Monday, 29 August 2011

Fighting my way through a perfume haze.

One of my pet peeves is people who smell bad. I'm not a snob about this but you know, deodorant is something that not all people seem to have the hang of. And with a nose as sensitive as mine, it's worse. If anything is worse than bad-smelling people it's people who bathe in their au de perfum of choice so you can virtually see their scent trailing behind them as they walk past. The first one makes me gag, and the second one makes me sneeze and get an immediate perfume-headache (kind of like a brain-freeze headache, but without the ice-cream). I hate gagging as much as I hate sneezing.

So imagine my horror when I discovered that the smell I was turning my nose up at a few days ago was my own. I was mortified. I wanted to shower right then and there to scrub clean my stinking pit pores, only I was at work, and apart from being a slightly crazy thing to do in my lunch hour, may have made my bosses think twice about my future at their firm. I mean, I'm already a writer. They don't need any more reasons to prove that I'm mentally unhinged.

After discovering the noxious gases I had been producing from my pits, I decided I'd try out a different deodorant. Oh what a pain in the rear that proved to be. Standing in the personal hygiene aisle of the supermarket for longer than five minutes makes you look like you can't read, or you're a moron, or it's the first time you've ever thought about buying deodorant. Of course, I'm none of those, but I still felt out of my depth.

Let's look at the options. You have spray anti-perspirants and deodorants, roll-ons, body sprays and sticks. There's products that promise to not stain your white clothes, and to not stain your black clothes. Products that smell and some that are odourless (the point here???). They promise to get you the guy (or the girl, depending what you're into), and to keep you dry no matter how hot and sweaty you get.

And there's a distinct difference between mens and womens when it comes to labelling. Mens tend to say things like "energetic fragrance" and "responds to increases in adrenalin". They're called "Africa" and "V8" and "Brut".

Womens, on the other hand, say things like "seductive" and "sensual", and ooh "mishievous". They're called things like "Shiny" and "Illusions" and (sharp intake of breath) "Tease".

Do they tell you what they actually smell like though? Not bloody likely! What the hell does "energetic" smell like anyway? And I can guarantee you that what smells "sensual" to me is not the same as what smells "sensual" to someone else.

For the love of all that is good and right, can we at least get some truth in advertising. Wearing deodorant won't get me the girl - particularly the type of girl in a certain product's ads (not that I want another girl - I already have one). Only sixteen-year-olds believe that. And no matter what they say, it won't last for more than a couple of hours, even in an air-conditioned office. I know advertising plays on our emotions to get us to buy things, but dammit, I'm over trying to decipher some of those ads. Will I smell fresh and oceany? Show me a beach. Will I smell smokey and woody? Show me a log cabin. I get shit like that. That stuff is easy to decipher.

But I have another problem trying to choose deodorants. Those who know me well know that I am definitely not feminine. I don't do nail polish or make-up or dresses. The only thing I put on my face is moisturiser, and even then it's only when I get sunburnt or my skin feels dry. Having said that, I'm still a girl, and I like being a girl. Just, you know, not too much of a girl.

I don't want to smell like a bunch of flowers, a fruit bowl, a cinnamon stick, or a vanilla pod. And I damn-well don't want to smell like I've just rolled in pine needles, or I've just walked through smoke. I don't want to smell overly "woman" or overly "man". And it seems like there's no inbetween in there. Even the "sports" deodorants are skewed one way or the other.

I just want to hide my pong without the cover-up smell being offensive to me and everyone around me. And I don't want to smell like a girl. And, I don't want to smell like a man. Is that too much to ask?

Side note: At the time of posting, I still have not found a deodorant that I like. Any suggestions are much-appreciated. If you do make a suggestion for something I might like, please, oh please, tell me exactly what it is I will smell like if I use it!


