28 December 2012

Gratitude is not a four letter word

Gratitude is defined as 'The quality of being thankful; readiness to show appreciation" and as we come to the end of 2012 I am very conscious of the blessings in my life.  So, in support of lists and clarity and end of year bollocks - I thought I'd share five things for which I am grateful this year.

1. My beautiful man - together for over eight years, married for over three and parents to two small forces of nature, it's been a huge year for us as a couple and parents.  Its been tough at times, ugly at times and sometimes it has seemed like we haven't had a conversation or a sleep in weeks, but through it all he remains my best friend, my mirror and my world. He has a big heart, a stubborn streak and procrastinates to Olympic level but to have him any other way is not to have the real him.  I am grateful for a love that is steadfast and unwavering and kind.

2. My wonderful daughters - these two loves are fabulous and fierce individuals seeking to find their own way right from the word go.  With only 19 months between them they have bought chaos and love and terror into our lives and I am so thankful to have such wonderful individuals to try my parenting on. My biggest fear as a parent is that I'll fuck it up but despite me, they are fantastic examples of humanity.  I love them for their independence, their smiles, their inquisitive minds, sticky hands and cuddles. I am grateful for the opportunity, that so many others are denied, to be a parent.

3. Friends and family - I know this is clich├ęd but I am blessed with a plethora of people from whom I take inspiration, am offered support, share experiences and spend time with.  These people are all unique in their own way and enhance not only my life but that of my little unit.  We have laughed, bolstered, been bolstered, cried, eaten, drank and danced our way through a year of big highs and big lows and I am grateful for all those that have been part of 2012 whether its for a season, a reason or a lifetime.

4. Self acceptance - as result of a PND diagnosis I embarked upon 'therapy'.  It's been a challenging journey as I don't fit my own idea of somebody that suffers from depression but exploring the inside of my mind has been rewarding in that I am getting better at self acceptance and viewing my world in a different way.  This has given me the freedom to try new things, be more of myself, actively accept others as they are and to sweat the small shit much less. I'm extremely grateful for the support of people around me as I've evangelised about 'owning the diagnosis'.

5. The internet - I know! Weird huh?  This year me and the internet have really come into our own. But I am very thankful to all the anonymous people that invent crap like the internet and zip lock bags.  The internet has given me access to the world. It has educated me, amused me, entertained me, infuriated me, connected me.  Ignorance is no excuse and our ability to explore ideas, enhance our understanding and connect with people across the globe that are passionate about so many wonderful ideas and concepts has never been so easy as it has in 2012.  I am very grateful for the opportunity to be exposed to so many exciting thinkers, doers and Joe-ordinaries who are changing the world one step at time.

I am of course grateful for many more things in life but I find it harder to explain how Neapolitan Twist icecream and fresh blueberries made 2012 a great year.  But trust me, they've had their place. :-)

27 December 2012

Writing a list, checking it twice...

You know, I'm a big fan of the list.  I have been known to write lists of lists so I can keep track of where I am up to and what I need to do.  I have shopping lists, work to-do lists, home to-do lists, packing lists, lists of movies I'd like to see, lists of books I'd like to read, lists of places I'd like to see when I travel somewhere, lists of cards to send, lists of presents to buy, lists of people to call. Tick!

So the fact that Santa himself needs to write a list, check it twice.  I get that.  I bet he has an 'end of lists' list as well - the one you write that has the one or two things from all your other lists that haven't yet been checked off but if you have them on one list you feel more organised.  Streamlined as it were. Tick!

And I'm not the only one that loves a list.  If you google 'power of lists', pages upon pages of people are talking about harnessing creativity, clearing your head, establishing personal process, efficiencies, visual achievement, accountability, enhancement of effort and so on.  My favourite advice is to start every list with 'write a list' so you've got a head start. Tick!  And ticking things off a list - well that's just happiness in a pen stroke. Tick! Tick!

The world is full of lists - it's just that sometimes we call them other things. Like a recipe is just a list of things you need to make something, followed by a list of processes that helps you achieve that.  A timetable is just a list of times indicating when your train will come.  A TV guide is just a list of shows you might want to watch along with the times. A catalogue is just a list with pictures of things you might like to buy.  A contract is a list of rules and regulations by which you do or don't do something. And anybody that has written a book about how to live without lists has properly got chapters in the front of their book.  And that's just a list. Tick!

 With me?  I'm right you know. List makers rule the world.  They are behind all the great religions, all the great organisations, all the great companies, all the great achievers.

So basically, I'm in good company.  Tick.

23 December 2012

Despair! For the rats-tail flourishes

Its hot.  The background is coloured with the sound of cicadas and the crackling of dry grass underfoot.  The smell is baked concrete and sprinkler mist.  It's a perfect summer's day.  Take a girlfriend, find a bar with air-conditioning and cold chardonnay and a twist of gossip and it's Sunday afternoon nirvana.

Slightly shattered by an ugly reality I'd been hitherto immune to and I've found the revelation somewhat distressing.  Here it is - bear with me as I share this simple and sad fact. (Big breath) In young males of a certain age, the rat's tail has become mainstream.  Small curly ones pasted on the neck, large Billy Ray Cyrus inspired locks, straggly flyaway frizzy ones.  Some coupled with goatees or facial hair I'd have assumed ironic if it was still November.  But nope.

And I try and be open minded.  I pride myself on trying to live and let live.  But I wanted to throw my maxi-dressed self to the ground and wail 'WHYYYYYYY'.  Keen in a proper keening type of way.  Rent clothing.  Tear hair.  Gnash teeth.  These young men in their twenties, handsome faces and otherwise cunningly disguised by a hairstyle that had its day in the eighties and was deemed a failure.  It's been resurrected, embraced, bouffanted. Mocked. MOCKED JUSTLY.

And here I was in hipsville.  Not the 'burbs'. Not the sweltering outer suburbs where flannelette and referring to your partner as 'the missus' flourishes.  My middle class sensibilities and vague aesthetics were being offended in the heart of the city, in a popular bar, frequented by the young and trendy (and older folk such as myself drinking cold chardonnay in air-condition surrounds).

And I despaired for mankind.  

21 December 2012

My shoeless kid is not the one that needs your voice

There is so much to be mad about in the world.  The worsening situation in Syria, gang rapes in India, human rights violations in Australia, mass shootings in America, attempted assassinations of 14 year old students in Afghanistan and for those that only read the entertainment pages of a newspaper - the duet by Olivia Newton-John and John Travolta.

If you are going to have an opinion, express a viewpoint, GIVE A SHIT, do it about something that really truly matters.  Where your voice can be part of a cacophony that brings change.  Where speaking up and pointing out wrongs makes the world a better place for everybody.

Whether or not my two year old daughter is wearing shoes in a shopping centre is not one of these issues.  And while I appreciate that the lady in the mall that pulled me up on this travesty yesterday was motivated by genuine horror at my lax parenting and the possibility of germs latching onto my daughter's feet, it really wasn't worth the rant.  I'd call her energy completely misdirected.  If she really wants to put that much effort into caring - I wish she'd chosen something that really mattered.  Not the fact that I forgot to put her shoes in the car and so she was going shoeless in an indoor mall.

And the world is full of people with these 'things' that genuinely affront them, that they give voice to, that they would tackle a stranger in a mall about.  Can you imagine how the world could be so much more than it is if we took the time to care about the big things and less about the little things?  More about people and less about brands?  More about people and less about etiquette?  More about two year olds with no food or clothes or shelter than two year olds not wearing shoes in a mall?

All that rage and righteousness people - use it.  But focus for fuck's sake. Focus.

18 December 2012

Housework is an art form

“I think housework is far more tiring and frightening than hunting is, no comparison, and yet after hunting we had eggs for tea and were made to rest for hours, but after housework people expect one to go on just as if nothing special had happened.” Nancy Mitford

I saw the above quote this morning in a blog by Reservoir Dad guesting on Woogsworld and it spoke to me. Lordy me, it yelled actually. Yodelled across the room and finished off with some fancy footwork. And while Nancy Mitford and her sisters were a perplexing and bigoted bunch of individuals, Nancy nailed it with that quote.

You see - as far as I am concerned - Housework is an art.  And like all the arts, what appeals to one person definitely does not appeal to another.  Some are fans of realism and minimalism that draws parallels with housework fans who like clean lines and things to be as they are.  Some are fans of the abstract approach where the concepts are more important than the execution.  Still others favour the expressionism style where their housework is spiritually or psychologically intense.  

