24 September 2013

Not all adults are created equal

When I first moved out of home, I had to ring a friend to get the low down on how you could tell a potato was boiled.  The sweet simple genius of that discovery meant that potatoes became my favourite food for the next couple of decades.

And I never really learn to cook anything apart from potatoes and my mother's macaroni cheese recipe since. Sure I can put meals together but once I crack a recipe I pretty much stick to it forever.

And ever.

When we moved into our current place, my dad suggested it had enough space up the back to put in a small veggie garden.

It's like he had never met me.

I've always thought that one day I would stop buying vegetables that only suffered a long and lonely death in the vegetable tray of my fridge because I never quite found the time to slice them, dice them, julienne them, carve them into swan shapes and stuff them up exotic birds and serve to fabulous dinner guests with big linen napkins who truly believe that calling it gazpacho makes cold soup palatable.

Eggplant Penguins

You know?  I really thought one day I'd be a grown up.

Take meat.  I'm 38 and I accidentally poached chicken the other day for the very first time.  And I mean accidentally - I was just throwing wine and herbs into the pan to add some flavour to the chicken and because I threw in too much wine all of a sudden the chicken cooked differently.  So I consulted my baby sister and she confirmed I was practically 'Masterchef'.

I know. My poor family.

And then recently - I just bought some pre-chopped vegetables in a container, threw them in the microwave, steamed them according to the instructions on the packet and VOILA - posh veggie mix to go with the sausages.  Full beef, not poached if you must know.

In a moment of clarity I have realised this is the way forward.  If I just give up pretending it is ever going to be any different, that my version of adult might not include a culinary flair - I save a fortune in food that doesn't get eaten and I get to eat food I like.  Quickly.  With minimum effort. And I can wear non-linen napkins to boot.

Lots of steamed vegetable loveliness.  With packet gravy.


PS: Even better - when you google you can find evidence to support YOUR point of view.  Though there might be something in Dad's backyard veggie garden. Dammit.

23 September 2013

Sofia's dress = World Peace

There are times when you want to be the better person.

And there are other times when you want to check out the acceptance speech of Merrit Wever and see what exactly Sofia Vergara wore to the Emmys.

Just in case you're wondering
And both are okay.  It is really hard to stay tuned to the atrocities unfolding in Nairobi, especially when the death toll keeps rising and you don't fully understand why the fuck more people are dying in malls.


I come from a long line of grudge holders.  Olympic level. They don't forgive. They don't forget. Religion has been part of it. Personalities. Misunderstandings.  In fact, if we traced back some opinions and 'facts' I'm pretty sure we'd reach a point where official recordings didn't exist and yet it still continues.

So I get that things carry on.

And on.

But what is it lately that means our news feeds are constantly being populated with the death of innocents?  Mass shootings. Violence. Fear. Pain. Death. Ugliness.

I find it heartbreaking that for some, going to the mall is never going to be an act of mindlessness. That going to the mall will never again be as simple as finding a similar dress to the one that 'Sofia' wore to the Emmy's in 2013.

Shopping should just be.  Movies should be.  School should be.  Touristing should be. Working should be.  Life should 'just be'.

A grudge should be nothing more than crankiness and a dislike of a relative who you think may possibly have worn purple on the wrong day in June in 1645.

And yet, generation after generation is begetting an ugliness, a vacuum, a void into which people seek validation in violence and bloodshed.  In which religion is used as a weapon and differences are used to justify evil.

No culture is immune.  No religion is immune. No country is immune. Bigotry, hate, small mindedness are all traits of successful politicians right across the globe.  Politicians represent the mood of a country.

It's obvious that a lot of countries needs to spend some time in 'time out'. Until they are ready to play nicely.

Why? Why are we not voting in people who are kind? Who are thoughtful?  Who are innately positive?

 People who get how awesome Sofia's dress is?

People who understand that society should function in such a way that the only thing that matters to all of us, regardless of culture, gender, sexuality, religion or race, is Sofia's dress.

And that if you don't like it. It doesn't matter.  Because it's just a dress.

And what really mattered is that we were able to disagree on it without anybody getting hurt.

20 September 2013

It's the toddler's fault. YES!

