Not my story, obviously.

I can see why some people aren’t sure if Sam’s story is real or not. I mean, I’m a 41 year old woman, not a 16 year old boy. I don’t have the requisite parts to have testicular cancer. This is true. And so is Sam’s story.

“Nuts, A Ball and other 4-letter Words.”

He’s a real person. Not his real name for the sake of privacy. This is his journey for a short/horrifically long period of his life so far. This is the story, too, of anyone who has been dealt the punch to the face (knee to the groin?) that cancer is. It’s also the story of winning. Of not spelling cancer with a capital C. Of making it. Of living life anyway, of growth and regrowth. Of sharing instead of hiding. Of kissing and sex. Of separation and belonging. Just Life. It’s the story of family and yet it isn’t.

I spoke to most of Sam’s family while his personal story bubbled in my head and came flowing out in words both his and mine.

I spoke to his big brother who, although uncomfortable in some ways talking to a relative stranger, made his love love for his family, even an annoying younger brother, very clear.

I spoke with his little sister, who thought I was a little crazy and made a rude comment about my shoe choices….fair call, though. The two of us forged a friendship that was close, for a while, and sang the real lyrics to Mumford and Sons’ ‘Little Lion Man’ really, really loudly, just because we could. Now she’s not a ‘little’ sister any more, but a beautiful, engaged young woman with whom a coffee date seems elusive. And I spoke with Mum.

I wondered if she thought I was odd, a teacher and mother of children of my own, befriending her kids. Apparently not, thankfully. And I loved them. Hearing their stories; getting a little into their lives.

Weird, isn’t it, how quickly that depth of feeling can come? And go. Not the feeling, just the actual spending time. It just drifts off sometimes. I don’t really know why. Happens far more often than I’d like, that sort of fading. Anyway, I’m getting morose.

So Mum let me hang out. And talk to her kids. And to her. She told me all of her experiences of Sam’s diagnosis, treatment, surgery and eventual recovery. I think I expected more tears, more drama. But you’ve already read that’s not her style. So it was fact and explanation of both circumstances and emotions.

I always meant to write the whole story. The whole truth for the whole family, but I couldn’t write Mum’s perspective. When I voiced her, my pen stopped. I, who had children of my own and knew how mums felt when their children hurt. I, who could scrawl out the story of a teenager’s masturbation and fantasy, couldn’t find the words to share this mother’s battle for her boy.


I’m sorry that I couldn’t find your voice with my pen. I’m sorry that I couldn’t express your fear, or the knowledge that you just had to do what you had to do. I’m sorry ’cause I wanted to tell of your courage, your love. I wanted to write more. I don’t think I could go there, you know, because it would have been bloody hard. I haven’t looked at my notes in years, but I have one thing that I’ve always remembered.

When mums hug their children, we often put our hands on their heads, ruffle their hair up a bit. And it’s a sign of affection, of casual ‘love ya, mate’ warmth. But for you it became more. Discreetly, under the guise of casual, you’d check your not-so-little boy’s scalp and neck for the telltale heat of fever and bumps of possible infection. I already knew how I felt when I held my ‘babies’ and I think I couldn’t find your voice cause I didn’t want to even imagine having to watch them so closely, so scared. I knew I didn’t know, couldn’t even guess and I didn’t want to do you or your feelings injustice.

So there it is. Honesty. I’ve finally made myself look at it as more than just writer’s block.

If you haven’t read Sam’s story yet, you could start here.


Mandy. 🐛<<

No fear of flying!

