The week I went to see my doctor to tell her I was losing the plot was the same week the effectiveness of the SSRI family of anti-depressants was questioned after unpublished trial results were leaked.
It’s one of those moments at the roundabout where the road to enlightenment isn’t lit and signposted, but the way I’m travelling is the wrong way and perhaps any other way will help. After talking about my mood swings, foggy mind and general urges for self-destruction
Nausea/vertigo/out of body experiences/give me food or I’ll kill you
Yes to the first three, at the worst possible times, sweeping in from nowhere and almost sending me to the floor because I knew I couldn’t fall any lower. I went to work because I’d rather be busy than wallow in misery, but turning grey and zoning out probably wasn’t a good look. Often, in the same hour, an unassailable hunger would zoom in and I’d eat everything that wasn’t affixed to my desk. I left more than one meeting on the pretext of a phone call to go and stuff my face with almonds or bananas or chocolate chip muffins or whatever was nearest, then want to hurl it when the nausea kicked back in. My weight hasn’t fluctuated much, thank goodness, and things seem to have settled.
I didn’t sleep more than a few hours a night for the first week but was on an artificial fast-forward during waking hours anyway.
Blerk, had forgotten most medications make my mouth like the bottom of a cockie’s cage.
I’m usually up for leading or participating in a revolution any day of the week, but can’t be arsed. The revolution, led by Colin Firth in period costume atop a chestnut stallion, could pass down my street and I’d barely raise an eyebrow.
I’m a bit short-tempered and have to watch how I respond to others. It’s a bit challenging to manage and I’ve walked out of shops because someone has been served before me, rather than be assertive because I haven’t go the balance between confident person and virago.
Fewer, and less lucid, which seems to be helpful at the moment as I was remembering several nightmares every night. Sorting through the contents of my subconscious mind needs attending but it’s better at the moment to have that side quelled a little.
What is this libido thing, you say?
Those emotion things
I re-read my blog entry of an earlier date and changes in mindset at this time feel like a layer of insulation over my mind. The moments of laughter and feeling unconsciously free are fewer but the scary looks downwards into the darkness aren’t as deep. Overall, I don’t seem to be caring as much about most things, which comes with its own set of challenges when dealing with others, but at this stage seems preferable than trying to regulate the speed of a rollercoaster mind.
Depersonalisation and detachment, that’s the word.
Crank-o-meter: all that
Last year a World Wildlife Fund campaign encouraged Sydneysiders to turn their lights off for an hour to take a stand against global warming. This year, Earth Hour is being rolled out across another 20 countries, starting tonight in eastern Australia.
Earth Hour’s aim is to “express that individual action on a mass scale can help change our planet for the better.”
No one would argue that a planetary problem of this magnitude requires action from all of its inhabitants and that small, sustained change on a mass scale can make a difference. However, the meaning behind Earth Hour’s call to turn non-essential lights and appliances off for an hour is lost in the confusion between its symbolism and long-term action.
I respect Earth Hour’s encouraging approach to change, but the problems facing life on Earth have gone beyond hoping that people keeping turning the switches off after tonight. Turning electrical devices off at the switch is like trying to fight a house fire with a bucket of water – it feels like you’re doing something to slow the damage but in the longer term it’s still going to get awfully hot in here.
Coal-powered electricity plants are still the cheapest and most plentiful providers of power so using less is delaying the inevitable depletion of the world’s coal stocks. What country with a dwindling resource in the ground is going to say, “No, sorry, we won’t sell our remaining brown coal because of its impact on the atmosphere. Here, go to Germany and buy a windfarm development instead”?
Economics drives government policy and environmental impact does not co-habitate as an equal. Perhaps money and earthly effect won’t have shared billing until stocks of the fossil fuel triad of oil, coal and gas are close to exhaustion and necessity drives cost effectiveness of other energy sources.
Allowing people to use all the cheap electricity they like might encourage innovation and change sooner. No modern country will revert to horse and carriage when oil runs low and energy company will allow it to happen. The air we breathe will be dirtier and our weather and political climates more unstable, but that will be the cost of finally waking up to life without fossil fuels. Like any kind of addict, we might need to hit rock bottom before dragging ourselves towards a better way of life.
I subscribe to ‘green’ electricity, don’t drive every day, don’t eat meat and turn most appliances off at the wall. The righteous glow doesn’t last long as I still need 2.9 planets to sustain my lifestyle. With a growing world population and increased demand for cheap energy from countries like China, the day for change might be sooner than we realise. Earth Hour might wake up a few thoughtless consumers but beyond that it’s little more than symbolism.
I was updating my resume and re-visited my key qualities. These are the ones that’ll never be discussed at interview.
I was walking from the train station to work one fine morning and the head honcho drove past, waving merrily. It was difficult to return the greeting because I was adjusting my tracksuit pants and the portable music device slipped from my hand and fell down the inside of my pants, hanging by the earplug cord. I was bent over with one arm down my pants, the other arm stuck out to maintain equilibrium and probably showing half my butt to passing traffic. Hi, yourself!
