Thursday, January 29, 2009

Like a slatternly Blanche Dubois

I can't ignore the heat. It's getting to me in a bad way, a way that makes my head roil and my heart thump. When I feel the trickle of sweat that rolls down the middle of my back and then collects somewhere near the top of my bottom, I feel hot.

Like Blanche Dubois, I am wandering listlessly, restless, and self-flagellating with a soaked, flannel nappy. It's a large square of wetness that I can drape in any number of ways on my person.

This is probably where the comparison ends in my favour.

Unlike Blanche, I am not smoking. And unlike Blanche, I am not making eyes at a man in a singlet who looks like Marlon Brando but who's name is Stanley Kowalski.

Unlike Blanche, I am not coiffed. My hair is a bird's nest of Dilleresque proportions, thanks to a swim in a friend's pool this morning, and wearing a hat, on top of yesterday's beach hair.

Also, unlike Blanche, I am dressed for the weather. While she was dressed in a very frou-frou frilly, chiffony house-dress, and trying to be elegant, I am schlomping around in not entirely unattractive, and quite strappy, black slip. I drift, as I recline, as I wallow, and I complain. I've been wearing this for two days now. It's the coolest thing next to naked, which I can't do as the house is filled with children.

So yesterday at various stages I said or yelled the following things:

"Some of us are going crazy here!"

"So are you happy in this marriage?"

[Drinking an enormous glass of chardonnay at 6pm, breaking our alcohol-free January pact] -
"Yes, I've cracked, I'VE CRACKED AS YOU CAN SEE!"


"I don't hate your children, that's what you think, DON'T YOU???!!!!"

"Fuck, four more days of this???????"

"If you saw Vicki Christina Barthelona, you'd probably want to leave me for the stability of someone like Pene Cruz. You would!"

"I wonder what the statistics are for people going mad on hot days like this."

"I wonder what the stats are for murder and other bad stuff on hot days like this."

[Storming out of MSAC because they had a "lock-out" and then stuffed up their numbering system] -
"You can keep that [tossing scrunched ticket at slow, dimwitted tool behind counter] WE ARE LEAVING!!!"

I am not the most tolerant at the best of times. I am not suited to the super hot. I have a Celtic background, my genetic memory is in a spin and my body is like a broken record - Nolikenolikenolikenolikenolikenolike. Nocandonocandonocandonocando. Dyingdyingdyingdyingdyingdyingdying.

Like all other Melburnians, I am amused* that the cool change we can expect will bring a temperature of 30-35 degrees on Saturday, and that then we won't be any cooler than 30 for several days following.

The one thing I can't stop is the coffee. I will drink it hot, that's fine. But I've also taken to having my morning coffee as normal, then putting the rest of the pot in the fridge so that later in the day I can have an iced coffee.

I think we plan to go to the beach again this evening, perhaps for cold beers and fish and chips. We will take the Gigi for a swim, but it will still be too hot to walk, even though it's only 10 mins.

So with the black, the coffee, and, it seems, the whinging, I am a true daughter of this fine city.

Time to go and re-soak my wet nappy.

* so amusing, I want to ram a fork into my head.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

best comeback of 2008?

i haven't seen mickey rourke in the wrestler yet, but i think this might get my vote for the most reputation-enhancing scene in a movie i've come across for quite a while.


Wednesday, January 21, 2009

and so it starts, with lots of words.

can we believe in this man?

so i stayed up and watched the inauguration. once everybody had arrived, the actual swearing in ceremony was quite quick. like princess diana, obama muddled the words of the oath, but it seems that was because the chief justice got in a mix. it was an endearingly human moment.

a snapshot of my impressions:

- first, let's get the cosmetic out of the way. why did michelle wear that outfit? the avocado green gloves were distracting and the glitter of her dress and coat, with strange ribbon-tie seemed inappropriately glitzy, and the colour was bad. this girl is gonna go down bigtime as the fashion vultures have been circling, squawking since she wore that "butcher's apron" on election night. also, she has some serious posture problems going on. she looks like a tall woman trying not to be. i'm sure she'll settle into it. he already looks the part, michelle just doesn't yet. but she's got the makings.

