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Happy People Dance

Happy People Dance – The 2010 collection for family and friends.

The__Happy_People_Dance__Mix.zip (94.76 MB)

 

Following on from the tradition set last year, here is my annual mix of songs for 2010, that in contrast to convention, doesn’t actually contain any songs released in 2010! But at some point in the year they all spoke volumes to me. I couldn’t help but include a few love notes below, as well as highlight some stand out lyrics here and there….

Happy dancing, and happy holidays~!

 

1. I Cant Stop Dancing by Archie Bell and the Dells

A wonderful soul groove number that I particularly fell head over heels for when I realised my main man Archie Bell was crooning away about shedding his belongings on the street and getting down to the funky beat. Love how vivid the lyrics are and that the whole song celebrates dancing. I always imagine this as the perfect ‘end of the evening’ groove.

“…There is a place I eat lunch at everyday, as soon as I get there the juke box starts to play, I cant even eat my lunch in peace because the music makes me get out of my seat…”


2. Dance, Dance, Dance by King Sunny Ade

King Sunny Ade really is sunny. He is light like fresh air, and bright like summer sun. It is hard not to love his thoroughly happy music, and again, what a wonderful message about dancing. Priceless advice captured in inspiring African music and song.

“Dance, Dance, Dance, dance away your sorrow…”


3. Hang on Sloopy by The McCoys

I love the opening bars of this song, the happy hitting keys in the intro offset by that deep, groovy voice, it makes you want to dance like a hippy chick in a beatnik’s loungeroom. I was pretty captivated by that 60s pop sound this year, that harmless happy mix of rock, pop and groove, this is one of many old tunes that got me up out of my seat.

 

4. Beatmaker by Doris

Doris. Doris. Doris. When I saw that The Yang had put Doris on my Ipod, I was all like, “who the fuck is Doris?” Then I heard her, and it is like she answered my question with a bitch slap. She’s the Beatmaker, a killer groove Queen and she’s “drinkin’ whiskey straight no chaser”


5. Pirates Anthem by Coco Tea/Shaba Ranks/Home T

After spending over 10years involved with overly earnest activists/protest types, sometimes I think this is the only kind protest that should matter, “the right to play the people music night and day”. Anyway this killer, killer tune, that we found on a five pound mix CD in Manchester, made me get up and dance my blues away one day in my kitchen.

 

6. Sex and Drugs and Rock’n’Roll by Ian Dury

I heard this when I took my nieces to see Circus Oz, it was played in the dimmed light of the pre show hubbub while riggers and roadies fiddled with the final touches, I could see this big rugged roadie dude in the shadows, walkin and boppin his head to the shit hot bass line, and I love being reminded that punk has pure bass, and its funky, in a punky kinda way.

“every bit of clothing ought to make you pretty. Grey is such a pity”


7. We Love You by Dj Goodka & Dj Moar

Check out that wobble! What an exciting start to a totally uplifting tune. Driving along one day I tuned in past the funk and found it to be also beautiful. When I’m not being a jaded, snarky bitch, I’m quite partial to a bit of cheesy “we are one big family” sentiment.

 

8. America feat. Mos Def and Chali 2na (Nirobi edit) by Knaan & Tiahoun Gessess

This epic (its over 9mins) is a creeper. Distinctive and noticeable from the moment you hear it, it can take time before you develop a true love and appreciation. I love the musical mix of the Ethiopian and English sound, and Mos Def is at stand out best, sweetly lyrical singing, cutting and clear MCing. Ripper.

 

9. Groove Me by Leroy Sibbles

Bringin’ back the soul. I find this tune utterly delectable; I could eat Leroy’s voice right up. There is not much more to say, you just have to turn it up loud and get lost in the soul groove.

 

10. I am a Madman by Lee Perry

This man’s voice stops me in my tracks, its poignant powerful and sweet. And I love anyone who is mad. In this crazy world, you’d be fucked up not to be.


