Category Archives: Observational Musings

Planking Mario’s, School Principals, and Lunar Eclipses.

We love my son’s school. Love. If I could go back in time and go to school again, I’d attend myself.

It’s one of those nice unexpected surprises in life. You pretty much assume that you’re going to like some things about your kid’s school, tolerate others, be totally agitated by a few, and pretty much just get through. When your expectations are exceeded, it’s like winning the lottery.

Before my son started at this school, we checked out another. We met with all the appropriate people and liked them. It seemed like a good fit, the grounds were well-looked after, facilities were great, class sizes reasonable. It ticked all the boxes – until we met the principal.

I’ve had a theory since High school that all school principals are assholes (sorry to all the principals reading, but bear with me on this!) My principal(s) were very small men (figuratively), who took great pleasure in being king of their castles, and wielding the power whenever possible. I went to a private schools so rules were usually more strict and discipline was of primary importance.

One such rule was when you were old enough to get your drivers permit, you could only drive your car to school on approved days. The reason?  There was not enough parking in and around the school for teachers and students.

What this translated to for most students, was the permission to drive to school a day or two per week, necessitating train and bus transport for the remaining days.

This is almost an exact replica of my first car. Except mine was a faded baby-poo green. I'm sure you can imagine my popularity and level of coolness.

Unlike most of my more intelligent counterparts, who drove whenever they liked, and parked a decent distance from the school – walking the rest of the way and keeping the school none the wiser – I decided to confront the system with honesty, and buck it to their faces.

Why, I questioned, did the school not plan for this growth and expansion by choosing a location with ample parking? What was the board of directors doing about this issue? Many hours of valuable homework time were being lost by seniors, wasting time on public transport when they could be home focusing on work (or the latest cosmo magazine and manicure), depending on your definition of ‘work’.

I found a lovely old lady who lived a few houses up from the school, who had no car and an empty driveway. She was more than happy for me to park my car at her house every day. The principal declared it a ‘no-go’. It would be unfair to other students, he claimed.

My father got involved and there was a lot of back-and-forward letter writing for a while, before, totally exasperated, dad decided to call the principal and talk it out – hopefully solving the problem once and for all. I don’t remember much about the conversation other than hearing him shout “You have your head so far up your ass you can’t see the light!”

My father was not prone to bad language. In fact, this might be the only time I ever heard him use the word ‘ass’. Clearly this principal had driven him to the point of absolute frustration with his lunacy. I understood completely.

As I heard him hang up the phone, I smiled to myself, knowing that only a positive outcome for me could come from such a statement.

It did. I drove every day for the duration of my schooling.

I digress.

When we met with the principal at the alternate school we were checking out, he put out his hand to shake ours and his voice boomed; “You are so lucky to find a space with us…. this school has such an exemplary record, we have a waiting list of people desperate to get in. You really should consider yourselves incredibly lucky. I was honored as one of the top 20 principals in NSW in 2002.”

2002!! That’s like 9 years ago dude! Before wireless internet and Justin Beiber (his fame – not his birth – though it’s probably a close call). It barely counts as this decade! (Judging from his personality,  I also suspected the criteria was very ambiguous.)

I mumbled something polite, while giving my husband the look. The look said; “we are not sending our kid to learn under this douches guidance, under any circumstances.”

We left and I exclaimed, “Can you believe it? I thought it was only because my last memories of school were as a kid, that I thought all principals were such douchebags! They’re still douchebags, even though I’m an adult!”

(Perhaps not the most eloquent way to describe it.)

My opinion changed when I met my sons current principal.

I liked him immediately. As we toured the school he shared story after story with us, keeping us laughing and impressed all at once, but what sold me was this statement;

We have a zero tolerance rule for bullying in school, we don’t have a bullying problem…well except for Jennifer L,” he sighed dramatically.

Jennifer L is a grade A student, prodigy at violin, mathematics state champion 4 years running, volunteer firefighter and all-round incredible person. Unfortunately she had a fight with her boyfriend in the senior center last year and slapped him across the face and she’s been labeled as a bully ever since.”

“I flinch every time I see her, or use a book as a protector shield if she comes to my office – I just never know what she might do. She is mortified. I use her as the example for bullying for every new student that comes in the school.”

His eyes twinkled as he described the situation and his mouth showed the beginnings of a smile.

It was hilarious imagining this super-achieving ‘good girl’ let the emotions get the better of her (as only teenage girls can do) – and slap her man  – and then be the poster-child for bullying for the rest of her school life.

I loved it. And so did he. The smile on his face told me he enjoyed telling the story and he enjoyed ribbing her about it at every opportunity. I suspect she is able to laugh about it too.

So here my son will stay (at least until their bullying mascot graduates and then we’ll need to reconsider our options), and in the meantime this school has given me hope that there are school principals that exist who are nice, normal, amusing, and not on some kind of crazy power trip.

Thank you to all those who fulfill this role with dignity, fairness and kindness.

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As we all know the lunar eclipse happened on Saturday night (Australian Time). It started about midnight and I had decided to stay up to watch and try to get some photos.