My perfect children
My girls are learning to swim.  This means every Friday for half an hour, I keep an eye on the smaller one while watching the older one splash about in a lane learning to put her face in the water and wave her arms and kick and stuff.  And keep her mouth closed under the water.  I think I'm supposed to be watching for her in case she does something daft and tries to drown but the only time she did that I was talking to one of the other mothers and missed the whole five second catastrophe.

Then for another half an hour, I bounce around with the smaller one in a wee drenched pool with a bunch of other babies and parents singing nursery rhymes and encouraging her to put her head under the water and head for the wall.  She's gaining in confidence but she lacks any serious commitment to floating or life preservation so we have a way to go.

Anyway, while overlooking the learning of these important life skills, I was chatting to another mum today who looked buggered.  I asked if she was okay and she said she was very tired, that it had been a rough couple of days and then she said the best thing ever.

"Yesterday I yelled at my daughter to stop acting in a way that was stopping me being the mother I dreamt of being before I had kids."

I laughed delightedly.  She looked at me in an abashed manner and said "I'm dreadful, I know, but I was so tired and she was being so disagreeable".

GOD NO LADY - you're perfect just the way you are.  You summed it up in one beautiful sentence to a four year old with absolutely no comprehension of how their individuality seriously impacts your desire to be a bloody perfect mother.

I normally blame myself for being tired, emotional or lacking understanding of their developing selves.

But this lady was DEAD RIGHT.  My darling daughters quite often don't understand when I say things like "Would you like to pick up that doll you just dropped and put it away" I mean "PUT THE STUPID DOLL AWAY RIGHT NOW"

And they reply to my question "No, thank you".  Which is TOTALLY fair.  They've answered the question I asked.  And honestly.  Getting cross with them is unreasonable of me UNTIL I REMEMBER THAT THEY SHOULD JUST BLOODY KNOW WHAT IS IN MY HEAD, and answer the question I meant.

That's how parents operate.

That's how adults operate.

So when they reply to the things we ask, or the mood we are in, it's not our fault. We have the best of intentions and its them being all HONEST TODDLER on our butts that makes us react in a manner incommensurate with our pre-baby parenting plans.

And I can tell you - life looks so much better now that I know my imperfect parenting moments are not my fault.

Props tired lady at swimming. Props

18 September 2013

Big love and blogging

What did I take away from my first ever Problogger event last week?


Not mine. Not yet.

But I really noted that ALL of the bloggers that were taking their blogs and running off into the sunset, had the confidence to keep pushing through with what they wanted to do, even if it wasn't always to the liking of others.

Pip Lincolne said "Lots of people love what I do, others don't. Get fucked. The end"

Trey Ratcliff said "Fight hate with awesome"

They're both right.  And they are marvellous presenters. But nobody starts there.  Though how I would love to have started there.  Imagine!

Currently, I'm just allowing myself little flutters of 'Pip and Trey'.  Because they are right. 

I'm getting there - but it's not the blogging necessarily. It's the therapy. It's being loved. But the blogging definitely allows me to explore topics that I am interested in and throw my thoughts out for others to respond to however they will.

Some say "Howdy do"

Lots say nothing at all.

But I really do enjoy writing.  As a 'personal blogger' it can be hard to work out what constitutes interesting to potential readers. And there is a school of thought that says write anyway.  But I would suggest that very few writers write just for writing's sake.  Like all things that we do in life, we hope we are resonating, sounding bells, connecting, impacting. 

Clare Bowditch who apart from singing, acting and generally being very funny, runs a business called 'big hearted business' (which encourages you to do what you love, make money and save the world) talked about creating "a chunky online community that cares".

And that resonated with me, because online, just as in real life, we should be surrounding ourselves with people who are positive, are thoughtful, who are creative and who, most importantly, are kind.

Because we are ultimately, the sum of all the people and all the ideas, with which we surround ourselves. 

And that is probably why those bloggers whose confidence I so admired, are successful.  They are passionate about what they do, they were happy sharing the knowledge they had accumulated, they were looking for things to learn themselves and quite interestingly, not one of them was a tosser.

Seems the good guys don't always come last.


16 September 2013

This government is fine for me, but not for Australia

For starters people - HE IS NOT THE PRIME MINISTER ELECT.  We're not freaking America.  We've elected a Coalition Government - not just Abbott.

Though seriously - I am genuinely bewildered by the fact that Australian's made the vote into a personality contest and not something based on policies - because unless you're already stupidly rich, you don't benefit from any of their 'possible policies'.

