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 The problem was, whenever it came to summing up the previous 1000-ish words, oft plagiarised from out-of-date library books and random websites, I couldn’t get the phrase ‘in conclusion’ out of my head.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

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