Saturday, December 18, 2010

Ode to French Bread

Oh crunchy carbohydrate
Loaf-shaped apple of my eye
With your freshly baked aroma
It's enough to make me sigh

You go with every other food
Be it chocolate, ham or pasta
And if you're described as 'crusty'
It's never a disaster

Your gaze is judgment free
As I eat you by the basket
Bread, my light, my love
Just one question I would ask it

As I use you with a dip
As I carve you on a bench
As I eat you in a sandwich
Why is it better when you're French?

Painefull Out

Saturday, December 4, 2010

The Clothes On My Back

As all women know, packing for a trip is a sweet, sweet science. First you layer in the basics, then you add the essentials, finally you pepper in the must-haves. After you’ve done this it becomes apparent you have double what you can actually fit in your bag, so you start the whole process again. It takes at least 3 rounds, and tends to occur in the 5 hours you have before lift-off (despite the fact you have known the trip is coming for months). In the final, panicked flurry you will add a random, and often fateful item to your luggage that will either prove pivotal to the entire endeavour, or be an amusing discovery that you forgot you even had when you return home.

Now imagine, after all this thought and obsession, that you have arrived in Germany during the coldest beginning to December that Europe has had (not this decade, not this quarter century, but since someone turned to someone else and said “Hey, it’s like there’s some kind of cyclical pattern here, I swear it got hot then cold last year as well, do you think we should start writing this stuff down?”).

This is what I was touching down in when I arrived in Frankfurt at the start of this week. I didn’t know this because I quite proudly failed every language class I ever took, and people were noting the historical importance of the GIANT SNOW STORM RAVAGING THE CONTINENT in German, a form of communication I find soothing and potentially fictional. I was off my face with exhaustion, 24 hours into travel and all my fellow passengers were speaking in sentences that seemed to end in guttural exclamation marks. We were lining up for our flight to Dusseldorf as I tucked into my 4th block of chocolate (plane travel is the chocolate version of a free pass to me, what’s eaten in the air stays in the air) and trying to reassure myself my contribution to the body odour wave was minimal when it was revealed in several languages that our flight had been cancelled. We weren’t even special, 300 flights out of Frankfurt were cancelled that day.

I was delirious enough to find this amusing. The single woman dealing with the 50 passengers from my flight one-by-one was equally delirious and amused by the time I reached the front of the line.

LUFTHANSA LADY: (with German accent) I can put you on a wait list for a flight this afternoon, but they are all full and will probably be cancelled. I can put you on a flight tomorrow, but that will probably get cancelled as well. Or, you can have a train pass.

ME: (lengthy pause, due not to deep thought, but the mouthful of chocolate I was swallowing) Train sounds good.

LL: Here’s your pass. Here’s the form for your luggage.

ME: Great, where do I grab my bag from?

LL: You don’t. We won’t be able to track it down for a while. I don’t know when we’ll be able to find it and get it to you. Next!

There I was in snow-struck Germany with nothing but the clothes on my back. The clothes on my back were picked in the confident knowledge that upon arrival my uber-warm jacket was waiting for me in my bag, along with everything else remotely wind resistant. I love cold weather, that’s why I packed for it, but I didn’t anticipate stepping straight into it. I was bathed in cotton - specifically a t-shirt, cargo pants and a pair of converse shoes.

I tried 5 different versions of a doe-eyed sob story with 5 different Lufthansa officials that day. All of them ended with the gasping, hysteria-tinged statement…

“Look at what I am wearing! It is snowing outside and I am in a t-shirt!“

The last time I tried it on an uninterested woman I gave it an Old Spice variation to see if it might spark her interest purely for originality (I wasn’t the only one begging for my luggage that day).

“Look outside, now look at me. Now look outside, now back to me. I’m in a t-shirt!“

Nothing. Waste of a good line really.

Either bemusement is the national default expression of Germany, or everyone on my 2 trains that day agreed that my outfit choice was a little faulty. I made an emergency jacket purchase when I finally arrived in Münster, then found my friend who was living in the town who put me (1 serving of fried cheese later) to bed 48 hours after my journey had begun. When I woke up the next morning I discovered the jacket I bought was green… which was odd because I distinctly remember thinking it was blue the night before.

I came away from this experience with 2 things. Firstly, I really admire the survival skills of the needy and the homeless in making do with what they have under all conditions. Secondly, if nothing else, this experience has affirmed to me my deep and unwavering commitment to materialism. I really, really like owning stuff. When my pack finally arrived today I actually held it in a passionate embrace for far longer than was necessary. I like having things, and I’m not ashamed to admit it.

As a side note, you’re probably not wondering, but what was the final, panicked item I inexplicably threw into my hand luggage as I headed towards the door? Summer pajamas. I have no idea why. They weren’t practical, but at least they gave me something to change into while I washed the clothes on my back.

Painefull Out

Saturday, November 27, 2010

You’re Surprisingly Pretty

There are some things that need to be said, some things that must be said, and others that inevitably, one way or another, will be said. It might be important (‘Your hair is on fire’), it could be informative (‘Your dress is tucked into your underwear’), or perhaps it’s interesting (‘They didn’t find out they were related until after they got married’). But far more infamous and unfortunate are the things that are Better Left Unsaid.

Exhibit A: Compliments are awkward enough to take when they’re clear. So what about when they’re bewildering? A relative stranger had this to say to Peta during a recent Saturday night.

Stranger: I’m not hitting on you or anything, but you’re surprisingly pretty.

‘Surprisingly’? Really? How does that work exactly? Did you view her from afar, and upon closer inspection find yourself shocked? Did someone say ‘Hey, there’s Peta’ then you turned to discover Peta was female (understandable, her name is her curse), to your astonishment? I’m going to go out on a limb and say that if you were hitting on her it was a swing and a miss.

Needless to say words uttered on a Saturday Night make up their own sub-category in the Better Left Unsaid department. Another grouping, which is something of a niche field for me, is Attempts At Humour that are Better Left Unsaid.

While on the phone to my boss one day I made a vintage entry into this cannon. We were discussing a beloved and respected colleague’s latest achievement. It was a spirited conversation in which I closed out with what I felt was the perfect punch line, mimicking the voice of said beloved colleague while uttering words he would never dream of saying.

Me: Suck on that bitches.

Boss: (delicate pause on the other end of the line) The 7 year old in the back seat of the car is rather amused by that.

Yes, I was on speaker phone. That old chestnut. Clearly declaring ‘suck on that bitches’ in the presence of the boss’s children goes into the Better Left Unsaid file.

Nervous quipping is also a constant source of unfortunate phrasing. A medical professional was preparing to take a blood sample from me at the doctor’s surgery just the other day. Needles make me particularly anxious, which is the only excuse I can come up with for responding to his question about the origin of a bruise on my arm with…

Me: Probably from some violent sex game.

Let’s be brutally honest, that one-liner’s not even funny when you know it’s not true. For a stranger it’s just going to be awkward and creepy. For a humourless stranger holding a needle it’s an excuse to be in no way reassuring or communicative.

To round out my most recent top 3 Attempts At Humour that are Better Left Unsaid I turn to a drunken, ill-conceived, ill-managed exchange with a potential client of Sister Lawyer when I was introduced to him at a little soiree Mother Painefull threw last night.

Mother Painefull: Blah Blah, this is my youngest daughter…

Blah Blah (of the Carolina Blah Blah’s): Pleasure to meet you… (holds out his hand politely)

Me: (offering my clenched fist) I prefer to bump.

Pause to allow crickets to chirp mournfully in the background.

Blah Blah: What?

Mother Painefull: She’s joking.

Just so we’re clear, white, middle-aged businessmen don’t prefer the fist bump. They also don’t appreciate fist bump humour/won’t understand what you are offering. Another fun fact – a boozy Christmas work lunch, followed by a boozy family event = innumerable things that are Better Left Unsaid (among them, inexplicably, the bellowing of the phrase “I’m 25, I don’t get hungover!”). When those things are said through a mouthful of bread and laced with more expletives than a Mark Latham rant, in the presence of some of your parents oldest, dearest and kindest friends you will get mocked mercilessly the next day. The mockery is deserved. So is the death via embarrassment.

Some things cry out for verbalization. Sometimes I suspect I may actually specialize in all the other things, the ones that are clearly Better Left Unsaid.

Painefull Out

Thursday, November 18, 2010

All The Lovers

Romance isn’t really dead, it’s just not returning my calls and pretending no one’s home when I drop by unannounced. That may seem like an extreme statement, exaggeration perhaps, but sadly it’s true. One of my friends has taken to (accurately) referring to my residence as The Nunnery.

