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Monday, 31 May 2010

THE REALITY OF FAIRY TALES

Perhaps Cinderella had it right all along. To secure your handsome prince, you need - in this order - one mean step mother, two ugly step sisters, a fabulous pair of shoes and a party invite. Stage an intervention, dance like Ginger Rogers, flirt outrageously with the queen's son and pretend to lose a shoe.

Oh, and have an affinity for pumpkins.The curious part in all this is that Cinderella knew nary a thing about her prince. Would he relegate her to the role of football wife each weekend? Would he always open the door for her, or did he only do it that one time to impress her? Did he fart in bed and clip his toenails when watching tv? Would he have a teeny tiny willy with absolutely no idea how to use it?

Yet, there she was, blithely happy to marry him; happy to clamber up behind him on his white steed and ride off into the stereotypical sunset. Interesting how happy endings always seem to occur at twilight. Unlike ones I'm more accustomed to which seem more likely to occur at 2am when the bar is calling last drinks.

We know they lived happily ever after. It says so in the book. It doesn't say that they had to go live with his mother while they saved for a home. Or that they ended up with three kids under four and were too exhausted at the end of the day to say hello to each other, much less share a kiss and a pony ride.

So perhaps we should stop berating Cinderella for not being pro-feminism; for not dating more; for not getting herself a decent education, taking out a mortgage and developing a network of friends.

She went to a party. She had a few drinks and met a bloke. He looked all right. He had a bit of money and a nice house. He clearly understood the close relationship women have with their shoes as he was so keen to make sure she got her missing one back.

So why doesn't the Cinderella theory work for me? Am I really just searching for a good looking bloke to cart me off on his horse or equivalent? What if I didn't like the suburb his castle was in? What if I preferred he go out to work each day to give me some peace instead of sitting in his counting house counting out his money and getting under my feet?

You see, he could be a prince, but if he's shorter than me, he doesn't get looked up, much less a look in. He could be a millionaire, but if he's got a million issues from his first marriage that he hasn't addressed, all the money in the world won't make me stay. He could be the heir to Microsoft Systems but if his systems in bed are either micro or soft, he won't be doing any point and click with me.

How much of myself am I prepared to abandon to secure a relationship? And does that amount rise with each passing year? Is the set of goal posts that I once firmly concreted into the ground now being excavated so I can move them?

Or should I go to more parties with a pumpkin under my arm and the strap loose on my sandals?

Snow White didn't have it so bad either. Living in a house with seven gays would mean that you could talk at length about your "issues" and your "feelings" to an attentive audience. There would always be home-made pesto and a decent wedge of brie in the fridge. You could drink chardonnay all the time and not have to pretend it was a sav blanc.

The toilet seat would be down, the dishes washed up and you would never need to worry about your house-mates trying to cop a quick feel.

And then, just when you think you've done your dash and there's no hope whatsoever left, some spunk of a bloke pops along, wakes you up with a dirty big pash in front of all your friends and there it is.

If I lived with seven adorable gays, I'd never want to leave. One of my very best friends is gay and I never want him to leave. We holiday together, shop together, cook together. He very patiently listens to me rave on for extended periods of time. Once I did it while we flew all the way to Singapore. He just kept ordering more red whilst simultaneously nodding and saying "yes sweetie, of course you're right". It's fabulous.

Oh, and I'd never go near an apple again.

So does that mean relationships aren't all they're cracked up to be? When the theory is deconstructed, is it really trying to tell us to find more peace, contentment, happiness within ourselves first?

Once upon a time, a guy asked a girl "Will you marry me?" The girl said "no thank you."

Instead, the girl went shopping, dancing, had a great job, drank expensive wine, always had a clean house, cooked only when she felt like it, made her own decisions, never argued, read many books, didn't get fat, travelled the world, took many lovers, didn't save money, and had all the hot water to herself.

She went to the theatre, talked for hours with her girlfriends, laughed often, never watched sports, always looked fabulous and didn't own any of that scratchy lace underwear that gets stuck up your arse.

And she lived happily ever after.

The end.

Saturday, 29 May 2010

THE SECRETS TO STAYING YOUNG

The secret to staying young is to live honestly, eat slowly, sleep sufficiently, work industriously, worship faithfully, and lie constantly about your age.




Don't eat health foods, you need all the preservatives you can get.

Don't worry about avoiding temptation. The older you get, the more it avoids you.

And remember, age is strictly a case of mind over matter. If you don't mind, then it won't matter.

Thursday, 27 May 2010

X AND Y

This one time, my fella was getting ready play touch. He hadn't played touch in goodness knows how many months. But it was a bloke thing, the guys were keen, there was beer at the end of it and, well, you know the rest.

He went to the back of his garage, got his sports bag and brought it back into the house. He unzipped it, looked perplexed at its contents, then stuck his nose right down into it for a smell.

"Eeeewwwwwwwwwwww!" was his resounding reaction. You see, it still contained the remnants of his last touch football game and, judging by his reaction, these remnants had evolved and taken on a life force of their own.

"Hey sweetie," he calls, "come over here and have a smell of this."

"You are disgusting," I said, not bothering to hit the pause button on Episode 4, Season 2 of Sex and the City. "And take that stinky bag out of the kitchen."

Undeterred, he ventured further into the house where the boys were waiting for him. "Hey fellas, you gotta have a smell of this!"

And I kid you not, one by one they all stuck their noses in the offending bag, all with similar reactions. And oh how they bonded over it.

Now, I won't even take my shoes off in the presence of anyone except my dog. But that's because I once found him getting cosy with a rat that had met a gruesome end in the corner of my yard. That dog is up for anything.

A visit to the lavatory is executed with military precision to ensure no observers. I am almost tempted to run a census of my immediate neighbourhood to gauge awareness levels and the number of open windows.

I shower at the gym to make my homecoming that little bit sweeter. I shy from morning kisses in case too many vinos from last night shine through.

