Tag Archives: versatile blogger

More Versatile Things About Me

It’s been a few months since I was last linked to a blog award — I was starting to think you all didn’t love me! — but the award train is back. Mommy Rotten awarded me the Versatile Blogger award a couple of weeks ago. (Thanks Ms Rotten!) As my regular readers know, I don’t do chain letters, chain emails, or chain blog awards (or chainmail, but that’s a different story). But I do have a compulsion for talking about myself and the attention span of a gnat, so I thought I’d (hopefully) amuse everyone with 7 fun facts about myself.

Plus, I’ve been goaded into it. Mommy Rotten said, “I picked those versatile individuals who I thought would have the funniest things to say about themselves.” Really, Mommy? Funny? No pressure or anything, right? Mind you, I was at the bottom of the list, so perhaps you’re only expecting me to be mildly entertaining.

I can do ‘mildly entertaining’.

1. I am totally a cat person… When I was 2 1/2 years old, I decided I wanted my own cat. Every day I asked my parents, “Please can I have a cat?” And every day they said no. Because we lived in a caravan park, because we didn’t have space for a cat, because we didn’t have the money for a cat, and because (above all) my Dad is allergic to cats. But day after day I asked the question. “Please can I have a cat?” After several years (or possibly weeks), I stopped asking. I got smart. I got cunning.

I didn’t ask for two days. Two. Whole. Days. And then, when I was grocery shopping with Mum, I asked, “Please can we buy some cat food?”

“Cat food?” she repeated. “Why would we buy cat food?”

“Because if we buy cat food, Daddy will have to let us have a cat to eat it!”

I got my cat the very next day.

2. … because even nice dogs can be scary. I’m not a dog person. If a dog starts sniffing at me, licking me, or looking at me with cute “puppy dog eyes” I have to fight the urge to flee, vomit, or cuff it upside the head. If it’s your dog doing any of those things (and you do nothing to make it stop) my esteem for you starts plummeting. I don’t like dogs. They’re too dependent, too overtly affectionate, and too eager to please. (I’ll take my cat with a mile-wide independent streak and a subtle hatred of the world, thankyouverymuch.)

But there was one dog, once, whom I came to love. 

His name was Bundy, and he was a Rhodesian Ridgeback cross (I don’t know with what). My family inherited him when I was 17. He had been abused and then abandoned by his previous owner, and was on the way to the pound when my Dad saw him and brought him home. Mum hated him. She made it clear that he could stay one week. One. And then Bundy started sitting behind her when she hung the clothes on the line, “protecting” her from the birds of the neighbourhood, and one week stretched into two. Then three. Then a month. Then ten years.

Bundy was big and aggressive. He bit more than one idiot who decided that coming into our yard without one of the family was a good idea because “dogs like me” or “Bundy’s met me before”. He was big and aggressive, but oh so gentle and caring when it came to “his people”. He’d grasp us gently by the wrist and tug at our arms, dragging us to see his latest treasure (which was often a dead animal that had dared enter his territory) without so much as denting our skin. He’d sit guard whenever we were outside, chasing away birds and insects that tried to get too close. (Mind you, when we were inside he’d just lie there and watch those same birds eat the food out of his bowl.)

He was big and aggressive, but I was never scared of him. I never had reason to be. And then one night, when I was 18, I staggered home at 2:00am, a few drinks sloshing in my belly, and decided to sneak in the back way so as not to wake my parents. I walked as silently as possible to the side gate, reached over, and clicked the latch up.  I was about to push the gate open when out of the darkness came a massive, growling, frothing monster.

The beast slammed into the gate so hard I was sent sprawling backwards. But not before I felt his hot breath on my face, his teeth barely missing my nose as they snapped closed.

I landed hard and let out a gasp of pain and surprise and (need I say it) fear.

The snarling stopped. Silence. A questioning sound from Bundy.

“Bundy?” I said, my voice quivering a little.

He whined apologetically, his tail swishing slowly and rhythmically against the fence. I got up and called his name again before I reached my hand over to unlatch the gate. He pushed his muzzle against my hand and licked my palm gently before backing off every-so apologetically. He was extra-attentive the next few days.

I learned two things from this experience. (1) Never try to sneak into a yard with a dog, even if he loves you. (2) Being terrified for your life does wonders to sober you up.

3. I am often unnecessarily verbose. I know. Shocking, isn’t it?

4. My brain lives in a historically mythological dimension. Did you know that Cupid was Aphrodite’s son? Or that after Loki cut off Sif’s golden locks of hair, he had actual golden hair made for her as a replacement? Did you know that Easter is variant of the heathen festival of Ostara? Or that in the year 1000, Iceland voted to adopt Christianity as its primary religion in order to be allowed to continue trading with the mainland? Did you know that the Dreamtime has no past or future? Or that the Celestial Bureaucracy has hundreds of gods and goddesses who operate within an organisation similar to an old Chinese political system?

I know all those things and more.

What I don’t know is anything about current events, reality TV stars, modern political figures, and the name of that actor who played the bad guy in that movie with the girl who sang the song about the flowers.

