Saturday, 26 December 2015

364 days until Christmas...

Groan. Yes I heard you groan. Well I heard me groan. Isn't that a weird word. Groan.
Old English grānian, of Germanic origin; related to German greinen ‘grizzle, whine’, grinsen ‘grin’, also probably to grin.
I saw a six pack of fruit buns in the supermarket a week before Christmas.  Image result for fruit bunsof course they did not have crosses on them yet so they were not hot cross buns, just fruit buns. 
Did you know there are around forty-two festivals and religious observances in December. We humans are fascinating creatures but we are  consistent. There have been mid December festivals of some kind for at least 4000 years, since long before December was called December. I love that people study ancient history with all the associated myths and legends and then someone else wraps it all up in a neat precis on a web page and I love that we can surf the web for snippets of information and lose track of time absorbing all sorts of incredible information about our own existence. 

I am so grateful to be where I am and when I am.

Image result for cardboard boxesHappy Boxing Day and happy birthday Nephew DJ

Monday, 21 December 2015

Fostering Love

My trousers are drenched. My t-shirt is covered in splodges of chocolate, snot, blood and other unidentifiable things that may not come out in the wash. My house has a miasma of excrement and I am wondering if I am somewhat insane.

I had finally retired from child care.

I was starting out into my big writing career.

I had definitely sworn off babies forever and ever and ever. I am sure I did.

While the 17 month old who twists my heart around his little finger, sleeps peacefully, I am attempting some kind of writing here on the blog.

He doesn't know I retired from fostering. He doesn't know what that means. He only knows that when he needs a bottle or a hug or a nappy change(diaper change), I will be there for him.

In February 1990, I became a foster mother for the first time. It is a big commitment to make but I made it gladly. Little did I realise when I took that first skinny little boy into my home what an adventure it would be.

For any child to be in a care situation outside of their original family, something must be broken. Every child I ever cared for came from a unique situation but every one of them had something broken in their life that put them in 'out of home' care.

Family poverty, abuse, need for respite, ill health, lack of extended family or social support structures, religious/cult abuse, drugs, prostitution, disabilities, death; all of these things were causes behind children being in my care and no two placements of children were the same.

 I have fostered sixty or so, maybe more. I tell people I collect children because stamps are so boring. The truth is that I hoped that the brief time those children spent in my care could be a safe haven for them. A place to take a breather in their  usual life. A moment to experience something different from what they are used to so one day they might realise they have a choice because we don't know we have choices until we know we have choices. I also like to give back to my community and do my tiny little bit to make the world a better place. It isn't much but it is what I have and I give it willingly.

The most recent statistics from the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW, 2015) show that, as of 30 June 2014, there were 43,009 Australian children living in out-of-home care. This has increased from 7.7/1,000 children at 30 June 2013 to 8.1/1,000 children at 30 June 2014.

When people ask me for advice on if they should become carers I say to them "Don't!"

Of course then I follow up with all sorts of advice about what they should consider before they do it because if people are considering caring they are already on the road to commitment.

I am sharing a recent conversation here...
  • Question:  Hey Cecilia I know someone who is considering becoming a foster parent. I'm presuming you recommend it but was wondering what things you think they should consider before applying?

  • Me: I never recommend fostering to anyone. It is a heart breaking and challenging thing to do and unless the service provider is completely supportive of its carers it can be supremely difficult. There MUST be at least one wage earner to support the family and the reimbursement never covers all the cost so anyone considering it should be well prepared for a long slow drain on their resources. Many struggling parents will put their kids in foster care right before major calendar events such as Christmas and Easter because they can't afford it. They should know that many of the kids in care come from families that struggle with so many life challenges that so will the kids. There is always a honeymoon period when the kids are on their best behaviour and then everything gets very hard, If they do go ahead with the training your friend will need the stamina of a marathon olympian, the flexibility of a Russian circus act, plenty of patience, massive amounts of support in their own family, friends and church groups and they will need to be very confident of themselves when dealing with the bloody welfare departments. The system can break kids even more than their original lives did and anyone who thinks the system is set up in the kids best interest is a complete fool. If after that they still decide to go through with it, they should think very very very carefully about why they are doing it. Is it because they have some misguided notion of being rescuers or gives 'poor sad kids' a good religious home then they are doing it for the wrong reason. If they are doing it for money, they are idiots and should never have kids at all. They really need to question why they are doing it, I cannot emphasise this enough. If they cant have kids and think foster kids will fill that hole in their life then absolutely don't do it. The only reasons to foster is to give these kids a brief safe haven and a taste of peace and safety.
  • Cecilia Clark

