Wednesday is the big day then …

I like the idea of resolutions, except that I am notoriously bad at keeping them and notoriously dependant on time frames. No point starting a new routine on a Tuesday, when Sunday is the first day of a new week!

This year I decided to give myself January to think about what I wanted to achieve this year and I finally succumbed to the industry of motivational books with glossy covers with badly drop shadowed text and set myself achievable goals, rather than my usual ‘It’d be really rad to wake up and look like Daphne Guinness, minus the “I’ll eat when I’m dead” attitude!’. So yeah, my goal for the last two years has been to somehow wake up looking like a tiny, leather-clad Pepé Le Pew. I like to aim high.

I hate that the people who write those books are right. I’ve made an un-paid career out of mocking the earnest and overly Americanised tones of books like that. Their relentless velvet-gloved tough love reminds me of high school PE teachers. People like that hate people like me, it’s like every fit, self-motivated person received the memo that I wasn’t allowed to continue with PE in high school past a certain point because rather than doing gymnastics, I taught my friends to skank and sunbaked while having long discussion about the nature of the local music scene. Gym people look at me with a kind of sad sympathy, like they think I haven’t realised that a six-foot-something daydreamer is going to have massive co-ordination issues. Oh, I get it gym people, I got it the moment I managed to lose an iPod in a treadmill.

Yesterday I had a really interesting conversation about motivation and the areas in my life in which I have none. I always assumed that to change, or achieve goals, the idea has to be there, then the motivation and then the action and so I struggle taking action when there’s no motivation. I’d never considered that actually, the idea is there, then you start making moves to achieve it, and when you’ve taken a few steps and maybe seen some results, then the motivation comes. Thinking like that takes the pressure right off.

A few days ago I got an email in response to one I’d sent about my life post-uni and there was one line in it that really hit home: ‘I know everything seems like chaos right now – but I always felt excited by the possibilities of life when we were together’.

Suddenly I realised I don’t need to become anything, I just need to start being myself again. The myself who believed in myself (with lines like that, I’m practically qualified to write a motivational book), the myself circa 2005 who didn’t even know who The Honourable Daphne Diana Joan Suzannah Guinness was and my hair was black with a white streak not because of her, but because I told my hairdresser that I knew I could never have his white boy afro, but I’d be damned if I didn’t want her to make me look like I was going grey like Buzz Osborne of Mevins.

If you didn’t know me then, I was okay. I had great eyebrows and a penchant for typing up deep and meaningful song lyrics in Courier New and sticking them above my desk, for taking Polaroids of cherry blossoms at night and for the garb of Russian Orthodox priests. I did Honours in English for no reason other than that I deeply loved my supervisor and deeply loved how it felt to exercise my brain while struggling through books with titles like Philosophy in the Feminine. I was never lazy mentally or physically. I walked 6kms almost every day, I volunteered at a shambolically run art gallery and would starve myself all day so I could go to Pizza Hut and have the buffet and cry with laughter from the sugar high on the way home. I had crazy hair, sometimes it was flaming red, short at the back, long at the front and had patches shaved almost down to the skin and when the dye would fade, I looked like an oak tree in autumn. Sometimes I went to the pub in my pyjamas, sometimes I went in a fake moustached disguise. I had a strong self of self, no matter how inexplicable that self might have been. I cared less and grinned with excitement more and nothing around me now is different, the change is all in my head.

So a few people have been asking about my plans for the year, and they are, without specifics, to try very hard not to rest on my laurels and to remember that the shell changed, but whatever is inherently “me” never really did and all of this begins on February 1.

Porteño

On Wednesday night I went to Porteño for the first time.

It’s sort of like The Soup Nazi episode of Seinfeld. Porteño won’t seat your party until you’re all there, and if you’re late, they’ll cancel your booking. Getting eight adults from all over Sydney to the restaurant in Sydney’s torrential rain was an exercise of epic proportion and I showed up ridiculously early and looking like a drowned rat, so I went and hid in a seedy bar with some cheap bourbon.

When we eventually all made it to Porteño, any kind of stress anyone might have had about schlepping around Sydney and ruining  their best Jessica Simpson shoes disappeared as soon as the tequila-based cocktails arrived. I am not a food buff by any measure, so I’m not going to try and do the food justice, only to say I was happy to let Matt and Jamie do most of the ordering of the food and wine and each dish was amazing.

