Reader warning – This post contains MANY mentions of toilets and toilet-related topics. If you’re offended by ones, twos or threes, please stop reading and I promise to write something less offensive next time. Seriously, stop reading now.
I spent New Years Eve this year on a houseboat. My first houseboat as a grown up and definitely one of the best new years eves that I’ve had in recent times. I spent close to three days cruising around, napping, swimming, eating and drinking. It was great. However, as always one thing loomed in the back of my mind the whole time… ten people, one toilet.
I’ve always had something of an issue with travelling toilets, whether they be bus toilets, train toilets, portable toilets, plane toilets, boat toilets, or even just public toilets. I’m a nervous pee-er at the best of times and just the thought of using a tiny toilet that had been given a thorough workout by ten people at once was enough to strike fear into the heart of me (that, and the prawns that were due to spend two days sitting in the esky before they made the menu).
Alas, I was pleasantly surprised that despite my concerns, there was some unspoken agreement to keep the toilet pristine and, besides one early incident where I found my self ankle deep in toilet water before I’d even used the thing (don’t ask, I still have no idea what happened!), it stayed as fresh as a daisy until the last day, when above-mentioned unspoken agreement went out the window. No judgment there – if we’d all held on as long as I had, I envied anyone brave enough.
When I got home several days later and rinsed my feet for the umpteenth time since nearly losing them to the toilet caper, I started thinking about my apparent fear of public toilets, porta-pottys and just travel toilet use in general.
If I think back, I think it started at school camp in year 9 when we had a complete toilet set up at our campsite in the middle of the wilderness…
Although it was nerve-racking peeing while risking being eaten by some kind of wild animal (most likely a wombat or koala given the location) or ending up with a flashlight on you in your least dignified moment, it was great! You were out in the wilderness, roughing it like never before, exposed to the elements and living the dream. On a giant toilet. In the middle of the bush. What more can you want in life?
Well… one thing you can NOT want is to three days later have to carry that damn toilet out of the campsite, contents and all…
Ten or so years later and I was facing the ultimate challenge – travelling. Well, not just travelling, but travelling through South America, where you can’t flush the toilet paper in the best of places. Queue many awkward TP related moments, several episodes of charades with hotel staff and many, many moments of pure horror and dry retching… and that was before I’d even experienced the Inca Trail.
By then, I’d master the dodgy toilet, I was even confident going with no toilet (always with paper, sanitizer and some foliage) when it was warranted, but nothing prepared me for drop loos. Foot markings or no foot markings, I took one look at it and proceeded to pop down as many gastro stop tablets as I had on me! Despite my best efforts to just not pee for three days, I eventually braved the drop toilets, torch in mouth, praying for my life… and you know what, with a bit of concentration I had it down pat!
Three days later, as we brushed our teeth, I was recounting the story of how I’d overcome my fear of drop toilets to my tent mate, with all the details… the near misses, the misses, the nerves, the successes, the failures… I was blabbering on for no less than five minutes until “Cough, cough… erm… Tennizzlle… the whole camp site can hear everything you’re saying”… Eek!
When I think of bad toilet experiences, however, there’s no doubt that the first thing that jumps to mind is travelling through Romania on one of those horrible Europe tours with a fifty young drunk people. Note to self – when on a month long bus trip, do not take the seat next to the toilet. I mean, sure, it might remain locked unless in case of emergency… But it’s all fun and games until someone washes the lettuce in the tap water… and let me tell you, that theory about lighting a match – IT DOESN’T WORK!
We were about 20 days into the trip when we got to Romania and three days into an outbreak of gastro. Stops were few and far between. I was barely breathing and had a permanent flow of hand sanitiser for fear of catching something. The bus toilet was not an option, even in an emergency.
We’d been on the road for several hours before we stopped outside a service station. Thrilled to have the opportunity to escape the smell of the bus and find a working toilet, I bolted for the closest convenience store and ran for the restrooms. Caught up in my desperation, it took me a moment to realise I was heading into ankle deep water which had all sorts of unpleasantries floating in it… dry retching, I turned around, ran out the door and straight around the back of the service station.
Although peeing in the open two metres from a service station in the middle of outback Romania sounds horrific, it was then and there that I realized how far I’d come. I may still have a completely unreasonable fear of porta-loos and public toilets, but give me wide open spaces, some paper and hand sanitizer and I will be just fine!
Yep, you read it right. Last week I drove to work in my thongs and it ended in disaster.
For those of you from the USA who read my blog, I know, I know… and yes, I was driving to work in my thongs – two of them – and when I got there I realized I had no shoes on!
Confused? Don’t worry, so was I!
As everyone in my life knows all too well – I am a complete shambles at the best of times. I fall over, run into things, accidentally tell strangers that I love them, forget how to get home and vomit regularly. However, in recent months, I had been reaching all new levels of coordination and things were going swimmingly.
No longer was I the bitter, sarcastic blogger who dated psychopaths and had an unreasonable fear of fake hair… As I said to another blogger several months ago, it’s hard to blog sarcastically when you’re happy with life… (and yes, contrary to popular belief, I had been getting out of the house at that point in time!)
Alas, it all came unraveled when I wore my thongs on the drive to work on Thursday. I had stayed at my boyfriend’s house, which sends me on a total different route to work and it was one of the first really warm days of the year, so I had just thrown my thongs on at the last minute as I ran out the door, not thinking much of it. I’m someone who avoids shoes at all costs, so I always keep a pair of work flats on the car floor for everyday use.
Unfortunately I didn’t think much of the fact that I had sent my car in to be serviced either, and the car that I had borrowed (strangely) did not come with a pair of emergency shoes on the passenger side floor. So, to cut a long, dramatic morning short, I turned up to work with no shoes, frantically yelling out to a colleague across the carpark something along the lines of ‘My shoes! My shoes! No shoes! No shoes! OMG! Shambles! HELP! HELP!’ while waving both arms frantically in the air…
Ah, you know that look of panic people get as they desperately think of a way they can pretend they don’t know? Yep, that look is ALLLL too familiar for me!
