Friday, 10 April 2015

Dressing The Tomboy

My father always refers to the Little One as a tomboy. I don't know why, maybe he's a bit out of touch. Both with his own grandchild and with what kids are into these days. Or maybe it's because she and I are so different at the age she's at now (almost 4.) When I was her age I was all about dolls and pink and ballet. Unashamedly so, even though he tried his hardest to get me interested in "boys toys" such as mini golf sets, remote control cars, skateboards and so on. To his dismay I always preferred playing with my rag dolls or furnishing my dollhouse.

I'm not very close with my father anymore, so when we do see him and update him on Little One's life the picture that gets presented is one of, in his opinion, a Tomboy. She plays soccer, does mini athletics, does sports daycare* (its fantastic, for 3 hours straight they alternate between little kid versions of tennis, hockey, soccer, basketball, etc) and will be doing tennis as soon as she starts primary school. Because she's so passionate about her sporting activities these are the things she likes to talk to him about. She fails to mention her other obsessions: Disney princesses, helping me bake, watercolor painting, crafts, and dressups/imaginative play.

It's fun raising a daughter in this day and age where you aren't bound by gendered constraints of what they should be interested in. Though I do wonder if I'd be able to raise my child so freely if it were a boy. I'd hope so, I don't know if its father would agree, sadly.

Anyway, with the arrival of Autumn the time had come to start stocking up on winter clothes for her. This year I'd decided to buy most of her things at Target. I'll admit it, i'm lazy. I will always go shopping at the nearest place. So when we lived in the inner city that was usually Country Road and Seed, but now we're in the outer burbs it's Target. (I always hated Seed except for its tights.) Unlike CR I find Target's range to be very gendered. Startlingly gendered in fact with little thought given to practicalities of girl child life. But then, maybe they know their target market well enough to design it like that and are appealing to the people who will actually buy them: the parents.

I am also steering away more from CR because I feel like where we're living it's ... well, it's uncool to put so much thought into a child's outfit. In the inner city it was fun to put an outfit together for Little One because you knew so many people would see it. As if there's anything more delightful to an oldie than an adorably well dressed child! Lets just say, my efforts didn't go unnoticed in the little area we lived in which was certainly not a "cool" inner city enclave as it was inhabited more by wealthy older ladies (and gentlemen.) So it didn't seem obnoxious for me to dress her in Burberry or higher end kids clothes (on that note I don't care what anyone says, I think Burberry makes great winter clothes for kids and due to their good quality they can be handed down and still look like new. Unlike Ralph Lauren which I think is crap quality and fades.)

Back to Target. I didn't like what I saw in the girls range at all. But the boys range ... I thought they had some really cute stuff! I'm also a sucker for navy and red.

And in the girls section ...

I did manage to negotiate a skirt in the mix even though she's anti-skirt and dress at the moment as it's one more thing to remember when she's on the potty.


There you have it. Not one item of pink I realised when I put it all together! So I made up for that in the undies, socks and pyjamas department.

* not actually a daycare, but parents are not involved whatsoever.

Wednesday, 18 March 2015

Hello Beautiful by Hannie Rayson

I don't know why Hannie Rayson irritated me so much when I heard her speak at Adelaide Writers Week. Thinking about it maybe its a generational thing. She's around the same age as my mother and my aunts who though they still try, seem so cringingly uncool. I feel like she plays into a certain stereotype which, coincidentally, are just the sort of people to attend literary festivals and buy books. (Financially comfortable, successful, inner urban dwelling, slightly tone deaf, privileged baby boomers.) For example, she talks about Brunswick Street like it is the hip place to be. Same goes for my 60 year old aunt. Hate to say it but Brunswick Street hasn't been cool for a very long time.

Out of morbid curiosity I started reading her book Hello Gorgeous! and I loved it. It was so refreshing and witty and there were many times I barked loudly with laughter. I loved reading about Melbourne and the many places that are so familiar to me but through someone else's eyes. And I loved that she had the same custody arrangement with her ex partner as I do with mine (the kid turned out well.)

It's a very positive, happy memoir. Hannie Rayson appears to see the world as a beautiful place with a glass half full outlook. Though not immune to tragedy (her father's stroke and subsequent death) she seems to be able to consistently see, and write about, the funny side of life. For someone who appears to have led a rather charmed life she is able to come across as relatable, entertaining, and humble throughout the book. She's also able to poke fun at herself. It's an adorable book and I hope she writes a follow up.