    The kids need to know that no matter how they act up they are still safe and the people caring for them will not judge them. These kids with go off the rails no matter how much love and care is put into their life because their lives are in turmoil and they need to feel safe to find out who they are and where they belong. Belonging is the most vital thing to any child and they will believe they belong to their natural family, they will identify with them and they will have already been shaped by them before they come into foster care no matter how young. Even when the kids go into permanent care with their host family there will always be ties to their beginnings.
  • Cecilia Clark

    If your friend STILL wants to do it then they are a brave and wonderful person and I wish them all the very very best but do not, please do not, do it for the wrong reasons.
  • Cecilia Clark
    I have been insulted, spat on, refused services in stores, refused a taxi ride, had my entire life dissected and yearly police checks by the services. Random people see the carers as the face of the organisation and 'blame' carers for removing kids from their families. Random people will feel threatened by a foster carer if they think their own parenting is suspect
  • Cecilia Clark

    The foster kids have stabbed me, hit me with things, burnt the house, smashed all my precious belongings, attempted to kill me in a car, attempted suicide, self harmed, brought in drugs, alcohol and newborn babies....they need to be prepared for anything and everything
    Some of the most bittersweet memories of my heart are my foster kids - that was worth it all.
    It broke my heart every time I had to say good bye
  • Question:How many kids have you fostered and over what time span was that?
  • Cecilia Clark
    I fostered more than 55 kids ranging from new born to 24 years old. The shortest was a weekend the longest 25 years. Most kids came for around six weeks
  • Question
    I thought one of the hardest things would be the uncertainty in length of time together and saying goodbye but hadn't considered other possibilities.
  • Cecilia Clark

    I fostered sibling groups as well.
    Some times the length of time keeps changing because the natural family can't get their act together and things keep bouncing in and out of court.
    I also volunteered with lots of organisations that would bring teenagers to my home for weekends, plus I worked with kids with disabilities in the education system and I hosted exchange students.
    The absolute hardest part of the whole thing was the (insert string of vile swear words here) politics of the workers in the system who all say they are over worked, underpaid and poorly resourced and who play God with kids lives. Too many welfare workers are wet behind the ears and keen to get brownie points on their career.
    There are of course many good people working in the system. They move on quickly and add to the lack of continuity in the childrens lives. They burn out pretty quick or climb the corporate ladder (they are the worst ones).

    I thought and thought through the night and want to add, if your friends already have children, never foster a child older than their firstborn. Other birth order kids will adjust but the first born won't cope so well even if they seem amenable.There will be resentments so make sure their own kids know what is in store. Always keep some toys and belongings separate from the things their kids have to share with the foster kids. Put them away somewhere safe until the foster kid is away or gone. Make a list of house rules, write in big colourful letters and put it on the wall as a poster. Discuss this as a family. New kids wont know the unwritten things and it is vitally important that the whole family knows what the rules are (this is a good thing for any family)
  • One day I will write a novel about the kids I have cared for. It has been a BIG adventure that's for sure.

    So why do I do it?  Because love. 

Sunday, 29 November 2015

The time traveler's wife - review

The Time Traveler's WifeThe Time Traveler's Wife by Audrey Niffenegger

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Why did I wait so long to read this? The Time Traveler's Wife tugged at my emotions and drew me into the convoluted world of its characters. When I closed the book I grieved it ending and my daughter nodded in sympathy before taking the book from me to read.

