Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Linger

I’m learning that waking up can be a not that pleasant experience. In fact, it can be quite painful.

My morning routine is one of languor. The alarm goes off at six a.m. I’m normally half-awake five minutes before this. Once I shut off the alarm, I turn on the television and listen to the news – or more to the point, the Today Show on Channel Nine, the palatable face of right-wing Australia. I like to be agitated out of bed gently.

This morning, the news came that Dolores O’Riordan had passed away, aged 46.

Dolores O’Riordan? Never heard of her?

Well, she was the voice of a generation. My generation. Generation X.

The news took me back to 1994. This was instantaneous and complete.

Here I was, 25-years-old and in a pub in London, England. I’m wearing high-waisted jeans and a shirt, which has not been tucked in, On my feet, Doc Marten eight hole boots bought down Camden Market the day a bomb went off in a bin down the Camden High Street. My hair is flowing down my back. I have a pint of “wife-beater and lime” in my hand (Stella Artois topped with lime cordial, still a drink of choice).

I have just started work at a merchant bank in the City, finally making proper money. Double breasted suits and stiletto heels surround me on a daily basis.

Nelson Mandela is about to be made President of South Africa. Lady Diana is making news for the right and wrong reasons. The Channel Tunnel has just opened. Fred and Rosemary West become a household name. Rwanda is imploding. Barings Bank is still a bank not just the carcass left by Nick Leeson.

Life feels a lot simpler back then.

But I am standing in a pub with a pint in my hand, just realising that I have fallen in love, quite badly, and there is nothing that I can do about it. Nothing at all.

I’m surrounded by my drama mates after a class. It was a great drama class.

We eat jalepeno poppers, the likes I have never had again. This the after drama pint. We'll all make the last train home. I live in West Hampstead, sharing a flat with an odd flatmate above a sharehouse of Australian and Kiwi expats, with most of whom I am still in contact.

This pub isn’t there any more.

But we are here in this pub, with my pint and some jalepeno poppers and this comes on over the pub's speakers.

And everything makes sense.



Every time I hear this song, I am taken back to this place. I'm taken back to this person. Somebody I really don't need to be thinking about.

Little did I know the feelings would linger for over twenty years.

Vale Dolores O’Riordan, the voice of Generation X. You will never linger. You'll always be the voice of my generation.


Sunday, January 14, 2018

The Conversation Starters Meme

Great questions this week, Bev.

Busy weekend - lots of things on. Just back from a float. Now cooking lunch for the week before doing some washing and going to bed.

Things don't change much.

Questions, as always, from Sunday Stealing.


1. What are some small things that make your day better?

Sunshine. Stopping to smell roses and patting soppy cats. When you can get a seat on the tram in the morning.

2. What shows are you into?

Currently, Gilmore Girls, The Good Wife and Good Behaviour. The Handmaid's Take was extraordinary.

3. What TV channel doesn’t exist but really should?

I think there should be a Shakespeare Channel. All Shakespeare and Shakespearean history, all the time.

4. Who has impressed you most with what they’ve accomplished?

Oprah has made the list this week. Awesome woman. There are too many unsung people out there.

5. What age do you wish you could permanently be?

36. I remember liking 36.

6. What TV show or movie do you refuse to watch?

Game of Thrones after season one (too violent). The Walking Dead (Pointless and too violent) Anything with a Kardashian in it.

7. What is something that is considered a luxury, but you don’t think you could live without?

Movies and theatre. Love them all. Books are not a luxury.

8. What’s your claim to fame?

I can recite all of Jabberwocky when plastered. Very plastered. Twas brillig.....

9. What’s something you like to do the old-fashioned way?

Cook. . I love to cook from scratch.Everything.

10. What’s your favorite genre of book or movie?

Alternative drama. For books, literary fiction.

11. How often do you people watch?

All the time. It's one of my favourite things to do.

