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Sunday, 15 June 2014

With a little bit of luck...


Around 10 years ago I suffered from anxiety due to a long term situation I was in.  It would start with a pain in my chest which felt like indigestion, but wasn't.  My heart would race and occasionally skip a beat, my hands would shake and adrenalin would surge through my body.  I'm long since removed from the situation and therapy has helped me deal with the anxiety.  I rarely suffer from it now, although if I feel I'm in situation similar to the one that used to trigger it, the symptoms will come on again.  However I'm now equipped with techniques to calm myself down, and have used them successfully.

I had a very different experience on Sunday with something I can only assume was blind panic.  I was auditioning for a role in a local amateur theatre production of My Fair Lady.  It's not my first audition, and I had worked with everyone on the audition panel in previous productions - so there were no unfriendly faces.  Now, I normally get nervous before an audition, but as someone who's been a performer since the age of 5 I know how to harness those nerves and always in the past, once the music starts muscle memory kicks in and a performance happens.  Also, I have this weird ability in job interview to harness nerves and normally interview really well.  So what happened next came as a surprise.

The pianist starts playing my audition song and I start to sing and I'm not in the right key.  I ask for another start and the same thing happens again.  The Musical Director, who knows I can sight read, offers me the libretto so I can quickly re-acquaint myself (with the song I had been practising for over three weeks on a daily basis) and try again.  I look down at the sheet of music and the words and they are suddenly a bunch of meaningless symbols that I can't translate.  It's like she's given me a book written in another language.  It was the most bizarre and frightening experience of my life.  I slammed the book shut and said I'll just try again.  I hit the key I was supposed to be in, but was so rattled by the experience that I lost the words of the second verse.  Bless her heart, the MD sang the third verse along with me to keep me going.

I went on to finish the dancing and reading section of the audition without any problems.  But for 10 seconds of my life I had the worst moment of blind panic a person can experience.  It was like something out of a nightmare, except I wasn't dreaming.

Panic and anxiety should never be underestimated.  It's a scary, scary thing.

Oh and one more thing: "C'mon Dover!  Move ya bloomin' arse".

Monday, 14 April 2014

Girl, You'll Be A Woman Soon.

I'm not sure a picture can get more girlish/feminine/Disney/Princess than this photo of me.  Although if you find one let me know.

Today's topic is femininity and why I'm not sure I feel it.  Or maybe I feel it but don't understand what the feeling is.  Don't get me wrong, I wear enough make up, own enough dresses and have the stereotypical fetish with shoes to "qualify" as a woman.  (Please, please note the tongue in cheek use of quotation marks.)

This weird turn of mind comes about, because recently I've had friends of various ages talk to me about their femininity or their womanhood or their essential feeling of femaleness.  After listening to them I don't think I have this.

One of my friends is a much older lady.  She has been through menopause and come out the other side, but for various reasons she's about to undergo a total hysterectomy.   They're taking everything and she was quite upset about this and telling me that she's not sure she'll feel feminine or female after they take the bits that represent that, out of her.  I didn't understand completely where she was coming from.  You see, she's a grandma and she definitely wasn't using those bits anymore.  I don't mean she doesn't have a fulfilling, raunchy, hang-from-the-sex-swing-in-your-rafters sex life with her husband of 40 years, what I'm saying is that babies were a highly unlikely result from said sex life. So how could she feel less womanly?  I kept these thoughts to myself, because obviously she was feeling very strongly about this and hugs were far more appropriate.  I'm not judging her on her feelings by the way, I'm judging me on mine.

Another friend has been through breast cancer.  She's very close to getting the one that was "lopped off" (her words), reconstructed and she was excitedly telling me that she'll feel like a woman again.  I didn't think that she wasn't anything other than one of the strongest women I've ever met and I've never seen or thought of her as less than. So why did she?

Are we, as women designed or educated to feel that our bodies are the only way of expressing our womanliness?  Or is that exactly how we are supposed to express it?  With our bodies?

I don't think about my body that way.  I don't equate my girly bits with well...being a girl.  In fact when I stop and think about myself,  I don't even think about myself in girly/female/womanly terms.  I am simply Bec.  This made me wonder if that's normal? (OH HELL - WHAT EVEN IS NORMAL???)  But you get my drift, right?

There are people out their struggling with gender identity, there are people out there struggling with faulty reproductive systems, cancerous jiggly bits and I wonder if we as human beings are only designed to suddenly ponder gender when faced with any difficulties with it.  In the grand scheme of things is that how we work?  Do we only consider a problem when we are faced with it?

I'm not even sure I think about it when I think about sexy times.  My focus is on the connection I have with the other person.  That connection to the soul, the eyes, the brain, the intellect, the emotion is what I feel then.  So I'm guessing I missing something here.  Or maybe I do feel it - I just don't use gender terms in my head when I do.

