Thursday, December 25, 2008

merry blogmas

have a great Chrissy friends. i miss you muchly.

i hope santa brings you everything you wished for, including (or as well as) a fantastic 2009.

all i want for Christmas is january 22.

xx

Saturday, December 20, 2008

andy's home

andy's been drinking rum. he licked my face.

Friday, December 19, 2008

price check, aisle four

please peruse me.

being heaps awesome at maths i have divided 250,000 by five and come up with 50,000.

apparently you get paid $50,000pa to work at coles.

so glad i studied journalism.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

okay, who wants a slice of racism?

oh my goodness, would you look at this. or, alternatively, read this:

"THE father of a toddler called Adolf Hitler Campbell says it is unfair that a store denied him a birthday cake with his child's name on it".

hmmm, where to start, where to start.

i know. a request: please Rick, blog about this. your thoughts are so much better than mine.

moving on. some facts (because i believe everything i read)...
  • dad has a swastika themed home. winner.
  • dad claims to be related to a member of the SS.
  • dad is a fucking moron.

said dad - let's call him heath, because that's his name - is upset the cake shop is discriminating against his son "despite the fact he isn't even jewish". okay, so he didn't actually say that last bit but i was trying to make a point. did it work?

what i find most confusing is, while heath clearly supports the nazi movement he also says of his sickeningly racist pals "yeah, they were bad people back then. but my kids are little. they're not going to grow up like that."

huh? are you for them or against them buddy? sort your shit.

furthermore, as my older but better looking sister pointed out, who puts full names on birthday cakes anyway? happy birthday gretchen prudence sanderson? no. it's just happy birthday gretchen. (or, "good morning darling, happy birthday. in lieu of a cake, this year we're giving you an apology for naming you gretchen. sorry.)

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

new paragraph please

see how, down there, on my last two blog entries, there's a slight formatting issue?

it might not be obvious, so let me offer a little assistance.

on nothing, there should be a space between "here's a picture i like" and the picture.

on i can't help falling in love with shoes, there should be a space between "...and you know it" and "i know..."

no big deal...EXCEPT THAT IT IS A BIG, GIANT, MASSIVE DEAL BECAUSE I CANNOT GET BLOGSPOT TO FORMAT IT CORRECTLY AND IT DRIVES ME INSANE EVERY TIME I LOOK AT IT.

ahem.

i need help.

Monday, December 8, 2008

i can't help falling in love with shoes

especially these puppies*, which i bought on saturday, and then slept next to, because they are the most beautiful things i've ever seen and deserve to be loved.



just need to learn how to walk london's cobblestone streets in them now. i don't mean it that way and you know it.
*i know, referring to pic of lone shoe in plural form. bad, bad grammartron.

Friday, November 28, 2008

nothing

poor november. forever overshadowed by december - what with it's Christmas and it's new year's eve - and now camelshoes is rubbing it in with a serious lack of blogs.

so, here's another one. just because. although, let's be honest, it's not going to entertain anyone.

i'm itchy.

here's a picture i like...

Thursday, November 27, 2008

technology these days

speaking of advertising, saw an ad on tele for a new Wii game. the selling point? it's the FIRST game you can play with your bum.

yes. bum.

awesome.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

male models, at your cervix

i was walking home from work yesterday when i saw an advertisement subtly slapped on the back of a big, red london bus. this isn't it...


...but it basically is. google couldn't find the actual ad (and if google can't find it, no one can) which featured some hot guy, looking all hot, presumably endorsing the statement 'be cervix savvy'.
thanks for the advice, buddy. and, by the way, how's your cervix been lately?

Thursday, November 20, 2008

get it india

i've had the best idea. i am going to open an indian restaurant and call it...wait for it...waaaaaaait...the taj mahal!!

ha. nobody's ever thought of that before.

no, wait. everybody's thought of that before. damn it.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

curvy is the new black

this is kind of old news now (if you could call it news in the first place) but i made mention of it a couple of blogs back so i'm going to follow through.

i read this article the other day and couldn't help but feel patronised. kate ritchie, antonia kidman and ricki-lee coulter, among others, are "taking a stand" against the stick thin trend by stripping down and "embracing their curves".

power to ya, sisters

notice the slimming garments. interesting touch i thought, considering the premise of the story, but that's not my gripe. my issue is the obvious lack of curves featured in that picture. ricki-lee is the only one with shape to speak of. antonia kidman is a freaking twig and i find her girl power play a tad insulting.

mmm, curve-a-licious

kate ritchie can shut her skinny mouth as well. if she was so comfy with her curves she wouldn't have lost them all over the last couple of years. don't get me wrong, she looks better now and good for her. but practice what you preach, woman.

like any normal girl, i truly believe women should embrace their curves, but i will always maintain a deep hate of mine.

walking contradiction. the trend continues.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

only in America

i cannot believe what I have just heard.

can.not.believe.it.

i was so proud of America. i shed tears on tuesday – so deeply elated at the election result and the change such a decision represents.

then US journalist Chris Wallace, apparently anti-Obama with gusto throughout the presidential campaign, reminded me why Americans makes me cringe.



"it couldn't happen anywhere else in the world," he says, referring to the election of a black man as president.

'only in America' is a term we 'Rest-of-the-Worlds' usually reserve for acts of stupidly. acts like, say, for example, a thief leaving their identification behind at the scene of a crime or A MAN CLAIMING THE ELECTION OF A BLACK PRESIDENT COULDN'T HAVE HAPPENED ANYWHERE BUT AMERICA.

ahem. excuse me.

history lesson, Chris. it’s been 40 years since the American Civil Rights Movement. that’s 10 times longer than the four-year period between the conclusion of apartheid and the election of President Nelson Mandela (a black man, in case you were wondering) in South Africa.

you'll have to look to someone a lot smarter than me for further examples of why your patriotism is, in this instance, unfounded but, rest assured, there are plenty.

it's a lengthy vid. i know. but if you did sit through it, tell me, have i misunderstood the man? i'm willing to accept i might have but only because i am otherwise dumbfounded that an intelligent man (assumption made on the basis he's a journo - possibly incorrect) would make such an idiotic statement.

journalists. you can't believe a word they say.

Monday, November 3, 2008

have keyboard. will ramble

seriously camelshoes, i know, i totally owe you a blog. the thing is, i can't be arsed right now. every time i think of something blog-worthy, i'm busy and by the time i'm not busy, motivation has waned.

i have a couple of thoughts i am going to get to eventually. one has to do with antonia kidman being a massive pain in the arse. ten points if you can guess why. there are a lot of correct answers but i have just one in mind. the other is my love for barack obama and my fear this vote is in the hands of America. sorry Tricia, but seriously...bush, eight years, you deserve it (not you personally, you as a representation of your country. love you).

in the meantime, here's something i realised the other day. i am closer to 40 than 15. frick.

what a massively boring blog. sorry if you're still reading. you should stop. really, stop. i can't believe you're not asleep. why are you still reading? this is not getting any better. really. i mean it. it's not getting any better.

oh, okay, hang on, i'll find you a funny picture or something to reward you for your perseverance. just a sec...

bahahahaha...aaaaaaaaahahahahahahah...hahahaha...ha...ha...ahhhhhhhhhh

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

i know what you did last century

Here's a funny story. Funnier if you were there, but funny all the same.

