Not as young as I used to be

I am vertically challenged, standing a hulking 4 foot nine inches to be exact.   I never really had any hope of being tall, my genes and the IP saw to that.

When I had my shunt inserted at six months old the surgeons inserted tubing so long that it would have served me well if I had grown to be a giant, so not everyone thought all hope was lost. Obviously, I am not a giant though, (in fact, I am technically a dwarf. I was reminded recently (by people not expecting to see it in a CT scan) that said tubing still floats in my abdomen in a big coil. Just in case my growth spirt ever comes.

My small frame has often caused others to warn me to “always carry ID Nina; No one is ever going to believe you are over 18.”

I took this on-board. To this day, I still carry my 18 plus card (I am 34) just in case. To my dismay, it has been a very, very long time since I have been “carded”. Despite drinking cocktails in various pubs and clubs while speaking very loudly about my upcoming year twelve exams. Damn it!

Until recently, this fact has perplexed me; such was my belief of my youthful visage.

I was hanging out with Miss 6 who asked me how old I am. I stupidly invited her to guess and to my horror, she guessed forty. I managed to convince myself that this is the only number she knew (it is not) and posed the question to her twin brother. He guessed that I was eight, because I am only slightly taller than he is. I can live with that, although if true it could raise a few questions for Damion.

Feeling full of youthful exuberance, I found myself seated next to a little boy I did not know at a lunch. We got to chatting and I asked him how old he is. He is five. He then asked me how old I am and I invited him to guess.

He gave me an appraisal and after asking, “are you younger than Grandpa?” pronounced that I am forty-five. Convinced that he had misunderstood the purpose of the game, I asked him again. This time he said fifty. I stopped playing.

Often, a kid will age you based on your height in comparison to others. For instance, pre-primary kids are usually the littlest at school.

I have often assumed that the reason I get on so well with kids, is that as a short arse they think I am one of them and can relate. Apparently not.

So funny how oftentimes only the kids recognise that I am a grown up.


33, The Year That Was

Tomorrow, the sixteenth of December 2018 is my thirty-fourth birthday and unlike most adults I know, I am really looking forward to it.

Being the constant self-evaluator that I am, I find myself in a reflective mood. I feel the need to look back on the past year, see what I have learned and set some goals for the year ahead, (most of which I know I will not keep).

This year, I gained a Sister. No, Mum and Dad have not had another baby , my brother finally put a ring on it and he and Amy got married. Do not ask me how the wedding was though because I could not tell you. For the first and to date only time ever, my Cochlear Implant and my Hearing Aid both died at the exact same (and most inconvenient) time, so although I was there, I missed everything. Having hearing loss is definitely worse than impaired vision.

The worst thing is, i look terrible when I cry…Like way worse than normal.

Once I realized I would not be able to communicate, hear the speeches or participate at all, naturally I burst into tears. at that exact time the photographer chose to take one of the only photographs of me from the day. It is not pretty.

Damion and I went on our first holiday together. We had a whirlwind visit to Melbourne, where somehow I found myself at the Melbourne Cricket Ground watching  what would turn out to be a Grand Final prebiew, between the West Coast Eagles and The Collingwood Magpies. Damion is still trying to convert me to the dark side (AKA WCE) but I am sticking with my Fremantle Dockers thank you very much!

To Be Honest, I was a bit apprehensive about this trip because I was not sure how we would be, not being able to escape each other for four entire days. Turns out, despite the various bouts of taxi drama and getting lost constantly, it was the most relaxing holiday I have ever been on.

A good thing too, as not long after arriving home, we found out that Damion has Melenoma on his lung, meaning he would need to start chemo in ernest. Up until then, I had been managing my depression/anxiety quite well. But this tipped me over the edge (not literally though thank goodness). Obviously, I was devastated by the prospect of loosing Damion, but with added bonus guilt about (again) making it all about me. I decided to tackle it head on and have been seeing my psychologist again regularly. It has really helped, as has the constant support from our friends and family. Not to mention my trusty meds.

I am a person who talks a lot. But, not really about my feelings or anything that might make me feel or appear vulnerable. With all this going on, I had to break this rule. Talking actually does help sort things out and put things in perspective. It does depend on who you choose to confide in though.

Damion has taken it all in his stride and as always, has been a pillar of strength for us all.

For the record, he has just had his three-month review and his cancer (which was covering both of his lungs), is already 60 per cent gone. It seems there is a God afterall.

On a side note. It is official, this one is a keeper!

This year I also tried indoor skydiving and frankly, I will not be doing it again, it scared the shit out of me. Jumping out of a plane at 14,000 feet is way better. It also has the added bonus of giving you a bit more privacy in which to panic. I got a notification this week that the Urban Descent registrations open soon. I am very seriously considering signing up, in the hope I will get to Zipline the 160 metres down the QV1 building in the Perth CBD. I have abseiled it twice before but I would love to compare the two experiences.

