The electric blanket of guilt and other magical winter discoveries.

They say necessity is the mother of invention, which could explain why Perth’s recent and persistent freezing cold morning temperatures have colluded with my body’s inability to effectively circulate blood to my extremities.

I call it the perfect epiphany storm, and here’s why.

I’ve had several. Epiphanies.

Those beautiful, crystalising moments when something becomes so blindingly clear that the relief you feel is merely an echo of your brain as it expands slightly in size and weight.

Cogs meet and turn, and click……So thaaaaaaat’s why!

Ugh (my spelling, and hopeful shield against copyright war) boots – I’ve never understood the hideous things. Until now.

And my sensitive little feet want them desperately.

From their thick, rubbery soles splaying clumsily beneath each foot, to their stain-prone ovine hides, to the sweat-absorbing innards of woollen pelt, I fear necessity has invented actual reasons why these ghastly-looking cave shoes deserve a place in my post-modern footwear-worshipping life.

When it’s -1.6 degrees just a couple of suburbs away at 6.59am on a Wednesday, I need a full-body Ugh boot!

Which brings me to my (secret) leg-warming electric blanket. Can’t I just wear one of these ‘mother guilt’-inducing garments to work, or stay put in my animal-print lined cave (bed)?

Convention (like computers), says no. But I can imagine now, how Ugh boots and a ‘down’ electric blanket could really compliment each other on the sardinous train journey to Perth nestled among fashionable fellow commuters. Can’t you?

My beige gloves with the bow became an essential ingredient of my daily get-up since the breakfast temperature dropped below 12 degrees. Along with stockings, laddered or not.

On the back of the paleo diet, this new winter uniform is Neolithic in its sartorial relevancy, Aurelio!

In my desperation to stay warm, avoid fingers and toes that turn white with a lack of blood and buzz with an almost electrical numbness, these phalange-saving epiphanies have been sprouting thick and fast.

  • Put that bloody electric blanket luxury item on the bed, even if the kids don’t have one!
  • Oh, alright then! Get the kids their own electric blanket luxury items!
  • Buy a pair of godawful Ugh boots, and sloth smugly around the house in cocooned comfort!
  • The winter solstice was an anti-climax and the sun still sets way before 6pm!

133 days ‘til summer.

Giving the colour pink a bad name

I am pink with irritation.

Not all women like pink or consider themselves denoted as female by the mere use of the sickly colour.

Not all women appreciate being singled out as such, by being told they can now park more safely in their own special pink ‘female-friendly’ car bays, where the security lighting and CCTV coverage is better.

And not all people are stupid enough to have the woolly fairy floss of laziness pulled over their eyes by a council trying to get away with not spending money on decent car park security for everyone – regardless of gender, age, ability or whether or not you have children and a pram in the back of your wagon.

Here, in the marshmallow-scented capital city of the nanny state of Western Australia, the City of Perth has employed a sugar-coated marketing ploy to encourage women to park in the few car bays that do have proper night lighting and CCTV coverage.

Mary Poppins would recognise this as a cynical attempt to spend less on security, spit spot!

It is a spoonful-of-sugar attempt to provide better protection, but glaringly it’s aimed at only one section of society.

A small article in Perth’s daily newspaper today states the bays will be easily identified by pink signs, walls and poles during a three-month trial close to exits in one council car park.

But here’s the real icing on the cake. The article also states, without attribution to anyone, that the bays are “the same size as regular bays”.

If that statement isn’t a slight on women drivers, I don’t know what is – the size of the bay will not influence the behaviour of would be attackers any more than the colour pink.

So why was this information even in the article in the first place? If it is a question that has been asked by several, prompting that line of enquiry, then whoever supplied the response should be quoted, at least.

If statistics do exist somewhere showing women as the main culprits of at fault bingles, scratches and crashes in car parks, it’s probably because they are usually the ones that drop off children to school/childcare on their way to work before parking the family car, and again later as they are slowly irradiated by fluorescent lighting while foraging at the supermarket.

There are statistics that show men are just as vulnerable to attack in public places at night, with many ending up in hospital after banging their heads on kerbs and bitumen as terrible proof.

At its worst, the pink-ifying of parking bays almost accepts that there will be attacks on women in car parks because they are vulnerable targets. No – that behaviour is not acceptable in society, for any gender.

