April 17, 2014

10 (New) Plagues

Here's a rare Biblical reference for you:

In Exodus, Pharoah refused to let the Israelites out of Egypt. So God came down on him really hard, with a series of 10 plagues intended to change his mind.

They were pretty awful. Blood, frogs, lice, flies, diseased livestock, boils, hail, locusts, darkness... and then, when all that failed, death of the firstborn.

Of course it's a parable. It has to be. I mean, if God was omnipotent, he'd just let the Israelites out of Egypt himself. Or, you know, kill Pharoah.

But it's a good story. However, it's one that needs updating. Frogs, lice and boils? Come on. These are hardly disasters in this day and age.

No, I think we need new plagues, ones that would devastate Pharoahs of the modern era.

The Sixth Plague - EARWORM

And I have some suggestions:

  1. Bad hair day EVERYDAY. What Pharoah could cope with having crap hair every single day of his life? It would destroy his confidence and hence his leadership.
  2. Paper cut. Small but devastating.
  3. Itchy bum. More maddening than lice, itchy bum also causes embarrassing public displays of bottom touching, which would completely undermine Pharoah's authority.
  4. No coffee. All God would have to do is destroy coffee supplies around the world and Pharoah would collapse in a pathetic heap of despair.
  5. Insomnia. The absolute worst. No elaboration required.
  6. Earworm. Just get Gangnum Style stuck in Pharoah's head for days at a time. He'll cave. No question about it.
  7. No Mobile Reception. A Pharoah can't lead if he can't communicate. He's going DOWN.
  8. Advertorials. No TV programs, just endless loops of AbToneFit promos and offers of saucepan sets with free steak knives!
  9. No Wifi. Pharoah will die of despair on the spot.
  10. Zombie invasion. Just because.

April 15, 2014

The Anti-Oracle

If I could have just one superpower, it would be the power to see into the future. (Actually, that's not quite true. If I could have just one superpower it would be the ability to sing really well, because I have these recurring fantasies about singing in front of a room full of people and breaking their hearts with the beauty of my song. But given my woeful singing voice, the power to see into the future is actually far more plausible.)

As an anxious person, I like to have certainty. I do not like the endless cliffhangers that come with everyday life. I like to know, roughly, how things are going to turn out. Whether that job is going to come through. How that problem will be resolved. What decision that person is going to make. Whether everything will work out okay in the end.

Artist's Impression Of Me As The Oracle

And so because I like certainty, I create the answers where there are none. Anxiety loves a vacuum (meaning, 'a space devoid of matter', not 'a vacuum cleaner' - ain't nobody got time for those) and so my mind will rush in, writing the end to the story when the story hasn't actually finished yet. I compose entire scenarios in my own head that are as real to me as anything that has taken place in real life.

The problem is, they are nearly always wrong.

I am the Anti-Oracle. I am the Soothless-Sayer. I am forever deciding what will come to pass, and am forever being stunned when it doesn't happen.

In all of my forty-five years, I have virtually never accurately predicted the future. (Okay, so that's not completely accurate; I totally saw the whole Gwyneth-Chris split coming, but I am far less clairvoyant in my personal life.) I predict disaster when a happy outcome is around the corner. I predict good fortune just before everything goes to shit.

But that's okay, because I am constantly surprised. Life never follows the script in my head, and - as challenging as that may be for an anxious person like me - it does tend to keep things exciting.

I think a quote from Pretty Woman just about sums it up (and let me tell you, I never expected to quote from that particular film so I really am walking the talk right here):

Edward: It's just that, uh, very few people surprise me.
Vivian: Yeah, well, you're lucky. Most of 'em shock the hell outta me.

What about you? Are you good at predicting the future?

April 8, 2014

Writing 'Was'

I don't mean to write two sad posts in a row. I'm sorry. I like to mix it up a bit. The funny is good. I like the funny. If we can't do the funny, then how can we cope with the sad?

But I woke up this morning to the news that Peaches Geldof has died. Clearly, I don't know Peaches Geldof. I did, however, grow up not liking Mondays and having Bob Geldof to thank for that. And then I cried a dozen times watching the clip for Feed The World, and fell in love with the man who wrote the song. Later, Michael Hutchence (with whom I was also a bit in love) called Sir Bob a monster, but that didn't change the fact that he was part of the fabric of my youth.

I remember when Peaches and her sisters Fifi Trixibelle and Pixie were babies. Their names were one of those pieces of information sealed inextricably in my brain. You know... I couldn't remember what the capital of Russia was, but I remembered the names of the Geldof girls. Which, arguably, was more important currency back in the day.

