Not one bit of strategy. Not one.

Dear Joan,

I currently have another entry being typed but I have pushed that aside so that I can…vent, cry …or whatever it looks/sounds/feels like in this ever so pretend world of the internet. This is probably the most honest space I have, between you, me (ella) and whatever other person chooses to skim over this letter.

You said you wanted to know what was going on in my life. Well in summary:

  • my school advertised a leadership job externally a week before telling us internally.
  • in 36 hours I got together a full application.
  • 5 days later I interviewed, as did the husband and 2 other internal candidates.
  • a week and a half later I found out I was the loser and my husband wasn’t.

Yep.

Let’s backtrack a little, to the 5 days in between submitting the application and having the interview. The hubby and I discussed a great deal of what if’s. I guess we both thought, it would be me or neither of us. Why? Because I do every damn thing at that school that relates to developing the whole school strategic plan – even shit I hate. I have worked hard. Not to say that he hasn’t, that would be unfair. But I put myself out there – repeatedly. Even he said that the fair and right thing would be for the job to be mine. What’s that? An echo from the past Eve? Something you said ringing in your ear?

I said to him – fair has nothing to do with it

And it does have nothing to do with it. I guess, the better person got the job. I know Joan, the husband will be friggen damn good at it.

HOWEVER

these are the things though, that I find hard:

  • When I did the in-house leadership course last year, my mentor told me, sometimes it comes down to having a penis or not. Sometimes they just want gender balance. AHHHHHH!
  • The husband was happy in the lower primary school. He wanted to be there. I never did and still don’t want to be but now I am stuck. He had direction.
  • I now have no direction. I am totally adrift – more Leonardo Dicaprio rather than Kate Winslet in Titanic.
  • I honestly feel like a big, fat LOSER. Yep. how tragic is that!?
  • That the husband and I always agreed that it isn’t possible for two people to do leadership in teaching – it is far too hard on the family – and now it is me having to take the step back.
  • That he will inevitably keep secrets from me – yes work secrets – but secrets nonetheless and I know he will – he did it twice this year already. Makes me feel second best – that work will come first and me second.
  • That I feel so selfish, and such a cow but I kind of wish he would just say sorry. hahahaha.

Some fucking EXIT strategy hey Joan. Two more years here and for what? I don’t feel like I am getting anything from it. I need the universe to deliver me something fucking awesome to counter balance this one. I’m not sure its pockets go deep enough (this will make more sense once I finish the other blog).

On the flip side, one of the what if’s was around if one of us got it and what travel would we do. We discussed Italy next year in April and the USA at the end of the year. Happy 40th to me! Here we come Rome and Naples. 10,000RM will get us all to Rome and back ($3,500ish aussie). I have never been so keen to rack up credit card debt!

I also thought I wanted to do a Masters. Nope. At least being the loser made that clear for me. Think of all the debt I saved there!

Travel isn’t sufficient enough to ease the two years but I have to cling to something. Maybe it will help this Leonardo Dicaprio climb on the raft instead of letting go!

Love you Joan,

Eve

P.S. I think of your adventure and hope it is providing you with much joy.

 

 

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Just a bit homesick

Dear Joan,

Nothing deep or meaningful today.

I agree though, I too love how much you are writing. The best part to me blogging more is the correspondence you and I have. It made me realise how much of each others lives we end up missing. The best example is your country swap that looks like it is going to happen for you. It is quite possible you told me and that I have simply forgotten. Though, this forgetfulness, then has me going – oh wow, when did this come about? how long will it be for? when will it be for? what will you do there? can I come? ha!

Anyway, I write today just because I am homesick. Here are the reasons why:

  • I want to be around people that are easy to be around – no second guessing, no worrying about my inadequacies, no trying.
  • Figoli. Yes figoli. My aunty makes the best figoli and for the 2nd year in a row I miss out on it. Making it is quite an amazing process. I have done it once before. It felt so good. The ingredients – particularly the nuts involved would cost a small fortune here.
  • The Milbri – a coffee shop. A coffee shop that the husband and I would go to on a Friday before work. A coffee shop where I would meet other mates before work. A coffee shop, open on a Sunday afternoon. A coffee shop where a good coffee was guaranteed.
  • Freaky Tiki – a coffee shop. Ha! I miss the before school morning dates I would have with the big kid.
  • The Water – The beach. I don’t think that needs explaining.
  • The Water – turning a tap on and drinking or turning a tap on and getting hot water.

