ZOMG! Where have the last nine-and-a-bit weeks gone?! Having a miniature human to look after creates this weird time paradox: each day feels about four years long, but the weeks fly by in an instant. Time to myself has become a kind of mythic concept, like Atlantis or finding something that fits in a designer sample sale. Since my blog has been sadly neglected, I thought I might as well write about what I’ve learned about this parenting malarkey while I’ve been occupied elsewhere. So here’s some random thoughts about being someone’s mother…
1. I have more empathy. I’d like to think I’ve always had empathy for my fellow human beings, but it’s much more profound now. Before I had a kid, I would hear an infant wailing or a toddler having a meltdown and think, ‘I wish that kid would be quiet because it’s super annoying.’ Now when I hear a child in distress and think, ‘Oh no! Why is that small person so upset? And how is his poor mum coping?!’ It’s weird.
2. I really want my kid to like me. Before Smudge was born, when I imagined what our relationship might be like, it was always in a sort of abstract way. Like, me parent, you baby. But now that she’s here I realise she’s an actual person with her own likes a dislikes (likes: peeing the moment her nappy comes off; dislikes: getting dressed/undressed) and that she’s under no obligation to like me. I had no idea how desperate I’d be for my kid to think I’m alright. (It’s cool, I’m pretty sure she does.)
3. You will not automatically bond with all other mothers. Lots of people told me that, once you’ve popped out a sprog of your own, you’re granted metaphorical membership of a lovely, nurturing sisterhood of mothers. I’ve yet to experience this. It’s not that other mothers have been unkind; I guess I just sort of imagined we’d all go out of our way to chat with each other in the supermarket and whatnot, and that hasn’t happened. Am I supposed to smile and say hello to every woman I see pushing a pram? What’s the etiquette here?
4. I’m still me. I don’t feel that having a child has changed me fundamentally as a person. I’m mad about my kid, but I still have interests and ambitions that have nothing to do with being a parent. I don’t even think of myself as A Mother, the same way I don’t think of myself as A Wife or A Writer. These things are all part of me, but none of them entirely defines me.
5. I value my marriage more than ever. The husband and I solemnly promised each other before Smudge arrived that we’d still make time for our relationship once she was here. I’m sure all parents-to-be do this. I’m equally sure that, in the sleep-deprived chaos of those first few weeks with a newborn, that goes right out the window for most. It’s really, really important to me that my marriage remains my top priority. I don’t mean that in some bullshit Stepford Wife, meet-him-at-the-door-with-a-full-face-of-makeup-and-a-vodka-martini kind of way. I mean, some days I don’t even shower, you know? But little stuff matters. Like our rule that we must greet each other when he gets home from work before we start talking about/cooing over the offspring. Or our weekly at-home date nights. Smudge will fly the coop and some stage and we’ll only have each other for company; it matters that we’ll still like each other then.
6. Sleep is overrated. I’m not going to lie: being dragged from sleep by a hungry infant at 2am is not super fun fun. But then she’ll flash a big goofy grin – or giggle, which is her new thing – and we’ll have 20 minutes of cosy, quiet time together in the dark of her room and I invariably find myself thinking ‘no worries, I’ll sleep some other time.’
Caveat: Smudge is actually a pretty good sleeper and I know I’m uber lucky in that respect. I reserve the right to change my ‘sleep is overrated’ position should she turn into the night beast from hell.
7. Nobody knows nuthin’. When I was in hospital immediately after popping out the sprog, the midwifes were lovely and very knowledgeable. The problem was every single one of them had a different opinion on every single g-damn thing. There literally was not a consistent viewpoint among them. It. Was. Very. Frustrating. And in the 10 weeks since, nothing has changed. Every book, every website, every child health nurse, every GP, every other mother, every random stranger in the supermarket has a different idea on how things should be done. I thought this might stress me out, but in fact I’ve found it very reassuring. When it comes to babies, nobody knows a bloody thing, which means my way is A-OK.
What have been the most surprising things you’ve learned about parenting? Let me know below!
1. A new way of thinking. On account of having made a small human, I am now on ‘maternity leave’. I use the inverted commas because the whole idea seems bizarre and largely irrelevant when you’re self employed. Regardless, I’m not currently engaging in any paid work. And this has necessitated a huge shift in my way of thinking. Before said small human arrived, I was a Very Busy Person. Busy, busy, busy. All the time with the busyness. It was my mission in life to be PRODUCTIVE. To ACHIEVE THINGS. Now I am still busy, but in a different way. Being productive means something else entirely. My only real ‘achievements’ yesterday, for example, were ordering some birth announcement cards and washing my hair. Whoopeee! But I also spent an hour dancing with my kid in my arms (incidentally, Dizzee Rascal sends her to sleep in about three seconds flat). I made up roughly forty thousand inane songs for her. I wrapped her up in her Mei Tai and we walked to the shops to post a letter. I was wildly unproductive, according to my old way of thinking, but all of these things were ACHIEVEMENTS nonetheless. I love that this noisy, needy new arrival is forcing me to stop and smell the roses. The folks who name such things call this ‘slow living’. Long may it continue.
