My lifelove, Sid, is the funniest person that I’ve ever met.

But I have no idea how to explain it.

Each time I try to give an example, it’s so tangled up in Simpsons allusions, in-jokes or something we’ve seen in our late night tumblr sessions that it would never make sense to anyone who isn’t me.

He has this ability to sit back, taking everything in, and when everyone else has exhausted their own jokes, softly, with the perfect delivery, Sid says one little sentence, one little joke, that has everyone in tears (mostly mum).

Back in the early days of the Sid and Bri Adventure Cruise, a mutual friend observed to me that Sid’s entire purpose in life is the happiness of whoever is around him. Friend, stranger, loved one, doesn’t matter, he just feels that its his responsibility to make sure everyone’s having a good time.

Over the years, I’ve come to realise the depth of that observation and witness countless acts of selflessness for the sole purpose of a smile.

Even at my most angry or annoyed, I still can’t lose my awareness of the fact that he is, simply put, a good man.

A lot has changed in the almost-six years we’ve been together, but every now and then, I am still struck in the same manner I was that night I looked into his eyes at the top of the ferris wheel, and for the first time in a very, very long time, knew what it was to be safe and in love with someone who was just as committed to my happiness as I was to theirs.

And every now and then I’m struck by the sudden awareness that for some unknown reason, this man still invites me to dance with him in the kitchen, while spaghetti cooks on the stove. He still looks for magic in the most mundane of life’s moments.

And that’s why he’s the man for me. I play with the invisible magic inside my mind, weaving stories out of sentences that snag and tear against my consciousness, forcing me to listen to them. Sid brings me back out into the real world, and shows me that it can also be as magical as the worlds I create in my mind, if I just give it a chance.

In more ways than one, I’d be lost without him.


Cats and suitcases and puppies, ohmy!

I cautiously open the door to the spare bedroom, unsure of what will be on the other side. I can smell things that shouldn’t be in there, but I can’t hear the sounds I expected to hear: the scratching of excited claws against the door and the impatient whine of a small animal, desperate for cuddles.

Will he have chewed through the power cords, or torn all the feathers out of the comforter? How much poop is in there? Far out, dude!

So, umm. Yeah… I bought another foster puppy home yesterday.

Chillin' on his big bed

Chillin’ on his big bed

This guy is far less mentally scarred by his separation from his mother/litter than the last little dude was. He still prefers people to be around him, but he can handle being on his own and only sooks for a little while at first.

Unlike the other little guy, he had less fleas, but he also had more worms. He was very malnourished and had this swollen, hard, little belly with all these ribs sticking out everywhere. He’s been making up for that, though.

I really thought about it before putting my hand up to foster him. It upset me a lot to have to say goodbye to little 6 last time. I cried for a couple of days, and I even still miss the little guy, so I was somewhat reluctant to put myself through it all again, but this time is a bit different.

6 really crawled his way into my heart, but as beautiful and sweet as this new guy is, I’m not letting that happen. He’s getting all of the cuddles, all of the playing, all of the food… but I’m well aware that it’s a temporary situation only, and am not allowing myself to get too attached (yeah, keep telling yourself that, Bri. We all know how this will end).

Some at work have suggested these little pups go straight to the pound, or RSPCA. Sure, those are options, but I think that if we ever want to have a hope of rehoming these pups as family-friendly dogs, they need to spend these early days, where they were separated from their family far too young, surrounded by people who love them and give them plenty of care and attention, rather than put inside a cage, surrounded by other unhappy animals.

It’s also been great that they’ve been socialised with my cats and with all the friends and neighbours who come over to visit us. That’s such a vital step for a dog! The pound is no place for a very young pup.

As for fostering kittens… there is no way in hell that that is ever going to happen in this house. I could never, ever say goodbye to a kitten.

Besides, I think my cats would not only move out if I dared to bring one here, they’d find cat-sized suitcases and fill them with their favourite belongings before they went, and leave all the birthday cards we’d ever given them amongst our clothing, so we’d come across them and cry with guilt-laced agony.

This is nothing like the time I bought the homeless guy dinner and talked to him until 2am

On Wednesday, the Ranger walked into the office with a very small puppy. Its eyes were wide, and scared, and sad, his body was tan and black.

