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Archive for October, 2010

The other day, I rang my husband at work.

“Let’s pretend for a moment that one of my aims before I turned 40 was to get quoted in the Australian Women’s Weekly,” I said. “You know, instead of getting a book published or becoming a syndicated columnist for a major print and/or online publication…”

“Uh, ok-ay,” my husband said slowly.

“Well, guess what?!” I enthused. “I was quoted in this month’s Australian Women’s Weekly and I’m turning 40 next week! Yay, me!”

“Yay you!” my husband said. “That magazine has a circulation of about two million, you know.”

“Well then guess how many people have already searched for ‘Not Drowning, Mothering’ today probably as a direct result of that article?” I asked.

“How many?”

“Three!” I exclaimed. I think I might have punched the air as I said it.

“Quick, let’s monetize them before they read any more of your blog and and you lose them forever!” my husband replied, no doubt with dollar signs in his eyes.

I’m not sure if monetizing those three readers is going on my ‘bucket list’ for turning 40. And if you don’t know what a ‘bucket list’ you can either accept my definition of it as being a list of those things you hope to achieve before you drink champagne out of a bucket at your 40th birthday party or you can click here.

Somewhat predictably, my list is getting less and less ambitious the closer my fortieth birthday gets. Of course, quite a few have been ticked off¬† – e.g. convince someone to marry me, convince someone (preferably the same person) to have kids with me… But gone are all hopes of, say, a lucrative book deal, spending six months drinking wine in the south of France or even finding the perfect pair of red shoes to turn 40 in.

At the moment only three things on the list, with one week left to achieve them. They are:

1. AVOID GASTRO “LIKE THE PLAGUE”: Every time anyone mentions the word ‘gastro’ in my presence, I physically jump back a metre from them. One woman I saw at the shops, pointed at her son (who was wrestling with my Tiddles McGee at the time) and told me he’d been firing out both ends for nine days. Nine days. It was all I could do to pick Tiddles up, throw him over my shoulder and run from the building screaming. If I’m going to spend my fortieth dealing with vomit I want it to the be excessive-alcohol-induced variety. Just sayin’.

2. BE COLDSORE-FREE: Just two days ago, my top lip suddenly exploded into song, that song having something to do with the fact that the lip had herpes.

I rang my dear friend KT, a fellow HVP-1 sufferer, and she helped me do the maths.

“You have ten sleeps until your party,” she said. “You’ll be fine. Your coldsore couldn’t have come at a better time.”

Uh, my coldsore might have thought about coming after my party. Nobody wants to go to a party with the birthday girl looking like this:3. MOUSTACHE-BE-GONE: The volume of dark hairs on my upper lip has been causing strangers on the street some gender confusion lately. Getting rid of it is easier said than done, of course, because it’s currently sharing the same real estate as the cold sore and I’m afraid the anti-moustache lotion that I bought might anger the cold sore unnecessarily and cause it to stage some kind of hostile invasion of my entire mouth and then I won’t even have my moustache to help conceal it. It’s a bad situation.

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Of course I realise that, now I’ve blogged about these things, I’ve totally jinxed myself. Which is why I’m now planning to wear a bucket on my head on my 40th birthday. Not only will it hid my coldsore and my moustache from the world, but it will come into its own when the gastro hits.

I may even decorate it with the pages from ‘The Australian Women’s Weekly’ article I was quoted in, just to show people I’m not a total loser.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: I do so love it when a plan comes together…

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Every night, I lie next to The Pixie in her bed and read her a few pages from this dreadful book she chose from the library involving fairies, princesses, wishes, magic spells and unicorns. The only thing missing from that heady line-up, as far as I can see, are the pony mermaids. But we’re only half way through the book so there’s hope yet.

It took me about a fortnight of reading this book before I realised that she wasn’t actually listening to a single thing I was reading.

“Uh, Pixie,” I said to her as I put the book away one night. “Did you actually listen to what I just read?”

“Yes, Mama,” she nodded, her grey-blue eyes all wide.

“Oh, okay. So who is going to help Sebastian and Maddie get to Mountain of Clouds?” I asked.

“Lelolala!” she said, brightly.

For the record, there wasn’t a character called ‘Lelolala’ in the book. There wasn’t even a character whose name even vaguely resembled ‘Lelolala’. In fact, I think it’s fair to say, there isn’t a single character in all of literary history called ‘Lelolala’.

And yet, knowing she’s not really listening, I keep reading the book to her each night. I’ve worked out that she’s just using the book as an excuse to snuggle up to me in her bed and listen to the sound of my voice. And now I’m just using the book as an excuse to have her snuggle up to me – oh, and to listen to the sound of my own voice.

You see, my little girl is growing up and these are the things you cling to.

Recently, I had the great pleasure of going to the school disco with her. Mr Justice had come with us, too, but he had scuttled off into the shadows at the first opportunity, reemerging only to beg for more money to buy glow-in-the-dark sticks so he could make the longest-ever-chain-of-glow-in-the-dark-sticks and whack his friends with it.

The Pixie, in stark contrast, wanted me to dance with her.

Have you ever danced with a bunch of six year olds? It’s hard not to feel incredibly conspicuous, like Gulliver pop’n’lockin’ at the Lilliput Senior Prom. Especially when you’re completely sober, wearing glow-in-the-dark bracelets and holding two bottles of water, two jumpers and a large handbag.