12. What have you only recently formed an opinion about?

Floatation tanks are awesome.

13. What are you interested in that most people haven’t heard of?

Freemasonry. I'm a lady freemason. Happy to talk about it too.

14. What’s the farthest you’ve ever been from home?

Probably the USA. I lived in England for a long time too.

15. What is the most heartwarming thing you’ve ever seen?

Probably animals being born. That is awesome.

16. What is the most annoying question that people ask you?

Why aren't you married?

17. What could you give a 40-minute presentation on with absolutely no preparation?

Yes. I've done it before. But I'm trained in this sort of thing. Didn't say I'd like it...

18. If you were dictator of a small island nation, what crazy dictator stuff would you do?

Everybody would have to wear pink socks on Tuesday.

19. What is something you think everyone should do at least once in their lives?

Travel and read. Visit New York. Visit Spain. Go to the Theatre. ... I have lots of these.

Monday, January 8, 2018

Farewell Innocence

Like everybody else in Australia, I woke to the news of the alleged sexual misconduct of yet another male celebrity, and as with other such reports, I immediately felt sad. Sad for the women involved. Angry at the companies who allegedly did not take these women's claim's seriously. Feeling sorry for the actor involved as rightly or wrongly, he's being tried by the media. Rightly or wrongly, his career and reputation are now in tatters.

As the media outlets are footnoting their articles, these reports are not professing the guilt of the said actor, they are merely reporting that the allegations have been made.

Talking to my mother later in the morning, she said she had seen the actor on stage on the weekend. She'd loved the show. She then started to complain about the news.

"Stupid women, why didn't they speak up at the time?"

"They couldn't, Mum. It's not that simple.The theatre is not somewhere where women feel they can speak up."

I get my mother's frustration. I know I was feeling a bit frustrated when I turned on the telly at 6 a.m. to get the news.

Then again, I know my mother, with a 30-year career in nursing through the sixties, seventies and eighties would have seen a lot of the sort of behaviour that's currently been reported and she would have had to turn a blind eye. When a man treated you badly back then, you let others know - keep away from him - tell others to watch their step - get a transfer to another hospital or ward, because you didn't have a choice. To report these types of incidents would have cost you your job. Heavens, if you got married, you were forced to give up your role. This was being phased out around the time I was born, thank heavens.

Mum has the right to feel frustrated.

I then looked at my own working life.

After nearly thirty years in the workforce I do know that things have changed and continue to change.

I remember early on taking the bullying  behaviour of a manager to HR. The HR woman was sympathetic but told me to keep my head down and not to rankle this man's ire. I needed the job. It was the early nineties - jobs were scarce and I had rent to pay. I was heard, but I got on with it, gritting my teeth and moving to London six months after.

Over my career, I've worked all over the world. I've worked my way up. I say I've had little to complain about.

Working in large organisations, there has been the pall of the H.R. department casting its omniscient presence over the workplace. Sometimes, they're helpful, other times not.

I've worked in many male-dominated areas - merchant banks, telecommunications companies, utilities and finance. Thankfully, I've been blessed with great people, men and women, who have had my back.

Then there are the times where a creep comes across your path.

With the #metoo event, many of my friends traded their stories.

I can't speak to them, but some of my memorable gems have included:

  • Being groped by an unknown trader on a trading floor while trying to deliver some paperwork
  • Having my breast size assessed by a group of co-workers
  • Having my sex life discussed across the office
  • Being told that I should wear lower cut tops as to show of my breasts
  • Having a colleague sit on my desk, making suggestive motions towards his crotch.
These are just a few incidents, all from my younger days. Most of which, at the time, I brushed aside fearing repercussions for speaking out.  The last incident on the list was reported to management. The guy was a creep. He was sacked for treating another colleague in a far worse way soon after this happened. Seems I got off lightly.

Still, you come away from every episode feeling dirty, small, humiliated and shamed.

