I have always hated margarine. It doesn't matter what brand, as a child I wouldn't go near it. I hated the horrible plasticy chemical smell, the texture and the (to me) slightly rancid flavour of the stuff. Whenever I would go anywhere for a meal I made sure to tell them that I only eat butter, no margarine.
When I was ten and my mum was in hospital giving birth to my brother, I stayed with my school friend Janni Timimin and her family. On my first day there they served sandwiches for lunch which were made with limp white bread and didn't taste particularly good, but I ate them because I was hungry.
Halfway through the meal, Janni triumphantly told me that I was eating margarine. The whole family was in on it, and they all laughed at me. I was horrified that they'd tricked me like that, and terribly embarrassed to be the butt of their joke. I was so upset I nearly vomitted on her.
I still don't eat margarine, even though it tastes vastly better now than it did when I was a kid. And I have to wonder if they'd have done that if I was a vegetarian or something. Where would they have drawn the line at ignoring my preferences and tricking me into eating what they felt I should eat?
So I had this idea that I would write the story of my life up to this point. It isn't going to be linear story. It's going to be jumbled with horribly long side discussions that go nowhere. I doubt it will ever be published anywhere except the web. I want people to read it so I'm laying out bread crumbs.
This is a bread crumb.
Follow it to my journal. Read that. It'll give you a rough idea who I am. It's part of my story but not all of it. I'll be posting bits of my story as I write it, here and other places.
So this isn't too bare here is a glimpse of me:
I didn't know I was different as a kid. That is I didn't let myself know. I lied to myself. I promised myself anything not to know. I wanted so much to be normal. I fooled myself into believing everything would be fine as long as I confront it. Looking back now I can see the signs. Memories scattered throughout my past like bread crumbs leading me to one conclusion. I really wasn't like other boys. I felt more like a girl. I was good at hiding it, good at fooling myself. Even in my darkest hours of depression I never let myself think if I was a girl things would be better. I just suffered the pain of being incomlepte and not knowing why.
Twenty plus years of denial do not just go away. They haunt me but I'm trying to learn how not to let them define me. Even now as I type, I am a woman, a part of me feels fear of exposure. It wants to run away and pretend everything is just fine the way it is. This is my biggest hurdle.
This is not all my story but it is a large part of it.
Throughout my childhood I spent the majority of my school holidays with my grandma, and I always looked forward to helping her cook, and setting out all her beautiful tableware and napkins. She used to let me make it all fancy with the formal serving dishes and embroidered special-occasion napkins. She was a vicar's wife so she did alot of entertaining :)
My favourite of her recipes was this one for lamb chops, but it can also be done with cross-cut blade steak. It ends up to be tangy, rich tender meat, falling off the bone with the most delicious gravy on it. So good. We have always served it with mashed potatoes and steamed green beans.
8 lambchops (remove fat)
4 Tbsp flour
1 tsp mustard powder
1 tsp brown vinegar
4 Tbsp tomato sauce
1 tsp sugar
1 tsp salt
1/2 pint (300ml) water or stock
Mix flour and mustard and place in oven bag with chops, shake. Mix remaining ingredients and add to bag.
Heat oven to 350F or 180C, 75 minutes to cook, and you can make in casserole dish, but grandma says it's best in an oven bag :)
My mother was an eccentric performing artist and seamstress. She attended a performing arts school and did several shows as part of a mime troupe.
She used to make alot of my clothes, which I was extremely unappreciative of because they weren't fashionable. I'd be dressed in an ankle-length wraparound skirt while all the girls were wearing short bubble dresses and making fun of me.
She also made all sorts of costume items.
Her most popular (at the time) item was known as 'bop pants' and consisted of MC-Hammer looking parachute pants made of metallic coloured vinyl fabric, with a layer of quilting like a sleeping bag underneath to make them extra puffy.
The local street dancers used to buy them off her, and thought they were super slick wearing them.
My favourite costumes were the fairy dresses she used to make. She would match up the colours to the swimsuit or leotard of the child in question. Mine was dark blue and red; my friends mostly had shades of pink.
I used to dress as a fairy at every opportunity :)
When I was little, my only perception of royalty was gleaned from the books I read. I knew all about princesses with flowing golden hair, golden crowns with sparkly gems all over them, huge castles and valiant knights.
One day (I don't know if it was her 1981 or 86 visit*) we were told that the Queen was coming to visit, and we had to get ready. They gave us all little Union Jack flags, and we spent hours learning 'God Save the Queen'.
It was terribly exciting for everyone to think that we might see the Queen in real life, and we wondered what she'd be like. We had seen her portrait of course; it's on our money
and there are paintings of her around the place, but it's not the same as the real thing.
We all imagined that she'd be a beautiful young womain with creamy skin and ebony hair
(more or less like Snow White), seated in a beautiful carriage with white horses, shining and resplendant in rich velvet robes with fur trim, and a huge gold crown with diamonds all over it. You should have seen the pictures we came up with in our art classes leading up to the event :)
When the day finally arrived, they took us all by bus to the racecourse, where thousands of other noisy children also waited, and we stood in the hot sun for an eternity, wearing our best, most uncomfortable clothes and trying to remember the words to the song.