2. Chilling out. After what feels like centuries of hideous heat and humidity, it is cool enough in Sydney today for me to be wearing a hoodie. I cannot begin to tell you how happy this makes me.
3. Amazing friends. When I was pregnant, lots of people told me that the arrival of the baby would spark a postal avalanche of gifts and cards. I didn’t believe it. I mean, really, who’s going to be interested enough in my kid to take the time to send her anything? People have got their own stuff going on, right? (It’s perhaps odd that I should have thought this way, considering I always send baby/birthday/Christmas cards and gifts to my friends, but hey-ho.) But the people were right. Smudge has received a plethora of trinkets, toys and outfits in the past three weeks, not to mention all the gorgeous cards filled with congratulations and heartfelt well wishes. I have been touched and overwhelmed by people’s kindness. I feel very, very fortunate to have so many lovely people in my life.
4. Snail mail. A wonderful by-product of all this postal love for Smudge is that now I get to indulge in one of my favourite pastimes: writing thank-you notes. You can call me old fashioned, or just a massive nerd, but there are few things I enjoy more than sending (and receiving) actual handwritten mail. I have a special pen and everything!
5. Naps. Smudge is actually a pretty good sleeper, so while I am tired, I’m not as exhausted as I thought I might be (yet… famous last words?!) That said, having to get up several times a night is not especially wonderful. I’ve always enjoyed a good nap; now I am positively in love with them! The temptation, of course, is to use the time when the baby’s asleep to do stuff like unload the dishwasher and write blog posts (ha!). So I’m trying to ignore the pull of household chores and march myself off to bed instead.
6. Telly. One thing I hadn’t expected to come with this parenting caper is all the sitting around. Seriously, I am spending an inordinate amount of time on my backside at the moment for one reason or another. So it’s a good thing I’ve stocked up on TV box sets to while away the time. I have Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries, Call the Midwife and Mr Selfridge to get through, as well as season six of Doc Martin and season three of Sherlock currently winging their way to me. (I know Sherlock‘s going to be on telly soon, but I can’t bear to watch it with ads every twelve seconds.) It’s never too early to foster an appreciation of quality storytelling in a child, right?!
7. Puppy love. Of all the anxieties I had about becoming a parent, the worry that my dogs wouldn’t accept their two-legged sibling was the one that really kept me up at night. So I’m beyond happy and relieved that, so far, they appear to be totally cool with the new arrival. Even Tex, who’s a bit stroppy at the best of times, has had nothing but curious sniffs and relaxed tail-wags for Smudge. Obviously I’ll continue to be vigilant when the fur babies are around the actual baby, but so far it looks like they’re going to get along just fine.
Here is a thing that happened: I had a baby. A girl one.
She was born ten days ago and she is, naturally, sheer perfection. All those things I’ve heard other mothers say are true. I am in love with her and I am more in love with my husband than ever because he helped to make her and she looks just like him, right down to her crazy huge feet.
If you don’t know me ‘in real life’, it may come as a surprise to you to hear that I made a person. That’s because I never mentioned my pregnancy online. I didn’t Tweet about my ‘symptoms’ (which, thankfully, were few). I didn’t post Instagram pix of my growing belly or mine the experience for blog post fodder. I didn’t link to baby websites or parenting articles on my Facebook page either. (Count yourself lucky, Facebook friends: I’ve spent a LOT of time looking at baby websites this year.)
I also asked all my family and friends not to share my news online and, for the most part, people were great about keeping mum. (See what I did there?)
In fact, even if you do know me in real life, you may still not have known I was pregnant. I didn’t ‘announce’ my impending parenthood on Facebook or any other public online forum. I told people either in person or via personal emails.
It’s not that I wanted to keep my big news a secret. Actually, there were plenty of times when I wanted to write about or post something pregnancy-related. I really wanted to write a post on the stupid shit people say to pregnant women, for example. Like the nosy old bloke who accosted me on a shopping centre escalator and demanded to know if I was taking folate. (I’ll tell you what I’m taking, mate; I’m taking a daily dose of IT’S NONE OF YOUR DAMN BUSINESS.) Or the friend who remarked on how well I was ‘coping’ with impending motherhood, considering my pregnancy was obviously accidental. (It wasn’t.) Or the woman who cornered me at a party and asked whether I intended to circumcise my unborn, should it be a boy. Sure, let’s chat about my hypothetical son’s penis over canapes!
Yeah, all of that actually happened. But I didn’t write about any of it.
I just want to be really clear that I absolutely, categorically do not judge any woman who chooses to document her pregnancy via a blog and/or social media. Believe me, I’ve gleaned plenty of helpful advice from the virtual world over the past nine months. This route just wasn’t for me.