That's the difference between women and men. He'll mow the lawn and come in all sweaty and filthy and think he's a contender for the next Lynx commercial. I haven't washed my hair since yesterday morning and don't like him smelling it when he cuddles me. "Ooh, get away from me, I stink."

To be fair, not all men are the same. I mean, they have different faces so the women can tell them apart. They don't see it as a beer gut; they see it as a fuel tank for a love machine.

This fellow has framed every rugby league jersey he's ever worn. In his defence he was a premier league player in his youth but for God's sake, he's in his mid-40s now! He once wanted me to move in with him but he made it clear that not one of those suckers were coming down from the walls to make way for my tastefully framed Renoir prints and hand-drawn charcoal sketches of the Trevi Fountain.

Just as I couldn't get him to relocate his New York Yankees yard glass or collection of poker chips from that time he played a hand in Las Vegas.

Needless to say I'm still living at my place.

Probably because when we were having these early co-habitating discussions, I went through his house and addressed his furniture like an airhostess does at the end each flight. Bye-bye. Bye-bye ...

The penis should never have its own name. Even less its own personality. This isn't Princess Diana and her marriage to Charlie. There aren't three people in this relationship thereby making it a bit crowded.

Maybe Ms Bobbitt lopped it off because she grew fractious about constant referrals to "Big John" or "Donald Pump". And if that was indeed the case, she has my instantaneous sympathy.

When I was growing up, my dad agonised each morning over what tie he should wear with his suit. He'd seek counsel from my mother and she'd reply with a flippant "the one in your left hand" whilst never averting her eyes from frying eggs and buttering toast.

I used to think that she was heartless, even mean. Until I got married. And realised that my husband was doing the same thing to me and I too was caught in the neck-wear decision vortex.

What would men be without women?

Scarce.

What would women be without men?

Fat.

Tuesday, 25 May 2010

THIS IS DEFINITELY WHAT WOMEN THINK

This is an ACTUAL letter a woman in Texas, USA sent to Proctor and Gamble regarding its feminine products. She really gets rolling after the first paragraph.

Dear Mr Thatcher:

I have been a loyal user of your "Always" maxi-pads for over 20 years, and I appreciate many of their features. Why, without the Leak-Guard Core or Dri-Weave absorbency, I'd probably never go horseback riding or salsa dancing, and I'd certainly steer clear of running up and down the beach in tight, white shorts.

But my favorite feature has to be your revolutionary Flex-Wings. Kudos on being the only company smart enough to realize how crucial it is that maxi-pads be aerodynamic. I can't tell you how safe and secure I feel each month knowing there's a little F-16 in my pants.

Have you ever had a menstrual period, Mr Thatcher? Ever suffered from "the curse"? I'm guessing you haven't. Well, my time of the month is starting right now As I type, I can already feel hormonal forces violently surging through my body. Just a few minutes from now, my body will adjust and I'll be transformed into what my husband likes to call "an inbred hillbilly with knife skills." Isn't the human body amazing?

As Brand Manager in the Feminine-Hygiene Division, you've no doubt seen quite a bit of research on what exactly happens during your customers' monthly visits from "Aunt Flo." Therefore, you must know about the bloating, puffiness, and cramping we endure, and about our intense mood swings, crying jags, and out-of-control behavior.

You surely realize it's a tough time for most women. In fact, only last week, my friend Jennifer fought the violent urge to shove her boyfriend's testicles into a George Foreman Grill just because he told her he thought Grey's Anatomy was written by drunken chimps. Crazy!

The point is, sir, you of all people must realize that America is just crawling with homicidal maniacs in Capri pants...which brings me to the reason for my letter.

Last month, while in the throes of cramping so painful I wanted to reach inside my body and yank out my uterus, I opened an Always maxi-pad, and there, printed on the adhesive backing, were these words, "Have a Happy Period."

Are you fu**ing kidding me? What I mean is, does any part of your tiny middle-manager brain really think happiness - actual smiling, laughing happiness is possible during a menstrual period? Did anything mentioned above sound the least bit pleasurable? Well...did it, James?

FYI, unless you're some kind of sick S&M freak girl, there will never be anything "happy" about a day in which you have to jack yourself up on Motrin and Kahlua and lock yourself in your house just so you don't march down to the local Walgreen's armed with a hunting rifle and a sketchy plan to end your life in a blaze of glory.

For the love of God, pull your head out, man! If you just have to slap a moronic message on a maxi-pad, wouldn't it make more sense to say something that's actually pertinent, like "Put Down the Hammer" or "Vehicular Manslaughter is Wrong," or are you just picking on us?

Sir, please inform your Accounting Department that, effective immediately, there will be an $8 drop in monthly profits, for I have chosen to take my maxi-pad business elsewhere. And though I will certainly miss your Flex-Wings, I will not for one minute miss your brand of condescending bull sh*t. And that's a promise I will keep. Always.

Best,

Wendi Aarons
Austin, TX

Sunday, 23 May 2010

WAX ON, WAX OFF

It's like any form of female body hair is reviled these days. Viewed with immense disdain. A slight screwing up of the nose and an almost imperceptible shudder. Similar reaction to when I see, say, a dead cockroach on my kitchen floor or that Paris Hilton music video. Or when Lover Bloke asks me to get him another beer from the fridge.

Eeewwwwwwww.

Women have been shaving the hair off their legs for an eternity. Well, actually I don't know whether it is in fact an eternity, there's certainly no reference to it in the Bible, but let's just generalise and say quite a while.

I know there are some women who espouse more liberal views and enjoy a more hirsute look. And that's about choice. One woman's Matthew McConaughey is another woman's Kevin Rudd. Etc.

We shave it off from under our arms. How else can we be expected to grace the beaches, bars and boulevards of south east Queensland in our fabulous Escada singlets and Lorna Jane gear with under arm fuzz. Unthinkable.

The face is an entire stand-alone episode. A postcode if you will. Correct eyebrow shape and definition is a facial must. Ignoring your eyebrows is like ignoring a 75% off all stock sale at Tiffany's-it's something that you just don't do.

