Monika Schott

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A life of 'oh wells' are greater than a life of 'what ifs'. I write to express life in all its glory, to spark thinking … I love to swim outside, practise hot yoga and hit the boxing studio. I'm currently undertaking a PhD research to capture the social history of the community that lived on Melbourne's first sewerage farm. I've had several short stories published, my latest being 'The Teacher' in 'These winter months'. I was short-listed in the Ada Cambridge Prize, won the inaugural Wyndham Rotary Arts Small Business Award and have a Masters of Communication where I looked at boys and reading and what it is they like to read.

Lands faraway

Tennis courts may be covered over and croquet lawns may have disappeared beneath overgrowth upon overgrowth, but the football pavilion still stands and dalliances within them and by the workshops nearby continue. No-one sees us, although some sense our presence.

The oval where football and cricket were once played still exists, even if smothered in a dense, undulating cover of green with goal posts standing on command at each end, said to serve the dual purpose of ventilation through their tops for pipes running below the ground’s surface. The reservoir is gone, the church and schools too. No abode or home exists or gardens well tendered or the cows that came with homes for milking. All are gone. In physicality, that is.

In the sublime of the underworld in this living ghost town of lands faraway, many breathe beneath the earth from where they once stood. Archaeologically, a sleeping beauty awaits her Prince Charming awakening.

Cheers to a life, wistful of lands faraway, in an honouring that's grounding, appreciating and trusting, in the extremes of the harsh to the supremes of the magnificent, the challenging and enchanting, all collected and padlocked in a tiny box of hearts and souls as jewels protected within, of the most precious … the jewel of the crown is life on lands faraway.

A town of living ghosts in a life at honey speed, a calm and peace unwavering in the howl of withering leaves. Crested cockatoos streaming between trees of bare, shrilling whistles of a time unmoved. Ghosts of yesterday dance in sleeping ruins, among flying spiders’ webs glistening in the glory of the day, and families playing and living in a vast back yard of lands faraway.

The physical is fading. Drains where pumpkins once entwined the trunks of fruiting plum trees are now barren, date palms and cypress trees, pies at the football and beer behind the goals, whiskey at half time, the intrigue of the water tank, cream lilies and milk coffee, cows for milking .… they’re all dissolving, vanishing in lands faraway.

Yet it’s not gone, not this life in a ghost town oozing more spirited than the Mona Lisa, not even in the veil of isolation where mosquitoes gorge on the intoxicating imbue of twinkling dew and fat of fog. Of stockmen pulling up under apricot and apple trees for juicy sampling, of cannon balls in the swimming pool, sneaky peeks into the change rooms and bolting after stealing knickers … I’ll get you! Playing cards into the morning and raising money for those in need, men and women’s football … credit to the gals. Cricket, tennis and croquet, swimming in a land faraway.

Hinged in a haunting of melancholy is a place that once thrived, where homes of yesterday sleep in their tombs and ashes of those gone fly as a rising phoenix, beguiling ghosts to rejoice in their century old tales of yesterday. Wood chopped for the stove and to heat the copper, feeding the pigs and milking the cows, churning the cream and butter to a one-two, a chasse in the Pride of Erin. Listen and you’ll hear it, as a lifelong gloating gilded in gold dust, a rose of gold of never-ending that connects souls over lifetimes. This space of breath is a vast expanse of clarity, a bounty of beauty in perfect imperfection.

Cheers to a life in a living ghost town, a life at honey speed, wistful of what’s to come with lands faraway.

The air below thins, chokes in an asphyxiating exodus. All families and kin are gone, all have left, all homes disappeared. The hall sleeps peacefully by the swimming pool, two hearts beating as one, and all working in the old office have moved into a new building full of modernity. We follow them, our escapades above their beavering. Some look up at us and smile, wonder if we're there.

All is gone. All jewels fall from crowns, eventually. 

