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Archive for September, 2010

I’m the kind of person who often walks into a room and has everybody whisper “Who’s that girl?”

Unfortunately, it’s never said in the hushed and awe-filled tones of someone in the presence of True Beauty. It’s said in the same kind of way that someone might say “What did I just step in?” or even “Is that a pubic hair in my soup??”

I’m pretty sure I made such an entrance when I recently went to a swanky Sydney wine bar, wearing jeans and a smock top that mades me look like a hunchbank who’s six months pregnant.

I was going to see my fabulous friend GT sing and, indeed, had rung her beforehand to check the dress code.

“It’s very casual. Jeans are fine,” she assured me.

It wasn’t until I arrived there that I realised the statement “Jeans are fine” applied only to people as fabulous as GT who can wear anything anywhere and, in fact, never wear jeans because they’ve got far better things to wear.

There was some small part of me that wanted to shout out “Anyone care for spot of scrapbooking?” or (better still) “The Bells! THE BELLS!”as I walked across the room. Luckily, I was meeting my friend Dr L and my stepmother JJ – both of whom have known me for over two decades and know that I’m way cooler than I look. Okay, so a little cooler.

Anyway, the gig was great. GT has a velvety voice like an angel who’s wooing the devil, or at least talking him into giving her a really long foot rub.

But the “Who’s that girl?” moments continued. During one break between sets, Dr L and I heard our names being spoken. We looked up to see GT and a pretty blonde woman looking over at us. They waved to us and we waved back.

GT walked over to us a few minutes later.

“That’s [Karen], Mr F’s friend,” she said.

“Oh! Karen!” I exclaimed, knowingly.

“Ah yes! Karen...” Dr L echoed.

GT went back to the stage and began singing. After a few bars, Dr L whispered out the side of her mouth.

“Just checking… Do we know who Karen is?”

“Fuck, no,” I whispered back, my smile still fixed on my face.

After a few more songs, Karen got up to leave. She waved to us cheerfully. We waved back with equal enthusiasm.

“Bye, Karen!” Dr L said, brightly.

“God go with you, Karen!” I said, which made me giggle to myself for at least half an hour because I was a jeans-clad pregnant hunchback in a swanky Sydney bar and I had to find something to laugh about that wasn’t myself.

Anyway, as fate would have it, during the next break I found myself chatting to GT’s guitarist, a very talented man that I had met a number of times over the past 15 years.

After a while, he extended his hand to introduce himself.

“Uh, we’ve actually met a few times before,” I told him. “I’m [NDM].”

“Oh! [NDM]!” he exclaimed, clearly remembering the name but struggling to put it to the mumsy Quasimodo figure before him. “Uh…”

“It’s okay!” I told him. “I’ve had three children and have gone completely to seed!”

He looked back at me blankly and blinked. I took this as my cue to continue.

“You, however, look exactly the same!” I enthused. “That’s worked out well for you!”

And I smiled my brightest smile, knowing full well he’d be thinking “Who is this girl?” even though I had ostensibly just answered that question for him.

What can I say? I clearly have a gift. But who that gift is for is anyone’s guess.

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“Road Trip” is one of those terms that once filled my head with images of bikini clad girls in a convertible jeep being mooned by a station wagon full of frat boys chugging beer.

Now, it just fills me with a sense of dread. Well, a different kind of dread, not being one to favour bikini tops or college boys’ arses.

Last Friday, I set off on a 900km trip to Sydney with my three kids, my husband and my mother. Since we couldn’t, in all good conscience, put everyone in NASA-issue diapers and drive the whole thing straight,we chose to do it over Two Big Days.

The road trip started optimistically enough. Every time we saw a sign mentioning our destination, my mother would shout “Woo hoo!” and my husband would shout “Spring Break!” and the kids would echo it. That was for the first hundred kilometres. After that the adults fell into a deep pit of depression. The distance felt so great that any sign reminding us of how far there was to go felt like an affront to our very persons.

