Saturday, 18 May 2019

[ choose me ]

Everyone goes into a new relationship with baggage. Sometimes a little, sometimes a lot. You take with you all the relationships that came before, your insecurities and quirks, your habits and hang ups.

And sometimes the baggage are things you can do nothing about, things that happened to you or have been with you forever, and no amount of self help can workshop them away.

How we deal with the collected works of years past is important. But how someone you love deals with it all, that's what makes or breaks a relationship.


As a couple, you try to build up a world of shared history; experiences and events that create your identity together, become the amour you use to face the everyday and take on every challenge as a unit.

If you work hard and you're lucky, the everyday demands of life, the slow plod of time, shape something amazing. It produces a tight-knit, living, loving thing that you can feel just being around your partner, as well as when you're apart.

Then, one day, it all unravels. If the strain of the past - of the things you carried alone - is too much for two, the strain will eventually start to show.

When you've lived with something so long, part and parcel of your intrinsic make-up, and no longer feel it as extra weight, it can come as a shock when someone else can't handle it.

What's worse is when you've built that world together, a fortress against anything and everything life can throw at you, and it turns out to be the enemy inside that defeats you both.


The feeling is different for everyone when it happens. Akin to having the bottom of the boat cave in and water start rushing in, once it starts, it's hard to stop. And all the shared history between you may not be able to shore up the breach.

At this point, your partner either chooses you or they choose themself. To be clear, neither choice is necessarily wrong. One of them just hurts more. 


You're always going to want them to choose you. Believe me, even when the relationship is dwindling, you still want someone to choose you. 

Because if they don't, it means everything you put in, all the things about you and of you, things you gave to the 'couple unit', don't mean as much as their reasons to leave.

And - this is the really hard bit to get your head around - these reasons, they say so much more about that person than they will ever say about you. 

Which is difficult to fathom, especially if things aren't dwindling. If they are perhaps, not amazing, but chugging along ok. 


When someone chooses their life choices over yours, over the choices you thought you were making together, it creates a chasm of doubt inside. 

Your rake over all the old chestnuts; was it this, was it that? What could I have done differently, said differently, been differently?

That's the rub, right there; it's not you, it's them. And not even in that horrible way that proves one of you is the bigger grown up. Just in the way that you invested more in the relationship than they did. You followed through more. You chose the life you built together over the life you could have had alone, and everything that came with that. 

You chose them. With all their faults and strengths, all the frustrations and joys. You chose them.


When you pull the relationship apart, dig around all the pieces of you both, who you were together and apart, it comes down to one thing. Among all the big and little things, the ones that really matter, and the ones that totally don't. 

In the end, they just didn't choose you. 

Wednesday, 2 January 2019

{ sugar after 8pm and other poor life choices }

Now that I'm in my later thirties, I've realised there are some days where my poor life choices cannot be as easily blanked out with a long sleep, two panadol, and half a litre of water as they used to.

It's the first week of January, and we're all feeling slightly unwell, bloated with chocolate, booze, rich food, and lack of sleep. So, don't mistake me here, I'm not going to berate you with all that new-years-resolution rubbish, but we could probably all take a moment to assess our priorities. You know, begin as we mean to go along, as it were. 

We haven't had a good list for a while and you know what a fan I am of those. Lest you think this is another list on how to be a grown-up because, well, we are's that too, but it's a also a list of flip-sides; things you can do instead that will make your previous choices fade away... Or at least slightly less stupid...


Sugar after 8pm (of course) 
For the better part of three weeks, our diets have all deteriorated into socially-acceptable breakfast treats, socially-acceptable lunch treats, then dinner treats.

Yours truly gave up the ghost entirely around the 15th December. I'd have a bowl of cornflakes with a coffee at breakfast, and there would be the last legitimately identifiable foodstuffs I'd eat for the day.

Caramel snows for elevenses matched with a fat chai latte, ham at lunch with Lindt, xmas nog and rocky-road for afternoon tea. Corn chips and cheese at 'dinner', followed by a gin cocktail and some pudding. Rinse, repeat. For weeks.

Now, I can barely look sideways at anything even vaguely dairy-related without feeling mildly queasy, so the next part is pretty easy for me. But, for those of you of the *never quit, ra-ra!* attitude and a constitution that takes just that little bit longer to drop off, you might want to consider your health now and get on the bandwagon, before your gut and your intestines band together and stage a revolt (think IBS and gastro - unpleasant and unattractive).

I can easily go cold-turkey, mainly due to aforementioned over-saturation at an early stage, but again, for the rest of you, start slow; stop eating sugar at night this week. Next week, stop eating it after 3pm, and the week after that stop at midday. And so on.

You will gurgle, you will feel bloated, you will be starving. A lot. However, by February, you'll be eating real food, less often, and, I kid you not, even enjoying it. Promise.


Drink enough water
This one seems pretty obvious, but flies right out the window from the first xmas party you are invited to, right up until you come back to work, find the coffee machine hasn't been refilled yet, and the only option really is just cold water.

To be fair, most of us do pretty well with this. The regular workday means you fill up your little drink bottle and sip sparingly but consistently throughout the day, only throwing caution to the wind when you pop off to the pub for drinks or out for dinner.

That being said, by the last week of work, where every second invite is a lunch meeting to connect with your colleagues or friends personally rather than just professionally, you're necking wine and spritzers like prohibition is coming back.