It's great that i'm on a bit of a roll with worthwhile books of late. Next two on my pile are Laurinda by Alice Pung and Pain, Parties, Work: Sylvia Plath in New York, Summer 1953 by Elizabeth Winder.

Hodge Podge Garden

At the beginning of summer I planted out a garden bed. It then turned into a makeshift vegetable garden because I couldn't be bothered building a separate one in the back and only wanted some herbs, tomatoes and zucchini. When those started to die off we had the pest guy in to treat around our house for termites because our neighbour refuses to cut down their termite infested gum tree (another story for another day) and so it was necessary to save our place - structurally. But in order to do this the garden needed to be dug out. I didn't get much notice and all the plants were quickly evacuated into a bunch of different containers. Some survived, some died.

Seeing the bare beds has depressed me (the other bed had its plants dug out due to a new fence being put in.) So today I finally went to Bunnings and stocked up. Whatever plan I had in mind quickly evaporated when I got there what with the little one having a meltdown and world class tantrum and me juggling bags of soil so I just sort of threw the plants that I liked in the cart without any thought to size or quantity.

The result?

Star Jasmine, blue and purple Pansies, white & purple Alyssum
Still not entirely sure what I want to put in this bed! Trying to decide between cumquats or white roses. But for now: Dwarf Lavender, Rosemary, Star Jasmine, left over Pansies.
Assortment of bulbs for pots and garden. Can't wait for April!

LOVE the idea for this Star Jasmine design which I think I can achieve on the fence.
Have been thinking about Ornamental Pears a lot for the front of the house in front of the windows to provide some shade and privacy. Love the Lillipilli hedge and Star Jasmine border.
So yes. It's not ideal, although I do like the first bed and will improve once I start training the Jasmine but it's SO much nicer than just seeing bare, ugly beds full of bits of building debris.

Wednesday, 11 March 2015

Autumn/Winter Uniform

I haven't put too much thought into what i'll be wearing this year during the colder months. I guess after a certain age you get a feel for what suits your body. This year's cold weather "mum uniform" is going to closely resemble last year's. Some items have worn out and need replacing, some need to be updated.

Cropped jacket

Boat neck knit

Short ruffled skirt

Short soft pleat skirt

Taupe 'Alexa' boots

Black 'Alexa' boots
'Lowland' boots

Horizontal stripe sweater 

Black skinny jeans

Last year's uniform adhered to these staples. Tights, short skirt, long sleeved t, knit sweater, boots, cropped jacket, jeans, scarf. Revolutionary!! Not.

As for hat? This Eugenia Kim is pretty cute. But I could knit it up in an evening so that's what i'll do.


The other week I flew to Adelaide. “WTF is in Adelaide everyone asked?”
“Writers week,” I mumbled. But that wasn’t the full reason. I wanted to get away and just ‘be’.

Mine and The Ex’s custody of the little one is a bit weird. Our work schedules are weird, he works Wednesday-Saturday and studies part time at night so my mother takes her on Fridays and Saturdays while I’m at work and The Ex has her from Sunday to Tuesday. So from Sunday to Tuesday I’m kind of on my own.

Also, Adelaide is cheap. Cheap to fly to, cheap to stay in (and at the hotel I stayed in I was able to earn points) and Writers Week just happened to be on with Kate Llewellyn as the major drawcard for me. And it’s free. Seemed like a no-brainer.

I found out recently that a girl I was close friends with in Melbourne a few years back who has been travelling around the world for all that time, is pregnant. I was thrilled when she told me she was coming back to Melbourne for a short stint. While she was here we spent time together and hung out a lot before she went and told her parents in the NT the big news. But it was only when she got back home the realisation fully hit her: Oh shit, i’m pregnant. I’m going to have a baby!

She started freaking out.

I had my own little freak out in Adelaide. What the fuck was I doing here? I hate Adelaide. The first and last time I was there was for the Icons of Fashion exhibition (which was fantastic) but I only stayed for one night and was drunk for most of it.

At least the weather was nice.
Writers festivals attract a certain type. And a festival that is mostly on between 9:45 and 5:45 on a weekday …Yeah. I felt very out of place. All I needed to fit it was a handmade skirt, sensible leather shoes, and a canvas bag. Possibly a plummy accent.