I have always been a proponent of the abstract style of housework where people get the gist of what I've attempted without it needing to be presented in any kind of coherent way.  Since the arrival of my two forces of nature, my beautiful man and I have developed a fondness for the kinetic style.  Kinetic art is sculpture based but comprised of moving elements and powered either by wind, the viewer themselves or a motor. Families are big on engaging through the kinetic style of housework - no matter what frantic preparation is done prior to their visit,  they'll blithely dodge the small people and run a vacuum cleaner about the place using their own energy to engage with the existing construct.  

In the modern household, most housework is a collaborative affair.  A shifting of art preferences from the singular to the plural and then again to encompass the addition of small people, animals or permanent houseguests.  Housework, like art, is an intensely personal experience and what appeals to one does not appeal to another.  And just as you wouldn't walk into a house and criticise the art they hang on their wall, nor should you comment on their style of housework.  For it is chosen to suit them, not you.  One man's Gauguin is another man's Monet.  Both of value but appealing to different audiences and different approaches to life.

And that my friends is that. And please don't open that cupboard without a hard hat. 

14 December 2012

Birthdays are brilliant

I don't get why people don't like birthdays.  They are inevitable so why not just enjoy them?  Me - I adore them - they are the one day of the year where despite all my insecurities I just enjoy everybody being lovely to me.  Because people are lovely on your birthday.  They don't let your little habits annoy them, they find lovely things to say and you are allowed to do all your favourite things and ignore the housework.

I had a few of the "not long until 40 digs" - (well no - but lots can happen in two years so let me get to my 39th first) but I'm loving the idea of 40.  Because birthdays that end in 0 mean you can legitimately organise a 'big party'.  Like huge. You can have it fancy dress, out bush, in fine restaurants - whatever appeals.  And people will come along and party like its 1999 just because your birthday ends in 0. It's genius.

I always organise my birthday in advance.  Dad said to me years ago "Why don't you just leave it and see if somebody organises something for you?".  Good point.  But if they didn't my birthday would be ruined and that seems like an unnecessary risk when there is only one of them a year.  I don't mind going with the flow on some things but birthdays are not one of them.  The bigger the better.

And I am just as happy about your birthday as I am about mine.  I love them for everybody.  I love all opportunities to celebrate and be happy just because.  Weddings. Babies. Birthdays. Promotions. New homes. You name it.  But birthdays happen the most regularly.

My last huge bash was my 21st which is the one exception to the 0 rule and it was great fun.  30 was a little more low key so I'm basically going to have 19 years of HURRAH stored up to celebrate my 40th.  So you can all start preparing now.  And I can most guarantee it's going to be fancy dress because I love that shit.  LOVE IT.

A birthday grinch said to me yesterday "I don't get why you enjoy getting older."  You don't?  Well if you think of the alternative it's pretty clear.  You want as many as you can get - there is a lot to fit in to life and if you ran out of birthdays that would be a very sad thing indeed. 

And that my friends is that.  The Festival of Al is over for another year.  Now your Christmas celebrations can begin in earnest.  Mwa.

11 December 2012

The tyranny and fun of good manners

There is a lot to be said for good manners.  Please.  Thank you.  How do you do?  After you madam. And so on.  They smooth interactions, make for pleasant exchanges and are the social lubricant that keeps us all ticking along side of each other despite a myriad of differences of personality and approaches.

People hide passion, disagreement, dislike behind civility and good manners.  They can also tamp down love, enthusiasm, desire and humour.  Manners moderate.  Sometimes, they subjugate.  Or liberate.  Always, but always, they impact.

Which is why they are their own tyranny.  But a tyranny that can be used for good.  If you spend an entire day consciously using good manners, no matter the reaction you get, there is an immense amount amusement to be had.

For instance, go into a store staffed by surly teenagers more used to being ignored or told off then greeted with a smile.

Smile big.  Big. Big. Big. 

Them: "You right?"
You: "Hi, yes, I'm fine, thanks for asking. Aren't you a gem? I'll let you know if I need anything"
Them: (muttering behind hand to colleague when back behind the counter - warning - batty bitch at the back of the shop)

You: "Hi, can I have these please? This is a great shop isn't it?
Them: "$50"
You: "Thanks so much, I hope you have a lovely day"
Them: (mutters to colleagues as you depart - I dunno what that bitch is on but its killing me)

And its not just teenagers.  Thank the bus driver.  Smile at a colleague.  Greet the receptionist.  Wave at the postman.  Let the horn heavy wanker in the BMW in front of you with a smile and a nod.  Pay for the coffee of the guy behind you. Let the person with only a few items in front of you at the supermarket. Agree with a colleague. Hold open a door.

It makes you feel remarkably good and it discombobulates the rude.  Knocks them off course. And that's not a bad thing.  Not when you've done it so politely.

Go on. Try it. 

8 December 2012

Road trips with kids vs without kids

There are two types of road trips - those with kids and those without.

Those with kids can never be taken spontaneously and without snacks.  And by snacks, I mean the resources to feed the 5000 should Jesus fail to appear.

Those without kids only need the tic tacs in case you meet a cute policeman at an RBT.

Road trips with kids require additional clothing for both children and adults in case of spillage, blowouts or some kind of random travel sickness never before invented.

Road trips without kids can be done in the nude if that what takes your fancy.

Road trips with kids require an in depth knowledge of action songs, cheery songs, songs with clapping and repetition.

A road trip with out kids can be done entirely by surfing the radio channels or re-enacting Queen's finest hits while head banging, playing air guitar and driving.

Road trips with kids require an understanding that you drive with only about 1/4 of your attention on the road and the rest on the houdini in the back seat trying to extricate themselves from their shoulder straps.  (They'll win - no matter that you've drilled holes in their shoulders to loop the straps around)

Road trips without kids involve scenery and sunsets and impromptu stops at strawberry picking farms that you never notice when you're watching Houdini.

Road trips with kids are full of tense silences with your partner while you fume about the myriad of misunderstandings that have happened since you got in the car and they messed up your system of bags designed to make the journey easier.

Road trips without kids are full of long silences, intertwined fingers and sporadic conversation about shared experiences, or nothing.  Lots of gentle nothing.

Road trips with kids are full of moments where they eventually slumber and your heart wells up with love for their little selves, their adorable little selves and their bored, inventive little minds filling in time on a road trip with the olds.

Road trips without kids are full of moments where you wish you could be singing action songs and doing funny seat dancing or yelling 'CAR' whenever you see one.

Verdict.  If road trips without kids mean giving back my girls I'd probably keep them.  Probably. Maybe. Okay, yes.  YES.  But I still think a road trip in the nude should be on my bucket list.

3 December 2012

Too tall, too old for Totes. Fact.

Today I have become an over user of the word 'Totes'.  And it is not even lunch time. I am not a 'Totes' person.  My hubby and I use it ironically or stupidly between ourselves but we don't use it in regular conversation.  I'm not perky enough, short enough or young enough to say it without sounding like a complete prat.  But today is obviously 'Totes' day.

"This rain is really heavy"

"What do you think of this picture"
"Totes adorable"

"I really like Zooey - I hope she's as cool in real life"

You see?  Get the picture?  Embarrassing. 

I have a vocabulary.  I am comfortable using the word 'Totally' in its entirety and I can even use it correctly and not as substitute for intelligent conversation.  Every time I say the word I also get the urge to make this little rapper hand movement at the same time.  

You know the one.  They do it all the music videos when they're checking out the backsides of girls wearing no clothes. That sentence is enough to guarantee that I should not be using 'Totes' in conversation.

Such a dilemma.  What to do with myself?  

2 December 2012

Stop clicking Bono

You know the joke where Bono stands on stage and clicks his fingers.  One.  Two.  Three.  Four.  And then he says sonorously into the microphone.  Every time I click my fingers a child dies.  Five. Six. Seven.  And from the audience a voice calls back - "Stop fecking clicking then ya sick bastard".

I feel like that about some news we got on Friday night.  Shitty, crappy, poopy news.  It's not our news so I can't talk about it but if I could unclick my fingers and go back to the stage before this news.  Before it happened.  If I could take it all away and make it better I would.

Because I honestly feel like somebody is clicking away merrily, pissing on people I care about.  And whoever the clicker is - he/she has gone a little too far.

You wake up and you wish that it was just a bad dream.  But it isn't.  And I know that if for me its awful, I know that for the people living it - its more awful. Its crap. It sucks. It bites.  There are not words big enough for the storm that's hit them from behind.  Good people.  Nice people. Ordinary people.  Very very much loved people.

Adored and beloved people.  The after will come.  But I don't think it's unreasonable to wish for them 'the before'.  Back when the world was normal.  Made sense.  Was less random and fucked up.