During a course I was running on career management skills, I was asking hypothetical job interview questions and seeking responses from the group. One student took umbrage to a line of intense questioning and responded to my question with YOU ARE AN EVIL OVERLORD. Um, yes, thanks for your snappy character analysis, now provide the answer or get the hell out of my room.
I was working for an investment bank and returned a tad drunk after a Christmas lunch. It was my job to pick up the fund manager’s phone calls if he was busy and, this day, he was. All went well until he told me he was waiting for a call from the police about his house being burgled, and to make sure I put the call through. No problems, can do.
The phone rang. “Hello, W’s phone.”
“Is W there, please?”
“Yes, but he’s on the phone.”
“It’s Constable X from Brighton police station here.”
“Is it really the police?”
“Is that about W’s paedophile charges?”
There was pin-drop silence on the other end of the phone and deathly silence in the office.
I got off lightly and was sent to a desk without a telephone for the rest of the day.
I was conned into going to a meeting and got to the point where I was hungry, thirsty, needing to pee and wishing for a posse of vigilantes to barge in because it was all a bit boring. I excused myself for a toilet break and went for a walk, got a snack, checked my e-mail and realised half an hour had passed and it was too late to re-join the meeting politely. I did the next best thing and stayed at my desk until the meeting of a thousand snores ended.
When everyone had gone, I snuck into the room to collect my notepad and pen but my possessions had been collected by my boss. I had to see him to get them back.
A high-end consulting firm needed a temp for a few months so I got the gig and reported for duty. A migraine chose to inhabit my brainspace the same day and I dashed to the doctor’s office, which was located nearby. After a quick lie-down and some yellow pills, I went back to the office. It was, however, too late to stop the crippling nausea and I rushed to the toilet and vomited canary yellow froth over their nice marble bathroom.
A few weeks ago I was nominated to attend a course about some crap I have no interest in. I showed up at the appointed place and time with a suitable bored post-teen attitude in place but another course was running. I rejected someone’s offer to find my course’s new venue and skipped from the building, taking flight to the staff canteen. I hid behind the magazine rack for a reasonable period before strolling back to the office with my “But I showed up and the course wasn’t there” line of defence ready to go.
During the pleasant stroll back to work I realised I’d have to pass the nominator’s window. Out came Plan B. I took a long detour around some tennis courts and almost had to commando roll through a copse of trees to get back into the office undetected. I nearly shit myself from guilt when my phone rang as I entered the room. It was someone else, thankfully.
Looks like I’ll be bribing my referees.
Crank-o-meter: glowing with misplaced pride
Why I won’t be at the 2020 Summit
The Hon K Rudd
I was catching up on the news today and saw the guest list for your 2020 Summit. General Peter Cosgrove — tick, Rosemary Stanton — tick, Lachlan Murdoch – tick, Ms Crankypants – I do not see an invitation.
I assume the public holidays have delayed the mail as there’s no official correspondence in my letterbox except the phone bill. Regardless, I’ve already RSVP’d to the Henry Rollins spoken word show on 19 Apr (do you know how much time goes into selecting a pair of undies to throw at him FROM THE FRONT ROW?!) and I have the small issue of my birthday to attend to the following day. I’d come to your talkfest but I hate being at conferences for a birthday and someone finds out and there’s a really lame singfest roused up by the MC during an official speech and no one knows the birthday person and there’s never any bloody cake as compensation for the embarrassment. At least here I know there’s something with cake and chocolate in my travels or I’m not leaving my bed.
Therefore, I will be taking you up on your other (and less publicised) offer for all Australians to respond to the 10 issues on the table.
Future directions for the Australian economy – including education, skills, training, science and innovation as part of the nation’s productivity agenda
Economic infrastructure, the digital economy and the future of our cities
Population, sustainability, climate change, and water
Future directions for rural industries and rural communities
A long-term national health strategy – including the challenges of preventative health, workforce planning and the ageing population
Strengthening communities, supporting families and social inclusion
Options for the future of indigenous Australia
Towards a creative Australia: the future of the arts, film and design
The future of Australian governance: renewed democracy, a more open government (including the role of the media), the structure of the Federation and the rights and responsibilities of citizens
Australia’s future security and prosperity in a rapidly changing region and world.
I will not, however, be taking notice of your request in the submission form:
Each submission may be up to 500 words per topic to ensure that delegates are able to consider each of the submissions. If just one in every 1000 Australians comments on just one of the ten topic areas, each delegate may have to read more than one million words in the lead up to the Summit. Keeping your contribution concise will ensure that all submissions receive the attention and consideration they deserve.
Guess what? Boo f#@king hoo. If your hand-picked invitees are up for the job of guiding the future of all Australians, I’m going to encourage all Australians to have their say. Let’s see … the shithouse and expensive internet access to most of our country, the stupidly high cost of university education, the laughable-if-it-weren’t-so-backwards attitude towards maternity and paternity leave, ownership of our dwindling water supply, fair and equitable treatment of refugees and something that resembles a practical future for indigenous people are some starting areas. I’ll need to do some homework for the questions about our system of government and changes to Federation law, but that’s cool, I can spit out a quick 10 paragraphs and have them on your desk by the 09 April deadline. (Doesn’t leave much time for your team to collate, print, distribute and cogitate before the big weekend, but she’ll be right, mate.)
