Friday, December 27, 2013

Twenty Thirpeen: The Year of the Dickhead

I was in Peru once. I was on the bus, heading to the start of the Inca trail on my first international adventure as a young adult. I was like, so antipodean. In complete awe of my surrounding, hurtling through the Andes, I caught glimpses of what it would be like to live in these small remote communities. I spied a woman tending to her caged guinea pigs. I watched children playing happily in dusty front yards. And then I saw the most picture perfect man, a bundle of firewood hoisted onto his muscular back, the quintessential Andean beanie perched on his head. He looked up and our eyes met. I put my hand up to wave, wanting just one fleeting moment of contact. He stared at me, and then his expression twisted to one of pure hatred and simultaneously he gave me the finger and poked out his tongue at me.

What. A. Dickhead.

As a naïve nineteen year old, I assumed this was an isolated incident, that dickheads of this calibre were confined to the remote wilds, thousands of kilometres from where I live. Seven years later this is not the case. 2013 was undoubtedly The Year of the Dickhead. Read on for the crème de la peen; my list of the top five dickheads of the year.

5. Tailgaters.
Tailgating to me is an entirely confusing pursuit. In one hand you don’t trust the person-in-front-of-you’s judgment of what is an appropriate speed. Conversely, you put all your trust in them – assuming they won’t suddenly slam on their brakes and cause you a whole bunch of damage, all of which is entirely your fault. Also, to all of those who don’t wave when I have slowed down to let you in: you stink more than a bag full of assholes and I there is a special place in hell for you.

4. Social media superstars.
In order of dickheadedness.

Selfies. Especially if your mouth is a little bit open.

Statuses that begin with “To the guy on the bus/girl in the gym/my aching hand” or “that awkward moment when”.

Engagement announcements that reference Beyonce’s Single Ladies (Put a Ring on It), contain some sort of poorly cobbled together collage or a use a variation of the sentence “she said yes!!!” Just ONCE I would love to see an engagement announcement that alludes to the Japanese horror film The Ring or references Johnny Cash’s Burning Ring of Fire. Alternately, I'd be intrigued to see a “she said no” announcement.

Those of you who will happily write terrible things on the wall of a company you feel has wronged you but would NEVER actually say anything remotely similar in person. All I can imagine when you do this is Ali G giving the police the finger from behind the car door. You truly are a badass mofo.

Posts which alternate between dizzying highs and horrifying lows. In an age when everything on our social media profiles is so carefully vetted that who we are on Facebook and Instagram has become basically an avatar instead of a reflection of reality, I’ve noticed a disturbing amount of people who can’t decide whether their life is aaaaamazing and enviable or if they are a complete victim. Is your life shit? Is it not? Pick one, stick to it and don’t post both a status about how you want to die and have already purchased the garden hose and started your car’s engine in the tightly shut up garage and then instagram an image of the delicious chocolate pie you had during your mid-week day off.

3. Latecomers.
Back in the day I would meet my friends at the water clock in Hornsby. You would ring them on the house phone and arrange a time. And by gum, you would be there at that time, because you had no alternative. There was no iMessage with which to bail last minute, there wasn’t even a mobile phone number to ring and verbally inform you of your friend’s impending lateness. You couldn’t insty or snapchat or keek them to warn of your impending lateness, you were just THERE ON TIME - a foreign concept to many of you. I still have this delightful little penis badge that my girlfriends made me wear at my hen’s night, from now on if you are late to meet me I am going to make you wear it for the duration of our time together as a signifier that you, my friend, are a dickhead.

2. People with problems.
Actually, people with problem. The funnest friends ever are those who have the same problem every day of the year. It can be a boy. Or a job. Or you are sad at the declining usage of fax machines. But if you go on about it every time I see you, I will not want to see you any more. Same goes for people who label themselves survivors when all you have “survived” is an upper-middle class upbringing and someone dumping you once. Poor you L Top honours in this category goes to a friend of mine who called me on Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, Boxing Day and New Years’ Eve last year so I could talk her down off the ledge about the same thing for an hour or so each day. She recently chided me for not having checked up on how her life was lately. She also laughingly told me she’d never read my blog. Hehehe. It is funny when my friend doesn’t care what happens in my life but needs me to be intensely invested in hers. Hehehe.

1. Jennifer Lawrence
JLaw is a cunt.

There you have it, the top five Vas Deferns Faces of the year. And I look forward to the annoying, inane and selfish shit you will all undoubtedly do in 2014.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Scents and Sensibilities

I often think about how naïve and young I was when I left home. I would go for days without eating anything other than mushroom cup-a-soups (which I kept on my bedside table with a kettle beside my bed to make without having to get up). I can’t think of a single time I washed my sheets, only having had a dryer and no washing machine. And I’m pretty sure that once I left macaroni cheese in the sink for about three months.