And of course I won't mention the public slights from over the years. The wolf whistles, unwanted comments, gropings and taunts, which I was once told was just a part of being a girl when I was younger. 

Like many, I've grown a thicker skin and a learned to walk away.

My inner reaction to these unwanted attentions, which still occasionally occur, is the desire to find a bottle, smash it and press the shards into the arsehole's neck. 

I never would do that. But I've seethed inside for what seems like an eternity after these events occurred. 

My eternal question - why can't these dickheads leave me in peace? 

I've also been subjected to some bullying by management in my time. Knowing what it is, documenting it, raising flags as soon as you realise something is not right to the appropriate people, and working as a contractor, meant I've been able to escape these places on my own terms. I know this has been one of the good things about contracting.  In both cases, the incidents were documented, recorded and dealt with by the company. Again, the perpetrators did not singled me out.

By some miracle, I managed to get out of both events with my reputation and sanity intact.

The thing that sticks out for me from both of these bullying incidents was thinking at the time that if I did speak out, my job was on the line. If I was to push this, it could be me who wore the consequences? Was I right to think that I was being bullied? How would I keep a roof over my head if I did walk out? HR department or not, there could be consequences.

So I get it. I get why women haven't spoken about this sort of thing over the years. I so get it. Reputation. Keeping your job. Ensuring you keep you 83% of the male working next to you's wage coming in. Not wanting to be perceived as a troublemaker. Even, heaven forbid, thinking that these shameful, humiliating, bothersome and downright hideous behaviours were normal.

I came away from the news this morning, and from the conversation with my mother feeling like a little bit of my innocence had been shattered.

Then I realised that it had been taken from me many years ago.

Sunday, January 7, 2018

The Happy New Year Meme

I sort of did these questions last week, but they have been updated. Thanks to Bev at Sunday Stealing.

End of Year Questions

1. What did you do last year that you had not done before? 

Finished my Masters degree. Never done that before. Came out with 9 High Distinctions and 3 Distinctions. I'm very proud of myself.

2. Did you keep your New Year's Resolutions/goals for the year and will you make/set more for next year?  What are they? What are your new ones?

I set a goal to not eat potato chips - both hot and packet chips over the year. I failed with the hot chips but I've not had a potato chip from a packet in over 372 days.

3. Did anyone you know give birth? Or become pregnant?  Or adopt?

My downstairs neightbour gave birth to a daughter. Most of my friends have now finished their families.

4. Did anyone you know die? Or have a serious illness/injury?

There has been a lot of death around be, but nobody close has died.

5. What places have you visited? 

Nowhere really new, but I did go to the Museum of Old and New Art (MONA) in Hobart, Tasmania - that was AWESOME. Can't wait to go back.

6. Any new pets? Lost a pet?

No.

7. What would you like to have next year that you lacked this year (doesn't have to be a physical thing i.e. love, job security, peace of mind...)? 

I would like the courage and time to write that novel,

8. What date from last year will remain etched in your memory and why? 

Nothing really comes to mind. 11 February was fun as we celebrated my Punjabi kid brother's birthday in Myponga.

9. What was your biggest achievement last year?

Finishing my Masters.

10. Did you get sick or injured?

Other than the odd cold and migraine, no thank goodness.

11. What was the best thing you bought? 

I bought my current ward (Maow Maow) a new litter try. The old one stank. That was his Christmas present. I've bought a lot of tickets to see Shakespeare productions at the Pop Up Globe. (www.popupglobe.com.au) This has been awesome.

12. Where did most of your disposable income go (money leftover after you pay for food, medical care, basic clothing, transportation and shelter)? 

Clothing, books and entertainment.

13. What song will always remind you of last year?  Doesn't have to be a song released last year.

This:



14. What do you wish you would have done more of?

Exercised. Gone out to dinner

15. What do you wish you would have done less of?

Comfort ate.