It's time to start the re-hydration routine, people. Not just because your liver will cry with relief or your skin will suddenly regain that glow not seen since sometime back in November. A lot because January is the most humid, vile month, and can suck the moisture out of a stone. You're already a festive desiccated husk as it is from all the booze, don't add insult to injury.


Sleeping and/or not sleeping
Some of us already have insomnia, so the holiday season is not a great time to mess with our sleep patterns, and as much as this one owes some credit to daylight savings (not a fan, personally), no one thing should get all the blame. 

By the second-last week of the year, you're staying up until 11 or later, waking up at 5, rolling over, waking up again at 8, then alternatively sleeping more or finally loafing out of bed. You're tired, but it's not the six chocolate frogs you ate last night, or the two margaritas with dinner (not helping though, just quietly).

It's because this is the third time you've done it this week, and your body is tired. Like, proper tired. Because the last time it had 6+ hours of consistent, restful sleep wasn't a few days ago, it was over a week ago. Maybe longer.  

Go to bed at 9pm. Read a book, listen to some chillout tunes, whatever. But, along with not scoffing the last of the Favourites in bed, stop dragging your bedtime out like you're still on holidays. 

We still have 'weekends' remember, it's not all goody-two-shoes all the time. 


Firstly, this is not about xmas presents. This is a special time of the year where you get to splurge and buy people whatever takes your fancy. Admittedly, this should probably still be within your means, but hopefully you've budgeted to go a bit nuts and can spoil your loved ones accordingly.

If, like me, you have OCD and bills got paid before the date stamp on the email changed from Today to a date, you've no worries. All expenses got covered and if you picked up something at the shops literally every time you walked past, you're sorted. Maybe curb that takeout impulse, but that's more to do with health than finance. 

For the rest of you, let's be clear; takeout and drinks three times a week isn't sustainable. New clothes, new shoes, hair appointments, spa treatments, and 'adventure' weekends only happen during the holidays for a reason. If it doesn't work for the other eleven months of the year, you might want to wonder why.  

If you can't top up your Opal, buy shampoo, or pay your phone bill, you're broke. Take the $600 shoes back to the store and make like a grown-up. 


Last, but by no means least, cleaning. All the cleaning. Seriously.

I'm lucky in this regard, as lá mama has instilled the houseproud gene in me, meaning I clean up after myself, but also clean-as-you-go, and various seasonal cleanings (Spring etc.).

That being said, holidays + heat + treats making me sluggish = so much laziness. I can't be bothered making my bed, let alone doing washing. It doesn't fall off the edge entirely, but it stutters throughout the season, with no real pattern.

Apart from being a bit gross, this is also bad for your health. Between not cleaning your house, to not cleaning yourself, we all need to get a grip. Bugs like it when you get lazy; let's stop being lazy!

Sweep some floors, wipe some benches, change some sheets. If you've been spreading out your hair washes to weekly, give it up. There's no sea breeze in the office, so it's not going to hold anyway. Clean out the fridge already; eating leftovers is counter-productive to the process, and if you can't quite recall what it is, you shouldn't be ingesting it anyway.

Quite apart from the physical benefits of a good clean, the mental benefits can't be ignored either. A clean house, a clean body, a clean slate; they all give you that warm and fuzzy feeling of achievement, no matter how tenuous, that kick-starts motivation.

We may not be able to muster the ra-ra, go-getter attitude of an end-of-financial year party, but we can certainly give it a red-hot go.


Totally understand we're all still on beach-time, in holiday mode, and barely able to function at the moment, but we're good at this - we've been doing it for years. 

So, in the spirit of good faith and knowing we are all in this together - pick up that water bottle. Put down that Ferrero Rocher. Smile like the thought of 6am and a salad is actually brilliant, and adulting is fun. 

And just remember, if all else fails, as this age, we're waaay better at the old fake it until you make it. Just ask me in February. 


Friday, 28 September 2018

[ the great unknown ]

Someone once asked me what I was afraid of in life. We were doing that getting-to-know-each-other thing and asking all the standard heavy questions you throw out to attain depth without shared history.

There are very few things of which I am afraid, and we've talked about this before. I fear the unknown, the lack of information, the aimlessness in direction. I fear not knowing at least some of the details, at least the shape of the picture, even if the rest is hazy.

Most people are the same; they find they can cope with a reasonable amount of life being weird and surprising, throwing strange obstacles in your path at any given time. But they do like to know the path they are on, and where it most likely leads.

The fewer specifics, the more anxious we become. Moreso, the further you travel along the unknown highway, as it were. You lose track of why you're doing what you're doing, why you are where you are. Your fear starts to consume you, colouring everything you do.

When we are afraid, it's always important to seek answers. Chase down leads, search for clues, find out anything you can about your worries.

So it's with some embarrassment that I admit to having been in a holding pattern for months. I've been quietly beavering away at really nothing much. And we all know I don't really do embarrassment. 

Then what gives? What made me spend two months taking meds I didn't need, eating things I didn't like, and taking precautions that saved me nothing?

Fear. Obviously. 

Fear made me weak and stupid, and narrowed my vision to near-constant strain and misery. It does that, because that's what fear is good at; focus. 

Oddly enough, that's where the penny drops. At least it did for me. 

