Oma Weather

The Dutch grandmother did not like to admit she had missed watching the weather forecast on television in the evening, because if she had missed watching the weather in the evening it was as a result of falling asleep, and she did not want to admit she had fallen asleep. And so, when asked about the weather by her granddaughters, if, indeed, she had missed watching it, she would say, ‘Sunny with some cloud and a chance of rain.’

Over the years, as her granddaughters grew up and moved away, each time a weather station forecasted sun and clouds and a chance of rain all in the same brief window, they would smile to themselves.

‘Oma weather,’ they would say, nodding their heads. ‘An excellent chance of Oma weather today.’

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His Ageing

He tried to remind himself that the process of ageing wasn’t a disease, it wasn’t a contagion— it could not be caught.

And when he couldn’t do this, he tried to think of it as a disease that he had already caught. But it occurred to him that this made ageing a disease which was advancing on him at every second of every day.

Then he tried to tell himself ageing was a disease that everyone had caught. But instead of a feeling of camaraderie, he was faced with a feeling of inevitability, like when you’re driving on a country road and a deer jumps out and you know you’re going to hit it.

So he told himself ageing was a thing like hair growth, it just happened slowly over time and, like with hair, you should treat it all gently. And so he took extra good care of his hair, and was calmed.

Get Over It

She could never get over the loneliness that set in when visiting her friends overseas, as she listened to them discuss future events which would occur in her absence. How could her hosts and hostesses plan a life without her, when she, attending guests, made every effort to act as if life could not go on without them, as if they were her everything and would be until the end of time—or, at least, until the end of the visit?

After the Dinner Party

It is never a bad thing to go to somebody’s house expecting a swell dinner party only to have the hostess and her husband descend into a shouting match whereby one or the other or both end up locked in the bathroom. It instils in the guests a strange sense of normality, a feeling that their own arguments perhaps aren’t so bad after all. The guests depart the party deeply satisfied though for a completely different reason than the hosts intended.

But this is only temporary.

As the guests move further and further from the event they will find themselves waking in the night and wondering if they would have the audacity to make such a scene; wondering how it would feel, just once, to let fly of the situation, to stomp their foot and slam a door in public. Aloud, they denounce it— ‘what a drama’ and ‘how embarrasing’ —and dismiss it from conversation, but privately this curiosity clings to their minds like cobwebs to the unused corners of the room.

Touring Photographs

It is not pleasant to look back at holiday snaps you thought were excellent only to notice that next to you stands a sunburned old man peeling dried skin from his forearm, a woman scratching an infected mosquito bite, or a young boy picking his nose.

It is enraging, until you consider all the cities you’ve visited and all the times you’ve accidentally stood in somebody else’s photos, fixing your hair or scowling at your spouse.

This thought takes hold of you, and thereafter you find yourself looking upon the strangers hovering in your backgrounds—even the young boy picking his nose—almost fondly, as you remind yourself: I am a tourist, too.

A Tale of Two Telephone Calls

Said the bride-to-be to her sister:

‘Mum wants me to have cake at the wedding, but I said, I hate cake! And she said you have to have cake at a wedding, and I said, I really hate cake. And she said, but what kind of cake would you have if you did have a cake, and I said I don’t want a cake, but if I had to have a cake I’d have a chocolate cake. And she said, you don’t have chocolate cake at a wedding, you have fruit cake. And I said I don’t want any cake! but she wasn’t listening so I’m probably going to end up with a fruit cake. God! I hate cake!’

Said the mother of the bride-to-be to her other daughter:

‘Your sister wants a chocolate cake at her wedding.’

Meet Cray-Cray

Meet Cray-Cray – if you haven’t already.

His main function in life is to make you anxious.

But it’s not his fault. Really. He feels it’s his duty to protect you from danger. Problem is, his version of danger includes a whole range of things:

EXAMS-DOCTOR APPOINTMENTS-SNAKES-CORDS THAT RESEMBLE SNAKES-POSSIBLY RUNNING LATE-SPIDERS-FAST CARS-ANGRY DOGS-EATING EXPIRED FOOD-STAYING OUT PAST YOUR BEDTIME-MEETING NEW PEOPLE-MEETING ANY PEOPLE-MINOR COLDS-MINOR COLDS BECOMING PNEUMONIA-PUBLIC TRANSPORT-ALL TRANSPORT-CHANGING MOISTURISERS-NEW JOBS-CURRENT JOBS-BURGLARS-BLACK CATS-DEVELOPING CANCER-EVEN NUMBERS-CLEANING THE HOUSE-LEAVING THE HOUSE-MOVING HOUSE-CANCER-GETTING EATEN BY SHARKS…

Before you know it, he’s waking you in the night.

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And What Feeds Cray-Cray?