In conclusion, Kev, sorry I can’t be there but you will be hearing from me.
Crank-o-meter: revved up
Happy however you celebrate Easter. I’m one foot in the agnostic camp with another wavering in the atheist square, but it’s a perfect time of year to respect each other’s right to faith and belief, regardless of the denomination.
Peace, kindness and a big fat hug to you all (except the Haigh’s peppermint frog, because it’s going to have an unfortunate accident very soon).
Crank-o-meter: guilt about the frog
The lazy f#%ker dialogues
LF 1: Hey, love, let’s tidy up the spare room this Easter and turn it into a home theatre.
LF 2: Yeah, you’re home for a few days. Get off your lazy arse and clean it then.
LF 1: What are we going to do with this piss-stained mattress with broken springs?
LF 2: It’s still in good nick and doesn’t smell that bad. Let’s give it to charity.
LF 1: Orroight. Do you reckon they’d like our old lounge chairs? If they hammer a few nails and fluff the cushions they’ll come up a million bucks.
LF 2: They’ll love it, darling. Good thinking.
LF 1: I’ll take those old clothes down as well. Shall we wash them and put them in a plastic bag?
LF 2: Nah, they do all that themselves. No use doubling up on work.
LF 1: Too easy. Is it too late to drop stuff off or shall I do it tomorrow?
LF 2: The new lounge is arriving in the morning so get rid of it now.
LF 1: OK.
Several Australian advocacy groups have called for restrictions on junk food advertising to reduce the rate of obesity in young people.
A ban — proposed by several bodies including consumer group Choice — is called for advertising between 6am and 9pm. In addition, the groups have requested a ban on celebrity endorsement and use of cartoon characters and gifts to promote high fat, salt and sugar foods. Not surprisingly, research confirmed that most fast food advertising is during peak television times.
Choice’s representative called the findings, “Just amazing and really show why we need this ban. There is a complete imbalance in the advertisements being shown; they are not showing a balanced diet.”
Well, true that you see more ads for hot chips than lentil burgers, but I doubt the strength of the causal link that fast food ads encourage people to over-consume ‘unhealthy’ foods. Peak advertising time is also dinner time for most households so there’s marketing logic in food and drink providers advertising before the evening meal.
On the regulatory side, who is going to decide what comprises unhealthy food that should not be advertised? A green salad is healthy but not if it’s the daily diet of an anorexia sufferer. A souvlaki is a reasonable choice when eating fast food, but what if you’ve consumed a dozen alco-pop drinks before slamming one down? Is a fast food meal that bad if you eat it once a fortnight and you’re in a healthy weight range?
Hiding a problem doesn’t remove it and ignorance hasn’t fixed any of society’s challenges. Rather than ask the government to pretend that ‘bad’ food doesn’t exist, the country’s obesity problem needs to be tackled from different angles:
Adults need to reduce the amount of television watched by children. Leave the box off until after dinner so the kiddies can digest a healthy meal first, or watch TV together and ask kids about ads they see so they can learn about decision making and consequences. Children may not have the cognitive powers to know when a company is luring them, but they’re damn quick learners. If a four-year-old can lie on a supermarket floor and scream when she isn’t allowed to have a chocolate bar, she’s ready to learn about the advertising behind the treats.
Retain food advertising as the industry has as much right as any other to sponsor boring-as-shit TV shows. However, have nutritional information flashed on the screen for anything with a kilojoule content. A banana, stubbie of beer, burger meal, block of cheese, whatever, design a simple traffic light system for adults, teenagers and children for energy, nutrition, fat and salt. The Heart Foundation’s ‘tick’ system is good for companies that can afford the evaluation process but it’s too selective and doesn’t teach moderation in eating junk food.
Add nutrition studies from early schoolhood if it’s not already a core subject and teach children how to cook so they take pride in the food they create. Most kids will go off like frogs in socks if they get to make their own healthy pizzas in the classroom.
Make healthier choices available where families congregate, especially at sporting events. You can’t make people buy healthy food, but it can be a lot more accessible. I bought a sushi plate and fruit salad at an air show last year, so if fossil fuel-burning revhead events can get on board, so can football and cricket games
What’s school canteen food like these days? Fried food is cheap to store and prepare, but schools have a duty of care with kids’ health. That includes availability of a range of healthy food.
Exercise is the other vital link: as a nation we need to introduce genuinely flexible working hours so adults can be home more and hang out with their kids at the park, the swimming pool or at sport. Loosen the ridiculous management ethos that ‘first at the office, last out’ is a good strategy and let people manage their working hours more flexibly.
Rather than ‘horse has bolted’ initiatives such as the new taxpayer-funded health check plan for Victorian workers, education is the best preventative medicine to remind adults of balanced eating, the importance of an active lifestyle and the influence they have over growing minds and bodies.
