Tuesday, 30 November 2010

Shamefaced

The title of this blog is how I feel. A comment from Ann O'Dyne, a boozy lunch with Deb today and a gentle email nudge from a mate reminded me that I have not blogged in (shock horror) almost 6 months. Forgive me for exaggerating, but where oh where has 2010 gone?

When I went offline earlier this year I had just finished studying and was in the process of setting up my own business as well as looking for a new job. (If you want to know what either is, my email is on the left). Fast forward to November 30 and I am due to commence my new job in 18 days and have been a small business owner for just over a month. If you don't mind me saying so, the process of achieving both has been a little exhausting.

Aside from that, not much has changed. Still living with and loving the gorgeous, lovely Tom. He's still being subjected to much teasing about impending engagements. Not from me, I hasten to add. Still have wonderful, slightly kooky friends such as Al and Deb. Still hearing far too much about other people's sex lives and philosophising madly about human relationships. Still catching the tram past Andrew's place every day. I have just been neglecting the blog world.

And yet something has felt like it was missing. I need to get back to externalising all my thoughts but turning on the laptop felt like too much work. Now that I don't have to write responses to selection criteria or business plans, it's a much more pleasurable exercise.

And you'll be seeing more of me.

xx

Thursday, 17 June 2010

Strange crush #319

I can't remember how many of these strange crushes I'm up to. I seem to have a lot of them. Does that make me fickle or just generous?

One that has been growing on me a lot recently is none other than (the dearly departed off a NZ cliff then returned from the dead) Jeff Goldblum.

It has certainly taken me by surprise. This is the guy I first saw on the big screen in Jurassic Park as a 9-year-old and whilst plenty of my other odd crushes have been my father's age, I've grown up knowing that Jeff is my father's age. Older, actually. It's about as bizarre as me suddenly developing a crush on my Dad's best mate. Well, except for the fact that I know my Dad's best mate and I don't have a crush on him. Digressing.

Back in high school in the late 90s, one of my friends was constantly banging on about how hot she thought Jeff was, particularly in The Fly. We all ignored her and put it down to attention seeking. After all, this is the same girl who wanted to have Sam Newman's babies and brought a 41-year-old to our Year 12 Formal and promptly told everyone that evening that he suffered from erectile dysfunction.

Lately though, I'm starting to see her point. Well, in regards to Goldblum at least.

I've not yet been able to bring myself to watch The Fly, but dear Jeff is looking pretty darn good in Law & Order: Criminal Intent and was rather dashing in Igby Goes Down. The dark hair, the hooded eyes, the voice, the correct posture... oh dear, I've given myself shivers.

Throw in the fact that not only is he quite good at this acting caper, he's also an accomplished jazz pianist and I'm half-tempted to follow him off that NZ cliff.

Anyone coming with us?

Monday, 14 June 2010

Red: the colour of romance & filing cabinets

The World Cup is underway and so is winter in our neck of the woods. The past few weeks have seen lots of wind, rain and burrowing under the doona along with a ridiculous amount of red wine consumption. Oh, don't look at me like that. A girl has to keep warm, you know.

It's also seen my 2nd anniversary with the lovely Tom roll by. Despite the poor boy receiving an immense amount of pressure to propose from my girlfriends, he's still going out with me. Seems they want a wedding to go to and have decided that we're the most likely candidates even though neither of us is in a hurry to appease them. It has got to the point where I'm quite enjoying teasing them with text messages of a Saturday night along the lines of 'I said yes..... to dessert!'

We celebrated the two year milestone with a beautiful dinner at David's and I was spoiled with the gift of a bright red filing cabinet. Red, as some of you may have gathered, is my favourite colour and as I've plans to start my own business later this year, a filing cabinet was at the top of my wishlist. I spent all of Monday night happily transferring and alphabetising files from my concertina folders into the cabinet. I was in obsessive-compulsive HEAVEN and Tom knew it.

He's got past form for giving outstanding presents. Last year on our anniversary Tom cooked me dinner, followed by dessert of vanilla bean ice cream with not one, but two versions of ice magic - chocolate and mint chocolate. Ice magic has been my favourite ice cream topping since I was a kid and I often have trouble choosing between chocolate and mint chocolate. Two entire bottles ALL to myself? (Again) HEAVEN!

