The Chronicles of Christine

I always quite liked the idea of having a secret identity. You know, fronting up at work each day and making your contribution, and then suddenly when the five o’clock whistle blows, you transform into a super hero, or a rock star, or a wrestler, or maybe even a secret agent. It keeps everyone guessing and it certainly adds an element of excitement to the daily grind. Whilst I don’t fancy the idea of getting all “Fight Club” about it, and rocking into work the next day bruised and battered and missing a few teeth, lately I’ve been harbouring a desire to add some spice to my life.

So a while ago I went along to a Richter City Roller Derby bout. It was magical – Brutal Pageant vs Trash Malice. Bogan outfits, bitchin stage names, brutality on skates. Awesome. While I enjoyed wincing at the thrills and spills with my beer in the bleachers though, it wasn’t enough to just watch, I kind of wanted in.

Skating with girls like Thigh Voltage, Goldies Spawn, Florence Might Impale, and Scarface Clawdia, I felt was going to be a good time (although somewhat painful perhaps). I left that night mulling over my stage name – Stine Roller? Chrissy Crack Her? Insanein Devane? Or maybe even Tits McGee? All viable options, I thought. I can skate, but while we never focused on brute-force-biffo at the Taihape Skating Club after school, I was confident it was something I would excel at.

When choosing a second identity though, there are a variety of factors that need to be considered, like whether it fits into your schedule and budget, the level of commitment they expect and whether that matches what you are willing to give etc. A couple of other important factors for me are:

• What are the odds of paralysis?
• Could I lose my teeth?

You may think that’s a bit drastic, but if you’re a regular reader you’ll know I don’t exactly have the best luck in the world, and have sustained fairly decent injuries from previous involvement in extra curricular activities which resulted in severe depression, social ostracism, and a bit of obesity, so I’m not that keen to put my body on the line again, to tell you the truth. That being said, I think I will just have to stick with being a roller derby enthusiast from outside of the rink. That also rights off bull riding and barrel racing which I’d also quite fancied. Damn.

So continuing on the search for a secret identity/guilty pleasure type lark, I went along to a Real Hot Bitches meeting yesterday. The Bitches are a bunch of bitches that get together to wear lycra and shake what their mothers gave them in semi-sync to big tunes of the 80’s.

I felt the low hum of uneasiness as I walked in the door – who’s that bitch? Can she dance? And who the hell does she think she is sauntering in here sans-leotard? They were threatened by the aura of cool I was emanating. If it wasn’t for the fact that I turned up in a Toyota Corolla wearing newly acquired ‘dance pants,’ I think I might have felt like a bit of an outlaw rocking in in my well-worn ACDC t-shirt and biker jacket.

Yesterday’s “choreo” though, (pronounced phonetically, FYI) was a powerfully sexy set of moves to Whitesnake’s “Here I go again.” Those bitches cut right to the core of my bogan heart with that tune, and they knew it. The dance told a story of seduction, involving Bobby, a lone wolf who is tormented by a gang of lycra-clad women writhing and thrusting their way across the stage to bath in his presence. Powerful, and subtle, all at the same time.

So yeah. Unless you can suggest any other extra curricular activities suitable for secret-identity purposes, which won’t see me losing an eye or an incisor, I am considering lending my own powerful presence to the Real Hot Bitches, in a semi-regular way.

Thoughts and suggestions are welcome. In the meantime, have a gander at this:

You could not even make this stuff up if you tried. So after my rant about music last night, I woke up feeling ready to rock and roll once more.

I bought the most beautiful guitar you have ever seen in your life earlier in the year, (her name is Lucinda, – just so you know) and have been feeling a bit guilty about how much I haven’t really been playing her. I took up lessons with this old rock n roller – Frank, who was great, up until he insisted I learn a couple of Sting songs. There are three men I have absolutely no room for in my life and that’s Sting, Phil Collins, and Freddy Mercury. So I don’t see Frank any more – see what I mean about being ferocious when it comes to music?

