Entries in Soccer God (5)


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.)


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.  


My most favourite birthday ever

For the first time in my life, I took my birthday off as an annual leave day.  Now I’m wondering why I’ve never thought of this before in the history of my career.

It was one of the best days I’ve ever had.

I love my job.  It’s fun and challenging and I have an amazing team.  Which is why I’m usually happy to head into work on my birthday.  Everyone says Happy Birthday or emails you … my team always get me a cake and sing to me.  I get presents and if we’re not too flat out, we have a quick lunch at the local dodgy Asian place.   This year I still got all that – just a day later. 

My key motivation for taking the day off was simple.  I just wanted to sleep in.  Sleep is the most precious thing to me – I never get enough of it – and it’s the one thing I wish I could get more of.  In fact, if you could bottle sleep I’d ask for it for every birthday, Christmas and special occasion there is.  I know I’m not alone in this thought.  We’re all just a little bit tired. 

As I booked in my annual leave I wondered about what else I could do to make my birthday special.  Day spa? Gold Class?  A full day in bed?  All excellent options, but then it became clear –  all I wanted to do was spend time with people I love, doing things that make me happy.

The day started with Speccy Beccy and I at one of my favourite cafés.  We had brunch … with wine.  Amongst the constant chatter we indulged in giant plates of mushrooms and haloumi (two of my favourite things), lattes and glasses of pinot noir.  Five hours later and I was happy as.

T Girl picked me up from home and we headed off to find cake and coffee … and found somewhere cute and a bit retro.  Just like me.  The best news … they had my most favourite cake in the whole universe:  Toblerone Cheesecake.   I had my first taste of this cakey joy ten years ago when Speccy Beccy ‘made’ me one by jamming pieces of Toblerone into a baked cheesecake.  Who knew she’d actually invented something magical that would still excite me all these years later. 

T Girl and I shared a giant piece of cake with a bowl of fries … salty and sweet is the perfect combinations.  I felt sick from the sugar and salt overload – but I also felt awesome.  It was my birthday – I was meant to overindulge.

Next stop was a drink with Soccer God. He’s one of my most favourite boys … so we headed off to my most favourite local Spanish place.  Two glasses of pinot noir, a cheese platter and a stack of chit chat later and I was starting to feel pretty good about my birthday.  It may have been the cumulative effect of a lot of wine and dairy across the day, but I’m pretty sure it was hanging out with Soccer God.  Maybe both.

7pm rolled around quickly and I headed home to pick up Twin Kat.  Weirdly we share the same birthdate – just ten years apart.  She had mentioned that she didn’t have any plans for her birthday.  Ah WTF? No one un-celebrates their birthday on my watch.  I collected her and we went to our favourite local around the corner.  A shared bottle of red, mushroom burgers and giant fries and our birthday celebrations hit a high note.  There’s nothing like pub food on a school night to make you feel good about the world.

As I climbed into bed just before midnight I checked my phone.   23 text messages.  113 Facebook messages.  8 phone calls.   A stack of emails waiting for me to check the next day. Yes, the next day. I had a giant smile on my face – and a belly full of my favourite things. 

I’m never going to work on my birthday ever again. 


The Wash Up


My dishwasher hasn’t worked for two years and is currently a storage container for my green shopping bags.  I did try and get it fixed 12 months ago, but the plumber told me he couldn’t repair it due to some weird overheating water pipe and if he tried there was a good chance we’d flood the kitchen or set it on fire.

I’m up for a renovation paid for by my insurance company but that scared me.

GFM and I decided hand washing dishes would be fun.  We got into quite a good rhythm – he washed up every night and I dried.  When I got time.  I forced him into the wet part of the process by claiming dishwashing detergent would ruin my $60 Shellac manicure. I forgot to mention rubber gloves are a great way to avoid this.

Twin Kat also has beautifully polished nails, so it was only fair I buy a new dishwasher when she moved in. 

We headed off to a giant electrical retailer.  I’d done a bit of research so had a rough idea on what I wanted.  My idea of research was to google “dishwasher”, hit the first site that came up and scroll aimlessly to get a rough idea of how much they cost, but I felt prepared.  I was ready to shop.

Twin Kat stopped me as we entered the brightly lit electrical section. “Mate, just so you know, I’m gonna bargain hard.  I’ll get you cash off. Are you cool to leave it to me?”

Am I ever.  I hate that shit.  Bartering is not one of my strong points.  I’ve been known to pay twice as much as other tourists on shopping expeditions to Asia.  It makes me feel uncomfortable so I avoid it at all costs. High costs. Usually to me. 