That night in our stopover accommodation, the adults  turned to alcohol and the children threw mini-soaps at each other until they passed out asleep.

It wasn’t until the final 100km on the second day that the mood became hopeful again. The ‘Woo Hoos!’ and the ‘Spring Breaks’ returned. I was on my way to a two hour hair appointment in central Sydney without the children. Things were looking up.

But then I made two fateful errors.

Since my hair appointment was at 2PM, we only had time for a ‘drive thru’ lunch – yes, I’d become the kind of person to put my hair before my children’s nutritional needs. But then, if you had the kind of three-toned regrowth that I was sporting, you probably would have done the same.

At 11:30am, we approached a McDonalds.

“It’s too early for lunch. We’ll go through the next road services!” I said to my husband.

After all, I had read there were now more McDonald’s along the Hume Highway than there were towns. Why wouldn’t there be another McDonalds in 50km just when and where I needed it?

Mistake Number One.

And then I made my second mistake. I turned to my husband and whispered: “You know, the kids have been great on this trip!”

Look, I honestly don’t know what had gotten into me. I mean, we all know that, as parents, we’re allowed to think these things but that we should never – EVER – say them out loud. It only gives karma an excuse to bitch-slap us.

Turns out my casual remark to my husband was Tiddles McGee’s cue to kinghit his sister and for all hell to break loose in the back seat, shit itself and then rub my nose in it. You see, we went on to drive for almost an hour and a half (with the kids hysterically screaming) without a single Fast Food outlet in sight. An hour at a half. At 110km per hour. That’s over a 150km of food-free hell.

In desperation, we turned off the highway only to find ourselves driving through an industrial wasteland. Meanwhile, the air temperature outside suddenly rose ten degrees  and I started wishing I had worn a bikini top after all and, moreover, I started thinking that chucking a brown eye out the window might just be the best way of showing Sydney what I thought of it and its lack of roadside services.

But then, finally, after ten minutes of driving off the highway, there they were: the Golden Arches of Salvation. All I can say is trans fat has never tasted so sweet – but then, that may have something to do with the sugar they put in the burger buns…

________________________________________________

FOR THE RECORD:

  • I made my hairdressing appointment on time and got to sit around with foils on my head looking like a “Tin Rasta” for the first time in my life. My hair now looks fabulous (Thanks to my sister, Belle).
  • The McDonalds logo will forever more look like a big yellow bottom pointing at the sky and saying “Back in your face, Karma!”
  • We still have the 900km return journey home to look forward to.

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The other morning, The Pixie told me about a dream she’d had about Harry Potter. This was markedly different from the dream I’d had about my husband misbehaving himself with a french exchange student. (“We’re never getting a french exchange student now, are we?” my husband said dolefully when I told him about the dream. Listen, he’s only got his Dream Self to blame.)

The Pixie’s dream involved her talking to Harry Potter and then getting ‘ouchies’ all over her foot.

“It wasn’t real – it was just a dream!” The Pixie told me, as she examined her foot. “Is Harry Potter real, Mama?”

“No, sweetheart, he’s just a character,” I replied. I explained about the books and then the movie version of the books. The Pixie thought deeply about this for a while.

“Harry Potter is a boy who just wanted to be in a movie!” she concluded, before jumping onto her next question. “Was Michael Jackson real?”

“Yes,” I replied. Well, bits of him were.

“He’s dead because his doctor gave him the wrong medicine,” she gravely informed me.

This was a little different from her original theory when he first died that “Michael Jackson was just too sad because he had girl hair.” Mr Justice, on the other hand, was quick to say “Why did Michael Jackson die? Because someone told him to ‘Beat It’.” which – at the time – fell into the ‘Too Soon’ joke category. I was so proud.

There’s a whole generation of children who are learning about death through Michael Jackson. Even my friend The Fabulous Miss Jones’ three year old knows who he is (although she calls him “Mikeson Jackson”) and my little friend Cyclone Bella (aged 4) is often heard to exclaim “Michael Jackson is the best boy in the world!” and refuses to accept he is dead. According to her dad Uncle B, however, she was heard to remark “Michael’s face is changing!” while watching his ‘Best Of’ collection on DVD. And no, Uncle B went on to add, it wasn’t when she was watching Thriller.