Up here, we gather by the day in blissing glee, more illuminous by the week with the lost and disconnected on a quest for this place of no place. They know where the warmth is and seek it out – the little boy falling into a street drain, the weather presenter disappearing with her belongings, and the man of discontent who flees in an alcohol infused bender, to suicide by the river. They’re all here, even those that chose to leave the planet in the years of turbulent demise of this land faraway are here, lost in their own cloud but intrinsically weaved into the fabric of this dignified and honouring place, rejoicing in the pleasure as above and so below.

Jewels may fall from crowns, but they never fail to sparkle in the brilliance of the most brilliant, multi-faceted gems. Whether in a white yellow, green or rose of gold setting, they shine a forever shine.

Cheers to a life in a living ghost town, in a life at honey speed, of a house and two cows and a land faraway.

 

Copyright

© Copyright Monika Schott 2019 Painting by Death and Life, 1910-15 — Gustav Klimt

Recent Comments
Monika Schott
That's wonderful, thank you. ?
Sunday, 30 June 2019 20:05
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Intimacy.

The wipe of lipstick from the man you’ve just kissed, or who refuses the wipe to publicly parade his delight in the dalliance,

The time graced between two siblings to sit on a sunny afternoon and chat without boundary or brass and be in the deity of the day,

And the late-night message from a colleague you adore working with, giving you a last crumb of information that’s vital to your work …

Acts of intimacy are more than those shared between two people indulging in sex, no matter how sensual, passionate or lustful. It isn’t only within the tantalising kiss and touch in pulsing pep and pizzazz, teetering on the tips of goose bumps upon goose bumps. While wonderful and glorious and erogenously insatiable, intimacy is more than that. Much more.

Intimacy is in the sharing of toast in the tranquil of sunshine reflecting off aquamarine seas, and the chasing after your lunch partner’s napkin that’s blown onto the floor.

It’s in that ultimate kiss where the son smacks purposeful lips on his mother’s forehead, a symbol of protection and guardianship, and in her flicking through his shine and tangle of mess and curls for no reason other than him being close by. Because she can.

It’s in the exchange of clasped hands where skin on skin is silky soft as polished surfaces suctioning in secret, smoothed from any tiny ridges and valley patterns that may beetle from fingers and palms.

Intimacy is the powerful exchange between friends over late night text after a long, long day, in the knowing that they have your back. Always. It’s in the familiarity and friendship, affinity and affection.

Intimacy is at its most striking when a parent must carry a sick adult-son whose death is imminent, and the son giving in to his need for dependent care.

Deep intimacy when stripped bare, exposes vulnerability, as a heart skinned to its core. It’s an unconditional exchange that comes on the tail of desire to give, to protect beyond every conceivable boundary.

That can pose a risk and to some, it’s a huge peril they can’t overcome, or see as the waiting monster ready to latch onto their feet and drag them well down into the depths of despair. Opening up and being vulnerable to the intimacy unlocks a siphoning window to be sucked into hurt because of being exposed to feel and connect with others.

As with most things, stepping back to see what’s what, smelling the roses if you like or watching the severed tops of an old olive tree hacked back with a chainsaw to a few thick limbs coming off the smooth, grey trunk, stark of olives and foliage, watching it bask in the autumn sun as if reaching to nourish its new growth. Taking that pause to reflect … it’s one of the graces we’re gifted with that we sometimes forget we have.  

Appreciation. Introspection, being honest and grateful for days so full of everything, even if the everything is clogged in anguish or memories that bleed from shattered hearts as rain blanketing in thundering storms. Intimacy if it’s permitted, allows for a debauchery of vulnerability that can ripple into forever as the most glorious, fabulous and wonderful,

As the most intricate spider’s web laced in early morning dew,

And the first flush of begonias hanging as fleshy flowers like little chandeliers, in all shades of the artist’s palette.

The key is to be open to it, allow the intimacy to stream in. Accept the risk, for the rewards are immeasurable.