So half an hour and one trip to Kmart later, I had a pair of $8 shoes making my feet sweat and I was back on track. Or so I thought…
This morning, I took the same route to work. I was back in my own car (spare shoes and all) and for a Monday, the day was looking fine. About half way through my drive, I switched my handsfree thingemy on in case I got a call, as I’d thrown my bag somewhere in the back of the car and had no chance of reaching my phone if I needed it.
Beep… Beeep… attempting to connect… no phone found… attempting to connect… no phone found…
After a small panic, I ran into the office, waving my arms in the air like a madwoman. My colleagues have come to await the daily drama that tends to signify my arrival, so there was an air of anticipation as I ran into the office yelling ‘Don’t worry, I’ve got my shoes! I DON’T have my mobile phone but it’s going to be OKAY!’
Being a Gen Y girl and lacking the ability to memorise a single phone number since about 1999, I had no idea what my boyfriends phone number is. So I called myself. No answer. Redial…
Yep, oh shizz indeed! But we had a plan, boyfriend would drop phone to my office at lunchtime and I would buy him lunch, which I did. I was all ‘sit down, get comfortable, let me buy your lunch and drink and prove my gratitude for you driving halfway across Melbourne for me…’
And then it fell apart…
In an effort to be super helpful and after I was clearly told the squeezy ketchup sachet wasn’t opening, I insisted on having a crack at it and with all my strength, attempted to outsmart what was, I swear, the most complicated condiment packaging ever made.
Unfortunately… the ketchup won…
We were both covered. As was our table, my bag, the entire pile of napkins on the table, the chair next to me… and the random stranger sitting no less than two metres away from me.
I spent the entire afternoon pulling pieces of dry, crusty ketchup from my ponytail and fringe while randomly bursting out in fits of giggles.
I took it as a sign I had been neglecting my blog.
The universe has spoken. I will blog more.
I will also stop wearing thongs in the car… Except on weekends and public holidays.
And possibly also eating ketchup.
Also – I’m still scared of fake hair.
I have always been told that when you receive flowers from a man for no apparent reason, it’s a sign that he is cheating on you. I don’t exactly agree with this theory, but I do find the whole flower-giving thing fascinating.
I remember being younger and always wanting a nice boy to give me flowers. Not some crummy bunch of roses or, even worse, a single rose, but a pretty, well-planned and thoughtful bunch of flowers, which may or may not feature lilies or something similar.
But the flowers I envisaged and the flowers I actually got back then were vastly different. The lilies were replaced by god-awful weed-like flowers and the beautiful, ribbon-bound box was replaced by clear and white flowery glad-wrap that screamed of having been bought in a hospital foyer or stolen from a cemetery.
As I got a bit older, I completely lost interest in flowers. I never expected them and never really got them, but when I was about 25, I started to notice that they were making a comeback. Gone were the days, however, of flowers bringing joy and happiness.
First, there was the bunch that arrived with the statement ‘I might have an STD…’ (please note that the might turned out to be a definitely did not) and then there were the ones that came shriveled up after being hidden behind the heater in the lounge room for an indeterminate period of time, resulting in me arriving late for work after being ordered to go to the florist to exchange them…
Yep, flowers weren’t so glamorous anymore. They brought disease scares, anger and embarrassing encounters with florists. But I am a girl and don’t we all, deep down, dream of one day receiving flowers from a secret admirer declaring their undying love for us?
What we don’t realise though, is that this is actually the behavior of sociopaths and serial killers… and holiday crashers… yep, holiday crashers!
I mean, if you really think about it, if a person has the ability to interact with people, hold a conversation and enter into a real-life relationship, why wouldn’t they just mosey on over and ask you out? Alas, hindsight is a wonderful thing…
Back in 2009, I was a few months into my current (recently resigned from) job. Part of my role back then was to do presentations to young people about living and working overseas. Me being me, this involved lots of goofiness, many bad jokes and technical disasters.
My main problem with these presentations was that if I told a joke or a story that should get a laugh didn’t, I would just keep on pushing… bad joke after bad joke… higher pitch… faster talking… and it would start getting just plain awkward.
For example, I was once talking about San Francisco and started telling the story about riding a bike over the Golden Gate Bridge, taking a wrong turn (can you even take a wrong turn?) and ending up going overland to Sausalito all the while turning right involuntarily because I get balance issues when riding in the wind…
Alas, after being met by dead silence, this story led to the one about getting lost on a ‘quick drive’ before returning the hire car, the one about accidentally offending a group of dutch backpackers after telling one that his friend smelt like cabbage and finally wrapping it up with a declaration that I love San Fran because the hills made me feel like I was in Full House…
You know, FULL HOUSE?
It must be my lisp, audience does not comprehend… Cue terrible attempt at singing the Full House theme song:
Everywhere you look… everywhere you go (there’s a heart)… There’s a heart, a hand to hold onto.
Silence… crickets chirping… tumble weeds rolling through the room… you get the idea.
To this day I tell myself the crowd were just too young. They clearly didn’t know Mary-Kate and Ashley when they were knee-high to a grasshopper!
But back to my story, I was having one of these HORRIBLE evenings where the crowd was giving me absolutely nothing. No number of cheesy jokes, funny stories or even crowd interaction was saving it and besides one over enthusiastic guy in the second row, whose fake laugh was way too elaborate to be genuine, the audience were having none of it.
So you can imagine my complete shock when a massive bunch of roses turned up at my office two days later with a card that read:
I saw your presentation the other night and have been thinking about you ever since. Do you want to go for a drink sometime?
My colleagues and I tried to think of who it could be, with one suggesting it was ‘probably that one person who was laughing at your jokes!’ and after some crafty investigation, I had a full name and an email address.
Looking back, I should have read between the lines, seen the unwritten references to kidney stealing and paid attention to the music that started repeating in my head.
But really, the guy had made a pretty big effort and as someone who cannot even remember having asked anyone on a date before, who was I to reject someone without even meeting them?
So, I went on a date with him and despite there being no chemistry whatsoever and him judging me for liking Simon and Garfunkel while saying his favourite type of music was ‘anything they play on Triple J’… I didn’t regret it. I told him I wasn’t interested, we agreed we would be friends, added each other on Facebook and caught up a few more times before he went overseas.