Women will shell out $50 without hesitation to get the perfect eyebrow shape. Eyebrow salons now account for over half of this country's GDP. Sydney eyebrow doyen Sharon-Lee Hamilton is worshipped globally. Even my adored Princess Mary popped into her parlour for a reshape last time she was in the harbour city.

A hairless top lip is also essential. No woman needs to resemble a walrus, even if it is that time of the month. I was holidaying at Coolangatta earlier this year and popped out for a top lip wax, as you do. The beautician was telling me that every three months she actually waxes the entire bottom half of her face. Now that's commitment.

And so it has come to pass that the area our mothers told us to stay away from, the one we later found out is reserved for bedroom romps and birthing babies, is under scrutiny.

Let's not beat around the bush. If you're not sporting a Brazilian you're no sport at all. And so somehow I ended up in a salon with my knickers on the floor, my legs in the air and my modesty out the window.

My good friend Hot Wax, which to date had spent its time amusing my face had found a new playground. My playground. Mei, this tiny Chinese woman unapologetically splashed the wax around my mound, then had the temerity to not only rip it off, but to show me the offending strip. There's a few things in my life I'm not interested in seeing and that's one of them.

Let me tell you about the rip. It goes like this. Turn up the music and let it rrrriiippppppppppp. Apparently it is customary for the waxer to throw your legs over their shoulder or ask you to moon them so they can get the strays. Without even asking me out for a drink first.

The pain was like nothing I have experienced. Well apart from that time I broke my foot and was in plaster for eight weeks. I told everyone that it was dark, the stairs were slippery and the strap on my sandal was a bit loose. The truth is I was pissed off my nut and forgot that walking down stairs involves the careful placement of one foot in front of the other. A simple mistake that anybody could make.

Or the first time I went to a sushi restaurant and thought the wasabi was avocado. And I really love avocado.

The worst part was knowing that the searing pain wasn't going to happen just once, or, at the worst, twice. The whole rrrriiiiipppppppping process was going to continue, over and over and over, until the dear thing was bald.

I felt comfortable in letting loose with a few expletives because Mei, bless her, didn't appreciate compound English words. I'm not sure if f*** is a universally interpreted word or whether each dialect has its own derivative, but I didn't care. I let them rip. Or should I say rrrriiiiipppppppp.

Friday, 21 May 2010

THESE ARE A FEW OF MY FAVOURITE THINGS

Book: “e” by Matt Beaumont, a novel which consists entirely of emails sent by the staff of one advertising office in London. Read it twice a year. Still laugh.



Cheese: Fromage D'affinois, a French double-cream soft cheese made from cow's milk. This has more fat than Roseanne. It would be more slimming if you ate Santa for breakfast with a side of Miss Piggy. Who cares. Eat away!

Wine: Astrolabe Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc (white) Taylor’s Promised Land Cabernet Merlot (red). Now these are not expensive continental wines. They are readily accessible at your local Dan's or BWS. Which is why I love them. I get to drink good wine, and I can have three for the price of one. Sounds fair to me.

Suburb: New Farm, Brisbane, Queensland. Enough said.

Shoes: Urban Soul. Perhaps not my ultimately favourite shoe designer, but there are a few styles at the top that cause me to pivot on my stiletto heel. Don't mind a bit of Nine West, or a good Sachi. It's the heel that counts.

Nails: Scratchers Nail Studio, Queen Street Mall, Brisbane. Owner Jo May started doing my nails when she was a young thing working in Myer Beauty Salon circa 1994. She now has this juggernaut beauty business that does nails, toes, facials, waxing and spray tans, to name a few things. No she hasn't seen me nude. But one of her staff has. Let's not go there.

Person: Jade Elizabeth McClain (thank goodness I only had the one child, no room for competition here)

Musician: John Peter Farnham, forgive me, but it has been a 25 year love affair. Look, I know he's not everyone's cup of Bex and a good lie down - you think I don't read tabloids? But he's a fun Aussie bloke, good for a laugh, and sings ok as well. John, you have my vote honey.

Colour: Pink (like Barbie). No more words needed.

Restaurant: Pane e Vino, Albert Street, Brisbane (real Italian, made by Mamma)Found this foodie gemstone circa 1996 and have never left. My colleagues refer to it as my regional office. Owners Tony and Gino are on a first-name basis. Maybe because they're good St Laurance's boys, or they prepare the most exquisite Italian food in Brisbane, or that they are heartbreakingly good looking... If you need a place to sit, chill and eat without being hassled, get yourself there.

Thursday, 20 May 2010

WHEN BREAST IS NOT ALWAYS BEST

In a woman's life there are a few word couplings guaranteed to strike fear into her heart and mind; that cause her to rethink priorities and spend several long hours consumed with disbelief, fear, regret and anger. Let me try a few on for size for you.

Credit card ("surely I didn't spend so much?!") Root canal ("It's really going to hurt, isn't it") Hang over ("why did I drink all that champagne?") It's over ("I can't believe that creep broke up with me when I did so much for him!")

Or this one. Breast cancer.

Cancer is not particular about how it selects its victims. There's no protocol sheet or democratic voting system. It doesn't base its assessment on looks, age, wealth or how well you did in your Year 12 English exam. It pops on a blindfold, spins itself around and whoever it next touches it shrieks "you're it" and that's it. You’re it.

A few years ago, I had this persistent ache under my left arm, near the side of my breast. Not so bad that I needed analgesics, but bad enough that it caused concern. Of course I ignored it. Of course I said nary a word to anyone. And of course I worried and allowed my over active imagination to run riot.

I performed breast examinations almost hourly and each time drew the same conclusion - what exactly is a breast supposed to feel like? I mean, I've never felt another woman's breast, only my own, so I've nothing to compare it to. I had no idea how my breasts were meant to feel on a good day let alone a bad one.

Dear God, please forward breast manual at your earliest convenience.