On closer inspection, his whole body was tan, it was just hidden beneath hundreds of now-dead fleas. I had estimated 70, but on Thursday, it became apparent that my estimation skills were quite poor. There were, in fact, hundreds of fleas.



The puppy had walked onto somebody’s property, and seeing the condition he was in, they had given him a flea bath before taking him to the pound. The Ranger took him from the pound as he needed care. Hence his visit to our office.

Of course, just like those days when maternity leave employees bring their babies in to visit, the moment the puppy arrived, all the women stopped working.

He spent Wednesday night with one of our staff members before coming back to the office on Thursday, where we took it in turns to parent him.

This puppy simply cannot be left alone. He whines mournfully, and constantly. As long as he is physically touching a person, however, he is happy. Consequently, I did a lot of my work one-handed. He tends to stretch a lot, threatening to roll off your lap and onto the floor. Safety is a much lower priority than comfort to him right now and I forget that he’s not a cat. He doesn’t always land on his feet.

He needed a home for Thursday night, so Sid and I gave him one. He can stay here until Saturday night, when we’ll be going out.

Being a lot wiser than I was when I introduced boycat lium to our older girlcat, Jack, I was very confident and calm when I brought him into the house. The cats were startled and nervous at first, but they didn’t once growl, hiss or get squirrel-tail at him.

The puppy was very timid and deferential to them. He wasn’t in any way threatening, and they’ve very slowly begun to become more comfortable with his presence, approaching him with caution, but genuine interest.

I think, given a few more days, they would start to kind of like each other.

Which is a shame because we most definitely can’t keep him. We rent this property and it doesn’t have secure fencing. Nor can we afford him.

Our role in his life will only be short, but I know that I can give him what he needs right now to make him ok for rehoming.

From the behaviour he’s displaying, I can’t tell whether he was abandoned, or he got lost whilst exploring.

When you take him to an outside door, he begins to tremble. The moment you get outside, the trembling gets worse. Have you ever trembled so hard that it hurts? That’s what it looks like.

Since he came to work he has been loved and fussed over. He is a beautiful little guy who seems to be terrified of being left alone. Today is my day off work and I can spend hours holding him and making him feel a bit safer.

Hopefully we can find him a loving family with lots of time to spend with him and who will let him live mostly inside, at least for awhile. He really doesn’t feel safe out there.



The first time I felt like an adult was the day I got my key to my first sharehouse.

I grew up in a small town where doors weren’t locked or someone was always home, so kids never really needed a key to their own house. When I moved to Sydney and out of my parents’ house, I still didn’t feel like an adult. I felt very small and quiet and unsure – until I was given my own key.

When I slipped it onto my key ring, it was more than just a symbol of acceptance into a new family. It was more than just a symbol of my own independence, in that I could come and go as I pleased. In that moment, I realised I was now fully responsible for my life. I was an adult.

Of course, that filled me with a sense of horror and seemed to leave me standing on a large cliff with no safety rails or smiling assurances from the two people who had kept me safe for the past 18 years. The umbilical cord was severed and I had not, in any way, been prepared for it.

The way I left home wasn’t the way most of my peers did it. They went through their last year of high school mostly aware that when that year finished, they were heading off to university, or a job. I had no idea.

After six months of fruitless job-searching in that too-small, small town, I applied for a job in Sydney and was granted an interview. My parents drove me down, I went to the interview, and awhile later, was asked to come down for a job trial.

It was more like a holiday with all my friends coming together. I aced the job trial and was asked to start on Monday.

With no preparation – emotional, mental or physical – my parents packed my things into cardboard boxes and posted my life to me. A week or so later, they came down with the rest of my things, and we said goodbye to each other in a foreign driveway, in a numb sort of haze.

I was excited about my new life. It wasn’t until a couple of years later, when I envied my friends the ability to call into their parents’ house for coffee on a Tuesday, that I fully appreciated what I had lost in my abrupt and unexpected flight from the nest.

It had broken my mother’s heart. I had robbed her of the chance to guide me into the world, safely. I robbed us of the chance to say important words, words that mothers and daughters share when they know they have to let each other go.

Moving back to my home town has given me many wonderful gifts. I have beautiful friends that make my life that much richer. I have a wonderful job with fantastic people, who feel like family. Most of all, though, it’s given me my mother, and the chance to be a real, proper daughter; present in her life for the first time in almost a decade.

