26 pieces of advice on love

Stumbled across this gem on the Pop Sugar site, thank you Nicole Yi. Not sure where you’re at in life, but for me, it is a blueprint for my relationship future. (PS my father sadly doesn’t have the awareness nor sensitivity to say these things, so please don’t think it’s from him. Bless Nicole’s dad instead.)

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Some of the best advice I’ve ever received has been from my dad, but I didn’t quite realize that until I got older. My “all-knowing” father spits out life lessons every other sentence, so I usually respond with an eye roll. But as I began to come across experiences in my life where his words were applicable, maybe this self-proclaimed Yoda is onto something after all, I thought. Ironically, I learned most about being a woman from him.

Here are few of my life lessons for you to internalize re: men and life, straight from the man himself.

No man will ever be able to fill your cup every day. It’s impossible and draining.

Most men will fill the cup in short terms to be able to conquer.

You must fill your own cup.

You must love yourself when you’re looking in the mirror.

Don’t ever allow a man to shape who you are.

Don’t ever lower your standards for a man. Be patient.

Women have the same feelings as men. If you want it, go get it, but do it under your terms. And, after . . . leave a note with $20 saying, “I’ll call you, don’t call me.”

Envision the perfect partner. And if you want to attract that partner into your life, be that person yourself.

I hear all the time and in the movies, “You complete me.” Throw that sh*t out the window.

Never allow a man to disrespect you or verbally abuse you, and, of course, don’t ever allow him to physically abuse you. That’s not a man.

Find a man who will adore you, who will treat you like a queen. A real man shows by actions and not words.

Always remember, what he says is who he’s trying to be. What he does is who he is.

In order to have a successful and prosperous relationship, you must be able to self-recognize.

Your partner must be able to do the same as above.

Don’t rush into a marriage or relationship because of loneliness or emptiness. Work on your weaknesses and complete yourself first.
A great man will overflow your cup and not just fill your cup.

Be confident and be happy being alone. Be content being alone. Be confident and be able to go to dinner, movies, and travel alone. Tell the world mentally and physically when sitting at the dinner table alone: “My name is x and I’m a strong, independent woman who is content and secure with herself.”

You’ll notice a f*ck boy coming your way when they’re intimidated by you. Again, don’t lower your standards for these little boys. Play with them if you wish, but do it under your terms.

Wait until you’re in your 30s to get married. Through my personal experiences, I’ve noticed that I started to feel comfortable looking into the mirror when I turned 30ish.

Always work on your relationship. Don’t think everything is fine if you’re not fighting or arguing. There’s always room for improvement.

Find a man who loves himself, also.

Find a partner who’s your best friend, someone you simply like hanging out with, go to the market with, etc.

It’s a plus to have the same interests and hobbies.

I asked a friend who married for the third time what was different about this one. His response: “For the first time in my life, I couldn’t wait to go home.” Sometimes, it’s that simple.

Find a partner who wants to grow and learn with you.

Always be self-sufficient emotionally and financially. Allow yourself to want it but never need it.

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Happy Mothers Day

00000002I was not even half way through my 20s when I became mum to Jade. By yesterday’s standards and absolutely by today’s standards, that’s pretty young to be popping out an offspring. Although I will proudly state upfront that Jade was never “popped out”, moreso the caesarean result of a stubborn child who preferred dark warmth to fluorescent noise. I think she still does. I still can’t wake her up.

But I digress…

I was the first of my tribe to bear offspring. And at the time, her father and I had absolutely no idea what we were doing.

“Is it time for a nappy change?” he would ask me.

“How the fuck would I know?” was my standard issue response.

“Is she due for a feed?” was another of his incessant questions.

“Well we fed her three hours ago, how about you do the maths,” was another example of a standard reply.

Somehow though, we got her through to adulthood alive and alert, where she will turn 25 at winter’s end and continues to stupefy and enrich me with her fearlessness, conviction, vivid plans and flat out refusal to conformity.

That’s how I absolutely know she’s my child. She makes me feel I can validate the title of mum.

My arc of friends is wide, colourful and jagged. Single mums, married mums, gay mums, grand-mums, aunty-mums, no mums and a decent sprinkling of never-to-be mums.

My folks, Jade and me 1997

My folks, Jade and me

Yet all are mums in some form, shape or voice.

I met a lady (girl) on my first day at high school who to this day is still my close, supportive, non-judging, available, warm, joyous best friend. That was in 1978 so again I ask you to do the maths (simply because I’m getting so old now, I’m a tad afraid of calculators).

She’s literally the world’s most dedicated and enamoured aunt (or Arty) to her tribe of nieces and nephews. Which involves a set of twins so work with me here. Her wish to be a biological mum to her own kids didn’t eventuate. And that comes with its own separate menu of heartbreak, but at day’s end it never stopped her from loving and evolving with the young ‘uns her brothers and sisters managed to manufacture.