There is one incident however, that I think truly illustrates how NOT ready I was to have moved out of home. My street smarts were obviously lacking, which became alarmingly apparent one mid-summer’s afternoon.

I lived with a friend of mine – a boy – who was the same age, although he had lived overseas and out of home for a long time, so was much worldlier than I was. One day, I was brushing my teeth when I noticed this smooth, shiny crystal lying on the bathroom sink. I spat out my toothpaste and picked up the short, stubby stone. It was heavy and cool but I couldn’t figure out what it was, so I lifted it to my face and smelt it. It had no odour; still I was perplexed as to what it was. Having run through all the senses I had at my disposal; it smelt of nothing, looked and felt like nothing in particular and sure as hell didn’t SOUND like anything, I figured the only logical course of action was to lick it. Seven years later, I still consider this one of the least sensible decisions I’ve ever made – It was tingly on my tongue and slightly acrid.


Cue my roommate coming in and asking me what I was doing licking his crystal deodorant. (This is actually a thing, in case you don’t believe me see proof here)


Apparently that’s a thing. I’ve kept my tongue to myself ever since. Practically licking your friend’s armpit will have that effect on you.

Monday, August 19, 2013

Water Park? More Like Slaughter Park.

Do you know what’s a really cool place? Vietnam. Vietnam is hilarious and delicious and wonderful. While there I saw a woman pooing in a river, I also saw a man fall off his fast moving motorbike as he tried to eat a cob of corn. Oh, and best of all - water puppets. Water puppets are pretty much the best, worst things you’ll ever see. They are screeching and nightmarish and comical and wet (check them out here, they are AMAZING). But one thing that I suggest you never, ever, EVER do in Vietnam is go to a waterpark. Namely, Vin Pearl water park in Nha Trang.

This water park was definitely not constructed in line with any sort of OH&S standards. After a very long, very high, ride over the ocean, in a gondola run on only a nine-volt battery (mmm… safe) I arrive in a creepily deserted fun park.

“How strange,” I thought, “this place is so awesome. Why is no one else here?” And like any good Stephen King novel (not Rose Madder, because that is a terrible Stephen King novel) I would find out soon enough.

The first water slide I came across was about fifty metres tall, supported by only one pole. Standing beneath it, you could see it sway violently as the rider was rocketed through its length. Probably due to having lived in such a safe country my whole life, I assumed that surely these waterslides were safe – the government would shut them down otherwise… wouldn’t they?! So I mounted the giant metal staircase and scaled the heights of the brightly coloured tube. Once at the top, I stopped to catch breath, and noticed that it was only upon my arrival at the summit that the operator turned the water on to lubricate the slide. The attendant quickly ushered me into the entrance and shoved me on my way.

It immediately became apparent how poorly built this structure was – I could feel the joins between each piece of tubing (I would soon discover that these joins were actually cutting me) once inside, the swaying of the poorly supported tube was no longer whimsical, but terrifying, and when I reached the bottom – of a fifty metre descent, having worked up some serious speed – I was dropped into a body of water, no larger than a three foot deep bath tub. How I wasn’t paralyzed, I really don’t know. I pulled myself out of the tub – slightly disoriented but alive – and wandered off only a little shaken and bloody.

For the rest of the day I stuck to the safer rides. You know, the chip stand, the gift shop, that one where you lie in a tube and float down a stream… And I should have continued to listen to the little voice of reason inside my head that told me how lucky I was to have escaped (relatively) unharmed from my first brush with those vicious waterslides. But of course I didn’t, and I was punished in probably the worst way I have ever been punished for anything before or since my trip to Vietnam.

Right by the exit to the waterpark were some pretty pedestrian looking slides. They were similar to slides at the Easter show – not too high, open to the air and with a pretty shallow gradient.

“One more before I go....” I thought. I didn’t realize it would be the last water slide I would ever go on. Because after the experience which ensued, I have a certified phobia of waterslides.

So again, I climbed to the top, sat down and launched myself down the slope. Now, upon initial inspection I didn’t realize that this slide was missing one thing crucial to all waterslides. While speed and velocity are directly proportionate to the amount of joy of a waterslide provides, the rate of deceleration is equally as important for, you know, not dying. Unfortunately for me this waterslide, while fun and zippy, did not provide enough room to slow down before you went straight into a solid wall. As I rapidly approached said wall, it became apparent that perhaps I was about to shatter my legs. Just as I opened my mouth to scream I discovered that a safe guard had been built into the waterslide to stop such an occurrence– in the form of two supercharged water jets spraying back towards the rider to slow them down rapidly.  

And this is how I came to be raped by a waterslide. It turns out that the mechanism which worked very effectively to stop me injuring myself, doubled as a very effective enema. So I found myself running as fast as my legs would carry me, to the bathroom. I didn’t make it. You don’t know shame until you poo yourself, in swimmers, in the middle of a water park. I declared defeat and went home, with a little bit more empathy for the water puppets. Perhaps I had judged them too harshly. Now it seems, I knew why they screamed so much while they were being whooshed around in the water – and they were certainly not screams of joy.