* with lovin’ thanks to The Yang who continually introduces me to a wealthy world of great music!

round up, rave on

After barely blogging these last few months, I had planned to see the year out with bang. A ‘round up’ post of the big thoughts that defined 2010, namely, that instead of having a second child within the seemingly mandatory ‘two year gap’ could I just buy more mirrors and teach him that his reflection is in fact a new sibling? And, if you write a blog post but fail to comment on anyone else’s, does anyone hear your blog post fall?

But sitting down to write, I got a little waylaid by the feeling, once again, that I was mad and the world was full of fucktards.

Because on my way to the library I stopped for a coffee and a barista in a beret made me a Cappuccino instead of a Latte, which I would have happily just drank had I not watched his eyes dart from side to side to check no one was looking then scramble for a lid to mask his mistake before handing me my ‘latte’. The mild deception irked me and I found myself saying, with mock innocence, ‘Oh, is that my latte? I thought it was a Cap…’

Which meant that he had to make me another one, which I would have only felt slightly foolish about, had he not made me a fucking Cap again. By this stage, coffee starved and back breaking under the weight of my overladen backpack, I would have gobbled that Cap in five seconds flat, but, realising his repeat mistake, he tipped it out before I could even speak up. So three fucking attempts later I finally had my froth free coffee in my hot little hands, but not yet coursing through my body so it was no surprise that by the time the cheery chirpy Christian man (I overheard him making church arrangements) waiting next to me openly gave me a ‘look’, passing judgement on the vicious snarl I just gave the beret barista for making me wait so fucking long, I was totally pissed off.

Trudging up the ramp to the library bent over like a peasant under the weight of poverty (only I was bent under the weight of relative privilege) I furiously cursed the Christian for glaring at me while I was rude to the coffee man. What right did he have? Is that really what Jesus died for, so you could pass open judgement on those who can’t match your Bex like cheer after being forced to wait through the pain of THREE coffee cock ups? I don’t think so. And hasn’t he ever heard of subtly? From the way he bounded up to the counter two seconds after he placed his order, stood smack bang in the middle of everyone’s way and said “I’m fine, I’m fine” even though bounding up expectantly to the counter seemed to suggest he was not in fact fine at all, I seriously doubt it. But did I make him aware of my judgements? Did I make it known that he looked like a classic passive aggressive the way his obnoxious actions indicated one thing and his cheery chirpy mouth espoused another? No, no I did not. I did my judgements in private, storing them safely away in my head so I could post them publically at later date. So stop glaring at me asshole.

And as if that’s not enough I enter the library, back still breaking under the weight of my privilege, coffee in one hand, a pile of audio books in another, staggering to the counter only to have my precarious pile of audio books come crashing down dramatically all around me. My back is so sore I can barely comprehend having to bend down and pick them all up, when the librarian informs me that I cant even return them at the counter anyway, I have to take them to a fucking automated Do-It-Yourself chute out on the street. What the hell is this? Mechanisation gone mad? Why have gainfully employed librarians handle book returns when you can get the general public to do it themselves? And what? Save two minutes of librarian labour that you can instead funnel into the fundraising department and see the next budget come down in surplus and win efficient management award for your labour saving and cost cutting techniques? Well guess what? It’s a government funded library dickheads, save your petty assed efficiency for the day you defect to the private sector.

And then, I sit down, happy to have finally found a nice spacious desk to work at, and what do I hear? In a library? Nail clippers. Yep, fucking nail clippers. Behind me there is a young lady, loudly, snip, snip, snipping at her fingernails in the library. And where is she putting these discarded pieces of human growth and refuse? On the floor. So not only is she shattering the silence with the sound of her incessant clipping, she is using the library as her human waste bucket. God help me if she decides she needs to take a shit.

But worst of all is that despite these encounters with fairly harmless fuckards, I am the one left feeling like a badly behaved little brat. And here is the greatest irony of all, I sat down to compose a blog post for my annual mix CD, which I titled, “Happy People Dance”.

Stay tuned for that happy day folks.

It is hardly topical to talk about Sex and the City six years after the show finished and over a year  since second movie was released, but that is just the kind of glacial pace it takes for some of my thoughts to form. I haven’t actually seen a great deal of the show, so I am not in the best position to judge, but something that has always irked me about it was the representation of female friendship.