A little while ago several work colleagues turned their laser-beam gaze upon me and asked about my love life for the first time (apparently 4 months into any job is the point when one is contractually obliged to share) and my response was so disappointing they seemed to think I was lying. Wouldn’t it be a better lie if it involved someone genuinely lusting after me? Aren’t lies meant to be comforting… to someone… somewhere?

Me: Oh me? No. Love-free… loveless…

Colleague: Come on now…

Me: No, really. Nothing right now. Nada. My love life is a vacant field – occasionally tumbleweed blows through (but the tumbleweed gets embarrassed about being seen there and moves on quickly).

Colleague: Oh, you’re boring then.

Me: Yep.

Don’t think my mother hasn’t noticed my barren spell, she recently took the left-field strategy commonly know as ‘When Are You Planning On Having Kids?’. I think she wants to avoid getting stuck in the mud of my single status (we’ve already had the earnest conversation where she assured me she could handle a gay daughter, if it came to it) and is going for the long con that if I become clucky I’ll start a desperate man-hunt. She’s had to stop telling me about her friend’s cute sons now that they’ve all gotten married. I have responded with my own gambit entitled ‘Random But Pointed References to IVF’.

Not to sound like Katherine Heigl playing yet another shrill, workaholic in a badly written Romcom, but there’s still time. I’m 25, so not only is there still time, but my vacant womb hasn’t exactly started running down a clock on me.

There’s also other things in life. I am not simply trying to reassure myself, I do have interests. And yes, in time, should it be necessary, I will simply buy some cats (before I do that, I’ll figure out a way to find cats endearing).

It could be worse, I could be in a relationship, let’s not pretend the commentary doesn’t stop there. I totally understand that for many women getting married is really important. It’s all… special, and… best-day-of-my-lifey. Some women even set themselves deadlines (not that there's anything wrong with that, I am not here to judge people’s life choices, I’m open-minded, I just don’t like seeing it in public).

When it comes to romance I might not win any awards, but there are always some to hand out.

The No-Surprise, Surprise! Award (aka If Katy Perry’s Married It’s Probably Time Dear…)

Kate & Will

I’m sure there will be a part of the impending 12 months of royal wedding mania I enjoy. It will probably involve any discussion of wedding cake, and the moment when the guests start arriving at the big day and you see just how small the gene pool is for European royalty. For Kate Middleton it will be the relief of knowing that now the tabloids will stop focusing on her ring finger and sullenly unmarried looks, and instead move on to obsessing over her weight and whether she has a bun in the oven.

As a side note, people have got to stop calling it a fairytale wedding while playing vision of Diana and Charles… I don’t know that that marriage should be a template. For anyone.

The Come On Now, I Swear You’re Just Out Of Nappies Award (aka Bieber-fied)

My nephew David

He’s in Year 5, and he just updated his Facebook status to ‘In a relationship’. Apparently the girl in questions is ‘really hot’, and they do regular Couple Things like hold hands and hang out. Did I mention he’s in Year 5? His Facebook announcement received a comment from someone so equally junior that they had to do a follow-up comment just to ‘lol’ the fact that they had used the word ‘whom’.

Yes mum, he probably will get married before me. Them’s the breaks.

Finally The Seriously? That Was You On A Date? Award (aka Jennifer Aniston Will Never Be Truly Alone)

Some Random from

He attempted to seduce my friend Peta (a girl, who’s seen every gender mix-up gag there is) while on a first date at a bar by telling her she was too tall and demanding she take off her heels, and begging her to take her hair out so he could see how long it was, after which he couldn’t help but point out that she had a few split ends.

Thank you, Random from, for reassuring women everywhere that yes, they can do better. Oh, and stop emailing and messaging Peta to try and set up another date. I can’t imagine how you could possibly top your first attempt.

Painefull Out

Monday, October 18, 2010

Confessions of a Gen Y

There comes a time in every Gen Y’s life when the universe delivers a well-deserved, gift-wrapped slap to their smugness. Let’s be frank, these aren’t one-off events, these are necessary course-corrections. Like the recession we had to have or the election we had to live through, they are the discomforting moments that remind my generation that we are indeed mere mortals. Some of us go to rehab and some of us wake up with a facial tattoo. Some wash out of reality television and discover no one can differentiate us from the last 3 blondes that could sing and cook at the same time. Some of us are clever enough to have a blog, and stupid enough to think people won’t come across it.

Guess which one I am.

It could have been worse. I could be that girl who made up a superbly private power point presentation of all her sexual exploits only to have it go viral (yes, ‘viral’, I haven’t had to show this much punning self restraint since a friend who lives in both Australia and Germany referred to herself as ‘dual-rooted’).

There’s nothing more clichéd that a Gen Y getting caught out by the fact that they’ve lost the ability to differentiate between the private, the public and the social network. Is there a switch that gets flicked in us that turns off our ability to stop sharing minute, superfluous details with the world? I am writing this online, so I suppose the answer is yes. I almost feel like I should start a Facebook group for fellow over-sharers (I assume that like riding a segway, starting a Facebook group is something that can only be done ironically).

You know what else is clichéd? Gen Y types bitching about work online. I thought I’d try something a little different.

The Top 3 Reasons My Workplace Rocks Are…

3. Cheesecake Day. A day dedicated to eating cheesecakes. Work was also done this day, in between the consumption of cheesecakes.

2. The field trip to a Gold Class cinema in the middle of business hours (ignore the fact that it was to see the utterly pointless, effortlessly boring Eat Pray Love – oh woe is me, I’m middle class and white, suffering through the indignity of living in one of the most glorified cities in the world, pity me as I travel and narrate my convenient life lessons!)

1. The Boss who didn’t lose her shit, and was indeed rather cool in general, upon discovering I have a blog… in which I may or may not have described her (vaguely).

In my defense I am a horrible judge of first impressions. I am also a horrible giver of first impressions. Knowing both of these things, Communications really does seem like an odd career choice. A few key lessons – word choice is everything, 1st impressions should never be recorded, cheesecakes are forever.

Painefull Out

P.S. I was saving these up and have no where to put them…

How many Chilean miners does it take to change a light bulb? They don't care - they’ve got sunglasses on, they can’t see shit anyway.

Name two global events which provoke religious fervor, but which Australians don’t fully understand or care about, unless there’s a chance an Aussie might win something? The World Cup and Canonization.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Someone Else’s Seachange

Making massive life changes requires balls. These balls are metaphorical and genderless – that’s why I can say with complete confidence that my sister Elspeth is sporting a giant, enviable pair. She has recently taken up my father’s offer to become a partner in his small business, leaving her old job at a large, inner city, triple-name* firm to do so.

She’s doing it for awesome, old school reasons like having the chance to tuck her kids into bed each night and being her own boss.

But even her old school sensibilities haven’t prepared her for the positively vintage nature of dad’s business. He is the only lawyer I know of that doesn’t actually use a computer. Or a laptop. Or a blackberry. Or his own email account. Or a mobile phone at all. In his personal office the only word processor is his brain. When he works on a matter there is one font, and its name is ‘longhand’.

Don’t you worry, his mind is as sharp as the pencil he uses to make notes. His pencil is sharp because there’s an old-fashioned winding pencil sharpener attached to a bench just outside his door. The only thing sharper than that pencil, is the pins dad uses to attach documents to each other… you see in his own way my father is rather PPC. Pre-Paperclip. Anyone who receives mail from him with any regularity knows never to simply shove their hand into the envelope, unless they want to draw blood.

My father’s business is so old he occasionally still receives payment in the form of produce. Dad’s firm has been around for so long Elspeth found a whole section of legal forms in the back room that aren’t actually used anymore. His practice has been running for so many years he has 3rd generation clients.

Obviously you can’t run a business for that long without be ridiculously smart and good at what you do.

That doesn’t mean there isn’t a severe case of culture shock coming Elspeth’s way – after all ‘the past is a foreign country: they do things differently there’. They say fortune favours the bold. It also favours the beautiful and the benevolent. How fortunate indeed that E fits into all 3 categories.

Watching someone else make any sort of seachange is like watching them unwrap a present. You really, really hope they’ll like it. In this case the gift being unwrapped is rather like a heritage-listed knitted jumper. It’s a niche fit. Luckily Elspeth is the sister that looks good in anything.

