Poor Stevie

Archive of ‘why i hate people’ category

ramsay street

One evening in May, J-man went to bed sick, asking me to check on him throughout the night. Just before I went to sleep on a camp mattress set up in the lounge room, I looked in on him, and under the light coming from the street, he looked grey and his mouth was limp and open. Until I heard him snort, I thought he was dead.

It had been a terrible few days – we’d had to cancel a trip to Cairns for a friend’s wedding after J-man got severe tonsillitis. It was grey and drizzly. The baby was fussy. Our neighbours were bulldozing their house. Sick, miserable and trapped, there was nothing any of us could do to escape the sound of metal crushing bricks, and smashing glass and boring into sandstone.

This was the beginning of seven months of renovations. The sound of drills would wake us in the morning, dropsaws would interrupt the baby’s morning naps, cups of tea in the backyard were accompanied by the young builders’ stories about what was in their vomit on Saturday night, as their cigarette smoke would drift down our hallway. Our backyard became a construction zone, they flattened our garden, put sandbags in, and cheerfully sprinkled rusty nails everywhere. When they tore down the neighbour’s fence, part of ours went with it. For months our security system consisted of a plank of wood holding our back gate closed.

But every time the builders asked for something – could they use our backyard to come and go, could we move our car, could they nail things into our outside wall, could they work early or late, could they park across our back lane – we said yes. We said yes because we thought it was the kind, neighbourly thing to do to let their massive renovations go to plan. Who wants to move into a beautiful dream house knowing your neighbours are the worst?

Two weeks ago, the builders left and the family moved in. I had been kind of expecting a knock on the door, or a friendly note of thanks, or a donut left on the front step for living through a hellish seven months without a single (public) complaint. But they have been actively avoiding us. Yesterday, we saw them for the first time and tried to strike up conversation, while they backed into their front gate as though we were door-knocking evangelists.

And that is why I hate people.

vacay

When I left work to go on maternity leave, I thought I would never return to the same office, probably never know the same people, and generally be a very changed woman by the end of those 10 months, as if my whole life would disappear like Kevin Bacon in Hollow Man. But a month ago, I walked into the very same office, surrounded by the very same people, and aside from my weird, misshapen boobs hidden in my blouse, I was pretty much the same person. But returning to work did feel like a big milestone; the end of an era. So I thought I should write down a list of (sometimes contradictory) things I learnt while on maternity leave.

A list of (sometimes contradictory) things I learnt while on maternity leave:

– I am a very anxious person. There was not a day that went by that I didn’t worry about something. Why isn’t the baby sleeping? Why is the baby sleeping so much? Why isn’t the baby eating? Why is the baby eating so much? Am I still interesting? Will our money last? Have I started wearing mum clothes? Am I eating too much sugar? Do the women at mothers’ group think I’m a dick? Should we move house? Do I have a hole in my tooth? Does my house smell weird? Do I smell weird? Will I ever have fun again? Is that a spider in the curtains? And over and over with the worrying. Sheesh. I really want past Steph to give maternity leave Steph a huge, metaphorical toke on a bucket bong.

– Weirdly, I am a pretty relaxed mum compared to others. It is interesting spending time with other first-time mothers and listening to all the concerns everyone has – sleeping, eating, allergies, crawling, teething, choking, electrocution and boyfriends on motorbikes. At the end of the conversation, I quite often look around to find CC nude, covered in dirt, eating a large stick and playing chicken in traffic.

– I love being home. There are some rad parents out there who put their babies in infant fanny packs and venture out into the world like normal humans. Much to J-man’s chagrin, having a baby has made me want to stay home more than ever. CC is actually a pretty good baby when we’re out. Just now we went to a wedding where she did nothing but bat her eyelashes and smile and coo for an hour. But only I know that at the hour and five minute mark she turns into a drooling, sharting, crying, writhing, wriggling massacre of baby emotions. That doesn’t sound like a party to me, it sounds like work. So home, where our beds, fridge and TV are, is the best place to be.

