Mez Blathering

Here is a headline!



A banana in time, saves nine.

***Day 1***

Today, I noticed - as I often do when I have a day off work - what contentment I feel just being at home, in my kitchen, looking out at the back yard. It makes me think (now that I’m reflecting on it) that it must be a sign of getting old, to feel happiness at such a simple thing. When I was in my twenties, or my thirties, I don’t think simply looking out at my backyard was able to give me such a sense of fulfillment.

Or is it that my idea of what happiness is/how happiness feels has changed since then? That’s also a possibility.

Perhaps it’s not actually due to personal growth at all! Maybe I’m kidding myself about the gentle wisdom and contentment I’ve obtained now that I’m in my 40s. Maybe it’s because of external factors – eg, that I am lucky enough to live in a house that I like….well some parts more than others, but I especially like the kitchen (if I try not to see the pile of dirty dishes that is never quite cleaned up at the side of the sink), and I enjoy sitting at the kitchen bench, looking out at the garden, when I’m writing. And this is the garden I like the most too, out of all the houses I’ve lived in.

After all the angst/despair/(insert similar states of mind common to teenagers and twenty-somethings) of the first few decades of my life, who knew that all I needed was some greenery with the sun shining through the leaves!

And despite what you might think, we don’t have a manicured, pretty garden to look at – at the moment, the so-called “lawn” is an eyesore, comprised of tufts of grass and thistles. I don’t know anything about gardening, and rarely ever do anything more than pull a few weeds out. My partner knows a bit about gardening, but seems to have lost interest lately. So, the hapless garden is left to its own devices. Fortunately, it still supplies a view filled with greenery, since there are trees all along one fence line, rambling roses and vines along another, and an overgrown Bougainvillia along the third. Not to forget those weeds, which are a very lush shade of green. Ha!

The timer for my 10 minutes is about to go off, and I notice as I write this, that I’m writing it as though other people will be reading it, which is not really the aim of the exercise. And I notice that I write way too much, as always. Maybe next time I should use a notebook instead of my laptop. It would be great to shake this habit – which I think I’ve developed through writing a blog – of writing even the first draft as if it’s going to be put up online. And of course I go over time, editing.

****Day 2****

Today I noticed that the bananas in the fruit bowl on my kitchen bench had reached exactly the right amount of ripeness.

Energised by having made a concrete observation, I immediately asked my daughter for one of her blank cue-cards (she was sitting at the other side of the kitchen bench, doing homework) and also, whether I could trouble her to borrow her pen for a moment, and noted this observation immediately, for posterity. Or really, for this writing excercise.

It's lucky the teen was willing to give me her paper and pen, because I was in the middle of a half-arsed attempt at making dinner - one of those attempts you make when you've arrived home late and hoped that your partner (/housemate/sister/mum/dad) would have made it by now, but it turns out he had a "conference call" and had put the eggplants into the oven and then deserted the entire proceedings, leaving anyone else who was in the vicinity to make either finish it or let the house burn down. Can you believe it? I mean, if I were him, I would have just phoned for a pizza to be delivered, paid with card, and then gone and called my colleagues. Forget chopping eggplants in a flurry right before a teleconference with your boss.

Anyway, as it happens, I was chopping onions and garlic when banana-related inspiration hit me, and although energised by the recognition that I had, indeed, noticed something, as I'd been trying to do all day, I was not motivated enough to leave the onion-chopping to go and forage for paper and a pen. So if my daughter had not been sitting right there armed with a generous nature, paper and a pen, all available to be exploited by anyone who asked nicely, I'd never have got this down.

The note I scribbled in haste, with a green pen, no less, went like this:

"Today I noticed the bananas are exactly perfectly ripe. Or are they. Sometimes there is no certainty anywhere. They are yellow and speckled, but if I was to eat one.....will it be (gasp) - OVERRRIPE?!!! Best not to find out. I reserve my judgement."

I'm very fussy about fruit, by the way. I prefer to eat comfy, carbohydrates whenever there's a choice. So little goes wrong with them. So I munched on some rice crackers and continued with dinner.

Dinner was quite nice, by the way. 

(*Of course, now I realise that I haven't really met the challenge properly tonight, because I sat down and wrote this without timing myself. At a guess I've probably spent 30 minutes writing and editing. It's hard to say because I can't remember what I was doing before I started doing this, and also because time goes by very quickly when I'm writing. Maybe I've been here since yesterday.)

