ON THE ART OF OBSERVATION

Maggie Kelly is on to you.

She's also on email: maggie.kelly01@gmail.com

ON CRAFTY CHRISTMAS CUNTS AND FEELING LIKE I AM FAILING AS A CREATIVE.

I know it’s all I talk about, but like, social media is fucked, right?

It is truly a curious contradiction of our age.
On one hand, social media lines us up like duck-pout sitting, erm, ducks, organising us in order of the best to worst. And yet on the other hand, it connects us in the only way we can be connected.

So, like a self-flagellating moron I scroll through the endless procession of Best Dressed, Most Travelled, Nicest Tan and Largest Selection of Nike Fitness Gear on the daily. Well Bah, Humbug homies, this time of year has something special in store for the weak of ego…. The Craftiest Christmas Cunt.

Here is what is currently infecting my Facebook and Instagram, ie. ‘My Life’:
Homemade native flower Christmas wreaths.
Homemade individualised party bon-bons with self scripted jokes.
Homemade gingerbread biscuits with edible sparkles.
Homemade Miley Cyrus wrecking ball Christmas tree decorations. (Ok, that one was actually pretty cool.)
What the actual fuck, people? Did you not get the memo that as Gen Y, we are genealogically programmed to buy everything in crycovaced plastic? And, oh! That’s right, WE’RE NOT MEANT TO CARE ABOUT THINGS AS SENTIMENTAL AS CHRISTMAS?!

As my panicked weeks stumble closer and closer to the white hot danger of Christmas Day, the pressure is beginning to get to me. It would seem I stand solo among a sea of Frankie Magazine worthy Crafty Cunts who have spent the last month hand-gluing sequins on reindeer cards, and making tiny Christmas hams that will accompany their special spiced pumpkin fucking martini. I am alone. The other day, I told my mother I didn’t have a Christmas tree, and she called me sad. SAD.

I can think of a few obvious reasons for this Country Women’s Association inspired resurgence in crafty shit. Things are getting expensive these days. The standard Gen-Y occupation of Going Out And Getting Pissed requires a small mortgage in 2013. Hell, TV ain’t even free any more – I spend more on Apple TV that I do on my own dental hygiene. And let’s not even talk about how much it costs to entertain…a dinner for ten of your dearest friends would normally equate to the cost of going out to a restaurant, buying the restaurant, buying the restaurant owner a new Toyota Prius, and then buying the restaurant owner’s new Toyota Prius a full service and pine-scented air refresher and one of those wooden bead seat covers. Expensive shit, man.

And thus, the economic crisis has clearly herded the panicked, impoverished masses indoors to their 1982 mustard-carpeted living rooms, or VB strewn backyards, to sew/stick/stitch/glue/bake/brew their way to hipster heaven.

Outside, I stand on the sidewalk, face pressed against the glass of their living room window, shaking my head sadly as I contemplate both their fate and my own. For them, they will never know the joy of frantic runs around Westfield at 11pm on Christmas Eve, gathering presents, decorations and trying not to vomit up the three litres of egg nog you just gulped down for free from the stall out the front of Dan Murphy’s. For me, I know that I will never acquire the skill to mix more than three ingredients to make anything more exotic than a vodka, lime and soda. The last time I used superglue I attached the hand to my bottle, the bottle to my broken reading glasses and my broken reading glasses to my desk. The Crafty Cunts were doomed, and I was going down with ‘em.

As the title of this article suggests, I feel like a failure.

As vitriolic and jaded as I may seem, I too once enjoyed the crafts as much as the next Noni from Playschool. However, I then got older, and realised that spending money was way more enjoyable than actually making something. And now, as the festive season brings the beaders, bakers and home-made organic beeswax candlestick makers out of the woodwork, I face the double whammy insult of realising I am a) not festive and b) not crafty.

Well, as my favourite saying goes; “Fuck You All, Motherfuckers.”

Whilst you all while away the hours whittling down a eucalyptus branch from your backyard into monogrammed salad tongs for your boyfriend, I’m going to be strolling around the air-conditioned comfort of Myer, buying heavily reduced gift packs and sipping on complimentary T-2 samples. And whilst you bitch and moan picking crispy dead pine needles out of your carpet for months to come, I’ll be NOT packing away a Christmas tree and NOT removing tinsel and NOT trying to undo the super tight wire holding the wreath to the front door. (Or, if you’re my Mum, trying to undo the super tight white shoelace holding the wreath to the front door. Extra crafty. And I’M sad?)

So save your hand drawn Christmas cards, spiced rum sweet potato pancakes and recycled timber placemats: I’m done with you Crafty Christmas Cunts. I will take my disposable, pre-purchased, commercial ass out of here and take a Xanax until this nightmare is over and a new one begins in the wily form of 2014.

Merry Christmas to you all!

ON MOVING CITIES, CRYING INTO PILES OF CLOTHES AND MASTERING THE ART OF ‘FRIEND DATES’

Confidence is easy to pick.

I have a firm handshake and I remember people’s names. I don’t have a polarising laugh and I got my blushing fully under control a couple of years back. I’m damn funny on cheap champagne. I don’t mind speaking to groups of people without palm cards, and even if your name contains zero vowels I will give it a bloody good shot. My voicemail is so confident it sounds like Rhonda Burchmore after ten lines of rack. I welcome awkward hug/handshakes and I honestly don’t care if people see me buying boxes of tampons at the checkout in Coles. Hell, I’ll even buy YOUR tampons if you want.

Then I moved city.

In the space of a few months I have withered, shrivelled, shrunk into a shadow of my former crowing crowned glory. Someone offered me a slice of humble pie and I gobbled the whole fucking lot until I slumped down into a self-worthlessness food coma. Ah, Moving City And Making Friends As An Adult: a challenge that sounded so easy - yet ended up being one of the hardest things I’ve done in a long, long time.

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I’ve long since subscribed to the belief that there are just a few things that people should avoid doing as adults. There’s stuff that you simply lose the ability to grasp or conquer as the years roll on. Sitting cross-legged, for example. When I try and do that now for long periods of time, I lose feeling in several of my toes, start cramping in my knees and get hysterically giggly at the thought of a tiny, squeaky fart slipping out. Try sitting cross-legged on carpet for a long period of time – that’s even worse. There is something very specific about carpet itch – all I can think about are those damn vacuum commercials where they zoom into microscope images of tiny, translucent carpet lice. I’m itchy just writing about it.