So I'm channelling love, good karma, positive thoughts and whatever credits I have wherever towards them.

Big, huge, mammoth love.  

30 November 2012

Talking about the weather is not conversation

Have you noticed that everybody is talking about the weather because its hot.  Like really hot.  And over in England they are talking about the weather because its cold.  Like really cold.  And over in America we talked about the weather because it was windy.  Like really windy.  And... well you get the picture.

For talking about the bloody obvious there is no bigger topic than the weather.  For us here in Australia, we start summer tomorrow so its not unreasonable for the weather to be warming up.  And yes it's hot.  But that is what the seasons are about.  Summer is hot.  Autumn is cooling down.  Winter is cold.  Spring is warming up.  And I hate to be the one to break it to everybody - but this happens every bloody year.


If it's hot, carry a little fan or sit in the air conditioning or go swimming. Don't bitch about it.  You can't change it, I can't change it and quite frankly, the fact that you are surprised by hot weather in summer makes me doubt your intelligence and general observation skills.  I definitely don't want to talk about it with every single person I encounter be they friend, foe or sharing the bus seat with me.

And if you're living somewhere cold - put on more jumpers, wear boots and sit near a heater.  Are you with me here people?  Deal with it. Don't talk about it. If you need advance warning so you can prepare yourself - visiting bom.gov.au.  Download the app. Take action!

But if it's raining?  Go out side, turn your face up to the sky.  Stick your tongue out and catch the raindrops. Jump in puddles.  Spin around with your arms out.  Ignore the stares. Because walking in the rain is most awesome.  Fact.  And I am more than happy to talk about this any time.

28 November 2012

I'm with Mr Monkton - Let us be lovely

Sometimes, no matter how you look at the world - via print, online or just out the bus window, there is evidence that the world is not operating to the best of its capacity.

Basically, it could be a whole lot nicer if people focussed on being lovely. Like a lot.

I don't know if you know about Edward Monkton, a genius man who sums up the right approach to life with a few lines, sometimes a dinosaur and often with shoes.  Like Leunig, he is a man who has a gift for seeing the world in a way that makes a lot of sense.

Go to edwardmonkton.com.au for more of his stuff.

Can you imagine a world where this is our approach.  Loveliness, Kindness, Freedom.  All the days of our lives.  A bit like anarchy but without the inherent narcissism - this would be my utopia.

No violence.  No nasty politics.  No bitchy remarks. No second guessing.  No random deaths. No queue jumping.  No mocking the homeless or the differently coloured or the differently faithed. Respect would proliferate.  Kindness would rule.  People would use nothing but temporarily cross faces and emphatic tuts to express disapproval and people would be open to communicating so that every ending was a happy one.

And as Mr Monkton would say - let there be shoes and chocolate. Because even those that are happy with their lot and the blessings that come with it, like nice shoes while disliking killer potatoes.

There is much to be said for that I think.

27 November 2012

Reaching for the stars, falling off the ladder

My daughter slipped off a ladder on Sunday and hit the ground with the kind of sickening thud and squelch that fills your stomach with bile, increases your heart rate and has your mind go into meltdown.  Her mouth was gushing so much blood that we initially failed to notice the lump on her forehead.  Turns out that that was the real injury and the blood came from her putting her teeth through her lip.  Which was messy but not as heartbreaking as the lump that grew.

This is what my two year old looked like. The lump was seriously that large.

This time last year, she fell of a trike and knocked her front teeth out.  Well, one out and broke the other one.  The broken one had to be removed at a cost of $2000 for a ten minute dental surgery.  We didn't have major dental for our one year old.  That was an expensive lesson.

I don't have words for the love I have for my girls.  I adore their father but in a less visceral way.  If he hurts himself I'm a bit 'there there darling, buck up old chap'.  My girls hurt themselves and I want to weep with them.  However, in the height of the emergency I turn into a very sensible, matronly type with lots of bustle and pragmatism.  It is only afterwards that I want to hug them until they pop and howl at the unfairness of it all.  And that's just when they bump heads or graze knees.  These bigger accidents tear me apart.

Adding in the hurts that come from a cranky old world as they get older, it appears to me that I'm going to need to harden the fuck up. Or work out a way to carpet the world with pillows and have all the nastiness sucked out of people.

I should get to it then.

20 November 2012

Click Clack Frenzy and Madness (Ahem)

Just a brief observation - the funny thing about tonight's Click Frenzy is not that the site failed - they wont be the first group that were surprised by the size of their success - but that everybody moved in ten minutes from "HIP HIP HURRAH CLICK FRENZY GONNA GET ME A BARGAIN I LOVE ONLINE SHOPPING" to 'Oh I totes knew it wasn't going to work out - I mean HONESTLY'.

Seriously - the majority of the world appeared to give it about ten minutes.  Its a 24 hour sale, it was a bit over successful and the whole thing started more slowly than planned.  You're still talking about it, you're still logging on or checking for cheat codes to get your bargains.  Click Frenzy is not in any way a failure.

And I've got me a whole bunch of loot that says so.  And if you want the same BUT YOU WANT IT NOW NOT IN A FEW MINUTES - get you to #clickfrenzy on twitter and calm the fuck down.

Accidents happen

About ten years ago in Canberra, my baby brother was riding his motorcycle to work in the afternoon, when a car failed to give way properly and cleaned him up.  It was a horrible accident leaving him with significant injuries and a stint in intensive care followed by a heap of rehab.  It just so happened that in a car travelling a little way behind my brother, was a man who knew my Dad and our family.  He stopped to help at the accident, recognised my brother when his helmet was removed and immediately called my Dad.  My Dad took the call from a meeting in Melbourne, heard the news and called Mum at home, who leapt in the car and drove up to the accident.  She almost beat the ambulance.

The marvel at the time was the speed with which the information was shared thanks to mobile phones, and while horrible for Mum to see her baby boy in that condition, she was able to travel with him to the hospital and be with him while they pinned him, stitched him, patched him and all those things that a bandaid and kiss from Mum just weren't going to fix on this occasion.

The news spread as his siblings were told, then friends, and so on. People rallied behind him and behind the family offering support in a myriad of different ways.  All of them overwhelmingly positive and valued. Community at its very best.

A while after the accident the driver of the car rang to apologise. He spoke to Mum and she asked of him, as she had asked the universe a million times, how could you not see him? He wasn't speeding, it was broad daylight and it's a big bike?  The man replied 'I did see him, I thought I could beat him'.  What my mother heard was 'I drove into your beloved baby boy deliberately'.  She raged.  I get that.  I got it then and I get it even more now that I have my own children.  I still maintain that the driver did the right thing by apologising, by owning his actions, even if he got the apology so horribly wrong.

The reason I write about this is a story I read online yesterday about an accident uncanny in its similarity to my brother's accident.  Except, due to social media, photos were shared of the accident within minutes, some of the family found out via facebook as the parents hadn't had a chance to call everybody as they were at the hospital with their son.  Some 'friend' noted the registration of the car that hit the bike and tracked the guy down and a harrassment and hate campaign started towards the driver, calling for him to be run over, his family hurt and so forth.  And all within a couple of hours of the accident.

This is so very very wrong. This is not an example of community at its best and its not helpful for the family.  Whatever the split second decision, or momentary distraction was that meant the driver hit the bike, it was an accident.  A horrible, horrible accident but one I am sure he would take back if he could.  Accidents come about generally because of a series of small incidents that culminate in an event.  Accidents have impact, accidents generally have a root cause but they are still accidents.

Accidents take time to assimilate.  The driver needs to work out what he did.  The rider needs to heal.  The family needs to grieve, to rage, to worry.  The police need to work out what happened and files charges accordingly. As a society, we need to stop validating this mob mentality where we judge and sentence people without knowing the full story.  We need to give people the opportunity to apologise.  We need to give the law a chance to work.  Of course it takes time and when you are hurting, your friends or family are hurting, it is natural to want justice to move more quickly - but without the constraint of due process, we are no better than we should be.

A girlfriend of mine once said "good people can make bad decisions and do bad things, it doesn't change who they fundamentally are". As she had been at the receiving end of the bad decisions of somebody else, the words resonated with me and have stayed with me.  Because they are true.

Most of us are good people.  Most of us have made decisions that haven't worked out so well.  Most of us are lucky that they haven't resulted in injury to others.  And it would do us all good to remember that.  The driver in the second accident is, on the law of averages, probably a good person who made a dreadful mistake.  Let him own his actions, work up to an apology.  The apology wont change anything, but the mistake is his.  Starting hate and harassment campaigns, revving up a mob mentality - that's just a different example of how good people make bad decisions.

