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.


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:


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.


 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.


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.


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.


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.


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


Prawn and Quartered


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.


Filed under Random Stuff

9 responses to “Versatility is not a Dirty Word

  1. This might be the best list I’ve read. Seriously, did you really think you had nothing interesting? The story about the rent is sweet. I knew you were a nice person, now I have proof!!

    Thanks for playing along:)

  2. Wow, those are some fascinating little vignettes about your life. Very interesting.

    I’m like you, with regard to things that feel like a chain letter. Back in the early days of my blog – after I’d been doing it for a little while but before I’d started to feel like an old hand at it – a rash of “blog awards” went around, and I even got awarded a few. I tried to be a good sport and pass them along, as they ask you to do. But after a while I noticed that those who “awarded” me didn’t always stick around – and those I “awarded” I didn’t always stick around either. I learned that the best way to “award” a blog is to keep reading it and commenting occassionally.

    So, I try to keep my interesting and worthy of commenting on, and I try to comment when I read something interesting someone else has written that gets me thinking or makes me feel something. But I don’t really pass on these blog awards, anymore.

    • Thanks!

      And I agree — the best award is reading and commenting. I always try to comment on any posts that I particularly like, even if it’s only to say that I enjoyed it. It’s all about spreading the love. Thanks for commenting on my posts so regularly. 🙂

  3. Hey Jo. Congratulations on the award! But thanks too for the shout out! (Just thought you might want to know that not all your links are working on the new blogs list – two or three of them link to Magnet for Foolishness (I mean, she totally deserves them all ‘cos she is an amazing writer but …)? 🙂

    • Thanks so much for letting me know! I tested all the links before I posted this, so I’m not sure what happened there. I had this problem once before as well, when I just had a list of links…

      (And yes, Magnet for Foolishness is amazing, but so are you. I’d hate people to miss out on your blog!)

  4. ava

    I am a very short person. But it isn’t as conspicuous in my country. When I was sent to Japan I am most of the time mistaken as a high school student and thus the museum discounts. Pretty cool. There’s an up and down it but sometimes people can be so tactless.

  5. Pingback: Monday’s Top 5 (Tis the Season for Blogging Awards) | The Happy Logophile

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