26 September 2012

Be right back.

Really really tired. Going to hold off on writing any blog posts until I have more energy. Got lots of ideas and I have been drafting them in my iPad and phone. I hope you understand! :)


21 September 2012

Travel tales: SoHo, shopping, adventurous eating at Soccarat Paella Bar

In a taxi on our way to SoHo on our second Wednesday in New York, I was asked a question I never thought I'd be asked by a New York taxi driver. "So what's happened to Kylie and Dannii Minogue?" The driver said he was a fan of Gotye's Somebidy That I Used to Know (played incessantly in America!) and I told him Gotye is a Melbourne singer (he thought Gotye was Swedish or Sting!). He told me he liked the Australian cricket team, and knew some Aussie music. Kylie and Dannii Minogue. In fact he missed them. So as we sat in traffic, we discussed the Minogue Sisters. I told him how Kylie's record was my first. I should be so lucky. I rode front seat which was a great way to see the city. Here is a sneaky shot of Mum in the back of the taxi.

Mum made some Spanish friends while I was at BlogHer. We spent our time in SoHo with them. We saw lots of pretty sights. This hotel, the Mondrian.

And a French model being interviewed on camera.
We had lunch at a tiny cafe called Smile To Go - they served salads and sandwiches and fruit. I was reminded once more just how costly it is to eat healthily in America, with half a sandwich, a box of salad, fruit salad and a lemonade (not the fizzy variety like in Australia- that's known as 7Up there - but real lemon juice) costing me almost $30. The fruit salad was the best I have had in ages though, filled with berries and pomegranite. The sandwich was grest too - Provolone cheese and fig paste.

Mum and her new friends went to a Spanish pub after lunch, and I shopped in solitude. I really was not impressed with NY shops or clothes, and walks through Bloomingdales, Banana Republic, H&M were fruitless. I was set to buy a dress for the ball in September, but I had no luck thus far. Too big, too frumpy, too expensive, too "I can't believe she would wear that!". I did bump into Nikki from Styling You in Bloomingdales - trust two fashionistas to meet accidentally there!

I consoled myself from my lack of shopping with two teeny tiny cupcakes from Baked By Melissa after seekng this beautiful sign from across the road.
Baked by Melissa sells tiny cupcakes piped with yummy fillings. I had cookie dough and peamut butter and jelly. Gosh I wished they were giagantic! These cupcakes blew the much hyped Magnolia Bakery out of the water.
Refueled by cakey goodness, I was determined to buy something. American Eagle came through with the goods, and I purchased this dress I had eyed off last time I bought something from there.
I wore the dress several times in New York, and back home teamed with my new GAP blazer which I bought on a surprisingly successful shopping trip in Brooklyn at the end of our trip. I wore my new dress to dinner that night. It was so hot I wore it sleeveless. You can sort of see my arms here. I rarely go sleeveless.

It was a novelty eating out so much but I longed to cook food for myself. A trip to Grand Central Station (report to come) almost had me in tears as I wanted to buy all of the fresh food at the market there.

We stayed in 8th Avenue which was very close to the West Village - full of great restaurants. I would go on UrbanSpoon after our days out, and choose one of the best rated yet affordable restaurants. Most of the time I made a good choice - apart from the Balkanese restaurant in 9th Avenue.

Mum commented that I have become an adventurous eater in New York. On the previous Sunday I ate a whole lobster, even willing to have my fingers sting from the lemon juice. Truth is, I've always been an adventuous eater! I once ate a piece of fish food, which is how I know that some of the foods sampled in our Asian Snack Challenge tastes like fish food.

Anyway, that night I chose a Paella bar called Soccarat (259 West 11th Street NYC). It is modern restaurant with a very long and shiny communal table for customers. Bar service is provided at the table, and there is a range of tapas and paellas to choose from. Mum and I were impressed with the wine at Soccarat as so much of the wine we had tasted elsewhere was flavourless. It was all Spanish. I had a Rose and Mum had a Merlot.