Friday, July 12, 2013

Put Your Toes On The Web Like You Just Don't Care

You know when you’re trying to decide what to do as a career, and everyone gives you that stupidly inane advice of “do something you love and you’ll never work a day in your life”? I always hated that, mostly because what I love is sitting around doing nothing at all. Actually, I don’t even like sitting, I honestly prefer lying horizontally on my couch - with my head on a pillow, the rest of me covered in my pitiful Kmart tiger print blanket - and watching Real Housewives of Whoever. That’s the thing that I was made to do. So when I was given that advice at the end of my degree to be honest, I scoffed at it. 

I still look back at that awkward time - when you are expected to burst from the cocoon of university, a brilliant successful career butterfly, and shudder. I think about the near misses I had with jobs I really thought I wanted and I shudder a hell of a lot more. The week that I completed my last university exam (the History of Genocide FYI - a subject in which I heard the best ever comment made by a student in a lecture “I think you’ll find genocide isn’t always a bad thing...” yes. Actually it is ALWAYS a bad thing) I was given a scholarship to a fresh produce convention. I know, right. Woohoo!

As a thoroughly average student, I only got this scholarship because no one else applied, and with a degree in plant science and history I genuinely couldn’t think of what else I could do as a career. Suffice to say, after a few days of lectures on avocados in the pacific rim, I was about ready to put my head in the oven. The only job opportunity I heard of was something to do with making mini vegetables down in Tasmania. Ick. After I went home I had to write a paper on the conference. I wrote mine on the usefulness of social media in the produce industry. I didn’t get very good feedback, despite this hilarious mock up page I made about capsicums ( - check out the videos I made, they are HILARIOUS).

“Great.” I thought “even a crappy industry I don’t want to be a part of doesn’t like me”.

I continued my search for jobs. I applied for about thirty in the end, was totally overqualified for every single one of them, and literally heard NOTHING back. Finally I had a bite from a grain company (huzzah!), who took me through to the final round of their graduate application process. But I guess I just didn’t have what it takes to work with grain, was rejected, and returned to my horizontal position on the couch.

One afternoon, it hit me - why not work in television? I know more about TV than anyone in the world, it is my passion, my calling, my boo. When Bill Hayder and Seth Myers left SNL I literally screamy-cried until snot was all over my face, Nick had to put me in the shower to calm me down. When I was five, I used to chart time in Play School length increments (eg. 2 hours - 4 Play Schools). I can tell you the number of every foxtel channel off the top of my head and I have watched more hours of TVSN that I would care to admit. It made perfect sense. And so I updated my linkedin profile with the details of this very blog, and started my search for jobs in the media industry. For the first time I applied for a job that I was under-qualified for (data analyst) and I had a response in literally an hour from the best TV station in Australia.The thing that I didn’t think to do however, before I added my very personal, embarrassing blog to a professional job application, was to read the last published blog through the eyes of a prospective employer. Yes, I am not very thorough. And so this was the email that I received:

“Hi Marion, Please send me a photo of your toe hair and a reason I should have you in for an interview”.

This was a reference to my most recent blog post at the time, which detailed all of my physical imperfections and how hilarious they are; including my thighs that clap time while I dance and my hairy, hobbit toes. Of course I immediately responded with a toe-shot and was granted an interview. Since this happened, pretty much everyone I have told this story to has cringed and responded “That’s sooooooooo creepy”, but really I knew it actually meant that I had incredibly, luckily, happened across someone who shared my sense of humour.

I went in for the interview entirely sure I had the job, I practically strutted in there “hey guys, it’s me – Maz”. Of course, in true Maz style, I DIDN’T get the job due to my aforementioned lack of qualifications and was told so at the end of my interview… Luckily though, they found me so delightful that two weeks later they offered me a much more suitable job in marketing and the rest, as they say, is history.

You know in Step Brothers when Doback tells Will Ferrell that after he got his doctorate he always intended on going back to being a T-Rex, but never got around to it and it always weighed on him? (If you don’t then we cannot be friends any more, go here so we can recommence our friendship). This was exactly how I felt when I finally ended up where I was meant to be. Moral: Never stop being a fucking dinosaur. And always send people foot photos when they request them - you never know where you could end up.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

The Things Nick Says To Me: Part 3

On his disgust at kids wasting their money on frivolous things.

Nick: I saved my money for ages until I could afford the things I wanted. Like my framed picture of Yakini. The print was $200 and I spent $300 framing it. That's a lot of money for a 16 year old.

Note: Yakini was a photograph of a monkey.

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Don't Drink and Drive. But Also, Don't Get High and Dye.

