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Archive for June, 2010

In an attempt to be the Healthiest Me I could be, I decided earlier this year that it was time for me to join a gym. Yes, I was going to become a Gym Person. Just like that!

Of course, four months later, I hadn’t even managed to get to the gym to pick up their application form, let alone do any exercise.

In the end, I was forced to concede that a gym membership might not be the smartest way for me to spend my money. So instead I went out and bought myself a Wii Fit Plus pack. This way I could do exercise in the comfort of my own home without having to purchase an AbTronic SuperPro 2000 or some other ‘as seen on TV’ home fitness solution that utilises NASA technology and is only used by people with impossibly white teeth.

To begin my Wii Fit journey, I first had to do a fitness assessment – with mixed results. After declaring me to be ‘overweight’ and having my Wii avatar (my ‘Mii’) literally inflate like a balloon in front of my eyes, it then assessed my ‘Physical Age’ as being that of a 31 year old. And since that was the age I was before three successive pregnancies laid complete waste to my body, I was pretty happy with that. A couple of days later, however, I saw my Wii Fit Age fluctuate from 22 years (in the morning) to 39 years (just shortly before ‘wine o’clock’). Although, that may have had more to do with the fact that I’d had all three kids home all day with a vomiting bug than any inconsistencies in the Wii Fit program.

But ‘Wii Fit’ is more than a Biggest Loser-style weigh in. There are dozens and dozens of games for you to play in the name of fitness on the ‘Wii Fit Plus’ disk. Personally, I love anything with the word ‘Plus’ in it because it gives me the sense of getting something extra, even when I’m not entirely sure what that something is.

One of my favourite Wii Fit Plus games is where a guy right out of a Guy Ritchie film teaches me ‘Rhythm Boxing’. Man, is that grumpy geezer hard to please! At the end of each session, he always and says “I know you can do better than that.” Perhaps he’s training me up for a jewel heist? Other favourites include the Kung Fu Rhythm (I am the Karate Kid – except with Kung Fu instead) and Super Hula Hoop (it’s all in the hips, people!). However, I’m yet to be convinced of the health benefits of dressing in a penguin suit and sliding along ice on your stomach in the imaginatively named ‘Penguin Slide’. Still, the kiddies love it and that’s got to be a good thing, right?

The kids’ favourite is the ‘Zazen’ (Zen meditation) game, which involves sitting on the Wii Balance Board in contemplative mediation while a candle burns on the screen in front of you. When you finish your mediation and move, the candle blows out. Mr Justice loves it because it’s a serious challenge for him to sit completely still for more than 15 seconds and the boy seriously likes a challenge. The Pixie, in contrast, thinks the purpose of the game is to get the candle blown out as soon as possible and so is always punching the air and shouting “YES!” whenever the flame is extinguished.

Of course when I sat down to try it and had Tiddles McGee immediately jump on my back, the program gave me a one-star rating and declared me to be ‘Unbalanced’. I guess someone had to say it…

Anyway, I just realised that this blog post is as close to a Product Review as I’ve ever got. And no, Nintendo have not asked me to write this, nor have they crossed my palm with gold and/or other games compatible with the Wii Fit program (hint, hint). Nor have they sent round the Wii Fit limo, replete with a magnum of low-joule low-alcohol champagne and a handsome personal trainer called Pablo who offered to massage my feet. In the low-joule low-alcohol champagne. While I drank vodka shots lined up along his back…

But I digress. I guess if this really is a product review, I need to end with a summary.

PROS: You can wear your pyjamas while exercising.

CONS: My ‘Mii’ needs bigger breasts.

Yep, that should do it. Let the Product Review requests and the free stuff roll in. Woo hoo! (*punches air*).

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I’m pretty certain that [Famous Person] had no idea what was about to hit him when he turned up to GT’s party and got introduced to some girl who looked like Liberace-in-make-up-and-heels.

“Eeeekkkkkkkk!” I squealed as I shook his hand just that little bit too vigorously, in a “You! It’s really you!” kind of way. “I’m such a big fan!”.

[Famous Person], for his part, kindly listened to me while I prattled on (and on) about some early highlights from his career.

“Oooh, I remember you did [very cool thing] and I was only 14 and I thought you were the coolest person on the planet!” I gushed. And after a bit more small talk about how we knew our hostess GT, I went back to incoherent gushing: “You! [Very cool thing]! Cool!”

“Uh, I think you’ll find [Other Person Altogether] did that [very cool thing],” [Famous Person] gently informed me.

