Somewhere in rural Victoria, there is a young man who thinks I’m dead and/or unattractive. About an hour after landing in Melbourne, J-man, our friend Meg and I accidentally found ourselves on a steep bush track in a hire car made for driving to church. A 20-ish-year-old dude drove past us in a big ute and gave us an appropriate bewildered look. I looked at him, opened my eyes wide, raised my eyebrows and hoped he understand I meant “Help me. We’re about to die”, not “come hither”. He kept driving.
Happily, our road to certain death looked like this:
After losing traction several times, near-bogging, and a near self-bogging, we made it to our sweet BnB. It had ponies!
Then we went to Hanging Rock to watch The Rubens, one of the bands J-man co-manages, support The Boss. I get so excited seeing J-man’s bands succeed. Look! (Not seen: guitarist Zaac shredding it on stage left).
As we were waiting for The Boss to start, this is what Hanging Rock looked like. I told a funny joke heaps of times: “You know a bunch of schoolgirls went missing here, right?” It really was amazing how polite people were about it.
We saw most of his show the next night too, but the baby appeared to dislike all the vibrations. Get used to rock ‘n’ roll little one because your dad lives it and your mum sometimes comes along for the ride until 10pm.
We spent Monday and Tuesday in Melbourne. It was my first time. I liked it, but I didn’t go bat shit insane like I thought I would. I liked the laneways, the Yarra, the little shops for ladies, the fried green tomato burgers, the homemade crumpets, the duck fat potatoes, the art gallery and the trams.
Also, the breads.
I was just a touch disappointed with my inability to find anything to buy, so I spent today making up for it at op-shops and the outlet centre near my house.
a) A kaftan shirt from Vinnies because pregnant women seem to be relegated to polar fleece and Indian-themed garments.
b) A mug from Salvos to commemorate Queen Elizabeth’s Diamond Jubilee. Liz, you legend!
c) Some tassel earrings to distract from my suddenly outie belly button.
d) A stripey shirt. Ahoyness! I know my mum would tell me that horizontal stripes make you look wider, but I feel like pregnancy and peanut butter pretzels are the real culprits here.
e) A dress with embroidery on the front from Salvos. It was sold as “manchester”, but doonas don’t have shoulder pads, sillies! Also need to nappy san a mystery stain.
We blindly pointed to Norwalk, Connecticut on a map and went there. Our hotel was a run down heap, but at reception old New York dames with Gold Amex cards haggled with the girl at the desk over prices and conditions. A mother who had just taken her little daughter to compete in a beauty pageant was yelling at the receptionist, upset that the hotel didn’t have an indoor pool even though the website said it did (it didn’t).
The main street had a weird mix of things – a burlesque-style tequila bar, a sports bar, a cigar factory, a few homewares shops and a “psychic tea room”. J-man and I decided it would be fun to visit the tea room in the morning. It was closed when we got there so we had breakfast at a cafe, where young wait staff were employed to come to your table and tell you your coffee was ready but not bring it to you.
When we walked into the tea room (no tea in sight) a man was loudly asking for advice about his broken relationship. We tried to distract ourselves by pretending to be interested in crystals and dreamcatchers scatted around the room. A well-thumbed book about living life like Oprah was on display on a table.
J-man asked if he and I could have palm readings, while our friend Brondecided to sit it out. J-man was taken into a velvety tent by a warm and friendly woman. I was so willing to drop my cynicism and play along but the illusion was ruined when I was led to a wonky mosaic-covered table by a young woman who seemed to be a fortune-telling intern. She was obviously nervous and was peering at me like she was trying to see the backs of my eyeballs.
This is what she told me while stroking my sweaty hand:
“You are married. He is your soul mate.”
“You are very spiritual.”
“You will have three children.”
“Someone in your family will get sick, but they won’t die.”
“You have built up walls. You need to let people back into your life.”
[At this moment Bron dropped something hard on the wooden floor.]
“Do you like your job? You should continue with the same career you have now.”
If she could read my mind, this is what she would have heard:
“You are looking at my left hand, the one with my wedding ring on it. And do you mean sole mate? Because yes.”
“No, no I am not.”
“Well, yeah. They have not found a cure for the common cold.”
“They do not deserve to be let back into my fortress of awesome.”
“Thanks dude. That’s pretty sound advice.”
And obviously J-man is going to find some other wife because he was told he would father twins. Ouch.
Arrive. Take the subway from JFK to Brooklyn, put your bags down, slap on some Lady Speedstick and hit the town. Go to Roberta’s for pizza and beer (served in jars!). High on jetlag, don’t speak much to your husband and stare into space.
Day One. Call in that favour with Mayor Bloomberg and have him arrange a welcoming parade for you. Agree to share your glory with the Super Bowl champions.