PS: While we’re looking at banning some television advertising, I’d also like to get rid of tampon ads featuring patronising attitudes towards men, anything for Persian rug warehouse sales, those cheap crap shops where everything’s two dollars and the voiceover dude is a hollering jerk and the goddamn Brandpower skank who plugs anything from anyone who gives her money. If advertising fatty food can make us fat, advertising that features stupid people might be making us stupid.
One of my constant internal churnings is an underlying belief in the Buddhist philosophy of living transparently and with forgiveness, which opposes my other leaning towards taking slow, deliberate and painful revenge many times more severe than an initial crime.
I think I’m leaning towards the latter because I have developed a crush on a neighbour who gave a show-and-tell of sweet revenge this morning that has my heart singing.
This street is a good one to live in. Nearly all of the neighbours are friendly but there’s none of that Melrose Place stuff where everyone’s in everyone else’s house spreading gossip and body fluids. It’s pretty peaceful most of the time. Except last Saturday night.
On Saturday afternoon the woman over the road and her late teen daughter were either starting a Holden car dealership in their front yard or ramping up for a party of gigantic proportions. At midnight the oonce oonce doof doof base thumping was still rattling the neighbourhood’s windows with no sign of abatement, and an earlier home fireworks display scared the shit out of the animals. I slumbered off to bed, wondering why I stay home to save money when I can’t f%$king well sleep anyway.
It’s a difficult position to be in because I could have called the police but they’re great neighbours the rest of the time and I’d prefer to fix problems at the early stage. However, I was in bed, naked, a Xanax had started kicking in and I doubt I’d have made much sense if I wandered over in my birthday suit and slurred a request to turn the hits and memories down.
I woke up this morning, pondering a little exercise in passive aggression, which is more satisfying in the anti-Buddhist scheme of things. Half a dozen cars were still scattered across her lawn and driveway and perhaps they’d love to start the day – and their headache thumps – to a little Rage Against the Machine. As I was contemplated how to get the stereo speakers out the front window without breaking stuff that doesn’t belong to me, Mr Diagonally to the Left Over the Road outdid me with his old clanker of a two-stroke lawnmower. And man oh man, he’s never done such a thorough job of maintaining his front lawn and nature strip since I’ve lived here. Centre court at Wimbledon has nothing on every blade of grass he personally manicured today.
One piece of suburban gardening equipment I despise is the leaf blower. Use a bloody broom, lazy sods. However, Mr Diagonal Neighbour brought out his first-generation leaf blower that sounds like a chaffcutter with behavioural issues and it was sweet, sweet music (and louder than the Pantera I was putting on the CD player). The blower’s strained vrooming and high-pitched whining was just the thing to top the morning. It’s a shame Valentine’s Day has already passed or I’d be dropping him a card with a big fat red love heart on it. You rock.
Enjoy your sleep-in, party dudes!
Crank-o-meter: vengeance feels good, even if it wasn’t mine
Dear late surge of summer
Your unexpected resurrection means I’ve slept poorly the last couple of nights, my hair looks like a flock of albatross have mated in it and I’m retaining enough fluid to bounce if I fall over. Thank you for making me look like the lead singer from an 80s hair band.
Did the weather police forget to tell you the season has changed? Let me help. It’s autumn; time for you to head to the northern hemisphere and let me get back to my scarf knitting. I left a summer shirt on the floor the other day and the dogs made tourniquets out of it so I’m running low on warm weather wear. It would be a great personal favour if you headed north.
My garden thanks you for coming back with a vengeance. The parched earth look is in this season, anyway, and I didn’t have to neglect a thing.
The alarm went off early this morning and extracting the damp bed sheet from my legs and butt crack was lovely; certainly the highlight of my day and for anyone who reads this sentence. I woke up with the dry horrors even though I didn’t drink a skerrick last night, then realised the humidity was about 10 per cent and inhaling was like sticking my mouth in a sandpit. Someone said exfoliation is good for your skin so I’m sure it’s doing wonders for my lung linings.
I was awake in my damp bed linen anyway so I shuffled to the oval for a run and was stuffed by the walk to the end of the street. Thank you for helping with my fitness. I ramped the walk up to a jog and got sweaty itches all over but scratching through damp, warm clothing was like carpet burning myself. I am filled with gratitude for having my pain tolerance increased. The bouncing of my bum felt like the watermelon display at the greengrocer’s had been shoved down my pants. Nice.
There’s something decadent about showering and needing another shower five minutes after stepping out of the first one. Applying make-up with rivers of sweat running down my face led to an interesting striped effect that I wouldn’t have discovered otherwise. Summer is the time to be glowing and fashionable.
I don’t know why but everyone at work today was friendly and wanted to shake hands. I am a safety girl and do not exchange body fluids without appropriate protection and I appreciate you reminding me how much people’s paws sweat.
Finally, thank you for putting on a nice breeze in which to dry my quilt cover. If I triple-peg, I may not have to retrieve it from Tasmania.