16. What was your favorite new TV program? Movie? Album/Songs? Or if you didn't pick up any new ones, what are you still watching/listening to? Any recommendations?

Television Program:  The Crown
Movie:  Call Me By Your Name
Album:  Tash Sultana's EP

Check out all of these

17. What was the best book you read this year?  How many did you read?

I read 23 books last year. My favourite of the year was Hanya Yahanigara's A Little Life.  Heather Rose's Museum of Modern Love and George Saunder's Lincoln in the Bardo run not too far behind.

18. What did you do on your birthday and how old were you? Did you feel differently? 

Went out to dinner with friends. It was lovely.I don't feel much different.

19. What political or social issue stirred you the most? 

The same sex marriage debate in Australia was awful. How we treat unregulated refugees is appalling and is shame of Australia.

20. Who was the most interesting new person you met?

I have a heap of lovely new workmates. They are awesome.

21. Describe how a relationship changed. 

Most are pretty much in the same state as they were.

22. Do you think you are still the same person that you were at the beginning of the year?  How so?

Yes. I'm middle aged. I don't change that much.Maybe a little more cynical.

23. Summarize the year in three words or less. Bonus points for doing it in one word. Explain.

Frustrating. Hope inspiring. Tenacious.

24. How have people around you changed? 

Some are a little more conservative. This alarms me a little.

25. What have you learned throughout the year? (Other than crafts) 

I can do anything if I put my mind to it. I still hate doing burpees.

26. Did you learn any new crafts or techniques? What was your favorite thing you made? 

I wrote a quarter of a novel. Never done that before. I've also taken up black and white iPhone photography.

27. What changed about your physical appearance? (Hair? Wrinkles? New makeup style? Etc) 

My hair is a little lighter thanks to my hairdresser. There are a few more greys in the mix.

28. What are your hopes and dreams for the new year?  (Some suggestions-family, travel, work, lifestyle, hobbies, pets, appearance)

To get a lot fitter. The finish the first draft of my novel. To travel a hell of a lot more than I did this year. I went nowhere this year.

Sunday, December 31, 2017

The Year End Hodge Podge meme

I will do the longer, more traditional version of this after this meme.

Questions are supplied by Bev at Sunday Stealing.

1. Where have you found unexpected magic or delight this holiday season? 

I have a cat staying with me. He's wonderful. I also had a lovely time with somebody else's family in Tasmania over Xmas.

2. What's your favorite type of holiday gathering? Will you/have you gathered in your favorite way this month?

None and nothing. Christmas is over rated.

3. Time has named 'The Silence Breakers' (women who came forward with stories of harassment)  'person of the year' for 2017. Would you agree? If not, who do you think deserves the title?

Yes and yes.

4. How did you spend your time this year? Are you happy about that? Elaborate

I did a bit of writing and finished my Masters. I'm very happy about that. Onwards I say.

5. Bid farewell to 2017 in ten words or less.

Thank goodness you're over. he're to a wonderful 2018.

6. Insert your own random thought here.

I think I have a lot in common with Lorelei Gilmore.

Okay and now for the real questions.


1. What did you do in 2017 that you’d never done before?

Finished my master's degree. I went to MONA.


2. Best thing that happened to you was...

Finishing my master's degree and making the great friends I made this year.

3. Did anyone close to you give birth?

My downstair's neighbours brought in a daughter in September. She's awesome.

4. Did anyone close to you die?

Nobody close to me died, but I've had a lot of death around me. An acquaintance committed suicide, which did hurt a lot. I have a lot of friends who have lost love ones. It's been an honour to be able to stand next to them and be by their side through the process.

5. What countries did you visit?

I haven't used my passport this year. I feel bad about this, but I have a few trips abroad planned in 2018. I did make Tasmania twice - I wonder if this counts.

6. What would you like to have in 2018 that you lacked in 2017?

More laughter and more travel and more sex. I also want to make more time to write.

