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Sunday
Feb192017

Everything old is new again 

I have a new couch.  Actually it’s a new old couch.  I had my sofa re-covered and I couldn’t be happier.  I am the Queen of Recycling.  Or is that Reusing?

I’ve had my couch for quite a few years and love it.  It’s super comfortable and fits perfectly into the alcove in my living room.  But yes, it’s seen its fair share of action (not that type of action) and was looking a little worse for wear.

Or as Soccer God noted, “Tan, no one is gonna want to sit on that couch anymore.”  Good call.

Friends tried to talk me out of getting it re-covered.   “Just buy a new one, you can afford it”, they scoffed at me.  “You work hard, you deserve something new.”  “If it’s not any cheaper, why don’t you just buy a new couch?”  On and on they went, trying to convince me that brand new was better than repurposed.  

I was determined to go down the recycling / reusing angle.  A friend has devoted her life to buying secondhand and runs Buy Nothing New Month. I’m not as dedicated as she is but I want to limit the footprint I leave on this earth if I can.  Off I went on my couch reupholstery journey. 

I received three quotes from different outlets.  Two were pretty much the same, with the third at least $800 more.  The “does more expensive mean better quality” question trolled through my head.  Maybe.  Maybe not.  $800 is a stack of cash.  That could also buy me some new second hand bedside tables. 

After a thorough research process (Google) I went with my first choice – and emailed to ask what happened next in the process.  A short email came back in broken English explaining that I needed to go to a local fabric wholesaler and choose the colour and material I wanted, then they’d recover my couch within three weeks.  Perfect.

I headed into said wholesaler a few days later and was overwhelmed to find rows and rows of fabric.  Around 3,000 samples at a rough glance.   Panic overtook me.  How would I choose something that would work for my space?

I have no idea what I’m doing here”, I said to the woman in the showroom.   She smiled and asked if I knew what colour I wanted as a starting point.  “Charcoal grey” I replied and she pointed to a wall of fabrics.  Much  better.  Only around 300 to go through. 

As I pulled sample after sample off the rack to check it out, it occurred to me that this is why a husband or boyfried would be handy.  I would have someone to discuss options with and if we didn’t agree, argue for a bit.  Then hopefully I’d get my own way (and have him confirm I’d made the right choice) and when the sofa arrived, stake my claim in its success (or his failure).  Doing this alone meant all the pressure was on me.  Don’t f*ck this up Tan, you do not want to be sitting on a $2,000 mistake for the next few years.

After a long time of deliberation and imagining the new colour and feel of my couch, I finally made a decision and off I went, a little bit pleased at myself, with swatches in hand.  This redecorating thing is a bit of fun.  

Three weeks later and I was still waiting for Mr Reupholstery to get back to me.  It seemed he had a nice Christmas break … and New Years break … followed by a Chinese New Year break.   Finally he confirmed he could collect my couch and we’d be underway.    “We come today”, he texted, “and you have back in three weeks.”  Okay, I can sit on the floor for a while.  I’ll just pretend I’m a minimalist.

Ten days later, Mr Reupholstery sends me a message: “Tanya, your couch ready. Bring $2100 cash and we deliver today”.

What?  I haven’t even seen the couch.  Two sweet Vietnamese men picked it up and lugged it down my staircase a week ago, but since then I’ve heard nothing.  What if this is a scam?  What if they’re going to come to my house, demand the cash and I’m poor, ripped off and couchless?  You see those stories on Today Tonight all the time and think “What an idiot”.  This will not be me.

“Hi there. Great.  Can you please send me photos too? Also I don’t have $2100 cash on me. Can I transfer into an account?”

“I will send photos.  Transfer $2310.”

Oh, right.  It’s all a little dodgy already.   GST he tells me.  Sure. 

“I can’t transfer the money until I see a photo so please send asap. Otherwise let’s do Monday. Thanks.”

The next day a shot of my supposedly newly covered couch arrives via text. It looks pretty good.  I scan the back of the picture looking for evidence of a hidden drug ring or other illegal activity.  Nope, just looks like a workshop.

It’s Saturday and I can’t bear the thought of sitting on my floor any longer.  My bum is numb.  I’ll transfer the money and pray someone delivers my couch today.

As I wait for Mr Reupholstery to arrive I check my watch.  He has $2,000 in his bank account and if he’s not here by 2pm, I’m calling the police.  I will not be on Today Tonight for my naivety and over trusting issues.

Suddenly my doorbell rings and two grinning middle aged Vietnamese men are carrying my couch up the stairs.  As they put it in place one remarks, ‘It’s like you had it specially made for this spot!” Exactly.  Tell that to my non-believing friends. 

Not only did Mr Reupholstery recover and add extra stuffing, he changed the cushions so they can now be rotated and cleaned (rather than stitching them all into place).  It’s a better couch than when I first bought it.  Hooray for recycling and reusing.  If only I could do that with people I know. 

