Orange cardigan

Dear Caroline, I often think of the things we did and said together, remember leaping out at the traffic passing by your home and flashing at the traffic in retaliation for being flashed at ourselves by a random in the park. Snort. Remember calling Radio 10 (!) and requesting stuff using silly accents or totally mispronouncing the band names. Remember you trying to get a discount at Oktoberfest for getting a sausage without the bun. God you were embarrassing. Logical, but embarrassing. And you had that foul almost-neon-orange cardigan that washed the colour entirely from your face – did your mother buy it for you in a misguided effort to match your gorgeous orange hair?

Well, last year I saw a cardigan very similar (though not neon) in a shop and I had to walk in and grab it by the end of the arm and give it a little squeeze – and then I found myself buying the bloody thing.

Orange!

And I wear it though it zaps all the colour from my face except the broken capillaries on my nose and the dark spots under my chin.

It really is very unattractive.

And yet I cling to it like
I should have clung to you.

Farewell to QUT

On Friday I said goodbye to my friends and colleagues at the Queensland University of Technology (QUT). It’s been hard. Not only have I loved my QUT friends and my role as librarian, I have also appreciated a wealth of support, mentoring, and opportunities to grow over the past four-and-a-bit years. QUT was also where I completed my Honours and Masters degrees, and where I first found interesting and rewarding work as a research assistant and research administrator.

The best measure of my transformation? when I arrived at QUT in 2001, I was a single mum on welfare, working part-time cleaning pub kitchens. I had never logged on to a computer. I didn’t know what email was, and took a few days to understand the differences between my username, password and email address. A month later I got my first assignment back – 19.75 of 20 marks. And eighteen months later I was working as a research assistant. I have not seen the ‘wrong’ side of a pub counter since. This transformation didn’t happen because I am a genius. About 95% I attribute to the professional and academic staff who took the time to explain the technology, the assignments, how to research, all the different things I needed to know and do. The remaining 5% I attribute to my desperate desire for a happy future for *my family.

I think my story really illustrates what the QUT culture is all about: creating opportunities for folk who don’t count for much elsewhere, and helping them unearth and realise who they really are. I only hope that as a librarian I have been a successful part of that culture, and that I can take the same philosophy to my new library role…

Goodbye QUT, I am taking a little of you with me ❤

*a big shout out too, to my parents and extended family for their love and support!

life moving on

My old Granny is fading. She has been in and out of hospital for the past few months with a number of infections, including one in her chest that seems intractable. At one point it seemed she was actively dying, but it does look like we will have her for a little longer, that she can go home again at least for a bit, and enjoy all the attention she is getting from her children, grandkids and great grandkids. (And she is enjoying it too 🙂 )

Gran has started to reminisce. We all love listening to her old stories, but it is a bittersweet thing for her, to remember and to be the only one left. She has outlived all her friends from the old days, her parents, all her siblings, all those connections to Ukraine, to her childhood, her teens, her young adulthood, all gone.

Personally, I am also feeling some emotional impact, apart from the grief about Gran. That is, I keep getting washed over with nostalgia. I look at my young adult daughters and I wonder where my babies, my little ones went. Where is the girl who wrote in grade one I will be a carpenter and build my mum a house and we will all live in it and we will love each other? Where is the four year old who confidently pronounced that we could fix the shower leak with zelly zorclan (Selly’s all seal)? Where did my little miss who perched on the loo with her nose buried in her skirt disappear?

When I was a girl in primary school one of my teachers said to me you won’t believe this but your life will go by in a flash. Make the most of it! He was right. I didn’t believe him and also, here I am, 46 years and two days old, marvelling at it all. How wonderful it has been, how glorious, how hard too, and how blessed I am 🙂

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