Audrey Niffenegger - thank you.

View all my reviews

writing prompt 16. Constrained writing - Haiku

 Image result for haiku

Another constrained writing prompt, this time with haiku.
     [CW] Tell a dystopian story in haiku form. by JimBobBoBubba in WritingPrompts

Trudge the dusty road
All hope we left behind us
Paradise is lost
Weary we must toil
Force and pain our daily bread
Heavy hearts don’t sleep
Tiny blade of grass
Brave between cracks of rubble
Renew dreams of hope

                                               Image result for haiku

Saturday, 28 November 2015

Writing prompt 15


[WP] “If you don’t stop trying to summon demons in my living room I’m going to smack you.” by Gravitiaxis in WritingPrompts

“Max, if you don’t stop trying to summon demons in my living room I’m going to smack you.”
“And I will dob on you to Dad! You aren’t allowed to hit people and ‘sides that, it is our living room not your living room.”
“Well I’ll tell Mum and we both know Dad is scared of her so you better stop doing your stupid carpet and candle burning in the living room before either of our parents get home or you are so gonna regret it.”
“You’re not the boss of me.”
“They left me in charge; that makes me the boss.”
“I can summon demons and you can’t stop me. I’ll tell them to – to – make you go on a date with Fendwick Thwaits and he will kiss you.”
“Ew! You are so gross you little rat. That’s it, you are in big trouble for sure. Give me those candles right now.”
“No, no they are my candles, give them back.”
“I am taking these to the laundry and locking them in the cupboard.”
“Have them then, see if I care. I can summon demons without them. Stupid sister! You are in for it now!”
“Oh really? I am shaking in my shoes – not. So go ahead, summon a demon and then what? Will we have to hide it in the shed with the rest of your menagerie? You know you are not allowed any more pets until you learn to be responsible for them. I am so sick of cleaning up your messes. Go right ahead and summon a demon, go on, nothing you can conjure up will bother me one little bit.”
“I’ll show you. You’ll regret bullying me around. Mumble magic wibfle scradgic blipple fibulastic rading.”
“What is it?”
“My demon.”
“Oh it’s so cute, aww let me hold it. Please let me hold it. It is crying, it needs me, let me hold it, oh please Max it is calling me. That is the cutest little thing I have ever seen, what is it?”
“It is a demon. Once you imprint you can never let it go. Are you sure you want it big sis?”
“Yes, yes, give it to me, give it to me now. Please Max, it needs me.”
“Okay but don’t say I didn’t warn you. Here you go, one handheld digital demon pet.”


Friday, 27 November 2015

Writing prompt 14


This was not a writing prompt as such but an attempt at a nonsense poem in the style of 'Jabberwoky'

Reddit has forums of constricted writing [CW] in which participants are constricted by word choice or style.
This is my first attempt at a nonsense poem. 

[CW] Write a short non-sense poem, similar to Lewis Carroll's "The Jabberwocky" by tanglespeck in WritingPrompts

Rontemed amongst Rammodess
Scadamat and alone
The lausseary guited rhoducates
Compered the faithful rone.
Inates in nigh safecturies
Gasatched excenorants of old
Tratelize and pulanded
Custfurts abjust the bold.
Andereposive speeps
The metrus maiden aspology
And bravempluncont weeps.
Requier seressums a quatre past the noon
In Irpersing and fair Hambing
Until perpring Corrings
Strestificates the moon.  

Thursday, 26 November 2015

Writing prompt 13

 Something a little devilish for the thirteenth prompt and Friday 13th.  

