My mum just sent me a package of letters I wrote to Mamie as a gal. So many of them are terribly, soul-crushingly embarrassing professions of my love for God, describing how I was spending a lot of time “praying for people in different states who are starving”.
Here is the least embarrassing of the God-bothering notes. To explain, the “rub here” refers to an invisible ink texta I liked using. I did not think Jesus was a genie.
But some of are cute insights into my little brain.
Whenever someone comes to our house for the first time J-man gives them a tour. I think it’s really sweet, except that he always starts in the bedroom. This always makes me feel kind of uncomfortable. You never know what I’ve left lying around: lame books, my underwear, our matching sausage dog pyjamas, my mascara-stained tissues from all the crying about kittens and babies I do.
Today I cleaned up our room so I could show you some of my favourite things about our little home.
Some of my favourite things about our little home
I bought J-man this binary code love print from Etsy a while ago. From the look on his face when he opened it, I think he thought it was more of a Regretsy purchase. But I love it and hung it on the wall facing our bed just to punish him.
Some people think of dramatic coastlines and unisex high cut swimwear when they think of Croatia, but I think of reciting “zero zero zero zero one zero one one infinity” on a bus ride so J-man could send his friends postcards in binary code.
I like this little locker and all the things on it, but most of all I love the OTT gold mirror that used to belong to my dad’s mother. I totally inherited her taste.
I felt weird taking a photo of our bed even though it’s my favourite thing ever. It was just too “let’s recount all the shameful memories” for my taste. So I thought I’d show you what else we do in bed besides fart.
The books in the top photo are on my bedside table. Some of them are just to dip into before I drift off to sleep. The book I’m reading full time at the moment is Judgment Day, which is a collection of judges’ sentencing remarks in Australia’s most famous murder cases. I love criminal law and seriously dig case law, so this is the best book of all time. But reading this book before nigh nighs is not for wusses.
The books in the bottom photo are on J-man’s bedside table. He talks about beer in his sleep.
This collection of tea cups is on a weird ledge as you come in our front door and up the stairs. Our real estate agent saw these during an inspection and asked me if I liked tea. I said no.
This is the print up close. Some have suggested it’s a double entendre, but it hardly says “you are the ketchup in which I dip my weiner”. I just love it because to me it says “you are the best thing ever”. I really love butter.
This is an anatomically correct vase. We picked up two of these at Vinnies in Gosford and used them to hold roses at our wedding. [Insert (ha!) joke about the wedding night here].
A collection of swizzle sticks from a second-hand shop in Oklahoma. Except the Pimm’s one which I got at an under 12s cricket match in Bath. OK, now I’m starting to sound like a wanker. The glass is from Leura. Damn! The pink decanter on the left is from Green Point Salvos on the Central Coast. There you go. De wanked.
Some of my least favourite things about our little home
The way J-man keeps the desk in our bedroom. I know, I know, it’s just a small pile of receipts and a peg. “It’s how I do my tax, bebe!” is something he would say.
Yes, J-man, I’m sure the tax man really cares about a bag of chips we bought in the US.
To celebrate I bought J-man a cactus pot and called it Grant against his will (Joel’s will that is. The cactus pot has no will, actually). This family of cactii could symbolise many things about being married for two years.
– I am the perky red-headed cactus and J-man is the manly yellow-headed cactus. The prickly green cactus is life poking us in the butts.
– Just as a cactus needs little water, our love needs little … water?
– We have been married so long that neither of us bothers doing anything about our respective whiskers. Man, check out my spiky body spikes!
– If there was a drought (of love) you could break us open and still find water (love).
– We will have little prickly babies or alternatively, a really tall, fat son.
OK, so everything above looks like it’s been translated from Mandarin by a two-year-old. I bought J-man a cactii pot because when we walked past the shop selling the cactii pot a little while ago, he said he wanted the cactii pot. You wanna know what love is? That’s it. Listening to your husband when he says he wants a cactii pot and then buying a cactiii pot for him later.
Also we needed a sibling for Admiral Fitzwallace, who was named during the peak of our West Wing viewing.