We all enjoy the escapism of some ‘non reality’ viewing. Some of us particularly love a brand of escapism in which the show/movie and its characters are indeed quite accurate portrayals of real, raw and flawed human beings. It feels authentic. We can relate to it, but – and maybe this is best of all – at the end of the day it is still contains enough constructed elements to transport us away from real life and into the world of entertainment (think the movie ‘Sideways’, or the TV series ‘Six Feet Under’).

So perhaps it makes me a bit of a wet blanket to complain about the lack of genuine realism in a show like SATC, but I cant help but feel that a show like this, along with Hollywood and market driven ideas of female friendship, are making some women feel like failures if they cant walk four abreast down a city sidewalk arm in arm with their besties.

Often, not only was SATC applauded for its celebration of female friendship, but it was branded a ‘revelation’ for showing us what it was ‘really like’ for a group of close, genuine female friends.

So if SATC was what it was ‘really like’ to have genuine friendships, what the hell could the rest of us call our friendships that didn’t quite fit the mould?

It was claims like this that left me wondering why instead of an ‘awesome foursome’ I had a group of friends that fit together as well as mismatched pieces of a jigsaw puzzle. And it bothers me that, however fleeting, thoughts like this ever came to mind. That, despite having incredible confidence and pride in my friendships, I could still be affected by the way friendship was portrayed by the entertainment industry.

But rather than question where my SATC version of friendship is, I think I’d rather ask to see the real deal for a change. How would it be if instead of four fine fashionistas chinking glasses over a bougie lunch, we got two or three women dressed in Kmart clothes drinking too much at the local pub because one of them still lived at home with an alcoholic father and the other, raised by a mentally unstable mother, drank excessively to mask her inability to forge intimacy any other way?

Because instead of late night phone calls, giggling over champagne, and bonding over sexual story swaps, often the things that bind me to people has far less frill, and in fact, quite a fair bit more mess. But when we are fed images of what friendships, and indeed all relationships, should look like, we rarely see this underbelly.

Once, after weeks on the road together while my friend was attempting to quit smoking our fighting had become so bad that I had gladly screeched to a stop at a train station where, tear stained and red with anger, she screamed that she would find her own fucking way home. And she did.

It is not a pleasant memory but I remember it, and other times like it, because they were turning points in our friendship (we had both come from very enmeshed, and in ways, dysfunctional, families that were what we christened ‘screamers’. The fact that we had come to act in ways with each other that we had only ever previously done inside our family spaces, became a source of intense trust and closeness).

But this acceptance of the raw human being in each of us, this ‘warts and all’ embracing, is never what is celebrated in pop culture. Friendship is repeatedly made to be about the things people do for each other, ‘acts of love’ that are terribly moving up on the big screen, but that rarely happen in real life, or, if they do, are rarely what really counts as closeness.

The gaping hole in this argument is of course that these shows are not real life, granted. But what about how they make real people feel? After we happily gorge on the feast of fantasy and fairytale, are we left feeling empty if our own lives don’t quite look the same?

At 32 years old I do not have a SATC type band of women riding out life’s highs and lows with me while looking fabulous.  My friends did not come and do my laundry after my boy was born, they did not whisk me away for a girls only getaway when motherhood was mucking with my mind, and not one of them turned up on my doorstep with a bottle of wine and chocolates after I experienced a traumatic abortion.

So have I failed at friendship?

Of course not.

It is just that what I have looks nothing like the way I see friendship represented in the media, and sadly, that can sometimes lead us to the same kind of conclusions that we arrive at when our bodies are not size 10 and slim line – that we are not normal.

No matter how much we duck the mainstream and buck convention, it is hard to escape the ‘fairytale’ programming we are subjected to from such a young age on everything from charming princes, ravishing beauties and fairytale friends, especially when this is constantly reinforced by an entertainment industry that fails to celebrate real people.

But if they are ever wondering how it is that you do that, all they really need to know is look at something a little darker than the trials and tribulations of finding true love and a pair of Manolos, because ultimately, at the root of my strongest and most enduring friendships, is a little dysfunction.