There comes a point when you realise how focused you are on something, how much of your time you're devoting to it - and how little to other things. Happy things, pleasurable things, anything other than your pain. 

Somehow, the intensity of your scrutiny brings alternatives into stark reality; I can't go here, I'm too unwell. I can't eat that, the doctors said so. It can't be anything else, because...

Wait. Why can't it be anything else? If nothing I'm doing now is working, surely I should try something else?

Why can't I eat that? I've eaten it my whole life, and there's no evidence it's going to make me sick now. 

Why can't I go there? No one said I couldn't. No one gave me a reason why. 

When all you do is fear the change, the change may never come. When all you do is focus on the solution, you lose sight of the steps to get there. 

When all you do is listen, you never get answers to your questions. 

Asking questions isn't suddenly going to make you well. It isn't going to make you happy, or rich. It doesn't make the fear go away. But it arms you against it, and gives you weapons to fight it later, tomorrow, next week. Next month. 

Stop treating yourself like a fool and taking your instincts for granted, they're there for a reason. Start wondering if there's a different path, a different way, another solution. 

Maybe there is - and maybe there's not. But won't you sleep better at night finding out? 



Thursday, 20 September 2018

[ mini environmentalist ]

Of the many things I'm obsessed with, I have a small, fairly innocuous fixation with KeepCups.

On the whole, it's a reasonably healthy preoccupation, and much less disastrous than previous ones. In fact, it's pretty constructive if you think about it, and helps in some small way to save the planet.

For those of you still in the dark, keep cups are reusable travel mugs that come in a variety of shapes, sizes, colours, and now with an assortment of printed logos and themes.

Yours truly has a modest but varied collection, built over years. There's the blue and green one that lives in my car, the Star Wars RD-D2 one that sits on my desk at work, and the collapsible orange one from Port Arthur I have at home. Most recently, I've acquired a Bury Me Standing branded one, from my favourite coffee and bagel place in Hobart, that travels to work with me in the mornings.

As an aside, I've just found out Bunnings are now selling their own branded version. Much. Excite!

Anyway, you might be wondering why all the fuss over a simple cup? As in, many things hold liquid, what's so special about this receptacle?

(Sorry. I've been going really hard on's Word of The Day)

It's no secret I'm a bit of a greenie and think we could all do more to help save the environment, so before you throw up your hands in disgust and write this off as another hippie rant, hear me out...

I'm not going to ask you to read boring statistics or show you pictures of dead whales. I'm not going to lecture you on climate change or list how many species have gone on the endangered list in the last decade due to same (seriously though, it's scary how many are on there).

What I am going to do is ask you to bring it down to your own little microcosm, and reflect. That's all. It's a simple exercise that can lead to simple changes, that can then translate to small differences.

Not what you were thinking? Fair enough. If you're still with me, suspend your belief a little more, and imagine if everyone in your office made the same changes. Everyone in your street. Everyone in your city.

But let's not get ahead of ourselves. Back to the cups.


Twenty-three years ago, I discovered I liked coffee. Ok, I reeeally liked coffee. And still do.

With this realisation came the conclusion that I'd be drinking a fair amount of the liquid gold over my lifetime, and a modest *cough* mildly uncontrollable *cough* passion for novelty mugs began.

Sometime in the '90's I found my first travel mug, and was able to combine my love of caffeine with an unnamed desire to keep my existence ethically sustainable. Hurrah!

In my late twenties, I did a small calculation; every week of every month, for over a decade, I'd drunk 3-4 cups of coffee. For simplicity's sake, I rounded up to 4 cups, and specifically over 10 years.

4 cups x 52 weeks x 10 years 
= 2,080 cups of coffee

For reference, without liquid, the average disposable cup weighs about 14g (11g for the cup, 3g for the lid). 2,080 cups is just shy of 30kg. 

That's 30kg of purely liquid-holding waste I put into the environment. Just by drinking 236ml of fluid every few days. Imagine if I did what some people do and drank 4 cups a day. That would be say, 16 cups a week, 832 a year. 116.48kg of coffee cup waste a year. And that's just one person.

I'll let you think about that  for a moment, and we can talk about something else...


Way before it was cool, my mother was carrying reusable grocery bags. She'd have two or three of those cheesecloth cottony ones in her hangbag at all times. In later years, when the fashion really started to get going, she got into the printed varieties and their thicker weave, semi-synthetic cousins that last for simply ages, and can be washed at will. 

Mum was crushing it being an ethically and socially responsible, carbon-footprint aware being eons before Woolworths did this and Coles followed suit not long after. And she certainly wasn't the only one. 

Which made this seem the height of stupidity to me. If you thought Pauline Hanson was the queen of backflips, you hadn't seen nothin' yet...

What made this super ridiculous to me was simple, and to understand that, let's bring it back down to the microcosm, so we can all realistically reflect.

Like most people, we use the occasional single-use plastic bag in our house. As waste-basket liners, to carry lunch in, to wrap up crockery so it doesn't break in storage. If possible, we use them 3-4 times, and try not to get any more when out shopping. We've been doing this for years.

You know what else we've been doing for years? Prepping for the end of single-use plastic bags. Swapping out the plastics for reusables, stocking up on natural fibre ones, brushing off the nana-trolley (bloody love that thing).

So did a lot of friends and loved ones. So did neighbours, and random strangers whose nana-trolley you admired at the shops (they also come in funky styles and colours now).

