Welcome back, buddy!

I’m back and it’s been bloody ages, I know.

And I wasn’t sure I was going to come back to this blog. I’m here because I need a friend to talk to and I think it’s you. Don’t feel pressured. You don’t have to do anything except read what I’ve channeled.

There’s so much on my mind right now and I don’t know where to begin. But I suppose we should keep it relevant. See. The theme of the blog was to explore the small stories from my days in foster care. The days I thought I’d left so far behind that I thought I could open them up for public examination.

Vulnerability bruises but I’d go back to write another blog post, and another blog post, and another. It was courage, in a way. I’d write to make sure I had at least 12 blog posts scheduled.

I was caught up by the instant gratification of a couple of WordPress or Facebook likes. But it was getting in the way. I’m a journalist. I wrote for a living. So I had just enough energy for another project. It had to be the blog, or a book.

I chose the book.

There was a woman who wrote me a letter. And in it she said “I love you”. A grand gesture that I related to and had done to others myself. So I knew the energy and courage that went behind the words.

So what did I do to help her?

Nothing. I ignored the letter.

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Shut up Doctor Evil! I already know.

It terrified me and I didn’t know how to answer. I wanted to say I love her too but I knew it was only because I just wanted to make someone happy. Someone deserves to be with who they want. Yet although she was a great friend I didn’t feel that way. “Why not?” I considered. “Why don’t you love her back? What’s wrong with you?”

I procrastinated a day to gather my thoughts, and then another day, and another day, and another day, and another day. And then it must have been two weeks and I still hadn’t acknowledged the letter to her.

Her friend facebook messaged me and blasted me for my rudeness and about how, basically, she was too good for me and that I needed to get over my past and focus on my present and future.

The friend assumed that I felt all this self pity by my foster care blogs. That wasn’t why I was blogging. It wasn’t about showing off that I had a hard background. I didn’t have a hard background! Not really.

So this was the first example in which it felt like publishing my past was being used against me. And I suppose it was an incentive to cut it off. No more blogs.

But here I am.

A few Sundays ago I got really drunk with a hot friend in Brisbane and we were about to pass out on her couch. And she muttered, “tell me a story.”

It could have been any story. But my mind was blank. Blank. Blank.

A terrible moment for someone who feels his only purpose is as a storyteller. I said what was on my heart.

“Tomorrow I’m driving down to New South Wales,” I said. “A place called Kempsey. I’m going to catch up with my foster mother. I haven’t seen her in eight years. I haven’t lived with her in 15.”

Silence.

sleepy|awkward.

“You’re telling me what you’re doing,” she said. “That’s not a story of what happened.” A polite way maybe of saying ‘chill, dude. Way too heavy.’

Maybe.

I guess.

I suppose.

It took days to work out why I was troubled by that moment, which felt like a metaphor or life lesson to take hold of.

I’m a collection of stories.

Not a gatherer of future stories.

I have the past. Why do I need to hold off and concentrate on the future for more stories when I already have what I need. When I haven’t shared all that I can give.

I suppose maybe I feel I need to prove myself from the moment I blanked. For a scary drunken moment I thought maybe I didn’t have anything.

But I do.

Hello =) My name is Chris.

I write not for pity. I write because what happens to me seems to make bloody sense once the actions are channeled through my fingers onto this.

 

 

My Birds and Bees

LUCY and Adam sitting in a tree…

They were the hottest couple in year 6. I don’t think it lasted long but there erupted something within my heart. I might have been jealous for what they had. The attention they received. Or, perhaps, it drew attention to the topic, which we all began talking about.

Sex. What was it? And how could we get it. We were 12. But that’s how it was.

The couple were too young to sleep together. Surely. But back then they seemed mature, adult, better than the rest of us. Lucy didn’t say too much except she’d seem him without his shirt on.

I had questions.

My older foster niece Amber was happy to answer. We would walk to the bus stop alone and she would tell me anything I needed to know.

Like, how did sex happen?

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Until then I thought the dick stayed in while man and woman squirmed their arms around whispering “oh yeah, oh yeah, oh yeah, oh yeah, oh yeah, oh yeah baby, oh yeah. Oh yeah baby. OH GOD Yeah.”

And that was it.

TV lied again. That bastard.

Still, It seemed wrong, stupid, ridiculous that I had to move it in and out. Wouldn’t it be needlessly exhausting? The idea of sex was almost spoiled by the revelation that Amber explained.

She would tell me about her social life as well. She was seeing someone. She’d give me updates every few weeks. She told me she was sleeping with him. It’s amazing she shared this information considered I ratted out her out to her grandmother within minutes of her confessing she started smoking.

“Next time you both do it, can I watch?” I asked.

She gave me a peculiar expression.

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It was almost watchful.

