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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.  

Friday
Dec162016

I'm Tired 


I’ve heard this phrase over and over again the past few months.  I’m tired.  I’m exhausted.  I’m done. I’m so tired.

Also the phrase “2016 can f*ck off” … but that’s another blog for another time.

Why are we all so tired?  

For me, exhaustion has come about from a year of constant change, occasional turmoil and a lot of times when life was just hard going – emotionally, mentally or physically.  I’ve had on-going sickness in the form of headcolds, various injuries and a shitty sinus issue … plus the thought that my life is way too busy and I’m wondering if I can be bothered keeping up with it anymore.  Is it time to declutter?  Maybe. 

In an effort to get more energy, I went to a hardcore naturopath.   Her first words to me, after explaining what I do, was “Do you like your job?” I love my job, I told her.  “Great”, she said “as I was going to suggest you quit”.   No thanks, I told her, and we’ve since learned to work around it.

In four months I’ve had three blood tests and done urine samples.  I’ve eaten eggs and avocados and good fat for breakfast every day.  I’ve tried paleo muesli and bought $15 paleo bread and swallowed more vitamins, tonics and pills than an old person with arthritis.   Do I feel better?  I’m not sure.  Maybe.   Am I still tired?   Yes.

I’ve tried going to bed early.  Epic fail.  You can’t make a night owl go to bed early.  Even if I crawled under my doona before 10pm every night, I’d still be awake at 1am, my mind racing with thoughts, new ideas, worries or excitement.  Or all of the above.   I love sleep but it’s not always my friend. 

I made exercise a focus for a while – walking, running, yoga and personal training.  I felt that addictive adrenalin rush briefly, but then bang.  Tired again.

Alcohol has been my friend and my enemy.   I went without it for days on end and didn’t notice any changes – except maybe that my tolerance for drunk people waned.  Massive benders on Friday night were great fun.  Until Saturday morning rolled around and I was tired from having one of those horrible drunken sleeps where your body isn’t resting, it’s just that you passed out.

All of my friends are tired.  My workmates are tired. The hot barista where I get my coffee is tired.  Which is weird, given he has access to non stop caffeine.  Imagine if we could shut down the world for eight hours and all try to get some sleep.  Then we could start fresh and feel a little better about ourselves and each other.   At the very least I’d look less washed out in my Instagram photos and my Mum would stop commenting on how tired I look.  I know Mum, I feel it too. 

Expensive naturopathic supplement anyone?

Sunday
Dec042016

Condolences 

My Nanna passed away last week.   She was 92 and had been in hospital for a few weeks, so not unexpected, but still a slight shock and a sad time for my family and I.  She was a trooper and I will miss her cheeky smile and conversations. 

I’ve lost a few people that I love over the years.   Some have affected me more than others, but during my times of grief I have also learnt valuable lessons.  Things that I hope have made me a slightly better human being on this sometimes hard, but often rewarding, journey called life.  

Not just “Call people you love and tell them what they mean to you” and the classic ‘Life is short, so make it count’.  The most important lesson is about how to deal with people who have lost a loved one.  What to say to them. 

It’s actually really simple, but many people struggle with what to do.   I know because until I had gone through it, I was the same.

You say “I’m sorry for your loss”.  

That’s all.  Five words to acknowledge that they have lost someone dear to them and that you recognise this is a hard time, but you are there if they need you.

The reason most people can’t or don’t do this (I think) is because they are afraid of how you will react.   They don’t want to make you cry.   We all want to avoid awkward situations, so we believe that if we don’t say anything, we won’t have to stand in front of you, in silence, waiting to see how you respond. Waiting to see if you break down.  If we ignore it, it didn’t happen.

The problem with this is that for those in grief, not mentioning “it” hangs in the air like a dark cloud.   We are waiting for you to acknowledge, not in a big dramatic way, but merely to notice, that we are struggling with something personal, and that you can see this.  You don’t need to do anything about our situation, we just feel better if you say it out loud.

If you watch TV you would believe that compassion is something humans have forgotten how to feel, so when someone extends that hand, in an effort to acknowledge your pain, it can restore your faith in human nature.

Some people do this well, in a way that is real.  When my friend Richard passed away unexpectedly, a friend texted and said “That is shit and I am so sorry.  You will feel shit and that’s okay.  I love you and I am here for you with whatever you need.  I am SO sorry for your loss. Life is bullshit sometimes and I will never understand it. Take care of you xo”  

Those words were perfect because in that moment I too was confused about the world and life and why Richard would be taken away unexpectedly.   She didn’t soften it with the standard response of ‘At least he’s in a better place’ (as lovely as that sounds).  She called it for what it was.  A shit situation handed to me by life, whether I liked it or not.  Her message gave me permission to feel angry.  I didn’t need to put on a brave face. 

