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The sisterhood of the travelling pants . . .

It's been a long while since I've written anything here - an interval which has been the best and worst of life. To explain it fully would push the edges of incredulity, yet sadly it has all been real - the stuff of a twisted movie screenplay. In amongst it all have been moments of true wonder and if I've learned anything from this time, it is that life is both cruel and beautiful in equal measure. The blessed and the cursed walk together. Pain turns up in our lives like an uninvited, obnoxious party guest that's very hard to remove. Not one of us gets through life unscathed.

Perhaps it is because the decade is ending that 2019 has been so incredible. A year of both intense emotional struggle and wonderful opportunities. A year where I've really discovered who cares and who does not. A year of kindness and hilarious things - of friendship from unlikely quarters and the love of family.

Some of the milder shitty moments that can be repeated, include me vomiting into the gutter at 5am in the deserted main street of Moerewa. No disrespect to the people of Moerewa, but it is not my favourite Northland destination. I wasn't drunk or hungover, but carsick. I was so violently ill, my bladder gave way. Anyone of my age who has birthed four children will understand. Had to then wrap my jacket around myself and sit tight to Kamo in wet pants until I could change in the McDonald's bathroom. It was wretched. I'm sure many people have been sick in the main street of Moerewa at 5am over the years, but as my stomach contents and wee trickled down the concrete slipway I felt sure I was the most miserable about it.

Pants featured again on a recent trip to Dunedin. I was so looking forward to going and felt uber organised. The first morning I awoke in a lovely Victorian villa. Out of the window the day was clear and bright. I showered and dressed but felt something odd about my good black pants. I reached down to find the entire crotch missing. Our new puppy had eaten the backside out of my trousers and without knowing I had packed them in the suitcase. Four days ahead and not enough clothes. I went emergency shopping only to have the chip on my credit card fail with a queue of customers behind me. They all looked at me with pity and considerable disbelief and directed me to the bank where I spent an hour sorting a new one. By the time I reached the conference, newly clothed and truly flustered - I had missed the tour of the Hocken Library and scrambled instead to arrive five minutes late to a talk on the A.H. Reed collection. It turned out to be so wonderful I could hardly believe it. Seeing 9th century illuminated manuscripts up close was an amazing experience. I have Luna the border collie/huntaway cross with a gargantuan appetite for textiles to thank for that. Since then she has despatched a lounge suite, nearly all of the household underwear and a shedload lot of shoes. I'm not even a dog person. I like cats.

But in all seriousness, I have many people to thank for getting me through this year in one piece.

My lovely parents and wider family. My beautiful daughters who boss me around and just gave me the best five days in Wellington - shopping, laughing and teaching me how to order an uber. My boys who love so unconditionally. Although, can I say I'd like just one day without somebody standing on my foot - please! To my friends (you know who you are) especially St. Christine of Prosecco (actually a real person) - thanks for listening, it has meant everything. To the amazing authors I get to work with every single day - Rose, Belinda, Kath, Glenda to name just a few. You are so much more than colleagues. To Deb and Heather, the most insanely kind & funny road trip companions and super talented women I know. Louise (my favourite editor) - thrilled to be working with you again. I am truly blessed, you are all the best.

It's just after midnight and everyone else is at mass. It's not my thing and as my 8 year old said yesterday, I don't go because I'm not 'a performing Catholic'. Damn straight. I do know quite a few of those (just saying). I've lit the votive candles and turned on all the fairy lights. Christmas is a lovely time and a terrible one depending on the circumstances. Yesterday, was the funeral of my daughter's friend Izzie. At just seventeen, a gorgeous, sparkling light of a girl who lived life more than fully. More than most of us ever, ever will. Her loss is utterly awful, fucking unfair and impossible to reconcile. Everything is trivial in comparison to her absence. Nothing anyone can say makes it better and life won't ever be the same for her family and friends.

So many endings and beginnings. Be grateful, love each other. 2020, bring it on. xxx

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