– I don’t want to live in Sydney forever. I am pretty convinced that all the things that make parenting harder are related to city living. I like to imagine life with a child if I worked 9-5, weekdays, if our daycare was only a few blocks away from our offices, if our offices were only a short drive from home, if our home was not rented, if there was a backyard for playing and jumping through sprinklers, if there was a dog. None of that is possible in Sydney, with two people who work in arts/media. There is a lot to love about Sydney – interesting jobs, interesting people, good food, excellent beer – but I’m not sure it’s enough to keep my family here. Plus, I don’t want CC to be like those city kids I met at uni who asked me if I’d ever seen the ocean.

– I am starting to not care. You know how Kim Kardashian said Kanye West taught her not to make time for bullshit anymore? Clearly, I have a little bit of time for bullshit, because I know that terrible piece of celebrity trivia, but I have less time for it these days. Someone said something shitty on Twitter? Don’t care. A politician misspoke? Don’t care. Something I like is no longer cool? Don’t care. Office politics? Don’t care. Someone honked their horn at my terrible driving? Don’t care. It’s true what those cards at KMart say – having a baby does make you realise what really matters: family, friends, happiness and donuts. (Also, human rights, obviously).

 

falafel kerfuffle

Two women with prams were happily chatting at the post office about their weekends, their work, their husbands and their babies. The perky blonde mum abruptly ended the conversation with “I’d better go home. Mrs X says I have to feed him at 11.30 everyday and I can’t be out of the house while he naps”. Mrs X is one of those “baby whisperers” who makes a shartload of money by giving mums a strict timetable for their new babies to follow with the apparent aim of lots of sleep. She has been used, with mixed results, by a few women I know. I wanted to somehow drag these women at the post office down the street to a coffee shop and yell: “HAVE A CHAT. BE DAMNED YOUR BABY’S PRECIOUS “AT HOME” NAP. HERE, MOTORBOAT AN ENTIE BLACK FOREST CAKE.” But I suppose that constitutes common assault, so I let them go unharmed.

When I hear Mrs X’s name, a chill goes down my spine. I picked up some of Mrs X’s advice by osmosis via the women I know and, for a fortnight or so, I tried to force Cordelia to sleep when she didn’t want to, for longer than she wanted to. Of course, it didn’t work, Delia screamed a lot and I felt like a failure. I knew I had to stop when one day I was so obsessed with her sleep “routine” I forgot to buy falafels for the falafel rolls I was going to make for dinner and cried to J-man, “I am a terrible wife and mother. I can’t even remember to get falafels, the primary ingredient for falafel rolls. I’m no good at anything”. A tired J-man sighed and said: “For fuck’s sake, it’s just falafel.” He is a most excellent and smart man.

I feel like the falafel tantrum of summer 2014 is an excellent example of why a mother’s mental health and wellbeing should be of utmost importance. When Cordelia was two-weeks-old I got a visit from a community nurse who asked me a series of questions, which I now know to be a test for post-natal depression. I cried while I answered questions about whether I cried more than usual. The nurse got to the end of the test, brightly said “perfectly normal!” and left my house. When I took the same test a couple of weeks later in my doctor’s office the result practically flashed up on her screen as “totally fucking miserable”. Over the course of a few months, a lovely psychologist talked to me about why women can struggle with depression after having a baby. All of the things that lift the spirit and are recommended to ease depression – seeing friends, going outside, exercising, reading books – are virtually impossible when you have a small baby.

