A week in my life from twelve years ago (part 2)

I found the following pages that I wrote around twelve years ago. This was long before I became a mother; long before my child was in the school system and long before she was found to be dyslexic. I was around ladies who had been wounded in childhood, and through their own tenacity, had survived. I was around women over eighty whom I wanted to emulate in older years. Apparently, I never did like party plans! Reading through my summary of this particular week has me convinced that there are signposts along the way, indicating where we shall find ourselves, and who we are destined to become.

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‘Sunday, I attended a writer’s meeting. A real estate agent talked about his former life as an English teacher. He apparently loathed it. His daughter-in-law then introduced herself, and I desperately wanted to interrupt her. There was no love for her chosen teaching career, and certainly none for her students. “You can’t show them up in front of the class anymore, they believe it’s humiliating! Some of them can’t read or spell properly. In kindergarten they knew that they were failures. Some of them, however, refuse to face facts… If you don’t fit into society and it’s expectations, you will be discarded.” I shot my hand up, feeling like a child in front of this ferocious creature. I talked about the excellent literacy program at the Exodus Foundation, and sweetly inquired as to whether the students had access to anything similar where she taught? Turns out, she was the bloody remedial teacher! I commented that kids have to take in so much these days, and she was un-moved. She used big words, laughing, “some don’t even know the meaning of preposition, and get similes confused!” Oh the horror! I was livid, and ranted under my breath that using big words doesn’t make you clever, nor a writer.

In a lapse of sanity, I agreed to go to a party plan event at a friend’s. My friend is a beautiful, intelligent woman with raven coils setting off a heart-shaped face. Poor darling is surrounded by antiquated ideals and suffocating domesticity. The women gathered were apparently school mums, though in truth, I don’t think that half of them were friends to themselves. They glared as I entered the living room, and looked me up and down. I demurely found a place to sit amongst the humourless women. They chatted amongst themselves about what my friend had in her home. The features, the furniture, the carpet. What they needed to renovate in their own homes. Items that I could buy down the street for $1.00 were being ordered at $40. The women glanced at each other’s order forms, to see who was getting what. I felt like sticking a fork in my eye. I felt like grabbing my friend’s hand and running like the wind away from this hell and these horrid women.

Monday was a better day. I kept a friend company by accompanying him on his truck as he made deliveries, my little dog in my lap. We had a great time cruising Sydney’s highways. I then raced to Lenka’s puppet show at the University of Technology. Lenka is a famous Czech puppeteer, and her work was featured in the movie, Amadeus. I met many fringe-dwellers and artists, as well as Koori friends. Aboriginal elder, Uncle Percy, and sweet Koori healer Yangamarra piled into our car afterward. Uncle Percy sang whilst Yangamarra drummed.

What a week it has been! Some hours were forthright and exhilarating. Some were a drudge, which I frankly resented spending precious moments of my life on. It all adds to the tapestry of life! You realize who and what you want to become through all these experiences.’

Party Plans

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I had never attended a soiree/party-plan before I had a child. It might have had something to do with my being a hermit, but still… When my daughter was a baby, I received my first invitation, to a Tupperware demonstration. I grumbled and was cynical and quite frankly, a bit afraid. The demonstrator and I clicked, and she has become one of my dearest friends. She wasn’t pushy, and treated it as a bit of fun. I had no spare funds, so her benevolence was appreciated! Over the years, I have attended underwear, candle, jewellery, linen,makeup, body care, craft and many other parties. The invitations keep on coming. This past month, I have been invited to six candle parties. I can’t keep up, and therein lies the problem.

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“You don’t have to buy anything.” You hear this when you say you are short of funds. However, I have heard women criticizing other ladies for having the nerve to attend their party without forking out cash. “You can browse through the catalogue online if you can’t attend.” The reason I am not attending is that I have no spare cash! It can be a minefield. I am cautious if I haven’t seen a person for a very long time and an invitation comes with an agenda. If I wanted a product, I would save for it and go out and get it without a party. Home schooling my child, these products now come with a debate in my head. ‘I could get a candle, or my child could attend a science workshop for a day with money left over….’ ‘I could get mascara or she could attend a term’s art sessions at the gallery.’ When I shop, I look for value above all else. I think most of us do. In my heart of hearts, I think giving girlfriends food and wine and giggles, then expecting them to make decisions  on  a whim is a little exploitative.

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Then there is the ‘what did you order?’ question when you are looking through the catalogue. I usually try to find the cheapest thing in there. I am the proud owner of a useless potato masher (sold by a demonstrator who shrilly told me to ‘shoosh’ as I was trying to talk to a friend and she was eager to start her demo), useless kitchen items and dodgy products.

I wanted to be liked, approved of, and so I ordered more than I could comfortably afford in the past. I have put my hand up to host a party to help out my hostess. I received a round of applause and felt adored. Then reality hit. It is bloody hard work to host one of these parties. A thorough house clean, the buying of food and plonk, the catering… People would cancel at the last moment or simply not respond  (I didn’t blame them). I have a tiny house, and am not confrontational so people knew I would understand. Awkward doesn’t cut it when describing a demo with less than six people in attendance. I have been quizzed by the demonstrator as to when the rest of  the people would arrive. So, I spent more than I should at my own party- to make up for it out of guilt- on things I hadn’t needed a day ago. Often the people who I had helped out by hosting my own party were no-shows.

There are so many of them these days, it is dizzying. People only have so much time and money. I will go to something I am curious about or believe in, but I wont go to them all, not anymore. That is not real. I have only hosted three parties and I felt uncomfortable  each time. I didn’t want my friends to feel that they needed to buy anything in order to see me. I didn’t want them to spend more than they had. I have a ‘no party plan’ policy now, and refuse to host. Please don’t be offended if your friend doesn’t want to attend your party. She is probably struggling with her budget as it is. She is being sensible. She is being honest and she would love to catch up with you without being sold anything. It is another expense, that some families can’t afford. Please be mindful. I think party plans have their merit, but when one is being hit each day with an invite, one has to politely decline.