Day One-Hundred-and-Forty-Eight: Don’t be afraid to reconnect

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Source: shoeboxblog.com
But maybe they’re not as inarticulate and annoying in person, right?

There’s a spot on my floor, about the width of two tiles, that is noticeably warmer than the rest of the floor. I only notice it in the evening, when the weather cools, and the tiles take on a (sometimes welcome) chill. On my journey from the kitchen to the bedroom–usually with some food item in my hand/mouth–it gives me pause.

My boyfriend and I have discussed it. We’re not sure of the cause. Probably some pipe or power source running under there. Or our downstairs neighbours have a small heater on their roof. I like to think it’s a posh floor-heating mechanism that was partially installed during building, then scrapped when the owners found out how much it would cost (and how ridiculous it is to have a heated floor in Brisbane).

And what, you may be yelling at your monitor, is the fucking point of this story?

Well, it’s been 28 days since my last drink…err, post. For reasons that are clear only to the monkey who drives my brain, I felt like it was time to reconnect.

And that’s all it takes, right? Just a small thing to start a conversation, and get things rolling again.

I was talking to someone the other day about whether it would be weird for them to reach out to old friends and suggest a catch up. Now, I’m no well of wisdom (actually, the only thing I can say with any certainty that I’m a well of is blood and urine), but it seems to me that in this new-fangled age of Facebook and Twitter and all that self-broadcasting shit, reconnecting with people is as easy as liking a post or getting involved in an in-status debate about Tony Abbott. (Well, that’s if you think making sense of a plethora of poorly-formed sentences hurling abuse at bloody Labor/LNP/Juliar/Clive “Dat’s a Huuuuge Bitch” Palmer is easy.) The point is that striking up a dialogue has never been so simple and non-stalkerish.

For example:

Your high-school buddy posts a status about how fucking good Meaty’s Steak Emporium and Barbeque Palooza is. You’ve been to Meaty’s and you can totally attest to its jizz-inducing deliciousness. (You have the stains to prove it.) Why not post a casual “OMG I KNOW RIGHT LOL” and see what happens? Maybe you guys can go to Meaty’s together some time and eat ribs until you’re more pig-meat than man. Trade “What I’ve Been Doing with My Life” stories over a stack of buffalo wings. I don’t fucking know; it’s not my job to plan your meat-ups (ha!).

(By the way, if I open a steakhouse, I will call it Meaty’s Steak Emporium and Barbeque Palooza, so if you open one before I do and steal this name–thanks for reading!– I will hunt you down.)

What I’ve realised, through the magic of self-examination, is that nobody is going to react in a negative way when you attempt reconnect with them. (Unless you were a total c**t in school. I can’t help you there.) If you’re worried about looking like a desperate weirdo contacting old friends, think about it this way: if you got a nice message from an old mate, wondering what you were up to, and suggesting a catch-up, how would you feel? Warm and fuzzy, probably. You’re very unlikely to laugh derisively and delete their message. (Unless you are the the aforementioned c**t. God, you truly are a dick.) In fact, provided that the message doesn’t begin with “I wish to have tell you about the joys of Islam” (an actual Facebook message I received–please know that I am prejudiced against all religions equally), you’re probably going to be pleasantly surprised and happy to hear from them. Nostalgia is a powerful thing. (I’m not saying that you wouldn’t also be interested in the joys of Islam.)

I have friends whom I can go months without seeing. When they pop up on my radar again, or I swing them an “it’s been too damn long”, there’s no recriminations for the lack of contact, no raised eyebrows and WTFs, just a genuine keenness to meet up and talk shit about life (and eat, usually).

And yes, I get that sometimes people from our past are best left there, and you’ll probably hear a lot of “we should totally catch up some time” bullshit before you actually end up doing the thing, but, like an old friend once chided me, you’re never going to meet anyone if you don’t get out there. (I appreciated the message, but it’s totally not true. They could come to my house. And what with home-delivered groceries and the wonders of the internet, I could conceivably never leave the confines of my apartment. Or wear pants.)

Sometimes *cue sad, reflective music* you’ll hang out with someone again only to realise that your lives have diverged so obviously that you no longer share any common ground. You’ll sit opposite them in a cafe, smiling awkwardly and trying to react in a casual and interested way to the idea of a competitive all-male knitting club, and you’ll know that your future interactions will be limited to a ‘like’ and maybe a “sick cardigan, bro” here and there. The awesome (and terrifying) thing about the world is that it’s full of people, a good proportion of whom are statistically likely to share your interests. Expand your circles (not an advertisement for Google+). Old friends have new friends, who can be your friends too if you reconnect with the old friends. Friend poaching!

So, reach out or don’t. Whatever. The door is never closed (unless you’re in prison)(especially if you’re in prison for stalking and murdering former friends).