There is nothing like the feeling of flying – even if it is down a concrete path in a wheelchair!  A boy I don’t know very well, from year 11, who makes me laugh and teases along with the best of them, offered to push me back down to the next class I was helping with.  Actually, he first asked if he could sit on my knee and I could take him down to the ITD building.  I’m not sure who was more surprised when I compromised and said I would only take him as far as the concrete path went cause I didn’t do “off road” real well.  I think I would have had my bluff called if he had agreed, but I’d like to think that we would have given it a good go.  So I think that taking me to my next class was the trade off.  I certainly could have done that bit on my own, but I think there is a certain buzz from pushing people in wheelchairs, maybe it’s the control, so who am I to say no?  Sam is not careful.  Well, that’s what I reckon it looked like as we whizzed down the hill.  The three of us flying.  Me in the chair, Sam running behind me, holding the handles carefully as he pushed, and Josh trying to run and laugh at the same time beside his best mate.  I think I was more worried for the innocents who might inadvertently get in our path; there is no such thing as power steering on my wheelchair.  Although I did promise (some might say threaten) as we flew, that I would hunt him down on crutches if he let me go, I actually felt amazing.  Yes, I like being the centre of attention.  Yes, it’s exhilarating and a bit of adrenalin on a Monday afternoon can be a good thing.  But it’s more than that.  Sam’s been sick.  I haven’t asked him about it and I don’t know many details, but it’s been a long haul for him this year.  Cancer and chemo don’t make for a party sort of feeling.  Tears started for me when, at a staff meeting, he was given special uniform dispensation, cause apparently his formal one just “felt too heavy.”  There are the highlights though.  He’s back in his formal uniform now, as scruffy as they seem to be able to make it look, and having your best friend have his head shaved at the same time as you in solidarity and support must feel pretty good.  I’m going to have to ask, maybe.  Maybe it’s not important that I know.  But my guess is that if I felt like I was flying, I’m pretty sure that being able to run like that, laughing, in control of a teacher’s transport and scattering juniors as you go must have felt pretty good too.  Maybe I’m trying to make it into something it’s not. All of us were breathless as they stopped me at the door and wandered off – there was no ‘moment’ – but it was great!

Tough life!

It’s a tough life!

I’m on an excursion today with my Year 11/12 English Communication class. We are here because we are learning about persuasive speeches. Yes, really.



I know, it sounds unlikely. But despite appearances, this is a valid excursion. I’ve tried something new with my class this term. All the info I gave them was that we had to complete a persuasive speech for our assessment and they planned the term in a way that they would like to learn. Of course, they were quick to point out that they’d NEED to visit a theme park at some point.

“Persuade me,” I said.
“We could write about which is the best ride or theme park,” they said.
“Ok,” I said, “I’ll try.”

So I spoke to our Head of School, explaining the importance of the students taking control of their learning and being inspired to learn. I think I was a bit surprised when he said yes! The condition was that I have the requisite paperwork in the very next day and that I make use of MY persuasive skills to write the letter to parents. I’m pretty impressed with my efforts…

Excursion – Wet n Wild
This term, 11/12 English Communications are involved in the creation and monitoring of their term plan. During the first lesson of the term, students collaboratively developed a Term Overview and detailed what they felt they needed to learn in order to complete the assessment during the exam block. To motivate and inspire them to write an interesting persuasive speech for the exam, they decided to spend the day at Wet ‘n’ Wild on Thursday, 22nd October. Due to the in-class nature of the planning, this is an optional activity which is not included in our excursion schedule. We encourage you to allow your child to attend to encourage them as they take responsibility and ownership of their learning.

What do you think?

I sent some of the photos above to the HOS with the message,
“Wish you were here?” He was thrilled. This is the message I received in return,
“It’s important, she says…It’s for the students, she says…it’s valuable learning time, she says…💩.” Such support! 😜

I also received a few messages from my Year 11 class (or what was left of them; there were a number of excursions today).

J: “theirs only 3 of use that are in english… yay [sic]…do we still have to do today’s work?”
{I reply in the affirmative}

G: “Here’s my work from today. It’s a bit quiet.”

G: “Hello again, I would just like to point out how creepy the front page of the pdf document is…sorry if I ever look like this in class 🙂 Feel free to add a caption.”


I nearly fell off my banana lounge with laughter! That kid looks positively murderous! I’m sorry if ANY of my students feel even the remotest reason to look like this in my classes!

