29 October 2013

I hear that Jesus likes hot potatoes

For those that might not know, I'm a little fond of climbing up on the old soapbox on occasion.  Particularly around equality and social justice issues.  I'm constantly flabbergasted and genuinely bewildered by people that think they are somehow more equal than other people.

I recently got an email from someone who seemed to have taken a gap in their calendar and filled it up by reading my blog.  Which is quite flattering except that they appear not to like me very much - they said that I was a bit like the devil, first loving 'them gays' and now it's clear I'm a 'black refugee lover' as well.

So basically I am Jesus. Not the devil. And as an aside, I bet he didn't know he was coming back as a pudgy, potty mouthed bleeding heart female.

The intended insult has misfired.  See, I do love them gays and them refugees.  Even the non-black ones. I am completely okay with them having the same legal status as me and being treated with kindness and compassion when seeking asylum. Even if I met them and didn't lurrrrrrrveeeee them I'd still have this opinion.  And just to show how well rounded I am - I also believe that climate change is a thing and that we totally suck in our approach to supporting the differently abled. I know. What kind of arse am I?

On the subject of being a 'refugee lover' I recently became Deputy Director for the Sydney Branch of Welcome to Australia, which is an organisation that seeks to establish a culture of welcome more akin to the national anthem rather than that portrayed in political soundbites or via our mainstream media.  It's a voluntary position which is really going to piss my troll off - that's right dear troll - I'm not even being PAID to give a shit.  Though I was promised a badge.*

So last night, this new position got me walking the red carpet at The Golden Age Cinema in Surry Hills.  An absolute darling of a cinema dating back to the olden days.  Like the 1940s or something.  I was there for the launch of The Hot Potato which is a little gem (see what I did there?) of a documentary put together by the Asylum Seeker Resource Centre (ASRC) to 'take the heat' out of the asylum seeker debate.  They got themselves a caravan and toodled around ten towns in ten days serving hot potatoes and inviting people to share their views about the issue.

Even Wally 'Gotye' an opinion
Yep - even people that didn't agree with them.  And this is the astounding simplicity of the idea.  Sometimes an idea seems so RIGHT, so OBVIOUS, that we forget to allow people to express an alternate view and explore their concerns or the things they don't understand and so in the face of BLEEDING HEART SOAPBOXERS like myself, they say nothing and carry on thinking what they are thinking, or wondering what they are wondering and taking part in BBQ conversations based entirely on the views expressed in The Daily Telegraph or by Andrew Bolt or the Prime Minister.  Where is reasoned debate or an opportunity for greater understanding?.

Enter 10,000 potatoes, a bunch of LISTENERS and BOOM... 10 myths about asylum seekers blown out of the water just by allowing people access to the facts along with insanely delicious potato toppings.

That beard is called Tom
The unintentional star of the movie is Reg.  Reg, by his own admission, was 'just there to drive the bleedin' caravan from A to B'.  He really didn't give a rat's arse about any of it and yet by the end, he'd come around to a different point of view and publicly owned that change of heart. His original views weren't all wrong, but they weren't all right either and given the opportunity to better understand - he did.  He's a gruff bugger and a brave one.  Very few of us are prepared to admit we've changed our mind let alone publicly.  HIP HIP Reg.

Reg and Carmelo  (awwww)
At the launch, one of the panellists involved in the making of the film mentioned how she'd had her unconscious stereotypes challenged too.  In Queanbeyan, she spoke to any number of flannelette wearing, heavily tattooed blokes tending toward bogan about the issue and they all thought asylum seekers were getting a rough deal.  And she said she welcomed the learning that she got herself that her assumptions and beliefs were wrong.  I loved that honesty and insight.

Therein lies the heart of tiny little film that roars.  It really offers up an opportunity to have a dialogue and to return to the Australia we most want, that of the fair go.  Not one full of angry people on either side of a line screaming RIGHT! WRONG! RIGHT! WRONG! and not listening and not understanding.

Which isn't somehow as REVOLUTIONARY but undoubtedly a lot more successful.

Sigh.  Rational, reasonable people are no fun.  But they make great films.

Check it out at www.thehotpotato.com.au and take the conversation to your next pub night, or BBQ.  And tell them Reg sent you.



*I didn't want to appear cheap. And I still haven't got it. BRAD! Just saying.

Please note: This isn't a sponsored post.  Yes, I have a vested interested in sharing something that supports my point of view but I really think this is a game changer and a great film. The soundtrack isn't as catchy as that of Grease, but I think the appeal will last just as long.  Please share with people and even if you don't agree - remember to be lovely because being born in Australia is for the vast majority of us nothing but luck, and if we are truly lucky - we don't need to be arseholes.  Thanks xoxo


25 October 2013

Behaving badly

I described my girls' behaviour today as 'contraceptive'.

It was. It really, really, really was NOT an example of their normal levels of awesomeness.

