Sunday, December 23, 2007
It's a funny old world, isn't it? Yesterday I debuted on local radio as a 'guest' as opposed to my previous guise as a hopeful teenager back in 1982 ringing 5MU to get a free 'Eye of the Tiger' prize single, or Mix-FM to win my best mate Jill a $1000 shopping voucher.
Tim Noonan was discussing the tendency for Aussies to use 'seafood extender' - a rather hideous-sounding mixed paste of various seafoods, rinsed several times to get rid of the pong, normally painted in a bright red 'crab colour' on one side and quickly frozen.
A quick search on the 'net reveals that it originated in Japan many hundreds of years ago, but is often nowadays made in China from their local catfish. These poor creatures feed on the bottoms of ponds and rivers and it is perhaps their pale flesh that best lends itself to the fluoro-whiteness that is expected of fresh-frozen seafood extender.
Anyhow, I have obviously mentioned my love of seafood extender in a past blog article and was invited on to the Saturday morning show to discuss. Oh and plug my book, 'Work/Life Balance for Dummies'.
There I was, sitting in the spare room clutching the phone, Dogadoo discreetly letting a few furry farts rip from her beanbag at my feet whilst I was sweating like a pig. How on earth was I going to do an Anna Coren and segue my way from seafood extender to the ultimate self-help book that would potentially change peoples' lives? And why did I state that sake is the only reason that the Japanese people invented - and continued to eat - seafood extender? My face is still flushing with embarrassment as I type this.
I really should apologise to my father for shamelessly using him - and his love of the now-defunct all-you-can-eat restaurant chain Sizzler - for getting me through. Yes, it is true: he did say that he'd like to die with his mouth open under their chocolate mousse tap, but he might not have wanted me to tell the local population that. Thankfully, he wasn't too fussed when he phoned me a bit later.
He was more concerned that I'd got his seafood extender salad recipe wrong. "You forgot the apple. In addition to the seafood extender, celery and poppy seeds, you've got to add some chopped apple."
"OK Dad, sorry about that."
"And one more thing-"
(Me, blushing and cringeing, expecting the worst): "Yes Dad?"
"It's thousand island dressing, not mayonnaise."
"Right. I'll clarify that in my next blog article."
We then chatted about the arrangements for who was bringing what to the Christmas day lunch at my brother and sister-in-law's on Tuesday and again the radio show was brought up.
"MillyMoo, you know how you said you hate turkey?"
"Sonia's cooking a 5kg monster for us for lunch."
Therefore, my second apology is to Sonia. I'm sure your turkey will be much much better than the drumstick I used to be given as a child which had about as much attraction and taste as a mallee root (but with extra dark tendons). I'll be your best friend forever if you fling me some breast meat instead.
And apologies to any listeners out there. The book does contains some life-changing tips that possibly might be more useful to you than trying to spend ten extra minutes in the toilet. *sigh*
Friday, December 21, 2007
Don't have, borrow, babysit or even think about making an eight year old.
If you ever thought that a three year old was a dodgy choice to take with you on public transport, with literal questions such as, 'Why does that man only have one leg?' or 'It smells in here. Who pooed their pants?', it doesn't seem to get any better when that child is now old enough to be more aware of the social conventions we live by.
Sapphire may no longer get the 'front bottom' and 'back bottom' confused, nor announce in front of the Coles dairy case that "My Mum has hair on her bottom" in a voice only slightly less ear-piercing than the Mr Bankrupt advertisements, but it doesn't end at eight.
On Tuesday night, I was asked by my (now ex) workmates to go out for dinner and drinks. After a particularly hectic and hellish year at the coalface, they were very kindly showing their support for my situation and wanted to catch up and celebrate our mutual survival without the presence of my ex-bosses 'Bulldog' and 'Skeletor'.
Love Chunks was away in Melbourne doing head office weather bureau meterological stuff, so I asked my mates Jill and Kent if they'd mind looking after Sapphire for the evening. Seeing as they already have three kids, an extra one would hardly be noticed. "Sure," they said, "No worries at all. Why don't you make a night of it and let her sleep over?"