Painefull Out

* Why does having 3 names in the title make a business seem instantly credible and established? If I said I was working for the accounting firm of Them, They & Those I can guarantee I would find a group of suits at Friday drinks who would nod approvingly in response.

Monday, September 13, 2010

The Stripper Cruise

Some people race in boats, some people wage war in them. There are those that live aboard a vessel, and those that holiday on one. But then there’s those few, those lucky few, those band of brothers… the men who strip afloat. So many able Seamen.

The bride-to-be wore denim. The writhing man moving around her wore nothing. If marriage really is an institution, the Hen’s Night is the seedy frat house everyone visits at least once on the way there, disinfecting quickly afterwards.

It began with an elegant lunch in the city. The bridesmaids all warned us repeatedly that Cathy didn’t know about the stripper cruise that was to follow, and we needed to keep it a surprise. We were like a vault with that secret, a vault whose door was slightly ajar – within 2 hours 5 different people had accidentally let it slip to the bride, then begged her to keep their revelation confidential. Cathy was in no position to complain – she is after all the girl who told someone she was busy on Saturday because she was going to be at their surprise birthday party.

From the classy, understated lunch (the type where they serve you plates of raw, earth-tinged vegetables that you then delight in chopping yourself) to the stripper cruise.

Take several rabid groups of women, add alcohol, set adrift, include a mildly offensive MC and unveil a range of naked men. For best results, pray for calm weather.

The moment the man with a grating Nickelback voice bellowed “Do we have any Asian ladies in the house? How about Italians? Can I hear from the Greeks? How about the Australians?” it was always going to be an evening to remember. Because I know you were wondering, yes he did have a catch phrase, and it was “Somebody scream!”

Needless to say, many obliged him with their vocal cords. It was on for young and old, old being personified by the stately, yet surprisingly spry grandmother with tightly curled grey hair and a walking stick who dry-humped one startled man for the cheering crowd. In many ways it was like returning to high school, all the cliques were represented: the 80’s group, the wig-wearing group, the pregnant group, the westie group and the slutty group.

The actually stripping was kicked off by what I can only imagine was envisioned as a respectful and moving tribute to 9/11 by a well-built man in a fireman’s costumer. He was followed by a performer titled ‘The Rock Star’ – he was so camp he was a show tune away from jazz hands, I bet they sure do miss him on Broadway.

One by one each bride-to-be was led to the centre of the room where they underwent the kind of exchange that might be considered sexual harassment if we were in David Jones.

When you turn 16 you learn how to drive. When you turn 21 they give you champagne glasses. When you get married they present you with a naked man. That naked man is buff, hairless and loves himself sick. He enjoys ladies night every night, and does rather well for himself.

I imagine in the epic gender debate that has worried the world for generations the stripper cruise is someone’s last laugh, I’m just not entirely sure whose. Or maybe it’s just a sign of sisterhood – if you like a friend enough, you will join her on the good ship lollipop. It’s certainly not a bland experience, twas a memorable night indeed. Not that it needs remembering, thanks to Facebook the photographic evidence will live on long after those well-muscled bodies give way to fat.

Painefull Out

Saturday, August 28, 2010

The Election So Nice We'll Probably Do It Twice

In the grand tradition of electoral coverage, let's take a look at the numbers.

Options for the next vote...

- If it's an even split now, let's experiment by having everybody vote in the opposite direction of how they went the first time
- Turn the horrifyingly boring forums into cage death matches
- Have everybody's children run in their place... oh wait, Gillard doesn't have children, she's barren and loveless and has no fruit in her bowl (it's easy to forget, it barely comes up these days)
- Base all votes on the size of the hat a candidate is wearing

Painefull Out

Sunday, July 25, 2010

The Word of the Week

The word of the week comes thanks to a T-shirt sighted on the day that Lindsay Lohan began her jail sentence. It bore the word ‘Linnocent’. Now seeing as that’s a new word, I feel it holds room for definition.

Linnocent – to be guilty and deserving of punishment while remaining convinced you are being wrongfully persecuted. Example: “OJ Simpson was Linnocent.”

This opens a large door out onto a world of possibilities. Celebrities as definitions.

– to steal the limelight of a stunned person with a meaningless protest. Example: “Taylor never saw the Krashye coming.”

(as in, ‘to have a Sheen’) – to have a seemingly indestructible career, no matter what one does. Example: “He had such a great Sheen, even threatening his wife with a knife didn’t stop him getting a pay rise.”

I am certainly not going to pretend to be linnocent when it comes to the creation of words myself. Neither is Sarah Palin (just another thing, on top of moose-hunting and creationism, that the former governor and I have in common). Sarah Palin’s life is so full of up’s and down’s it’s practically Shakespearean, which is why she likened herself to the bard. There’s no point refudiating that fact (there’s a twitter account called Shakespalin now, so it must be true).

Just for your reference…

– reject an idea or premise. Example: “It’s hard to refudiate that she sees Russia from her house, when she can’t help but wonder if it’s true.”

Painefull Out

Monday, July 19, 2010

Gen Y & Proud

When did people my age become society’s generational piñata? When did people stop calling each other ‘dickheads’ and start calling each other ‘Gen Y’, as if the phrase holds equal venom?

When people use the words ‘Baby Boomers’ it evokes cooing affection, as if to say “Oh, aren’t they sweet with their cardigans, and their worldly advice, and their delayed retirement.” When people refer to ‘Generation X’ they’re overcome with visions of edgy cool, as if Winona Ryder invented disinterested chain smoking and that became their inheritance (they seem to be the last group of people in the world that doesn’t have to justify their nicotine addiction).

But ‘Gen Y’ is somehow shorthand for the person at your office that you can’t stand, the girl on the train holding a blackberry and an iPhone, and the barman who recently quit uni and is still living with his parents. It’s like we’re the go-to villains for daily living – if life was a movie we would be the Nazis.

For some reason it didn’t bother me when my siblings replied to any momentary indecision on my part with, “You’re so Gen Y.” But then my parents picked up the habit. Then I heard a couple of 40-year-olds mutter it when a boy skate boarded past and got in their way. For one thing, the boy was under 10, so I think the Twin Set Posse doesn’t actually know what Gen Y is. For another thing, you know who else is not Gen Y. Mel Gibson, Tiger Woods and the former Mr Sandra Bullock. So, just to be clear, being Gen Y doesn’t actually mean you’re the devil.

Sure we’re selfish and smug and generally irritating. We may think the world owes us something while being outraged we need to give anything in return. There’s the high chance that our obsession with social media will lead to the downfall of humanity, and yes, Lindsay Lohan is among our number. But we never tried to make you wear tencel jeans, just like every generation before us we to have been dragged into a war we don’t like, and as with so many people our age we are yet to come across any proof that we are actually wrong (about anything). We haven’t had our chance to stuff up the world yet.

We didn’t invent the Yuppie, we just perfected it. We didn’t create workplace ambition, we just turned having a career into a blood-sport. We’re not indecisive, we just want one of everything. Peter Pan was created long before we refused to grow up, and of course we don’t like hard work, that’s what Google was invented to get rid of. Why make plans if we intend to be late to everything?

Yes, there are plenty of Gen Y tossers out there. But there’s also Dick Cheney, Gordon Ramsay, Tori Spelling and Justin Bieber. Each generation has a lot to answer for. Unless people start sighing “Baby Boomers” every time someone offers completely unsolicited life advice, and grumbles “Gen X-ers” the minute a woman discovers botox, I think it’s time to cool it on the use of “Gen Y” as a form of abuse.

It’s the beauty of a free, civilized society. People are perfectly capable of annoying the shit out you no matter how old they are.

Painefull Out

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Life: The Musical

If film has taught us anything (and let’s be frank, it’s taught us most things) it’s that life simply doesn’t work without a soundtrack. If Glee has added anything on to this educational bandwagon, it’s that if we could all sing (we can’t, let’s be clear, don’t delude yourself, the Idol judges were correct to reject you) then life probably would be, should be and, dare I say, could be a musical. The lot of us are all so utterly dramatic in our own heads, so prone to stage-managing our entrances, so enamored with costume changes, so keyed towards the holy glow of the boom-tish laugh line (that tells the world we are both cool and funny), that if we occasionally broke into song and dance it would just make sense.

I was reminded of our propensity to stage mental musicals just the other day. Livinia reported that as she leapt into her car to race against the clock to get her visa in time for her flight the next day her radio automatically began pumping ‘I Will Survive’, followed by ‘Eye of the Tiger’, followed by the timely ‘She’s A Maniac’ (when listed it really does seem like she accidentally got into a time machine, instead of her car). She is now in Santorini, Greece, and by god if she doesn’t have an experience worthy of Mamma Mia! then she’s just not trying.