Whilst filing cabinets and ice cream topping may not seem the most romantic of gifts to some, to me they are the very epitome of romance and consideration. Any geezer can buy roses and jewellery but how many people, men and women alike, consider the small details that make their partner's day?

He keeps this up, I can guarantee I will say yes... to dessert.

And perhaps other things, too.

Monday, 31 May 2010

On my high-heeled horse

Every so often I get a little bit manic and go through my wardrobe on a mission to 'clear it out'. Inevitably I'll find a few items I no longer wear and put them up on eBay to make a quick buck, then feel all sanctimonious because I have lessened my clutter.

I have a great many pair of heels from my previous life as a teacher, when the extra height helped scare students into good behaviour and the only walking I had to do was from the classroom to the staffroom. Nowadays, I cover several kms in a day, from home to the tram, the tram to work and work to meetings. Perhaps I'm getting older (I patiently await your firm rebuttals), but my feet just can't handle that mileage in 9cm stilettos. There's also my rather unfeminist theory that thanks to having the lovely Tom, I care less what male strangers think of my legs. Long live kitten heels!

Given my height, you'd be correct in thinking that my feet are not petite - they're a size 10 and I find that size 10s tend to sell like the proverbial in shoestores. Therefore, it isn't surprising that I've had no problem selling 4 pairs over the last few weeks, all in good condition and all well over 5cm high.

What is surprising is that 3 of the 4 pairs have gone to men. Just last week I sent a pair of pointy red stilettos to someone named Ralph in Sydney.

I really hope they've gone to some gorgeous drag queens or men with taste who like playing dress-up. I have fanciful visions of them adorning the foot of a glamazon lounging on a piano in a diaphanous gown like Michelle Pfeiffer in The Fabulous Baker Boys.

Call me a prude, but I really don't want to imagine my beloved shoes being licked by someone with a foot fetish.

Friday, 28 May 2010

Love is a burning thing

I've had today at home with a nasty throat infection. The sort that feels as though burning razorblades and fingernails are cohabiting in your throat and makes you sound like Darren Lockyer.

I can be the masochistic kind when it comes to illness. Normally I'll try to ride out a headache without resorting to painkillers and when it comes to sore throats, I'm the same. I can't stand throat lozenges (they make my teeth feel furry) and will grin and bear it for a few days rather than gargling Dettol.

Tom has just arrived home from work. Bearing some sort of antiseptic throat gargle. He's told me I must either take the gargle or drink his homemade concoction of crushed garlic, fresh ginger, lemon and boiling water. He swears the latter kills all germs and it wouldn't surprise me if it did - if I were a germ, I'd up and run if I smelled that coming towards me, too.

So it comes to this. Tom knows I'll do the gargle over the feral tea and is guilting me into it by using the 'if you love me you will' argument. GRRR!

If you hear screams of agony coming from Prahran, don't be alarmed. It'll just be me, taking my medicine. With love.

New girl crush

I should say new girl crushes, actually, as I have two. Their names are Jean Johnson, 64, and the late Shirley Landells.

Last week Tom and I were flicking between channels when we came across a documentary on SBS called A Lady's Guide to Brothels*. Filmed in 2008 and narrated by journalist Nicky Taylor, it follows these two members of the Hampshire Women's Institute (a group rather similar to our own CWA, I imagine), on their crusade to legalise brothels in Britain. They're not madams or shrewd businesswomen looking to turn a quick pound. They're just regular British women, mothers and grandmothers who want to make prostitution safer for the girls involved.

It all started after 5 prostitutes were murdered in 2006. Jean felt enough was enough and so raised the subject of prostitute safety with her local branch of the WI. After receiving almost unanimous support from the 7,000+ members of the WI to investigate the licencing of brothels further, Jean and Shirley did so, in no small part by taking off on a world tour to investigate legalised prostitution.

A quick look at Jean and Shirley affirms that they're not the sort of people you expect to see sitting in an Amsterdam window touting for clients. And yet that's exactly what they do, albeit fully and rather smartly dressed. Shirley, 73 at the time of filming, even gets a wink.