I love making new friends. It’s great to expand your network, hear some new points of view, but MOSTLY because then I can tell them all my old stories and they will laugh at them like they are new. So I made a new friend recently, let’s call her J for sake of ease. Cue all my worn out anecdotes and pre-used puns. And then I remembered an extra reason why I like new friends - their hilarious anecdotes. So J arrived in Sydney (after living on the Gold Coast for her whole life) and immediately met up with some friends-of-friends to experience Sydney’s world-renowned nightlife (lol jokes). 

Not long into the outing one of her new friends enquired “Do you want to get a cab? I’ll need $40 if you do.” 

“Of course!” J responded. 
“How else would we get to the city?" She pondered. "And how expensive are taxis here?!”

Little did J know, what she’d actually been asked was “Do you want to get some caps?”

Caps, mum, (and everyone else who is as naive as little J), are a drug. I think they are like ecstasy. But I don’t know because I haven’t done them... No one has ever offered them to me - just another sad reminder that I’m getting older.

Upon arrival at the club J hopped out of the cab (undoubtedly, ironically, alongside friends who thought she was a tight ass for not putting money in to pay for the transportation) and once inside at the bar was handed the drugs she had agreed to buy. She feigned excitement, poured them into her drink and promptly visited the bathroom to flush them away. I know - what a waste of good money (and good drugs)!

Anyway, this all got me thinking about the time I was given some drugs by a friend. But was apparently not as savvy as J because I ingested them and consequently had a very weird day at university.

Rewind six years and you would find a very different version of Maz. I was 19, plagued by the requisite boy and family dramas that come with being teenager in their second year at uni. I would trudge into class every morning, sullen and dressed in oversized clothes. I felt this way I looked smaller and more vulnerable, therefore people would pity me more. What an attention seeker. Apparently I was successful though, because a good friend recognised I was going through a bit of a rough patch and brought me a gift. One juicy, plump brownie in a plastic takeaway container. 

He placed it on my desk and winked at me. Retrospectively, it was pretty damn obvious what was in it (marijuana, mum). At the time I apparently didn’t realise and promptly consumed it in its entirety. Five minutes later my friend swiveled in his chair and gasped 

“You didn’t eat that whole thing, did you?” 

“Um... yeah?” I replied.

Half an hour later, I was off my nut. I sat in my chair, knowing I had to go to the bathroom but completely unsure whether or not I was supposed to ask permission. Keep in mind that I was sitting in a lecture. That was completely full. I sat there debating whether or not to raise my hand and ask permission to pee. After about fifteen minutes I figured out that I was allowed to take myself off to the bathroom without approval (thank god), and left. 
A very long confused wander around the halls of university later, I decided it would probably be best to go home. I managed to locate my car and drove at about 30kms/hr back to Hornsby, where I parked at the shopping centre. But my adventure didn’t end there sober reader. How I wish it had.

For some reason I felt that a total makeover was in order. I purchased a new dress, after a very garbled conversation with a bewildered shop assistant, and decided that the next logical step would be to go to the hairdresser and get them to colour my hair. I opted for a very blonde blonde and settled in in the chair. Two hours later I was sober and had the most hideously brassy hair money could buy. I went home out of pocket $200, but having learnt an invaluable lesson - all my life I’d thought it was don’t take candy from strangers, turns out you’re not supposed to take candy from friends. No candy from friends. Got it.

Friday, May 10, 2013

Red Meat Is Good For Brain Development?

I’ll never forget it, the exact heart-racing, sigh-inducing, moment that I fell in love. I had butterflies. My senses were heightened. My eyes became misty… 

I’m not talking about when I met Mr. Maz – his first words to me were “I like your pants” and, to be honest, I thought he was a total creep. So my first words to him were “Um, my dad’s waiting for me outside.” No, Nick is not the topic of this anecdote, I’m talking about the first time I ate Nem Chua. It was a summer’s eve and we were at a friend’s house for dinner. Her Vietnamese heritage always means a phenomenal feed and the night I was introduced to these little slices of heaven was no different.

Nem Chua is this amazing Vietnamese meat dish, which is basically minced pork (or any meat for that matter) mixed with shredded pork skin, topped with sliced garlic and chili. You don’t cook it, but rather it is preserved and sort of ferments after you knead through a preservative powder (which i’m sure is full of MSG and other horrible things, but it’s delicious so I don’t care). Anyway, I was enamored with this savoury snack and would hang out for any occasion when my friend would deem it appropriate to whip it up.

Unfortunately for me, I am not very good at the whole “moderation” thing. A little quirk I have is that if I like the taste of something I only want to eat THAT. I don’t love sandwiches because I just want the filling, not the bread, so I have been known to purchase roast beef from the deli and eat it out of the bag.  I may have, on occasion, eaten sour cream out of the container with a spoon (and a sprinkling of salt). Once I ingested an entire jar of tomato paste WITH A STRAW. So it stands to reason that I would eventually try and make Nem Chua myself. So I could eat not one or two slices, but basically a whole packet of pork mince in one sitting. 