 

Life is short. Break the rules. Forgive quickly. Kiss slowly. Love truly.

Laugh uncontrollably and never regret anything that makes you smile.

                    ~ Mark Twain.

Recent Comments
Rosy Cole
I love the way you take nothing for granted, Moni. No skidding across the surface of life for you! There's an almost superfluous j... Read More
Sunday, 26 May 2019 15:50
Monika Schott
Thanks Rosy. It's one of those things where everything is worthy but no one thing is important. I learnt the hard way that nothing... Read More
Sunday, 26 May 2019 21:04
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To all the gorgeous men in my life

Michelangelo’s ‘David’ (1501–04)

I was propositioned over the last couple of weeks. Twice. They came on two separate occasions from two very alluring men, within a week of one another and half an hour of meeting me. There was a moment in both exchanges where I almost pinched myself to be sure I wasn’t in some kind of twilight zone.

Very quickly though, that ambiguity cleared to an incredible sadness for both men. To me, they were missing out on the chance to experience that real satiation of connected intimacy. Maybe they’d been hurt in the past or they were unable to feel at that level due to some emotional torment, or maybe they simply wanted to have sex and felt intimacy that way. It didn’t matter why they propositioned me, what struck was the sadness I felt for them.

Everyone to their own, it’s just not my thing. I wasn’t judging, not even when one of the men looked at me at one point in puppy dog eyes as he spoke about his life battles with his family. That tipped me into something even deeper than sadness, where the twilight zone had become more dispirited and distorted than a twilight zone could be. Poor man, was all I could think, using his despair to try and gain sex. My parting words to him came with a gentle pat on the back. ‘Be kind to yourself.’

You have to wonder sometimes how life works when a third man I met soon after, put things into perspective. It sounds like I meet men all the time and I do, but it’s mostly through my work. That may be because of the industry I work in, of sewage and engineers and tertiary education, or the work I do away from writing around strategy and project development.

This third man spoke about recently being out with a woman and within a brief time of meeting her, she propositioned him. He threw his hands in the air too and we laughed. He commented that not all men want quick sex. Touché.

He was a lovely man, with great emotional empathy, and he got me thinking about all the wonderful men in my life.

My three beautiful and sensitive sons, even when we’re in occasional battle, whose hearts can openly bleed when they see me in occasional distress and whose hearts dance at my every success. The intelligent, caring and giving men I work so closely with and where without them and my sons, I wouldn’t be exploring sewerage town communities around the world and nearing completion of a PhD that will include a novel shedding light on what it’s like to live on a sewerage farm. They push me to answer questions I’d not thought of and encourage me to reach outside my boundaries with such care and compassion, ready to help me up if I fall.

The men in my family and circle of friends, who love and accept me for all my quirkiness, who never judge me or complain that they don’t see enough of me and are there for me whenever I may need them. The men I meet in all my work, my colleagues and conversationalists alike, allowing for stimulating and fruitful exchanges.

Even my two propositioning men have beauty in them, as do all the men that have been part of the challenges in my life. They have given me the opportunity to experience a dichotomy of life and learn those sometimes-hard lessons. They've given me the chance to learn about me.

Cheers to all the men in my life, and to my women too, for all the gorgeousness you give.

Recent Comments
Rosy Cole
This is such a refreshing and balanced perspective, Moni. A life-changing, even world-changing view. You handled it all so well so... Read More
Sunday, 07 April 2019 14:30
Monika Schott
Thanks, Rosy. We're all human, all fallible little creatures. ?
Monday, 15 April 2019 12:09
Katherine Gregor
I'd like to echo Rosy's comment. Men do not have to be the enemy. There are so many wonderful men, as well as wonderful women, ju... Read More
Sunday, 14 April 2019 16:38
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The Nannu kiss

There’s this kiss that’s the purest of kisses. I’m not sure whether I can describe it or do justice to its nuance of power. It’s greater than any other kiss I’ve known, the epitome of all kisses: moreish without being delicious, deeper than lust and desire crocheted in the intricacy of passion, leather and lace.