Our online communities should be the same positive and supportive force in our lives as the old fashioned communities.  Their reach should enable that support to be more widespread, more diverse, but should always, always, be used as a means for good.

That is all.

16 November 2012

Michelle Bridges aint got nothin' on my routine!

You can keep your morning boot camps, your Fitness First memberships, your morning walks with the dog - I am absolutely convinced that if I paid people to take my girls shopping it would become the world's most challenging fitness regime.

Take yesterday's trip to Kmart.  Yes.  Kmart.

Place smallest weight (approximately 7-8 kilograms) into trolley seat.  Place larger weight (approximately 16 kilograms) into the trolley at large.  Ensure trolley has one dodgy wheel so you have to push to the right the whole trip to ensure you don't just do left leading circles.  If we were in a fancy gym and I was charging you for this exercise, I'd call it resistance training.

Set off at brisk pace (cardio) in vain attempt to distract the weights from the fact that they are in a shop.  Obviously not fast enough.  Larger weight sways from side to side in desperate attempt to leap from moving trolley.  Remember that dodgy wheel and compensate the swaying of your trolley accordingly. (Full body resistance training)

Get to shoe aisle - do forward lunge (good for your butt apparently) to catch larger weight hurling themselves over the front of the trolley.  Lower gently to the floor being careful not to indulge in momentary urge to let them fall. Find the right pair of shoes for them.  Do series of bend and squats to pick up everything larger weight has removed from shelves while waiting.

Push trolley with lighter weight towards to the homewares section to find pegs and a new dishbrush.  Do twist and push as you walk ensuring you keep the dawdling larger weight in view while not allowing trolley to veer left.

Do two large and quick sidesteps into aisle to grab necessities and then back again.  Realise larger weight has now vanished from sight.  Do quick sprint in one direction, pivot and run in other direction before locating larger weight hiding in the men's shorts.  Remove said weight bodily tucking under one arm and returning to pushing trolley with smaller weight.

Eventually realise this is not going to work but ensure all muscles are pushed to maximum weight bearing capacity before lowering weight gently to ground.  Have larger weight streak ahead.  Keep up with lighter weight as you head towards the toy section.  Have lighter weight hurl your purse out of trolley.  Break, spin, squat, retrieve, lose sight of larger weight.  Spring with trolley.  Stop.  Realise that you actually can't find child.  Sprint up and down large aisle before finding larger weight conversing with Dora's backpack.  Pile larger weight into trolley, strap in and carry lighter weight under one arm while pushing trolley to front counter.  Self serve and leave.  45 minutes into what would have been a 5 minute stroll sans children.

Absolutely frickin' buggered.

Then get 'health questionnaire' on your email when you get home asking if you do enough 'formal exercise' (because otherwise you'll get fat and die leaving your little babies all alone in the world.)

I raise my glass of wine (large of course, no need to stop the informal weight bearing and repetitive exercises) and say 'Fuck off' out loud.  Because I'm like that.  

12 November 2012

I'd love to make violence extinct

I really really really wish there was no violence.

I know this is not a realistic approach to the real world but that’s the great thing about wishing for a better world. Violence wouldn’t be an option and so people would have to find an alternate way to express rage, frustration or feel powerful.

The thing I find most baffling about so much violence is the why? I can’t comprehend how one individual can bash a child, maim an animal, torture an innocent, beat a loved one, kick a stranger in the head, rob a wounded man, or any of the other myriad of cruelties that people enact. I find gratuitous violence the most baffling because there is no instinctive response to danger, a desire to protect, it’s just petty hyped up nastiness.

And I wonder where does it come from? I don’t think its television, or video games or anything like that…its existed for all time and it is not restricted to one race, one culture, one gender. It’s a visceral thrill for some. A sober experience where they get off on the power with nary a thought for their victims or a damn for the consequences.

You can not stop it. You can not change the fundamentals that make such behaviour acceptable to some. I can comprehend crimes of passion, the red hot surge of anger that makes you want to lash out. Even Mother Theresa admitted to feeling angry – but not everybody acts on it. I just don’t understand wilful violence. And I don’t understand how people can stand by when it happens Surely that makes you just as culpable?

I know I’m a bleeding heart. And I have in the past been slightly embarrassed about my propensity to feel for people I don’t even know, but surely mine is not a bad approach to life. If I can imagine the consequences, feel on behalf of another, that empathy is a good thing? I’m not perfect by any stretch – I’m notoriously hot headed. I profane and I can lash out verbally and have been known to shake with rage but ultimately, bar the odd reactive face slap to the petty mind games of an ex-boyfriend – for which almost 15 years on I still feel incredibly remorseful, I have never had the slightest inclination to deliberately and systematically hurt somebody.

And I would hate to be that person.

Surely an inability to comprehend violence is a desirable state. For while I acknowledge mine is a fairly non eventful middle class anglo-esque life, I am passionate about causes and I truly desire to see change in the world. I’m prepared to march, sign petitions, have conversations, take part in causes but I do not see how violence can effect sustainable change. Maybe I’m naive but perhaps I don’t want to be anything else.

Some questions, some desires are instinctive. My instinct is for a non-violent world. And if I have to start at the beginning with a world that contains no physical violence, I would consider it a small step for man and a giant step for mankind.

11 November 2012

The joys of old friends and vegemite

There is a saying that friends come into your lifetime for a reason, a season or a lifetime and I think it is very true.  Each are important and it is possible to miss a friendship for much longer than it lasted.  However, there is something to be said for old friends, the lifetimers.  

Some people say that the benefit of a lifetime friend is that they've known you through all the ups and downs and while there is a certain truth to that, that very knowledge can limit their understanding of the person you've become.  The flip side is the joy of conversations started midway.  Every time you see them.  You haven't seen them for a while, and before you know it you are sitting in a half busy bar near your old college in your home town thrashing out the world's problems, creating perfect solutions to your own messes and pontificating like an expert on all aspects of their life and yours.

And they don't get offended by a sentence imperfectly imparted as long as the intention is good. They don't comment on your ageing or outfits because you don't notice those things after the bubble skirts and ripped jeans and big glasses of the 80s and 90s.  Quite frankly, anything you are wearing these days is a vast improvement.

But they know that there is always part of you that is going to be pleased that you finally grew boobs, and you know that they worry about turning into their mother more than most.  You look at what they have achieved and you are so very proud of them and they look at you and wonder if you're ever going to work out what you're doing with your life.  And there is a comfort in that.  

And vegemite - well thats like an old friend.  You might not have vegemite sandwiches all the time, but making them for a road trip and pulling them out of the bag all squished and consuming them two thirds of the way through the journey is immensely satisfying.  And seeing the vegemite smeared faces of your little people in the backseat.  Well that is priceless.  Just like old friends.

6 November 2012

Social climbing is not a form of exercise

In my utopian world, there would be no social climbing. Not even in really expensive shoes.

It would be safe to assume that social climbers have a latin based horticultural name that encompasses ‘an overall decorativeness cloaking viciously thorned, tenacious climbing roots’. Like ivy or wisteria, flaws can be concealed beneath a benign and attractive exterior and the damage caused by their relentless climb towards the sky can remain undetected for quite a while.

The tragedy of social climbers is that so often they have, as most people do, a fundamental sweetness about them, a broad appeal to the masses. They have ambition, a zest for life and are rarely stupid. However, they become so fixed on the climb that they become careless of those that nuture them or allow them opportunity. In the times ‘ye olden’ social climbers were often ambitious mothers with a view to improving the lot of their daughters (and the wider family) through matrimony, but the modern social climber is invariably found within the workplace.

Social climbers are cruelly careless of the ethics and expectations of others and carefully cultivate relationships with people they see as advantageous. They hoard credit and apportion blame. They tend towards one close frenemy or no known associates within their work habitat freeing them to big note themselves or patronise as appropriate and they are ruthless with anybody expressing sentiment or genuine feeling, crowing that professionalism and ambition are better bedfellows than ethics or kindness. They are destructive in that they prey on the insecurities of those around them.

In a utopian world, the social climber would be denied the environmental conditions to flourish. Individual contributions might not be measured in terms of heirarchy or power or wealth but rather through demonstrated values and a genuine commitment to doing good work and being supportive of their colleagues. Those would be the ones to move up through the ranks. Leading by example, the gentle loyalties and integrity would rate higher than the lick-arse antics of the social climber.

