Saturday, 23 July 2011

Things I could have said: Insults and sledges

Sport can be very highly competitive, especially at the amateur levels. Pushing the boundaries and bending the rules is not uncommon, and players will often go to any lengths to get one up on the opposition. One of the ways to put your opposition off is to get inside their heads, usually by sledging.

Cricket is probably the most famous for on-field sledging and banter, but it's a common occurrence in most sports. Take soccer, for example, which is my sport of choice. I'm a goalkeeper, so I'm no stranger to a bit of "friendly" banter with opposition strikers. I've had some great rivalries over the years and I'd like to think I've given as good as I've gotten with regards to insults and sledges coming my way. Most of the time, it's just a friendly comment after a save. Something to the effect of "you've gotta do better than that to get it past me." I have also been known, after saving a penalty in a grand final shoot out, to take the ball back, give it to the striker who just missed and tell them to try again. Nothing too outlandish, but it does the job.

I bring this up because I've just finished playing a soccer game, in which I was supposedly sledged. I didn't hear the actual comment but one of my team-mates did. I'm actually pretty insulted that it wasn't something better. I'm also a little upset that I didn't hear it, as I wasn't given a right of reply. Rule Number One in sledging - make sure your intended target actually hears what you say. Otherwise, it really is pointless.

What was the alleged sledge? "How old is your wife?" Now, for those of you who are new here, I'm an out and proud lesbian, and I do have a wife (though not legally of course). This comment, I am guessing, was an attempt to use the gay = bad thing. Though I'd be more offended if she'd meant that my wife was old enough to be my grandmother, but since I know this player doesn't even know my wife, that's probably not the case. And so this brings me to the second rule of sledging - make sure it's actually insulting enough to get a reaction. Otherwise, again, pretty pointless.

The Third Rule of sledging is really a no-brainer - make sure you can back up your words with actions. If you go around telling opposition players how bad they are, and your team isn't on top? You look like a bit of an idiot. The team we played is actually pretty good, and we're pretty close when it comes to results, so it's always a tough match when we meet them. They were on the back foot for most of the match tonight though, so it was probably a better time for them to be concentrating on getting their own game right rather than having a go at ours.

Last, but not least, Rule Number Four - keep it relevant. Like I said, I'm a goalkeeper. I had seven goals put past me last week against a different opposition. Surely bringing that up would have had more affect than asking how old my wife is? As a side note, comments about spouses/children/parents are usually a no-go zone. Just ask Marco Materazzi, the Italian defender who was headbutted by Zinedine Zidane in the 2006 World Cup Final after allegedly making a comment about Zidane's wife.

So after careful consideration, and having had plenty of time to think on this, I've come up with a list of five Things I Could Have Said in reply, if I'd actually heard the comment.

"How old is your wife?"

  1. Why? You thinking of trading up?
  2. How old's your sister again?
  3. Why? You wanna swap?
  4. Ask her yourself - she's the one on the Harley
  5. Which one?
Admittedly, there's not too much sting in my replies, but when all you have to work with is "how old is your wife?" there's not really too much material you can use.

What do you think? What would you reply to that sledge? What's been your favourite or funniest sledge - either to have given or received?

After all of that - how did the match end up? We won 2-0 and jumped into third spot on the ladder. Good job team!

Monday, 18 July 2011

Story time: Noni Hazlehurst reads "Go the F**k to Sleep"

Those of you who remember Noni Hazlehurst from Play School will love her rendition of the book "Go the F**k to Sleep" by Adam Mansbach, Illustrated by Ricardo Cortes. Hard to imagine anyone else could read this book with such love and expression. Love your work, Noni.

Monday, 11 July 2011

And now a word from my sponsor, otherwise known as "My Real Job"

One of the things I have been struggling with of late is the work/write balance. My overall goal, as I guess it is for all writers and creative types, is to make enough money from my creative pursuit to be able to do it full time. At the moment, I am working part-time in a fantastic small accounting practice with bosses and colleagues who understand that accounting, alas, is not my first love. (Cue the collective intake of breath from accountants everywhere).

I am therefore very lucky that they allow me lee-way to work 3-4 days a week, depending on the tax "season" and overall workload, although I know that the offer to work full time is always available. I am also lucky enough to have a supportive wife who earns enough for me to not have to work full time, even though we are spending money hand-over-fist on renovating our first house.