I stopped dead in my tracks.

“Yes. Yes, you’re right…” I said, realising I had totally mixed up his early career highlights with someone else’s. Good one. Time for a feeble joke: “Is [Other Person Altogether] coming to the party?”

[Famous Person] luckily laughed at my joke and it was then that I got to realise that [Famous Person] was way cooler than any [very cool thing] he might have done circa 1985 and, in fact, had gone on to have a much more impressive career than I had even known. That’ll teach me not to more thoroughly cyber-stalk famous people before I meet them.

Anyway, his wife, [Mrs Famous Person], was also very lovely and mercifully tolerant of this strange person gushing all over her husband. There was only one slightly awkward moment, however, when she told me that she’d been in the film  ‘Classification Board’ and I got all excited that she was a movie star but, after some clarification, it turned out she had actually been ON the Film Classification Board. I was kind of relieved because I hadn’t actually seen ‘Classification Board’, although I’ve heard it’s quite good.

The conversation was helped along by the fact that the friend the [Famous Couple] had come to the party with had just bought a piece of art – an etching, in fact. It was therefore only natural that [Mrs Famous Person] should challenge him to use the “Would you like to come up and see my etching?” line on an attractive single woman at the party.

“In fact, there was that really attractive girl standing next to you at the bar, holding a goblet,” [Mrs Famous Person] said.

“Indeed, I complimented her on her goblet,” Etching Man said.

“As long as you didn’t compliment her on her gobletS and say you wanted to sip from them, that’s a good start,” I remarked.

“There’s the girl over there!” [Mrs Famous Person] whispered, pointing very discretely.

We all looked to where she was pointing.

“Oooh, that’s my childhood friend!” I exclaimed brightly. “Let’s get her over here.”

It didn’t take long for Etching Man to drop the line on my childhood friend. I felt he needed further coaching, however.

“Pssst….” I whispered. “You should offer to buy her a drink.”

He offered to buy her a drink, saying something along the lines of “Let me refill your goblet”.

“Pssst…” I whispered again. “Now, you should offer to buy me a drink so it doesn’t look so obvious.”

Yes, there I was, revealing my true colours, having had no hesitation in pimping out my childhood friend to get in with the [Famous People] and then grifting their friend for a drink.

Still, at the end of the evening, [Famous Person] gave me a hug (A HUG!) and said he would send me a copy of his most recent book. Although, now that I think about it, I expect it’s probably called something like ‘Restraining Order’ and that it has to be personally hand-delivered to me by a very special courier… With a bit of luck, though, it will have [Famous Person]‘s signature on it and that, in my mind, is a result. [Famous Person]!!

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When I was originally diagnosed with osteo-blah-blah-blah, the doctor I saw gave me two suggestions: take glucosamine and do the dishes.

“You ladies are lucky,” he said. “Your therapy is part of your work.”

Like washing dishes was automatically a woman’s work! Shuh!

Admittedly, though, it is technically this woman’s work in this house. Yes, I am the Domestic Dish Pig. Sometimes, as I feel like I stand at that friggin’ sink all day, washing dish after cup after splade after saucepan, pausing only to fix another meal for my rabidly hungry children.

The problem about the dishes, of course, is that they cannot be ignored – unlike laundry, which can be left for a couple of days until someone runs of out underpants or I lose one of the neighbour’s kids under one of the huge piles.

Anyway, after my recent weekend in Sydney, I had the worst flare-up of my osteo-blah-blah-blah in my right hand. It was only after a few days of being back home that the terrible truth hit me: I had been in such pain because I hadn’t had to dip my hands in warm soapy water for over 72 hours.

It was like the thing that I hated the most was the thing that saved me. How ironic! Stick that in your stupid song, Alanis. Because it’s actually ironic, unlike “rain on your wedding day”, which is merely unfortunate, or “ten thousand spoons when you just need a knife”, which is some kind of crazy spoon-invasion situation. I say to Alanis, “The spoons are coming! Get out of that damn cab and run, run for your life!”

Anyway, I decided I should see a doctor about my flare-up but couldn’t get an appointment for a few days. (See how smoothly I got out of that spoon-invasion scenario just then?)

While I was waiting for my appointment, I quickly discovered that the best way to forget about arthritic pain was to get a cold sore – it gave me something else to focus on. And the quickest way to stop worrying about the cold sore was to start developing one of those kaleidoscope-vision migraines. And the most effective way to transcend a migraine was to have one of your kids throwing up All. Night. Long.