We started with some tapas - ordering shrimp and and butter - so juicy and the butter was a nice (naughty addition).
The waiter came by with a complimentary plate of mushroom croquettes, apologising for forgetting our order (I was so busy admiring the hair of a fellow diner and exclaiming "how wonderful is this restaurant?!" with frequent happy sighs) that I did not notice a delay in the service. The croquettes were the highlight for me - crispy outer, smooth mashed potato, cheese and a strong mushroom flavour. They were served atop aoli.
Our Paella came out next - it was not the traditional paella I was used to. Hence my adventurous eating. Ours had snowpeas, scallions, chicken, pork, rabbit and snails in it! Yes, snails! They tasted earthy - nothing like shellfish which I had expected. I really enjoyed it.
The waiter showed us how to scrape the paella from the skillet so the second serving would be deliciously crispy rice. I had the crispy rice the next day for breakfast at our hotel.

Still a couple more New York tales to come!

20 September 2012

The Age newspaper article! I am in it!

Hello! Yesterday was an amazing day! It is like I live in parallel worlds these days! I spent the morning talking to a journalist and having my photo taken by two lovely men. It was press for The Other Film Festival, where I am a judge. Then I went to work at my day job, doing day jobby things. And then I put on my sequined dress, felt a bit uneasy looking like a disco ball at my desk at 5.10 pm, logged off my day job computer, amd went to The Other Film Festival opening night with Jess and Louis as my plus ones. We drank champagne, watched some amazing films - Deaf Mugger, Agalee and Aphasia (all breathtaking), and I practised my schmoozing with festival patron - animator and Oscar winner Adam Elliott and star of Aphasia, Carl. Someone I know out-schmoozed me. Must work on my technique! My friends laughed at me. I laughed at me too!

I am featured in The Age newspaper today. If you can't get a copy, you can read it here.That photo above is by Simon Schluter. He asked me to drape on the couch. We were in fits of laughter because my jeans and skin were restrictive which meant I wasn't very drapey. And then Rick sat on the couch and we were laughing even harder. It was fun.

The interview centres around Rick Guidotti and I. He was a fashion photographer to the stars, being told what beauty was every day. Then he saw some photos of chiildren in medical books, their eyes blacked out, they were defined by the name of their illness or disability. He wanted to showcase their beauty, to take photos of them in their natural environments. And so he founded Positive Exposure, which does just that. He was so much fun yesterday - he told me I am stunning! I will be having some photos taken by him on the weekend. Listening to him speak was very insightful - he is making a difference to the way society sees beauty. I think he is my hero.

If you are reading this, thank you. Thank you again for all of your support. I am so lucky to have this life, and I am so grateful for you sharing it with me.

19 September 2012

When Kirk Pengilly from INXS called his biggest fan, CurlyPops, on my phone.

One of the big highlights of my Layne Beachley Aim for the Stars experience was being able to make one of my best friends' dreams come true.

You may be aware that Camille from CurlyPops blog is a big INXS fan. You may also be aware she needs some new lungs. Sadly she isn't able to get to an INXS concert due to her illness, but she has not stopped loving the band.

Camille and I have become great friends after meeting through blogging, and we have bonded over cake and pretty clothes and accessories and more dessert. She made my Western Suburbs bag that I took overseas and also my gorgeous capelet for the Aim for the Stars ball.

You may also be aware that Layne Beachley is married to Kirk Pengilly from INXS. And he was at the ball. I mentioned Camille to Layne the previous night, and she told me he would be there.

After a couple of drinks I went up to Kirk (he was the man that the young ones couldn't quite recognise!) and introduced myself. I told him about Camille and asked him if he could call her. "Make sure you introduce yourself as she doesn't answer the home phone" I told him.

"Hello, can I speak to Camille please? Is Camille there?" She said she realised it wasn't a telemarketer and picked up the phone.

And oh gosh! Camille was beside herself!!!