Getting to know my mother from the perspective of an adult has been a privelege. I already knew, as a child, that she was the kindest and most supportive person in my world. As an adult, she’s all that and more and if I could be half the wife, daughter, sister, aunt, mother and colleague that she is, then I would consider myself the world’s greatest success.

Unfortunately, it doesn’t matter how much time I spend with her, I don’t pick up any of her OCD neat-freak tendencies.

… and I still don’t feel like much of an adult.


A new little MadeUp: A break in a well-worn path

Everyone thought she had freckles until someone from the church dragged her in off the street and gave her a bath.

Lopsided Lola they called her afterwards.

She had run from the house all fish-belly naked, her fat-girl tits uneven and puffy against the hideous bulge of her raised-on-TV stomach.

Clothed only in shame and anger, Lola ran from the house and its dusty street lined with children who owned books, toys and functioning parents. The children chanting “Lopsided Lola, Lopsided Lola” to the same tune they had used to tease her her whole life. It was only the words that ever changed.

Running from the street, Lola realised she couldn’t go home naked. If she went home without clothes, there would be nothing for her stepdad to make her take off, hurry up, before that bitch comes home with the milk.

Instead of going home, Lola hid in the park next to the river, moving from ditch to ditch as families walked dogs, threw Frisbees and laughed in the sun.

When darkness had surrounded her, she returned to that house, to the street whose children were now safe and full on the other side of all those  windows leaking out warm, glowing light.

Pulling sticks from her hair, she crept to the church lady’s door. A fat, grubby fist knocked twice before returning to its customary place clenched at her side. Nervously, she used her arms to try to hide her body, thinking that if she wasn’t so fat, it would actually be possible to do so. Knowing that if she wasn’t so fat, people wouldn’t mind so much anyway.

The door opened and happy hallway light spilled out, bathing her. The scent of meat and the kitchen-hum of a woman reached out to her, while a shocked and Proper husband glared down at her from the doorway.

“Where are your clothes, child? You can’t walk around naked! Where are your parents?” he demanded in a fluster, searching the street behind her.

“I knew she’d come back!” came the church lady’s voice, followed by the clash and clang of heavy dishes being hastily dropped onto a table.

“Don’t make her stand out there where all the neighbours can see! Bring her inside, Harold!” chided the church lady, wiping her hands on an apron tied around her waist.

Lola simply stared blankly as Harold moved aside to let her into the house.

Life had been easier when she was just “that fat little Biggs girl. You know, that family that lives at the Morrell farm”.

Lola was never introduced, merely explained, and that explanation was always followed with a clucking of a tongue, the shaking of a head, or the wrinkle of a disgusted nose.

She had developed a hard callous around her feelings in the mere eleven years she’d spent in this world. She had grown accustomed to the names people called her, or the way they only saw her when they wanted someone to feel their anger. Lola knew she wasn’t part of their world, she had her own place, on the outskirts, with the rest of her family, yet separate to them simply by being “too young to know any better”.

Now this church lady has started telling people to treat her nice and Lola can see they don’t want to.

“Why don’t people like that just do us all a favour and move away into one, big, loser town? That way we’ll only have one place to avoid!” they had joked the day her mother had driven the car into the side of the bank.

Nobody stopped to help her mother that day. Nobody rushed over to her, like Lola had seen on movies. Everyone just stood back and shook their heads at her. Some laughed while most tried desperately to look anywhere but at the crumpled car and the woman with the broken mind who had crumpled it.

“Now look at her, shrieking at everyone for laughing. That kid’s got no hope.”

That kid believed them still, which is why, when the church lady and her husband ushered her into their orderly, neat living room, she stood petrified, her entire body radiating tension. This was not her place.

“Is she deaf?” asked the husband.

“No, dear” replied the wife, handing Lola her own underpants, freshly laundered.

“Well, mute then? She doesn’t speak!” he pushed.

“Well, you’re speaking enough for all of us, so it doesn’t really matter, does it?” she admonished sharply, the cold set of her eyes saying more to her husband than any words ever could.

“Cup of tea”, he announced, clearing his throat and leaving the room.

“Lola, I have the rest of your clothes here. They’re washed now” the church lady said, gently holding the clothes towards the grubby little girl standing in her living room.