The incessant mewling of the discontented, the whining shrieks of the hard done by, the petty fighting, the clinginess, the fake crying and then eventually - the physical tantrum of the thwarted.  Times two. All day.

Interspersed with fleeting seconds of adorable 'siblings getting along' behaviour that kept them from being put in boxes and left outside a local charity.

Teamwork - 3 seconds
The thing about behaviour like this is that it brings me to a state of extreme irritation and disfunction softened only by the overuse of the words 'sweetheart' and 'darling' during each of my bellows. For instance 'JUST DO AS YOU ARE TOLD SWEETHEART" "STOP WHINGING DARLING".  And of course, yelling at small children is so productive.  It always works.

Said no parent ever.

I don't know whether it is paranoia that they will grow up to be an adult who incessantly mewls and cultivates discontent but I have no patience at all with this particular behaviour set. Actually, I have no patience with this behaviour set in finished adults either, so it's just a button presser really.  FFS - if you're not happy, change something.  Please. And I say that to my toddlers, so it's not like I'm playing favourites here world.

And I am sincere when I say that  I have no problem with open defiance, a genuine bout of anger or even a proper melt down - I feel that I'm successfully parenting if my children have firm opinions or heartfelt responses.  Plus, hands on hips and a scolding from a small person still has the power to make me smile, even as part of the unfolding of an imminent apocalypse.

It's the faffiness of whining that I dislike.  If people want something - ask or DEMAND it.  A please can always be added afterwards.  But that whining in a high pitched baby voice which bears no resemblance to their normal vocal activity resulted in me being the kind of parent I don't want to be.

I said to my three year old today "I don't like little girls that whine".  And I was truly appalled at myself.

I don't like whining but of course I like my little girl. I love her.  Always. When she's older I hope she says "and I don't like mothers that imply even for a moment that they don't like their little girl".  Because is there anything more thoughtless or harmful than insinuating that my love is dependent on good behaviour?  No.  And the fact that they are but toddlers and won't remember is no excuse.  If I reply crossly like that to a small child, imagine the world of hurt we'll all end up in when they reach their teens.

Kisses for baby Kara's toes
I might not like their behaviour, but I always always like them.  In fact, I'll always love them and I need to make sure they know my love is unconditional right from the very beginning.  Because it is.

And as I type this, one is sitting on my shoulders and the other is drinking milk with her head on my lap.  They are watching Alex sing "I am the music man" on Play School.  We are all quiet and content.

We're friends again, and my transgressions are forgotten.

And for that I am very thankful.

23 October 2013

In defence of Tony from the Davidson Rural Fire Brigade

You know things are pretty dire when I write the following.

Leave Tony Abbott the fuck alone.

I know.  I barely believe I wrote that sentence myself.

I know he's leading the country back into rack and ruin.  I know he's a climate change denier.  I know he's a hypocritical arse on so many levels. But volunteering as a rural brigade firefighter is not something you can just swan in and do for political point scoring.  And to say so devalues the efforts of all firefighters.

Yes all of them. The firefighters out there this week who, by and large, are volunteers, train regularly and vigorously to protect other people from bushfire.  And bushfire, as we know, is an inherent part of the Australian landscape.  Long before white settlement and long after we all die in a heap because the Liberal party sold our national soul to the Rineharts.  And fighting it happens because a large number of people regularly give up their free time to learn how to fight such fires in times of emergency.  Like now.
NSW firefighter

Let me recap for those not following - with a population largely clustered around the coastal areas, which tend to have more trees and grass than say, the desert, fire happens which will impact real people.  Sometimes because Mother Nature is a contrary bitch and indiscriminate with her lightning bolts and sometimes because people throw cigarette butts out windows carelessly, thoughtlessly and other times because for some bizarre reason people get kicks out of lighting fires and leaving them to tear through the countryside ruining lives.

However they happen, bush fires are volatile, nasty and quick.  They swallow up property and sometimes people without a pause.  The firefighters putting themselves out there work in hot, thankless conditions, for days and sometimes weeks on end, leaving behind their real lives, their families, their friends and their homes.  In times like now, when bushfire surrounds us, every volunteer firefighter is needed to contribute.  And that also means Tony from Davidson Rural Fire Brigade, veteran volunteer firefighter of 13 odd years.

It doesn't matter that he's PM, if he has found time to go wave insignificant hoses at big flames or give some other firefighter backburning a break for even a few hours, he's doing more than the vast majority of us.  And if he knows what he's doing, which the evidence says he does, than his contribution is important.  The fact that he's an arse, does not mean his contribution is any less valuable, any less worrying for his family and friends or any less useful.  And if being PM, his presence draws attention to the individuals out there fighting the fires, well bully for him.

He didn't snapchat the media a message from the back of a fire engine or hanging from a burning bush and say HEY LOOK SEE I AM OFF TO SEE IF I CAN STOP ME SOME FIRE, any more than any of the other firefighters snapchat  the local media from the back of a fire engine or hanging from a burning bush and say HEY LOOK SEE I AM OFF TO SEE IF I CAN STOP ME SOME FIRE.  It's just what they do.  And for that, we should be, ALL OF US, very thankful to the men and women that have spent so many hours volunteering with their local fire brigades to be prepared for situations like NSW finds itself facing now.