Fast-forward to early 2011 when I was planning a work trip to Canada, followed by a week of Tennizzlle-time in New York City on the way home. I was contacting a few business partners and customers who were over there to catch up, one of whom was this guy. He wasn’t going to be in the cities I was visiting in Canada, but was going to NY with some friends around that time. I sent him my dates and said we’d have a drink if we crossed paths.
A week before I left, he emailed saying he had great news, it turns out we were going to be in NYC at the same time, so we agreed to have a drink. It all seemed so normal…
We met at a bar downtown before dinner and had a quick beer. We had the quick catch up, how’s life, blah blah blah, and then I asked him ‘So, what are you even doing in New York?’
His response: ‘I came to New York to spend the week with you’
This guy had driven from Montreal to New York to holiday with me… without me knowing.
After a few deep breathes, I talked myself into it. I’m the queen of miscommunication and I probably misunderstood something along the way. I’m sure it’s fine, when he says SPEND the week with me, he doesn’t mean SPEND the week with me. Nervous laugh, nervous laugh…
That was Thursday night.
By Friday, it was clear that he did actually mean spend the entire week with me…. Every single second of it…
‘Oh, you want to go to Forever 21 and try on seventy dresses? I’ll come!’
‘Oh, you want to purchase outfits for your dogs? That sounds like great fun!’
‘Should we plan out all our evenings in advance and buy tickets to everything?’
‘Let’s go to the farmers market and buy some food to cook in the luxury Soho apartment I have rented for us to hang out in’
By Saturday, I had lost my shit. Somewhere between Canal Street and Union Square, after being dragged around by his know-it-all self all afternoon trying to find ‘the best coffee in New York’, I had had enough. I hadn’t spoken to him for at least an hour when I made my escape, yelling something along the lines of ‘Space! Tennizzlle time! Forever 21!’ before throwing myself into the midst of a crowd of fast moving locals and running for my life.
A few months later, I was at work one afternoon and received a text message from a US number.
‘Hey, are you free to catch up?’
Assuming it was someone from our US office, I responded ‘Yeah, sure, but I have no idea who this is!’
‘Oh, sorry, it’s Michelangelo*, I’m in Melbourne but still using my Canadian number’
These days, if I want flowers, I just go buy myself some damn flowers. They’ll always be tasteful, they won’t be on the verge of death, they won’t die overnight and I will be able to sleep soundly in the knowledge that my kidneys will still be attached when I wake up in the morning.
NB – In doing a little Google research for this post, I typed ‘Flowers from a man’ into the search bar. I love the predictions Google comes up with and where they lead you. This time, I got ‘flowers from a man who shot your cousin’… as you do!
Also, if you were thinking about sending me flowers, feel free! I like lilies (just in case you didn’t get that) and I will accept them graciously. Just don’t be expecting me to go on a date with you afterwards!
*names and numbers have been changed, though not very well
The difference, however, between dating crazies and living with crazies, is that it often takes you much longer to realise that your housemates are a little NQR… they always seem so normal, so friendly, when you’re in the honeymoon phase, cooking each other dinner, playing super Nintendo late at night, doing your grocery shopping together…
But then you start to notice things that are a little off… your food is going missing… there’s bags of rubbish magically appearing on the kitchen floor… your facial soap has pubic hairs attached to it… and before you know it, you’re barricading yourself in your room at night and locking away your valuables!
When I look back, sometimes I start to question if it’s me and hell, maybe it is, but to the various crazies, sociopaths and compulsive liars I have lived with, you’ve definitely made life more interesting… and made me swear off ever living with randoms again!
The 38 Year Old Child
When I first moved in with this guy, I had just arrived in London after travelling for six months. He was also an avid traveller and despite our age difference (I was 23) we got along fantastically and had a great time living together.
I mean sure, there were signs… him asking me to lean out of shot when photos were being taken so his girlfriend didn’t know we were on holiday together… telling me how much he liked to have a ‘token Australian’ in his friendship group… refusing to talk to me after I announced I was moving out… and then keeping my bond…
But still, the penny didn’t drop until a week or two later when I realised he’d been leading his girlfriend to believe we were in the midst of a passionate affair and he was so torn between us he couldn’t commit to moving in with her…
The Angry Door Slammer
My very first experience of living with a nutter, I ended up living with this girl, who was a friend of a friend, after all three of her housmates moved out simultaneously and left her alone in a four bedroom house… I was told they’d all gone their separate ways and the house was so well located she’d decided to stay… It turned out they had ditched her and moved around the corner together to get away from her crazy ways. But it was still months before I realised this…
Initially, she just seemed a litte tense and a wee tad highly strung, but slowly the mood swings started getting more erratic. Power sockets were pulled out of walls, every door in the house would be slammed upon her arrival and departure and she screamed the house down when she couldn’t connect to someone else’s internet, but the highlights would have to be the following:
The time she sat her flu-infected self on the couch and proceeded to:
Grab tissue – blow nose – shove tissue down side of couch – repeat
Several weeks later, another housemate who was on lounge cleaning duty pulled up the couch cushions to find at least ten dirty, hardened tissues still stashed in the base.
The time I had a uni friend over and after demanding to know ‘WHO TOUCHED THE REMOTE CONTROL’ she abruptly told my friend (who she was meeting the first time ‘Oh, it was YOU? Well, yeah, in future just DON’T TOUCH IT!’ Awkward silence.
The time another housemate and I were watching Dr Doolittle while discussing our dislike of guinea pigs (nothing against guinea pigs, but if you’ve had one poo in your sleeping bag, you can understand where I’m coming from) and the angry door slammer walked into the room, announcing ‘Oh, guinea pigs! We should get a house guinea pug!’ We laughed and housemate explained that we were just discussing how much we didn’t like them. Angry door slammer lost it, screamed at us and proceeded to slam the doors so hard her plate flew off its perch on the armchair and shattered on the floor.
We never mentioned guinea pigs again.
The Meat-Eating Vegetarian
In the same house as the angry door slammer, I lived with the meat-eating vegetarian. I was vego at the time and had been for a good five or so years, mainly because I didn’t like meat (don’t judge me, this is no longer the case), but meat-eating vegetarian was in the early stages of vegetarianism and I was never quite sure what her motivation was… perhaps she was chasing a vegetarian boy, or thought being vego made her seem more intellectual… maybe she just thought it was cool.