And then the best cure for the whole damn lot was to drink lots and lots of champagne in honour of Australia’s first female Prime Minister.

On the morning that Julia Gillard took charge of the nation, I came home from the school run to find a message from the Mild-Mannered Lawyer insisting that I drop everything and join her and our friend MGK to drink champagne.

I looked at the time. It was less than hour and a half to my doctor’s appointment. Could I honestly go and talk to my doctor about my ailments after chugging champagne and risk her lecturing me on the perils of drinking before noon?

So I did what any responsible person with a sense of occasion would do: I canceled my doctor’s appointment, forgot about my persistent headache and my cold sore, left the dishes undone and hot-footed it over to the MML’s house, where we drank champagne and watched events unfold on the television for many hours.

And that afternoon, when I picked the kids up from school, I looked into the eyes of my small red-headed daughter and told her “You can do whatever you want to do!” and really truly meant it. It would seem that the position description for a woman’s work just got a whole lot broader.

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It was all a bit embarrassing, really. Facebook obviously wanted me to be friends with Hugh Jackman a helluva lot because every time I logged on, there he was, in my ‘Friend Suggestions’ feed. Every single time. No matter how many times I pressed the ‘Remove’ button, Facebook kept sending Hugh Jackman back to me.

After about a week of this, I finally thought “Fuck it! Maybe Facebook’s got it right this time! Maybe Hugh Jackman and I are meant to be friends!”. Also I was beginning to suspect that old Hugh must have been in a pretty lonely place if he was letting Facebook pimp him in this way.

So I sent Hugh Jackman a friendship request, along with the message that I was only asking to be his friend because Facebook was being so damn insistent about it and not because I loved him or anything because, quite frankly, the memory of his bare torso in the promos for Baz Luhrmann’s ‘Australia’ still gave me nightmares.

But no sooner had I clicked ‘Send Request’ than I received a message that Hugh had too many friends already.

Ha! It was like Facebook had deliberately set a trap to humiliate me. Or maybe the trap was set by Hugh, himself. He may even have been in league with the Literary Agent of International Renown. Yeah, that’d be right.

However, before I judged Hugh too harshly, I thought I should check if he was the real Hugh. After a quick search, I found myself faced with a grand total of 492 Hugh Jackmans. Now, either Hugh was spreading himself a little thin on Facebook OR only one was the Real Hugh and the rest were (gasp!) IMPOSTERS!

So I then did what any reasonable person would do. I decided to send friendship requests to all 492 Hughs because (and hear me out here) that way I’d be able to tell which one was the Real Hugh because he’d most certainly be the only one who didn’t accept my friendship request. Also I kind of fancied having 491 friends called Hugh Jackman. I don’t know why, but I did.

Anyway, I grew pretty bored with the whole thing after sending requests to only 18 of the Hughs. This was lucky because it also took me that long to realise I had just merrily given full access to my Facebook profile to at least 17 Hugh Jackman impersonators.

Of course, I immediately tried to retract my friendship requests but couldn’t find any way of doing this. It turns out celebrities (and celebrity impersonators) must have some kind of Special Status on Facebook because none of the obvious ways to retract my request would work. What’s up with that shit, Facebook? What if I’d put in a request to be a Jennifer Aniston impersonator’s friend and then she ran over my cat and refused to even apologised and I wanted to take the friendship request back because even to be friends with her for a second would be dishonour my cat’s memory? Sheesh!

Over on twitter, people were very quick to offer advice on how to retract a friendship request. They were so incredibly helpful and sympathetic. Many said they, too, had “been there”, no doubt thinking I was mourning my dead cat. I felt too embarrassed to tell them exactly where “there” was for me, having stupidly followed 18 Hugh Jackmans in less than five minutes without thinking of the consequences.

In the end, the only way I could get myself out of this pickle was by totally blocking each Hugh Jackman from my account to cancel out my friendship request (Thanks, McNazzle). Which means that I have now officially blocked a grand total of 18 Hugh Jackmans on Facebook. Result.

Of course, the chances are that one of those 18 will be the Real Hugh and I will have sabotaged all chances whatsoever of him and I ever being friends. And Facebook thought we’d be so good together…

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To be honest, the evening probably started on the wrong note. A frank discussion about nether-regions waxing – before we’d even ordered our first cocktail, I should add – had me proclaiming a bad ‘bum fluff’ wax related in one story to be a ‘bum mullet’.