That I loved the Polenta a la Tabla wasn’t a huge surprise, but I have to say, I never expected to lust after a brussels sprouts dish, but their Repollitos de Brusela Frito is amazing.

I’m kinda keen to go back, maybe with the parental unit.

Afterwards we went upstairs to Gardel’s Bar where almost everyone else indulged in tequila and I sat thinking about how if I was wrong about brussels sprouts, maybe I’m wrong about everything else too, also, I can see almost all the way down my shirt, is it possible there is some lost brussels sprouts down there?

Australia Day was spent mooching away from the humidity, by which I mean Jeff played Skyrim and I played Scribblenauts.

Our conversations go a little like this:

Him: Argh! I am going to cut you dragon. I am going to cut you!
Me: Hmmm. I’ve run out of farm animals to use. Oh come on, you have to be kidding me! A Komodo Dragon is a legitimate farm animal!
Him: Lydia! Get out of my way! Carry my things! Why are you carrying too many of my things! I will poison you with Dwarven arrow poison!
Me: Oh gross. I just used a blow torch on a rat and it turned into a shish kebab and the chef ate it.

This weekend Jeff and pretty much every other male I know are in Tamworth for a buck’s weekend to coincide with the Country Music Festival which I think is a great idea, I always loved being in Tamworth around festival time. We’ll never hear about it though, they’re all on a Twitter/Facebook etc blackout (though just quietly, someone broke embargo and sent me a message that said: Already proven my manliness on this trip by knowing the lyrics to ‘I Should Be So Lucky’).

I’m on-call most of the weekend, but I have a hot lady date with Mush to drink gin and vodka and watch the third Paradise Lost documentary on Saturday and I am looking forward to it mushly (see what I did there? I took an incorrectly spelt word and made it even worse by making it a play on Mush’s name!) because we know how to party hard!

Hope everyone has a most rad weekend!

The V-Man turns 2!

On the weekend, my nephew V turned two.

Which also means it’s been two years since I had a panic attack so large that my mum was all, ‘Are you okay?’ and I was all, ‘Lucky we’re on the way to the hospital already, because I think I might be having a heart attack’. Turns out I wasn’t and after visiting the baby, who has been cute since hours after birth, I had a very nice chicken and cashew nut stir-fry, which I’m pretty sure you can’t do post-heart attack.

This is one of the first photos I took of V, when he was just a few days old and I’d just realised it’s possible to love a complete stranger:

Now Vincent is about five-foot tall and can say all our names and ‘wombat’ and ‘yo!’ and is a total camera whore. I’m not sure that his grandparents are going to love me calling him a whore, but it’s been hard to take them seriously since they started being called GG and Duffy.

Mum and Dad rented a place on the Central Coast and we all met up there and had a little party for V in the only way my family can, by which I mean Mum cut herself snipping ribbon for the balloons so the balloons had blood on them and then the guest of honour was late, but unlike Christmas, didn’t throw tantrums when we held him down and forced him to open amazing presents. We also had champagne to toast my sister Mary’s recent win of the Rusty Wrench award at the 2012 Linux Conference. There was some frantic Googling on the morning of the party while I tried to explain to the parental unit what open source is and why this was a big deal. I settled with ‘Open source is going to take over the world and Mary won the award based on the votes of 19,726 of her peers and they carried her into a stadium on a golden couch, held aloft by four of their strongest geeks, who were also painted gold. And wearing loincloths. And there was a dragon, except now I might be talking about Skyrim’.

This is V’s “cake” which he shared with Duffy. My dad has turned really strange since receiving a grandchild. He’s gone and gotten himself feelings and he shares them with people and V is his most favourite person on the face to the earth and V’s finally getting over his fear of having a grandfather who’s something like 11 foot tall, so they are well on their way to having a total bromance going on.

Here he is with his favourite play equipment: Uncle Joel aka Yo!

There was present giving:

There was cam-whoring. So much cam-whoring. Kid knows how to work it:

There was playgrounding:

There was bubbling:

It was a great day and I hope two is as rad for V as zero and one were and may this new year of his life be filled with pigeons and dogs and wombats.