What does it mean for you?

Monday, 10 February 2014

Out of the mouths of babes...



My 11 year old son is trying to get voted on the Student Rep Council.  He had to prepare a speech for his class mates.  He asked me to read it when he was done and see if there was anything I would change.

Nope son.  Not a word.

*27 February 2014 update
He was not voted into the Student Rep Council and the feedback that he received from his teacher was that he didn't use enough persuasive language about HIMSELF.  My kid was focused on what he could do for others, and wasn't interested in talking himself up.  I thought that's what public service was about.  Maybe we're both too idealistic?

Thursday, 6 February 2014

I'm your Number One Fan



My 15 year old received a $15 voucher for K-Mart over Christmas from an elderly aunt. We both wondered what he would spend his money on.  I was the one who had the joy of trailing behind him while he looked at games, Cd's, clothes and lollies.

He (and I) had given up hope and started to walk out of the store when he walked past a fan.  He's been bugging me about getting one for his room for years (he likes the constant hum) but I'm not one for increasing my electricity bill so I've dragged my heels about getting one.  His face split into a wide grin when he saw the fan was on sale for $15. VOUCHER+RIGHT PRICE=15 YEAR OLD BOY CARRYING HUGE FAN BOX TO MY CAR.

He waited a week to put it together.  Now I am the Queen of Putting Things Together.  Nearly every piece of (thanks Ikea!) furniture in my house I've put together.  The only thing that wasn't, was my coffee table.  My dad put that together.  It fell apart after 6 months.  Handy is not his thing.  Long winded stories about the ships of Australia and the history of Kangaroo Island are.

I asked my son if he wanted me to put it together for him, but apparently that was treading on his newly formed man toes (as opposed to pudgy piggies that go to market).

So one night at 10pm he decided that was the perfect time to put the fan together.

"Make sure you check you have all the parts, before you start" I offer helpfully.

"MUM I AM NOT AN IDIOT I CAN DO THIS" was the grateful reply.  So I settle back on the lounge with my book and soda water, sip loudly and slowly and flip my pages noisily.

Thirty minutes later with what I am sure was mumbled swearing he comes in and asks for help.  Because I'm a good and loving parent, I hide my smug "I knew you would ask for help" smile.

The fan pieces are strewn across the floor and the instructions are nowhere to be seen.

So first things first I find the instructions and together we start to build the fan.  The cool thing is that we also got to build our relationship a little by saying awesome things to each other like "hold the damn blade still" and "that's too small to go in there" and "why is this bloody screw going in wonky" "where is the plastic clip thingy - I JUST gave it to you to hold/You didn't give me any plastic clip thingy/Oh here it is, under my foot" and "OMG it's hot in here I wish we had a fan".

Seriously, we actually work together well.  He's good at holding the heavy stuff.  I'm good at the fiddly stuff where his rapidly expanding man-hands can't fit.  Together we get to the last step before the fan is complete.

Except there are no more pieces.  It's the long slidey-shiny metal thing that helps adjust the height of the fan (yes that is the technical term, thank you very much).  So we assume he's put it down in another room while he searched for the philips head screwdriver (which we didn't need).

So I ask the fatal question, 'Did you check you had all the parts before you started?'  He looks at me, guilt written over his face.  (I swear it's in male DNA that instructions are the enemy and to be feared).  We turn the house upside down and no luck.  I swear we look for 30 minutes and it's pushing 11pm - on a school night

So I say "Well mate, we've got to take it apart and take it back to the shop."  He's angry and disappointed.  But I tell him he's learnt the first rule of any construction.  Make sure you've got all the right tools and all the right parts.

We turn the bottom base pole upside down to remove a set of screws and lo and behold the long slidey-shiny metal thing falls out.  HALLELUJAH. LORD JESUS WE'RE SAVED.

The fan has now been running for a week and he will need to get a job to pay for the electricity bill.  But hey, he's happy. He's got a fan.  Everyone should have at least one fan.  He's lucky he's got two - because I'm his Number One fan.


Thursday, 19 December 2013

Blame it on the Boogie

I'm gonna state right up front that I'm a flawed human being.  I'm prideful, impatient, selfish and frequently mistaken about who won the Melbourne Cup.  But I will stand up and cop it when I'm in the wrong.  I believe in accountability and I will put my hand up and say "Yep. I was wrong there. I lived in Wrong Town on Wrong Street and lived in Wrongness.  My apologies."  I'll also fix what's wrong, if it's fixable.

For a long time I allowed myself to cop the blame for the mistakes of others.   I figured it worked something along the lines of that "turn the other cheek" saying.  But I made myself a promise at the beginning of the year that I would stop doing that, because I make enough mistakes on my own I need to be accountable for without being accountable for others.