The answer was no. And there wasn’t any negotiating.

I must see new nutters

POPCORN chicken was new on the KFC menu when the social worker broke up with me.

The Big, Fat, Hairy Man and I waited in his government car as part of the drive-thru queue when he made the speech. “It’s not you, it’s me,” the man said as he turned the wheel slightly round the first curve.

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We drove to the Kempsey riverside park as we munched fried chicken. “I’ve been moved to another office,” the social worker said. “There are other children I need to look after who need me as much as you used to.

“Chris,” he said. “You’ve come such a long way since I’ve known you. You know that right?”

Maybe.

The first time we met I was on my house roof. I threw rotten pumpkins at him when he came to visit. Then while he tried to wash the pulp from his salt-and-pepper bushman beard I asked if he could help me off. “I have no pumpkins and it’s been raining and I can’t get off,” I said.

He blinked as if to say “you’ve got to be kidding” but he did it.

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Later though.

When I was put in my foster home I ran away, was picked up by the police, jabbed with a needle and held down by nurses. Listen to the song Bullet with Butterfly Wings and you might know how I feel. I woke up in a hospital in nothing but a plastic dressing gown, a plastic band around my wrist which I believed may have been a secret tracer.

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When I returned to the foster home I was faced with lethargy and loneliness. I tried starving myself, and then the big, fat, hairy man came over. He took me to the beach. We flew a Pokemon kite. The weight of the kite on my finger, the smell of the salty breeze, hearing the sound of the burly chuckles of the man who refused to have a turn.

A happy moment. A transformation of my life. He was my friend. The man in my life. The hero. The one I shared my first subway with.

There were so many social workers, so many psychologists and teachers and parents who gained my trust and over time moved on and found another project. They sanitised themselves – I wasn’t their responsibility – they moved on.

“I will come to visit when I can,” he promised, as if knowing what I was thinking. But I was stuck on the part where he said I’d changed. Because I knew he meant it. I knew then. I was a different boy than the 10-year-old who banged his head on the bedroom wall over and over for the fun of scaring his elderly foster mother.

I was nearly 12, I was nearly in high school, I was the best speller in my year. We sat in the car, watching a few kids run along the rickety bridge on the playground. “Want to play?” he said. The big, fat, hairy man knew how much I loved climbing up the curly slide, getting in the way of everyone, pretending the slide was a giant worm with its teeth at the bottom.

“Nah,” I said, seeing an advantage in this break-up. “Let’s get ice-cream.” And he said okay and we moved on.

Ms Gameboy

ALTERNATIVELY named Ms Gameboy and the Awkies Trio.

Ms Gameboy would often say, “I will keep an eye on you, Chris.” Most of the time she said that because I was a bit of a delinquent and she trusted me like a traditional owner would with a mining company.

But once my school councillor meant it in a nice way. I think. Assuming she didn’t assume I would be a serial killer or a Wall Street predator. She added; “You will be on the bestseller list and I will read your book.”

Well, I hope she never reads this. And she probably won’t because you’re pretty much my sole readership. Also, I’ve changed my name.

And I’ve changed her name. It’s not really Ms Gameboy. It was the nickname the Awkies Trio gave her because her real name was a few vowels off Gameboy and it’s fun to destroy a teacher’s self esteem.

For example, Mr Stone the substitute teacher was Mr Stoner.

And our high school science sub was Ms Pike. “What’s a dyke?” I asked her once after I heard the word whispered far too many times around the Bunsen burner.

Fat Tony

Anyway.

I’m not actually sure Gameboy was the school councillor. She was sort of like a remedial officer who took on the Awkies Trio. The trio were the more anti-social of the Year 6 loners. There was Finchy, the ADHD kleptomaniac/compulsive liar. There was Whitey – this kid who often sat away from everyone and drew dragons. And there was me.

I was trying to fit in the school system,so that my crush Ellie would want me. Witchcraft wasn’t working, I needed to be in on the cool crowd.  Gameboy’s interest told the class I was a weirdo no matter how normal I acted.

I was hot and cold with this poor lady.

Because at least I could get out of class for excursions or get ice-cream.

Frieza, meds, terrorism

SO MANY things to think about when you’re in Year 6. Oh man, it was wild back then.

The parties you’re not invited to.!

The girls that freak you out for various reasons

The mean Irish teacher who is fucking insane 

Medication you have to take which supresses your hate for middle class society and the demountable school buildings and terrorists the hate is still there you’re aware of it but first you have to fight through the haze which hides the switch to your vocal cords so that you can’t make them scream

War on Terrorism – which begins later in the year.

George Bush, who I didn’t know existed until he announces War on Terrorism

Wheatus.

Dragon Ball Z. What if I sleep in or the aerial stuffs up the day Goku finally kills Frieza?