I am crushed for the Geldof family that Peaches has died, aged 25, leaving behind two sons and a husband. It is so young. It is so hideously young. Every death of a young person brings my own loss to the forefront of my mind again. Every death of a person who pre-deceases their parents reminds me of my parents' grief in losing my sister. But Sir Bob's words just resonated so painfully, so profoundly, and so beautifully. He wrote:

She was the wildest, funniest, cleverest, wittiest and the most bonkers of all of us. Writing 'was' destroys me afresh. What a beautiful child. How is this possible that we will not see her again? How is that bearable?
We loved her and will cherish her forever. How sad that sentence is. 

I could have written those lines about my sister. And it reminds me, yet again, of the suddenness of death. One minute someone is there in your life, alive and vibrant and present and vital and there. And then, in a second, everything changes, and your story is completely re-written.

But we can't live our lives fearing these moments. We have to live each day as though everyone we love will be there for the next ten thousand, because otherwise we cannot keep going. And for most of us, they will be there. It is the rare, tragic cases where they are taken too soon that remind us just how blessed we really are.

RIP Peaches Geldof. And to her family - I don't know you, but I really do feel your pain, and I'm sorry. Wishing you all a long life.

April 2, 2014

Dear Rosie Batty...

Dear Rosie Batty,

I am so sorry for what you went through on TV this morning. I could feel your pain, the hideous, agonising pain of losing your beautiful, beloved son Luke. It was twisting my guts and wrenching my soul. I saw my parents in similar pain, they lost my sister six years ago, and only someone who has been close to such profound, shocking grief can possibly understand how it feels.

I am sorry.

I am so sorry for what Joe Hildebrand said. He was wrong, a thousand shades of wrong. Rosie, he can't possibly understand what it means to be in an abusive relationship. None of us can if we haven't been there. But those of us with compassion and empathy, we listen to other people's stories. We hear their fear. We acknowledge their pain. We try to wrap our heads around what it must be like to be utterly controlled by another person. And we accept that their reality is valid, and terrifying, even if it doesn't in any way match our own.

I am sorry.

I am so sorry that you were forced to defend your role as loving mother and protector of your son. We know how deeply you loved Luke. We could see it in your eyes. We could hear it in your voice. And we know, because so many of us have children of our own, how profoundly and desperately we love our own babies. It is understood. You did everything you could. We know that and we have never questioned you at all.

I am sorry.

Any parent of a deceased child blames themselves in some way. As a parent, we are supposed to protect our children from harm. But this doesn't mean the blame is justified. You are not responsible for what happened to Luke. The only person responsible for that is his father. We know that. We believe that, fiercely. You did everything you could. You loved your child. Please know that we believe that with all our hearts.

We are sending you our love, and our strength, and our support. We are there with you, Rosie. We wish you long life, and hope that you will find joy again.

We are sorry that you were hurt this morning, and that your terrible grief was compounded. On behalf of women everywhere, please know we are with you.


April 1, 2014

April Fools

I hate April Fools jokes. I hate people being made to look like fools. I especially hate being made to look like a fool myself, unless I am the one making myself look like a fool, in which case I like it very much, because that is how I make my living.

However, it is April 1, and I feel compelled to offer something in the way of an April Fools prank. So here, below, are a series of statements. Exactly half are true, the other half are false. Your job is to figure out which are which. The answers will be published tomorrow here. The person or people who get them all right will be celebrated with a tickertape parade in the streets of Sydney (which is completely untrue, but it's April Fools, so you never know).

  1. I once worked briefly as a Jenny Craig weight loss consultant.
  2. I named each of my three children after (somewhat obscure) characters from my favourite books.
  3. My own middle name is Anne. I never use it for obvious reasons.
  4. I have a scar on my left shoulder from being burned by a car cigarette lighter.
  5. I speak Yiddish fluently. I even dream in Yiddish.
  6. I have never thrown up (at least, not since I was a baby). 
  7. I love cleaning the ear wax from my kids' ears. So satisfying.
  8. I make a nice side income from writing erotic fiction under a pseudonym. (And no, I'll never tell.)
  9. I once drove through the carpark barrier at Westfield twice in one week and didn't even get caught.
  10. I am freakishly good at reverse parking.
So what do you think? Which are true and which are false? A fabulous tickertape parade awaits...


As promised, the answers are as follows:


1. I did work briefly as a Jenny Craig weight loss consultant. It was a ridiculous job but the diet chocolate mousse was really nice.
4. I do have a scar on my left shoulder from a car cigarette lighter. My (then very young) son didn't realise that the 'red' made the lighter very hot, and he pressed the lighter to my shoulder as a joke. We both got a terrible fright. It hurt like hell, the skin turned black and fell off, and I have the scar to this day.
6. I have never thrown up. I can't throw up. I don't know why.
7. I adore cleaning the ear wax from my kids' ears. They all still let me. I dread the day they stop.
10. I am a terrible driver, but I am, bizarrely, extraordinarily good at reverse parking. I can get into the tiniest spots, without any fancy technology at all. Go figure!