So I went into a guitar store this morning and got yarning to the bloke behind the counter. I told him about my predicament with Frank and Sting, and we spent a good wee while getting to the core of who I like and what I want to play. He said to me “I don’t get many women like you coming in here, and after spending 10 minutes with you, I have the perfect teacher in mind – you love all the same stuff and you’d get on like a house on fire – here’s his flyer, give him a call.” As my luck would have it, the teacher he had in mind has also been mentioned previously in here – the charming musician who charmed me all the way backstage at a gig and then charmingly dropped in that he’s married.

My heart was maimed in action last week already, so it didn’t really need any further surface injuries at that point. Oh well. Ordinarily, rock n roll makes me feel 10 feet tall and bullet proof, so when I sought solace in a few rocking riffs today, I was shocked and saddened that it had let me down and was openly pointing and laughing at my outrageously bad fortune in matters of the heart.

Again, you could not make this stuff up if you tried.

But on a side note, it certainly highlights how bloody small this place is. Two degrees of separation in these parts most of the time. I have a friend who reckons that there only seven people in New Zealand and I seem to know them all. Feeling the need to escape the city for a bit, Dooney and I walked the Tongariro Crossing last weekend, where I bumped into three of the seven up there. So with those three, the naughty guitar teacher, me and Dooney, that only leaves one left. The odds aren’t looking good.

{April 30, 2010}   Together Through Life

I’m a pretty open minded person, but when it comes to music I’m particularly ferocious.

I was dating this bloke once (the pilot – who has made a previous appearance here once or twice), he made a crack at romance once and to set the mood he put on his Sarah Mclaughlan CD. I’m not sure if he was intentionally trying to make me open a vein, but it was not on, and I grabbed my stuff, walked out, and have never seen him since. I think he thought I was suffering some sort of emotional crisis, and for a few days later sent me all sorts of caring and concerned messages. Barf. How do you tell someone you can’t possibly ever see them again because they listen to that shite?

Music means a lot to me, and it’s created and shaped a lot of the most meaningful and memorable moments of my existence. Deep. There are certain tunes though that send me in to sensory overload, that when I hear them I’m transported right back to that very instant that made me fall in love with that precise moment in time, those emotions, that smell, that place, those people, that song, and all it stood for.

I often look at my CD collection and cringe at some of the garbage I listened to back in the day. Sometimes I think about trading it in, but I think no way, at one point in my life Shania Twain really meant a lot to me, as did Inner Circle apparently. I look at my CD collection as a wee bit of a memoir you know?

One of the players that’s always habituated a special part in my heart is Bob Dylan. Some would say it’s an obsession. It’s not healthy, I’ll admit it. I remember precisely when I first fell in love too. I was in the fifth form at boarding school. My guilty pleasure was putting on my headphones at lights out and listening to Solid Gold Radio. That’s when I heard it – The Hurricane. A few days later I was sitting on my bed and heard my friend Dooney walking down the hallway humming that very tune. I poked my head out and was like “um, what were you just humming then?” She was caught off guard, and perhaps a little embarrassed about listening to “old” music, but secretly slipped me her brother’s copy of Masterpieces, and it was all on from there. Her affections for Bob have since waned, but mine have never faltered.

During an emotional moment marooned in Japan, I once wrote a letter to Dooney suggesting we put together “The Soundtrack to our Lives.” We talk about it often, but sadly have never gotten around to it. It’s a massive job. Given that my New Years Resolutions for 2010 haven’t really worked out as planned, I reckon I’m going to work on the soundtrack over the next eight months. (Just quietly, I’m also working on memorizing the lyrics to Meatloaf’s Paradise by the Dashboard Light, and Tiny Dancer by Elton John – measurable and achievable goals I think).