7. What dates from 2017 will remain etched upon your memory, and why?

November 15. I submitted my last Master's assignment.

8. What was your biggest achievement of the year?

I've ended up with one distinction and three high distinctions in my studies. I work hard, but it's nice to see the work pays off.

9. What was your biggest failure?

Losing weight. That didn't happen this year. That changes this year. It has to.

10. Did you suffer illness or injury?

Other than a bout of flu and having a smalll gynaecological matter sorted, I've been really lucky.

11. What was the best thing you bought?

Two pairs of Birkenstocks. They are so comfortable. That and my Sheridan sheets.

12. Whose behavior merited celebration?

The women who have spoken out about sexual abuse. All I can say is #metoo. Samuel Johnson will always be an enigma too.

13. Whose behaviour made you appalled and depressed?

Where do I start. Aging man-baby, Donald Trump is simply appalling. Most of the Australian Federal Cabinet could go jump of a cliff and there would be no loss.

14. Where did most of your money go?

Rent, tuition, travel and theatre.

15. What did you get really, really, really excited about?

The Pop Up Globe in Melbourne. Shakespeare on tap. It's been AWESOME!



16. What song will always remind you of 2016?

I love Tash Sultana's Jungle. Love it.


17. Compared to this time last year, are you: (a) happier or sadder? (b) thinner or fatter? (c) richer or poorer?

a) Happier
b) about the same
c) About the same - though I'm richer in wisdom.

18. What do you wish you’d done more of?

Laugh, travel, drink gin, exercised (though for a few months it was hard to do much because of that bloody bruise) and saved money.

19. What do you wish you’d done less of?

Eat ice cream and procrastinate about exercise.

20. How will you spend New Year's Eve?

I'm about to go see a film, then I'm off to Alice's place to watch the fireworks from her balcony.

21. Quote a song lyric that sums up your year.

With your feet in the air and your head on the ground
Try this trick and spin it, yeah
Your head will collapse
But there's nothing in it
And you'll ask yourself
Where is my mind..  (The Pixies - Where is my Mind?)

22. What was your favorite new TV program?

I was put onto Gogglebox earlier this year. Love the Australian version.

23. What was the rudest thing someone did to you in 2016?

The Federal Government put me through that awful plebishite. That was awful. Not one of Autralia's finer moments, though we do have same sex marriage now, thank goodness. ABOUT FUCKING TIME. I hold the government responsible for this.

24. What was the best book you read?

Hanya Yahanigara's "A Little Life". Running not far behind, Heather Rose's "The Museum of Modern Love" and George Saunder's "Lincoln in the Bardo."

25. What was your greatest musical discovery?

Tash Sultana. See above.

26. What did you want and get?

A job that I love after my long running contract at the bank ended. I am very fortunate. That and the friendship of some wonderful people.

27. What did you want and not get?

An extra hour in the day to write.

28. What was your favorite film of this year?

I saw it yesterday. Amazing. Call Me By Your Name. It's incredible. Runners up - Their Finest, Lion and Logan Lucky for my guilty pleasure. It was also great to see Branagh's Hamlet on 70 mm at the local indy theatre.


29. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you?

Dinner with friends at a local French restaurant. It was lovely.

30. What one thing made your year immeasurably more satisfying?

Regular trips to Sydney to see a friend. Nuff said there. Doing well at my studies.

31. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2017?

Plain, boring, black.

32. What kept you sane?

Friends, movies, books, writing, exercise - and the odd gin and tonic.

33. Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most?

Still have a thing for Richard Roxburgh and Craig McLachlan. That doesn't change.

34. What political issue stirred you the most?

I was pretty vocal for the Yes campaign for the same sex marriage plebishite.

35. Who did you miss?

I still miss  Reindert, but we talk often. I still mourne Philip Seymour Hoffman and Alan Rickman too.

36. Who was the best new person you met?

No one person, but I now work with a great mob of people.