Yes, women do like it when someone is kind, or thinks of our comfort and/or safety. But so do men. So why can’t the City of Perth be nice to everyone and provide secure parking for all? Not just those born with ovaries and a stereotypical matching obsession with the colour pink, or the men who love the delicate shade and can park carefree in the knowledge that they will not be fined for doing so and will be safer for it.

Now, that would be just supercalifragilisticexpialidocious!

Mascara malcontent – an ancient first world problem

It’s just me, isn’t it…

I have an unhealthy dependence on mascara – extreme black, because black isn’t black enough. Noir, it’s not.

I don’t mean your mascara, the must-have mascara of the moment, or mascara per se.

I don’t horde it, sleep in it, or get sucked in by the unearthly claims some cosmetics marketers of the humble eye lash filler, tout.

No, it’s nothing like that.

My issue is this.

I can’t. Let. Go. Of. My old mascara!

Over many months (more than the three recommended by opthalmologists) I develop a trusting relationship-slash-addiction, to the way my particular brush intimately understands each of my individual lashes, and how the perfect gooeyness of the waxy pigment spreads on them so perfectly and evenly. And in a jiffy, too – I know my mascara so well that it allows me to deftly apply it in just a moment. Or two. No slaving over a steamy mirror for me.

But of course, inevitably, sadly, the tube’s contents get low, even though I have convinced myself its contents are bottomless. About a month after I have begun scraping the bottom of that skinny little barrel, I begin to admit that I’m going to need to buy – shock, horror – new mascara.

It fills me with such fear! Why? Because new mascara, as shiny and as exciting as it looks in its alluring-slash-confusing packaging, it never fails to disappoint me! Even if the claims of extra length, volume and thickness have raised my naïve hopes.

The brush is always too clean – I prefer it perfectly caked in aged pigment; the paint too thin – I prefer it perfectly caked in aged pigment. The whistle-clean brush and watery paint DOES NOT cover my eyelashes!

Like a balancing crane, I stand before the mirror cultivating a stiff neck for an inordinate amount of time so that the fine hairs growing from my eyelids are not naked in public. And it makes me late for work, socialising and life!

Why can’t new mascara be like old mascara! Revlon, Rimmel, Rubinstein – can you hear me! It needs to be viscous – I don’t have time to apply 127 coats to each lash every morning!

And so, what generally happens is, I go back to my old mascara. For another week. Or two. Why? Because I trust its performance even though I’m down to the dregs.

Then I swap brushes, mix pigments (not recommended by health professionals, at all!) and eventually – like in 5 days – the consistency and the new brush starts to become a little more malleable. It would be so much easier if the transition could be seamless, like when you run out of lip balm.

Then I wouldn’t have to store one of my favourite old mascaras in the car’s centre console, for emergencies such as these. And I wouldn’t have to feel as if my eyelashes are dressed only in their bra and knickers instead of the full outfit.

Eventually, my trust builds and again, I am in torrid love with my mascara. We go everywhere together, never disagree and rarely cause inconvenience or lash shame (yes, it’s a thing), until…

Look. I blame being a child of the 80s when it was not unusual for me to wear purple, blue and teal mascara…not at the same time.

In the 60s it was eyeliner, in the 70s blue eye shadow.

In the 90’s, actually, I’m not sure. I stuck with my trusty mascara…old habits die hard.

After all, historical records show that mascara was used as early as 4000 BC in ancient Egypt.

Even I know that mascara is just too old 😉

 

Be head strong

tumblr_lq584igBcR1r1g5m2o1_500

 

I CAN be an arrogant arse at times.

I know! Some of you are saying, “Arrogant? No, you’re not!” (thanks mum, and Aunty Sue) but sadly, it’s true. And it could also be true of you – prepare to navel-gaze.

I admit this unenviable trait is not completely obvious – it’s not like I throw tanties at restaurant wait staff over below average food, or refuse to let cars merge in front of me on Kwinana Freeway. It’s something more subtle.

It’s the harbouring of ingrained attitudes that really are just plain selfish. Let me explain.

As some of you may know, I had a bicycle accident a few years back, and no, I wasn’t wearing my helmet. Apart from my bitumen-biting chin, my head remained injury free (on the outside, anyway) so I was very fortunate not to have sustained more serious damage…even when you consider my two broken arms, I got off very lightly. I thought I knew this.

Turns out I don’t . Or I didn’t. Until a couple of weeks ago.

