I've never been good at beginnings, and I don't think I'll be starting here. Nor will I pretend to be good at it. Pretending never got me far. It got me here of course, but so did a range of different factors and circumstances.

Much as we'd like to not believe it, as a family we're pretty messed up. Dad is at times a big workaholic, and Mum is much the same. Not all that long ago they ran their business out of our backyard. They'd be out there until nine o'clock and we'd have dinner later every night. We stayed away from them as much as possible, and well that was probably what drove us all apart. They were always busy. There wasn't a lot of time for anything but work.

My brother has anger management issues and one of the scariest nights of my life was when he threatened me with a knife and well, he did get me lightly. My sister has learnt everything she knows from us, and that everything mostly consists of swear words and smart arse phrases. Ideal for an eight-year-old. Not.

I've never been comfortable at school. This is thanks to the horrible years they all primary school. Right from prep it was apparent I didn't fit it. The girls didn't want me to hang out with them, and the boys didn't particularly want me either. In grade five a grade four boy spat on me. In grade six I was given the lovely nickname 'steroidz muncher'. I was picked on because I had acne and one boy dared to tell me I didn't deserve to be on the soccer team. I regret not telling him that it was because of me he was on the soccer team. Being spat on and my nickname are two things that forever seem to be glued to my mind. The nickname was much later shortened to Roidz, and then I became Roida. However vile the nickname started out being, it has become endearing and a sure fire way of identifying me online.

I was so happy the day primary school ended.

Things always kept changing and they still do. When things hit rock bottom I was thirteen years old.


Year seven was difficult and scary and confusing. It felt like it would never end. It was during year seven that I wrecked my ankle. It was one of those unfortunate circumstances, one that doesn't leave and is forever there to haunt me. I hadn't done physical education in over six months.

I'd finally managed to get into the same homeroom as my best friend from primary school, though I had no real way of knowing that this wouldn't last six months either.

My grandfather had also been battling dementia and Alzheimer's for the past four years. About the time I wrecked my ankle, he went into the hospital for the first time. He'd contracted pneumonia and he died in the ER. They bought him back to life and Mum says that they should have let him die that night. Sometimes I agree, sometimes I do not. My grandmother was also hospitalised and operated on following the discovery of two brain tumours. The one they took out was the size of an orange and had been growing for over twenty years they said. They couldn't take the second one out, and during the operation they found a third one. Fortunately none of these tumours are malignant, yet anyway. But she's not the Baba. (Baba is the Croatian word for grandmother. Mum's family is Croatian) She cries a lot more now, and needs more help. Sometimes I feel bad for not visiting her more often.

So in year eight I hadn't been in school two weeks when it became apparent that a wedding was going to clash with a race day I wanted to see. Dad's partner in this business was getting married. My favourite racehorse Apache Cat was racing. I don' think I can express in words how important Apache Cat became. But it happened. I went to the wedding and I had to wear a dress.

I hate dresses I felt exceptionally self conscious and I was missing Apache's race! And you know what? To top it all off these girls picked on me all throughout the ceremony and right into the evening itself.

I was trying to focus on the ceremony but it was getting awful close to the time of Apache's race so I was getting a little bid edgy. Then something hit me on the back of my head. I deliberately chose to ignore. But it happened again and again. So I turned around and these two girls were sniggering and pulling faces and mouthing names. I gave them the one finger salute and turned around. They continued pegging things at me relentlessly.

I finally got the text message telling me Apache had won from two people. I was so damn excited I nearly interrupted the ceremony with my cheering. Apache wasn't expected to win the Lightning Stakes, Gold Edition, the iron filly was supposed to win. It was fantastic. So my mood was buoyed.

Then the pelting began again and I told Dad and he said ignore it. So I tried, but they didn't stop, they continued saying things and pulling faces. I told Mum she told me to ignore it too. But I couldn't help but throw some words back at them. They ran off to their mother and started having a go at me to her, and she joined them, laughing and pointing. I cried.

This continued on for the duration of the night and my previously jubilant mood was crushed.

I finally got home exhausted and crushed and fell into a long dreamless sleep.