I have another incredible (and again very long term) friend who has chosen to devote her life to her mother’s care and not concerned herself with her own reproduction. And remains nonplussed with her choice.

Yet another shunned the concept of conception outright and embraces a career lecturing in the USA on sleep techniques for babies.

ps15My Brisbane neighbour, who never quite found the right bloke to make the babies with, knew that there were cartloads of abandoned puppies that the RSPCA needing help to process and home. Which eventuated in her full time care of Milo and Peaches, two adorable pups that in lesser circumstances would no longer be with us.

My other best friends M&M are apparently gay but are so fucking fabulous and warm and gorgeous and blessed that being gay is irrelevant and unconnected. Not a hesitation or a stuttered breath in helping me and wanting to take care of Jade. Black Eyed Pea and Kylie concerts spring to mind, the sort of concerts where I would prefer to swallow a battery than endure. Sitting on Dreamworld’s Giant Drop or eating at the Pancake Manor or enduring hours of boogy board surfing… And when she needed it, offering her a full time job in their company.

And my other friend, who held my daughter in her arms when she was three months old while I held her wine glass for her, then went on to give her office work 23 years later. I once spied on them having a cocktail together. They were laughing. Bless. I kept walking, albeit with a very warm heart. I may have taken a sneaky photo.

Fashion shootHere’s the thing. Don’t think for a second they’re not mothers too.

As a single mum from the time my daughter was four, I had to be flexible and open to support, ideas and constructive criticism to make it all work. I had a tribe of people around me who cheered, cleaned up and nodded, and every single one of them needs a Mothers Day accolade for the help and kindness they selflessly offered me. And for what the offered others.

OK, so I’m adopted. From birth all I knew were two people who vocalised unashamedly on their desire to be parents.

They chose me.

I think that’s cool.

And they are the kind of parents people dream to have – easy, supportive, talkative and ready with a wine bottle and a wine glass. They also sent me to Girl Guides, Sunday School, piano lessons and private school. I may have got a smack. I definitely got grounded.

Four decades later I meet the outstanding and liberating lady who not only gave birth to me, but also understood that the best option for me was adoption. How a mum makes that irreversible and devastating choice I will never experience but I absolutely know it was made from a place of love. And a place of hope. Hope for a brighter future and the peace of knowing you did the best thing possible.Jade 3

She’s my mum too. I love her so much. I’m pretty lucky to have the best of both mother worlds.

It’s the motherload. Literally.

I want the word “MUM” to mean more than what Hollywood movies depict or online news forum debate.IMG_0765

If you love unconditionally, I reckon you’re a mum. If you have ached because someone else ached, you’re a mum.

And if you look into a younger person’s eyes and see the future, you’re absolutely a mum.

Happy Mother’s Day. Much love xo

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Why is marriage still defining us?

gold-wedding-bandsMy great-aunt rang me today, to tell me that the daughter of a friend of hers was celebrating her 25th wedding anniversary.

“Isn’t that marvellous,” gushed Aunty Ruth. “Such a lovely thing in this day and age to see people who are still committed to marriage.

“Heather (her friend) is so proud, she must have done something right raising her daughter to have such a long marriage.”

I spat out my coffee. It was purely reflex.

“What??” I gasped, while I hunted on my kitchen bench for the sponge to wipe up the coffee spits.

Kevin and Janine, the couple in question, fight continuously. I’ve seen them bicker and nag each other silly. Kevin drinks beer all night until he passes out. Janine has trouble adding some vegetables to the dinner plate. Their daughter had her first baby at 16, and followed up with a second one, to a different dad, two days shy of her 18th birthday. They all live with them. Kevin has lost his license twice for DUI. Janine’s internet shopping habit means their credit card bill tops $20,000. I’ve never seen them say a nice word about the other one. Janine is desperately unhappy, and desperately unfulfilled, but it seems none of that matters, as long as you can boast a long-term marriage.

I was single for a very long time between marriages. My first one, to Jade’s dad, ended in 1996 and I didn’t remarry till late in 2011. You’ve got an iPhone, you do the maths.

In those intervening years, I bought property, secured job promotions, travelled overseas, started this blog, hosted dinner parties, put my daughter through private school, did part-time study, volunteered in aged care, guided my daughter around her teenage years, and loved and supported and expanded my network of friends.

But as a single woman, when I was chatting with friends of my parents or really anyone I hadn’t seen for a while, the first question was always, “Are you seeing anyone?” closely followed by “Is marriage on the cards at some point?”

No one was interested that my latest blog post had more than 1000 readers, or that I was just back from skylarking in Italy or New York. Eyes looked a bit blank when I told them I was working on a high profile project with the Premier or Jade had been made Music Captain at school.