Also on the list of Things Not To Attempt As An Adult: learning a language (it will ruin your personal perception of your own intellect forever), learning to drive a car (see above, plus, L-plates over 40 is embarrassing), getting braces (I’m just being an asshole now) and trying to teach yourself to like a food you have always hated. (Just on that last one – am I actually the only person in the world who doesn’t eat olives? Seriously? I feel like that guy at the bar who just ordered lemonade). I would like to take this opportunity to point out that I am a non-bilingual, licence-less loser with crooked teeth and a limited palette. So calm your tits.

The running theme through my list of Things Not To Attempt As An Adult seems to be, well, learning. More specifically – to give up learning. Going back and looking like an amateur all over again is a daunting prospect: I mean, isn’t the primary aim of adulthood to like … look like you know what you’re doing? GIVE UP NOW PEOPLE: IF YOU CAN’T ASK FOR A GLASS OF WATER IN FRENCH NOW, YOU NEVER WILL.

And yet - here I am, having moved cities, and learning to do something far more basic than fucking French. I’m learning to make friends again. Ya know, how to open your mouth and speak to a stranger. How to walk into a party and not know a single person. How to remember interesting conversation starters. (NB: “Did you know Oprah has six toes on her left foot?” does not fly). Re-learning how to establish yourself with people, in a new town, is difficult. These are forgotten skills. For a while there, we were being forced to do it almost daily: from preschool years to university years, walking up to a stranger and saying “Hi, my name is…” was not such a hard thing. As long as you remembered to include your name in that sentence.

Yet as an adult I have been struck by crippling shyness, from nowhere. It’s been years since I’ve sat in a far-flung pile of my wardrobe’s entire contents to tearfully declare: “I have nothing to wear!” Yet now it happens almost on a weekly basis. I haven’t blushed in years, yet now even talking to the barista for too long turns me a potentially dangerous shade of Burst Blood Vessel Violet. Slap on some braces and some coke bottle glasses and call me fucking Urkel. How the hell did I get here, and more importantly, how do I fix it?

In a world of cyber-friendships, online networking and contrived, image-based interaction; the art of face-to-face contact has become one increasingly difficult to master. It’s becoming a tired argument now, this lamentation of Facebook and Instagram and Twitter – yet one that I am starting the learn the true reach of. We have become incredibly lazy as human beings, preferring the no-risk option of creating and nurturing friendships online, rather than in ‘real life.’ Fuck, when did we start referring to reality as ‘real life’?

So here I am. Mid twenties and in a new city. A few weeks into the move, I see teeny tiny green sprouts of potential friendships poking up through the dirt. My decision lies now in how to grow them…from inside my iphone, right? Do I add them on snapchat? Introduce them to my friend list on Facebook? Let them see behind the scenes on my instagram? Or do I take the decidedly more difficult path of asking them for a coffee, or a wine, or even over for dinner one night? Listen to me now people: friend dating is hard. Way fucking harder than trying to find a boyfriend. Like, at least whilst on a romantic date you can flash your boobs and be almost guaranteed of your success – with friend dates, you have to make small talk, laugh at their jokes and try to avoid saying anything weird. NO BOOBS. Seriously…none.

Rattling through the back arse end of Sydney city trainline towards my lovely new home on the water, I was momentarily taken aback by a sudden and most vivid memory: four years ago, in London. I was on the train, heading out to meet a new friend I had made in earlier in the week. We had a music festival or something to go to, and I was so fucking excited – not scared, or apprehensive, or worried about my outfit. Just … excited. And suddenly, it occurred to me – my problem with meeting people didn’t have anything to do with me being a social spaz (although that is definitely a contributing factor); it was because I wasn’t excited anymore. That train ride in London to make a friend was so easy, because I devoid of my current anxieties. I was overseas, free.

So there you go: tip one of learning to make friends as an adult? Adopt the same “I’ll shag who I want/ dress how I want/ say what I want because I’ll probably never see you again” attitude that seems to sneakily pervade one’s mind as soon as you open your passport. Don’t worry so much about what people think of you, and worry more about whether you’re having fun. I sound like my mother here. Except she would follow it up with that story about her friend in high school was super popular even though she never wore shoes, and I’m not going down that path because let’s face it – no shoes is no the right message to send. Wear shoes guys.

So line up, potential friends!
I’m ready to add you to my contact list and make you an especially bad cup of tea.
And look, if things go pear shaped…I can always flash you my boobs.

ON TWERKING AND THE FACT AWKWARD WHITE GIRLS JUST CAN’T DANCE

Awkward white girl issues. It’s a THING.
Whether it’s singing the wrong words to rap songs, always having to hike up your jeans because you have no ass to hold them up, or receiving withering looks whenever you and a girlfriend happen to say ‘OMG!’ at the same time and burst out in Regina-Georgesque-giggles; white girls cop a lot of flack. We’re lame. We get it.

But it is one white girl who has, this week, trumped Amanda Bynes for the ultimate Embarrassing Lame White Girl trophy. Worldwide, the rest of us white girls huddled over our laptops and let out a collective squeal of horror as we watched Miley Cyrus at the VMA awards, twerkin’ and humpin’ and gyratin’ her way to infamy. Miley, Miley, Miley. What the FUCK, sister? Miley has committed the cardinal sin of being a white girl: trying to be ghetto. The result, as we are all now aware, was an epic failure.

If you are a private school girl with a penchant for Zara ballet flats and chilled white wine, there is absolutely no way in hell you will ever, EVER be able to carry off high-top Jordans or flat-caps. Ghetto is just not your schtick. WE ARE NOT COOL.
Don’t think I’m not empathetic - I understand that a seismic shift is currently underway with the young folk of today, in which ghetto is the new grunge. And grunge was hard. Hell, I was barely able to carry off Doc Martens in my day (it all became more believable when I moved out of home, worked two jobs, drank like Clive Palmer and legitimately looked like a junkie) – and ghetto is WAY harder. All we had to do was stay up for a few days without washing, and chuck on a $10 Big-W flannelette. These kids are staring down the barrel of acrylic nails and cheek piercings, for fuck’s sake.

Oh dear, the young ghetto-wannabees. Unsatisfied with being flat-chested, small assed and toting a fair dose of catholic guilt that directly opposes ghetto principles of being FLY (not 100% sure what that even means) I ask: what future do they have?