It’s a fundamental flaw in the modern workplace that social climbers are more often recognised by management then their quieter counterparts. It is also a flaw that those among us that lack the courage to publicly challenge the social climber are complicit in their upward journey. Our silent support of the quieter colleague should be vocal, our support should be documented and repeated. For like all injustice in the world, to say nothing is to enable it.

It is said that to walk a mile in somebody’s shoes is to better recognise their journey. In a workplace where you might treat people judged on the price of their shoes or the title on their business card it is worth remembering that there are many around you who will do the journey barefoot having lent their Christian Louboutins to somebody else.

5 November 2012

Comment rage is a real thing

I had a bit of hiatus from some of the sites, blogs, pages and so on that I regularly follow over the weekend.  And not because any of them said or did anything nor was I feeling exhausted from being constantly connected to information - but rather I had 'comment rage'.

I had started following the facebook pages of the asylum seekers on Nauru and I was sickened by the comments and abuse being hurled about by people.  For a bit of light relief, I clicked onto a story about Adele's new baby boy and I was appalled by the horrid comments about her weight and her pregnancy. I went and read some articles on a news site and couldn't believe the nastiness people were dishing out about people so spectacularly bereft by the unexpected loss of a child.

And these weren't dedicated trolls.  These were one off comments mostly by people expressing their opinion and moving on to spread their poison elsewhere.  And it genuinely distresses me that people are so nasty or so defiantly apathetic and with so little thought.  So inured in their life approach of not caring that they can smash people down with a careless comment or two and then go about their life probably not even giving the horridness another thought.  Yet they put their names and faces to it and leave it there in cyberspace to be read and reread by hundreds, thousands of others.  Casual nastiness is no less damaging or hurtful then sustained and deliberate nastiness.

By the end of Friday I was agitated - genuinely and considerably agitated - by the negativity I had absorbed through the comments sections.  And I wanted that to go.

Change begins with I.  I truly believe that. I try to maintain the rage in a proactive and useful way by talking about issues, standing up for what I believe in, not being a passive bystander when bigotry or nastiness is perpetuated but I had the weekend off.

And probably nobody noticed but I'm back, fired up and ready to try and change the world one small suburban step at a time.

2 November 2012

My Australia is not represented by the racists or the xenophobes

Some of the guys on Nauru have set up a Facebook page with their half an hour access every second day as a means of communicating with a world that they are worried might forget them and their plight.  And a bunch of racist Australian rednecks are protesting their single mother plights are more profound suffering than those seeking refuge from war and oppression.  I'm not saying it is easy - I'm saying its comparing oranges with apples.

And some of the asylum seekers are on a hunger strike as they want not to be on Nauru in tents.  They are looking for a asylum and a better life, not a freaking camping trip in the middle of nowhere.  And people are saying that they go on fasting diets where they last longer than the hunger strikers.  Again - your diet is an orange, their desperation an apple.

And now Australia is talking about annexing themselves or some such crap, which makes our current government a bigger pack of xenophobic dickheads then the Howard government.  And that's saying something.

It makes me ashamed to be Australian.

Being born Australian isn't some kind of right.  It's luck.  You could have just as easily popped out anywhere else in the world. Being born here doesn't make you more entitled, more worthy of safety than those born in countries like Afghanistan and Iraq.  It's a privilege to be born Australian.  Not a right.

It definitely doesn't make you a better person as made evident by the policies they seek to enshrine or the comments on the Facebook pages or in the media.  Those are the kind of people that mistake their good fortune for some kind of divine specialness.

We have the room, we have the resources and we have a history rich in immigration and opportunity.  People don't leave perfectly good homes and their families because they're in a great position and just fancy a freakin' sea change.  If that was the case, we'd all be paying dodgy sea merchants to ship us in the opposite direction, or we'd be breaking our visitor's visas and trying to seek asylum overseas.  Desperate people live on the edge and below the radar because they feel they have no other choice.  Not happy, shiny, smiley people living lives of deliciousness.

Lets start living as compassionate, educated and welcoming people.  Not xenophobic, racist arses.  Because those Australians do not speak for me or my family.  There is room in my Australia for those wanting to make the most out of life for both themselves and their families.  The only thing that my Australia doesn't have room for is bigotry.

(You can support a better Australia at www.welcometoaustralia.org.au)

1 November 2012

The second n in drunkenness

There are a couple of us at work that are what you would call 'good spellers', and a few of us at work that you would call 'not as good spellers who are mega competitive'.  So the challenge was on to find a word we couldn't spell and various options from websites and medical tomes were thrown at us. But the word that brought us undone was actually drunkenness.  One word out of many but oh the smug faces of the people who were not able to spell idiosyncrasy and had to look up drunkenness before hurling it at us.

Anyway, I digress.  Drunkenness.

It has two n's.  TWO.  A fact that when you see it written gives it the lurch of a drunken man and actually looks like the spelling was made up by the same drunken man hanging off the shoulder of a slightly less drunk compatriot.  When you say it, conscious of the double n scenario, you actually sound like a drunk person attempting to sound sober.

It is in fact a brilliant word.  That double N makes the word so terribly appropriate for a state that a lot of us find ourselves in on occasion but disguise with adjectives like tipsy, friendly, loud, relaxed or wankered.  When in actual fact, there is that word describing us at all stages of the inebriation process.  Who'd have thought?

I don't know if prior to this conversation whether or not I would have typed drunkenness with a double n subconsciously.  As a fast touch typist, there are many occasions where the correct spelling appears on my keyboard even as my mind starts to wonder about the spelling but now that I have verbalised it and spelt it incorrectly it becomes a conscious word.  A gloriously descriptive word.  Which almost means I'm going to have to go and have one glass too many just to roll it around in my mouth along with the 'one last glass' of chardonnay.

So basically - I'm organising Friday night drinks purely to spell.  I would not have imagined this scenario in any of my passion pop drinking days on a cold winter's night on the Watson Oval.  Not even once.  Honest.

30 October 2012

Public Festivals for Single Parents - yes please!

My husband has been in Dehli for a couple of weeks to celebrate his friend's wedding.  He's had a marvellous time seeing the fireworks to celebrate the beginning of Diwali and throwing tumeric at Amit and generally having a fab time at the wedding and pottering about the city.

People keep saying "ooh, bet you hope he's not having too good a time".  Well no.  He better be having an awesome time because he's supposed to be having fun for the both of us since funds didn't allow for us all to go.  So when he looks at something that he thinks "ooh nice" he better be saying out loud "OOOH NICE".  

But I'll be honest, I'm ready for him to come home.  I've missed him, the girls have missed him and I'm able to tell you factually and with no guilt that I am in no way equipped for being a single parent.  I've never thought it easy but having gone through a period where I have to be the good guy, the bad guy, the on it guy, the cook, the cleaner, the Dora fan, the night timer getterupperer and the going to the toilet with a child attached to both leggerer I am ready to contribute my time and funds to build a giant memorial as a permanent accolade to single parents.

And when I think that so many single parents are teenagers or young adults that haven't even had the luxury of sleeping away their 20s and early 30s and who are raising children on their own while studying or holding down a job I say round the buggers up and give them cake.  None of this slagging off in the media - there should be public festivals in their honour.

I declare November National Hug A Single Parent month.  And I encourage you to hunt them out, give them a hug, tell them they are doing a great job and give them a cupcake.  Because chances are if that I crave adult conversation and a little hip hip hoorah after two weeks, there are a lot of single parents out there who are going to appreciate you sharing a little bit of your love and energy - even if you can't be arsed with the cupcake. 

26 October 2012

All hail to Eden Riley - Goddess of the well made point

If you haven't already - rush rush rush rush rush to http://www.edenriley.com/

This woman writes beautifully, amazingly, honestly, heartbreakingly and sometimes hilariously.  She is words.

And her latest blog post, is so wonderfully eloquent - and ends with a picture that speaks a thousand words and is so refreshingly brash - I want to make sure that the few people that read my blog in its early stages understand that Eden Riley's writing is the kind of writing to which I aspire.

All hail Eden Riley and her bum. 

25 October 2012

The woman after me

I heard a throw away line on the radio today by a woman saying that if she was unlucky enough to die young, she hoped her husband stayed faithful to her memory or married a 'lesser woman'.  And it got me thinking - why would you want that?

I adore my husband.  I adore my daughters. They are the world to me.  If I was unlucky enough not to get the 102 years his grandmother has under her belt so far (or even the 86 my own grandmother achieved) I would want only the best for him and the very super best for our daughters.  And lets face it - the vows are until death do us part not until infinity and beyond. Hello - we're not Buzz Lightyear here!