Sleeping well is also crucial part of feeling like a functioning person. And that’s exactly why these “baby whisperer” d-bags get loads of customers. They are cashing in on desperate mothers hoping to get some control back in their lives, feel even vaguely normal, and maybe eat Cheezels with their girlfriends once in a while, so they pay someone to tell them what their baby “needs” to be predictable and unconscious. It worked for some women I know, but not for most because those alleged baby needs involved being at home all the time with fgew interruptions to their important little infant schedules. Yeah, well, what about what a human woman needs? Some company, variety, excitement, mental stimulation and some godamned falafel.

heatwave, baby

We live in a little granny flat behind a grand terrace in Sydney. A tradesman told J-man he thought it was once a horse stable – it’s an odd shape and there’s no doors or windows on the back wall. I kind of liked the thought of sleeping where a little foal might have rested her head, her belly full of straw, in ye olde Sydney town.

Then we had a baby. Then summer came. I realise now we are living in a glorified shed. There is no cross-draught, no insulation. It is 28 degrees in here by lunch time. A plant recently grew through our bedroom window and curled around the blinds. This morning I was sitting on the toilet (sorry) and I noticed a huntsman spider carefully easing itself inside between two tiles. There are regularly skinks sunbaking on the carpet. When it gets windy, leaves and dust somehow get through the skylights and carpet the bathroom and kitchen floors.

Maybe one day, when I’m living with my third husband in an air-conditioned mansion in Bellevue Hill, I’ll stroke my pearls and reminisce about simpler times. But right now all I want is to move the hell out of Sydney, where you pay hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of dollars a week to live in a stinking hot shitbox.

I am unhappy here.

But I am happy for shandies, icy water, cold showers, This American Life, apple green shorts, a funny husband and a very sweet baby.

Here she is.

CCred

sonnet

I am not living my dream.

I’m in a weird slump, and have been all year, where just about every day goes exactly like this: wake, frown, brush, sit, talk, bus, cook, cuddle, fart, sleep. Repeat. It’s just so sad, all that sleeping and eating and cuddling.

So I’ve been looking around to find people who are living their dreams. But the people I encounter tend to be taxi drivers (who have signs in their cars telling people not to spew or screw in their general vicinity), the guy who does overnight security at my building (he does overnight security at my building), the vending machine (is a machine) and a bus driver (who has to wear a fluro vest on a daily basis).

And then, as usual, I realised the answer was staring me in the face. And sometimes cooking me dinner. And spooning me late at night.

J-man is a dude who is living his dream, day in, day out. “It’s raining Joel,” he always says.

Observe.

He liked rap, so he joined a rap group:

He wanted some shelves in the shed, so he built some shelves in the shed:

He liked beer, so he learnt to make beer:

He was interested in running a beer festival, so worked his little nuts off and ran a beer festival:

He wanted to spend his 30th birthday in three time zones and finish it at Roberta’s Pizza in Brooklyn, so he spent his 30th birthday in three time zones and finished it at Roberta’s Pizza in Brooklyn:

He likes to chat, so he chats. A lot. With everyone:

He wanted scones, so he ate some scones:

He has a spirit animal:

It’s time to start making it rain Steve. Hallelujah.

90 days

For the past year we’ve been living with Danny DeVito.

That is how I shall refer to our former landlord – even though he doesn’t deserve that honour – because he is very short.

He owns the apartment block of four and the café in front of it, which is run by his daughter and son-in-law. At first Danny DeVito, who was probably in his 70s, seemed like he was going to be a lot of fun to have as a landlord and neighbour.

We would talk politics and current affairs in the courtyard. We’d heard he purposefully kept the rent lower than the market demanded and hadn’t given a tenant notice in the 25 years he’d owned the place. He insisted if we had any problems we could just knock on his door and he’d come over and fix whatever it was.  He built and lacquered a wooden table and put it in the courtyard soon after we’d started sharing Saturday afternoon beers with our neighbours. It was all very idyllic.

The first time I realised Danny DeVito was not our friend was when he angrily hollered at me during a very light shower on a humid day: “The carpet will get wet! Close the window now!”

Danny DeVito obviously believed the man of the house should take care of everything, so he would usually greet me with a smile while harassing J-man about some summary offence. Our bin had bin juice in it, J-man’s scooter was parked oddly, or our washing machine door was left open.