I asked a few males what breasts feel like and felt like an idiot when they replied "they feel great". Doh.

It was nothing more than my fervent wish to avoid leaving my daughter motherless that led me to my doctor. She informed me that the pain under my arm was no more than muscular.

Then she went on to say that she was more concerned, however, about a small lump that was no where near the offending ache, and that it should be "checked out".

Hello Wesley Breast Clinic. Attire - unflattering wrap-around gown which conveniently comes in four sizes; large, larger, huge and tent. As much tea as you can drink and more magazines than bad outfits at the Oscars.

A mammogram is not an inspirational experience. Why not just lie down on the freeway and let cars drive over my breasts. Surely that would be more comfortable. I would not have thought it was physically possible to squash a breast to the thickness of a slice of bread. How wrong I can be.

It wasn't so much this constant squashing, and getting my boobs handled by a stranger and flopping them on to cold x-ray trays. It was more the insensitive design element of the machine. There's literally nowhere to put the rest of your body while your breast is being contorted. This machine puts your boob in a vice-like grip and it's up to you to put your body in some form of a holding pattern while the x-ray is taken. My face was jammed up against hard perspex casing, my arms were draped on sharp corners of the machine, I'm naked from the waist up and the door to the room is open.

Hello, I'm in hell.

Did a man design this? Who's designing the machine that checks testicles for cancer? I want to be part of that creative team.

I also had to have a biopsy. "Oh it's a very simple procedure," the medical attendant assured me. I'm still trying to figure out how inserting a six inch needle directly into my breast is simple, but clearly that's how it's viewed. And I got to pay for the privilege. They even accepted Visa.

Fortunately the upshot was a cancer-free result. Just some sort of fatty tissue mass sort of thing. Whatever that is. All I knew was that there was no cancer.

The thing is, fabulous women like Kylie Minogue and Olivia NJ can fall prey to the lecherous destroying tentacles of cancer. So what are the odds for average women like you and me who day to day go about doing our jobs, raising our kids, loving our men and paying back our credit cards?

Statistics say one in eight women will get breast cancer. If you have seven girlfriends who are cancer-free, go to the doctor now.

Tuesday, 18 May 2010

GYM JAMS

It is well documented that for every mile that you jog, you add one minute to your life. This enables you, at age 85, to spend an additional five months in a nursing home at $5,000 per month.

That’s ok by me. I don't jog, it makes the ice jump right out of my glass. In fact, I don’t exercise much at all. Exercise wouldn’t be a problem for me if I had a different body to do it with. And if God meant us to touch our toes, he would have put them further up our body. If it wasn’t for car parks, I don’t think I’d walk at all.

Books on exercise sell by the thousands. And there's a reason for this. It's a lot easier to read than it is to exercise.

But I know I need to exercise. So I got together with some girlfriends to lament my platitudes over a restorative plate of gnocchi boscaiola (extra cream in the sauce thanks), garlic bread (double serve, do you mind?), house red (actually we'll just get a bottle, much easier), and lattes (do you do them in a mug?)

Jane started. "I've got to exercise. I rang up yesterday to hire a treadmill. Great idea, doncha think? I was going to put it right in front of the television. That way I can watch The Biggest Loser and exercise! The one I saw advertised even had a drink holder. I don't think it was for a wine glass, I think it was for a bottle of water, but you can't be too sure. I'll get them to confirm that.

"Anyway, get this, I rang them up, and they don't have any left. None. No exercise bikes either. No cross trainers, whatever the hell that is, a float for the Mardi Gras in Sydney perhaps? I could get a fitball but I'd have to inflate it myself," she said as she drew back on her cigarette.

Collective panic set in around the table. Clearly we weren't the only ones desperately seeking absolution for our orange-peel thighs. The questions started. Did she ring other hire places? Were they out of stock too? What about going on a waiting list? How much are they to buy? Have you checked eBay?

"What if we join a gym?" I ventured, adding yet more Parmesan to my meal whilst deliberating whether I'd have caramel or butterscotch sauce on my sticky date pudding. "You know, ask for a corporate membership, government levy discount, personal trainers, stuff like that? Thanks doll, I'd love some more red."

Sounded fab, except for one problem - commitment. I can't commit to a dinner service pattern. Or a long distance mobile phone carrier. Or a man. How am I supposed to commit to a gym?

Gyms across Australia make their annual budget from women like me. They join a gym, sign up for a year and elect the premium membership package.

Then they forget to go. Forget that the key factor is actually visiting the establishment and moving about in some form on the equipment. These people are known as gym-donors. The bread and full-fat butter of the gym industry. They hand over money without setting foot in the place. They keep the wheels turning but never get on the bike.

"I know, we'll just go walking. It's free, it's available 24/7, and we can go for as long or as short as we want." Sighs could collectively be heard. Easy solution to a complex problem.

Ok," I said, feeling very zealous and motivated. "We'll start tomorrow at lunch time. We'll meet outside my building at 12 and walk around the City Gardens."

"Lunch tomorrow's no good for me," said one of the group. "I'm meeting my mother for coffee."

"And I've got a meeting that will go till 2," said another.

"No worries," I said, steadfastly holding on to a mental picture of me in togs once winter was over. "What about after work?"

I'm meeting someone for drinks."

"I've got to pick up the kids early

And so it goes.

I can't say for sure whether that walking group will ever convene, or if any of us will ever get to that gym, but I can say one thing for sure. Come this time next year, we'll still be talking about it. How do I know? I've already booked the table and asked the restaurant to open a bottle of red.

Sunday, 16 May 2010

Hello everyone, lazy Sunday afternoon over here at New Farm, Brisbane. Looking through some old photos. This is my gorgeous daughter, aged six. She's now 18... x

Saturday, 15 May 2010

IN A PERFECT WORLD...

You’d get another 10 years between 25 and 40, so you had ample time to finish studying, progress your career and have your children, without having to sacrifice anything.

Men would also have the babies, so you could have one each. Deciding who would go first would be the only sticking point.