Caption away! I’m very much looking forward to what you all come up with.

So there you go. My day; my students; only 3 of whom decided to line up for a ride at the exact time we were to meet, were 42 minutes late and held up the whole bus full of those waiting. And they did apologise. After asking if they had time to grab a quick frozen drink!

And my new swimmers were a great success – to me.

Veritas, Eski

Extreme Do-Over! A fairy story for modern times.

I want to tell you a story. 

Once upon a time, not so very long ago, in an ordinary suburb, a woman – let’s call her Sally.

(Or, to be honest, it is me.)

Anyway, a woman, strategically organised jobs for her family so that everyone was doing their share. She was so considerate that she allowed her family their choice of chores and allocated what was left to herself. Now this woman has never been renowned for her particular abilities in terms of housework. In fact, she reduced her immediate family to hysteria when she landed a Home Ec teaching position. She is possibly one of the least domestic people we know. However, for the short term, the chore sharing went well and everyone was in clean, folded clothing.

A little while ago though, her life filled up more than usual and something had to go. Sighing disappointedly, she removed the self-replicating, rapidly increasing mountain of clean, unfolded clothing from its normal slothful position on the lounge room couch/floor to the hidden confines of her small walk-in wardrobe. What a relief to have this monstrosity invisible to anyone who dropped by. Now she only had to wrestle with it once a day in order to find her outfit. As happens with self-replicating life forms, however, the mountain grew and grew as days passed. Infuriatingly, no housework fairy tiptoed in at night to do it for her. In fact, not even one fairy tale creature crossed her path to offer redemption in exchange for the soul of her first born or her undying affection. Bah, humbug!

More time passed, but the woman knew she would conquer the ever widening pile soon, or die trying. As is often the case in these moral tales, time moves more swiftly that we bargain for and moment is lost. Yesterday, the clouds of the oncoming storm released their deluge upon the home of the poor, unwary woman and her family. (Literally, a pipe from the hot water service blew inside the wall between the laundry and the back of the wardrobe.) For long hours, the storm raged. (Possibly 5 hours til her husband and kids returned home.) The woman’s wardrobe, then (carpeted) bedroom, the hallway, then the (carpeted) bedrooms of the (4) children, the (carpeted) loungeroom and linen press transformed from dry, to damp, to swamp over the space of one afternoon. Upon returning to the dwelling, her longsuffering husband found frogs croaking, dragonflies skimming and a mountain of once-clean washing, steaming in the (carpeted) estuary (2 inches deep) that had been their wardrobe.

In a valiant attempt to stop further damage, said husband attacked the source with gusto. (He turned off the water.) He and the children, frustrated with the limited capacity of their mop, thought laterally and used the already wet washing (towels and quilts first, then everything down to undies) to soak up as much of the excess water as they could. It must be noted that on its travels the water had surged and back washed through the cat litter tray and so these once-clean items were now pungent and aromatic. What a delightful scene greeted the woman when she returned from inspiring the minds of the future. A tired family and a gruff wizard in plumbing kit were still at work determining the source of this evil. Holes were blasted in walls until the copper culprit admitted its guilt. (A 2 millimetre wear in a weld.) Captured and replaced with a sturdier guard, the culprit was wrapped for The Insurer’s inspection and the family once agin bent their backs to shift sodden, smelly piles of washing to the relative safety of the cork floor in the dining room. 

Fearing for their safety, and comfortable sleep, the husband manhandled (cause he’s a man) the thankfully dry mattress to the outside room and they, their youngest child, a couple of cats and an attention seeking dog attempted to sleep whilst still listening out for The Insurer’s promised vacuum wielding water diviner. Who promptly arrived at 10 the next morning while they were out. 