Later, in Nevada, they meet Airforce Amy, who shares her case of sex toys and a special upside-down move, before the ladies don pink flufffy robes and join the line-up at the Moonlite Bunny Ranch. Their final stop is New Zealand, where they view several small owner operated brothels, known as SOOBs.

Determined to understand what life is like for working girls, these two feisty ladies ask some hard questions and willingly expose themselves to things they didn't even know existed. I daresay it will take me a long time to forget their expressions when they come across something called an 'Ass Midget' in a UK sex store.

Once back in the UK, they quickly set about using their learnings to convert an old campervan into a best practice brothel-on-wheels, complete with towels, condoms, talcom powder and a panic button. They drive it around English villages to show to their fellow WI members before heading off in said campervan to hand-deliver a petition calling for the licencing of brothels to Westminister and Downing St.

What I admire most about these two ladies is the grace with which they set about their tasks. Always polite and considerate, they treat every person they speak to with dignity and respect, thereby changing the prostitution issue from one of morality to one of humanity.

Brothels remain unlicenced in the UK but Jean is still fighting. After the death of Shirley in October 2008, she stepped it up. No longer satisfied with just legalising prostitution, Jean now wants to get rid of the stigma attached to it. As she says in an interview with the UK's Daily Mail, the girls involved are "somebody's daughters, somebody's granddaughters, somebody's sisters."

Thank you to Jean and Shirley for reminding us that all of our girls - regardless of their profession - deserve to be treated with respect.

*You can watch A Lady's Guide to Brothels at the SBS website by clicking the link above.

Tuesday, 25 May 2010

Strange crush #871

Tom has just come home for the second night in a row to find me sitting at the laptop in my red butcher's apron. I've been experimenting with domesticity and by that, I mean cooking dinner. Baking is my thing, but cooking? Well, let's just say I'm honoured that Tom is willing to risk his life by eating my chicken.

I think the cooking must be a hangover from the weekend. Tom had a rugby game on Saturday morning so I decided to brave the market shop by myself. I felt very grown up wheeling my little trolley around Prahran Market and ordering pieces of chicken like I knew what I was doing. (Then again, I'm 27 years old. I probably should know what I'm doing by now). Once I had my chicken and pasta and mussels and vegies I had to do something with them - hence dinner the past two nights.

In all, it was quite a lovely weekend. Tom's team won, I got the groceries home and baked a lemon and prosecco cake. Saturday evening we had a gorgeous dinner at Il Solito Posto then went to see Tex Perkins' The Man in Black. Oh. My. Goodness.

If you're a Johnny Cash fan, you need to see this show. If you're not a Johnny Cash fan, you need to see this show, because you will be by the end. Tex and co do a brilliant job of telling the man in black's life story whilst doing credit to his music. I've not listened to anything but Cash since we saw the show and have occasional fantasies that I've a voice like June Carter's.

Sadly, the Melbourne encore season has just come to an end but the show is next in Adelaide, Canberra and Perth. If you're domiciled on this continent, consider going. It is worth the plane ticket.

Which, in a very roundabout way brings me to another of my strange crushes: Tex Perkins. Sure, he's old enough to be my father, but he can work a crowd like few people I've ever seen. And what's not to love about a man who's tall, rocks a suit, has great hair and can sing like J.R. Cash?

Thursday, 20 May 2010

Dear Akermanis STOP

Dear Jason Akermanis STOP You have made me very upset today STOP Love MD

If you're not from around these parts then you may not know what I'm talking about. Mr. Akermanis is an Australian footballer and today wrote this piece for a newspaper, advising any gay players in the Australian Football League (AFL) not to come out. What utter - excuse my language - bullshit.

I have so many problems with his piece that I don't know where to begin. For the record, I have read Akermanis' column and not just the hype surrounding it. I know what was said and I have made certain to read it several times. He may well have had good intentions in publishing the piece and I can see this in parts. But the vast majority of what he has written just. Gets. My. Back. Up.