Perhaps life would be better if we could pre-program the song book to match our days, but we seem perfectly capable of finding the Musical moments anyway. Most of my memories come with a matching theme.

I am most famed in my family for a song and dance number I choreographed aged 7 to a Bette Midler number. It was not ‘Wind Beneath My Wings’, nor ‘The Rose’. No, it was the thematically troubling ‘Miss Otis Regrets’ – the tale of a woman who can’t be at a lunch appointment* because she has shot her unfaithful lover, then been hung on a willow by a lynch mob.

As I faithfully re-enacted the lyrics to my gaping family in the lounge room (Key Performance Moment #1: “From under her velvet gown, she drew a gun and shot [shot!] her lover down…”) I failed to see the problem. It was, after all, the most descriptive tune I could find (Key Performance Moment #2: “They strung her up on the willow across the way, and the moment before she died… she lifted up her lovely head and cried, madam…”). There’s probably nothing quite like watching a 7 year old pretend to hang herself while belting out a show tune. Why I did this remains unclear (though it’s now a commonly requested drunken classic at family gatherings – dead horse, beaten), but I suspect 7 year old me simply knew that life only really works when it’s a musical.

Musical moments pepper both the mundane and the significant occasions. Who knows why I insist on humming the theme tune to Charlie’s Angels whenever I am waiting for something? It’s certainly not a result of watching the TV show… because I’ve never seen it. Why would the cremation centre where we farewelled my grandfather insist on playing a cheesy instrumental version of ‘I Can’t Live (If Living Is Without You)’? If it was to cause my sisters and I to belt it out in a moment of black humour during the car trip home then it succeeded.

I know why I used to provide jazz hands to my own internal version of ‘Le Freak’ (“Ah, freak out!”) while at my old job, occasionally concerning crew members by incorporating them into a dance set to a song they couldn’t hear. I fully understand a family performance of ‘I Gotta Feeling’ by the Black Eyed Peas one night last Christmas holidays that led to one of my aunts nearly hurling on the beach the next morning. I don’t think anyone on my street can comprehend why I begin doing sideways slides and jazz leaps when the theme for Austin Powers starts playing on my iPod.

When I found out Dad had bowel cancer last week I began inexplicably humming the opening few bars of Bohemian Rhapsody for 2 days straight.

Music is what we do to express what we can’t. The fact that most of us really can’t sing (or dance) is the only thing that keeps us in check. I know I can’t sing because in a compulsory Drama class choir in Year 10 the self-nominated group leader had to ask me to mime because I was putting everyone else off. Then there were the 5 different musicals I tried out for – the best I did was being a dancer in Romeo & Juliet. Dancers in Romeo & Juliet? you ask… it also involved the entire cast wearing white plastic masks which we slowly removed and raised to the sky while choral music played in the final scene. Sometimes the musicals in our head are better anyway.

Painefull Out

* Side note = if I had shot my lover and been hung by an angry mob for my troubles (and my name was Miss Otis), then not being able to make it to lunch would probably be the least of my regrets.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

My Life of Crime

Mistakes, I’ve made a few, but then again, too few compared to Lindsay Lohan.

I am a whole year older than Lilo, so I speak from a place of worldly experience. I totally get where she’s coming from. We all make bad choices, we all get caught, and, most of the time, we all wear underwear. If I had a dime for every time some schmuck spilt a drink on me I could probably afford to go to an MTV after party as well. And I once accidentally stole a friend’s passport and left her stranded in Bangkok (true story), replace my friend with a rednut wash-out and Bangkok with Cannes and you have one very good reason to miss a parole appointment.

My life of crime began at the tender age of 7 when I stole a sachet of tomato sauce from a fish & chip shop. Then and there it was evident my prospects for a career in thievery weren’t great – I was discovered sauced-handed by my mother a mere half an hour later. She made me accompany her back to the shop the next day to personally confess and hand over the 20 cents I owed the establishment.

At boarding school I was once honoured by an invitation to join the cool kids as they smoked on the roof of the boarding house. 3 steps out into the brisk evening air (filled with the scent of rebellion and the fragrance of teen angst) I tripped, went skidding down the tiles and found myself clinging for dear life to the guttering. My feet dangled above the broken shards of a bowl which had been thrown out of a window to avoid cleaning it just that morning. My co-conspirators hauled me back up to safety and, it goes without saying, I was never invited back out on to that treacherous rooftop of trendy sin ever again.

A few years later, when wandering out of the school grounds with a fellow boarder a little before midnight we took one step out of the gate and ran smack bang into our House Mistress. Somehow we managed to convince her that I had a headache and we were looking for an aspirin.

So, with no future as a shoplifter, cat burglar or prison break specialist to look forward to, where could I turn? True I once made off with a decade’s worth of UKTV stationery (my parents are still writing shopping lists on it to this day), but I suspect no one missed it. Sure, I have a mug in my kitchen labeled ‘Nilfisk’… but I don’t know what that is, let alone how I got it. I can admit I still have a t-shirt I liberated from a someone’s washing in high school and my copy of the first Coldplay album has the name Peter written across it, but clearly those 2 items have found a better home (and who the hell is Peter? I think I have lived an entire life with a Peter… my sister’s former boyfriend Pete Repeat doesn’t count).

I was forced to give up on the notion of being a smooth criminal. The only path left to me was sarcasm. You see sarcasm isn’t the lowest form of wit, it’s the last outlet of failed criminals (hence all the pithy, smug retorts in Law & Order). Between the sarcasm and the endless glasses of wine, going all Robin Hood on the law’s arse seems like way to much of an effort.

I’m not saying wine is Lindsay’s answer… with the DUI and the rehab, that’d be like trying to cure rabies with a fresh dog bite. The answer for Lindsay is take a hint and stop tempting fate in general. Unless George Clooney is running your crew, Clive Owen’s your inside man and Robert De Niro is riding shotgun you will not stay 2 steps ahead of the law. Especially as you insist on keeping us updated with Twitter.

I would suggest Lilo try something novel, push the boundaries of our expectation and attempt to act in a few movies. I'm sure she'll find inspiration for a Mean Girls sequel at some point over the next few months.

Painefull Out

Saturday, July 3, 2010

A Worthwhile Prick

I have a rather overwhelming fear of needles. It’s an anticipation thing, and a pain thing, and ultimately an ick thing. I got so worked up when I last went to get a tetanus shot the doctor had to hand me a toy she normally gave 6 year olds and ask me to press the buttons to distract me. I know I’m not made for life or death situations, for high-powered decisions, or very possibly for the experience of giving birth, because if I was I think I would have gotten over the needle thing by now.

When I was at high school a friend once asked me whether I donated blood and I laughed at the absurd concept. Even writing that feels rather selfish, and I can’t help but judge teenaged me a tiny bit.

My father has recently become intimate with the joy of blood transfusions. He doesn’t sit in a hospital for hours getting a foreign substance pumped into his veins for the fun of it – he does it so he can lead a normal life and continue to be the awesome, quietly intellectual, utterly generous dad that I know and love.

I’m that special brand of stupid that required a physical example to snap me out of my selfish streak. The fact that my dad’s health and quality of life has been assured by the assistance of random, anonymous strangers who owed him absolutely nothing had me staring into space for an hour (sorry new employers, that was on your dime).

I decided to suck it up, get over the ick and sign on to donate blood. I was so chuffed with myself I rang my father straight after booking and told him I was doing it. He said he thought that was a nice idea, especially as he’d recently had to stop after giving his own blood for years.

Everyone at the blood bank was so chilled out about what they were doing. I may have thrown them a little when I sprinted through the front door and nearly knocked someone over as I scrambled to the bathroom. In my nervousness in the lead-up that morning I had taken their advice to stay hydrated a little too seriously, so much so that as the woman slid the needle into my skin she muttered under her breath “Wow, you really are hydrated”. It should also be noted that my blood spatter/CSI/vampire/Twilight gags all fell flat on the day.

And then, after 10 minutes of staring pointedly at anything but my arm, it was done. People that say “It doesn’t hurt” are benevolent liars – it does, but not enough to justify not doing it.

As I exited the staff even whipped me up a chocolate milkshake, and I couldn’t help but wonder if in the blood-milkshake exchange, I had got the better end of the deal. And there’s the fact that I also got my father, so with the dad-milkshake double, it hardly feels like I gave them anything in return at all.