Mind you, if like me - you're a city based, married, middle class, thirties something, white skinned, heterosexual - you won't be worse off.  But if you're not white, not living in the city, not straight, not middle aged, not employed or you're the environment - quite simply, the signs say you're about to be genuinely screwed by the government you just voted in for the next three years.

And I remain somewhat taken aback by this our collective regression into conservative, fear based, aspirational, forelock tugging Australians.  When did we stop sticking our finger up at authority? When did we stop sticking it to the man?  When did we start being so full of 'our rights' and so little about 'our responsibilities'?  When did we start to feel that we should vote in a government that will benefit each and every single one of us rather than make Australia a better place across the board?

Quite frankly -when did we become such self centred wankers?

I'm being honest when I say that the new government isn't going to impact me or mine particularly personally. But I see in the new ministry, I see in the proposed policies, an Australia which isn't particularly 'lucky'.  And that saddens me.

13 September 2013

New York vs Paris

I went to Paris once.  Ready to experience all that Paris was supposed to offer.  I’d seen the movies.  I had read the books.  I’d spoken to people that had been there. I’d met French people I liked who loved their capital city. I’d studied its history. I’d engaged with Francophiles and I knew I didn’t have to eat snails.  All of them – the story tellers, the movie makers, the friends, the Francophiles told me I’d love Paris.

They lied.

It smelled of urine.  Lots and lots of urine.  The city of love smelt like an underpass in a not so affluent London suburb.  The people were rude. The sights were closed. The Eiffel tower so less impressive from the inside and I hadn't budgeted for Moulin Rouge. 

Paris was not what I had gone to see.  I’d loved Paris before I went there. Passionately.  I’d been seduced by her long before I met her.

I didn’t like her.  Like so many blind dates – we didn’t gel.  We had no future.  

And so I have not been to New York. 

I’ve experienced New York so many times.  King Kong, Big, Tootsie, The Squid and the whale, When harry met sally, Fame, The Godfather, West Side Story, Breakfast at Tiffany’s, American Psycho, Goodfellas, All That Jazz, Hannah and Her Sisters, Annie Hall, and Saturday Night Fever.  

My husband has been and loved it.

It’s a resilient city.  It houses a number of amazing people – strong, focussed, and inspirational.  It’s been the background to a number of historical and modern imperatives that have changed the way life ‘as we know it’ works. 

It’s the background to Zoolander.

I love New York.  I want to tramp the pavements. Count the blocks. Eat, drink, sleep, dream it.  I might even pretend to like coffee just to drink coffee in New York.  I definitely imagine that New York would transform my sartorial self into something glamorous, elegant, and appropriate.

My New York is wonderful. Sublime.

So guess what?

I might never go no matter how awesome it sounds.  . 
"Annie Hall quote - Alvy Singer: Don't you see the rest of the country looks upon New York like we're left-wing, communist, Jewish, homosexual pornographers? I think of us that way sometimes and I live here."
 I love New York.  I loved Paris.  And so New York wins.  Because the reality is never as good as the dream.

** In the interests of full disclosure and all that jazz... This post is written in response to a competitive challenge issued on the eve of the Problogger conference 2013.  

12 September 2013

The end of the world. Or not.

I am going to tell you something that is not a secret.

I work in social media.  It's my job. It's also something I do for fun in my spare time. And I also freelance in the communications space. In fact, I even deliver training to people about how to utilise social media to engage with their customers.

Here's the thing - I use social media all the time.

I think it's marvellous.  Like genuinely, fabulous.  All this amazing potential to connect with other parts of the world, learn new things, support causes, have conversations with people you've never met, share photos with family and friends on the other side of the world, promote businesses, find a video on how to change the washer in a tap or dress appropriately for a rockabilly party. I've met some really interesting people on social media and also some complete knobs.

Not too long ago, I met a chair bound 95 year old who was learning to use Twitter because all the cool kids were doing it.  And she might be 95 years old but that didn't mean she wasn't a cool kid. Or interested in learning new things.  I liked her attitude.

So there is absolutely no point in telling me constantly how you think Facebook is terrible, or for young people, or that you think the end of the world is imminent as a result of social media. Because quite frankly my dears, I don't give a damn.  You'll come round to it.  You're just what Roger's Innovation Curve identifies as 'a laggard'.