Clouds did not predict a successful outcome

I am not particularly great with a camera. I love photography, but the aperture, ISO, white balance..blah, blah, blah… is just all to technical for my little mind and so I just randomly change these things up and down as I take photos and hope I get a few that work. (Really, I do. Makes my husband crazy.)

Unfortunately, this theory landed me with a hundreds of photos from the eclipse that were useless at best. Shockingly, a few of them did turn out OK and I decided to include them here. All I used was my Canon Rebel XSi, a tripod, my Front Porch, a Sigma 70-300mm lens, and a bottle of wine.

(Bottle of wine is mandatory, remember you are staring at a big light in the sky for hours with nothing else to do but check out the edge work on your neighbor’s lawn. Studying that edge work is a lot less arduous when you are liquored up. Trust me.)

It started really cloudy, so I didn’t get any good full moon shots, and I wasn’t sure how it would end up

They eventually started to dissipate and I decided to hang in there to see what might be

Clouds moving - Showing some promise

I got it!

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The Real Blog Post (Not The 7-year-old Clicked Publish Before I Was Done, Post)

English: Sydney Harbour Bridge from Circular Q...

Image via Wikipedia

***Apologies to those that received an unfinished version of this post earlier today. My son was playing around on my computer and I had my account open and somehow he hit the “publish” button. (Note to self: lock the office door when I am not around, to avoid nervous breakdown and desire to strangle child)***

I can’t believe we are this close to the end of year! We have now officially been living in Australia for just over 1 year and my husband and son are starting to jive with the culture and seem a little less out-of-place.

A few weeks back we took a trip to Sydney.

Our first stop was my Holistic dentist where I had my last two mercury fillings removed. Not the most fun thing to do, nor was it as bad as I had anticipated. An excellent practice, incredible staff and safely getting rid of those toxins once and for all, made for an all-out pretty pleasant day and they we’re done in under an hour – impressive!

Next stop was our hotel in Double Bay.

One of the most affluent suburbs (often referred to as Double ‘Pay’), it is also an incredibly beautiful place with designer shopping, quaint cafes and bars, located (as is indicated by its name) in a bay on Sydney Harbour.

It’s only a short train or ferry ride into the city (great for kids)  – for those of us not wanting to pay Sydney’s $50+/day parking fees. (That would be me.)

Double Bay, (Sydney) Australia. I took this photo as we were heading out of the bay towards Sydney Harbour on the ferry.

Even as a former Sydney-sider, I delight in taking friends and family members on a ferry ride on the Harbour. There is something completely magical about it. I have lived in a number of places over my lifetime and so many of them have that “special something”. Sydney’s “special something” is its Harbour.

As we boarded our ferry along with the business people on their way to work, I wondered how great it would be to sit outdoors in the sunshine with the sea-air blowing in your hair as you traveled your mode of ‘public transport’ to work – not too shabby!

The Harbour Bridge in the Distance, Taken From The Ferry

We then took in some of the sites of Sydney and had a blast, I highly recommend spending time in your “home” city as a tourist. Stay at a hotel, see all the sites and you may be surprised at how cool it is and what’s on offer!

Charlie Chaplin Reincarnated?

The Big Smoke

We started by wandering down “The Rocks” area, it’s on the edge of the Harbour, full of historic buildings, Australian artifacts, tourist shops, artwork etc. I love the rocks, its quaint and historical.

"The Rocks"

Next we watched an aboriginal play a didgeridoo on the foreshores of the Quay. (HA!) This guy is about as “authentically aboriginal” as I am.

I’m not saying he doesn’t have aboriginal heritage, but I promise you, he goes home to his big screen TV, and judging from his pecs, he eats plenty of McDonalds and drives his 4wd to ‘work’ everyday.

But, the tourists love it. (As did my son and husband. I just snorted in disgust and took photos for my blog. Note the gold rimmed glasses. My husband named him “Kanye Dundee” )

"Kanye Dundee"

We took a walk to Darling Harbour (about 25 minutes walk from Circular Quay – where the Sydney Harbour Bridge is located), and discovered a cool playground with a mammoth climbing structure (amongst other things), that my husband declared. would never exist in any playground in America.

His reasoning? “It’s a lawsuit waiting to happen”. We wouldn’t sue here, we’d just brush little Billy off after his fall and tell him he’s “fine”, and to “stop complaining, you’re scaring the other kids.”

Regardless, it proved hugely popular with the kids, including ours who in this photo is perched on the top left.

"Lawsuit Waiting to Happen."

Next to the playground was a water park that had an awesome array of lessons. How water works, ways to pump, divert, spray and more. It was the perfect place on a warm summers afternoon and we spent hours there.

Cool toes on a hot day can only be a good thing!

The afternoon had worn on and we left the water park behind.

Father and Son Are Insperable!

On our way out of Darling Harbour we saw Santa trying to escape the city unnoticed.

Someone needs to tell him when you are this big and jolly, incognito is not really possible.

