Sunday, October 29, 2006

I thought they were supposed to relieve tension

I know, I know. It’s been over a week since I blogged. Where have I been?

I have been sick, is the answer. Sick, yea, even nigh unto death. Well, not really, but definitely sick enough for it to constitute an unusual event. Sick enough to wander the house misquoting Macbeth (‘Out, out, damn snot!’ or ‘Who’d have thought the old man had so much phlegm in him?’ being favourites). Sick enough that I am officially Over being sick.

This having been the week that I started the Terrifying New Job, you can see that my continued ill health was a little inconvenient. Luckily, I’ve spent most of the week in training, so only the other two rookies and whoever was unfortunate enough to be in charge of us that day have been subjected to my coughing and spluttering. Still, it’s hardly ideal.

The other problem has been…well. I’m sure that if I were actually dying, rather than just turning to the husband and croaking melodramatically: "If I die, will you promise to be nice to the cats?" (Him: "you’re not dying". Me: “I…*coughs*…might be…". Him: "You’re not dying. Take some Panadol and have a cup of tea" Me: "I was going to, but I couldn’t…quite…make it to the kitchen". Him: "Okay, okay, I’ll be nice to the cats. Take some medication."), then I would be too sick to think about sex. As it is, I’m just too sick to do much about it, because, well, not to over-share, but I hold the firm belief that if you can't breathe through your nose, it's probably not going to be much fun for either of you. And I am totally blushing right about now, for the record, which isn't going to stop me continuing this train of thought.

The point is, now that I’m on a Shakespeare-paraphrasing roll, that for the past week or so, the spirit has been willing but the flesh has been weak. By Friday, I was climbing the fucking walls. If a delightful young page of borderline legal age had wandered my way, well, I can’t guarantee I’d still be in a job.

I spent a large part of Friday in the Hilton, attending a professional seminar. Uncharacteristically for professional seminars, the speakers were interesting. However, there was at least one speech I didn’t hear a word of, because there was this guy. Or, more precisely, there were this guy’s hands.

You lot know how it works, right? You turn up for a seminar, you get a folder containing a variety of papers and programs and the like? Well, this one included a stress ball, one of those squishy things one uses to relieve tension. Or not.

So, I’m sitting there after lunch (seared Barramundi and a dry Clare riesling, but I went into the law to fight for social justice, I swear), and I find myself mesmerised by this guy who is sitting in the row in front of me and a few seats to my left. I can’t see his face, and it doesn’t occur to me to care, because, well…

He’s holding the stress ball. And when I say holding…

(excuse the ellipses, I’m just having to take little breaks, here)

More specifically, his left hand is wrapped, fingers splayed, around the stress ball, and is gently, rhythmically, kneading it. Meanwhile, the thumb of his right hand is slowly, slowly, flicking back and forth over the surface of the ball.

Holy fucking Christ, people. I was mesmerised. There were a good ten minutes there where as far as I was concerned, nothing else existed. I think I may actually have whimpered a little. Luckily I then had a coughing fit and pulled myself back into the real world.


Friday, October 20, 2006

I'm smarter than I am pretty, and thus I judge

Queer Eye for the Straight Guy. Hot Or Not. . Extreme Makeover. The Biggest Loser. All of them, more or less, take an overweight frump and render them vaguely shaggable, whether by improving their dress sense, whittling down their figure or cutting off their nose and making them a new one (I’m not the only person who finds Extreme Makeover about as wrong as wrong can be, right?).

Because of this, people complain about their vapidity and superficiality. They contribute to the cult of celebrity, with its focus on one’s appearance. They should be stopped.

Well, I agree with the first two points, but I think that banning such shows would be missing a major opportunity.

You want the media to extol the virtues of a good personality, a rapier-like wit, an ability to charm? Then what we need, ladies and gentlemen, is a new breed of game show. The personality makeover genre.

Funny Or Not was the concept that started this blog. The original show doesn’t air in Australia, so for those of you who haven’t heard of it, basically a woman walks out onto a stage wearing a bikini and a panel of men tell her whether she’s hot enough (“your thighs touch at the top. Not hot. Next!”). In my version, contestants walk out and have three minutes to demonstrate their sense of humour. Anyone who disclaims their attempt with ‘I have a strange sense of humour’ or quotes from pop culture is automatically Not Funny.

Quick Wit for the Dimwit would involve a team of sharp-tongued friends accompanying some hapless soul to every work function, party and date s/he goes on for a few weeks and giving them helpful tips on how to socialise better. It would perpetuate my favourite Urban Dictionary term ever: Third Joke.

