Poor Stevie

Archive of ‘memories’ category

50 foot queenie

I read so many crappy columns written by women about why they wanted to watch the royal wedding, despite being feminists in favour of a republic. I read things like “All girls secretly love weddings!” “All girls secretly love romance!” “All girls secretly want to be princesses!”. Well, it turns out I must be a big ol’ man – one of those unfortunate ones born with their junk on the inside – because I don’t secretly love any of that.

Sure, I look at a lot of wedding photos, but that’s only because it’s so satisfying to see what my high school enemies are up to. Quite often their weddings involve XXXX Gold, a cavalcade of Holden Commodores and a child who does not have the same skin colour as its father. I don’t particularly enjoy romance. Look up the phrase “dead inside” in the dictionary and you’ll find a picture of me. Frowning. And I could never be a princess because I think they gave the title Duchess of Potato Bake to Fergie.

So here’s where it gets real. Some people love heroin, others like to binge drink, but my dangerous and unpopular vice is a love of all things royal family. And, as I’m sure Prince Harry would say, if you don’t like it you can suck it.

To change gears here a little, I think my fascination comes from my beloved paternal grandmother, Corelly. I cannot describe how cool my grandparents’ house was to visit as a little kid. There was an orchard to run around in; a silver bowl filled with sugar cubes to suck on while hiding from adults behind a couch; tins of home-cooked treats; honey on toast cut into soliders every morning; a freezer full of choc-coated ice creams; rooms with spacemen and soldier wallpaper; a cupboard full of old, weird books and a vintage telephone; a ride-on lawnmower; a ping pong table; a sheepskin rug to tiptoe on; a dresser full of beads and costume jewellery; a cappuccino maker used to make cups of froth; a giant organ to learn Beatles songs on; a long hallway to run up and down and a scary staircase to lock your siblings/cousins in. When I was old enough to read, I started spending a lot of time flipping through my grandmother’s stash of Woman’s Day, New Idea and Women’s Weekly. Nan totally loved the royal family and it was something I felt I could bond with her over as a primary school girl. Princess Diana died on the day of my confirmation and I remember hearing the news on the radio as I drove home with Dad, feeling strongly for the first time like I was living in a historic day. On the day of her funeral, I was sleeping over at a friends’ house and her mum made us sit and watch while she cried on the couch. Around the same time, Mum and I would spend Sundays watching a dramatic series about Edward VIII and Wallis Simpson as we snacked on salty chick peas. As I got older, my interest in the royal family was also an easy way to learn about different periods of history. My fascination with King George III and his mysterious purple wee informed my knowledge of the Georgian era (and wee!). Edward and dirty old Mrs Simpson helped me get interested in learning about the lead-up to World War II. One of my favourite books is The Royal Book of Lists, which is a collection of trivia about which kings died of syphilis (King Henry VIII and King Edward VI) and which royals were related (all of them).

So it was only natural that I wanted to watch the royal wedding, despite being a bit of a femmo and a republican (as in, the go-away-royal-family kind). There was little to no cooing over the dress, the kiss or the fact that she was becoming a princess. No indeed, I was dressed as King Edward VIII, got totally sloshed on Pimm’s and made a lot of royal dick jokes. And as Prince Charles would say: “Oh God, I’ll just live inside your trousers or something”.

the hangover two

Yeah, so where were we? Oh, yeah. That’s right – me being all lame in Las Vegas.

I can assure you, that lameness continued during our second day in Vegas. Unlike everyone else in that crazy city with their fake boosies, Flinstone houses and sparkly fanny packs, I hate spending money. I’m a cautious person. Just now I scolded J-man for washing the hand-held blender while it was still plugged in and told him to cook the chicken through. You have to be so careful when it comes to electricity and chicken.

So J-man had to convince me to re-marry him before Elvis Christ. Over lunch that day he talked me into a $200 wedding package at Graceland Wedding Chapel, the very same place Jon Bon Jovi Christ married his wife in 1989.