They chatted for a few minutes. He asked her if she was ok and if she was watching the Manly Sea Eagles play (Yes and No). She told him she has all of their albums. I was crying with excitement! And when I got up on stage to make my speech, I told Layne.

Here are some selfies right after the call.

A little while later I told Kirk that Camille was beyond excited! He was so pleased to have made her day :)

Thanks Kirk for making this incredible woman so very happy!

"Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life around.”

Read about Camille's excitement here. As a huge fan of Darren Hayes, I completely understand and love the excitement she felt :)!

18 September 2012

The Layne Beachley Aim for the Stars experience. The ball. The dress. The girls. The belief in us.

The Layne Beachley Aim for the Stars experience. Wow. I have returned home from Sydney with a smile - my life has been enriched. The three days I spent in Sydney were wonderful. I met some beautiful, talented and driven women, including Layne Beachley of course, and feel valued and know that the Foundation and its supporters believe in me and the other grant recipients. We were all made to feel so special, and I will treasure those memories. (Note - some of these pictures are from the other grant recipients. They were better than mine.)

After surfing on Thursday (see news article), we went to Government House, and on Friday we had life and media coaching with Seed Coaching and Life's A Gym. I created a vision board (featuring visions of tidy bedrooms!!) and prepared my elevator pitch. The coaches were great - really applying their content to the wide age range, and drawing on Layne's experiences.

That afternoon we were treated to hair and makeup. I haven't had my hair done like that since my year 12 formal, and feel uneasy around hairdressers, so this was a real treat! My hair was so straight and full of body - I felt like Princess Diana! Thanks dry shampoo!!
I raced across a busy Sydney street in peak hour in my pyjamas with my hair feeling very crunchy, excited to get dressed in my ball dress I bought in New York.

Camille made my beautiful capelet. I adore it! So warm and chic. It is made from cashmere, has a floral lining and diamante trim and pearl buttons. My very expensive handbag struggled to hold my tiny vaseline, and my super high shoes were easier to walk in outside of the hotel room! (Dress from Macys, capelet by CurlyPops, ring from Swarovski, headband from Mimco, clutch from Witchery, shoes from Forever New, bangle from Envy Jewellery (though has passed for Cartier and Tiffany!), necklace from Tiffany and excitement by Carly.)
We were taken in two groups to The Ivy in a limosuine. Fancy!
Such gorgeous girls! Just perfect.

And when we arrived at The Ivy, Carol Gibbons, the official photographer was waiting, and followed us as we walked through Angel Place. It was like we were celebrities! One group of diners clapped and cheered us!

We were greeted with drinks - I was teased (playfully) about my age by the young ones - and the canapes were fabulous (beetroot and caviar tarts topped with feta!). Here is my dessert - strawberries in jelly with marscapone and meringue.

I danced with sailor Jessica Watson (lovely) and bronze medalist in water polo (or "throwing balls in the water" as I termed it) Jane Moran, who is also an Aim for the Stars recipient. She is such a scream!

The night featured an auction, dinner, and us grant recipients being showcased on stage as we were presented with a trophy. The moment on stage with Layne was lovely. She and I chatted about her husband (more of that to come soon) and my dress and heels. I told her that despite the appearance activism stuff, I am a little vain and love dressing up!
Our trophies are just beautiful.
After the formalities we danced the night away, concluding with all the recipients on stage dancing with the band and Layne.
The experience was amazing. Layne is so talented, smart and encouraging, and generous with her funds and time. She is funny too - made us laugh a lot. I love that she is proud of her achievements and happy to state them in conversation. She has belief in all of us and encouraged us to continue to seek our goals and ask for help when we need to.

I am so grateful to Layne for this opportunity. It has helped me get to London to speak, develop a set of achievable goals and think about my career outside of my day job. Most importantly the opportunity has enabled me to meet a group of inspirational young women who I have forged some strong friendships with. They have all risen above adversity and worked so hard to achieve their goals, and many of their stories left me in tears. Read about them here. Such strength. Many are sportswomen but there are also women specialising in academia, marine biology, community work and law.

