Monday, 26 March 2007

Fugitive Recaptured!

“A dangerous fugitive is back in custody today after evading capture for 12 months. Lonie ‘Lunchmeat’ Polony was hauled before the authorities and summarily sentenced to an indefinite period of tedious labour for her crimes against society.

“Known to broadcast her unsolicited opinions among the innocent members of Bloggerland through the medium of a ‘blog’, she was found guilty of subjectiveness, tiresomeness and ‘whingeing like a Pom’.

“Polony’s defence relied heavily on supplication to the compassionate nature of the governing powers, citing motherhood to two small children as grounds for continuing freedom. However, she failed to recognise the complete lack of compassion or empathy in the very seigniors to whom she plead her case.

“We believe Polony may, given the slightest opportunity, attempt escape and a return to her antisocial behaviour. Whilst citizens should ON NO ACCOUNT confront Polony, who is considered armed and dangerous, we urge the public to be continually on their guard against further cyber-rampages, and to report any sightings of Polony or her perfidious works on 1800 123 400.

“That’s all for this special news bulletin, I’m Ivor E. Towers. Goodnight.”

Saturday, 24 March 2007

Mother Of The Year

I’ve stuck stickers on my baby just so I can laugh at him perplexedly trying to remove them.

I’ve let him snack on ice-cream cones and eat food he dropped on the floor.

I’ve added chocolate syrup to his formula (which ‘they’ insist he must have while I’m at work) because I can’t get him to drink it any other way.

I’ve driven 200 metres down the road before Miss Lonie piped up: “Mummy didn’t strap me in!”

I’ve done all this and more because I’M THE BEST MOTHER IN THE WORLD!

(Britney Spears and Madame Bovary also ran.)

Thursday, 22 March 2007

Deforestation

Two pockets of old-growth forest were arbitrarily razed today. Countless unique species were lost forever, and too late the ruin of a Thylacine den was discovered in the stark desolation.

I hadn’t realised it had been so long since I last shaved my armpits, and I must say, even with my lucky inheritance of the South-East Asian propensity towards sparse body hair, I was surprised at how productive those little follicles have been. It’s not that I think women with unshaven armpits are, as one well-adjusted netizen has opined, ‘lesbian sasquatches’; in fact I see the merit of the argument that ‘real’ women (as opposed to pre-pubescent girls) have hairy armpits, although I haven’t encountered many women who subscribe to that notion within my circle of acquaintance.

When I lived in China it seemed common for women to leave their armpits au naturel, and I still remember my mother wrinkling her nose in distaste at what she considered the East German female Olympians’ unsightly hirsuteness. Perhaps it’s bourgeois to shave? Well, call me a counterrevolutionary running dog, because I choose to maintain depilated axillae – when I’m not living a vanity-neutral (the less charitable might say slovenly) lifestyle, that is.

Shocking as it may seem to those who disagree that house slippers are appropriate footwear in which to go shopping, I’ve enjoyed my year of not wearing makeup, not styling my hair, and completely eschewing pantyhose and high heels. But now it’s time to let my outward appearance reflect my change of circumstances, and smarten up for the office. So I’m taking up the hems on my new trousers, dusting off the makeup, and deciding which hair product to helmet my hair with. Oh, and Ferals? Chaining yourselves to the trunks will not dissuade me: logging starts on my legs tomorrow.

Tuesday, 20 March 2007

My Medical Certificate

To Whom It May Concern:

I have examined Lonie Polony who is
suffering from


A psychosomatic disorder

And will be unfit for work from 26 March 2007 to indefinitely

Signed Dr. Lionel Nopoy


Please bear with me while I post another return-to-work rant – or else just go away, twiddle your thumbs/have a cold shower/enter a chubby bunny contest and come back another day when there may be a post more to your liking.

Over the last week or two I’ve begun to feel weird aches, pains and heartburn afflicting my poor polony body. I’ve blamed everything from too much lactose to bug-filled reservoir dregs (insert Mr. Brown joke here), and even did a wee on a stick to rule out an unscheduled firing of my uterine oven. However, I’ve had to conclude that in the (hopefully) unlikely event of kidney stones or one of those horrible giant tumours that makes it into the Guinness Book of World Records, I am indeed, like Miss Hoover, suffering from a psychosomatic disorder. (Whether that means I’m crazy or not is highly contentious – popular opinion has it that my tenuous link with sanity snapped when a speck-cleaning gone awry caused my own eyeball to wrinkle.)