Saturday, 13 August 2011

Extract: How Charlie Hypnotised the Chicken

This is an extract of one of my kids WIP - tentatively titled "How Charlie Hypnotised the Chicken". I've been meaning to put up some extracts for a little while now, and I'm glad this is the first one. I'd like to introduce you to Charlie, Angus, Johnno & Shelby, grade six students at Emu Creek Primary School. Oh, and Meatball Murphy - a little too big for his age and self-proclaimed King of the School. I had fun writing this scene, and I love these kids like my own. Let me know what you think.

PS This one's for you Kyle :)

"Ah man, the whole school's here!"

Johnno put his hand on Angus's shoulder. "They all want to see you beat Meatball."

"They all want to see me get killed," Angus said as he trudged towards the oval.

The crowd parted to let Angus and Johnno through, and then closed around them. There was no escape. Angus looked around, hoping to see Charlie,  but there was still no sign of him. He couldn't see Shelby either, but he didn't expect to after she told him exactly what she thought of fighting.

Just as Angus's heart had stopped fluttering, Meatball appeared, cracking his knuckles and sneering.

"You're dead," he said.

Angus looked over at Johnno. "Where's Charlie?" Johnno shrugged.

"Come on pip-squeak. What are ya waiting for?" Meatball began to circle around. Angus moved away. There was no way he could even think about throwing a punch until Charlie got there to hypnotise him.

The crowd was quiet, waiting to see who would crack first.

"You're nothin' but a little sissy." Meatball took a step forward. Angus tried backing away but he met a wall of people.

"Angus!" It was Shelby. "Angus! Don't do this!"

"Go away, Shelby."

"Yeah, go away Shelby," Meatball mocked in a high-pitched voice.

"Shut up, Meatball," she replied.

"Are you gonna make me?"

"Leave her alone, Meatball." Angus felt a little braver now that Shelby was there.

"Angus, please don't do this," Shelby pleaded.

"Your girlfriend's gonna cop it as soon as I finish with you, wuss." Meatball poked his finger into Angus's chest.

Angus stood his ground.

"Come on. Hit me." Meatball teased.

Come on Charlie, where are you? Angus thought. All of a sudden, Charlie came bolting across the field yelling. "Angus! You can't do it!"

"Just say it Charlie!" Angus yelled.

Charlie pushed through the crowd and pulled Angus aside. "You can't do it. You're not hypnotised."

"I know. You haven't said the words yet." Angus said.

"No, you don't get it. You're NOT hypnotised!" Charlie said again.

"Don't listen to him Angus." Johnno said. He turned to Charlie. "Just say it." 

Charlie pushed Johnno away. "I can't hypnotise you, Angus. I never could." 

But Angus wouldn't believe him. He turned back to face Meatball. "Say it, Charlie."


"Just say it!" Angus's face was bright red. He was breathing heavily, and sweat started to bead down his forehead. He had clenched his fist, ready for impact.

Charlie sighed. "Turdburger," he said. Just as the words came out of his mouth, someone shouted "Ainsleigh William Murphy!"

Meatball's mother was striding across the oval with Mr Smith, and it was enough to throw Meatball off. At that exact moment, Angus drew back his arm and let fly. He felt his fist sink into the soft spongy folds of Meatball's belly. He drew his arm back, surprised and elated. He had hit Meatball Murphy! He turned to his friends, who threw their fists into the air in celebration.

He turned back to Meatball, and the last thing he saw was Meatball's fist coming towards his nose.

Wednesday, 3 August 2011

Vote Now! Should we be allowed to get married?

Before the last sitting of federal parliament finished, it was resolved that all members should go back to their electorates and gauge their constituents views on gay marriage. Whether they actually do this or not, well, who knows. I personally haven't had anything in my mailbox asking for me to submit my thoughts on it - though I have saved my local member the trouble and emailed him instead. I received a nice reply stating that "should this issue arise, I will take your views into consideration." And yes, I did laugh (scoff) out loud. At least I got a reply.