Love you my little Opuntia (Joel. You can’t feel love for a cactus, actually).
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.
That means I’ve stopped eating meat, but I still eat fish because they don’t have eyelashes to make me feel bad about eating them. Since my decision three months ago I’ve slipped just a couple of times and eaten meatloaf, a quarter pounder and two sausages.
The best way I can explain my decision is: I just have too many feelings. Eating meat made me feel a little bit sad and guilty, especially because it was just so delicious. I’m a complicated woman, as J-man likes to say.
Here are some other things that make me feel the way I did when I ate a steak:
– Seeing old men alone and crossing the road.
– Spending the weekend doing nothing.
– Spending the weekend doing too much.
– Hearing a baby cry.
– Throwing away rotten food.
– Buying home brand products.
– Spending money on anything, including groceries or a doctor’s appointment.
The greatest hits of 2011, as recorded in my red Moleskine.
I can’t believe it’s been a year since we stood at the peak of Bernal Heights Park and watched 2011 roll in. We were in San Francisco. Over the oceans and far away. Isn’t that weird?
We waited and waited for our little cream flat to be open for inspection. And when it was, only we could get past the (then) fluro green walls and cupboard-sized bathroom to see the potential. With an eccentric but lovable landlord, friendly neighbours, a leafy courtyard and an excellent cafe downstairs, it is the best place in the world.
This was the last time I saw my grandmother. It might seem strange to include this on my “greatest hits” list, but it was one of the most perfect days – she was happy and in good spirits. When I went home a couple of weeks after her death, I found a plain gold ring that had fallen from one of her coat pockets. So now it’s on my wedding ring finger behind my love heart engagement ring, as a constant reminder of wonderful Maime (mostly spelt ‘Mamie’. I went wrong somewhere). It makes it a little bit easier when I realise I can’t write her a letter or call her anymore.
Bat For Lashes at the Opera House was one of my favourite shows of all time. I’ve been searching for the perfect red, full skirt ever since.
Our (squishy) trip to Splendour, via J-man’s best friend’s house. We slept in a cute caravan on his parents’ property and woke up to a foggy green Queensland valley.
Seeing Jon Ronson talk about psychopaths at the Festival of Dangerous Ideas. Then had my own dangerous idea to hang out on the couch, eat pizza and watch Ryan Gosling become my number one hot-intense-hot dude of the year.
The first swim of the season at Copacabana is always amazing. This time Adam Spencer popped up from underneath the water. Weird.
The more banal and/or amusing moments of 2011, as captured in my red Moleskine diary
“Came home. J-man had done the housework!” – April 7
“Read the papers. Had first dinner at new dining table.” – April 9
“J-man made vindaloo. I got a little sick.” – May 1
“Little sleep in.” – May 7
“Big sleep in!” – May 8
“Bought amazing new bedspread.” – June 6
“Watched Hot Tub Time Machine.” – July 2
“Spider in the shower! Made steak wraps.” – September 2
“Massive rash on my face!” – October 11
“Feeling really frickin’ nervous.” – October 23
“Saw Contagion. Dude behind me had a cough” – November 6
“Alicia’s party. Salt n Pepa dance off in the laundry. Massive fall” [on the road in Redfern, which led to a staph infection and a lot of complaining] – November 26
“Slept at Cessnock Hotel. Massive bogan punch up” – December 10
The cutest thing that happened this year, as recorded on my iPhone
My nephew, little V, trying to say my name. At least he didn’t say “Steve”.
The most mysterious day of 2011, as not recorded in my red Moleskine diary
How am I ever to know what happened on Thursday August 18, 2011. I have no alibi.
First, let me say this: J-man is the kindest, most loving, supportive, considerate and wonderful husband. He comforts me every single Sunday night when I am sad the weekend is over. He tells me he loves me everyday. He reassures me that I do not have a moustache. He compliments my outfit every morning. He pretends to be interested in Real Housewives of Beverly Hills. He tries weird vegetables to support my new-found vegetarian-ish diet. At the top of the escalator at Wynyard, he decides he will go back down to buy me a rose from a sad-looking guy who is not making any sales late one night.