When I told P where I was going he laughed and gave me the side glance.
“What?” I said, “I wouldn’t make fun of you for going to a festival of finance and … money!”
“Fair call.”
“Wait. What’s that I see over there. Is that … is that a book? A Rupert Murdoch biography?”
“It was a gift.”
Before he went to NYC P told me he hadn’t read a book since university. So I bought him American Psycho (baby steps, c’mon) so he’s now read 85 pages of a book since university (baby steps.)

Anyway, long story short: I missed Kate Llewellyn. But I did manage to see a writer I confess to never
hearing about before - Jenny Offill. I bought her book immediately after her talk with Ceridwyn Dovey. Brilliant, brilliant novel about a marriage and a new baby and everything that goes on within a mother’s head.

The night before I left Adelaide I stayed in my hotel room and spoke for hours to my friend about the baby. Again, she was fretting. “Look, you don’t have to worry about shit like maternity clothes, or the brand of cot, or the type of delivery you’re going to have. Let it come as it comes. And don’t think about buying too much crap. You’ll end up regretting it.”

“What about when I have it?” She said. “Like, can I do this?”

“Of course you can. Just keep it alive. That’s all you have to do. The rest will come as it comes.”

When I read Jenny Offill’s Department of Speculation a similar thing popped up. The character’s sister says dryly to her after she frets about the safety of her daughter: “Just keep her alive until she’s eighteen.” That's your only job.

On my return to Melbourne G had one question: “Did you see the Fig at the Gate lady?”
“No,” I confessed. “I accidentally slept through it.”
“Oh man …” he slapped his head for effect.

Tuesday, 10 March 2015

The Three Day Date

It starts so innocently. With dinner, and an early one at that! 6pm we arranged to meet in Richmond for some hipster American BBQ for what was our 3rd official date. I had already spent most of the morning snoozing beside P - accidentally (I had come over to drop off a haul of new pillows and promptly fell asleep on them. Only waking up when I hit myself in the face in my sleep.)

I wore white jeans, a grey t-shirt, and beige cardi. I was not dressed up. I was not making an effort. This was an easygoing casual dinner date. He rocked up in a pressed white shirt and nice jeans. He’d made a little bit of an effort. More than I had at least. But still, he told me I looked fabulous.

I told him not to bother driving as I was going to drink so he should drink. It took them a long time to make our drink order but once the margaritas started coming they didn’t stop. It didn’t occur to me in the moment that maybe brown liquor wasn’t the best idea.

Our conversation was drowned out by a raucous group of men on the far end of the upper dining room. They were so loud. Inappropriately loud. The were all at various stages of 30-something-or-other and I spent a lot of time speculating just what they were. There were in excess of a dozen of them and they didn’t look like a football team or have the shoulders to be a rowing team. “What are they?” I asked a harried waitress.
She rolled her eyes. “Bucks party. And I wish they would just leave.” Of course they were, but it just seemed too obvious. How disappointing. I was secretly hoping for chess club or lacrosse team.

After our dinner of flank steak, short ribs, mac & cheese, burnt ends, and chipotle slaw we went across the road to continue drinking. I switched to champagne. Finally we could hear what the other was saying. We talked. We talked and talked. Mostly about his work, about random things that happened in our late twenties, about ex boyfriends, girlfriends. Then it was time to go home.

Sometimes I drink too much and I lose all sense of time and place.

The next thing I knew I was in his spartan apartment, surprised it was only 11:30pm, feeling extremely sleepy. God what a party pooper I am, I thought, as I drifted off to sleep next to him. (He loaned me a pair of pyjamas - cotton striped, Calvin Klein - so I didn’t have to sleep in my clothes.)

“Did I snore?” I asked him in the morning.
“Only a tiny bit, but it was cute.”
“Uh huh, sure.”
“Do you feel like breakfast?”
“Of course. I always feel like breakfast. Carlisle Street?”

We got ourselves ready and headed out to read the Sunday papers over smashed avocado, toast, eggs, fried mushrooms, and multiple lattes. I ordered a kale smoothie to counteract last night’s damage. The only green thing I recall eating was a few green beans. It came in a ball glass jar and I instantly regretted my decision.

“What should we do next?” He asked.
“Shouldn’t I go home?”
“Do you have to?”
“I guess not … We could go for a walk?”

Our walk took us around Balaclava, St Kilda, Windsor and up to Chapel Street. We stopped in Bromley & Co. where I contemplated buying a pottery platter then realised I’d have to carry it around all day, we gawped at the art, and subtly checked out the pricetag on a Charles Blackman sculpture.