Alas, she was clearly struggling and would often ask me for advice on managing the lifestyle… and then there was confession, which took place every few weeks:
Tenn… I need to tell you something… I accidentally ate chicken yesterday…
Tenn… it’s so hard… there was LAMB… and it was RIGHT in front of me…
Tenn… you just don’t know what it’s like to be hungry ALL the time!
Oh my god woman, just admit that you’re a carnivore and stop wasting my time! I don’t care!!!
The Peeing Dog
I realise this sounds like a yoga pose, and perhaps it is, I wouldn’t know, but the peeing dog was my last housemate experience and quite possibly the reason I now live alone.
Peeing dog arrived when I was living with a couple last year. They were staying in my house while theirs was being built and although my house is pretty small for three people, things were travelling pretty smoothly and then it happened… peeing dog arrived.
Initially it was funny, that peeing dog got excited when he saw me and couldn’t control his bladder, but then peeing dog got bigger and bigger… and so did his bladder… and I was no longer able to avoid him when he came bounding at me, pee spraying everywhere as he knocked me to the ground.
My dogs were freaking out, the house smelt like dog pee and I was living life on the edge. It all came to a head one day when, after a particularly awkward run-in which saw me with dog pee in my hair and needing windscreen wipers on my sunglasses, peeing dog had been locked in the backyard by himself.
I had been at the park and as soon as I came home, peeing dog started attempting to charge through what was once the doggy door (until he ate the ‘door’ part and it became more of a doggy chute), then decided a better option was to attempt to get to be through the closed glass sliding doors to my kitchen.
He jumped, he clawed and he ripped holes in the fly screen, before landing on, and smashing a porcelain dog bowl to pieces.
I hyperventilated, turned my back to him and walked out of the room to the safety of the lounge, where midget dog, ginger dog and I curled up on the couch and ignored the ruckus coming from the backyard. And then…
Crunch… crunch… smash… crunch… smash…
I snuck to the window to find peeing dog EATING the porcelain dog bowl and had a dilemma… although dumb and with bladder problems, peeing dog did not need to die of porcelain consumption. So I edged the door open and reached out, feeling the warm spray of pee running over me as he pounced on me… and I was done, peeing dog had to go!
There’s plenty more… the shit talker… the hussy… the guy who sold all our household items… and right after the publication of She Thinks You’re a Raving Lunatic, the gripping follow up will be titled When Good Housemates Go Bad… written in collaboration with my friend and ex-housemate, who shall remain nameless but who always managed to not leave pubic hair on the soap, never argued over tomatoes and never left naked randoms in the lounge room.
I personally, am not a big fan of faking sick days. I live in fear that if I pretend to be sick the universe will come back to bite me and one day I will be genuinely, horribly ill and I either won’t have any sick leave left to take, or no one will believe I am actually sick.
As a result, I have a bucket load of sick leave accrued. True story. It would be more if it weren’t for that awful, seemingly never-ending bout of conjunctivitis I was cursed with back in November (how does a full grown adult even catch conjunctivitis these days, anyway?), which took over my life for a good three weeks.
But to the point – given my lack of expertise on the matter, this post is not about how to call in sick. I, clearly am not an expert on that topic as more often than not I am sent home after being identified as a potential source of contagion for some all-consuming super bug that is trying to destroy the entire human race… Nope, this post is about my experience of other people calling in sick, which, in my workplace, they have to do directly to me.
The scratchy throat
Something that continues to baffle me is that everyone who calls in sick, regardless of whether it’s for a stomach bug, headache, sprained ankle, dizziness or fatigue puts on a scratchy throat voice while telling me they’re not coming in.
Omg, I don’t care if you’re taking a mental health day to go get some fresh air by the beach, but if you’re going to lie to me, at least think through your whole act before you attempt to convince me!
When I answer the phone and you sound like Gollum from Lord of the Rings, my heart honestly skips a beat. My overactive imagination has already assumed you have been taken over by an evil spirit/woke up in a bath of ice with your kidneys missing/are on a mission through the depths of hell to save the human race, all you need to do is be creative. Ideally, the conversation would go like this:
You (Cue Gollum-esque voice): ‘I just don’t think I can makes it into work today…’
Me: ‘Oh, no! What’s happened?’
You: ‘They cursed us. Murderer they called us. They cursed us, and drove us away. And we wept, Precious, we wept to be so alone.’
You: ‘Oh! Cruel hobbit! It does not care if we be hungry. It does not care if we should die! Not like Master. Master cares. Master knows. Yes, precious… ‘
Me ‘Did you just call me a Hobbit?’
You: ‘Yes, gollum. But perhaps we sits here and chats with it a bitsy, my precious. It likes riddles?’
Me: ‘I’m confused… but you sound terrible, maybe take tomorrow off too?’
But alas, no one is even remotely creative when calling in sick and the conversation is more along the lines of:
You (Cue Gollum-esque voice): ‘I just don’t think I can makes it into work today…’
Me: ‘Oh, no, you sound terrible! What’s happened?’
You: ‘I hurt my foot.’
Me: ‘Okay… Make sure you get a medical certificate!’
The pre-planned day off
A word of advice to anyone thinking about pulling a sickie – do not tell your boss the day before that you have a tickle in your throat and think you need a day off just in case you get sick.
‘Oh, you’re sick? Is it really bad? Do you think you better go see a doctor?’
‘Yeah, pretty bad, definitely need to see a doctor…’
‘Great! Make sure you get a medical certificate while you’re there!’
‘Oh… erm… I… erm… I dunno if it’s that bad…’
‘Look, we don’t want you getting any sicker, so better safe than sorry! See you tomorrow!’
Eating bad sushi the night before your last day of work
When you’ve requested to finish your employment contract early so that you can fly to another country to start a new job and your manager has done everything in their power to negotiate this for you, but has only been able to get your last day to be one day after you requested… the bad sushi the night before line is just not going to cut it.