Crank-o-meter: f&%king arsehole stupid summer swollen ankle crap
There comes a time when middle-aged children assume the adults’ roles in a family and look after their elderly parents. However, this doesn’t mean children should be forced into this position when parents are healthy and functioning. And police detectives and homicide squad are at their house. And the media is assembled with TV cameras circling for a lead story. And the missing parents show up during the media conference wondering what the kerfuffle was about.
Enough concerns were expressed by a worried daughter on Monday to justify a police investigation into her parents’ ‘disappearance.’ She visited their outer suburban Melbourne house on Sunday to find the front door unlocked and a full cup of tea left undrunk. The couple had told another daughter they were going gold prospecting but the equipment was lying on the floor. Their dog had been left and was found wandering the streets by a neighbour.
After an extensive overnight search of the property proved fruitless, police called a media conference to appeal to the public for clues. The husband and wife – feared dead — rocked up in their Kombi van and gatecrashed the assembly, fresh from an impromptu trip to Lakes Entrance and wondering what was going on.
The daughter who alerted police quite rightly screamed, “Where’ve you been?”
The homicide squad detective in charge of the case quite charitably said, “These are the good news stories we like.”
When I saw the news, I said, “You bloody irresponsible clowns leaving your dog unattended, telling your kids different stories and behaving like teenagers who’ve lied about which mate’s house they’re staying at.”
Grow up and act like adults. And don’t let us hear you complain that your tax dollars are wasted. And don’t expect any presents on Mother’s Day.
There’s a day for everything
This was going to be the last blog entry before a moment of seriousness swept over me (and nausea thinking about plastic f$%king ponchos).
There are plenty of serious days proclaimed in the calendar but — for every excellent cause and campaign — there’s an equal and opposite weird day. When I found an almanac of unusual days, the first thing I did, of course, was check what was happening on my birthday (Cuckoo Day and Pineapple Upside-Down Cake Day). Um, hooray, I guess. I’ll have some cake but you can shove those annoying bird clocks right up your cakehole. Why can’t I have been born on Wear Your Pyjamas to Work Day, or Talk Like a Pirate Day, or World Orgasm Day? Why isn’t every day Wear Your Pyjamas to Work Day?
March is a bit light-on for days to demonstrate eccentricity in a communal atmosphere but here’s a few to put in the diary.
14 March: Pi Day – for the nerds who can calculate pi past two decimal places and won’t get beaten up for it today
16 March: Every You Do is Right Day – I’m up for that one, even when I’m talking crap and walking into walls accidentally and writing the wrong year on my correspondence
17 March: Submarine Day – just because I’m on land and they’re not
27 March: Make Up Your Own Holiday Day – hell, yeah! I’m proclaiming World Day for Sleeping In, Eating Pancakes and Not Going to Work Day
28 March: Something On a Stick Day – I kid you not. I dread to think. I do not wish to know
Every day of the year seems to be jam-packed with the shit-hot, the bizarre and the plain old crappy kind of days …
3 Jan: Festival of Sleep Day
6 Jan: Cuddle-Up Day (as long as I’m not at work and my boss is within arm’s reach otherwise I’ll have to proclaim Run as Fast as You Can and Disinfect Yourself Day)
18 Jan: Thesaurus Day (yeah, yeah, just because my pi is poor I’ll take solace in Roget)
27 Jan: Chocolate Cake Day (though I insist of this become a monthly occurrence)
13 Feb: Get a Different Name Day (could be excellent for sheer menace value)
15 Oct: National Grouch Day (I’m writing to the convenors to have it changed to World Cranky Month)
9 Jan: National Apricot Day (bit weird but I like apricots so it can stay, but National Apricots Marinated in Alcohol for Months Day would be better)
10 Jan: Peculiar People Day (isn’t that every day?)
10 Feb: Umbrella Day (I don’t know about you, but we’re stuck in a prolonged drought and my umbrella could be carbon dated for the last time it was opened)
7 Aug: Sea Serpent Day (why not, I guess)
2 Oct: Name Your Car Day (Arachnid Transporter?)
The plain old crappy
12 Jan: Work Harder Day (bugger off)
1 August: National Clown Week (no way, I hate clowns, I’m scared of clowns, I’m cancelling this week pronto)
21 Nov: World Hello Day (how about World Bugger Off Day?)
4 Dec: Wear Brown Shoes Day (what purpose does this serve?)
What day would you proclaim?
Crank-o-meter: hurry up orgasm day
Supporting a charity used to be simple. On weekdays in the city it would be a game of hide-and-seek with the koala-suited Wilderness Society collectors. On weekends the change given from buying the Saturday newspapers would be dropped in the life-size Labrador dog with a slot in its head. Today’s fight for the charitable dollar is staged with a myriad of direct marketing, telemarketing and boxes of stuff at supermarket checkouts and means there’s a day, a motto, a colour, a charity that’s taken it.
I don’t know how I feel about organisations using days to anchor their fundraising or awareness-raising efforts. On the positive side it aids public recognition and brings worthy causes to the spotlight, like International Women’s Day. On the downside, how much cheap and tacky shit is produced and discarded so we as consumers can show others how deeply we dig into our pockets? We have allowed ourselves to be trained to hand over cash in exchange for wrist bands, badges, ribbons and other trinkets. Anonymous benevolence has been out of fashion for a long time.