 

 

 

A Meeting of Magnitude

CAST (and what they are wearing)

 

RTS –  a sometimes bitter, cynical thirty something woman who has wind battered, smog splattered hair from having driven manically across town with the window wound down in peak hour traffic. She is wearing a plain white summer dress that has been smeared in vegemite and snot from her young child, who has also torn the bottom two buttons off.

 

Producer Boy – a well meaning, highly excitable, documentary maker that for some reason now working in the field of making documentaries, minus the footage. He is wearing daggy ‘middle aged men’ shorts, which is ironic because he is not middle aged, matched with a child’s size livid green jumper that, being five sizes too small, rides high on his midriff.

 

The Talent – a comfortably confident young woman, who without trying to hard is stylishly dressed, and for the most part, quite sensible sounding.

 

Contributor Chick – a large haired young woman with a booming, over confidant, perfectly articulating voice. Outwardly she projects her ‘just a country girl’ roots, but this is matched with a fierce and striving city living ambition. She works at the ABC and even though it is well after work hours, she is wearing her identity card around her neck like a VIP card carrier mingling with the masses at a rock concert

 

Hipsters  – A homogenous bunch of twenty something’s that would be mortified to know they have been grouped together homogenously.

One – Has a long blond fringe swept to one side, which, mysteriously, hangs in his eyes. He is wearing a flannelette shirt, which is a trademark garment of Bogans, who wear them because they are cheap and warm, as opposed to hipsters, who wear them because they are not Bogans, which means they are making a fashion statement

 

 

Two – Is wearing tight blacks jeans matched with a tight white shirt and heavy black rimmed glasses, he seems to be shooting for the ‘cool, but intellectual’ look, which he might have had more luck with if he didn’t look like a fresh faced twelve year old.

Three – Is in blue jeans that are so tight they could have been painted on. The bottoms are rolled up at the three quarter mark and his singlet is so large, loose and low cut that the neck line comes down to his belly button, revealing a small, but prominent, patch of chest hair. On his pinky finger is the kind of solid bold, gold ring that Tony Soprano would envy.

Four and Five – two young girls that have so fully embraced their hipsterhood they are almost bowed under the weight of their clanking, clashing accessories. They scream ‘fashionable’ so loudly that your eyes hurt. Yet despite this brashness, their eyes are timid and nervous looking, and when no one else is looking, they give each other’s hands a little squeeze.

 

 

EXT – BUSY INTERSECTION OUTSIDE PRODUCTION HOUSE

We watch as RTS, in a blaze of blunders, pulls up to the traffic lights, frantically checking her watch even though she knows she is going to be late.

Three young hipsters sail past on free wheelin’ bicycles as RTS sits stuck in her car, they leisurely park their bikes outside the production house. While RTS is perspiring smog, these fine young things have barely broken a sweat, having only had to ride less than five blocks to arrive here

RTS, caught between fond nostalgia for the times when she too lived a car free life in the inner city, and a stabbing bitterness for the naive bubble she believes they live in, stares vacantly at them, not noticing the lights have turned green until the cars behind her start blaring their horns.

 

 

INT – PRODUCTION HOUSE MEETING ROOM

 

We follow RTS as she arrives, late, into the production house meeting room, which is a harshly lit room enclosed with glass sliding doors. It sits right at the very entrance to the building, and the glass wall makes the inhabitants seem like they are in a cramped and over exposed fish bowl.

Over sized office chairs form a ring around the large circular table, the ridiculously pompous chairs are such an inefficient use of space that no more than 10 people can sit comfortably at the table. This has the rather unfortunate awkward side effect of their being no room for all the latecomers.

As people continue to arrive late, the over sized chair dwellers make cursory gestures of moving along, which mostly involves shuffling their asses in their seat but not actually moving, before looking up at the late person and giving a soft smile and a shrug of the shoulders as if to say, “I tried my best”. Contributor Chick is the most guilty of this.

As a result a small cluster of late comers forms at the door, some squeezed in on stools, and the rest left standing.

RTS, shocked by the fact that not one person who has entered the building has shown any signs of age or ordinariness, is starting to wonder if there is some kind of ‘NO plain clothes or hair cuts’ door policy, and if it was the vegemite stains on her dress that saw her slip past it, when Producer Boy coughs to signal that the meeting should start….