Just call and say:
‘You know how I said I booked my flight for Wednesday? I actually booked it for Monday night and I’m calling you from overseas. I’m sorry’
‘No, no, that echo you hear is not from this being an international call, it’s just from the evil sushi I ate last night, it’s making my voice echo…’
Guess who’s getting on a flight back to Australia to fulfill their employment contract!
Calling in Sick By Proxie
Ah, this old chestnut! When you can’t even be bothered feigning illness, just get someone else to do it for you!
And most of the time, you don’t even need to call, just text:
‘Sick as. Tell boss, pls. Lol. Thnx.
Alas, there is pretty much no chance that anyone is actually going to believe you, even if you are lying on your death bed.
Luckily, you’re most likely at the beach or somewhere equally relaxing, so you’ll be fully alert to deal with the fallout from your behavior.
Additionally, if you make a sudden recovery and retract your sick text halfway through the morning, you might convince a co-worker or two of your magical healing, but your boss will suspect you’ve lied to attend a job interview, so blocking your (currently public) Facebook page in advance is highly recommended…
And we all know how THAT story ends, don’t we?
Last week, I bid a sad farewell to something that has brought me much joy throughout my life… something that has been a comfort, a treat, a staple and a convenience… pasta, my friend, it’s time we went out separate ways.
I had been fighting it for months, refusing to accept that the crippling pain in my stomach was directly related to the wheaty goodness I had just eaten but after dealing the horrific possibility that I may have had to say goodbye to cheese, I (reluctantly) accepted my fate, and with it, I had a shocking realization… I was not just, after twenty-something years, slightly intolerant to something… I was getting old.
So I started Googling the ‘Seven Signs of Ageing’ that the make up commercials warn me of… I don’t wear make up, so the ads were all I had to go on.
But, being in my late twenties, the signs, which include wrinkles, pores, blotches, dullness, unevenness, tone issues (not the vocal kind – there’s no saving them!) and dryness, weren’t very applicable… I mean, don’t we all get wrinkly, dry and a bit blotchy every now and then? Most often following a night passed out on the bathroom floor after too much Chandon Rose?
I had a think about what’s changed over the past few years. Sure, I can’t bounce back from a night out like I used to, I no longer approach things with the blind optimism of a teenager and having a mortgage is a fortnightly reminder of being a full-fledged grown-up, but I realized that I do have seven regular reminders that I have, most definitely, left my youth behind…
Sign 1 – The evil bloat
For me, it was pasta, but the evil bloat can be caused by a range of foods and drinks normally associated with happiness and joy… cheese, wine, pizza, beer and cider to name just a few. At one point I remember being keeled over on the bathroom floor, actually thinking I was either dying, on the brink of an appendix explosion, or pregnant.
The first theory proved incorrect when I was still alive the next day, the second didn’t match the Google explanation of where my appendix were actually located and the third was quickly shut down by my friend who told me Jesus would not consider me a good candidate for an immaculate conception.
Alas, I had experienced the evil bloat and there was no going back.
Sign 2 – Discussion of the evil bloat
I know, I know, I’m kind of throwing myself into this one by even writing this post, but I was out with a group of girls my age a few weeks ago and in the midst of a fun night of wine and celebration, the conversation actually came to a discussion of food intolerances and stomach bloating.
For a good ten minutes, I was totally engrossed in the conversation until I stopped and took a long, hard look at myself… oh, the shame!
Sign 3 – Physio visits more than once a month or two
This time a year ago, I had never even been to a physio, now I find myself there so often that my physio knows more about my life than most of my friends do.
The other day we had an awkward moment when, mid-consultation she questioned why I had a line of black ink down my chest… I refused to tell her, she was persistent, I wasn’t budging and things got awkward. I think she felt betrayed… as a result, my shoulders are just going to have to sort themselves out for a few months!
Sign 4 – Fear of fluorescent lighting
Quite possibly one of the worst inventions ever, in recent years I have had numerous run-ins with fluorescent lighting, many of which led to at least ten minutes of horror, realising that overnight I had become a pasty, wrinkly mess before realising that I do not actually resemble a corpse and the lightling is just messing with my head… I swear to destroy you one day, fluorescent lighting…
Sign 5 – Regretting those personalised number plates I got when I was 21
Not because people might assume that I am a bit of a bogan, but because they’re clearly stating your year of birth… and I know, I have absolutely no excuse for driving like this at my age… but if you just gave way to me whenever I tied to cut in, we wouldn’t have a problem, would we?
Sign 6 – I have no idea how to download music
Being someone who works with social media and manages websites and databases at work, I have absolutely no excuse for this, but I honestly have no idea how to download music… or movies… or tv shows.I STILL buy the box sets when they are released.
I do, however, have fond memories of Napster and Limewire and when you’d be halfway through belting out Whitney Houston’s ‘I wanna dance with somebody’ when full-bore white noise would scare the crap out of you and you’d nearly crash your car… ah, those were the days!
Sign 7 – Finding yourself muttering ‘Ah, the kids these days…’
Yep, I know… What have I BECOME???
I don’t have a particular hatred for them; I just do not have any urge whatsoever to participate in them. Or, if I’m being completely honest, to watch them either.
Being an Aussie, this seems to be a particularly difficult fact for people to deal with.
Early last year, I was on a first date when out of nowhere the guy turned to me with a confused look and asked:
‘So… what sports to do you play?’
I was stumped. Not just by the fact that this was a point of conversation, but that this was even a question for anyone who no longer had compulsory PE classes!
‘What do you mean none? What sports do you like then?’
‘Well… what do you DO then?!?’
‘Ummm… normal things, what do YOU do?’
Silence… ‘Good point’
I might add that this conversation occurred with someone whose sporting activities consisted of a weekly Frisbee game and riding his bike to dates… who was he to judge?
The incident, however, made me even more anti-sport and got me thinking about the cause of my total disregard for what is an inbuilt passion for most of the population… and when it comes down to it, I can honestly say it can be attributed to one thing…
Otherwise known as the most pointless sport on the face of the planet and one which I was forced (not even exaggerating, FORCED) to play for years!
Let me take you back for a moment to my childhood when I was attending a small Christian-obsessed primary school in Melbourne’s east.
