28 October 2014

Tasmania - Dudes. Really?

I have a couple of friends who have recently moved to Tasmania and have since started a fairly insistent campaign that we all abandon life in Sydney and follow them to the wee town of Hobart.

Parts of it sound lovely.  The cost of rent, the sparkling bays, the lack of peak hour traffic.

But dudes.  Jacqui Lambie.

When she announced to the world she was looking for a guy with a lot of money and *ahem* a decent package - I was fine with it.  Sure it was inappropriate but we've all said dumb things occasionally.

But she just doesn't bloody stop.

She stood up yesterday and tried to ban the burqa and when she was challenged on the grounds that she was introducing a draft law that discriminated on the basis of religion she said no she wasn't, the burqa was just worn to show that they were Muslims and nothing to do with religion.

I couldn't make it up.

The thing I fail to understand is how Tasmania can produce Bob Brown and then follow it up with Jacqui Lambie?  I know there are other politicians in Tasmania but I am assuming you hear nothing from them because they are trying to work out how to sever the mooring ropes between Tasmania and the mainland while Jacqui is visiting Parliament.

I know I KNOW it shouldn't get personal and that we should refute reasoned political suggestions with articulate and well formulated rebuttals that demonstrate why you have an opposing view but she says things so gob smackingly incorrect (and in no way reasoned or reasonable) that all I can think of to say is "You can't be fucking serious?"

But she is.

Which makes me weep for Tasmania and all represented by her.

So if anybody can articulate to me why Tasmania thought that they would be best represented by a politician such as she - please do.  Because I know the good Forrest's mum said 'Stupid is as stupid does" but really?  This much stupid from somebody you chose?


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27 October 2014

Ten tips to be as awesome as us!

You know something people - I just had a huge weekend that followed an epic couple of weeks.  

This weekend just gone, a merry band of volunteers that I am part of pulled off a freakin' ace event, I got to celebrate the engagement of a really fabulous couple, my four year old started going down the big slides by herself at the local pool and I failed to recognise Steve Bisley but did manage to say something incredibly inane to him.  We ate jam sandwiches, drank lemonade and made necklaces out of pegs.  We got to Sunday night and we were exhausted.  Like a pile of puppies we were - flopped on top of each other, incapable of conversation, but perfectly content to just be there.  And thus the weekend ended.

Until my two year old did the midnight vom vom.  All over our bed.  And pillows. And us. And herself.  So we did the just past midnight discussions with Health Direct while we tried to work out what was going on and wiped vomit out of her hair with a wet wipe. 

Because parenting is so fucking glamorous.

But as family units go - our little team of four is tracking okay.  In fact, no. We're more than okay - we're awesome.  And this morning I'm owning that because being awesome takes effort - you've got to be committed people. Awesome doesn't happen accidentally.  You've got to practice and practice some more. 
  1. We like each other and we don't care who knows it. 
  2. We have legitimately got to the point where we don't give a shit if the way we do family isn't to the liking of others.  
  3. We do things.  We even do things we don't think we'll enjoy sometimes just to be sure.
  4. We like other people. Like genuinely.  
  5. We don't have secrets. Well apart from gifts and the like.  Because everybody loves unwrapping presents.
  6. We do mad.  But we don't do grudges.  
  7. We talk.  About everything.  
  8. We can say sorry.  And we do. 
  9. We are proactively positive. Sometimes we're are even proactively positively awful. 
  10. We surround ourselves with positive people who are all kinds of fabulous.  No space for h8ers. None.

And I'll give you an 11 for free.  We fuck up occasionally and we own it.  Awesome doesn't come from cracking some special code.  It comes from living as authentically as you can and being prepared to change direction if it's not working out for people. 

So there is our version of awesome.  What about you?  What does awesome look like in your little bit of the universe?

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20 October 2014

Wanted: Lesbian Step-Mum Support Group

If you're living life in the mainstream, there are support groups for pretty much anything.  Like anything.

Live in Hobart and have children?  There's a group!
Single Mum in Cambodia that only speaks Dutch? There's a group!
Monster truck fanatics in Malaysia? There's a group!
Depressed? What type? There's a group!
Did a thermomix ruin your marriage? There's a group! (No really - there's a group)

But try and live slightly outside the box and you're screwed! You're doing it on your own.

Where is the support group for Lesbian Step-Mums in semi-rural Western Sydney? Not a one that I can find?

What about the group for people that don't play golf but want to get a promotion in a big multi-national?  Nothing. It's play golf or quit!

