04
Aug
14

The breakdown you have when you’re not having a breakdown and why I need a break

 

Life is crazy.

 

We are busy.

 

Craaazy busy.

 

It’s not new news. We’ve always been busy. Sometimes I delight in it (I’m easily bored).

 

I often hashtag #crazybusy and #xsneverstops but I don’t often stop to contemplate the implications of this. The other day I hashtagged #xsneverstopsbutxsmightneedto

 

This is why.

 

Last week I crashed my car. I was tired, I was at a roundabout, I looked and then didn’t look again quite soon enough, and I hit the girl in front of me. She had gone to go and she stupidly/safely, thinking better of it, had suddenly stopped again. Fuck! I knew I had no insurance and I was about to discover that neither had she. Ordinarily I wouldn’t be near enough to hit her. Ordinarily I wouldn’t be too tired to drive. Ordinarily I would have listened to that little inner voice inside of me that said when I got out of bed that morning, “Do the school run and go back to bed. Enough already. Stop.” Instead, largely because I’ve always associated that little voice with the onset of a migraine, I blinked, dressed, continued to ignore the little voice sans migraine, and headed to yet another event that followed hot on the heels of our 10 days and nights of fabulous Noosa Long Weekend Festival events.

 

For the last few days, while my car has been out of action, I’ve been in Toowoomba, where my grandparents have lived for as long as I can remember. (Of course there is history beyond that, before the beginning of my memory, and it’s an interesting story but it doesn’t matter for the moment).

 

I used to think of Toowoomba as a town of schools and churches but now I realise it’s actually an aged care mecca.

 

xantheandmerv_selfie_august2014

 

My grandfather is 96 years old. My grandmother is 83. Grandpa still lives at home, and so did Grandma until she contracted pneumonia and suffered a serious fall last week, which put her into hospital and meant that the discussions about aged care facilities began again. Grandpa is actually still fairly “independent”. It’s as bewildering as it is impressive. He’s almost blind but he knows where everything is…as long as he’s in his own home. He sometimes spills the sugar when he’s making his tea but there is always somebody around at some stage to help clean it up.

 

coffeecup_grandmashouse

 

I should tell you, I’m very late to this party – the discussions actually began over five years ago – tentatively at first, and then, just two years ago, application forms were requested, facilities were visited and with great diplomacy and delicacy, the subject of moving to a care facility was broached again with Grandpa, who wouldn’t hear of it. Of course not. Stupid, really. What were they thinking? Or, in his words, I’M NOT GOING ANYWHERE.

 

Last week Grandma suffered a fall and discovered that simply breathing was difficult. Mum and I have visited every day and each day, although there have been some ups and downs, she seems brighter and livelier, even “bubbly” and “ready to come home next week!” You can imagine the twinkle in Grandpa’s eye as he says this, knowing he wins, again. This, after so much talk (so many tears to hold back!), of not returning home but going into a home, and Mum’s sister, and Mum and I persisting with ongoing comparative studies of no less than eleven places in town (and well outside of it! “Highfields? Hmphf! Too far!”). Sometimes one of them will agree, “Oh yes, that does sound nice, doesn’t it?” And I feel like I’ve been here before. Oh wait. I have been. Different party, same theme, starring Sam’s mum. Good to have had a rehearsal. From one decision to another, and back again. It can drive a person crazy! The next part of the decision making process is obviously about letting go and taking a step back from the process itself. Ultimately, once again, the decision is rightfully Grandma’s and Grandpa’s. We might just need to change how we feel about giving them the space and time to work things out for themselves. To fumble with the remote control. To lose things, forget things. To spill the sugar. To see out their days in the comparative comfort of their own home…

 

xantheandena_august2014

 

Some of the homes are actually lovely and others are, well, best left out of the conversation. You can tell when you walk into a place, whether or not somebody you love might like to spend the rest of their days and nights there. There is the matter of design, décor, landscaping, meals prepared on the premises, coffee shops, colours, smells, and warmly lit (or not) corridors to consider. There are either happy, smiling people working there and living there, or there are not. There are fees. And there are admission processes. And then there is Centrelink. Since July 1 2014 a whole lot has changed, making it difficult for families and administrators to fill the rooms available. That’s right. The rooms are there but most places won’t admit a person until Centrelink has processed a particular portion of the paperwork, which could mean a wait time of up to 10 weeks. Meanwhile, there are rooms – empty rooms. And conflicting information and advice from each facility and government agency. It makes it all so much more difficult. Stop. Spoiler alert!

 

 

That leads me to letting you know that I’m bowing out for a bit. I’m continuing to rely on our wonderful team of reviewers to keep up with the Brisbane scene. I still love theatre, I love seeing the shows, and I love having the conversations about them, but I need to take care of a few other things at the moment, including family matters, our growing business (hooray!) and also, me. I’ll keep doing some teaching, which earns me more money than reviewing (ie some as opposed to none), I’ll keep posting the reviews our writers submit, and I might even stick around on social media. I still love Instagram. I’m going to let you know about our upcoming events, including the Sunshine Coast Theatre Festival (with special guest adjudicator Margi Brown Ash!), Keep Calm and Cabaret, and the launch of my sister’s book Dress, Memory and Brisbane Writers Festival. But this writer needs to get back to writing…and sitting and reading and dreaming, and drinking cups of tea with friends, and getting to know our child and her friends, and growing our food and talking with the chickens and walking on the beach.

 

I’ll see the things the Matilda Committee needs me to see and I’ll see the things I desperately want to see. It might not be your thing and for that I’m sorry, but not really, because I’m truly completely and utterly exhausted. Physically, mentally, emotionally drained. And frankly, I’m disappointed that you didn’t make it to see our recent things. They were really good. I know. Too busy. TOO FAR! (Insert the sigh of one who knows she is beaten by apathy more than by distance or time-poor existence). It’s okay. Really. You have your own stuff to work on too. Everybody, keep doin’ the work. There will always be someone (nearer) to see it.

 

If you’re a Brisbane based writer and lover of theatre do email me, or find me on Facebook or Twitter. We’d love to have you on board.

 

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1 Response to “The breakdown you have when you’re not having a breakdown and why I need a break”



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