Day two. Go to Cowgirl in the West Village and commence your three week challenge to become a human corn chip. Salsa optional.
Day three. Go to the Comedy Cellar. I can’t guarantee that Louis CK will show up. Or can I?
Day four. Meet up with some of your best buds and go Alec Baldwin hunting at 30 Rock. Synchronise a dance to Adele’s Someone Like You with your husband as you glide on the ice.
Day five. Ensure your farts really do smell like roses and unicorns by consuming a rose petal donut from Doughnut Plant.
Day six. Go to a sports bar called Professor Thom’s and insist they change the channel to the Grammys. Drink a bunch of Bud Lites and commentate.
Day seven. When the den of iniquity that is New York City starts to become too much, escape somewhere south and cleanse your black soul. Somewhere simple like the Trump Taj Mahal casino hotel in Atlantic City.
Day eight. Defy all understanding of science, physics and astrology by driving your hire car onto a boat. Arrive in Delaware and visit Dogfish Head brewery. Watch husband almost wizz himself when he sees his beer hero. Eat a huge meal at the Dogfish Head brew pub and have cheese induced nightmares. (Below is the boat.)
Day nine. Go to Washington DC. As a consummate traveller, show distain upon your second viewing of the White House and that god awful Lincoln memorial and go for chocolatey cocktails with the interns instead.
Day ten. Continue your pilgrimage deep into the heart of Amish country in Pennsylvania. Check out weird-ass shoes in an antiques shop in Gettysburg.
Day eleven. Take a ride in a buggy with an Amish man named Ben and his horses Soldier and Sarge in Intercourse. A delightful boy from New Jersey will ask Ben “How do horses show love?”, followed closely by “What happens if they break wind?”. An excellent insight into both the mysteries of horses and modern marriage. Reward yourself with those famous Amish delicacies – chocolate covered chips!
Day twelve. Go to Philadelphia’s Museum of Art, which is showing a large collection of Van Gogh works. Ignore culturally significant art and grope a Rocky statue instead.
Day thirteen. Go to Old Greenwich, Connecticut. You guys, this is where the 1% and their French bulldogs live.
Day fourteen. After returning to New York, topple the city and claim the top of 30 Rockefeller Plaza as your throne.
Day fifteen. Further help fund Donald Trump’s important work of, ah, whatever it is he does by going ice skating on his rink in Central Park for a small fee of what feels like $50 and your first born.
Day sixteen. Visit MoMA. Take pictures of artworks because they’re always so interesting to look at later.
Day seventeen. Walk over the Manhattan Bridge and admire inspired street art.
Day eighteen. Go to Tom’s Restaurant in Prospect Heights, Brooklyn, for a Wonder Years-style eating experience. Take photos while a group of NYPD detectives attempt to duck out of frame.
Day nineteen. Mark your final weekend in New York with brunch at Buttermilk Channel, where the food is amazing and the Bellinis are free (free!).
Day twenty. Rediscover your love of Tex Mex potato chips while watching the Oscars at a bar. Order more for you shalt never look like Emma Stone.
Day twenty one. Go to Central Park before your flight and cry into your ridiculous coat.
Hello from Brooklyn! The land of rescue dogs, coffee, donuts, snow (!) and a little jet lag.
Bow sandals If you looked at my internet search history you would find “sandals with bows” “bow sandals” and “bows with sandals attached” among my most searched terms. I just really love bows. And sandals. I bought these from a shop called Dalaga. Tangent: See how my right foot is bruised? That’s cos an amp (an amp!) fell on my foot two days before we flew to New York.
Cat eye sunglasses The last pair of black cat eyes I bought from a newsagent in Erina Fair broke after I put them in a bag and then threw said bag in a car boot. Also bought from Dalaga. I would have modelled these, but I look like I’ve just walked in from a blizzard filled with garbage after a 48 hour catfishing trip.
T(om)hanks You know how you always hear old people saying ‘no one ever writes letters anymore’? Well I always write letters, so shut your mouth Mavis. I think funny or classy cards are the best little gift you can give. And who didn’t love Tom Hanks in Turner and Hooch? I bought these from a bookstore in Greenpoint called ‘Word’. Word!
J-man in heaven I think the only reason J-man was so enthusiastic about NYC was its people to craft beer bar ratio. This is him carefully choosing beers at a place called Brouwerji Lane. It was like watching a kid in a beer flavoured candy store.
I pretty much write the same blog post each year around Christmas time. I’m thinking about getting ‘I (heart) Christmas’ tattooed on my forehead.