But apparently, the other half of Australia went a little batshit, and started assaulting checkout tellers, like they had anything to do with the bag situation at all.

I hate to break it to you Oz, but you need to lower your caffeine dosage, 'cause that's just crazypants. And you know why?

Because we all became aware of 'climate change' with Al Gore's An Inconvenient Truth in 2006.

Because the first big businesses who got involved in plastic bag bans happened in Tasmania in 2003.

Because the term 'carbon footprint' was coined by Professor William Rees in 1992, and quickly reached common vernacular soon after.

And because the first mention of sustainability, or 'sustainable development', was used in a report by the United Nations in 1987.

What I'm saying, if you haven't already caught on, is that all those people who claim they hadn't been given enough warning about the impending bag situation, are lying through their shiny white veneers. And using that as an excuse for shitty behaviour is really quite abhorrent, but also, it makes you look insensitive and foolish.

When did we, as a nation, become so involved in ourselves, our personal needs, that we forgot about the planet we live on, the air we breathe, or even just the resources we use every day?  Surely, surely, no one was under the impression it would all last forever??

(That was rhetorical. If you actually thought the resources of this planet were supportable at the current rate humanity is going through them, please stop breathing the same air as me and go away)

Anyway. To be fair, not everyone understands how quickly we are using up natural assets and how we might go about replenishing them. Fair enough really; no one wants to get a degree in biochemistry or clinical research, and then specialise in native resources. 

Firstly, it's hard, and secondly, it's boring. Especially if you have to study it for six years.

That being said, everyone could do with a little more learning in common sense, but no one wants to do that either. Even though it's cheaper and it will 100% help you and this planet live longer. Oh well...


Here's the thing; saving our planet isn't hard. But no one - i.e. big business - wants to do too much about it because it doesn't make any money. If you think that sounds conspiracy theory, it is. But not in a secret society, action thriller, government cover-up sort of way. It's much more mundane than that, and much more ordinary.

You see, because it doesn't make money, government and big business are crafty in how they deal with this, you've got to give them that. They distract us with the newest, shiniest things which, as the consumerist culture that we are, we love - and totally get immersed in. 

And then we forget all about that pesky bag situation. And the landfill problem. The fact that China will no longer accept the lions share of our waste and we now have a disposal problem

We gloss over those things by assuring ourselves we are doing our bit in eating organic or throwing our non-biodegradable coffee cups in a recycle bin or buying 100% natural fibres, and calling it altruism. 

Don't mistake me here; these are still partially helpful things. But they are a bandaid solution to a endemic problem. 

What I'm saying is this; these actions are much like shutting the gate after the horse has bolted. Where once they may have assisted to stem the tide somewhat, industry is so far gone that we need to be a little more rigorous in our approach, a little more savvy, a little more circumspect in our choices. 

Let's be clear here; no one is asking you to join Greenpeace and start chaining yourself to trees. We're not asking you to hop onto Sea Shepherd and sail the open waters of the Coral Sea. Both are outdoors in the elements and mean many hours of nothing much. Plus hippies are weird. 

We're just asking that you step it up a bit in the sustainable department. 

We're asking that you make yourself a little more aware of what's happening in our world, even if you only make yourself a little more aware in your own little microcosm...


Stop getting single-use plastic bags, buy a nana-trolley. Support farmers by eating local - it's already organic, trust me. Take a moment to think about where all the packaging and plastic and other random waste that leaves your house goes. 

Buy a travel cup.

Look at this way; eventually Gucci will do what Balenciaga did and design something like this, but ethically responsible. That way, you can still be the self-involved, fashion-forward, high maintenance wanker society is accustomed to *and*  help save the environment. 

Everyone wins. 


Saturday, 25 August 2018

[ recap ]

I wasn't going to write this for a number of reasons.

Firstly, while I do, in fact, watch reality tv shows, I try not to let them colour my ideas or experiences too much. Mainly because they are based on fragmented, heavily collated, and frankly biased versions of events, events often portrayed by people who have no idea what they look like to the outside world.

To be fair, why would they? In their world, there are just double the amount of people standing around while they do their thing, half of whom happen to be holding cameras, make-up kits, lighting grips, and what seems like other useless crap.

The second reason is that journalists like James Weir and Isabelle Truman are way funnier than I am, and even Genevieve Rota has a slick recap going. However, this season has presented me with waaaaaay too much ammunition, and we're only a few episodes in!

No, I'm not talking about Masterchef, which is above reproach and I won't hear a word against it. I mean, of course, The Bachelor.

If you're already rolling your eyes, stop reading now - it only gets more gossipy from here. For the rest of you (read = 98%), let's carry on, shall we?

Much like Sophie Monk (whom I know personally*), this season's Bachie is a real person with a real personality and a plethora of adorable dad jokes, rhyming slang phrases, and brilliant one-liners. I mean, of course, the Honey Badger himself, Nick Cummins.

In all honesty, I was a bit vague on who he was when I first heard of him a few years ago. I did recall the football connection, but I certainly couldn't name the code, let alone the team (Union and the Wallabies respectively, for those playing along at home).

However, any man with a great smile and the ability to crack out a metaphor like a stockwhip at any given moment is going to have hearts aflutter. Or maybe that's just me.

Also. Have you seen those abs? *Swooooooooon*!