- i was glad to see obama in an overcoat, and i was interested to note he didn't wear a scarf, unlike bush. i suppose bush had nothing to prove, but after just watching the end of west wing, where santos didn't wear an overcoat to his inauguration, as a show of "youth and vigour", it was something i looked out for. he wore a red tie, while others adopted purple (ie the senior bushes) purportedly as a sign of bipartisanship (purple = a blend of red and blue). the clintons had yellow accents - from memory, a scarf for bill and earrings for hillary.

- the kids had obviously NOT been told to sit up straight, be on your best behaviour. and i like that. they were natural kids, fidgeting and the oldest one malia bowed her head a few times, and had her eyes open during the prayers

- the pastor who spoke first, rick warren, is already receiving some criticism for concluding with the lord's prayer. one thing i noticed was in his listing of jesus' akas, he pronounced a word "isa". the transcript of his speech has it written as "esau" who actually was, according to wiki, the son of rebekah and isaac, not jesus. the word "isa" is the arabic word for "jesus", and is in the koran as so.

- the other pastor who spoke, the reverend joseph lowery, all i have to say about him is he the man.

 "Lord, in the memory of all the saints who from their labors rest, and in the joy of a new beginning, we ask you to help us work for that day when black will not be asked to get in back, when brown can stick around . . .. . . when yellow will be mellow . . .. . . when the red man can get ahead, man; and when white will embrace what is right."

the delivery of this part of his benediction was timed perfectly, and he had everyone smiling if not laughing at his racial commentary schtick.

- the poetess, elizabeth alexander, who delivered her poem, was stilted and robotic, perhaps an effect of speaking in front of millions, and perhaps also a result of her intention to be plain and clear. her words were prosaic, not flowery, and while some are criticising this, i think it rendered her words all the more poignant. they were stark, they were plain, they were clear. an omen perhaps of what is to come with the obama administration?

- i thought an olive branch was extended to the muslim community, as well, or an indication of inclusion. i also liked that non-believers were also included by obama. we were last on the list, but it's better than being left out. i also noticed that when obama was introduced, it was as barack h. obama. strange, i thought, is it meaningful? i wondered. i was sure clinton had been introduced with his full middle name. but later, during the swearing in, "hussein" was spoken. maybe there was no getting around it, and a president elect's full name must be used.

- obama's address, too, was plain and clear. he spoke without the "soaring rhetoric" and i for one was glad. i felt he wasn't trying to use the moment for his own personal glory, to feed the ego, to butter people up with words. one writer has said the speech presented "the most sophisticated view of the world and our role in it of any inaugural address in history" and without being able to compare, i instinctively agree. this is a man, who because he has spent a lot of time figuring out where he belongs in the world, and who because he is bi-cultural and bi-racial with more fluid and multiple identities than most of us, has a handle on many perspectives. he has an overview of the world, of america and of himself that few (if any) u.s. presidents have before him. he has an understanding of what it means to be different, to feel like you don't quite belong anywhere, but can manage to belong everywhere. this layering of identities is something that will be a great asset for him; strength in hybridity, and his ability to move between worlds. "passing" is a loaded term; it implies some sort of subterfuge or deceit, that a person who is half black and half white can be equally as comfortable or effective in both environments. but barack obama is a human bridge who will hopefully use his knowledge and understanding of how the world works and how identity and power works, to fix things.

and oh my, i could see no tele-prompter, no notes. he was just talking, speaking, as if discussing his ideas (well thought out, and well prepared) with a bunch of people, asking for their help, telling them what needed to be done. i bet he has been thinking about how to fix his country, if not the world, for years. this is a man who lives in his head alot, but who also is such a fine writer and communicator, that he can translate his ideas well. his voice is rich and beautifully accented, no evidence of the hoarseness that dogged clinton, another great communicator.

it's a big ask, expecting one man to fix the world, and anything can go wrong. i hope that politics don't get in the way too much, and i hope that his slim shoulders can carry the load for all of us, for the whole world. everybody loves hope, hell, we can't help ourselves.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

west wing and obamarama: it's all coming to a wonderful, political, exciting, throbbing CLIMAX

this post is about west wing. if you don't want to spoil it for yourself, don't read it.

clokes and i have been watching west wing, from the beginning, on dvd.

last night, we saw josh and donna kiss.