What about stay at home dads with a passion for lip-synching 80s music? Nothing.  It's lonely out there.

And don't scoff.  There are mainstream organisations that are heading towards support group status. Attendance at church is dropping.  You might be going to mass weekly at the moment but it's a short trip from there to meeting in former churches as a founding member of The People Who Still Believe In God Group.

Members of Hillsong will join The Former X-Factor Voters Group and with all the Football players swapping codes we will shortly be in need of a People Who Don't Know Which Code They Follow Group.  There will be support available for People Who Thought Climate Change Was A Joke in a group and a huge influx of membership for People Who Read Miranda Devine's Columns On Purpose And Feel Dirty Groups right across the nation.

And what about a group for People Who Have Listened To Trance While Not High And Are Now In Mourning? People That Took Kale Too Seriously? People That Just Don't Know What To With Themselves?  There are niche groups for everything.

I personally need a support group for People Who Learned To Touch Type On A Typewriter Back In The 80s And Are Now Finding It Hard To Let Go Of Two Spaces After A Full Stop.  I tell you - it's killing me finding out that I'm showing my age because I learnt to type back when sentences had a structure.  I KNOW RIGHT?  Feel for me.

It's nice to find your community - a little group of people that understand you and your experience - no matter how unfamiliar it may be to some.  Tribe matters.  No matter how awesome our touch typing speed is or how we came to be parenting small people.

So if you do know of a nice group of Lesbian Step-Mums - do let me know.  I know a lovely Lesbian Step-Mum who started this particular musing by yelling down the phone to me "AM I ASKING TOO MUCH WHEN I SAY I JUST WANT A SUPPORT GROUP FOR LESBIAN STEP-MUMS? AM I?

No my dear girl. You're not.  Got your back here.

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17 October 2014

An open letter to Russell Brand

Dear Russell Brand

I am a fan.  Particularly of your vocabulary.  And I envy your ability to articulate ideas and concepts using words that flesh out the meaning of each sentence, so that you can literally roll the idea around in your mouth and taste it's flavour.

I love that you challenge ideas and constructs that seem immovable and inevitable.  I like that you own your own humanity while campaigning for wider acceptance of the human condition in all its chaos.  I'm pleased that you only have one outfit in the world apparently and yet you still remember to clean your teeth.

But Johnny Rotten is right.  The right to vote should not be ignored or done from a position of ignorance.  Now, more than ever, every single individual has access to information, ideologies and discussions that can help us form our own opinions and view points.

If you take your rights for granted, they become eroded and lose meaning.  They will be taken away and you won't even know you have lost them.  If you take no active part in the governing of your country, the policies of the country you call home, or use the channels available to you to protest what is ignored or mishandled - then you are culpable.

Revolution is not just the shouting and looting and metaphorical beheading of those that represent the system.  Revolution has to be a commitment to reform, to active citizenship, to responsibility.  It means voting and working and taxes and allowing people to be complete numpties.  But not voting them in hopefully.

Revolution is about recognising that our best interests are not served by decimation of the environment, cuts to welfare for the elderly, a lack of investment in education or a flouting of our obligations to people's human rights.  Revolution is actually about citizen power.  Revolution is about our citizens demanding that our governments speak on our behalf and not on the behalf of corporations that already make profit that would wipe out debt in third world countries.

Revolution is not no ties and more cake for all.  Revolution is the righteous actions of people that have allowed themselves to be the fall guy for bad decisions.  "We have a public mandate" generally means "nobody gives a shit so we'll do what we want."  There are over seven billion people in the world.  We need a system.

Voting. Taxes. Jobs.  All those boring things are essential for the revolution because even the first world economies with their 'rights' have had them less than a century.  Less than half a century depending on gender and skin tone.  Still haven't got them depending on sexuality.  Too many of the third world countries have never ever had 'rights'.  Yet like those that have never experienced a world without vaccinations and so don't vaccinate because they're idiots, we discard our responsibilities and obligations as citizens when we don't vote and/or claim "they are all the same".

If "they" are all the same - "we" did it. Apathy, the discarding of our responsibilities because there are other people that can do it, causes decay.  Governments don't go from awesome to crapola overnight - it's an insidious decline made possible by the people that vote them in and then don't challenge them, don't use their hard won rights, to be proactive in the formation of their own future.  "They" are the problem.

Revolution comes with responsibility Mr Brand.  Perhaps add that to the soundbites being frantically retweeted by those that who don't yet know what they don't know.  You have no rights if you don't use the ones that have been hard fought and won for you by those long dead.

Agreed?  PS: Who is paying for the cake?

