conversation was impossible because I couldn’t lipread, I went to bed early.

There was a great deal of yelling.

‘Oh, that won’t wake Jess up,’ they told one another, ‘she can’t hear.’

Jess did hear.  The yelling kept her awake.  And then I was woken again by S groping above my head, his fingers following the seam of the tent fabric.  He was trying to get out for a wee, and in his inebriation had the wrong end of the tent.

Despite the lack of sleep, I was relatively alert the next morning, or perhaps it was just my good manners coming to the fore in unfamiliar company.  We scrambled up the granite pyramids.  There were swathes of eucalypts below us, the monochromatic landscape blasted by yellow wattle.  I had missed the wattle.  Although in London it flowered in our neighbour’s garden, it was out of place among the dank Victorian terraces of Stepney.

M found a hole in a rock and disappeared into it.  Everyone else followed, a la Picnic at Dripping Rock.  Being claustrophobic, I edged around the outside.  The boys climbed up another outcrop, the brilliant sunlight silhouetting them against the sky.

We went down again.  At the bottom of the hill we had lunch.  A kookaburra swooped and snatched J2’s baguette as he lifted it to his mouth.  I offered more home-baked banana loaf to compensate.

Then we shouldered our packs and set up a huge effing great hill, stopping en route to look at Castle Rock.

‘Not another fucking hill,’ I complained to P1, who had done the route before.  ‘How many more are there?’

‘Uhm,’ he equivocated, ‘I can’t really remember.’

How diplomatic, I thought to myself an hour-and-a-half later as I dragged myself up a near-vertical incline.

(Ahem.  I exaggerate.  But it felt vertical).

‘Jess!’ said S brightly, bouncing along beside me.  ‘Have you heard about how the rock formation was made?’

‘Did I sign up for a geography lesson as well?’ I returned a little sourly, not a happy camper by this stage.

However, when I made it to the rockfall at Mt Norman, I was jubilant, not least because I had done something new.  For while, academically, life is a breeze, with my bad balance and coordination I am never sure of my athletic capabilities.  I was relieved to find they were good enough to get me up a hill.

We set up the tents beneath the slab of rock and I pulled on thermals, jumpers and tights and my red possum fur beanie and gloves from New Zealand.  The boys got a roaring fire happening, then we messed around making dinner, and P1 produced a packet of marshmallows and became very popular indeed.

I slept unbelievably well.  It wasn’t as cold as I’d expected and I peeled off layer after layer during the night.  When I stuck my head out the tent the next morning I was positively cheery, which, as Family will testify, is almost unheard of.

‘Good morning,’ I said sunnily to P1.

‘Good morning,’ he replied, his face creased with sleep.

As I hadn’t been able to bring a hairdryer, nor found a sucker to carry one for me (as per Princess Vespa) with attendant generator, I hastily wrapped a silk scarf around my head and made myself presentable, then investigated breakfast.

We climbed further up Mt Norman and found an exercise book and some pens shoved into a tube under a rock.  I scribbled something for posterity.  We took photos.  I admired the wattle.  Then we picked up our packs and set off again.  Going down again was almost as hard as going up, according to my knees.  However, I gradually entered a state of pleasant dissociation due to lack of food (we skipped lunch), mild dehydration and exhaustion, and by the time we mounted the Sphinx and Turtle Rock I was not really present at all.  So I was very glad to get to the bottom, and as soon as we bundled into P1’s car to go home I curled up and went to sleep.

At work the next day my calves and knees were aching, and I suffered the ignominy of having to wear flat shoes for once.  A colleague was so amused she wanted to take a photo.  At lunch, the girls asked how everyone’s weekend had gone, and my boss piped up, ‘Jessica can hardly walk.’

‘Oooh,’ they whistled, ‘did you have a dirty weekend?’

‘No,’ I protested.  ‘I went camping.  In a cave.’

‘So you did have a dirty weekend—’

‘Can this cave be booked?’

‘It was all perfectly respectable!’ I insisted, but all the same I began blushing violently and hid my face in my hair.

Who would have thought that camping could be so exciting?