Basically, I just didn’t think people really wanted or needed to know about the goings-on in my uterus. One thing I discovered pretty quickly on my pregnancy journey was that, when you’re up the duff, you become public property to a large extent. If it’s not radiographers examining your insides or obstetricians peering at your lady garden, it’s well-meaning strangers who want to know when you’re due and whether you know what you’re having. (Yes, a baby.)
Pregnancy is such an incredible experience – at least, it was for me. I’d always imagined I’d be one of those unlucky women who has every hideous pregnancy symptom under the sun and spends 40 weeks feeling anxious and strung out. Miraculously, the opposite was true. I felt amazing, both physically and emotionally. I was pretty zen the whole time – including the birth, which was surprisingly enjoyable – and I just wanted to try and keep it as special and private as possible for myself, my husband and our nearest and dearest.
Now that she’s here, I feel even more strongly about protecting my daughter’s privacy. That’s why I’m not going to use her name on the blog. Throughout my pregnancy we called her ‘Smudge’, so I’ll stick with that. And that’s also why I’ll never post pictures of her on public forums – not on this blog, not on Twitter and not on Instagram. Of course, I can’t guarantee she won’t appear in pictures that friends and family post, but I’m hopeful they’ll respect my wish to maintain her online anonymity as long as possible.
What about Facebook? I’ve posted one photo of her there so far and admit it’s likely she’ll pop up again from time to time. All of my Facebook friends are people I actually know ‘offline’, and I can also control the privacy settings on my FB pictures, so I’m less concerned about putting her image out there for public consumption. Plus, my husband is English and all his family and close friends are in the UK, so Facebook is a great way to keep them posted on how Smudge is getting on.
This ‘online blackout’ is not something I’ve decided to do lightly. I love social media. Twitter is one of my favourite things; I love the sense of community there. I’m constantly amazed by the creativity and quality of images posted on Instagram, too. And I’m happy to share aspects of my life via this blog. But it’s my choice to participate in these forums. I am an adult who has the freedom to decide what I share online, and I also understand the potential consequences of inviting strangers into my world.
Smudge is not yet able to make an informed decision about any of this, and I don’t feel I have the right to make it for her. So I won’t. I’ll wait until she’s old enough to decide for herself how much of a ‘virtual life’ she wants to have – or indeed if she wants to have an online presence at all. Maybe Twitter won’t even be a thing 15 years from now. And if recent news reports are to be believed, Facebook is, like, so over. There’ll probably be a raft of all-new social media platforms in years to come. Or maybe, just maybe, we’ll abandon the information superhighway all together and return to having actual, face-to-face conversations.
I must admit I’m also wary of becoming an ‘oversharent.’ I don’t want to be the kind of parent who thinks it’s appropriate to write about (or, god forbid, post pictures of) her child’s bowel movements. I wouldn’t walk up to a total stranger on the street and thrust prints of my kid’s dirty nappy under their nose, and I don’t feel it’s appropriate to do the digital equivalent of that. Of course I think my kid is amazing, but I’m also aware that no one else thinks she’s as amazing as I do.
Again, this is not a criticism of parents who choose to share photos of their kids publicly (although, I’ll be honest, I do shake my head at those who post shots of their little ones sans clothing; I’m sure potential employers will enjoy those in 20 years’ time). I love seeing pix of chubby babies and cheeky toddlers, and some of my favourite blogs are run by mums and dads who are very open about the day-to-day realities of parenting. I applaud their warts-and-all honesty. As I said, it’s just not a road I want to go down.
So that’s my big news. I have become a parent and my daughter has changed my life forever. I’ll probably write about her from time to time, but I promise I’ll spare you (and her) the really gory details.
I’ll be taking a festive break from the blog for the next few weeks, so I just want to take this opportunity to wish you the merriest of Christmases and a stellar 2014. Thanks to everyone who has read, enjoyed and commented on this blog over the past 12 months. Big things are happening next year, and I look forward to having your company in my little corner of the interwebs!
I’ve read a lot of books this year. Like, a lot. Some have been easily digestible ‘beach reads’ (like all those Charlaine Harris series novels I devoured), while others have been more challenging, such as Somerset Maugham’s Cakes and Ale. A few of them were really, truly dreadful and I only persisted in finishing them because of some weird compulsion to see if they could possibly get any worse (sadly, many of them did).
But good or bad, highbrow literature or cruisy ‘airport novel’, my reading this year has reminded me of the simple fact that I adore reading. I love getting lost in a good book. I love discovering new authors, especially (as in the case of John Steinbeck) when I feel like they’re speaking directly to me through their prose. I love making that call to keep reading well into the wee hours, even though you know you’ll suffer for it tomorrow, because you JUST CAN’T PUT IT DOWN.