 

Good to see you.

We should definitely catch up some time.

TB

Day One-Hundred-and-Twenty: Full-time badass/writer

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“So I want the monogram to read M-A-X P-O-W…”

 

I am happy to announce that an actual real-life company has deemed me employable. Yeah! Not that any of you ever doubted that, right? (Right?)

So, I have a full-time job.

This is both awesome and scary.

It’s a big tick in the ‘Growing up and getting my shit together’ box, and a big step further into the adult world–which, let’s face it, still makes me feel like Will Ferrell in Elf.

I spent my first day as a technical writer being shown around the building, having stuff explained to me in a “we’re not trying to overwhelm you, but you probably need to know this” kind of way, and double-checking that they had hired the right person and I was not part of some switched-at-interview mix-up.

It’s not that I’m super surprised that someone would give me a job–I do have a degree now, and a not-useless set of skills–but a lot of writers only dream of being paid (in a full-time position) to just, well, write.

When I get a census form whenever the fuck those things come out (every five years, apparently, so I’ll be waiting until 2016), or am filling out any other form that asks for my occupation, I can actually put the word ‘writer’ in my job title. Not a vague ‘Administration’ or ‘Hospitality’ (because KFC totally counted) or ‘Sales’, but a studied-to-get-a-freaking-degree-in-this writer.

This is a serious win.

 

“I thought you studied journalism,” some of my more observant friends will point out.

This is true. I did study journalism. I also had a second major in Creative and Professional Writing.

“But didn’t you want to be a journalist?” the same friends will tactlessly push.

While it is true–though, admittedly, shocking–that a student of journalism would be considering a career as a journalist, asking the above is a bit like asking a science student, “But didn’t you want to be a scientist?” It’s kind of reductive to assume that the broad set of skills one obtains in each of those degrees would only be useful and desireable in one single job. (Besides, ‘scientist’ is about as vague as you can get. Some of those guys don’t even wear lab coats and swirl beakers. I know!)

I did consider getting a job as ‘a journalist’, and even applied for a few, but at the end of the day, my most basic desire is to work as a writer. I want to have a job where the skills that I paid a painful amount of money (that I don’t yet earn enough to pay back–writing jobs, eh?) to get are being used. If that job is as a journalist: great. I love journalistic writing; I’ll probably do it on the side anyway. If it turns out, as it has, that a job as a technical writer ticks those boxes, then I am happy to broaden my horizons beyond the expected, and get some new skills to boot. Someone actually wants to pay me to do what I love? Show me to my desk.

So, here’s to Monday to Friday, bussing to the city, budgeting with an actual income, challenges and new experiences, and the impending appearance of some kick-ass business cards.

 

TB

Technical Writer/Bad-Ass M.C.

Day Ninety-Eight: The first step to healthier eating? Reduce your barcodes

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Good luck weighing this trolley-load, son.

 

Sometimes people ask me for tips on cleaning up their diet. It’s usually because they’ve watched me pull out a packed lunch of nuts, fruit, and salad (or more likely, because they’ve seen me turn down chocolate and cake at a party). I have no nutritional qualifications, mind you, only a basic grasp of what’s good and what’s not so good. But I noticed something today that I think sums up what a healthier lifestyle is all about.

I was watching the nice lad (yes, I’m 80) at the supermarket scanning my groceries. Or should I say, weighing and entering my groceries.

You see, this poor guy (check-out whizz though he was) only got about 10 easy scans out of the 50 items we bought. The rest he had to stop and locate in his database, and weigh, before handing them over to be bagged. That’s the key difference between our trolley and the ones of most other shoppers: 80 per cent of what we buy is in its original form. And if it has a barcode on it, it’s probably not in its original form.

When my boyfriend and I go shopping, we race down the packaged food aisle (the first one you encounter when you walk into Aldi, in contrast to the immediate fruit and veg onslaught in Coles and Woolworths–different marketing technique?), stopping only for some canned tomatoes, rice milk, and bags of sunflower seeds. The real fun happens in the fruit and veg section. (If you’re wondering, yes we do buy most of our fruit and vegetables from Aldi. Not organic, not all Australian-grown, but one battle at a time, hey? We also hit up the farmers’ markets when we can. But the Aldi stuff is well-priced and tasty, and we modestly-employed youngsters love a delicious bargain.)

We spend the bulk of our shopping trip skipping around the fruit and veg like small children who’ve been given free reign in the confectionery aisle, asking each other with shining eyes if we might get some pears this week. Discovering watermelon on special elicits squeals of excitement. Don’t even ask how many bananas we bought. That should last a few days, we told each other, before grabbing an extra bunch just to be safe.