On my real wedding day, I spent the morning painting my nails, doing my hair and sweating. On the morning of my second wedding day, I walked with my love through Red Rock Canyon. It was truly one of the most beautiful national parks we visited. It’s just like the America I imagined – magnificent and slightly eery, with plenty of places to hastily bury bodies to the sound of duelling banjos in the background.

red rock

Later that night, we went back to our seedy motel room and got gussied up. Just after night fell, a stretch limo picked us up and drove us up the strip to the chapel. J-man had never been in a limo before and was pressing all the buttons and marvelling at the television screens tuned to AV and the (empty) in-car bar. Oh J-man, what a novice. I, on the other hand, was once taken to a Justin Timberlake concert in a stretch hummer with a bunch of strangers who plied me with alcohol in the name of building professional relationships (I never heard from them again, like most people who have a) talked to me and b) seen me dance while mouthing the words to Sexy Back).

When we went inside the chapel, Elvis was not in the building. The two blonde receptionists, complete with teased hair, entertained us by showing us photos of Hamish and Andy’s wedding at the very same chapel. We all agreed it was strange that Andy would marry Hamish, when he had steak at home.

They pinned a rose on J-man’s shirt and handed me a bouquet and then a very sweaty Elvis appeared. It was a Tuesday night and it was clear Elvis would have preferred to be at home gently stroking his shag pile carpet. He quickly ushered us into the chapel, gave us a little run down, before walking me down the aisle; something I didn’t let my own dad do in the name of being an Independent Woman (the rock I’m rockin’, I bought it).

I walked down the aisle to Only Fools Rush In, exchanged Elvis-themed vows with J-man (“I promise never to step on your blue suede shoes”) and hammed it up for the cameras:




Photies by Graceland Wedding Chapel.

When I look back at the photos, it’s clear I’m kind of getting over it towards the end and probably, judging from my bloated face, jonesing for some curly fries. But I remember leaving the chapel feeling absolutely euphoric. I was happy that we capped off our American adventure with something completely frivolous and crazy. And dudes, I may make fun of J-man all the time, but I would totally marry him a third time.



2010 has been the best year of my life.

– I married my one true love.

– We bought plane tickets, packed up everything and went overseas.

– We saw Europe, complete with night-train rides, hostel dorm rooms, ancient cities, romance, fights, gastro and exultant happiness.

– We drove across the United States of America. We walked 5th Avenue in New York City, we stood in awe of the Grand Canyon, we got remarried by Elvis in Las Vegas (a story for another time) and tonight we will see in the new year in San Francisco.

– Also, I became a very proud aunty.

I’m sure 2011 is tempted to bring me down a peg or two, but if there’s one thing travel gives you it’s perspective. I realise what a great life I get to lead and I’m determined to be fitter, happier, more productive.

Happy New Year!

i don’t how i’m gonna tell you, i can’t play with you no more

Yesterday, J-man and I casually closed the door on the little yellow apartment that has been our home for the last three years. We talked about how strangely OK we felt about it. Maybe it was because we’d spent the last couple of weeks packing our things, double-checking we hadn’t kindly left behind any pubes for the new tenants and scrubbed melted cheese off unexpected surfaces. Maybe we were just ready to be done with the damn thing. Really, we’d been thinking about leaving for over a year and we knew the break-up was coming. But that doesn’t mean we didn’t love you sunny, little number eight.

Here are some things I will always remember about our first apartment together:

– On one of our first nights, I was still shell-shocked about living in the city and having a job and having a serious relationship. J-man, in his eternally positive and hopeful way, tried to cheer me up by cooking dinner. I can’t remember what the whole meal was, but it included hash browns. As J-man proudly served it up, I took one bite and declared “This tastes like oven cleaner” and burst into tears. Why he ended up proposing, I’ll never understand.

– Our unfriendly neighbours. I have a bit of a penchant for dresses about four sizes too big, which I wear with a belt around my waist. One day soon after we’d moved in, I walked up the stairs as a neighbour and his girlfriend walked down. The boyfriend and I exchanged cheery ‘hellos’ while the girlfriend ignored me. As I unlocked my door, she said loudly: “She looks pregnant in that dress”.

–  Our yellow couch. It was in a perfect, sunny position next to glass doors and was the perfect spot for reading, watching telly and making whoo- nevermind. Unfortunately we didn’t really have room for a dining table so it was also where we ate our dinner. It ended up more of a beige colour with tomato sauce and chocolate splatters as well as mysterious head patches. Gross.

– Crows Nest, Neutral Bay and Cremorne really became our stomping grounds. We’ll never have enough money to live there properly again but it really is a nice part of Sydney. Water views, awesome pubs, a historic cinema, green parks, good bookshops, cafes and heaps of purebred dog owners. Plus the weird Hare Krishna place that smelt alternately of spicy vegetarian cooking and wizz.