Oktoberfest. Two sisters, let's call them Kate and Nikita, chat over beers the size of their heads.

oh, how we laughed.

Like the beer, laughs of nostalgia flow and conversation turns to Kate's forever-ago teenage crush.

"Oh my God, I used to think I was completely in love with him. You should have seen the stuff I wrote in my diary. It was so embarrassing."

"Yeh, I know."

"I was so...hang on...what?"

Nikita's expression, a priceless cross between shock and defeat, confirmed the truth. She and third sister had sniffed out said diary once upon a time to settle their hunch I was smitten.

"We only read one page though."

Yeh, I'm sure you did.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

finished

Sweet 16. The conclusion. I knew one day I could get Bilbo back for being such a cow.

So, in conclusion…

We were always warned against concluding essays in this way at university. The problem was, whenever it came to summing up the previous 1000-ish words, oft plagiarised from out-of-date library books and random websites, I couldn’t get the phrase ‘in conclusion’ out of my head.

Right now I am trying to wrap up Suddenly Single. Four months. Fifteen columns. About 8000 words illustrating undoubtedly the most eventful period of my young life. Yes, young. I’m clinging to it.

It started with a break-up of grand proportions. It continued with a stint living back under my mum’s roof (at 26, ouch) and a reluctant career change. Then there was the cameo appearance by an exorbitantly-priced lawyer. Hmmm, is that a redundancy?

This fun little rough patch was followed by the decision to flee Australia and, after traipsing around South America, falling in love with snotty-nosed kids living in poverty and Latino men teaching me to salsa, I have landed in London where I intend to start from scratch.

What is the big appeal of stepping outside your comfort zone?

I don’t know why I am asking you. Firstly, you can’t answer and secondly, I am the one who has been all step-outside-my-comfort-zoney of late.

By definition, anywhere outside your comfort zone is an uncomfortable place to be.

And here I am in uncomfortable London. I am uncomfortably homeless and uncomfortably unemployed. It’s uncomfortably chilly and my once-healthy bank balance is uncomfortably low, getting lower, lower, lower…

Most uncomfortable of all: the distance between me and the people I love.

The funny thing is (not funny ha ha, funny lost a fridge), I feel better now than I did pre-column when the lifestyle trifecta – partner, home, job – was in the bag.

I guess that’s because all the decisions I face for me, and me alone, to be made. The problem is I am utterly indecisive.

I’m not sure yet whether I want to return to journalism or try on something less demanding and more conducive to the travel I intend to embark on. I am not sure yet whether I’m ready to call someone new my boyfriend or in need of a little more time in singleville. I’m not sure yet whether I want fries with that. My God, make up your mind woman.

On closer inspection, these choices (fries aside) are not really choices at all.
This is London. And if I hear the term credit crunch one more time I’m going to credit crunch your face. No, not yours. Yours. Anyway, I have a point and that was: jobs in London aren’t easy to come by at the best of times, let alone a job in journalism, double let alone amid such a financial climate.

Quick digression. I just used the word amid. This was also frowned upon at university. I hope Bilbo (the lecturer who thrived in hating sports media students) is reading while I’m throwing such caution to the wind. Look at me Bilbo, a real journalist. Bahahaha. Bahahahahahahaha. Bahahahahahahahaha…ahem.

As I was saying: London. Employment. Tough. Also, new boyfriend? To have or not to have? Ha. As if that’s such a simple decision. If it was, half the world’s single people would be married. Unhappily married, sure, but married all the same.

I’m scaring myself more with each letter typed. Must stop. I have a life to get on with.

So, in conclusion (read it and weep Bilbo), thanks for reading. Catch you on the flip side.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

i wonder if i'm allowed to put this on my blog

i will never get over plugging PostSecret - the art project where people anonymously send their secrets on homemade postcards. here's an example from this week's batch.

melts. my. heart.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Monday, October 13, 2008

the penultimate

I haven't plagiarised this much since uni. At least this time I'm plagiarising myself. Column 15.

Meet Darwin.


Darwin is a happy, eight-year-old kid. He posed proudly for this picture when I asked him which bed was his.

There are only two beds in Darwin’s house and they sleep three boys. Not sure how, but they do. Hernan is 13 and Yuri is six. The brothers live together, alone, in a one-room house the size of a modest bedroom.

In the absence of parents, Hernan looks after his brothers. Need I remind you, he is 13.

What were you doing when you were 13? I was in Year 8 receiving a better than decent education which I, at times, went to waste while I was too busy trying to be cool. I was gossiping with girls and flirting with boys. On the home front, I lived with my mum and two sisters who I constantly fought with. No reason, maybe a bit pissed of at the whole broken family thing but, probably just a brat really.

As a volunteer with Peru’s Challenge, I hung out with the boys during my first ‘home visit’. With the assistance of a local social worker, home visits help Peru’s Challenge establish where help, financial or otherwise, is most needed.

Down the road I met Manuel, a father of five. His home, which he built with his own arthritic hands, was as simple as the rest in Pumamarca. A ‘living room’ full of potatoes, a kitchen full of smoke and, upstairs, a bedroom with two basic beds and a shrine to Jesus.

As we were leaving, with tears in his eyes, Manuel showed me his hands. They were destroyed from a laborious life. Black, torn apart, crippled. I put a sympathetic hand on his shoulder, he burst into tears and hugged me. I shed a couple myself.

But home visits aren’t always tales of woe though. Visit number three this day was to a pregnant mother with five boys and a little girl already under her wing. ‘Home visit’ wasn’t the correct term on this occasion as the boys, playing in the dirt in the front yard, didn’t let me past the gate. Instead they took my camera hostage, proceeded to pull stupid faces and crack up laughing upon review each and every time. They were gorgeous.


It has been this stark contrast of poverty and beauty which has been the most fascinating during my time in Peru. Rundown homes are set among spectacular mountains, ramshackle roofs shelter bright, colourful walls and deprived people sport broad, genuine smiles.

More juxtaposition coming my way as I fly from the dusty streets of Peru to the bright city lights of London.

No job, no home, and fast creeping towards no money – why did I think this was a good idea again?

Thursday, October 9, 2008

kitler

this is pretty much just for you rick. i hope it makes you laugh. i think it will.

hier kätzchen, kätzchen, kätzchen

needless to say, this kitty hails from germany and has formed a white pussy posse which roams alleyways scratching the eyes out of any feline named daniel, tom or herschel shmoikel pinkus yerucham krustofski.

meow.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

he's a keeper

kerry katona is very famous here, mostly for being a munter. regardless, she has just had about $40,000 worth of cosmetic surgery. liposuction, breast reduction et al. i am not anti-surgery. each to their own and she does look better so good for her.


it's this pearler from her husband which caught my eye:

"She's loads trimmer and she looks exactly like she did when I first started seeing her. I much prefer her like this. It's like I've got another bird in bed with me."

wow. why are all the good ones taken?

Monday, October 6, 2008

let me tell you a little story

Column 14. Again, I've plagiarised my blog a little. Because I can.

A young man named Jose was the catalyst.

His father abandoned the family in shame when Jose was born with Down’s Syndrome – a condition considered a curse in their native Peru.

When Jose mum died years later, his auntie took him in, but it was hardly an act of kindness.

Jose lived out the back of his auntie’s modest house and he lived like an animal. His bed was nothing more than the cold hard ground and a blanket, set behind a chicken coop, among hens, pigs, mud and animal waste.