I’m not sure the songs listed below will make the final cut, but they have definitely resonated with me at some point along the road and evoke all sorts of memories and meanings. For some I’ve shared their meaning and purpose, others I clearly haven’t. Like I said, it’s a work in progress.

  • Walking Down Your Street – The Bangles
    My sister got a walkman for Christmas in 1988, along with Lionel Richie and Bangles tapes. Mum and Dad were big into country music at that point, which made for a tedious Christmas Holiday road trip all the way up the East Coast. To settle the scratchiness, us three girls were to share the walkman and listen to one song each. At that point I was too thick to know how long a song was supposed to be, so I got one every hour or so, and it always seemed to be this one. I liked it though, and can remember the Blurple flavoured popsicle dribbling down my arm as my bare little legs slid all around the hot vinyl back seat of the Falcon as I shook and shimmied away
  • At Last – Etta James
    This is quite possibly the most beautiful song ever imagined, which I’ve sung at the weddings of two very close friends. I don’t sing any more, but when I hear this, I can picture exactly what I was wearing. I remember the musty smell of hot church pews, the nerves I felt beforehand, that cheeky comment from the groomsman “shit, I’m glad it’s not me that has to get up and sing in front of all these people right now,” the stunned mullet look from my buddies in the cheap seats, the uncontrollable shaking of my left leg, but most of all I remember the meaningful look between the bride and the groom – “it’s business time” (probably wasn’t that to be fair, but smoochy stuff makes me uncomfortable)
  • Mississippi – Bob Dylan
    This is a cool  song. No two ways about it. “But my heart is not weary, it’s light and it’s free
    I’ve got nothin’ but affection for all those who’ve sailed with me” – gold. Every recording is completely different and I love them all for different reasons. But I remember the day my friend Robbie rang me up and was like “what are you doing today? Want to make a CD?” So we tootled over to our friends Marie and Yoshi’s music room and this was the first track on our ‘album’ – it was a music lover’s dream in that room, with walls lined with LP’s and sheet music, a beautiful grand piano, and about a gazzilion banjos, ukuleles, and guitars. A lot of fun times had in there.
  • Dyer Maker – Led Zepplin
    This one – in my hey-day I would get home at all hours and wake my flatmate (Tony Danza – that wasn’t his real name, but he was the boss) up to play this song for me on the guitar. He’d tell me to buggar off, but I was a bit more persistent in those days, so luckily enjoyed about two or three 4am live Dyer Maker sessions a week. Poor guy.
  • Breath – Pink Floyd
  • If I should fall behind – Bruce Springsteen
  • Mr Rock n Roll – Amy McDonald
  • Sparks – Cold Play
  • Harvest Moon – Neil Young
  • Beast of Burden – The Rolling Stones

I quite like Nick Hornby’s “31 Songs” where he writes about exactly that – 31 songs that he either loves or has loved, and what they mean in his life. If you’re considering putting together a little musical memoir for yourself, this is a good place to start. As is “High Fidelity,” and while I take a sabbatical from the trials and tribulations of the dating game, I plan on harassing you with numerous “top 5 lists.” Two words – look out. Feel free to add your own too please.

{March 31, 2010}   Let’s Get Physical

So I did the fun run on the weekend. It wasn’t fun, and neither was I when I got home on Sunday morning. I checked out for the remainder of the day, had a hot bath, snored my guts out, and stared numbly at the telly. I repeat, not fun.

Feeling more than a little bit battered and bruised after the weekend’s events, I’m beginning to think this fitness lark is a wee bit treacherous for my liking.

Anything can happen out there. When I was eight years old I was playing basketball and Brett Harrison tripped me up and broke my arm and three fingers (rendering both upper extremities out of action). I once got punched in the face during a netball game. A few years later some bird stomped on my foot playing indoor netball and put that in plaster. I then got smashed to bits during the first game of the next season, resulting in surgery a few months later. Team sports just aren’t for me it seems. I’m an elite athlete meant for individual greatness.