Even if it is Tony.

Very very thankful.

18 October 2013

I got me some culture tonight.

Musicals aren't for everybody.  People that lack the capacity for joy, who hate tunes and abhor dance - they don't like them much.  People that prefer their stage to feature the tortuous journey that is 'Death of a Salesman' - literary excellence, performed to death in front of an entire generation of high school drama students, they scorn the musical as flippant, lighthearted, not 'real' theatre.

Well I say ptooey and other such things to that.

The girlfriends and me
The hip swivel may have started with Elvis, but nobody owned that shit like John Travolta as Danny Zuko in Grease.  The musical had it's opening night in Sydney tonight and I blatantly sold my soul for four free tickets and a girl's night out to be there.  I mean c'mon.  Grease. The musical. Girlfriends. A night out.

What bit would you have said no to?

Exactly.

Grease the movie was iconic in so many ways. The raw defiance of Rizzo, the inner geek of Zuko and a ridiculously catchy array of tunes.  Blue moons.  Sandy never quite said "Stud" right and I know it's our Olivia but seriously, much like Andie McDowell's "Is it raining I hadn't noticed" line in Four Weddings and a Funeral, Olivia's "Stud" has always been a jarring note in an otherwise fabulous cinematic experience. Not to mention she did that ridiculous tongue thing which Miley Cyrus has been ripping off lately and quite frankly, Olivia should apologise to the world for influencing Miley in that way.  

Anyay, I digress, Sandy in the musical should also have avoided saying "Stud". Grease the musical is more loving tribute than replica of the movie and for that I'm very grateful.  The musical is a joyous celebration of an era and an icon, played to perfection on nearly every level.  Sandy's "Hopelessly devoted to you" is just brilliant and Rizzo's raw defiance mixed with melancholy in "There are worse things I can do" had me falling in love with Stockard Channing all over again.  Yes. Stockard.  Is there a better tribute than being so awesome at a character that it completely evokes the original that you knew and loved?

I never wanted to be Sandy. I always wanted to be Rizzo.  That attitude. That sneer. That strut.

(Stars dreamily at  near empty wine glass in a clear case of reminiscence, then returns to typing furiously) 

Kenickie is a little bit sexy in the musical and that little bit edgier than Rob Mills' Zuko.  The characteristic self
Grease Lightning (Media Call)
conscious chuckle is done with due deference but overall Rob is a little bit too nice to be Zuko.  I wanted to ruffle his hair and tell him to go home and stop pretending to be an arse.  But that said, Sandy was a bit stroppier and a little less wet than in the original and that really worked in the show.  Still, if Kenickie was to have driven past thrusting to Grease Lightning I suspect the entire female part of the audience would have followed him in a Pied Piper-esque manner. And that should be Zuko, don't you think?.  

Bert Newton, Anthony Callea and Todd McKenney all feature in made to measure cameos that made me love them all a little bit when normally I don't really think about them much at all.  The nods to their 'other lives' in each performance made for a fabulous comedic salute and Todd's description during media call of his character as "part mirror ball, part Michael Douglas and part Liberace" was insightful genius. 

And you know something, Bert's Vince is a genteel lecherous played to perfection.  I wanted to yell "Slimey Bastard" and "I love you Bert" at the same time.  And I really wasn't expecting to dig the Bert in that particular character.  The show was almost stolen though in the early part of the show with three chorus dancers in a shower routine - one of many brilliant examples of the exemplary choreography and one of the earliest moments I wish I'd grown up to be a professional dancer in a stage musical.  

Obviously I didn't take this picture of finale
because photography was banned
And this is where Grease the musical excels.  There isn't one star in the movie.  The music, the choreography, the chorus, the leads - all of it combines in one riotous tribute which felt like it passed in but the blinking of an eye.  Like a party that ends at curfew, Grease left me feeling pepped and energised and wanting to stay longer.

Also, I want to learn to hand jive.  Because if that dancing is what hand jiving is about - I want me some.

Would I recommend the show? Hell yeah.

Would I pay to see it? Hell to the yeah

Would I say that watching it made me a better person? Well "there are worse things I could do, than fall in love with a show or twooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo"



* Thanks to entertainME, Lyric Theatre and all the fabulous cast, crew and orchestra from Grease for a great night out.

* In the interests of full disclosure I have to let you know that I have performed on stage in The Canberra Gangshow in my younger years as a Turkey, Cow 3 and the Roman solider too small for a doublet, so I just wore a singlet (boom tish).  So I'm pretty much an expert theatre critic as a result and my recommendations are highly sought after by some.


16 October 2013

The procrastination post

Well

If you start at the very beginning, it's a very good place to start 
- Mary Poppins
The journey of a thousand miles starts with a single step 
- some wise dude from the olden days

Both Mary and the wise dude are sitting on my shoulder giving me a severe case of the irrits.  Not to mention an earworm thanks Mary.