(Note Asha the cat trying out the new couch ... for the first and last time.)

Sunday
Feb052017

Decluttered and cashed up 

 

As my declutter mission continues I’ve found a huge bonus in getting rid of things in my life that I don’t use anymore.  I’ve saved myself a stack of cash.

It started with my Amex card which I haven’t used in two years.  I’ve had it for over 15 years but held on to it in case of emergencies (hello What If Girl) … also I really liked the combination of my lucky numbers on it.  I rang to cancel and had a lovely chat to the customer service woman, explaining that I signed up for it when I was married – but that had ended years ago.  She looked at my file and said “yes, it looks like your relationship with us lasted a lot longer than your marriage did”.  Ha, true so very true.  That declutter (my card, not my husband) saved me $80 a year in fees – that’s about 15 x skinny lattes. 

Other things I rarely use included my stove (ha, just joking) and my home phone.  I have it mainly to call my parents but now Mum has a new plan where she can call me for free (bonus) so I can ditch the landline too.

I called my friends at Optus and a lovely man with a cute Mexican accent talked me through my current bundle of home phone and internet.  As I stuffed my face with sushi (I was multi tasking during lunch) he found a better plan and saved me over $700 per year … aka 160 x skinny lattes.  I love Optus.  We’ve been together for 18 years.  I’m a big fan of loyalty – can you tell? 

Next stop was my life insurance and all the grown up stuff I hate paying for but might need one day.  When I worked with a financial planning group, they instilled in me the importance of setting myself up financially for the future – and protecting my assets – with superannuation, death and disability insurance and income protection.  Classic products for the community of What If’s.  

I rang my broker / friend Rick and explained the angst I felt every time the insurance company deducted hundreds of dollars from my bank account every month.  Surely I could put it to better use?   Extra mortgage payments.  Top up my super.  A new handbag?

As a single girl, I told him, I didn’t have any dependents – except for Asha the cat and her decadent lifestyle – so surely I didn’t need as much cover.   Also, I protested, if it all went to shit and I couldn’t work, I’d just move back to Rads and move in with Mum and Dad.   They’d love that.   Imagine the hilarious blogs I could write about chickens and country living. 

To my surprise, he didn’t try and talk me out of it, but checked all my policies and we found that combined with my work insurance I was a little ‘over-covered’ and we could remove some of the plans I had.  Awesome.  No point in leaving more money than necessary to the Spoilt Cats Society.  He recalculated and it looks like I’ll be saving over $3,500 a year.  That’s a LOT of skinny lattes. 

Sure I promised him I’d put it towards my mortgage but I really do need a new handbag.  That’s a good investment of my hard earned cash, right ladies?

Alternatively I could buy myself a coffee machine and make my own skinny lattes, but what’s the point of that.  I’m rich now, I could hire my own hot barista. 

Saturday
Jan282017

You're dumped eHam

I finally deleted my eHam profile.  It felt weird.  Like I was letting an old friend go.  Throwing out a pair of jeans that once looked good on me. Killing off my chance to find love (pfffft, joking).  I won’t lie, as a What If Girl, it was hard. 

I’ve been on eHam for a few years – I don’t want to confess how long for fear of sounding like a loser – but it was fun.  When I first signed up I dated enthusiastically, lining up several dates every week, and chatting to a few men at once.  Then as the excitement of meeting potential partners wore off, I logged on only when I felt like it, throwing myself in and out of the dating world for as long as my self esteem would allow.

Now that journey – or should I say roller coaster - is over.  Yes, I’m still single.   But that’s okay. 

Did I meet some great men?  Absolutely.  Some of them I’m still in contact with.  Coffee Boy, one of my first dates, who texts me every year on my birthday to catch up.  Marathon Man, who I dated for a while (he’s now happily married again with another child).  Celebrity Chef, one of the hottest guys I met, swaps funny stories and emojis with me like we’re bored 15 year olds.  Oh and most recently, The Sailor, who was a brilliant dinner date and plus one.  I liked him a lot.  Never mind.  

I also talked to and met some weirdos.  IronMan, the uber strong Leo who had a voice like a jockey and talked in the third person about everyone.  Thong Man who had a fight with me because I didn’t want to meet him after ten minutes of chatting.  Smiley Face who said that women who wear glasses are librarians and that we let way too many asylum seekers into our country. Elvis the bragger and 50/50 boy the groper.  Delete.

Then there were the awesome guys I met but didn’t click with physically or emotionally.  Sometimes me, sometimes them.  The Food Scientist and I had a brilliant four hour date, then nothing.  Fireman Sam (an old school romantic), the Drummer (lots of fun) and Sauce Boy (who flew from Canberra to take me to dinner on Valentine’s Day).  All lovely guys, just not right for me. 