You see, I’m becoming rather anxious about once more donning the yoke of a humble minion to His Manofsteelness and all that entails for my children, our family life and my accustomed sleep-in-and-day-long-pyjamas. Even though over the last couple of weeks I was supposed to ease myself back into the early mornings, the showers in the cold and dark, the application of make-up and wearing of presentable office clothes, and the readying of one helpless and one unaware-of-urgency child to leave the house before eight o’clock, this morning was the first in a loooooong time that I’ve managed to haul my indolent carcass out of bed by then.

And with less than a week to go, I’m experiencing a rush of guilt which is not nearly so pleasant as, say, a rush of melted chocolate, because I haven’t been the baking-and-craft-and-enduring-childhood-memory-creating mum I somewhere got the idea all other at-home mothers are, to my children while I had the chance. So now I’m going to go and assuage that gnawing sensation in my tummy with home-made glue and cut-up cereal boxes, and hope that cleaning up the inevitable house-wide mess will take my mind off that fact that I’m utterly unprepared for going back to work.

Monday 26 March is going to be a scandalously obscene, XXX-rated shock.

Monday, 19 March 2007

While The Cat's Away...

We ordered Chinese takeaway from the restaurant we haven’t eaten at since my mother decided one day she disliked it.

Then my dad passed around Easter eggs.

No-one bothered to record The Bill.

Have a great holiday, Mum! (I love you!)

Saturday, 17 March 2007

I Have My Needs!

I was going to sit down and write a new post, but I’m too distracted by thoughts of once more biting into those soft, creamy-white buns. It’s been some time since we last indulged ourselves, and frankly, with two small children, we haven’t had much time or opportunity.

But now my longing has increased to undeniable desire, and I no longer care what strange things they see or hear – it’s a perfectly natural activity after all, and I can’t shelter them from the facts of life forever. So now I’m going to oil up, and prepare to get really sticky and messy.

Yes, I’m going to make mantou.

Friday, 16 March 2007

Shakespeare For The Modern Woman

Lonie Polony! Beware the ides of March, for that is the day on which a disgusting find in your kitchen will make your stomach turn and give you the long-term heebie-jeebies.

Okay, so no-one jumped out of the pantry and tried to assassinate me, but in my opinion, finding what I suspect to be animal droppings on my kitchen bench is pretty bad. I readily admit I’m far from the most assiduous housekeeper, but I wouldn’t say the place has quite gone to the dogs yet; unfortunately it looks like it’s gone to the mice.

My only small comfort, which I keep repeating out loud to myself as I rock back and forth sucking my thumb, is that I hadn’t noticed the nasty little pellets before today (and yes, I did clean yesterday, smartypants) so let’s all just humour me and agree that last night was our very first (and hopefully last) visit from…whatever it was.

Noticing the curious black calling-card as I wiped down the bench, my Self-Preservation made a valiant attempt at preventing a neurotic meltdown, suggesting it may have been the wizened end of a banana or some currants I’d spilled. Reason turned a blind eye, and they would have gotten away with it too if it hadn’t been for that pesky second dropping.

Rudely thrust out of the blissful state of denial, I spent the next several minutes gazing in horror at Google’s offering of mouse dropping images, desperately hoping the foreign coin used as a scale to demonstrate the difference between mouse and rat pooh was larger than it seemed, because rat scat is worse than a house mouse. And after reading stories of people poisoned by mouse pooh and the horrible details of their demise, and descending into the kind of jumpiness one only expects in lunatics, I decided it was time to bundle the children out of the house and bring down some murine death.

I briefly considered a cat, but opted for a disposable trap which is supposed to enclose and conceal the little corpse, obviously designed for squeamish types like me who don’t want visual evidence they’ve just killed a furry animal they actually find quite cute when it’s not scuttling about the house at night spreading all sorts of diseases. One of the traps was accidentally set off as I decided how to position it for maximum murderous effect, and by golly it was loud. Now I have two conflicting dreads: hearing that horrible noise in the night, or not hearing it and finding more droppings tomorrow.

With an imminent return to work, childcare guilt, a crappy haircut, and legions of spiders and bugs that already torment me with their choice of abode, I hardly need anything else grabbing hold of my delicate nerves to stretch them even more uncomfortably taut. Et tu, Mickey?

Thursday, 15 March 2007

You Know Your Haircut Sucks When...

1) The most common reaction you get is surreptitious, raised-eyebrow glances;

2) The only remarks your loved ones make are:

(a) Huh, I thought you looked different.
(b) You should go to my hairdresser, she’s really good.

Oddly enough, I still like it. It just needs some fine-tuning.