Danny DeVito had a recycling bin he liked to leave empty for unexplained reasons and once he discovered we’d put paper in it, fishing out a piece of torn up mail and presenting it to J-man as the smoking gun.

When we were in the USA for three weeks we’d given him permission for a tradesman to come in and get rid of termites we’d discovered.  When we returned we discovered Danny DeVito himself had installed new bathroom taps. In the process he’d obviously cleared out our bathroom cabinet because tampons, toilet paper and everything else I never meant for Danny DeVito to see were strewn around the shelves.

After that I received a lecture from Danny DeVito. Not for being a foul woman, but because he’d also discovered my bike had made small scuff marks just inside the front door. He complained it could cost him a lot of money to repair, despite me telling him I had always been able to remove those marks with a cloth.  J-man was told we should start to use Jiff because our kitchen drain was slightly brown.

Then late one afternoon six weeks ago, I opened a letter from the real estate agent giving us three months to move out. Even though we saw Danny DeVito every day, he hadn’t thought to tell us a young employee from the café needed somewhere to live. And maybe because of the bin juice, the open window, the wrongly placed envelope or the tea-stained drain, it had to be our unit.

We had broken Danny DeVito’s 25-year record.

the hangover

I wasn’t really looking forward to Las Vegas. I don’t drink a lot, I like to go to bed at 10pm and I can only play snap. Translation: I have a huge stick up my jacksie.

Driving into Vegas, I wasn’t exactly reassured because, in the harsh light of day, it looks like a freshly shaved armpit:

vegas

That night we decided to go to the strip. I painted my lips red, put on a new jacket and did my hair in an 80s bun, ready to hit the town. But I needn’t have dressed up because, despite what the documentary The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills would have you believe, Las Vegas isn’t the most glamourous place. There are a lots of desperate people sweating over their chips, sad-looking morbidly obese people wheeling around in mopeds and midgets trying to force you to into live porn shows. And boy was I getting sick of doing live porn.

Also, I was worried people would mistake me for a dealer in my cheesy jacket:

vegas jacket

Also, Celine Dion was there:

celine

Also, even the sky was fake in Vegas:

sky

Later, we had accidental $30 drinks at The Bellagio, almost paid a $12 transaction fee at an ATM and J-man got elbowed out of a Blackjack game. It was a little depressing, so we sought out some wildlife at The Flamingo:

flamingo2

Yep, actual flamingos at The Flamingo. Trust the Hiltons to make money from their pink bits.

flamingo

But turns out Flamingos smell like Flamingo poop, so we did the walk of shame back to our motel, having come to Vegas and failed at gambling, drinking and having fun.

The next day we had to up the ante. Let’s just say it involved a limo, Elvis and tears over tapas.

Here’s a little peep show:

wedding

To be continued.

hostile

I want to preface this post by saying that hosteling around Europe, particularly eastern Europe, has been a life-changing experience. I’ve met incredible people – a guy who kayaked his way through Germany, an old, cheerful and, not surprisingly, lean Japanese man making his way around the world on a bicycle and lots of young, strong women exploring the continent on their own. We were privileged to stay in a hostel in Sarajevo run by a 22-year-old incredi-dude who set up rooms in the top storey of his parents’ house after it was bombed. Without hosteling, I would never have tried a traditional Hungarian stew made almost entirely of potatoes and actual buckets of sour cream (umm, hello boys!) cooked by the most fun, gracious and kind host we’ve had. Without a doubt, we have met some 0f the best people on planet earth and experienced the best of human behaviour.

But enough of that wankery. Having shared a bedroom and bathroom with up to eight strangers every night for the last four months, we’ve also met some people who should have been left on the mountain at birth.