****Day 3****

Today I noticed rain drops. A lot of them. Well, just rain, really. After a week of unseasonally balmy weather for late April here in Melbourne - where it should be chilly by now - today was right on the mark for 2/3 the way through Autumn. Grey and raining, and I had to wear a hoodie over my t-shirt.

The rain seemed to fit, or set, the state of mind I was in today: not glum, but kind of unfocussed. Blurry, dreamy, procrastinating. This began at breakfast when I was idly checking Facebook and Twitter - of course the next thing I knew 45 minutes had gone by. I don't like that sense of having disappeared down a rabbit hole and lost time that I'll never get back. Just think of all the good quality writing I could have read, if I picked up a book instead of browsing social media for 45 minutes!

All day I've felt not quite present in whatever I'm doing. Well, I made myself go and do the grocery shopping, just to remind myself of the world outside. To put myself out into it, and force myself to focus outwardly for an hour. It was also so that, at the end of the day, I'd have at least achieved one small but practical thing. It was also so that we'd have some food to eat on the weekend.

I even turned down an invitation from one of my best friends to go out tonight. By that point, I was wearing my "round the house" pants and just couldn't imagine getting energised and going out later on. I wanted to think, and the weather supported this, remaining grey, and raining on and off all day.

So I put away the groceries and ate lunch, and then wrote and published a post on my blog, about how much I'm enjoying this course! After that indulgence, on which I probably spent 2 hours, I cleaned the shower. 

All day I was aware of looking out for some significant thing to notice, that would spark an idea to write about, but nothing leapt out at me. It seems I'm much more likely to notice what's going on in my own head. Ugh! I tire myself out, always writing about myself writing. Maybe that's why I was drawn to this particular course, because the prompt ostensibly should inspire one to look for something external to write about.

Of course, I've failed at that this time. 

*I am proud to say that  I did manage to keep to the 10 minute limit when I scribbled all the above into a notebook, and I've transcribed it pretty much as written. Only minor edits, I promise! 

****Days 4 and 5****

Today, and yesterday, I noticed that a lot of dysfunctional dynamics go on in some families. I noticed that, as an in-law of one such family, it's possible to remain oblivious to much of this until someone has a few drinks and opens up to you.

Yesterday was spent travelling to stay with relatives and attend a birthday dinner, stay overnight, get up this morning and go watch a nephew play football, and finally, have lunch together before we headed off on the 2 hour journey back home again. Last night, after we'd all drunk quite a lot, I learned from one of my partner's siblings, how she perceives other siblings treat her.

It's surprising to me, to hear some of the things that family members will say or do to one another.  I'm no saint, of course, and when I was young I regularly fought with my younger brother and sister. Once, I was so angry with my sister that I pelted a large magnet across a room at her head. Luckily, I was a bad shot, and instead of it hitting her head, it hit the glass lounge room doors, and cracked the glass. An outcome that probably didn't feel very lucky to me, at the time. 

As an adult, I am guilty of responding impatiently to my youngest brother quite recently. That was because he kept changing, or was not willing or able to pin down, the designated time that we would need to be ready to leave our accommodation for the church on the morning of his wedding ceremony. My impatient response came when we got up on the morning of his wedding, at a time we'd calculated to allow time for a quick breakfast, and as soon as he saw us, he (finally) told us the exact time we'd need to leave, which was earlier than previously indicated and meant we had to adjust our plans and go without breakfast. My frustration probably came to a head because there was a pattern, over the week that we were in the Philippines for his wedding, where he would be very vague about timing for anything we had planned, but then suddenly announce, as if we should have been aware of it all along, that we needed to be ready right now, or that everyone else was already there and waiting for us. 

But that kind of minor frustration, and my response to it, pales in comparison to my in-laws. Amongst the 7 siblings, there is always someone not speaking to someone else, someone feeling that another sibling is bossing and bullying them, or someone phoning siblings to tell them to f**k off. 

As a child, I thought my own family was pretty dysfunctional - but I'm glad to say that as adults, we actually try to get along. I feel sorry for people who have to constantly wage wars against their siblings.

That's all I can write in a 10 minute time slot, but I might think more about this topic! 

***Day 6***

Today I noticed the sky.

The light. 

Sharp shadows in the late afternoon.

Cold air, warm patches in the sunlight, the last month of Autumn.

The shapes of buildings.

Dates on buildings: 1878. 1926.

Today I noticed how easy it is to forget an idea that flits through your head. An idea for today's writing flitted through my head as I emerged from the stairwell onto the rooftop car park where my car was parked, at about 5.15 this afternoon. I recall I was looking at the blueness of the sky, and at the buildings in the city spread out below me. 