The majority of this reasons are first world problems (man alive I hate that phrase). I am ok with that.

Anyway, homesickness comes and goes. Where is home? Hmmm

I love this song: Home It is true. It is wherever my fam is.

Peace out Joan.

Love you.

Eve

Round and Round the Malaysia go wheel.

Dear Joan,

I hate the question – So, are you enjoying Malaysia? Hate it. I am forced to say yes or my new stock standard answer – I like the chances it gives me for travel.

I hate it because if I had to answer with a simple yes or no, it would be a resounding no. Yep. No. Why? Well work takes up so much energy, time and being – that if that isn’t great then it has a massive impact. And yet that isn’t a simple explanation either. I like working with the other people in my immediate team. I like the kids. Management – eh. If I don’t believe in that – they are people that should hold the values of teaching at the core – then I simply struggle.

It isn’t just that. It would be unfair. The husband an I, for the entire 17 years (maybe 18) that we have been shacked up, have always struggled to find balance in term time as a couple. Now lets throw a few extra things into that mix – we now have kids, only one car, not the same network of people around us, work for a business so work many more hours on a weekend and all of a sudden there is no real us time for four blocks of ten weeks  a year. How did I fix this in Oz? UK? I created other networks to supplement that. It isn’t so easy here. I know it takes time. The networks, friends – I am trying hard on that – especially to make friends with locals. They are great and love a catch up on a weekday but not so much on a weekend. I only have a couple of mates from work and again, people are really caught up in their own lives. I don’t begrudge them that. It would be unfair and unreasonable.

We are also constricted by traffic. How crazy is that?! On a weekend, trying to get to a mall after 1pm is not worth it unless you want to sit and wait for a park for at least an hour. Going for a spontaneous coffee 20 mins away becomes an hour away – one way. It becomes not worth it. Not worth the fighting of siblings in the back of the car.

Going back to the work thing. When I am in a place that doesn’t share my ideals, and I have been there before, I question my career. Is it the right one? Which again, when faced with such a big question makes happiness in a place a little harder to grasp. We are defined so much by the job we hold – rightly or wrongly, by how we contribute to society, by how well we do said job. When this waivers for me I find it difficult.

I think the universe is trying to tell me it is the right one or at least that working with kids is the right thing. In earlier blogs I mentioned how former kids have contacted me and in the last couple of weeks I have had one previous and one current colleague say beautiful things to me – about me as a teacher. Sometimes I am not sure where their perceptions come from. My current one thanked me for bringing joy to the year last year (we are in different yr levels now). She said that I kept banging on about joy and it wasn’t till I left that she realised how much joy I brought to my class and the flow on effect it had to the team I was in. That would be a great thing to say in my eulogy – she brought joy to others – well some – to others she was just a pain in the arse. hahahahahahahahahahahaha. Though I am hoping we are old and grey before the line is needed.

I feel like this blog is a rehash of many other letters I have written to you. I guess I am just trying to sort my ideas out, what is happening in this noggin of mine.

Love you joan and any other eve’s dropper listening in (pardon the pun),

Love Eve

Post Script

On a completely different tangent but linked to the four lots of ten weeks – that is why teachers need holidays – to be human – to connect to their families. We invest so much into other families, we need the time to invest into ours. We don’t get weekends or weeknights like some other jobs. I just wanted to say that.

 

 

 

 

Leaders and No Emotions

Hey Joan,

When it rains it pours hey?!

Beauty and the Beast is playing in the background as I type this. I just want to say this: why do adults ruin beautiful innocent movies? Never have I once thought about beastiality or even Stockholm Syndrome when watching this film. Now at 38, grown ups feel compelled to reference these things.