I also had some interesting match ups … Carlos the Spanish Horse Whisperer … Scott the Swinger who had a wife AND a girlfriend, and was looking for another playmate to join them … and the lovely Michelle, a woman transitioning and looking to explore the world of dating as she became a man.  Then there was Nick who ended up dating Twin Kat for a few months. Thank God she never brought him home.  Awkward on a new level. 

A huge shout out to The Painter, Italian Stallion and Five Perfect Dates who all have their own chapters in my upcoming book.  If I ever finish it. 

As I hit the delete button on my account I felt good.  It was time to try something new and get rid of the things in my life that weren’t working.  Done.  I closed my laptop.  A little later, however, I received more matches in my inbox.  What?  I logged on again to find I had only stopped my subscription, not deleted my account.  My profile was still there attracting men.  Nice try eHam. 

I searched the site and finally found the Close My Account section.  As I hovered over that tiny red button, I wondered if this was the right thing to do.  What If, my head taunted me.  What IF?!  No, I’m done.  We are done. 

I clicked the button and a collage of cute men scrolled across my screen with an ominous sentence … “Are you sure you want to close your account? These are some of the people you might be missing out on.”

Are you for real?!  Where the hell were all these hotties the past few years?  It’s like going to AA and someone waving a bottle of champagne in your face before you walk through the door. My self discipline may not be that strong.  I pressed the “Yes, Delete my Account” button.  Another screen popped up.   “Warning!  Are you sure you want to do this?”  

A list of reasons not to delete my profile tugged at me.  You will permanently lose all your matches.  Shame. You will lose all communication with your matches.  Fine. You will have to retake the whole relationship questionnaire (or 936 stupid questions about dumb shit as I like to call it).  Yep.  Got that.  I’m out of here.

Finally after getting through myriads of dating firewalls, my account was closed.  Dead.  Dormant.  Deleted.  Hundreds of men that didn’t quite fit me (or vice versa) disappearing into a cyber black hole.  Just like that.  My fallback database of potential love was gone … for good. 

 Surprisingly, it feels really good.  And no, I’m not signing up for Tinder.   

Saturday
Dec312016

Deleted

I read an article this week which said to leave 2016 behind and move positively into 2017, it’s important to get rid of the past.   To remove things that might hold us back from having a great year next year.  To throw things out.  To declutter.  To make room for the new.

These words spoke to me.  Any article about decluttering always does.  I read the articles, nod in agreement and vow to make changes.  Then the thought of actually throwing things away starts to make me feel a little anxious.  Where to start?  What about landfill?  How will I get rid of all my ‘unwanted stuff’?  I’m a What If Girl.  What If I need the things I’m being told to throw out?

I’m desperate to make 2017 one of my best years yet.  God knows that 2016 has been so exhausting for most of us, anything will be better.   I want to go into it with a clear head, a happy heart and the passion to do things that feed my soul.  If that means a bit of decluttering, off I go.

The article made a new and interesting point –  that we should also be getting rid of old text messages, emails and photos that are clogging up our phones and computers.   We need to delete them in order to clear space for new and better things to come along.   Okay, I can do that.

I looked at my phone and scrolled through my text messages.   The oldest ones were  from 2013 when I first got my phone.  Surely I don’t need three year old texts any more.  I methodically looked at each recipient and the number of messages we’d swapped … then hit the Delete All Button on the ones I didn’t want.  The first one was hard.  Then it became easy.  Almost therapeutic. 

There were 200 messages from Paddle Pop Lion.  They started off sweet and sexy with the early days of flirting and seduction.  As I scanned through the feed, it showed our history.   Getting to know each other – being more suggestive – making plans to catch up – missing each other.  The good times of us being together.  Then it turned.  He became jealous – I started to pull away – my Aunty passed away – he tried to be there for me – I wasn’t interested.   Finally, the text messages after our break up – and him reaching out to me for friendship.   Delete.  Delete.  Delete.  That part of my life gone.  I felt a little sad.  I also felt free.

Various work text messages from old work colleagues took up over 100 spaces.  Fun notes back and forth on what we’d done, congratulating them on success, and the occasional mishaps.  I’m proud of what we’ve achieved but I have new things to create next year.   Delete. 

A portfolio of my dating life screamed volumes about what I’ve been doing for three years.   Chris the Cyclist texted me briefly before our first date at the Opera House Bar, then thanked me afterwards.  We lamented that three bottles of red probably wasn’t necessary but the pashing on the way home was fun.   He disappeared after that.  No real loss.   Delete. 

Messages from Mark the Aussie (one date).  Deleted.   Messages from Adam the weirdo who found love with an old friend (no date).  Deleted.  Brad the boring super short date that talked about cauliflower and supermarkets.  Delete.  Matt the Cowboy who was sweet and funny but locations kept us apart.  Delete. The aggressive irrational ranting from the psycho who called me Granny Pussy.  Delete.  Delete.  Delete.  What a f *ckwit.  Thank God it made a good blog.