At night, Jose’s auntie would chain him up and feed him alcohol to silence his sobs.

Australian tourist Jane Gavel was a volunteer at Jose’s school and, after walking him home one day, was witness to his dire living conditions. It brought her to tears. Admirably, it also brought her to a life-changing decision, a decision not to walk away.

With the help of her Peruvian boyfriend, Selvy Ugaz, Jane had Jose out of his auntie’s place and in his own home within. He now has a paid job looking after animals at a local school and is living like a human being.

Jose was just the start of something special. In 2003, Jane and Selvy founded Peru’s Challenge - a not-for-profit organisation which works with volunteers to help improve the education and hygiene standards of children in poverty-stricken areas of Peru.

The small primary school in Pumamarca is the organisation’s third and current project.

When Peru’s Challenge moved in, there were eight students, one teacher and one classroom. Now there are 150 students, including 40 in kindergarten, eight teachers, six classrooms and a principal’s office. The list of facilities Peru’s Challenge has introduced, from running water and toilets to playground equipment and a kitchen, is endless.

This month, I will be working at Pumamarca to help extend that list even further. The ultimate goal is to build sustainable communities. I’ve been here a week now and it’s already been a grounding experience. This, in no small part, can be attributed to the gorgeous students of Pumamarca.

The five hours these kids spend at school are the happiest and most carefree of their days. There is no sign of the dire conditions which await them at home. They laugh, they play, they learn and they adore it.


It’s quite inspiring, but it’s also confronting. The difficulties facing Pumamarca residents put mine to shame, yet I, and so many people, wouldn’t come close to matching their smile count. At least it’s contagious.

Maybe one month here will help me worry less about being 27 and single, about the argument I had with my best friend, about the additional three kilos I have found this year. Pft. Who am I kidding? To the gym, fatty.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

i liked you better in the funky bunch

i have just watched the funniest movie. oh, how i laughed. unfortunately for all involved, The Happening was billed as a drama slash mystery.

right now i cannot think of a worse movie. really, i can't, and i've seen dude, where's my car?

the script was abominable, the acting nothing short of deplorable and the ending: jaw-droppingly* woeful.

the plot? people start killing themselves. lots of people. why? we don't know. we were left uninformed for much of the movie as people throw themselves under lawn mowers or inside lion cages. it's simply terrible.

meanwhile, Mark Wahlberg and Zooey Deschanel are making a mockery of the acting industry. oh God, i don't even know how to illustrate how bad they were. there's lots of starring, furrowed brows, awkward dialogue. you have to laugh, otherwise you'd cry.


(You might have laughed, if you could read it. In pink: why, why did we agree to be in such a dumb arse movie? And, in blue: I don't know. Ask my mood ring. Bahaha. Bahahahaha. Bahaha. Ahhh, ah, yeh, lost in translation.)

probably the worst part (or the best part, depending on how you treat the experience) was the climax. from the writer and director who brought us arguably Hollywood's greatest twist courtesy of The Sixth Sense, comes the most pathetic attempt to tie the story together.

***SPOILER ALERT***

why were people killing themselves? it was the plants. they were taking their revenge on the human race by releasing some toxin into the air.

of course they were. der.

moreover, what's with the tiramisu? ffs.

please see this movie. we can laugh about it for eternity.

*making up words is fun

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

i heart gary anderson, apparently

heard of Gary Anderson? no, me neither. but his people have heard of me, it seems.

i googled myself today. firstly, don't pretend you've never done it. secondly, i should have been preparing for tomorrow's job interview (as i should be doing this very moment) but am a star procrastinator, hence the self-google. thirdly, i was wondering whether my blog would surface by searching my name.

it does, and a few pages in, so does this gem. scroll about three-quarters of the way down the page and you'll spot my name.

for the lazy kids in the house of camel, apparently Kate Jacka of The Sun on the Gold Coast in Queensland (a description which kind of singles me out) claims "the way Gary moves drove the girls crazy. He's a True entertainer"!

i cannot begin to describe how random this is. as i've mentioned, i have never heard of this guy, let alone been to one of his shows.

furthermore, i don't write like that, what's with the capital t and put the exclamation mark inside the quotations. shees.

i'm a bit disturbed to be honest. my next move is to email the website and tell the punks to take it down. but then my hyperlink is totally destroyed. i'm in limbo.

Monday, September 29, 2008

any excuse to type the word beaver

I have never forgiven Manly for devouring the North Sydney Bears. Truth be told, I never liked them too much before the Super League crisis.

But I'm not a great fan of Melbourne either. The grapple is dirty, I hate Brett White, Steve Turner's word is as solid as custard and Victorians, who claim to be the country's greatest sports lovers, couldn't give a shit about them.

Who to barrack for come Sunday? Easy...

Beaver

I have never met Steve Menzies but he strikes me as a champion bloke. Tough, intelligent, consistent; he has represented his club, state and country honorably. Most impressive, at least to me, is he will leave the NRL a one-club man.

There aren't many footballers more worthy of a fairytale farewell.

It will be difficult, but I will be cheering for the Sea Eagles to take out the 2008 grand final. And by cheering I mean reluctantly supporting the lesser of two evils. Still, any player who can create such a miracle deserves to go out a champion.

Meanwhile, Cowboys: 2009 Premiers (did someone say glutton for punishment?)

Saturday, September 27, 2008

goodbye Australia, goodbye ex

(Un)lucky 13.

In a light hearted way only they can get away with, my friends always tease me about being Asian. Of course, I’m not Asian. But when I smile, so they remind me, my eyes threaten to disappear, hence the nickname Jacka Chan.

If only they could see me now. After about two straight hours of tears last night, and the mounds of soaked toilet paper to prove it, I am sporting a face puffier than a battered and bruised Wallaby. My eyes are drowning in cheeks. What’s that? Allergic to bees? No, just hugely emotional right now. It’s the kind of face which prompts acquaintances to ask ‘have you done something different?’ and friends to cry ‘oh my god, you’ve been crying. Are you okay?’

The problem, as almost any girl can tell you, is asking a female if she’s okay is akin to pressing the cry an ocean of tears button. Yeh, I have one, it’s somewhere round the back.

Tonight I leave the country indefinitely. Last night my ex came around to say goodbye. Sitting at my computer, stealing songs from my iTunes, he was soon privy to the photo slideshow which is my screensaver. It’s a reel of some of my favourite memories and so many of those memories include him.

Pictures from our trip to Thailand a few years back, our last New Year’s Eve together, our kitten who was hit by a car two days after we broke up (it was a bad week). I didn’t realise he had been quietly watching the photos roll by until he piped up: ‘it’s hard to see these’.

Yeh. Yeh, it is,” I replied somberly.

More silence. Then, at the same time, we looked at each other and both saw the tears welling in each other’s eyes. Seeing him like that was all I needed to crumple into a blubbering mess.

We talked, hugged and cried our way through the next few hours. Somehow it was horrible and wonderful at the same time. Either way, it was necessary.

Post breakup my life has been consumed by a possession split, property settlement, and mad-planning for my South American-come-European adventure. There’s been no time to breathe let alone mourn the death of my six-year relationship – easily the most significant and special I have experienced.

But last night, finally, I mourned.

The thing is, although we broke up eight months ago, we have seen each other often since. We attended each other’s birthday parties, we’ve caught up for numerous coffees, and he was one of the most important guests at my farewell.