Nevertheless, it's not just the hilarious side-jokes and snappy remarks. Nick has a genuine and honest nature that conveys itself in pretty much every situation you see him in. He's a very ocker, Aussie bloke and it's hard not to take an instant liking to him, much like we all did with our Sophie.

Which makes this season so tantalising. Barely a week in and half of Australia is already #TeamNick and voting on who they think is good enough for him.

(No one, by the way. None of these bitches deserve even a sideways glance at that magnificent mo. Just saying)

Anyway. The dynamics of the Bachelor Mansion are always a little intriguing at any rate; you've just stuffed 24 agile young things into a house together and told them to compete to be the last one standing. Only the strongest remain, and even then, there's no guarantee of the prize. You could leave the dubious safety of the competition, having given up your whole life and have it come to nothing, and no one, returning to a world completely changed by your experience on the inside. And people volunteer to be tributes for this! Knowing they may not survive...

Oops. Sorry. Wrong show. Back to the mansion.

As much as it pains me to say this, and though still rife with drama, The Bachelorette and a house full of testosterone-charged lads still presented much less spite than the same but opposite, and a gaggle of femme-fatales.

With the gents, you got enough posturing to make a peacock feel inadequate, and a level of bullshitting my brothers would be proud of - and they can talk nonsense with the best of them.

The Bachelor seems to bring out the cattiest of lasses Oz has to offer, and make you wonder if high school ever really ended. Or if it just follows you everywhere, hiding in the bushes like a stalker, waiting to pounce and expose it's, well, ugly bits.

There's Cat, who states she's 'from Bali' despite the glaring fact of how white she is, and Alisha, who just will. Not. Shut. Up. Maybe she thinks she's on the wrong show? Did they hire a narrator and the producers got confused when she showed up in a ball gown?

Then we have Romy, who completes the mean girls trip with the above, and manages to convince all the girls that a random slobber on Nick's neck was a 'very romantic' and 'not tacky or forced' ' kiss'.

Hon, we're I'm from that's called something else, it bears no resemblance to what you're calling a kiss. Just quietly.

There's Vanessa Sunshine. Remember Donna Chang from Seinfeld? You know, the woman who kept introducing herself in full, and George kept losing his shit because, you know, SHE'S NOT ASIAN. That's Vanessa Sunshine.

Except with Vanessa, it's that there is no sunshine. I've seen better temperaments on pissed-off Pomeranians. She never laughs, never says more than 6 words, and I'm pretty sure her facial muscles aren't programmed to do that upward tilt thing that most of us know as a smile. Or maybe she has, and I just had flashbacks to Jaws and blanked it out...

Anyway. To be fair, they're not all complete harpies. There's the pint-sized Brooke, an instant favourite. She's a youth worker from WA, who also deals in mental health issues. For a 24 year old, there's a maturity combined with a sense of fun that's quite refreshing.

Brittany, born on the same day in the same town at the same hospital - nice little bit of serendipity there - also seems to have a lovely natural vibe about her, and comes in close as a favourite with Brooke.

And Cass. Darling, sweet, fragile Cass. She met the Bachie a while back, they dated for about twelve seconds, and nothing came of it. Or so we believe.

However, in Cass-land, we've stumbled on the ultimate kismet, and a situation that means they were meant to be... meeting again on a show with a horde of other women, also competing for Nick's affections. Nevermind it previously didn't work out in the real world, where there's much less pressure than being trapped in a mansion for 6 weeks, living purely off champagne and resentment...

That being said, you've got to give the girl a break. We've all been there; heed-over-heels for someone who barely registers our presence, clinging to the possibility that it might all come together again.

In any other situation, you'd drag her out for dinner and drinks and lay it all out, help her forget what's-his-name and find a way to move on.

But this isn't the real world and these wenches aren't here to make friends; they're here to win. So sadly, we're left to watch Cass' freewheeling emotional rollercoaster, and quietly beg the gods she gets kicked off soon, for her sake more than ours.

But finally, we come to the real star of the show, the reason we all tune in every season, the drawcard that seduces us year after year. That hair, those eyes, that smile, his way with roses and maths...

Yes, of course, I mean Osher Günsberg.

The perfect man in every way, his hair gives David Tennant a run for his money, and season after season we are treated to his distinctive, inimitable wardrobe; variously tailored suits to the ultimate in grandad cardigans.

He's funny, he's cheeky, and damn, has he got swagger. Osh is well in on the joke that Channel 10 have created an entire show based on people trying to get laid. But he also genuinely cares about the contestants as well as the Bachelor/ettes, and adds a marvellous positive and even-tempered element to the ordered chaos of the show.

All things being equal, we wish we could all have our own personal Osher, standing by before romantic interludes, gently murmuring encouragement, holding out the requisite cheese platter and red rose, congratulating or commiserating as required.

Apparently though, this is not how you make ratings.

So, in the meantime, we're left with some buff beefcake and a gaggle of pissed-off swans - ehem! - women, looking for love, a real connection, and the key to the mini bar.

Pass me a cracker and some more bubbly, will you?


*read = I helped her break into her car with coat hangar one time in the '90's when we lived on the same street and I found her crying outside it in her pajamas one morning at 7am. That counts as a real connection. Right?

Friday, 6 July 2018

[ bibliophile ]

At the end of June, I made the declaration that I'm giving away the bulk of my books. For some of you, it was a rather underwhelming announcement, and for others it was rather a shock.