First, he claims that a gay player coming out would be 'international news and could break the fabric of a club'. (I'm not sure you all know how hard it is right now not to type 4-letter expletives).

I imagine that it would be difficult coming out in a football club in the first place, but after someone says you may 'break the fabric of a club' in doing so, who would want to? Some of these clubs have long and proud histories, at times threatened by players indulging in alcoholism, drugs, gambling and wife-bashing. But hey, that doesn't matter. According to Aker, coming out as a proud gay man is absolutely the worst thing you can do to your club.

Don't tell that to Welsh rugby captain Gareth Thomas, who came out publicly late last year. He had battled depression for many years and was near suicidal before he told his coach, Scott Johnson, he was gay in 2006. Johnson, correctly deeming that Thomas would need support, told some of his teammates, who then went to Thomas. Their response? 'We don't care. Why didn't you tell us before?'

When Thomas went public 3 years later, largely to provide encouragement for other gay people in sport, he also received overwhelming fan support. Yet Akermanis doesn't think AFL players and fans have quite progressed to that level. One wonders if he thinks they ever will.

Akermanis goes on to claim that a player's coming out would subsequently make his teammates uncomfortable in the change rooms afterwards. That statement is possibly one of the most egotistical I have ever heard. Ooh, he's gay, he must fancy me. What's more, it's childish. 12-year-old boys used to make this argument to me when I was teaching and my response to them is the same as it is to Aker.

Just because someone is gay it does not mean they find you attractive, Jason. Not all men are attractive to gay men, just as not all men are attractive to straight women. Imagine if I walked into your club change rooms when you had your boy-parts out. I am heterosexual and I can say without a sliver of doubt that I would not find you attractive - even if I could see your doodle.

I'm sure you'll all tell me if I'm drawing a long bow here, but isn't Aker's statement rather akin to saying that women should cover up when in the company of men because it would be otherwise 'too tempting' for the men not to take advantage of them? Come on, Aker, give people some credit for behaving with decency.

He then goes on to say that the suicide rate for same sex attracted youth is 4-6 times higher than the average for young males. And he'd like us to deal with this by telling gay players to lie about themselves. To consider their sexuality a dirty little secret that their colleagues and friends won't or can't accept. Because some people might not be able to deal with it and alienate them as a result.

Gee, wouldn't it be grand if we could punish people who do act with prejudice against gay players? Wait! We can. There's these wonderful new-fangled things called anti-discrimination laws!

Again, Aker, you're not giving anyone any credit. Do you really think there aren't enough strong gay males out there to make a stand, or enough principled straight players to say 'this is not ok', were it to happen?

Tom and I heard this story break on the news this morning and we laughed at Akermanis' floundering responses to his grilling from the anchor. Tom then got rather angry. He plays competition rugby and is routinely naked in a change room with other blokes. I asked him how he would feel about one of his teammates being gay. He said it wouldn't matter. I can't remember enough to quote him verbatim, but the gist was that honestly, you'd have to be pretty shallow to give up friendship because someone prefers the same sex.

I have a smart boyfriend, don't I? Perhaps he and the Welsh rugby team can give Aker some lessons.

Tuesday, 18 May 2010

Don't tell Mama

How many of you have secrets from your parents?

Not the I'm-an-adult-film-star or I-have-3-husbands type. I mean the ones that seem little yet somehow turn us into sneaky teenagers when we think other people may find out. Things like hoeing into a giant jar of nutella or making so much noise the neighbours complain. Things that we likely got into trouble for as kids and for whatever reason, have never progressed past.

I don't claim to be all that well-adjusted but truth be told I've never really kept any secrets from my parents. Which is why it surprised me when a friend of mine, Blake, announced that as of Friday he's going off the gaspers - cold turkey style. He'd also really appreciate it if we didn't make any reference to his smoking for the next week.

Why? The parents are coming to town.

This made me laugh out loud. Blake is a 37 year old man and perfectly capable of making - and living with - his own choices. He has a successful career, a flat and a broad circle of friends. He knows the dangers that smoking carries and has made an informed decision to continue doing so. And yet his parents can't know?