Periods would last one day; no, I wouldn’t get rid of them totally, as it is a good reference point to know that all the mechanics are working and that you’re not pregnant – but one day is all I need for that information.

Men would never fart.

High heels would never damage your back or hurt your feet.

Clothing sizes would start at size 12 and ridiculously skinny women like Posh would have to make do with babies clothes, or simply wear a band-aid.

There would be no “bad hair days”.

You would get a kind letter from the bank if your account was overdrawn, where they would offer sympathy, blame themselves for letting it happen, and offer counselling to assist you to correct the balance.

There would be no automated voice recordings when ringing banks, internet providers or the pizza delivery joint.

Babies stayed babies for at least three years, and then suddenly morphed into eight year olds.

Every traffic light would be green.

Women would be the world leaders and solve everything over a nice cup of tea whilst complimenting each other on their fabulous shoes.

Friday, 14 May 2010

NATURAL CHILDBIRTH - THE ULTIMATE OXYMORON?

Once upon a time, I used to live next door to this gorgeous young mum. Late 20s, pretty as a picture. With hair that does this amazing flowing billowing thing, very infrequently experienced by my own locks.

This young mum used cloth nappies, grew her own vegetables, never touched alcohol and recycled the bath water. She walked to the corner shop, hung her washing on a clothes line and I never saw a Dominos delivery car in her drive way.

Mind you, if I wasn't joining the daily derby to find my way unarmed and unharmed into the city each week day to masquerade about, I'd grow vegetables. Probably even in the dirt.


(Me, August 1991, about 30 minutes before giving birth, great hair)






This gorgeous mum had just had her third baby. A little girl, called Katherine. Well, it's pronounced Katherine, that's how they introduced me. But I've noticed that it starts with a "Z" and ends with a "C" and there's no "TH" in the midst. Perhaps it's a name from some remote Slovakian village? Or they found it inscribed on the upper reach of a minor pyramid in Egypt? Or maybe Mum and Dad failed Year 10 English?

The baby is gorgeous too. All eight pound two of her (I've no idea what that is in Fahrenheit). And she was delivered naturally. As you would assume a child of such an earth mother would be, I was proudly told by the lovely mum.

But what constitutes natural childbirth?

I know she bravely squeezed her eight pound princess from her half ounce aperture, but she'd had her baby manually turned from the breach position two weeks prior. She'd received pain killers throughout labour and was the recipient of some vaginal cross-stitch post birth thanks to a generous episiotomy. Is this natural?

(Me, one minute after I'd given birth, via c-section)




Natural to me is the stories of the Chinese ladies on the rice fields who work under the beating sun whilst nine months pregnant and then excuse themselves from their work mates in the same manner I would apply if I was racing to the bar to get another double scotch before happy hour finished. Courteous but hurried.

From all accounts they turn their back, squat a bit (miraculously without the aid of Pilates classes) and effortlessly bring a new life into the world. They pop bub on their shoulder and go back to picking rice without so much as a Huggie in sight. Let alone a pastel shaded Babygro. Edged in some fabulous white piping. With matching jacket.

I'm a mum. I did the birth thing. Once. So maybe that doesn't make me the oracle of childbirth. Then again, most opinions on birth that I hear are from childless women in their 30s and elder men. So really, I hold superior qualifications.

My daughter was a caesarean birth and whilst not a planned caesarean, I was certainly not unhappy about it. I guess I worked off the naïve principle that I was pregnant to have a baby, not a birth. I never felt less complete, I never felt that I hadn't honoured my child's world entry, I never felt that I failed. But plenty of other people felt I had. Comments ranged from, "Oh darling, what a disappointment." (This from my then mother-in-law as she stood holding her first grandchild. Clearly her diplomacy ran in the family hence the "then mother-in-law" reference.)

(Me, 3 hours after giving birth, content but looking for a drink)

"Do you feel like a proper woman?" (This from a cousin who had no children and resolutely no short to medium term intentions of having any either.) Well sweetie, I murmured, if they'd let me give birth in a pair of high heels, perhaps I would?

"Do you think you'll still be able to bond with your daughter?" Well, if I gave birth and then moved to the northern end of Greenland for the best part of 10 years, I might have a problem bonding.

To me, these were just dumb, insensitive ramblings. That aside, I couldn't understand why I was being held up for comment. But if I'd had a vaginal birth with major medical intervention, I would be regarded as a modern-day Wonder Woman.

A girlfriend of mine laboured dreadfully for 18 hours and steadfastly ignored the advice of her doctor to have a caesarean delivery. It took 34 hours, epidurals, forceps, episiotomies, the suction cap and enough pain killers to keep Amy Winehouse happy to bring her child into the world.

Yet her birth is still classified as natural...

I've started a new vocabulary for childbirth. You have a vaginal birth or you have a vaginal by-pass. Sometimes I call it the sun-roof option.

To me, it's about mum and bub. She's the one who has been incubating the little blighter since dad got the whole thing started and she can be the one to choose what feels right for her body and her mind.

And if choice goes out the window and she has to follow doctor's orders, that makes her smart for wanting the best for her child.




Thursday, 13 May 2010

REASONS WHY I WILL NEVER BE A SIZE 8

If the recipe says “50g butter”, I put in 250g of butter. Sometimes more. Never less. Never the amount it tells me too. And it is always that yummy full-fat butter that comes in a block, not that watery, oily make-believe stuff they try and palm off as butter. “I can’t believe it’s not butter,” they advertise. “Really?” I think. “I bloody well can.”


It can be 5.10pm, and my spin class starts in five minutes, and I’m standing at the door of the gym, wearing ugly gym clothes, which consist of some shorts I once painted the house in, a sports bra with a broken hook, and a Yankees baseball cap because I managed to buy one in pink, and a friend can walk by and say “Hey Bron, you want to go for a drink?” and next thing the only spinning I’m doing is on my heel, and off to that pub.