They fit into the following categories:

The selfish: Really these people are the most harmless of the lot but they still drive me to the brink of bite-the-curb violence. They’re the kind who rifle through their bags at 1am, turn the lights on and off all night or let their alarms ring for minutes at the crack of dawn. Just the other night, I was kept awake by a room light that was still on at 2am for the sake of one girl “doing work”. Eavesdropping on her earlier inane conversations, I knew she was a receptionist at a language school so I wondered what kind of work she could be doing. Translating hieroglyphics? Cracking the Da Vinci code? When I got up out of bed and asked if I could turn off the light, she hesitated and when I did she said “Sorry, do you mind? I have pages to read, I’m not just using my computer”. Really? That’s interesting because my husband knows ninjitsu – once he takes off his eye mask and pulls out his industrial-strength ear plugs, things are gonna get real biatch.

The spewers: We’re lucky to have only met one of these a-holes. One night, J-man and I were rudely awoken from our dreams of unicorns and adultery by what we both initially thought was our roommate choking on some water. We looked over at each other in shock when it became clear this guy was puking all over himself, his bed, his bag and all over the floor. We were even more horrified as he swiftly got up, dressed only in his tight undies, stripped the bed, threw his soiled sheets in the hall, flipped his mattress and scrubbed his bag clean before going back to sleep. The next morning he apologized profusely, blaming the whole thing on a bad mushroom pizza. Nice try buddy, but there was one dead giveaway. Not only was he swaying and bumping into things as he cleaned up the funghi death slime, but as he bent down to pick up his sheets, he let out a ripsnorter. Nothing says pissed as a fart quite like … a fart.

The rooters: Ah yes, there have been many, many of these incredibly romantic moments on our trip. There’s no lullabye like the sound of two drunk strangers lick each other clean not five metres from your head. A story I’ll tell at every dinner party for the rest of my life comes live from a lovely little hostel in the Bulgarian countryside. We were sharing a room with a bunch of the usual backpacker crowd and a couple of elderly dudes. In the middle of the night a young couple started doing the bad thing on the good foot on the bunk bed above a snoring, gassy English grandpa. That night I was suffering from a very unsexy condition known as Bulgaria Butt and was up and down until dawn. But that didn’t stop the young lovers, who were also up and down until dawn and still canoodling in the morning light. When they still hadn’t wrapped things up after breakfast I – feeling angry, tired and about 12 kilos lighter – scolded them for being inconsiderate and walked out of the room in a huff as they tried to plead their innocence. Later, I came back into the room to find the girl talking sweetly to the old guy she’d been bonking on top of all night. In the middle of their conversation about Israel and the joys of world travel, the old fella pointed to a screwed up pair of sexy underpants that had fallen on his pillow from her top bunk. “Are these yours?” he said, “because they’re certainly not mine”.  Aw snap, you dirty slapper.

get off

For a couple of weeks now, J-man and I have been trying to think of ways to tell our neighbours to shut the hell up.

We’re not totally sure how many people live in the house next door but there’s always two people around – one very camp man, who should have been an opera singer because his voice carries like a sneaky parp after bad Vindaloo, and a woman. The house has a beautiful, leafy courtyard and it appears to be the perfect place to drink, blast music, cry and have very loud private conversations until 2am on any given day. I have yelled out ‘turn it down’, pointedly slammed my window closed and sulked myself to sleep with earplugs fashioned from toilet paper on several occasions. But they just haven’t got the message.

So while I’ve been lying in bed listening to U2, The Police, Beyonce and Robbie Williams against my will, I’ve been mentally writing them a little note. I figure if I wrote it, I’d be polite as possible to avoid any neighbourly tension.

It would go a little something like this:

Dear neighbour,

It sounds like you host some pretty sweet parties and you’re certainly making the most of the great weather! We don’t mean to be the neighbourhood party police, but we were wondering if you could keep the volume down at night. Both of us work odd hours and have often had trouble getting to sleep with your music up so loud. We’d really appreciate it.

Thanks,

Your neighbours.