Cash-rich charities that can afford sophisticated marketing techniques have the upper hand over equally worthy causes lacking the same clout to get in our faces. A few months ago I was walking along the banks of the Yarra River and an organisation was shaking the tin to help train assistance dogs for people with mental health issues. I admired the trio of dogs wearing their orange jackets and dropped a note in the old caterer’s mayonnaise bucket on the ground. The lifeline these dogs can hand their owners living with schizophrenia and anxiety disorders would cause even the greatest scrooge to draw open the purse strings, but they are one of the quiet angels of the helping movement. It doesn’t make them more or less worthy than any other organisation but made me feel guilty that there’ll never be enough money to support every worthy cause. They have to join the fray in getting a piece of our incomes in their own way.
This blog entry has taken a direction of its own so I’ll try to pick a point and make it. I’ve been involved on the sidelines for an upcoming charitable event in support of a men’s health issue. The charity has a day, a colour and a technique that’ll get it on the night’s news. The plan is to hand out 60,000 plastic ponchos at a sporting event and turn the audience into a living sea of the charity’s colour. Who the hell is going to clean up the waste created when the crowd ditches 60,000 cheap, non-biodegradable bits of plastic at the end of the game? Is the environmental cost worth 15 seconds’ airtime on the evening news? The maxim of spending money to make money is usually true but 60,000 of anything costs a packet — could the money go towards more research into the detection and treatment of the cause being promoted in conjunction with a simpler PR campaign?
A sports event is an ideal forum for broadcasting emotive half-time messages on the scoreboards when the crowd is captive. It’ll get the message across, cost little and send less waste to landfill. The helpers handing out ponchos can instead shake tins (or mayonnaise buckets) while distributing brochures with take-home information. It’s an important health issue but the poncho campaign is detracting from its message.
Crank-o-meter: garden variety cranky
It wasn’t a cold and gloomy night, as formulaic horror stories start, but a sunny and breathtakingly clear morning. It was one of those early autumn days when getting up early was rewarded with a dark sky dusted with stars and a white-gold eyelash moon hanging as a backdrop. Later the sun stretched its tired eyes in shades of faded ochre and sand before emerging in shimmering yellow brilliance.
Then stuff happened.
Turning the car into the main road on the way to work, I thought my identification card might be at home and perhaps I should pull over and check. After an internal debate of whether to bother stopping, I humoured my concern and pulled over. I turned on the indicator, aligned the car with the gutter and gave the brakes a firm press.
With braking came a huntsman spider flying from the sun visor towards my face.
It was at that moment I learned I have a piss-poor girlie scream on me, like when a man hoicks up his undies and pretends to squeal like a woman. But louder, so much louder. I woke up half of Crankyville with a yowling WARRRRRRRRRRRCCCKKKKKKKKKK.
And I scared the shit out of the poor spider. In the freeze-frames of when something bad seems to be happening in slow motion, I swear it landed on my lap, shook its head to wonder what on earth disturbed its sleep and took flight for the safety of my pants.
While I was trying to get my somewhat less evolved fight or flight response to assemble a plan to get me and the spider in different locations quickly, spidey went on the run again. The eight-legged enemy had gone to ground and I was still strapped into a running car with no strategy except squealing like a cut pig.
Hurry up brain! Gearstick, neutral. Handbrake, something, something, oh yeah, on. Door, open. Shit, the spider’s gravitational forces are holding me back. Think again, nuf nuf. Ah, seatbelt. Undone. Door open and out. Phew.
The next milliseconds involved realising the huntsman was still missing in action and I drive one of the most recognisable cars in town — the motorists passing me were no doubt friends, family, co-workers and everyone I’ve ever met, all enjoying my accelerated hip-hop dancing in the middle of the road.
Adrenalin discharged and circulating, my rational mind kicked into action. I just needed to find the huntsman, ask it to kindly relocate in an orderly manner to the nature strip and we can get on with our days. Surprisingly, that didn’t work and I was too scared to reach into the car for the phone to call whoever rescues blundering idiots from these situations.
The breeze blew tendrils of hair across my face and gave me the creeping shivers associated with arachnid sightings. Just in case it wasn’t just hair sending my nerves on edge, I resumed the Elvis impersonation and the spider emerged from its hiding place on my shoulder blade and bolted down my arm.
It fled even faster when a high-pitched FARRRKKKKK erupted from my lungs, followed by an EEEEKKK for good measure. This unplanned strategy worked in two ways: it reminded passing drivers to look at the nutbar tearing her clothes off in public while making unusual primal noises, and the huntsman launched from my hand to the ground and hid under the car, more scared of me than ever.
I took a deep breath, opened the passenger side door and found my ID card sitting where I left it yesterday. I closed the door and returned to the driver’s side, wondering if I could teleport the car home with kinetic powers while I walked to work. After yet another lesson that I don’t have superhero powers, I got in the car and drove, feeling itchy and creeped out and paranoid that the spider’s relatives were coming after me in droves. The goosebumps have not settled.