i have been hanging off the edge of my couch, night after night, yelling at the screen "kiss her!" and saying to clokes, during odd moments, like preparing dinner, "when's josh going to kiss donna?" and "i want josh to kiss donna!"

i can get quite petulant like that.

it was so good last night, i was bouncing on the couch, squealing, and generally behaving like a real girl. and for those that know me, they would say "melba? she's not a real girl. not in a girly girly type of way."

so, i am shuddering even now as i write. legs are crossed and mind is spinning.

first there was a kiss, a kind of excited, jump up and down together congrats, we did it, things are going well in the campaign don't you think? kind of kiss. but it went on, and became a pash, complete with several camera angles circling around, and it would have kept going had not people started to go into the room.

then, another episode, a couple later, where the campaigners start slipping away from the congratulatory bottle of scotch in the hotel bar. it's the night before the election, polls open in the morning, finally,  

FINALLY, josh follows donna and they end up in bed.

of course, we don't see any sex. we just see them lying bed, supposedly asleep, after the lurve. josh opens his eyes, looks at the clock, it's after 3am, he starts to reach for her, but then doesn't. she gets up, goes to the bathroom, he jumps out of bed and follows her, hovers in the doorway oh so casually. he is so cute.

i think my out-of-proportion investment here is because if i got to choose which west winger to do it with, it would be josh.

i mean, look at him:

i love it that his hair is longer in this final season, again. it went short somewhere in the middle there, but it's back to its clown-like length, all the better to complement his maniacal grimaces over polling data and the like. i love the way he clenches his jaw. and the looks, oh the looks he gives people. there's something vulnerable about josh, despite his ragingly large intellect and capacity for understanding the masses and the mechanisms of politics, that makes me think he wouldn't know how to boil an egg. and i do. so we would be perfect together.

donna annoyed me in the early days. her rabbity face and seemingly stupid questions were irritating. as they'd stride the corridors, holding papers and doing lots of parallel talking, i found myself becoming bugged to the max by her. but now, i see, her early questions marked an inquiring and quick mind, she was learning on the job from her boss in a way that allowed her move up and away (pissing him off in the meantime). i imagine josh has never been abandoned before, even amy was still buzzing around him towards the end of their thing, it seemed he had dropped her. and then, at the end, donna has come back in, joined their campaign as media person, has her own status, her own mad skillz, which josh can appreciate, and now they can do it because their position is not a boss-assistant one any more.


the last ep. we watched last night was the one where polls opened, exit poll data was coming through, polls closed, things were looking very even between the two candidates AND ALL THE STAFF WERE GETTING A ROOT. apart from arnie vinick, who was nursing some sort of hand-shake rsi. we had mrs santos "helping" her husband have a nap. we have donna asking josh if he "wanted to go for a walk, or something" during his meltdowns. we had the staffers all jumping each other, which had been going on for a while; donna knew, josh didn't. even will and kate back at the white house are doing it. strange, that for a tv series, that went for so long, it wasn't until the end that characters started hooking up. maybe it's end-of-term euphoria. i don't know, but for quite a while there, it was only the president and abbey who were getting it on.

so we are up to the election day part 2 episode, and have 6 eps to go.

the other funny thing is that somehow, we have managed to calibrate the final section of west wing with the inauguration of barack obama. this means that fiction and fact are blending into each other in a very satisfying way. i know west wing is old, but i never watched it on tv and clokes got pissed off and stopped when they started fucking around with timeslots, etc. so we have only watched it properly for the first time, from beginning to end, now. i can see myself wanting to start all over straight away. i want to see them all when they were new staffers. god, even rob lowe seems a distant memory now.

what i might do is stay up all night, watching west wing, culminating in a live cross to washington dc for the inauguration.

only problem is convincing clokes to do the same. he's back at work.

Friday, January 16, 2009

travelling with children, for groverjones

i have done a lot of travelling-with-child. let me bring you up to speed with some of my without child experiences, because this a perfect excuse for me to air a couple of other special times.

1. i once made a stewardess get the giggles while she was doing that thing with the mask and safety vest. i was in year 12 and simply pulled faces at her. i was on a school trip, and no, i'm not proud of myself.

