1. I started ballet when I was four. I remember my first exam like it was yesterday. I wore a yellow exam leotard with a pretty skirt. I thought it as marvelous as a princess gown. I was terrified! We were led into the exam room where we took our position at the bar. The examiner sat in front. She was old and unsmiling. The pianist sat at the back. I had never danced to live music before. She went too fast. I was so caught in my nerves, I forgot most of the exercises and had to copy the girl in front. Her name was Hannah and I thought she was beautiful. I don’t remember the car ride home because when it was over, I promptly fainted. I remember waking on the floor of the lounge room with a fan blowing me wondering how I got there. It was all too much for four year old me.
2. I did piano lessons for two years. I never really wanted to play, I just wanted to dance, but my parents thought it was a good idea. I attended lessons in an old post-war house. The front room on the left was for lessons, the room on the right was a leather work shop. The house smelt of leather and cigarette smoke. My teachers name was Maureen. Maureen’s boyfriend owned the leather work shop. His skin looked like rough hide. It would have made a nice pair of shoes.
3. I had braces as a child. I hated them. I was supposed to wear bands at the back constantly but they hurt and I found them irritating so I often took them off. This meant the amount of time I wore braces was prolonged. My friend had clear braces and would often have the glue colour changed so it was multi-coloured. I thought hers were cooler then mine, but I was too shy to ask the orthodontist to make mine the same. On the day they took them off, my mother told me I came out of the room beaming. Apparently, my mouth was covered in blood but she didn’t tell me because she didn’t want to spoil the moment.
4. When we were growing up, we sat at the dinner table for every meal. In the mornings the table was fully laid with placements, plates, cutlery and a silver toast holder. One of my four sisters had the job of making everyone a cup of tea. I hated tea. I never drank the tea, but every day the tea appeared and each day it was tipped down the sink. No one ever seemed to notice. I still hate tea.
5. When I was at Uni, my friends and I made a terrible tradition of playing practical jokes. We faked a robbery, filled shower heads with dye, faked active break-in’s, filled people’s beds with cutlery, hung people’s stuffed teddies off fans to die and posted fake garage sale ads in the newspaper. It occurred to us there might one day be a real crisis and we would not believe one another so we created a secret code. The code was only to be used if we were in real trouble. The code was: “The chicken is in the oven“.
6. I was so outraged by the beginning of the Iraq war, I jumped on a bus by myself and drove 10 hours to Canberra to protest the arrival of George Bush at Parliament House. At one point during the march we sat under an overpass. A group of drummers had joined the protest and the sound of drums reverberated off the giant tunnel. It was one of most enlivening moments of my life. We changed nothing, but we felt compassionately powerful.
7. I met my husband on New Years Eve in the Top Pub of our school town. He was in my sisters year at school but back then, we never met. I dreamt about him a number of times before this meeting, I recognised him by his hair. I kissed him within 15 minutes. I’ve been kissing him ever since. He probably wishes I would kiss him more.
8. I have a tattoo of a Christian fish on my inner right ankle. The ink is blue. It is my reminder to live compassionately and love wastefully. I got the tattoo in Melbourne at a tattoo parlour called Smokey Demons. My little boy thinks it’s a rocket. My mother is concerned that if I find myself in a holy war they will cut off my foot. My friend Sharon thinks I should have a boat with a fisherman tattooed above the fish with the phrase “Hooked on Jesus”. She laughed a lot when she said that.
9. When I was at school, I would sometimes disappear into out of bounds areas at lunch time and sit by myself. I would read a book, eat my lunch and day dream. Teachers who found me, never asked me to leave. They let me be. They were perceptive.
10. I was caught walking naked across my lounge room by the postman. When I saw him I jumped back and squealed, so did he saying “I didn’t see anything!” “You did so, or you wouldn’t have jumped back!” Every time I get a parcel, I die a little on the inside. I die.