The point is that healthy eating for beginners can be simplified into this: fill your trolley with 80 per cent barcode- and ingredient list-free products. If it comes in a box or a bag, it’s very likely been processed, pumped full of of excess sugar and preservatives, and too far from its natural state to be any good for you.

 

To break it down, here are food items we buy in packages:

Nuts (raw and unsalted)

Rice milk

Tinned tomatoes (because non-perishables are just so handy)

Rice

Dates

Gluten-free pasta

Gluten-free bread

Tuna (protein-rich lunch on the run)

Meat (this one makes it in here on a technicality, since it is in a packet and does have a barcode)

 

With the exception of the gluten-free bread, which has all sorted of crazy gums and stuff to hold it together in the absence of gluten, even the packaged stuff we buy has only a couple of ingredients.

The downside is that we have to stock up on fresh goodies more than once a week. The upside is happy tummies, clear minds, and an appreciation for how food is supposed to be eaten (i.e. fresh and whole).

I’m no expert, just a girl with hyper-sensitive guts trying to keep her body from rage-quitting–and, hey, it’s working out pretty well so far. To the ones who ask, I’ll tell them it’s all about taking the first step, making changes that are manageable for you, and learning to look at food differently. If I had it my way, we’d live on an acreage, grow our own fruit and vegetables, and start a co-op with like-minded neighbours, but we’re a way off that yet. For now, it’s enough to make better choices in the supermarket (enjoy our patronage while you can, you greedy bastards) and pat ourselves on the back when we crave bananas instead of cake.

 

(Of course, we do enjoy our modified treats too, because resisting chocolate will always be a challenge. Today was caramel slice aka Sweet Happiness.)

TB

 

Related articles:

7 Tips to Help You Make Healthy Choices at the Supermarket (http://dellaterrawellness.com/make-healthy-choices-at-the-supermarket/)

The Benefits of Healthy Whole Foods (http://www.webmd.com/diet/features/the-benefits-of-healthy-whole-foods)

Why Eat Wholefoods? (http://www.bodyandsoul.com.au/nutrition/nutrition+tips/why+eat+wholefoodsr,14993)

Survey: Processed Foods vs Whole Foods (http://www.sarahcalandro.com/thesisblog_2/?p=727)

Day Ninety-Five: Dumping in the Great Barrier Reef is like eating white rhino steaks (and other offensive activities)

We used to be into the Tasmanian Tiger cutlets, but, well, you know…

Today’s post is brought to you by Morbo.

ImageEven so, it doesn’t hurt to, you know, not deliberately wreak havoc on our one-off natural wonders.

 

Dumping dredge spoil in the Great Barrier Reef marine park is a bit like:

Wiping your arse with the Shroud of Turin

ImageSorry, the nearest paper was like twenty metres away. We have more of these though, right?

 

Building a McDonald’s in the Great Pyramid of Giza

ImageWell, have you heard about the rent prices in the Sphinx lately? Phew.

 

Filling the Grand Canyon to facilitate a new highway

ImageWell, we had to sacrifice LA and forge a new coastline to provide enough dirt, but the 15 minutes this cuts off the drive is so worth it.

 

Housing a sewage plant in the Colosseum

ImageWe like to play Gladiators, except instead of lions we run from walls of gushing effluent.

 

Testing rocket launchers at Stonehenge

ImageOK, guys, this one definitely works. We, uh, need a new range now though. How about the Great Wall of China? Bigger surface area.

 

Wanton destruction annoys me. Wanton destruction of super amazing one-of-a-kind things makes me want to invite the dime-a-dozen idiots who make these decisions to a ropeless bungee from the Empire State Building.

 

TB

Day Ninety-One: How it feels to face your phobia

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I take a deep breath and push the heavy glass door. A bell tingles overhead to signal my arrival. No hope of sneaking out again then.

“Won’t be a minute,” calls a male voice from a door down a hallway. I know what’s in those rooms.

A TV plays grainy news footage in the corner, and a sign on the wall announces the place as registered. Yep, everything’s above board.

I don’t sit. If I do, I might end up clinging to the chair like a two-year-old having a meltdown. No, the least I can do is maintain some of my dignity. Besides, if I’m standing, it means I can run. And I should run. I want to run.

Then the man appears. He looks at me inquiringly, so I hand him the form I’ve been given. He asks to see my medical card, and checks the details against the ones on the form.

The bell sounds again, and I see another victim has arrived. This one’s a man, casually dressed. I guess that he’s in some kind of trade. He loiters near the door, waiting his turn.

“You can have a seat,” the man behind the counter tells me. “I won’t be long.”

Take as long as you need, I think, lowering myself into the closest chair. Then again, maybe we should just get it over with, before my courage deserts me. But that’s not right. My courage left me at the door.

The new arrival saunters up to the desk, all nonchalance. I’d like to see him when he goes into that room. Perhaps he does this all the time. Or perhaps other people don’t taste bile at the back of their throat when they come here.