In preparation for greatness, I’ve flagged the team sports and joined a gym (I hated sharing anyway). But it seems things can go dreadfully wrong there too…

They have a sign in the changing room about acceptable gym etiquette. Adhering closely to etiquette at all times, I stumbled into a particularly awkward situation in the changing room a while back and noticed there was nothing in the guidelines on how to deal with this.

I was driving the new guy from work home from touch rugby (team sport… typical) and ran over a cat. The cat wasn’t in good shape at all. We tracked the owners down who understandably wanted to take it to the vet. They didn’t have a car, so of course I said ‘come on then, get in’ and took the random strangers, new guy from work, and a gurgling and spluttering dying cat out to the vet. It was a 20 minute drive. Slightly awkward. Sadly, the cat died at the vet clinic, which resulted in an even more awkward drive home with the random strangers, new guy from work and dead cat in a box. We said our good byes and I thought that was the end of that nasty situation. It wasn’t.

I went to the gym the next day and who should I run into stark naked in the changing room, but the owner of the now-dead cat. Not a word of a lie. Little bit stumped as to where to look, as having just killed her cat I couldn’t really look her in the eye, and being naked I felt uncomfortable looking anywhere else, which is precisely why I consulted the guide to gym etiquette. No help.

It was also no help the time I dragged dog turd all through the gym. On the drive to the gym I notice an horrendous stink in my car. I apologised profusely to my passenger, who sympathetically offered up a story on how a rat once made a nest in her Dad’s truck and how that smelt pretty bad too. We spent the rest of the journey theorising on what could have possibly climbed in the ‘rolla and died.

When we got to the gym I buckled myself in for spin class and forgot clean about the stench. About 10 minutes into the class I noticed a filthy stink in there too. Not being too clever at that hour of the morning, I eyeballed the boys next to me, and made all sorts of ‘foof’ gestures, indicating “bloody hell you stink, go and do something about that.” About 10 minutes later I thought, “hang about, I know that smell, and it smells remarkably like my car.” Feeling more than slightly embarrassed, I figured I couldn’t very well leave the class, because the stink which had wedged its way into my shoe would waft out after me, forever brandishing me as the dog turd bird at the gym. So I stuck it out. It’s a small room and it gets pretty hot in there. It wasn’t particularly pleasant way to start the day.

I heard it’s important to mix up your workouts, so I threw in a bit of swimming there for a while as well. This was just after I’d had my knee surgery, so I was a little bit precious and thought one of those aqua fit classes would have a nice rehabilitative effect.

I jammed myself in my togs, whipped one of those flotation devices around my gunt, and launched into the drink with a host of very old and very large women. The class was a hoot, we talked about Coronation Street and even got a little sweat up. Then the fire alarm went off. Apparently there was time for all the ancient women to heave themselves out of the pool and shuffle along to get their walkers, but there wasn’t time for me to grab a towel and a pair of jandals before I was herded out the door.

I was outside on the main road, in the middle of winter on a Saturday morning as all the lads are pouring off the bus into the rugby club, standing in my freaking togs turning purple. Luckily the fire brigade came (three engines, along with about a thousand more spectators) and dolled out hypothermia blankets. Grand. I went from looking like a purple prune to a bloody roast chicken in my little oven bag. Saw a couple of fully clothed people from my work there too. That was awesome.

Another one of my not so fine moments. I have since done some extensive research on the matter and have not found one instance of a reported fire in a swimming pool. What are the chances? Apparently mine are pretty good, especially if it’s anything to do with exercise. I can safely say that exercise, despite having an array of health benefits, has been quite detrimental to my image. I was once a slick, sophisticated, international woman of mystery. I’m now a cat killing, roast chicken look-a-like, dog turd bird. All thanks to exercise. Not what I’d call individual greatness.