Sunday, December 24, 2017

The No Meme Meme

Weell, it looks like Bev at Sunday Stealing is having a well earned break, but as it is Sunday, he meme must be written - and as I'll have no access to a computer for a few days. best get it in before I hope on a plane to places overseas (read Tasmania - not that exotic.

So here is my no meme meme for the week. Written quickly as the car is packed and I have to get to the airport. I'm concentrating on good things and gratitude.

What is the best thing to have happened to you this week?

I got published. Pitched Thursday lunchtime, written Thursday evening, submitted Friday, published Sunday afternoon.  A short article on managing grief at Xmas. Mamamia is a well known Australian online magazine. I wonder if they will pay me for it?  Here's the link to the story. https://www.mamamia.com.au/manage-grief-at-christmas/

What have you learned this Xmas?

I get burnout easily. I found myself burned out by Wednesday of this week. the night on the couch with the cat, instead of the noisy dinner did me well? That and I work with a heap of huggers. This I don't mind. They are lovely people my workmates.

Task of the week?

The flat has been hoovered every second day. I have Maow Maow with me. he is the best, but he likes to spread kitty litter everywhere. He's a great boy.

What are you looking forward to?

Two weeks off work. And going to the gym a lot and seeing lots of movies. That's a good start. Christmas on the banks of the Tamar River in Tassie will be most lovely too.

What are you reading?

George Saunders' Lincoln in the Bardo. It's incredible.

Seen any good movies?

Yes. Jay and I went to see The Florida Project on Friday. It's different - and amazing. Willem Dafoe is superb, as are the group of six-year-olds out act the adults. A telling tale. It's this year's Moonlight.



Any Christmas regrets?

No. I do feel the loss of my niece more keenly at this time of year. It's also the time if year I reflect on being single more than any other time. But then I look at what I have - my health, my friends, and I realise life is pretty good. 

Anything else?

I have to get myself to the airport.

Right, have a lovely Season.

Pand

Sunday, December 17, 2017

The It's Beginning to Look a Lot Like Xmas Meme

Well, I have to say that since the death of my niece two years ago, Christmas  has really lost what lustre it had - not that it had much to begin with. We're going to be celebrating a form of Christmas in early February, where we can put the hard memories away.

Questions, as per usual, are provided from Bev at Sunday Stealing.

1. What’s your favorite thing about the holidays?

Time off work. (but this is is cancelled out by no office air conditioning.

2. Do you send out Christmas cards and if so how many do you send?

No

3. Be honest: holiday newsletters. Love ‘em or hate ‘em?

Depends on who is sending them.

4. Be honest: photo cards. Love ‘em or hate ‘em?

Not an Australian tradition.

5. How soon do you start shopping?

Early November. Get little bits and pieces to take away some of the stress.

6. Real or fake tree?

No tree - but real ones smell good.

7. When do you put up your tree?

I don't

8. When do you take down your tree?

No tree to take down.

9. Describe your typical tree (size, decorations, type)

No tree, nothing to describe.

10. What do you top your tree with?

No tree to decorate - but a good star is hard to beat.

11. Do you put Christmas lights outside your house?

I have a strand in front of the telly.

12. Is there a wreath hanging on your door?

Nope.

13. Do you hang up stockings?

Hell no. Besides, nowhere to hang them.

14. Your favorite Christmas Movie(s)

Die Hard. (technically it is a Christmas movie)

15. Be honest: A Christmas movie you don't like

That one with Reece Witherspoon and Vince Vaughn was pretty ordinary.

16. Favorite Christmas Song(s)

Fairytale of New York.



17. Be honest: If I hear this/these Christmas songs again I will throw up

Jingle Bells. Over it.

18. Give or Receive?

Both

19. Eggnog or Mulled Cider?

It's Australia - too hot for those, but cold egg nog is lovely.

20. Ham or Turkey?

When we do Xmas in my family, we do seafood - suits the weather better.