I accepted gladly. Realistically, these days 'making a night of it' means going crazy on three glasses of sparkling shiraz over an eight hour period, so I was in no danger of waking up with my head resting on Sapphire's scooter handles and leaves blowing in my mouth.
Since being a parent (and therefore having forty weeks of total abstinence from alcohol) I've lost my drinking stamina and never regained it. All that hard-won spirit-sipping and cider-sampling over two years of back-packing in the UK is now laid to waste. These days, one sniff of a beer mat and I'm flushing redder than a babboon's butt.
Anyhow, it was a nice opportunity to have a late night and a sleep in the next morning without being tapped on the forehead at 7am with 'Mum? M-u-m? I've set up the Trouble game for us - you said you'd play it with me todaaaaay,' greeting I am accustomed to.
The night was great. Fantastic, even. It's been a real honour and pleasure to call those intellectual icons and academics my friends as well as colleagues. I miss them already and know that we'll all stay in touch somehow, even if via some lame email jokes. We have too much in common and too much passion about social justice, bad clothing and even worse management techniques to NOT remain mates. I got to bed, tired but relatively sober, by a little after midnight and was around at JnK's by 9am to pick up Sapph the next morning.
As I walked through the door, two Maccas cappuccinos in hand (one for the parent-in-charge, Kent and one for moi), I hear 'ol Foghorn Leghorn, unaware that her mother had arrived, call out, "Hey Kent, do you think I should stay here today and again tonight, because Mum might still be REALLY DRUNK."
Charming. She'll be getting a homemade cardigan and a jigsaw puzzle for Christmas this year.
Sapphire's nativity scene for 2007. It's amazing how Barbie and Ken can be transformed with a wad of sticky tape and some clean hankies!
Monday, December 17, 2007
It's time to stand up and say NO! That's right, it's time. For far too many years we've been forced by huge corporations, our own consumerist society and the invisible strength of peer pressure to do it.
It's expensive, boring and annoyingly time consuming. It contributes absolutely nothing of worth to the world or our lives as we know them and is worthless in a very short time.
This activity does not feed us, pleasure us or entertain us; nor does it bring families together, further our knowledge or encourage us to be better human beings. It contributes to the waste of environmental resources, landfill and wastes precious fuel and funds on transportation and delivery.
Perhaps most annoyingly, it is something that women invariably end up doing without any interest or offers of help by our men. Most of us wonder, at some stage in our long term relationships, just what our fellas did about this tradition before they met us because they sure as hell haven't bothered to do anything about it since then. And I'm not talking about the ironing, prompt nose hair trimming or the provision of 5-star quality rumpy-pumpy.
Have you guessed what I'm standing up for yet? CHRISTMAS CARDS. Those pesky little folded squares of cardboard that have been filling up letterboxes since mid-November. Most of them come from the cheap 30-packs for $4.99, so your bookshelf or mantelpiece is festooned with dodgy 1960s photos of baubles, or worse still, those god-awful paintings of Christmas trees in the snow with the three wise men puzzlingly standing alongside.
As for the message inside, if it just has "To The MillyMoo Family" and their scrawled signature inside, I don't know whether to be relieved or offended. Despite the brevity, I tend to feel relieved that it doesn't contain those horrible photocopied chain letters of "What the Side Bottom-Johanssens did this year" because nothing says 'I personally care about you' more than a mass printout, does it? On the other hand, should I be offended because we weren't even worth the fifteen seconds required to scrawl out an additional hand-written sentence along the lines of "Must catch up soon - have a great 2008” ?
No matter where you display the damn things, they always end up on the floor when someone opens the door. If they're slung over a ribbon across the window the force of gravity eventually lures them to the lowest point so that it looks like you've only got one friend who sent you a card because all the others are hiding underneath.
And there's the real truth: we only bother to buy, write and post Christmas cards because we want some back. We yearn for these tacky little rectangles so that we can reassure ourselves that we are indeed popular, that everyone loves us and we're running out of space to display these symbols of respect and admiration. That’s the real truth and I know it because that's why I've been doing it. Up until now.