Much love
Fangirl Al xx

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13 October 2014

Vaguebookers Verboten


"Why do bad things happen to good people?"

"Worst day ever"

"And there ends another chapter. Will I ever learn?"

"OMG - the best. So spoilt. So loved."

If any of these statements make you want to reach into the computer and punch it in the throat you're not alone.  Vaguebooking - which is basically the act of posting something random so people interact with you on Facebook - is the kind of passive aggressive bullshit which probably lost you friends in the first place.

These status updates generally say the following to me:

"You have a cold"

"You're watching the Bachelor and thought Lisa was going to win"

"Your sports team lost"

"You just dumped a perfectly decent woman who stayed with you way too long to put up with your neurotic bollocks and want me to sympathise with you being a complete numpty"

"You finally got a boyfriend and he paid for your entire Big Mac meal the big charmer"

If it's not those things - you might need to write more.  Because regular Vaguebookers are a personality type identifiable in every social situation in the world and anybody with any social awareness can pick them a mile off and just refuse to engage.

Accidental Vaguebooking is allowed.  Normally done by good people who got distracted by a butterfly, Katter on Q&A or wine.  Accidental Vaguebooking is generally followed up thus in about ten seconds or following the first comment calling them out on their vagueness:

Status update 1: "Worst day ever"
Status update 2: "Ha sorry people - Worst day ever should have had a second sentence! Can't believe the doggies lost.  I blame the beer"

If you need attention - just ask.  Most of your friends probably like you enough to come to the party. Try -

"I'm feeling particularly needy because it's Saturday night, I'm home alone again while my stupid ex is off in Fiji with their new squeeze who is my sister - send love to me or wine. Either way, I want attention and I want it now"

And at the other end of the internet we can all think 'Poor lass" and search for hitmen, funny memes and useful things to fill up your Facebook feed to distract you.  Because we get the need for attention - WE GET IT LADY.  We just don't like being manipulated.

So it's your civic duty people to call people on Vaguebooking.  Just comment "Vaguebooker!" and leave it there.  They have Google too, if by some remote chance they are unaware of their tendency to online manipulation, that one word should sort it nicely.  In the kind of passive aggressive way they are so bloody fond of already.

What violations of
online etiquette drive you bonkers?

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10 October 2014

Owning my depression - World Mental Health Day

A couple of months ago, I cried for almost five days straight.  I cried.  And cried. And cried.  In the morning, during the day as I sat at my computer, through the evening TV and into the night.  I cried.

On about day 2, I thought I'd try and talk to somebody when they happened to call one morning and after I tried to explain how I was feeling they said "Well if you're just sitting on the couch feeling miserable that's not going to help anything."

And that was it.  I didn't bring it up again.  Depression, or as I tend to refer to it "the blues" (because deep down I think I'm Elton John), isn't feeling fucking miserable.  It's not like I turn my face to the sun and oh look at that my soul destroying blanket of blah has lifted.  It's not like the crying for five days was the whole episode, just part of a particular shitty bout of depression where it was definitely winning for a while.

'The blues' come and go - yes.  Now that I know that I need to be more vigilant than some - I work hard at keeping myself in a good place - I keep positive company and avoid people that aren't good for me, I eat, I drink, I laugh, I talk about my feelings, I take anti-depressants and I have a hugely supportive partner who gets on with the business of being supportive.

Until I was diagnosed with post-natal depression and PTSD, well actually, when I accepted the diagnosis of post-natal depression and PTSD (the dates do not coincide because people like me don't get depression), I had had bouts of the blues all my life.  I just thought I was shit at life.  The self harm as a teenager, the tendency to self destructive behaviour in my mid 20s, the bits where life seemed all too much and I'd be better off gone, they were part and parcel of being me and because I couldn't articulate the darkness nor did I understand where it came from, it was better off ignored as far as I was concerned.  I sure as fuck didn't talk about it.

The great thing about post natal depression vs regular depression is that it's socially acceptable.  Once I started banging on about having PND, the amount of friends I found who had suffered depression even just as a once off was startling.  I wasn't shit at life - my brain was just a bit fucked up and took the whole life thing too seriously.  I was living in a state of high alert, raised emotions, naked sensation all the time.  So periodically, it's knickers got twisted.

It wasn't until I had PND and gave some serious thought to injuring myself badly enough that I could step out of life for a while, perhaps permanently, and I spent a fair bit of time in genuine distress one week because my daughter was about to grow up motherless that I went back to the doctor and said "perhaps there is something in this diagnosis of which you speak'.