Extreme Personality Makeover would take people who actually had socially crippling disabilities, like undiagnosed depression, and feed them medication until they acted like everyone else. They might be bland and plastic, but hey, at least they’re normal. I mentioned I hate Extreme Makeover, right?

As for The Biggest Loser, I don’t think we need to change the name. Any guy still using chat-up lines in an un-ironic sense, or girl who talks about how much she wants babies on the first date* gets voted out.

I think there's a new era coming, my friends. I can smell it on the air.

*Talks about it on the first date. Although wanting babies on the first date would admittedly be worse. And difficult to organise.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

What it lacks in content it makes up for in length

I’m on holiday, I thought. I’ll have loads of free time, I thought. But the husband’s on leave with me this week, and we’re both conscious that my free time will be severely curtailed next week, and so we’ve been approaching the holiday like I’m going off to war. The result is that between the day trips, the evenings out and the incessant bonking, I’ve not had a lot of time to blog. Today, however, I’ve been felled by a cold and so I’m back in my old familiar spot in front of the computer.

I feel like I should blog about Melbourne. I had a blast, but I don’t really have much to say. Everyone smokes, the women are all incredibly hot (there was a heatwave, so there seemed to be smooth slim legs everywhere), and if you know where to look you can happily spend an evening drinking wasabi caprioskas. It was a good time.

Onto other things.

As I said, I’m battling a cold. Well, that sounds rather more dramatic than it is. More accurately, a cold gave me a threatening look and I immediately handed over my wallet and jewellery and tried not to cry.

Anyway, I can’t breathe through my nose properly, which must have made sleeping next to me terribly pleasant last night. This morning I took a very long, very hot shower in an attempt to clear the airways (I don’t know how this works, but I’m told it does) and found myself singing an embarrassing little song to the tune of The Addams Family. You don’t need me to inflict the lyrics on you, but suffice it to say that it began with “I’m sniffly and I’m snuffly”…yeah, I'm going to leave it at that. Believe it or not, sometimes I can pass for sophisticated.

Anyway, I then started to think about this habit I have of making up ridiculous little rhyming songs, and I realised that my mother always did the same thing when we were young. I was always impressed that she could make up rhymes on the spur of the moment. That’s the nice thing about kids; they’re easily impressed. I’m sure that if I’d caught her singing when I was fourteen, I’d have sniffed about the lack of iambic pentameter and then wandered down to the rocky shore to stare soulfully at the waves. And yes, I really did have a rocky shore to wander down to at fourteen. All teenagers should, if you ask me.

What the hell was I talking about? Oh, right. Singing little songs. Both the husband and I do this, so I was idly thinking how whimsical and charming we would be as parents, how other people would say to us, oh, you two, you were just born to be parents, how we’d be the envy of our children’s classmates…

And then a telemarketer rang and broke into my reverie. After I’d politely got rid of him and went to dress, I heard the husband – who’d had to abandon an intricate art piece he was working on in order to grab the phone - singing a little song to himself. Ah, how whimsical, I thought. And then I realised that, to the tune of the Banana Boat Song*, he was singing: Fuck off, fuck off…

Maybe we shouldn’t have kids just yet.

*I had to look up the title of this song. I think of it as the Day-o song. You know the one, right?

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

And are you sure the full-fat version is a good idea, Ma'am?

My way of passing the time when standing in the ‘express aisle’ – a misnomer if ever I heard one - of a supermarket is to judge the lives of other customers based on the contents of their shopping.

This isn’t difficult, most of the time. The be-suited woman holding six Lean Cuisines and a pint of skim milk obviously lives alone, works long hours, spends a lot of time in the gym and never drinks. The young man holding a packet of mince, one onion and a packet of spaghetti is trying to impress a new girlfriend, and has forgotten the pasta sauce.

Hey, it keeps me amused.

I confessed this to a friend (whom, I suspect, will soon need a pseudonym. Polly hasn’t forgiven me yet, though, so I’m treading with caution) who told me that he did the same thing, only possibly more judgmentally. That, of course, made me wonder how many other people do this. And I got a bit paranoid.

So yesterday, finding myself needing a few things from the store, I employed a cunning trick.See if you can make a judgmental call about me based on the following:

One packet of Nurofen
One packet of Panadol
One bar of chocolate*
One glossy magazine
One carton of dishwashing powder.