I've got things to do.  Loads of things.  I've managed to put a letter back in the post box that was incorrectly delivered, read the news, admire photos of my girls, talk to my neighbour over the back fence about his recent holiday abroad, wave toilet duck at the toilet, eat some rice bubbles and clean a few cobwebs out of the toy room.

None of these things are even remotely things I need to do today.

Sometimes getting started is harder than it looks.

And I hate faffing.  My husband is a professional hardcore procrastinator and it drives me wild. If he was here killing time writing blogs when HE HAD STUFF TO DO I'd be cross and humph a lot because FFS JUST DO IT ALREADY!  So lucky he's not here.




(And lucky I'm so perfect I have no irritating habits)

I think people that start their to do list with 'write a list' so they can immediately cross something off it and feel a sense of accomplishment are essentially cheating.  But right now - I'm totally owning that.

I'll tell you another way I've managed to not start today.  I googled 'list apps' just to see if there were any interesting technological innovations in list writing since the last time I googled it.  When there is a pen and notebook beside me on the table.

If that isn't dedicated not starting I don't know what is. And yes - I've googled 'list apps' previously.  What of it? I like lists. I like technology - it stands to reason that googling 'list apps' would happen once or twice in my lifetime.

The more time I have to do something, the less I seem to get done.  I was on maternity leave twice and  I never wrote a best selling novel, sorted out my old photos or took up a domestic art.

Calvin never gets it wrong (Source Bill Watterson)
Anyway, this is it, I'm finishing this and I'm going to go and change the world.

Which isn't on my list either.  Bugger.

Okay... off to write a new list.  Starting with 'write list' and followed by 'change the world'.

And if you hear of any good 'list apps', please let me know. 

11 October 2013

Day of the Girl Child

I have been fascinated today by the interpretations around International Day of the Girl Child and how some have hijacked it to get all man hating and rah rah rah 'we does have rights as women right like you know' without any reference to what the day is actually about.

Which is to highlight the inequity between the rights of boys and the rights of girls world wide.

We're talking fundamentals here people - not the right to wear short skirts and have sex with whoever you please and what not.  We're not talking about glass ceilings.  We're not talking about pay differences.

Those things are all true.  They all matter. They do - but to grown ups (primarily) in the first world. And I'm not saying that I have all the answers.  But as the mother of daughters, I fiercely and passionately want for all small girl people, the same things I want for my own daughters.

Girl Power.

For this is about the girl child.  Child.  In first, second, third and fourth worlds.

We're talking right at the beginning - to be as pleased with the arrival of a girl baby as a boy baby.  We're talking about living a life that is not considered lesser, of having access to a proper education, the right to become an adult without being married off or handed over as part of a deal.

We're talking about living a life that is fearless, where violence isn't visited upon you, where you can catch a bus to school without being shot in the head or your mother burns you with cigarettes because she doesn't want you 'growing up pretty'.

We're talking about the right to play sport, to run free, to be fed, to be cherished. We're talking about the right to be loved, irrespective of gender.  To be valued because you exist, not because you've 'earned' it.

We're talking about a world where to 'run like a girl' or 'fight like a girl' is not seen as weakness, where being female isn't considered a liability or being the third girl doesn't cause your father to abandon your mother to find a woman who can birth him 'real children'.

We're talking about allowing children to be children, whether they are boys or girls.  We're not talking about the adults they will one day be if the world continues as it is, but rather - what if EVERY child had the opportunity to be loved, to be educated and to forge their own lives, with the same opportunities.

Love. Education. Freedom. Respect.

That's girl power.

That's power.  Full stop.

9 October 2013

Post Redundancy Panic Number 1

Okay - I am a week into the eight week period of redeployment and having worked out what I don't want to do, and had some amazingly positive feedback from people in real life, people on the interwebs and even a compliment on my dress from a stranger on the bus this morning - I am hit with the realisation that (drum roll)

I HAVE PRECISELY 7 WEEKS TO WORK OUT WHAT THE FUCK I WANT TO DO WHEN I GROW UP!!!!

Okay - so perhaps I'm being a little melodramatic.  I mean, I'm 22 years out of school and STILL WITH NO CLUE and I haven't panicked yet.

Source: Dilbert
But that was before I got given a letter telling me I'm redundant.

And I got excited about OPPORTUNITY and SEIZING THE DAY and ALL THAT JAZZ. 

I need to make some lists.  And not talk to my colleagues.  Rude bastards told me that I shouldn't give up my day job to be a singer just because I sang TWO LINES of a song this morning.  

A) My day job gave up on me and;
B) I just need to get naked with wrecking balls and nobody is going to notice if I can sing or not.  

Anyway - I digress... my list of dream jobs must get done.  And then a list of things I'll need to do to make that dream job happen.