Whatever that future may be, it’s significantly more grim now that they now have a new hero in Miley ‘I swear I’m not on drugs’ Cyrus. From the moment that bowl-eyed, plate-faced bitch slunk out of a giant teddy bear, all I thought was: drugs. You are on drugs. Or, the person who conceptualised this musical abortion was on DRUGS. It was senseless, shocking and crammed with things you want to do when high, but barely stop yourself so you don’t get kicked out of the club: her tongue lolling about, eyes manically searching for someone to give her the thumbs up and dancing like she felt. Which, judging from her performance, was somewhere between slutty and invertebrate.

The real issue at hand, however, was all that damn twerking.

In the words of 2-Live Crew, it was all face down, ass up, as Miley planted her hands on the ground and bounced that sad little white girl ass up in errrrryone’s grill. (Sorry, I won’t do that again. See? Ghetto just doesn’t work.) As I watched her performance, I was transported back to a my grade ten school dance, which – in one of my first attempts at slutty dancing – threw my hands in the air and tried to shake my hips. With great disappointment I realised that my hips, unlike the Pussycat Dolls’ hips, did not move autonomously to the rest of my body. I must have looked like I was impersonating a tree swaying in the wind. But it was ok, because I got it. I was a White Girl, and White Girl’s can’t dance.

But Miley, well…Miley hasn’t got that yet.

I hope, for the sake of white girls worldwide, she does soon. Because, before long, there are going to be girls going down a road that’s straight from the Miss Shop section in Myer to the fucking House of Dereon. AND THEY DON’T EVEN SELL THAT IN AUSTRALIA.

Until Miley twerks herself offstage and into Betty Ford, I vote that older awkward white girls worldwide unite, and provide an achievable role model for the younger awkward white girls. Ya know, celebrate the shit we are actually good at. Here is what middle class, boring, white girls are good at. We can mix and match Sheridan sheet sets, text faster than anyone, and recite the words to the SECOND verse of the national anthem. We know how to wear a cardigan, and what washing cycle is best for La Perla underwear. We quote Seinfield. We like Whitney Houston. We RSVP before the expected date, stand up for old drunks on the tram (even when they are yelling profanities at us), drink chardonnay with ice in it, still call people’s parents ‘Mr’ and ‘Mrs’ and you know what? We just don’t agree with the whole ‘Fuck Da Police’ vibe. We LIKE the police. They keep us SAFE.

Lame white girls worldwide, hold your heads high through this brief stage of feeling exceptionally uncool. You do not have to trying and figure out what it is to be ‘fly.’ You do not have to try and learn the words to Dr Dre. You do not have to twerk. I repeat, YOU DO NOT HAVE TO TWERK. You are an awkward white girl, and that’s ok.

Stay tuned for the next in this series with the episode: Madonna, Why Are You Wearing Grills?

ON THE ASHY BINES BIKINI BODY CULT

It is no secret that I live as a banished outsider from the walls of Clean Eating City. I sit, huddled, glaring down on the thriving city where sweet potatoes are burger buns, chia seeds pepper every meal and kale smoothies come in pretty jars with striped white and red straws.
In recent weeks I have noticed a new tribe gathering within the walls of Clean Eating City. They are a growing army of cleaning eating, quad squatting, montage uploading, Lorna Jane minions; their gleeful cackling heard for miles. They are armed and dangerous with protein shakes and they WILL use them. They are the Ashy Bines Clean Eating Cult.

Some time ago I was informed my Clean Eating piece had been posted on the wall of a Facebook group, causing some serious fucking femme outrage. Feet were stomped, hair was pulled and bitches were scratching with their acrylic nails like Tyra Banks at a House of Dereon sample sale. Curious, I requested to be added to this page, the “Ashy Bines Clean Eating Diet Plan.”

In the days and weeks that have followed I have watched, curiously, as my news feed became overrun with a guerrilla marketing campaign of stomachs sagging over a plethora of terrible underwear (cotton, baggy, floral, leopard, synthetic, take your pick), all-kale-everything, Nike Free Run mania. I saw recruits as young as 16 asking how to ‘shred’ and mothers of a mere matter of weeks lamenting their weight loss struggles. It was a scary and dark world of body obsession that had me guiltily recount my previous night’s dinner of water crackers, a bottle of wine and a bottle of Moet. I was behind enemy lines, and Ashy Bines was watching.

So. Joining the ranks of John Malkovich and James Boag, we ask: Who Is Ashy Bines? According to my research, she’s a 24 year old blonde Queenslander (uncomfortably close to home, friends) who has made millions selling a $69 diet plan to achieve the perfect bikini body.

You know what? NO.

Here’s another theory.
I am of the utmost belief that Ashy Bines is actually a mid-forties, transition lenses, smock wearing, obese man who has started a cult. Tapping into the current obsession from women worldwide to ruin perfectly good food by making it with bizarre substitutions (I’ve said it once, I’ll say it again, SWEET POTATOES ARE NOT BURGER BUNS) he is gathering his minions preparing for international takeover. Looking like a modern day Mark David Chapman, he operates from his mother’s paisley living room, barking orders to Stella McCartney for Adidas wearing secret agents. He has declared war on food-induced endorphins. Prepare yourself people, in ten years you won’t be spending your hard earned bones on ratsak pingers, you will be hitting the black market for contraband Mars Bars. You think global warming is bad? Try having to blend your breakfast every day and struggle to pronounce the ingredients in your lunch. Acai, quinoa, cacao nibs anyone? The world will collapse under a growing army of early risers who compliment you on your body mass index and could drive a truck through the gap in their thighs. I’m already reaching for the Xanax.

Like any lunatic conspiracy theorist, I feel so alone in my tinfoil hat hell. I have prodded a couple people over the course of writing this to ask what they thought about Ashy Bines, to not a lot of success. Mum’s convinced I went to school with someone called Ashy Bines, my friend thought it was a Selena-Gomezesque Disney star and my flatmate was found yesterday morning with several bags of McDonalds strewn across his bed, so I figured he was out of the equation. My favourite research subject, however, was the lady who washed my hair at the hairdressers the other day.