They had fairly creative interpretations on how Jesus wanted us to live and by the time I had left at the end of grade 6, I was fairly certain of the following facts:
- The Wakefield twins from Sweet Valley Twins were actually the devil incarnate
- My new puppy was never going to make it to heaven because God didn’t have enough room
- Slap bands were evil (I’m not quite sure how, they just were!)
- If I didn’t get praying every night, there was a fairly good chance that I, too, would have lost my place in heaven by the time I started high school
Having said that, I did also learn a few invaluable things during my time there, the most useful of which was that if you have something stuck in your eye, blow your nose like crazy and whatever it is will eventually vanish…
And the least useful of which was that sometimes when you need a band aid and your school has forgotten to order more, it’s okay to just wrap your damaged body part in sticky tape and hope the bleeding stops…
But back to the story – team sports!
For the first few years of primary school, we had mixed sports, where we would all line up and walk down to the park to play rounders, or softball or go running. I was okay with this, I loved getting covered in mud and throwing myself in the line of flying objects.
But then came grade five… and new students… and one over-enthusiastic, netball-loving mother… and it was all over.
Every PE class, all the boys would line up and head to the park for ‘boy-sports’, while we were left to play netball in the schoolyard.
For two long years, they played this cruel joke on us, which involved having us ‘select’ our sports at the beginning of each term. Every term I would rate 1-9 every sport BUT netball, which I refused to acknowledge as a sport, yet every term I would end up Wing Attack (otherwise known as the dullest position in all of sporting history) in the midst of ten or so squealing girls who would cry if the ball hit them.
So I decided to take a stand against this absurd excuse for education! I would change the sporting curriculum and fight for the rights for girls to play whatever sports they chose!
Alas… taking a stand in a school of 100 kids doesn’t really go far and instead of leading our year level on an anti-pivot revolution, I found myself sitting alone in the shade on the only grade 6 mixed sport day, after an incident involving a protest against legionnaires hats and some badly planned chants…
But I was not done! This was just the beginning of my lifelong revolt against team sports…
I let things slide for a few years and actually made the odd effort to get involved. In year seven, I attempted that jumping thing over the stick and even swam in a swimming carnival (I’m not entirely sure this was voluntarily, but I’m taking it anyway!)… Then things started to go a bit haywire once again…
First, I got in trouble for pitching overhand in baseball and then got squashed when a large girl with fuzzy hair and a giant scab on her arm fell backward onto me when I wasn’t paying attention during some kind of marching event… Not long after, I got hit in the head with a volleyball and got reprimanded for kicking a squishy ball INSIDE the sports centre…
It was not going well… but I had not given up all hope… And then it got to year nine and they sent me to camp…
But not just camp, this was an eight-week camp I like to refer to as hell.
I got sick from the fresh air, then when I threw up in my bed the nurse found my chocolate stash in my pillow. I got in trouble for holding a chicken ‘offensively’ and was forced to apologise in French – to the French teacher… Porqoui? JE NE SAIS PAS!
I suspect they saw my disdain, my lack of cooperation and my total disregard for their completely ridiculous teachings… Because when it came to elective day, they told me the only option left for me was team sports…
I’m not joking.
So, first thing that morning, I marched myself straight over to the farmer and talked myself into his class on farm skills. Yep, farm skills… And I spent the WHOLE day with my hand up a cows arse!
But, you know what? That was a million times better than spending it running around after a ball, or swinging a bat, or pivoting…
And from then on, I quit team sports. I don’t and won’t play them, and as far as watching them goes… if you promise me LOTS of free beer and cute boys… I’m open to negotiation.
Over the past few years, I have travelled a lot… and by a lot, I mean A LOT. I am actually more comfortable with a 14-24 hour international flight these days than a 1.5 hour domestic one. I have no idea why.
Maybe it’s because on a long flight, I know I’m stuck. I can’t see the end of it, so I resign myself to spending a good chunk of time reflecting on life, eating bad food, having conversations with myself and reading trashy magazines… all those little things I don’t get to do in my real life.
Having flown so much, I consider myself something of a plane master. I have the toilets and emergency exits down pat, I know which toilets are busy when and exactly when to bolt there to avoid the post-meal un-pleasantries that can make or break a long-haul flight.
I’m also an expert on the look that says ‘I take no responsibility for the state of that toilet, it was like that before I went in’, the one that says ‘if you only have one meal option left do not ask me what I would like or I will lose my shizz at you’… oh, and let’s not forget ‘touch me one more time and I will make the rest of this flight hell for both of us’… Unfortunately the look that says ‘touch me one more time and I will rip your throat out with my bare hands’ is not plane-appropriate and should be saved for that awkward moment when you see your seat invader/psycho seating companion at the luggage carousel… by then, it’s game-on!
Alas the highlight (or lowlight, depending on where you’re sitting) of any flight is the abundance of weirdos that you encounter.
I don’t think I’ve been particularly unlucky on flights. I once saw a girl who had been wedged in the middle of three seats with an obese man vomiting his guts up on the window seat to her left. The flight was full and no matter how much she begged, there was nowhere for her to move to. Her face is still burnt into my memory and every time I think my seating companion is bad, I think of her and am grateful that the worst of mine only threw food scraps at me while they thought I was asleep…
But while they may not have been THAT bad, there have certainly been some interesting people who I have encountered along the way. So, in honour of them all, I have written the following:
An Ode to the Crazies – An open letter to all the nutters who I have been (un)fortunate enough to encounter along my travels.
You probably don’t remember me, but we spent a significant amount of time together. More time, in fact, than I manage to spend with some of the closest people in my life over a six-month period.
Maybe you thought my short legs and apparent ability to curl up into a compact unit made me the ideal seat buddy. Maybe you were impressed by my lack of luggage in the overhead compartment, leaving ample space for you and your seven bags (I like to be prepared to evacuate with all my belongings in case of an emergency). Maybe you saw my copy of NW tucked into my seat pocket and thought you might be able to have a crack at the crozzle while I was on a toilet break… or maybe, you didn’t notice me at all.
I, however, noticed you and for whatever reason, maybe your twitching, seat invading, insistence to eat your food as if you don’t have hands or your tendency to touch me without reason, the memory of our time together has stayed with me ever since.