{March 23, 2010}   Tonnes of Fun

Fat people are funny. It’s true. I don’t mean ‘point and laugh’ kind of funny, but as a general rule, rounder folk, though often not so quick on their feet, tend to be fairly quick witted. Dawn French, Jack Black, Will Ferrell, Billy T James, Ricky Gervais – all tubby, and all very funny. It’s official. Even me, I carry a pretty wide load most of the time, and I really crack myself up.

I reckon it might stem from school yard days. I didn’t really much enjoy getting called Fatso as a kid, so I dedicated the bus ride home each day to coming up with some really funny lines to blow bullies clean out of the water. Looking back “Shut up arse face” wasn’t really all that funny, but it seemed to do the trick at the time. I like to think my humour has evolved into something quite sophisticated since ‘shut up arse face,’ but the truth is, it hasn’t. I’m 30 years old, and I still laugh at farts.

At this point I thought it might be quite prudent to look at why thin people often aren’t that funny. I’ve often heard it’s because they’re lucky – lucky their legs don’t snap off and poke up their arse. And there’s nothing funny about that idea, so it’s feasible that this could actually be the cause of the humour deficit amongst the slighter and lighter. For realsies though, I reckon it’s because they do fun runs. What part of running long distances is fun? Seriously. The organizers of such events should be had up for false advertising.

To test this theory, I signed up for a fun run the other day. And I think I want my money back, as it was really not very fun at all. 21km, Wellington wind, and as luck would have it, the sun was out in a very savage way. It was downright ferocious. A walker passed me. That’s right, a walker. I was running, and he was “walking” and he passed me. Soul destroying, and four weeks on, I’m still smarting from it. N.B – Walkers – also thin, probably not that funny, although I think if I saw a walker out on the road doing their hip shaking thing (that is, one who hadn’t just passed me while I was running) I might be inclined to laugh and point.

Yep, there is definitely nothing fun or funny about thinking you’re about to keel over and then there’s a sign to let you know you’ve only got another 10km to go. Super. All the thin, unfunny people though were hoofing it back the other way, with smiles on their dials, all looking like they were having a whale of a time. Even several hours after said ‘fun’ run, I was slightly concerned that even my ability to see the funny side of life was rapidly waning. It might have had something to do with running a wee way on a broken toe and a two-day hangover, but that’s another story. I think my theory still stands, fat people are funny; thin people aren’t that funny because they do fun runs to keep them thin, which aren’t fun at all and make you feel like garbage for the rest of the day.

I might be being just a wee bit harsh about runners. So I’ve signed up to do another ‘fun run’ this weekend as further research. This one starts at 3pm on a Saturday afternoon and finishes at 9am on Sunday morning. That sounds like a barrel of laughs… I’ll let you know my findings next week.

I have that New Years Day feeling. You know the one – when you’ve looked forward to something with grand anticipation, and you have a truly unforgettable time and then suddenly all the fun stops and it’s time to go back to your hum-drum existence…? ‘Course you do. Looking back over the archives it seems this isn’t the first time it’s happened either.

One of the stand out chapters is the epic hangover story at the turn of the century. I was going to party like it was 1999 and I did…with my parents, siblings, neighbours and everyone else I’d known since Adam was a cowboy. And I made a spectacle of myself. It was a great party – prefaced by a hangi and band by the river, in the middle of the most exquisite setting known to man, followed by a champagne breakfast at dawn on top of the local landmark. On a clear day you can see both sides of the island from up there. It was a clear day, but I couldn’t even open my eyes.

I was discreetly escorted down the hill by my parents in a ute seconded from a neighbourly neighbour (I may have severely soiled said ute, resulting in a handwritten, hand delivered, awfully sincere letter of apology). I awoke later that afternoon, tucked up in the comfort of my childhood bedroom, pink flowers on the wall, teddies on the floor, and a delightful box of tissues at eye level that read “sleep sweetly, for when you wake from your slumber, angels will greet you.” That didn’t turn out to be the case sadly, and I felt remarkably like a bag of monkeys’ arseholes.