“Lucky for you it’s a Sunday and the banks aren’t open …” he said when I told him I really, really wanted it.

Then we went into Chapel Street Bazaar. Sometimes my favorite thing to do on these excursions is listen to other people’s conversations.

“Do we need another pot, Malcolm?”
“You can never have too many pots, Sue.”

“You really can’t have too much pot,” says G, “there’s no such thing.”
“They’re not even trying to be funny,” I say, “they’re saying it in all seriousness.”

Before we leave I rummaged through the stack of vintage Playboys. “I really am just interested in the articles. They’re very good. Oh. Remind me to come back and pick up some doilies.”
“You can never have too many doilies,” he says.

At Zucca Rossa I order the first of four bloody mary’s for the day.
When we start to get hungry we go to Ladro and order a pizza, a salad and some olives to share between us. I order another bloody mary.

“I had an accident in the bathroom,” he says returning to the table.
“Uh oh. You smell amazing.”
“The bottle of Aesop handwash kind of just exploded all over the bottom of my t-shirt. Look.”
“First world problems. At least your crotch area will smell fantastic.”
“I hope it doesn’t stain,” he inspects his t-shirt closely making a face.

Our day has been long and lazy. We’ve had far too much food already. We decide to walk all the way back to his apartment.
“What do you think of that flower?” I ask. “And that tree? It’s a …” I start naming all the trees, plants, flowers I can identify.
“How do you even know what most of these are?”
“I’ve been researching what to put in my garden.”

It’s 6pm when we get back to his apartment. He offers me a soda water (with fresh lemon - he emphasises fresh) and we turn on the TV. There’s nothing to watch and he’s not much of a TV watcher anyway. I watch Shark Tank and John McGrath inspires a conversation about Sydney guys. How when you first meet them you think “are they gay?” and then you realise “oh no, they’re just from Sydney. Of course.” Afterwards we turn it off and start listening to music.

“You’re the DJ. Play anything you want. I want to get to know you better. What are you in the mood for?”
Since we’re in St Kilda I feel it’s only appropriate to play Hunters & Collectors sprinkled with some INXS and Depeche Mode then various other songs that pop into my head.

“Are you hungry?” He asks.
I’m not but I say I am anyway.
We order Thai.

It occurs to me that i’m still wearing the white jeans I was wearing yesterday and I make the executive decision to wash my clothes. He’s thrilled because it means I’ll be sleeping over another night.
“This is turning into some AirBnB type situation,” I say.
“I don’t mind. It’s fun hanging out with you.”
He gives me pyjamas to wear and a clean tshirt.

It feels like we’ve been married for a million years.

We go to bed early because he has work the next day. I take my sleeping pills. In morning he lets me sleep in then makes me a coffee while i’m in the shower.
“I feel so bad I can’t drop you home.”
“Oh my goodness, don’t be silly!”
“What are you going to do today?”
“Probably catch the tram into the city the city, meander around.”

I pull my cardigan off the hanger he hung it on the night before, amused, and we head out the door. He drops me off on Carlisle Street. I grab a coffee and croissant before meeting up with a friend to console her on her latest break up - she left her most recent partner because he cut off use of his credit card. “Good,” I say, “Now you can start dating again. And there’s always tinder.”

The Gift

I’ve been seeing P for six months now. It was only supposed to be a once off dinner because I told someone I was lonely and they tried to fix me up. A dinner i then tried to get out of for two weeks running. Finally, when I agreed to a time and place, I’d managed to downgrade it to a 3pm late lunch. It didn’t occur to me I’d actually enjoy it and he’d blow my socks off in a massive way.

This strange little arrangement of ours which stops short of becoming a real committed and scary relationship but with many of the benefits of. Together we’ve agreed on the term “friends with benefits” (for lack of a better one) with possibly an overemphasis on friendship than benefits. Although I would say that getting to be little spoon is definitely a lovely benefit along with the odd spontaneous rendezvous and fits of midnight passion. We pledge our adoration of one another frequently like two grade six girls in the school yard. “Our friendship is the most important thing. I would do anything for you. I’ll always have your back. Etc.”

It was after a recent tinder date this was actually put to the test.

One afternoon, out of boredom, I reactivated my tinder account. Mostly I did this for my friend Hailey who finds the concept amusing but doesn’t want to be personally associated with it. Tinder appeals to me. I tried to describe it to an aunt, a baby boomer, that it’s like looking through a catalogue of men who could potentially be your future husband without having to leave your house. This appeals to me. I am a big fan of anything you can do while still watching TV.