So I thought I’d round up some of my favourite reads of 2013 (not all of which were actually published this year) and share them with you, in case you’re planning on hiding away with your nose in a book over the festive period!
And I’d love to hear what your favourite books have been this year, too. A girl can never have too many tomes in her ‘must read’ pile!
The Man Plan by Elise K Ackers
(Destiny Romance, 2012)
My first novel will be published next year by Penguin Australia’s Destiny Romance imprint, so I’ve made it my business to read all the other books published by Destiny to date. Elise Ackers’ The Man Plan is my favourite by far so far, and one of the best contemporary romances I’ve ever read.
It’s the story of Cora, who’s decided she’s had enough of being alone and sets out to find herself a man to build a life with. She’s sometimes helped and often hindered by her neighbour, Matt, whose ‘love ‘em and leave ‘em’ style is the antithesis of what Cora is looking for. Sure, you can probably tell exactly where the story is headed, but it gets there in such a lovely, unexpected and genuinely moving way that it’s well worth the journey.
Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn
(Crown Publishing Group, 2012)
Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the past 18 months, you will have heard about Gone Girl. This contemporary thriller is a New York Times best seller and is currently being made into a movie starring Ben Affleck. In my opinion, the hype is well and truly deserved – this is a cracking read.
Gone Girl is the story of happily (or is that unhappily?) married couple Nick and Amy Dunne. When Amy suddenly vanishes, presumed murdered, and her diaries point to Nick as the killer, all hell breaks loose. It’s difficult to say much more without giving away the numerous ‘so-did-not-see-that-coming’ plot twists and turns, but this is one that will definitely have you burning the midnight oil.
Bright Young Things series by Anna Godbersen
If you’re a regular reader of my blog, you’ll know by now that I am utterly obsessed with the 1920s. So imagine how thrilled I was to discover this trilogy by American writer Anna Godbersen, which follows three young women – Cordelia Grey, Letty Larkspur and Astrid Donal – as they navigate the speakeasies and dangerous men of New York in the summer of 1929.
I was surprised to discover the three books (Bright Young Things, Beautiful Days and The Lucky Ones) are in the Young Adult category, as there are a lot of, uh, ‘adult themes’ at play, from illicit sex to boozing and even murder. But the characters are well drawn and the story is always compelling. And then there’s just that heady Roaring Twenties vibe, which Godbersen has captured so well.
Tampa by Alissa Nutting
Definitely not one for the faint hearted, Tampa has aroused all kinds of controversy with its graphic (and I mean graphic) portrayal of a female high school teacher who has a very inappropriate interest in the adolescent boys in her class.
Celeste is a paedophile, though she’s never referred to as such in Nutting’s riveting tale. As she seeks to satisfy her desires with 14-year-old Jack, you will feel by turns repulsed and sympathetic. The book raises all kinds of questions about whether we, as a society, are more forgiving of women who abuse children than we are of men. And as well as the thorny issues it addresses, Tampa is just really well written.
Travels with Charley: In Search of America by John Steinbeck
In 1960, beloved American author John Steinbeck loaded up a motorhome with a ridiculous number of books and his dog, Charley, and set off in search of the ‘real’ America. I read this just after my own road trip across the USA, when I was in the midst of planning another one, and it really spoke to me. I love Steinbeck’s spare, straightforward writing style and many of the thoughts and experiences he had on his journey echoed my own. Plus, it has an adorable dog in it. What’s not to like?!
Everybody Was So Young: A Lost Generation Love Story by Amanda Vaill
(Broadway Books, 1999)
Warning: do not read this book unless you wish to feel compelled to move to the south of France and hang out with writers and artists. This is the story of Gerald and Sara Murphy, who were at the very heart of ‘the Lost Generation’, that wonderfully bohemian group of American writers and artists – including Hemingway, Ezra Pound, F. Scott Fitzgerald and John Dos Passos – who decamped to Paris and the French Riviera in the 1920s.
Not really artists themselves (though Gerald was actually a gifted painter), the Murphys were more like patrons of the whole scene, throwing open their mansion, Villa America, to anyone they deemed talented and deserving of support. They were also madly in love with each other, and their marriage endured when so many around them failed, even through unimaginable tragedy. Amanda Vaill’s incredibly detailed (but never boring) biography is one of my absolute favourites that charts this period in history.
Jane Eyre Laid Bare by Eve Sinclair
(St Martin’s Griffin, 2012)
Charlotte Bronte’s Jane Eyre is hands down my all-time favourite novel. The only thing that’s not perfect about the tortured love story of plain governess Jane and gruff aristo Mr Rochester is that they never get it on. Enter Eve Sinclair, who has re-told the classic tale with added saucy bits. And trust me, this book is hot.