If you have any great ideas that don't require me to:

1. Use mathematics
2. Sing
3. Enter lists of data
4. Work with dead animals
5. Wear crocs or velour
6. Touch seafood or raw meat
7. Be hatin' on people
8. Serve fries
9. Sew
10. Not talk

LET ME KNOW PRONTO OKAY???

Please. 
With sugar on top.

8 October 2013

The Bad Parent Methodology

I'm a bad parent.

I read all the books. And then some.  I know how to be a good parent but unfortunately, I lack the self discipline to turn the theory into practice.  Our life is not a structured domestic oasis of calm, organic produce and baby yoga.

In fact. I even hate adult yoga. The only downward dog my babies have ever seen is the dog next door during her post pee stretch.

And as a parenting methodology I have to say it is proving a success.

They are growing up independent, imaginative, fierce and a little wild.  They are kind. They are decisive.  They use good manners. They dance naked. They choose their own shoes. They hug. They kiss. They know how to say NO and mean it.

My kids use words like Impossible. Hilarious. Sausages. Boobs. Abuela. Bonjour. Milk. Friend. Best. Love. Gross. They go to strangers. They know the sign language to make a dog sit. They can open the fridge. They laugh with their whole bodies. They go barefoot in public. They hold hands when the cross the road and know that the time limit on a public tantrum is two minutes.

They sing. They play. They fight. They have cross faces. They have happy faces. They aren't scared of their parents and they assume adults are trustworthy. They aren't fussed about being left behind because they know we are coming back. They expect joy. They don't like to tidy but they like to clean. They aren't bothered by mess but like order.  They sleep anywhere. And better still - they transfer.

Sometimes they misbehave. Sometimes they whinge. Sometimes you can say 'You know what?' and they'll absent mindedly reply "I love you too" and that wasn't even what I was going to say. They scribble on their faces with coloured pens. They get paint on their clothes. They can't keep a hair clip in for longer than... nope, already gone.  They like books, big yellow ducks and music.

We're not great at routines. We hug through crying jags bought on by temper or tiredness. We scold. We feed them what they'll eat and assume they'll eventually get bored of corn, sausages and tuna. We don't allow juice or sodas but there is a place for chocolate frogs. We yell. We have dance-offs with our children. They think we can sing.  We don't vacuum the house as often as we should because the girls are strangely terrified by the noise of domesticity. We're secretly proud.

Our house is called 'Bonkers' and our car 'George'. Just ask them. We are trusting that most people don't graduate from college sleeping in their parents bed as our 'sleep resolution' approach. We bitch. We let them watch TV sometimes when we can't be arsed playing Duplo anymore and when the wind blows we stand outside with them, faces forward and screech "HA HA HA LOOK AT US LAUGHING IN THE FACE OF THE WIND".

I profane with abandon and my children have never sworn. They are stubborn, focussed and imaginative.  I know that our kids are smarter than us and we hope they understand that to be the best people they can hope to be, they need to trust themselves and not our parenting.

In so many ways, they are proof that nature is stronger than nurture.  And with everything they do, they delight us.  I admire the strength in their opinions, the ferocity of their emotions and the calm in their contentment.  They know how to live in the now and they fight for the right to do it all and they want us to be willing accomplices, unconditional allies and the boring character in all their role plays.

And I delight in the results of my rogue parenting.  I'm comfortable with being a bad parent. I wonder how such perfection could possibly be improved by imprinting my own imperfections on them.

It couldn't.

So I wont.

7 October 2013

Bigotry and social media

I've said it before and I'll say it again, I love social media for a lot of reasons.

But there is one thing I hate about it.

It gives a voice to bigots.

I've been really pleased to be contacted via Facebook by people I was genuinely fond of in my younger years.  Except the people who I find out within 48 hours are racists or homophobes.  Bigots with a capital B.  Absolute tossers when it comes down to it.

And I am always genuinely saddened by this realisation.  Because if they had come up in conversation, or via a shared connection, I would have been really pleased to hear their news, perhaps reconnect.  And in the course of conversation, our fundamental views on the world would never have come up.  And that is the nature of small talk and shared memories.  You don't delve deeper - there is no reason to do so.

But with Facebook, or Twitter.  There is no "OMG IT'S BEEN LIKE A BILLION YEARS WHAT HAVE YOU BEEN UP TO TELL ME EVERYTHING", it is more 'Ah.... Bill.... he was a lovely fellow - I'm definitely accepting his friend request' and then you log in the next morning and it's a series of 'Fuck off Australia is full' memes, coupled with a tirade against the illegals or that the gays are trying to donate blood so we all become gay and it's a complete conspiracy and by the way -Obama is totally a Muslim and a Kenyan because my mother's brother's best friend's goat's cousin's drug dealer saw the birth certificate.

And then I have to unfriend immediately.  But in addition to that, an earlier memory is ruined by the fact that I never really knew them, or knew myself.