Therapy my friends is the bomb.  You should all do it.  A good clinical psychologist will literally change your world.  I love mine so much I wrote a testimonial and told her to use both my first and second name and give my number out to people if they wanted a verbal reference.

She didn't heal me.  She doesn't conveniently give me somebody to blame.  She doesn't insist on my wearing black and spending my life hovered funereally in the corner.  She gets that depression for me is something I'd still rather ignore but I am keen to sort it out.  So I work with her, she works with me and I keep banging on about it so that people talk about it.  I might get better at managing my brain but I have to accept I live with depression.  Not always do we sleep together, but we're familiar.

There is absolutely nothing to be ashamed of in a mental illness - I get that now.  My extended family has an award winning collection of schizophrenia, bipolar, depression, brain injury, OCD and a healthy smattering of general arse-hats as well.  And the only ones that I try to avoid are the arse-hats.   My friendship circles full of people who 'have a mental illness' or 'have had a mental illness' or flat out lost the battle with 'mental illness'.  And that sucks most of all.

So, it's not a pretty subject.  It's not a sexy subject.  For some it's not ongoing. For some it's periodic and for some it's a battle they fight every single day.  So even if you don't get it - be kind.  Be there.

And if you can't be kind - get off the internet, got to bed and work on improving that tomorrow.

In the meantime - own that baby people.  My name is Alison and I am not Elton John.  But for some reason - I still call them 'the blues'.

And remember if you need to talk to somebody call Lifeline on 13 11 14.
Because they are lovely and helpful and they do get it. They really do.

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7 October 2014

Toddlers, Taxes and Terrorism

Back in 1988 my older brother was one of 'those young people' chosen to open one of the doors for the Queen during the opening of the New Parliament House in Canberra.  It took years for it to just be known as Parliament House rather than New Parliament House but it got there.

And when my brother got a bit older he even worked there for a while as many do that work in Canberra.  It's almost 30 years later and he still dresses pretty much as he did in 1988 and is infuriatingly, still exactly the same size. However, his hair has greyed and his glasses are on trend now in a way that neither of us really got the hang of during our teenage years.  He's a father, a husband and most surprisingly of all, quite a decent chap- which I could never have imagined all those years ago.

Canberra has grown quite a bit since 1988.  Those that live there have to pay for parking most days now and Sammy's Kitchen became the kind of restaurant which sits aside Jamie's Kitchen without looking out of place.  Braddon is full of hipsters rather than hippies looking for climbing gear.  Shiny glass buildings fill spaces that were formerly car parks or paddocks.  They've moved the Wig & Pen,  and made 'Belco Pride' into something people actually tattoo on to themselves non-ironically.

I left Canberra in 2000 and about the only thing that still seems the same to me these days is the stunning view of Black Mountain Tower during sunset that greets you as you drive in from the north. I still have family there. Friends too. But while we've all been growing up - Canberra has too.

And in those 26 years - not one person in a Burqa has ever entered New Parliament House.  Not one.

We just spent a week buying into hysteria based around something which isn't even an issue.  We spent a week filling our media streams, arguing our right to protect something which has been attacked by cranky white men in white fucking utes three times more often than it has been threatened by a woman of faith.

When white men in white utes were idiots - we put in bollards. Bollards people. "She'll be right mate - we have bollards to stop those turkeys."  When women in burqas went grocery shopping in a different bloody State, we stopped the fucking country and demanded our RIGHT TO PROTECTION.  It's the principle of the thing apparently.  We're not racist - just, you know, PROTECTING OURSELVES.

And in the meantime nobody is cranky about cuts to education; the tax changes which penalise everyday Australians but make rich ones richer; the ravaging of the aged care and disability support structures; the abolishment of the carbon tax which was lauded internationally as one of the best things ever; compulsory chaplains in non-Christian schools; human rights violations so significant they are mentioned regularly by the UN; the gagging of public servants private voices through the manipulation of employment rights; and more.  So very much more.

We've been distracted by the government in exactly the same way you distract a toddler from having a tantrum.  Ooooh - shiny things! Wookie wookie widdle people - it's a shiny thing.

We fell for the shiny thing.  And we don't even seem to care.

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3 October 2014

In defence of being 'too much'

All my life I've heard the two words 'too much' added to descriptions of me or about me.  I talk 'too much', I swear 'too much', I drink 'too much', I do 'too much', I yell 'too much', I laugh 'too much', I can be 'too much' 

'Too much' is never added to descriptions people mean kindly.  'Too much' is always meant to convey that the thing you do 'too much' of should be toned down, curbed, even eliminated.