One woman who deserves special recognition is Megan, the staff member at Aim for the Stars. She has been amazing to work with this year - always encouraging and lovely in her emails and phone calls, and it was fantastic to meet her in person. She has amazing style and a beautiful smile, and has proved that she is indeed Super Woman - coordinating all the grant recipients, the ball and the Aim for the Stars program. Thanks Megan, you're the best!
Sharing our experiences in Sydney reminded me of the important things in life - love, friendship, hard work, courage and belief in ourselves and others. Well done, Layne, Megan and the Aim for the Stars girls - I am proud to know you. Thank you!

For more information visit www.aimforthestars.com.au

(I have a couple more posts about the AFTS events, featuring some of the wonderful people I met, so stay tuned.)

17 September 2012

The breakup letter to my online illness support group

This piece was originally posted on Kiki and Tea. I wanted to republish it here. I was so surprised at how many people identified with my feelings about online support groups, and that the behaviour within online support groups isn't only limited to those related to illness. I would also like to preface this post by saying that I have been involved in ichthyosis supoort groups for quite some time the behaviour and attititude that has frustrated me has spawned across many forms of them, not just the one I left recently. There is an assumption that I used the group for my thesis - this is not true. In the 10,300 words written, my experience with online suppport group received one mention, and it was very generalised. Finally, my positivity in life and towards my illness does not mean I cannot be a good, responsible role model, as some have suggested. I have experienced difficult times and have never denied that. But I have chosen happiness. This is my reality, I understand others may experience things differently.

Dear illness specific online support group:

I am breaking up with you. Calling things off. Walking out. Taking my records and changing my number. It’s not me it is you.

I have dabbled in the world of online support groups ever since the Internet became available, back in 1996. My school librarian thought a good way to spend my time while not participating in PE classes was to research my condition (Ichthyosis) on the Internet. Maybe contact some people who also have it. And so I did. It beat doing cross country runs. (Though I spent more time researching Savage Garden than researching Ichthyosis!)

At first it was interesting. I shared similar experiences with people. I was relieved there were others who could relate to me. And I have met some wonderful new friends – I have met several in person and keep in contact with others online – and I am thankful.

But then it got dark. I realised people haven’t been as lucky as I have been to have supportive parents and an education. There was resentment and non-acceptance. And I saw a competition about who has it worse. Sadly it’s the vocal minority that bring on the negativity. I see my illness as a blessing. It’s socially and medically hard but I’ve made it work for me. Others don’t feel it’s way. I think they believe I’m unrealistically positive.

I’ve had a certain member of the support group write to me ranting about how they haven’t had the life I have, and that’s somehow my fault.

I have had people assume I’m unable to work, because they are not able to.

I have had mothers dismiss my opinion or advice because, well, I’ve only been living with the condition all of my life.

I see a victim mentality, and negativity breeds negativity. There are can’ts and I give ups. There are limitations placed on the expectation of children when they grow up. There is too much woe is me.

I worry about sharing medical advice online. Just because it worked for one person, it doesn’t mean it will work for others.

I worry about sharing photos of children’s skin – photos of their infections and bodies – without their permission.

I worry about sharing too much negative information – there will be little hope instilled in young people with the illnesses, and their parents.

I understand the Internet is a good place to vent. I also understand that people cope differently. I understand that for some parents, and patients with the condition, the Internet is the first occasion they’ve ever encountered others with the condition, and want to drink up as much information as possible. And I understand how the Internet can support people with chronic illnesses and disabilities – I’ve even done my Masters thesis on it, and proven my hypothesis true . I must seem quite contradictory.