I hope you don’t experience loss in your life anytime soon, but if you know of someone who does, please pick up the phone or visit them, and say those words.  Even if it’s hard.  Even if it makes you want to cry too (which for me it often does).   I promise you, it will be a moment both of you will remember for a long time. 

Thank you to all my friends who reached out to me over the past week – your compassion does not go unnoticed.  

Sunday
Nov272016

The restaurant owner whisperer

I’ve discovered that I have a gift.  I’m not sure how long I’ve been blessed with this ability – maybe my whole life – but lately, I’ve come into my own.

I’m a Restaurant Owner Whisperer. 

It started on a night out with Soccer God a few weeks ago.  We’ve been hanging out a lot lately and I love it.  We either go bar hopping or find one place to sit and chat all night.  This was the recent plan and although I was a little flat (let’s call it my B- Game), I was looking forward to washing away a day of stress with great food, wine and his company.

I’d been to this restaurant twice before and it was fast becoming a favourite.  It has a great ambience but is quiet enough for you to have a proper conversation.  The staff are friendly and attentive.  They have beautiful wine glasses.   As I sat down, the owner J asked how my day had been.  “Pretty shit actually”, I laughed and he immediately placed a glass of champagne in front of me.   “That might help a little”, he said.  I like this guy.    

Soccer God arrived and we ordered a bottle of Pinot Noir and food.  He mocked me as I confessed I had chosen exactly the same entrées and mains as I’d had twice before.  He was soon thanking me, however, confirming that their spicy barramundi is to die for.  Trust me, I know what I’m doing. 

As we caught up on each others news (work, dating, life) the bottle of Pinot ran dry.  It was light and fruity so we ordered another.  Time ticked by as we compared notes on the pain of first dates. He read out text messages from a girl he’d been out with.  I recalled horror stories from EHam. Before we knew it the second bottle was finished. “This wine is amazing!” declared Soccer God, ordering a third.  By this time the stress and pain of my day had well and truly faded away.  I’d found my A Game. 

The staff started to pack up around us, however they let us continue chatting, bringing us chocolate truffle balls after I asked for something sweet.  J the owner checked if we’d had a good night and we invited him to sit with us and drink … alas, our wine bottle was again empty.  How did this keep happening?

Don’t worry, I’ll get you a new one”, J said and disappeared behind the bar. “Let me buy you a drink” and he filled our glasses with more delicious red wine.

We sat and talked for another hour or so, learning more about J and his philosophy on love, cooking and running a business.  At 1am, with our fourth empty bottle on the table, I proclaimed my tiredness and need to go home, breaking up the party.  J hugged us goodnight and demanded that we come back again for a special dinner.  He’s a great guy and I love his place (and free wine) – that’s a yes from me.

Earlier this week I met up with my sister and her bestie The Shoe Lover.  I took them to a place I’d been twice before with Dingo (the hot guy everyone thinks I’m dating), in the city.  I like this place because it’s tucked away, has outstanding views but is filled with locals who appreciate great food and wine.

We ordered charcuterie plates (for them) and pea croquets (for me) and drinks including blood orange martinis.  Bright orange and super sweet, I decided to stick to my usual Pinot Noir.  I am but a simple woman.  

Placing our mains on the table, I recognized R and asked if he was the owner.  “Ah, I thought I knew you” he said, kissing me on both cheeks with European gusto.  We chatted about the cocktails, his wine selection and recent awards he’d won.  Although we protested due to full bellies, he offered dessert for us to try …. Well okay then. 

The thick slab of chocolate cake covered in mandarin and parfait was amazing.  Then I tried his version of a lemon meringue tart, deconstructed and melted into a long glass.  OMG.  The three of us fought with spoons to get the last bit of gooey lemon and biscuit out ….  I think I won. 

My sister paid the bill and as we said goodbye to R, he suggested we go out on a Sunday afternoon – with Dingo in tow – to a friend’s cocktail bar.  I’d love to I said, re-enacting our Euro double kiss before saying goodbye.  My sister told me afterwards he didn’t charge us for dessert or her second cocktail.  What a great guy.

Don’t be jealous of my gift.  I’ve worked hard at it since the days of PDH at Provenance and finally it’s paying off.  If you’d like to see me in action, perhaps we can go out to dinner and I can teach you a few of my tricks.  Unless of course I’m out with R or J.  

Sunday
Nov132016

What you missed (Facebook detox)

It’s been a busy few weeks since I took myself off Facebook.  I’ve gone from being the girl who takes photos of her food to someone who wonders what my friends really think of all those amazing meals I eat in uber cool restaurants.  More importantly, did they miss not seeing fancy Asian and glasses of Pinot Noir?  Apparently not.