– Stir Crazy. My favourite place to eat in the whole world. For a little while it was our Friday hangout, until we started saving hardcore for our trip. The curry puffs are to die for and don’t even get me started on the fish cakes, baby.

– Cruddy appliances. Our first washing machine didn’t take in water, so we had to fill it with buckets and constantly re-start the bastard. One load of washing would take three hours. Our oven wasn’t fanforced so everything, no matter what, would end up slightly burnt on the bottom. I’m a good cook, I sweeeear!

– Beers in the park. Quite a few times, J-man and I would lie in a particular part of the park that’s really close to the freeway but has a view of Sydney Harbour. You could close your eyes pretend the woosh of the cars was actually the ocean. I always felt content lying there, half-tipsy, looking at all the other people in the world.

– The 201, 202, 203, 204, 205, 206, 207, 208 buses. One stand out memory is catching a bus into the city one weekend morning with J-man. As we got on, a younger looking guy asked me where Wynyard was. As I tried to explain, he asked me to sit down across from him and talk. I could immediately tell he was a Christian – something about the glint in his eyes. At first I thought he was trying to spread the good word, but it soon became obvious he was trying to hit on me, in that awkward way Christian boys have, as J-man looked on in bemusement. Conclusion? Christians are weird homewreckers.

– The time(s) J-man defrosted chicken breasts on top of the water heater. I have a life-long fear of getting Salmonella poisoning. I don’t know why really, it just sounds awful so I’m always cautious about chicken. In my opinion, J-man has always had some pretty suspect ways of cooking with chicken, but he used to work at KFC and declares himself an expert. One night, mum came to stay and my sisters came over for dinner. When I arrived home, there was a terrible smell wafting around the whole flat. I thought maybe someone farted or had just used the bathroom and, being senstive about that issue myself, decided just to ignore it and subtley open a window. As the night progressed, the smell turned from bad fart to bad poo to bad corpse-decomposing-after-violent-death-at-the-hands-of-a-deranged-serial-killer. When mum went to use the shower, I suggested she give it a few moments because obviously J-man was having some pretty serious butt issues. I don’t know what made me think of it but I looked towards the water heater and noticed a package of chicken sitting on top. We had planned to have a chicken dish the night before but had decided to go out instead. And, even though I constantly pester him to be careful with chicken, J-man obviously didn’t think that ruled out defrosting it on the heater. By the way mum looked at both of us that night, I knew we lost a couple of points. It was shameful, embarrassing and foul. And a couple of months later, J-man did it again.

– Other random flashbacks: dust bunnies, carpet stains, brown hot water, succulent pot plants, uncomfortable bed, dead other plants, our cactus Admiral Fitzwallace, bad internet, Doritos, Crust pizza, spooning, weevil disaster, love.

you’re finally sixteen

Recently I read this. I thought I’d write a letter to my 16-year-old self because I’ve been thinking a lot about her recently. At that time I wasn’t known as Steve or Stevie. I was Stephie G in the grand tradition of Ali G a’ight?

Dear Stephie G,

You’re the smartest person I know. Nice work getting rid of that bitchy friend who stood by and laughed as horrible things happened to you. Also, thanks for ditching the stoner crowd. Imagine how different things could have been – you could have an accidental kid, a bad dye job and an addiction to social security by now!

All your hard work will pay off. All the note-taking, day-long study sessions and melt downs over Ancient Rome will lead to greater things. Things like an amazing three years at uni and a pretty great job. It will give you drive and willpower to get anything you want, like that pretty reluctant guy you will meet in 2004. Don’t worry, you will crush him with your incessant text messages and eventually force him to marry you.

Thanks for being smart with your check-out chick money. Earning so little taught you never to buy designer handbags or shoes or colourful cocktails. Instead, over the years, you op-shopped and drank beer and packed your own lunch. And now, sister, you’re about to blow your savings and explore the world. Holy batman balls!