Jane Eyre Laid Bare actually received generally poor reviews, and for the life of me I can’t work out why. It’s well written, pacy and, you know, full of hot lovin’ between two of literatures greatest characters! Where’s the problem?! (Though, to be fair, the ending does leave you hanging a little – hopefully there’ll be a sequel!) I think perhaps many of those who disliked it just weren’t ready to find Jane with her knickers down. But I was, and if you also think it’s high time Jane and Edward got to live a little, you’ll love this book.
* What were YOUR favourite reads this year? Leave a comment and let me know!
Oh dear, I seem to have left it a little bit long between drinks again. My apologies! In my defence, there’s been quite a lot going on the past few weeks. All good stuff, I’m pleased to report. Let me tell you about it!
1. I’m going to be a published author. If you follow me on Twitter (@Laura_Greaves) you may have seen my VERY excited Tweets about this news a couple of weeks ago. I also hinted at it in this blog post. In short, I wrote a novel and it’s going to be published by Penguin Australia’s Destiny Romance imprint in the first half of 2014. To say I am thrilled would be the understatement of the century. Seeing a novel with my name on the cover has been a dream for literally as long as I can remember. I will certainly be sharing more information about my book as its publication date approaches, so stay tuned.
2. NaNoWriMo success. Having my novel accepted by Penguin on the eve of NaNoWriMo was certainly fortuitous. You see, my deal with Destiny also gives them a ‘first look’ at my next book. Which would be awesome, except that I don’t actually HAVE a next book yet! So I decided to use NaNoWriMo to crack on with the first draft of a new novel and I’m very happy to have written 40,512 words so far. That’s 9,500 shy of NaNo’s 50k target, but I’m not bothered about that – I think forty thousand words is a cracking start! I’m aiming to add a further 10,000 words to my tally each week, too. What’s even better is that I’m really enjoying writing again, and quite honestly that’s not a feeling I’ve been familiar with in recent times. I’m thoroughly absorbed in my new story and can’t wait to see what my characters do next. (Here’s a hint: they seem to be gearing up for some fairly saucy carry-on!)
3. Christmas is almost here! There’s 23 days until Christmas and I’m somewhat flabbergasted to tell you that I have done ALL of my Christmas shopping. I know, right?! When does that EVER happen?! This year I just decided to be organised and I’m so glad I did. That means I have more time to sit back, eat mince pies and stare at my lovely Christmas tree. ‘Tis the season, after all. Joyeux noel indeed!
4. Traditions. Now that we’re officially in December, I’m excited to start enjoying some of the little festive traditions we like to observe in our household. The first is writing and mailing my Christmas cards. Sending out actual ‘snail mail’ cards doesn’t seem to be a ‘thing’ anymore, but I still love to do it. Next is putting up the tree, which we did yesterday. Then there’s working our way through the advent calendar the husband’s parents send from the UK every year. This year, as well as theirs, I also made us an advent calendar, so we’re going to be doubly festive at my place! And finally, there’s working our way through our favourite Christmas movies, culminating with the traditional Christmas Eve viewing of Billy Bob Thornton’s Bad Santa. Because it’s just not Chrissy without an alcoholic thief in a Santa suit, amirite?!
5. Big Brothers Big Sisters par-tay. This weekend it’s the annual Big Brothers Big Sisters end-of-year outing. We’re going to see The Lion King which, if you know my stance on musical theatre, you will appreciate is my idea of hell. But my Little Sister is uber excited and I’m excited by her excitement, so perhaps it won’t be quite the ordeal I’m imagining! ;-P
6. It’s summer! Not that you’d know it based on the torrential rain we’ve had in Sydney the past couple of weeks, but summer is officially here. Hurrah! There are so many things I love about summer. Sipping chardonnay in my garden on balmy evenings. Going to bed on hot nights with just a sheet, then waking up in the wee hours chilled by a cool change and wrapping up warm in the doona. Lazy days on the beach. The tantalising smell of backyard BBQs drifting down my street each night. Spectacular sunsets. Even more spectacular electrical storms. Flip-flop tan. Buying a new swimming cossie. That Christmas/New Year holiday period where you lose track of what day it is. Afternoon naps. Taking the dogs swimming at their favourite beach. My washing drying on the line in no time at all. The shimmering heat haze on the footpath. So. Many. Things. What do YOU love about summer?
7. The joy of giving… to me. Obviously while I was being extra-organised and ticking off all the names on my Christmas gift list, I couldn’t resist giving myself a little pressie. Namely this stunning, vintage Yves Saint Laurent maxi skirt, which is going to look amazing with… well, pretty much everything in my wardrobe!
1. It’s raining! How’s the weather where you are? In Sydney, after months on end of hotter-than-average temperatures and dry days, the heavens have opened this week. It’s positively bucketing down! I can’t tell you how this warms the cocchals of my indoorsy heart!