I hear my name. My heart is threatening to beat its way through my chest wall and make a bloody escape.

“First door on the left,” the man tells me.

“First… which?” I reply intelligently.

“Go into the first door on the left,” he repeats, not unkindly. I’m sure he has six-year-olds who freak out on him all the time.

I force one foot in front of the other, and shuffle into the room. My brain is telling me to run, but I don’t think I could do it without collapsing. I can see the chair now, the bed next to the wall, the equipment. I shouldn’t look. But it’s hard not to.

“Just have a seat on the chair,” the man says, expecting a normal patient, expecting no trouble.

I’m not falling for that one again. Once you’ve tasted the cold embrace of unconsciousness and woken on the antiseptic-scrubbed lino floor, you learn very quickly to request the bed. Which is what I do now.

He looks at me, and I think he realises what he’s dealing with. “No worries,” he says. “But we’ll do the paperwork first. On the chair.”

He skirts around me like I’m a frightened cat and not just a frightened human, and gestures towards the chair. It might be a trap. Maybe I should just claw his face and run while I can. The voice in my head is soft, but firm: You have nothing to fear. You are being ridiculous.

I sit in the stupid chair, and sign my name with a shaking hand.

And then it’s time.

He asks me if I’ve had this done before. I nod. I’m going to vomit; I know it.

He asks me whether I have a ‘usual’ arm. Without looking, I point to the crook of my right elbow.

He nods and places the tourniquet around my bicep. He asks me to clench my fist, so I do. He feels the ropy life-support under my skin, and approves.

Then it’s time to get on the bed.

“Get as close to the wall as you can,” he says, so I do. I would disappear into that wall if I could.

It’s not too late to run, my head screams. I think I might cry.

He approaches with a plastic container filled with equipment. He asks me what I do for work. I tell him. I can’t breathe.

He’s still talking casually when he warns me I’ll feel a sting. I bite my lip so hard it hurts. It’s not enough. I still feel the sting.

All I can think about is the fact that I’m being drained. He’s sucking my life force through a sharp straw, and I can’t take it.

It’s over as quickly as it began. I feel the pull as the needle is removed, and oblige when he asks to press down on the cotton bud. He returns moments later with medical tape, and tells me I should keep the pressure on for five minutes.

“But you can go,” he adds, obviously assuming that I have the power of movement. I wonder what colour I am, whether he can smell my fear, how big my pupils are.

I don’t trust myself to walk, but I swing my legs over the bed anyway.

“That wasn’t so bad,” I tell him, faintly.

“I like to think I’m pretty good at it by now,” he shrugs.

“Right,” I try to smile. “Thanks. For making it easy. I’ve had some bad experiences…”

“You can go now,” he reminds me. He doesn’t want to hear my double-arm, hit-the-floor, bruises-the-size-of-tennis-balls story. I don’t blame him.

In the waiting room, the other man is sitting, scrolling through something on his phone. The phlebotomist beckons him into the room I’ve just vacated. I consider sticking around to see if I hear any screams, but my breakfast is threatening to reappear, and I just want to go home.

Hours later, every twinge in my arm makes me light-headed. I know the puncture has knitted together. I know that my blood is well-contained inside me. I know that I’ve lost only a few drops from the river that courses through me.

And still I fear.

 

 

I went alone to face my biggest phobia. I didn’t die. If only that meant I was cured.

 

TB

Day Ninety: Learning to be comfortable in silence

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They say that when you run out of things to talk about in your relationship, you start planning a wedding. When it happens again, you start planning babies.

If that’s the truth, I will never be married or have babies.

 

Someone asked me the other day how long I’d been with my boyfriend.

“Four years,” I replied.

“And you guys are living together now, hey?”

“Yep,” I smiled. I always smile when I remember that we’re cohabiting.

“That’s cool. Have you, like, run out of stuff to talk about yet, though?”

 

This attitude assumes two things:

1. That there exists a finite number of topics of conversation; and

2. That my boyfriend and I are constantly throwing words at one another in some sort of desperate attempt to avoid an awkward pause.

 

Neither of these is true.

For starters, my boyfriend and I each have a life outside of our shared home–whether it’s work, social stuff, or hobbies. This creates a wealth of conversation topics beyond just “how was your day?” We’re interested in different things, and spend some of our time reading about our specialty areas, and then sharing tidbits with one another.

“Did you know that they’ve just successfully teleported matter?” he’ll ask me over dinner.

“And yet they still can’t figure out how dinosaurs mated,” I muse.

We talk in bed before we go to sleep. We talk while we drive. We talk when one of us is in the shower and can only just make out what the other is saying over the rush of the water.