The three of us (birthday girl GT, our long-serving mutual friend [Name Withheld For Legal Reasons] and yours truly) were at GT’s favourite bar in Sydney – her “home away from home” – although admittedly, it was a little further away from her home than I would have liked since we’d walked there in our heels and I’d subsequently lost all radio contact with my toes.

Luckily alcohol helps in these situations and we hit the cocktails. After our first round, the owner of the bar sent GT over a complimentary cocktail for her birthday. Strangely, it was the fruity cocktail that I’d been drinking (and not the ‘dirty martini’ she’d been drinking) and so she gave it to me. I like to think this mistake happened because the manager had asked the waitress “Which cocktail is GT drinking? You know, the glamourous one in glasses…” and the waitress had assumed he was talking about me.

Yes, that must be it, especially since I’d been the one shrieking “BUM MULLET!” at the top of my voice.

Then the moment that I’d been waiting all my life happened. Three glasses of champagne arrived, unbidden, with the words “These come with the compliments of the three men in the corner.” Following bar etiquette, we all turned and raised our glasses to them.  The fact that one of them was actually GT’s friend and that they were all gay did not detract from this genuinely exciting moment.

Anyway, it was little wonder that after so much excitement and free drinks, the conversation should turn to mathematics – or rather, Venn diagrams. You see, we decided to work out if the three of us had ever all shared the same ‘conquest’ – you know, whether there was a point where our three circles (so to speak) met.

The answer was no. This was, in turns, not surprising and yet very surprising.

It was not surprising because there are well over 3 billion males on the planet. It was surprising, however, because two of us were from Perth and we all know what that means.

However, the most surprising thing of all was the point where GT and [NWFLR]‘s circles overlapped.

“Who is it?” I asked.

GT and [NWFLR] exchanged quick, embarrassed looks and then looked away.

“WHO?” I demanded.

“Uh, we share [Man Least Likely],” [NWFLR] confessed.

“WHAT? [MAN LEAST LIKELY]????” I was outraged. I had known about [Man Least Likely]‘s affaire d’amour with GT but not that he’d got it awnnnnn with [NWFLR]. That particular little secret had been kept from me for fifteen years. Fifteen years!

[NWFLR], for her part, was a little bit pleased with herself – about the secret keeping, that is, but perhaps not the conquest itself.

“I am an international lady of mystery!” she said. “Anyway, you and GT share someone, too.”

She was right, of course. GT had briefly dated my husband a couple of years before I met him and, in fact, had introduced him to me.

“Yes, but he’s my husband and the father of my three kids!” I argued. “I think that counts as Full Disclosure! I mean, we’re talking [Man Least Likely] here. [MAN-LEAST-FUCKING-LIKELY]!!”

And amidst all the subsequent laughter and shrieking and carry-on, I paused for reflection. Even with the sixty-four years of friendship the three of us shared between us, there were still surprises to be had. What a many-spendoured thing female friendship is…

_______________

Happy 40th Birthday, GT.

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Wherever my daughter and I go these days, we are always accompanied by a baby doll called Abby.

People love to see little girls with baby dolls. They always smile at The Pixie and say “Is that your little baby you’ve got there?”

The Pixie tends to frown when asked this question. After all, it’s a bit obvious she’s too young to have a baby of her own.

“No, she’s not my baby. She’s my little sister,” she replies solemnly.

“Which makes her my baby!” I then exclaim, perhaps a little too brightly because the people’s smiles tend to fade at this point of the conversation and, more often than not, they take a little step backwards.

Yes, I am now officially – or at least according to The Pixie – a mother of four.

Luckily, Abby sleeps a lot. Like a lot a lot. And she never cries. Not even a little bit. After having had three babies who did lots of crying and precious little sleeping, the universe owes me an easy one, even if it is a plastic doll.

The Pixie is growing suspicious about my parenting skills, however. When she gets home from school, the first thing she usually asks is “Where’s Abby?”

“Uh, Abby’s still in the pram…” I had to admit one day.

“Still? Didn’t you get her out all day?” she asked, outraged.

“No,” I replied. “She was, uh, sleeping soundly. Very very soundly. I didn’t want to disturb her.”

“Well, aren’t you going to get her up?” she demanded .

“Could you do it, sweetheart? I’m cooking dinner for my other (real) children,” I said, careful to swallow the word “real” so as not to upset her (see below).

“She’s your baby!” she replied, her finger no doubt poised over the speed dial button for the Department of Health and Services.

“She’s not a baby, she’s a doll!” Mr Justice suddenly weighed in from nowhere.