WASHER WOMAN: “What are you writing?”
YOURS TRULY: “An article on Ashy Bines.”
WASHER WOMAN: “Who’s she?”
YOURS TRULY: “She invented a diet to look good in a bikini and has a Facebook group and I think she might be a cult leader. What do you think about clean eating?”
WASHER WOMAN: “Yeah, like with all the pollution, you shouldn’t be putting crap in your body…I live in an apartment so I can’t grow food but like, as a promotional model I really like to eat clean food. Or make sure you wash it. Pollution is bad for your skin.”

I was very confused until I realised she had no idea what ‘clean eating’ was, and took a stab in the dark at thinking it was food devoid of pesticides. I like her.

I feel the Ashy Bines cult members cropping up around me like ingrown hairs after DIY wax job. Today on the tram, as I shovelled a Nandos wrap down my gullet I felt someone watching me. I looked up to see, across several heads and bodies, the iron glare of a woman several rows away. My eyes darted to her running skins, her Nike Frees, her protein shake cup….oh good fucking lord, it’s one of them. Looking back at her, I locked in eye contact as I polished off the last of the wrap. You will not get me too, Ashy Bines.

This is a warning to you, readers: Ashy Bines is out there, and he’s hungry. That heaving oaf will sing you a siren song of lettuce cup burgers, chick pea cookies and vegan meatloaf (I am simply BOILING with anger) but you must stay strong. Think of your children, and the cheeseless-pizza world they may have to live in. THINK OF THE CHILDREN.

So next time you think a Before And After Shot instagram session is rinsing around your mind posing as a good idea – stop. If you want to lift up your shirt next time you’re out with your mates and ask what they reckon about your BMI, be my guest. If you want to make photo collages of your rabbit food green slurrie bullshit with overused axioms like ‘rise and grind,’ knock yourself out. But remember who’s watching you. Ashy Bines and his posse of bikini body bitches, ready to knock that cookie out of your hand and shove it down your throat instead.

ON FREQUENT FLYER FUCKWITS

Braggers. Boasters. Show offs. Angela Bishop trying to sound casual about interviewing Brad Pitt.
We all know someone who fits this mould - people who just love to one-up your story with a bigger, better, more glamorous tale of their own. A topic that attracts these types like a mosquito to a mid-summer pool tarp is TRAVELLING.
Ah, international travel: fancy people love to write about it. Ladies who lunch love to gossip about it. Under 30’s love to boast about it on every social media platform possible and over 30’s love to frame pictures about it. Some of the worst offenders are singers:

- Charlene, who always sounded like a bit of a slut: “I’ve been to Nice and Isle of Greece while I sipped champagne on a yacht. I’ve moved like Harlow in Monte Carlo and showed ‘em what I got.”

- Corrine Bailey Rae, who clearly needs some lessons in geography and time zones: “Oooh ooh, you’ve taken me up so high, Paris nights and New York mornings.”

- Lucky Starr, who everyone wishes was never born and could probably do with his throat ripped out: “I’ve been everywhere man. I’ve been everywhere man…”

Ok, guys, we get it. You have travelled the world so many times over that if you were trailing a piece of string the planet would look like a gussied-up Christmas ham.

It doesn’t matter if you are a singer, a dancer or a candlestick maker; people who incessantly boast about their travels are generally considered a pain in the arse. In the true spirit of the inherently Australian ‘Tall Poppy Syndrome’, the average punter would far prefer to hear about someone’s long weekend escape in the Kalgoorlie caravan park than their two month escapade in the south of France. Australians just don’t want to hear about what goes on offshore.

This grim realisation came to the fore early last week, whilst walking down Chapel Street with my flatmate and her friend. He was chatting away on the topic of claustrophobia. Oh, I thought. Oh. I have a great story about claustrophobia. See, there was this one time in Florence when I was climbing the inside of the Duomo and - oh, fuck.
It hit me.
I was becoming one of those people. A bragger. A boaster. A show off. An Angela Bishop. Somebody who can’t walk five meters down the road without proclaiming that something reminded me of NEW YORK or that person looks exactly like my friend from GREECE and ohhh that half-eaten donut in the bin looks just like that half-eaten donut in a bin that I saw in MOROCCO!
I was becoming one of those people: an A-Grade, Frequent Flyer Fuckwit.

You will encounter FFF’s in both I.R.L. and URL realms; they’re hard to miss. Whether it’s a status update that says too much, or a picture that says a thousand words too many more; FFF’s want you to know where they are. And it sure ain’t Kalgoorlie Caravan Park. From here, they will jump on a jet (complete with eye-rolling status updates: “OMG! Upgraded to first class!” or “Missed flight – another night in Barcelona – yay!”) and touch down on Aussie soil. And thus, the infection begins…no topic of conversation is safe from them dropping the bomb of “This one time overseas…” And, to avoid feeling like Erica Yurken in Hating Alison Ashley, you must simply smile and nod knowingly. Because of course you agree it’s crazy how much expensive cocaine is in Australia, and how much milder the sun is in Europe, and how no one really likes the taste of Club Mate…right?

So: how to avoid this?
I won’t deny that I have been blessed with international travel.
My favourite memories are built upon wildly varying locations: sure, the standard Aussie beach trips to the Gold Coast, but among that also family holidays in Japan, European summers with my sister in Greece and Croatia, wild nights partying with friends in Berlin. I travelled alone, grew up, and learnt a lot about myself. I realised the world is a lot bigger than anything home can offer, and that can be both wonderful and absolutely fucking terrifying.
And even now, recounting but a few of my memories, I can hear myself sounding like an irritating asshole. Like, if I was actually in conversation with myself at this point, I would probably be giving myself the face that Tyra Banks gives contestants when they cry because they’re voted out on America’s Next Top Model. The fart face.
So - am I spoilt? Hardly. I am as down to earth as they come. I have simply been encouraged since a young age to travel; travel opens minds, extends horizons, creates adventures, teaches lessons….ok, yeah. I still sound like an asshole. Can’t dig up.

So what does one do? Pretend one hasn’t travelled? (Speak like one is Queen Elizabeth?) Keep our internationally spawned tales a dirty secret that we can only talk about in hushed downs in dirty underground dive bars? Is there such a thing as interesting traveller tale, unmarred by jealousy or intolerance? Oh, and don’t even get me started on what happens when one Frequent Flyer Fuckwit is challenged in conversation by another FFF. It’s war. It’s like watching Carmen Sandiego on bath salts trying to eat the face off a competitor with her overseas travel stories. If you ever encounter this situation…just walk away slowly. Say you’ve never left the suburb you grew up in.