Anyway, we talked a little while about Michael Jackson and how his kids must have felt very sad when he died. The Pixie went on to explain that he was probably “in Heaven” now – a place that is apparently “on the way to Chloe’s house”.

“You mean the place where all the graves are?” I asked. I mean, she was either referring to the big cemetery or the Hungry Jacks with the cool slide.

“Yes, you go to Heaven when you die so you can become soil. Michael Jackson is soil now.”

Tiddles McGee piped up suddenly with something that sounded like “He wore a pumpkin suit!”

“He wore a pumpkin suit?” I asked.

“No! He drank pumpkin juice,” Tiddles McGee clarified – which, quite frankly – didn’t make much more sense than him wearing a pumpkin suit. “And there was this hand that went all mouldy.”

“Mouldy?”

“No, moley.

“Michael Jackson had a mole hand?” I tried to clarify. It would certainly explain why he wore one glove.

“No! Harry Potter drank the pumpkin juice. And the other one got the moley hand.”

I didn’t want to ask who “the other one” was. I was confused enough as it is.

Need I mention this conversation happened before 7 o’clock in the morning and before I’d even had my first coffee of the day? Hopefully someone will read this post before their first coffee of the day and can share my pain…

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My husband’s got a big one but it doesn’t work properly. Yes, his expensive camera lens needs fixing.

He rang me from outside the shop to say the guy “didn’t like the look of it” and offered to sell him a new one “at cost” on the spot.

“Basically it could cost us $350 to fix the old one or we could have a brand new one for $505,” my husband explained. “That’s only $150 more!”

“$155 more”, I corrected.

Whatevs,” my husband said.

“And what would we do with the old one?” I asked.

“We’d get it fixed and sell it on ebay.”

“Have you ever sold anything on ebay?”

“Uh, no,” my husband admitted.

“And what if we only sold it for 99 cents? That’d mean we’d be $855 out of pocket,” I said.

“$845.01,” my husband corrected.

This time it was my turn to say “Whatever!” I think I might even have thrown in a ‘W’ and ‘E’ hand gesture as I said it.

Look, in his defence, I knew that he was in a rush and had a million other things to think about and just wanted me to say “Just buy a new one and let’s get on with our lives” but I couldn’t. See, I knew the current state of our credit cards.

“One could argue that if we get the old one fixed and don’t buy the new lens we’ll save at least $155,” I reasoned.

“But even if we get it fixed, it might not come back the same!” my husband argued back, like it was going to return like some kind of zombie camera lens – dead and yet not dead – with an preternatural taste for human blood. You know, the kind of lens favoured by papparazi all over the world.

In the end, I won and my husband put it in to the shop to be assessed. We’d make ‘The Call’ when we knew more about the situation instead of basing our decision on a five second look at the lens by a guy who probably “didn’t like the look” of any lens he’d ever met because he was just a complete arsehole like that.

A few days later, my husband got a call from the Lens Shop.

“It’s fixed!” he cried, when he got off the phone. “And it only cost us $115!”

It was like it was his own personal triumph.

“See? I was right. Admit it,” I said, a little smugly.

“Yes, you were right,” my husband replied. “But even a stopped clock is right twice a day.”

Which means I’ve got a chance of being right at least once again in my life? The mind boggles.

Anyway, the long and the short of it is that we’ve yet to see if the lens comes back ‘the same’. Since we got it fixed specifically so my husband could take photos for my sister’s upcoming ‘wedding party’, there’s a good chance the photos could turn out with everyone looking like they’re from the set of Michael Jackson’s ‘Thriller’.

Zombies are so hot right now.

Whatevs.