 

But we also spend a fair whack of time not talking. Whether we’re sitting together or at opposite ends of the house, we can go hours without uttering a word to one another. It’s not because we’re mad at each other, and it’s not because we’re bored or uninterested. We’ve just achieved a wonderful kind of comfort in silence.

Sometimes we’re taking a long drive, and we’ll sit holding hands over the gearstick, lost in our own thoughts, offering the occasional smile to one another. Sometimes we’re lying in bed, nestled together, our legs intertwined, reading our separate books/phones. Sometimes we’re just enjoying a great meal, and there’s no need for extensive conversation.

When I told my boyfriend about my friend’s question, he shook his head. “It’s not about having new things to talk about all the time; it’s about being comfortable enough with each other that you’re ok with silence.”

 

And when in doubt, make out 😉

TB

Day Eighty-Three: The five most foolish things I’ve heard from parents in custody cases

Source: Dr John Bullas (Flickr)

Source: Dr John Bullas (Flickr)

I’ve worked as secretary for a psychologist for a few years now. One of his areas of specialty is Family Law cases–specifically when children are alienated from one parent. Sometimes I wish it wasn’t. I know that these people are going through tough times and everyone is their enemy, but hell, I just get paid to make the appointments, take your money, and smile politely when you walk in the door.

(Note: I am not a psychologist. These views are entirely based on my own observations and experience. Although they are based on things that actual people have told me, I am not referring to any specific individuals; rather, I’m noting the things I hear all too often from many cases.)

 

The magistrate said there was no evidence of the abuse that was alleged, so there should be no reason my kids can’t see me.

No reason except that they don’t want to. It’s not fair, and it sucks, but one proclamation isn’t going to suddenly reverse years of negative thinking. You might be a great guy who’s been shafted by a vengeful ex; your kids probably know less than half the story (and heard most of it from your ex). It’s going to take time to change their attitudes towards you. So, hey, welcome to therapy!

 

My child was petrified of coming; he/she cried all the way here.

Since the only reason they know about it is because you told them, it can be safely assumed that their fear stems directly from yours. If you told them that they’re being forced by a judge to go to an unfamiliar (but perfectly pleasant, I might add) place where they’ll be forced (again) to see their estranged father/mother, then I can totally understand why they bawled their eyes out or refused to get in the car. If you told them that they were going along to have a chat to a nice man about how they’re feeling, things might have gone a little better. No sensible psychologist would dump an alienated parent and child into the same room together at the first session; the psychologist probably told you that when you came along for your individual session. It’s telling that most of the Orders I read have to specifically prohibit the parents from talking about Court Orders or matters with their children.

 

They said we’d only need three sessions/ Why is this taking so long?

I can’t claim to know what happened in your family unit to make your children not want to spend time with you, but I can make a pretty solid bet that it didn’t happen over the course of three isolated one-hour sessions. So why would you expect that it can be reversed in that period? Therapy is an individual experience, and depending on the client, progress can be achieved in two sessions, twenty sessions, or (sadly, sometimes) never. In these types of cases, it’s usually between twenty and never. (Also, while we’re on the topic, don’t listen to what your lawyer suggests about the frequency and length of therapy. They have no idea.)

 

I’m just going to email/call my ex and tell them straight up to cut the crap/stop lying/give me my kids.

Remember how you’re in a Court case? Do you remember why you had to go to Court? It’s probably because you couldn’t work things out just between the two of you, so needed to involve lawyers and judges and Court Orders. Contacting your ex informally and giving them a piece of your mind is akin to pogo-ing onto the thin ice that everyone else is very delicately skating over. If you don’t want to give your ex another piece of evidence of your “abusive nature” to wave in Court, then keep things cool and cordial. Speak to them only when you have to, or not at all. Everything else can be handled by your lawyers. You’re paying them enough.

 

Can I talk to the psychologist about fees? I just can’t afford this after the legal stuff. I can’t even afford a cup of coffee!

One of my favourites, this one was said to me by a man who was carrying a thermos of coffee that he’d brought from home. “You poor man!” I should have said, rushing to wrap him in a warm blanket. “It’s OK; we’ll just give you some free counselling, shall we?” No, what I really wanted to say was, “Gee, I’ll bet those starving kids in Africa would weep to hear it, sir.” (What I actually did was smile apologetically and advise that I can’t do anything about the fees.) I get it. You’ve paid tens of thousands of dollars to lawyers and been dragged through the Court system for six years with no real outcome or progress. Unlike a lawyer though, the psychologist isn’t billing hours for every single moment that he’s even thinking about your case. He’s trying to work stuff out, so you don’t have to go back to Court.

 

 

There’s nothing like watching broken families to put you right off marriage and children. In the end, though, it comes down to whatever is going to be the least damaging for the kids. And if that means suffering through instant coffee brought from home, then so be it.