But just now I was out on my deck, eating fish in a box and a bowl of salad, looking up at the gum trees and trying to pinpoint exactly what it is I like about the festive season. Sure, there’s the presents and the candy canes and the pancakes and the bacon and the chocolate and the afternoon nap and the seafood and the dinner and the wine and the presents and the tree and the stockings and the cute kids and the bon bons and the spicy nuts and the carols and the classic movies and the excitement of Christmas Eve and the awesome teevee specials and the holidays and the twinkly lights and the cicadas and the jokes and the conversations and the presents.
All of that is amazing.
But I think what I really love about Christmas is giving. I know, gag. Send me to the Oprah show because sisters, I believe in the gift of giving. I just really, really get a kick out of getting people things they really want, or really like or that will remind them of something they used to have or that’s just plain old kick ass. Even if the receiver opens up my gift and gives a weak smile before thanking me – like the year I gave my Dad a framed, signed picture of myself – it’s still satisfying to know I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about someone else.
For real, that’s what I love about it. That for a whole bunch of days and weeks before Christmas, I’m thinking about other people. I’m finally distracted from all my stupid thoughts about myself like, “Oh my God, why is that woman staring at me. I applied my dark eye shadow as blush didn’t I?”, or “I can’t believe I just bid farewell to a bunch of female colleagues by saying ‘bye guys!’, because they’re definitely not guys”, or “Man, I love this song. I wonder what my biceps would look like if I was a drummer”, or “Hmm, that was a weird feeling in my stomach. I wonder if I have a tape worm. Hey, I heard you could lure those out with milk. Just like Santa Claus!” God, it gets boring hanging out with myself.
Anyway here’s some things I’ve been doing in this beautiful month of December:
Ah, the infamous stick tree! Joel and I decided we’re going to keep up the tradition of decorating sticks for the rest of our lives. We figured stick hunting would be seriously cool for any future pugs/kids we have. And here’s a tip: the best sticks are always found near the Hare Krishna building.
Here’s a nice addition to our tree, thanks to Jillberry – the one who passed on the Christmas spirit to me. She who once saw an NRMA truck during a drive to look at houses decked out with lights and squealed: “Ooooh, twinkly lights”.
Here’s our calendar and our advent calendar. We’ve had a few misADVENTures (clever!) this year. Including opening 13 instead of 3. It almost ruined Christmas. Almost.
Here’s my wrapping this year. I’m using newspaper, pretty ribbon and tags made from old Christmas cards. I made sure I used last weekend’s Spectrum rather than the news pages, so the receiver will be reading delightful fashion tips rather than about a circumcision that went terribly wrong in New Zealand.
Gah! I’m so excited. What I also like about the festive season is the whole idea of the new year unfolding in front of you. I’m into broad new years resolutions and for 2010 mine are: try harder and know more.
Now that I’m a member of the beige, frowning army of lemmings known as the employed, I pine for my university days. I think I made the most of them – I drank enough beer to cultivate my own little wobbly gut, I met my beloved man friend, I learnt things, I slept more than I care to say. I also once let off fireworks in a paddock behind my dormitory before painting my face army-style and carrying a giant log around campus just because I could. I remember the sheer relief I felt every Sunday afternoon upon finishing work behind a checkout. Yep, my working “week” was over and there was nothing ahead of me except five days of blue skies, half-burnt Sargent’s Pies and trivia Tuesdays. Dudes, that was the shiz.
A couple of weeks ago, a few friends and I decided to return to the scene of several crimes, but this time do it in style. Without a student budget the possibilities were endless. Bottles of wine! Sirloin steaks! Clean underpants! Warm jackets! Cocktails! Antiques shopping! Buying narcotics from teenage mums!
So here’s a little trip down memory lane:
This is the fringe and eyes of my friend Tegan as she drove out of our driveway and onto the freeway of…freedom. It should be noted that not only is Tegan incredibly stylish and smart but she’s a kick-ass driver. Which is a relief because even I get sick of driving with me and my white knuckles.
One of the first things we wanted to see when we arrived was the street I remembered as being action-packed. Everything that happened happened right here. Clearly I was so focussed on getting to the amazing French patisserie down the end of the road that I didn’t realise I was living in a city abandoned in the year 80BC.
I found this graffiti a little ironic. Because in my experience of ghetto life, those who draw devils on public property are unlikely to be in school themselves. Alanis Morrisette was going to include that insight in her hit song but it didn’t quite fit.
After exploring the town we had our long-awaited Sirloin steaks at a classy restaurant we could only dream about as students. As it turned out the waiter was distracted, my steak was over-cooked and there was nothing on the damned menu served with gold leaf.
Then, much to the joy of those in our company, the J-man and I wanted to revisit the seedy corner of a beer garden where we first kissed. It was exactly like it is in this picture, with him sitting daintily on my lap and me stealing his innocence right out from under him. It later emerged he made out with two other girls on the same fateful eve. Ah well, gotta take ’em for a test drive.