If we're all honest with ourselves, most of our closest mates are either living in the same town or have email, so the traditional Christmas card is obsolete. It has instead been replaced by emailed jokes or those 'Please DO NOT DELETE - eight-year old limbless Cletus from Idaho will die from cancer without having met his retarded birth mother and jailed father and only eat a dry corn cob for his Christmas dinner (by sucking it of course, seeing as he has no limbs) if you do not pass this on within twenty four hours.' By sending these without any other text of your own, it's cyber shorthand for 'Hey, you're still my friend but I'm too busy/can't be shagged to write to you right now, but enjoy the joke.'
That's the real truth too, isn't it? Perhaps I should make a stand on two issues - a) no sending Christmas cards and b) no sending on silly jokes unless I genuinely have a laugh when I first read it. Who wants to join me on this political stance?
Thursday, December 13, 2007
My darling husband of nearly thirteen years has a lot to put up with. As the 'Engine Room' to my 'Front of House' he has patiently endured the burden of my ups and downs; energy and exhaustion; joy and gloom.
For those who know only part of my story, you may have already worked out that I’ve had a pretty bad year this year. Work has been the major cause because I had a boss whose ego skewed her powers of fairness and reason and her behaviour towards me affected my self esteem and left me feeling as though I was powerless and worthless.
Love Chunks’ t-shirts were regularly soaked with my tears as I cried out all of my confusion and hurt. During the very worst of it he arranged to take time off work, dealt with phone calls, visits and queries from family and friends, made sure that he was home with me and just took care of things. He walked Sapphire to school and picked her up when I felt too overwhelmed and embarrassed to be seen by anyone. He cooked, cleaned, ran errands and often simply sat with me, holding my hand. What on earth was he getting from this deal?
He made me laugh many times and the encircling of his strong arms reminded me of what was important and worth hanging around for. There’s no nicer warmth and smell in my world than a deep hug from my lovely LC.
This was the same man who, nearly nine years earlier, sat slumped on a plastic desk chair in exhaustion with his face pressed against the drawers next to my bed during the 29 hours it took for Sapphire to enter the world. The man who, for countless occasions, has patiently stroked my forehead and emptied sick buckets during migraine attacks and who has willingly taken Sapphire out to the park or zoo for the afternoon to give me time to recuperate afterwards. Not once have I ever heard him utter the phrase: "You owe me."
On cold nights when I’m hopping back into bed after a middle-of-the-night loo stop he rolls over to let me hog the warmth from his body until I’m taken care of. Then I gently push him back when I’m comfortable again. Love Chunks is also the kind of bloke who is not bothered in the slightest about buying tampons from the supermarket or letting our daughter Sapphire paint his face like a lion during a Crows’ game on television. He has read all of the Harry Potter books in their entirety to Sapphire; both of their heads close together in concentration as he reads out loud clearly and patiently answers all of Sapphire’s questions.
He’ll gently scold me for kissing the dog on the head, when later he’s found outside with her little furry body cradled in his arms.
When nagged (by me of course) to list what annoys him about me, his gripes are surprisingly few:
"1) A complete inability to pack things in a sensible and efficient manner (Anti-Tardis Syndrome) – we bought a new cupboard recently that was meant to solve our storage problems – have a little critical look in the spare room!
2) Navigation – need I say more?
3) The toilet – it’s obviously a genetic thing to be tolerant of a filthy toilet.
4) Ripping holes (that are bound to grow bigger by the day) in perfectly good towels
5) Inability to even consider changing a light bulb or fixing even the simplest of devices.
6) Allergy to weeding, gardening and lawn-mowing.
7) Would rather throw out the food that’s left over or eat more than you need to in order to start on the new food item or product.
8) Putting on a load of washing or using the taps whilst I’m in the shower.
9) Putting dirty objects (like Dogadoo's lead or your running shoes) onto the food preparation areas."