Now that I am leaving, for the long term, our split has become so much more real. For the first time since we first met in 2001, we will be apart for more than five weeks, much more.

The things I will miss about him are endless but I think, most of all, we will both miss having that person by your side who you can share anything with and who makes the tough times a little better.

Ironically, I am likely about to embark on some pretty tough times. Traveling a continent solo with a minimal knowledge of the local tongue, for starters.

But, that was the whole point. Step outside my comfort zone and do a little self-discovery. As wanky as it sounds, the plan is to challenge myself and, in turn, find out who I truly am, and that’s something I need to do alone.

I am flying solo in more ways than one and the adventure starts tomorrow.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

wrong dot com

girl wears neckline-to-the-bellybutton dress to brownlow medal ceremony. wow. unheard of. except for the fact someone does it every single year.

i don't know who this girl is, but she dates a footballer. cool.

it's been six years since J-Lo wore "that" dress. will the copy cats ever cease? i'll save you the research time. no. no, they won't.

to be fair, i own a dress or two with a plunging neckline - not to this extend mind.

but here's my rule (and i'm a regular fashionista so listen up): only one Slutty McSlutsky feature at a time. hence, frontless orrrrrr backless, not both. Blondy FitzOrange broke my rule, and that's just rude.

how do you spell that Family Feud wrong-answer noise?

Monday, September 22, 2008

vegan bitch


I'm a bit behind the times but I finally decided to pic up the cult read Skinny Bitch.

Let me save you the same trouble.

"Become a vegan, you fat cow".

That pretty much sums it up.

I've decided to kindly decline the advice of authors Rory Freedman and Kim Barnouin, mostly because I have a life (but also because they're anti ice cream and that's just wrong).

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Nicolas Cage, for the last time, stop talking

Column 12. Anne Frank: forever an inspiration.

“I’m blessed with many things: happiness, a cheerful disposition and strength. Every day I feel myself maturing, I feel liberation drawing near, I feel the beauty of nature and the goodness of people around me. Every day I think what a fascinating and amusing adventure this is! With all that, why should I despair?”

These are not my words. They come from the pen of a 14-year-old Anne Frank, written from an attic in Amsterdam, where she and her Jewish family were in hiding for two years after fleeing the horrors of Nazi occupation during World War II.

They should be my words. But instead, mine often adopt a slightly different tone.

“I know I’m blessed with many things but you know what really pisses me off? Slow drivers, bad advertising, early mornings, rednecks, sand in my bed, Nickleback, losing, disloyalty, banks, Nicolas Cage’s voice, and this goddamn breakup.”

Where do I get off letting Anne Frank trump me in the optimistic stakes?

I am days from my last shift and less than a fortnight off leaving the country indefinitely.
Excited? Nope, shitting myself.

On the surface, my main issues are the fact that I still have to sell my car and that this nightmare of a separation I am going through is yet to be finalised. How is that taking so damn long by the way?

Moving on. Despite these lingering loose ends, I am successfully calming myself through deep breathing and the constant reminder that I WILL sell my car, even if it is post departure, and the separation WILL happen, even if cross-continent technology has to come into play.

But what’s really freaking me out right now is the looming giant leap outside my comfort zone. Never have I embarked on such an independent life-change. My relocation to a new city for university was independent, but it was three hours from home and I moved in with about 2000 friends on tap. Campus life rocked my world.

The two following moves were both shared with my now ex-boyfriend. The second was a move to a city far closer to home, where I knew many people and had a job lined up. No wuckers.

Flying to Peru, alone, with no paid work in the pipeline…what am I doing?

When I decided to take this next step in my life, my dad asked me whether I was doing it because I wanted to or because I wanted to get away from it all.

I told him it was the former but, the truth is, the two options he threw my way are one and the same. I am doing this because I want to get away from it all.

And I’m getting away to a place which, I hope, will shove a little perspective in my face. As The Four Seasons, The Carpenters, Gloria Estefan, Tom Jones, the girls from Beverly Hills 90210, and many other artists sang, ‘breaking up is hard to do’. But, compared to a life lived in Peruvian poverty, or hiding from religious persecution in an attic, I’m on a pretty good wicket.

That’s easy to forget but so important not to. Too bad I have a terrible memory.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

blinded by love (well, almost)

If you can be arsed, check this out. If you can't, here's the brief: Katie Milligan, the girl who recklessly head-butted her boyfriend Greg Bird's broken beer bottle, is standing by her man.


Dumb and dumber


I have made no secret of my hate for Greg Bird. He is a grub and I drew this conclusion long before he almost blinded his girlfriend. As an avid Blues supporter, I am embarrassed he has represented our state. I hope he never does again.

But, here's the thing. Just like her boyfriend, Katie Milligan is a FUCKING DICKHEAD and, along with others like her, the very reason there are still men out there who think beating up women is okay.

As Shakespeare once said, 'trick me once, shame on you. Trick me twice, shame on me'. Of course, Shakespeare never said that, and I completely stole that joke from this guy I know, but you get my point, right?

He will hurt her again. She won't deserve it. But she will have herself to blame for giving him the chance.

Fool.


* Thank you K.Lo for the research.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

my heart aches

this is not a movie review. i don't have the energy to re-live the experience. i've called on youtube to help me cheat...

see it. take tissues and take a friend who will understand you might just need to sit, stunned as the credits, and your tears, roll.

never will i be able to comprehend such hate. never will i be able to accept the ugly capabilities of ignorance.

i cannot rid my mind of this movie's final scene. i am drained.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

dazed and confused

Legs 11.

Talk about a cliff-hanger.

Did you read last week’s column? If you didn’t, this is going to be tough to follow. In fact, you probably shouldn’t bother. No, no, kidding. Let’s try to bring you up to speed.

This is part two of a love story. I suppose it’s like any other love story. Boy meets girl. Boy and girl fall in love. The difference though is boy and girl never told each other until nine years later (also known as last week) when boy (played by Matthew McConaughey) professed his undying love for girl (Jessica Alba).

“I have been feeling sick for the last six years,” Matthew told Jessica, referring to her recently defunct relationship. “I have been convinced I had missed my chance. I have to take it now. I’m sorry. I have to. I love you. We are meant to be together.”

Jessica was speechless. She was stunned. But, once she managed to pick her jaw up from the floor, she found a few prize words.

“You’re an idiot. An idiot. My God. I spent three years loving you, convinced we were meant to be. The tears I cried over you. You had to have known. Argh. You idiot. Where was this nine years ago?”

While Jessica was speaking the truth, she was more dumbfounded by the comedy of errors than angry.

“I don’t quite know how to react,” she continued, her tone taking a serious turn. “I know I’m supposed to say ‘it was always you’ as I jump into your arms and kiss you passionately, and I feel as though that would be the appropriate response to such a gallant gesture, but I can’t. The timing…it’s…I’ve just broken up with Brad, I’m about to leave the country. I just can’t.”

“I know,” he replied. “I didn’t expect any different. But you had to know. I’ve waited six years for you, I can wait another. It’s us. I’ve never doubted we should be ‘we’. I love you.”

The wine continued and so did the conversation. Somehow, most likely because of their friendship, Jessica and Matthew were able to play a game of hindsight, looking back of ‘that time’ and ‘this time’ and seeing things in a whole new light. For Jessica at least, it wasn’t awkward, it was actually really special.