There was a murmur and perhaps a faint, “Oh that’s nice dear” and we got straight back onto the subject of boys and marriage, ergo success.

“Your mum says you’re seeing someone, is that right? Any chance he might pop the question soon?”

“Ha ha, no there’s no chance, because it turns out that he has an anger management problem, probably because his sister tells me he has Asperger syndrome that is untreated, and I don’t feel too safe in that relationship, so I ended it.”

“Oh dear, that’s a pity, I mean, you know what these men are like. They always think they’re right and they hate being criticised. Would it just be easier to agree with this bloke, and then he might not be so angry? Then you can get married.”

I wish I was kidding. I am so sorry I’m not kidding.

So apparently it is ok to stay with a cranky pants man who has an untreated mental health issue, just so I can say I’m married.

Meaning marriage isn’t meant to equal happiness.

The last time I looked at the calendar, which was probably this morning, it was 2016. Not 1952. But there you go.

My daughter will be 25 a bit later this year. In her short time since she left school, she has been to uni, left home to live with friends, travelled to Kenya, lived and worked and supported herself in the UK for two years, backpacked for months throughout Europe, worked for the government, played with elephants in Thailand, and has just returned from a year in South Africa working for an humanitarian organisation. Her next project is in the hospitality industry and she’s full steam ahead with these plans.

My daughter is without question the most phenomenal human being I know.

Yet, the constant question I get is, “Is Jade thinking of settling down yet?” Not, “Wow, your daughter is amazing, look at her travels, oh the wonderful things she is doing!”

What if, just what if, Jade chooses to spend her life in service to others, helping out those less fortunate than herself, and never ever ends up getting married? And what if she receives accolades for her tireless humanitarian efforts and has the deep satisfaction of knowing how much she has contributed to humanity? Having said that, there’s every chance she will marry and be a mum herself, but I hope and pray it will be entirely on her own terms and in her own timeframe.

I think it is also hard for women coming out of a divorce. There’s no dignified way to go about it. Because suddenly you have to put “Ms” when filling out a form. And the whole world and everyone on Facebook sees you change your name from his back to your maiden name. Yet the blokes are still called Mr and their surname remains the same. Their professional careers and their personal reputations can remain unchanged if they wish.

That’s why I didn’t bother changing my name when my first marriage ended. It was a lot simpler (I still ticked the Mrs box just for a lark) and a lot less paperwork, to keep his name, plus I really liked that name. It suited me. My first husband would have preferred I didn’t use “his” name (I think his words were along the lines of “give me back my name”) so there is a teeny tiny chance I also kept it to annoy him. Oh, that stung…

Why are single women called spinsters, and old crones, and barren? Unglamorous and unsexy. Yet some of the most remarkable women I know are not married, have never been married, and to be honest, I think they’re a lot happier than the married ones.

Case in point: My gorgeous friend Edwina. Nearly 50 years old, very senior position in her company, an absolute ace at her job, and one of the most loyal friends a girl could ask for. Travels overseas twice a year, and has get-aways down the coast often. Owns her home, has money in the bank, is independent, considerate and confident. She’s a dedicated auntie to her tribe of nieces and her family’s well-being is never far from her mind. About five years ago, after 10 too many wines, I asked Edwina if she wished she’d got married at some point. I can still hear her laughter echoing in my memory, followed by a robust, “Are you fucking kidding?”

Versus another friend Hillary. She’s also turning 50 in a few years, and married to a pig. He questions every decision she makes, even if he agrees with her, because he loves to see her become confused. Yep he’s a pig. Every dress she puts on, he says, “Oh, is that what you’re wearing?” and not in a good way. If she tells her sons no, he says yes. He loves it when she makes a mistake, because he gets to gleefully tell all their friends about it. And because her husband is the main breadwinner, she feels she needs to put up with this.

I don’t think it’s a lack of love that makes unhappy marriages. I think it’s a lack of friendship. I have seen married people speak more politely and generously to their friends than their spouse. Look at cooking juggernaut, My Kitchen Rules, as a case in point. This is my favourite reality television show. And over seven seasons, I’ve watched friends who teamed up remain courteous and supportive while the spouses were either haranguing (“hurry up, hurry up”) or flat out being horrible.

Maybe we feel that, because it’s our spouse, we don’t need to edit our words or actions as perhaps we would with a best friend. What if we wanted as much success, happiness and glory for our spouses as we do for our friends, or indeed our kids? Is it the familiarity that sucks out the friendship? After the hot nasty sex dies a little, what is our sustainable base?

This quote is from a book called The Prophet by Kahlil Gibran, a Lebanese-American artist, poet, and writer.