After moving house in May, I discovered I have twelve plastic crates, four heavy-duty cardboard boxes, countless hessian bags, and two shelves of books.

It's mainly sci-fi and fantasy, but there are a large amount of cookbooks, a scattering of 'self-help' books, a decent stack of comics and graphic novels, various textbooks, and a plethora of esoteric tomes.

There's the To Read section in my room which, to be fair, only has around twenty or so volumes on it, but does take up a whole shelf to itself.

There's the fairytales section, which is completely dedicated to any and all copies, retellings, and fractured fairytales. I have German, French, and Norse tales. I have graphic storybooks by Neil Gaiman, and wondrous reworkings by Sarah Pinborough. I have dusty texts and sparkling new volumes, and everything in between.

Still, I collect. Still, I hoard. Still, my appetite for knowledge and stories and words is insatiable.

Nevertheless, suddenly, I'm starting to question why I'm keeping them all. The limited editions and special classics need no real explanation; they are keepsakes and worth quite a bit.

But the random paperbacks, the mass-produced chronicles, the twenty-seven books in a series I just read to get through a season or because I was too lazy to find something new at the time...

What the fuck are they all doing but moldering away in boxes and bags or in storage, where I sure as hell won't read them again? Why on earth am I keeping things that not only take up so much physical space, but mental space as well, stressing me out with where to keep them and how to store them and where to drag them to next...?


The School of Life recently starting running this, and it coincided with an episode of the Living Room where the king of decluttering, Peter Walsh, helped a guy who was basically an older version of me; all the books on all the shelves and sideboards...and in the cupboards and under the tables and on the floor...

It got me thinking about the psychology of hoarding books. Because it is hoarding for me. Obviously, there are some I am 'collecting' - aforementioned limited editions and special volumes - but the rest definitively fall into the hoarding category. 

Consequently, I started to wonder why. I'm a curious and inquiring animal by nature, and generally up for some self-reflection, so the question of why someone who, I like to think, is reasonably self-aware, would do this, really started to intrigue me.


There's a school of thought going around that the hoarding of books is about the hoarding of knowledge. That, by keeping the physical text near or with you, you're keeping the knowledge in one place, and therefore also in your brain. 

Surpassing the minds' unbelievable capacity for education and information, we can somehow store all the learning we've attained in a stack of paper, and never lose it from our minds.

Which, to be brutally honest, is pretty weird. I've forgotten more things than I've had hot dinners, and I've retained twice as many. Having a concrete reminder only noticeably made the difference when it was actually something I wanted to remember in the first place. Make sense?

Let me put it this way; I have a well-thumbed, hardcover copy of Where The Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak, given to me by one of my brothers' girlfriends when I was a child. It's one of my treasured favourites; I can remember the whole story, the watermarks on the pages, and the inscription written by said girlfriend. 

Conversely, I found a textbook for a literature class I did only a few years ago. It's a great volume, consistently popular in the curriculum, and full of great little snippets of knowledge on general flick-through.

Until I do though - flick-through, that is - I can't really recall those snippets. I can vaguely allude to them, make educated guesses, and even some discussion...but I can barely remember that I read it, and only in context to that class. Still, it's a really, really good book.  

If it all still seems a little unclear, and that I'm generally only keen on children's books over textbooks (who wouldn't be, really?), then there's this; I can remember what happens, in chronological order, in each of Anne Rice's The Vampire Chronicles, including the New Chronicles.

But I can't recall where all my copies of them are exactly, or why I don't keep them all together, or even in mint condition.

What I'm trying to say is this; if the knowledge is that important to me, why am I not keeping them in a climate-controlled  environment? Why am I not insuring them like my coin collection, my Doctor Who paraphernalia, my heirloom jewellery? Why do I not have them by my bedside at all times?

Curious, right? I have a theory, backed up by a lot of reading...

In life, there are a finite amount of things we can control. Our diet, our hair colour, what reality tv shows to watch, and what sort of car to buy. We can't control the weather, traffic conditions, or politicians, but we can control these. There may be a few others, but you get the picture.

Anyway. In a world mainly out of our control, we want total dominion over what we do and don't learn, what knowledge we keep and what we exclude. In many instances, this is an achievable goal. 

But life isn't simple or straight-laced, and your little grey cells couldn't care less if you want to remember that one great line from that average book, or that amazing cookbook with the yellow cover.

It's filtered out the important stuff, and let the rest fade out like lights at the end of a stage show. You've retained all the stuff you think is important, everything else is irrelevant. 

You see, your conscious and subconscious made a deal; the former deals with the day-to-day, the latter with all the quiet stuff, the emotional stuff, the underlying threads of your life. The former acts, the latter records. 

And here is where the fight began; because I basically stopped ignoring what my subconscious was saying, and started listening to a third, and clearly nutty, voice that said; Keep All The Books! All of them! Leave not a one! 

(It's totally ok if you're hearing that in a Monty Python voice. I know I am)

Which is how I ended up with twelve plastic crates, four heavy-duty cardboard boxes, countless hessian bags, and two shelves of books....


It's not like I don't have access to books every single day of my life. I mean it; Every. Single. Day. I could buy a new book from a different store every day for a year, and still not have got through half the resources at my fingertips. 