There are two types of people in this world: those who order pasta with a tomato-based sauce, and those who order pasta with a cream-based sauce. I’m in category two. Usually I add lots of bacon, olives, mushrooms and a solid helping of cheese. In addition to some garlic bread, several glasses of Pinot Gris and a latte.

Sometimes, I am very energetic and walk home from work. Sometimes, I think I am very energetic and start to walk home from work, and then I realise I’m not energetic at all, and then I get on the next bus.


You think Nigella can pick? Or those Two Fat Ladies? I buy a simple bbq chook for lunch, and as I’m cutting it up, I’m picking at bits of crispy fat chicken skin, and the fleshy bit of the thigh. I’ve eaten so much that I really don’t need any lunch. But I have lunch anyway. It would seem wrong to, especially after I’ve gone to all that trouble to cut up the chicken.



I have an ungrateful stomach, I am sure. No matter what it had yesterday, it wants more today.

Wednesday, 12 May 2010

UNIVERSAL TRUTHS (PART 2)

Bad decisions make good stories

You never know when it will strike, but there comes a moment when you know that you just aren't going to do anything productive for the rest of the day

The only time I look forward to a red light is when I'm trying to finish a text

Can we all just agree to ignore whatever comes after Blue Ray? I don't want to have to restart my collection...again

I hate leaving my house confident and looking good and then not seeing anyone of importance the entire day

I keep some people's phone numbers in my phone just so I know not to answer when they call

Sometimes, I'll watch a movie that I watched when I was younger and suddenly realise I had no idea what the heck was going on when I first saw it

If you are a bit of a foodie, like me, check out my "Cooking with Bron" page for a fabulous French chicken dish!

Tuesday, 11 May 2010

The view from my balcony just as the storm cleared
Brisbane, Australia :: 4.41pm, Tuesday 11 May 2010

View from Gardens Point CityCat terminal
looking towards Mt Coot-tha
Brisbane, Australia :: 5.12pm, Monday 10 May 2010


Monday, 10 May 2010

MAKING A FORMAL APPROACH

My current introspective retro phase would not be complete without sufficient attention being paid to formals. School formals. Grade 12 formals. Or Year 12 as they say in the new currency.

As a mum, I witnessed my daughter Jade’s Year 12 formal. She was an All Hallows girl, so those of you from Brisbane will know exactly what I’m talking about – a school on a large tract of land, smack bang on the river, good elevation, naturally freehold title to the Catholic faith.

Mind you, I was a Lourdes Hill girl – again, a large tract of land, smack bang on the River, good elevation, naturally freehold title to the Catholic faith. I was merely continuing the generation

That Pope of ours is quite asset-wealthy, I figure.

I’ll get onto Jade’s formal eventually, in a separate post. You need to hear about mine first. This story is too good to gloss over.

To start with, I did not have a date. I’d just broken up with a Villanova boy called David (for my out-of-town readers, Villanova being a boys Catholic school built on a hill in Brisbane; David being either something once in Royal City or so the Christmas carol leads us to believe; or my first true love – if anyone reading knows him, please ask him to drop me a Facebook friend request.)
Now, back in 1982, gays weren’t fashionable nor recognised, so I couldn’t use that card. We didn’t have boys as “friends”. We didn’t even consider boys as equals. Your brother was a close as you could get to “a mate”. Or a formal date

So in lieu of taking my brother, I pleaded with a girlfriend to cough up a mate of her boyfriend’s. Pathetic. I know. I was desperate.

His name was Louis and his car of choice to drive me to my formal was an open-topped Suzuki 4WD. Imagine what that did to my carefully coiffured hair. And my self-esteem.

Considering my self-esteem had already taken a battering. And here’s why. With my part-time income from Woolworths, I’d bought this hideous dress which I thought was the epitome of elegance. However, my darling mother and all her 1950s neurotic upbringing alerted me to the fact that only prostitutes wore black underwear. Therefore I was forced to wear a beige bra under this black chiffon creation. You can imagine the result. Or see it for yourself in the pic I’ve included

On top of that, I got it in my head that I would look elegant and sophisticated if I had my hair up. Back then, my hair was long and naturally blonde but I wanted it styled in a manner that made me resemble Princess Anne on a good hair/bad horse day.
I’ve never looked uglier.

The only concession out of this is that I continually win when we have “bring in your ugly childhood photo” day at work. The prize is that I get to eat the last Tim-Tam.


My school issued a set of rules for our formal, a 1982 code of conduct, if you will. One of the rules: “girls are encouraged not to smoke at the formal”. As opposed to the 2010 version: “girls will be instantly expelled if caught within four metres of someone who used to smoke 10 years ago”. Look at this pic – yes, he’s smoking!
There were nuns a-plenty at my school, meaning there were nuns a-plenty at the formal. If you were sitting on a boy’s lap, or having a bit of a canoodle (what a gorgeous word) they would barge right up and melodically say “telephone book, telephone book” which was code for “get off that boy, you are one second away from getting pregnant, I don’t care that he goes to St Laurance’s” (insert Melbourne Grammar, Scots College, Eton etc, whatever your geographical equivalent).

Even back in 1982, we still had “post formals”. My daughter would like to believe that her generation invented this concept. Like they believe they invented sex, getting drunk and lying to your parents. It was with great glee that I told her she was about 25 years in arrears.

My mum and dad, bless them, had prepared chicken, cheese and champagne as our after-formal supper. Again, the height of 80s sophistication – a BBQ chook chopped up, some cubed Coon and a bottle of the frightful Asti Riccadonna.

Except in the 30-minute period they spent standing at the front fence waiting for their young charges to arrive, our dog, a loyal but hungry cattle dog, happily jumped up on the table and devoured the chicken and cheese, bones included. I think he was almost waiting for my Dad to fill his water bowl up with Riccadonna. Not a bad move. Less for me.

And you have to remember, this was the Brisbane days of no pizza delivery, everything worthwhile shut at 8pm, no 7-11 or Night Owl.