I struggle with this at the moment because I feel like I am not able to give 100% to either pursuit, and feel like I am splitting myself in two - while I am at work, I am thinking about writing, and while I am researching or writing, I am thinking about work. It's a delicate balance, and one that Joanna Penn from The Creative Penn talks about on her blog - Writing and the Mixed Blessing of a Day Job. (Fantastic site - I visit it weekly for inspiration and tips).

In it she lists the upsides to having a "real" job. This post really got me thinking about how much I need to re-evaluate my feelings about my own day job. I guess the pros and cons depend on who you are and how you write. I tend to write in mad flourishes, and spend most of my other writing time either plotting or researching - often working on more than one idea, which amuses my by-the-numbers, oh-so-organised wife no end. She makes lists (oh does she make lists!) and follows them, mostly top to bottom. Sometimes she makes lists for me to do on my day off. I look at them, and cross of the stuff I don't want to do rather than the stuff I've actually done. Defeats the point, I know, but I view lists as more of a suggestion box for things that I may or may not get around to. Which brings me back to my day job. I utilise lists there too - though I tend to "snooze" most of them for days on end until Outlook pokes me in the eye and yells "Just do the damn job already!" Or our fantastic admin staff threaten to tie me to my chair until I get my jobs done.

I've been lucky over the last 3 months or so that it's been relatively quiet at work - out of tax season and further ahead of our work than we thought we'd be, so I was able to drop back to 3 days a week and spend an extra day at home. While I have managed to get a lot of work done, mostly on plotting and charcterisation (I am trying desperately to be more organised before I write so I don't stop-start so much), I have still suffered from writus interruptus thanks to rebuilding our kitchen from the ground up and having to be available at any time of the day for tradesmen to traipse through the house to do their thing.

The ironic thing about all of this is the more I can't write, the more I want to. This is the attitude I am hoping to carry over through the impending tax season. This week is my first week back to four days a week, and that will continue for the foreseeable future - at least until after Christmas, depending on my work load (and the generosity of my bosses). In one of my earlier posts, I cited my day job as a big obstacle to my goal of completing NaNoWriMo for the first time this year. And that's mostly because tax isn't something you can switch off from after 5pm like some other professions. I'm hoping to come up with some way to switch modes from tax to writing after 5pm - alcohol maybe, but I'm open to suggestions.

In honour of going back to my day job four days a week, the top four Best Things About My Day Job are:

  1. Morning tea time - The 20(-ish) minute social interaction when we all stop work for coffee and to ponder over what everyone brought to snack on. This is especially interesting because of one of our accountant's reactions to any type of food he has not seen before. And sometimes, someone will bring in biscuits or cakes to share. What's not to love? 
  2. Getting paid - Writing does not pay my bills, and just so that burden is not left completely up to my wife, the dollars in the bank are much-appreciated. Though the way we're going with our renovating budget, I may have to take that extra day at work as well as a second job.
  3. Political/climate change/conspiracy theory/football discussions - Yes, Mark, I'm talking about you! Love these discussions, honestly. They get me out of my funk and away from having to deal with painful clients and/or accounts for at least an hour. And last but not least.....
  4. The Charity Chocolate Box - Chocolates at my fingertips. They are way too tempting to be totally honest, and I should really try harder to resist, but hey. Who can resist the call of chocolate to cure that three-thirty-itis? Not I!
So as you can see, I do appreciate my day job. And yes, the people I work with are great too. And I know they won't take offence when I say that no matter how much I like that working with tax pays my bills, I would still much rather be writing!

Wednesday, 6 July 2011

Renovation Relaxation

So this is the old kitchen that we ripped out last couple of weekends (The major reason for my latest procrastination). The cupboard in the left corner we assume was not original, as it came out in about 10 minutes. The cupboards on the right were made from tongue-and-groove and HUGE nails, so took about 2 hours to knock out. It was so worth it though. Because we went from this crappy old thing, to this.......

 And this....

It's so much more functional than before, and we have so much more storage and bench space. In fact, we have so much space to put everything, we're not entirely sure where everything should be going.

To finish it off, we now have to decide on the splash-backs. Tiles or zenolite? White or throw in some colour? Big tiles or little tiles? Stainless steel behind the stove? More decisions! Hopefully we'll have it finished by Christmas....

What do you think? Should we go with tiles or something more fancy? Stay with neutrals or throw in some colour?