We decided to walk back down to the Circular Quay (where the Harbour bridge and ferries are located) to eat. On our way we passed a floating Sunglasses Hut store, my husband thought it was ingenious.

The ultimate transferable store

And motorbike parking that was markedly cheaper parking (reason to own a motorbike when living in the city).

We grabbed a quick dinner at Mad Mex, a place my husband had been dying to visit since we moved to Australia. It had rave reviews as fast food Mexican, and as we haven’t found any decent Mexican in Australia ( I don’t think Mexican restaurants even existed here when I left to move overseas in 2000), he was desperate.

It was as good as he hoped it would be and their frozen margaritas were as authentic as any we’ve ever had. The most spectacular thing was the Corona beer bottle chandelier, something we had never seen before, but a totally cool idea!

We decided to put an end to the day and caught the train back to the hotel, much to our 7-year-olds delight.

"Train Expectation" - Town Hall, Sydney, Australia (Iphone Photo)

All in all, we had a fun day, and after a good nights sleep, we took on the city again the next day!

________________________________________________________________________

While I was on my SIBL (Self-imposed Blog Leave), my all-time favorite red-haired blogger (C’mon Carrie, don’t be thinking you’re the only red haired blogger, their must be plenty!)  had a surprise waiting for me when I returned.  A blog award!

Anyone who knows me, knows I’m pretty un-talented. I’m not good at much of anything, which has resulted in a gaping empty space in my awards cabinet (What? It’s weird to buy and awards cabinet in the hope that it will karmic-ly cause awards to be bestowed upon you?? Apparently NOT, because it worked!)

No more!

Carrie from A Sassy Redhead has broken my 37 11/12th years drought, and given me an Liebster Blog award that I will be forever grateful for.

(That one in Kindergarten for “best talker” doesn’t count because we all know what was the five -year-old equivalent of a backhanded compliment from the teacher).

(In all seriousness, Thank you Carrie, you rock! )

(And not just because of this.)

(Really)

My job is to now send you on your way, to explore the wonders of five other awesome bloggers with less than 200 followers who deserve your support. So this I shall do, as I bid you adieu.

1. The Unknown Cystic – He and I get each other. (Which kind of sucks for him, because I’m pretty odd.)

2. Fifty Four and A Half – She is the most interesting writer, and she uses her age in the title. Being another person that cares not a whit about telling people my age, I think this rocks  – and that’s all before you start reading her awesome blog!

3. Spit and Spirits – He doesn’t post as much of late, he’s getting married and preparing to be under the thumb (kidding!!) but his posts are awesome, and he assures me he will be back, so you gotta love you some Jake J Fox.

4. Good Food 4 All – I just found this blog in the past few days. It’s awesome, all about toxins in our day to day life, organic living etc. For all those that don’t know I’m a closet hippy (if you want to see more of my activist-hippy side you can check out  Natures Conspiracy or This Dish Is Veg). Before you do check out GF4A.

5. Meg’s Simple Life – Meg has a family friendly blog about life, love and family. It’s wholesome, interesting, and she seems sweet as pie.

(Note to Mark at Yelling Near You. Wanted to add you, but I couldn’t because Carrie stole you first.)

She has it coming now…

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I Was Flamingoed (and more of my week)

Kana from Kana’s Notes flamingoed me last week. What does being flamingoed mean? Well, I suggest you read her highly entertaining post for yourself.

In short, I happened upon her blog and read it religiously and comment when its worthwhile – and of course because she’s such an awesome blogger, its always worthwhile. So I got flamingoed (its all very logical).

Here is my flamingo.

In turn she asks that I flamingo my supportive blogger friends and so I have elected my chosen few.

[As an aside I think Australia is the only continent that doesn’t actually have native flamingos, so what are the chances that you would be flamingoed by an Australian girl with no native flamingos? I know. If this isn’t a sign from the heavens to purchase a lottery ticket, I really don’t know what is.]

Without any further ado…

Carrie, at A Sassy Redhead – Shes  hilarious and she comments on all my posts – she might well be the perfect woman (and she’s currently single boys, so line up)!

UnknownCystic – He’s deep thinking, reflective and funny, and he manages it all while living next a gun-toting neighbour. He deserves an award for that alone!

Tinkerbelle at Laughter Is Catching – She reminds me of me, when I was in my 20’s, I just love her and her outlook on life. Plus she featured me in a Halloween blog post, so she has excellent taste.

Eleanor from How The Hell Did I End Up Here? – The kind of woman I hope to be when I’m a little older. Fun, energetic, full of fascinating stories and gorgeous!

I know I have so many more friends that I have met recently, and please don’t think I don’t appreciate you all!

Thank you to Kana for the awesome idea, and I do hope that now your flamingo has gone global, your fame doesn’t change you. 🙂

Onto other news…

If you follow me on twitter, you know that I jalk. A jalk is a term I have coined that describes the hour + that I spend jalking (jogging + walking) around the beach, almost every day. (And by almost every day, I mean twice a week on a good week.)