A few failed trips to Vietnamese grocery stores later and with a subsequent, generous endowment from my friend of a packet of pork skin and a sachet of chemically MSG goodness, I was ready to go. I lit some candles. I put on some mood music. And I kneaded the shit out of that pork. As I was emptying the packet of Nem Chua powder into the pork however, the little anti-desiccant sachet fell in along with the contents. I hurriedly grabbed it and threw it into the bin “disaster averted” I thought, “I wonder if any suckers actually think that sachet is part of the seasoning?” I chuckled to myself. Because I am so wise and, obviously, a multi-cultural kitchen whiz. And before you could say “mono sodium glutamate” I had completed the dish. I placed it in the fridge, hoping the next twenty four hours would fly by.

Twenty four hours later, I was standing at my refrigerator scratching my head. The pork didn’t look like it should. I was a dull grey, not a vibrant pink. It was leaking some sort of bloody, jellied fluid. I put it back and waited another two weeks, after all, it was packed full of preservatives - what harm could it do?! Fourteen days later the Nem Chua still looked a little strange, but strangeness had never before been a barrier to me eating something, so I tucked in and ate half of it in one fell swoop. 

I’m sure you can see where this story is going but you know I have to tell you the ending anyway. It was after I had eaten nearly 300 grams of pork that I asked my friend what it was I had done incorrectly so that my pork was not pink and bouncy, but dull and lifeless. And of course, it turned out that the sachet which I had pegged as an anti-desiccant was, in fact, the preservative powder - the active ingredient which allowed mere mortals to eat raw meat without getting ill. The rest was just seasoning. So I had gone against my better judgement and eaten half a packet of raw, out of date pork. Of course. Because shit like that only happens to Maz.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

People Who Wear Crocs Are Not Your Friends

Last week’s story about living with boys got me thinking about my one experience living alone, and how vastly different it was to the whimsy and delight of living with a bunch of hoodlums. During a particularly rocky time in my relationship I decided it was best that I move out of our home and live alone. Images of Carrie Bradshaw’s Upper East Side bachelorette pad danced through my mind. How incorrect these fantasies were…
I found a one bedroom apartment in Stanmore that was a mere $200 a week rent. It was actually very sweet, with a kitchen that overlooked the street and a bright, high-ceilinged bedroom. I even had a wacky neighbour who asked (and subsequently didn’t take) my opinion on her outfits. Once she spent twenty minutes gushing to me about these new Crocs high heels she’d bought, I didn’t even know that was a thing, and they were hideous. The only problem with my apartment was that the bathroom was separate. I didn’t have to share with anyone (thank god!) but the bathroom was out the door, down two flights of stairs, a short walk along a hallway and out in the backyard. Mmm… convenient.  There were four bathrooms in a row, one for each apartment in the block, consisting of a toilet and a shower. I set about furnishing mine, installing a pretty blue shower curtain and stocking up with a lifetime supply of toilet paper – because I was a classy, independent woman and no truly classy, independent woman should ever be forced to do a Mariah Carey and “Shake it Off” after a trip to the bathroom.
As time passed I found the most difficult part of living alone was the late night trips to the bathroom. They say people are most scared of public speaking, personally my two biggest fears are ghosts and monsters, so that pitch black trip down all the stairs and out into the dark backyard was a killer. I tried not drinking water for hours before bed, I tried holding it and waiting until it was light – but it was all in vain, I would eventually have to get up and run downstairs in my pyjamas. The way I saw it I had two options – I could move or I could be inventive. I am bone idle and DID NOT want to have to move again, so I bought a little step stool from Ikea and I peed in my sink. It was a blessing really. It meant that I always kept my dishes clean and put away, so my house was always neat and tidy.
After I had solved this little dilemma I started noticing other strange bathroom happenings. It seemed that my aforementioned “lifetime supply” of toilet paper was being used up at an alarming rate. No sooner would I buy a sixteen pack of sorbent, than it would be gone. Other things started to go astray too. My deodorant, my razor one day. I began to wonder if it was some strange retribution from the building, unhappy about my unsavoury nocturnal sink habits, perhaps it had started to eat my possessions as penance. The Case of the Missing Bathroom Items came to a climax one day when I trekked down to the bathroom for my morning shower to find my shower curtain was gone. I don’t think I’ve ever been so confused in my life. The fact that I’d been living alone didn’t help either, I hadn’t mentioned my little bathroom mystery to anyone, simply because there was no one around to talk to. I was beginning to wonder if these things were actually happening or if I’d gone mad and was just moving my own shit and not noticing. I exited the bathroom, the floor soaking wet, the clean dry clothes I’d brought down to change into still clean but not so dry.
And that’s when I noticed my neighbour’s bathroom door, ever so slightly ajar. I nudged it as I walked past and lo and behold it was a veritable Aladdin’s Cave of MY stuff. She had been sneaking into my bathroom and stealing my furnishings.  The crazy bitch had been shaving with my razor and soaping herself up with my bar of soap (while wearing her crocs heels no doubt). So I high-tailed it out of there before I was caught and made into a loofa; because let’s be honest, someone who will steal your shower curtain and then barely try to hide it would probably have no qualms about killing you and washing themselves with your skin.
I never said anything and moved pretty soon after. I didn’t take anything from my bathroom, but left it all there as a parting gift, as well as an unworn pair of high heel shoes in her size.  I received a note from the estate agent, along with my bond, complimenting me on how neat and tidy the apartment and bathroom were. I guess it gave a whole new meaning to the expression “getting cleaned out”.