[WP] Somehow your wedding invitations get into the hands of the seven princes of hell. They show up by Kami_of_Water in WritingPrompts

“This was supposed to be my perfect day”, the bride howled black runnels into her imported lace handkerchief. “Did you see what he did?” she slid her veiled head onto her gloved arms and sobbed harder.
“I didn’t see that last part Letitia”, the short blushing bridesmaid rustled across the room in a magenta puff and curled her arm around the bride. “But I’m sure it isn’t as bad as you think.”
The bride sat up and sniffed. She wiped bitumen tracks along the former antique white delustered satin of her gloves. She stood up and grabbed folds of her dress in her fists. Lifting her head, jutting her neat little jaw forward and squaring her bare shoulders she signaled for her bridesmaids to follow.
“I’ll show him! Come on girls, let’s turn this fiasco into a party.” A flurry of antique white and magenta burst through the door into the reception.
A throaty chuckle filled the empty room.
“Amon, it appears you may have set the proverbial cat among the pigeons.”
“No, no you deserve first points brother, Admodeus, that little burst of lust certainly had the maid of honour curling those shapely legs around the groom.”
“No, first points go to Levi, he stirred up the green monster lurking in that girl’s breast.”
“Well it had been there a long time. Nice breasts by the way. She was one of Belphegor’s best accolytes in the sloth department. She would never have made a move until too late without Lev’s prodding.”
Lucifer waved his hand and the wall transformed to a one way viewing screen. The princes perched and reclined on any available horizontal space.
Asmodeus manifested their seating to comfortable leather cinema chairs. “Are we taking bets on who scores the most points?”
“Cake anyone. It would be such a shame to waste a perfectly good wedding cake.” Beelze-bub clicked his fingers and seven plates of wedding cake appeared in the air complete with magenta serviettes and silver cake forks. “Do we need to take score? Every time we end up at a wedding like this one it seems we come out even. Mmmm this is delicious.” A large chunk of icing coated fruit cake disappeared behind his appreciative lips.
“Oh look brothers, there is a marvellous fight going on and so much guzzling of the top shelf flavours. I wouldn’t mind some of that pate, Beelz if you don’t mind. Don’t let it all go to the food fight. Naughty girls, I do like them in magenta. Beelze-bub are you tickling the tastebuds out there?” A platter of food appeared.
“No Mammon that is your doing. Free booze always attracts an appreciative audience. Look, look, the bride is confronting that idiot almost groom. Oooo gorgeous right hook from the girl and he’s down.”
Six of the princes laughed and cheered.
“How do these things end up in our hands?” Lucifer allowed a wrinkle of puzzlement onto his perfect brow. He scrutinised the silver font on the magenta wedding invitation in his elegant hand. “We seem to be getting quite a few these days.” He shrugged his handsome shoulders and slipped the invitation back in his pocket. “Why don’t we all stir the pudding a little my brothers since our specialities work so well when mixed together?”
The seven princes twirled their index fingers widdershins and in unison toward the crowd of wedding guests then settled back to watch the show.

 there was a horoscope that described the 7 deadly sins as the 7 demon princes of hell so it made me think of a bl game where the 7 deadly sins were ur boyfriends and so i drew the thing really fastlel i wonder who would be the most popularfrom

Syqitten's Art Blog

Wednesday, 25 November 2015

Writing prompts 12

Could you give up everything to survive?

[WP] In the future robots with AI turn on humanity, however, they were programmed to not ever be able to enter Amish country. For now, Amish country is the only safe place left on earth. by dalcowboiz in WritingPrompts
 Image result for amish church