My girls love princesses, want to be princesses. I am just fine with that. People look at it like it is a dirty thing. Why shouldn’t they want to be a princess? Because people see them as docile and weak? What a pity their thoughts are so narrow. My princess girls are strong, compassionate, strong willed, creative, dry witted. I would also be fine with them as mechanics, astronauts, check out chicks, authors, artists, scientists. But if being a mermaid or a princess is what they want to be when they grow up, good luck to them.

Ah, so glad that I got that off my chest but I was actually going to write about my emotional intelligence and how I feel it hinders me from progressing in teaching. This letters to you go all over the shop. hahahaha

Let me explain.

I find so many leaders devoid of emotion, and yet I cry if I am really over tired. Most leaders in teaching are emotionless to their staff – ruthless almost – bar one. But even he keeps his emotions completely away from school. It seems like the phrase – “That’s teaching for you,” gets thrown around for everything – parents being rude to you, working a 60 hour week but only being paid for 40, the treatment of graduate teachers. Saying that to people you know who work hard just seems so flippant and disrespectful. I don’t think I could do that.

I am also not good at arguing on the hop. I need time to reflect and think about it. Talk it through. But how can you do that if you have an irate staff member or parent in your office? I also don’t know how I could keep myself in check when I knew someone was doing a very shit job. Teaching is the one job that it is almost impossible to get sacked from. How crazy is that!

Joy. I also like joy. I have had one marvellous role model for that. But it seems like a rare thing. Joy in my current school looks like a head who tells the children how long they can cheer for, or clap for or that they cannot sing along when someone plays the piano. Controlled joy is not really joy is it Joan?

Maybe I am just a yes person, so leadership isn’t my bag? Maybe middle management. Hmmm though I have a terrible poker face. I face this crossroad every so often in my career and I step away from it. Maybe I should look at a masters. I saw this wonderful one at Harvard. International Policy. Setting up policy for refugee children, schools in Afghanistan. When I saw this course it was the first time I got excited about the prospect of future study. Reality says I need to find one in Oz that does one that I like as I can access HELP. We have up to 100,000 bucks to use for study purposes.

Ahhh. I just wish it was easy. This choice.

Love you Joan,

Eve

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Curly Ones

Dearest Joan,

F*#k being a mum is hard. Nothing ground breaking or earth shattering about that statement. Nothing that millions of mothers feel on a daily basis, probably dads too. The thing is Joan, it’s the small things that floor me. The emotional rollercoaster of growing, the friendship issues, the homework fights, the “you will brush your teeth” argument on a daily basis – I’m ok with or at least have accepted as part of being mum.

BUT

what I was not prepared for, was crying over deodorant. I was giving the big kid a cuddle before bed. Normally the kids have their wash before bed but that night, we had got home late and they just needed to get into bed. Anyway, back to cuddles and the smell of a stinky pit. Alright, alright the next sentence that came out of my mouth may not have been the most sensitive line but it did. “You have stinky pits.” Laden with tact? Nope. Not one bit.

Queue crying.

Shit me. Didn’t see it coming. “I’m only 8!” she laments. I tried back tracking, being gentle. Too late Eve. Too late. The damage of stinky pits is done.

I have already caused other longterm damage that will eventually be a funny anecdote when she is an adult. Imagine if you will standing in the middle of a quaint little village in England, waiting for our friends to arrive when BAM! “How are babies made?” I was scrambling for anything. I said sperm, egg, baby, grow – oh look there are our friends. What is with me? I’m a teacher. I should be a pro at this.

Oh Joan. I always thought Valentine’s Day was a safe one. What could a kid possibly say then? Well, the family was driving home after school having a discussion on how dad hasn’t bought mum anything. That sounds way worse then intended. Let me explain. The girls were asking if dad had bought me anything, I said no – we have no time and that it is ok because I know dad loves me – when the big kid let this one go ….”Mums and Dads have naked cuddles and kisses on Valentine’s Day.” Oh. My. Gosh.

Insert uncontrollable shoulder shuddering, while I look out the window and ignore what has just been said. Yep. Ignore. Not acknowledge. The husband didn’t even here. Two mins later, it was repeated. My eyes went big. The husband shot it down with a remark of how he doesn’t want to hear it again. End of. Yep. All class. Dealing with the big ones here with a whole lot of maturity.