Matthew slept the night, but on the couch, and left the next day much lighter for having revealed his long-kept secret, even though he didn’t know whether it would come to fruition.

Jessica, on the other hand, was left utterly confused. Still feeling the shockwaves from her breakup with Brad, she was now presented with the possibility of something she once wanted so very much.

But what about the timing. Was it too late, or just right?

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

it's groundhog day

It appears The Australian's archive system has been put to good use.

James Madden and Nicola Berkovic shared the byline when The Australian reported Johnathan Thurston's Dally M success last year.

JOHNATHAN Thurston arrived at rugby league's night of nights with no one on his arm, but he left Sydney's Town Hall with the sport's highest individual honour after winning the Dally M Medal for the second time.

Last night The Australian, courtesy of neither James or Nicola, reported Matt Orford's victory in similar fashion.

MATT Orford arrived at rugby league's big night alone, but the Manly halfback came away with the coveted Dally M medal.

Five points for originality. No. Wait. I meant minus five points. But, to be fair, five points for a sub-25 word lead. Congratulations, you've broken even.

touche hairy man

This guy, Russell Brand, is really popular in London. I hadn't previously heard of him but his MTV Awards bit has won me over.
"Some people, I think they're called racists, say America is not ready for a black president.

"But I know America to be a forward thinking country because otherwise why would you have let that retarded cowboy fella be president for eight years?

"We were very impressed. We thought it was nice of you to let him have a go, because, in England, he wouldn't be trusted with a pair of scissors."

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

chivalry is alive and well

My how these are flying. Column 10. Not originally part of the equation but...things change.
xx

The whole idea of this column was to present Townsville Bulletin readers with something heartfelt and honest. It’s been easy to sit down and write this column but much harder to hand over and allow to be published. But, true to my word, I have been honest and will continue to do so. That’s why, despite not being so sure I want to, I am about to tell you a little story.

I have just played the protagonist in the kind of scene you’d find in a Hollywood romantic comedy. For ease of relaying the tale, I’ll be played by Jessica Alba (thank you very much) and conveniently, Matthew McConaughey (hot!) has been cast as the male lead.

Once upon a time, there was a girl named Jessica. Jessica had just finished school and was off to Canberra for university. No sooner had she moved into her room on campus, had she met the man of her dreams. His name was Matthew, and he had moved in two doors down. Jessica and Matthew connected instantly and they became the best of friends.

Despite their bond, Jessica never felt confident enough to act on her feelings and the unrequited love broke her heart. As their university careers came to a close, and with a helping hand from a little alcohol, Jessica and Matthew finally hooked up. Jessica was elated. They would finally be together. But such dreams never came to fruition.

Enough was enough. Jessica would pine no longer. Not long after this decision, Jessica met Brad Pitt. They connected, mentally and physically, and spent the next six years together.

Fast forward to Jessica and Brad’s breakup. Jessica was devastated and called on the support of friends. These friends, including Matthew, were there for her unconditionally.

Home alone one night, Jessica heard an unexpected knock on the door. It was Matthew. After a phone call the night before, during which Jessica had burst into tears relaying her horrible day, Matthew had decided to drive the 11 hours from Sydney as a show of support. At least, that’s what he said on arrival.

After dinner and a few red wines, Matthew abruptly announced: “I have to tell you something. And you have to make me tell you.’’

Ahhh, okay. Go,” Jessica replied, a little confused but also amused by his unnatural awkwardness.

Matthew said nothing. Deep breath after deep breath, he was smiling, laughing but again, it wasn’t natural.

“Okay, hang on. Let me wee first,” Jessica piped up. She’d never been good at holding on and had a feeling this was going to take some time. In fact, she started to get an inkling for exactly what she was about to hear. She returned to the couch, a little nervous.

“Okay, okay, I just have to say it. Just let me speak. I just need to tell the whole story. I need to just say it all in one hit. Okay.’’

Long pause.

“I am completely and utterly in love with you and I have been since we met.”

Jessica’s jaw; floored. She was speechless, although that wasn’t an issue because Matthew really did intend to keep talking.

“I am an idiot for not telling you back then. I am actually embarrassed, ashamed. I can’t even explain it. I guess I was scared. I was 18 and wasn’t ready to be with the girl who knew I wanted to spend the rest of my life with. It was so clearly you. It has always been you. No one makes me feel the way you do. No one comes close.

“At the end of uni I had made the decision to tell you. I was standing at your door. I was about to knock and I panicked. It was ridiculous. My heart started beating so quickly, I couldn’t breathe, I couldn’t do it.

“The next day you introduced me to Brad. My heart sunk but I figured I would tell you as soon as you guys broke up. I have been feeling sick for the last six years. I have been convinced I had missed my chance. I have to take it now. I’m sorry. I have to. I love you. We are meant to be together.”

Jessica’s response? As they say in the classics, stay tuned.

Friday, September 5, 2008

the hunt continues

Rarely have I felt more rejected than during the not-as-brief-as-I-might-have-hoped period between university graduation and ‘first real job’.

With a degree in my hot little hands, I poured coffee, waited tables and answered phones, among other things, before a game newspaper editor gave an educated but inexperienced wannabe journalist a break. Phew.


That was more than five years ago and I have since managed to avoid returning to the black hole of unemployment. Until now.

I am in London. I have only been here two weeks but the pound is already demolishing my Australian savings. I must find a job.

I didn't expect it to be easy and it hasn't been. Today I got an email from a recruitment agency I had earlier sent my resume to. It was hard to swallow.

Hi Kate,

Thank you for your email.

Unfortuantley (sic) we are not in a postion (sic) to help you as we do not get roles like your (sic) in. Your (sic) best to approach companies direct or agent that specialise in media (sic, sic, sic).

Rejection is tough. Even tougher when the rejector (yes, i know, sic) is a moron.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

oh, how i laughed

Why does Snoop Dog always carry an umbrella?

Fo' drizzle*


*Joke blatantly stolen from Defamer

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

my first kiss

Eeek, why did I write this??? I will never know. Column nine.

PS: if you haven't already figured it out, these columns are dated. It's actually been almost one year since "we" broke up. It was also our seven year anniversary last month. Well, would have been. That felt weird. Just waiting for the weirdness to end. And for someone to give me the power to invent words like weirdness.


So, I kissed this guy on the weekend. I know, what am I? Thirteen? Regardless of how juvenile that sounded, the point is, I have had my first passionate lip-lock with someone other than my ex since 2001.

Embarrassing as it may seem, after that long with the same guy, jumping back on the market feels a little like starting all over again.

And remember how crap it was starting over? Ugh. I’m not sure about you but there was such a fear involved as the inevitable milestone of my first kiss crept up on me. A fear of not knowing what to do, of possibly discovering I was a bad kisser, of the idea ‘he’ could tell everyone how much I ‘like, totally sucked’.

When I was about 13, even after my first kiss, I used to get so nervous if I found out a boy ‘liked me, liked me’. It actually it occurred to me one day maybe that meant I was a lesbian. I know, laugh, it’s stupid. Even sadder is that, back then, the idea I could be gay was mortifying. How would I ever live it down?

Anyway, the bonus of a “first kiss” in your 20s, apart from the fact your partner in crime probably doesn’t taste like the potato chips he ate at recess, is the benefit of alcohol.