I blame you, mum, if you learn to use a computer and read this. I remember the day my brother and I were in the car with you and a huntsman walked across the windscreen, causing you to jump from the moving car and run towards a service station. That would have been OK if you weren’t driving at the time. We fended for ourselves, thanks. I am using the coping skills you taught with alacrity and style.
Crank-o-meter: shaky, not cranky
PS: no critters were hurt, but I recommend the spider get a hearing test
Looking impoverished will cost a bomb this season
Press blurb about the current Melbourne Melbourne Fashion Festival (why do I hark back to thoughts of Moomba rather than frocks when I hear the word festival?) is saying the ladylike-yet-doing-it-tough look is in this winter. I don’t mind fashion-wise because I have enough spare tyre and muffin top to re-arrange into a shapely silhouette (as long as the accompanying corsetry is boned with mil-spec materials and Kevlar coated so I don’t burst during lunch).
Fashion is annoying no other reason than I can’t afford a new wardrobe of completely opposing styles, shapes and colours every season. I’m not one of those ‘collect a few key pieces and suddenly everything in the wardrobe is new and fresh again’ people. And every season’s naff fashion articles telling us to accessorise to completely change a look is like another language I’ve tried to learn for two decades and failed miserably.
The last few years have been hell for the relatively conservative dresser with the eighties comeback (fluoro last time around was god-awful and it’s worse having flashbacks this time. Emergency flare orange tracksuit pants, anyone?) and the boho hobo hippy dippy chick look lasted about three years too long. Sienna Miller and her gal pals are charged under citizen’s arrest with Crimes Against Fashion. Guilty and hereby sentenced to spend the rest of their days wearing cork shoes and strings of wooden beads.
Apparently the return of the WWII look (the well-to-do family with a safe country maison look, not the husband’s stuck in a trench somewhere and I’m living on food coupons and wearing my last tea towel as a dress look) reflects more conservative outfitting for tough economic times. A few interest rate rises in Australia should not incite an entire fashion revival but perhaps some of the Euro fashion houses’ shares have dropped a few points and they need us to feel sorry for them. I feel, truly I do, but my vet, mechanic and internet provider need to eat, too, and they get first dibs on my pay packet.
According to The Age, US-based retail strategist, Wendy Liebmann, says that designers who opt for safe clothing during tough economic times should, “Create a hot new trend to encourage consumer spending; something that makes everyone go, ‘Wow, I have to have that,’ no matter what their financial situation.”
It’s annoying that a simple look will cost a packet more to pull off than the love-child-just-dragged-from-the-Woodstock-mud trend of seasons past. Tailored clothes cut from quality fabrics cost more and the chainstore alternatives usually don’t get the cut right.
Let’s try this scarlet ensemble.
Karen Walker suit: about $600 (educated guess based on web prices as I don’t live near pretty clothes shops)
Morgan & Taylor hat and gloves: roughly $80 and $70 respectively
Wendy’s right; saying yes regardless of my financial situation is so much fun! Let’s do it properly.
Hosiery: $12-$20 a pair
Handbag: not in the picture, damn it, because a Ralph Lauren one that would set off this outfit is about $1,200
Scarves: about $20-$300+ depending on how much one wants to part with for a pretty sliver of fabric. Wendy’s paying so let’s go the Hermes option
Shoes: couldn’t find the Marc Jacobs lace-up, heeled brogues online, but InStyle magazine has comparable Jimmy Choos for $1,250. Sweet as they are, no one will be wearing them next winter. Ouch
Crimes Against Financial Sobriety – guilty. One year’s hard labour wearing a pair of lime green plastic Crocs for you, Wendy. Enjoy plodding in your own foot perspiration.
Crank-o-meter: still numb
Lexapro and Effexor – 2
Crankypants – 0
Pharmaceutical company in the red corner. Crankypants in the (very) blue corner. Let’s go for a best of five, damn it. Game on. Ding ding.
Helen Garner, in her book of short stories, The Feel of Steel, asked what a person might read, without profit or simply without further loss, when her life had fallen apart. A friend of hers said, “If you do read when you’re in that state, you’ve probably got a great critical sense. A very sharp eye for anything that’s even the faintest bit phoney.”
This observation applies to every evaluation when in a depressed state. The critical mind can’t — or won’t — tolerate sorting shit from straw. Yes. No. Good. Bad. Now. Never. Well. Unwell. No capacity for anything but piercing the centre of a thought and spitting skeletal responses.
Bare-bones communication helps in the doctor’s office. I’m grateful to have a good doctor who I trust and who knows that I’m straight down the line. Sorting my scattered descriptors of numb, unmotivated, flat, empty –words that’ll never be used as paint names unless Nirvana fans take over the world — into her cranial sieve for sorting.
We’re taking a step back to when the world fell in love with Prozac. The reputation of this class of meds took a battering last week when unpublished trial results made the press but nothing works for everyone. All I want is something to open the curtains a smidge, a small kick in the pants if you will.