Ten years later to the day, I awoke in similar circumstances – after the most beautiful wedding, in an even more beautiful New Zealand location, with an even worse hangover. I thought at the time “why do I do this to myself?” I never did come up with the answer to that one, and drove back to Wellington, to enjoy shitty summer weather and an extreme two-day funk.

Today’s ‘new years day feeling’ was brought about by something entirely different though, that involved neither rock n roll nor copious amounts of liquor. My cold heart of stone was infiltrated by a delightful foreigner and in true Briget Jones style, I joined him on a ‘mini break.’ Staying in the honeymoon suite, gobbling up Bluff oysters, enjoying Otago pinots and gazing at the stars, I have established is a prize winning recipe for the world’s biggest come down. You won’t believe me when I say this, but there was even hand-holding, which didn’t make me run for the hills. Gasp.

In a self-deprecating moment, I considered not going on said mini break, as I had a sneaking suspicion I might feel less than spectacular when it came to an end – but what do you do eh? – look after number one and colour between the lines, wondering what might have been, or put your ticker on the block, well aware of the odds of it getting chopped to bits? I don’t regret it, but I suspect as a result I may develop an even harder heart with a much more sophisticated security system from here on in.

From my experience, whatever doesn’t kill you not only makes you stronger, but it also turns you into quite a ferocious article. And when well meaning folk tell you it’s better to have loved and lost than never loved at all, there’s a high chance you might be inclined to punch them in the face. In summary, I’m bruised and battered and it ain’t pretty.

Do you remember the lemons and bells machine at the pub when you were a kid? 50 cents, three lemons, and you were a winner. I’ve had three lemons recently, and I’d really like to know where I can punch my card and collect my winnings.

As you know, when it comes to love, I’m rubbish. I do not have a glowing report card in that department, and it seems to be getting worse as the days go by. I had an experience on Friday which forced me to sit down and take stock of the shituation – and here it is: I am officially a Married Man Magnet. And surprising, that’s actually not the look I’m going for just right now.

So I met this bloke at a grubby little gig on Friday who really flicked my switch. Talked for hours about the intricacies of cowboy boots and rock n roll – and it’s not often I happen upon men who talk as much garbage as I do, so I fell a little bit in love if I’m honest. He engineered the moment, and moved in with surprising delicacy and planted a quite delightful little kiss on my lovestruck lips, then followed it up with just the right amount of ferocity, and then …. told me he’s married. Awesome. So while waiting for a cab that night, I realised it was the same weekend last year when I fell a little bit in love with another delightful specimen who lured me in with his guitar and large amounts of Bob Dylan, before telling me he was married too (he was also part of a cult, so I might have dodged a bullet there). And then I went, ‘hang on a minute’ it was also the same weekend the year before that, when I uncovered that the big burly plumber I’d been seeing was married too (To be fair I didn’t really ‘uncover’ that – his wife called me to let me know about that one).

I would like to know, what the hell is going on here?! Is this what you call Christmas cheer … giving me a good solid kick in the baby-maker right before Christmas? Are these blokes the three wise men trying to learn me some sort of nasty lesson? I’m gonna run with yes, because I have certainly not seen any gold, frankincense, and myrrh in my bloody mailbox. And I’m now quite concerned that the lessons these lads are dolling out, are transforming me into one very prickly, ferocious article. Seriously. My opening line from here on in, is “are you married?” As far as conversation starters go, I can see that’s not really the most inviting approach, but at this point I don’t really see any other option. The secret to my success, from here on in, truly is intrusive and inappropriate lines of questioning.