Other Cray-Cray. You think you’ve shaken one worry, only for it to have really been consumed by another. And when that worry has dissipated, you’re right back at the beginning.

 

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Everyone thinks their Cray-Cray is unique.

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But there are millions out there…

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…they share the same basic qualities; we just wear them differently.

 

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Sometimes you feel they take over your world. Sometimes you feel like they are your world. This makes your world feel awfully small.

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But there’s a lot more to us than this one trait. It’s just that Cray-Cray got tangled up in our big fishing net of qualities. And he’s so bright, he tends to stand out.

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Sometimes we are told to ‘get over it’. But they are not so easy to get over.

 

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We try to ignore it, but actually, the best thing to do, is notice it. Cray-Cray craves acknowledgement.

– Hi Cray-Cray. I see you’re here again today.

– Yup. That sandwich is going to make you ill with its old mayonnaise and you’re also going to mess up your meeting.

– That’s nice.

– I’m serious.

– I hear your fear, Cray-Cray. But this sandwich is not very likely to make me ill. And as you’ve pointed out, I’ve got a meeting to get to. So it’s deep belly-filling breaths for me. And if I screw up, I screw up. It’s not going to kill me.

– That sandwich might.

– No it won’t.

– Er, ok. I guess I’ll see you tomorrow then, before your dance audition.

Introducing your Cray-Cray to other Cray-Crays can be helpful…

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…as well as talking to professionals.

And eventually, with time and help, it will backpedal. Because crayfish can swim backwards.

The more you notice it, the more its power is deflated. Until you even become a little bored of it. Because it is boring. And tiring. So then you can find something else to occupy your mind. Something that pleases you. Something that involves all your positive attributes and capabilities. (Cray-Cray really hates that.)

 

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(And breathing is good too.)

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THE END

 


That’s not to say managing Cray-Cray is easy.

So here’s your own Cray-Cray template. Download it, dress it up, and show me how it gets you.

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World Mental Health Day: 10th of October

Queensland Mental Health Week: 9-15 October

Useful Links in Australia: beyondblue, a mental health website. And Lifeline, for immediate assistance.

 

Eavesdropping on Half-Moon Bay

Do you have a pet fish? the leggy lady asked the mermaid.

Yes, I have a smelt whose name is Salty, and a pufferfish called Yoyo.

Yoyo?

Like yoyo dieting—one moment he’s skinny, the next he’s fat.

Mermaids use that word too?

O, yes. We gain weight very easily, especially when trading with sailors in the summer months. During winter, when we receive few visitors, we are restricted to fish.

Eating fish… isn’t that like eating your pets? Or even your own kind?

No, fish come to us when they are old and offer themselves as sacrifice.

Like you’re gods!

In a way.

I would love to have a pet pufferfish.

The mermaid shrugged. Seals are better, she said.

Seals!

They are like your dogs. Dutch sailors have a good name for them: zeehond—literally, seadog. But they are much harder to acquire.

Why?

Because they choose you.

You’re so lucky, the lady said as she looked down at her thin, scarred legs.

The mermaid suddenly tossed her hair. I must go, she said. I have to find Grumpy.

Grumpy?

My shark.

Wait—I have one more question.

Yes?

What about your children?

What about them?

How—I mean—are babies easy to bare?

We don’t have babies—think of our figures! There’s a reason you don’t see pregnant mermaids. We lay eggs, only we call them bubbles, like any sensible fish.

How many—um—bubbles?

Thousands, though only a finful reach adulthood.

Oh.

How many children do you have?

The lady lowered her eyes. None, she said.

Pity, said the mermaid, easing back into the water.

Will you visit again?

Maybe, depends on my tides.

Your tides?

My mood, said the mermaid. And with a flick of her fins she vanished beneath the waves.

The lady watched the sea until the sun sunk below the horizon. Then she slowly traced the track back over the dunes.

Moments later, my own feet followed, crushing the prints she had made with her small toes.

I watched as she entered a weatherboard house, gently closing the door behind her. After a minute, steam billowed from an open skylight and I could hear the sound of running bathwater.

Erosion

She has noticed that couples shape each other like a river working at stone (if the stone could work back) and she is not sure she likes the way she is being shaped (or the way she is shaping).

Have a Seat

She finds couches offensive. The notion that she is to park her ass on a piece of furniture, that it will support her and comfort her throughout the day, is ludicrous.

Her husband tells her to just sit, she is blocking the television.

She erupts, he has no idea what it is like, he cannot imagine the stress she endures at home with the couch, let alone when visiting other people’s houses where they expect to her to sit on their couches like it is not extraordinary.

He yells that perhaps she should not visit other people’s houses, that she should sit at home and bake and sew, like a good wife.

She screams that they are not living in bloody caveman times.

He says, no they are not living in bloody caveman times, because if they were living in bloody caveman times there would be no couches.