Now let me say this: J-man gave me a rash last week. An angry, mysterious rash.
This thing was brutal, it was all over my body and spreading faster than a Hustler centrefold.
I put it down to a weird reaction to suncream, because there was nothing else I had lathered all over my body. Then I started to suspect foul play from J-man, thinking maybe he was secretly using some sort of man lotion called “God of Flame and Fires” and was too ashamed to tell me. I took an antihistamine and figured that was the end of the story.
The next day it flared up again and and people around me were looking concerned, urging me to go to the doctor. Pfft I’m no wuss, I thought. Cut to about ten hours later when I snapped awake at midnight, itching all over and experiencing pain in my neck. That’s it. It’s meningitis and I am going to die. I woke J-man, tearfully told him of my fate and he took me to the bathroom where he bludgeoned me to death with the toilet brush ran a cool towel over my skin.
The next morning there was no evidence that I had died in my sleep, so I got on with living.
Then yesterday we decided to go to the beach, but hadn’t yet replaced the giant tub of suncream that had apparently offended my body so much. I threw caution and my good looks to the wind and rubbed it on. Nothing. Totally fine. No bumps, itches or calling of caterers to make bean nachos at my wake.
When I picked up my beach bag and looked inside, it suddenly dawned on me. The week before J-man had picked a little bottle out of the pantry to fill with suncream, so we didn’t have to lug the entire tub to the beach.
That little bottle in my bag had until recently contained hops – those pungent, stinky, highly-perfumed, gag-worthy, wheaty things you make beer with.
“Oh,” J-man said. “That’s it. It would’ve been like you were rolling around in grass for hours.”
The question I am most frequently asked – after “Cheque, savings or credit?” “Where’s the photocopier?” “Have we met?” and “Gross. Was that you?” – is “Great dress. Where did you get it?”
Usually I just say: “Thanks Mum, it’s from an op shop”. But because I just can’t walk into my parents’ house every six to nine months without being bombarded with compliments about my clothes, I thought I really should address that question here. Address! Ha! My quick wit goes so well with my finery.
The long answer is: mostly eBay, sometimes markets, occasionally op-shops and, if I’m feeling vulnerable, vintage clothing stores. It’s quite boring compared to the “It’s from a little Parisian pop up shop my personal sherpa found while collecting my fresh Evian water on Mount Everest Base Camp III” answer you so often read in the Sunday magazines.
Here are some of my most recent finds*.
The red dress
When I see a dress I really like I have little daydreams about what I could achieve while wearing it. When I saw this little baby on eBay in all its crimson, fringed, body-hugging glory I immediately imagined walking into a party where everyone knows my name (for once). Out of a haze of cigarette smoke, lust and glace cherries, a talent scout approaches me and asks me to do a walk-on part in a community television role about a line dancing stripper with a heart of gold.
The lacy dress
J-man and I are going to a wedding in a few weeks and I’ve been saving this dress for the occasion. When I saw it hanging on a rack at Surry Hills markets, I imagined walking into the church late, my hair flowing in the breeze. The spotlight abruptly shifts from the beaming bride to me; mysterious, alone and pouting in the back row. Out of a haze of cigarette smoke, confetti and cuckolded brides, a talent scout approaches me, inspects my armpits and asks me to be the new face of Impulse body spray.
I love onesies. You have excellent sun protection, can roll around on the ground and sit like a dude. When I saw this in a vintage clothing store on King Street in Newtown I imagined skipping through a meadow, free and without fear of revealing my shame. Out of a haze of cigarette smoke, daises and fertiliser, a talent scout approaches me and asks me wear the hell I keep my keys in that thing.
* Apologies for the lack of human in the photos, but I have developed a horrible, reoccurring whole body rash. It appeared on Sunday and I was totally convinced it was caused by the transfer of some kind of perverted body lotion J-man had acquired in a last ditch attempt to seduce me. I think it’s actually weird reaction to new sun cream.