 

TB

Day Eighty-One: A technology downgrade is like dealing with a toddler

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To my utter horror, I woke up a few mornings ago to discover that my phone had contracted some kind of phone herpes, which, over the course of several hours, slowly blotted out the entire screen. I don’t know why it happened, but it did.

Following this tragic development (and while my phone is spending three weeks at the warranty repairs place being looked at by obviously very slow technicians), I had two choices.

One: Go without a phone. Inconceivable. Ridiculous. I can’t even…

Two: Purchase another phone with all that disposible income that I have. Oh, wait…

Three: Use my and my boyfriend’s go-to “I’ve just broken my phone and need something for the interim” Motorola.

 

Of course, it’s got to be option three, and this is where the real fun begins.

It’s funny how you get by with outdated technology at the time and don’t think anything of it–case in point: I am writing this on a freaking brick of a Toshiba laptop that requires constant wall plug access, but it’s what I have so I’m dealing with it–but as soon as you’ve upgraded and experienced the joys of fast loading, awesome graphics, and the proper system to support all them cool apps, you can never go back.

Well, you can. But it sucks.

And thus, the Motorola. The Motorola is probably about three or four years old now. It has all that stuff a smart phone should have– touch screen, Android interface, the ability to surf the net and go on Facebook–but none of the power or speed required to adequately power these technologies. Using the Motorola is like carrying an unreasonable toddler around with you.

Here’s why:

 

1. The tantrums

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This is how I imagine my phone looks internally. (On a side note, I’m always fascinated by Jill Greenberg’s pics of crying, lollipop-deprived children http://kopeikingallery.com/exhibitions/view/end-times)

You know the feeling. You’re out and about just doing yo’ thang, and somewhere close by a child just loses their shit. Only this time, you’re out and about, trying to map your way to an appointment, and the screaming mess of tiny human is in your hand. I really believe that if this phone could wail and shriek like some kind of deranged possum, it would. (I’ll look into appropriate ringtones.) Directions? You want DIRECTIONS? SCREEEEEEEEE! Or, more accurately, *freeze*, *flicker*, *force close*. Then there’s the silent treatment, i.e. the “you put me on vibrate, but I’ll give you no indication but a single light flash when a message comes through; take that you stupid bitch” treatment. Why do our children hate us so?

 

2. The sudden and powerful urge to nap

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Too. Much. Breathing.

I get it. We’ve all fallen asleep in weird places before when we’re just so wrecked we can’t keep our eyes open. Little kids are notorious for it. I suspect, though, that this phone may be a toddler with narcolepsy. Never mind that I’ve given it a good rest (charge), and that I’ve only just picked it up and tried to use it to check my bank balance, it is most decidely nap time, mother fuckers. You want to call somebody? Well, that’s just too bad, because my internal clock says I need a reboot. Gosh, did you just try to move that app shortcut to your home screen? You know how that exhausts me.

 

3. The inability to handle simple tasks

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You want me to attach TWO things? *bzzzzt* ERROR

I’m not asking for complex games with lots of colour and fast movement (I learnt that the hard way already). I’m not asking for it to mine Bitcoin or act as the server for Twitter. I’m no longer even asking for web pages, since that has proven to be beyond this phone’s capacity. What I want is to scroll through a Facebook feed, to type and send a text message, to quickly google the net worth of Bill Murray. If these things sound like basic smart phone uses, then you haven’t met the Motorola. From offering to force close the (clearly taxing) application, to simply restarting itself, the Motorola really is the dumbest piece of technology I’ve come across in a while.

 

4. The shitting itself

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If only it were super cute Golden Lucky Poop…

Whenever. Wherever. Especially when you’re busy, rushing, or in desperate need of it to just behave.

 

Some people might tell me that this is a “first world problem” (and yes, I know, I agree) and that I should be grateful that technology has come so far since the humble Nokia 3310. Those people have never experienced this phone. Those people are probably reading this on their iPhones, while simultaneously watching a Youtube video, writing a text, and playing Candy Crush. I appreciate technology, and I am definitely glad that my back-up phone isn’t a brick with a black-and-white screen and monophonic ringtones, but you know what? I can’t handle the backtrack. I can’t handle the downgrade. I can’t handle this stupid, shrieking, gurgling mess of a phone for three weeks.

At least you can give a toddler a drop of whiskey to calm it down.

(Actually, liquid damage probably couldn’t make this phone any worse.)

(Or I’ll just have the whiskey…)

 

TB

Day Seventy-Seven: Why my road rage is justifiable (now with terrible illustrations)

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*Deep breath* I have road rage.

Well, that wasn’t so hard. Admitting is the first step, right?