For me, it sums up an ideal of marriage…

“Let there be spaces in your togetherness, and let the winds of the heavens dance between you. Love one another but make not a bond of love: Let it rather be a moving sea between the shores of your souls. Fill each other’s cup but drink not from one cup. Give one another of your bread but eat not from the same loaf. Sing and dance together and be joyous, but let each one of you be alone, even as the strings of a lute are alone though they quiver with the same music. Give your hearts, but not into each other’s keeping. For only the hand of life can contain your hearts. And stand together, yet not too near together: For the pillars of the temple stand apart, and the oak tree and the cypress grow not in each other’s shadow.”

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Women over 40

andy-rooney-300Just stumbled across this on Facebook (thanks Kendall). This is what Andy Rooney thinks about women over 40:

As I grow in age, I value women over 40 most of all. Here are just a few reasons why:

A woman over 40 will never wake you in the middle of the night and ask, ‘What are you thinking?’ She doesn’t care what you think.

If a woman over 40 doesn’t want to watch the game, she doesn’t sit around whining about it. She does something she wants to do, and it’s usually more interesting.

Women over 40 are dignified. They seldom have a screaming match with you at the opera or in the middle of an expensive restaurant. Of course, if you deserve it, they won’t hesitate to shoot you if they think they can get away with it.

Older women are generous with praise, often undeserved. They know what it’s like to be unappreciated.

Women get psychic as they age. You never have to confess your sins to a woman over 40.

Once you get past a wrinkle or two, a woman over 40 is far sexier than her younger counterpart.

Older women are forthright and honest. They’ll tell you right off if you are a jerk, if you are acting like one. You don’t ever have to wonder where you stand with her.

Yes, we praise women over 40 for a multitude of reasons. Unfortunately, it’s not reciprocal. For every stunning, smart, well-coiffed, hot woman over 40, there is a bald, paunchy relic in yellow pants making a fool of himself with some 22-year old waitress.

Ladies, I apologize.

For all those men who say, ‘Why buy the cow when you can get the milk for free?” Here’s an update for you…………….

Nowadays 80% of women are against marriage. Why? Because women realise it’s not worth buying an entire pig just to get a little sausage!

Andy Rooney is a very intelligent man! Pity he is no longer with us.

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Faux singleton

Those of you who catch up with me on Facebook already know that my husband Alan and I are relocating to Wellington, New Zealand as the first leg of our adult adventure. We are so fortunate to have dual citizenship in UK/Europe, so our adult adventure extends beyond Wellington’s glistening harbour. Our loose plan is to spend some years in Wellington, then move to my husband’s birthplace in Edinburgh. Alan will work in CEO roles and I will train, write and test wine quality. Not necessarily in that order either…SEX AND THE CITY BEGINS NEW SEASON

After that, our plan gets looser. Right now we are thinking of a stint in the south of England, perhaps Plymouth or Folkestone. Which in Bron-speak can quintessentially also mean Bordeaux or Mykonos. Regardless, we have decided our final resting spot will be Spain. Anywhere I can drink wine before noon, jangle an inordinate quantity of bangles on my wrists and float along in excessive white linen garments is my “Ole”.

Alan set full steam into the NZ job search market and, what with those Kiwi folk being pretty savvy talent spotters and what have you, he is again a CEO. He’s back to this first love, aviation, and I love how happy he is.

I wasn’t as happy that he left Brisbane in January to start his new job while I bided my time working, waiting for our slime-ball real estate agents to earn their commission. But it seems an unconditional contract is on the table. Phew. My belongings and I must vacate Cook Castle around the middle of May.

So now, I find myself no longer gainfully employed, but instead flying frequently to Wellington, actioning plans for my next business venture and, when back in Brisbane, spending an inordinate amount of time alone in my marital home.

Which has, in turn, led to a slow decline back into some of my long-forgotten Secret Single Behaviour.

Do not be alarmed. By single I don’t mean going on dates or joining RSVP or watching endless re-runs of Sex And The City in a futile attempt to gain inspiration from Samantha.

It’s more like eating brie and basil dip for dinner at 11pm, whilst washing it down with a hefty glass of sav blanc. Or waking at 2am, missing the joy of my husband in bed beside me, and mainlining episodes of Breaking Bad till dawn breaks.

Eating alone has never ever bothered me. Just ask Gino and Tony how many times they have prepared a solo table for me at Pane e Vino. But there’s a difference between eating alone when single, versus eating alone when your regular dining companion is more than 3000 kilometres away.

I was single for many many years (those confounding years in torturous relationships with difficult men do not count). During that time, I became most adept at eating alone. But since meeting Alan, it doesn’t hold the same appeal.

I miss you darling.

At night I secure all the entry points of our house. I spend a bit of time wondering if my gorgeous neighbours will lend me their German shepherd. I’ve moved a small desk and my laptop into our over-sized bedroom which has Foxtel, air con and an ensuite. So into my room I go and I pretty much don’t move for 10 hours.