Look, I accept that you may have been travelling for the first time. You may have been overwhelmed by the size of the plane or underwhelmed by the size of your seat… I have my suspicions though, that this was not your first foray into international travel. For some of you, like the guy who kept bragging about how this holiday will take him to 10 (yep, TEN!) countries visited (Him: “I’ll bet you can’t possibly have been to any more than that!”… Me: silence… Him: “Are you impressed?” Me: “No, I’m counting… 26… 27… 28”… Awkward silence…), I know this to be a fact.
One thing you learn from travelling regularly is a great concept of both personal space and division. Yep, division. See, there’s four seats and two people (you and me)… Four seats/two people = two seats each.
This allows for the perfect amount of sleeping space for both of us. Let me be clear here, this does not mean three seats for you and one seat for me, so do not lift up all the armrests during take off, (“eet eez fur murr rooomzzz!”) before shoving your legs as far over as they go. If you can’t resist the urge, fine. But then do not kick me when the lack of arm rests means my feet encroach on your second seat. Also, throwing your food rubbish at my head when you suspect I am asleep (“I vaz aiming fur zee tray”) will result in me wishing an eternity of bad karma upon you and all that you love. Good luck with that!
On the topic of personal space, if you have a travel partner and you need to pee, please wake THEM up, not me, when you need to get out of your seat. They have an obligation to move for you, which I do not. On this note, when you or they lose your headset an hour into the flight, do not take this as an opportunity to shove your hands under my tightly wrapped blanket and start prodding around. I WILL make a mental note to slap you once off the plane. Oh, and when I notice ten minutes later that you are actually sitting on the missing headset, I will keep that information to myself as punishment.
Attempting to spot the personal details of your fellow passengers on their documentation does not come across friendly. I’d go more for creepy and bordering on crazy… You may be a US Marshall with a keen eye for detail, but no, my name is not Jane and I am not a lawyer… My name is Tennizzlle, I’m reading Town Planning for Dummies and I’m going to spend the rest of the flight regretting ever responding to your attempt at conversation… But nice try!
If you want to scare your neighbouring passengers away from you, a great trick is to start acting completely deranged as soon as the plane starts moving. Frantic coughing and hyperventilation, coupled with repeated dashes back and forth to the toilet before, during and immediately after take-off will instil fear in everyone around you. Other travellers MIGHT come to the assumption that you are planting an explosive device in the toilet or that you’re on the verge of soiling yourself… either way, I have no intention of giving up my aisle seat for you!
Most importantly, chit chat is discouraged in all circumstances, however if you feel some overwhelming need to speak to me, please keep it to a minimum and learn to recognise the signs of a person trying to finish a conversation with you. Some examples:
- Polite smile and nod while putting on headphones does NOT suggest that I wish to switch iPods so you can play me the top Christian albums of the past year.
- Polite smile and nod followed by ‘I’m just going to sleep, have a nice flight’ does NOT mean I would like to lean on you to go to sleep, but thanks for the offer!
- Polite smile and declining of your offer to spend two of your five days in Australia driving from Sydney to Melbourne to get to know me does NOT mean ‘let’s be friends!’ so please, do not add me on Facebook. In two months, when you send me a private message demanding why I haven’t made the effort to maintain our friendship despite your numerous public comments about my ‘beautiful smile’ and suggestions that I should visit you in the Texas sometime, things are going to get really damn awkward… And trust me, I will not be the one balancing a bruised ego with my semi-psychotic urges to marry a random I met on an airplane.
And finally, the golden rule of air travel… Calm the hell down! The plane may have touched the ground, but if you push, grab at or lean on me in a desperate attempt to get your luggage out of the overhead bin, I will tell immigration that you are carrying large quantities of undeclared fruit and vegetables… I’m Australian, okay? I KNOW the trouble that can cause! Have fun on your three-hour trip through customs!
*If you see me on a flight in the future, I am actually a very friendly person. However if you twitch, hit, yell, grab or add without good reason, stay the hell away from me!
I have some serious issues with hair. Other people’s hair, to be more specific. Have you ever had someone else’s hair just kind of make itself at home on your shoulder, desk or face? I’m not talking about the hair of a loved one on the pillow, but the hair of someone you don’t know well invading your personal space in all it’s fuzziness…
While travelling in Europe several years ago, I found myself on a boat with a tour group in Italy. All was fine and good until the girl next to me started to doze off. Her head fell forward first and stopped momentarily, before it started to swing… I saw it coming right at me, the whole head with her long ponytail swinging straight for my face. It stopped just short, resting on my shoulder and making itself at home.
Panicked, I started yelling and shaking the girl awake while desperately trying not to dry retch. Once she was back in an upright position, I spent the rest of the boat trip watching her out of the corner of my eye, ready to fight her and her space-invading ponytail off if necessary.
It was on that fateful day that I came to realise my extreme hatred for involuntary contact with other people’s hair and I have tried to avoid any altercations ever since.
Being someone with very long hair and a tendency to malt like a Pomeranian on steroids, I have learnt to adapt to my own hair attaching itself to my clothing, skin and household items. It’s safe hair, I know where it came from and I know that it’s clean.
Wet hair, even if it’s my own, makes me dry retch like there’s no tomorrow, but this is fairly easily avoided through a combination of strategic household cleaning and carefully executed exiting of swimming pools/baths/showers.
In recent months, however, I have started to notice a growing trend, which is making me increasingly nervous. It’s something I can’t control, but something that for some unknown reason is taking over the world…
Horse or human, fake hair not only has the power to drop without warning, it can also instil fear from any distance and it must be stopped!
In general, I am against pretty much anything fake; fake boobs, fake labels, fake nails and fake chicken to name just a few (and yes, fake chicken exists – trust me!), but I accept that other people enjoy these things, so I generally don’t judge. When I started to realise that fake hair was causing me some serious distress, I thought I was alone… until the other day.
I was walking from one side of the city to the other in a hurry, so wasn’t paying much attention to anything and had stopped to wait to cross the road. I looked directly ahead of me, where a well- groomed girl was standing. She was power-suited up, and in normal circumstances I would have been envying her shoes (generally power-suited people have shoes that I cannot afford), however the second I saw her hair, all I could think and see was ‘FAKE HAIR! FAKE HAIR! EXPENSIVE BUT FAKE HAIR!’