I was lucky to have one smack-banged on me recently from a most beautiful soul, a compassionate man who personifies gorgeous that oozes from his insides out.  

I’ve only had a few in the past 20 years, since my grandfather died. I can count them on one hand. My grandfather was a strict man, an ex-army troop sergeant in World War 2 for the British Army Royal Engineers, although he was Maltese. He saw a thing or two with Malta being the most bombed allied country during the War. Forty years on and he would bark orders as though he was still in the army. Us grandchildren, 16 of us, would smirk when we heard them as they were directed at anyone but particularly at our parents and as children, we revelled in our parents being told off! We’d receive his orders occasionally, like if we were washing up incorrectly or cleaning up after a meal in a way that he thought he wasn’t right. He’d direct us to do it his way in his sergeant tone.

But his orders to us were different, they didn't contain the serious undertones so distinct in his orders to others and even when they did, we knew we could disobey them. When we did, he’d have a little grumble then quickly break into a little laugh and invariably, end in one of his kisses. I call them the Nannu kiss and Nannu would kiss us in this way anytime, not just when we disobeyed his orders. It was his signature kiss.

The few I’ve received since his death have come from a gentle giant of a man who I consider an older brother. I’m the eldest of my siblings and so to have this older brother figure is comforting. His kiss normally comes with a hello or how are you. It could be that he kisses me in this way simply because he is almost a foot taller than me and the practicality of giving the kiss is because of his height.

But I don’t think that’s the case, not when I feel such care and a sense of protection in the Nannu kiss. It’s a strange feeling, that of protection, because it’s not as if I'm in any danger. The kiss though, conveys such kindness and respect, and that everything is okay, no matter what. It’s a reassurance that I’m safe, that someone ‘has my back’ and I can rely on them. 

Timing is everything and the Nannu kiss I received from my gorgeous man this week came at the most perfect time, if ever there is such a thing as the perfect. It came with lashings of care, compassion and grace and allowed me the humility to lean into his grounding and know that no matter what, he’s there and I'm okay. It came with the reassurance that he’ll be beside me in the patience of the most enlightened of monks and while he may not be able to stick any broken pieces together for me, he’ll help search for every shard that may have ricocheted into the ethers and catch them if they fall while I glue them together. His nurturing strength is deeply rooted in solid poise, so that anything can be achieved. The Nannu kiss is unwavering.

I hope you get to experience the Nannu kiss in your lifetime and when you do, be sure to draw in all the tenderness that it’s given with. Feel that kiss when it’s coddled, caked or caressed onto your forehead, suck in every minuscule of its giving and feel it spread from the top of your head into every part of your body. Breathe in that cherish of the exchange for it will give you the strength to accomplish even the most difficult of despairs.

And if you’re lucky enough to witness a Nannu kiss being planted on someone’s forehead, observe the lowering of the giver’s eyes, the warmth in their smile before they pucker their lips to kiss the forehead of the lucky receiver, whose head is almost bowed in anticipation of the gift. Watch the receiver tuck into the chest of the giver, their body giving into the comfort of the steady foundation. Appreciate the vulnerability in the kiss being received, and the humility with which it’s given.

The Nannu kiss is the embodiment of love stripped bare. It can empower to achieve and accomplish anything, even the perceived insurmountable. Christmas or not, Nannu kiss or not, the gift of unconditional reassurance and boundless strength is something we’re all worthy of receiving. And giving.

 

Recent Comments
Rosy Cole
Can't help feeling this is a manifestation of the truest kind of love. And what a celebration of it! :-)
Monday, 31 December 2018 13:36
Monika Schott
It is, Rosy. Absolutely! ... Read More
Tuesday, 01 January 2019 09:46
1108 Hits
2 Comments

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