My Brother, J-Man!

I lucked out when it came to brothers-in-law. They’re both very different men, but they’re both quirky, interesting people who make my sisters happy (respectively, there’s no wife-swapping going on that I know about, but then again, I’m usually the last person to know anything in our family).

This is my little/big brother-in-law, Joel. He’s ‘little’ because he’s shorter than me and married to my younger sister, Steph. He is ‘big’ because he’s older than I am (and yeah that makes him a total cradle-snatcher, gross). He is one of the founders of Umbrella, who manage bands like Cloud Control and he’s part of the Naughty Rappers Collective. We share a love of odd sunglasses, phat beats, touches of urban cowboy (not the touches of urban cowboys, I mean like the fashion concept) and exploding fist bumps.

He is also relentlessly positive and really gets into hobbies, like craft beer making. Sometimes his relentless wit and charm make me feel a little like vomiting on him, just to see what he’d do.

Mostly I don’t because he’s a good boy and nothing gets the smell of vomit out of a 100% cotton plaid button-up urban cowboy shirt.

Mid-January

I am now firmly ensconced in my new place, getting used to having to wear pants again so as not to blind my housemate. I found these really amazing men’s sleep shorts. They’re super soft and roomy, so you can sleep at all kinds of crazy angles without getting your shorts in a knot and waking up with numb nether regions! The cotton feels like a groin hug.

I got these shoes at Nordstrom in Seattle. It was a pretty amazing experience. When you find shoes you want, you take them to a woman who has a microphone and then she calls out your location and a stupidly attractive man comes and finds the size you want, while you sit there wondering why no-one told them you’re not the queen, you’re just a serf. These shoes have a signature on the bottom, which my brain immediately translated to something fancy and European. Turns out they’re Jessica Simpson shoes. I don’t even care that once I had PMS and mentally wrote her husband a letter about how sorry I was that she left him, these shoes are so comfortable that I’m totally Team Jessica now.

One of the best things in the world is the new food court in Pitt Street, which is up a secret escalator Jeff taught me about and we go there and have Charlie & Co. burgers. They are stupidly good burgers and I highly recommend the parmesan and truffle fries too. Then I recommend you go to the gym. Haha! No I don’t, silly! I recommend you go home and drink vanilla Kahlúa …

… WITH A GIANT ICECUBE!

Sydney has been moody recently. We haven’t had a very warm summer for a start, but there have been some days nice enough to wander down to the Quay at lunch and do some reading:


(This was The Marriage Plot which I was initially totally engrossed in, but the ending was, sadly, really weak)

Next thing you know, it’s raining sideways so heavily it’s pretty much impossible to go outside:

Complimentary colours:

1. I buy cheap headphones so I have to replace them all the time. The pink ones are the worst I’ve ever bought and lasted a day. The purple ones are the best. I’m attracted to colourful or sparkling things just like your average friendly neighbourhood unicorn is.
2. A new series of designs for a few well-known books. I love how the designers matched the colours to themes in the book, in this case, the red of the Handmaid’s habits. I think I might have to buy this edition, I love the red-tipped pages.
3. The ceiling of World Square.
4. A strawberry blend juice from Chat Thai. It was pretty amazing, the perfect compliment to a chicken and cashew nut stir-fry *cough*

A Farewell to the Formidable Pete Veness.

On Sunday night my friend Pete passed away.

In 2009 doctors discovered a tumour in his brain and he was given several months to live. ‘Given’ is the commonly used term, but it’s not really accurate. No-one gave Pete anything except a prediction the he defied with a mix of courage, good grace, strength, an incredible work ethic and a healthy dose of dark humour. No-one gave Pete years more than was predicted, he took them and he took them with both hands and he ran with them. He travelled, he continued to report from the Press Gallery in Canberra, he raised awareness of his disease through promoting a charity very close to his heart, The Warwick Foundation and by writing an incredibly moving piece about living with cancer at age 25 and his subsequent marriage to the equal force of nature that is his wife, Bec.