Harder, more ambiguous, are the friends that you have met later in life who have been great and you miss having around now that you are scattered around the world and then one day you open your feed to find a plethora of ill informed jokes about religion, culture and colour.  And want to defriend them immediately, but you give them a few more chances because you really really really want to be wrong about them.

You want them to be having a moment of oops.  Where their interpretation of a joke was slightly off, or nuance means that they saw a different message.  And then they use the word 'boong' in a status or rant against the 'illegals' and you realise that truly, they aren't who you thought they were.


And you'd love to pretend it never happened.  But the fact is - to say and do nothing is as powerful as if I sent them the KKK secret emoticon.  Silence is an endorsement.  It's powerful.  People fill silence with the messages they most want to hear.

We are all learning.  I have no doubt that the younger me was less informed, more close minded, than the person I am now. I probably never questioned the casual jokes, the general stereotypes, the misinformation.  But as an adult, a functioning involved rational adult, I perpetuate everything I don't challenge.

I'm still learning, I'm still coming to a greater understanding of the world.  But I stand firm in the view that bigotry, in any form, in any context, is still bigotry.  And we must be active about eliminating it, in whatever form it takes.

Including ignorance.

Especially ignorance.

6 October 2013

Three first kisses

First kisses are memorable in some instances and not at all.  The first time you kiss somebody you love you think you'll remember it forever.  The taste, the smells, the moment - seared into your memory to be recalled, remembered and cherished.

Until you fall in love again.

And then THAT is the one that you think you're going to remember forever.

But in truth, the only first kisses I recall are those that were, for one reason or another, excruciatingly awkward.

Kiss 1: The first time I kissed a boy I had a crush on.

Angelic.  Solid of limb, blue of eye, blonde of hair, uniformed.  The kind of Aryan specimen a mad Austrian revered more than any other.  I liked him because he was funny, and seemed nicer than the average 14 year old male and I thought back then I liked blonde haired boys. He seemed to like my 12 year old, bespectacled, brunette, freckledness enough to snog at a party one exciting evening and went to it with all the finesse of, well, a 14 year old boy.

I'd seen Dirty Dancing, I knew the gist of it, but I'd only ever had chaste, close mouthed kisses and close body hugs at school dances and in the shadows of parties where older teens went about their 'french kissing' with the ease and abandon of young drunk people. Which they were. So as he thrust his thick, slobbery tongue into my mouth and swirled it around as if trying get the last of the ice-cream out of a cone, I swallowed my revulsion and 'did kissing'.

We remained in this tortuous embrace for what seemed like a lifetime before separating and him announcing that 'I kissed like a fish' and re-shoving his tongue down my throat.  All hot eyed and embarrassed, I mentally resolved to spend more time practising on my hand and to talk to my bestie about 'my technique', before shoving him off and pretending my parents had arrived to collect me.

He went on to snog the 15 year old with the curly hair who could blow smoke rings before I'd even left the room, so I suspect it wasn't my heavily rehearsed, sparkling wit that led him to kiss me.

Kiss 2: The first time I kissed a girl. 

In my 20s I was doing volunteer work a couple of evenings a week with a hospital up in Brisbane, the kind which enables you to be all cheery to small people living with chronic or terminal illnesses and ensured that there were a number of social activities with the other volunteers to make you feel as supported as possible.

I went on a weekend away to the mountains with this group of people who were huge amounts of fun.  I'd become very friendly with a few of them during my training, and I was looking forward to getting to know them better. They were a mixed bag of genders, ethnicity and sexuality but that bothered me then about as much as it bothers me now.  Not at all.

We'd had a great afternoon pottering about going for walks and building a huge campfire.  We sat around drinking cheap wine, eating overcooked sausages and near melted marshmellows while we talked the crap that can only be talked at campfires and shared the kind of stories some of us only share with near strangers.

Some guy could play the guitar and as we got slowly drunker and subsequently more talented and hilarious, we sang through his entire repertoire of self taught tunes and tried to outdo each other with our sketchy knowledge of constellations and bush based horror stories.

I realised that I was at that point where sleep was my only option and so hauled myself and, at her request, the girl from the cabin next door off the ground and we wandered up the hill to the accommodation walking twice the distance needed due to the wine consumed and having a good giggle about it all.  I opened the door to my cabin and said 'Night night' and she leant against me and kissed me.  A very soft, sensual, port flavoured kiss to which I responded not at all as I tried to work out how to say thanks but no thanks while at the same time thinking 'girls are WAY better kissers than boys'. All of a sudden she broke it off, pulled back, looked at me and said 'I got it wrong didn't I?'.

With the awkward meter up to high I said 'ahh... ummmm.... I think you're really great, I am really flattered or some such bollocks' - which is the universal non-sexuality specific code for 'sorry dude - this particular scenario never occurred to me so I haven't got the right thing to say ready.'

And she never spoke to me again. Which was a genuine pity because I really liked her and in addition it made the Wednesday night volunteering slightly awkward for a few weeks until I decided to move to Gympie.  But that's another story altogether.

Kiss 3. The first time I kissed my now husband.