Mum, ever the stalwart, found us some pickled onions. We didn’t care. We were already pickled.

Louis and I had a “pleasant” evening. He and his pale grey suit truly wanted to get out of the disaster zone and away from my freakish hair as quickly as possible.

To this day, I still wished I’d got a “disco pash” at my formal. Even if the dog was watching.

Sunday, 9 May 2010

ONE FOR THE MUMS







What my mother taught me


My mother taught me about religion

"You better pray that will come out of the carpet."


My mother taught me about logic

"If you fall off that swing and break both your legs, don't come running to me."


My mother taught me about contortionism

"Look at the dirt on the back of your neck!"


My mother taught me about stamina

"You'll sit there until all your vegetables are eaten."


My mother taught me about the circle of life

"I brought you into this world, and I can take you out."


My mother taught me about anticipation

"Just wait until we get home."


My mother taught me about behaviour modification

"Stop acting like your father!"

Saturday, 8 May 2010

UNIVERSAL TRUTHS (PART 1)

I think part of a best friend's job should be to immediately clear your computer history if you die

I totally take back all those times I didn't want to nap when I was younger

Google Maps really needs to start its directions on #5; I'm pretty sure I know how to get out of my own suburb

Obituaries would be a lot more interesting if they told you how the person died

I'm always slightly terrified when I exit out of Word and it asks me if I want to save any changes to my 10-page document that I swear I did not make any changes to


Thursday, 6 May 2010

THE PAINED VEIL

Last week, it was technically my 24th wedding anniversary. I say technically because I am no longer married. To him or anyone at this point.

I never knew what real happiness was until I got married. And by then it was too late. Granted we had a number of good years. Our attraction to each other was a matter of chemistry, which is why we ended up treating each other like toxic waste.

The definition of my husband? The man who did his best to stand by me through all the troubles I wouldn't have had if I'd stayed single.

Each year on this anniversary, I have this ritual. First, I try on my wedding dress - not to get all wistful about the day; I use it as a barometer to see if I've put any weight on since I was a slip of a girl at 20. I haven’t been able to do the zip up for five years.


I once tried to palm my dress off to Lifeline but even they didn't want it. Because it was from the 80s. Puffed sleeves, seed pearls, kilometres of tule, huge bow at the back, lace lace lace. Enough said.

The second part of this ritual is I watch the video of my wedding day. Yes, video. As I said, it was the 80s.

I settled onto my couch with a fresh cup of tea and hit play.


My first thought is how fabulously thin everybody was back then. Not just me - my parents, my husband, my friends. If only we'd known. Ah, but those who indulge, bulge.

I could see where the problem started as I watched my celluloid self tucking tinto a mammother helping of Bomba Alaska. Remember when that was all the rage? But it was the 80s. I should have asked for for meringue. To match my dress.

I only had two bridesmaids, which fell far short of the de rigueur 80s number which could often climb as high as eleven. One of them is still speaking to me, which is surprising if you consider the nauseating dress with matching covered shoes that I made them wear. At least I didn't make them perm their hair, as I had done to mine.

My husband and I were toasted with champagne, served in those wide, flat little glasses favoured in The Sound of Music and Audrey Hepburn movies. No wonder it was hard to get pissed back then; you can only fit a thimbleful in one of them.

In the height of my 20-year-old sophistication I had insisted to the Beverage Manager, my Dad, that the champagne be Asti Riccadonna. Surprisingly you can still buy it now. Goodness knows why; it is the sickliest, sweetest, aerated concoction. The people who run the Queensland licensing regulations need this product brought to their attention immediately in order to have it removed from bottle shop shelves.


Are you ready for this? While we were cutting our wedding cake, we forced all our guests to listen to Karen Carpenter warbling on about how we've only just begun ... to liiiiiiiiivvvvve. Then some rot about white lace and promises and a kiss for luck.

The bridal waltz heralded Anne Murray, perhaps fresh from the Nashville Country Music Festival, asking if we could have this dance for the rest of our lives. In my defence, it's done in perfect 4-4 time and highly suitable to luddite newly-weds who can't waltz.

I really need to ask Mum to dig out the guest list so I can hand-write apologies to everyone who was there. Or at least the ones who are still living, because I am sure there are some who went out the back and killed themselves when they heard the music and tasted the champagne.

Anyway, the day ended and eventually so too did the marriage. He asked me one day if love was the answer and I asked him if he could rephrase the question.


I fully appreciate why people elope, and why that Little White Chapel in Las Vegas does so well. Nobody is filming what goes on inside.


Tuesday, 4 May 2010

WHY THE PEN IS MIGHTIER THAN THE IPAD

Everyone knows how to use a pen. Even your grandmother


Most people can pay for a pen with cash

It is common to own more than one pen

You don’t get fired if you steal a pen from work

It’s not a big deal if someone borrows your pen and doesn't bring it straight back

And if someone borrows your pen and loses it, it’s usually not a big deal either

Your pen can be active or switched on for longer than 10 hours

Your pen will still work, even if you have left it alone for one month

If, by chance, your pen does run out, you can buy a new one, for as little as $1.00

You don’t need to wait for your new pen to charge up before you can use it


The pen automatically knows you’re from Australia so it won’t omit the “U” from words like “humour” and “colour”

You don’t need to secure or password-lock your pen when you leave it on your desk or in your car

A pen doesn’t make a harsh beeping noise when you spell a word incorrectly

You don’t need to pack a special adapter for your pen when you travel overseas

It is not often that you have to put up with people boasting about having a pen

People don’t usually bore you by showing off their pen to you

You are allowed to operate a pen while the aeroplane is taking off and landing

A pen doesn’t need to be put into flight mode


When you pen runs out, you usually throw it away

If you look, you’ll probably find a pen in your glove box or under your couch

A pen comes with its own apps, ie. 4-colour combos, cap or click, fine or medium point

Monday, 3 May 2010

GROWTH FACTOR

The other day, my daughter rings me. “Oh mum, I’ve had a really big day, can we meet up for a drink tonight?”