The outpouring of emotion has been amazing, such a testament to who Pete was. I don’t think Pete’s age or illness has influenced the grief people are feeling so much as his personality did. He was colourful,  a throwback to an earlier time. He was tenacious, argumentative, well-read, inquisitive and funny. His energy knew no bounds and he and his tight unit of friends were often plotting adventures. They loved music so it was only natural that they pitched themselves to a band and went on an Australia-wide tour with them, acting as their official documentary makers. There was a fake (Or real? It didn’t really matter in the end, the myth became larger than any notion of truth) band, King Carcoar and the Faggots of Bracken.

There were many, many nights where Pete and his friends were holed up in our house, stereo cranked so loud that a local musician who lived nearby, and who was prone to noise himself, actually came around to complain. In Adam’s room, they would launch themselves around, off furniture, into the hallway, completely unselfconsciously screaming along to the lyrics and energetically air guitaring. I would lurk in the doorway of my bedroom across the hallway, watching them, equal parts amused and bemused. At the end of the night, it was always well worth finding yourself one the porch alone with Pete with one last cold beer, the sun threatening to come up, and him in an introspective mood. Pete was loud and brash and self confident, but he was also struggling, as we all do, with who he was and where to find his place in the world. In a few short years he would be making great strides in his career and happily ensconced in Canberra with Bec.

Pete’s colleague, Paul Osborne wrote an incredible piece about him, which does much more justice to the scope of grief and celebration of Pete’s life than I can, so I just want to end with one of my favourite memories of Pete, stirred up by this photo, courtesy of Adam Gartrell, the second half of one of history’s greatest bromances:

Pete, Adam and The Infamous Yellow Pants.

Oh those pants. First week of uni, hordes of nervous teenagers pretending not to be nervous while sitting in small groups on the lawn in front of the uni library, when along come someone whose youthful face clearly belied that he was one of us, fresh meat, yet unlike us, he was striding alone and very confident through the crowd, wearing the biggest, brightest yellow pair of pants I’ve ever seen.

That was the first time I’d seen Pete and before the first month of uni was over, he was a firm part of my wider circle of friends, a loud presence on the lawn where we lay in the sun between classes, a total goof and a genuinely sweet guy.

Like everyone else, I’m going to miss you, Pete, you are honestly unforgettable.

This is a story that seems to mostly be about food, but is actually about The Good People.

Hello there! Come closer and sit by my crochet blanketed knees while I tell you a story. Pretend there’s a lovely wood fire burning nearby if you’d like, help yourself to a soothing nightcap and suckle upon your thumb, while I stroke your forehead and murmur to you in my slightly nasal, yet oddly dulcet tones.

Once upon a time there was a girl who suffered from many social anxieties, including, but not limited to, her fear of finding a prom baby in any public toilet with a closed lid. She grew up with a very stern school teacher mother who instilled the belief in her that she should never leave people waiting. Being late is being rude. Because this girl tends to take everything her mother says as law, and because she’s anxious, she tends to take things to extremes and rather than being on time to meet people, she is usually early. So early that by the agreed upon time to meet, she’s usually been there so long she’s started to scrape lines into the nearest brick wall with the handle of her toothbrush shiv, like she’s marking off a stretch in The Big House.

Writing in the third person is getting annoying, so I’m just going to admit it: the girl in this story? It’s me. Surprise!

Basically what I’m saying is that I’m always early, so by the time other people arrive, I’ve already been waiting for ages and for the most part I recognise this is my problem and when people arrive, I cheerfully pack away my toothbrush shiv (the back pocket is a good place, means you can quickly reach it in most situations, I also keep a comb back there in case I need to do some spontaneous backcombing now and then) and link my arm through theirs and walk in synced slow motion down the street while people turn to stare at our unusually pretty and shiny hair.

When people are late though, I can be a heinous troll. I try not to be, it’s life, people are going to be late sometimes and it’s Sydney so sometimes it’s impossible to be on time and it’s not the end of the world, but yesterday was not an ordinary day, it was actually not a very good day and I was in a bit of a low mood and the only bright, sparkling thing keeping me going through the day was the fact that I knew that I was going to be having a quesadilla and a margarita for dinner with one of my favourite people … who, unbeknownst to me, had fallen asleep on his couch and was not responding to phone calls or messages and I was standing alone on George Street in an outfit which included pants which from a distance could probably pass as a variation of loose Thai pants, but which are really medical scrubs I bought from Walmart and I started to worry that someone would mistake me for a low-paid medical professional and expect me to empty their bedpan or something and goddamn did I really need that margarita now and why was he not answering his phone?!