Love, Stevie.

while i’m alive i’ll feel alive

This year I took on a tradition started by the J-man’s grandmother and wrote in my day-to-day diary everything I did every day. I’m not sure if Grand J does this, but I made sure I included everything – fights, amusing moments, cooking disasters, whether I was bored, in a bad mood and, often, what I had for dinner. I know, I know you can barely wait to read what happened next …

I started doing it when, at the end of 2008, I couldn’t remember how I’d spent the year.  I found it quite depressing that a whole year had passed and I could only remember that I had Mee Goreng noodles half an hour ago. And I could only remember that because the explosive after effects of all those exotic spices were starting to hit me.

So as a kind of 2009 Year in Review, I’d like to share a few highlights with you:

This was the day before my 23rd birthday and Mum and Dad had come to Sydney to hang out. We went to Harbord Beach, or Freshwater if you so desire. And man, it was the greatest beach day – clear water, blue skies, warm sun and silky, white sand. Afterwards we went to The Oaks pub for lunch and later for dinner with my sisters at Not Bread Alone in Crows Nest. Yes, it was a rather shiny-ass kind of a day. And no, you weren’t invited unless you were wearing boat shoes and a Ralph Lauren jumper knotted casually around your shoulders like a dead fox.

The next day a teenager was bitten by a great white shark at a beach close to Harbord. Great white sharks are my favourite animal and I considered it mother nature’s thoughtful birthday gift to me. 


I really like to think of new and different things to do in Sydney. So the J-man and I took a ferry across the harbour to The Gap. It’s one of the most romantic place in the country, much like Belanglo State Forest or Snowtown or Epping. But, I’m as serious as a Supreme Court judge when I say that this was an amazing day. We wandered around together for a while and then got slightly sloshed in the sunshine at Watsons Bay Hotel. Love is always better with a side of tipsy.

This was the morning after the J-man proposed to me while I was half-naked at a Bed and Breakfast in Leura. After waking up as an engaged couple we had an amazing breakfast, explored the cute village and bought some momentos. I don’t think that I’ve ever felt as at peace as I did on that day. What I particularly like about this diary entry is that I was fully intending to go and attempt to grope Will Ferrell on the Land of the Lost red carpet. It’s very possible that could have been the best day of my life. Thanks a lot J-man, you selfish bastard.

This was the first day of a road trip I took to Bathurst with Tegan, Bron, Liam and the J-man. It was so great to get together and head back to our old stomping ground. We made sure that we ate at all the places we could never afford as students. As you can see, it’s the food and booze that sticks in my mind, seeing as though everything I noted had to do with digestion. Typical, really.

This is the entry for our five year anniversary. On the 25th, we went to Linda’s in Newtown for dinner. It’s a great place to eat, but I particularly enjoy going there because they give you little cups of hot soup before the meal and it blows the J-man’s mind. It’s as if they’ve served him a live leopard and his challenge is to slay it before serving it up with a fruity white wine sauce.  The look on his face is priceless. On the 26th, which is the anniversary of when Joel and I made out at 80s Prom Night at Uni Bar, Joel took it upon himself to do some illustrations. I think they’re cute. I wonder what Freud would think.

Amusing/banal moments of 2009, as revealed in my diary entries:

“Saw Alexander Downer on Market St with a stain on his shirt, bahaha” – March 17.

“Bought jars’ – March 20.

“Saw the dude from Blink 182” – March 24.

“Awesome satay chicken” – April 5.

“Crazy lady told me swine flu spread by rain” – April 29.

“Discovered apricot toast – OMG!” – June 16

I had swine flu from June 23-June 26.

I had “baad soup” on July 20.

“Lunch with Liam @ fancy sushi train – he pulled handle off the door” – July 29.

“Fell over at HFM [Harris Farm Markets]” – August 11.

“Failed attempt at Florentine cookies” [I forgot the all important corn flakes and they turned into sugary puddles of glace fruit] – October 11.

“Drinks with Joel at the Greenwood. Watched spectacular thunderstorm near skanky girls” – November 12.

“Flourless, sugarless cake mistake!!” – November 17.

Movies I saw in 2009:

Frost/Nixon, Vicky Christina Barcelona, Gran Torino, The Wrestler, Brokeback Mountain, 2 Days in Paris, The Queen, The Reader, Rachel Getting Married, Revolutionary Road, Baby Mama, Burn After Reading, Taken, Friends with Money, American Teen, The September Issue, The Siege, Annie Hall, Adventureland, Broken Flowers, Valentino: The Last Emperor, He’s Just Not That Into You, (500) Days of Summer, Dead Snow, Moon, Away We Go, Zombieland, Where The Wild Things Are.