We sat on plain wooden benches in a plain wooden hall. The faint smell of whitewash had many in the group blinking rapidly. The few surviving children clung to their parents. Haggard faces, gaunt from privation, thin limbs curled around loved ones, dull eyes avoiding the glance of others. We were a sorry lot. Many of us clutched battered bags and cases containing our most treasured possessions. One woman held a photo album to her chest. All of us had wounds and scars and grime encrusted our hair and skin. Making it this far past the A.I.s had taken all we had and we were glad for a moment of respite from the terror of the past year.
A group of elderly men stood in front of double doors at the opposite end of the room from where we had entered. They were dressed in plain white or blue shirts with braces to hold up their home spun cotton trousers. The oldest man with a puff of snowy white beard held up his hands to get our attention.
“It will be easier to drag my plough through the eye of my wife’s sewing needle than for many of you to embrace our lifestyle.” His accent was thick with Germanic highlights and glottal stops but we understood enough. “You must leave all vanities behind. All the things you carried here must remain in this room. You must let go your pride and embrace the joy of our lifestyle. We will not turn you out if you truly wish to stay but be warned, you have three turns of the moon to prove your heart is true. Our life is simple, the work of our hands is clean and in all things we dedicate our labours to the Lord.”
I could hear the capitalisation in his word. He truly believed there is a God. In a world gone mad with AI robots destroying their makers and all of humanity scrambling through rat holes to survive, this old man still believed in some higher power.
“Let us not belabour the facts. You must strip off your old life and put on the new. Those who wish to step through these doors must know we will not tolerate disobedience and pride, nor vanity in all its forms. You will be issued new clothing, one set only. If you stay, you will make your own clothing, if you leave, your old things will be waiting for you to take back out into the secular world you are running from. Come now and be welcome.”
Men and boys over twelve and women with younger children were corralled through separate side doors into change rooms and returned cleaner and dressed in plain cotton. Women fiddled with their new prayer caps, hats twisted unfamiliarly in the hands of the men. Everyone looked uncomfortable. Make up and jewellery including wedding rings were gone. No denim or spandex, no nylon, rayon or polyblends, no watches, no hair ties, no scrunchies or high heels, no wallets or handbags, suitcases or backpacks. No phones. No headsets. No computers. All of it stored in labelled boxes on shelves in the change rooms to collect in three months if we couldn’t take the change. We had no choice, stay and live, leave and die. Our rag tag group of survivors stepped through the double doors into our new life.

                                            Image result for amish family

Tuesday, 24 November 2015

Writing prompt 11

Now this one was super duper fun with plenty of challenge. Would you read the book based on this climactic ending?

[WP] Write just the climax of an epic fantasy novel, without explaining the world, backstory or characters. by Amablue in WritingPrompts

Tesslia plunged her hands into the milky depths of the pool. The light burned along her nerves in excruciating waves but she pushed her arms deeper into the liquid. She could not fail, too much depended on this final act. The sounds of clashing swords and screams faded from her awareness as she felt her hands curl around the soft object they had worked so hard to find. Gently she began to lift it but the pearlescent water seemed to resist her. Sweat broke out on her forehead and the muscles in her arms became knotted cords in a desperate tug of war. Infinitesimally Tesslia felt her body tilting toward the swirling surface of the water the ridge of the pool pressing harder into her hips. She pressed her feet harder against the side.

Draviat glanced up in a moment of stillness in the battle to see Tesslia falling forward. He could not reach her in time. The gripping pain in his chest sucked his breath away then the moment melted into a mighty swing of his sword and he had no more attention to spare for the girl they had sworn to protect.

Edvar had fallen against the crumbling column, blood seeping from wounds too numerous to count. She lifted her hand and created a ball of flame in the palm of her hand. It flickered weakly. She snorted a little puff of air from her small nostrils. “So it ends like this?” she drew in as deep a breath as her battered body would allow.
“Do I have regrets? Too bloody many but I won’t go out without a light show they will not soon forget. For freedom!” she screamed. From somewhere deep in the sixth level she drew the final reserves of her strength, the last of her magic swelled and a mighty burst of iridescent flames burst across the battle. Drarks and Ventlings caught fire, iron tipped staves shrivelled to ash, swords and arrow heads melted and all were blinded momentarily by the vivid light. Many enemies collapsed screaming as their retinas blackened to useless.
“For peace.” The whisper puffed past her blue lips on her dying breath and her body slid to the floor.

“Noooooooooooooooooooo.” Invarg crashed through the bodies and weapons with a desperation bordering on berserker rage. He skidded across the final space on his knees and stopped beside her. Huge hands lifted the tiny frame gently from the floor and pressed her to his massive chest. A doll in his giant embrace. Great droplets fell from his eye, splashing away the blood from her face, so peaceful in death.