Not even a minute later he called back and explained the whole napping on the couch situation and before I could stop it, I felt things happening. My toes started to turn inwards and I started dragging the tip of one of my sneakers on the ground as I found myself saying stuff like “No it’s fine. I don’t even want dinner. No, I’m just going to go home. No, I don’t even really like quesadillas that much”. First, I had somehow turned into a GIANT toddler. Secondly, don’t ever lie about not liking quesadillas, because imagine how miserable life would be if suddenly quesadillas ceased to exist. Quesadillas are no laughing matter and should not be trifled with. Ever.

Jeff’s response was entirely justified. When a giant toddler sulkily tells you that they hate quesadillas aka life, you say “That’s a shame. Well if that’s how you feel, then I’m sorry, but are you sure you don’t want me to meet you for dinner before you go home?”

In thinking about this, I also remembered that the night before I had left truffles in Jeff’s fridge. Suddenly a plan started to formulate. “I guess I could eat dinner with you. You know what I would do if I were you though? I’d maybe think about bringing along those truffles because I think that would be pretty good for me”.

[Editor’s note: Was chocolate not actually Jeff’s idea? 
Well yes, maybe, insomuch as he said ‘What if I bring chocolate?’
So … it was entirely his idea then?
I thought he meant run-of-the-mill corner shop chocolate, not amazing truffles!
Yeah likely story … I’m giving this one to Jeff
Fine! See if I even care! It was Jeff’s idea then.
Julia? Your toes are turning inwards …]

I rubbed my fat-knuckled baby hands together eagerly. Truffles and Mexican, I was some kind of evil baby genius!

Jeff dutifully arrived with said truffles and then pulled something out of his pocket and handed it to me across the table. It was the torn end of a box of Crunchie ice-cream bars also known as my favourite ice-cream bars ever.

I was perplexed. What was this?

“It’s a gift voucher!”

I knitted my brow into a crochet blanket; the very one I have across my knees right now. What did he mean?

“I gave ten dollars to a very confused man at a corner store and told him that I needed to tear the end off the box to give as a gift voucher to a girl I was meeting  and after having dinner with her, I would come back with her and we would pick up the ice-cream and have them for dessert!”

BLINK, I blinked and clenched my fists very tightly together to stop myself from reaching across the table and squeezing his face off.

Not only am I a fat-knuckled baby loser who didn’t deserve such niceties, but these niceties were some of the nicest niceties I’ve ever come across. All jokings aside, yesterday was a miserable day and one small, but incredibly thoughtful and spontaneous and funny thing saved the day and so one million thanks to Jeffrey Cedric for being a lovely.

And for those wondering, yes it did make for one vaguely confused corner store owner when we wander back in an hour or so later to pick up our box of Crunchie ice-cream bars missing one side, but it is so worth it.

Breaking News: Flash Flooding in the Inner West

11/01/2012
0952
DAG

A 29-year-old Sydney woman was rescued last night from a flooded bathroom in the Inner West.

Police say they received an emergency call at approximately 10:30pm from a private residence and rushed to the scene, where they found the woman crouched on the bathroom sink to avoid the rapidly rising flood waters which police believe came from the shower region of the bathroom.

After evacuating nearby houses and establishing a safety parametre, the police rescue team winched the woman so safety using an intricate system of ropes and pulleys which they constructed in almost McGuyer-esque brilliance from household items the NSW Police Commissioner confirms included sticky tape, shot glasses and some eco-friendly kitty litter.

The woman was treated for shock by paramedics on the scene, after they were unable to stop her hysterical weeping and screams of ‘Again? How could I flood the bathroom again?’

The woman’s lawyer, James Gorman said this morning that his client would not comment on reports she had implicated herself in the flooding of the bathroom. ‘Look, she was clearly in shock and is prone to nerves’ Mr Gorman said. ‘I think it would be unfair to my client and to her right to a fair trial to comment on the matter any further’.

A family member who wished to remain annoymous said the family were not surprised when contacted by police and that the woman was prone to dramatic outbursts and had been diagnosed approximately 12 years ago with the rare, and difficult to treat Tess of the d’Urbervilles Syndrome.