2. Weaving words. You know, I really expected to have to report that I’m failing miserably at NaNoWriMo, because I’m a big ol’ procrastinator and I’ve failed miserably every other time I’ve attempted it. But happily, this time I’m WINNING! I’ve scribbled twelve thousand words so far and it’s like the floodgates have opened: all I want to do is write. It’s such a rare phenomenon (which I know sounds weird coming from someone whose actual job is writing) that it feels nothing short of miraculous. Long may it continue! (Or at least until the end of the month, anyway)
3. First response. Sometimes I think strange things. The other day, for example, I was thinking about the probability that I will see something terrible at some stage in the course of my life – like a serious car accident or a house fire or someone in need of urgent medical attention. I don’t know what made me think about this – perhaps it’s just that dark ‘Poe’ part of my writerly brain – but in the next moment it occurred to me that, should I find myself in such a situation, I would have absolutely no idea what to do about it. Which is why I immediately signed up for a St John First Aid course. It’s happening this weekend and I’m really looking forward to it. Hopefully my random catastrophising will never become a reality, but it can’t hurt to be prepared if worse comes to worst, amirite?
4. Choons. Do you ever do that thing where you download a bunch of new music to your computer, but then neglect to sync it with your iPod so that when you’re out and about you can’t listen to all those lovely, shiny new albums? I do this all the time. I’ll be like, ‘Ooh, I’m going to give the new Kings of Leon record a spin on this boring car journey… except I can’t because it’s gathering virtual dust at home on my Mac.’ So this past weekend I finally got around to transferring all my recently purchased tunes to the various devices I can actually listen to them on, and now I get to spend the week in raptures of KoL, Flume, Tame Impala, Katy Perry, Mark Wilkinson and more.
5. Fashun. This week I’m very much looking forward to going along to another of the Art Gallery of NSW’s ‘Fashion Matters’ lectures. This one’s all about fashion during and post-WWII, including Dior’s famed ‘New Look’ of 1947. Given Dior created my all-time most beloved vintage dress silhouette (the full-skirted frock with a nipped-in waist), I think this one’s going to be right up my fashion street.
6. Christmas preps. I am determined to be organised for Christmas this year. I’ve already done the bulk of my shopping (how did people buy Christmas presents before the internet? Seriously!) and this week I’m going to get cracking on my Christmas cards. Because that’s what the spirit of Christmas is all about, innit? Ruthless efficiency!
7. This. I don’t know what it is about this picture, but it made me laugh harder than I have in quite a while. I defy you to look at it and not chuckle! Go on – JUST TRY IT!
1. Hanky Panky. I read somewhere once that Tom Hanks wears eyeliner. Like, not just in the course of his job as an actor, but all the time. In real life. Who knows if it’s true, but this little tidbit kind of killed my Tom Hanks buzz. I don’t know why – it’s not like I have anything against eyeliner or people who wear it. I think I just felt like Tom Hanks should be above such things, you know? I mean, he’s Tom Hanks. He’s kissed Meg Ryan! He made friends with a volleyball! He is the sole reason I sat through Joe Versus the Volcano, which is quite possibly the worst film of all time. He don’t need no eyeliner. But I digress. The point is I was a bit lukewarm on Tom Hanks until I started reading reviews of his latest cinematic offering, Captain Phillips. Based on the true story of a freighter seized by Somali pirates, both reviewers and Twitter users (who, for me, are the true barometer of whether a movie’s any good) are in raptures over it. So I guess I’m going to have to go see it this week, eyeliner or no eyeliner.
2. Stuff works. Have you ever had one of those weeks when all the things that are supposed to make your life easier suddenly and inexplicably conspire to make your life very difficult and frustrating indeed? I had one of those last week. First, my modem died, which meant I had no internet access, which meant I was unable to finish a big freelance job, which meant I had to submit it three days late, which stressed me out like you wouldn’t believe because I DO NOT MISS DEADLINES EVER. And, of course, this also meant I then had to spend centuries on the phone to Telstra trying to persuade them to GIVE ME WHAT I PAY FOR DAMMIT. Then all our DVD players stopped working. (We have three, which I admit is both bogus and sad.) And then I stepped my big fat clown foot right onto my Kindle and obliterated the screen. Urrghhhh. Oh yeah, and I tried to buy a waffle maker and discovered they pretty much do not exist in Australia. Except that one in David Jones that’s $350 and, hello, are they on crack? So yes, last week was not a good one, technomalogically speaking. But that was then. Now, stuff is fixed. Things are working. Thingamajiggies are thingamajigging like they’re meant to. And that’s a big part of what makes this week a good’un.
3. On yer marks… Get set, WRITE! NaNoWriMo starts on Friday. In last week’s post I may have indicated that I intended to plan and plot and be generally well prepared this time around. Yeah. I haven’t done any of that. But I am very enthusiastic and eager to give it a go. That’s gotta count for something, right?! It’s not too late to get on board if you, like me, are a frustrated novelist. Found out all about it HERE.
