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.
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!
1. Every year goes quicker than the last
If I had a dollar for every time in the past few months that I have said ‘I can’t believe this year is almost over’, I would be a very rich girl (by rich, I mean I could afford a coffee and muffin every morning for a week without scrounging around the floor of my car)! 2011 has literally flown, courtesy of four trips overseas, work chaos, the continued disaster that is my love life and just life running at full speed. I started the year having an unexpectedly big night at a pub in Warrnambool, which seemed to set the pace for the year.
When discussing this with a friend recently, they said to me, ’it’s not that this year has gone fast, it’s just that every single year goes quicker than the last’… I’m torn as to whether I agree with this statement and as a result, I intend to make 2012 go as slowly as possible… Yes, I may be in denial, but I WILL slow down time, damn it!
2. Take compliments graciously and without hesitation
Me and tact do not have a relationship… it’s just not a skill I ever learnt. As a result, I don’t dish out compliments unless I mean them and the people around me know this. Having said this, I still encounter people who I give a compliment to and they insist on rejecting it.
My lack of social prompts means I’m never sure if they’re fishing for me to elaborate, think I’m mocking them (not an unreasonable assumption) or if they honesty think their uber-expensive shoes are actually not pretty at all. Seriously people, I don’t go dishing them out, take the compliment or you won’t be getting another one.
I actually learnt this lesson several years ago, but it came up many times in 2011. Compliments are easy to take and the more graciously you take them, the more often they’ll come. Now let’s practice:
Me: ‘Oooo, I love your dress!’
You: ‘Oh, thanks!’
3. If you like someone, tell them
Although this primarily goes for matters of the heart, it’s become my approach to everyone in my life. I would consider myself a fairly up-front person, but this year I learnt the value in just putting yourself out there.
If you think someone is awesome, tell them! If someone is kinda cute, tell them! If someone makes you laugh, tell them! And if someone makes your heart jump like it’s trying to leap out of your chest, tell them… chances are they feel the same. If not, you’ve lost nothing, you’ve saved yourself potentially months of wondering if they like you and above all, you will have most likely brightened their day with the compliment!
4. Babies are awesome
Okay, so I did already know this before 2011, however having not been around a new one for years and years, I had been kind of convinced that babies were maybe a little bit boring. It wasn’t until a good friend of mine had her first baby in the second half of the year that I realised that I am OBSESSED!
Despite living in a completely separate State to aforementioned baby, I have managed to buy her more clothes than I have bought myself this year… okay, slight exaggeration there, but definitely more than I have bought myself in the second half of the year! And equally as exciting – next year I will be an aunty for the first time! Yay!
5. Weddings are a big deal to some people – do not judge them
I would like to start off here by saying I LOVE weddings. I especially love when people I care about get engaged, married or even just happy, it warms my heart! However, in recent months I have realised that there is a fine line between a bride who is ‘excited’ and one who is ‘obsessed’ and that I am not to judge when it is crossed. Doing so will only end in awkward conversations… Even more awkward than those which you will be having with them once their all-consuming wedding has wrapped up.
I have also learnt the following: Buying a charity goat for someone who has asked for gifts of cash is apparently socially unacceptable, having a gift registry for your kitchen tea is normal and asking your nearest and dearest to invest a month’s salary in honour of your celebration will not result in you losing friends.
So, in light of this new-found knowledge, when the time comes, I now plan to elope. Or at a maximum have 10 people on a beach with no shoes on, no presents and no stress. I hereby promise this to everyone in my life. Hold me to it.
6. Having good tone is not so vital in life
In addition to lacking any tact in my life, I also struggle with tone. I had never given it much thought until one of my staff got a look of complete fear in his face when I was complimenting him on his work. Apparently my facial expression, tone and words were all contradicting each other and as a result, instilling fear in the poor guy.
So I started asking the people close to me for their opinion on the issue and sure enough, my tone issues were widely acknowledged, unbeknownst to me. So I set out to correct it, emphasising various words and attempting to add an inflection to my sentences.
After several months of experimentation, I came to the conclusion that good tone is over-rated. Bad tone often results in hilarious miscommunication and is a great conversation starter. The simple solution is, if I’m conversing with someone and they start to look confused, I exclaim loudly ‘I have bad tone!’, everyone laughs and a friendship has begun!
7. The ability to be blunt is a virtue
My most recent realisation is that bluntness is not a bad trait, I even believe it to be a virtue. I have always thought that my tendency to cut straight to the point was something that had to be changed, and spent years chit-chatting and prancing around whatever topic needed to be discussed.
In my most recent employment, I speak to a wide range of people across numerous fields. In an industry where everyone is trying to win each other over and impress each other, I start to feel like I am suffocating in fake niceties. Earlier in the year, I accepted that this approach just wasn’t me, I’m blunt in my personal life and decided to try a similar approach in my professional life.
The result – if you’re up-front with people, they’ll be up-front with you, communication is open and issues are overcome. PLUS, once the topic is dealt with, there’s more time for getting to know the person you’re meeting and enjoying your time with them!
8. Never assume people care about the minute details of your private life, because most often, they don’t
Okay, so I know this one sounds a bit harsh, but it is an important lesson. We all spend so much time worrying about what other people think of us and missing out on opportunities for fear of being judged. I personally will go over a conversation a thousand times in my head if I think I have offended someone (unintentionally), or said something out of line or inappropriate (a common occurence).
But when I actually think about the people close to me and their behaviour, I realise it doesn’t matter what you do, as long as you’re fun and happy and are making the most of life. I can barely remember the conversation I’m currently having with someone, let alone one that took place a week ago.
Stop mulling things over! If you have an opinion, share it! If you like someone, go for it! Don’t assume that everyone is focusing all their attention on you, because you’ll miss out on the opportunities that are presenting themselves to you.
9. Getting stuck in a snow storm is not such a bad thing
I am 100% a summer person and I absolutely hate the cold. Despite this, two friends and I went to Queenstown this past winter for a week spent learning to snowboard. It was a very fun and crazy week and we headed to the airport with heavy hearts, all not wanting to head home. Apparently Q’Town also didn’t want us to leave and after an epic snowstorm and many failed attempts to get out, our 7 day trip turned into a 12 day adventure.
Despite cabin fever setting in on about day 8 and each of us consuming our body weight in alcohol, our time there became one of the most memorable periods of 2011. By the time we had accepted our fate and let ourselves just enjoy the extended break, we had been lucky enough to see a once in a lifetime snow storm, eaten awesome food, met some fantastic people and become even closer friends for it.
10. See the humour in every situation
Being able to see the humour in every situation makes life bearable. This year so far I have had a staff member question my morals on Facebook (and get abruptly asked to resign), been delayed on numerous flights, had an immeasurable number of IT issues, had the entire work database and network die, be threatened by angry customers and had the most disastrous dating experiences, including on one occasion when I actually thought I was going to get my kidneys stolen…
At the time, what can you do? You can laugh about it, and remember the finer details so you can recount the story with accuracy next time you’re out drinking with your friends.
11. I will never learn to high-five
Ever. So please stop trying.