2. i once was on a plane where the captain neglected an important part of take-off procedure. you know, the part which goes like this:

will all cabin attendants please take their seats for take off.

this meant that the plane took off while staff were still walking around. i remember a stewardess throwing herself into her seat, and a steward come flying sideways, running off-balance, yelling


3. i once was allowed on a plane with someone who had a gamelan as hand luggage. for those of you who don't know, this is an indonesian wooden xylophone type thing. these things are huge and this one had been dismantled and resembled a large bundle of firewood. my musician friend had bought it in indonesia and we flew back to australia with it under our feet.

4. once i mucked up the arrival time in a flight london to melbourne. my mother was waiting at tullamarine and i didn't arrive. i worked out i'd made a mistake in singapore and felt like such a dick.

5. this is not exactly one of my flight stories, but once, someone i was meeting at tullamarine airport, was arrested as soon as we walked towards the exit doors. the next 4 or so hours were spent at broadmeadows police station. i think it was broady, i've kind of blanked it out.

which brings me to travelling with children.

when princess was 10 months old, i flew with her to turkey. her dad, ali, was already there, having flown across a couple of months before. so, i was on my own, and flying olympus (greek) because it was the cheapest ticket i could find. i was assured it was a direct flight. it wasn't.

so, groverjones, first point:

make sure that the flight is as direct as possible.

the reason for this is that when you are in singapore airport, or athens airport, or frankfurt airport, and your kid is tired in a way that you've never seen before, and you are about to fall over with exhaustion, you do not want to be having anything like 12 more hours, 12 more hours, running through your brain.

i can't remember the connections of this flight, but i know that we were in places i hadn't expected, in the middle of the night, and at one stage i remember letting princess crawl on the floor of the airport where we were changing planes, thinking shit, that floor must be so dirty, and not caring.

this leads me to my second point:

minimise hand-luggage.

now, i know you want to take as much infrastructure as you can, to keep him amused in as many ways possible. i had bottles, nappies, etc and because she was so young, i didn't have games as such. but i think i had an enormous bag of stuffed toys and "developmental aids" worrying i wouldn't be able to get them in turkey. that was silly, i could and did. so that might be the next point:

plan to buy or borrow some of this bulky, heavy stuff over there. you don't need it for the plane.

i do remember having a stroller but i had to check it, and they wouldn't give it to me at each connection, and they didn't have one they could lend me, so i was basically fucked. i had to carry her, and my nappy bag and this huge bag of toys, and it was a marathon. we flew melbourne-singapore?-athens-london-istanbul from memory, and i think even sydney first.

it was endless. it was a nightmare. and there was no one to share it with, even how bad it was. there were terminal changes on buses in the middle of the night, walking through airports carrying this baby. i don't know how i managed. they must have given me a trolley or something! i've blocked out the memory, too traumatic.

but she was great. on the flight, towards athens, i remember at one stage her being handed around the plane by greek grandparenty types. i leaned back and closed my eyes for a break, and would open them, turn around, check her position every 10 mins or so. i knew she wasn't going anywhere far, and i got a bit of rest. those smiling greek grandparenty types saved my sanity.

i had a hook-on bassinet in front of me, that was resting on my knees the entire way. i had no help whatsoever from the cabin staff. in fact, at one stage, middle of night, i had to heat a bottle. i went to the galley to ask for help, the curtain was pulled across, i opened it, and guess what i saw?

the blonde, attractive female attendant was sitting on the bench, head back, mouth open.

the male attendant was putting a strawberry in her mouth.


another thing i'd considered for this trip was phenergan, that anti-histamine which can also act as a sedative. well, not considered, but been told about by other parents. i didn't want to give it to her for obvious reasons, drugging my child, are you crazy? but also because i'd been told she might react to it, and it might keep her up and have the opposite effect. as it was, she was great. i made sure she was having a bottle when we took off and landed (for her ears) or her dummy and she didn't cry at all, didn't bother anyone (on this trip) and was fantastic.

when we got to istanbul, her sleeping was out. she'd be up at 5am laughing and clapping her hands and rocking back and forth to the call to prayer, but soon settled down and that was all cool. i don't remember the flight back other than we were sitting next to a very snotty english lady. princess was fine in my mind, maybe a little wriggly (she was 14 months by then, and walking) but she didn't cry and wasn't too noisy. this woman kept sighing and looking as if she was being so bothered. i had princess on the other side of me, away from the woman, and was doing all i could until i finally just said to her

you don't have to be such a bitch, you know.