Sunday, April 14, 2013

The Things Nick Says To Me: Part 2

On taking his Christmas present "The Hits of 89" on record away on holidays.

Nick: we didn't have a record player so I would just take it to bed and look at it.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Home Is Where The Broccoli Art Is

A little while ago I ventured into Bed, Bath and Table to buy three mugs for some friends who were moving out of home for the first time. I don’t know why I decided a mug would be the most appropriate present, I can only count on one hand the amount of times I made a cup of tea of coffee for myself in my first apartment, but one of the girls is Swedish so I guess I assumed they’re different in regard to hot beverages. It’s cold over there. I think. Anyway, it got me thinking about when I moved out of home for the first time.

At 19 I decided I wanted to be independent. Despite the fact that I only worked two days a week and studied full time, I couldn’t wait to get away from the place where food was free and someone hugged me and washed my clothes. It seemed like such an awesome idea at the time. So a friend and I found a place in Hornsby and some idiot of an estate agent approved the lease. “We’re onto a winner!” we thought. During my time in this place I did the following things:

·         Locked myself out of the apartment on at least four separate occasions and had to sleep on the stairs

·         Ran out of money practically every week

·         Spent very little time in the apartment I was spending so much money on

·         Don’t read this one if you’re my mum. Would occasionally shoplift food if I was entirely out of money. It’s ok though. I only took BBQ chickens from the supermarket AFTER they had been marked down to $6 at the end of the day. I would wear a really big hoody and just put the chook under my jumper and walk out. I would smell and be oily, but it was totally worth it.

Basically, living out of home was not as fun as it had seemed. But the point I am trying (and failing) to get to is this: the one thing about living out of home that I didn’t anticipate to be quite as amazing as it was, was boy housemates. My one original boy housemate was part of a tribe of three boys who were omnipresent in flat number 6. Eventually all four of us moved into an actual house in West Pymble and sometimes on sad days I look back on the shit they did there and I laugh until I cry.

Here is my Top 5 List of Hilarious Things My Boy Housemates Did:

1.       In our first apartment there was a minuscule, rectangular hallway between the two bedroom doors, bathroom and living room. When all these doors were shut it became a miniature room about one by one and a half metres. The boys put a black light in overhead and covered the walls in fluro posters. They would then tie pillows to themselves and spin around frantically smashing into the walls in an attempt to become disoriented.

2.       One day I heard an explosion downstairs. Not a “bang”, but a “boom”. I sprinted downstairs to the back room, to find that the boys were pissing themselves with laughter. I enquired as to what the noise had been and was told the back door had slammed shut in the wind. I returned to my room. Not even a minute later another BOOM ensued. I returned and the boys were practically rolling on the floor in fits of giggles. It turns out that they had made an orange cannon. This is a length of PVC pipe, with one covered end, into which you force an orange. Deodorant is sprayed into the end of the pipe and when lit, acts as a propellant and launches the orange at (surely) hundreds of kilometres an hour from the end of the cannon. The boys had been cannoning oranges at the sandstone wall in the backyard, not three meters away. The yard was covered in fragmented oranges and the citrus smell was overpowering. As a girl, I can’t comprehend why this was fun, but their mirth was entertainment enough for me.

3.       With four people in the house it was hard to find some alone time. There was however, one morning a week when I knew everyone was at work or university. I made the most of these mornings, wandering around naked and singing. As you do. One morning, while halfway through a particularly stirring rendition of “Stars” from Les Mis, I wandered into the kitchen to find some strange girl in there. She was a guest of one of the boys who I had never even been introduced to (let alone informed that she would be left unattended in my house), I mumbled hello and beat a hasty retreat, furious that she had ruined my crescendo (partly mad that she had seen me naked before she knew my name, but it was mostly about the crescendo).

4.       The boys OFTEN came home with rubbish. I don’t know where it came from, but I’m pretty sure that they found things beside the road and just brought them home. Like small children bringing home stray animals. The entire time I lived in that house there was a framed picture of broccoli on the wall near the kitchen, we also had a plastic drink dispenser in the shape of Bob Hawke’s head and once the boys brought home a rusty metal drum, painted four letter words all around the outside and tried to light a fire in it. As though they were hobos.