To make matters worse, earlier this week I went on another bloody internet date. Not really sure what I was thinking there. I’ve been sorely disappointed several times over with that carry on, but I’m a sucker for punishment it seems. So this guy was a film censor. Luckily I took the intrusive and inappropriate line of questioning approach in this case, as I uncovered that he’s paid to watch insatiable amounts of pornography. Eight hours a day. He told me he’d been working on something called ‘She Male Man Cocks’ that day. I also established that he once dated a prostitute. Not an offence sure, but probably not something you’d want to be sharing on a first date I would have thought. Funnily enough we’re not going out again, and no matter how many happy-ending tales of internet romance I hear, it will be a cold day in hell, the day I ever plunge my hand back in that particular fire.

So my outlook on love right now is verging on outrageously bitter (as opposed to my stock standard ‘little bit cynical’) but again, being a sucker for punishment, there’s a piece of me which is a little bit curious to see what the final three weeks of 2000 and bloody fine have got to throw at me. Bring it on I say. And tell me where I can cash in my lemons too, if you wouldn’t mind.

It’s been about six years now since I left Japan.

I spent two years there as an English teacher repeating the new words.

When I signed up for that gig I was expecting neon lights, robots, raw fish and rice. I got the raw fish and rice, but as for neon lights and robots – there weren’t many of those where I went.

I lived right in the thick of rural Japan, in a joint called Oi, far far away from civilization. It was a fishing village which also supported a nuclear power station, two supermarkets, a post office, a bunch of schools and a hostess bar for blokes. Grand.

As a general rule, Japanese people enjoy a healthy diet and are fairly slight. So if I’m honest, I was quite optimistic about shedding my Wellington winter weight with all that fish and rice and miso and stuff. That’s not really what happened though. I got slightly depressed in my first month there and ate myself stupid. Not my finest moment I’ll admit.

Some other moments of greatness I experienced in my first few months there include:

• The mayor “patting” my left boob in front of the whole town at a summer festival. He was greatly disappointed with the pat, and came back for the double fisted “honk” and landed himself a fairly decent backhand from yours truly. I’ve never thumped a mayor before, so I guess that’s something

• Driving with my supervisor on day three in Japan and having him shout at me “Christine, please be very careful when you intercourse in Japan! Very dangerous.” On the official awkward scale, that was off the richter. He said this a few times before I figured out he actually meant “when driving in Japan, be careful at the intersections, our rules are different to yours.”

• In the first few days of the school term I was frog marched into the back of a van in the school carpark. I saw staff coming out the other end of the van with all limbs in tact, but despite this I was extremely apprehensive about the goings on inside. So I get in the van and here’s all my workmates with their kit off. Having just eaten myself into oblivion, I wasn’t really feeling that great about getting naked in public, let alone getting naked with my size 0 workmates. They stared at me enough with my kit on, I was very very nervous about what was going to happen when I unleashed The Gifts. I think they were too to be honest – They didn’t even try to avert their eyes or pick their jaws up off the ground. It was like something they’d never seen before and I felt akin to the circus freak show bearded lady. All that for a chest xray to confirm I didn’t have TB. I’ve seen how they TB test cattle, and there is a bloody long rubber glove involved, so it could have been worse I suppose

• Coming out of my apartment and happening upon a dirty great snake in the hallway. I flew up the stairs and bashed on the superintendent’s door screaming “Ebi! Ebi desu!!” I was beside myself and couldn’t really understand why he didn’t seem all that concerned. It wasn’t until I ripped out my trusty dictionary that I discovered “ebi” was Japanese for shrimp. “Hebi” was the word I was after. And to him, I was screaming bloody murder over a shrimp outside my apartment.

Given all of this, you really have to wonder what the hell was going through my head when I agreed to go on a Japanese holiday with a couple of mates this month. Lee called me and was like “Rob, there’s super cheap flights to Tokyo on Grab a Seat, are you up for it?” My initial response was “I’d rather eat shit than go back there actually.” But then I got to thinking about all the really really cool stuff that happened while I was there, and all the amazing things I saw and the fantastic friends I made, and those amazing toilets that you can change the seat temperature, that have a built-in bidet where you can change the water pressure, angle and temperature and even select the background disguise music, …and now I’m going back to Japan.