With a long Sunday riverside bicycle ride tantalisingly ahead of me, I made the decision not to wear a helmet, and discarded it like yesterday’s news because “I’m an adult, I shouldn’t have to wear a helmet if I don’t want to. Bloody nanny state!”

Before I go on, the ride was blissfully incident-free. I rode along with an unencumbered head like some faux European, wind blowing through my loose locks, a sensory-overload smile on my face.

The riverside dual use path was a popular route and it was a bit like peak-hour traffic at times, especially with the addition of dogs, prams, toddlers, errant soccer balls and chatting or headphone-wearing pedestrians.

Slowly but surely, as I passed and was passed by my smug fellow outdoorsy types, it dawned on me that I had not seen one other cyclist not wearing a helmet on their precious head.

The realisation hit me like that bitumen did all those years ago and I immediately tried to rationalise it; the Lycra-clad racers needed helmets in case they ventured onto the road, it was part of their trendy uniform. But recreational riders, too, were wearing them. Maybe it’s because they are a bit doddery and have a higher chance of falling off. (Yes, I realise that was both arrogant and hypocritical).

The only person I did see without a helmet was a boy of about 13 and even if he is arrogant, he has youthful ignorance on his side.

Belatedly, I’ve decided I should know better and pledge not to endanger the lives of others or my own by not wearing a helmet when I ride a bike. There. Now I’ve typed it in black and white I have to honour it.

But seriously, being the only one not wearing a helmet made me realise how incredibly selfish that is. I was basically giving the finger to all other pedestrians in my vicinity, ignoring the fact that they were taking as much responsibility for their own safety as possible. Even if I caused someone to fall off their bike, their helmet would go some way towards hopefully protecting their cranium, and saving me the added trauma of feeling responsible for causing them a traumatic but preventable head injury.

Yep, sometimes I get quite cosy gazing into my own navel, despite the lack of lint furnishings.

I think it was all that fresh air in my hair as I rode along, giving root to some profound thinking processes.

Anyway, if I’m brutally honest, one of my main “concerns” about wearing a bicycle helmet is that it causes helmet-hair and makes me look even sillier (for those of you familiar with my rat’s nest, you’ll know what I mean). But, honestly the mat of hair created by the wind was no better.

Culturally, perhaps it goes back to women and girls being conditioned to think they need to look ‘pretty’ at all times. If that’s what prevents some of us from being safe, its well past time we discarded that baseless notion. As Swifty says, “shake it off”.

So, featuring far too many similarities with another community service announcement, simply put, if it’s not on, it’s not on!

 

NB – You have no idea the difficulty I faced trying to find a useable image of a woman wearing head armour! These femme fatales were either holding their helmet for show or it just didn’t feature in their warrior uniform, replaced instead by arbitrary long flowing locks. (teamed with very prominent breasts, but that’s another story)…. 

 

What goes down always comes up roses

THANKS to an interesting Facebook post http://www.dictionaryofobscuresorrows.com/ – relating to emotions people feel but can’t explain – I realised there were a couple among the list of 23 words that went some way to describing the aftermath of my last big fall. No, not the shopping centre slip up of recent days, but the shit-scary bike stack I managed to walk away from in 2006. I put together a descriptive piece about six months after the ordeal, and I‘ve included it below, for your cringe-worthy enjoyment.

I fell off my bike. Aged 37.

It wasn’t just a little bingle, like those giggly stacks you have at Rotto http://www.rottnestisland.com/, it was a nasty, head-over-handlebars-while-speeding-down-a-big-hill style stack that would have appeared painfully spectacular to onlookers.

Perfect fodder for funniest home videos; ugly but hilarious all at the same time, with the rider “no outdoorsy mothers were injured during the filming of this video.”

I can still feel the massive blow to my chin as I ploughed into the concrete path, and that was more than six months ago.

The flashbacks only hit me occasionally now. For a while there everything I thought about doing, driving the car, riding ‘the’ bike, even going for a walk, would end in an eye-scrunching memory of that “bang”. It made me much more paranoid about the possible negative outcomes of doing everyday things, too. I’ve since progressed to riding my bike again, even down that big hill, although I avoid that part of the path if I can. And I am very conscious of never, ever again applying the front brakes without first engaging the rear ones. Doh!

I ended up with a deep gash under my chin that needed six stitches, various superficial facial and limb grazes, two breaks to my left wrist, a broken bone in my right hand and a fracture to my left elbow.

It could have been so much worse – not long after my accident a front-page story on a weekend city paper detailed the story of a cyclist who wound up a quadriplegic after crashing into other bike riders on a Perth cycle path.