5.       All three boys lived on one side of the house with doors linking each of their rooms, while two of the rooms shared a balcony; which was well and truly their Man Zone. They attached a length of pipe to the exterior wall of the house that ran from their rooms at the back, directly into the recycling bin at the front so they didn’t have to carry beer bottles through the house. It also made for lots of whooshing and crashing (which I think was secretly their favourite part). They also cleared a patch of space in front of their balcony and amassed a large collection of gnomes, I think some of the gnomes even spoke when you got near them – at least I hope to god they did, because I heard some weird noises coming from that gnomey little haven.

One day the owner decided to sell. So the boys refused to clean their rooms or leave the house to make inspections extra awkward, bless them. But as the adage goes “all good things come to an end” and the house sold. When I moved out, Nick helped me pack my couch into the moving truck and on the back of it I found a little leaf tailed gecko. I tried to move him and, I swear to god, he opened his mouth and screamed at me “EEEEEEEEEEEEEeeeee EEEEEEEEEEEEEeeeeee”.

“I agree little gecko” I thought “I don’t want to leave either”.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Listen More. Mumble Less.

I often mishear people. Mostly, this is not my fault. It is the fault of people who mumble. But through some annoying quirk of society, somehow the onus is on ME to understand these people who don’t know how to enunciate. When I don’t hear what someone says I will generally respond with “I beg your pardon?” When they repeat themselves and again, and again I haven’t been able to understand them I will ask “sorry, could you tell me once more?” and if, on the third attempt, I don’t hear them I give up and chuckle and nod. Sometimes I repeat key words I did understand and chuckle and nod. For twenty four years of my life this was a pretty harmless solution to this fairly common problem. Until a little while ago when this solution stopped working and just made me look like a bitch.

I was delivering coffee to a lady up the road from where I worked. I arrived, coffee in hand, and made some small talk – you know, the weekend bla bla bla, the weather bla bla bla, business bla bla bla bla. And then it all went to shit.

“My back hurts mumble mumble” she told me.

“That’s no good!” I replied. “What did you do to it?”

“I was mumble mumble lifting mumble mumble weighs one hundred kilos” she said.

“I beg your pardon?” came my response.

“I mumble mumble doing so much work mumble mumble lifting mumble one hundred mumble kilos!” she lamented (I assumed).

Forever the people pleaser that I am, I tried to sympathise with her. Despite the fact I wasn’t entirely sure what I was sympathising with – but I figured she’d hurt her back lifting something heavy.

“One hundred kilos?!” I exclaimed “That is heavy. No wonder your poor back is sore. Wow! Isn’t one hundred kilos, like, a ton?”

She gave me an odd look and I smiled broadly and sincerely, wished her a nice afternoon and left.

You know how you only think of fantastic comebacks after you’ve finished an argument with someone? Or when someone asks you the name of that character from Family Ties and you can’t think of it until a few hours later when you’re not with them anymore? And sometimes after you leave a conversation you realise retrospectively what someone was saying to you, when earlier you had misheard them. Well, this was one of those times. So of course, it was only after I had walked back to work that I realised what this lady had told me.  In my mind the “mumbles” left her sentences and it became very apparent that she’d just told me that it was difficult to lift things because she had put on weight and weighed one hundred kilos. She had hurt her back because it is harder lifting things when you WEIGH one hundred kilos.

So in real life our conversation had gone something like:

Her: “I weigh one hundred kilos”

Me: “Wow! That’s so heavy! Isn’t that like a ton? Geez your back must be sore!”

Moral of the story? Start. Using. Correct. Pronunciation. And. Diction. In. Your. Sentences. Or I will be accidentally cruel to you.

Saturday, March 23, 2013

The Things Nick Says To Me: Part 1

On me telling him that when I was a misguided youth, my tag was "EXPLOSIVE".

Nick: My tag would be "DILIGENT". Or "RARELY LATE".

Bruce Almighty

Disclaimer: This is not meant to be funny. It's just about how much I love Bruce Springsteen.
The great thing about marriage is that you always have someone to go everywhere with you. When you say “we are going to see Hanson” for example, your spouse is legally obliged to respond “sure Pumpkin, here is my credit card.” So when my husband gleefully told me Bruce Springsteen was coming to Australia, I put on my married face and booked the tickets. I will freely admit that I was not a Bruce fan at this point in time. But BOY OH BOY am I one now. I read in an article “10 Reasons I Hate Bruce Springsteen” that any Bruce fan to whom you mention that you are not particularly fond of The Boss will respond that you can’t make this call unless you’ve seen him live. I have to whole-heartedly agree.