You can’t, can you See what I did there? With the clever red herring grocery item?

I know. I'm an idiot. I wouldn't mind, but we didn't need dishwashing powder.

I’m off to Melbourne to render us destitute this evening, by the way, and I am still laptopless, so no blogging till Monday.

Have a good weekend.

*I haven’t bought chocolate in months. Jesus. You take your eye off the shelves for a second and the world goes crazy. You know you can get cookie dough Kit Kats now? The hell?

Monday, October 09, 2006

Conversations with lawyers

So Friday night, I’m sitting around after work with some workmates, and we’re discussing the week. Debbi, a young family lawyer, was telling a story about a couple of new clients who described themselves as swingers. When, earlier, she'd handed their file over to me, I’d said to her that they sounded more like polyamorists than swingers. And now here we are, over a bottle of wine, talking about this, and the cloned blond secretaries naturally ask what the difference between the two things is. I find myself explaining. Remember I don’t know these people very well, but what the hell, it’s my last day on the job anyway, and so I persist.

And halfway through this, I become aware that Francis, a senior partner, has come in and is listening. Now, Francis is a nice guy. He’s also incredibly intimidating. He carries the sort of English accent that discreetly hints at the existence of some very old money. His manner of speech, of dress, of deportment, all make me feel as if I’m a common, gum-chewing, slangy young thing. And now this incredibly proper Englishman, who must be close to sixty, is listening to me explaining the difference between non-mainstream sexualities.

After a couple of minutes, he says, thoughtfully and slowly; “No, there’s a problem with that, you see.”
“A problem with polyamory?”
“Yes. Yes, I think so.”
Oh, great. Now I can either defend the morality of a lifestyle which I don’t practice but have nothing against in principle – which my instinct is to do – or I can nod and smile and leave feeling like a coward. Either way, this is not how I was hoping my last evening was going to go. This is not the conversation by which I want to be remembered.
“What do you see as the problem?” I never have been good at knowing when to shut up, after all.
“Well, ‘poly’, you see, is from the Greek, whereas ‘amore’ has a Latin root. As a neologism, it just doesn’t work.”
“Er. Yes. Good point. I’ll pass that on.”

Thank Christ for that.

Friday, October 06, 2006

Like manna from heaven

So, turns out someone else bought cake anyway, so I’m just going to drink the free alcohol this evening with a clear conscience. Hell, it’s not like they’ve been paying me to work here for the past six weeks, the least they can do is cough up for the alcohol.

(Sentences like that are the reason I don’t tell my workmates about the blog. Well, one of the reasons.)

Yes, the last six weeks have been unpaid. Which is no end of fun, because I have issues about money, and spending it on myself, and not pulling my financial weight. This upcoming interstate trip is a case in point; I’m saying to the husband, I can get somewhere without too many cockroaches for $X, and he’s saying, yeah, or you could spend a bit more and stay somewhere nice, you fool. I did, and at a very good price, but the fact remains that I have major anxiety about this trip.

Technically it’s a cheap way to have a holiday before starting a new job. It’s undeniably true that I need clothes for work, so that’s hardly a frivolous purchase. But still. I shall spend too much. We shall be unable to pay the mortgage and find ourselves out on the street. The husband will forever resent me for my abysmal money management skills, and will turn to bourbon and blondes to appease his anguish. I’ll have to sell the cats for scientific experiments, always assuming I can find a scientist who wants to run a How Many Hours A Day Can That Thing Possibly Sleep, Anyway? Are You Sure It’s Not Just Dead? Experiment. We will be doomed, doomed.

So you can imagine how I reacted, reading this: You, certainly, cannot buy everything, but you are able to buy a lot. You can permit yourself to luxuriate, if, certainly, you know when to stop.

I can permit myself to luxuriate? Me? Luxuriate? Oh, ‘tis to laugh. I mean, seriously, I haven’t been paid in six weeks, in fact, I should check the bank account to see if I can afford to go out this weekend…

And, holy shit. My tax return has finally come in, and I under-calculated it by a hundred and odd dollars. Meaning that I have a laptop-sized amount of money sitting in there.

I just…I don’t even know what to say any more.

At least I'm not as clueless about appropriate office behaviour as Foley

For commentary about serious political issues, I usually turn to Shakespeare's Sister; and, indeed, her latest post is worth reading. This time, though, the political news story of the week is so sleazy that I can’t do better than to point you at Jason Mulgrew to get the full import of what’s involved here. Seriously, go and read his commentary, it’s both hilarious and shudderingly nasty.