As I write this, I counted nine pairs of heels littered on the floor, seven water bottles on my bedside table (six of which contain no water), and two half-full wine glasses. Why two glasses? Because tonight, when I got home from a training seminar at 9.20pm, I was desperate to watch the season five opener of Game Of Thrones. So I poured two glasses of wine, turned off the lights and retired to my bedroom, comforted by the knowledge I wouldn’t have to venture out for a refill.

I stack the mail up and open it once a week (don’t tell Alan). My smoothie blender, egg cooker, skillet and toaster haven’t been put away since I waved farewell to Al. I stay up till 5am writing (yes I’m writing a book…) and sleep till 11am.

I close my windows, search for Night Fever by the Bee Gees on YouTube, and replay it 27 times while I attempt to replicate Travolta’s disco moves.

Three times now I’ve been to bed without a shower. Twice I ate nothing all day but Weet-Bix. And once I cried so hard I thought my chest would split.

There was also an entire weekend when I didn’t bother with a bra. But it was ok. I get the paper delivered and I had enough milk.

It’s a kinda half life. Half my life is over the ditch and the other half is here in Brisbane. Every jacket, scarf and pair of boots I own now reside in Wellington. Every sleeveless summer dresses and strappy pair of stilettos I own now reside on ebay.

Mercifully just a couple more weeks till I am a Kiwi import. I’ve got some things to sell on Gumtree (let me know if you want to buy my car) and I am still teaching my cat to meow in Maori. And I desperately need to clear all the soft cheese out of the fridge before the removalists do their thing.

You know, for so many years there, I ticked the single box. More particularly, the single mother box. I carelessly left high heels around my place and ate copious quantities of Weet-bix. I set my own hours, refuted anyone’s judgement and answered nobody’s questions.

Except one pivotal question. The one that goes along the lines of “Will You Marry Me?” I effortlessly surrendered my Secret Single Behaviour and started ticking the Mrs box.

Suppose I better start on boxing up those shoes.

(Credit to my talented, inspirational and big-hearted friend Al, who coined our phrase “adult adventure”. It’s become our brand xo)

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Nikki Gemmell – why she hated 50 Shades Of Grey

This is a direct copy of Nikki Gemmell’s column in the Weekend Australian (14 March 2015). It is just brilliant. Please read. (PS I haven’t seen the movie, nor read the book and have no intention of doing either.)

Why Fifty Shades of Grey made my skin crawl

nikkkiHATED it. The film of Fifty Shades of Grey. Because it is a romanticisation — a glorification — of the controlling man.

And, like the in-built gaydar, many women have a control-dar that pinpoints the controlling man and all his dismissive, belittling, esteem-battering behaviour — and run a mile from it. Because no woman deserves that. But, of course, a lot of us put up with it.

The controlling man comes in many forms. He’s Christian Grey from Fifty Shades, demanding his particular form of sex that’s all about violence, demand, pain and power; not to mention selling his lover’s treasured car without telling her. He’s the GP who cuts me off mid sentence, repeatedly, because he’s not interested in what I have to say about my own body or my child’s; he knows best. He’s the friend’s husband who will not let her go out for dinner with the girls because she has to stay at home and be with him. He’s the imam decreeing a woman’s head and face be covered in public, and her education limited to ignorance. He’s the boyfriend who never answers your calls, addling you with indifference then demanding you appear right here, right now, in clothes to his liking. He’s Oscar Pistorius. Charles Saatchi.

“You know what happened to me?” said Rosie Batty. “Greg had finally lost control of me, and to make me suffer, and the final act of control — which was the most hideous form of violence — was to kill my son.” Her courageous voice has given us a fresh insight into what it’s like in the web of the controlling and insecure man. The tools of their repulsive trade are manipulation, isolation, psychological battering; the wallop again and again of emotional, intellectual and physical abuse. The constant aim is to assert their authority and superiority when they’re often, deeply, inferior. He’s Gerard Baden-Clay, who murdered his wife in Brisbane. He’s Arthur Freeman, who tossed his four-year-old daughter off Melbourne’s West Gate Bridge. He’s Simon Gittany, who threw his fiancee off his inner Sydney balcony.

“My wife is my property.” That’s how Bertolt Brecht summed up the message of Shakespeare’s Othello. No, she isn’t. She never is. She’s not in any way less than a man. If they perceive us as unequal, the propensity is there to control us; keep us in line. A woman never says, “A man is my property.” We often ask, “Why did the woman stay with that monster?” Yet we don’t ask, “Why did he inflict his inhumane violence on her in the first place?” Who says that’s acceptable? It never is. The onus should be on him, not her. I’m sick of excuses being made for angry, vulnerable, unhinged, threatening, uncentred, wounded masculinity. Like it’s someone else’s fault. Society’s. The victim’s.