From my thesis:

“The internet can be a vehicle for support for people with chronic illness and disabilities. This concept is explored in a number of papers including Tan (2008), Fox (2008) and McGeehin-Heilferty (2009). Parr, H (2002, pp 73 – 95) writes about the increasing availability of health information on the internet and individual health consumerism. “Virtual space has also facilitated the formation of on-line communities, which are specifically focused around experiences of the physical body, experiences which sometimes contradict or contest dominant health discourses and knowledges. The growth of chat rooms, support groups, and specific information-exchange sites surrounding particular bodily conditions is phenomenal” (Parr, H 2002, p. 76). Parr (2002, p 77) also outlines the trend that “health and illness are now not confined to the clinical locations of the hospital or the GP surgery, or to the relationships between doctors and patients, but are dispersed throughout various social and commercial arenas” (Nettleton and Bunton, 1995 in Parr, H 2002).

Tan (2008) discusses the way people use Myspace blogs as a self therapy tool. One conclusion he makes is “MySpace blogging is certainly no replacement for traditional psychotherapy or psychoanalysis. This should not stop us, however, from constructing new understandings of the link between certain forms of human signification/expression (e.g. blogging) and potentially therapeutic or lifeaffirming effects”.

The rise of the term ‘e-patient’ is also discussed in papers; Fox (2008) discusses the way “internet users living with a disability or chronic disease are more likely than other internet users to be wide-ranging online health researchers and to report significant impacts from those searches”. While I do not regularly seek out treatment for my illness online, readers of my blog have found it because they were searching for information.

I choose to blog because it’s a passive way of taking part in the online illness community. From my thesis: While I write about my experiences with ichthyosis, it is not my motive to seek further information about treatments or others’ experiences. I am not actively seeking a place in the community of others with ichthyosis. However, my blog does enable internet users to consume information about ichthyosis, and so I have inadvertently become a member of that community.”

In order for me to be happy and healthy, I need to give up illness specific online support groups. They offer me no support. To be honest, when I close my browser window I feel judgemental and quite frustrated. I get medical support from my wonderful dermatology team and I get emotional support from family and friends. It’s not just me feeling this way – friends of mine with chronic illnesses and disabilities have hash the same experiences.

The support I receive from the online community – many of whom don’t have the same illness as me trumps the effects of the illness specific support group. I understand others may benefit, and I value the friendships I have made, but this support group is not for me. I much prefer one where people aren’t trying to compete, and I am so lucky to have belonged to one.

So it’s over. I’m calling it off between us. I’m better off without you. This is a break up for the best, and I shan’t be mourning.

No love,



McGeehin Heilferty, C (2009), ‘Toward a theory of online communication in illness: concept analysis of illness blogs’ in Journal of Advanced Nursing, Vol. 65, issue 7, pp. 1539 – 1547, July 2009.

Parr H (2002), ‘New body-geographies: the embodied spaces of health and medical information on the Internet’, Environment and Planning D: Society and Space 20(1) 73 – 95.

Tan, L (2008), ‘Psychotherapy 2.0: MySpace® Blogging as Self-therapy’, American Journal of Psychotherapy. New York: 2008. Vol. 62, Iss. 2; pg. 143, 21 pages.

14 September 2012

The swimsuit edition. Surfing-ish. Government House.

I am in Sydney now. It has been fun, and there has been lots of firsts for me on this adventure with the Layne Beachley Aim for the Stars Foundation. I have met Layne and Megan from the foundation, the amazing beautiful girls who received the grants, and their mums/carers/partners/friends. It is also very cold in Sydney.

Yesterday was the start of our training days. Layne Beachley gave us a surfing lesson! I don't think surfing is for me. It is wet and salty. But I put a wetsuit on, held a surfboard, got my whole body and head wet by the sea and felt my swimming instinct set in. I gave it a go! I was surfing-ish

I was equally proud to have worn a swimsuit and felt very glam in it!

After the surfing we went to Government House where we were celebrated by the Governor of NSW, Her Excellency Marie Bashir. She was very proud of our achievements and the distances many of the girls have traveled. The staff were so friendly and funny, champagne was flowing, a speech was made by both Her Excellency and Layne, and we met some Aim for the Stars board members. Everyone was very interested in our stories.