But after a few songs, I found that I no longer cared.

In fact, before I knew it, I found myself leading a bunch of kids in ‘The Marcarena’ and cutting loose to ‘Wake Me Up Before You Go Go’ and then, when Mr Justice came up to me in the middle of ‘Cha Cha Slide‘ asking for money to buy a ZooperDooper, I felt legitimately annoyed because I couldn’t hear what Mr C the Slide Man’s next instructions were. And then my friend Mistress M turned up out of nowhere and she began dancing with me and the kids, too, and she was holding a half-eaten hot dog but it didn’t stop her from joining in the actions to ‘YMCA’, which the school principal was leading us all in from a stage which he was sharing with a DJ wearing a Warwick Capper wig. And amidst all this, I looked down to see my little girl looking up at me with the disco lights dancing on her face and I saw such love and happiness in her eyes and I realised that this was one of the best times I’d ever had – not least because I knew that this time next year, my daughter would want me to drop her off at the door of the school disco and would, most likely, ask me to pretend to be the Nanny.

Indeed, when I asked her a few days later what her favourite part of the school disco was, she was quick to answer “Dancing to [Justin Bieber's] ‘Baby’!”.

And with that, she wandered off to her room, singing “Baby, baby, baby, oh!”.

“Ah…” I thought to myself. “It begins.”

It begins.

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Going to the Cox Plate with the Mild-Mannered Lawyer has become an annual event. It’s pretty easy for something to become an annual event, you know. You do it one year and then the following year you do it again. As they say in the classics: “Too easy!”

Last year, we were living the high life in the Members area. It was all champagne-in-glass-bottles and gourmet sausages. This year, however, we were slummin’ it in General Admission with sparkling-wine-in-plastic-bottles and rolls from “The Meat Shop”.

“Doesn’t he know who I am!” I told the MML when I heard her usual contact hadn’t been able to get us Member passes.

Indeed, when we first arrived in all our races finery, I remarked “There’s a man in skinny jeans and a ‘HEAPS COOL’ t-shirt. I clearly don’t belong here. For one thing, ‘HEAPS COOL’ is grammatically incorrect and I’m a writer, you know…”

I was also growing increasingly angry at the number of doorways we couldn’t enter because of our non-Member status. I vowed that, once we’d drunk our next bottle of champagne, I’d march up to the information counter and ask them if we, ‘The People’, would still be denied entry to the Members’ area in the event of a fire.

Of course, by the time the next bottle of champagne had been drunk, I was past caring and, in fact, had decided that General Admission was as good as Members – if not better.

For one thing, while the General Admission (GA) area was a little short on toilets and has limited access to the track (“Horses? What horses?”), at least we could sit unchallenged in a stairwell. In Members the previous year, we had found ourselves trapped in a World of No. We were always being stopped by officials for transgressing Members rules: no alcohol in lifts, no glass bottles in the stands, no napping under tables…

Also, the GA area had an AGE VERIFICATION tent where you could go up and get a little wristband allowing you to buy alcohol unchallenged. It gave me the opportunity to run up to to the bewildered Age Verification staff and blurt out “I’m – tee hee hee – turning 40 – tee hee hee – and my friend’s taking a photo – tee hee hee.”

Unfortunately, I couldn’t get an age verification wristband because I didn’t have my ID on me. I thought that was a good enough indication that I still looked under 18. Yep, that’s totally it.

Indeed, later, a jolly (=drunk) guy beckoned me over. That never happened to me in Members.

“You’re a bit geeky-looking, but you’re nice,” he said, rather generously.

“Aw, bless!” I said, patting him on his arm. “You know, mate? I hate to break it to you but I’ve got three kids and I’m turning 40 in less than two weeks.”

“Well, I’m 26 and I’m raring to go!” he replied, with some enthusiasm.

He really was very drunk, but at least he wasn’t wearing a fluorescent suit. Which is more than you could say for a lot of the GA crowd.

You see, one of the best things about the GA area was the number of men who laughed in the face of fashion and good taste. And I discovered that one of the best things about iPhones is that you can look like you’re checking your messages but secretly you can be taking photos of young men in startlingly coloured clothing, like some kind of Germaine Greer-inspired pervy-pants cougar person.

In fact, I ended up taking so many pictures that I started a segment called ‘Suit Of The Day’ on twitter. It had a theme song and everything¬† – although its genius was somewhat lost in a text and photo based format. It went: “Suit of the day, suit of the day, suit of the day… Suit of the day!” (I recommend you sing it as you look at the following pictures. Truly, it will enhance your viewing pleasure.)

“Next year, I’m doing ‘Shoe Of The Day’,” I told the MML a little drunkenly, as we waited for the bus to go home. “I don’t want to become typecast as the ‘Suit Girl’. I might even do ‘Shih-Tzu Of The Day’!”

Although there’s not a lot of Shih-Tzus at the races, granted. But who knows? Maybe next year, I could galvanise The People to rise up in protest to allow the Shih-Tzus of the world admission to the races, even if they are mostly owned by the Members.

You see, that’s the best thing about annual events. There’s always the promise of next year…

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