Christian Grey is a different version of the many versions of controlling man. He sold Anastasia’s car, wanting to take away all that was individual and particular about her, wanting to change her, transform her into the image he wanted of her. The sex was ugly. Penetration looked like it hurt. There was an absence of tenderness. He did not ask his virginal lover at any time, “What do you want? What would give you pleasure? Tell me what you’d like.”

Nigella Lawson said that her husband, Charles Saatchi, had subjected her to “intimate terrorism”. It’s a phrase that could describe a lot of the controlling man’s abusive behaviour, in all its varied forms. We need to tell our daughters to beware of the controlling man. To avoid him if at all possible, call him out; and to pull up our sons if they demonstrate that kind of behaviour. It’s unacceptable, on a deeply human, empathetic level. The controlling man should not be normalised. He’s offensive to women; to what it means to be human. His repulsive, deeply selfish modus operandi should not be made to appear romantic. Which is why Fifty Shades of Grey made my skin crawl.

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Packing it all in

suitcase1I write to you from the land of the Kiwis, the home of the All Blacks and bottlers of the finest Sauvignon Blanc. Where chips are “chups”, sex is “sux” and lots of fun things “hair-pen” (happen…)

New Zealand.

It’s a bit of a mini-break. My husband had a few meetings in Wellington and I had a few dollars spare on my credit card.  Win win – for him, for me and for Westpac.

Wellington has more bars and restaurants per head of population than anywhere else in the world. It also has more shoe shops. Walk down Lambton Quay, which is the shopping equivalent of the Queen Street Mall or Orchid Avenue in the 1980s, and you’ll get sore feet from walking in and out of shoe shops.

The only smart thing to do of course is to have a nice sit down on one of the comfy chairs in the shoe shop. And while you’re there, it would be silly not to try on a few pairs. Wasteful, really.

I know I’m not alone in saying that I love to travel. Hell I get excited at an overnight stay in the country to attend a wedding. By country, I mean Ipswich. I try not to go too far west of Kenmore.

What I’m not good at is the packing part. I’m not good at working out what I’m going to wear for the next few days or weeks and getting it all into a suitcase.

Sure I check ahead to see what the weather is going to be like. I see what functions and events we will be going to. I ask my husband to tell me what the baggage weight limit is on the plane.

Then I pretty much open my wardrobe and throw its entire contents into as many suitcases as required.

In the second Sex And The City movie, Carrie gets on the Abu Dhabi-bound flight wearing a hat so enormous it needed its own boarding pass. That hat is never seen nor heard from again. Yes yes I know it’s a movie but she sent a very clear signal that packing doesn’t need to measured or sensible.

What I tend to overlook is that for the most part, I’m travelling to places that have shops and credit card facilities and ATMs etc. If I forget something crucial – a particular lipstick in a fetching shade of rose pink or a pair of black tights – there’s always more at the shops.

The bigger problem is that I don’t leave room for any holiday shopping. That normally requires the purchase of an additional bag. And quite often the purchase of additional baggage allowance.

Travelling by car, whilst devoid of the whole international immigration clearance and duty free shopping fun, means that there’s no real limit on bags.

And it means I become delusional.

Say I’m going to the Gold Coast for a week. I get it into my head that I’m going to be all Mother Nature and Mrs Home Maker and cook a few recipes that are on my cooking wish list. This requires the packing of the wok, my knives, my mortar and pestle and goodness knows how many other kitchen gadgets.

Reality being that we eat out pretty much for three meals a day.

Once I was determined to embrace a healthy outlook and packed my juicer and all manner of vegetables. The juicer never left the boot of my car and the vegies went the way of the compost bin.

About 10 years ago, I was in Singapore with one of my best friends, enjoying this Asian hub’s sights, sounds and tastes. There was lots of fun things to buy, especially in the newly emerging electronics sphere. When it was time to come home, I couldn’t for the life of me get my bag shut.

In desperation, I held my bag firm while my friend bodily dove from one of the twin beds to the other where my case lay gaping, attempting to use the force of body weight to shut it. It is possible we may have been drinking when we came up with this Herculean idea. It didn’t work. I had to buy another bag.

Another time, in Europe, I was at a check-in counter in Slovakia being told that the baggage limit was 15kg or face horrendous fines.

I got the weight of my case to the prescribed limit, but only through wearing three jackets, draping two pairs of boots about my neck, throwing out my shampoo, conditioner and body lotion, and dragging two carry-on bags.

This trip is only a week but I think I’m doing ok. The test of course will be at the Qantas counter on Monday.

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I blame Carrie

cbFor a really long time there, I was an avid devotee of Sex And The City. As a wanna-be writer, an Austen-style believer in true love and a stiletto devotee, I felt I had finally met my equals.

I watched those girls wax and wane between love on the horizon and love on the rocks. They talked orgasms, three-ways, abortion, marriage and AIDS. They ran all over New York in their clickety-clack heels and tight skirts, schmoozed their way into club openings and Michelin-star restaurants and shed tears of heartbreak when things turned sour.