Alcohol was the catalyst for the public embrace between Mark and me last weekend. I don’t think it would have happened any other way. That’s not to say there was anything wrong with Mark, quite the opposite; it’s just that, despite being about six months into my breakup, I felt like a horrible cheater.

Once I had convinced myself that wasn’t the case, and that my ex had most probably and quite rightfully got up to similar shenanigans, I was still questioning the decision. I know it’s ridiculous. Six months is a far more substantial mourning period than most would commit to. But, to me, it was as if the time spend being single, without moving on to that kind of bachelorette lifestyle, was my way of respecting not just my ex, but the six years we had together.

Putting those feelings aside, back to the kiss. I’ve actually known Mark for quite some time. He’s a friend’s cousin and also went to the same university as me. But I hadn’t seen him for years. Our kiss, shared at a mutual friends’ birthday party, was borne out of lost inhibitions (or alcohol) and swing dancing.

You see Mark is a PE teacher and dancing, so he told me, is the subject of prac this term. Lucky for Mark, he has rhythm and he was happily busting a grove on the dance floor. Working the genres, Mark soon progressed to swing dancing, for which he needed a partner. It doesn’t take much to drag me onto a dance floor so Mark, a good looking guy, had no trouble convincing me to join him.

Have you ever had a crack at swing before? It’s fun but, when wearing a low cut dress, it’s dangerous. Perhaps it was the unintentional boob flash I gave Mark that attracted him, perhaps it was the beer – I’ll probably never know – but he moved in for the pash and I kindly obliged.

It’s worth noting, as part of my commitment to you, before I write a column of this nature again, I’m going to come up with some better, more adult words for “pash”. Promise.

Anyway, the pash continued well into the night until the inevitable question arose: your place or mine? My inevitable answer, at least for now, was neither. That jump is going to take a little more time.

Monday, September 1, 2008

slave labour

I am job hunting. It sucks arse (I've moved on from so many crass and juvenile terms but, for some unknown reason, sucks arse is not one of them).

Today i was perusing some site and came across a freelance job. Five hundred words a story, three stories a day, five days a week, all due by the 9am deadline.

"So you are free to write the articles at a time that suits you," the advertisement boasted.

The job was kind of striking a chord with me. It was a niche market which I think would be fantastic to write about. I was gearing up to adjust my generic cover letter.

Scroll down.

"For each article you will be paid $5.50. You will therefore earn a daily sum of $16.50..."

Firstly, I don't know where the pound key is. Quite likely there isn't one.

Secondly, thanks for the sums. I may be a writer but I am not a mathematical retard.

Thirdly, I laugh in the face of your offer. $5.50 a story?? You have got to be kidding. Who in this world is going to apply for such a position.

Journos, I know you appreciate this.

To bring the rest of you up to speed: I have been given the thumbs up to submit freelance stuff (yes, that's the official term) for a certain Australian publication while I am overseas with a guide of $150-$250 per 600-1000 word yarn.

I am not special, that's simply what such a job is worth.

Back to the hunt, or maybe facebook first.

from the mouths of babes

Waiting, waiting, waiting for my delayed easyJet flight from Lyon to London....

The rain is teaming, the thunder rolling, the lightning illuminating the makeshift terminal three...

A six-ish-year-old calls out...

"Mummy, mummy. What happens if we all die?"

Food for thought during the rocky 90 minute flight.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

you have been poked

Column eight. These are really flying by. Soon I'll have to write some new ones!

I unashamedly love Facebook. I love how easy the social networking website makes it to stay in touch with people. I love finding out what long lost friends are up to, and I embrace the easy access to my friends’ photos.

But, of course, there are cons. I don’t like people inviting me to add stupid applications, I hate that I am forced to speak in third person when updating my status, and I could do without the friend requests from people I met once at the party of a mutual friend.

Additionally, I am annoyed I have the capacity to so closely monitor the goings on of my ex boyfriend.

Clarification: I am not a stalker. I am, however, curious. I am curious to know who exactly Stacey King is and why she’s calling my ex “babe”. And Sophie Chambers, who are you and what are you doing in my house?

It’s not dissimilar to driving past a car accident. You know your stomach will churn at the sight of the carnage but you look anyway.

Mr X has every right to be with someone new, and he certainly has every right to have new friends, female or otherwise. I know and respect this. Truth be told, if he’s found someone else, I’d rather not know just yet. But I check out his Facebook page once every couple of weeks anyway.

In a true sign loyalty, my friend recently admitted to starting her own who-the-hell-is-Stacey? campaign. She’d noticed Stacey had befriended my ex on her “news feed” and pledged her cyber allegiance by following the trail to find out all she could. Turns out that wasn’t much, but it’s the thought that counts.

So, I guess this means I’m going through a new-age breakup. I probably knew this a few months ago when the ex and I synchronized watches and took the plunge to change our Facebook relationship status. Delightfully, Facebook took the liberty of announcing to all 374 of my friends that “Kate Jacka and (insert boy’s name here) have ended their relationship”

It wasn’t a secret, but there are better and more personal ways of breaking the news to people.

Moving on. I have opted to go relationship status-less. I am nothing. It wasn’t right to have “in a relationship” any longer but I wasn’t ready to have the word “single” under my name either. It felt weird. As if single was akin to “ready to pick up, any takers?” Not so for exxy. He is single. Available. No longer mine. Possibly someone else’s.

When the times comes, and I am once more in a relationship, or engaged, or even married, I wonder whether I’ll feel guilty having my ex find out through Facebook.

Maybe instead of “Kate Jacka went from being single to in a relationship” I can arrange for Facebook to let him know that “after what she perceives a respectable time frame, Kate Jacka has moved on and is seeing someone new. She is really happy, and hopes you are too. Despite her new beau, she will always remember you fondly.”

Maybe I should just tell him that myself. Or send a text.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

got a secret?

i just think everyone in the world needs to know about PostSecret. it's one of the most brilliant ideas i've heard of and i wish it was mine.

i want the books. someone should get me one for Christmas. but you should all probably confer first. i don't want 17 of the same thing. and yes, i am flattering myself. There aren't 17 people reading this blog.

in the short time i have known about PostSecret, i have gathered they update this page every so often and then the old stuff is lost to the cyber world. this may not be true but in case it is, click now because there's this wonderful story about a marriage proposal. or am i just a sucker for romance?

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

i don't

Seems I was further behind than I thought. Here's column seven, and now I think I'm up to date. As usual, names have been changed to protect those who, unlike me, did not stupidly agree to divulge their personal feelings for cash.

I’ve just been to a wedding. Kathy and Simon. Beautiful couple. I went to high school with Kathy. She met Simon at university. In fact, they started seeing each other around the same time as my ex and I.

The invitation was addressed to both of us. We were together when the guest list was drawn up, and heading down the same path and Kathy and Simon as far as everyone else was concerned. But, for the first time in six years, I was flying solo at the wedding.

What a funny feeling. Watching Kathy and Simon make beautiful promises to each other and not having that feeling of contentment. Not having a man by my side to exchange knowing glances with during the wedding vows.

Kathy is the third of my high school girls to get hitched. Georgie was the first. At her wedding I caught the bouquet. And then do you know what I did? No, you don’t, so I’ll tell you. I threw it away. With a look of shear terror in my eyes, I turned and tossed the bouquet like a hot potato. I’m not joking.