Oh Joan. It makes me understand my mum that bit better. Any stuff ups she made were done out of pure panic. hahahahahaha and out of love.

Hopefully the kids will get that one day.

Anyway Joan,

Hope you are well.

Eve

Post Script

Today my kids were in a poetry recital. The big one was also one of the hosts. Though they throw curly ones, I could not have been a prouder mum.

A collector of people

Dearest Joan,

Before I get cracking in this post, I still suck at my Lenten promises. Yep.

Anyway, as you read this post/blog/ramble/letter, I hope your are in good health both physically and mentally, that work is ticking nicely and that you found some volunteers to help you out.

International Women’s Day. I have never given it a thought. It comes. It goes. This year I thought about it. Maybe it received more social media attention than it has before. Maybe it was because it was on my school calendar so I thought school might acknowledge it. They didn’t. Or maybe, I finally get how important women are.

Reflecting on this day and the days after, made me think about the women I have collected through the years and who in fact, are the ones on my top shelf. Ha! I make it sound so not personal when I write it like that, a little removed. I asked myself, if I could have anyone here, around my table right now, who would it be?

Actually, I couldn’t think of anything socially worse by having many people together. I am a one at a time kind of person. I digress or maybe I actually am on topic…

I was surprised by my decisions. People that I thought would be at the round table (it is in fact rectangular but that doesn’t read as well – maybe I now know how the Knights of the Round table were borne), were in fact not. Not because I don’t love and care for them, not because I wouldn’t do things for them but because I feel I have to explain myself to them.

Look – a person should not go through life without having to answer to their actions or thoughts – but there is a sense of ease that should come with friends. Maybe that is what it is that was the defining moment – ease.

Well who are these women – you, my cuz Ros, my friend Ella (who also reads this) and my friend Jayde.

Ros kind of makes it by default. The question for her is, how could she not be at the table? She knows everything of me growing up, she knows everything of me since returning to Oz. I cannot really blame her for not knowing 8 years in the UK. I was rather terrible at communicating that with anyone. We both know regular contact is not a strength of mine. Ros understands the cultural pressures too – though she as stayed close to the mould of it all and for that I admire her. She has a true sense of being Maltese. Oh, she also let me cut her hair when we were younger. I left her with a bald spot.

You dear Joan, are an easy one. You were there in my awakening that began with Pauleen. You got to see me begin to find the person I wanted to be in all it’s glorious awkwardness. We temporarily scooped ice cream together, my hair came out of a pony tail and I started to wear it down, I did trips to Wagga Wagga to see Jebidiah and eat a meal at your then boyfriend’s place where we burnt the saucepan. Hmm maybe not boyfriend. Maybe just a dude you had a lot of ‘chemistry’ going on with. The hiatus was a blessing because when we did catch up again you gave me sound advice on how to solve a problem I was having. It worked. And now though in a physical sense you drift in and out, you are permanently around in a much grander way.

Next up is Ella. Our connection began in an interesting way. She was my replacement when I went off on maternity leave. When I came back I worked with her and another friend. I think we would both say that the second half of the year was much better than the first AND that our friendship grew when we no longer worked together. Ella and I are very similar in temperament. hahahaha. We we stopped working together we found that we really did enjoy spending time together. Turns out she is my sister from another mister. She taught me about being girly through dresses. I so miss shopping with her. For me, the most memorable thing between us (besides going to her parties) was our morning swim before work. There was just something about the hour we spent doing that. It was freeing in so many ways. I find that Ella gets my emotional craziness in all it’s glory and is still happy to be my friend. I feel equally vulnerable with her. Apparently vulnerable people actually have greater depths of happiness.

My final lady is Jayde. She is a new friend. That doesn’t surprise me. In fact I think it is kind of to be expected. I met her at this job in Malaysia. We laugh lots. Have a common philosophy in teaching. Share a common moral centre. Turns out that both of these are really important here. She also does anything for me. Loves my kids like she is their aunty. After telling her about how Ella and I would tell each other how our hair looks shit in times of emotional stress, has joined in with that. She just loves hanging with us and not doing much in the hang time. I like being with people who are happy to just be in the presence of you without expectation. She is a good human with a story that is so varied and rich that it continues to surprise me – but at the same time not really.