Further, in relation to this, a very clever lady made another interesting point; it's almost selfish of me to keep all these books when there are people who can't afford to buy a new book every month, let alone the hoards I buy weekly.  

And she's right. If I'm highly unlikely to ever read this or that volume again, why am I keeping it? I can *literally* find a new copy, buy it, and have it in my hot little hands within hours of giving the last one away.

For someone who treasures knowledge and stories as much as I do, I've clearly veered off the path in terms of respecting that knowledge and sharing it with as many people as possible.


Every book I've ever read has a life of its own, a personality. And really, it's starting to feel like I'm holding them to ransom for all the history they have. Like I'm terrified that I've read every story ever written and there will be no new stories for me to read. So these ones must stay. Forever. 

But, like people, you can't make someone love you back or imprint themselves into your life, not unless the feeling is mutual. And even then, sometimes it doesn't last.

So, here we are. I'm getting rid of around 90% of my library because, in the end, it breaks my heart more to think of all those books wasting away in darkness than it does to think of them in someone else's hands. Someone who might love them or hate them, someone who might treasure them or gift them to someone else or read them and just let them go. 

It's the end of an era for me, but a beginning too. One full of old discoveries and unusual goodbyes, and hopefully the space for a whole new lifetime of texts and tales...

Plus, with the invention of things like Goodreads, I can act like a benign dictator, keeping all the personal details of my subjects, in case I want to call them back to me someday...

Which is completely healthy, right...? 


Saturday, 16 June 2018

[ moving house ]

There was a gorgeously long and winding piece I wrote on the Vietnam trip, which I promised several friends ages ago would be forthcoming, and which you've now all seen.

However, about five minutes after we got back, we went into moving house mode, and the world has only vaguely stopped spinning recently. So, this got mostly written while I was mimicking the little girl in The Exorcist. Brace yourselves.


Divorce, death, and moving house. They say these are the most stressful things you can go through in life. All things being equal, I'd take a divorce to be honest. Because I think, somehow, I have blotted from memory the utter dreadfulness that is moving. 

I mean, we all know how appalling it is, but you somehow forget the endless ridiculousness that comes with packing all your crap up, moving it, then unpacking it. 

To be fair though, moving house is a massive way to demonstrate evolution in your life, moving onwards and upwards, etc. etc. It's the main reason that, after seven years, I've swapped the funky hipness of Newtown for the cool stylings of lush and leafy Epping. Here are some things I learned along the way.


We all hoard things. All of us. Even in the smallest way. You can go years at a time and never really notice how many patterned tablecloths or novelty tea spoons you have. Until you move house.

Nine bags of clothes, three rubbish pick ups, four weeks-worth of recycling, eight billion old shoeboxes, and a partridge in a pear tree later, we had cleaned the house out. 

Mum is a million times better at this than me. She's clear, decisive, and ruthless. Sadly, I spend 20 minutes staring forlornly at a dress I haven't worn for five years, pondering the possibility of it ever matching any of my other clothes, let alone actually wearing it. 

Let me give you some advice in advance; if you haven't worn it for more than a season (as in, if you didn't wear it last Winter, you probably won't this Winter), toss it. No amount of wistful looks or attempted pairings will suddenly change that. 

This goes for clothes, shoes, bags, linen, and basically anything else in the fabric department. Bag it up, stuff it in a charity bin, and be done with it. You then get to have the added bonus of feeling smug about your goodwill towards society. Win. 

Small side note; books. Some people can read, appreciate, and release. Some people cling like the pages of every book are the notations of their soul, and every page is a crystallised moment, floating in sea of memories, following the lives of complex characters, weaving in and out of storylines... sorry, where was I? Something about throwing books out I think...

Anyway, guess which one I am... 


Packing is stressful because all your things are all your things. These things, no matter how much society tells us they are only things and not lives or people, are still *your things*, and therefore special because you worked long and hard for them. 

So when you have to pack them up in boxes and zip them into bags, where you can't see them or feel them or use them, it's hard and a bit sad. 

And also really, really confusing. 

Where the hell is my hairbrush? Have we packed the toaster? How is it that I can find two pairs of animal slippers, but not one pair of shoes appropriate for work? FFS, where is my bag with my security pass and my keys and my good lipgloss...dammit...

Anyway. You will lose stuff, you will find stuff (pfft, no, of course not straight away, who are you kidding?), you will buy stuff you already have. Which means you have two options. 

If, like yours truly, you have low-level, high-functioning, constant anxiety about pretty much everything, try not to worry too much; your OCD will be able to pinpoint pretty much any item you can think of, at any one time. You may not be able to get to it, but you know where it is. Try to make peace with that.

On the other hand, you could develop a system the Federal Police would proud of, that basically involves a forensic-grade approach to packing; with layers and labels, packing then stacking, and the option of unpacking then repacking a box if needed. This option requires a will of iron, spreadsheets, and the patience of a saint. 

To be clear; neither is pleasant and neither will work 100% of the time. Soz. 


Movers, much like real estate agents, are vague, dodgy, and require regular instruction and monitoring. They're like the hamstring injury you got in high school; simple enough to take care of most of the time, but a right pain in the ass when they flare up. 

Ours showed up early. At any other time, in almost any other situation, this wouldn't be so annoying. Turn up early for a meeting? Hurrah, time for a coffee! Guests turn up early for a dinner party? No worries, have some wine, hold my kid, I'll be in the kitchen. And let's not mention how great an early train or bus would be.