Monday, 4 July 2011

All Animals Are Equal (Some are more equal than others)

There's been a huge hoohah on the net over the last few days about gay marriage being back on the agenda here in Australia thanks to New York passing their marriage laws. State Labor parties are also pushing Federal Labor to amend the Marriage Act to include gay marriage, or at least to change their policy regarding it at the next Federal Labor conference. A lot of articles have been written for and against gay marriage, and I've read a lot of them over the past few days, as well as the huge number of comments that these articles tend to attract.
I  have been equally saddened, angered, frustrated and dumb-founded at some of the blatant bigotry, naive indifference, and sheer ignorance at some of those comments. I have been heartened, though, at some of the comments made by people (not just gays) arguing for gay marriage. Basically, as I see it, these are the main arguments or concerns people against gay marriage have and make, along with my (hopefully brief) thoughts on each:

That's the way it's always been
(Also known as "That's what the Marriage Act says, so ner" and "It's our word, get your own")

I really don't care if it's called "marriage" or "civil union", as long as it confers the same rights to my wife (yes, wife) and I as my sister and her husband. But let's be totally honest here. When a couple decides to take that extra step in their relationship and make that commitment in front of their family and friends, it's called a "marriage" - a coming together of two people. No different to what my wife and I want to do, legally. Our friends and family call my wife exactly that, and when asked of our relationship status, they all refer to us as being married. It's the socially accepted term for that relationship, so why change the term? Definitions change, especially when they're legal or social, which is what we're arguing about here. Besides, would you like to tell people you're "civilly unioned"?

Homosexuals are a minority - why change the law for a minority?
(Also known as "There are more important issues to deal with" and "Let's have a referendum and let the majority decide once and for all." Sometimes disguises itself as "I know gay people and they don't even want to get married")

There is no doubt that the GLBTI community is a small one compared, say, to Christians, Muslims, and AFL supporters. In fact, there's probably more people who watch synchronised swimming than are (openly) in the GLBTI community. Depending on which study you read, we range from .000001% of the population to around 10-15%. Let's just split the difference and say we number around the 7% mark. It really is irrelevant. Laws are made for everyone, not just the majority. There are plenty of minority groups in society who have been discriminated against in the past, and who are no longer because laws were changed to stop this. When you restrict a group of people from accessing certain rights and responsibilities because of sex, age, race, religion or sexuality - or simply because they're a minority - that's discrimination. And it's certainly no reason to NOT change the law.
As for the "I know gay people" line, I'd like to thank all those people for speaking on my behalf. I could also say I know lots of unemployed people and they all rort the system, but is that really true of all unemployed people? (On second thoughts, maybe a bad example...)
Just because I "know people" doesn't make it true across the board, and it also doesn't give me permission to speak on their behalf. I know heterosexual people who don't want to get married - but guess what? They have that choice. I don't. Don't assume something just because you "know people".

Homosexuality is a lifestyle choice
(Also known as "Homos are promiscuous and can't maintain long-term relationships")

I'm not really sure where this myth comes from - maybe people equate Mardi Gras with lots of sex and drugs, and therefore all gays must be like this all the time. I actually laugh when I see this one in a comment thread. My response? Glass houses and stones anyone? Promiscuity is not restricted to gays, and we're not having any more one-night stands and non-relationship sex than your average heterosexual. Don't believe me? Go out to a night club on a Friday or Saturday night and check out the number of straight people going home with someone different each night. This really is a mute point as far as I'm concerned, because someone (regardless of sexuality) who has a different sexual partner each night is hardly the type of person who would think marriage would be a great idea anyway.
There are plenty of people who, for whatever reason, can't seem to find the "right one" and have trouble maintaining a long-term, healthy relationship, but this is not dependant on your sexuality.
A lifestyle choice is deciding to live on the coast, or to work from home, or to stop work completely and live a self-sustainable life on a hobby farm in a country town. Being gay is not a lifestyle choice. The only "choice", if there is one, is whether to stay in the closet and live a lie, or be happy and confident in who you are, and live your truth. I could have married a man (I was engaged when I was much younger) but this would have been a huge mistake. I was never really happy until I met my current partner seven years ago. We are a normal couple, doing normal couple-y things. I really am no different to anyone else when it comes to my relationship, except my partner is a woman.