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Some of us learn the hard way that handling an iPhone while drunk is a big responsibility.
‘Mr C’, August 26th, 2010

The Mild-Mannered Lawyer and I recently found ourselves out at an art gallery opening, both of us with access to a free bar and to twitter. (Yes, I have an iPhone, now, don’t you know –  thanks to my dear friend Uncle B.)

Turns out it was too hard to tweet *and* hold a glass of wine at the same time, so that somewhat curtailed both activities. In the end, the worst thing that happened was I later took this photo at a pub and posted it on twitter with the caption “I don’t know what the cowboy is doing to that animal but I suspect it’s naaaasty”:

See? Not too bad. Not too bad at all.

Unlike last Friday night. An impromptu end-of-term catch-up at the house of The Fabulous Miss Jones well and truly answered the question of ‘how much alcohol is too much alcohol’ and the answer was ‘that much’. Unfortunately I don’t know how much ‘that much’ was because I was too damn drunk to keep count of my drinks.

I asked my husband the next morning if I’d been too embarrassing.

“No, not at all,” my husband – who, as the skipper, had remained sober – said. “You were just having a bit more fun than everyone else.”

And indeed I was. I got into the Fabulous Mister Jones’ music collection and started busting a move in the kitchen. For the record: dancing to the songs of your youth when you’re drunk is a bit like chewing gum with your mouth open – it feels a lot cooler than it actually looks.

In the middle of all this, I remembered I had an iPhone.

“I might just see what the good people of twitter have to say for themselves!” I announced to the room. And nobody stopped me. Nobody.

Friends do not let friends go on twitter when they are drunk.

Okay, so I might not have expressed my intention to go on twitter quite that articulately (it was probably more like “I jussshhhhttt urgh, um, twitter!“), but I did pull my iPhone out of my pocket and start looking at it, shortly after having sung my heart out to Foreigner’s ‘I Wanna Know What Love Is ‘. If that doesn’t cry out for some kind of intervention, I don’t know what does.

Anyway, on twitter, I discovered I had made an error in my post that day by crediting one twitter friend (love_kt) with another twitter friend’s comment (cookingkt). Looking at this with the kind of clarity that drinking your body weight in champagne  can give you, I decided that this was the worst possible thing I could have done to a person. Ever.

In my pain, I hit twitter big time with the following tweets:

Of course, I thought at the time I was being charmingly conciliatory, but turns out I was doing the twitter equivalent of Bernard Black’s ‘Belly Savalas‘ impression.

And then I moved on to Facebook. Yes, Facebook. Luckily, all I managed to do was post an “I’m drunk. Deal with it.” status update before just lying on The Fabulous Miss Jones’ couch and letting the great world turn. I didn’t start hassling my highschool friends by posting comments like ‘Nice tits!’ on photos of their pets. Nor did I manage to share links to clown porn sites.

But I so easily could have.

Yes, it could have been much much worse. Which is why next time, I’m installing an app on my iPhone that turns the phone off the minute my blood alcohol level reaches a certain level. Oh, and also short-circuits any hi-fi equipment within a twenty metre radius in case of dancing or singing.

I think it’s best for everyone.

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I am an extremely accomplished multi-tasker – as long as you don’t expect any of those tasks to be completed well or, indeed, completed at all.

The other day I found myself in the kitchen making pizza dough, chicken madras and a custard tart simultaneously – and all from scratch. And please don’t ask me why because I’d have to bore you with a long convoluted answer about ‘chicken on the verge of an expiry date’, a husband returning from a three day business trip and a sick child’s plaintive pleas for a pizza dinner.

But nothing – nothing – can explain the custard tart… Except, perhaps, that it was a book group night and I’d earned myself a bit of a reputation as the bearer of freshly baked goods. I mean, let’s face it: I have to contribute something worthwhile to the group, especially since I tend to have read most of my book group books asleep and/or drunk. So I guess I can explain the custard tart, after all.

Anyway, there I was, already juggling recipe books, ingredients and sharp knives, when I decided to start tweeting about my endeavours.