The Governor's and Layne's speeches were very moving. We learnt about the challenges Layne has had in her life, and the determination she's had to become a world champion surfer and also help and inspire girls to follow their dreams. Layne said something powerful that I had to capture.

"Make a positive choice to make a positive impact."

Today we have mentoring, then I meeting a blogger, then we get hair and makeup done and then it is the ball. Such amazing opportunities!

(I'm using my phone to blog so I am not sure of the photo order, sorry.)

13 September 2012

R U Ok? Day - my childhood experience

Today is  R U OK? Day. This isn't an easy post for me to write. It may not be an easy one for you to read either. Here goes. 

"R U OK?Day is a national day of action dedicated to inspiring all Australians to ask family, friends and colleagues, ‘Are you ok?’ By regularly reaching out to one another and having open and honest conversations, we can all help build a more connected community and reduce our country’s high suicide rate.

R U OK?Day is on the second Thursday of September (13 September 2012).

More than 2,200 Australians suicide each year and men are around 3 times more likely to die by suicide than females (ABS 2012). For each person that takes their life, another 30 people attempt to end their own life (SANE Australia).

Most people don't openly share their feelings, particularly if they're struggling. The best thing we can all do is regularly talk to the people we care about - regardless of whether they are at risk - because connection is good for us all.

In the time it takes to have your coffee, you can start a conversation that could change a life."
(From the R U OK? Day website)


I've always maintained that despite my Ichthyosis and the difficult social and medical challenges it brings, I am ok. Mentally ok I mean. Not depressed. Happy, coping and positive.

And I am. I've been ok for a long time now. But there was a short time in my life when I wasn't ok. When I was nine years old. And this isn't ok.

While in New York, my Mum and I met an online friend, DeDe, in person. DeDe's son has Ichthyosis too (she blogs), and we met online because she found my blog. When we met in person, we talked about a lot, especially reassuring her that her son will be ok. Like me. He will have a great life. It will be tough but Ichthyosis can be a blessing. 

Mum talked to DeDe about some of the tough times for her and Dad, and how they overcame them. Some of the difficult times were when I was a baby and very sick in hospital, and also when kids teased me at school. Mum told us that while Dad would pick me up from the family I stayed with after school and I would bottle things up until she got home. She brought up the time when I was nine years old and I told her I wanted to kill myself. She told us that one night after she got home from work, she gave me a bath and combed my scalp, and I said I don't want to live anymore. I could not handle the teasing and the exclusion and being so different from the kids I went to school with. I wanted to spend more time in hospital rather than at school because people understood me there, and didn't see me as being so different.

Mum spoke of how she was in a panic and immediately called the paediatrician who referred me to a child psychologist. I saw the psychologist a number of times with my parents and alone. After the sessions I was more confident in myself and wanted to live. 

I told Mum I don't remember that time. I have a good memory, but I don't remember the time I wanted to kill myself. I don't remember my parents' concern or the sessions at the psychologist. I don't even know if I realised what suicide meant when I was nine. As Mum told the story to us, I wiped tears from my eyes. No one - certainly no child - should be driven to the point where they want to end their life. 

I am so very lucky my parents sought help for me so soon. And that the psychologist was able to help me. I am so glad I am here.


When I was at BlogHer I went to an open mic party. Bloggers' names were pulled from a bowl and they stood before the audience reading their blog posts. Julia Roberts, who blogs at Kidneys and Eyes read out a post about her young son being suicidal. It wasn't easy to listen to, but god it was powerful. You can read that blog post here. Her son is doing ok now, thanks to receiving the support he needed. 


Although I experienced these feelings as a child, I am not sure what it took to help me come from that dark place. I don't remember the words that were said to make me realise I was worthy. But I knew my parents loved me and wanted to see me live. 