I have recently become involved in various initiatives to promote disabled people in the workforce, educate people on the benefits of employing us, and how to go about it. I absolutely love doing this. It is, at last a real opportunity to make an actual difference as opposed to just talking about making one.

Turns out, job searching is far more difficult than I thought. Especially when you are disabled. Makes me super grateful for the more than fourteen years (and counting) I have had where I am. Speaking of which, it sounds like I am sucking up (I am not. I do not think they read my blog), but the team I work with is amazing. They go above and beyond to ensure I can fully participate/meaningfully contribute to everything, and they do it without alterior motives. This is very rare, both in and out of the workforce.

It has guilted me into realising that I seriously need to do something about my daffiness and my lack of spacial/environmental awareness. Improving this is resolution number one for the new year.

As far as writing/blogging goes, this year has been a good one. I have been published by a few new publications (including MANAMIA, which I have been trying to get into for ages). I have had a couple of invitations from publications to submit work, which I am still working on and one of my rants is due to feature in an upcoming edition of The Big Issue Australia. I still have no idea why people want to read my waffle, but I will take it while I can get it.

Like sands through the hourglass, so was the year in my life.


My Book Pitch

I am due to become an aunty soon, and upon hearing the news, I started to reflect on what it is that I want to be able to teach my new niece or nephew. After thinking about it long and hard, I have come up with absolutely nothing.

There is the old chestnut, “you can be/do anything you dream of,” but that’s been done, and let’s be honest, most children already think that anyway.

If you ask an average kid what they want to be when they grow up, chances are they’ll tell you they want to be a firefighter, an astronaut and a wizard all at once. In fact, I posed this very question to a 3 year-old I know recently and he told me he wanted to be a dinosaur. Children see nothing as impossible.

As a small child I thought this too. I expected I could climb mountains. Not literally of course, but as a littlie the prospect of climbing a set of stairs seemed almost the same.


However, as a disabled child, I found this to be impossible. Not because it was, but because I was never allowed to attempt it by myself. So, I “learned” that this, and many tasks like it were simply not something I could do. Until blissful adulthood, when as master of my own destiny, I gave it a go and surprised myself.

Granted, there are indeed things I can’t do, and I found that out the hard way. But I survived the attempts (albeit with a few bumps and bruises in some cases), and now I know. This means I have more scope to make decisions on how to tackle other things. It is empowering.

I guess the conclusion I have come to then, is that its not the new baby who I need to impart my wisdom on. It’s their parents.

Along with about 99% of the population (I’m assuming) I have a long-held desire to write a book. The problem is, that takes time that I just don’t have. Plus, I am only an expert on myself (which isn’t very interesting), and I don’t have enough expertise on anything else (or the motivation to get some), to be able to write a book about it. Except for Harry Potter that is. But I think JK Rowling has already got that covered.

I do have an idea for a children’s book though.

Its about Molly. She’s not like the other helicopters who live on the airfield. In fact, She’s a clever forklift (who picks things up easily). Molly has a best friend, Freddie the go-cart, who dreams of being a muscle car when he grows up.

Molly’s parents, Mister and Missus Coddled (a pair of middle-aged helicopters) love their daughter very much and recognise her superior intellect, but despite this they can’t seem to be able to let her experience life for herself.

Now, fiction and writing for children is usually not my forte (some might say it still isn’t). So, I have no idea what my characters should do, or how to make them do it.

Although, there was this one time when my brother and I were playing “too near” to a pond and the adult who was supervising us spent so much energy reminding us to be careful and shielding us from the possibility of falling in. That they weren’t watching where they were walking and fell in themselves. Would that work?

I am hoping that my book, which I envisage as a picture book, (even though I’m blind and can’t draw) becomes a regular fixture in the bedtime rotation of children across the country, (I have no ambition for world domination). That way, parents, like my brother might pick up on a few hints. You are welcome little ones.

So, who wants to publish me?


A crumby thing happened on the way to The Project: The post script

Previously on Inner Musings of a Funny Looking Kid…

I wrote of a run-in I had with a taxi driver in Melbourne, who refused me entry into his cab (for full details see “A crumby thing happened on the way to The Project”).

I do not really like to make formal complaints (I prefer to whinge about my issues on my blog) because, regardless of what the circumstances I always feel bad about possibly getting someone into trouble. In addition, the attention I get from whinging is usually enough to placate me.

As usual I considered letting it slip, “what if I miss-understood him?” I thought to myself. Was it that big of a deal?