 

Producer Boy (positioned in front of the white board):

I think we should get started. I’ve chosen a special topic for the next show, “Home, House and Holden”

He scrawls this up on the board then looks around the room as if expecting no one to guess the immediate link here, he smiles knowingly and elaborates:

This is taken from a famous Menzies speech back in the day where he captures what he believes to represent the ‘quintessential Australian Dream’; that all Australians wish to own a home, a holiday house, and a Holden car. I think we can do a great contemporary take on this, starting with a story about a Filipino Housing Coop living in harmony with chickens and organic vegetables, that operates out in….

He pauses, screws his face in concentration, then continues finally recalls the name of the non-inner city suburb and says it slowly, like people are deaf, or have trouble understanding English words not pertinent to city centric lives

Auuuuburn. That’s it. They have recreated an Asian type village out there, and it would be fabulous to look into that.

He scrawl this suggestion up on the board

Ok. Other ideas?

 

Hipster One:

A have a friend who lives in his car and rents out a six room inner city warehouse he owns. So he is, like, homeless, but also, like, a landlord. I think that would be really interesting to look into (laughs) like how he just lives in his car by the beach surfing all day!

Small laughter erupts around the room

HI (continues): Yeah. So he is like totally homeless, which would just be a really interesting take on the whole, outdated, ‘own your own home’ thing.

A few murmurs go around the room

 

Hipster Five:

What about another homeless person story. Like someone living on the street. Does anyone know any real homeless people?

 

Hipster Four:

I might know someone who saw someone talk to someone on the street once

 

Producer Boy:

That sounds great, chase that up. Can you chase that up? What’s your name again?

 

Hipster Two:

Oh, there is this man I know of, he is a costume designer, and he lives in this, artist coop. He would be great. He is so wild. Like, oh my god, I have never seen anyone like this man. Wait. Check him out. I have a photo

(reaches into his bag and roots around for his digital camera, then holds it up for the room. No one can see the tiny image on the screen, but this does not dampen his enthusiasm)

He is just The. Craziest. Thing. I. Have. Ever. Seen.

Looks up beaming

 

Producer Boy:

Ok. Go for it. He sounds amazing. I love it. I love this man. Who is he?

 

Hipster Two:

His name is Zio.

 

Producer Boy:

Zio. That’s fantastic. I love this. You have to do this.

 

The Talent:

What about a story of someone who actually has a home and and house and a holden?

 

The room goes silent. Everyone is stumped by this suggestion

 

Contributor Chick:

I can talk to my contacts at the ABC, they might know of someone ordinary

 

The Talent:

Oh, and maybe a refugee family story, like, what is their take on what the “Australian dream is”?

 

Producer Boy

Oh Yes. Absolutely.

 

Hipster Two:

I think it is fair to say that the Australian Dream is really just a postulating reconstruction of the ever failing American Dream both being driven by larger economic imperatives and national aspirations that greater reflect increasingly outdated ideologies

 

A few people agree ‘yes’ and ‘totally’ while others stay firmly silent

Producer Boy has been busy scrawling all the suggestions on the board. He stands back to assess them.

 

Producer Boy:

Ok well lets take a look at this (scanning down). Great, great, it is looking great. Um, hang on, what’s this one, the ‘someone who actually has a ‘home, house and Holden’ – where is the ‘quirky’ take on that?! I’m not sure that’s going to work….

Oh but, the Refugee family, now that’s important. It’s really important that we tell that story.

Murmurs of accent roll around the room, with many people nodding meaningfully in agreement

 

The meeting continues in much the same fashion for another hour or so until Producer Boy wraps things up by declaring that they should all ‘pedal to the pub’. RTS slips quietly away, gets back in her car, and drives home, feeling ever so slightly judgemental….

 

….ENDS

 

 

 

It started ominously when we stopped to pick up Lady G from an outskirts train station and found her on a bench, hunched and huddled from the wind. It was here that we saw what should have served as the first warning for the dark outlook ahead: an old lady fell over in the rain.

We all rushed to help her but the old trooper was alright, so after seeing her get patched up we continued on our way, spurred on by the excitement of arriving at our idyllic camp spot.

But it wasn’t long before the lashing wind and dark rain clouds started to dampen our spirits. By the time we arrived at the camp ground pretty much all hope of starry nights and summer sun was stamped out when an eerie and macabre looking woman came and hissed at us, “soooo, are you going to stay?”.

When we all shot her glares designed to imply, ‘what the fuck do you reckon, that we drove for five hours so we could just park our car here for a minute?’ She pulled out a white sheet of paper citing a severe weather warning for the area.

“Ranger told us to move”, she drawled, “storms a’comin. We’s gotta watch for falling trees”. She allowed for a meaningful pause, or possibly it just took that long for her thoughts to form words, before adding, “the three of us can’t agree on what ta do”, and as if on cue, what seemed to be two of her closely related cousins emerged from the depths of the tent behind her.

We backed away from the Macabre Clan as Lady G whispered that “the freaks are going to kill us”, and even though Lady G is prone to hysteria, being a total city slicker unaccustomed to the glacial pace of some Australians, we all knew we wanted to heed the rangers warning and move the hell away.

But as we cast our eyes skyward to the towering old gums all around us, the only question was, where, in a national park that was full of, you know, trees, would we be safe from falling timber when this storm rolled in?

After some protracted group deliberation we finally settled on a spot. Then no sooner had we told the other groups of friends we were meeting where we had moved to, did the Macabre Clan show up. Beneath the pent up growl of the brewing storm, you could almost hear the low, horror movie type score of pounding piano keys as the wierdos circled around us, and settled on a spot less than a hundred metres away.

When it came time to further explore our surroundings, we found that the storm coming in off the east coast had transformed our placid holiday bay into a squall revenged coast line. Our clothes bellowed out around us, our hair looked electrified, and our toddler became possessed. Upon seeing the ocean, he repeatedly ran headlong to its open claws with the kind of zeal to suggest he was part water creature urgently heeding the call to return to his maker, the Ocean God. Not allowing him in to play in the icy 8ft waves that were dumping right on shore seemed to him an unjust torture akin to denying a pilgrim entry to Mecca.

That night, after eating our dinner in the dank, dark shelter of the public barbeque area with sheets of rain pouring down the sides, we were only too happy to retire to our little camper tent. But it was only a matter of time before the sanctuary of this shelter would too become stained, in vomit.

The Yang and I were woken by the unmistakable hurls of our poor dear boy violently vomiting in his little travel bed. The rain was still bucketing down outside as we raced back and forth between the camper tent and the car desperately trying to clean him up and settle him back in to what was to remain a vomit clad bed (we just mopped up what we could then chucked a towel over it, believing its important to establish from an early age not to be expectant of comfort and luxury – some kids don’t even have beds, let along vomit filled ones).

The rest of the night was spent in a fitful and restless state of anxiety, punctuated by my regularly getting up to hold a finger under the boy’s nose to check if he was still breathing, because, as I reminded The Yang, “Bon Scott died choking on his own vomit”. This turned out to be just the kind of reassurance The Yang and I needed to make sure we didn’t sleep another wink.

When the cold clutch of the morning arrived and I sat miserably eying off the toilet block imaging having to scrub The Boy’s bedding in a cold grey sink with a bar of soap and some billy boiled water, The Yang, rather sensibly, suggested taking the dirty laundry into town and having it washed. The notion of simply driving into town rather destroyed our carefully crafted illusion of camping in the depths of the wilderness (we had positioned ourselves facing away from the toilets and barbeques), but it sounded bloody good.

The car was the only warm place to be on this bizarrely and unseasonably cruel, cold day, but still, our dear boy was not happy. The Yang popped into the local doctor with him, just to be on the safe side, and the poor little bugger turned out to have tonsillitis. But he was a real trooper, and rather than turn back home with him, we had a few beers, and he seemed as good as new.

After two days of bitter cold wind and rain, the sun finally came out. Despite The Boy being irritable and tetchy, and me coming down with a touch of ‘stress-stroke’, things were looking up, for us. The same can’t be said for our beloved friends, who had the all too typical camping experience of encountering some space invaders.

It was a weekday by this stage and the entire campground was completely empty save for ourselves and our friends (and we had deliberately set up with space between us). Yet when a young couple and their two children arrived they set up camp right next to our friends, with barely a metre separating their tents.

We all sat around exchanging eye popping, jaw dropping glares, but didn’t say anything on account of the fact that the newcomers would have heard every. fucking. word we uttered. Unlike us, this couple seemed perfectly delighted with the set up (I think they couldn’t believe their luck at being able to leave their kids in the care of Miss APlus, who was left holding her own baby in one arm, and separating biffing toddlers with the other, all the while sporting a tight lipped smile as she declared it was “fine” to the other mother who was kicking back in her mosquito net harem shelter).

But the actions of these close campers only got more odd, when New Neighbour Man came over to our fireplace and wordlessly placed a pile of his wood there like some kind of territorial pissing. Given we were sitting there, and had been using that fireplace all weekend, we were totally baffled that he didn’t decide to go and piss elsewhere, like on one of the other twenty or so EMPTY fireplaces.

But rather than challenge him to a fire walking duel to declare who would reign over this fire pit, or worse, risk encountering some ‘fire and marshmallow’ bonding with these far too friendly strangers, we just went back to the barbeques. No sooner had we done this when we hear a big shout from New Neighbour Man, asking if we have some spare room on our hotplate….

We figured the best way to get away from these friendless freaks was to pack up and leave the next day, mainly because this is what we planned to do all along. So we pilled in the car and then spent hours upon hours fruitlessly cajoling the boy into having a nap on the drive, which he finally succumbed to, minutes from our front door.

Once we finally got home, The Yang and I relaxed with some ice cold beers on the back porch. Within the hour, right after we had all sent a series of ‘safely home’ text messages complete with virtual air kisses, beaming smiley faces and promises to do it all again, we were hit with a bout of gastro….

 

 

Better Left Unsaid

To the woman on the bus that sat next to me then proceeded to make numerous calls applying for jobs on her iphone and headset:

Just because you look professional with your fancy phone and headset, doesn’t change the fact you are on a midday bus full of old people and single mums, loudly declaring your jobless status in my ear. Your unemployed. Deal with it. At home.

To the eleven year old kid perfectly pronouncing the exquisite French dishes he prepared on Junior Masterchef:

Shut the fuck up, wanker. Don’t you know that it is un-Australian to have an interest in foreign cuisine and culture? This is barely acceptable in Australian adults let alone some prepubescent rugrat that should be complaining about the pickles on his McDonalds Quarter Pounder instead of preparing God damn Le Gout De La Mer. Pull ya fuckin head in. Or some brainless beefhead in the playground is gonna punch it in.

To Lenore Skenazy who was interviewed on the Seven Thirty Report last night about her ideas on Free Range Parenting:

You would do your ideas on the need for relaxed parenting a great service, if you, you know, relaxed. Bouncing and bopping around in your seat with a demented smile stretched across your face as your voice oscillates between speeding and screeching while you pre-emptively strike out at any potential distracters’ to your ideas, kind of makes you seem like an amphetamine fuelled defensive maniac. Which is a shame, because your ideas are quite sane.

To the friend, who after 6months of silence and unreturned messages, finally contacted me, via a group email addressed to “all the dear friends that had been on her mind but that she hadn’t had time to call” (I think we formed our own special group in her address book):

Thank you, nothing makes me feel quite as thought of as receiving a depersonalised and public message sent via a faceless mode of communication. I particularly liked the way you crafted the message to seem as if I was the only person in the world that was privy to the private information you were sharing, and that you had personally both missed and had been thinking of me.

I could have easily been fooled into thinking all this effort was just for me, had you not used the expression “you all” towards the end. You gave your ‘killing a couple of birds with one stone’ game away there. Oh well. Cant wait to catch up! Shall I come over while you are on the toilet? Seems like the best option for having a chat without wasting too much time.

To the man who cornered the librarian and attempted to reveal his intellectual prowess and vast cultural knowledge by loudly and resolutely declaring that there is “a province in China known as Sichuan…”

Shut up old man. Does the woman look interested to you? Do you think you are telling her something she doesn’t know? Well guess what? We’ve all had Sichuan pepper on our plates mate.

To the woman in the carpark that was so eager to take my parking spot she stopped her car right in front of me so that I couldn’t even get out, then glared and impatiently gesticulated at me to move:

Do you have a brain? I’m just curious, or do you operate under some kind of central auto pilot control system? Either way, you need some fine tuning. Move your car out of my fucking way because I haven’t got the time to spend waiting for you to come up with some other solution without the aid of a brain. Mainly, because there isn’t one. Moron.

To the incessant, strung out, judgemental, bitter voice in my head:

Shut. Up.

For me, one of the unfortunate side effects of anxiety fuelled neurosis, aside from, say, mentally planning a camping trip down to the single food item details – 8 months in advance, is that my high speed mental anguish is often accompanied by an almost physical paralysis. Meaning that while my mind is busy inventing and solving inane problems to the point of lunacy, my actual doing self is rendered somewhat inert.

So it comes as no surprise that while at the op-shop the other day, a particular title caught my eye:

“The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People”

At a time when the self help phenomena is providing the blueprint for our modern lives, it made perfect sense for me to consult the wisdom of Stephen Covey on how I might incorporate some utility into my life, because if the cover was anything to go by, there was only one place this would take me: straight to Success.

Habit 1: Be Proactive

Right away, I was told that this would lead to Private Victory, and after having just suffered a brutal loss trying to conquer a Satay sauce, I desperately needed a win. I was paying close attention. All I needed to do was “stand away from myself”. After a few futile attempts of standing in the corner, and then dashing to the centre of the room in a bid to leave myself behind, the penny dropped. Covey meant that I should stand in front of the mirror, and then take some steps backwards. I immediately did this, and felt better right away. I guess this was some kind of trick exercise, forcing me to take initiative and thereby master Habit 1.

Habit 2: Begin with the End in Mind

At first this sounds like some kind of sagacious riddle uttered by an old wizard tapping the tips of his fingers together and smiling cryptically, but it’s actually just a straightforward matter of Personal Leadership (and having a good imagination). It’s a bit like the everlasting wisdom found in the Field of Dreams movie; “if you build it, they will come”. In my case, I just pictured myself standing atop of a mountain making the victory symbol with one hand, and punching the air with the other. Now it’s only a matter of sitting back and waiting for Success to happen.

Habit 3: Put First things First

Not to be confused with putting first things last. The essence of this habit is actually derived from the seminal ‘Common Denominator of Success’, which found that, “successful people have the habit of doing things failures don’t like to do”. I’m not sure if it was typo to not capitalise “failures” as it was clearly being used as a noun, but regardless, I got the irony of the message; to be successful you have to clean the toilet.

Habit 4: Think Win/Win

This is Covey’s way of saying that the old adage ‘its my way, or the highway” has become redundant, and that we need to learn how to drive together to a “higher plane”. At first I thought this was advocating illicit drug use, but then I realised he was merely advocating mutually beneficial arrangements, much like the sexual act of 69’ing.

Habit 5: Seek First to Understand, then to be Understood

Here Covey tells us that, “all the well meaning advice in the world won’t amount to a hill of beans if we are not even addressing the real problem”. And while I have no idea how it is that a hill of beans has come to represent some kind of achievement, I did at least recall some torturous moments from my teenage years, where I would yell dramatically at my father “why don’t you understand me?” only to be greeted with doe eyed confusion. I see now, that had I taken in account his profound deafness, things might not have been so bewildering.

Habit 6: Synergize

I didn’t even need to read this one given that I once participated in a Contact Improvisation class. After experiencing the sensation of fifteen people coming together in a seamless, withering mass of human body contact in the name of ‘dancing’, I feel I have the kind of grasp on the concept of the ‘sum of the parts being greater than the whole’ that I am only too happy to let it reside unexplored in my subconscious. Forever.

Habit 7: Sharpen the Saw

This one is pure practicality, reminding me that if I am to behead the likes of Stephen Covey, I best prepare my tools.

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