I leave on Thursday. Four sleeps to go, and I’m beside myself with excitement. Will give you a full debrief next week. Over.

{June 30, 2009}   Pride and Second Best

When it comes to matters of the heart, is second best ever okay? It’s definitely not okay to be second best – that’s a truth universally acknowledged – but I mean is it okay to settle for second best when best is out of our reach just right now?

I’d like some help with this please. So today I was giving a workshop and heard myself say “there are times when you have to accept that 90% is okay” – admittedly this was in a time management workshop, but could the same be said in the search for Mr Right? Has the time come to lower the bar, abandon the search for that bloody guy, and run with Mr Alright, Mr OK or even Mr Little-Bit-Annoying instead?

Recently I found myself with a little bit of a hurty heart again, so I thought it would be a good idea to call up Mr Little Bit Annoying, just because I could, and I knew he fancied me, and that fact alone would surely make my heart not so hurty. Not my most lucid moment and no real surprises here, but he was a little bit annoying, and the whole time I was with him I was devising ways of not holding his hand in public, and getting the hell out of Dodge in a dirty great handcart.

I just can’t settle for second best. It’s a scientific fact. When I was four, my family went to town to buy a beanbag. Everyone wanted this plain green corduroy one. I might have made this memory up, but I’m pretty sure I remember muttering “average” at the time. I then went on to throw the world’s biggest tantrum until we left the store with a tan vinyl teddy-bear bean bag with a furry tummy and arms that wrap right around you.

I know the song says “if you can’t be with the one you love, love the one you’re with,” but as the above example shows, I just don’t do second best. I want the furry tummy with arms that go right round.

I’m starting to sound like that annoying wench Carrie Bradshaw right now, and that’s not good for anyone, so I’m going to cut it loose with this:
– second best is not okay
– no more Mr Little Bit Annoying, and
– does anyone know where to buy beans for bear-shaped bean bags?

I’ve been working on this list for years now. It’s difficult to say exactly why these words are a problem for me, but they are. And I can’t be sure if the problem lies with the images they conjure up, or if it’s simply how they sound. But hearing these words invokes a physical response in me – this can be something akin to the screwed-up-squirrel-nose-face you can’t help but make when someone lets one go on the bus, or hunch your shoulders up around your ears like when the dentist looms over you with the world’s biggest syringe, or clap your hands firmly over your ears like when you hear fingernails down the blackboard – and often a crazy combination of all of the above.

I’ve come up with a term to describe people like me who have compiled their own list of “Words I Definitely Don’t Like” – WIDDLers. I know that term may suggest that as a group we’re slightly incontinent and maybe pee when we laugh a little bit, but that’s not true. (At this stage anyways). However in certain situations (like during an every day conversation about a moist carrot cake for example) when your face goes all screwy and your shoulders hunch over and your hands clap to your ears, I do think it’s almost worse than widdling in your pants. It is in many ways similar to the tics and twitches experienced by tourettes sufferers, so it’s no surprise that the medical term for it is in fact Terminology Activated Tourettes (or TAT for short). To date there is no medication which has proven successful in abating this debilitating condition.

So my list is as follows:


This is a concise list with no rhyme or reason I know. It defies logic that “whisper” is a bad word, yet “assistance” is totally acceptable. Like I say, difficult to say.

I met a WIDDLer recently whose bad words were “Pash” (which I’m not overly keen on myself) and “Fishmeat.” Now I’m not sure in what context he came upon the word Fishmeat, or of its useage in everyday conversation, but I can see how it could be a problem to a WIDDLer.

So now you know about WIDDLers. Feel free to add your own submissions to the list. If it gets serious enough, I will look to organise a grant in order to do some well needed research on the matter.

Also, panties.

et cetera