It basically means I jog for a while – until my eyes are seeing double, my lungs feel like someone cut through them with a blunt spoon, the sweat has stuck my hair to my neck and my shirt to my back, and my feet no longer face in the direction in which I am headed – then I start to walk. (This typically happens after a credible 40 to 50 seconds of jogging.)

At this point, I walk for a while, and when I have determined that I am not in fact, going to die, I start to jog again and the cycle continues.

Jalking. And yes, it really is as awesome as it sounds.

Anyway, it really is beautiful where we live and often I will see whales or dolphins out playing in the ocean, and so I thought it would be cool to take along my iphone and take pictures of the path I take on my jalk, to give you an idea of what I see and experience. These were taken last Wednesday.

The beginning

 

This is where the gasping starts

The end of jogging as my feet start to wobble in the wrong direction. Here's where death is nigh and I move to walking to ensure I stay upright and lucid.

Walking upright and relatively coherent

Love this rockpool

Perfect dolphin and whale-watching vantage point

I actually saw someone crawling up these once, they're so intense. Sure, it was a toddler, but still.

Almost there

This is where I have the team of paramedics waiting. I'm kidding. At this point I turn around and have to go all the way back to my car, and I often consider flagging down a teenager on a skateboard for a ride I'm that desperate at this point for it all to be over.

I hope you enjoyed a peek into life in coastal Australia, and for one last treat, I will leave you with a photo I took last year from the vantage point of a whale playing out in the ocean – I had my zoom camera with me, sadly I cant get anything decent with the iphone.

Love.

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Ode To My Husband (The Only Man In The World Who Would Have Me)

The Broadmoor Hotel, Colorado Springs, Colorado

9 years ago today, we walked into a courthouse in Denver and eloped.

As we left, you with a lifetime of possibilities and me with my free goodie bag of Tupperware (a total 1950’s housewife gift, I was insulted and planned on writing a complaint letter. Like most of my planned complaint letters, it never materialized), I hoped I’d done the right thing.

The Day We Eloped - Ootober 18, 2002

A few months later with 80 of our friends and family, we officially tied the knot at the beautiful Broadmoor Hotel (and I was right, it was an improvement on a Mexican restaurant).

The roller coaster ride began, and it hasn’t slowed down since.

Our wedding day - January 2003

The first day of our honeymoon as we began our drive down the coast of Mexico, you impressed me by crushing a beer can on your forehead (splitting your head open when you used the wrong end – the one with the sharp edge).  I laughed for hours, and have rarely stopped laughing since.

I knew without question then, you were the boy for me.

As far back as our wedding day you were making me laugh

You have been the best sport as I laugh at you more often than with you (most often in blog posts that I share with the world), and as we incessantly argue the value of crap shows like Smallville and True Blood, your addiction to community Poker games, the necessity of me owning more than 50 pairs of shoes, why Channel and Chanel sunglasses really are not the same (despite appearances), and the inappropriateness of showing your kid how to use a whoopee cushion on unsuspecting guests.

We have come to an agreement that you may not criticize my country’s wacky city names, when your own has a place called Arkansas (Ar-Kansas) and yet, you pronounce it Are-Can-Saw. This one city name definitively established that whatever the subject matter, you have no case – and never will.

You now know that here in Australia, a napkin is not something you use to wipe your face at dinner but rather, a ladies sanitary item. (That was a humiliating lesson to learn, I know.)

We have established that we can raise a great kid, but have no clue how to raise a well-behaved dog.  We know how to run successful businesses, but cannot work in one together, we’re different in almost every way, but we’ll both stand up for what we believe in (even if the cost seems exorbitantly high), and we have learned together, the largest of sacrifices result in the greatest rewards.

Our badly-behaved, but adorable dog

We can live anywhere in the world together and have a good time (not always keeping on the right side of the law, and that’s OK, because most laws are overrated and antiquated anyway). We now know that a foreign drivers license and a confused expression will get you out of almost any tight fix.

You are a man with remarkable patience, and impressive tenacity. Your fortitude is great, and your resilience is admirable. You are the best father I know (even that man in Cracker Barrel thought so), and your ability to kill a bug in the middle of the night without your contact lenses (by sheer bionic-perception), is extraordinary!

You are the son with the integrity, the father with the most adoring son, and the husband with impeccable taste…

If you are ever unsure why you are with me, remember what you told that guy who asked you why you didn’t marry an American girl:

“ Because my wife can defend the honor of a family, confront a scam artist (and convince him to accept an appropriate consequence), make a meal, prove a doctor with a foreboding diagnosis wrong  – reclaiming the health of our child, run a business and keep a house. And she can do it all without carrying a gun, visiting a shrink or popping a Xanax. That’s why I married an Australian girl.”

It’s been a crazy ride, but one well-worth taking.

Happy Anniversary!

xxx

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You Say Tomato

You see allies, I see language barriers

My husband is American and I am Australian. Though one may be deceived into thinking this union is uncomplicated by social and language barriers, one would be very, very, wrong.

Despite both countries being English-speaking, we use many different phrases that mean very different things, and it has created more than a few unnecessary arguments between us.