The show has been over for more than 10 years, and since then we’ve had two movies and there’s talk of a third.

And there’s a part of me that looks at it now and wants to wring Carrie’s scrawny bloody neck.

Because of Carrie, I felt hideously inadequate for not wearing high heels when I went to the supermarket on Saturday morning or when I went to my letterbox to get my mail. Even if I popped out for a quick Sunday brunch, and all the girls I was meeting were in flats, I’d still wear heels. Because that’s what Carrie did. Don’t get me wrong here, my love affair with heels started ways before SATC. It’s just that Carrie took it up a notch. And I was right behind her in my platform wedges.

Now, when I watch old episodes, my favourite scene is the one where Aidan proposes. Not because he proposes, but because she’s out walking the dog, and she’s in shorts and thongs. Like a normal person.

Because of Carrie, I spent close to five years hanging around waiting for some publisher type person to offer to turn all my columns into a book. I’d even made the lame joke to my friends about not getting chemical peels the day before my book launch. Reality being that if I’m ever going to publish my columns as a book, I will at some point need to engage a publisher.

Because of Carrie, I wake up in the morning and wonder why I look so shit. Those girls were out till 4am dancing salsa and sinking tequila and their noses didn’t get shiny and their mascara never wandered away from their eyes. Which brings me to more of my 10-years-on favourite scenes – Carrie getting sprung in the shower by Charlotte following her failed birthday dinner, where she’d just stuck her head under the tap and she sported black panda eyes. Like a normal person. And in the first movie, when the girls got to Mexico, and Carrie went into the bathroom and washed her face that was sans make-up. She looked like a normal person would look when that normal person has been left at the altar.

How Carrie lived her extravagant life on the earnings of one column a week is perplexing. Even if she was paid say $100,000 (back then) I really doubt she could be trotting off to Manolo B’s each week or whatever for a new pair. Plus the wardrobe that included Prada, Chanel, D&G etc. We never saw her in Big W trying on a pair of Emerson’s or at Valley Girl buying a $10 sequin top.

And how did they do their washing? Apart from the time where Miranda came face to face with Steve’s skid marks, did any of them actually wash? Or vacuum or dust?

I think the most powerful annoyance for me is Big. When SATC first came on TV, I was dating a bit of Mr Big dickhead myself, so I felt I could commiserate with Carrie’s frustrations. My guy wasn’t that much into commitment yet I thought the sun shone out of his feckless cheating arse. I would loll around all morose and beleaguered, knowing full well he was out with another woman, and wonder what was so wrong with me that he wouldn’t commit.

Every now and then he’d have a fit of loneliness, or fear, or both, and scramble over to my place to tell me how much I meant to him and how hard he was going to work to make it good. Sort of like Big did when he was married to Natasha. Of course it was never genuine but I sure as hell fell for it each time.

Now all these years later, I look back on Carrie and me, and wonder why, at the first sign of what Bridget Jones eloquently called fuckwittage, we didn’t just call them tosspots and jaunt off on our high heels. Love, if it’s meant to be, shouldn’t be that stressful or destructive.

And there are better ways to lose weight.

The reason I know this, is that when I met my now husband, he was upfront from the first glass of Pinot Noir. He said he was absolutely intent on a long-term commitment, he thought I was the most gorgeous woman on the planet and he booked me for dinner every Saturday night for the next 40 years.

And so I took myself off the dating rollercoaster and put myself in a very happy, fulfilling and equal place. And I look back at those not so wondrous years and wonder why the hell I let myself put up with such crap. And do my best to get word around to friends and friends of friends who are dating their own version of Mr Big to let them know that life without a tosspot is still pretty good.

Of course I still have a wardrobe stacked with high heels which I wear with great regularity. I just not longer have a life that is stacked with angst and drama.

I guess that makes me what Bridget Jones calls “a smug married”.

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My “One Direction” story

001In 2008, the week before my daughter Jade started Year 12, her final year at school, we went to the Gold Coast. She was a single kid with a single mother, so when we were packing, we also packed one of her best friends. My playmate was wine, hers was Eloise. I think that’s pretty fair.

We rented this great apartment, right on the surf at Broadbeach. The girls had one end of the joint, and I had the other. We would meet up in the kitchen once or twice a day for food and cuddles, but primarily it was so I could hand over cash.

On the Thursday night, I’d taken them to dinner at some rancidly expensive place. During the meal, they met up with some friends who warbled on about having a “gathering” at their place later that night. On bended knees the girls begged for the opportunity to partake in this quasi-adult function that would include boys, alcohol and loud music, in the order that makes me feel most comfortable.

All I cared for was that an adult was present. The mum in this group nodded sagely and informed me that all would be well above board and well supervised. I was well happy.