I suppose when we get older, and our lives shrivel down into something smaller and sadder than the current pulse of youth; we might actually welcome Frequent Flyer Fuckwits. They can regale us with slutty stories from the old days when they were travelling the world. And as for now? Well, it’s a great way to tell if someone is a nice person. If they are kind, patient and polite enough to let you get all the way to the end of your story about having a claustrophobic panic attack halfway up the inside of the Duomo in Florence, you know they gotta be alright. And if you’re the one telling the story…
Just shut up, ok?

ON WHY I STILL FUCKING HATE THE FUCKING GYM PARTICULARLY IN THE GLACIAL MOORS OF FUCKING WINTER

When I was fourteen I attended my first ever gym class.
Small for my age, lithe and completely disinterested and untalented in the world of sport; there was no real ‘need’ for me to attend the gym, except that a good friend from school attended the Pilates class there and I wanted in. Pilates sounded, to a fourteen-year-old high school kid in suburban Brisbane, impossibly chic and akin to something Carrie Bradshaw or Bec Cartwright would attend. Exotic and glamorous, like them. So, on a cold school night, my bemused mother dropped me off alone to a fairly decrepit YMCA, in a pair of school running shorts and my brother’s old rugby jersey. Apprehensive, shy, unsure of what to expect, I walked into the gym and felt my heart drop.
This place seriously fucking sucked.

Ten years later, I now attend a very fancy gym in Melbourne, clad in very fancy gym clothes, and am fully aware of what to expect every time I walk in there. I expect several hours of painstaking torture inflicted not just by psychopathic gym teachers but also, tragically, by myself. (Ten years later I now also know that Bec Cartwright – now Hewitt – is not glamorous or exotic enough to even know what Pilates IS.)
In the icy winter period, when the heart-stopping action of getting out of bed is considered exercise enough, I have condensed my week’s wage of workouts into one painful night. Tuesdays.
Oh, Tuesdays.
Tuesdays are foul, comprising a 45 minute run (I run like a wounded soldier, it must be horrific to watch) and an hour-long weights class. The bitter mood surrounding this dreaded activity usually kicks off as I pack my gym bag Monday evening, and doesn’t ease up until I get out of the shower late Tuesday night, finally clean of the stinking gym smell of desperation and unachievable results. Yep, I fucking hate the gym.

Somewhere along the line I missed out on catching the Exercise Enthusiasm. Some people fell harder than others; I seem to be surrounded by this type. You know, the professional Exercise Enthusiasts who upload motivational (?) messages on social media like “Stop Wishing, Start Doing” (?) accompanied by a picture of a female (?) bodybuilding smiling (?) into a mirror. Some are a little lighter on, settling with simply tweeting hourly updates outlining their time at the gym, ie.”Off to the gym on a Sunday!” followed closely by, “Gym is so quiet on Sundays!” neatly concluded with, “Great way to finish the weekend – gym on a Sunday!”
To those people I say you would be better off going to church on a Sunday. Why? Because when I finally snap after reading your consistent and unimaginative updates smugly proclaiming that you are exercising on the Holy Hangover Sunday Sabbath, you are going to fucking hope you are going to heaven.

When did I go wrong? How did I manage to miss the boat? Why can’t I be like a normal person and feel the spark of motivation when I read fitness slogans, instead of a deep molten hate for those who post them? Why doesn’t “Winner’s Train, Loser’s Complain” work for me? WHY AM I COMPLAINING LIKE A LOSER?
The gym makes me more furious than working late on a sunny Friday afternoon, or an empty red wine bottle you thought was full (this is beginning to sound a lot like an Alanis Morissette song) and yet, ten years after my first experience of the gym, I just can’t see that this is going to change.

For those who say try harder, I say try harder at being less of an arsehat. I have tried EVERYTHING in the book. Angry rap music (made me distracted and liable to trip on the treadmill) or imagining ex-boyfriend’s faces (as in, I’m going to get MAD and FIT and make you JEALOUS…not that I was ever sure how that works) and even spending ridiculous amounts of money on workout gear to appeal to my steadfast vanity. And people, when the appeal to my vanity doesn’t work, you can be assured nothing will.
So, what is the solution? Quit? Get fat? Sadly watch my ass spreading outward like an oozing, gelatinous mess fed by long, sedentary nights watching Hoarders and eating tinned spaghetti and d’affinois jaffles?

Alas, I cannot.
And so I sadly accept my fate to – even in the dead chill of winter – drag my feet to the gym, force a smile to the receptionist, pull on that unforgiving lycra uniform and run. And lift. And squat. And crunch. And then repeat. Because, dear reader, let me assure you: the unbridled anger I feel towards the gym is simply NOTHING compared to the raw fury you would witness should I go shopping and not fit into my usual size jeans. Forget a snarl at an over-enthusiastic gym teacher or the odd kick of a medicine ball: you would bear witness to a violent, crazed attack on the poor salesperson who dared to offer me a larger size. I would lift them, spin them around my head and throw them through the shop window; after which I would grab those goddam jeans and rip and tear at them until they stretched enough to fit.

All of which would be impossible to do without my weekly workout at the gym.

See you at Spin.

ON CLEAN EATING

It has been years now since I have eaten bread with a clear conscience.

Look, it doesn’t happen often, but I’m going to be straight up with you. I eat bread. Sometimes, when I’m really fucking hung-over, I medically require a baked bean and cheese jaffle. Or if the food is taking ages in a fancy-pants restaurant and they have a really posh looking breadbasket with real butter, I’m not going to waste that, am I? And if I’m out at breakfast and my goddamn egg comes on a piece of goddamn bread, I am going to eat that bread because the thought of getting down the real jizzy bits of a poached egg solo is making me dry retch already.

I eat bread.

To tell this to some people is to admit is to admit to a dark and dirty sin. To some of the more hard-core Clean Eaters telling them that I eat bread is like admitting I masturbate to old Adam Sandler movies whilst listening to One Direction and eating Skittle sandwiches. For them it’s weird, confusing and disturbing. Well, sit those hungry Clean Eating asses down, because this is only going to get worse. Not only do I eat bread, I eat cheese too. I eat meat. Great hunks of it. With bloody juices dripping out. I eat salt and sugar too. I eat ice cream and fucking McDonalds and a whole pizza to myself when I’m hungover. So there. Put that in your Breville Vegetable Steamer and smoke it.