Initially it felt weird to not have Facebook constantly pop up on my phone.  I deleted the app so I wasn’t tempted to check it – and after just a day, I barely missed it.  Sure, I wondered what people were up to, but I figured that if something major happened in their life, they’d let me know.  Some friends even let me know about stuff happening in my own life.

My favourite new boy Dingo texted me a photo of the two of us at a red carpet event.  He had uploaded it to his socials, but sent it to me so I didn’t miss out on seeing how cute we looked.   Ms Vicki posted a group selfie and noted how disappointed I’d be to not see it – then showed it to me.  Natty Nat sent me a photo of her adorable dog, then lamented that I’d liked it on Instagram.   Yes, it was a Facebook detox people, relax.     

At a super fun party I chatted with friends, drank lots of wine and danced the night away overlooking a magical view of the city.  Not once did I take my phone out of my bag.  I had no reason to.  It felt free to just be in the moment and party with great people, not stopping to take selfies.   When I woke up with a huge hangover the next day I smiled at memories of the night before rather than searching my phone for drunken shots.  (Unless someone else took dodgy photos and are planning to use them against me).

I was invited to a ladies lunch and found myself in the same room as Usain Bolt.  I considered grabbing him so we could compare running careers, but instead listened intently as he talked about his career.  The food was amazing – as was the gift bag – however I felt no need to capture these for friends at home.  I joined 1500 women in fascinators clapping and dancing to Marcia Hines – someone I’ve admired for a long time.  Her voice was strong as are her arms – that woman does a lot of bicep curls.  If only I could look that good at 63.   Burn Baby Burn had us tearing up the dance floor – I have no video to prove it, you just have to trust me.

Friday night was a chance to spend quality time with Soccer God and we explored my hood, bar hopping at new venues over a few hours.  I experienced the world’s best toasted cheese sandwich and sent PDH a photo, the only man I know who could rival that amazing bubble of melted cheese and bread.  It became a private message between us – one I’d probably have put up on Facebook – with the whole world looking on. At some point he’ll attempt to win back the Best Ever Toasted Cheese Sandwich Medal.  Will I post a photo of it?  Maybe.

After a few days of uncensored semi private fun, things went to pooh and I had to take a last minute flight to Rads.  As I sat in the Qantas Club, I wondered if it was worth following my usual ritual of (eating and) taking a photo of licorice allsorts before I board.  Then I had a strange thought:  what if it’s good luck for me to post the sugary stripey joy online?  Not wanting to jinx myself (or make the plane crash), I sent a photo to Perth Bestie reminding her I couldn’t put it on Facebook, so she was my second best option.  The plane landed safely, albeit with lots of turbulence.  Crisis over.

My last minute trip was due to my beautiful Nanna not being well.   She’s 92 and strong as an ox, however she’d been tired and not eating for a while so we checked her into hospital, only to find she’d suffered a slight heart attack.   As she slept deeply for hours on end, I wondered if I’d get to have a proper chat to her.   Thankfully the next day she was much better, talking and eating, and it seemed we’d turned a corner.

As the days ticked by slowly in the grey hospital space, confusion and emotions reigned.  Doctors gave us conflicting information as to how she was doing – nurses were kind, but couldn’t provide clarity.  We were on a rollercoaster – one minute filled with hope – the next dread – distraught that we’d be losing this stoic woman from our lives.  

Nanna and I spent time together talking and holding hands. I did my best not to cry, failing miserably, pretending it was my fear of flying that made the tears roll down my face.   As I said goodbye to head to the airport, I wondered if this was it.  The last time I’d see her beautiful big smile.  That was the picture I wanted to remember.  That’s the one in my head right now. 

I’m back home and thankfully Nanna is good at the moment – but for how long, we’re not sure.   Strangely, I’ve not wanted to talk about it and because I didn’t share those tough few days on social media, no one has asked me how Nanna is.  I feel a little isolated, out of touch with friends and colleagues who haven’t asked me how I am.  Then I remember:  they don’t know, because I didn’t air it on Facebook.   My usual community haven’t been there to support me with messages and emojis because I didn’t reach out to them (albeit in a mass post). 

Has my mini Facebook detox taught me anything?  Yes.  That taking photos of all the cool stuff I eat is fun, but we can probably all live without that.   Selfies and photos are great, but getting drunk with no cringe worthy evidence is even better. I’ve also learned that Facebook can be a positive experience of sharing, supporting and engaging with good people – if you let them in.  What’s important is when and why you let them in.

If it’s just to see an amazing cheese sandwich (like this one), that’s okay too.