Frieza meme

What if my crazy teacher is a terrorist? 

My scary psychologist has three nipples

How the hell am I going to find and read all the 54 Animorphs books in order?

Impressing my friends who are more athletic and don’t invite me to parties because my socks don’t match. 

Being possessed by an alien slug

Making sure I get dressed in time since my foster mum threatened to put me on the bus in my PJs. Like she did to my foster brother.

Making sure my socks match.

Feeding the horses.

Homework.

Vampires. Do they exist? Or are Joss Whedon and Blade big fat liars? 

High school. Those kids look mean. What if I go to high school one day and I get knifed or flushed down the toilet or overlooked because I’m less than average in ability and looks and the teachers don’t care because their classrooms have too many students beyond capacity and I don’t learn long division properly?

What if I get tricked into smoking cigarettes, and before you know it the addiction strips my soul away and I become a total psycho like Christian Slater in that movie Heathers.

My foster mother gave me a visualisation exercise one day. She said “when there’s too many thoughts in your head, imagine a box.”

Okay.

“Put all your thoughts and fears and worries in the box.”

Makes sense.

“Close the box and put it under your bed. Come back later when you need them. Keep two or three with you and manage those ones.”

Okay! I’ll keep the epic fight between Goku and Frieza, the mean Irish teacher, and trying to sleep my way to popularity.

I find it difficult to think more than two or three ideas or thoughts now. Family, work, social life, it’s all been compartmentalised to when I need to access them. When something or someone tries to climb out the box I chop them up with an axe and swallow some medication with alcohol and  I put them back in and promise myself I’ll work on it later.

My first kiss

SO far I’ve kissed three women. Well, the first two kisses weren’t to women. We were too young.

Yeah. I don’t get out much. No way I’m telling you my age but anyone who knows a rough idea would surely be a bit…”wow, that’s just…sad.”

Anyhoo.

My first kiss. I’ve been putting off the story for a while to save for the right time. But it’s been weeks since my last confession blog post so maybe the problem would be solved with a story I wanted to dig up.

For years there’s been a sense of disgust about my first kiss. It affected me heavily I think because I was ashamed about it, so I didn’t talk about it. It’s why I pushed girls away I wasn’t sure of, how it’s affected all sexual views and attitudes.

All I knew about kisses then was from the movies. It had to be the right time, the right place, the right girl.

Her name was Maggie Olde and she wanted to go out ever since I knew her. She tried to bribe me with her Nintendo if I went out with her. She was my near neighbour. The cool guys thought she was ugly and fat. I wanted to do everything to impress them. I would not fit in ever if she and I were to go out.

There’s so many things wrong with that previous paragraph but these were my thoughts at the time. And there was a throbbing, a frustration in all areas of my body, a line I wanted to test and balance and the only girl I felt confident to do it with was Maggie.

I used Maggie for my own gratification, which I would do with a letter every now and then to tell her I had the hots for her. Then I’d get a letter and a rush of heat from the compliments she gave back to me. I’d regret it quickly and even more so with the little sickening comments my way.

Like, when everyone on the bus discussed hate and love. I said “I read somewhere that hate and love is the same thing.”

“Then,” she said staring at me so I wouldn’t miss what she was saying. “I HATE you.”

 

It was a messed up, toxic relationship. Years later I ran into one of my teachers, and she commented on it. “You two never mixed.”

About two years ago, I met Amber again (foster niece, friend, sort of a childhood crush) after a long time of lost contact. As we sat in the carpark of Nerang Train Station I told her about Maggie. Amber never knew because I didn’t even tell her.

“Oh my God,” Amber said, almost sounding horrified.

 

I hated myself for the weirdness. Confused, insecure, I didn’t want her, I wanted to experiment. I wanted to fit in. I wanted something else but then and even now I didn’t know what it was.

So one afternoon we went to her place with the promise of Nintendo. We were alone in her bedroom. She wanted to kiss. We did. There was no magic, no fuzzy feeling in my head or the excitement you might get finding a Pink Yoshi near the Forest of Illusion. I felt like I was touching something slimy and gross. I was queasy. I wanted to go home.

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“Now,” she said, sitting at her desk. “Let’s pretend you’re the husband and I’m the wife, and you’re coming home and you love me.” And she leaned out, lips puckered.

I should have got the hell out of there.

But I kissed her on the forehead and said “where’s your Nintendo.”

And then when I found out she didn’t have it anymore, I got the hell out of there.

Vengeance for Spot

OUR male Mareema was as tall as I was when he stood up. Once he stood up leaning on my back. “Look Mum,” I shouted. “Sari is hugging me!”

“Um…” she said, and the nearby cattle owner she was talking to laughed. Because Sari had an erection.