It is no news to anyone that ‘Clean Eating’ is the latest fad to sweep through the young and the impressionable folk of our nation. Whilst I think that it’s a phase that certainly could assist with our nation’s growing obesity epidemic - and it’s no where near as bad as say, the Perm Phase, or the Heroin phase - I still am not down with Clean Eating. I think you’re all cunts.

I tried. I made my zucchini pasta, I instagrammed the shit out of my zucchini pasta, I even smugly fielded questions on Facebook about how I made my zucchini pasta. But you know what? I WAS HUNGRY, PEOPLE. I was not full when I finished that bowl of lying pasta. Zucchini pasta is nothing like the real thing. It is like how those people in Argentina were selling rats on steroids as toy poodles. Just not the same.

I need to establish a difference between the Real Clean Eaters and the Guilty Crap Eaters. Real Clean Eaters actually cook and eat ‘clean’ food. They soak oats and poach chicken and cook fancy vegetabley things in the oven with things like Cayenne pepper and shit like that. Most of them are a nutritionists or something equally as irritating. And to them, I nod my head and say Good On You. Because I’m telling you right now, that would be a tough life. Our country thanks you. But as for the rest of you Guilty Crap Eaters, we need to talk. I know exactly what’s going on here. You put up a photo of three and a half iceberg lettuce leaves and a hunk of uncooked broccoli and then try and convince me with hashtags like #dinner #cleaneats #healthy? FUCK YOU. You are a liar.

There is no way in the world a grown adult can function with some of the foods I watch being uploaded as ‘meals.’ Do you know who eats like that? Models, and the terminally ill. And the majority of Clean Eaters are neither of those things, although the latter state may become an issue if they continue with their current eating habits. For generations and generations people have eaten things like bread, diary, meat and anchovie-supreme-extra-ham-cheesy-crust-pizza, and still maintained a healthy weight and amazing figure. To deny ones self from basic food groups under the guise of any fad – be it Clean Eating, some fabricated intolerance or according to what is ‘natural’ – is crap. Whilst I know firsthand that some food intolerances are totally real (I swear to god, I know some people who eat bread and are blocked up for days like Punt road on a Friday afternoon) most of you of whom are NOT eating bread, or JUST eating green things are being morons.

To those who wish to challenge me on this one, bring it on. You will be issued with a fridge that has clear glass doors, so there ain’t no hiding those Tim Tams. Your house will be fitted out with CCTV and I will personally be watching from the other end, like a perverted Michelle Bridges, just waiting for you to slip up. And if your diet looks exactly the same as it does in the world of social media, I will apologise and humbly re-asses my own person bin diet*. (Not really, but I will consider saying sorry. Maybe.) I am sick and tired of this bullshit Sims alternate universe that is Facebook, where everyone is busily creating their ‘best’ self. Clean Eating is, quite simply, the newest way to establish yourself as not just the best, but better than YOU, you Mars Bar eating lard ass.

Well, I call bullshit.

Let’s turn this around, people. Fuck clean eating. Fuck chocolate protein powder. Fuck vegan cheesecakes and tofu scramble and raw vegan lasagne and whatever ungodly concoction you’re going to come up with next. I DON’T WANT TO KNOW. (Actually, I do really want to know logistically how you make raw vegan lasagne. That’s a miracle. That’s like the second coming of Jesus. You deserve a Nobel prize, dawg) I’m going to retaliate by uploading some of the disgusting bin food combinations I’ve come up with, and tag it #bineating just so you can see what it’s like to have your feed clogged up with this annoying Clean Eating jive. I’m going to put up pictures of Left-over Thai Food Toasted Sandwiches, and Ice Cream Bowl That I Couldn’t Finish That’s Melted With A Cigarette Butt In It. And when you are crying salt-less, sugar free tears, maybe you could consider easing up on the Clean Eating narrative. Because I know the ending, and it ain’t pretty. Basically it involves you, McDonalds, a hostage situation and your smacking cheeseburgers against your arms shrieking “In my veins! In my veins!”

Bon appétit, mon ami!

_________________________________________________________________

*Bin Diet: Eating like a bin, ie. total disregard for health or hygiene. Think Kirstie Alley meets first year Arts student in a Fitzroy share house meets Woolworths dumpster.

ON OUR iPHONES BECOMING OUR BABIES

Vrrrrr vrrrr.
Vrrrr vrrrr.

A few minutes pass. I roll over and try to go back to sleep.

Vrrrrr vrrrr.
Vrrrr vrrrr.

Don’t get up Maggie. Stay in bed. I know you can see it flashing. You have to be up in six hours Maggie. Leave the fucking phone. Are you actually going to get out of your warm bed and CHECK YOUR PHONE? I can’t believe this. Maggie, just get back into –

At risk of sounding like a completely deranged person, this is the dialogue that goes through my head when I hear my phone late at night. Exhausted, passed out face first with my shoes still on, I will still muster the energy to throw back the covers, stand up, walk over to my charger and squint into my iphone with that very unique pain of bright Apple light in complete darkness. This kind of commitment, my friends, is born from love. A love that can only exist between a mother and a child. Feeling weird yet? Oh, I’m only just getting started.

+ + +

Gather round, my Gen Y comrades, and listen to a tale…Long ago in the Dreamtime, before God had invented condoms, power suits and youth-related-apathy; people our age were Adults. Like, functioning Adults. Adults with jobs and babies and wedding rings and toasters. In those days, the joyous selfishness we take for granted ended as soon as they grew pubes. They were shoved out into the world to make money and eat off tablemats and…whatever it is Adults do. Cruel, cruel times.

Luckily, thanks to the Internet, these days we aren’t expected to do anything really. We can live in our parent’s house until we’re thirty, get four degrees and no job and have nothing more to worry about apart from who emptied the bong water. It is within this environment of general shitness on our behalf, that a very strange and very unnatural relationship has blossomed: between us, and the iphone.