It is heartbreaking to see reports of children and teenagers taking their own lives, because they were having a difficult time at home or at school, and felt there was no one to reach out to. There is always someone to listen and help us through our problems. 

Being a child who is physically different from your peers is hard - other children are cruel. It is isolating and lonely. But I want people to know that it is ok to be different. You are special and have something unique to offer, and as you get older and move to further study and to work, your life won't be like it is at school. In the meantime, there are people to speak to if you're having a difficult time: your parents, siblings, a trusted teacher or the school counsellor, a friend or a doctor, or contact one of the helplines below. The R U OK? Day website has some resources for schools, too. 

Please, today, and everyday, ask someone, R U OK? 

Australian national helplines and information:

Lifeline - 24/7 telephone counselling service - 13 11 14 -
Suicide Callback service - 1300 659 467
MensLine National -  24/7 support for men dealing with relationship and family issues
1300 78 99 78
Kids Helpline - 24/7 telephone and online counselling for young people 5–25 years
1800 55 1800
Reach Out! - Online crisis and mental health information for young people
SuicideLine Victoria -  24/7 telephone counselling for people at risk of suicide, carers and bereaved - 1300 651 251
SANE Australia Helpline - Mental health information, weekdays 9am–5pm
1800 187 263
headspace -  Mental health services and support for young people 12–25 years
beyondblue Info Line - Information about depression, anxiety and related disorders
1300 224 636
Black Dog Institute -  Information about depression and bipolar disorder

12 September 2012

My Dad's moustache

For thirty years, I've known my Dad with a moustache. He has had it since I was born. For many, many years it was jet black.

Some people say he looks like Borat.


He thinks so too, and perhaps he does, but I am just glad he's not adopting the full Borat ensemble.
Dad's moustache was reliable. I could depend on it being there, just like Dad's there for me ("you'll always be my baby, even when you're 30", he's said.).

His moustache has been there every Christmas, holiday and of course all those times we've bonded over cleaning up dog poo or having a disagreement over the PayTV channels (he's wanted Coronation Street, I've wanted anything but).

So when I set off on my big adventure, I was confused when he met me at the airport. Dad flew to Tasmania the same day I flew to London, so he drove down to Melbourne and met Mum and I at the airport and we spent time together as a family before I got on the plane.

We were in the check in queue when Mum said "there's Dad". Where? I couldn't see him. There was a man in Dad-like clothes, but no, that couldn't be him!

Now I am not very good at recognising people, and I also only see Dad about four times a year. Surely I couldn't have forgotten what my Dad looks like?

"Where is he?" I asked Mum. "There" she told me and pointed. Dad waved. Then Mum told me he had shaved off his moustache recently, after he had a little slip of the razor.

Mum hasn't known Dad without a moustache either, so I asked her if it's like being with a new husband. She said it did take a bit of getting used to. She's been happily married to a moustached man for 31 years.

And so after check in, I ran out under the queue barrier to see Dad, we gave each other bear hugs, and I couldn't stop staring at this 'new' Dad of mine. I had never seen his whole face!

My Dad looks VERY different now. But he's still got everything I love about him. I went off to London trying to save the memory of what this 'new' Dad looks like.

Has your relative ever changed their looks drastically and it took a bit of getting used to?

11 September 2012

Travel tales: the September 11 Memorial site - New York

I have taken a while to write this post, as I've wanted to collect my thoughts about my visit to the September 11 Memorial in New York. I took some photos and will publish some of them here. I have been asked whether I felt comfortable taking these photos. Yes, I did. I took photos - so I could remember the Memorial site, and also 'report' on the site in a factual manner. I did not pose in any photos. Seeing other people pose happily in front of the memorial features did not sit well with me. I understand that seeing photos of the site may be difficult for many people, so if you are not comfortable seeing these pictures or reading my account, please don't read on.