Religious reasons
(Also disguised as "The gay agenda is to convert innocent children and vulnerable adults to their cause")

I understand where people of and with faith are coming from here. Honestly, I do. But the point is, I don't go around expecting you to change your life to fit in with my ideals, so why should you expect me to do the same? And before anyone howls me down and says this is exactly what allowing gay marriage would do, think about it this way. Have you ever seen a gay group going from door-to-door, handing out rainbow-coloured pamphlets asking you to come to their gay club, Mardi Gras or Pride event? No? What about gay groups "teaching" in schools? No? Look, I have nothing against religious groups knocking on doors or teaching RE/RI in schools. In fact, more power to them - it takes a lot of guts. But please don't confuse the "gay agenda" with "conversion". As far as I'm concerned, there's only one particular group of people doing the converting and it certainly ain't me and my rainbow friends.
The other myth being circulated is that churches will have to perform gay marriage ceremonies. This is a total nonsense. Churches and religions already have leeway set within the law to actively discriminate against things that go against their teachings. And that's ok. I don't expect them to change. What I would like, though, is instead of those of faith thinking that this is going to affect them, realise that most of us have nothing against you - we just don't have the same beliefs as you, that's all. Nothing more, nothing less.
I don't want recognition of my relationship from God, just the government who is happy to take my taxes, but not give me the same rights as my hetero friends and family.

What happens in the event of a relationship breakdown?
(Also known as "Won't somebody think of the children" and "Children have no choice to be born/brought up in these relationships")

Firstly, thanks to the change in de facto laws, we now have access to the family court. So there's nothing different between the breakdown of a hetero relationship and a gay relationship - except there may be more arguments over who gets the soft furnishings.
As for children and their choices - tell me what child gets the choice (ever!) to be born into ANY relationship or family - whether that be heterosexual or homosexual? Do children get the choice to be born to wealthy parents as opposed to those on skid row? What about those kids who much prefer parents who are more interested in sport rather than academia? See how silly this one is?
I understand concerns about children growing up with two mums or two dads, and perhaps there not being enough influence of the other sex, but this one depends entirely on your view of family. My wife and I are not having children, but if we did, those kids would have plenty of male role models. They'd have two grandfathers, 4 uncles and plenty of extended family and friends to boot. As for teasing and bullying, well that's going to happen anyway, and often is borne of kids not understanding that different doesn't necessarily mean bad. It's up to us, as the adults, to teach our kids this point. Bullying is always going to be around, and that's a sad fact. The only thing we can do is equip our kids with enough confidence in who they are to overcome it.

It will invalidate or de-value heterosexual marriage

Does the guy up the street who beats his wife invalidate your marriage? What about the woman at work who's getting married for the third time? The only ones who can add value to your marriage are you and your wife/husband. And the only ones who can de-value it are you and your wife/husband. Someone completely unknown to you cheating on their wife/husband in no way affects your marriage - unless of course you're the one doing the cheating or being cheated on. That's a whole different story. My point is, when you walk down the street and see a couple holding hands, you have no idea whether they're married or not, whether they have children or not, or whether they're friends with benefits. And it has nothing to do with you either. None of those scenarios have any impact on how you see your marriage.
The real truth of the matter is, "we" gays want marriage because of the stability it represents, both to us as couples and to our friends and families. My wife and I had our "Big C" (commitment ceremony or non-legal marriage) two years ago. My wife didn't think she'd feel any different, as she knew it wouldn't overly change the strong relationship we already have. However, even though it wasn't legal, we did feel different - stronger, two parts of something bigger than ourselves individually. Now if only the government would recognise that too.

Overall, I can understand some of the points against gay marriage - though truthfully, really only the religious arguments. And while I do think it will be inevitable that the laws will get changed to allow us the priviledge of legally walking down the aisle, I think there is still a long way to go.
We are all human, and we all have the same wants and needs. Some of us are just that little bit different. That doesn't make us bad - it just makes us different, that's all. I love my wife, and she loves me. As far as we're concerned, we're married, whether it's legal or not. And we will do it all again when it does become legal, even if that means we're both old and decrepit and can only manage to rustle up our witnesses from off the street because all our friends and family are gone. Until then, I will continue to love my wife, and honour her as I promised in my "Big C" vows in front of our friends and family (even if that is out of threat of harm from her friends - just kidding guys - really!)
My big hope is that one day, people will no longer look at my wife and I holding hands when we walk down the street and see us as a curiosity, but as the sweet, loving, committed couple we are.

As always, I would love to know your thoughts. This is a big issue for so many people. "Yes" or "no"? "Marriage" or "civil union"? Share your thoughts below.