The woman long (3.5 hours) regretted her laziness as she slaved over huge, costly ($85 total), roasting machinery (laundromat). What had once seemed a fine plan now tortured her day off and her slim purse. She knew that laziness was not the answer. When she arrived home she found herself and her family surrounded by towering fluorescent orange dehumidifiers and fans with such gusting power they bellowed throug the hallway like an engine of a jumbo jet. Ah, the peace; the tranquility; the sarcasm!

The woman’s patience was tested further with a call to The Insurer who requested that she provide evidence of ownership of her 10 year old bed frame, two spare mattresses, numerous secondhand bookcases and desks and a, now structurally questionable, MDF toddler bed in the likeness of a well-known, blue, British steam locomotive. 

So, although this vicious attack of liquid was not the woman’s fault, she felt sorely tried by its ramifications. And the washing mountain? I hear you ask. Clean, dry, partially folded and safe.
And still in the back of the car.

Absolute verity,

Eski Caterpillar 💦

Tattoo – Semicolon Project

It’s here! My semicolon is now permanently inked to the inside of my left wrist. 

I’ve attached the video I took of the whole process. I had the opportunity to share the story of The Semicolon Project while he tattoo’d my arm, so I’ll let it tell its own story. Aron from “Gothic Realm” does an excellent job,of both tattoos and listening! 

My Tattoo (This is the link to the video)
Please read back over my blogs to see the rest of the story and feel free to share.

As always,

Veritas – Eski!

Tattoo for the soul

In just over a week, I am going to a tattoo parlour with three of my friends to be inked with my first tattoo.

Since writing this post, “Permanent Ink,” I have found, once again, that people need someone to talk to. Sharing such a tiny part of my story has opened the gates for friends and acquaintances to ‘feel ok’ to talk about their own emotional story.

So, for those of you who still aren’t sure why I would choose to get a tattoo; I, who change my mind about what I like more often than others change knickers; I, who have a needle phobia; I, who do not have a style and if I did, it wouldn’t be a tattoo that was the symbol of it; here’s why.

Today, I read this article and last fortnight I read this blog post and in between I’ve read about The Semicolon Project.

I want to start a conversation with those who need it; I want to let people (including me) know that it’s ok to not be ok and that you are loved; I want to remind people (including me) to “pause and keep going.”

And that’s why, next week, I will be voluntarily extending my hand for permanent ink.


Creative Writing – A Journey Part 5

Write a letter to an agent, telling her how wonderful you are.

Dear Ms Stomar,

Thank you for giving me the opportunity to give you the opportunity to represent ME!

I’m awesome. I’m honest to a fault and definitely the sort of person you’ll be keen to represent. I describe myself as an outspoken, honest, drama queen. 

I’ve heard of your excellent work and am keen to discuss possibilities for furthering my career with you.

Instead of writing the above, I’ve been distracted by the noise outside:

The excessive testosterone could be measured in the gruff notes of verandah karaoke and the vibrations of the floorboards beneath my feet. Assassins Creed references flew through the air, as did the impromptu parkour efforts; and failures. Occasionally, the roar dimmed to a murmur of one upmanship with spikes of attention grabbing falsetto. Despite both obvious and subtle attempts to the contrary, the girls present remained unimpressed and left without falling for the somewhat dubious charms of their male peers. Slowly, the racket subsided to a rumble, punctuated by growls and grunts whose use in communication seemed apparent only to the participants.

Write a 20 line poem about a memorable moment of your life.

I was born, I know that much

But the event itself, well, I’m out of touch.

I am sure I felt; I believe I’d cried

But I don’t remember being inside.

My mother does, at least somewhat

She was the one who was “on the spot”

As it were, when she had me

And because, as you know, I’m the first of three

The experience can’t have been ALL bad

For with my mum or my dad.

Since then I remember many things

Chasing butterflies; twisting on swings.

I remember the birth of my own babies, four

I remember deciding not to have any more.

I remember the pain of unnecessary death.

I remember the first time really noticing breath.

I remember the joy of finding direction

The smarting sting of all correction.

I even remember things I’ve been taught;

But of my birth, I remember naught.