For a week I had both arms in plaster. I was unable to drive for six weeks because of the (fluoro pink – so me) fibreglass plaster that remained on my left arm, this initially scared the hell out of me – the loss of control and freedom was claustrophobic. I was unable to work for nearly four months as my wrists strengthened and eventually realigned thanks to lots and lots of physiotherapy (and patience), and as a casual journo, the loss of wages was another hurdle to overcome.

Why did I put my front brake on anyway, I hear you ask? Well, as my two daughters and I coasted down the hill that afternoon, I became aware of walkers chatting on the pathway up ahead and called out for the girls to ring their bells.

I also began ringing my bell, then put a hand to my head to stop my hat from blowing off (no, I was very stupidly not wearing a helmet) and swiftly realised I was about to crash into the rear of my seven-year-old. I immediately applied my right hand brake, it seemed instinctive at the time, being right-handed and already using my left hand to keep my hat on.

The rest is family history. I came to a very sudden, crumpled stop. My children stopped when they heard my squeal, which was all I could manage, and the walkers ran over to help. My 12-year-old called my partner on my mobile, and my father arrived, along with the ambulance.

So what did I learn from this experience? Heaps. It challenged my need to always be in control and to constantly do things for myself without asking for help. It made me realise how we coast through life never realising how lucky we really are and what dangers potentially lurk in even the most innocuous activities. It made me realise I had to slow down and stop trying to do a million things at once.

Being a working and studying mother of two busy children meant it was commonplace to do several things at once to capitalise on my time – when I look back now, my frenetic lifestyle was always going to come crashing down around my well-organised ears. I am just so thankful I didn’t have a car accident, or hurt other people during the “crash I had to have”. Even my bike escaped unscathed. Now, when I feel my life speeding up, I take steps to slow down and yes, the roses do smell great.

PS: The obscure words that related but not necessarily resonated were Lachesism: The desire to be struck by disaster – to survive a plane crash, or to lose everything in a fire. Are you kidding!!!; and, Exulansis: The tendency to give up trying to talk about an experience because people are unable to relate to it. Except that they do…everyone’s taken the bark off or smashed their ego when gravity separates bike and rider.

Is there an upside to falling down?

It’s been years.

Since I fell over.

Ok, I’ve tripped up the stairs in a rush and lost my footing over less than flat mats, and there was that time I fell off my bike, aged 37….but we won’t go there, again.

No, this was an embarrassing fall from grace exacerbated by a large, unsympathetic audience.

There I was, minding my own business, a woman on a grocery mission. Kiwi fruit, unsalted butter, gluten free bread, Sensodyne…and then wham! I was in an alternate universe where even as I plummeted floorwards I was saying to myself “Hey, this feels a lot like falling over, doesn’t it? Am I? Falling over? Nooo. Yes, I ammmmmmm”.

…Right palm typically takes the full defensive brunt as my foot pathetically slips and my legs become entangled, handbag landing thwack on the floor below me…

And, with Murphy among my closest friends, it was a day when every seat in the food court was taken up by infinite bus loads of elderly morning teas-ers, their mouths gaping slackly open, mid-muffin munch, blinking unbelievably at the silly cow sprawled before them.

Did they hastily get up from their chairs to help, or ask if I was alright? God no! They were too stunned to know what to do. Had they really witnessed a woman in her mid-40s hit the tiles baby giraffe style? I gave them little time to react, jumping up as soon as my confused body would let me. Even the woman sitting on the chair closest, almost within reaching distance, sat motionless, staring, like some sort of taxidermied goldfish out of water.

Had these people never seen anyone fall over before!!!!

I made my escape to the nearby post office, rubbing my sore hand and checking my ego for permanent damage, glancing behind me, almost expecting to see myself still lying on the floor. It was that surreal.

Finally composed and balancing a parcel in my good hand, I set off gingerly to my next port of call, flagging down a weary, black-clad security guard on the way. How serendipitous – now I could tell someone and make it real!

“I was walking around the corner to the post office,” I said “and all of a sudden I was on the floor.”

“Rightio, can you take me to where it happened luv. We’ll be able to check it out on the security camera, see if we can work out what happened,” he purposely took a small notebook and stubby knife-sharpened pencil from his top pocket. Things were getting official.

Again I felt as though I was performing for a nocturnal house full of bug-eyed possums, the audience watching intently as I explained where I had fallen.