then we had a little conversation about how she was or wasn't being a bitch, and that was it. we ignored each other for the rest of the trip.

the next time i flew with princess long-haul was when she was 3. again, we flew to turkey, again i was on my own. i don't have as many memories. i would have had books, and some toys and kept her busy with food. she was great, and i think on the return trip we were upgraded to business class where i made a little nest for her on the floor with a blanket and she slept and maybe it wasn't the safest thing to do but oh, the bliss of being able to sleep a little myself. there still weren't those personal screens where you could watch stuff, but she was still a little young for that anyway. we amused ourselves by going to the bathroom, i remember her being very interested in all the mechanics of the toilet, but scared of the sound of the flush. a warning there.

this trip we also flew across to america and back, but i don't remember those flights other than our time spent in frankfurt airport on the way there and back. terrible connection times meant that we drifted around for hours, like that man in that tom hanks movie who was living in an airport. there was a giant polar-bear ice cream dispenser, but i didn't have coins. we slept on benches, and at one stage i had princess sitting atop the mountain of luggage on our trolley parked just outside the toilet door while i went for a quick wee (i figured she could make sure no one stole anything by sitting on it, and she had to be right near the door so she couldn't get stolen), next thing i know, she's fallen off from tiredness. she was only 3.

the latest flying with children was 2007 when we flew with the 3, aged 8, 10 and 11? by this age, of course, they can amuse themselves a little better, and it was a breeze. you need those tvs in the back of the seats, and you need them to be working. they need their books, their DS games, and you need a little glass of wine to relax. then you can sit back and feel sorry for the people with little kids, who are struggling. on one of these flights there was a man getting very agitated about a little one near him who wouldn't stop crying. the parents were doing all they could, but often you can't stop a baby or young child crying. you just can't. and on a plane it's harder. you can't take them out, you can't take them for a walk, or a drive in the car. you can't put them in a bath, to let the water soothe them. this man was being a prick, and had made a couple of comments along the lines of can't you DO something? the rest of the passengers were sympathetic to the young couple with the child, and were actively starting to turn against complaining man. finally, someone stood up and told him to be quiet (he'd been starting to stand up, turn around, beseech the other passengers for support in his anti-child movement, what were they going to do? kill the kid?) and other passengers called out, yeah, shut-up, they can't do anything! it was a cool moment, but some people just don't get how hard it is to fly with kids. these are the people who don't like seeing kids in restaurants; imagine them trapped in a plane with a crying brat?

if you are one of these people, just know that no one is feeling worse than the parents right at that point, and you need to do everything in your human capacity to give them a break, and try to give them a supportive smile.

so, basically, the only things you can do are be prepared, have some stuff, direct flights, lots of food and snacks and things to do, sticker books if he is that age. i've just checked, it seems he is an infant? is he a he, even? so sticker books are out. as inc suggested, an evening flight would be good, then there might be sleep.

the final suggestion is this:

know that no matter what, it will be over and you will forget the pain. it will become part of your story-telling, part of the family legends, something you will be able to tell your child over and over.

it will be a bonding thing also for you and your partner.

keep thinking:

this too will pass.
this too will pass.
this too will pass.

when do you go? you must blog from there, and let us know how the flight was.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

happy thursday to you

today we are celebrating my niece's birthday with a swim at a wave pool and then fush 'n chups in the park.


my niece is a kick-ass little miss; she reminds me of the tasmanian devil in those old cartoons. she never stays still, speaks in a yell, and has the most gorgeous coloured hair (kind of gingery, kind of buttery, so beautiful).

this is how i see her when she's a teenager. enjoy.

Monday, January 05, 2009

family holiday

cast: melba and family, sister of melba and family. mother of melba.

total children: 5 ranging in ages from 6 to 13.

location: somewhere near lakes entrance.

and in a week, this is what went down:

- cool, comfortable if windy weather, with a couple of nice, warm days thrown in.

- baby scorpion in hut on the last night. it looked like a real scorpion and everything.

- many ticks, i had a couple non-implanted. and a couple implanted. which led to the following quite hysterical nightly routine:

- full-body erotic tick checks, for me and clokes. full-body non-erotic tick checks for the kids.