Generally it leads nowhere. If I find anything of interest I screencap and send it to Hailey, we have a laugh, wash, repeat. Somehow I got to chatting with a guy called G about food. I feel like all my conversations on tinder are either about food or travel. Never sex. Maybe because sex is already implied as a distant possibility so it seems pretty redundant to talk about it. Let’s just say, I still haven’t reached the milestones of “first dick pic”, “first facebook stalker”, “first abusive misogynist rant” etc. And I won’t say “yet” because I’ve already de-activated my account.

So after chatting with G for about a week about food, books, our work, MKR, our backgrounds, and all the other essentials we decided to meet up for a burger and low-key drink in Brighton. I was pleasantly surprised. Both with G and the burger. And afterwards we headed someplace else for a drink and talked like we’d known each other our whole lives about everything and anything. 6+ (I lost count) drinks later with the bar about to shut I decided it was probably time for me to go home. I wished G farewell, thanked him for a lovely evening, and hopped in a cab.

$10 into my trip at 1am I realised I only had $20 on me and couldn’t find my credit card ANYWHERE. Fuck. Fuuuuuck. Fuck fuck fuck. I explained the situation to the driver and told him I was just going to phone a friend who lived nearby and maybe he could drop me off there. I called P. He wasn’t at home.

P: Get out of the cab. Wherever you are, i’ll come get you!
Me: Are you serious? You can’t do that. I’ll just come to where you are!

The driver ended up dropping me off on Carlisle Street where he said i’d probably be fine. Less than 5 minutes later P arrived - my knight in shining armour - to rescue me. He had left his night out with “the boys” to come get me. He had definitely put his money where his mouth is. Like the friend he is he took care of me for the rest of the night even though it meant stopping at a random park in Port Melbourne to admire the stars on a cloudless night which resulted in me breaking out in a rash from laying on the grass.

A week later. I was out shopping in the city and wanted to get P a small token of appreciation to thank him for getting me out of an uncomfortable situation (the thought of travelling all the way home and realising my card was actually lost-lost still makes me ill.)

P credits the film American Psycho for turning him onto facials and men’s beauty treatments and says he’s never had such good skin or enviable physique since Patrick Bateman became the posterboy for men of his generation. (Of course he seems to have overlooked the fact Ellis wrote American Psycho as a takedown of white male corporate yuppie culture, and instead he uses the damn thing as a guidebook to life - especially the GQ passages and the business card scene as inspiration for his own.) So I thought it would be right up his alley to buy him a giftbox of indulgent body treatment products. Massage oil, body lotion, and whatever else the male sales assistant upsold me.

But here’s where things get awkward. I am actually embarrassingly head over heels in love with P. Thankfully I don’t think he is 100% aware of this. I do my very best not to come across as “That Girl”. That crazy, obsessed, clingy, already-scrapbooking-our-future-wedding-girl. That said, I have my moments, I’m human after all, but I like to think I do a good job of not declaring my undying love for him every time I see him and coming off like a crazypants so well done me.

I had some time to myself one afternoon to drop off the gift personally. Somehow I always manage to forget which townhouse P lives in because one looks identical to the other. All I was meant to do was slip behind the gate and leave the plain cardboard box spritzed with some masculine scent (birch, moss, alpine mist, essence of stag etc) with its accompanying card at the front door and go as I knew P wouldn’t be getting home from the office until about 2 in the morning.

As I bent down to leave the box I saw what was, basically, a bird that’d had its wing and head ripped off lying on the doormat. Just my fucking luck, I thought. What the hell am I going to do now? He can’t come home and find a cardboard box with a dead bird in pieces next to it. What will he think?! I actually contemplated picking up the pieces of dead bird with my bare hands and flinging them over the fence just so my surprise token of gratitude wasn’t ruined. I thought about this for a bit, weighed up my options, turned around got momentarily distracted by the lovely potted plants that were at the entrance in some very nice oversized pots. Then I realised … wait. P doesn’t have pot plants …

I was at the wrong house!

Ohhh. Thank. God.

I left the bits of dead bird on the doormat where I found them, went next door, dropped off the stupid bloody gift box, and left quick sticks.

Turns out his housemate was working at home that day and saw the whole calamity. So much for not appearing crazy.