Tuesday, 13 March 2007

Why Oh Why?

Every so often I feel an irresistible urge to meddle with my appearance in some painful or disastrous way. Whether it’s tweezing my legs, armpits or bikini line, or taking up a pair of scissors and shearing hanks of hair from my head, my better judgement always chooses that moment to turn away and twiddle her thumbs while whistling a carefree tune.

I’ve done it again.

A friend of mine says the only difference between a bad haircut and a good one is two weeks. Let’s hope it’s more like one and a half.

The End Is Nigh

There are now only two weeks to go until my return to work, and I can’t help but feel the same way I used to when I was a schoolgirl: when the gloriously long summer holidays during which the previous year’s lessons trickled out of my brain unchecked were nearly over, and those hateful back-to-school merchandise ads mocked me with their timely bargains. That same pulsating ball of violently ill, metamorphosing larvae is lodged somewhere in the region of my diaphragm (anatomical, not contraceptive), and this time I don’t know if they’ll be appeased by the promise of new stationery.

I’ve been trying to quell the rising dread with reminders of the benefits I’ll soon be enjoying, but my half-hearted attempts at a list have not produced anything compelling. Sure, I’ll be getting paid again, but I’m doubtful there’ll be much left over after Mr. Costello and childcare have taken their sizeable chunks. Yes, I’ll have more interaction with adults, but my children (who even with their tantrums and sometimes maddening behaviour are always preferable to many grown-ups I know) I’ll probably only see for around three hours a day. Alright, my sartorial aesthetics will improve, but have you not read a single post on this blog? I’d go everywhere in my pyjamas if I thought I could pull it off without looking like an escapee from the psychiatric ward.

The only outcome of a return to work I can grudgingly admit may be positive, is receiving sufficient stimulation for my brain to return to reasonably intelligent function. I’m talking about being able to think of the mot juste without having to resort to frequent consultation of the thesaurus and dictionary, or even worse having it elude me entirely like a butterfly just out of reach of my tattered and ineffectual net. I’m referring to the ability to string together a sentence, a paragraph, a page of something vaguely interesting to read that doesn’t leave me sunk in despair and clinging to my earlier scrawlings like a once-vaunted starlet now fallen into obscurity obsessively watches her own films to remind her she was once The Next Big Thing.

Then I can lament the lack of time and energy to fulfil my childhood ambition, whilst deflecting attention from my laziness, half-arsedness and disavowed mediocrity, so much more eloquently.

In the meantime, there’s a well-stocked supply room in my office building – and there’s a fistful of pens with my name on it.

Monday, 12 March 2007

Stunned (at his) Mullet

The other day I saw a barber – a barber, mark you! – with one of the longest, waviest, ugliest mullets I’d ever seen. It wasn’t even one of those so-called ‘fashion mullets’ (there’s an oxymoron if ever I’ve heard one) so popular with naked-emperor hairstylists and fashion victims everywhere. Think Billy Ray Cyrus at the height of his inexplicable Achy Breaky Heart popularity, then multiply by chigger to the power of 10.

Obviously a professional not to be trusted.

Sunday, 11 March 2007

I Am The Eggwoman

In primary school I was once the object of that delightfully Arthur Tunstall-esque taunt, “Ching-chong Chinaman”, complete with traditional accompanying facial expression (fingers pulling up the corners of the eyes, front teeth poking out in an exaggerated overbite). Far from being upset, I think the only response it elicited from me was a disdainful snort, because:

a) I’m not Chinese;
b) I don’t look Chinese; and
c) There’s nothing wrong with being or looking Chinese anyway.

Also, the chigger brat was at least two years younger than I and therefore beneath my consideration. My point is, the only reason his obviously rarely-used cerebral cogs screeched into action to produce that childish gem of wit was because he discovered I am, in fact, a boiled egg.

That’s right – part white and part yellow, all wrapped up in a pale exterior. That’s the metaphor I came up with to describe my cultural affinities after I first heard the term ‘banana’: a humorous and sometimes derogatory epithet applied to Orientals who feel more affinity with Occidental culture.

My dad is Kadazan, which makes me half Kadazan (or more accurately, 15/32 parts Kadazan, 1/32 parts Chinese and 16/32 parts assorted British descent – you figure it out). I was born and grew up in Sabah, in a kampung (village) where everyone is a relation of some sort. Those days were the stuff of rosy-tinted nostalgia, when children and dogs roamed at will, and herds of recalcitrant water buffaloes ate our banana trees down to the ground; when the jungle grew up to our back perimeter but we were never allowed exploring because of wild boars; when our gardener chopping the heads off brown cobras that had slithered into our gutters was an exciting but not uncommon occurrence; when a long-cut through the padi fields to our grandparents’ house was a leech-and-barbwire adventure.