Painefull Out

Friday, June 25, 2010

Rise Of The Ranga

It was all very sudden. He was tearful, the coverage was wall-to-wall, twitter was afire and, most importantly, her hair looked fabulous.

According to everyone with a microphone, today was one of the most historical and mesmerizing days Australian politics has ever seen. That doesn’t mean everyone was interested though. Our sitting Prime Minister may have gotten paranoid, accidentally kick-started a coup, been confronted by his deputy, called a party room ballot, decided not to contest that ballot, cried live on every available television channel, then our first female PM was sworn in by our first female Governor General… all in less than 24 hours… but in some places that’s just not exciting enough.

I walked into the beauty salon for a hair appointment and was greeted by the 10 year old at reception I occasionally humour by allowing near my brows (when I can't find anyone who's up for a game of Russian Roulette).

Me: Can you believe we have a new Prime Minister this afternoon.

10 year old: Is that what people were talking about on Facebook? I thought I missed something.

I then sat down in front of my magnificent hairdresser (that rare kind that actually wants you to look better when you walk out than when you walked in). She’s a charming lady, but I always get nervous and begin feverishly reaching for conversation starters as she whirs around me with scissors. Luckily I had a fresh and topical one to kick us of.

Me: So, if you could do anything you wanted, if it was completely up to you, what would you do with Julia Gillard’s hair?

Hairdresser: Who?

Pause as I wait for an ironic laugh. None arrives.

Me: Our new Prime Minister.

Hairdresser: Oh… is that her name? I really don’t pay attention to those kind of things.

And why would you? It was kind of inevitable in the end anyway. I suspect there’s actually a secret society more powerful than the Freemasons, the Illuminati and the Skull and Bones society put together. They are The Rangas.

It’s hard to deny their power when you think about it – history is littered with a veritable who’s who of Ranga members. Van Gogh, Elizabeth I, Oliver Cromwell, Richard Lionheart, Molly Ringwald, Churchill, Thomas Jefferson… the list is endless. The Spice Girls didn’t have a Blonde Spice, they didn’t bother with a Brunette Spice, but you can bet your arse they had a Ginger Spice – why do you think they went on to global domination? Sure they’ve got their misfits, their Duchess Fergies, their L. Ron Hubbards, but Dan Brown wouldn’t dream of touching them for fear of retaliation.

I know some people are horrified by Prime Minister Gillard’s accent – I must admit every time I hear her dulcet tones it still inexplicably surprises me – but in the end it’s kind of reassuring. She sounds more honest, if she were a phony she’d have hit elocution lessons hard 2 years ago. In case she ever tries to play it down, fate gave her a deputy called “Waaaayne”.


Painefull Out

Monday, June 21, 2010

A Bra For All Seasons

I’ve had to do some stupid things in the name of work before. I’ve had to do some fairly appalling things in the name of work as well. From dealing with an adult in a nappy at the Royal Easter Show, to calling a woman at 3am an hour after the body of her daughter was found. From contacting 1,345 people to beg them to sign a piece of paper saying they would pay a giant corporation more quickly, to dressing up in a chicken suit. I once rang a dozen hospitals in Nashville, telling each receptionist I wanted to send flowers to Nicole Kidman’s newborn baby if they could just confirm the actress had given birth in the facility.

Then there's the plain embarrassing things, like just the other day when I was asked to go out and purchase some bras marketed at tweens. There is something so gobsmackingly inappropriate about these tiny garments (also called ‘bralettes’, which might give their flat-chested owners ‘tweenage’) and it was a slight challenge to have to continuously ask the shop people for assistance in tracking them down.

My first attempt went like this:

“I am looking for… and you are going to judge me for this… and there’s no easy way to ask… but I am looking for… I’m just going to say it… for bras for 8 year olds. Not for me – obviously. Visibly.”

Polite nod. The ‘visibly’ gag might have been too much, I certainly didn’t mean to direct the shop assistant to gauge my breast size.

“They’re for my boss.”

Awkward pause.

“He’s not a tween girl either. Obviously.”

Shop assistant leads me to the correct section of the store.

“And though he is a he, you should in no way interpret this as something that might be misconstrued as…”

The shop assistant has beat such a rapid retreat I am now talking to myself, which is quite fortunate as I wasn’t too sure how I was going to finish that sentence.

As I cruised the shopping centre, my attempts didn’t improve, though my collection of creepy, tiny bras did. It was foolish to use this collection in an attempt to illustrate what I was after in one store – it prompted one confused woman to state “Well you’ve got some, but you want more. Are you making a quilt?” I don’t know if she was being serious. When I automatically said “Yes”, I think she was a little unclear on whether I was being serious.

After this torturous odyssey, I came away with one question. It wasn’t ‘Why are companies making such creepy, tiny garments?’ – if it can be sold it will be made after all. My query was ‘Why would little girls want to rush the onset of bra use, when bras are eventually going to haunt them for the rest of their lives?’ It’s like wanting to own a car – grand thought, all that freedom, but you are going to be paying for petrol until the world runs out of it.

I know bra burnings are a little old-fashioned, but for bralettes I’d make an exception.

Painefull Out

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

The World Cup Con

I don’t think the World Cup really is a tournament, I suspect it’s just a really grand national delusion. Somehow, every 4 years, Australians find themselves utterly convinced that they love Soccer. And then, with little to no evidence to point to, they find themselves believing that Australia is an incredibly skilled Soccer nation.

Let’s weigh the facts:

- Even though we pretend we’ve stopped calling it Soccer and started calling it Football… our national team is called the Socceroos

- Even though we all know the names of our nation’s star players… it’s largely for their modeling work in advertising campaigns

- Most of us have never seen those players play… because they all play professionally in countries that care about the sport with a bit more regularity

Australia is the petulant, hot and cold lover that soccer plays a booty call on every 4 years. We are the cousin football runs into at big family occasions – we don’t know much about each other, it’s a bit awkward, and we may have shared one drunken, ill-conceived pash. Australia is to soccer, what the pair of work pants I wore last Friday is to me – every few years I wonder why I don’t wear them anymore, and one wedgie filled day at the office is enough of a reminder.

If we really cared about soccer we’d know and care whether its WAGS had tried their hand at a pop career, glamour modeling or porn. If the sport was that dominant it would have poached a few randomly selected NRL players by now. If it was such a big deal Down Under the controversy addled, former goalkeeper Mark Bosnich would be hosting his own sketch show.

And so we come back to the Grand World Cup Delusion, the sucker punch of global unity, flavoured with a splash of sporting glory and garnished with the truth of our own abject inability. The World Cup is the mirage a sport-obsessed nation can’t deny. Like our conveniently timed interest in sailing and judo (every time it garners us a gold medal/trophy) the World Cup offers a hint of elusive victory… and in the end Australians, above all things, really like winning.*

Painefull Out

* = Of course, if it was just about winning we would have given the Matildas, the only Aussie soccer team to have scored a trophy, a much bigger homecoming (their ticker-tape parade must be in the mail).

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Unemployment: The Farewell Tour

Sure finding a job is a challenge, picking the right interview outfit is a chore and selecting your referees is as tense as entrusting a phone-a-friend lifeline to your ingenious narcoleptic, perpetually drunk uncle who thinks mobile phones are a fad. But no one ever warns you about the pure trauma of having to actually attend the workplace on a daily basis.

No more sleep-ins, no more late brunches, no more “I’m free all day” boozy lunches. Farewell matinee movie marathons, goodbye “I’ve got some spare time, I think I’ll get fit”. Adieu revisiting old faithful television shows a season at a time, sayonara peer pressuring other people into chucking sickies so they can keep me company.

And casually reading the newspaper cover to cover – I’ll miss you most of all.

I gave it one good final whirl these past few days. I slept in till 11am each day, toured my favourite take-out haunts, watched the highlights of season 6 of Gilmore Girls and gadded about in ugg boots and jeans (wait, maybe I’ll miss my jeans most of all). I gave the petulant teen who lives in my building one final smug ‘yes, I really might have a sugar-daddy’ glance as he got home at 3pm last Friday. I received one last quizzical sneer as I checked the mail and waved to the construction workers across the road while sporting flirty bed hair and bright red pajamas (no, actually, I’ll miss using pajamas as leisure suit day-wear most of all).