4. Ghosties and ghoulies. It’s Halloween on Thursday, did you know? I should tell you that I’m not one of those anti-fun ‘it’s a silly American tradition’ idiots. I LOVE Halloween. This is mostly because I welcome any excuse to wear a costume. When I was a kid, I wasn’t allowed to go trick or treating, so instead I would dress up and knock repeatedly at my own front door, and my Dad would open it as a different character each time. It was pretty awesome. And by the way, it’s not an American thing. It’s a Celtic/Pagan thing. So there. I will admit, though, that our Yankee friends do it better. Last year I was in the US for Halloween and it was the BEST. THING. EVER. (Even though I had to dress as a sexy witch, because it was the only costume left at Walmart at 5pm on the day. Lift your game, America!) This year I won’t be dressing up, but I will have lollies on hand for the neighbourhood kids and I will be scaring myself silly reading a collection of Victorian ghost stories while convincing myself that my house is haunted. Good times!
5. Puppy stink. I don’t want you to think I’m super weird – though, let’s be honest, you probably formed that opinion a while ago – but I am so hooked on the way my dogs smell after a trip to the groomer. I can’t explain how intoxicating it is. I could wash them every day, using all the same stuff the groomer uses, and they still wouldn’t smell as good as they do after a trip to le salon du chien. I can’t stop sniffing them when they come home, which means I’m going to have my nose buried in their silky, fragrant fur on Wednesday. That’s not super weird, right? Right?! YOU GUYS?
6. Something Good. If you haven’t already seen this video, you must watch it right this very second. Because it will remind you that there are cute dogs called Monkey and sunny days and people who rescue pets from shelters and those who spend their time making adorable videos just to make other people feel good.
7. Sssshhhh… A thing has happened. A truly, wonderfully, MARVELLOUSLY brilliant thing. A thing that represents the realisation of a dream I’ve had since I was seven, and the culmination of two-and-a-bit decades of hard work since then. But I can’t tell you what the thing is just yet. I know, infuriating. Please bear with me and I’ll spill the beans ASAP!
1. Needles and pins. Have I mentioned before about my recently discovered obsession with acupuncture? I first decided to try this ancient Chinese technique a couple of months ago, after spending a couple of days wracked by abdominal pain so severe it sent me to my local Emergency Department. The doctors there couldn’t help, so I decided to seek out other, alternative remedies. Within two hours of my first acupuncture appointment, that excruciating pain vanished completely. Completely, I tell you! I’ve been having weekly appointments ever since, both to deal with a few other little niggles and to maintain overall good health (did you know that, in China, most people have acupuncture as a preventative, rather than curative, measure?) Alternative medicine isn’t for everyone, but if you’re that way inclined and you haven’t yet tried acupuncture, I cannot recommend it highly enough. (And if you live near Sydney’s Northern Beaches and want a practitioner recommendation, drop me a line and I’ll give you my guy’s details!)
2. Round She Goes. A girl can never have too many vintage dresses. Well, this girl can’t anyway. And no, the fact that I had to buy a separate wardrobe just to house my vintage frocks, and they have to live in another room, still doesn’t equate to ‘too many’. When you’re a vintage lover, the quest for the dream dress never ends. Which is why it’s fortuitous that the Round She Goes preloved designer and vintage market is on in Sydney this weekend. Naturally I’ll set myself a firm budget. Which I will then merrily ignore. Hurrah!
3. Dog days. One of my dogs, Tex, is a bit of a grouch. He’s a very singular sort of character; he likes things the way he likes them and he doesn’t suffer fools. It has been suggested that he’s the canine version of Parks and Recreation’s Ron Swanson, and I think the comparison is apt. But lately, Tex’s good-natured cantankerousness has shown signs of becoming a genuine bad attitude, and this unpredictable temper is not something I’m cool with. So I’ve enlisted the services of a specialist canine behaviour expert, who’s going to hang out with me and the poochies this week and hopefully tell me why Texy’s becoming so irate and what I can do about it. I’m a little nervous, as I’m sure he’s going to tell me my dog’s ill humour is due in no small part to my permissive and inconsistent dog parenting. But hey, if it means Tex becomes a better canine citizen, I think I can handle it!
4. The other Tex. Did I ever tell you why Tex is called Tex? He’s named after Aussie rock icon Tex Perkins, who is my all-time favourite musician and top of my, ahem, ‘celebrity pass’ list (married people know what I’m talking about). If you haven’t heard of Tex – or any of the myriad bands he’s featured in, including The Cruel Sea and Beasts of Bourbon – you need to YouTube that business, like, yesterday. Anyway, Tex is now fronting a new outfit called The Ape and their debut LP has just come out. Guess what’s going to be on high rotation in my house this week!