We met in a share house in Deptford in South East London in the second half of the second year of my 'one year abroad'.  It was a gloriously balmy entirely non-English English summer and the group of house mates and various friends spent lots of long, lazy, smog scented evenings in the backyard pontificating about the world, arguing politics, profaning, philosophising, calling bullshit on each other's housekeeping claims, drinking wine, laughing at our insane wit and incomparable cleverness, smoking too many Malboro lights and on occasion, Irish dancing in Tescos.

While the other house mates remained completely oblivious, my man and I would hold hands under the table and stay up way later than the others talking the language of love (which is basically to say we fabricated reasons to stay up and watch crap TV* and talk about it so we had an excuse to stay up and keep talking).

And then one night, we kissed.  A soft but insanely intense kiss which I can still taste and which took us both completely both surprise. He then turned around, jumped over the short wall down into the kitchen and bolted upstairs to his room.  And didn't come out until the morning.

By then I didn't even kiss like a fish any more. Believe me, in the intervening years I'd practically got written references supporting me in this.  

It was, it remains to this day, my favourite and without a doubt, the most awkward, first kiss of all.




*A really bizarre series on freak weather conditions - predominantly twisters stealing churches from brides and the like over in America.  Obviously ESSENTIAL TV viewing at 1 am on a school night EVERY NIGHT for WEEKS.

4 October 2013

This week I was made redundant

So this week I was made redundant.

The dictionary definition of redundant is pretty harsh - (adjective) No longer needed or useful, superfluous.

So I start with telling people - don't read the dictionary if you're trying to make sense of major life changes.

Don't judge.  The dictionary can be incredibly comforting to a lot of people at different life stages. Especially those of us who like words.  And definitions.

There has been a major restructure, over a period of time, within my company to a new 'operating model'. It's been clear for a while that my role would be one to be 'redefined' in the context of the new world but it doesn't change the 'ouch' feeling when you sit with your manager and have the conversation.

I'm in good company - there are a number of us across the wider Australia/New Zealand market unit who have been affected.  Lots of talented, committed people who are good at our jobs.  It's just that these jobs have been 'redeployed'.  There are lots of words starting with 're' that are bandied about in this process.  And it is just a process, there is absolutely nothing personal in this kind of malarkey.

And there are opportunities within the new world as well which will make some people's redundancies, well, redundant. And those opportunities (ie: other jobs) are available to me too.  But I'm not sure that I'm necessarily going to travel that path.

Because this feels like this major opportunity from the point of definition one (noun) - a set of circumstances that makes it possible to do something, rather than definition two (also a noun) - a chance for employment.

And here is why.

1. It's a job rather than a calling (no matter how evangelical I may be about it on occasion).
2. I've recently had a lot of clarity about 'what I really want to do' rather than just doing 'what I am good at'.
3. I am actually quite good at what I really want to do.
4. Change can truly be as good as a holiday because it invigorates the spirit, refreshes the mind.
5. Though, that said, nothing focuses the mind like fear of unemployment.
6. But then, a life lived in fear is a life half lived.
7. And I know that it is better to live on my feet than die on my knees.
8. I know a lot of clichés are currently speaking to me.
9. Which is why they are clichés.  Because they are TRUE.
10. If this isn't the universe giving me a kick up the arse to say CARPE FUCKING DIEM BABY, I'm actually a man named Bruce.

(picture source)
I don't doubt that in the next eight weeks as I work my way through the process of moving from my current reality to another I am going to go from one place to another.  In the past 72 odd hours I have travelled from one emotion to another with the regularity and irrationality of the average hormonal teenager.  You should all definitely be in touch with my beautiful man - the poor guy is probably going to need the support. And the beers. A lot of the beers.

But this is not a decision I make in isolation. I have his full, unadulterated, loving and enthusiastic support for this journey.  Genuinely.  As in pretty much everything I do.  (For the love of god people DO NOT mention the fact that I fully intend getting another motorcycle in this existence). For my girls, this makes no difference.  They only care that we hug them, feed them, and provide backing vocals for their fledging toddler bands.  And give them milk.  They really, really, really like milk.

There are things I'll miss about my current job, but 100% of them are people.  I have made some wonderful friendships in the 5.5 years I've worked there.  But friendships transcend job titles. And we can drink wine, talk bullshit and play Words With Friends anywhere.

And so I end a week that has been a bit of a roller-coaster feeling powerful/excited/terrified.  The world is my truly my oyster, as it has always been (but with a teensy opening of 'HEY WHAT ABOUT NOW AL - GO ON - DO IT*????'.  And by my reckoning I've only got 50 odd years before I die - I've got to get moving right?

Pretty awesome huh?


*I have no clue what IT looks like but it's going to be LEGEN(waitforit)DARY!!!!!




3 October 2013

Inlawfuls

My relationships with 'in-laws' began around 20 years ago when my older brother started dating a girl who I assumed was completely bonkers.  I could think of no sane person that would possibly find any of my brothers attractive, let alone attractive enough to be publicly associated with them.