5. If you want to know something, call me. My sister does this. We live a long way from each other and communicate sporadically (once a day for two weeks, then not for six months, then a couple of times a month, etc.). It’s not at all unusual for our first phone conversation in months to go something like this:

*Phone rings*
Me: Hello?
Sis: Hey. What’s goulash?
Me: Goulash?
Sis: Yeah.
Me: It’s a type of food. Like stew.
Sis: Cool. Thanks.
Me: No prob.
Sis: Bye.
Me: Bye.
*Hang up*

Or this:

*Phone rings*
Me: Hello?
Sis: It’s me.
Me: Hey.
Sis: Spaghetti or lasagna?
Me: Lasagna.
Sis: Thanks!
Me: Bye.
Sis: Bye.
*Hang up*

You may be thinking that these conversations make more sense in context. But here’s the thing: there is no context. There is just this.

6. Don’t come to me for sympathy. My husband once (famously) told me that I was as sympathetic as a plank of wood. He complains that I’m not sympathetic if he’s hurt or sick. Even the boys know not to come to me with whinges and complaints and expect me to give them a cuddle and feel sorry for them — and one of them’s only just a year old. No boys, if you want outpourings of vicarious pain, go talk to your father. He’s the sympathetic one.

All that being said, I don’t think I’m unsympathetic. I care a lot about people (sometimes too much, in fact) and have a tendency to take their pain on to myself. I just have no patience for people who don’t help themselves.

Got a headache? I’m sympathetic. I really am. What can I do to help?

Wait. What do you mean you’ve had a headache for hours and you haven’t (a) taken any painkillers, or (b) stopped staring at the computer screen? Yeah, so my sympathy’s all dried up.

Or, in the words I use with my four-year-old: “I’m really sorry you hurt yourself. Do you need a kiss? Now, what did you learn about jumping off dining room chairs? What are you going to do differently in the future?”

Come on, if trying to prevent a repeat of the situation doesn’t qualify as “showing compassion”, I don’t know what does.

7. I’ve learned that dancing is not a hobby, it’s a lifestyle. And after three of Big Brother’s dance classes, he’s loving it more and more. We’re treated to daily dance recitals, and he talks about his next dance class all week long. But I’m not sure I’m really equipped to be a “Dance Mum”. There’s the time spent waiting outside the studio, the time spent preparing costumes and uniforms, the shoes, the fashion, the practice, and the money.

Oh yes, the money. I’d say I’ll need a second job to support the habit hobby lifestyle, but that would imply that I already have a paying job. Anyone know the going rate for a kidney? And what’s that in dance shoes?

I’m not going to forward this award on to anyone, even though I’m supposed to tag 7 people and then wait for the money love to come rolling in. Sorry. I should have added “I’m not much fun” to my list of 7 things.

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Versatility is not a Dirty Word

 As you probably know, I’m a bit of a fan of Bridget at Twinisms. Not only is she amazingly smart and funny, she also likes wine. We have so much in common!

So I was rather thrilled this week when she awarded me the Versatile Blogger Award. Thanks, Bridget!

If you’ve been hanging out for a while, you may remember that back in the olden days (i.e. a few months ago), I was given the Irresistibly Sweet Blog Award by the charming Laura Stanfill, and I mentioned that I have a two-decade vow to never forward on a chain-letter to uphold.

But…

In this case, the award calls for recipients to state 5 interesting and new facts about myself, and then suggest 5 blogs that I’ve recently come across and enjoy. This seems much less chainy (at least, it does to me), and I recommend 5 blogs every Monday anyway, so this isn’t really going out of my way. 

Five Things You Didn’t Know about Me:

1.

There are some people in the world who make an impact on you, and for the rest of your life you can’t help but think about them every time you hear their name. My first ever Best Friend was named Fiona, and I therefore assume that everyone in the world named Fiona is cool and amazing unless proved otherwise. My first ever Boyfriend was named Adam, and I therefore assume that everyone in the world named Adam is sweet and smart and has mother issues unless proved otherwise.

We all have these name biases. And the ones that stand out the most are the names that belonged to the first person to truly make your life difficult. That person who, even just in your memory, can fill you with fear or anger or hatred.

In my case, that person was a girl named Laura. Laura was the leader of the “popular group” when I was 13, and she and her cohorts made my life a living hel for 2 years. So I have mercilessly tortured her in text for the last 22 years. Every “mean girl who gets her comeuppance”, every torture victim, every “random stranger bludgeoned to death in an alley”, and every “girl eaten by zombie” that I’ve ever written has been named Laura. (Or, on occasion, Lauren. Just so things don’t get boring.)

So if you’re ever reading one of my stories and you come across someone named Laura, don’t get too attached. That’s all I’m saying.

2.

 The first “real” story that I remember writing was about 1500 words long. It was a scary story that I wrote when I was 10. The story was about a monster named Basketball-Head, so named because his head was a basketball. He lived in a cave outside of town. On summer evenings, he would sneak into town and search for people playing basketball. Then he’d grab them, bite their heads off, and run away with the ball.