How on earth do I repay such a wonderful person? What should I buy him for Christmas? A couple of books and DVDs seems an insulting tribute for all that he’s done for me. If Lotto does the right thing by us, he'd ideally like a fishing boat, European holiday and a new car, but I’m wondering whether a hand-made card, some dark Lindt balls and a hug will do the trick.
I hope he shares the Lindt with me........
Tuesday, December 11, 2007
At 7.15am one morning I found myself sitting on the throne, ready to divest myself of a few milligrams of excess weight when an insistent rustling dragged my attention from whether to scrunch or fold and instead forced my gaze further down to the bottom of the toilet door.
The door was designed (by the house's former owners) to resemble a barn door with a significant gap above the floor and below the doorframe. This doesn't so much remind me of the long-drop dunnies outside of church halls in the sticks where I'd play tennis, but of public toilet doors where toddlers would stick their grotty little faces underneath and blow a raspberry before their mother screamed out, "Tyson! TYSON where are you?"
The rustling this particular morning was a flat inflatable purple baseball bat, a treasure that Sapphire had got from the showbag she'd scored from the Strathalbyn Rural Agricultural Show at, yes you guessed it, Strathalbyn. In her mind, it was extremely important that I find the time (whilst my mouth was unoccupied) to blow up this baseball bat right then and there. My exasperated outburst of, "Oh for goodness' sake Sapphire, I'm on the toilet. Will you please give me two minutes of privacy" was one that genuinely surprised her. Why on earth was Mum being so grumpy?
As any parent or caregiver of anyone aged under 21 will know, said youngsters have no concept of what other responsibilities or tasks their 'owner' has on their plate at any given time. Their focus is solely on what they have, what they want to do and what they need you to do, for them, right that instant.
Love Chunks and I have lost count of how many times we've felt a warm breath on our cheeks, only to open up our eyes and see an eager little face looming directly in front of us as if on superzoom until the pixels become too fuzzy to see clearly . At age three/four/five, she'd regularly ask us, "Hey Dad, you said we were going to to the zoo to see the baby meerkats today," or "Muuum? Are you awake yet Mum? ** tap tap, on my forehead ** Muuuum? It's time to make muffins for breakfast like you said."
"Sapphire," I croak, hoping that just once she'd notice the exhaustion in my voice, the cornflake sleepies in my eyes and the newly-formed wrinkles on my face and listen. "Please, please, please go back to bed, for the love of all things sacred and innocent, or so help me, I'll live up to my maiden name (Read) and turn into Chopper! It's 5.45am!"
It is with great thankfulness that we note that she very rarely wakes up earlier than 7am these days, but as soon as those baby blues are open, the mouth is in top gear, the smell of burning rubber indicates that the brain is firing on all synapses and the questions, reminders and nags are being uttered a million miles an hour.
Sadly, Sapphire's elephantine capacity to remember every little "Um, we'll see," or "Maybe tomorrow if we get time", vague promise rarely works in reverse. If she's asked to go clean her teeth, brush her hair and pack her school bag, she applies the Meatloaf theory of success - Two Outta Three Aint Bad.
The other day, when Love Chunks was telling her that the matter between my (now ex) evil boss and myself had ended with a fair amount of vindication, she nodded and responded with, "Oh so Mum won her argument against Bulldog then."
Monday, December 10, 2007
1) Eight things I am passionate about:
Play it as it Lays, Joan Didion (striking)
Mr Pip, Lloyd Jones (original)
5) Eight songs I could listen to over and over:
Bittersweet Symphony -The Verve
I useta love her - The Saw Doctors
Annie Waits - Ben Folds
Drive all night - Bruce Springsteen
Tenderness - General Public
Echo Beach, Martha and the Muffins (best song to dance to when drunk ever)
7) 8 things that attract me to my friends:
They are all Smart
Believe in me.
8) 8 movies I've watched at least into double figures
Wednesday, December 05, 2007
The past few months of work, health and renovation struggles have been ones I'll be more than eager to wave goodbye when the 'Better Be Great 2008' new year rolls around. It can start right-bloody-now for all I care - let's bypass all of the absurdities and waste of Christmas, Boxing Day return queues, stale mince pies, greasy legs of ham hogging up fridge space and desperate-to-be-seen-to-be-partying New Years Eve celebrations that go on far longer than my preferred 10:00pm bedtime.