Anyway, turned out all three of them over the years have managed to find highly intelligent, funny, kind, passionate, committed and attractive women to marry them. Including that first girl who was to set a very high benchmark for all future contenders wanting the 'in-law' badge. 

She does. But she doesn't ride it. 
I have a brother-in-law who is highly intelligent, funny, kind, committed and attractive too. But that makes more sense - my sisters have always been less smelly, less inclined to laugh at bodily functions and less 'testosterony'.

Marrying my beautiful man got me a highly intelligent, funny, kind, committed and attractive sister-in-law with a fabulous sense of the ridiculous, and a mother-in-law that has failed miserably at perpetuating the witchy bitchy stereotype in any way.  My father-in-law is also a lovely man and his son could do worse things than turn out like him. 

See my problem?

Yep. I have nothing whatsoever to bitch about.

I have no terrible tales.  They are providing me with absolutely NO material whatsoever to write obscure, meandering tales about how they are ruining my life, negatively influencing my children or turning my siblings into drug addicts or whores. 

I've read some cracking tales of lives ruined, fortunes lost and reputations destroyed by the dastardly machinations of in-laws.  People love those kind of stories, comments are attached to those blog posts in a torrent of 'AHA!', sharing further tales of woe, bitchiness, betrayal, and more.

Anything which gets people engaged makes a writer blissfully happy. 

And then I've got my bunch of perfectly lovely in-laws.

Bastards.  All of you.

1 October 2013

Perception, truth and haters

Perception is a funny thing.  But it is powerful.  Ridiculously powerful.  As are our truths.

And open to misinterpretation.  As are our truths. 

I’ve been pondering the subject in some depth for a while now since my psych asked me to consider why I give more brain space to people that don’t think I’m that great, rather than the people that do.  Why does the idea that people don’t like me or believe something that’s not true make me feel so physically ill and take control of my emotions with such crushing totality?  Somebody’s off-the-cuff remark can poleaxe me and ruin a day in a way from which I struggle to return.  And which I can rarely, properly, disregard. 

Part of me would suggest that those occasions in some way reinforce my own somewhat (ahem) negative self-imagery.  But she’d argue that I wasn't born that way.  Small people don’t come into the world thinking they are less than others.  That is learnt along the way.  And people with a strong sense of self aren't necessarily arrogant. Just confident.  I envy the buggers.


She’d also suggest, probably with a lot of hand gestures, that if I was driving a bus somewhere and one of the passengers started slapping me around the head and telling me what a crap driver I was, I’d put them off the bus so both I and the other passengers could travel in peace. 

But the passengers on the emotional bus seem to be a lot harder to kick off.  They start yelling about having rights too and demanding to speak to my manager.  And they keep trying to get on.  They’re persistent.  And for some reason when I visual them they always wear those straight brimmed trucker hats with terrible logos.    
And I know I'm also the manager.  I get the metaphor and I love the visualisation.  But… still.  As a manager dealing with difficult passengers – I totally suck.

Where there are people – there are different perceptions and different truths.  That is universal. 

There are people out there who don’t like me because they misinterpreted something I said and never gave me the opportunity to sort it out.  There are people out there who don’t like me because I was a bitch and either never noticed, or never made the effort to resolve it. There are people that don’t like me because they just don’t and nothing I can say or do will ever change that.  And there are people that don’t like me because our friendship existed in a period of their life they would rather forget. 

But there are people out there that do like me.  There are people out there who like me because I got it wrong and was able later on to get it right.  There are people out there that like me because I remind them of a period of their life which they will forever treasure.  There are people out there that like me and I will never know why and I thank the gods for them every day.  There are people out there who like me even though I got it wrong and never noticed who decided to let it go.  There are people out there that like me because I am nothing like them and people who like me because I am exactly like them.  And there are people out there who like me because I know the difference between there, their and they’re. 

All those people out there with a perception of me.  A truth about me.  Just one individual in a sea of seven billion yet over the years hundreds, thousands of people will have an opinion.  I am, we are all, powerful like that.

And I will just have to live with the very occasional reminders that some people hold on to “hatin’ on others” and I will never understand why. It will hurt especially if I don't understand it. But we all have villains in our life stories.  Sometimes they are our even our good selves and our insane emotional baggage. Other times they are other people. Sometimes, a bit of both. In some people's life stories - I am that villain even though I might not want to be nor did I mean to be.

As I have grown older (and gotten my therapy on in particular) I have re-learned that people believing something about me does not mean it is true. It may still burn but ultimately - in a life time we can’t please everybody despite our best intentions.  Even poor Mother Teresa had haters. And I think we can all agree that she was pretty high up in the ‘people who are really really lovely’ charts.

So much to think about and of course it’s important to draw a line under the thinking – come to a resolution as it were, find some peace on the topic.   

So my conclusion (drum roll) is that I give so much brain space to the “haters” because I am an idiot. 


My psych is going to so pleased.