“NO! SHE’S NOT A DOLL. SHE’S MY SISTTTTTEERRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRR!” The Pixie wailed, running from the room with her fist held dramatically to her mouth.

We have had many variations on this conversation over the past couple of months, inevitably ending in The Pixie’s tears.

For example:

PIXIE: How many people in our family?

NDM: (distracted) Five…

PIXIE: No! There’s six! You forgot Abby!

MR JUSTICE: Yes, [Pixie] there are six in our family. Five people and one stupid doll.

PIXIE: SHE’S NOT A DOLL! SHE’S MY SISSSSTTTERRRRRRRRRRR!

Or:

PIXIE: Abby’s enjoying her water soup, Mummy!

NDM: (distracted) That’s nice, dear.

MR JUSTICE: Water soup isn’t soup, it’s just water and Abby can’t even swallow it because she’s a doll.

PIXIE: SHE’S NOT A DOLL! SHE’S MY SISSSSTTTERRRRRRRRRRR!

And even:

PIXIE: Abby!

MR JUSTICE: Doll!

PIXIE: SISSSSSTTTTTTTTTTERRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRR!

But I have to hand it to The Pixie. She’s obviously spending a lot of time wondering how she can argue against Mr Justice’s claims that Abby is “just a doll”.

“Human beings aren’t real,” she announced in the car the other day. “We are all dolls.”

Mr Justice didn’t even pause for breath with his rebuttal. “Well, [Pixie], since you are always telling us Abby is not a doll, you’re only proving that she is not One Of Us.”

“You’re a doll! YOU’RE! A! DOLL!” The Pixie screamed back at him.

Although technically correct, Mr Justice should probably be careful at this point. His sister may well end up like Joy from Psychoville or Abby is going to go all Bride of Chucky. Either way, it’s not going to end well.

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I have never liked chess – the game, that is, and not the musical. I mean, what’s not to like about a show that contains a song like ‘One Night In Bangkok’?

The reasons I don’t like chess (the game) are numerous and extremely rational. They include:

Chess is upsetting. I regard the capture of any of my pieces as a deep affront upon my person. It physically hurts me and makes me hate my opponent with an ice cold passion.

Chess is time-consuming. I read somewhere that if there are 50 consecutive moves without any piece taken, you can call a draw. So even if I got my opponent to agree not to take any of my pieces, we’d have to sit through 50 moves before the game would end. In a ‘speed’ Chess round where players are given, say, four hours to complete each turn, this would mean I’d be 180 years old before the game finished. This is almost as bad as a game of Monopoly with four-year-olds.

Chess is thinly-disguised classist propaganda. My inner-socialist hates the fact that all the pieces aren’t equal and that some pieces aren’t valued as much as other pieces from the “born-to-rule” class.

Chess is misogynistic. My inner-feminist wants to know why everyone’s hell-bent on saving the King when he’s obviously so drunk he can only move one square at a time. The Queen, in stark contrast, has got these amazing superpowers that are actually worth protecting – although admittedly, one could argue she’s clearly able to look after herself, thank you very much.

Chess is a game of strategy. The closest thing I get to thinking strategically is sticking three lollipops in the bottom of my handbag so I can get out of the toy department in Target with my kids without creating a scene. But at the end of the day, chess pieces don’t eat lollipops.

Chess is boring. I really only like games that lend themselves easily to drinking- and/or stripping versions. Fact.

Chess is stupid. I fail to understand how a building the size of a castle can move more quickly than a horse. That is just stupid.

My husband, on the other hand, hates all board games with a passion but makes an except for chess. I think this is mostly because he enjoys making lots of “hard-core pawn” jokes.

He is currently teaching Mr Justice, aged almost 8, how to play. Mr Justice likes it because, in his words, he’s a “genius at maths” (as well as being incredibly modest). The Pixie loves playing chess, too, but she plays by different rules called ‘Bad Man Rules’ in which my husband sets up the board and The Pixie knocks off all his pieces in quick succession with one of her own pieces, shouting “Bad Man!” as she does it. As a consequence, the game is over very quickly. She’s no fool, my daughter.

Even Mr McGee likes to play chess, but only by stealing pieces when nobody is looking and hiding them in various places – some of which are entirely understandable, like the recycling bin, and others a bit more bizarre, such as down his pants. Which, now I think about it, is probably a strategy I’ll adopt if anyone ever challenges me to a game of Strip Chess. Which, now I think about it some more, somebody definitely will do, especially since I’ve admitted to all the above, and one of these days, I’ll no doubt find myself 180 years old with a bishop in my undies… Enough said.

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