- mosquitoes by the trillions

- a couple of pideys but nothing clokes couldn't handle

- spotlight tiggy x 2 games. the first game was on the first night, and saw me in thongs, doing full-body commando crawling across the dark ground. refer to full-body erotic tick check above.

- one game of sardines. it's awesome fun.

- night bush-walk. we saw three tawny-frogmouth owls, kangaroos would come through the camp every dusk, one had a joey and it was fucking cute.

- attempts at fitness, read slow, shuffly jogging around camp locale. thoughts of truro and shallow graves while on the gravelly paths. my sis saw an echidna. i did not.

- phosphorescence in the water at night . OH MY GOD IT WAS LIKE IN MY FAMILY AND OTHER ANIMALS, you know when margot is on the boat at night and trailing her hands in the dark, greek waters, and there was phosphorescence. talk about magic glitter black sparkle awesome incroyable look-at-the-water-when-you-throw-a-handful-of-pebbles-in wonderfulness. this was a highlight of the holiday and my life. srsly.

- industrial kitchen with lots of bench space. you could really s p r e a d out your breakfast, sandwich, coffee, fruit platter, champagne, castello cheese -preparations.

- hookey board

- scattergories

- trip to lakes entrance to take the kids to see high school musical 3. new and inappropriate crush on zac efron.

- bbqs. many.

- eating. much.

- drinking. so much that the day the matriarch was due, we managed to get around to recycling our empties. it was an embarrassing amount.

- melba sobriety: constant since new year's day. not a new year's resolution, but a decision to go alchohol free in january. i did in october and it was alright. much easier than i expected. so i am planning to make it a regular part of my year. makes it easier for me to think i'm not an alcoholic then, you see?

- space. much.

- blue castello cheese. i ate the whole thing over several sessions, and my sister and my ma got one schmear each on a vita-weet.

- ice cream. much.

- shopping x 2 trips. $280 first trip, over $200 the second trip. NOT INCLUDING ALCOHOL.

- new year's eve party x 1. dress-ups which saw appearances by bride of frankenstein (yours truly, complete with russian accent and elaborate explanation to wide-eyed 6-year-old nephew of origins of my "scars", graveyard man with knife, rabid dog etc) and a fully-wrapped toilet paper mummy (my sis) who lost most of her leg paper during her grand entrance and subsequently turned out like some sexy mini-skirted brazilian music video dancer (but with mummified head). our husbands are mild-mannered men and i sometimes wonder what they make of us crazy sisters. i'm sure they adore being married to us, are so proud of us, never embarrassed and really enjoy the life we breathe into them with our assorted hijinks. there was also a scarily accurate princess-amy winehouse, but with gorgeous skin and no nicotine-stained fingers, and a fake tattoo. our rage peaked too early. photos and video taken on the night while we were doing our wildest dancing shows it was still light outside. a bit sad BUT WE HAD FUN.

- cricket, none really. not for me. there was a tv and i worked out rapidly that it wasn't on because australia was going shit. but there was some radio listening done by clokes and bro-in-law. they like to listen even if they are going shit. i'd been amusing clokes for about a week by calling symons "simmo" and him going "no, roy" and me going "SIMMO IT'S BETTER!" and then while reading one of the papers, he laughed and showed me a little headline which referred to "Symmo" and I said "I told you so, much better than 'Roy' ".

- no family arguments which was pretty good, considering the bust-up we had in turkey. so yay us there.

- hammocks. we had 3 going and it was ace.

- reading. i brought a cache of books to share, and so did bro-in-law. i read mao's last dancer and midnight in the garden of good and evil, as well as 3 trash mags and the couple of newspapers we got.

- precisely one counter meal which was maximum ordinary and quite disappointing. that was in paynesville.

so a terrific time was had by all. i called my sister today to tell her i was missing them all, and we started chatting as if we hadn't exhausted all topics during that week. it was great, the kids drifted around and played and got their own breakfasts and often lunch. this, to a parent, is sheer bliss. there were no accidents, no bushfire tragedies, no car crashes. we returned unscathed and happy.

this is our pit-stop then we are off to another spot tomorrow. one with rock-pools and lots of italian home-cooked food, care of clokey's mama. hopefully some cherries from the orchard, certainly lots of reading, and newspapers every day.

then, after that, 2009 begins proper.

happy days all.