The protectiveness and obsession usually reserved for mother and child is now being experienced towards our iPhones. I gave you the example of your phone going off late at night. Unless you’re poppin’ valium, getting a root or just generally don’t have many friends, ALL OF YOU would have to remember some experience of not being able to resist the siren’s song of a message tone. Like a crying baby, you know you are meant to ignore it, but…you can’t. It needs you. You need it. Just as new mothers sit outside their baby’s room trying to resist the pull of it’s wailing, we Gen Y’s oft must bite our lip and think of happier things as our poor howling iPhone desperately tries to tell us that Mum called and Joseph commented on our profile picture and excuse me but you’ve only got 10% battery remaining! TEN FUCKING PER CENTTTT!!!

Once upon a time, kids our age would have been walking along the street staring at their baby in the stroller and complimenting other mothers on their babies cute jackets; these days we walk along staring into our iPhones and compliment others on their iPhone covers. Like a baby, it never leaves our sight, and if it does, we know exactly where it is. It needs constant care (charging, updating) and like babies, once it starts to get a bit old and boring, you just get a new one.

If you are rolling your eyes at this and thinking that it’s maybe high time for me to get a life, go fuck yourself. Next time you’re sitting at a restaurant with your friends, look around and watch how everyone is blindly attached to this tiny black rectangle of infantile magic. There is no other legitimate reason to stop a conversation mid-way through (to check your phone), get up in the middle of the night (to check your phone) or have fifty million toilet breaks during a meeting (to check your phone). We are inexplicably tethered by the umbilical cord of Facebook notifications, dog memes and manic-speed instant messaging. People, we are parents.

iParents.

I have been pacing the floor for eons, minutes even, trying to think of a solution to this problem. How to cut the white Apple cord? How to tap ‘Shut Down Phone’ forever? How to smash the glass of the rhetorical iPhone so completely one cannot even make a call or slide their finger over it for fear of slicing their skin? Ok, I’ll stop now. But the point remains: How to be a bad iParent?

The solution, I believe, is not to search for a solution at all, but to embrace the problem. If we want to treat an inanimate object like a child, let’s ramp this shit UP. We have, after all, been primed for this kind of behaviour since the invention of Tamagotchis and Furbies. I’m talking iPhone crèches for the workplace, tiny bassinets for the car and even iPhone baby slings so we can wear them on our fronts like trendy Prahran mothers. There will be rules about whether the iPhone can sleep in the same bed (teaches it bad habits) and about how many applications are healthy of an iPhone of that model. This way our rude behaviour that sprouts from the demands of an iPhone suddenly will be transformed, simply, into the behaviour of a caring parent.

This is one solution. The other solution is to behave like a normal person and just ignore the phone. But if we all behaved like normal people, what would I have to write about? See you in iCharge Rooms, ladies. Don’t forget the nappies.

ON PUBLIC TRANSPORT, NOT KNOWING HOW TO DRIVE AS AN ADULT, AND FINDING DECENT WALKING SHOES THAT DON’T LOOK LIKE SOMETHING MAGDA SZUBANSKI WOULD WEAR

Somewhere during the course of my formative years, I forgot to learn how to drive. In between sneaking out at night, underage drinking in parks and being shipped off to boarding school, driving just…slipped my mind. Then I moved to Melbourne, home of The Tram, and I never thought about the need to drive again.

Until now.

No, I don’t drive. I never learnt. I don’t know why. I take public transport. No I don’t have a car. WHY WOULD I HAVE A CAR IF I DON’T DRIVE? The moronic responses that follow the proclamation that you are an Adult Non-Driver are always the same, and always accompanied by that wince of confusion and pity, like when you describe breaking a bone or getting dumped. Is it really that bad? Apparently so.

When you are younger, you can get away with being shit at life. It’s completely kosher as a kid to have an ATM tell you that you have insufficient funds, or to sleep through your alarm and miss work, or to wake up next to a half eaten cheeseburger. But then you get a little older and people expect you to grow out of these habits.
So, slowly but surely, I have worked at the whole ‘becoming an adult’ thing. I got a normal haircut, stopped getting terrible tattoos and finally paid all those tram fines. Yet one last hurdle remains: driving. I have made my decision. I do not want to learn. I have, with all enthusiasm, slapped myself with the label of Adult Non-Driver. So fuck off.

As defiant as a non driver I may be, this does not make me an advocate for public transport. If I had it my way, I’d have a never-ending Cab Charge account or a chauffeur. Like I always say people, I don’t drive, I get DRIVEN! (This never happens) Regardless, public transport remains a necessary evil in my life, and the source of most of my poorly-suppressed anger issues.

Every morning I walk down to catch the 96 tram to work. At 7.58am every fucking morning this heaving shitbox schleps it’s way up Fitzroy St and grinds to a halt. The doors open and I breathe a sad sigh of submission when I realise that once again, I’m going to be crammed between the farting businessman and the old hag with frizzy hair that’s so long it touches my hand and makes me almost have a panic attack. Early-morning-work-runs on public transport are horrific, with bitchy, hung-over receptionists clawing at each other for seats, fat women with shopping baskets hollering for everyone TO MOVE INSIDE THE TRAM and the worst, the very worst, poor scrawny old geriatrics who refuse to take the seat that someone (eventually and reluctantly) has offered them.

In recent months I have procured a habit for throwing up on trams. The first incident was in December, when I ate a particularly groovy batch of potato salad at work. I cold-sweated my way through the afternoon, feeling particularly off, and by the time I was homeward bound on the tram shit was gettin’ real. My mouth began to pool with saliva and my head was spinning and righteo I’m almost at my stop and finally I am here and I just make it to the door please baby Jesus let me make it to the door and OH MY GOD I HAVE JUST THROWN UP ON AN OLD LADY’S BACK. Yep. I then proceeded to throw up all over the ground at the tram stop as well, and had to be reminded of the incident every single day for weeks, as I would exit the tram and look down at the *very gradually* fading fossil of my vomit on the ground.
The second incident was one crowded morning when I had the bad luck of standing right behind (read: downwind) of a homeless man who had – er – not made it to the bathroom in time? I gagged and tried to breathe into my shirt and hold my nose and think of deserts and dry bread but alas, my stomach had other ideas and I threw up. In my mouth. I then had to hold it in until I got to a bathroom.
THIS IS THE HORRIFIC REALITY OF PUBLIC TRANSPORT, PEOPLE.
PLEASE BE A GOOD SAMARITAN AND BUY ME A DRIVER.