Anyway, I love these four women greatly – others too. But you four, I wish I had with me all the time. But maybe our friendship is greater for not having that?

This is by far, one of my most fave posts that I have written.

Love you Joan (and el)

Eve

Sometimes sadness is happiness.

Dear Joan,

After hanging up from my mum I felt the need to write. We clearly got internet on the weekend and am now able to access you with an edge of ease.

So much has happened. All of which you know because boy, am I great at creating a wonderful Book Of Face life for all to envy!

New home.

London. Paris. Yorkshire. Edinburgh. London.15585257_10154647114790168_472140695738838609_o.jpg

London – Oxford Christmas lights

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Arc De Triomphe

15585428_10154667007315168_9219367440205151497_o.jpg

Paris Disneyland

Planning new holidays.

Invites to families houses.

In all of these though, the part I don’t dwell so publicly about is the beautiful sadness attached to these things. And I do mean it Joan. Beautiful sadness.

Going back to Europe felt like a homecoming. I belong there. It was like putting on my pair of cons. Perfect. Yet it left me sad. But beautifully sad. How damn lucky am I to have lived somewhere that I just adored? Where i made friends with people that I can reconnect with instantly – even after many years apart? Yep. Lucky.

Being invited to people’s houses, being asked to see their lives – humble or not. Who am I to judge? Having them share their stories. On the weekend just gone, we went to a Chinese family’s home. Sofia and her husband or so incredibly giving. There was a moment when she asked me if we were to have more kids…because in Australia you can. I said no. Then the beautifully sad moment occurred. She explained how they only have one because of the laws in China. The laws changed too late for them. They looked at my girls playing with such beautifully sad faces. At that moment I was so grateful to be able to make that choice myself, to be able to give my girls a sibling.

I received a reply to a text I sent (just giving thanks). Sofia said it perfectly in her broken English. We are both here without our families. We need to look after each other. How lucky am I Joan that someone I barely know, wants to look after me? That she is so thankful that I taught her son that she gives thanks by opening her arms and heart to me?

In December Joan, I laughed so much. Felt so much happiness…even at work. hahahaha.

I wanted to write and tell you about all these moments. To capture them. But instead I chose to just keep them to myself. I kind of wish I had. Maybe then I could have relived the moments but instead I just get to remember the feeling. I am ok with that. Joy. Joy was a great feeling. The beautiful sadness of knowing that life cannot always be joy but knowing and appreciating it when it is.

I feel like any letter just scrapes the surface and then I just stop. Well tonight I am hungry, so my stomach stops me.

 

Toot! Toot! An Epiphany!

Wednesday 9th December, 2015

Dearest Joan,

It has been an incredibly long time between writes. I have had so many things run through my head since the last letter. BUT literally, they have ran…in and quickly out. There doesn’t seem to be a huge capacity to hang onto anything at the moment that isn’t Malaysian, packing related or Eastbourne connected.

I so desperately wanted to respond to a blog I had read about a red string of fate – destiny between two people who were always going to meet in a given situation. Talking about the people that have shaped me, wondering about those I have influenced, questioning why fate occurs when it does. Some people have walked into my life this year, profoundly affected me as a human, yet I am leaving. The time that fate has allowed seems too short. Unfair. Testing.

BUT then I think of you AND me. The relationship we had, didn’t have and have now. The intensity, the hiatus, the reconnection. I feel blessed for the time apart. The red string of fate between you and I was never cut. Perhaps we just failed to see it or acknowledge it. The reconnection has been perfect. For some reason we have always had kms between us. The best long distance relationship ever.

ANYWAY this email isn’t about that. It is about where I am at right now, mentally, with the move. What is happening. The epiphany of today.

Toot! Toot! All aboard the CRAZY train!