Now I live in Australia in a normal suburban house and the last time I visited Sabah was almost two years ago. My Eurasian features seem to have become indiscernible to all but the most careful observers, and the language I once spoke as fluently as English (Malay) has vanished, leaving only vestiges of utterances and wisps of comprehension in the recesses of my memory. It’s a crying shame I never learnt Kadazan and can’t understand a word.

We grew up eating ‘Asian’ style, serving ourselves from a variety of dishes in the centre of the table: food like small, whole fried fish, the eyes of which I would gleefully pop out and swallow down, or chicken curry which my sister would always fish around in for the tiny, bite-sized heart.

The legacy of those early foods is me self-consciously prowling around Asian food shops looking for treats Mr. Lonie mostly wrinkles his nose at, and imagining the owners and customers wondering which place this honky was looking for when she accidentally wandered in here. I like pork and chicken floss. I like slices of green mango dipped in a mixture of soy sauce and sugar. I like salty plums. I like fresh pomelo with salty plum spices. I like fresh lime drinks. I like Milo with condensed milk and ice. I like glutinous rice cakes. I like dried cuttlefish. I like coconut jam. I like the small sweet discs with the ever-amusing name ‘Haw Flakes’ which we, in our childish innocence, sacrilegiously pretended were communion wafers. I like dozens of other things I haven’t had for years, but are linked inextricably in my memories with the place that will always have a claim to the title ‘home’.

Now I rarely have the time, money or inclination to eat out, and I usually cook Western style food. On our last trip back to Sabah, a taxi driver asked me if I thought of myself as Malaysian or Australian, and I said Australian. Perhaps if my Malay were better I might have added that I’m an Australian who appreciates proper satay! And proper roti canai! And proper mee goreng! It’s just not quite the same here.

Our family name, a fairly recent concept to Kadazan nomenclature, was made up by my grandfather who knew how to bend with the wind blowing during the last years of British rule. He modified it from my dad’s Kadazan name, and instead named my father after an English king, and my great-great-great grandfather from China. Our name sounds honky enough but I am constantly spelling it for people who promptly go ahead and spell it the wrong way anyway.

Now, with names that could otherwise be straight from Old Blighty, I’ve gifted (or saddled) my children with a Kadazan middle name to commemorate their cultural heritage. The names are what some might politely call unusual or exotic, (and what those more ignorant might less politely call weird or unpronounceable), so I hope my children don’t resent me after they’ve had to spell them to careless people for years!

There are so many things about being an egg which I take for granted, and I forget other people just see a white girl banging on about Asians being obsessed with food, or rolling her eyes and groaning about ‘Asian Dad*’, or asking personal questions that are inappropriate in Western society, and think I’m shockingly un-PC. Then when I see their wary expressions I have to quickly explain that no, I’m not a racist social retard.

There is an old Kadazan joke that when God fashioned the people of the earth out of ontological dough and put them in the oven to bake, those nearest the flames were burnt black – these were the Africans and South Asians. Those furthest away were pale and undercooked – these became the Europeans. Everyone else fell somewhere in between, but one people turned out a perfectly cooked, golden-brown. These, of course, were the Kadazan.

So if I say things about my family that you think are cringe-worthy, remember: I may be on the underdone side, but I’m not half-baked.

GOO GOO GOO JOOB.


*A sociopathic condition my eggy friend and I identified several years ago. This condition typically manifests in a demanding obsession with filial piety, the asking of inappropriately personal questions to anyone including the newest of acquaintances, and a petulance borne of an overly indulgent upbringing.

Monday, 5 March 2007

Bane of the Real Estate Agent

I have a confession. I’ll get it out quickly while you’re still reeling from the shock that Lonie Polony has yet another foible: I like to go to open homes I have no intention of buying, just so I can have a good old-fashioned stickybeak at someone else’s house.

I like to wander around the house and garden casting a critical eye over everything and pointing out assets and liabilities in an informed-sounding manner. I enjoy the role of ‘Prospective Buyer’ because it is the perfect cover under which to open drawers, peer into cupboards and flick switches with no accusations of impropriety. Whereas I would never so much as peek into the bathroom cabinets of my family and friends, the open home of a stranger is a wonderful place to do all the nosing around one’s heart may desire.