 

Photo from Dogbreedinfo.com
Photo from Dogbreedinfo.com

Soon Sari found true love when we bought a female Mareema, Belle. They had a cute litter of eight. And Mum decided she could make a lot of money from each of them. The difficulty was she had trouble selling them. We lived so far out of town that it was hard to attract people to look at the dogs.

We used to live in a caravan park, so Mum managed to persuade the owner to come round and have a look. “We could finally get some money today,” Mum said, warning my brother Abe and I to be on our best behaviour.

Abe owned a rabbit, Spot. We converted our outdoor dunny into a large cage . I wouldn’t say Abe particularly loved that rabbit more than any other pet he had. But he was emotionally attached.

I say this because of the unfortunate timing that Belle chose to break into the cage to eat the rabbit.

The potential puppy buyer had arrived and they were saying their “hellos” and sharing cups of tea and oohing over the pups and Sari. And Abe retreated to the rabbit cage to show off his pet.

He screamed. The wire was broken into. And then Belle walked past our guests holding the bloody dead rabbit. Abe saw it. He howled with rage and picked up the metal pole we used for lightsaber battles. “I’ll kill you!” he yelled, chasing Belle over three fences; one wooden, one barbed and one electric. We could hear him roar vengeance for Spot echoing through the hills.

“So how about that puppy?” Mum asked the caravan park owner, who smiled and then reversed out the driveway as fast as she could.

 

New boss in town

MY favourite restaurant in Kempsey was a place called Louis Cafe. It had the style of a 1950s American diner with early Hollywood posters on the walls. “Overpriced,” my Mum used to call the place. But they served Spiders. So logically it was the best place in town. There was a new manager of DOCS. My social worker and I agreed to meet him there. We sat at the table as the manager sat across from us. He brought out colourful balls from his pockets – five, six, seven – and juggled them flawlessly. Slowly, faster, a colourful blur of orange, red and blues. Two hand. One hand. Tobey said he used to be into clowning. “Can I have a go!” I asked, so after the meal we went to the nearest semi-private place. I learned to juggle underneath the main street bridge. I used balls made of rice and balloons. “Wow!” Toby said to the social worker when I was able to juggle three balls. “How old is he?” “11.” “He has the reflexes of a 13-year-old.” And I felt special. Not that shit sort of special either. I’d been marked in that group many times. No. I felt naturally gifted. We made my own juggling balls so I could become the welterweight boxing champion of the world  earn the reflexes of a 14-year-old.

My type of girl

MY PSYCHOLOGIST had three nipples.

That’s a fun fact for you all.

And now you know why I bottle so much inside.

How did I know my psychologist had three nipples? Well. He showed me. But don’t worry. It wasn’t weird or anything. He showed me in my foster mother’s lounge room.

Mr Brown was teaching me not to worry about teasing. Or something like that.

I said “ha ha, beard man. You’re a freak.”

 

I haven’t mentioned Mr Brown before. And that’s because I had a long list of psychologists, psychiatrists, social workers, mentors, witch doctors trying to solve my problems in the vain hopes that one day I wouldn’t spent my 19th birthday in a prison.

Yeah, I’m 25 and the most I’ve known about adult prison is from Orange is the New Black. So it couldn’t have been a vain hope, right? Right?

All those social workers, psychologists, witch doctors must have made a difference in my life? Right? Right?

Bullshit.

They were either liars, or as dysfunctional as I was.

So what happened? Well.

I think maybe this blog will eventually get to that. But not today. Because I’m milking my story for all its worth so that it’s worth something.

 

Also, you’re probably thinking “what type of girl are you into!”

Yeah.  Well. I’m dysfunctional and I’m a liar. I’ve worked out I get high readership with sexual/romance related posts. The three nipples thing? Nah.

Yowies and Rams

I USED to play soccer for a team called Upper Macleay Yowies.

Go Yowies!

Great name. With patriotic colours of green and gold.

Shit team. Although a few of our players were great; especially Tom and Jessie. We all had fun together.

But that was the old days. When girls could play in our teams. Before Tom’s car accident.

Before Mum gave away my soccer boots for running away and hiding in the school library.

A year later, my foster mother Hazel decided I should pay soccer again. She bought boots and made sure I got a lift to try-outs. The nearest team to my school was the Fredo Rams. My school mates played in a higher year for some reason.

Hazel didn’t have her own car. But her sister did. So she made an effort to see my home games. And I’d get a lift with the team’s mothers when we had to travel a distance.

I wish I had a moral to wrap this post in a cute conclusion. The truth is I don’t. All I wanted to say was that I loved soccer, and that despite my complaints I wasn’t stuck on my foster home property when I wasn’t at school. And that Hazel did try to make me happy.

And to say that chocolate Yowies were the best. They were like Kinder Surprises, but the toys inside were of endangered and rare animals.