Draviat and Flit moved closer to the giant and tugged him to move back toward the pond.

“Invarg, they need you.” Edvar’s voice whispered in his mind. “Let the pool wash me.” The giant sobbed as he slid the tiny body into the milk pool and watched her sink beneath its opalescent sheen.

There was no sign of Tesslia.

The masses of the enemy were too numerous to keep down for long. Janielle still held her sword and leaped lightly across to join them. She too showed her exhaustion but she pulled Breen to his feet and pressed his sword into a blood soaked hand. The remnants of their little army gathered around the pool forming a ragged circle in a last ditch effort to protect the final dust mote of hope. The last twelve of hundreds looked with bleak dread as the hoards closed in on them.

Tesslia fell into the pool without a splash. The white liquid surrounding her deadened all her senses. She could not tell which direction she faced, if she still held the object, if there were temperature or time and she did not know if she were drowning or breathing. No sensory input to guide her. A brighter white mote of light in the surrounding drew her toward it. Slowly the shape of stars and galaxies replaced the white in an ebon sky and they spun past her faster and faster, comets, asteroids, planets, solar systems, galaxies and clouds of matter sped past where her stationary position. She felt that the whole universe had moved past her at the speed of thought then suddenly it stopped. She teetered on the edge of everything. A voice or a knowing whispered in her mind. She felt the inadequacy of the words even as she thought them and knew she would never be able to describe this experience and the voice that was not a voice. Peace flowed through her. She was all. She knew all. She felt all from the tiniest mote of dust falling through a sunbeam to the first cry of a baby to the giant stars exploding, imploding and being born. She could choose to be all of this, have all of this, the whole universe would be hers if she stepped forward, all things were hers for the taking and being.
Draviat. Love. No time and all time passed.
She stood by the pond clutching the bundle from the bottom of the pool. The ripples of light around her fluctuated through the many hues of the light spectrum, throwing ripples of colour across the devastation of a battle. She raised her free hand and spoke. Light moved across the floor in a golden wall sliding over bodies and weapons, rubble and stones. Where it touched, wounds healed, plaster repaired, weapons melted into blobs of molten steel, timber burst into leaf and rooted itself through the cracks in the floor. The enemy simply disappeared.  Tesslia sank to the floor and pulled back the cloth from the bundle in her arms. A small arm waved and a little drool dribbled down the tiny chin. The baby gurgled and managed a toothless grin. “So you are what all this fuss was about hey?”

Draviat dropped down beside her. She smiled as the baby curled her little fist around his finger.
 “You going to tell us what happened?”
 “I made my choice.” She leaned over and kissed his bristled cheek. “I chose you.”

Writing prompt 10

Now this was an interesting prompt considering the supposed sport of two women beating each other to a pulp here in Melbourne in the last week.

[WP] In the arena, two incredibly powerful (and badly written) Mary Sues must fight to the death. by LadySelene in WritingPrompts