Eventually the loudspeakers crackled on so that we could hear the band, and everyone sang God Save the Queen as her procession came onto the track. It was horrible - most children cannot sing in tune/time anyway, and the song just isn't suited to whispy little voices.
We stood on tippy-toes to get a good look, craning our necks and peering over the heads of the children in front of us, only to find a tiny middle-aged (ie ancient
) lady with greying hair
and a very ordinary dress and hat, sitting in the back of a car with some old guy. We felt terribly cheated. She didn't even have a crown on!
They drove once around the track so everyone could see them, and then she shook hands with a few people who were lucky enough to be crushed up against the barriers. Our school was way up the back somewhere so we didn't really even get a good look at her.
Then we had to stand still for what seemed like an eternity (I don't even remember if there were speeches - I suppose there must have been), before we were finally allowed to leave.
After that stories about Queens and Kings were a bit less exciting for me.
* I can't find enough information about either visit to match it up with my memories. I'm sure I was younger than 10 when this happened which would mean 81, but the only mention I can find of school children is from the 86 visit..
I sent this last night, having discovered contact details for one of my highschool teachers on the internet
At the point where I first encountered you at Seddon/Western Springs College in 1990, I had been to 13 different schools, including three intermediate level schools. In that time I had not managed to grasp more than the basics in times-tables, and had learned some parts of the primary school curriculum many times, and completely missed others due to schools teaching content in different orders than each other. I went from being quite promising in maths to being the absolute bottom of the classes, and having no real interest or hope in improving.
Instead I chose to concentrate my energy on the things I was good at – art, English, Social Sciences etc, and really just endured the maths classes and tried to get by.
The thing that made your class different, was that you always tried to make it interesting and fun. I remember the jokes, which we had to decode using sums etc to find the punch line. I also remember being impressed by your attitude towards the subject matter – it was interesting to you, and something that you really wanted us to pick up on. I loved the class where we used our math skills to plot out the shadow angle of a building, and drew pictures based on coordinates that we had to plot out.
By the time you left (which I was quite upset about at the time), I was much more confident in my own abilities, and I think if I hadn’t met you I probably never would have got even that far.
To tell you the truth I never excelled in maths, and I didn’t pass fifth form maths (not any reflection on yourself, it was a combination of elements that worked against me) but I only failed by one point, and I think I actually did quite well considering the odds that were stacked against me.
But all that aside, you managed to teach me in a way that stuck. The skills I learned while in your class have helped me on a practical level in real life, and I am grateful to have met you and been influenced by you, and I count you as one of my all-time favourite school teachers.
So, I guess it boils down to this: thankyou for teaching me :)
Have a good one, Mr P.
This is a story about my Great Grandmother (Lydia), which I heard during the planning for my own wedding a few years ago..
Lydia was a very petite woman, only just clearing five feet tall and very delicate. She was always dressed and groomed immaculately and never had so much as a hair out of place (my memories of her house when I was little mostly involve not being allowed to touch anything).
At the time when Lydia and Orm got married in 1925, ladies often had matched sets of shoes, handbags and umbrellas for special occasions. She had picked out a particularly nice set for her 'going away' outfit to wear aferwards, and had it ready in the bedroom (the wedding reception was held at her parents house).
While she was otherwise engaged with guests, one of her sisters crept into the dressing room and filled up the umbrella with confetti.
She became pregnant a few months after the wedding with twins. One day towards the end of her pregnancy she decided to go for a walk to the post office, and as it happened, she chose that day to take her favourite umbrella out, which she'd never had a chance to use during the honeymoon.
She didn't open it until she was right in the middle of the busy mainstreet, whereapon her huge baby-belly was showered with bright, multi coloured confetti :)
Despite being such a 'proper' lady, she had a great sense of humour and told the story to her daughters when they were getting ready for their weddings :)
|I sucked my thumb constantly until I was about 12, and then covertly at night until I was about 14. My sucking thumb always tasted better than my other thumb. After a while, it just didn't taste nice anymore and I stopped.
They tried all sorts of things to dissuade me, from telling me my teeth would be crooked, to telling me my thumb would drop off...
I have memories of being this little. They aren't visual; they are tactile. Long, slow, simple rushes of emotion at every touch and smell and breath -- the constancy of a floor being a source of comfort.
|My earliest memory would have been when I was two. |
I remember standing in the back yard of a huge white wooden house with my Godmother and my foster-sister Wiki, helping them while they harvested rhubarb. The late afternoon sun was warm and bright, and there were crickets in the grass at my feet.
I also remember something else about that time - sitting in the back of a crowded station wagon listening to Wiki and Alexander whispering and giggling about the scary Mud Man and ducking down so he wouldn't see as we left the driveway.
These memories are only a few minutes in time, but I asked my Godfather about it a few years ago, and he confirmed that when I was two I was fostered by them during a hard family time, and lived with them in Wellington.
The white house was on the same street as a potter, who was known as the Mud Man. We never saw him, but his name must have conjured all sorts of bogeyman images for the kids :)