Even through the haze of 74 beers I felt instantly horrible and the guilt became palpable when I discovered my ex had caught it on camera. Even worse, a friend had caught it all on video camera. Ahhh, the memories.

So, what kind of idiot throws away a bouquet? And why am I always inclined to start sentences with the word so? It’s not like anyone was going to hold me to the ‘you’re next to be married’ theory. Anyway, as I’ve mentioned, 74 beers.

I didn’t bother contesting the bouquet challenge when it was Kathy’s turn. I feigned amusement when my mates dragged me onto the dance floor to take part in the tradition, but the thought of catching it just weeks after splitting from my once husband-to-be was hard to take. Sigh.

It was also too soon to even consider “picking up”. Single by name but not yet by nature. I think being with someone else would still feel like cheating, or like I was somehow cheapening my last relationship. I wonder when that feeling will go away. I wonder if my ex feels the same. Or, on the contrary, I wonder if he’s embracing bachelorhood. Actually, no, I don’t wonder. I don’t want to know.

It’s so funny the way you view life and, more specifically, marriage, as you are growing up. As girls, and I know I speak for the majority of us, we earmark the age at which we WILL get married and WILL have children. As if we alone get to decide. For me it was married at 26, first born (William, in case you’re interest) at 28, and second (Lily) at 30. Now, unless there’s someone willing to marry me and get busy making babies in the next couple of weeks, my optimistic plan is doomed. Any takers? No? Okay, moving on.

It’s worth noting, I’m fine with that. Now that I am 26, it seems quite young to start doing all those grown-up things. I feel there’s so much for me to see and do before I ‘settle down’. Still, I do have a couple of new goals in mind. Married at 30, William at 31, Lily at 33.

A girl has to maintain some kind of pressure.

shoes, glorious shoes

When I departed Australia last month, I left behind glorious friends, a supportive family, a stable career, and a new relationship which makes me gush.

I also left behind about 217 pairs of shoes. It was easily the hardest part of the wardrobe culling process. With my clothes, I gave heaps away. A much-needed cleanout. My shoes, on the other hand, are patiently waiting for my return, save two pairs which hit the charity bins.

Which of my beloved shoes would make the trek to London via South America with me was a near impossible decision. Like picking which of your children you like best, I imagine.

As I will when I one day have children, I favoured the best looking shoes. My mum does the same. I know because I’m the favourite.

So, the joggers were in for practicality. The street shoes were in because I refuse to slump to jogger-jeans. I am not American. The Havaianas were in because I live in them. The black heels were in for social practicality. I MUST have heels and black is the most versatile and great for work.

But, a girl can’t rely on black and I need colour in my life. Purple or yellow? Purple or yellow?

The yellow shoes are my all-time favourites. Canary yellow, scarily high – I want to marry them. Thank you, Mollini. The purple shoes, also courtesy of Mollini, come a close second but I actually get a lot more wear out of them so they won the free flight.

It wasn’t easy making room for two pairs of heels but I made it happen.

Today I left Rio de Janeiro after six weeks in South America. In my backpack, which is now busting at the seams, I had to squeeze an additional five pairs of shoes. Yes, five. Check them out.


Now, five sounds worse than it actually is because two pairs are Havaianas. To be fair, you can’t go to the home of Australia’s favourite thongs and not buy a couple of pairs. They are, after all, sold in every second shop.

On the far left are the originals, the first ever style released. There are better looking thongs but I think it’s kind of cool to have a pair, purchased in Rio. Also, I know first ever is a redundancy, but I prefer how it sounds.

Next to them is a pair original for another reason. Different, at least to me. I haven’t seen these designs in Oz and I am hoping they don’t arrive before I return so I can be a trend-setter. Not that I’m not already.

Next, my new flats. Purchased in Buenos Aires for the bargain price of about 15 Aussie bucks. That night I disposed of my street shoes. These are much prettier. I like pretty.

Skipping to the boots and, as a result, saving the best to last – BA was a boot-a-thon and it was impossible to leave without a pair. These were the winners out of about 20 prospective additions to my shoe rack. I don’t own a shoe rack. I should get one.


Love at first sight

Heading back to contestant number four. Love. Love. Love. My other purchases were justified by the balance of their appeal and reasonable price. These bombed out on the reasonable price card but are justified solely by their beauty. They caused my jaw to drop. Price is irrelevant when a pair of shoes can stir that reaction.

The airport this arv was a nightmare. I left Oz with a 14 kg backpack. My checked luggage today weighed in at 21kg. My shoulders are killing me. My feet thank them.

PS: Siamese Saffron, I thought of you as I wrote this blog. Hope Sydney-town is living up to your expectations.

Saturday, August 9, 2008

what's 4x7? Peru!

Sorry for the wait, again. Column six. Current update: now in London town and so, so happy. It feels good here already.

I threatened to do it, and now it’s come to fruition. I’m running away. I’m packing my bags and leaving the country or, more specifically, I am leaving my problems.

It’s what I do. Run and hide, hope it will go away. Of course, it never does. Once I actually hid a phone bill from myself because it was so big I didn’t want to deal with it. Then I forgot about it and got charged a $15 late fee. Idiot. But I’ve got a good feeling this time.

Last week I was offered a one-month placement on an amazing volunteer program in Peru. I’ll be there next month.

I’m finding it difficult to convince people to take me seriously on this subject during these early stages of planning. I guess because Peru was always my backup response to any question for which I didn’t know the answer.

Montevideo is the capital of which country? Peru!
Which country hosted the 1948 Olympic Games? Peru!
Luiz Incacio Lula de Silva is the President of which country? Peru!
What’s the time? Peru!

I’m the girl who cried Peru and I’m being attacked by wolves.

Anyway, regardless of what people believe, in less than four weeks I will be in Cuzco working for a not-for-profit organisation called Peru’s Challenge. Briefly, I will be part of a small team of volunteers working towards improving child education, health and hygiene standards in the area.

I expect the placement to be a huge challenge. For starters, I don’t speak Spanish. I can say ‘buen venidos a Miami’, which means ‘welcome to Miami’ (thank you, Will Smith, circa 2001) but I’m not sure that’s going to get me far in South America.

A beginners’ course is probably a sensible idea but teaching this old dog new tricks has never gone down well. I hate being crap at stuff. But I am making an effort. I have bought myself a Latin American Spanish phrasebook but am still at the stage of trying to find phrases that make me laugh. “I can’t get it up, sorry” immediately followed by “don’t worry, I’ll do it myself” are the winners so far.

Thankfully, English will get me by in my next stop: the UK.

My stay in London, at this stage, is indefinite. I am asked daily how excited I am. My response usually falls flat. The thing is, just weeks from departure, somehow, I am not particularly excited. I know I will be, but right now I am consumed by loose ends which need tying.

I need to sell my car (Barina, anyone?), move my stuff into storage, organise immunisation, finalise my new home loan and, most importantly, work out which shoes to take.

Taking this column full circle, because I worry I won’t get everything done in time, I am spending a lot of time pretending there’s nothing to do. Will I ever learn?

I can picture departure-eve right now. After desperately convincing mum to sell my car for me, store all my stuff in her spare room and take over my mobile phone contract, I’ll start to pack.

A few days later, I arrive in Peru undie-less, but with eight pairs of heels and my iPod speakers. Priorities.

Saturday, August 2, 2008

bye bye peru

I have spoken about home visits before. They can be heartbreaking and heartwarming. My last home visit produced both but, unfortunately, the former was most dominant.