So this year I stopped taking the blame for things I did not do.  Excuse me, buddy?  That there, that right there, that wasn't me, so you can stop looking at me like it was, kay?

So here's a list of things I did and didn't do in 2013 so we're all clear:

I did eat all the chocolate biscuits.  I hid them and I ate them all in a fit of rage-eating.  Yep that was me. Gained half a kilo and a bucket of shame, but I ate the damn biscuits.  You got none. Deal with it.

I joined a weight loss group and lost interest at week 10 of the 12 week plan. I like eating cheese (and chocolate biscuits - see above) and watching tv while laying on the couch.  I made a life decision that I will never give up cheese again.  I will try and exercise more - but that will also depend on what awesome shows HBO brings out in 2014.  I'm not gonna lie about this.

I did break up with a friend this year.  Rather than a let a person fade away insignificantly I reached out and told them I was grateful for what they had brought into my life, but our differences in where we were emotionally in our lives meant our relationship was over.  We break up with lovers - why not be respectful of this relationship and end it properly?

I did say yes to one too many things this year and consequently did a shoddy half-arsed job on a theatre program.  I'm ashamed of this.  When you volunteer it should be done with enthusiasm and pride in the job. Thank you for polishing my work, and thank you for giving me an opportunity to do the job again.  I will do it with care this time.

I did bitch about a negative person in my life to a friend earlier in the year.  I didn't talk with them or give them a chance to explain.  I just moaned about it, like a whiny baby, because it was easier than having a difficult talk with someone about their mental illness.  I should have been there to offer support.  I hope I've made up for it in the second half of the year, because I know the negativity spilling out of them was not their choice.

I did yell at my kids.  I got tired, frustrated and mad and I YELLED.  Like the really big voice that makes them cringe and me hate myself afterwards.  Sorry boys.  You know I love your dirty, smelly, loud, bizarre, funny, awesome, stuck-gaming-forever selves.

I did not publicly denigrate an ex.  That is NOT cool and I didn't do it.  I have more class than that.

I did not spread rumours about your relationship.  Sorry, you're not that interesting.

I did not fail in my parental duties because I chose to have a hobby.  Parents are allowed to enjoy their own life.  My children are happy and healthy, and they have reveled in the independence I have given them and they have learnt valuable lessons about dreams, goals and overcoming your fears by watching my example.

I did not say your partner abused you.  Two of your other friends came to me worried about you.  All I did was ask if you were okay.

I did not "put my nose in other people's business".  You brought your business into my house.  You were rude to me and disrepectful.  Since then I've been nothing but polite and friendly to you.  I'm over your fit of pique. Grow up already.

So there you go.  My list of did and did nots.  I'll cop to my own failings and my own mistakes, but I won't cop to yours.  That's the one New Year's resolution I made at the beginning of the year that I did keep.  That one about losing weight and running a half marathon, well, not so much.

Wednesday, 2 October 2013

Alice in Wonderland (or Alice? Alice? Who the f*ck is Alice?)

I have a knack for attracting strange people.  Okay lets be more specific: strange men.  I'm single. I date. But the last six men I've gone out on dates with have been decidedly...weird.

Now I'd like to think of myself as a fairly non-judgemental person (unless you drive a 4WD and have never been off-road and only drive your big-ass mofo machine within a 10km radius of your home - in which case I TOTALLY judge you).  But overall, I think I'm a fairly "live and let live" kind of person.  As long your lifestyle choices don't hurt yourself or others, go in peace I say.

But I offer up these five men as "what not to do" examples for first dates in a "slightly judgy, but I hope you're all doing really well now" kind of way...

1.  YOU ARE NOT CHRISTIAN GREY.

Please don't tell me on the first date that you are millionaire who studied at Oxford and paid his way through Oxford by starring in porn films.

Yes.  I was seriously told that.  I think the guy thought by saying that he would come across as rich, smart and sexy.   It didn't work.


2.  EXCESS BAGGAGE ANYONE?

I went out with a nice man who was five years older than me.  So to be kind, lets say mid-40s.  We met for coffee and chatted about life.  The conversation flowed smoothly and I thought at the end of the date, yes I could see you again for another coffee (please note I was not planning a wedding or happily ever after).  But at the end of the night you very honestly told me that you preferred women under the age of 25 as they had less baggage, but it was very nice meeting me.

Well, at least he was honest.

3. WEE WEE WEE ALL THE WAY HOME

This guy I met online, against my better judgement, but I followed all the rules and after exchanging emails for a few weeks and discovering a very mutual love of films and a similar sense of humour we agreed to meet for a drink.  I'm not sure if you had a urinary tract infection or a cocaine sniffing problem or if you were simply nervous, but you averaged a trip to the toilet every 8.5 minutes (yes I timed you because after the fifth time I was concerned).  Our date lasted 2.5 hours and you went to the toilet around 15 times.