5. NaNoWriMo. November marks the start of National Novel Writing Month, aka NaNoWriMo, which will see thousands of aspiring novelists around Australia attempt to bash out 50,000 words of sparkling prose in 30 days. (Although, really, it should be called InNaNoWriMo, because it started in the US and these days it’s truly a global event.) I’ve signed up to do it about seven hundred times and have never so much as written a word on account of being a terrible procrastinator. Le sigh. But this year will be different! This year I’m determined to actually put pen to paper and, to give myself the best chance of making that happen, I’m not even going to wait until November to get started. Along with three literary-minded girlfriends, I’m spending October planning and plotting my NaNoWriMo project, so I’ll be ready to go come November 1. Of course, I am aware that endless unnecessary planning is one of the main tools in a chronic procrastinator’s toolbox, but somehow this year I really feel like it’s going to happen. Famous last words? Watch this space! (PS – If you’re also planning to attempt NaNoWriMo this year, leave a comment or drop me an email and let me know – you can never have too much moral support where these things are concerned!)
6. Gadgetry. I’m not really one for gadgets, but I must admit I’m pretty excited about getting my new green iPhone 5 this week. Mostly because my current phone hasn’t worked properly since the husband dropped it in the sea. But also because it’s green!
7. Stories We Tell. When I was in Toronto this time last year, Canadian filmmaker (and my number two girl crush) Sarah Polley had just released her latest film – a documentary about her own family called Stories We Tell - to glowing reviews. I didn’t get a chance to see it then, but figured it wouldn’t be long before the flick made it Down Under. Ha! A whole year later, it’s finally here and I’m really looking forward to seeing it this week.
1. It’s my birthday! I can’t quite believe it, but it would appear another year has flown by. Yep, I’m going to be 33 this week. THIRTY. THREE. It seems so grown up. Which is weird, because in my head I still think I’m about 19. I’m told that some people enjoy their birthday less and less with each passing year. I am not one of these people. I approach each birthday with the same sense of feverish excitement I did as a kid, regardless of the number of candles on the cake. I mean, there’ll be presents, pampering and CAKES. (Yes, that’s plural.) What’s not to like?!
2. True love. Right after celebrating my birthday, I’ll be hopping on a plane to Brisbane to be a bridesmaid at my lovely friend Natasha’s wedding. We’ve been mates since the first day of high school, when we randomly sat next to each other in homeroom and both answered ‘here’ when our shared surname was called. (Yep, we had the same last name but we’re not related – weird, huh?!) We’ve been through thick and thin together and I’m godmother to her lovely and terrifyingly grown-up daughter. I can’t think of a better way to kick off a long weekend than to watch her get hitched to the love of her life!
3. More lazing. This coming weekend goes for three – count ‘em, THREE – days! Which means the husband gets an extra day to hang out at home with me and the fur children. Win!
4. Spa indulgence. Because my birthday falls on a weekday this year and the husband isn’t able to take a day off work to entertain me (STUPID WORK!), I’m going to treat myself to a day of luxe indulgence instead. Along with my most excellent friend Kylie, I’m going to a posh spa for a day of jacuzzi-ing, beauty treatments and afternoon tea. It’s going to be sooooo goooood.
5. Giving back. When I was on holiday in America earlier this month, I hung my clothes up in each hotel closet we stayed in. And it was kind of liberating opening the door each morning to see just a handful of garments hanging there – a perfect little capsule collection that, in limiting my outfit options, entirely removed the harried ‘I have nothing to WEAR’ drama that often fills my mornings at home. (Seriously, sometimes I would look in my wardrobe and feel thoroughly disgusted at the obscene amount of clothing crammed in there.) Naturally, I was keen to hang onto that sense of sartorial calm when I returned to Sydney, so this past weekend I had a mammoth wardrobe clearout. I thought it would take an hour; it took an entire day. But now my wardrobe doesn’t groan quite so loudly under the weight of unworn clothes and I have four ENORMOUS bags of perfectly lovely clothing to donate to my local charity shop. The challenge now will be to stay strong and resist the temptation to fill that newly-created space with more cheap, poorly-made clothes. Can she do it? I think she can!
6. Set Up Shop. If you’re a regular reader you’ll know that I’m rather obsessed with (and rather a hoarder of) vintage clothing, specifically dresses. For a long time now I’ve harboured a secret ambition to set up an online vintage boutique and I’m excited to say that this week I’m taking the first baby steps towards doing just that. I’ve signed up for talented jeweller Jessica Van Den’s highly-praised Set Up Shop e-course, which aims to have participants ready to hang their cyber-shingles by the end of the month. Can’t wait to get started!
7. The Turning. I’m a little ashamed to admit I can’t remember the last time I saw an Australian film at the cinema. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not one of those homegrown film snobs (you know who you are). It’s just that my cinematic tastes generally tend to be pretty mainstream and no one makes more mainstream (read: generic) flicks than our American friends. But I’m going to break my Aussie film drought this week because I’m hearing seriously amazing things about The Turning. It’s an adaptation of Tim Winton’s short story collection of the same name and by all accounts it’s really rather wonderful. Can’t wait to check it out!