Until last year, I was always the one considered weird and strange. I lived in the USA, and thus had to acclimate to the American way of things. I had to change the way I spoke and the phrases and slang I used, ensuring my American counterparts could understand me and that I would retain my sanity.

More recently, we moved our family to my home of Australia and it has provided me with many hours of entertainment watching my husband struggle with the language barrier, as I did in my first years in America.

Early on in his business he noted clients made reference to a guy, ‘Colorado Bob,’ and wondered who this other American was that frequented the same circles, seemed to always be around but was never actually spotted, and surprisingly, came from the very same state he did.

One fine day the realization hit that they were in fact, talking about him! Australians in their typical fashion, had decided to give him a nickname. The culture here is that you’ll get a nickname soon enough, whether you like or want a nickname is of no real consequence. You are given it – and this will be your new name forever and a day – so there’s no use arguing the point.

Given he moved from Colorado his nickname was prefaced by the state, and because no one could ever remember his actual name, ‘Bob’ became his new first name, and thus ‘Colorado Bob’ was born. He’s now gotten so used to it when doing business he will often say, “tell ‘em Colorado Bob came by!”

Now talk to me about integration and tell me it cant be done.

Other common nicknames you will find here are Shazza for Sharon, anyone with red hair may be nicknamed “Blue”(because that makes so much sense), or if they aren’t liked they often use the term “Ranga.” Incidentally, if someone calls you a bastard, it’s almost certainly a term of endearment – except when it’s not, and it’s assumed at the time you should know the difference – we’re fair and reasonable like that.

Far from us to be exclusionary, nicknames are not just reserved for people.

Afternoon is arvo, McDonald’s is Maccas, Acca Dacca is AC/DC (the band), anklebiter refers to a child, servo is service (gas)  station, and though not a nickname, I have to mention one of my favorites – the ever-whimsical ‘fairy floss’ – replacing the very ordinary and obvious ‘cotton candy’.

Cotton candy

Cotton candy may make logical sense, but fairy floss is so much more creative and everyone knows that Australians don’t make sense. (Image via Wikipedia)

We call the kitchen counter a bench here. I cannot tell you the countless times I have told hubby, “The keys/purse/water bottle etc. are on the bench.” Inevitably, I will find him outside in the garden searching on and around the bench for the offending missing item, when it is to be found lying quietly, and very obviously on our ‘counter’.

Last night we had a babysitter arrive. Hubby was talking with her as I was getting ready, and asked her what she’d been doing.

“I’ve been flat chat,” she said.

“Oh, I haven’t heard of that place…Flat Chat… is that where you work?” he responded.

She graciously suppressed her laughter, as she explained to him that the term means ‘busy.’ (Why say a simple word like ‘busy’ when you can jazz it up a little and call it ‘flat chat?’)

He has come home on more than one occasion looking confused and perplexed while trying to recount for me a conversation he had that day, so that I might possibly be able to ‘translate’ for him and he would know what the hell actually went on – while he was smiling and nodding like a bobble-head-doll – his go-to response to nearly everything that confuses him.

Possibly my favorite incident was him telling me he had been sent to see a man ‘Bernard’ about some work. Anyone that knows Australian’s, know we often talk fast and run our words together. This resulted in my husband hearing the man in question’s name as ‘Bertie’.

To be fair, though we would pronounce ‘Bernard’ as ‘Ber-ned‘, in the USA it would be pronounced ‘Ber-Naarrd’. So he could not have possibly correlated the two in such a fast exchange. He apparently asked the referring guy the man’s name twice, he was so unsure of what was said. He didn’t want to ask a third time and risk looking like a moron, so he didn’t.

‘Bertie’ it would be.

He walked to the appropriate department and asked for ‘Bertie’,’ as he explained to me later, “I mumbled the name, hoping they would understand what I meant, because I really wasn’t sure Bertie was correct either.”

Having them realize his confusion and be gracious about it was not going to happen in this lifetime. These are Australian men, ‘paying out’ on someone (laughing at them) is somewhat of a national pastime, and the new American guy would not be exempt from their mockery.

Bertie,” the guy said in a ‘Ernie and Bert’ style voice. “You’re looking for Bertie? Hey guys, Ernie here is looking for Bertie!” Laughter ensued all round when it was made clear who he was searching for, and how it all went so wrong. It was of course all in good fun, and to this day whenever he walks into this particular place of business someone always says in their best ‘Sesame Street’ voice, “Hi Bert!”

I can only imagine his pleasure.

My personal enjoyment has come from the term ‘serviette’ instead of ‘napkin’, which refers instead, to a lady’s sanitary item. This has understandably resulted in my husband getting more than a few odd looks, when he asks for one in a restaurant. (Though I will concede the times, they-are-a-changing, and more people are using this term in the cities.) His issues have come about primarily in our country town more often than the cities, where they are a little more forward and with-the-times.

I didn’t tell him for the first few weeks, it was just too much fun to watch.