However, the complete opposite is true when movers turn up early; you haven't disassembled the beds, emptied the fridge, or got out of your pyjamas yet. Just because you've been up since 4am chewing your fingernails and wishing it was all over already, does not mean you are ready for people to just rock up. 

I'd also mention how it feels when they turn up late, but I'm breaking out in a cold sweat just thinking about it. Moving on.


When someone offers to help move house, say yes. Even if you think they may have nothing to do, say yes. Nothing is worse than you and your loved ones (the ones who live with you), sitting there in mutual horror watching the movers try to manoeuvre your grandmothers' antique sideboard with all the delicacy of a drunk sloth, and wondering which one of you will break into tears first.  

Relatives, friends, random work acquaintances - all these people can buy coffee, smile reassuringly, and make pointed comments ('do you think we might try it the other way?') without making it sound like a threat. Say yes; other people create a squishy boundary between you and the seven hours of hell you have ahead of you. 


Book in advance. Book. In. Advance. BOOK IN ADVANCE. WEEELL in advance. Packing gear, movers, cleaners, internet, phones, cable, leave days off work (you will need them, trust me), friends and helpers, anything you can book early, do it. 

I had a friend once who did a move within a fortnight. We're no longer friends, not because of this, but definitely as a contributing factor. 

She bought boxes on the Sunday and worked a 60 hour week. She then packed her kitchen first (*shudder*), her precious items last (jewellery, keepsakes, etc.), and then worked another long week. On the Friday before the Saturday of her move, she did the rest of her packing. 

If it seems like I'm being harsh, let me explain further; she had a 2 bedroom, fully furnished apartment, with enough stuff to compete with even my maximist sensibilities. 

On the day of the move, her best friend and I were there to help. Not her brother (she didn't want him to see her stuff. I know, weird), not her parents (both fit and able to lift), not her boyfriend (she thought he might be busy. I'm sorry, what?). Nope, just us. To say we were surprised would be an understatement. 

The movers were ok, if a little dopey, but that was to be expected. The day was clear which was good, and we were only going a few suburbs over, so it's not like this was going to take all day. 

Yea. About that. 

Somehow, between us arriving with coffee, planning the route to the new place, and getting halfway through packing the van, the wheels started to come off the bus, as it were. 

Said ex-friend had her first - of several - meltdowns for the day, and it just went downhill from there. I can't quite recall the entire day, but the gist centred around four boxes going missing, the power not being on at the new place (I didn't even think that was a thing), a missing boyfriend (I think we found out later he went skiing. Hmmm, smart man), a dented fender in a brand new car, and some suspicious circumstances surrounding some keys. 

PLAN. IN. ADVANCE. Things will go wrong, that's a given, but nowhere near as many as if you treat moving house like a military operation to a foreign country. 


Pick two sets of hardy clothes, a sturdy backpack, and scope the local takeaway for healthy options.  Treat moving house like you're auditioning for Survivor. 

No clean clothes. No fresh veggies. No way out, but onto the next 'burb. Survivor: Domestic is coming! Dum dum duuum!

Hair will be greasy, fingernails will be chewed. Socks will be worn not twice, but thrice, and all the things you usually put in a folder, key holder, basket, or hall table? Now in one, feels-like-a-rucksack-fuck-I-hate-camping bag so you don't lose it. 

On the bright side though, this stage only lasts about two to three days, tops. But - repeat after me - think ahead; that one bar of soap and that one store that doesn't lace everything with butter will be like the coloured flags on the end of that 70m flagpole over the cliff-face that is moving house. 


Lest I have made this entire endeavour sound like it's without merit, there are some good parts (besides the fab new locale).

Your ability to stay awake through pretty much any other activity will become preternatural; with the heightened anxiety of getting everything done, all other events, no matter how hectic, become almost relaxing by comparison. No major meltdown at work can compare to trying to recall if you packed the HDMI cable in the loungeroom tech box or bedroom tech box. 

Your body will also develop an uncanny ability to process caffeine and sugar. Seeing as your heart spends half the day pumping its way through stupid phone calls with tradies, service providers, and real estate agents, it never really slows down.

So, basically anything below jackrabbit-on-crack doesn't really register - hence your sudden ability to down four cups of coffee instead of one, and eat cake six times a week. Nice, right?

But a small word of warning; when you start to come down off the runaway rollercoaster of activity, the crash is hard, and you won't know it until you've tried to drink your new routine fourth latte before midday, and all of a sudden you have a raging headache like a hangover from your twenties.

The other thing moving house does is demonstrate your unbelievable strength of will and endurance. Even when you think you can't take any more stress, any more sleepless nights, any more silly, unsatisfactory phone calls - you can and you do. It brings out the best and worst in people, and you will sit there, for weeks even, afterwards, slightly stunned by your own fortitude. Well done you!


To anyone who is about to move house, I say this; take a big deep breath, strap yourself in, and just roll with it as much as you can. 

There are no real enjoyable parts until the end. There are no funny moments you will recall with fondness. It's hectic and brutal and you'll wish you had thrown even more money at it than you got swindled out of in the first place (movers, service providers, don't get me started again). 

But there is this; you are a badass at everything else you do, and this will be no different. 

Oh, and mentally mark a bottle of rum for consumption the minute the last thing is done.