Luckily, only one twitter friend, ‘cookingkt responded. “That’s a whole lotta kitchenbusy…. Hope there’s wine and music in the background?!” she said.

I think we can all agree that alcohol was the last thing this particular scenario needed. As it was, I still managed to make a complete mess of things completely sober.

In my defence, I don’t know why most pizza dough recipes insist on letting it rise a second time. It’s like the ‘difficult second album’ – agonising for everyone involved. And because I’d ambitiously started off with the dough with less than hour until my children officially expired with hunger, I had to settle for two ‘micro-rises’. It’s the kind of thing that makes a woman wish someone’d invent a kind of viagra for pizza dough. (“Is that pizza dough in your pocket or are you just pleased to see me?”)

In case you are wondering, the results were spectacular – if, that is, that you count a pizza crust that’s just like cardboard parboiled in paper glue as “spectacular”.

And the custard tart? Let’s just say it brought to mind that Spice Girls’ song ‘When Two Become One’ because the crust rose up to greet the filling and the whole thing became one big biscuity omelette – ‘frit-tart-a’, if you will. Badoom tish! Yes, I’m here all week. Try the fish. But not the custard tart, obviously.

As for the chicken madras… Well, I didn’t get to sample it before I left the house for book group but when I got home there was a note on the table from my husband saying “That was the best curry I ever had.”

Admittedly, his handwriting was a little shaky. I personally like to think it was because of all the emotion he must have been feeling after eating such a magnificent meal and not, say, because he’d just spent three hours vomiting in the toilet and could barely grasp the pen.

Still, there it was: Best. Curry. Ever.

So I’ve decided I won’t be sad. One out of three certainly isn’t “all good”, but it isn’t “all bad” either, right?

(Anyone got a good recipe for Meat Loaf?)

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I was cyber-harassing advertising execs from the comfort of my own room the other day when my husband came in, holding one of my jackets.

“Someone must have broken in, taken one of your jackets out of your wardrobe and left it one the back of one of the kitchen chairs,” he said.

“Oh, those people!” I sighed and kept on typing.

Five minutes later, he came in with another jacket.

“I really should change the locks on the back door,” he remarked, as he hung it up in the wardrobe. “Those people are out of control.”

A few minutes after that, he came in holding a grand total of four paper mushroom bags of varying ages and fullness.

“They’ve played that mushroom bag trick again!” he said, waggling the bags at me.

I shook my head and tutted. These were obviously the same people who, according to my husband, poured bucketfuls of water on the bathroom mat and then left it sopping wet on the floor and who left things soaking in a bucket in the laundry long enough to make their own killer swamp water and who always turned the heat up too high when cooking onions.

They were also the same people I suspected of switching the meat at the supermarket when my husband was shopping so that he ended up paying full price for sausages that were due to expire the very next day. And the same ones who never ever put the rice canister or the rice cooker away after using them. And who managed to lose one of Mr Justice’s school shoes somewhere between home and my mother’s house, by letting it roll unnoticed out of the car door at the petrol station.

And when I went on strike and refused to put the used toilet rolls in the recycling, the subsequent mass accumulation of used toilet roll wealth (pictured above) was entirely the fault of The Others because they suggested to my husband that I was collecting them for ‘crafting’.

Honestly! Why don’t these people just leave us alone?

I was thinking about all this when I heard my husband calling me, saying breakfast was ready. But strangely, when I got to the table, no food had been served and, in fact, most of it was still cooking on the stove.

“Sorry, I thought it must have been you calling me to breakfast but it must have been The Others playing tricks again because breakfast is clearly nowhere near ready,” I remarked.

“Actually, it was me who called you early because you always come late,” my husband replied.

“And I always come late because the food is never ready when you call me,” I was quick to retort.

We glared at each other for the briefest of moments before relaxing back into a smile. We knew this was The Others wanted us to do: they wanted us to fight. We weren’t going to fall for another of their tricks. Oh, no. Not us!

Honestly, marriage is much easier when there are other people involved.

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