I would want the woman after me to be vibrant and energetic and as madly in love with him as I am.  I would want her to be wonderful to my girls, inspire them and support them and love them.  I would want her to give him the courage to embrace life and I would want him to be the foundation for her life as he is the foundation for ours.  I would want her to be secure enough in her relationship with him that they can remember me and share stories about me with the girls so that they would know how much I loved them and what I wanted for them in life.  Which is to be kind and confident and loving. And perhaps better dancers than their daddy and me. Though we do alright in the enthusiasm stakes.

I would want for my husband and daughters the same life after me as I hope to have with them now.  One that is full of love, full of laughter, adventure, possibilities and the occasional blue caused by having four stubborn as buggery people under one roof.  I would want them to be encircled and supported by the same wonderful family and friends that we have now, along with the new friends that they will meet along the way.

Why would you want anything less for people you love?

23 October 2012

To sleep, perchance to dream

Sleep is defined as (noun) 'A condition of body and mind such as that which typically recurs for several hours every night, in which the nervous system is relatively inactive, the eyes closed, the postural muscles relaxed, and consciousness practically suspended.'

I'd like to draw your attention to the 'several hours every night'.

You can keep your 50 shades of grey, your Brad Pitt in perfume, your fetish for shoes - whatever - and know that all I think about at the moment is sleep.

I try really hard not to bitch about the lack of sleep I get having young children. I may not always be successful but I do try. Yes I am tired but my daughters are such in blessing in themselves that sleep seems a small price to pay for having such joy but oh, I really really really miss the irresponsibility of a lie in or even the defined SEVERAL HOURS every night.  

My girls have a neat set up at the moment where they take it in turns to be awake during the night or in need of cuddles and love so recently I haven't gone more than a couple of hours with consciousness suspended either practically or impractically. I appreciate that some people have babies that do this for years but I'm not sure I have it in me.

Basically - don't bother telling me anything you'd need kept secret in the event of torture or provocation. They would not need to dirty their hands. In fact they'd only have to offer me 8-10 hours of sleep in a big bed with cool pillows and a snuggly duvet and I'd tell them whatever they wanted to know if they led me to that bed.

I long for that opportunity to be woken by the morning sun and stretch out luxuriously before curling myself back into the foetal position and burrowing my head in my arm and returning to sleep.  I dream of waking up in a leisurely fashion rather than pulled brutally in the world by a crying baby or a distressed 'Mummmmmy' from my toddler.  I wish to roll out of bed slowly keeping my body aligned rather than jackknifing into an upright bolt.  

And it'd be nice to have languid conversations about the weather and the upcoming day with my husband over breakfast rather than competitive tiffs about who slept most and who was most worthy of the title 'most tired' so we could head off to work with the kudos of being 'the better parent'.  It's a valuable commodity sleep and one more precious to the two of at the moment for its scarcity. It's not quite Blood Diamond territory but my husband is more handsome than Leonardo.

To all of you in the same boat - big love and to all of you with the opportunity to sleep as you will. So jealous.  So so so soooooooooooooooo jealous.

22 October 2012

A good hearty no agenda chuckle.

I read this article by Annabel Crabb over the weekend and loved it.  I giggle every time I think about #proudtobecurious and amused myself on the train this morning thinking of moments where the hashtag is super funny (I've been up since 4am - humour and caffeine are essential for today's success).

I shared the article with an English friend of mine who spent three years living here in Australia and put in a concerted effort while here to visit all 132 of Australia's 'big things' and the smaller out of the way towns that nobody ever visits.

He replied that when he stopped in Benalla in Victoria they were going with 'Why go to Paris, when you can shop in Benalla?'.  Which is EXACTLY why he got so much enjoyment from his slightly diverse approach to travelling around Australia.  And he still hasn't figured out the answer.

I must admit that I have shared the article, and re-read it a few times because it continues to make me laugh and I am committed to going to the Home of the Meat Ant before I die. But it struck me as I re-read it this morning that one of the things I like about the article is the simple enjoyment of the daft.  And I really don't think we get many well written chuckles from newspaper columnists these days without some major agenda underpinning the joke.

And I liked it.

19 October 2012

Cancer is a bitch

This week we found out that one of our beloved friends has leukaemia.  Aged but 30 years old and not feeling particularly sick, she went to the doctor about a bruise that wasn't healing and less than a week later she's having chemotherapy and her husband's heart is breaking as he rallies to provide her with the love and support she needs.  

This is the second of my girlfriends to be diagnosed with cancer this year.  The first was diagnosed with breast cancer, gave up a boob and underwent extensive chemotherapy and radiotherapy to kill off the disease. She's now in that post poison stage where life becomes relentlessly normal while you wait and see.  She's back at work, her kids are playing up and her husband still doesn't clean the bathroom quite the way she would. Life changes.  Life doesn't.

Another friend my age has had cancer for 11 years.  He's down some lymph nodes, a rib and his Bondi lifeguard lifestyle but he has a beautiful daughter, wife and doesn't skip a beat when it comes to giving his all to life.  A couple of weeks after his last chemo round, he rowed a silly amount of kilometres as a member of a support team for an ocean swim over in WA.  Just to be helpful. Life changed.  Life did not.

And this is the bitch about cancer.  Diagnosis is a shock. Treatment is nasty. It all takes time and you are powerless to do anything useful (unless you happen to be a research scientist finding a cure RIGHT NOW).

Ultimately it's a battle they face on their own.  They will argue again with their partner about the housework, you'll moan again about your weight and the clock will keep on ticking.  You can offer the support, you can share the love, send cards, raise money but ultimately it's all peripheral.  Cancer follows no rules, shows no mercy and it takes considerable strength not to drown under the weight of the word, let alone the actuality of the disease.

As a friend, you can't share the poison, you can't magic the cancer away and and you can't fix it by writing a list. A person once told me the most tedious thing about cancer is reassuring people when all you want to do is drum your feet on the ground and scream "how the hell do I know??" and "Why me?" and "I don't like casserole so stop making them for me."

So, for this friend, no casseroles.  I'm a crap cook anyway and she lives in another country and exporting bad casseroles is surely illegal.  I'm going to be resolute about being there for her and for her husband.  I'm going to be educated so I don't just say "there, there".  I'm not going to be a better person despite all intentions but I'm going to think positive thoughts, send prayers and I'm going to be present and in touch.

For while they are small things, they are all I have to offer.  And if you happen to have discovered a cure for cancer - please let me know.  I know somebody very special that would think that news marvellous.

In the meantime.  Big love LD.  Big love.

16 October 2012

What do I know?

I was following the twitter feeds from people attending the Problogger conference over the weekend and noticed that about, ummm, ALL my favourite bloggers of the moment seemed to be attending that event. Making me mad with envy (well apart from the bit where I attended my beautiful friend's wedding and watched her declare her love for happily ever after).

And I noticed that time and time again people were talking about their blogs needing to have a purpose and that we should always talk about what we know.

Which I find kind of interesting.  Because I think I blog because I don't know.  Really.  I don't think I know much about anything.  I sure don't have the answers.  I find the act of blogging gives me the opportunity to explore my thoughts on a subject, lay them out, cleanse the spirit as it were.  It gives me a chance to find out if I have words to express my feelings on a subject, ask questions on a topic or generally 'rant'.

But do I have answers?  Do I know?  I don't think any more than most.  One of the things I've been a lot better at in recent months is acknowledging that the things I am good at are not things I should apologise for just because other people aren't good at the same things.  But do I know why?  No.  Can I hypothesise?  You betcha!  What's my pop psychology like?  Second to none!

I mean I don't know why heaps of bloggers take photos of their feet for perspective in their illustrative shots. I don't know why people can justify trolling as art.  I don't know why people find the act of volunteering to be so difficult.  I don't know why people can't use deodorant before getting on public transport. I don't know why people are obsessed with the Kardashians.  I sure as hell don't know why people are so vile to each other.  I don't know why Madonna's Hanky Panky doesn't make it on her Best Of Album.  And I really am unsure where I was the day the music died. (That last one I don't know because I have never bothered to google when it was supposed to be so I could take an educated guess).

Anyway, perhaps next year I'll go and schmooze with other bloggers and try and act really cool when I meet the ones who I admire.  Which gives me 12 months to work out what the fuck I know.


11 October 2012

Parental fallibility - where were you when you noticed?

I was talking with a friend today about when we realised our parents could be wrong.  It's a fairly pivotal moment when your entire life to that point has been steered by their moral compass, their world views and their preferences.  And then, with a small sigh of a tear, there is a chink in the completeness of that world and before too many years go past, that tear will move from being barely noticeably to a schism the size of the grand canyon.

