Saturday, February 24, 2007

Ode to my 20's

A letter to myself in my early twenties (ie. if I could send it back through time). It is my thirtieth birthday on Monday.

Dear me-in-my-twenties,

Phew! What a lot we have to talk about. First of all, I know that this is not what you pictured for yourself at age 30. You think you will be married with kids by now, and settled into a little home of your own - but instead, you will be living on the opposite side of the planet, far from home and family - still pretty much the same angsty, vague, odd creature as ever, just in a very different environment.

I know in your vague way, you thought everything would happen pretty much to plan, without you having to do much in the way of forward thinking or being proactive. Well, you were wrong, sister. I am happy to tell you that you will become a bit more organised with the passage of time (although not much), but you are still as emotionally messy as ever. Oh by the way, you like cooking now! Who would've thought it.

At least you did make it overseas, and you are now an official London resident, although still dreaming of Melbourne. And you will meet a very special guy who will make you work harder at being a good person/partner than anyone in your life ever did. The warmth of his arms and the trust of his heart will be some consolation in this hard-edged world, and he will inspire you to love creatively.

A few things to bear in mind: Work isn't that important. Being cool isn't at all important. Most of those blokes aren't worth your tears. The ones who are, you should be kinder to. The people who matter, still matter, perhaps more than ever.

You are braver than you think (and feel).

Men and women are not as similar as you think, and you can't expect all men to be as honest and trustworthy as your own father and brothers (that was a hard lesson).

Music is consolation. Art is consolation. The natural world is a consolation and an eternal source of wonder - don't be so caught up in the urban landscape, glamorous and gritty though you think it is.

I have to tell you, it will take you until your late twenties to feel comfortable with your style. Although I think that combat pants/chinese pyjama top combo is rockin', you won't start dressing like a woman until you meet the guy who brings it out in you. However, those op-shop clothes and clumpy shoes are not really that flattering.

Your svelte body shape is one a lot of girls envy - be aware of this and don't slouch so much. Take more pride in your body and look after it better.

Lastly, a lot of stuff that you think matters, really doesn't. It doesn't matter that much if you get some things wrong, and some things right. This is the nature of life, especially your twenties. I am proud of you for stumbling through to a good Uni and getting your degree, and for never being out of work since (although you should be careful of that trap of being defined by your job). I am proud that you don't let anyone else define your tastes, and that you have discovered and are devouring art-house film and indie music.

You will come to like Bob Dylan. And Cat Stevens, and people you currently think are crap. You will realise that a whole load of interesting stuff happened, musically and otherwise, before you were born.

Life doesn't get easier. It gets more complicated. There are literally truck-loads of forms that need to be filled out. Modern life does suck as much as you think it does.

Above all, relax, baby! You worry far too much. You need to learn to be comfortable in your skin. You need to learn to love yourself. Actually, that advice still stands.

Here's to the next ten years of this work-in-progress.

Love, your nearly-30-year-old-self.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Spoonerism of the week

"Hey, have you guys seen Carrots of the Pirabbean?"

Monday, February 19, 2007

Serendipity cupcakes

So called because I had to use dribs and drabs left over in my pantry, so that they bear virtually no resemblance to the Nigella Lawson recipe I was planning to use. However, they did turn out beautifully - dare I say even better than Nigella's stuffy old carrot cupcakes.

Makes 12. Just enough to last a couple of days for two greedy people.

100gm light muscovado sugar
175ml sunflower oil
2 eggs
100gm plain flour
125gm self raising flour (I used light brown)
small teaspoon of bi-carb soda
pinch salt
150gm grated butternut squash/pumpkin
100gm chopped walnuts
freshly grated nutmeg

Whip the sugar and oil together and beat in the eggs one at a time. Sift the flours, salt and bi-carb soda together and add to the mix. Fold in the grated squash/pumpkin and nutmeg with the walnuts (inhaling the nutmeg deeply). Spoon the glooopy result into a muffin tin lined with patty pans. Cook at 200 degrees for 20 minutes. Try to keep your nose clean as you lick the bowl.