“Now, you’re welcome to come here whenever you want to, Lola. You don’t have to come here if you don’t want to, but you’re always welcome. I like to do my garden through the day. It would be nice to have someone else to talk to while I do it” said the church lady.

“What’s your name?” Lola asked, still staring blankly ahead.

“I’m Mrs Wells, but my friends call me Harriet. You can call me Harriet too”, she offered.

“If I come, will I have to talk to anyone else?” Lola asked.

“You don’t ever have to do anything you don’t want to, Lola. Not just at my house, but anywhere. Do you understand?” Harriet asked, kneeling on the floor to force Lola to look at her.

“Nothing you don’t want to do. I’m sorry if the bath scared you today. I wanted to make you feel better, not worse” she continued.

“I put dirtfeet on the floor” Lola mumbled.

“What do you mean?” asked Harriet.

“The water was hot so I got back out, and I put dirtfeet on the floor and the towel. I wouldda got in trouble so I ran away” Lola finished, absentmindedly picking at a scab on her right thigh.

“Oh, dear. That’s nothing to worry about, those things can be cleaned right up!” smiled Harriet.
“You should see the mess Harold makes when he has been fixing the motor on the car. He puts dirtfingers everywhere!” she continued.

Lola’s eyes widened in shock.  Mrs Harriet was smiling. When her stepdad put dirtfingers everywhere, her mother would shout and he’d call her names and tell her it didn’t matter anyway because the whole house was dirt because she hadn’t done any housework since alcohol was invented. After that, there would only be bread for dinner because her mother had taken her whiskey to bed and her stepdad was watching TV.

“Pop your clothes on and I’ll make you a plate. Do you want to call your family?” Harriet asked.

Lola shook her head. It was dark now. Her stepdad would be away at the bar and her mum doesn’t remember she’s there most of the time anyway.

Harold tried to make small-talk with Lola, uneasy in the silence that had descended on his dinner table. When Lola gave no response, Harriet would fill in the blanks, always finishing with an “isn’t that right, Lola?”

Lola would nod, or shake her head, but didn’t expand or provide alternative explanations. She sat at the table, her dirty arms hovering awkwardly above the tablecloth in an attempt to keep it clean.

When their meal was finished, Harold collected their plates.

“That’s what I like to see in a growing girl! A good appreciation of food!” he smiled down at Lola.
“You don’t by any chance also appreciate ice-cream, do you?” he asked, wiggling his greying eyebrows at her.

Despite herself, Lola giggled and nodded to him.

“Then that will be two bowls of ice-cream coming up! Harriet, who I secretly suspect of being a spy, says she doesn’t like ice-cream. Which is exactly why I think she is a spy!” he whispered conspiratorially to Lola.

“Spies have excellent hearing, Harold” Harriet said from beneath her arched eyebrows.

“I’m done for!” he shouted, dramatically dumping the dishes into the sink and hurrying out the door.

Lola turned to Harriet, caught between fear and laughter.

“What happened to him? Are you really a spy?” she asked, wide-eyed.

“Not at all, dear. Harold went to the bathroom. He just thinks it’s funny to stay in character as he does things” Harriet explained.

“Ink arakter?” Lola asked.

“Like in a movie. The person you see on screen isn’t really a pirate or a bank robber. It is a person playing the character of a pirate. Harold was playing the character of a man who suspects his wife is a spy, and he just got caught and needed to run away.” she said.
“To put it more simply, Lola, Harold is a big, silly idiot.” she laughed.

Lola laughed too. She didn’t think Proper grown ups said idiot. Especially not church ones.

“Psst! Lola!” came a whisper from the doorway.

She turned toward the sound as Harold’s balding head peeked around the corner. He motioned for her to go over there.

She looked at Harriet, who just smiled and rolled her eyes.

“Psst! Lola!”

Grinning, she stepped down from the chair and tiptoed over to the doorway.

“Who is it?” she shout-whispered.

“It’s me, Harold The Brave. Is that crazy spy lady still in there? Is the coast clear? Is it a safe time for ice-cream?” he asked, his head darting from side to side, checking that nobody was hiding in any other rooms.

“Mrs Harriet is still in there” Lola whispered.

“Harold, stop being an idiot and come and get the child some ice-cream”, Harriet sighed from the table.