And its part of growing up, learning to negotiate that rent in your relationship. First you question that thing you notice, then you question so much more.  You firm up your own views and create the black and white universe of your adolescence where everybody else seems so sure of themselves that you yourself adopt absolutes to try and navigate your way through without drowning.

And the world gets more grey as you move into your twenties and beyond and all being well, you can look back with increased self awareness and laugh at your earnest 'right' self and understand that there was so much more for you to learn, but you hadn't quite fathomed that the learning didn't stop with graduation.  

Your colleagues, new friends, lovers and the world at large present you with more options and because your world is bigger and wider and brighter and more brightly coloured, the chances of your parents being wrong increase. And along that journey, you have that second revelation that your parents are people.  And fallible. And in fact, they even have names that aren't Mum and Dad.  

And hopefully, if you've any self respect, you accept responsibility for the person you've become and are thankful for the things they were right about and recognise that they too once had a moment where they realised that their parents were not always right.

In fact, because they are people just like you, they are still travelling through a world of black and white and grey and the glorious kaleidoscope of colour that is experience.  And there is something quite powerful and reassuring in that shared reality. 

And while it wasn't the first thing - I just want to have it on record that the bubbleskirt did come back in and it would not have been a waste of money. 

9 October 2012

My love affair with social media

Today has been a fascinating day to be on twitter.  I appreciate that some of the success of twitter lies in who you follow, when you're looking at it and the events of the day in question but wow! What a day!

The election of the new speaker, the resignation of the old speaker, Julia's double pow pow to Abbott, Stella Young's brilliant observations on what constitutes a valid life, Father Bob's biting retorts invoking Hitler as the original architect of genetic selection, some passionate support of the Destroy the Joint campaign - it was a wonder I got any work done.  And then laced through it - David Campbell's bumhole hashtag providing some light relief and a little bit about Legally Blonde - The Musical.

And this is what is great about social media.  The ability to engage with people that challenge your thinking, articulate your point of view better than you can, re-evaluate your opinions, contribute to public debate or give you an evil chuckle.

It is invigorating.  It is maddening. It is addictive.  I love that it connects me with issues I am passionate about and educates me about things I would like to know more about and occasionally bores me rigid.  In the midst of all the really fascinating things going on today I 'unfollowed' somebody who I believe has a profile and an intellect high enough to talk about more than her swimsuits.

It makes me laugh, it pisses me off, it perplexes me.  It has introduced me to some fascinating writers and worlds.  It's awesome, awesome, awesome.  And occasionally tiring.  It definitely keeps me occupied when my daughter's need feeding in the early hours of the morning!

If I was actually speaking this rather than typing, my words would be tumbling over each other - with my voice going up and down and my hands waving all over the place.  I'd be bouncing slightly on the balls of my feet and you'd be looking at me oddly.  But I find it strangely intoxicating to have been privy to such a variety of passions, interests and opinions.

And only 20 years ago I was wondering whether or not I needed a mobile or an email address.  I absolutely adore progress!

8 October 2012

Designer hoohars

I just saw an article entitled 'Rise of the designer vagina'.

I can't even keep up with designer fashion or shoes or haircuts.

And now there are designer vaginas.


On this occasion I'm going to run with ignorance is bliss.  I know what vajazzling is - surely that's enough?

Sorry should be an act of free will

Genetically I am programmed to never utter the word 'sorry'. I come from a long line of people who preferred to take their chances with deportation to the colonies rather than say it out loud.  Our family approach was of the defiant celtic model because forming the word 'sorry' in their mouths would have caused my forebears to choke and die.

Consequently, in many circles it is generally acknowledged that actions speak louder than words, so it's better to demonstrate you are sorry by ignoring the problem and just being really lovely. And as a system it works because it's molecular.

However, it is a fact that a genuine 'sorry' starts a conversation.  It doesn't end it.  It's not weak.  It takes guts to say it. It acknowledges that you have the strength of character to admit that you got it wrong. 

Which is why I don't understand why people can't say sorry without adding 'but'. If there is a'but', there should never have been a 'sorry'.

You don't need to apologise for things that aren't your fault.  You can apologise for the tone you used if the words are something you're quite pleased you said.  You can apologise for being an arse without pointing out the other person was one as well. 

And with that - sometimes you have to accept that people don't want to apologise.  Or that no matter how much they apologise you're never going to believe them.  So why badger them for it?  It's going to lack meaning - like when you were young and you were sent to your room until you were sorry.  Well of course you were going to say it eventually because there is only so much fun to be had locked in your room (this was in the days before everybody had full computer and home entertainment systems in their rooms ok!?)

It's the same when you're an adult.  If apologising is the only way to get people to leave you alone, you'll say it. But the word 'sorry' should be offered as an act of free will.  Which is why when I read the news at the moment - from Alan Jones, to Mitt Romney, to Nicki Minaj, to Assange - I say leave it.  If they mean it, they'll say it, if they don't, they won't.

5 October 2012

Even if it means donkey love, I want it.

I'm going to go out on a limb here and say that I don't give a monkey's what Tony Abbott watches on TV.  I don't care who cuts Julia's hair.  I can't name the current Green's leader (whoops). I think Bob Katter is a douchebag but his hat doesn't impact me at all.

And why?  Because I'm looking for leadership not celebrity.  Genuine, aspirational, passionate leadership.  I want a political party and leader who has a vision, can articulate the vision and drive the vision.  People don't always need to be right, mistakes can be made, but I'm sick to death of the naysaying of Australian politics.

People are not going to vote for Tony Abbott because his wife likes him. She will.  And good on her - loyalty is lovely. He needs to be getting out there and having an opinion, providing leadership and a contrary vision to the one Labour provides.  His current approach of just being a negative nelly is boring.  He needs (sorry Tony) to pay attention to Mr Turnbull.  Like him, or love him, his is a well articulated opinion.

And Julia needs to stop expecting to be stabbed in the back like Kevin and get on with it.  At election time, people will respond to results and to evidence that representative democracy works. Representative - not the views of the MPs - but those of their electorates.  As our first female PM, she could be so much more and we'd let her be because we need someone to jolt us out of our apathy and get us caring again.

I want a vision for Australia that doesn't use minorities such as our refugee as pawns.  I want equality for all people even if it's a slippery slope to donkey love.  I want the strength of our dollar to continue.  I want good education for my children.  Opportunities for my friends.  An aged care system that will support my parents.  I want us to be the lucky country because our policies are based on fact not fear.

No wonder the new black market in christmas hams got such a long article today.  If the only other news on offer is that Margie likes her husband, we are officially screwed.

4 October 2012

Is she really going out with him?

Late one Friday night in London in 2006, after a boozy night out with my beautiful man, we came home and turned on the TV and ended up watching the UK's inaugural version of Beauty and The Geek.  And for the next few weeks we were thankful for the 11pm closing time in London's pubs because we became complete addicts.  

It was car crash tv.  But sweet.  Inexplicably sweet.

And so in 2012, we are sitting down channel surfing and there is the latest Australian version.  And still strangely inexplicably sweet.  

The flip side of course is as the average joe on the couch, there is a touch of the patronising in the way we end up looking at both groups.  We are pleased we know what gibberish means and what town planning involves and we also know that we would never in a million years go on the show.  

And its all a little bit staged and cringeworthy and a little bit sad.  But here I am sitting through the entire first episode.  And I can almost bet money that I'll be watching the finale even if I miss all the ones in between.  Just to see who wins.  And it makes no sense to me - I'm loftier than this, more idealistic than this, busier than this! 

(And my beautiful man is wondering whether or not he should get a fake tan or wax his nipples.  So we know who he's identifying with this evening.  Ha ha)

Oh reality TV - you are the downfall of civilisation.


3 October 2012

A day full of gheegle

I recently became acquainted with the word 'gheegle' which is a Filipino word which means "The irresistible urge to pinch or squeeze something that is unbearably cute".  It's a brilliant word and its a pity that English doesn't offer up something equally as descriptive. But that's the funny thing about English.

Anyway, I digress.

Today the sun was shining with a fervour that spoke more of summer than spring and my girls and I encountered nothing but lovely people everywhere we went.  And every other moment one or other of my girls would do something, or give me a look, or a laugh that made me want to gheegle gheegle gheegle.

Sometimes my love for my daughters is such a physical thing I want to shout it from the rooftops, hug them, kiss them, squeeze them and capture every moment on camera because I have a terrible memory and I would hate to forget a moment of their awesomeness.

My heart lurches.  My breathing becomes more rapid. Like with rage I just want to stand and yell. But I want to yell 'Look world, look at my beautiful daughters'.  And while others will see gappy toothed, smiling, mucus monsters I just see two bundles of wonderful.