Not at McDonald’s for a primary school post-mix Fanta. Not even at Starbucks for a teenage-favourite fat-free frappuccino. Venue of choice was Groove Train, drink of choice was Sauvignon Blanc. Made by Australia’s extended family across the way in New Zealand.

That’s because she’s 19. She’s not a child anymore.

It seemed that one day I’m heating her bottle of milk in the microwave, and the next I’m chilling her bottle of wine in the fridge.


(I think we'd just been to a wedding - not mine;

not hers either, too young)


One day she’s asking me questions that the Einstein would struggle to answer. The next she’s telling me “I just don’t understand anything”.


As a teenger plotting my life, becoming a mother wasn’t high on my list of things to do. I mean it wasn’t so low that it ranked alongside becoming a nun or working for Kevin Rudd. But it wasn’t so high as it ranked alongside writing a best-seller and becoming Princess Diana’s confidante.


It was something I just never gave much thought to. And you would have thought I would, considering I was a bride at the age of 20.


Yet somehow, from somewhere, this gorgeous little girl appeared in my life. I didn’t know I had it in me. Pardon the pun.


Babies are such a nice way to start people. “Is it a boy or a girl?” people would ask. “Of course it’s a boy or a girl,” I’d reply. “What else would it be?”


(That's me under the hat, that's her on my lap)




Over the years, she and I became very au fait; comfortable, supportive, companionable. I rarely had to chuck a hissy fit at her; rarely had to lecture, reprimand, punish or God forbid, ground.


It is interesting that I never went back for round two. Perhaps I’d heard too many stories of how you sterilise the dummy for the first child, try to include it in the washing up with the second, and ask the dog to fetch it for the third. Not sure. Although a mother of four once said to me “never have more children than you have car windows”.


Maybe because I was a single mother for most of her childhood, the result of a hideous little thing called divorce.


What I do know, however, is that I literally blinked, and 19 years had skidded by and suddenly my little girl was wearing heels, registering to vote, going to university, driving a car and booking her own dental appointments. And moving out of home.


(From a young age, she loved a good beach holiday, and pink caps)


Where did it go? When you’re up to your Brow Bar eyebrows in making lunches, driving to school, folding uniforms and installing Net Nanny, you forget to live in the minute. Then suddenly it’s the next minute, time’s up, and it is all over.

(Dancing to Abba, circa 1996. I taught her well.
Look at those ugly curtains. We were soooo poor then!)


As we were enjoying our drink, I was attacked by a wave of melancholy. I looked at my daughter and said, “did we do alright darling?”


“Mum,” she says, with that look of wisdom that only 19 year olds have when they are looking upon their worn out mothers like she’s got one foot in the dementia ward. “Yes we did ok, you were a great mum.”


Then she said this:


“Do you remember in winter, you had to drag me out of bed to go to school, and while I was in the shower, you’d put my uniform over the heater so it was warm for me to put on? I will always remember that.”


Abraham Lincoln said, “y
ou have to do your own growing no matter how tall your grandfather was.” And my daughter is doing her own growing, charting her own course, setting her own targets.


And I’ve just bought her a heater so her clothes can still be warm when winter comes.



Saturday, 1 May 2010

ANTI-WAIST MATTER (retro blog!)

To get this gig started, how about we spend a few days going back in time. Retro being all the rage these days, and what have you. If we’re revisiting old comic strips to make new movies, if we’re idolising celebrity folks who are long dead, well, I figure we can encore a few "What Women Think" columns from a bygone era, just to set the tone. So to speak.

Here’s an oldie, but a goodie! It was from 2006. It was very appropriate then. I haven't bought jeans for over a year, keep promising to when I lose 10kg etc etc etc.

Sometimes, when I'm watching re-runs of Kath & Kim, I get a bit nervous. Not because I'll start referring to my lounge room as "the good room". Not because of the sight of Kim's offensive g-string or the atrocious way she speaks to Brett.


It's Kath's high waisted jeans that scare the pants off me. They are seriously one of the ugliest fashion fallouts I've ever seen. Along with Peter Pan collars, bubble skirts and Whitney Houston.


I fear that high waists will again become a prime target on the fashion radar. That head Vogue-ette Anna Wintour will come back a bit pissed one day from lunch at The Plaza and think, "You know what would be funny? To send out an email to my mates Oscar, Cristóbal, Ralph, Caroline etc saying it's time to pull their designer pants up."


The fashion world follows La Wintour's advice the way the Pope follows Jesus. Religiously. Before we can say "where the bloody hell are you", Australian shops will boast piles of jeans, all with 25 centimetre long zips. I'm convinced style mavens will also insist we tuck in our tops.


Our shapely bums will be lost on a vast canvas of denim and our tummies, post partum or otherwise, will do that bulging thing making it look like we're masking a water feature or Roseanne Barr.

(Sorry Mischa, they don't do it for me.)




I'm the sort of girl who will sit in coffee shops and nudge my girlfriends while surreptitiously casting my eyes in the direction of a passing unfortunate who clearly hasn't been into Just Jeans since the mid 80s. She'll be wearing jeans that threaten to snuggle in under her armpits and that rudely stop just above her ankle. Teamed with high heels. Ouch.


We collectively mutter "can you b-e-l-i-e-v-e it?!" and sneak a look at the length of our own hems just to make sure there was no pot calling the hem length black hypocrisy.


(Sorry Jessica, that's not doing it for me either.)




Jeans are the cornerstone to most of my ensembles. Have been for years. Born in France and raised in America, denim jeans came of age in Australia when we realised they weren't the sole proprietary of jackaroos and The Fonz.



Wear them with a fitted white t-shirt and Dunlop Volleys, or a lace top and silver pointy toe stilettos. Wear them to work on a Friday with black ankle boots and a fawn coloured Witchery jersey top.


Just never ever wear them if they've got a high waist. I don't care how fabulous your silver pointy toe stilettos are.


I've got my hands on my hips about this one.