Apparently it was. This blog has been the most interacted-with blog I have ever done. For whatever reason it struck a chord with so many.

So, I went to the website and made a complaint, giving all the detail I had, but not expecting much (as I did not have his number), and feeling very guilty.

After three weeks, I had started to lose hope of ever hearing back, and as the dust had settled by now, I was a bit relieved. But eventually they did get back to me.

As it turnsout, this is a very serious issue which they take very seriously. The driver has broken the company’s code of conduct and (I think) the law. Yet another lesson not to doubt myself.

The driver in question has been appropriately dealt with and I have been promised compensation, funded by a fine he will have to pay.

Despite my dislike of getting people into trouble, I did get a little giggle from this. Is that bad?

Let this be a lesson to him, and to me.


Musings of Melbourne


Damion and I have just returned from our first-ever holiday together, a weekend away in Melbourne Victoria.

I am not sure how Melbournians do it, living in that cold. I froze my arse off. Ironic, given how much I ate.

“They” are not wrong when they say there is good food to be eaten in Melbourne.

My favourite meal to go out for is breakfast and knowing this, I was told that whilst in Melbourne I had to try a meal of smashed avocado and feta. Apparently, it is what all the trendy people eat for brekky there. I did so, and I have to say I cannot see why it is so exciting.

On the subject of trendy dining, is it normal to have to eat your $35 meal on your lap?

For our last supper, we went to a very cute, very old Irish pub. The place smelt of wooden furniture and had a roaring open fire (always a highlight for me). Our “table” was knee high and nestled within a booth that made me think of my Catholic school days and giving confession. When our enormous plates arrived with servings to match, we had to pull them up on our laps to eat. This meant I wore a lot of it, but it was the yummiest Moroccan Lamb Salad I have ever had. Even Damion had nothing but praise for his rack of lamb. My only criticism (if it is one), is that due to the huge serving of salad, I could not finish eating the chips (French fries) I really did not need, but had to have anyway. This was tragic, as they were amazing!

For the record, I consider myself to be something of a hot chip connoisseur. They are quite often the only thing I can eat on a menu, so I have them everywhere. I am thinking of starting a blog just reviewing hot chips…

I am not a big pub person, although in Melbourne I made an exception. They are different to the ones in Perth. Full of character and quiet enough to have a conversation. Even when they are full. I also settled on my drink of choice in Melbourne. Raspberry Vodka and lemonade. I took great delight in ordering “the usual” everywhere we went.

For a modern city, Melbourne has a lot of horses pulling carts (for the tourists I assume). Although there are plenty of cars about, the carts and the constant “ding ding” of the trams made me feel as though I had stepped back in time. Until I got on an actual tram, that is.

I was expecting to see Judy Garland gleefully singing about how jolly it is to ride on the trolley. That is not what I found. Instead, there were bored looking commuters, carrying their shopping and trying not to catch each other’s eye. Shame not all the trams are wheelchair accessible.

St Kilda is my favourite spot in Melbourne. Mostly because it was warmer there than in the CBD, but also because St Kilda beach is amongst the nicest I have seen. So easy to get around and really wheelchair accessible. We originally only went there to see “the clown “ at Luna Park but we ended up spending hours eating and drinking while overlooking the beach. Bliss!

I still have not seen the famed “beach boxes” though, which is disappointing.

Of course, we had to watch an Australian Football League game while in Melbourne, seeing as how it is the home of football.

They are not my team, but we went to the Melbourne Cricket Ground (AKA the MCG or the Holy Grail) to see Damion’s beloved West Coast Eagles play the Collingwood Magpies. To my surprise, there were many Eagles supporters there. Even more surprising was the amount of people sporting merchandise of my team, the Fremantle Dockers. Many of them were wearing Collingwood jumpers and Dockers hats which was odd.

That day, West Coast beat the “Pies” at the MCG for the first time. I was unsure how the very passionate Collingwood supporters would react to us, given that Damion was now wearing an Eagles shirt that he bought at the ground. I need not have worried though as everyone (Pies and Eagles supporters alike) joined in on celebrating what was a very good game. This too was unlike anything I had experienced at the footy in Perth.

On a side note: Is there anyone in Melbourne who isn’t obsessed with the football? People seemed to want to stop and chat about it everywhere we went. What do people talk about in the off-season?

I hardly did any shopping whilst in Melbourne, but Damion (who loves to shop) did convince me to buy a Harvard Alumni jumper. I wore it on our journey back to Perth and, while at the airport, I kept trying to catch people’s eye, hoping they would ask me what I had studied. No one did. Oh well.

But then, Damion had a West Coast Eagles shirt on and no-one asked him if he was a player.

Thanks Melbourne. Until we meet again…


Niina at the Pub