“In the eastern corner, wearing skin tight leopard print spandex, weighing in at a perfect 110 pounds and with the perfectly proportioned body assets of a voluptuous chest, tiny waist and hips that make a man wish, Phd student and volunteer at an animal shelter. Best student in her knife throwing class and light sword brigade. Give it up for Mary Sue.” The crowd screamed and banged anything that could be banged on the floor of the arena. The ref held up his hands for silence and the crowd settled. “And in the western corner, wearing brass decorated leather and weighing in at an equally perfect 109 pounds, with legs that go all the way up and get cheeky, a chest that dreams are made of and butt cheeks tight enough to crack walnuts, also a Phd student and volunteer in an orphanage. Award winning archer and amazing with a sling. Show your approval for Susie Marie!” The crowd screamed and pounded as loud as before. The ref signalled for the ladies to approach him. Mary Sue flicked her gleaming golden locks and blew kisses to the audience before sauntering across in a hip swinging walk on teetering heels to the centre of the ring. Susie Marie twirled one russet plait around her finger and batted her long dark lashes over her sea green eyes and pouted her cupid bow lips, bending forward to blow her own kisses out before sashaying across the ring to the ref. The noise of the audience reached roar level. “Now ladies, this is a no holds barred event, the floor will roll back as soon as you return to your corners and you will fight in jelly. This is a fight to the death. The victor gains a reimbursement of her tuition fees and a scholarship plus a hefty donation to the charity of her choice. As a bonus she will also receive not one but two pair of shoes from the most exclusive shoe store in the land and six free steak knives.” The girls opened their eyes as round as saucers and the crowd jumped to its collective feet to pump the air and scream their enthusiasm. “But wait, there is more.” The referee held up both his hands and the girls circled the inside of the ring in opposite directions before returning to him. “Which ever of you wins this spectacular event, gets a date with… The Prince.” “No!” screamed Susie Marie and pretended to stick her fingers down her throat. “No!” screeched Mary Sue and firmly gripped her hips while lifted her chin defiantly. “She can have him!” They both yelled and pointed at each other. “You cannot forfeit the match. To do so will land you in a dungeon and all your worldly goods will be given to the richest teenagers in the land to destroy as they see fit.” The girls looked at each other and in an unspoken communication they came to an agreement. They stepped back to back and prepared to fight all comers until the floor dropped out beneath them and they sank thigh deep in jelly.

 In fan fiction, a Mary Sue or, in case of a male character, Gary Stu or Marty Stu is an idealized character, a young or low-rank person who saves the day through extraordinary abilities. Often but not necessarily this character is recognized as an author insert and/or wish-fulfillment.

Mary Sue - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Monday, 23 November 2015

Writing prompt 9

 Image result for ground hog in a bed

This was a little ground hog day -ish.

[WP] No matter where you fall asleep when you wake up you are home in bed. by fisch09 in WritingPrompts

I sat up and looked around at the familiar surroundings. My shoulders slumped. “This is getting ridiculous.” I swung my legs out of bed and slid on my old slippers. The new ones were with the rest of my luggage half way around the world. My second best dressing gown felt a little loose since last I wore it so I tugged the belt tighter. In the kitchen I look for milk and bread but I am not supposed to be here for another week so I don’t even know why I look. I make do with the non-perishables in the pantry. A bowl of porridge with some coconut blossom sugar and a dab of butter, not exactly the haute cuisine I had been enjoying only yesterday. Four hours later I am on another plane to Europe with a cheap replacement phone and my second best suit with temporary cards, a priority replacement passport and a huge hole in my savings. I actively avoid falling asleep on the long flight. I watch back to back movies and hum to myself, snack on foods and drink copious amounts of water from little plastic cups. We land at last and I take the taxi to my hotel. The concierge greets me and a porter assists me with my smaller suitcase. In my room I change to my best suit and head out to the conference with a stomach full of caffeine and stimulants. I have all of my important documents in my pockets this time, along with both phones switched to silent and both wallets. I push exquisite food around my plate, take a few sips of a delightful foreign wine and force my eyelids to stay open. My table companions gaze with rapt attention toward the speaker but my mind begins to wander and I feel my head tilting toward my plate. I open my eyes and groan. The wrinkles in my best suit will cost me at the dry cleaners. I pat down the pockets and pull out all my papers. I call the hotel and have them send my belongings home with the earliest international courier. I call work and tell them I am home early, they sound as puzzled as I feel. I wander around the house in my second best dressing gown and call all the services to let them know I am back. I hook up the old PC to go online and it is as ancient and slow as I remember, I order groceries and hope my laptop survives the return trip. I rummage in the cupboards for a can of soup and bemoan the fate of the delicacies I left on my plate. I was really looking forward to the food over there. I was looking forward to exploring the world. Someday I may figure this out but for now I know I can never go anywhere overnight. Just like my parents always insisted. My horizons shrink.