All the rest.

March 28, 2014

The Adventures of Ear, Queen of Cellulitis (or, 'If Only My Doctor Looked Like Him')

I am sitting at my desk in my lovely apartment, in which I have been happily ensconced for the better part of a year.
In the last few weeks, however, I have also taken up part-time residence in other digs, not nearly as salubrious as these.
Yes, I have become a semi-permanent fixture in my local doctor's office, making at seven visits in the past 21 days.
It started with a bad bout of tonsillitis. A bunch of razorblades found their way into my throat, and did some vigorous twerking until I was feverish and sore. Eventually the party spread to my left ear, which become infected as well, as it doesn't like to be left out.
It took two courses of anti-biotics to get the fun under control, and a good couple of visits to the doctor.
Next up, just days later, was some, er, 'women's business'. I will not burden you with the details, but it did require an initial visit, a second visit for a pap smear, and then a follow up visit to the GP to discuss the results, so that was another three visits right there.

This is not my doctor. If it was, I would be delighted to experience regular bouts of cellulitis.

Following that was the case of the cellulitic ear. And no, to the friend who knows who she is, I do not have cellulite in my ear (and no, it was not that funny). My left ear, having recovered from the infection, decided that it needed more attention, and developed a strange lump on the back. I went to the doctor again, and she decided that it was an infection in the internal stitch left over from my, um, minor surgery over a year ago. She advised me to make an appointment with the (um, plastic) surgeon to get it removed. I saw the plastic surgeon and he scheduled me in for another month's time. In the meantime, the lump got infected, turned bright red and swollen, my entire jaw started to ache, and I rushed back to the GP to be diagnosed with cellulitis and put on yet another course of anti-biotics. Yep. Two more visits within a week. And with that, we hit the magic seven. I know, right? My favourite number!
Happily, the cellulitis has now eased somewhat. Unhappily, I am going in this afternoon to have the stitch removed in the chair. Happily, the surgeon has given me some Emla cream to smear on my ear to dull the pain of a needle going into my sore ear. Unhappily, Emla cream does fuck all and you will hear the screams all around Australia.
And when I get home, I am officially renting out a room in my doctor's surgery. They have a nice bathroom and old magazines and jelly beans, and I'm there every three days anyway so it will save a lot of time.
When was the last time you went to the doctor?

March 24, 2014

The Hurted

Do you ever get hurt by people? Oh. Of course you do. You're human. (Unless you're a sociopathic human, but I suspect sociopaths wouldn't have a particular interest in reading this blog.)

But what do you do when you're hurt by someone? Do you confront them? Talk to them? Send them an email? Cry alone in your room?

I'll tell you what I do. I simmer. I ruminate. I get hurter and hurter. (And yes, I know 'hurter' is not a real word, but it is the most accurate non-word there is.) And then I concoct wild stories in my head in which the person who has hurt me does something really terrible, something so utterly, horrendously vile that I can scream and yell and make an absolute scene and impart something poetically withering that conveys without ambiguity just how hurted I am.

But I don't, of course, because it never happens. And so I just sit on the feelings, and eventually they pass, sort of absorbed into my system, or perhaps into the air. And then I let it go. I never hold grudges. Anger simply feels too uncomfortable to hold on to.

I'm not like this in romantic relationships. I never had any trouble expressing my feelings to my ex. Nor do I hesitate in conveying hurts or upsets to my parents, no did I with my late sister, nor do I with my kids.

It's friends that are hard. So ridiculously hard.

A couple of years back a very close friend sent me an email. She'd been hurt by something I said, and she wanted to clear the air. I was so happy she had sent it, and I was mortified by having distressed her. It gave me the opportunity to apologize, and we moved forward, and all was fine.

On another occasion I actually did confront a friend, after a very long series of small but significant hurts. But I didn't do it nicely, in a thoughtful email. I ended up yelling at her for pretty much nothing at all, which left me feeling far worse than if I'd addressed the issues in the first place.

I'm not sure why I can't express hurts when they occur. It's not that I'm not assertive. I think it's fear of total rejection, or uncertainty about my right to feel hurt in the first place. Either way, it gives rise to some quite bizarre fictional scenes that would play beautifully in some movie starring Meg Ryan and scored by Taylor Swift.

So that's a little insight into the complexities of my brain. What about yours? How do you deal with hurt?

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