Once I caved and confessed the actual meaning and thus the reason for the odd and distasteful looks he was receiving, the term ‘serviette’ became his new best friend. As a result, I imagine there are a lot less waiters on their breaks talking about the weird American dude and his penchant for ladies personal items to be supplied with his dinner. Sadly though, it’s not nearly as much fun for me.

His integration to this country became solidified, a few weeks ago at a local poker game in a pub.

Some guy called across the table and asked what part of Ireland he was from. He told me he hesitated at first – vaguely unsure of himself – before responding that he was not in fact from Ireland, but from the USA (a fact that would be obvious the moment he opened his mouth almost an hour before when the game started).

It was clear to me as he retold this story, that the guy was just being an ass.

“I waited a few minutes for the next hand to be dealt out” he continued.  “Then I cheerfully turned to the same guy and said, “So what part of New Zealand are YOU from?” The crowd broke up into gales of laughter and I was slapped on the back more than a few times.”

(Calling an Australian a New Zealander is akin to calling an American a Canadian or vice-versa. In other words, it’s not too appreciated at best, and insulting at worst. You can imagine how it was intended for our fellow poker player. Touch’e was the comment that came to mind.)

I looked at him in that moment with a kind of awe. “You’ve done it,” I said, “you’ve successfully become a real Australian in less than 2 years, all on your own! You’re like some kind of phenomenon.”

Call me crazy, but knowing what mineral we mine the most of, who the prime minister was in 1943 and how long our dingo fence is, shouldn’t be on the citizenship test. I don’t know the answer to these questions and I’m as ‘dinky-di-true-blue’ (Australian) as they come.

The test should instead be a melding of theory – Can you read and write English? Can you recite the lyrics word-for-word of Jimmy Barnes “Working Class Man?” – And the practical.

The practical can be a scenario just like this one. Pick up on the social cues and give as good as you get. If you fail, you are sent back home immediately, because if you weren’t, you would drown a slow and torturous social death, in the aftermath of your social confusion anyway.

We’re thoughtful like that.

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Socially Acceptable Addictions

I don’t understand people’s addiction to illicit drugs.

I had only one very brief foray into the world of drugs in my younger years (excepting my more recent dally with Tylenol PM, – the new gateway drug), and I’ve had more than a few conversations about procuring drugs with my Street Cred – but overall – I just don’t get it.

I mean, I get the concept of addiction and all, but I don’t understand how anyone tries illicit drugs in the first place knowing that;

a) if they get a bad batch, they could die

b) if they’re lucky enough not to drop dead from the high, they will almost certainly be jonesin’ for another hit soon enough, and it may well eventually lead to the demise of their finances, lifestyle and all meaningful relationships.

On the other hand, there are these new kinds of addictions popping up all over the place now. Things like Facebook, Wii, Slot Machines (we call them Pokie machines here in Australia, and they are in almost all bars), TV, computers, and of course shoe shopping (who, me?).

These new addictions didn’t exist 50 years ago. Either the concept didn’t exist or the ability to feed it didn’t. (Lets face it, old ‘Marge’ couldn’t have an addictive shoe shopping habit in the 1950’s even if she had wanted to, there was probably only one store in town that sold a variety of 5 different kinds of shoes. Poor Marge.)

These are not my shoes. There is no way all my shoes would fit into a camera viewfinder. (This girl must have carb addictions instead.)

These are known as socially acceptable addictions, and may well ruin your finances, relationships and lifestyle – but your friends will be cheering you on, even taking part with you -as you spiral into your dark pit of despair (or elation, depending on where you’re at with the disease).

Other than shoe shopping, my biggest ‘in the closet’ socially acceptable addiction, is the demonic force of chocolate. It has been calling my name for close to 30 years, and I have maintained my dedication to answering that call. I am not in denial, I am hyper-aware of my inability to just-say-no.

As I’ve explained to my husband, if someone told me tomorrow I could never have chocolate again because of some fatal chocolate-allergy I had inherited, I truly don’t know if it would be possible for me to white-knuckle my way to sobriety.

I would never look this absurd when eating chocolate. I may look this deranged if I were forced to give it up though.

That being said, my inability to say no to the great and powerful cocoa bean, is the universal reason I never got involved with other habits that I knew could be addictive, so its influence can’t be all bad.

I was exposed to drugs as a teen, but never tried them. (My marijuana smoking episode at 19 doesn’t count, it’s practically a right of passage through to ones 20’s.)

While I’d like to claim super teen intelligence, or moral ethics, in reality it was a much less honorable decision, made up of three very distinct parts;

1. I was afraid that I would be the one to get the ‘bad batch’ and I’d die, and my parents would be super-mad that they’d have to explain to their friends and family what a dumb-ass they had raised.

2. If I didn’t die I’d be a vegetable, and my parents would be super-mad that they’d have to explain to their friends and family what a dumb-ass they had raised.

3. I’d get addicted instantly and I’d want more and I wouldn’t be able to afford it, which would necessitate me having to steal from my parents. After they found out and reported me to the authorities (as only my parents would), they would be super-mad they’d have to explain to their friends and family what a dumb-ass they had raised.