So anyway, the debate is still raging wildly, and the Greens are waiting for the next sitting to see what sort of support there is to put through a private members bill. I don't hold out too much hope that this will get up, but at least it will keep the debate going.

I was wondering, after my last post on gay marriage, if there was anything more I could add to the debate. And it turns out there is, thanks to a few comments on other blogs and sites on the interwebs. Rather than rehash everything from that previous post, I thought I'd just tackle an issue that keeps coming up that I didn't really address in my last post.

Let's take this to a referendum, and decide once and for all

Why does this irk me so much? One, because this issue isn't based on changing the constitution, which is what it needs to be for a referendum to take place. And we don't have a system like they do in the US where we can add a question to the ballot paper at the next election: "Thanks for casting your vote. By the way, do you think gays and lesbians should be allowed to legally marry? Please place an X in one box only for your vote to count."

And two? Well, because would you like someone to be given a vote on whether you should get married or not? Let me give you a little scenario to illustrate my point better.

Lets say that in order to obtain a marriage licence, you and your intended have to take your request in front of a judge and a jury of your peers, in several different court rooms. In order for the judge to sign off on your marriage licence, you must explain why you want to get married, and convince the majority of the jurers in a majority of the court rooms.

You need to explain why, when the de facto laws cover the majority of rights and responsibilities as a couple, marrying your intended would be better for you both.

I love him/her. Love is not enough. Just look at the divorce rates. You need to provide something concrete.

It will make us both happier to be married. So, you're not happy now in the relationship you already have?

It's better for us both financially to be married? De facto laws cover that already.

We have children together and we want to make sure they grow up in a stable environment? Possibly a good reason, however you're very close to admitting that your relationship now isn't stable enough for children to be brought up in. Be aware, sir, that you are sailing very close to the wind on this one. I have child safety on speed dial.

What about in the event of a break-up? We want to make sure that we have access to mechanisms to ensure the best possible outcome for our children regarding maintenance and custody. De facto laws already allow you access to the Family Court system on these matters. By the way, ma'am, thinking in terms of a break-up before you're even married? Are you sure you're both even ready for this sort of commitment?

If I die, I want my partner to be looked after. To make sure she doesn't lose the house or anything else because someone in her family doesn't think she deserves it because she's not really a partner. (Sorry, darling, you know who I'm talking about.) You know, you can save yourself a great deal of trouble with this one. Lawyers can draw up wills for this very purpose, and much cheaper than a wedding I might add.

Ok then, what about if I end up in hospital in a coma? And that same relative doesn't allow her access? Or she doesn't get a say in my treatment?  Easy, sir. Just have your lawyers draw up a living will and power of attorney. Granted, it could be contested in a long, draw-out court process, but again, its much cheaper than some garish wedding. And if you get your wills drawn up at the same time as your powers of attorney, you'll find it's even cheaper! Win-win I'd say!

Look, this man is the man I want to spend the rest of my life with. This man only. He makes me happy. I make him happy. Why can't we just get married? Did you know, ma'am, that this man you say who makes you so happy, is part of a group (the 'male') who on the whole, lives a quite promiscuous lifestyle? He may not have slept with many women himself, however, just being part of this group predisposes him to, well, infidelity. Adultery. Sexually transmitted diseases! (shakes head in disgust) Need I go on?

You know what? Forget the marriage licence. Honey, lets just move to Canada.

Now I know how silly this all sounds, but this is what "we" gays and lesbians are being asked to do. Provide "evidence" that being married is going to make a difference in our lives, more so than being granted de facto status. What proof do you want? Honestly. We're arguing over feelings here - things that can't just be quantified into tangible proof. Does that mean that love and commitment (two of the cornerstones of marriage) should take a back seat because you want proof that marriage will be better than what we already are allowed to have because "you" feel the de facto laws are enough? If that's the case, why should anyone be allowed to get married? And why should wedding vows be allowed to contain anything about intangible feelings at all, if they can't be used as proof that I should be allowed to legally marry my wife?