I know work is coming, because it’s already invaded my dreams. I have woken up the last three mornings certain I had missed a deadline or already been fired. It’s like changing schools – new faces, new systems, new desks. I’ll have to do up a cheat sheet name chart and pretend to be coolly uninterested, yet pithy and casual, all the while a contributing team player who is taking any available bull by it’s horns. Dear god, the whole thing sounds so exhausting I need a nap already. Work does allow naps right?

But first I have to deal with that shadowy figure in my life – my alarm. We’ve been growing increasingly estranged over the past 5 months, and recently I’ve been screening its calls altogether. I know, it needs me, I need it, but is such avid co-dependency really that healthy in this day and age? I better set two, just in case.

Painefull Out

Sam Stosur – Runner Up… & that ain’t bad

I must admit to telling my nephews and niece at every opportunity that winning is the most important thing. It’s a fact of life, and it’s vital that someone drills it into them. They are kids of the generation that receive a trophy for walking through the doorway and a standing ovation for staying awake in class. They don’t even have school vice captains anymore – it’s felt that being a deputy is too belittling, so they just have 2 sets of captains.

If everyone gets an award for the Darwinian triumph of existing then why bother? Surely this is a great big signal that we can all go ahead and rest on our laurels. Strive no more for greatness, mediocrity is the new black.

But sometimes winning isn’t everything, sometimes working your arse off for years while no one pays attention and almost winning is just as impressive. I’m not saying Sam Stosur (French Open runner up 2010) will never win, but she deserves credit for coming so close this time around. If Alicia Molik had been beaten in the semi finals it would have been front page news, if Lleyton Hewitt had even made it to the quarter finals we would have seen TV promos for the match-up 24/7.

I haven’t seen the media jump on a tennis bandwagon so late in a tournament since everyone decided it was okay to like Jelena Dokic again (for the third time).

So congratulations Sam, because runner up ain’t bad. It worked out really well for Al Gore (though less well for his marriage), Anthony Callea got a career out of it, and Jennifer Hudson eventually scored an Oscar. The second Terminator movie ended up being better than the original, and losing out on first place in the final cheer-off in Bring It On probably made the Rancho Carne Toros better people in the end. I’m even advised (by Wikipedia) that the 2nd coming of Jesus will be a bigger deal than the first.

The most important thing isn’t always winning, it’s trying your absolute heart out to be the best and, for future reference Sam, not choking under pressure.

Painefull Out

Friday, June 4, 2010

Dear Fellow Drivers

In these days of epic weather, freak twisters, flash flooding, and soothing sideways rain I have one message for the residents of Sydney hitting our roads. It’s called ‘indicating’, how about we try and use it people?

Now I am the last one in a position to get narky about the driving of others, I’m no saint as my car can attest. The craft of vehicular maintenance is as lost to me as Megan Fox is to the Transformers franchise – which is to say, I rejected it because it seemed overrated. Every time I manage to scrape, puncture, scratch or dent a part of the Red Wagon I shake it off because the engine still runs. I have spent more money on the crisp, white Subaru of the woman I reversed into at full speed in a parking lot than on my own crumpled heap (largely because she ran the dining hall at the university I attended, and I’ve always had a strange affinity with eating).

But I do know the basics, otherwise I wouldn’t have a license (a fact that continues to baffle several of my family members). My education in all things motoring came via 3 people. My father was first off the rank when he took me to a vacant field, opened the bonnet of the car and talked me through how the whole thing worked. He also informed me I would only learn on a manual in case I found myself “trapped in the Sahara one day with a tribe bearing down on me, and nothing but a ute for my escape”. My mother also gave it an ill-fated crack. After spending half an hour laughing hysterically as I stalled my way down a 2km road and 30 seconds screaming as I took a sharp corner turn at 80km/hr and span us about with the smell of burning rubber she suspended her involvement from the case.

Then came my professional driving instructor – let’s call him Yoda. Yoda’s first rule was always, under every circumstance, now matter what indicate. He reasoned that if I was going to do something stupid behind the wheel, the least I could do was give my fellow road warriors the forewarning not to go near me for their own safety.

It’s simple really. I may have once tried to bend Big Red around a concrete poll in an abortive parking attempt, I may have lost traction at 70km/hr on a dirt logging trail and ended up facing the direction I had been coming from, and there’s the distinct chance I once accidentally snapped the handle off the driver’s door of my car as I checked it was locked, sending me tumbling backwards into the street… but I have never caused an accident with a fellow driver.

Say it with me gang, Indicate. Not many of you were doing it today, there are several of you out there who never do it. If you promise to try it out for kicks, then I promise to keep doing it, meaning you’ll be safe from me for a little while longer.

Painefull Out

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Things My Mother Told Me...

that turned out to be true:

- "You can’t embarrass me. I can embarrass you without even trying, but you can’t embarrass me."

- "You should have studied law."

- "If you keep going this way you're going to run out of eyebrows to work with. I fear for their safety."

- "I don’t want you to be friends with that person, I think she’s mentally unstable."

- "Share with people, then they’ll be forced to share back. Next time you have a choclate egg, share it with me."

- "That shirt is to big for you - people are going to mistake you for a boy and I'm not going to correct them."

- "So what if she's going on a date with the boy you like? Next time she tells you something like that, laugh and walk away - it'll make you seem mysterious."

- "Why are you so eager to shave your legs? You're going to spend the rest of your life doing it."

- "Your father gave you this obsessive behaviour, I just gave you bad knees and big breasts. Also, eventually, dementia."

Painefull Out

Friday, May 28, 2010

The Danger of the Douche

Isn’t social networking a glorious thing? Isn’t it the height of civilization? Doesn’t it make friendship an easy, breezy, commitment free blast? Won’t it keep you enlightened, but never frightened, by all the latest crazy fads hitting youtube? Don’t you feel good knowing the phrase ‘Facebook Stalking’ isn’t meant to sound disturbing?

But there remain hidden dangers – alarming risks we’re leaving ourselves open to. No, I am not referring to privacy. That old chestnut is a thing of the past – if you put a photo up it’s because you want it to be seen people, Facebook is a business why are we surprised they want to make money off the information we are willingly giving?

No, the real threat lies in the danger of the Douche. The Douche is the Trojan horse of the Facebook world. You decision to confirm their friendship will haunt you.

The Douche has gotten their wires crossed somewhere along the way, and found themselves believing Twitter and Facebook are the same things. They’re the ones that may have requested a Friend, but assumed they were getting a Follower. As a result they honestly believe you care about their thoughts, feelings and bowel movements. Then even worse than that… they start acting like John Mayer on crack, declaring philosophical insights with a knowing tone that implies we’re hanging on every word. Before you know it they're live-streaming their experience of sitting on a train and giving minute-by-minute coverage of a run-in with security at a department store as if hoping to give Perez Hilton a chance to cherry-pick his quotes.

It’s a rapid slippery slope, and the problem is when someone this self-obsessed and delusional gets going, it’s kind of mesmerizing. It is so hard to believe people this ridiculous exist that you need to keep checking in on them to assure yourself that it’s all true. Then you feel like enabler, then you judge yourself, and when you’re done judging yourself you go straight back to what you were doing before – judging the Douche.

Ways to spot the Douche:

1. They’re the type of person who will whip out their iPhone after being introduced to you, check the spelling of your name, and request your friendship on the spot

2. They will use Facebook to disseminate the link to a glowing review of their own work… provided by a childhood friend

3. They will offer up lines of poetry as they come to mind

4. They will provide occasional hints at their creative struggle, including the hurdles in completing their novel

5. They will announce they are compiling a manuscript of original poetry to send to publishers and ask if anyone can suggest some personal favourites from the Douche’s blog that should be included

6. They will reveal they are re-reading Nietzsche, then provide a quote as proof

7. They will give rueful accounts of being misunderstood by people who don’t see their talent

8. They're profile page will reveal via one line that 'i'm not like other girls/boys', but never explain why this is so... because as an avid fan you should just know they are an original soul who happens to dress and sound like a lot of other people eager to demonstrate how 'unique' they are

If you can spot them coming and ward off friendship*, then you will save time and frustration. Inevitably, the Douche unwittingly invites backlash upon themself. People can only take so much inane, condescending over-sharing before they lash out in anger via the comment button. It’s never nice, and it never works – it often leads to a Haiku to the Haters which begins the cycle once again.

Painefull Out

* = a term almost rendered meaningless online anyway

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

The Sickly Man

Mick is a bedridden, sickly man this week. My mother suggested I take him to the doctor. I told my mother Mick has the cold… and I’m not his mother. My mother suggested a home remedy I could brew for him. I reminded my mother that I am still not Mick’s mother. My mother told me to give Mick a hug for her. I was forced to stress that not only am I not Mick’s mother, but I’m also not his wife. My mother said the least I could do was give him a glass of orange juice. I gave in.