Today marks the 11th anniversary of the terrorist attacks where 2983 people were killed at the World Trade Centre, The Pentagon and Flights 77, 93 and 175. The September 11th Memorial site opened in 2011 to mark the 10th anniversary of these attacks, and also to pay honor to those who died in the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Centre in 1993. The museum is scheduled to open in September 2012. It is estimated that each day around 7000 people visit the Memorial site.

The visit to the Memorial site was very emotional. As with most people I know, I remember the live footage on the news, and seeing the anguish in the New Yorkers' eyes. Seeing the site brought back those memories, and I felt very sad reading about the events from personal perspectives and seeing the damage done to the buildings.

The visit to the site, and reading the book I purchased, made me reflect on the enormity of the tragedy, and I thought about how the world has changed since then. I also thought about how many people were affected - the victims, their families, the rescuers, onlookers, the whole New York community - and I imagine also some of the family members of the terrorists. My friend Katie came to the site with Mum and I, and she told us about when she found out during a morning at school, and how she could see the burning ruins at Ground Zero every day for months - eventually she had to move her bed to change her view.

After we went to the Memorial site, we went to Century 21 to shop. I felt uneasy being there after visiting such an important and sad place. I saw people shopping in Century 21 like it was the end of the world - rummaging through clothes and filling up their baskets to the brim. Sadly, on September 11 2011, it was the end of the world for some.

We reserved our free visitors passes at the visitor's centre - which is a five minute walk from the site. The visitor's centre features a pictorial timeline of events, some personal artifacts from victims and survivors as well as debris and photos and sculptures of tributes to the victims and rescuers.

This replica of the Statue of Liberty featrures badges from the various New York fire and police departments as well as letters to the rescuers.

A New York skyline was carved out of some of the steel from the World Trade Centre debris.

This fire fighter has a tribute tattooed on his back.
The visitor's centre also has a gift shop where people can buy postcards, hoodies, books, DVDs, jewellery and other souvenirs. After our visit to the Memorial site, I bought a National Geographic book about the site, as well as a brooch which is a cast of a leaf from the Survivor Tree. All proceeds go to support the memorial and museum.

The Twin Towers are being rebuilt, so it is a construction area around the Memorial site. 3000 construction workers are there at any one time. There is very strict airport-like security when entering the site.



The Memorial site contains park areas, two pools with waterfalls, the Survivor Tree and at the time of visiting, the partially built museum.

Below is the South pool at the September 11 Memorial site - it contains names of 441 first respondents, 695 names of those who died in the south WTC tower, 40 names from Flight 93, 59 names from Flight 77, 125 names from The Pentagon and 60 names from Flight 175. The North and South pools are set in the footprints of the original twin towers of the WTC. 

 Some of the names around the pools were of females and their unborn babies. This was very sad to see.
 This is the museum.

This photo isn't the clearest, so apologies, but I took it through the window of the museum. You can see scaffolding and some concrete steps - these steps are the Survivor's Staircase. This staircase where survivors raced from the building. The stairs were salvaged and moved to the entrance of the museum. Read more about the Survivor's Staircase here.
The Survivor Tree is also an iconic piece of history at the Memorial site. This tree survived the 2001 terrorist attacks, and was removed from the site, smoldering and lifeless, then nurtured at a nursery in The Bronx. It was replanted at the Memorial site in 2010.Read more about the Survivor Tree here.
As we left the Memorial site, these brass wall sculptures were on the side streets, paying tribute to the rescuers.

And this flag, available for purchase, is made up of the names of the victims of the 2001 terrorist attacks.

For more information about the September 11 Memorial, visit their website: www.911memorial.org.

My fellow Aussie blogger, Louisa Claire, filmed her visit to the Memorial site. If you are interested in seeing the surrounds with her commentary, click here.

I remember when the terrorist attacks happened. I had no idea of the scale of the buildings that had been hit. I had no idea of the enormity of the tragedy. To visit the site gave me that perspective, and the chance to pay respects to those who died and who worked around the clock rescuing survivors and rebuilding the site.


Related Posts with Thumbnails