During this excursion I met Manuel, a father of five. His home, which he built with his own arthritic hands, was as simple as the rest in Pumamarca. A “living room” full of potatoes, a kitchen full of smoke and, upstairs, a bedroom with two basic beds and a shrine to Jesus.

When I returned downstairs (I had ben taking photos of the bedroom for the family’s file) I walked in on one of the most heartbreaking sights of my Peruvian experience – of a lifetime of experience.

Manuel was in tears. Blubbering to the social worker and our volunteer manager because of the life of poverty he was “providing” for his family. At the time, I couldn’t understand a word (my Spanish is as shocking as it was when I left) but his sentiments were obvious. He was a beaten man, but also a grateful man – grateful for the assistance offered by Peru’s Challenge.

As we were leaving, with tears in his eyes once more, Manuel showed me his hands. They were destroyed from a laborious life. Black, torn apart, crippled. I put a sympathetic hand on his shoulder, he burst into tears and hugged me. I shed a couple myself.



These experiences have been unique and touching. I am reluctant though to say, they have been life-changing. Firstly, it’s a wanky cliché I would rather avoid. Secondly, although such tales put my life, my comparatively pathetic troubles, into perspective, they haven’t lessened said troubles.

Somehow, for example, I was still pissed off on the plane from Lima to Buenos Aires when I let a girl take my window seat, even though I wanted to say no, only to discover my (HER!!) earphone jack didn’t work. Grrrr.

Anyway, it’s important for me to remember home visits weren’t always teary. Visit number two this day was to a pregnant mother with five boys and a little girl already under her wing. “Home visit” wasn’t the correct term on this occasion as the boys, playing in the dirt in the front yard, didn’t let me past the gate. Instead they took my camera hostage, pulled stupid faces and cracked up upon review each and every time. Gorgeous.


And so, I leave Peru as I arrived: amazed by the locals’ happy faces and the complete juxtaposition of their bleak lifestyle. In the end, I had a similar contrast going. The time spent sick put a dampener on my month in Peru and there were times I would have happily left. But, on the other hand, there were times, many times, the kids of Pumamarca – their bright smiles and unyielding affection - made it all worth while.

Still, my next holiday will likely be less third world country with strangers, more beach paradise with friends. Anyone?
xx

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

lawyered up

Sorry if you've been waiting on this, although I'm sure you haven't been. Firstly, I have been off trekking the Inca trail. Easy :) Secondly, this, the fourth column, is a total rip off of a blog i wrote a while back. Seriously, it's almost word for word. I'm only posting it so I have a record of all my columns.

I have a lawyer and I’m not afraid to use him. Actually, that’s a lie. I do, in fact, have a lawyer but I am utterly afraid to use him.

Update: I am getting a divorce. Probably the most frustrating thing about that is I have never been married. Huh? Okay, so I’m not actually getting a divorce, but may as well be.

Mr X and I owned property. Moguls, for shizzle. So we have to get a separation agreement. Even though we are amicable, and smart, and can sit down over a coffee or three and split possessions in a fair and rational manner, the world says "nope, sorry, you have a pay a lawyer an outlandish sum of money so they can turn your completely logical ideas and conclusions into jargon that resembles Japanese more so than English. Because you don't understand what they are saying, or what you're reading, you'll succumb to their jaw-dropping fees just to get the hell out of their office and finally farewell the situation you're in".


This is my life at the moment. X's lawyer writes document. Posts it to me (even though X could have just given it to me when we caught up for coffee two days earlier) with 800 canary-yellow stickers which say SIGN HERE, SIGN HERE, SIGN HERE, SIGN HERE, SIGN HERE, SIGN HERE...you get the point.


I choose not to even look at it. En route to MY lawyer, for no apparent reason other than a build up of "this sucks", I start to cry. Fool. I find a park, compose myself and walk towards MY lawyer's office. I walk in.

"Hi, I have a 12 o'clock with *i can feel that, piss off throat lump, not in front of the receptionist* David Johnson," phew, survival."No worries, take a seat."

Now, this is no doctor’s surgery. There's no New Idea from September, 1997 to help me take my mind of things. This is particularly unfortunate because I was really hoping for an update on Princess Di. Did you know she died? Seriously.

"Hi Kate, how are you? My name's Alice, come on through"


First thought; you're delightful. Second; you're not David. David is on his way back from Brisbane apparently. Alice will start of our consultation by getting the background.

"Let's start at the start," says Alice. Good plan. My response, tears. She is empathetic, and searches for tissues. I am mortified. For as long as I can remember, I have been the kind of girl to play the hardarse card. Want vulnerability? You will NOT find it here. But then I figure, Alice doesn't know this, or me...more tears.


"I'm sorry, I'm sorry...I'm fine." Mmm, obviously. We proceed. Life story is told, peppered with teary episodes. David arrives. Goddamit, it's so much easier to cry in front of women. I just know they're both thinking I have been left at the altar or experienced some equally horrific, one-sided breakup but, no, just having an emotional day.

I think one of the things that really scares me is I've come to the point of requiring a lawyer. That I actually need a third party to give me professional advice, assistance and a whopping bill.

I don't even have my own accountant. I don't even have my own doctor. I *sob* don't *sob* even *sob* have *sob* a *sob* booooooyfriiiend *waaaaaaaaaa*


Over it though. Really.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

no more mr nice guy

I feel it is my duty to inform you I am not a martyr. Don’t be fooled by this volunteer project I am working on and don’t be fooled by my words of admiration, although heartfelt, for the children of Pumamarca.

Resemblance?

I do not, as a friend suggested in a comment a couple of blogs ago, have a heart of gold. My heart comprises gold, no doubt. I am capable of and often inclined to deliver kind, generous acts, especially towards those I love. But I know my heart also boasts a little silver, some bronze, probably some tulle, a bit of cellophane, a paddle pop stick or two and, I’ve got to say, there’s a touch of onyx in there too (onyx is black, in case you missed the point).

Here’s the thing. The decision to come to Cusco and work for Peru’s Challenge was one made with my own interests at heart. The fact a charity, and the gorgeous, struggling kids of Pumamarca would somehow benefit was a bonus. This was about me doing something out of my comfort zone and growing from it. It was about me gaining a new perspective. And, it’s no secret, it was about me running away from an unrecognisable and sometimes scary life at home.

Here’s the other thing. Having now been here three weeks, I am so ready to leave. The kids and going to school remains the highlight of my days. The few friends I have made have also made the experience a memorable one. But the cons are starting to come to the fore.

Like...

I dropped the c-bomb in the shower two days ago because, yet again, the hot water was AWOL. I never use that word.

I have been feeling sick for the last seven days, two of those were spent on a drip in hospital with nurses whose language I don’t speak. Note to self: learn how to ask “should you be sticking that syringe of weird stuff in my IV?” in Spanish.

I am scared of Peruvian food for fear of watching it come back up, again, and, as a result, I am feeling sick from starvation. How do you do it Mary Kate? How?

My dreams continue to be interrupted by barking dogs, whistle-blowing security guards and early-rising volunteers void of courtesy.

I am so, very over the tools in this volunteer group. There seems to be an unreasonable number of them and they’ve been getting worse as time has past. My intolerance for dickheads doesn’t help the cause.

See, it’s still me, mum. Anything in small doses, few things in big ones.

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