Mick’s still delivering tepid little man-coughs from upstairs, so clearly the OJ didn’t do the trick.

Full credit for being a team player though, at lunch he informed me he was going to lie in bed for the rest of the day so as not to infect me. Brilliant move - listening to him struggle to breathe properly was terribly distracting.

Painefull Out

Monday, May 24, 2010

My Mexican Lover Fernando

I’m not yet sure how I feel about high school reunions. I managed to be out of the country for my 5 year get-together, and my 10 year gathering is still 2 blissful years away (I like to hope I will have overcome my current unemployment affliction by then).

Who wants to hear about the marriage/divorce/pregnancy of the people I have been studiously avoiding ever since I finally shed braces, acne and a school uniform that included a kilt? There’s going to be the girl who gives me reassuring advice about finding a man (while showing photos of her dream wedding), the girl who had to toss up on whether or not to bring her own press clippings (she’s got 1 tucked into her clutch just in case), the girl who insists on bringing her boyfriend along (so he can be seen, but not heard) and the girl who’s looking to settle scores (and 5 drinks in, she will. What’s a shoulder without a chip on it?).

I imagine spending my entire time giving people the same biographical information, telling the same stories, reminiscing about the same ancient moments and then we all lurch off into the distance. I’m reliably informed 1 girl actually squatted and urinated in the street after the 5 year reunion. Sounds like a blast.

But then, today I was sent an email that almost makes all those conversations worth it, one that hinted at a story worth hearing in full. An old boarding school friend sent me this:

“i left in october, for columbia and we headed north, spent 2.5 months in panama, then to guatemala. after that ended up in mexico and im still here!

had no plan when i left and still don´t. not working, just travelling. bought a van.. which i still have so have been road tripping around.

i am travelliing with my mexican lover, fernando! im in his house now with the whole family... quite scary really. but they re lovely. i think the language barrier helps, who knows what each others saying but with a smile it doesn´t matter!”

Aside from ignoring the existence of upper case lettering… can anyone else claim to have traveled with their Mexican lover Fernando?? It’s like being given a window into a book about a redemptive journey of self discovery. Just take away the redemption and the discovery and add Fernando. Can you hear the drums?

In about 2 years, I will have fully recovered from this seething sense of jealousy. Then I think I’ll be ready for the full story. She can even bring Fernando along to the reunion if she likes.

Painefull Out

Monday, May 17, 2010

The Name Game

The other day I met a friend, only to discover that her name wasn’t her real name. The name we all knew her by (Meg) is in fact her middle name – she had simply decided that she preferred it over her actual name (Imogen). It was quite the revelation for everybody at the table. I didn’t know that was a thing. Am I allowed to come up with my own name, while legally keeping my old one, and simply introduce myself using it?

I’m toying with the idea of Delilah.

When do you have to reveal your true identity? Once you have revealed your real name, which one will people use? Which one do you answer to? I’m sure those closest to Superman/Clark Kent struggled with similar issues.

I get it. When I went to pre-school I lied and told everyone my name was Sarah. I guess I was just desperate to be a generic member of the large, overwhelming group of girls my age who were legitimately called ‘Sarah’ (kind of like if I was born 10 years earlier and yearned to be called ‘Jennifer’). Clearly I was desperate to fit in, and thus picked the title most widely associated with girls my age. In the future these girls will share names like Miley and Taylor.

Like so many youngest children, my elder siblings named me. They were inspired by a character from a popular mid 80’s Australian film (yes, my name is Mad Max). It could have been worse. I always feel sorry for any person called Richard – the jokes that come from having the first name ‘Dick’ work on every generation of children. Anyone under 20 called Winifred, Norman or Gerald also lost a special sort of lottery. Parents who invent names… get bashed enough, no need for me to join in.

I do love it when a family gets carried away by the naming process. It’s quite the feat that the Duggars have managed to give each of their 19 kids a name starting with ‘J’. Jinger and Jedidiah are the real unfortunates of the group – it’s not like mum and dad were running out of names at this point, Jason and Josie are both much younger. Special props to the parents who insist on rhyming names as well.

In the end, it’s always going to be a tough choice. Aside from giving life and emotional scarring, a name is the most permanent thing you hand over to your child. But I was under the impression you couldn’t get a do-over. Turns out I was wrong, an acquaintance recently changed her mind on the name of her son… 3 months after he was born. Of course she announced this via Facebook, so it’s all very official.

What’s in a name, really? If Barack Hussein Obama taught us anything, it’s that what someone is called can’t hold them back if they have potential. Prime Minister Judas is surely just around the bend.

Painefull Out

Friday, May 14, 2010

Pimp My Ride

The other day I gave my parents a lift to the airport. They were due at my place at 11am, and at precisely 11:02 dad came roaring into the house yelling at me to hurry up, stop dawdling, show a sense of urgency, stop mucking about, take him seriously, pull myself together and for god’s sake get in the car! The shock of hearing my father’s voice raised that loud actually slowed me down… luckily he didn’t see me pause on the stairs, he had already frantically run back out onto the street. I got into the car where mum, who was behind the wheel, was on the phone. We sat in tense silence for 5 minutes while she finished up, dad staring at his watch.

I didn’t take any of this personally. Dad’s a remarkably chilled out guy most of the time, and we weren’t even running late, but this was a special circumstance. My father’s personal kryptonite is going to the airport. It brings together all the variables that haunt him – packing, time, a hard deadline, traffic, paperwork and (in the most extreme examples) my mother. My mother is a brilliant woman, but she’s not famed for her timeliness. You could be sprinting to get the last train to the lost city of Atlantis, and she will hold you up because she’s just had a quilting epiphany and she needs to add a few stitches. All this comes together to haunt dad. The uncertainty of making it to the plane, and the sweaty panic this evokes is the stuff of legend.

Airports are dad’s Stress Vortex.

For some people their Stress Vortex is their annual attempt to quit smoking, for others it’s having the in-laws over for the full Mother’s Day weekend. Some people’s minds boggle at Christmas, and the family fun-ride it entails, for other’s it’s Summer and the threat of the cricket season kicking off.

Some people don’t have a Stress Vortex. That’s because they’re lazy.

My current Stress Vortex is based around my parent’s car, which I am babysitting. It’s full-time fancy. My neighbours would probably be pleased to see it gracing our street instead of my Red Wagon which has a dent/scratch on every available panel. My neighbours don’t get to see it though, because I’m so freaked out about damaging it in any way that I park it on a different, wider, more expensive street where I feel it truly belongs. The cars there wear smoking jackets and play polo in their spare time. I can barely bring myself to drive it, and when I do I show my rapidly approaching middle age by cruising a good 10km under any speed limit. I must be turning heads though – I received a toot of admiration from a truck driver as I crawled along the Eastern Distributor.

How can people with fancy cars even bring themselves to pull out of their gold-plated garages? I drive with reckless abandon because I know the only thing of value my car has to it is me (and that’s still being assessed). In my parents car it took me 10 minutes to perform a reverse park. In the Red Wagon I swerve in and know I’m suitably close when some part of the vehicle hits the curb. I’ve had to get so many tyres replaced the guys at the tyre shop call me the Black Widow.

Painefull Out

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Making the Sale

Does anything feel more dick-ish, than when one attempts to sell ones self? I imagine whores struggle with this all the time – how does one make a case for their professional ability without feeling like a giant knob? In the case of male escorts, I suppose that’s the aim, but for everyone else it’s a real struggle.

I have never spent so much time on a 2 page document in my life. That document is my Resume (also moonlighting as the bane of my current existence). Words and phrases I refuse to use include ‘goal orientated’, ‘go-getter’, ‘team player’, ‘leader’ or ‘track record of success’ – for one thing, I have never heard anyone use those words to describe me, and I don’t want to be the person who starts a trend. Those words and phrases describe the kind of person who creates their own committees and over-indulges in powerpoint presentations. Those words and phrases describe someone who is likely to ask you to “action that”… which IS NOT A THING. People who say “action that” are clinging to a catchy slogan the way Gretchen Weiners clings to “Fetch” in Mean Girls (“Gretchen, stop trying to make ‘fetch’ happen! It’s not going to happen”).