But there are some days when I’ve thought instead about setting fire to said polite letter and going on a homicidal rampage. Today was one of those homicidal days. Not only were our good friends up until about midnight singing along drunkenly to Sting,  they were up again at 6am chatting very loudly about their fabulously boring plans. God, it’s enough to make you want to commit an indictable offence with a red hot skewer.

I know what you’re thinking. You’re all: “Dude, you’re 23 you should be over there with them, drinking them all under the table and providing them with the best Hawaiian bammy you’ve got”. Well, I don’t have any “bammy”. I have a job, some serious mood issues, a regularly upset stomach and, surprisingly, very few people to hang out with. Part of me does feel a little lame for being so angry about it, but I just think it shows so little respect and consideration. Oh God, now you’ve made me burn the Jam Drops I had in the oven.

Anyhoot, you can imagine how I felt this afternoon when I came home from a spot of Christmas shopping, only to again hear the familiar sounds of Bono. As I chopped up some fresh fruit, I thought about the four old ladies who live downstairs and how much it must ruin their quiet Saturday afternoons too. Then I heard something that made me gag on my mango. A woman moaning, grunting and wailing – the same noises I make when I’m eating a beef burger at The Counter with a side of onion rings. After some more listening, it became obvious the moans had less to do with onion rings and more to do with … sausage. I couldn’t believe it. As a people-watching fanatic, this was my dream come true. So I quickly bounded to the window, where I could get a better view and, sure enough, through the leaves I could see the faint outline of the mythical beast with two backs. Or as I put it to J-man in a frantic text message when he asked me how I knew they were doing it: I went to eavesdrop and could see some flesh bouncing around in the bushes.

So J and I have come to a consensus in the last hour. We will discretely drop some raw chicken in their backyard and let it sit in the sun. After all, who wants to play hide the sausage when you can smell rotting meat.

price check

Usually harbouring great contempt for members of the human race outside my immediate family and my group of very small and carefully selected friends, I was so pleased to find myself standing next to a very polite man in a bookstore today.

As I was buying a copy of Chris Masters’ Jonestown, a man standing next to me was trying to return a copy of Neil Strauss’s The Game. And dudes, just as a side note, if anyone bought me that book there is no way I’d do something as sensible as take it back for a refund. I would probably tear all the pages out and create a small army of bald, skinny, arrogant paper voodoo dolls and arrange them in compromising positions.

Anyway the guy at the counter nervously told him the book wasn’t in a returnable condition. And everyone within a one metre radius held their breath waiting for the nuclear explosion that usually …explodes … when the customer is wrong. But this guy simply said: “Oh, okay. Fair enough.” And when the bookstore dude says: “I’m so sorry”, the customer tells him it’s not his fault and wishes him a good day. The girl serving me, who was wearing the most amazing shade of red lipstick I’ve ever seen, says: “Shit, he took that well”.

I happened to follow the customer down the escalator and I noticed him taking in his surrounds with a contented look on his face. What a pleasant fellow. Usually people in the city are puking, yelling, asking for money or handing out flyers advertising vacancies at brothels. Someone needs to put a ring on this guy’s finger because whoever does will forever be tiptoeing through the tulips, even on a shopping outing to buy three-ply. Or maybe, just maybe, I was fooled by The Game.

The reason this well-mannered man struck me so is because I spent most of my teenage years and some of my early 20s dealing with loser customers, including a notable time when I had to explain to a woman why she could not return swimwear with a strange smear and pubic hair in the crotch. I had to be stopped from hacking off my own hand and plucking out my eyeballs that afternoon, let me tell you.

But also I’ve had a strange week filled with rude, rude people. Like my taxi driver this morning who spent five minutes sounding his horn outside a park near my apartment block before dawn. He also had the hide to scold me as I got in the car. Last time I checked my address wasn’t Poor Stevie, fork of fifth tree on the right, near the leaves and kind of close to some blades of grass, and that dog poo over there, NSW, Australia.

I’ve also this week been hung up on, sworn at, mooned, called a dog and ripped off. It’s a bloody tough little city is Jonestown.