 Aside from that you were really rather nice, quiet and funny and nervous wee's aren't a deal breaker for me.  But you disappeared off the face of the earth after that afternoon.  I hope you got some antibiotics for the urinary tract infection.  That's what I like to think was the problem. And you know, not cocaine.

4. SHIT SHIT SHIT SHIT SHIT SHIT

This guy was a friend of a friend and he came and picked me up for dinner and he bought flowers and that was really old school and sweet.  We ate dinner at a quirky Italian restaurant and talked about travel.  All was going well until whatever you ate didn't agree with you and you had...errr...tummy troubles.

I never heard from you again. I assume because you were so embarrassed about getting diarrhea.  It never would have worked with us anyway because I like fart humour a lot.  And if that made you squeamish, well....

5. CALL WILFRED BRIMLEY

Diabeetus.  It doesn't mix well with alcohol.  Please don't tell me on the first date that you are definitely a "not in recovery alcoholic with diabeetus".  Please, please call Wilfred Brimley and get that shit sorted.

6.  DOWN THE RABBIT HOLE

I honestly felt like Alice in Wonderland when the latest guy I went out with started to tell me his conspiracy theories (although he corrected me and said he was a conspiracy FACTIST).  He explained to me about the studies he was doing into the Australian Government and legal system and he was now "down the rabbit hole".  Conspiracy theories included, but were not limited to:
a) how corrupt our legal system is and how you can fight any charge you're up on by citing the King James bible because if the prosecuting side fight it, it is considered treason against the Queen
b) how our government is formed illegally and is really run by and registered to American corporations
c) how even though I consider myself a person, I'm really chattel to those corporations as proven by the fact that my name on my drivers licence is written in capitals
d) and how so many of our legal words are based on the language of the sea - as in it's a birth (berth) certificate and you go to the doctors (dock-tors).

My favourite part was when you said to me "if I ever commit suicide you'll know they got me".

Now I know how to answer the one question smug married's ask me at parties. "So. How's single life?"
Have you got any great dating stories?



Thursday, 19 September 2013

Why I had to like Nickelback for three minutes

Yesterday morning on the drive during school drop off, Nickelback came on my radio.  My teenage son, quickly changed the station and we both made snide Nickelback comments.  Quietly, from the back seat, my younger son said "They aren't that bad.  Nanna likes them".  My teenager and I laughed obnoxiously at how that comment did not make Nickelback cooler.

Later that night I attended the South Australian Primary Schools Festival of Music choir night at the Festival Theatre.  My youngest son was in the choir and very excited about the performance.  He'd been practicing for weeks.

I stood around and made awkward small talk with parents I'm not really friendly with, snuck off to grab a champagne to steel my nerves (for my son) and took my seat at the Festival Theatre quietly excited about seeing my son perform in an event that I, myself, performed in, 32 years ago.

I tweeted my excitement and a fellow parent tweeted back "You'll cry in the first song".  I sat there smugly, sure that I would just find it terribly amusing in a primary school kid kind of way.

The curtain rose and a rainbow of kids in candy coloured t-shirts appeared.  The auditorium was silent and the kids on stage rubbed their hands together, creating an impressive visual and audible effect.  They then started clicking, then smacking their thighs as an African landscape appeared on the screen behind them.  Suddenly in a wave like effect they all stomped and a flash of light appeared and I realised that what they were creating with the different sounds, was the sound of a thunderstorm.  I felt my eyes well up.  They started with "Africa" by Toto.  A song I remember hearing on the radio in my youth, while eating toast and listening to Baz & Pilko on early morning radio.  The tears fell.

A torrent of tears snaked down my face when the 400 strong choir sung Michael Jackson's "Man in the Mirror".  (YES WE CAN ALL MAKE A CHANGE PEOPLE, WE JUST NEED TO START WITH THE MAN IN THE MIRROR AND MY HEART IS SWELLING AND THE TEARS ARE FALLING).

Suffice it to say that I laughed and cried and clapped my way through the concert every inch a proud parent.

But the best bit was yet to come.  My teenage son had attended the concert with his father, so we weren't sitting together, but when the presenter announced the last song I howled with laughter, much to the disgust of the people next to me.  Why?  Because it was a Nickelback song.  Yes.  They ended with a Nickelback song. I can't even tell you what it was, not being a fan, but I could just picture my teenagers face.  HORRIFIED.

After the concert ended and while I was waiting for the teachers to appear with my child, I checked facebook. As you do.  My teenager had posted:  I was at my little brothers choir concert and all was going well until the last song.  They played Nickelback.  No.  Just No.

I doubled over with laughter again.  I think the parents think I'm very odd.  But at least I understand now, why my youngest son defended Nickelback.  And why for three minutes of my life - I liked Nickelback.