Now one is slumbering and the other is protesting sleep with the passion that only the very young can and I am content with my world and the little unit of love that is my family.

Gheegle. Gheegle. Gheegle.

2 October 2012

In defence of Abbott

I never ever thought I'd be saying this and please nobody think it changes my overall view - but I think we need to give Tony Abbott a break.

Yes it was a Young Liberals event and yes Tony Abbott is a Liberal and yes, mostly he perpetuates the xenophobic and small minded policies so revered by John Bloody Howard BUT he didn't make the comments and he didn't endorse the comments. In fact he condemned the comments and was supportive of Julia Gillard.  Sure he might have only said as much as he needed to say but that's fine - he wasn't the one who was nasty.

I would go so far as to say he behaved decently and sympathetically on this occasion.  Which of course means now that I know he's capable of it, I'll judge him all the more harshly when he acts otherwise.

Alan Jones is the only person responsible for those comments even if the event did themselves no favours by inviting such a contrarian to have an open session on the microphone.

So lets end the blame game and stop giving him air time.  Now that would really piss him off.

1 October 2012

We know he's a tosser

We all know Alan Jones is a tosser - its just been a matter of degree depending on where you sit on the whole left to right political spectrum.  His comments were out of line, in a long line of out of line comments.  I'll tell you what has had me flabbergasted in this latest round of media coverage which I had missed before - he has OVER 30 GODCHILDREN!!!

That means there are over 30 children who have had their spiritual upbringing entrusted to Alan Jones.  He is supposed to help guide them in their faith and assist in the development of their values, their morals and their ethics.

And that's what has me flabbergasted.

The man has no moral compass, no obvious ethics and worships as far as I can tell at the altar of his own arse.  Yet over 30 people have thought - hey - Alan Jones would make a great godfather.

What the fuck?  I mean seriously - what the fuck?

Who are these people so deluded? Were they drunk?  Forced against their will?  Do they hate their children?  Why?  Why? Why?

And breathe.

28 September 2012

The thing about death is....

it's permanent.

There is no coming back from it.  And it's an inevitable conclusion to life.  And yet, we are so woefully unprepared for it.  Not our own.  In so many ways, it's easier to accept it for oneself.  But for our family and friends it is something we wish we could change.  And it's a visceral and selfish desire because ultimately it is our life which is affected most profoundly by the loss of another.

The outpouring of sympathy for Jill Meagher's husband and family comes from the realisation that what happened to Jill was so random, that it could have happened to any of us.  And while our sympathy, thoughts and prayers are real, there is always an element of relief that it is not us.  Because how many of us have had no clue how we got home after a big night out, have refused lifts because the fresh air would do us good or have encountered dickheads along the way who might have given us a hard time but have passed on by?

A work colleague has been diagnosed with a terminal illness and we endeavour to wrap our minds around how one of the stalwarts of the company is no longer going to be around.  How do we we move from after work drinks, dinner parties and water cooler conversations to a silence that is irreversible?

Whether its sudden or drawn out, death creates an absence in our lives which we have to resolve - Find a new confidante, a new friend, a substitute mother, a mentor or hero.  Whether our relationship with the person was positive or plagued with difficulties, they generally help shape us, our world views and the person we become and sometimes, when they are no longer there - we wonder who we will be.  What might have been different if we'd had a bigger conversation or indeed a different conversation altogether?

And we miss them. And that doesn't change.  Not even with hallmark sentiments like 'to live in the hearts of those you leave behind is not to die'.  Because the physicality of death can never be eradicated by the fluidity and frailty of memory.

So, trite as it may seem, we should embrace life with both hands and our friends and family too. So that when the party is over there are no unfinished conversations and you can be remembered for who you are - with no whitewashing you into some kind of sainted creature with no flip side.

Because for myself, I do not want to be remembered in glowing cliches but as myself*.  Permanently.

*Awesome, self aware and occasionally (like once or twice only) - wrong.

24 September 2012

Not so sweet on confectionery

Am I just ageing in some cantankerous manner or are the sweets of 2012 not a patch on the lollies we ate back in the 80s?

Obviously lollies were a huge treat but when you got them they dripped with flavour and texture.  These days they nearly all just taste execrably sweet and are no more distinctive than the paint colour white is from the paint colour bridal.

I loved the milk bottles, pineapples and strawberry creams and would hunt them out of a party bowl the way Lindsay Lohan hunts out a PR disaster.  The jawbreaker gum was so flavour intense it used to give me a headache even before I almost broke my jaw crunching down on the exterior.

I was given a small pack of jellybeans today which is what has started me on this rant.  Full of original flavour the packet boasts.  Original flavour of what?  They all taste exactly the same - aspartme flavoured insipidity.


20 September 2012

The comfort of pinstripes

I had reason to see a neurologist yesterday.  Nothing overtly serious - just a case of suspected carpal tunnel, which though uncomfortable is hardly life threatening.  However, given my experience with the medical profession over the last few years, I got really nervous about going to see him.

And I turned up to the trendy St Leonard's address, he had a small old fashioned office with an incredibly gregarious and helpful secretary.  Who bless her, was using shorthand.

When I met him he was a courteous, elderly gent dressed impeccably in a pinstriped suit, with a crisp shirt, polished shoes and a big fat signet ring.  Pictures of his grandchildren dotted the walls behind his formulaic 1980s office desk.

And I was instantly at ease.  He had the old school manners and gentle disposition to go with his attire and he was thorough and impersonal in his examination, yet warm and approachable in his conversation.

I asked questions and he answered them patiently, even going so far as to volunteer information about what happens next and what the options would be.

And then his secretary took my payment, arranged appointments with various people and gave me my referrals and sent me on my merry way.

And it struck me on my merry way that its a tragedy that I should be surprised by good customer service from the medical profession.  That I had inherently expected a negative experience.  And yet, when I mentioned it to a friend she suggested that my expectation of a negative medical experience was by no means unique.

And that is a sorry situation.  Because the vast majority of the medical profession do such amazing things and work incredibly hard.  And as happens in far too many areas, the few continue to ruin the reputation of many.

But if anybody asks - I'm definitely advocating a return to the days when doctors and specialists wore pinstripes.  There is something incredibly comforting about them. Who knew?

11 September 2012

Three books in a row

As I am unpacking this afternoon I have just amused myself beyond measure by placing Elisabeth Gilbert's Eat, Pray, Love between Mark Dapin's Fridge Magnets are Bastards and Charlie Brooker's The Hell of It All on the bookshelf.

I hated Eat, Pray, Love.  I found it whiny and soul destroying.  I will never get back the time it took me to read it and I resent Ms Gilbert for that.  However, it was a gift and I love the gift giver very much so I have kept it through recent book purges.  

Mark Dapin and Charlie Brooker are the kind of thinkers and writers that I love.  They get you thinking, they get you opining and they are cranky buggers in a world of white teeth and cloying positivity.  Which I am all for - but it is equally lovely to have dissent without ideology or the burden of principle to take away from it.  

And since I am unlikely to ever meet Mr Dapin or Mr Brooker, I must content myself with placing them either side of Ms Gilbert on the bookshelf and chortling away to myself as I continue to unpack and imagine the kinds of conversations those three books will be having in that alternative universe where books talk to each other.

After the breeding years - drink with caution

This is a brief cautionary and factual tale of derring-do.

So off I go to a wedding which is attended by my parents and various members of my extended family - all of whom are grown ups in the proper sense.  And we celebrate the happy couple's marriage in a truly joyful way and then progress to the golf club to toast their happiness and take part in a conga line.  And there is laughter and wine and dancing and all is fabulous until home time when I realise I'm rather drunk and have to be helped to the car by somebody who thinks you drink too much if you have a wine with dinner.  Oh dear.

It turns out (with the benefit of hindsight obviously) that one vegemite sandwich, one honey sandwich, two cheese sticks and a muesli bar were not sufficiently filling as my entire day's food intake before drinking liberal amounts of chardonnay. Especially after the 'breeding years' where my alcohol intake has been dictated by pregnancy, breastfeeding and small people.  I was distinctly out of practice.

I think it fair to say that if one is going to launch oneself back into the world of wedding drinking one should not choose a night where your husband is dead sober and your parents are witness to it all.

Though it was a great wedding and my husband can see the funny side of of it. Now.

And if it's any consolation - on Sunday I felt as well as I deserved to feel.  Which is to say death would have been preferable for most of the morning.

I'd like to say lesson learned but I'm unsure that would be entirely true. Truth.