“I’m not sure if something has been spilled on the floor and it’s a bit slippery. It would be terrible if one of these elderly folk slipped and fell, they’d probably break a hip. Or their concentration….”, I mumbled.

Scuffing his own sensible shoe across the floor, peering at it from all directions, searching for any imperfections, he began to resemble a dodgy mechanic with a Bali holiday on credit.

“Floor looks alright to me. Hmmmm, maybe it’s those shoes,” the security official accused, bending to inspect my feet.

“WHAT! Are you telling me I don’t know how to walk in my own boots with the sturdy medium heels,” was what I wanted to say.

What I did say: “I don’t think so. I wear these shoes all the time. I was walking fine until I got to this spot, and then I was on the floor. Ok. Thanks, anyway,” I trailed off, feeling belittled by a uniformed grandfather wearing a bunch of keys on his thick belt.

Now I almost want some old biddy to slip and fall at the same spot, just to prove a point!…In her moccasins, pushing a walking frame, husband following behind with a trolley containing just two bags, still sucking the muffin crumbs out of his falsies…

As I teeter on the brink of the age group being urged to leave the ‘burbs for the permanent bliss of an ever growing selection of convenient and sophisticated lifestyle villages, I cringe. Then shudder. Are slippers, walking aids and Metamucil really that far into my future? And how can I get a gander at that CCTV footage…

www.dailymail.co.uk 1933 Some of the fair competitors come to grief in the sack race during the sports of John Baker & Co at Southfields today.

http://www.dailymail.co.uk
1933
Some of the fair competitors come to grief in the sack race during the sports of John Baker & Co at Southfields today.

Designer vaginas – the next must-have beauty treatment?

Is your vagina designer?

What? Don’t play stupid with me – Has it seen better days? Have people been complaining about its appearance? Does it need redoing, you know, like your holiday house décor, or your roots?

Because, apparently if your ‘ladyparts’ don’t look like a petite, perfectly closed purse you need surgery to fix that – a bit like those boobs in need of perkifying and that unattractive non-trout pout.

According to a gloriously pink full page ad in a weekly newspaper delivered to Perth’s most elite beach and riverside suburbs, local women should contact a particular ‘medical aesthetic centre’ to find out how they can get their own designer vagina.

‘Tighten vaginal tissue, remodel collagen and rejuvenate the vulva. Revive the sensations, revitalise the tissue of the vagina and improve urinary incontinence’ is the ad’s teasing hook line (and sinker), with a web address using the words petite and lady, because that’s what we all aspire to be, isn’t it!?

I mean, I don’t know about you, but I would love myself sick, and so would others, if my brain, pay packet, personality, role and presence on this planet was so much smaller, thinner and petite than they really are.

I’m so thankful I have the choice to get a designer vagina if I want one – hooray! Unless it’s just another way to make women part with their hard-earned and their self respect by buying into the pressure to conform to yet another sanitised, feminine ideal of sameness.

What is the perfect vagina? One that can adequately birth children and still function as a pleasure receptor and provider, surely.

If you need help with urinary incontinence, pelvic floor exercises work wonders and if not it’s a bone fide medical condition that may need specialist surgery; it’s not an excuse for a ‘medical aesthetic centre’ to charge you thousands to improve the appearance of something that is already unique, beautiful and functional.

Is this pressure to possess a ‘healed’ over vulva coming from men, if so, is there a particular age range flexing their muscles? Is it women – it seems unlikely, you can’t even show off the finished product? Is it the cosmetic surgery industry?

I’ll go with the last one – I’m informed there is a demand for the service at this western suburbs clinic, but advertising the designer vagina treatment perpetuates what is a sad, damaging cycle – it doesn’t just involve medically unnecessary surgery with a painful recovery but the reiteration of an unhealthy and inaccurate belief that as women, our natural appearance is not good enough.

I’ve even heard the frightening anecdote of a teenage girl so ashamed of her vagina that she is convinced she needs surgery – and she hasn’t yet seen what an amazing array of yonis are even out there, so that she can see she is perfectly normal, or given birth…but that’s a topic for another day.      

We cry foul at the thought of women undergoing female circumcision and/or genital mutilation. I don’t see how this is any different, except that the patients have been brainwashed into thinking it’s just a normal desire all women have the right to fulfil.

Get real. There’s nothing wrong with your vagina. Embrace it. And do your pelvic floors.