“Curses! Lola! She heard us! I think she’s more than a spy. I think she’s a witch! Tomorrow, when you come back to visit, we will try to find her flying broomstick! I tried to fly on the one she sweeps the porch with, but that must be a fake! All I did was land on my bottom in the garden!” he told her, grimacing in remembered pain.

“Let’s pretend we don’t know anything about her being a witch. We’ll go in there and get some ice-cream and then tomorrow… tomorrow we’ll show her all the proof we need!” he enthused, taking her hand and leading her into the kitchen.

“Spies on that side of the table. Ice-cream enjoyers on this side”, he said, picking up the ice-cream scoop and waving it menacingly at Harriet.

“… and idiots get to sleep outside with the dog”, Harriet replied, folding her arms across her chest.

Lola was enjoying every minute of their pantomime.

After her bowl of ice-cream, Harold offered to drive her home.

At the look of disappointment on Lola’s face, Harriet reminded her that she was welcome to visit whenever she wanted to, and that she would really love a friend to talk to when she was in her garden.

As Harold and Lola walked to the car, she waved goodbye from the porch.

“Wait! I forgot!” Lola shouted, running back to Harriet.

“Am I allowed to call you Harry?” she asked.

“Uh, wha- sure you can, dear” came the confused reply.

“You said that your friends call you Harriet and I can too if I like, but you are Harriet and he is Harold and so you are both Harry. You can be Mrs Harry and he can be Mr”, Lola explained.

“Lola, I would be delighted if you called me Mrs Harry” Harriet laughed.

“Okay, good!” Lola said, and ran back to the car Harold had started.

“She said I can call you Mr and Mrs Harry”, she explained as she clambered onto the front seat, slamming the door behind her.

“Between you and me, I think you should call her ‘Mrs Hairy’!” Harold said, turning the car onto the road.

Lola laughed most of the way home, until the streetlights began to grow thinner, and home began to grow closer.

When they reached the long driveway of the farm, Harold went to turn in.

“Mr Harry, I want to walk the rest of the way. The car will make mum wake up”, she said.

Harold nodded, knowing that the real reluctance came from her fear that her family would try to destroy the small bubble of happiness she had just discovered. He and Harriet would need to speak to her parents if she was to spend time in their home.

“Don’t forget, Lola. I need you. Nobody else can help me find Mrs Hairy’s flying broomstick!” he reminded her.

Lola laughed again.

“Don’t call her Mrs Hairy, Mr Harry! She’ll put you in trouble and then I’ll have to undo the spell!”

She darted up the driveway and Harold turned the car towards home.

A long time later, his key turned in the front door and he found Harriet in the living room, a pot of tea ready on the coffee table.

“I’ve seen her around, you know? Without ever ‘seeing’ her. All I saw was her family name, her fat, grubby stomach always poking out of shirts and shorts that should have gone to goodwill months before.” He said, sadly, taking his chair next to the fireplace.

“We always say that there’s no helping people like that. They don’t want any help, they just spit it back in your face” he continued, picking up the teapot and filling his cup.

“What I’ve learned tonight is that part of what makes them who they are, is us. Our attitudes, our instinctive reaction to their appearance or the rough way they speak. They don’t want our help because it is never genuinely offered. It is only offered as a means to make us more comfortable with them, not to make them more comfortable in themselves” He paused then, reluctant to put his next thought into words.

“That girl has more reason to hate us, than we’ve ever had to hate her, and yet, she doesn’t. We are the freaks and monsters in this town, Harriet. We who sit on high, judging everyone else who walk below us, and yet it’s only in our own minds that we have placed a distinction between them and us.  All Lola wanted was acceptance, to be included in something, wanted somewhere. When I look back at my own life, that’s all I’ve ever wanted, too.”

When he didn’t continue, Harriet spoke.

“Lola isn’t full of hatred yet. But she will be. As the years go by and her treatment remains the same, Lola will learn to hate. Lola will become her mother, or her stepfather. She will become her uncle who beats the prostitute from the roadhouse every payday. Or she’ll become her sister who is the prostitute at the roadhouse because she will grow up believing that she deserves no better.”

“For tonight at least, Lola discovered that she is wanted somewhere, even if it’s with old Mr and Mrs Harry”, she finished, glumly.

“Hairy. You’re now Mrs Hairy”, Harold corrected, his sparkling eyes grinning at her over the rim of his teacup.