That’s it. My sole reasons for never trying drugs. Fear of being thought of as a dumb-ass by my parents and their friends, if it should all go terribly wrong. Potential death, vegetative state and jail-time, never even came into the equation.

Now as an adult of course I can sample all the illicit drugs my heart desires with no concern about my parents and their friends, because it would be my husband dealing with his dumb-ass wife, not them.

The problem now is I can’t even afford the first hit, ’cause I’ve spent all our money on shoes.

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Don’t Tell Me, We Don’t Know How To Have A Good Time

An amalgam used as a restorative material in a...

Image via Wikipedia

It was a big Friday night at our place.

My tooth cracked off and I swallowed the portion with a silver filling in it. Silver fillings are full of mercury, highly toxic (and not recommended to have rolling around in your body, or a host of side effects will result). Essentially, you want that crap out.

I needed to induce vomiting to get it up, or head to the closest hospital to have my stomach pumped…I chose to do the former.

I drank a full glass of warm water with 1 & 1/4 tablespoons of salt dissolved in it. In case you have this listed as things-to-try-one-day-just-because, let me suggest that you cross it off the list. Its foul and as far as I can tell, almost always unnecessary.

Imagine seawater mixed with something that causes instant heartburn, a little sour milk thrown in for good measure (to help with the vomiting reflex), and that pretty much sums it up. It took me a few minutes, but I finally got it all down with a few ‘mini-upchucks’ in between.

My expert husband then gave me specific steps on how to shove your own fingers down your throat “the way the bulimic’s do” (his words), to get the salt-water mix – along with the filling – up in one huge, monstrous, vomitous action. (If you’re thinking ‘vomitous’ is not a real word, it is now – I just coined it.)

C’mon I’ve done this many times, if it’s not working, you aren’t pushing your fingers down far enough, just shove them down further;” he egged me on.  (I’m assuming he knows this from his many mornings of hangovers he tried to alleviate in this way during his former party years.)

How anyone can be bulimic is beyond me (no disrespect to all the bulimic’s out there), it was the most hideous experience of my life. But all credit to him, his instructions worked perfectly.

Taking the title (momentarily) as ‘Best Husband in the World’, he pulled on the rubber gloves and searched all of the er…contents, to make sure the filling came up. (He says I won’t be getting an anniversary gift this year, working through my puke was the gift, and surely evidence enough of his love.)

Finally, he founded the partial tooth, sans silver-mercury-laden-filling! What the hell?!?

We found out later from a doctor that the whole procedure was all in vain. Mercury is so heavy, you actually have to have your stomach pumped to get it out, there’s no way the action of vomiting by itself will do the job.

Good to know.

Essentially there was a 50/50 chance that I would make the right decision when it came to getting one of the most toxic substances in the world out of my system, and when it came to crunch time, I chose the wrong one. (Just another reason I don’t gamble, the gods are almost always universally against me.)

In the end, given the mercury was not yet out of my system, a detox procedure is in place, so it will no doubt be a fun few days at our place this week. That’s right, the party continues!

Don’t tell me we don’t know how to have a good time in our household, people!

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New Years Resolution – Starting In October

‘Post a Week 2011’ logically,  started on January 1st, 2011.

I’m just starting it today. To be fair, I only heard about it today – so its not like I’m late – rather, I’m uninformed.

There was a very official-looking letter I was supposed to post on my blog, to let you know I was joining the challenge, and what a tough and yet inspirational slog it would be. It was all very moving, and not like me at all. So I decided to change it.

Title: I’m Posting every day in 2011!

That was their official title. As you can see, I changed mine to

New Years Resolution – Starting In October.’

(It just seemed a little more accurate, and in the spirit of honesty I decided to go for it.)

I want to blog more.  But I also want world peace and lets face it, we can’t always have what we want.

That being said, I think starting a yearly resolution in October may just give someone like me the ability to come through and fulfill it. 12 weeks, 1 post a week, how hard can it be? In addition, I get to say that I completed the ‘WordPress Post A Week 2011 Challenge.’

Not bad, not bad at all.

I’ll probably achieve this while bitching continuously to my hubby – things like, “7 days have already passed goddam it, and its that time again, what they hell am I going to write about this week?” or “Where the hell am I supposed to find the time?” and “These other people must not have jobs.”

But that’s just part of my charm.

Of course, there will always be the days where hubby, kiddo or another completely insane family member (of which we have a few), will give me some great material to work with and the words will just flow.

I appreciate and look forward to those times – but not so much the aftermath from the aforementioned people, when they find out I wrote about their issue/indiscretion/failures or stupidity – publicly.

Still, by definition an artists life is a complicated life, am I right?

(Here comes the part where I will use WordPress’ suggested formatted post – because it seems only fair I give them a good plug. After all, they are actually completing a post a day,  and have done thus far, for all of 2011 – including the holidays when the rest of us were all at the beach! Kudos to them, right?)

“Therefore I’m promising to make use of The DailyPost, and the community of other bloggers with similar goals, to help me along the way, including asking for help when I need it and encouraging others when I can.”