Bring on the nausea, numbness of spirit, orgasm drought and whatever curve ball you’ll throw this time around. Please don’t let it be night sweats like Effexor.
I collated some research about peak oil and allowing drugs in sport but I’ve lost interest in the latter and the former is so big and important I doubt I have the ability to capture a fossil fuel-free future with the next 50 blog entries. The Thoughts Outside the Box Indonesia blog has a thoughtful post if you’d like a rational essay on the subject.
Big battles will always exist to be fought, but some (most) days the little things add up to a personal rage against society. Everyone gets cranky at bad drivers, telemarketers and how the ads on TV are louder than the shows, but here’s a few that get on my goat. Read on while I go and hug a tree.
Things I dislike and that feeling will never change
Seeing clusters of keyrings, stuffed toys and other paraphernalia hanging from a car’s rear view mirror. Usually under the wavering control of someone young, female, easily distracted and right in front of me. I catch the train a lot because the train driver’s cabin isn’t adorned with dangly trinkets (hmmm, perhaps a pint-sized disco ball wouldn’t go astray to add some razzle dazzle to the diesel clunker)
Over-dramatisation with language, such as terrible tragedy, crisis of monumental proportions, and how newsreaders still have a plastic smirk when telling us about terrible tragedies
Hearing ‘a plasma’ when referring to a television. I don’t refer to my car as a windscreen, therefore no one should refer to their televisions as plasmas
I sneezed the other day and pulled a stomach muscle that doesn’t want to heal because it’s right where I bend. Try not bending, especially when going to the toilet or putting pants on. Something is giving me bad hay fever at the moment and it feels like my stomach is being tickled with an axe every time I sneeze. Evil Mother Nature
Writing in books, especially library books, should be a punishable offence (not the writing already in a book, but notes in margins, underlining of apparently important phrases and using highlighter pens — especially lime green)
People smearing grotty fingerprints on computer monitors when pointing something out. Don’t touch or I will ask you to clean your snail trails with conveniently-placed alcohol wipes. Thank you for pointing
Things I dislike more than I ought
Text message language. Sorry, I won’t and can’t type C U L8A because my neural pathways are too well-worn to deviate from the English language. There is a generation gap, and I’m contributing to it. Woohoo!
The local bus company that deserted me for more than two hours after the disco ball-free train broke down is on my shit list forever. Mosquitoes bit me. I had to eat cheap compound chocolate for dinner from the only shop within running distance in case the bus that never came did come. And then I had to look up how to spell the plural of mosquito to type this paragraph. I will not forgive
Blogs full of advertisements and tips to make lots of money by writing blogs annoy the bejesus out of me. The same content-vacant articles are peddled in all of them, like ab machine advertisements for the electronic age
Presumptuous fools who call me Nicki. I am just not a Nicki. Call me Nicki and I’ll call you Ask Me How I’d Like to be Addressed or Shut Up Ignorant F%$ckstick
A new person started at work, which is OK in itself because I’m not the recruitment police, but her mother is now her boss (we are not a family business). And they drive to work together and drive home. I don’t know why but it’s weirding me out big time
Things I should dislike more but don’t
Women’s magazines. I always take a book to appointments when the risk of waiting is high, but I can’t help but sneak a quick look at the Paris, Lindsay and Tomkat Times. I can’t touch magazines at the doctor’s though, because the thought of dozens of sick people turning the pages with germy fingers makes me feel more nauseous. I can see microscopic festering bugs crawling across the ‘celebrities without make-up’ pages, I swear
Telemarketing computer systems that make the call and put me on hold when I pick up the phone can be fun. I can launch the handset back in its cradle like a chameleon flicking its tongue at an insect. Goodbye!
I still watch Bold and the Beautiful if I’m home in the afternoons. In my teenage years I was allowed to stay home from school if I did mum’s ironing. She worked in hotels and wore fancypants white shirts with frilled sleeves, strange darting and lacy inserts typical of the mid to late-eighties Dynasty look. Utter bastards to iron but I’d haul the contents of the laundry into the loungeroom and watch B&B. I remember the first time Taylor died and possibly the first, second and third times Ridge and Brooke married. Strangely enough, being chained to housework during the day and watching daytime tele made me more conversant with the concepts of equality and feminism (and buying knitwear that doesn’t crease)
Poor spelling gets annoying, but joyfully ignorant spelling mistakes have their charms. I recently saw a post on a cooking forum asking for chic pea and mini-strone recipes. Bring on those stylish peas and little strones, waiter
Being called the office nerd is less annoying than I make out. A new photocopier arrived this week and it wouldn’t fit in the old space, oh no, it wouldn’t, and no one would listen, oh no, they wouldn’t. I pulled out a tape measure and it’s two-feet wider than the old one, ner ner ner ner ner. I win, you lose. Oh no, I lose because I keep a tape measure in my desk drawer. I haven’t confessed about the sewing kit, sunscreen and thermometer. I’ll be ready when the revolution comes. And my shoes will reflect the righteous beam on my face because there’s some nugget and a polishing cloth hidden as well
Crank-o-meter: usual level of annoyance