I was overwhelmed and started to feel unreasonably angry and slightly ill, so I took an emergency right and added an extra block to my walk to get away from her. That night, I started talking through the bad experiences I have had with fake hair.
Surprisingly, I realised that I am not alone in my hatred and the anti-fake hair movement started gaining momentum.
A buddy of mine, who shall remain unnamed, quite eloquently summarised them as ‘borderline shazza (girl bogan)’ and encouraged me to ‘let others know about this common fail’. While another emailed me this little chestnut:
On the fake hair note, I was at the hairdressers last week and was telling my hairdresser that I wanted to grow my hair long and was complaining about having thin, boring hair. She was all like “you should totally get extensions” and I was like, “Ahh no. Blond extensions always look tacky and would make me look like one of Hugh Hefner’s girlfriends.” She then pointed to the tackiest looking fake haired, fake nailed, fake tanned girl in the room and was like “I did her extensions – they look so real. Not tacky at all right?” I immediately broke out in a chorus of “oooh, ahhh, so lovely!”
I would like to add in here that I am not talking about wigs. Wigs serve a purpose, whether it is because of hair loss or for a dress up party. I would even go so far as to say that I don’t have any major issue with someone giving hair extensions a crack every once in a while.
However, there is a line, which is getting crossed, and we need to take a stand against it.
So, I am offering a community service to anyone who needs it.
- Do you know someone with bad hair extensions and you don’t know how to approach it?
- Have you encountered someone with bad extensions, openly criticising someone else’s bad extensions?
- Do you find yourself asking – if the hair is fake, does it matter if it’s horse or human?
- Are you genuinely concerned that this person is unaware that society is judging them for whatever they have hanging off their head?
If so, please email email@example.com, providing the contact details of the person you would like this message passed on to, along with a reason why and your own contact details. I will happily send the following email on your behalf*:
Someone who cares a lot about you has requested that this email be sent to you anonymously. Maybe they’ve been meaning to raise the issue with you for some time or maybe they just don’t have the heart to tell you to your face.
You’re a great friend and you mean a lot to the people around you, but there’s something you need to know…
Your hair extensions aren’t working for you. Your friend believes they (please select) [look fake/look cheap/don't match your hair colour/just don't do your pretty face justice/look damn horrendous] and would like to suggest you remove them.
Unfortunately we cannot pass on the details of the person who nominated you to receive this email, but if you would like a response passed onto them, please feel free to send it through.
The We Need to Talk About Your Hair Team
Additionally, to lead the movement, I am introducing a ‘No Fake Hair’ zoning on my house. Visitors please note – When you enter, please leave both your shoes and your fake hair at the door.
*I won’t ACTUALLY send anything to your friend… Geez, I’m not a total bitch! However, I will enjoy you sharing your fake hair stories with me and may add them anonymously to this post.
I accept that grammatically, either way is acceptable, but I just don’t think it’s right.
Having said that, I was recently re-reading one of my blog posts which I had published in a hurry and I realised that I had unknowingly finished two bullet points with full stops and one with an exclamation mark. After hyperventilating for a short moment, I pulled myself together long enough to deal with it.
In fairness to myself, I had used the full stop when adding a final word or two to the point. For example:
- Pugs are awesome. Fact.
Totally necessary. But by using two full stops and one exclamation point, I had unintentionally thrown my entire post off balance.
There was only one solution – go back through and add a full stop to every bullet point… all the while accepting that this would result in me not sleeping that night.
I started thinking about what other totally minor things have threatened to tip me over the edge in recent months and fairly quickly realised that I might actually be insane. But hey, who is judging? These are just a few:
USING CAPITALS FOR A HEADING OR IN AN EMAIL
I’m not even joking, people actually do this. In reports, people like to use capitals all over the shop and it has, on occasion, very nearly killed me. If you need a heading, there’s this wonderful thing called bold which is designed for adding emphasis without screaming.
Excessive capitalising in email is particularly unpleasant at work when customers, or people associated with customers think they’ll get a better response from me by CAPITALISING all the AGRESSIVE words in their EMAIL… well, guess what? When I read the third misspelt and capitalised word you included, I lost all interest in helping you in any way. Instead, I have made it my mission to ruin your life!
If you’re reading this and you have a tendency to capitalise unnecessarily, please do not ever make me aware of this. It won’t go well. Capital letters should be reserved for the occasional emphasis of a single word and nothing else. For example -Pugs are AWESOME.
txt spk n emails (Text speak in emails)
Last year, I received the following one-line email from our IT guy at work:
“ok np.. ‘only’ looks a bit stupid in the comparison popup though imo”
After staring blankly at my screen for a good twenty seconds, I called a colleague into my office and said ‘I think IT Guy might be having a seizure!’
Apparently I’m just not down with the lingo. Mucho awkwardo.
I am the first to accept that I overuse the acronyms OMG and WTF and maybe it’s a double standard, but under no circumstances should lol, lmfao, np, imo, fml, ffs, ftw or ttfn be used in an email. It takes me more time to Google what it means that it would take you to just write in English!
And don’t even get me started on ‘totes’!
Using the space bar instead of tab
If you reeeeaaallly want to piss me off, put together a nicely aligned and spaced document which has been formatted without using the tab button. Go on, do it. I dare you…
I guarantee I will squeal, hyperventilate and not speak to you for at least two hours.
Even better, put the header content on the main page, the page number at the top centre and don’t bother with columns, just split all the text into two and put spaces between everything…. EVERYWHERE*!
Times New Roman
Do I need to elaborate? Why does this font still exist?!?
So now you’re starting to grasp how challenging my life is and you’re no doubt wondering how I cope…
I take a deep breath, open a new window in Google Chrome and search Google Images using two magical words ‘Awesome Pug’…
And just for you, my lovely blog readers, I am letting you into my world for a moment. This is the wall above my work desk, I call it The Wall of Pug Inspiration**!
*Please note totally appropriate use of capital letters
** Yes, that is Jacob on the top left. Yes, he has a speech bubble saying ‘I love you… see you tonight!’ but just hold your judgement, I am 100% Team Edward!