I don’t have it to the point where I’m stopping my car at traffic lights and advancing on people with a golf club (I’m more of a lead pipe kind of person), but I have been known to yell and swear and gesture wildly at other drivers. I don’t flip them the bird because I’m lady-like, and I like my teeth where they are, but I do give them a good talking-to… from inside my car, with the windows done up.

I know I should strive to be a calmer driver—lord knows my boyfriend/parents/co-workers have suggested this to me enough times—but some days I think that other drivers are just out to piss me off.

 

By way of example, I give you this morning’s drive:

 

Scenario One:

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I never said I could draw cars… or anything really

 

I am driving through a tunnel where the speed limit is 80km/h. The people in my lane finally decide to press the little pedal next to the brake, and we’re sitting pretty at 80. That is, until the moron in the four-wheel-drive (SUV/Douche-mobile) decides that things would really be much better if we slowed down to 60. As I came up behind this guy, I was forced to brake violently to reach his sudden speed of 70, then 60. And he was barely pushing 60. The problem here is that everyone else is going 80 (or at the very least, 70), so encountering someone who is doing 20 under is going to cause some congestion. Not only did this fool slow to a crawl just before his exit (and when I say just before, I mean 100 metres, and by exit, I mean slight veer to the left), but after I passed him, I noticed that he didn’t have his headlights on. Safety first, hey?

 

Scenario Two:

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Urge to merge: high

 

I am driving in a merry line of cars down a ramp to join a stretch of motorway. Our lane does not merge, but rather becomes the centre lane of the three-lane road. As our lane spits us out next to the other ones, someone in the right lane decides that they need to merge into my lane THIS VERY SECOND LIKE RIGHT NOW and begins to do so. Since I am roughly one car length behind the car in front of me, I am forced to brake to avoid a nasty collision. The person in the other car seems to suddenly realise that I am there, in my very difficult to spot bright-red car, and swerves slightly, but ploughs on in front of me anyway, only to then hop immediately into the far left lane. My heart pounding, I happen to look in my rear-view mirror. Guess how many cars were behind me? That’s right, friends. Zero. Not a vehicle in sight. To add insult to injury, the offending car then did not exit for a good kilometre.

 

Scenario Three:

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Almost needed a pants change after this one (the incident, not the drawing… although…)

 

There is nothing I love more on the road than a good eighteen-wheeled, smoke-spewing, deafeningly-loud truck. So, obviously, I enjoy having them drive beside me. Hell, if I can have one on either side, plus in front and behind my car, I am a happy woman. It’s particularly useful when the truck is to my left and wishes to merge. I was driving alongside this bad boy for about 100 metres before the merge came upon us. I was as close to the car in front of me as I could be without just hooking up to their bumper and hitching a ride. My nose was slightly in front of the truck’s. So it slowed a bit and slipped in behind me, right? Oh, my dear, no. That jerk put his foot down and inched his nose forward in front of mine, as if to say, “I am truck! I shall crush all who stand/drive in my path!” or probably, “I’m going to merge in front of you, tiny red car.” The problem with this one is pretty obvious: I don’t want to die. So, using all the swears in my vocabulary, I quickly darted across to the right lane, allowing jerk-face-truck-wanker to railroad into the spot I’d just vacated. I was almost tempted to remain in the lane, in his path, just to see what he would do. When your vehicle is over five metres long, you do not try to race the (max) two metre zipmobile beside you. Even if you do manage to gain two metres on me, you’ve got more than three left to deal with, and smashing them sideways into my car is ill-advised. Of course, I haven’t got to the best part. Once again, there was nobody directly behind me. In fact, there was a gap so large that two trucks could have comfortably merged there, made a truck baby, and had that merge as well.

 

Most of my friends who’ve never seen me angry will tell you that I am a charming and level-headed person. (Don’t ask the ones who’ve seen me angry; their trauma is still too fresh.) Having said that, I don’t suffer fools—especially fools who choose to equip themselves with vehicles and share the road with me.

All I’m asking is for a consistent speed. All I’m asking for is for you to take your foot off the accelerator and not just slam the brakes. All I’m asking is for you to check your blind spot and notice the moving ‘danger’ sign that is my red car. All I’m asking, fellow motorists, is for a healthy blood pressure while driving. That’s not too much, is it?

 

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TB

Day Seventy-Four: Say no to House-Shame

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Oh, hi! Thanks for dropping by. I’m just whipping up a three-course meal… in heels. Just like I do every day.

 

My grandparents came to visit me on Friday. They were dropping off a really decent appliance that they never use (which, as an aside, has got to be the best thing about moving out for the first time. We got couches, table and chairs, and coffee tables the same way). Their bonus reason for dropping by was to check out my new place. Now, we’re hardly living in squalor, but I still found myself falling into the apparently innate sense of house-shame that comes with, well, having a house.