Later we hit the dancefloor at a pub where the DJ clearly had no sense of fun. You do not, I repeat do not, put weird house beats clumsily over a perfectly dance-worthy Pink – sorry P!nk – song. This photo makes me smile because I spent two whole years mesmerised by my friend Bron’s ability to shake her bootay. For real, this girl can dance.
The next day, some of us having taken a puke for old time’s sake, we went up to uni to remember on-campus life with all its perverted dormies, gastro bugs, conjunctivitis and nudie runs. In true student style, tea bags were stuck on the wall next to us, obviously having been thrown in a moment of reckless spontaneity. Two of us had to wee and it was nice going in to the heated bathrooms with the familiar smear of post-adolescent boy poop stuck to the bowl. We did get caught by the residential advisor who, after some convincing, let us stay so we could relieve ourselves.
And, our final stop, the first student house I lived in. There are many tales to tell from the year I spent living here with my sister, her boyfriend my friend Liam. I’ll just give you snippets. Junkie fights across the road. Beer on the deck. Vines growing up the interior walls. Epic CD listening nights. Broken fridge. Halloween movie marathons. Mice plague. Treats from the corner store. Oven with dodgy thermostat. Over-the-top Jesus decorations. Hallway for a bedroom. Village Fair champagne breakfast.
In Orange you rarely have to line up for anything except the dole and methylated spirits. Oh I’m too cynical – mostly it’s for clean syringes and bourbon.
Today I queued for nearly an hour to buy a Christmas present and even though it’s my second Christmas in Sydney, I knew what I was getting myself into by shopping on the last Thursday before Santa breaks into my house and drinks my boutique Japanese beers.
And holy feck, 99.9 per cent of people are whiners. One woman, about 46th in line, finally got to the counter and didn’t take her headphones out while she was served. And she only answered questions with a shake or nod of her head. And didn’t make eye contact when they gave her change and a receipt. Then when her moment of pure First World torture was finally over, she moped out of the shop like someone had just forced her to strip naked and top off the human pyramid in the corner while we all took photos.
Then some other feisty babe who dared to wear her sweaty gym leggings and headband in public demanded a terrified staff member named Connie TRAINEE to find her a particular product. So Connie TRAINEE, carrying boxes and answering inane questions from all angles, slinked off to the back room. This is a beautiful trick as a retail worker. People think there’s a magical back room with endless supplies of Barbie vans, the second season of Friends and that illusive carton of Winnie Blues. Get a clue – there’s nothing out the back except a dartboard with your face on it. So Connie TRAINEE emerged 30 seconds later with the news that no there was nothing out the back and no they were unlikely to get anything in before Christmas. Sweaty pants heard this, rolled her eyes and actually stamped her foot. Stamped. her. Nike. wearing. foot. Sheesh.
I hope the good lord audits the world soon, I really do.
0700 – wake up
0730 – watch teevee
0745 – walk to beach for morning swim
0900 – eat breakfast
0915 – eat chocolate
0930 – go back to beach
1100 – start a game of trivial pursuit
1300 – eat lunch
1400 – go back to beach
1600 – open first beer. drink
1608 – open second beer. drink
1730 – watch west wing
2300 – go to bed
Here are some snaps to illustrate our lazy holiday:
Joel and I looking like we just found out we’re cousins and that I’m pregnant with a baby will gills.
Here is Joel cutting his (delicious) birthday cake. Let me tell you, that day was hell for me. For the days prior all I heard was, “you better make my birthday really special” and then all day on the day I heard, “but its my biiiirrrthday”. This is the last shot of Joel before he cut into the flaming stick of dynamite I embedded in the cake. I buried different parts of his body around the backyard and fed a single finger to a seagull, who I can always trust with my secret.
Here I am doing the washing up in a demure outfit. Ain’t I just the poster girl for Women’s Liberation.
This is Joel upon our return to Sydney. I was pretty much inconsolable this day because our holiday was over and I hate life outside of beachy fun times.
Yet I still managed to look slammin’
There aren’t many photos of the actual beachy fun times because it rained most of the time. If there was photographic evidence of our time spent indoors it would be of me taking afternoon naps, Joel playing ping pong with his friends in the garage, us trying to keep the mud out of the house, Joel rescuing a puppy called Mikey on the beach, us hanging out at Erina Fair testing out Playstation 3, me eating a shitload of cake and us watching way way way too much West Wing. Yes!!
I only wish I had a photo of the policeman who turned up at our small gathering after a call from a concerned neighbour, to find four boys quietly playing ping pong in the garage. That’s what I call a Kodak moment.