Off trot these pubescent 16 year olds, in their impossibly short shorts and their impossibly long hair, filled with the excitement and trepidation that you can only feel at 16 when you’ve been given a modicum of freedom and there’s a sniff of boy.

And off trotted I, wearing my three-quarter grandma shorts that cover all manner of post-40 sins, and carrying a fresh bottle of sav blanc, filled with the excitement and trepidation that you can only feel at 42 when you’re a full time single mum and you’ve been given the night off.

Curfew was 11pm. At 11.05pm, I heard the key in the lock. In bounced these two gorgeous girls, texting furiously, giggling continuously and gushing non-stop. “Oh Mum, it was sooooooooooooo much fun” and “Oh Mum, you should have seen this boy that was there” and “Oh Mum, I think Midori is the best drink in the world, have you tried it with lemonade?”

Happy to see safely home the two precious angels who were under my protective wings, I kissed them both lightly, and headed for my bed. After all, I’d made best friends with a bottle of sav blanc and I needed a new best friend. My bed.

About 4am, my bladder woke me, as it is prone to do when you drink that much wine and are over 40 and have given birth. A quick stop in my ensuite loo, then my mothering instinct kicked in and I opened the girls’ bedroom door to make sure they were covered and that the wind wasn’t blowing the room to pieces.

No girls in the bed. Not to worry. They’re probably on the veranda. I remember at that age, my girlfriends and I would stay up all night playing our Leif Garrett records and stealing my parents sherry.

No girls on the veranda. Not to worry. They’re probably down by the pool. I remember at that age, my girlfriends and I having sleepovers, and sneaking into the backyard to converse with the moon while we drank my parents sherry.

No girls by the pool. Or in the bbq area. Or in the driveway. I even had the temerity to check if my car was still there. By this stage, I couldn’t let anything pass me by.

So I rang Jade. And bless her, she answered straight away. And of course, they’d snuck back to the fabulous party to look at the fabulous boy and were hoping that the empty bottle of wine they saw in the bin would see me through to 7am.

How wrong they were.

They came home immediately and knew that they were in some pretty serious trouble. They both begged me not to tell their fathers because they said they’d get grounded for life. Neither of them had the slightest inkling at how frightened I had been. They had not thought if something bad happened to Eloise, that I would be the one ringing her mother to pass on the tragic news. That I hadn’t gone through nine months of pregnancy and nine years of being a single mother to lose my precious girl on a stupid whim.

And my point is this, because you know that all my stories end up having a point – at that point in time, if I had One Direction tickets in my possession, I would have whacked them onto ebay without a single thought. Probably at a 50% discounted rate.

A fitting punishment for a fitting crime.

But I didn’t have One Direction tickets. The One Direction boys were still in utero back then.

I didn’t want to take away her mobile phone, because I wanted her to have it so I could call her.

I didn’t want to cut our holiday short because it was my holiday as well, and I wanted the last four days of sun and sand and surf before the real world and my office job beckoned.

I didn’t want to ring Eloise’s mum and ask her to come and pick up her daughter, because then Jade would look to me for entertainment for our remaining four days, and frankly, I love her more than anything, but 24/7 is a bit too much.

So instead I gave them a very stern lecture, brought up stories of Anita Cobby and Schapelle Corby, expressed the love that I held for them, and locked them inside the apartment for two days while I went out and enjoyed the shops, the food and the surf.

So to the mum who sold her daughter’s One Direction tickets, you have my vote lady.

You have my vote.

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My right to bare arms

001Oh shit. Shit shit shit shit shit. It’s nearly summer, hey.

Which is actually ok by me, despite my repetitive profanities.

Now you know I’m not really a winter person. It’s like beach or countryside. Tea or coffee. Country or western. We tend to be either one or the other.

I’m more your summer person. I like to swim, eat outdoors and drink white wine that is almost sub-Arctic in temperature. I like to sleep with the scent of my jasmine vine wafting over me. Gawd that was almost poetic!

My birthday is the 25th of August and people are often perplexed as to why an imminent birthday causes me no grief. It’s because once my birthday is done, there’s literally one week more until winter is over. Literally. Praise to you Lord Summer.

For a brief moment every year, I pause to consider whether I would like to change teams and become pro-winter. Like voting for Clive Palmer. I think that one day I’ll be all nasty and menopausal and wanting to put my head in the freezer. Brisbane summers look like they could be somewhat brutal to menopausal women.

Or when we got back from a few weeks in the UK, where I wore 5-metre long scarves in some ultra-chic Elizabeth Hurley way, and slept under massive goose feather doonas, and drank wee drams of whiskey by the fire… Yes then I think I might like to be a winter person.

That is, until it’s time to go back to work and I’m standing at the train station at 6:45am and it’s freezing. [Read more…]

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