Now before you reach for your phones to report a predatory criminal, let me clarify things. I don’t paw through people’s personal belongings. I don’t scope out houses as part of my plan for a series of daring heists. I don’t pilfer small objects as tokens of a string of psycho serial killings to be carried out at a later date. I just like to see what other people’s living spaces are like. I like to inspect their layout, room sizes, and d├ęcor. I like to grimace at their ugly furniture or wallow in envy of their out-of-my-price-range kitchen or store away interesting architectural and decorating ideas that had never occurred to me. It’s a cheap outing and a variation on a favourite Polony family fantasy, ‘What I would do if I won the lottery’.

The problem is I’m a bad liar and a terrible actor. It’s all very well to troop through an empty display home along with other people curious about the latest designs and environmentally-friendly innovations, but an occupied home guarded by a leaflet-wielding real-estate agent is another matter.

Just last weekend we visited a nearby house my mother-in-law had seen in the paper and pointed out as a suitable buy for us. (She evidently failed to comprehend that houses generally do not depreciate in value like cars or computers, reasoning instead that houses built several decades before Stupid Daughter 1’s new mortgage-trap must be cheap. As we predicted, the expected price at auction is almost two-and-a-half times what we paid for our house five years ago.) I felt like a fraud taking the information leaflet, guiltily thinking of the trees and money used to print the attractive colour document, wasted on a gawker like me. I balked at giving our name and number to the woman, who must by then have rumbled us as the impostors we were. I felt her beady commission-seeking eyes following me suspiciously as I frowned at the imperfect cornices, obstinately persisting in my deception.

Luckily for me, the house yielded up a valid excuse not to buy, which I declaimed loudly as I passed the agent on our way out: “Oh no, Mr. Lonie, I can’t possibly put up with a tiny laundry like that, not with two small children.”

I had her; she couldn’t disagree with me on that one.

Oh well. I’ll just have to keep on looking.

Saturday, 3 March 2007

Toying With My Mind

Bad things seem to happen every time Mr. Lonie goes interstate for work – giant spiders, deadly snakes, fountaining shower heads, geysering garden taps, hospital stays for rare medical conditions, hospital stays for frightening pains during pregnancy – so it’s hardly surprising that when he went away last Monday night, we had yet another…incident.

Miss Lonie yelped in fear and surprise, and came running from the bathroom to tell me that one of her toys had spoken to her. Not a whizz-bang robotic toy that cost more than I have in my bank account, not a pull-string talking toy, not even a hand puppet: a normal, inanimate soft toy. Normal…inanimate…yeah…

Laugh if you must, but I’ve always been susceptible to fears of ghoulies and ghosties and long-leggety beasties and things that go bump in the night. And a onetime favourite toy now possessed by a possibly malign entity ranks right up there on the scream-o-meter.

Trying to feign nonchalance, I cautiously peered through the doorway into her room to locate the offending character, which she said was in the toy box. Gulp. He’s up there on the chair next to it, as if frozen in the act of clambering out.

“He was banging my books,” she added from the doorway where she stood, eyeing him warily and afraid to come in. “With Prunella.”

More decidedly un-toylike behaviour. Gulp. Another former favourite implicated. Double gulp. There she lay right beside him. Time to go visit my mum.

Later that evening I was relieved to see that neither of the accused had moved, and though I didn’t feel an aura of menace emanating from either of them, I felt it couldn’t hurt to let the dogs have a good sniff. Dogs are supposed to be attuned to that sort of thing, right? Right? They seemed uninterested enough, but they and Miss Lonie slept in my room that night all the same.

For a while I lay awake in dread lest I suddenly hear the pitter-patter of little footsteps that didn’t belong to either of my children. I got up in the night for a drink, and I swear after I got back in bed, in the silence of the witching hour I heard the bathroom tap turn on and off again. Eep. Miss Lonie later complained that her toy had been playing with the soap and the toothbrushes. Eep eep.

The next day when my mother came to visit, I sent the toys home with her to stay for an indefinite period. Miss Lonie was relieved and her reluctance to enter her room is gone. She even said my mum could throw the toys in the bin.

Of course I’m not saying there was anything to her story – children have vivid imaginations, and for all I know Mr. Lonie may have made an imprudent remark (as he is wont to do) which planted the seed of this fantasy in her impressionable mind.

I was going to post a picture of the reprobate so you could see how innocuous he looks and have a good laugh, but I just couldn’t bring myself to take the photo. I am, after all, a ridiculous scaredy-cat, and simply could not take the risk that the resultant image would come out looking like this: