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Archive for the ‘Life&Love’ Category

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.

 

 

 

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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.

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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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This Father’s Day I pondered what to get a man who routinely refers to such days, and for that matter, most holidays and celebrations, as a “load of sentimental capitalist shit”.

Actually, he doesn’t just feel this way about celebrations, it extends to death and funerals too. When I distant relative died recently and I told him I was sending flowers, he said my act was, “bullshit. They are gonna have a house full of flowers and they are all just gonna die. No one wants flowers”.

Being such a difficult person (in general) to buy for, it seemed the obvious route to take would be to make something, but the question was, what? It would have to be practical, and in no way sentimental, and if it could help with keeping the bird shit off that back porch, that would be a big bonus too.

I decided to observe my dad for possible clues as to what he might need and appreciate. And this is what I came up with (outside of intensive mental health treatment, which was way outside my budget):

 

A GPS

Given that no small amount of ‘quality family time’ has been lost due to my Dad’s hopeless sense of direction, a GPS could well be the perfect gift. Admittedly too late to be of an use in avoiding the ‘Blois disaster’, where we spent the first half a day trying to escape the confines of this trickster French city to the tense tune of ‘fuckeddy fuck fuck’ and the second half doing frantic circles trying to find accommodation as night descended and we realised we were going nowhere, fast (Chevy Chase eat yr heart out), a GPS could still well serve to be the saving of any future family holidays.

Although my own self imposed ‘handmade’ restriction means that my GPS is probably going to come in the form of a stapled collection of hand drawn road maps, coloured in by The Boy. And while this seems like a daunting task – hand drawing an entire street directory – I actually figure it will only need three pages; our house to the RSL club, our house to Bunnings, and our house to the Bottleo, which makes it a bit of a cinch.

 

A Hearing Aid

Ever since getting into some old fashioned fisty cuffs with a man twice his size in our old home town, Tough Town, my Dad has been deaf in one ear. This has been the cause of innumerable misunderstandings, that I can help but feel I could fix if only I fashioned a home made hearing device out of a tin can, some string, and a leather type harness fastening this contraption to the right side of his head.

This would be so handy in avoiding the kind of misunderstanding he and my mother had just the other day involving a ‘white plastic bag’. As my Dad was taking the rubbish out on his way to visit my brother and his girls my Mother came rushing out with another white plastic bag full of new goods she had brought for the girls. Thrusting them into my Dad’s hands she said, “give these to the girls for me”. My Dad, being both deaf in one ear and soft in the head, took this to mean, “throw these in the rubbish with all those other white plastic bags”.

Later, when my mother queried him about the gifts, my bewildered Dad explained that he had thrown the bag in the rubbish. My mother, taking into consideration that he was half deaf, made sure to raise her voices a few octaves when she shouted, “you have got to be fucking kidding me” as she raced out to rescue the goods while my Dad muttered useless defences under his breath like “who gives someone a ‘white plastic bag’ full of new goods when he is taking out the rubbish…”.

I just cant help but think what life would be like if only I could make him something to hel him listen….

 

A Plate of Green Vegetables

When my Dad got home from his only second ever trip overseas, where he went to the seat of the empire, he seemed awfully preoccupied with the lack of vegetables his holiday had yielded. For the life of him, he couldn’t figure out how America wasn’t a country crippled by scurvy. In the entire month he was there, he swears he ate only one vegetable, and it was “a fucking zucchini flower. Battered. And fried”.

For a long time afterwards he would walk around the house, shaking his head and muttering to The (vegetarian )Yang, “you’d be dead in 24 hours mate, dead in 24 hours”.

I think the man needs a plate of greens.

 

Binoculars

These can easily fit the homemade bill if I just stick two empty toilet paper rolls together and attach a washer as a focus ring. And they would be a great gift for my Dad giving him that added bit of insight, that only really comes from peering down a toilet roll, into what kind of home improvements the neighbours are doing, so that he can devise his own home made, budget, equivalent. Like how in a bid to keep up with the ‘cement rendered wall’ phase that is sweeping the neighbourhood, my Dad simply brought a bucket of paint, mixed a bit of cement through it, and painted the front walls of the house so they looked like cement. Cost saving, to say the least.

 

A Security Guard

Initially, I thought the cost of this option a little steep, but then I remembered that there is this immigrant kid from down the road that owes me a favour from that time I agreed not to call the National Security Hotline and report that he was carrying a Koran on the bus. He owes me. If I could just get him to come and stand watch on the back porch with Dad’s air rifle, I think I will have found the perfect gift.

My Dad is forever fretting about the Miner birds that descend on his beloved back porch and shit everywhere. He responds to this problem with the kind of zeal of an American Border Patrol Guard, reaching for his air rifle and firing off plastic projectiles if any threaten to come near. When he was due to go away on holidays recently the hole that he would have to leave in this line of defence was truly troubling him. He is a man that asks little or nothing of no one, and it was hard not to be affected by the trace of hopeless hope in his voice when he turned to The (pacifist, animal loving) Yang as he was leaving, held up his air rifle and said, “you’re not going to be wanting this for shootin’ those birds, are ya mate?” He knew there was no point waiting for an answer, and the disappointment was palpable.

I think a security guard would make him really happy.

 

In the end though, I settled on my mother’s suggestion and got the old bastard nothing.

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I know what you’re thinking. You’re thinking, what would someone who has been in a relationship long enough that they call their partner by their fathers name, know about the spice of life?

But you are probably only thinking that because you haven’t read my previously espoused views about openly fucking around. Or because you didn’t read this post starting at the end and working back, because had you done that, you would realise that I happen to know alot about putting the couple back in coupling (just minus the ‘e’ for ecstasy).

Often, the biggest mistake long time couples make, after having more children in a desperate bid to save a marriage, is failing to spend quality time together. But that need not ever be a problem again with these fun filled activities:

I should point out at this point that serially single people may find the following depictions of happiness distressing. Don’t read on unless you are planning on making hopeful notes for the future, or you like to experience pangs of pain reminding you that you are indeed alive despite not yet having found a mate for life.

 

1. Couple Portraits

Every couple needs a professional series of photographs of themselves, preferably in sensually styled poses. How on earth can you expect the relationship to go the distance, if you don’t have earnest and symbolic documentation of your feelings at hand for easy referral?

For example –

Husband: (pointing to portrait) “Darling, of course I love and lust after you, just look at the hunger in my eyes in our couple portrait, but I really do need to get up early in the morning…”

And beyond this everlasting certification of your love, couple portraits also provide hours of fun filled friskiness by going to the studio and following the sensual directions like this:

“stand behind the lady, slightly to the side. Now ask the lady to rest her head backwards, close her eyes and think romantic thoughts. Now the man must place a soft kiss on the open neck, again with eyes closed. As long as the couple are truly in love, you should capture a very special moment”. – David James Williams, professional photographer

It is important to note however, that couples unhappy with their portrait experience may not be entitled to a money back guarantee if they cannot prove they meet the “truly in love” criteria. Acceptable evidence includes spontaneous fornication as a result of thinking ‘romantic thoughts’.

 

2. Tandem Bike Riding

Nothing gets the love juices followings like mounting a good old fashion bike, in tandem. And, if the advice found in E Zine Articles is true, Tandem Biking the ultimate couple glue because “no matter how hard one partner tries to leave the other, you will always be together” – which is arguably more effective than stalking and a pair of handcuffs. And, believe it or not, twice the fun! Or so I am told. I have never actually tried it, but by the looks of this couple you couldn’t fit any more fun in than if you were a fourteen year old at a fun parlor with your folks on a Sunday:

 

3. Couples Yoga

There is nothing in the world quite like couples yoga for bringing you together, literally.

Radically, Couple Yoga builds on the idea of touch being a central premise of intimacy. They also advocate a little partner worship to help you on your hanky-panky way, although it is unconfirmed as to whether this can secure the same kind of intimacy results as the aforementioned touching.

A good starting point for couples yoga is to hold hands, look deep into your partners eyes, project love from your heart (or your loins, your choice) and then think positive thoughts such as “our lovemaking will be spicy”.

You can then move right along to some touching poses designed to deepen your ‘non-verbal’ understanding of your partner. After fondling along the lines of these fun filled postures, you will never want to leave each other again, and may in fact take to spending the entire day together like a pair of co-joined twins. Although you should note that navigating stairs in the following co-joined position may be tricky, requiring some skilled ‘non verbal’ communication:

 

4. Couples Karaoke

For something a little less cosy but by no means less of a booty booster, why not try Couples Karaoke?

As the old adage goes, “a couple that sings together seems together”. Sure hits to try out include, “I was made for loving you” and “backseat of a greyhound bus”, while you might want to stay away from “stop dragging my heart around”, “you’re no good” and “these boots were made for walkin’”.

 

5. Sex Class

There is not a thing in today’s world that you can’t take an evening class for, and sex is no exception. Whether its improving your hand job technique or brushing up on the atomically correct term for your partner’s ass (anus) and some spicy things you can do to it (strap on and straddle that hide), there is sure to be a class for you and your special someone to help keep things zing zang.

Typically, several couples will gather in one room and the instructor with run through various techniques and demonstrate on her fully clothed self. As a couple you are then placed in curtained off section of the room where you can undress and practice. If you find you need additional coaching, or would just like to increase the size of your party, you can invite the instructor in to help. But remember, what starts behind the curtain, doesn’t stay behind the curtain. Rather, you will find that you will be requested to ‘finish any erections off’ back at home, or in the carpark.

Given the group nature of sex instruction classes, why not consider taking a few friends along for a double date?

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Last week, after feeling like I had only half an articulated idea but no time or energy to get it out, and then having that coincide with discovering that three of the regularly loved blogs I read are ceasing to continue, or in one case, at reduced capacity, I found myself thinking about this struggle to sometimes ‘spit it out’.

Not to mention the endless struggle against finding time, losing creative energy, or at times watching my sense of enjoyment, bizarrely given the voluntary nature of this gig, be trumped by a hopeless feeling of obligation.

So to this end, I have deiced to invent some ‘get out of jail free’ cards to help get me off my self imposed hook:

1. Back in Five

(pic)

2. My Brain Is Dead

(pic)

3. Life Got In The Way

(pic)

4. I’m Outta Here

(pic)

5. Intoxication

(pic)

I reserve the right to use these cards as frequently and in any combination as I see fit, which most likely means you will be seeing a lot of  Life Be In It + Intoxication.

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(source)

When I found myself answering my own ‘are we stupid’ question in my last blog post with a resounding ‘yes’ I was forced to face what most people around me already knew to be true, that I was a human racist.

So much so that this week I set about with the intention of proving it by presenting a long list of irrefutable examples of mass human stupidity, inspired by watching Woody Allen’s ‘Whatever Works’ and the biting observation he makes in this exchange:

Man: You must have a very dim view of the human race.

Boris: Oh, the human race. They’ve had to install automatic toilets in public restrooms, because people can’t be entrusted to flush a toilet.

Come on, flushing a toilet! They can’t even flush a toilet!

But after sitting around thinking, thinking, thinking, and yet never coming up with anything even halfway as funny or dreadfully astute as Sir Woody, I came to the conclusion, that perhaps this was the best proof of all, that we are so stupid, that I cant even prove our stupidity.

But before you call me out on this cop out, let me say that while a watertight list was a bit of a stretch (without getting into all that ‘whoa the end is nigh we are poisoning ourselves to death and driving around in metal coffins, man’) I did at least come up with a couple of clues….

Like seeing girls dressed like this:

(source)

In near sub zero temperatures. Well, ok, more like 15 above zero, but still, its fucking winter people! Put some clothes on. What kind of logic possess people to head out into the night near naked? It takes years of the kind of evolutionary progress that saw us supersede they so called stupidity of lesser creatures by skinning their hides and draping them over our Neanderthal shoulders to keep warm. What do these girls live in hope of, that they can warm their cockles under the flare of the paparazzi flash bulbs once their fleshy frames are discovered? Or that they will find a modern day ‘man hide’ to drape over themselves to fend off the freeze?

Or better still being reminded of the classic Orson Welles ‘War of the Worlds’ performance, where a sci fi book about a Martian invasion of earth was adapted for a radio play, but with Welles’ added change of adapting the story to make it sound like a news broadcast about an invasion from Mars. Throughout the play the music was interrupted a number of times by fake news bulletins reporting on the ‘invading force of aliens’.

(source)

The news bulletins were so affective – or people so stupid, you decide – that portions of the audience concluded that they were hearing an actual news account of an invasion from Mars. People packed the roads, hid in cellars, loaded guns, even wrapped their heads in wet towels as protection from Martian poison gas, in an attempt to defend themselves against aliens….

Or learning that ‘Wheel of Fortune’ has apparently become too hard for a large viewing audience in America and so has instead been replaced with ‘Are You Smarter Than a 5th Grader?’. And that packaging on some brands of irons read, “Do not iron clothes on body”, and even better, that some hairdryers come with the instruction “Do not use while sleeping”….

But despite these telling clues, or perhaps because of, I couldn’t muster the motivation to continue the search for more evidence. But I’m not the only one to make great claims despite a lack of clear evidence, so I take comfort that this at least puts me the company of this man:

(source)

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