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This is a lovely piece by my friend, Monica Dux in The Age

When the sad day arrived my daughter and a friend she’d invited over disappeared into her bedroom, emerging an hour later dressed entirely in black, their outfits expertly cobbled from the dress-ups box, including black gloves and hankies, which they clutched, both their faces tear-streaked from weeping.

The two little mourners set up chairs on the lawn, with Johnny’s open coffin in the middle, and Lily and Sara in their enclosure, perched on the side. My son and his mate watched from the garage roof, not quite part of the proceedings, yet affected by the mood. “My grandmother died recently,” offered my son’s friend, solemnly.

When my daughter asked if anyone wanted to say a few words, her friend gently touched her arm. “It’s only right that you do it,” she said.  My daughter’s eulogy was short. “Here lies Johnny. He lived a short life, but it was a good life. He lives on through his children. Maybe.”  Then my daughter pressed a button on the iPod that she had hidden under her dress, and suddenly there was music. Kate Bush, singing The Man With The Child In His Eyes.

And so Johnny was laid to rest, under the crab-apple tree. The girls lingered over his grave for a time, remembering.  Then it was done. Johnny, the man with the child in his eyes, was gone. Ham and cheese sandwiches were served on the lawn.

Johnny was just an insect, of course, yet I don’t doubt that my daughter’s grief was real.

 

 

Don’t stop there

This, “Coalition accused of vilification after releasing list of ‘bludger hotspots’ in The Guardian..

The Coalition has been accused of “heartless vilification” for releasing a list of welfare “bludger hotspots” across Australia.

The federal government on Tuesday released a list of 10 suburbs and towns with the highest jobseeker non-compliance numbers.

The list, which News Corp dubbed a “list of shame”, referred to the number of welfare recipients who failed to meet requirements, usually by failing to attend appointments or interviews with job service providers.

.. begs the question what has government done in these areas lately?

What’s the social mobility rate for families in these suburbs? Has it shifted since you came to power? What’s the local job creation rate? I mean, if jobseekers meet their requirements, what’s their chance of actually obtaining a job with a living wage in their local area? How do their wage rates compare with those in more prosperous suburbs? Their children’s access to elite schools? The provision of infrastructure? The number of children in out of home care?

More score cards.

Boggles the mind that government could think they’re somehow excused of responsibility for economic management.

 

 

 

This documentary film, Hotel Coolgardie, looks amazing and somewhat terrifying.

Before my son was born, I did not cry much. For instance, I was able to successfully navigate the untimely demise of both Rickey and The Boy in the Striped Pajamas without so much as shedding a tear.

This was partly because I was raised by single mother, so my uncles, afraid I might turn out to be a ‘momma’s boy,’ drilled into me their understanding of the emotional life of a Black man. That is, I was to be quiet, strong and angry about the inequality of Black life. This anger, however, could be channeled constructively with sports or drowned with alcohol, but it was to be never, ever be expressed with tears.

Therefore, for the first 25 years of my life, I seldom cried. When I graduated from undergrad and grad school, I barely smiled. When Bambi’s mom caught an L, I didn’t feel a thing. I even made through Will asking uncle Phil, “How come he don’t want me” without feeling much.

I was, for all intents and purposes, the opposite of a sensitive thug—then something strange happened. On April 17, 2008, my son was born…and the floodgates opened. Now, I rarely get through a day without something messing with my allergies.

From “I never cried until my son was born (because patriarchy), but now I cry at every damn thing” by Lawrence Ware at Very Smart Brothas.

Autumn. Somewhere over Michigan, a colony of monarch butterflies, numbering more than fifteen thousand, are beginning their yearly migration south. In the span of two months, from September to November, they will move, one wing beat at a time, from southern Canada and the United Sates to portions of central Mexico, where they will spend the winter.

They perch among us, on chain-link fences, clotheslines still blurred from the just-hung weight of clothes, windowsills, the hood of a faded-blue Chevy, their wings folding slowly, as if being put away, before snapping once, into flight.

It only takes a single night of frost to kill off an entire generation. To live, then, is a matter of time, of timing.

I am writing because they told me to never start a sentence with because. But I wasn’t trying to make a sentence—I was trying to break free.

From Ocean Vuong’s “A letter to my mother that she will never read” in The New Yorker. 

Obliviousness

Some use their power to silence that and live in the void of their own increasingly deteriorating, off-course sense of self and meaning. It’s like going mad on a desert island, only with sycophants and room service. It’s like having a compliant compass that agrees north is whatever you want it to be. The tyrant of a family, the tyrant of a little business or a huge enterprise, the tyrant of a nation. Power corrupts, and absolute power often corrupts the awareness of those who possess it. Or reduces it: narcissists, sociopaths, and egomaniacs are people for whom others don’t exist.

We gain awareness of ourselves and others from setbacks and difficulties; we get used to a world that is not always about us; and those who do not have to cope with that are brittle, weak, unable to endure contradiction, convinced of the necessity of always having one’s own way. The rich kids I met in college were flailing as though they wanted to find walls around them, leapt as though they wanted there to be gravity and to hit ground, even bottom, but parents and privilege kept throwing out safety nets and buffers, kept padding the walls and picking up the pieces, so that all their acts were meaningless, literally inconsequential. They floated like astronauts in outer space.

Equality keeps us honest. Our peers tell us who we are and how we are doing, providing that service in personal life that a free press does in a functioning society. Inequality creates liars and delusion. The powerless need to dissemble—that’s how slaves, servants, and women got the reputation of being liars—and the powerful grow stupid on the lies they require from their subordinates and on the lack of need to know about others who are nobody, who don’t count, who’ve been silenced or trained to please. This is why I always pair privilege with obliviousness; obliviousness is privilege’s form of deprivation. When you don’t hear others, you don’t imagine them, they become unreal, and you are left in the wasteland of a world with only yourself in it, and that surely makes you starving, though you know not for what, if you have ceased to imagine others exist in any true deep way that matters. This is about a need for which we hardly have language or at least not a familiar conversation.

From Rebecca Solnit’s “The loneliness of Donald Trump” in Literary Hub.

I’m really proud of this one and delighted to announce….

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The book will be available in stores and online from 17 July 2017.

In this revealingly honest collection, successful Australian women talk about the challenges they have overcome, from sexual assault and domestic violence to racism, miscarriage, depression and loss, and how they let the past go to move forward with their lives. Courageously, the contributors delve deep into how these experiences made them feel, what the personal cost was and why they may have chosen to remain quiet until now.

In a time when bragging about sexual assault doesn’t preclude being elected President of the United States, women must stand together and speak out against violence against women. Unbreakable shows that every woman, no matter her success, has a story, and that together we are stronger.

In Jane Caro’s words:
I want to pass on courage and hope to women who have also gone through such things by all of us speaking up about our own experiences. These things do not need to either define us or destroy us. We can find the strength to move forward, and this book shows how successful women have done just that.

Contributors include Kathy Lette, Mariam Veiszadeh, Tracey Spicer, Lee-Ann Tjunypa Buckskin, Rebecca Lim, Kerryn Goldsworthy, Susan Wyndham, Andie Fox, Dee Madigan, Catherine Fox, Zora Simic, Nina Funnell, Sandra Levy, Polly Dunning and Jacinda Woodhead, with a foreword by Tanya Plibersek.