It seems he told the olds he'd quit several years ago and now can't bring himself to admit that he's relapsed. When I pressed him as for why, he said he simply couldn't bear to disappoint them, particularly with a nurse for a Mum and a reformed (and now vehemently anti-) smoker Dad.

Despite what Blake says, I can't help but wonder if the choice not to tell them is more for himself than his parents. They might be unhappy initially but I'm sure they would get past it. In the scheme of things, the fact that their son is a smoker probably won't matter too much to them.

Yet the weight of their disappointment is something Blake doesn't want to bear. And I can't blame him. The most devastating thing my parents could say to me when I was small wasn't that they were angry; it was that they were disappointed in me.

No matter how old you are, I don't think it ever gets easier to stomach.

Thursday, 13 May 2010

How to make an impression on the in-laws

And I don't necessarily mean a good impression, either.

Tom and I were having lunch with friends at their place recently. It was quite a last minute thing on a autumn afternoon - salads slapped together, bottles of wine dusted off, an anti-pasto selection of whatever was yet to expire in the fridge. Relaxed and comfortable.

Sitting on Dougal's patio in the late afternoon sun, I could hear a song drifting up from a neighbour's radio. Not one of my personal favourites, it was the undeservedly popular Sexy Bitch. In between bites of kabana, I nudged Tom.

'Hey! It's Mum's song!'

Dougal and Eileen looked at me in a mix of horror and disgust. Perhaps I should explain.

Late last year, my aunt and uncle threw a party to celebrate their 50th birthdays. Our family is very close but geographically dispersed, so big occasions like these are welcomed by all as a chance to get together and create mayhem. And so 25 people packed their bags and headed to Queensland.

It would have been a logistical nightmare, but my uncle Vince is an enterprising (and generous) soul. He and my aunty put their parents, siblings and partners up at their place, then hired 2 serviced apartments so that us 15 kids had somewhere to sleep. Every bed and couch was taken but we were together and we had a fridge full of champagne. What more did we need?

The party itself was wonderful - a fabulous safari-themed adventure, complete with pith helmets and fire twirlers. At one point Anna and three of our cousins climbed fully clothed into Vince and Marie's ensuite bathtub to re-enact less modest photos taken 15 years ago. We had wardrobe malfunctions involving glasses of wine, a mid-party kitchen raid and grandparents tearing up the dancefloor to Lady Gaga's Pokerface. It was mad and loud and memorable.

I imagine that if this was the first time you'd ever met our family, it might have been a bit intimidating. This was the position that my cousin Sam's girlfriend, Bree, found herself in. She grew up in an outback country town and at 22, is less worldly than my much younger cousins. This isn't a problem in itself - everyone's different. It does become a problem when you abuse other people's hospitality, though.

Without an invitation, Bree decided that she was coming with Sam to Queensland and subsequently did so. She proudly told us that the party was a chance for her to get drunk on as much free wine as possible. Uhuh. Not a great first impression, exactly.

We realised that she intended on living up to her vows early in the evening when she fell into a garden bed and needed assistance getting out. Some would take this as a sign to slow down. Not Bree. I'll give the girl this much, as least she keeps her promises.

Later in the evening I was chatting with Mum and a few other relatives when Bree ambled over to us. Glass in one hand and a blaring iPhone in the other, she grabbed Mum in a bearhug. What followed has become stuff of legend.

'Let's dance!'
'Oh, I-'
'Dance, Sexy Bitch, Dance!'
'Pardon?'
'Dance! Come on, you sexy bitch!'

Mum demurred, saying she didn't know the song and would perhaps join in later. This seemed to appease Bree and she toddled off in the direction of the bar. We all stared after her in muted shock, then burst into shocked laughter.

My Mum is a very elegant lady. She's quite liberal, but calling her a sexy bitch is perhaps a bridge too far. Which is precisely what made it so funny. Of all the marks to pick that night, Bree chose her?

And, strangely, this was not the funniest moment of the night.

Oh no, that honour went to 75-year-old Oma, who, needing help with the cake, stuck her head outside and asked in her thick Dutch accent where the 'Sexy Bitch' was.

I've heard a lot of things from elderly ladies, but I never expected that to be one of them.