It was harder to remove the texts from old friends.   People that had meant so much to me over the years.  Ones that I thought would be in my life forever.  I re-read our funny banter one last time and recalled the fun times we’d had.   But there’s little point on holding onto those times and people when they’re gone and serve no purpose.   Thank you – I’ll miss you (sort of) – delete. 

I deleted around 500 text messages.   Some were hard to let go of and I felt a little sad.  Others needed to disappear.   I am not that person anymore.  That’s not my life.   I have no need for silly notes about cauliflower, dance parties and random dumb questions from someone trying to get to know me.  Delete. 

Although I removed a lot, there are still a few messages that will be harder to lose.   The magical back and forth of late ‘goodnights’ from the Policeman during the world’s shortest romance  – funny notes about me not being able to use my phone with my beloved friend Richard – the texts from my real best friends, the ones who are still here.   I’m happy to declutter, but some things are still precious.  I might just sit with those for a while longer.  

Tomorrow I’m going to start on the 4,826 photos and downloads on my phone.   Watch out 2017, I’m ready. 

Tuesday
Dec272016

George Michael: the soundtrack to my life

George Michael passed away on Christmas Day.  I cried when I heard the news.  F*ck  you 2016, who else do you want to take away from us? 

I’ve been a George Michael fan for as long as I can remember – buying Smash Hits magazines as a teenager then seeing him in concert just a few years ago.  His music somehow became the soundtrack to so much of my life – during the fun and happy times – along with moments when I was broken.   His lyrics always reflected what I was feeling at the time. 

I remember dancing to Wake Me Up Before You Go Go at the Blue Light Disco, wearing my fluoro top and white pants – along with bright coloured fingerless gloves – as we “Yeah Yeah Yeah, Baby, Jitterbug-ged” as loudly as we could.  It’s such a fun song – it still makes me smile, taking me back to those early teen years.  Yes, Andrew Ridgely was cute but we all wanted George.  Surely he wanted us too, right?  

Young Guns (Go for It) and Club Tropicana remind me of fun times when the hardest thing in life was passing a maths test (I always failed) and making sure your clothes were on trend by shopping at SportsGirl.   Wham was the perfect band to accompany me through those easy, no responsibility times. 

My best friend Danielle was given a brand new Ford Laser for her birthday (spoilt much?) and the first CD we played in it was Faith.  As those synthesizer beats pulsed out of her speakers I knew that I Want Your Sex was going to be a hot track for Summer.  The lyrics and video gave hormone infested teenagers who were going to wait until they were married a healthy outlet.  The song also gave Danielle and I a bit of a thrill as we drove past council workers singing at full volume.  We thought we were so cool.  We clearly weren’t. 

Father Figure still soothes my soul.  It’s gentle, sensual and one of the few songs I can listen to over and over.  The video is cool and sexy and features the usual hot models (remember the Freedom video?) like all of his film clips. The glamor and voyeurism of George and those beauties semi naked on screen added to an almost sexy arrogance he carried. 

Last Christmas became my anthem for way too much unrequited love – from high school right through to …. well pretty much right now.  I love the song.  I love the video and those egg nog swilling hotties even more. 

Then there were the party songs while I was dating my first real boyfriend.  I’m sure it had nothing to do with our relationship but Everything She Wants, I’m Your Man and I Don’t Want Your Freedom seemed to follow my thought processes at the time.  Maybe George and I were going through similar things at the time. I’m thankful we got some great pop songs out of it if he was. 

Waiting For That Day is a track that makes me feel positive about the future, even though it’s about a break up.  Heal the Pain followed and I can’t explain why, but it helped me escape my world at the time.  His dulcet tones and deep lyrics took me far away in the way that only music can do. 

Although there are various versions, George Michael’s I Can’t Make You Love Me is the best.  It makes me sob every time.  Every time.  The words cut deep while I was going through my divorce and if I hear the opening music or words, it will make me cry. This happened right before an important presentation at work and I had to walk out of the room before I started sobbing. It has the same effect on me as The Notebook.  

George pushed the boundaries in so many ways.  When he was caught having sex in a public toilet, he turned a potential PR disaster into a brilliant pulsing dance track, Outside – complete with a video featuring glitter balls and disco urinals. This was a dance floor must have during my energetic clubbing years when I spent hours dancing with gay men. It was fun and naughty and sexy all at once.   Just like George. 

We’ve lost a lot of amazing artists this year – and although I mourned Prince and David Bowie (amongst others) George Michael is the hardest for me.  He saw me through my formative years and was often a solace on lonely nights when his lyrics soothed my broken heart and battered soul.

Rest in Peace George, you will be missed.   Last Christmas will never sound the same again.