We stood motionless in front of a row of dishwashers.  They all looked the same to me.  Then we heard those famous words. “Do you need some help?”

Twin Kat put on her best smile, ready for the blood of some poor salesman.  Nodding, she confirmed we were looking for a dishwasher and could he possibly run through the benefits of each one for us?  She may have giggled. Smiley Pete’s eyes lit up. 

He showed us four dishwashers.  These all looked generic to me. Two were white. Two were stainless steel. They all had doors and electronic bits. When you opened them up, they had racks to hold dishes. They all do the same thing, right?

Not according to Smiley Pete.  He pointed at a white box, that looked like all the others. This brand is made in Europe which makes it superior.  It has lots of moveable bits so you can put large plates in but also delicate wine glasses.  The insides are stainless steel so it won’t crack like the plastic ones do.  The fancy Euro brand will last at least ten years, maybe 15.  Those others (cheapies) will give you just five years. If you’re lucky.

Twin Kat nodded. Her Mum had this brand for 20 years. He smiled as if to say, I told you so. “She only used it once a year”, TK confessed. Smiley Pete shuffled nervously.

I picked up the price tag.  $1400.  Wow.  Does a hot guy in shorts come and empty it for you?  I could hire one to wash, dry and put my dishes away twice a week for that price.  Maybe even vacuum.

Twin Kat knew my rough budget (not $1400) so she steered Smiley Pete towards the cheaper models, asking him to run through their features.

We found three with moveable bits for large plates but their split cycle meant you can still wash delicate wine glasses. Some were plastic (um, everyone knows they crack) so we focused on stainless steel options. I was still confused.

I’m a bit of a greenie so energy efficiency and water usage is a big thing for me.  To make it easier for clueless shoppers, they put these big stickers with stars on electrical goods.  The more stars, the better it is for the environment.  Finally, I’d found something that would help me to compare apples with European guavas.

Eliminating power suckers and water wasters gave me two options:  Westinghouse (a classic brand I’ve owned before) and one from a company called Glem. Never heard of them. I did a quick google search. No result. Cross that one off my list.  Also, who wants a dishwasher with a name that reminds you of a man who broke your heart?  Not me.

Smiley Pete was still espousing the joys of the Euro clan. Free delivery. A saving of $48. They have a longer warranty. An expert from the company installs it so you don’t need to pay a plumber. $150 saved there. Nope. Still way ahead if I buy a cheaper version.

These ones also have a dbi of just 47.  WTF is that?  Oh, the amount of noise it makes. Right. Lower compared to what, asks TK. Ha. Got you there, Smiley Pete. 

Twin Kat starts to talk installation and asks how much discount for cash. We’re looking to buy today, she says. Maybe here. Maybe somewhere else. She’s good. 

I wander off and text Soccer God. He bought my TV for me. I emailed him an idea of what I wanted, gave him my credit card and three days later he brought it to my house. He even set it up. Now that’s service. That’s friendship. 

Two minutes later Soccer God texted back with an energy efficient model at a price I love.  Stainless steel.  Steam.  It looks just like every other dishwasher but it has one of those moveable bits for large plates and delicate wine glasses so it must be good.  Even the dbi is low. 

God, I’m an excellent shopper. I hope Twin Kat learnt a thing or two.


I'm falling for you ... 


I stacked it in the street tonight.  I was walking with GFM and T2 after a fun dinner at our local Jap place.  Wearing my hot new heels chosen by Skinny Bitch, I was chatting about how crap T2’s latest boy was, oblivious to the pothole in the road ahead of me.

Just as I was espousing the wise cliché of “It’s not you, it’s him”, I felt my ankle cave in – saw my handbag and laptop go flying through the dark night … and landed in the doggy position on the road.  Ouch.

GFM has seen me in this position a lot, so knew exactly what to do.  He stood back, assessed the situation and went into Ambo mode.  He grabbed my stuff, asked if I was okay, and carried on, pretending nothing had happened.  I had a massive bloody scab on both knees and scratched hands, but more importantly, my dignity was in tact.

(I should point out GFM has never actually seen me do it doggy style, he’s just been there for most of my spectacular falls.  We’re close, but not that close).

So now I’m looking at my gross red scabby knee and having a flashback to when I ran the New York marathon a few years ago … and stacked it … right in the middle of Brooklyn.

It was my first marathon.  I was excited, nervous and scared.  I had trained for months and today, I was going to fulfill a dream – to run the New York marathon.  I set out with a few goals in mind … finish, don’t die, don’t get injured, have fun.  