Last Monday night saw me arriving at the Allphones arena in Sydney and taking my B reserve seat. Hotdog and mid-strength beer in hand, I was fully prepared for the boredom which inevitably comes with seeing someone perform you don’t really care for. Shockingly, however, from the first strains of “American Land” I was enamoured. I literally had to hold back tears as the lights came up on Bruce and the E-Street band; it was just so damn stirring. I could feel the bass deep in my sternum, the brass section filling my ears and Bruce’s rugged, handsome face broadcasting a heart-warming smile to the stadium. Ah, Bruce. I now truly believe in the notion of love at first sight. His flavour-savour immediately made me regret all the times I had mocked Nick for his own stylish facial hair decisions, the deep crow’s feet etched into his face only giving more credence to the heart-wrenching, comical and stirring lyrics he sings. By the time he was crowd surfing the audience, he owned my Hungry Heart.

Looking around the stadium I could see that the feeling was well and truly not limited to my one little self. The audience, which was conspicuously sans-hipster and amazingly, missing the usual plethora of mobile phones – held high above the head recording the moment to be savoured at a later date – all appeared to be as smitten as I was. Even with the tiniest tilt of his head or wave of his hand, the crowd was under his control. And how could you not be? Bruce is like a god. The giant screens which hung high above the audience focused on Bruce’s face, making it all too easy to imagine I was sitting in a stadium somewhere in Middle America in 1983, not 2013. Either by design or just by some quirk of the lighting, the shadows which fell across The Boss’s face took years off him; the imperfection of his nose, the thickness of his hair and the glimmer of his eyes revealed him to be someone in their mid-thirties, not someone almost twice that. So I felt myself fall straight down the rabbit hole landing in a deep infatuation with a man who is forty years my senior. He moves around the stage staggering slightly, almost as if the legend that is “The Boss” weighs heavily upon him. Each time he lithely breaks into a dance or swings from his mic stand, he delivers on this legend, more beautifully and delicately than I could have imagined. I am occasionally distracted by what I think is the audience voicing their dissent – and then I realise they are simple saying “Bruce”. It must be difficult being a rock star with a name that is incredibly similar to the word “boo”.  

The kicker, though, is this. His inner beauty far surpasses his tight jeans-and-waistcoated-sexiness. Throughout his performance he constantly singles people out; giving a smile, a nod, a wave or a point, undoubtedly touching thousands of individual lives as he moves about the stadium. It is amazing to witness one individual having such reach, spreading unbridled joy throughout a stadium which holds 21,000 people. “Dancing in the Dark” became my new favourite song as he pulled an audience member onto the stage and held her tenderly in his arms; I have never been so overcome with jealousy. Every single woman in the audience swooned, those who didn’t were either lesbians or asexual.

Even writing this, I am still in some sort of shell-shocked state. Bruce turned a few of my fundamental beliefs on their head over the two nights we went to watch him. Upon returning home I knew we had to go back, “this can’t be the last I’ve seen of him” I thought “we had a connection!” So we purchased tickets for his final Sydney show and hopped back on the train to bask in the glory of his Friday performance. We were not disappointed. While he failed to play Born in the USA on Monday (a fact which I had lamented all week) he delivered right at the end of his epic final performance. Now, I usually loathe the type of Americana which makes those born in the States feel compelled to constantly remind us of this fact. However, this song is in a whole other dimension to even Simon and Garfunkel’s “America” or Lenny Kravitz’s “American Woman”. Springsteen’s rendition of this iconic song encompasses some sort of stirring magic usually reserved for only the best national anthems. There’s something in the way he delivered this song, like it wasn’t his, like it was all of ours. And to be fair, it kind of is. A shared history of war; a camaraderie we forged in the jungles of Vietnam and the difficult and unrewarding return home shell-shocked and broken, ties the Australian people to this histrionic hymn almost as much as it does the Americans. Every intake of breath and soul-shaking note sung conveyed this to us and bonded us more closely, uniting every audience member. The fact that he so rarely plays this, the best known of his hits, only solidified the impression that we are as special and important to him as he is to us.

As his three hour performance drew to a close, I felt like my favourite character in a novel was dying. “Don’t go!” I silently screamed. In that moment I felt I would never be the same again, how could this man who I have so recently come to love be walking out of my life, just like that? The house lights came on and I urged Nick not to leave immediately. Maybe we could see him one last time? I desperately wanted just one more glimpse. And while these sorts of hopes are dashed more often than not, again the almighty Bruce refused to disappoint. He emerged from beneath the stage and stalked towards us, handing out picks and signing autographs along the way. One fan even dropped the pick he was thrown and Bruce made a point of picking it up and returning it to him, ahhh, what a hero. He stopped right in front of us, a look of glee gracing his strapping features as he spied a young boy immediately to my right. A brief word to the security guard and he returned with a harmonica for the lucky young’un. The goodness that is at his core continues to give me goose bumps. “See you later” I called as he strolled down the hallway that lead backstage and out of my life. And I pray to God that I do, because until I am in his presence again I really will feel like something is missing. That essence of Bruce. That Springsteen magic. Those very specific tingles which can only be evoked by THE BOSS.