Ok, I could only stand so much niceness in one post. My personal thought is that if I can’t manage a post-a-week on my own, then I shouldn’t be writing.

But I will encourage others, I promise. In my own special way.

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Water Boarding With Nemo

Photos from a protest against waterboarding, o...

This is what they did to my son. Well, without the face cover and tie downs - because THAT would be inappropriate. Image via Wikipedia - waterboarding protest.

Just before Christmas in 2009, the kiddo presented with H1N1 flu symptoms and a fever of 104.8 that wouldn’t reduce with Tylenol.

Because his regular Doc’s office was closed and the fact that he is at high risk status with Asthma and Chronic Lung Disease, the Children’s Hospital recommended we come in so they could check him out and run some tests.

Off to the emergency room we went at 3pm. (Way to spend a Sunday!)

After the basic questions and evaluation, I was told that they needed a sample of his snot for testing. (Sorry, snot isn’t really a very nice word is it? Is there a better word than snot? By better, I mean politically correct and lady-like.)

Is there? Well if so, I don’t know it.

Anyway, they needed a sample and he couldn’t get one by blowing his nose, so they decided they needed to ‘get it themselves’.

And I let them.

They laid him back on a gurney sloped downwards so his feet were raised higher than his head. With one nurse pinning his legs and another large male nurse pinning his arms and body by almost laying across him, a third held his head tipped back and shot water up his nose with some kind of electric powered water-filled syringe.

As it overwhelmed his senses spewing water from what looked like every orifice he had, they put a suction tube up his other other nostril and collected the precious snot. The gagging, screams and thrashing that came from his body during this procedure were incredible.

Our son has had many, many visits to the hospital and there was never this much drama. Not when he had to have an IV put into his skull when he was younger,  not on the many occasions he has had blood taken, or when he’s been unable to breathe and has had to be on a respirator, or from his stays in intensive care.

Never!

Now, take a look at this description from Wikipedia on a form of torture called water boarding:

Water boarding is a form of torture that consists of immobilizing the victim on his or her back with the head inclined downwards, and then pouring water over the face and into the breathing passages, causing the captive to believe he or she is dying.[1] Forced suffocation and water inhalation cause the subject to experience the sensation of drowning.[2] Water boarding is considered a form of torture by legal experts,[3][4] politicians, war veterans,[5][6] medical experts in the treatment of torture victims,[7][8] intelligence officials,[9] military judges[10]and human rights organizations,[11][12] although other current and former U.S. government officials have stated that they do not believe water boarding to be torture.[13][14][15][16]

In contrast to submerging the head face-forward in water, water boarding precipitates an almost immediate gag reflex.[17] While the technique does not inevitably cause lasting physical damage, it can cause extreme pain, dry drowning, damage to lungs, brain damage from oxygen deprivation, other physical injuries including broken bones due to struggling against restraints, lasting psychological damage or, if uninterrupted, death.[3] Adverse physical consequences can manifest themselves months after the event, while psychological effects can last for years.[7]

Do you see where I’m going with this?

They totally water boarded my 5 year old, and it happened at a Children’s Hospital in Texas, administered by medical personnel (who signed the hypocratic oath, no doubt).

To top it off, note the part highlighted in red that refers to the possible damage of lungs… on a child with lung disease.

I know, I know, medical personnel would tell me its really not the same thing. All I know is what I saw.

Reading this description and combining what I witnessed, could have been the manuscript for the “Water Boarding 4 Dummies, How-To-Tutorial.”

That’s what I know.

Let me also clarify – before they were going to do this, I asked the question – “Would your treatment be the same regardless of the results?” “No”, they said. The treatment would differ depending on whether a flu virus was found or not.

Thus it seemed necessary to do this, to ensure proper, safe and effective treatment. The result?

A negative H1N1 that we are then told is only about 70% accurate so they wanted to give him Tamiflu anyway. Seriously.

I pondered the risks of asking the doctor the thoughts that were running around my head. Thoughts like;

“Are you even really a Doctor at all?

or

“Have you perhaps been laid off from your job at Guantanamo?”

or

“Do you moonlight as a Mafia hit man?” (These are questions all good parents should ponder.)

Against my will, hubby convinced me not to. He felt that it wouldn’t help improve the service our son would receive. (He’s conservative like that.)

Someone really needs to reflect on the approach of Doctors and nurses at these places. People laud the wonderful care given by the staff in the Cancer wards and the like, but in my (vast) experience, the treatment when arriving at the ER in Children’s Hospitals has never been more than disappointing.

(Sorry to all the great Doctors and nurses that work in Children’s Hospitals, I know you are out there, I just haven’t met you yet.)

That being said, when kiddo was admitted into the  emergency room at Skyridge Medical Center in Lone Tree, CO and then transferred to the PICU in Swedish Medical Center, CO a few years previously, the staff there were awesome – so kudos to those staff.

As an aside, here’s how hubby coped with the stress of the day:

This is what hubby does during stressful hospital stays for kiddo

That’s right, stealing hospital products and making rooster balloons – its good to see some people weren’t traumatized by the day.

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