The hero of the story was a girl who hated basketball. She liked exploring, and one day she found his cave. (I got to use the word spelunking in my story. I was so proud.) There she met Basketball-Head, and got talking to him. It turned out that he didn’t realise basketballs were just balls. He thought the evil humans were making sport out of torturing baby Basketball-Heads to death. So he was rescuing and avenging the children. He’d take the basketballs back out to his cave, and bury them in his Basketball Graveyard.

So our little heroine explained what was really happening, and Basketball-Head apologised to the townspeople, and everything was okay.

The End.

3.

My first ever job was working in a library. I got to read new books before the general public, help people find interesting things to read (“You know, it’s about a dog and it has a red cover…”), and daydream about the day my own novel would be in libraries all over the world.

So I was checking books in one day. Pick up book, open back cover, scan barcode, place on trolley. Pick up book, open back cover, move pile of money out of the way, scan– Wait, what?

I closed the book. I reopened it. There was still a pile of money there. I flicked through it. $600. Now, I was only 18 at the time, and $600 was a small fortune. I closed the book again. I looked around. The library was mostly empty. None of the other staff were anywhere around. I replayed the last half hour in my head, trying to remember who’d returned the book.

When I found the little old lady, she was browsing the Agatha Christie novels. “Excuse me,” I said as I approached. She looked up. She looked about 70 years old. “Did you just return this book?”

“Yes,” she said, looking confused. “Is something wrong?”

“I think you may want the bookmark you left in the back of the book.” She took the book, opened it, and her eyes got as wide as saucers. Her hands started shaking. I was  worried she was going to pass out. “Are you okay?” I asked.

“Yes, dear,” she said. “Thank you so much. I always get out my rent money at the start of the week when I go to the bank, but I don’t like having it in my purse when I leave the house. So I hide it in a book. I forgot I’d put it in here. Thank you so much. If I’d lost this, I wouldn’t have been able to pay my rent.”

I smiled, let her take her money, and then took the book back to the counter, content that I’d done a good deed. That afternoon she came back with chocolates and flowers for me.

That came in handy, because I was a struggling student working part-time at a library. I couldn’t afford dinner and chocolates make for a great celebratory meal.

2.

I have a fear of sleep.

One evening when I was two years old, my parents put me and my little brother to bed (he was about 8 months old), and then went next door to help the neighbours clean their house. We were a military family. They were a military family. That’s just what you do. Every half hour, Mum would come back and check on us kids, and then head back next door.

It must have been the sound of the door closing that woke me up. I remember getting out of bed because I was scared. I went into my parents room, but they weren’t there. I went to the lounge room, but they weren’t there. I searched the whole house, but my parents were gone.

In that moment, I knew that things had changed. It was just me and my brother. I would have to take care of us. I pushed a dining chair through the house into my brother’s room, next to his cot. He was sleeping peacefully. I sat down on the chair to watch over him. I cried a bit because I was scared, but I knew what I had to do.

That’s where Mum found me when she came back half an hour later. She sent me back to bed. And I’ve been afraid of sleeping ever since, just in case I wake to find that everyone I love is gone.

1.

It’s probably not obvious from my writing, but I am taller than average. I’m just over 6’1″ tall.  These days, I quite enjoy the extra attention that comes with being tall, although it wasn’t so great when I was a teenager. (I was over 6′ tall by the time I was 14.) But there are a few things that really, seriously suck about being tall. Rather than make a list of all the down sides (e.g.: trying to buy clothes, trying to fit in airplane seats, trying to be inconspicuous), allow me to share with you the absolute, number 1, most annoying thing about being tall.

People feel the need to point it out.

All the time.

As if I didn’t know.

There I am, walking through the shopping centre, and a random stranger will walk up to me and say, “Wow, you’re really tall.” This happens at least half a dozen times a week, and has done for the last twenty years. I’ve experimented with a number of replies:

  • “Really? Oh Gods, you’re right. How did that happen?”
  • “Thanks. You’re really short.”
  • “Thanks for noticing. Can you go tell that girl over there that she’s fat now?”
  • “Yeah, it’s pretty amazing. I got my body stretched in Thailand.”

And then there’s the follow-up statement: “You must play basketball.”

Now, not everyone adds this line. Only about 50% of people. So let me say, right here and now, that I do not play basketball. I don’t like basketball. I have no interest in basketball. (Other than to use it as a plot for a scary story.) Being tall doesn’t mean I play basketball any more than having fingers means I play the clarinet.

Actually, come to think about it, it’s a few years since anyone asked if I played basketball. Maybe people are starting to be more tactful.

Or maybe I just don’t look young enough to be a professional athlete anymore.

Thoughts?

Blogs I’ve Recently Discovered:

Here’s some of the most recent blogs I’ve discovered and fallen in love with. Make sure you check them out if you haven’t already. In no particular order…

Magnet for Foolishness

Mayfair Mum

nailsbails

Prawn and Quartered

ramblingsandrumblings

EDIT: In case it wasn’t clear (which it probably wasn’t), I’m forwarding the Versatile Blogger award to the above five blogs. Take part or not, depending on your own views and vows on chain blog awards.

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Filed under Random Stuff