That is just how I feel. My emotions are absolutely everywhere. Babu (the little kid) received a card and a pressie from her bestie at crèche. It just set me off. It still sets me off. Leaving her friend, her network – Feeling horrible about it is just how it sits in my heart. It is much the same for Borsz (the older kid) but for her, can rationalise it with her a little. I also find myself distancing myself, putting the wall up when I should be embracing every moment with everyone. Be fair dear Eve to yourself….for some people I give the time to, others not.

Joan, it depends on the eyes. If the eyes cannot move beyond sad I don’t spend so much time there. It hurts too much because I feel like I am doing that. I guess why I haven’t pushed a lot of time with my mum. A decision I am annoyed at myself about. Sadness is just hard to be around. Sad eyes harder. I know the sad eyes love me, cherish me, wish I wasn’t going (so too do the non-sad eyes) and it is that I should hang on to.

It all kicked off when I told my neighbour, Lorraine, our moving out date and she cried. It was that very moment that I realised that our decision has had a wider ripple effect than perhaps I ever considered. This too led me to today’s epiphany. Lorraine is an elderly neighbour. No children. A recently passed husband. We have been a part of their lives for the last 2 and half years quite a lot and prior to that just friendly with each other. I just love her Joan. Find myself worrying about her, often however I have been doing this for some time.

Ok, where is this going? Today, I had a chance to be involved with the school Christmas choir, singing in old folks home. I struggled Joan, hugely. All the thoughts, loneliness, the ill health of Lorraine came flooding. I saw it en masse. My heart broke. I always thought that my destiny was to work with refugees at some point. I am not so sure anymore.

When I get back to Oz – one day, with whatever school I end up in – I have decided to set up links with an old folk’s home. I think I want to become like a companion for an older person. To bring friendship, a little joy. I think I want to involve the girls a little. I even started thinking about Christmas day lunches. It is still swirling in my head everywhere. Trying to sort out. It feels good. I don’t think it is a change of career, just an extra to making the world a little kinder, less lonely. Much like your next venture….which I think is so admirable.

In the scheme of jobs to do before leaving our beautiful beach home on the 21st of December we are doing ok. We have had an application on the house, the steam cleaner is booked, friends are coming over on a weekend to pack and move. I need to phone utilities, sell cars, pack more. The husband is sorting cars, has finished the garden, is sorting out his grade sixes for end of year and generally remaining very focused on all the jobs he needs to complete.

The adventure is getting closer!

Sorry about the delay Joan.

Love you loads,

Eve

Life and faces

Wednesday 4th November 2015

Dear Joan,

Never mind starting with the formal salutations, lets just get straight into it. You gave me this idea to blog about the impending adventure to Malaysia but I figured it has started now. Preparing the girls, the house, my work, the husband, myself, is all a part of it. All the bits pertaining to my life here, right now, also a part of it.

You have written me endless letters and now, I am hoping to return it albeit in a potentially very public forum.

Actually, I have been blogging in my head to you for a few days now. I want to write about a movie I saw, how I am feeling about the move BUT today’s events just seem more pressing.

Today I went to the funeral of my neighbour. It has left me with so many feelings. Firstly though is the funeral face. Yep, the funeral face. That look people give each other that almost seems condescending. The face that people use that just seems so insincere. A funeral is the one place, along with that of births that we should just be allowed to embrace every damn feeling we want. No stoic behaviour, just plain raw emotion. Be angry, be sad, be devastated, be nothing BUT whatever you do, whatever you feel just embrace it. Be sincere.

Equally, I just want honesty at a funeral. Say it as it is and if you can’t then don’t do the eulogy.

From all of this, the husband and I have been talking about what we would want at ours. Cremated. Ashes spread in New York, London, Paris and The Alps in Switzerland. If the bloke doesn’t or can’t do the eulogy, you and another friend has been picked. Just thought I better give you the heads up.

My neighbour’s death has just made me angry. As a society we don’t take enough care of our elders. I feel not enough care was taken of him. What does this say about me though? I am leaving my aging parents. Am I just trusting in one of siblings or aunt and uncle to come to their rescue if needed? What decision would I make if something happened? I don’t know the answers Joan.

I just needed to ‘talk’ about this today. I think next time might be a little more light-hearted.

Love Eve