So should I be honest? When I left my last job my boss’s farewell speech referred to me as “The most cynical person I have ever met.” Is that a selling point? One boss once asked me if I was retarded. Perhaps I should scratch him from my referee list.

Writing a resume is like being allowed to write your own obituary. Gloss over the war crimes, skate past the infidelities and allow that bankruptcy/embezzlement moment to slip your mind. I imagine Lara Bingle’s resume refers to her ‘ability to make headlines’ (and money from the interviews that follow), Troy Buswell’s states he has a ‘nose for business’ (not to mention chairs) and Tiger Woods drops in that he’s a ‘world class player’ (insert comedic golfing pun at will).

I have also been informed by my siblings that I will struggle to impress any employer the minute they figure out I am in Gen Y. My siblings are all bitter Gen X-ers who envy my overwhelming ambition, selfish attitude to life and current unemployment. Of course they can’t help their bitterness, I’d be bitter to if I had to spend my professional life being thwarted by Baby Boomers. Most of the Baby Boomers I know are also now worried - probably because they’re my parents and they fear I may need to move home soon.

Perhaps I should add a non Gen Y quality to the list of skills on my resume to ease the concerns of those who might pay me to work. ‘Am philosophically opposed to Peter Pan’s lifestyle choices’, ‘Does not partake in Twitter’ and ‘Is ashamed to share a generational title with Justin Bieber’ are all options I am considering to beef up my credibility. If I really was properly Gen Y in all those horrible clichéd ways, I’d simply auction off my services on Ebay.

As is, I’m left with a blank word document and the burning desire to eat next month. First I need a few more cups of tea, a glass of wine or 2 while I read the paper, then plan a dinner party. Then I’ll sample some Mint Slice, vacuum the lounge room and have a nap. After that, I’ll get back to selling myself via The Resume – I will totally action that.

Painefull Out

Monday, May 10, 2010

Ode to Mothers

If I had created life
I’d have a God Complex too
If I could always be right
And know just what to do

Then I’d be a mother
All-seeing and all-knowing
All-cooking and all-cleaning
Eyebrow cocked at tantrum throwing

With an unofficial medical degree
And a passion for weekend sport
Owning a collection of vomit-stained shirts
And stretch marks of every sort

A Mother Look is crucial
From her guilt-inducing glare
To finding the latest lost object
You could’ve sworn wasn’t there

She will always be on duty
She will nag you because, “I know”
She will learn to think, not say
“Well, I told you so”

Mother is not her definition
But one of many parts
A mother is a Woman first
Capable, independent, smart

She will fix you when you’re sick
She will help you when you’re in strife
And she will call you all the time
To swap details on daily life

But isn’t it reassuring?
To know there will always be another
One who cares, and hopes, and gives
Because she is your Mother

Painefull Out

Friday, May 7, 2010

More Important Life Lessons

In a thrilling and (I believe) just piece of news, it has been announced that the American remake of Death At A Funeral will not be getting a theatrical release in Australia. Rejoice citizens, we have been saved from one of the most pointless movie remakes since Valentine’s Day tried to pretend it wasn’t Love Actually minus any charm, wit or heart. Now if we can somehow thwart the release of Wog Boy 2, we may yet save the human race from itself.

The British version of DAAF is so superbly funny, it remains absurd that Hollywood thought it needed re-doing at all. The fact that Martin Lawrence is still getting jobs after Big Momma’s House 2 is even more appalling. If the trailer of the latest version of DAAF is anything to go by, it seems it’s makers still have a lot to learn from the UK original. The Brits don’t always make great choices (especially when it comes to cricket team selection, and how to punish convicts), but their movies are worthy of study. Which got me to mulling…

The Things British Films have taught me

1. First and foremost, things are infinitely funnier when done with a British accent

2. Americans are also often funnier when employing a British accent (see Renee Zellweger in Bridget Jones’s Diary… but only the first one)

3. If you insist on gathering in a stately manor and surrounding yourself with snobbish, feuding relatives, someone will die (see Gosford Park)

4. If you insist on attending 4 weddings with your quirky, eclectic mix of friends, someone will die (see Four Weddings & A Funeral)

5. There is no setback life can throw at you that can’t be solved by dancing it out (see Billy Elliot)

6. If the above setback persists, try stripping (see The Full Monty)

7. Even the Spice Girls are fallible (see Spiceworld: The Movie)

8. If you are an old, venerated British actor and you haven’t been offered a role in the Harry Potter movies, you really should feel offended by now

9. Gwyneth Paltrow can be under-appreciated (see Sliding Doors)

10. Gwyneth Paltrow can be over-appreciated (see Shakespeare In Love)

11. Only the British could bring together Cher, Judi Dench, Maggie Smith and Benito Mussolini in the one movie (see Tea With Mussolini)

12. Women of all ages should be comfortable in their bodies (see Calendar Girls)

13. It’s true, school children really are much sluttier than they used to be (see the remake of St Trinian’s)

14. If you are standing beside Hugh Grant and he is dithering like a wet rag he is probably your soul mate, if he is leering, suggesting transparent clothing or in a fist fight in Colin Firth he is probably your biggest mistake (see Sense & Sensibility, Notting Hill, Four Weddings & A Funeral, Love Actually, Bridget Jones’s Diary, About A Boy, American Dreamz, etc)

15. Some people should stick to the small screen (see Ricky Gervais)

16. It is unwise to compare your age and achievements with the kids in the Harry Potter movies, you are better off reminding yourself that they are never going to escape the shadow of the franchise that spawned them (poor little typecast millionaires)

17. If you are standing beside Kate Winslet, step back, she's probably about to get nude. Good for her (see The Reader for most recent example, and lesson number 12)

18. There's nothing shameful about being a well dressed, brand savvy man, but it does help if you have a license to kill (see James Bond)

19. Of course the UK has more strong female film roles - they're wise enough to let women run the country (see Elizabeth, The Queen, The Young Victoria, Mrs Brown)

20. When the world is eventually overrun by zombies, and you must impersonate the undead in order not to get eaten, it's important nail their facial expression - "Vacant, with a hint of sadness, like a drunk who's lost a bet" (see Shaun of the Dead)

Painefull Out

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

The Fake Husband

The break-up isn’t going to be easy, there’s the emotional fallout to consider, not to mention the way the kids are going to react. I know we can still be friends, but that’s easy. It’s because we’ve only ever been friends… it’s my family that seems to be getting confused.

My poor housemate Jim has met my parents one too many times. I suspect they think we’re in the middle of some sort of romantic comedy – the kind where 2 people who’ve known each other for years turn to each other at the end and realize they belong together. We are not those 2 people. We have had several discussions where we have clarified we are not those 2 people. But until we can prove we are not those 2 people, my family may well cling to the idea.

When I received my invite to my brother’s wedding it was addressed to Painefull & Jim. It wasn’t your classic, unconditional ‘plus one’, it was your highly rigid ‘plus Jim’. Some of my nephews refer to him as Uncle Jim (admittedly he did attend one of their birthday parties dressed as a teenage mutant ninja turtle - Rafael I believe - complete with face paint and a washing basket attached to his back). He scores special baked goods from my mother, special shout-outs at family events and the spare bed in my old room has been christened ‘Jim’s bed’.

At a family dinner on Sunday (which Jim attended), I made some quip about my sibling’s kids being further confused by the fact that Jim and I live together. It was as if I had called everyone at the table Parking Inspectors, such was the defensive response. Snorting derision and purposeful mouthfuls of Chinese food abounded in between declarations of ‘no one being serious’, ‘we’re definitely not serious’, ‘no one’s confused’ and ‘we’re certainly not planning your wedding, drawing up a guest list and agreeing Autumn is probably best for an outdoor ceremony’. Maybe not that last one, but the gist was there.

Jim is my Fake Husband – the husband my family has in their head whenever they’re forced to imagine my future. They can’t imagine Colin Firth, Gerard Butler or Justin Bieber (too old, can't act, and who?), and they certainly can’t leave the face blank. Jim is their go-to guy, their bench warmer. I pity the woman Jim eventually does marry – she won’t just have to get through his mother, she’ll probably have to get past mine as well.

If my family ever does realize Jim and I are not star-crossed lovers, then there remains the high possibility that he will simply be adopted and take my place. Mum also spent a great deal of Sunday night introducing him to waiters as her son.

Then again, if they give up on Jim, there’s also my other housemate Mick. Jim will become the red herring, and Mick will Mr Darcy his way into their lives to take up his rightful place. Poor guy, doesn’t stand a chance.

Painefull Out