Sunday, 1 November 2009

rough and smooth

It's been a weird couple of days. A bit of a roller coaster really.

Hot and muggy weather that made me feel like a grumpy ol' fart, still a bit crook and having to deal with the issues of living in the inner city (drugs and alcohol can make uncomfortable neighbours).
And then amazingly wonderful things like Lucy of The Design Files including the Cottage in her guest Design*Sponge postings
I didn't have internet connection for a day so I feel like there has been so much happening that I haven't reported on. 
Friday evening we had the RMIT First Year parade. It's a huge 'coming of age' for them and it's amazing to see how far they have all come in 24 weeks of study (2 x 12 weeks= academic year at RMIT- crazy!).  The first year is incredibly stressful and hard and we spend all the time pushing them and cramming them full to bursting with information. The best part is when you run into them in 2nd and 3rd year and you see how much they have blossomed and bloomed. That's when you know the stress has been worth it. 

Some people may feel that the next part of this story perhaps shouldn't be posted but if you have been reading my ramblings for any amount of time, you will know that I  believe in blogs describing both the dark and light sides of life. Blogs that only cover the bright-jolly-hockey-sticks-pollyanna side of life make my skin crawl, they seem to reek of prozac in the morning and tears after dark. The shadows of life are there to make us appreciate the good times.

The downside of this week has been dealing with of used syringes in the back laneway where we park. On Friday I pulled up to find piles of the goddamn things. I understand that not everyone has a safe environment in which to deal with their addiction but I can not forgive the total disregard someone can show for others by not disposing of such dangerous things in a proper manner. On top of this we have the regular dumping of household rubbish out the back of our shops and the the sad part of this being that I know who does it and they should actually be ashamed of doing this. 
By Saturday morning I was disgruntled beyond belief and that was when the alcohol part occurred. By 10 am there was a couple sitting outside the shop drinking Stone's Ginger Wine and I knew I would have to ask them to move when I opened the shop. I always feel so upset doing this - it's a mixture of annoyance and fear and anger 
and immense sadness. After years of living in Fitzroy I have learnt that a quiet and gentle approach mostly works best with 'other side of the tracks' locals (screaming and ranting works with the dreadful outer suburban tourist yobs, they are often under 18 and if you act like a very angry teacher you can sometimes get through to them). When I opened the shop She was sitting alone under the magnolia tree as He was off getting his methadone over the road. She had the loveliest hair, one tooth and an understanding nature. We chatted, about the tree, about drinking on the street, how it scared the customers and we sorted out the situation in no time. All good- except for my feelings of how some people just fall through the cracks, how opportunity teeters on a fine line.
Gertrude Street is like that. Gentrification sitting, for the most part, knee to knee with rooming houses and addiction and borderline poverty. And how wrong it is for me to feel judgemental sadness for someone who is perhaps happy in their own different-to-mine-life.

Not long after friends dropped in with their 3 cute as button hippy children to let me know that someone we know had died of liver failure that morning. The result of years of drink and 'soft' drugs. My feelings of waste just piled up higher and higher.

But the final straw happened this morning.
Two men, aged in their late 40s, sitting in their car out the back, under my bedroom window for hours and then, finally getting ready to inject heroin. I probably would have buried my head over it but one of them carelessly tossed a syringe out the car window and I saw red. When I lived on Brunswick Street I developed a bit of a reputation, against police advice, for bailing up miscreants in the laneway behind my house in the middle of the night but this time in broad daylight I chose to phone 000 and report it to the police. Within a minute, a single minute, the police had arrived and spent 3/4 of an hour stripping the car looking for drugs. Bet their drug buzz came crashing down as soon as the divvy van rocked up.

Too many memories of lost friends and wasted lives have buzzed around my head this weekend. Talented beautiful friends who couldn't shake Charlie Horse, booze and dope addled boyfriends, normally gentle people arguing like maniacs on alcohol fuelled binges. I have been as guilty as the next person in my past but I find myself with so little patience left for all of this. Please not on my doorstep. 
It simply makes me sad.


  1. Dear Pen, an eloquent and sad post from the cottage. But much appreciated. We spend a lot of our lives surrounding ourselves with beauty, friends, food, books, thoughts. Some days the other stuff creeps in and its good to look it in the eye rather than sweep it under the rug. Hope this week is an easier one xx

  2. Oh Pen.
    Yes. Eloquent.
    The sickly sweet doesn't sit so well with me either. This from someone who has just finished the last of the weekend's fudge.
    And yes to a better week this week.


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