Police investigations continue.

JG

December 2011 & January 2012

It’s been a while since I’ve done a general check in, mostly because the end of the year is always so crazy busy, and this holiday period has been crazy, crazy busy for me and things happened, exciting things and most of them I documented with my iPhone (yes, yes, I’ve become an Instagram fan and I know, I know, you own a Holga that does the same thing but requires more skill etc etc), so I thought, why not subject you good folks to pictures of my face and some cat’s faces as a soothing balm to get over my face?

The first big thing that happened was the move. The Wuz and I now reside in a house in the Inner West. We have a backyard and a front porch and we’ve been sitting in the sun with gin & tonics, with a refreshing wedge of lime and reading tomes and tomes of essays, which are our new favourite literary genre. Well I have, The Wuz has been trying to jail break:

Mostly she’s on the run because of this old fellow, Stanley Cat:

What The Wuz didn’t realise is that Stanley Cat is very old and very deaf and generally has no idea The Wuz exists. Eventually she cottoned on and has now relaxed a bit:

It’s fairly safe to say that I love my new ‘hood and have spent a lot of time exploring it, mostly at night. The evening and late night have become my two favourite times of the day. There are so many adventures to be had when the city starts to cool down.

I have also been experimenting with my new seasons look aka I worked over Christmas and hardly anyone was in the office and Michelle found an afro wig and the rest was history:

I have also been experimenting with a nautical theme and bows. Nautical because I like the idea of being swashbuckling, bows because I am a girl, and I’m trying very hard, yet again, to stop dressing like a 15-year-old Limp Bizkit fan. Not even a fan from the ‘Nookie’ era, a fan from the last album they released, the one the guitarist returned for, we can only assume because he had rent to pay and it was agreed that he could wear stage makeup to hide his shame at returning to a band that once bemoaned the injustice of wanting a Pepsi, just one Pepsi.

Also, red. Red because of sin and sexuality. Not really, mostly because I bought a really awesome red lipstick in Vegas and my friend Jadey bought me some giant red hair bows and they happen to go very well together and help add to the whole ‘I am a lay-dee!’ thing I’m going for, just in case, you know, the rather evident lady-bits aren’t a dead giveaway.

This is one of my favourite new things, an iPod watchband. It was a surprise gift from someone familiar with my slight addiction to buying watches. I love this because the band is a slap band and it’s huge and matte black and chunky, which ticks a lot of boxes for me and also because the iPod now has a rad black and gold watch analogue watch face which is so pimp:

Working over the holidays is a funny beast. On one hand, I would have loved to have gone away somewhere and relaxed without a care in the world, on the other, it’s fun to be in the city when hardly anyone is around. When I’m not in the Inner West, I’ve been lurking in Chippendale a lot, another suburb I really like. I haven’t spent much time in the city outside of work hours because come 6:00pm I just want to escape home, but there’s a lot of fun to be had. By fun I mean Mexican and margaritas and really late night pizza deliveries and watching Ab Fab and drinking rich, sweet spirits and cooling down after long weeks.

Here I am either waiting for a pizza boy, or selling drugs, or buying drugs, or working my corner. FIVE-OH!

This is my artistic rendering of one of my favourite new things: lime juice, lemon juice, orange juice and vodka. Turns out this is both delicious and a valid dinner or breakfast choice!

I had an amazing Christmas and New Year’s as well this year and just as soon as I’ve managed to stop drooling every time I look at photos of said events, I’ll post the pictures and make you drool and wish you were me, but without the weird social neuroses and allergy to nickel, requiring you to wear huge underpants.

Although of Course You End Up Becoming Yourself: A Road Trip With David Foster Wallace – David Lipsky

‘It’s more like, if you can think of times in your life what you’ve treated people with extraordinary decency and love, and pure uninterested concern, just because they are valuable as human beings. The ability to do that to ourselves. To treat ourselves the way we would treat a really good, precious friend. Or a tiny child of ours that we absolutely loved more than life itself. And I think it’s probably possible to achieve that. I think part of the job we’re here for is to learn how to do it’ – David Foster Wallace to David Lispky in Although of Course You End Up Becoming Yourself: A Road Trip With David Foster Wallace.