I call it house-shame, because, the way I see it, someone who is house-‘proud’ wouldn’t feel the need to hide the state of their living quarters. “This is my house,” they would announce as you walked through the door. “Yes, people live in it–hence, the slightly-less-than-clean evidence of human occupation.” I’ve always been a bit of a neat freak (though it manifests itself as ordered chaos usually), but I’ve never been the type to get down and scrub the grout with a toothbrush.

I’ve been to friends’ and relatives’ houses before and been made to suffer the whole “oh, sorry about the mess”, where ‘the mess’ is two plates on the sink and a cushion that has tumbled from the couch to the floor. In most cases, I just laugh and tell them not to be silly. But still they persist: “I was going to vacuum before you came, but I just ran out of time, what with the baby and eating breakfast and responding to the call of nature. God, I am SO sorry.”

The first thing these people need to know about me is that I don’t notice microscopic specks of dirt; I’m much more of an ‘admire the furniture’ kind of girl. Unless I am being stained, injured, or bitten, then your house is fine. If I can’t see the floor for coke cans, then yes, perhaps you might want to have a little tidy up, but I’m not going to tell you so unless you ask. The second thing they should recall is that I’ve just moved out, and discovered, much to my disappointment, that houses don’t clean themselves and that a ‘weekly clean’ comes around way too quickly. There’s also that pesky correlation between a freshly vacuumed floor and the increased tendency to drop stuff on it.

A lot of this house-shame stems from the media (of course–everything is their fault). There was a Harpic toilet cleaner ad not long ago that always made my blood boil. A woman sits at home with her (clearly newborn) baby having just coaxed the little thing to sleep. She’s looking pretty good, by the way; no poo or spew in sight. The doorbell rings and the baby starts to scream. Remarkably Clean Mum opens the door to find about five of her girlfriends bearing gifts and loud greetings. The Harpies push their way inside without an invitation and crowd around the overwhelmed mother, cooing. Well, most of them do. One asks if she can use the toilet, because, you know, the drive over was so long and she couldn’t bear to hold it until she had at least complimented the new mother on her child and been offered a drink. (Maybe I’m being too judgmental though. She might have a bladder problem.) The new mother looks stricken. The trauma causes an unbidden flashback to earlier in the day, when the mother had strolled smiling into her bathroom and hooked a new Harpic 3-in-1 Toilet Thingy up to her potty. I can only assume that her baby was asleep or under the supervision of some now-absent father. I know when I have a baby, the first thing I’ll do when they fall asleep is clean the toilet, not, you know, pass out myself from the physical drains of taking care of a crying, pooping machine that sucks the very life out of you via your breasts (or symbolically via a bottle). The flashback fades, and Super Mum seems content that her toilet-cleaning efforts are up to scratch. “Sure,” she smiles at her rude bitch of a friend. Cut to rude bitch poking her head through the bathroom door, sniffing (!!), and giving a little nod, as if to say, “yes, these facilities are fit to host my snobby butt and the golden, sweet-smelling effluent that flows from there.”

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The final insult comes with the tagline: If only everything stayed this fresh (or something, my sound broke) as two of the intruders sniff at the baby. Yes, ladies, babies shit themselves–it’s one of their only defence mechanisms against annoying twats like you.

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I have many problems with this ad (in case you didn’t pick that up during my description of it). For one, if I’ve just had a baby, don’t turn up on my doorstep unannounced in a group of five shrieking about how you want to see the baby sooo bad like right now. Second, don’t presume to use my facilities the minute you walk through the door. If you do need to go so damn badly, quietly slip away and find the loo yourself so that I don’t have to hear about it. Third, if you are lucky enough to be granted access to my ‘facilities’, remember that I have the above-mentioned eating, pooping succubus to consider, and don’t even think about judging the cleanliness of my home (or anyone’s, for that matter. Is it alligator free? Then you’ve got yourself a useable toilet, my friend). Finally, if my kid drops a load of chocolate buttons while you’re holding him, offer to change him instead of wrinkling your nose like a twelve-year-old and muttering about it to the woman next to you.

I don’t have a baby, so arguably I shouldn’t be afforded the same lenient treatment as a new mother. But then, I have two jobs, a band, and a social life, so perhaps I should be. Or perhaps it doesn’t matter because nobody invites you into their house to judge it unless they’re selling it or featuring in one of those god-awful “Lady Pennyweather opens up her wonderful country manor to Vapid Woman”.

Before my grandparents arrived, I did wipe down some tables and pull the doona up to cover the tangled mess of sheets on the bed. This is what I call ‘tidying’ and is probably stuff that I should have done anyway (well, not the bed. I never did understand the purpose of re-making a bed you were only going to sleep in again). I did consider vacuuming, but then I remembered that I was wearing only a dressing gown, and had literally put a clean house before not-being-naked. Priorities.

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“I am the devourer of the poops!!”

 

TB