Live Shows:

Sydney Festival First Night, Eagles of Death Metal, Animal Collective, Why?

Let’s hope I spend less time notating my favourite foods in 2010 and more time going to shows and hanging out with people who aren’t on a screen.

nine to five

This morning I was sitting in a doctor’s waiting room with a young dad and his daughter. She was super cute, wearing a pink outfit with shiny curly hair. But when her dad wouldn’t let her play with the water dispenser thing, it was all over. She collapsed face down on the carpet, kicked her feet and pounded her fists and screamed like a possessed rabies victim for a good 10 minutes. Far from annoyed, I wished it was acceptable for me – a 23-year-old woman – to join her.

You see, I’ve been on holidays for a bit over a week and I go back to work tonight. I woke up this morning feeling like I was Sean Penn in Dead Man Walking. I wanted a cigarette, I wanted Susan Sarandon and I wanted someone to explain to me how I, a convicted murderer, could access so much hair gel. Also I felt like it was my execution date, obviously.

One of the things I had planned to do in my holidays – apart from eat my body weight in nachos, sleep until noon and watch a lot of Oprah – was look through my childhood photos. And boy did I find some good ones:

Clearly I was born a very camp man. I don’t have a lot to say about this picture other than “Hello laaaadies”.

Oh my goodness that fringe looks like a piece of wholemeal Helga’s hanging from my forehead. This is me on a very exciting trip to the Zig Zag railway in the Blue Mountains. And I’m not even being sarcastic, it was exciting.  I used to wear this jumper to pre-school and, somehow, whenever I ate kiwi fruit it would end up covered in blue, red and yellow strands of wool. I also remember blaming this on my friend Hannah. She deserved it.

That’s me in the blue hat smoking the pipe. Not the old guy to the left, in case you were confused. The old fella is my grandpa, Da. He was a true character. We’re sitting on the verandah of my grandparents’ house on the Central Coast. It was the best house ever for kids – heaps of room, right near the beach, a packed sweetie jar and pretty sweet-ass grandparents. The pipe I’m smoking like a pro was one of those plastic ones filled with sherbet. They’ve probably outlawed them now along with fads, golliwogs and flammable pyjamas.

Here I am just casually relaxing in the garden. What a surprise to see you! You’d think I’d be ashamed of my unconventional layering – I know my dad sure kept his distance from me in public when I dressed like this. While I can see now I look a little bit like someone who might have a penchant for dreamcatchers and poor bathing habits, it was actually the beginning of my interest with experimenting with fashion and clothes. I got the singlets from a sale in Miss Shop, the green petticoat from a hippy-ish shop in Orange and I made the purple skirt underneath. While I’ve ditched sewing my own clothes – because I was utter crap, with no sign of improvement – I still raid sales like a truffle pig and find treasures in most unexpected places.

This is me at the beginning of year 12. I’d just cut off my waist-length hair in a moment of teenage heartbreak – a story that could actually be the script for a box office flop. You see, I’d started dating this weird dude who talked about nunchucks a lot (you can’t judge me, I was a teenager and there’s scientific evidence to show teenagers date losers obsessed with weapons because their brains aren’t fully formed yet. That’s right, I skim New Scientist magazine). A few weeks into our love affair he announced he was leaving town to join the Army. He said he would call and write and visit when he could. I was actually semi relieved because I wanted to nail the HSC and make like a shepherd and get the flock out of Orange. I got one letter which was a vague break up letter. Then I found out he’d been back in town to bone one of the predictable mingas in my year. Sigh! Anyway, it turns out I got a great haircut and he got to shoot stuff. Win/Win.

Here I am celebrating with a glass of champagne after finishing my last HSC exam. My last one was three unit English and by that time I had completely run out of puff. There was one subject in year 12 that I pretty much had to teach myself because the teacher was unaware of a fangled, crazy idea called a syllabus. It was months of unadulterated torture. There were panic attacks, tantrums and thoughts of driving myself off something very high into something very hard. I remember watching the final two minutes of that horrible period tick by on the clock in the exam hall, waiting for life to begin. It was the most glorious feeling ever.