Since the throwing up dramas, I’ve really re-discovered walking. I never knew this, but I’m quite a Burke-and-Willsesque character when it comes to hot footin’ it about town. In fact, if I had enough time in the day (I would never) or woke up earlier (I would never) or planned my time a bit better (I would never) there is a chance I could maybe possibly potentially almost walk to and from work. What a pleasant life that would be, strolling along with not a care in the world, energising before, and defusing after work. It’s the best time to think, on a stroll. I can untangle writing quandaries in my mind, plan out my week and plot bloody and evil revenge on my enemies.

The issue at hand, however, is not in my mind, but on my feet. I have a penchant for shoes that leave my poor feet looking like ham hock. Comfortable shoes that are appropriate for walking are near impossible to find. Most of them look like something Magda Szubanski would wear on Casual Fridays. Maybe I could become one of those women who wear their running shoes OVER their stockings for the daily commute? I despise those women. Do you know what that look says to me? “I have given up. I have chosen comfort and practicality over looking good. I am not getting any sex.” That is what it says to me. Lucky the whole Nike-free-run-with-skirt-I’m-so-alternative look is kind of ‘in’ right now, so I’m safe from the Retired Nun swagger of Kumfs and flesh-coloured stockings. For now. Who knows what my sad future may bring? Crocs? Clogs? Birkenstocks? (…sorry Sarah)

And thus, reader, you have some insight into the impractical and stubborn way my mind works:
I won’t drive
but I won’t take public transport
but I won’t walk
because I won’t wear decent footwear.

GIRL LOGIC, AMMIRIGHT?

ON #HASHTAGGING AND #WHYYOUAREGETTINGITWRONG

When I was a young teen, those tiny plastic butterfly hair clips were kind of a big deal.

Everyone had them. It was the late 90’s and super-styled, gelled hair was the done thing. There were sparkly ones, fluoro ones, every colour of the rainbow – no outfit was complete without a co-ordinated clip. Whether it was twisting and clipping small sections back, or randomly placing them throughout the hair for no apparent purpose, butterfly clips were COOL.

So you can imagine a few clips in someone’s hair, right? Well…that wasn’t me. Think of the normal amount of clips. Now double that. No, no…triple that. I’m talking like thirty fucking tiny butterfly clips adorning my head like Christ’s crown of thorns.

I don’t know how I managed to get it so wrong…I’m guessing the rapid rush of pre-pubescent hormones must have twigged something in my brain, and I became kind of manic with my obsession with butterfly clips. Everything came crashing down (literally) one day in Physical Education class, when during a game of basketball; I was smacked in the head with the ball. My head was an explosion of coloured plastic. It was like the Sydney Harbour Bridge at midnight on NYE.

I never wore a butterfly clip again.

Hold tight, hipsters; there is a point to that uncomfortably familiar teenage adage. And that is that trends always manage to get ruined by one moron who takes it too far. In the story of the butterfly clips, that person was me. (Or was it the person who threw the basketball? Who knows. Chicken/egg) Since the eternal embarrassing moment that was my childhood, I’ve witnessed many a trend meet an ugly demise: two-toned hair, hipster jeans, stick on earrings, henna tattoos and dating boys from private schools. But the latest crash’n’burn is not just disappointing – it’s INFURIATING. I’m talking about hashtagging.

When Instagram first took off, it was exciting. No more scrolling through boring status updates, or albums that contained 265 photos of an event that only lasted five minutes. Suddenly, we were all photographers, slapping an X-Pro II filter on a picture of our dinner and calling it art. One great feature was hashtagging, where we could reference our photo as a contribution to a greater theme, like #Narcissism or #ShamelessSelfie or #ThighGapOnTheBeach.

But what is the actual purpose of hashtagging? Let’s hear what the most reliable source on the internet, Wikipedia, has to say:

“A hashtag is a word or a phrase prefixed with the symbol #, a form of a metadata tag. Short messages on microblogging social networking services such as Twitter, Tout, Tumblr or Google+* may be tagged by including one or more with multiple words concentrated e.g.

‘#Wikipedia is an #encyclopaedia**’

Hashtags provide a means of grouping such messages, since one can search for the hashtag and get the set of messages that contain it.”

*LOL …Google+

**LOLOLOLOL “Encyclopaedia”

Right, so we can kind of see where this is going now. You hashtag in order to tie your photo in with a category. So if you hashtag ‘beach’ it will fall under the category ‘beach’ and when someone searches ‘beach’ there will be your photo of a ‘beach.’ Easy. (beach beach beach beach)

Yet somewhere along the line, people have managed to get it wrong. Really wrong.

I’ve managed to narrow it down to three main types of hashtagging offences.

#1. THE OVERZEALOUS HASHTAGGER:

Person takes boring picture. Person then slaps on so many irrelevant hashtags that it clogs your whole damn feed. Person gets unfollowed. Like, seriously dude, how many adjectives can you come up with to describe your photo of a sunset? (According the worst offender thus far, 35 seems like a good number)

#2. THE SELF-SERVING HASHTAGGER:

This offence usually borders on the outrageous. My favourites are usually from the model variety who shows no shame by matching a photo of themselves (usually missing a few items of clothing) with hashtags like #hot #babe #sexy #model. Alas, your narcissism is not disguised behind a hashtag, my hot babe sexy model friends. Not even close.

#3. THE ‘WHAT THE FUCK ARE YOU TRYING TO SAY?” HASHTAGGER

#ifyoucanreadthishashtagthenisuggestyougetoffintagramandreadafuckingbookthathasspacesbetweenthewords.

Offsetting these morons, however, are some very funny people who are fighting back to keep hashtagging both relevant and clever. The trick, it would seem, is to condense your whole sassy joke down to one word. The best I’ve seen is a plate of nachos that looked like a phone call to Jenny Craig, with the caption #cleaneating.

And I laughed.

And I ignored all the other hashtagging stupidity.

And all was right with the world again.

As a writer, it pains me to see people struggle with words. As a person with borderline anger management issues, it pains me more to see people try. Just don’t. Accept – as I did, all those years ago with those awful butterfly clips – that some trends are best left untried. Stand back, and let those people who know what they are doing, do it properly. And if you don’t, I will have no choice but to launch a vicious social media campaign writing out entire literary classics – I’m thinking War and Peace? – in hashtags under your picture to teach you a lesson…

#Well #Prince #Genoa #and #Lucca #are #now #no #more #than #private #estates #of #the #Bonaparte #family….

Now you know how I feel.