After a few hours of waiting in the cold we finally set off to the sounds of Frank Sinatra’s New York, New York.  I paced myself as we ran across bridges, passing landmarks and thousands of people cheering us on.  I looked around at me, taking it all in.  Holy crap, I’m running a marathon and it’s in New York!  My life is amazing.  

As we approached the 10 mile mark (with 16 miles to go), the streets got busier.   40,000 people ran the marathon that day, and another 100,000 lined the route to cheer us on.   The energy from the crowd was amazing – it kept me pumped the whole time.

I could see a water stop ahead of me.  Great, I’m ready for a drink and short walk break.  I’ve still not learned how to run and drink water at the same time.  It always ends up in my nose.  Not conducive for a 42km run, so I grab a cup of water, drink it while I walk, then start running again.   Sure, it adds extra time to my final result but remember finish, don’t die and avoid water up your nose is the mantra.

I’m running at a nice pace, thinking how great it is that my shins are feeling strong when suddenly I feel a sharp pain in my ankle.  Another runner has clipped me.  I’m trying to move my body forward but can see the road fast approaching my face.  I am falling … falling … fallen … onto the grey streets of Brooklyn.

My left shoulder hits the ground first, then my left knee – followed by the rest of me.  My brain kicks in and yells at my body – protect your head, face and teeth (Mum spent a lot of money on orthodontists) – so I roll over onto my back to avoid face planting the asphalt.    I see people’s legs all around me … one person jumps straight over me as I lay there.  Ouch.  

A hand stretches out from Heaven, grabbing my arm and pulling me up.  I don’t see this Angel as he heads off straight away, leaving me dazed and shocked in the middle of the road.   Runners keep pounding away around me oblivious to what has just happened.  I am not sure what has just happened.

I hobble to the side of the road, away from the crowd, in front of two New York cops.  These men look like they just stepped out of a detective movie.  Short, round and unfit.  That stereotype of coffee drinking, donut eating, desk bounds cops may just be true.  

The police look at me.  I am not sure if I am about to cry or pass out.  I am devastated. I have trained for this for months.  I have travelled thousands of kms to run the New York marathon.  I have stacked it at the ten mile mark.   How did this happen?  Why am I such a retard?

The shorter, fatter cop looks at me.   “You okay?” he says in a classic NY accent.

I nod, not quite sure.   “I think so.”   My knee is throbbing like a bitch. It’s covered in blood and bits of grey asphalt.   Gross.

“Can ya walk?”, he asks looking me up and down.  I bet he’s picturing me as a giant hotdog.  Covered in mustard. 

Um, yes I can.

“Can ya run?”

I stretch my legs out and walk around in a circle.   Nothing seems to be broken, I’m just bruised and battered.

“Yes.  I think I can run.”  

“Good!  Cos we don’t like quitters in Brooklyn!  You get back out there and you run that there marathon!”

Whoah.  Thanks for that Tony Robbins.  How about you run and I chase you, and if I catch you and your little bagel filled belly, you buy me dinner?

I tell him it’s pretty much all their fault anyway, as I was distracted by two hot New York cops and head off.   A little further down the road, I pop into the First Aid tent, where an awesome paramedic covers me in antiseptic and giant bandages, gives me some painkillers and sends me on my way.  They’re tough in New York.  Even if I wanted to chicken out, there’s no way I’d be allowed to.  Scabby knees and shoulders and a bruised body mean nothing.  You finish what you started, no excuses. 

I’ve always been a clutz and have stacked it in various locations – all less glamorous and exciting than New York ... on running tracks with GFM (sometimes he catches me), walking to work in front of peak hour traffic, going up – or down – stairs - into the gutter after a friend pashed Soccer God at my birthday party.  I don’t know why I stack it.  Most times I’m not even drunk.  (I said most).  I’m just accident prone – and that means my knees take a bashing each time I kiss the concrete.

Aside from the embarrassment and expensive clothing repairs, it doesn’t bother me.  My Mum however gets a bit worried. When I told her I want to trek to Everest she did that “tsk, tsk,” thing she does to me and my sister (Mum code for I’m not sure that’s a good idea).  When I asked her what was wrong she said, “Do you think that’s a good idea?  You do fall over a lot you know.  You might stack it on the mountain and then what?”

Good point Mum.  Hopefully there’ll be a New York cop or GFM at Everest to pick me up and set me on my way.   But hey, if it’s good enough for the Prime Minister, it’s good enough for me.   Do you think it’s a ranga thing?