This is the J-man and I in our second year of love. I think we were just coming out of the stage where people couldn’t bear to be around us. God, couples can be gross. I’m sorry to all we offended with our public saliva swapping, declarations of love and groping. Now we just settle for the good old train station/supermarket/party/pub spoon.

slide show

As I walked to work a few days ago I passed a shop that was being painted. The strong smell of fresh paint transported me immediately to my Catholic high school classroom in winter. There was no particular memory but suddenly I wasn’t walking to work frowning; instead I was sitting on the crappy green carpet in my thick maroon kilt/dress, which Catholic schools enjoy because it guarantees you look so much like a sack of potatoes noone will ever love you or touch your ungodly bits.

But I just love that feeling when something – a smell, a song, a taste or a sound – makes you instantly relive a part of your life in real time. So I decided to take a little more notice of it to see where else I could time travel.

PEANUT BUTTER: I love peanut butter. Love it on toast, straight from the jar, mixed with chocolate, blended in milkshakes or licked off strangers’ faces. I probably eat it everyday – it goes so well with coffee. During uni I discovered another great way to eat it was smeared on those corn thin crackers. Around about this time I did work experience at a place I shall call The Lame-o Crud Face Company For Jerks (TLCFCFJ). Unlike a lot of other places I did work experience, the powers that be at TLCFCFJ gave me sweet fuck all to do. Even when I kindly asked, said I was free or introduced myself to new people – you know, all the soul destroying things people recommend you do as a work experience dweeb – I was abruptly rejected. I was staying in a town hundreds of kilometres away from my home and feeling very vulnerable, so I took it all a bit personally.

TLCFCFJ also had their internet heavily filtered so I could only really look at their intranet and ponder the mysteries of their HR protocols. Every day I would watch the clock, holding off having lunch until about 2, so that when I finished I only had 2 hours until I could leave. So I would sit in their sunny lunch room eating peanut butter on corn thins. As I discovered, swallowing peanut butter and choking back tears simultaneously is hard work. I ended up feeling okay about the experience in the end when, at the end of the two weeks, just as the boss was giving me a fairly average assessment, his mobile phone signalled he had a text message with a farting sound. Dude, I don’t need your approval. Anyhoot, I can’t eat peanut butter on corn thins now without being immediately transported to the most crushing two weeks of my life. Up yours, TLCFCFJ.

WATTLE:  The smell of wattle actually brings back a lot of memories. But the strongest memory by far is the time I pooped my pants during sport in primary school. Actually, pooped my netball skirt would be more accurate.  I was a little dramatic in Year 2 – a totally unreserved show-off, bordering on bully. But that all changed one fateful, hot Friday. I guess maybe I’d told my teacher I was nearing death one too many times because when I told her I had an enormous pain in my guts, so sharp it took my breath away, she ignored me and told me to come with the rest of my grade to a sports oval near the school for cross-country practice. She let me sit under a wattle tree with my best friend and another disturbed girl who was known for coming to school sans underpants and using … that … as her news item.

At one point I remember the pain moved further down in my guts until, I can’t put this delicately, I parped and then pooped. And let’s just say I must have had bad vindaloo the night before. Other than the telling pain, there had been no sign it was going to get to this point. I remember just looking at my friend as she looked back at me in stunned silence, we were both thinking ‘this is it, this is the end’. Worst of all really, I was wearing a netball skirt so there was no hiding my shame. My teacher made me walk at the back of the group on the way back to school and I remember looking down at my newly , umm … tanned, legs, burning with utter shame. Weirdly though, no one made fun of me. I probably pooped myself at exactly the right time in life when kids looked at me and felt sympathy, knowing it hadn’t been so long since they were in nappies. The school called my dad to come and pick me up. The poor fella took me home, put me in the shower and once I was clean, took me to his office. I remember one of the receptionists saying “you do look flushed you poor thing”, and when I looked at my dad he just had this unforgettable expression on his face, which told me I should never, ever talk about this day again.

RADIOHEAD, KID A: I love this album. But it was the soundtrack to a very painful few months of my life. At least at the time it was very painful. Now it’s just a great story to tell over and over again to my friends in group therapy. I had met the J-man at uni, fell for him hard, kissed him a few times, shared my bed with him once and pretty much did everything I could to tell him I loved the hell out of him. I more or less walked around wearing a sandwich board saying, “You will be mine”. The beginning of uni alone was a very confusing time for me. I had begun living in a dorm with about 20 others and, since that day under the wattle tree, I can be very reserved around new people. Aside from one girl, the people I lived with did not react well to this. I wasn’t freaky peer-at-you-through-the-key-hole kind of quiet, but just didn’t participate in conversations about the weirdest colour my puke had ever been (ask me about my poop and there’s an epic greater than Homer’s Illiad) and I couldn’t join them at the uni bar for a long time because I was underage. So I just did my own thing, which I think they found difficult to understand. I mean if you can play drinking games every night with your dormies, why wouldn’t you? Right? Right? Holler!