People felt that way about the motor car.

And sliced bread.

And rock and roll.

And the mobile phone.

And Vatican II.

And Justin Bieber.

They were all wrong.  Though the Pope should definitely get in touch with Justin Bieber.  That boy has a LOT of followers on Twitter.  As irritating as he is, he's doing something right.

I'm heading off to a ProBlogger conference this weekend because there is always learning to be done in the social media space. And people to be met.  And things to be shared.  And things to be excited about. And it's great to do that face to face as well as via social media.  I hope to meet some really interesting people and not too many knobs. Just like in real life.


11 September 2013

Postcard from an enthusiastic tourist

My dad is the ultimate tourist.  When he goes places, he likes to see the things along the way as well as the thing he is going to see.  He researches the places, takes photos and is guaranteed to find an abundance of random facts about his destination with which to gleefully regale you both during planning and when sharing the photos.

He even does a splendid 'uninteresting tour of Canberra' for people.  It's probably the funniest and most interesting 'uninteresting tour' you'll ever go on.  Because that man really knows some obscure facts about obscure buildings on obscure roads.  If any of his six offspring know a random fact about a place we don't even recall going, it's a pretty fair bet we have retained it from one of Dad's journeys.

Thing is - I'm an enthusiastic tourist too.  I like going to places I have not gone just so I can say that I've been there. And when I go there, I like to visit all the things there are to visit.  If I have to go somewhere I didn't know I was going to go, I still like to find time to check out the sights.  I particularly like the big histories of small places and knowing about the people behind the stories.

I've married a man who can go to a place, have a coffee there and be perfectly content with his 'discovery'.  I have friends like that too.  The advantage to being uncool is I can be unashamedly enthusiastic about everything.  Everything.

We're on the first of our family holidays that is just the four of us.  We drove from Sydney to Tenterfield and spent the morning wandering around Tenterfield - the birthplace of Federation. We had breakfast in the courtyard of the building where the famous speech was made.  Luckily there were toys.

 It's also the birthplace of Peter Allen and his infamous song 'The Tenterfield Saddler' about his grandfather.  So we went to the saddlery and it was closed for renovations.  But that didn't stop me.  I pressed my face to the glass and still found things to photograph.  

Feet! At the Tenterfield Saddler
Tenterfield Saddler beer
Through the window - over a saddle
And then, I discovered that Tenterfield is home to what is believed to be the world's BIGGEST cork tree. Exactly!  Do I know what a cork tree is? No.  But do I love visiting the biggest one - yes!  

I knew I shouldn't have showed Mama the map
Off we wandered.  First we found cows.

We may be city folk but we recognise cows
Then we checked out the cork tree.  Was appalled at the misuse of an apostrophe in the tourist sign. Channelled our inner cork trees.  
Apostrophe misuse

Pretending to be cork trees
Nick was finding my enthusiasm for Tenterfield slightly disconcerting - so he went incognito.

When my baby smiles at me I go to... 
Got back to the cow and checked with the girls what was their favourite thing in Tenterfield.  Answer: The cows.  Sorry Tenterfield - I'll bring them back when they are teenagers and make sure they fully appreciate the cork tree, the saddlery and the birth of federation.  

And then we drove to Kingaroy in Queensland, where we are staying at a farm with Old Pete, Josephine, Chicken Nuggets and Gravy.  And that's just the kangaroos.  My cousin and his family also live at the farm which the Tullinator finds hilarious - "That's silly Mummy".  Turns despite countless renditions of "Old Macdonald had a farm" in the last three years we failed to help her understand that these animals weren't living alone but actually shared the farm with Old Mac and his family.  Kids are seriously odd.   

Anyway - I digress. Kingaroy's blurb promises People, Power and Peanuts so we pootled into the Kingaroy Peanut Musuem where we hunted peanuts, and read up on the history of Kingaroy and looked at these giant peanut harvesters invented and built in Kingaroy originally but are now the basis of all the best peanut harvesting gigs in the world.  Or something.

Peanuts all three
An old computer. Nothing to do with peanuts

VIP stood for Very Important Peanuts

A lot of nuts
Last but by no means least, we discovered that peanuts grow in the ground.

Seriously - who knew?  Not me. 