As I've said before, I love my wife. She loves me. Our relationship has been made stronger by the formal commitment we made in front of family and friends. Why is that such a hard thing to understand?

Show your support
There are many different ways to show yoru support to this issue, and below are just two of the many sites available.

To share your story and explain why gay marriage equality matters to you, go to My Marriage Story
To send an email to your local member sharing your views on gay marriage, go to Australian Marriage Equality

Monday, 1 August 2011

What are you afraid of?

True story - when I was about 17, I was up late studying when I decided to take a loo break. When I went to the bathroom, I discovered a HUGE (and I mean HUGE) huntsman spider above the toilet, just waiting to jump on me. I knew what he was thinking by the look in all those eyes. I knew better than to wake my dad, but I also knew he would probably be up soon enough, so I waited until he got up to get rid of it for me - about three hours later mind you, and I was fairly busting by that time. I would rather have peed outside on the lawn than go in the bathroom with that spider in there.

So anyway, I've just written 1,315 words (count'em!) this morning on one of my novels - the first 1,315 words I've written on any of my novels in about 2 months. Oh I've been plotting and characterising and brainstorming and house-working and real-job working.... So it's not like I've been doing nothing. Right? Actually, I have been doing something - just nothing to do with writing. Procrastination - again.

I hear you - we've gone from a story about my borderline arachnophobia to not writing. What gives? Well, I realised this morning that I was afraid of something far worse than little fat black bodies with eight hairy legs. I realised I was afraid of (wait for it...) - failure. Oh it's such a cop out I know. But it's such a mind-numbing thing, worrying about how crap something's going to turn out before you actually even do it. So why risk it? Why do it in the first place? Why put yourself through all that pain when it's just going to turn out crap anyway? Why not just sit on your fat ass surfing the net, looking at stuff you're not interested in, just so you can not fail at something you actually used to enjoy doing?

Honestly? I have no idea. But this morning when I sat down to write (after I checked emails 20 times in about 30 seconds, refreshed my favourite sites a few times to see if there was anything new I might otherwise have missed, and re-arranged the pantry so my food was in alphabetical order, which, incidentally, will need to be re-arranged back to the way it was before my wife gets home this Friday), I had the following conversation with myself (yes, this was before my first coffee):

Do you really think you write crap? Yes. Do you think I'd be having this conversation with myself if I didn't? (Sheesh!)

What's so bad about writing crap? It's crap! C-R-A-P! Stuff that should never see the light of day. Stuff so bad that it burns holes in my retinas.

So then, why do you have to show it to anyone? Because I have a little something called an ego, and my ego needs stroking, and if I don't show anything to anybody, I can't get my ego stroked.

So show it to someone. Surely they'll tell you if it's crap or not? Duh! That's the point! Why show my crap to someone just to confirm it's crap?

How do you know what you've written is crap? What? You don't think I know my own crap?

Have you read anything lately (by published writers) that you thought was crap? Maybe. I mean, it was published, so it's probably not crap, right? Besides, I don't write like that.

What? You don't write crap? Is this a trick question?
So that stuff you read was either published crap, or published good writing? I don't get what you're saying.

One reader's crap is another's treasure? Oh ha ha. At least we're not going around in circles anymore.

Just write the crap. Then the crap is out of the system.

So I did. And you know what? The crap wasn't that bad. I mean, I cringed a little when I was writing some of it, but I made notes to change those cringe-worthy words to stronger ones, and put "more here" where I just couldn't see that particular scene, but I just kept writing. I stopped after about 300 words, gasping for breath and thinking "damn this is harder than I remember". But then, around the 500 word mark, when the scene really started to open up, I started to motor. So why have I stopped to tell you about this relatively small achievement in my word count? Because my ego needs stroking.

And my argumentative alter-ego says:

The Crap has left the building.