One thing I have learned this year however, throughout all of the trials and tribulations, is that I veer more wildly than Britney Spears on the road to Starbucks when it comes to being brave.
When forced to deal with relatively minor things, I've got less backbone than a rubber chicken. For instance, the very generous and talented Redcap invited me to come over and meet her in person when visiting her workplace to pick up some CDs for reviewing. And yet, when I got there, the reception area was unattended and the distant sounds of a busy bunch of people working behind the partition was clearly evident. The desk had that standard little bell thingy to summon up the receptionist but I have never, ever dinged a reception bell. I'm always afraid that when the person arrives and realises that it is merely me, their annoyance and disappointment in my assumption that I thought I was important enough to ding a bell for service would be too crushing to bear.
On the other hand, I can fight like a taunted Tasmanian devil if my job/career path/ability to pay a share of the mortgage/reputation is unfairly threatened. To be able to confidently yell down a phone, "I don't give a FAT RAT'S CLACKER what your boss is going to think about the inconvenience of setting things right!" immediately transcends any fear one might have had when warily picking up the receiver with a squeaked-out "hellooooo?"
Catch me walking in front of a busker down the mall however, and I'm a blushing, snivelling, cringeing piece of human driftwood. For some reason the thought of stepping out of the safety of a large crowd of people towards a hat to flip in a gold coin is more agonising than agreeing to let 15 med students in on my final pelvic examination during childbirth.
And these self-realisations lead me to where I am today. Over the weekend, Love Chunks and I swapped our bedroom with Sapphire's purely on the advice of our sister-in-Law, Dr B.
Dr B may be a world-authority in her field of medical research and all that intellectual sciencey stuff, but she's also right into Feng Shui. She's been utterly convinced that my crap year is attributed to being in the wrong room in a 'coffin position'. Something about my karma or BO or chakras literally flying out of the door quicker than a pensioner at a half price hosiery sale. Either that or having our fuse box on the other side of the wall by my head might be posing a bit of a threat to rest-and-recreation as well.
Anyhow, we lifted, shifted, vacuumed away grey lint balls (the belly button kind, not the Lindor versions, alas), wiped down every piece of furniture, shifted armfuls of clothes, socks, jocks, shoes, lamps, pictures, toys, nasal sprays, inflatable Adelaide Crows mascots, ducks made out of wicker, unused lipsticks, ill-advised handbag purchases and pre-millennium copies of 'Choice' magazine - the sum total of seven years of living in a room with wall-to-wall storage space.
In deference to Dr B, straight after fiddling with the Feng Shui my work issue was resolved with a 'win' in my corner. It may have left me bloody and bruised, but I was the one standing at the end and I also enjoyed three totally solid nights of decent, non-nightmarish, restful sleep. But last night, at an end-of-year celebration at my meditation class (yes, har har, not a wild party of course, being meditators), I mentioned the rearrangement of rooms but was afraid to say why. "Oh, er, we think Sapphire needs more space to call her own and I want to be near a window," I muttered, not really understanding why I was worried about raising Feng Shui with a dozen people who had, just minutes earlier, been sending out soft pink lights of "Love and acceptance to everyone in our suburb, in Adelaide, South Australia, the Southern Hemisphere, the entire globe."
Hmmm. To continue my inconsistency just a few minutes ago I rang and cancelled my appearance at a fairly hefty job interview (with a panel of four, no less) with this venerable crowd. Good job, best university in town by a mile, great pay, good career options, gorgeous old building full of history, my old studying ground and that of my father and grandfather....
.....to trying my luck as a 'Happy Hack for Hire' with this little beast as my able office assistant.
Am I afraid?
Nah, not really.
Ask me tomorrow and it'll be an entirely different story. I'll be placing our much-fought-for Feng Shui stability into jeopardy when I take nervous residence in the toilet and forget to close the door which is in direct line with our front door.....