Onto other things. For someone who hates leaving workplaces, I seem to be doing a lot of it recently. Today’s my last day at this current job, after which I have two weeks holiday and then officially begin my career as an Evil Corporate Lawyer, complete with menacing laugh. No capes, sadly.

So I agonised this morning about whether I should bring something into work, a cake or something, and if so do I announce it or just leave it in the lunchroom, and does that presumably mean I have to go to/initiate a morning tea, and why the hell am I the only person in the entire world who doesn’t understand the etiquette involved here? Was there a class in school I missed?

Anyway, the bakery I walk past in the morning wasn’t yet open, so I am cakeless, which probably makes me the Most Ungrateful Intern Ever. Maybe I’ll buy flowers at lunchtime and leave them instead. Probably won’t, though, to be honest.

Two weeks off. I’m dizzy at the prospect.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Besides, no-one needs to hear me try and sing soprano

The profession of law has the second highest incidence of alcoholism of any profession, apparently. I suppose that after four and a half years working to gain admission to the bar, they’re determined to make the most of it.

And yes, I did decide on this topic so just I could use that joke. Oh, like it comes natural to you.

Anyway, this particular statistic came up in conversation the other day at work; fittingly, over Friday night drinks. One fellow in his mid-thirties opined, somewhat smugly if you ask me, that ‘as a single man’ he makes sure never to drink alone, and that he will therefore never succumb. Purely out of scientific curiosity, I asked him if he thought it acceptable to drink alone if one were not single, but happened to find oneself alone for the evening. Oh, definitely not, he said,, no, never. Two of the young blonde secretaries (I think there’s a cloning lab somewhere that caters exclusively to law firms) nodded in agreement, evidently feeling that one would only be alone for the evening if one hadn’t enough friends and admirers to take one out.

Well. Not wishing to gain a reputation for argumentativeness, much less dipsomania, I held my peace. But really, let’s face it. He’s wrong.

Let me count the ways.

Firstly, I’m not single, friendless or unemployed. Which means that I rarely have the opportunity to spend an evening alone in the first place. If anything lubricates my path to lushdom, it’ll be drinking in company, since it happens about a hundred times more often.

Secondly, because a night alone is a rare pleasure (and its rarity is part of the pleasure, I hasten to add), I’m damned if I’m going to spend it sipping herbal tea and…and…dusting or something. And neither would you. You’d take advantage of the fact that you have unfettered access to the television and you would watch Bridget Jones’ Diary for the fifteenth time, and you would do so whilst drinking white wine. Well, you probably wouldn’t, because I think most of you are male. But I feel my point stands.

And finally, it’s well known that one says tactless, ill-thought out or at the very least excruciatingly dull things whilst in one’s cups. Why on earth would I want to inflict that on another?

Monday, October 02, 2006

Sense and sensibility...well, not so much that last bit.

People, I don’t know what to tell you about this weekend except that it’s been non-stop hedonistic indulgence.

There have been very few moments in the past three days where I haven’t been either drunk or hung-over. And I hope to God Jason’s right about not having to diet on weekends, because whichever hand hasn’t been holding a glass of alcohol has been shovelling Brie, chocolate or sashimi into my mouth. Orgiastic is not the word.

Which ties in nicely to my question of the day:

If you had to lose one of your senses permanently, which one would it be?

I’m incredibly short-sighted, and not to sound over-dramatic but I already live with the possibility of losing sight, and it would be devastating. Somehow I doubt that there are enough books in Braille or in audio form to keep me satisfied, for a start, and trust me, you don't want to be around me if I'm out of reading material.

The loss of taste would be useful from a weight loss point of view, but I don't want to live in a world without the subtlety of a ripe avocado, the zinginess of lemon-grilled haloumi, the hot rush of wasabi. And not to be able to touch is a heartbreaking idea; do I even need to go into what one would miss?

So it comes down to smell and hearing for me. But I’m having trouble deciding between them.

Think of all those smoky bars, those encounters with odiferous commuters, those polluted days in the city that one would be spared without smell...but then, imagine tasting a wine without the bouquet, or being unable to smell the skin of one's lover, fresh from a shower.

Without hearing, life would be peaceful. No power drills on the street, no honking buses, no screaming advertisements by blokes with first names like "Crazy". But then, imagine not being able to hear Nimrod, or someone's laughter, or the way a forest sounds after a heavy rainfall has eased and water is dripping onto sodden leaves.

So I don't know. What do you think?