I was also really, really  reserved around Joel at first as well. While I understand it was difficult for him, I still stand by my behaviour in those first few months of sporadic makeouts. He was a theatre student.  A loud, confident, popular theatre student. I was always nervous that whatever I had to say would not compare to whatever one of his theatre mates had just said about Bertolt Brecht. And you know, I wasn’t sure if I should be talking to him in character, singing or using symbolism to communicate. One night we sat together in dining hall with a lot of my dormies looking at me and giggling. So of course, I had nothing to say except *blush* *giggle*. And that was the beginning of the end (well, until he proposed three months ago, sucker!), he didn’t see much point continuing to hang out if I wasn’t going to talk to him. Fair enough, really. But it made me hate myself. I thought I had been so desperate and pathetic. I wished I could talk to him, show him how cool I was, listen to music with him and just be together. So every night for what felt like months, I would put on Radiohead’s Kid A and listen, discovering new things about it on each listen. I would cry, think things through, resist temptation to call him, and fall asleep to its spacey sounds.

It sounds like I’m a rock and roll preacher but with enough listens I got the strength to move on, delete his number and attempt to forget about him. Until one night, he sent me a text message about Bjork and the rest is history. I can’t listen to this album now without thinking about those nights I spent under dull light, not knowing how things would end up.

MY TAXI DRIVER’S B.O: This story might make you gag. I was certainly surprised, confused and disturbed when I got in a taxi after work a couple of nights ago, took a deep breath and rode the wave of my taxi driver’s B.O right back to a high school disco. The old cabbie’s pitts were emitting a strong scent, barely masked with what must have been the Lynx deodorant so popular among boys at my high school. Suddenly I wasn’t in a taxi anymore, there I was nervously quivering in the arms of someone I shall refer to as Barry Otter Young. I had the biggest, longest-running crush on BOY in high school. He was my first kiss, he played guitar and he was older. As appears to be a theme in my love life, I was convinced we had to be together but he was very resistant to my persistent charms. The only time BOY would ever come near me was at school discos, where he would hold me in his arms and attempt to bump and grind. I’m actually pretty sure, looking back, he liked to do it to torture me. “Here’s another taste, little lady,” I imagine him saying. Once you graduate from teenage-ship I don’t think you ever feel that same adrenaline-rushing-heart-pumping-mouth-drying-hyperventilating-headache-loin-tingle thing every single time you think about or see your crush. You get a version of it when you’re older but it’s not quite the same. But breathing in that scent the other night, I got a small replay of that feeling. I’m pretty sure if the taxi driver knew what was going on, he would buy that deodorant in bulk and set up a whole different kind of business.

Country roads

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.

Take me home.

I have some super lovely memories of Bill Gardiner, the wet-nosed part beagle, part other who died yesterday after a long life of sniffing, biting, barking, drooling and generally living a dog’s life.

When we got Bill I was so little that he could rest his front paws on my shoulders. We got him from a farm, after what seemed like months of going to the RSPCA to look at poor little dogs in cages.

His previous owners had named him Dave, which is my dad’s name, so we had to change it because as mum joked – what would the neighbours think when we called out telling him to get ready to go for a walk or eat his dinner from a bowl?

I desperately wanted him to be called Ranger Dave, or Ranger for short, because at the time I was a big fan of the animal show Totally Wild. Thank god I didn’t succeed.

Bill went missing one night when there were fireworks near our house and I remember we went looking for him in the car, most of us teary. He would often escape in the first days of being a Gardiner and would harrass female dogs in nearby yards. When he got fixed, he became more of an old man who would definitely wear velour slippers.

Bill could sense how you were feeling a lot of the time. I remember lots of tantrums and teen angst moments in the backyard when Bill would come and sit down next to me and force his head under my arm. He shamelessly loved belly rubs, eating, napping and running after rabbits. He was so sweet and I’ll really miss him and his little antenna tail.