It's the holiday that just keeps giving.  And we're only a couple of days into it. One thing for people coming to Kingaroy though that none of the literature mentions - this place has a dearth of shoe stores.  For if by accident you forgot a pair of shoes and you needed some that might appeal to somebody not at school or in retirement - you're going have to suck it up until you get somewhere else.  

And one more thing - Kingaroy does NOT have a penis museum.  No matter what the toddler says.

You're welcome Kingaroy Tourism. 

6 September 2013

I can never look at them enough. Never.

I spend a lot of time looking at my daughters.  

It's never enough time.

I love the smattering of freckles on one nose. The birthmark on an ankle. The cross face. The fragility of a neck in pigtails. The pigeon toes. The scuffed knees. The sleeping cheek.  So many small things that are wondrous. And fleeting.  My daughters don't even keep still in their sleep so the vast number of their expressions are brief glimpses into fierce, busy minds - glimpsed and gone before I can imprint them permanently into my chaotic memory.

It's agreed by most that the elder is the spitting image of me, and the younger of her Daddy.  I see it in their eyes - both are big eyed but in different ways which are definitely attributable to two sets of genetic inputs.  Their faces are very similar otherwise though - just in different sizes.  Both are very beautiful and I will never tire of kissing them, holding their little bodies in my arms, willing them to understand how much they are, and always will be, loved.  More than anything - I never ever want them to doubt that. 

Perhaps the elder is similar to me, but my view of my own face is not favourable and I think it unlikely that I will ever see the flaws in her face that I see in my own.  To see your own face reflected in another is the gift of the confident and secure and I know that what I seek to see in my daughters' faces is a self confidence that has always eluded me. 

I look at their chubby cheeked faces, smeared with snot, chalk and dirt and there isn't a jot of self consciousness - they are completely absorbed in what they are doing, not how they are looking or how they are perceived by others. 

So when it comes to nature versus nurture, I'm behind nature.  I don't believe anybody can claim responsibility for the wonder of a small child, the development of distinct personalities and small passions writ large on backyards. I want them to grow into the people they want to be, not the people I wanted to be.  And nature has done such an awesome job with them so far, I see no reason to intervene. 

Unless they don't grow out of this public nudity phase.  That could get SO awkward come school time.

Morally reprehensible but strangely normal.

Do you know what is perplexing me a bit at the moment?

And it's not the fact that people think for the moment that the Liberal party are a good option.  I can make that leap, albeit twitching manically.

The thing that perplexes me is this obsession with videoing oneself doing something morally reprehensible, ethically fucked and just so far from okay - and then sharing it.

Whether its filming your housemate's date because you suspect he's gay, screwing girls too drunk to know or having sex with your colleague at ADFA while your friends' watch in the next room - I am genuinely perplexed.

Why the fuck?

Not only how are the people involved such idiots but how is it that a group of people are sitting around going WE TOTALLY WANT TO WATCH YOU raping Jane AND WE ARE GOING TO SEND IT TO ALL OUR FRIENDS.


I confess, in the sixth grade, I was bummed that I wasn't cool enough to be invited to the obstacle course to see Kate kiss Bob for the first time - but let's be clear here -  It was ten year olds gathering to watch Kate kiss Bob on the mouth with as much passion as you might kiss the smelly great-aunt.  A dry, puckered, peck broken up by Mr P who issue detentions to everybody at that obstacle station. (Cue evil cackles from the self righteously dorky in the central courtyard)

And this was before we'd even worked out how to take the phones off walls.

In my circle, we don't even own up to farts.  We do not secretly invite each other to skype our sex sessions or conversations with the possibly gay or the very drunk and randomly promiscuous.  There is such a huge gap between what I consider 'typical' behaviour and this rise of videoed offences.  Who are bringing up these kids to be smart enough to get into ADFA but dumb enough to consider this an acceptable group activity?

Why aren't more people outraged?  Especially when it is resulting in the deaths of the unwitting victims through suicide or destructive behaviour.

Why aren't more people outraged? Especially when our sons and daughters and nieces and nephews and friends are thinking that watching a friend have sex is their idea of a good Friday night out.

Maybe I'm just ridiculously conservative - but I don't get it and I don't think I ever will.  If this indicative of modern popularity for teens - I hope my babies grow up as dorky as hell.  I really, really do.