Me being a teenager in the 80s
And then this one has cropped up lately, a lot.  You care 'too much'.

I was initially a little hurt.  How can you care 'too much'?  Surely, caring is a good thing.  And I've been sitting on it, pondering, stewing.  And then I had my light bulb moment.

Not my problem.

It's taken me almost 40 years to get to the point where I like myself.  My self confidence and self esteem are never going to be like trampolines, bouncing back no matter what lands on them , and I'm okay with that.  I am always going to be a worrier.  I'm okay with that too. Not everybody is going to like me - and while that bites a bit, I'm okay with that.

You see generally - I'm rather nice.  I'd even go as far to say 'mostly likeable'.  Even 'fucking hilarious' on occasion.
Being low key at my own hen party
But the 'too much' bit of me?  I take that to everything.  I'm not too much on occasion, I am too much all of the time.  If you think I'm being too much on the outside, try imagine what I'm like on the inside.

I take too much everywhere.  To every friendship, to every relationship, to every job, to every conversation, to every cause, to every gathering, to every adventure, to every book, to every experience, to every bus trip if the truth be told.

I don't have another way to be.  I can't be somebody that does something 'just a little' or 'kind of maybe'.  I don't have that in me.  And 99% of the time it works out very well for people.  Very well indeed actually.

My 'too much' means that I'm living life as honestly as possible.  Yes I care. Yes I yell. Yes I drink. Yes I swear. Yes I do stuff. Yes I laugh. Yes I cry. Yes I am me.  But I'm 'too much' of a lot of things that people consider positives too.  Those things though - nobody throws those around with the cautionary 'too much' tacked on the end. And I'm not just 'too much 'about me.  I'm 'too much' about everything.  And I am 'too much' about everyone.

Me being someone else with Nick being somebody else
I don't have the energy or inclination to be somebody who is parsimonious with feelings or time or life in general.  Trying to be somebody that is more polished, more conservative, more middle of the road didn't work out for me.  Because it's not who I am.  I am me.

And I'm really rather good at being me.  In fact, I'm better at it than anybody else.


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2 October 2014

Getting poo out of wedding dresses and other tutorials from dreamland

Okay - I get that my brain is on high rotation at the moment, I'm not sleeping and when I'm trying to sleep my children are not - I know that when your brain is like that - weird stuff goes down in subconscious town.

And last night was an absolute pearler.

I featured in my own dreams as cleaning expert, dressed suspiciously like Jo Frost from Super Nanny, who was brought in to sort out people's cleaning emergencies.

Firstly, I was flown into the Clooney/Alamuddin wedding to demonstrate how to use Woolworths Fragrance Free baby wipes to remove a poo stain from her dress just before the wedding started.  And as a result of saving the Oscar La Renta dress and the good woman herself from certain death by media - I was invited to the reception but I turned down the invitation because I had to pick the girls up from childcare.

We are all aware that this is not a woman
who would need 'that wipe woman'
I'm a committed parent, what can I say?

Then, I get invited on the Ellen show and end up with my own spin off training show demonstrating the superior powers of baby wipes for pretty much everything EXCEPT cleaning baby bottoms. People with babies already understand how living without wet wipes now seems inexplicable and probably impossible.

So for the vast array of people that we call 'public' I had video tutorials on cleaning grills, jewellery, car windows, computers, make-up stains on clothing, silver fridges, bicycle spokes, BBQs, public transport hand rails, champagne glasses and even a special one for that Nick Cannon fellow who just bought the world's most expensive shoes. You name it - I could clean it with baby wipes and was willing to show you how you could too.  

Nick Cannon's shoes
I was doing all this in high heels, a bun, spectacles and a dress that did nothing for the va va voom curves I'm sporting.

They called me 'that wipe woman'.  And I was thrilled, a little proud even and I had BUSINESS CARDS made up with 'that wipe woman' on them.

I'm still feeling slightly discombobulated not least of which is due to the fact that Clooney had 'that wipe woman' in his favourites list on his iPhone.

And then I was jolted awake so I don't know how the dream ends or what I was supposed to learn from it.  All I know is that I woke up with the blog title stuck in my head.  Maybe that's supposed to be the title of my best selling book - or maybe I'm destined to have a television career demonstrating the usefulness of wet wipes and the Jo Frost imagery was a dire warning to ensure I get a decent stylist before filming starts?

Who knows.  Not me. But one thing is certain - it's making Hootsuite scheduling seem a little bland this morning.

What about you?  How did you sleep?

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