Saturday, February 17, 2007

The ultimate chick-lit makeover

I recently read the memoirs of a fellow Melbourne chick just a few years older than myself - Kate Holden - called In My Skin. The book details her transition from dreamy uni student, to heroin user, to addict and finally, perhaps inevitably, to sex worker. What differentiates this story are a couple of notable things. One is that her upbringing was not the classic tragedy you might expect (absent father, depressed/alcoholic mother, abusive step-relatives), but a pretty normal, loving, suburban one - in fact, one not so terribly different from my own. The other thing that sets this memoir apart is Kate's refusal to portray herself as a victim, and that, incredibly, she managed to find some pride in her work as a prostitute despite the hardships she endured. Speaking of which, if you are thinking of reading In My Skin, be prepared for some eye-watering descriptive passages.

The emotional strength she relied on to do her job well eventually bolstered her enough that she was able to kick her habit and move on.

I do find it kind of infuriating that the book publishers here in the UK have decided that the original cover (the one I own) wasn't "glamorous" enough:




I actually remember thinking as I read the book, that if anything it was a bit too glam. It features a photo of the back of a classy-looking woman taking off her bra in a car, through the rain splattered window. In the novel, Kate is at her lowest, sickliest, most pitiful point when she resorts to getting into strange men's cars on the streets of St Kilda.

However, this cover obviously didn't attract enough readers, so in order to lure the Bridget-Jones-reading, yummy-mummy crowd, the publishers have gone for a lighter touch - a whimsical illustration in soft pastels of a woman removing her stockings, with a typeface borrowed directly fromSex and the City:




When I first saw the new cover it made my blood boil at the sheer inappropriateness - the unthinking arrogance - of making a shockingly honest memoir of a woman barely surviving on society's edges, look like a light-hearted bedroom romp.

Now I just smile when I think of all those smug, snobbish, middle-class mums who are in for the shock of their lives.

Friday, February 09, 2007

Cursing my lack of moon boots, toboggan and understanding clients

More snow in London, if you didn't hear already... loads this time! Proper snow, like. It was about 4 inches deep, enough for your feet to sink into with a satisfying crunch, leaving perfect platform-boot style footprints behind. After feverishly tossing up whether I could get away with pulling a "snow day", I decided I had no real excuse for not showing up to work, besides getting all tourist-y at the sight of the white stuff.

My street:








However, The Boyfriend and I took our time walking the long way to the tube station, via the woods...




...where the groundskeeper and his family live in this ridiculously cute house. And where Peter Rabbit frequents the vegetable patch and Enid Blyton comes calling for tea.



Tuesday, February 06, 2007

My ipod the Dictator

Did you ever notice that when you put your ipod on "shuffle", the same songs/artists seem to keep popping up? I use this setting all the time (at least an hour a day on the way to work), and I have come to the conclusion that my ipod is trying to tell me something.

My 'pod can't get enough of:

Wanderlust - The Delays
Your Cloud - Tori Amos (we both luuurve this one)
Caring is Creepy - The Shins
5 Years - Björk
Ágætis byrjun - Sigur Rós
Little Green - Joni Mitchell
Where is My Love - Cat Power

My 'pod can't stand:

Anything by Rufus Wainwright - he has never been played on a random setting, EVER.
Martha Wainwright (except Factory)
Lior
Joan As Police Woman
Joanna Newsom (well, she is an acquired taste)
The Flaming Lips

Funny, eh? I don't know what exactly my 'pod has against the Family Wainwright, but it is kind of annoying, especially as they represent an abundance of musical gene-ius.

I mean, I know Rufus can seem kind of whiney to the non-enlightened ear, but there is so much goodness to be had on his Want 1 album. In his hands, a nothin' special lyric like: "My phone's on vibrate for you", becomes a soaring, heavenly plea.

Maybe my mini is just a nasty little homophobe.
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