Was it to do with the surprising blue of that sky, given the chilly temperature, or the shapes of the clouds? Was it something about looking out over a town in the late afternoon in late Autumn, when the light is yellow and soft and the shadows are starting to lengthen? I'm sure a whole sentence came to me as I walked to my car, and whatever it was, it struck me as interesting. It must have been a different kind of sentence than the ones I usually write. I liked it for that reason. All my sentences are structured the same way, and as the writer of those sentences, I have to admit that I get a bit bored with that.

Anyway. Whatever it was, it's gone now. Yet another idea, forgotten, and - who knows? - maybe it was a good one. I can pretend as much. It's lost now, floating somewhere in the sky, above the rooftop carpark.

**Days 7 & 8***

Oh dear. I thought I'd definitely have no trouble writing for 10 minutes every day but - what do you know?! Work and outside-of-work committments got the better of me just as they do so many others. Tonight I feel quite brain dead because I've been at the computer all day, but I thought I better push myself.

I just watched Emily's tutorial on writing without editing what you write, so I'm really trying to do that. Although, I am writing straight onto this post, so that already means I'm writing this as if it's going to be read. It's a hard habit to break. I blame blogging!

But I'll resist the temptation to edit - as I just did, when I paused a moment and looked at that last paragraph, and immediately, out of habit, thought of a better way to start that last paragraph. 

Today I noticed that I am capable of spending so much time at a computer screen that it makes me tired. I work from home on Wednesdays and I'm pretty conscientious about putting in the hours, so I timed any breaks I took (to hang out a load of laundry, to get a coffee, to eat lunch, to bring in the laundry, and to walk to the post office around the corner to post a Mother's Day card to my mum). In the end I've worked less than 7.5 hours, but I'll be honest about that on my timesheet so I'm not ripping off the company. I had thought I might do some more work after dinner, but that would have meant another day going by without getting a "Today I Noticed" post written here. 

I really must make more effort to put aside the computer or phone and read the book that's on my bedside table. I'm reading a history at the moment, called "An Intimate History of Humanity", so it's written in chapters that are framed around an idea, eg, the history of curiousity. Each chapter starts with some conversation with a modern-day person (the book is about 20 years old) but then goes back into history and traces the history of this particular idea, usually just using a few key examples. Eg, in the history of curiosity I learned how fear can block curiousity and the example given was that spiders have been on earth since prehistoric times and given all that time to research them we know relatively little about them, because of fear. Apparently, though, there were periods of time where particular cultures worshipped spiders, but then that all changed. These days many people name spiders when asked what they fear. 

And that is my 10 unedited minutes for today! 

***Day 9***

Today I noticed the satisfying poetry of synchronised movement.

I'm talking, of course, about driving on the freeway.

Changing gears just as the music on the car stereo revs up a notch. Gliding into the next lane as the chorus begins. The moment when your 3 lane freeway comes around a bend and merges with another 3 lane freeway, becoming, in that curve, 6 lanes of cars, and you and all the cars around you keep your pace, don't falter for a moment or lose the rhythm.

The bond that develops when you stay abreast, for a few minutes, with a driver in another lane, taking the curves in synch, riding the crests, changing lanes to pass slower cars and then recalibrating back to your original positions, hood to hood, in adjoining lanes. All too soon, inevitably, someone gets stuck behind a slow driver and the other car moves further ahead, and the bond is lost. 

***********************Day 10**********************************

The sky.


The light.


Sharp shadows in the late afternoon.


The ability to feel happiness at a simple thing like the sun shining in her back garden.


That was what she was thinking about, idly, in her kitchen one afternoon, when suddenly, she was struck by an observation: that the bananas in the fruitbowl had reached exactly the right amount of ripeness.


She was filled with joy, not so much at the ripeness of the bananas, but at her own observation of their ripeness. She was, after all, an aspiring writer, constantly scribbling away, but always about what was going on in her own head. This had become quite tedious to her, since she always had the same thoughts, and they were always self-conscious musings about her own state of mind combined with self-referential commentary about writing – questioning the purpose of the activity, etc, etc. So it was exhilarating to make an observation about the outside world.


With a gasp, she grabbed the nearest scrap of paper, and on it, wrote:


Today I noticed the bananas are exactly perfectly ripe. Or are they?? Sometimes there is no certainty anywhere. They are yellow and speckled, but if I was to eat one.....will it be (gasp) - OVERRRIPE?!!! Best not to find out. I reserve my judgement.


She was fussy about fruit, anyway. Carbohydrates are so much more reliable.


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