Sunday, 30 March 2008

This is my laundry pile.

Actually, it’s one of my piles of clean clothes, waiting to be sorted and folded and put away. Funnily enough, there’s also a similarly sized pile of dirty laundry waiting to be washed, hung out, brought in, sorted, folded and put away. Then there’s the vacuuming, the dishes, the general cleaning and the resisting of the powerful urge to curl up under my doona and rock back and forth while muttering The horror! The horror!

Acknowledged: I suck at housekeeping.
Corollary: I suck at regular blogging.
Result: I am just going outside and may be some time.

Tuesday, 25 March 2008

What’sa Matter You, Hey? Gotta No Respect?

As a three-time gestatrix, I’ve put up with my fair share of insensitive, annoying and downright stupid remarks related to each of my pregnancies. Like the time when, having recently started work at the Department of Meat Products, I experienced sudden, excruciating belly pains and feared for the life of my 28-week-old foetus. Admitted to hospital overnight (and thankfully having everything turn out fine), I returned to work after a couple of days, only to have my supervisor at the time, who was fully aware of the reason for my absence, jest, “Now you mustn’t expect time off after every report you write!”

My stony silence obviously didn’t clue him in to the insensitivity and inappropriateness of his ‘joke’, as he then retold it on two or three other occasions. It wasn’t meant maliciously; none of the things people have said to me were, and I’ve therefore been led to wonder what is it about a pregnant woman that seems to cloud people’s judgement? Does her extruded belly-button transmit synapse-jamming radio waves? Do peripheral bystanders contract a temporary form of ‘pregnant brain’, like passive smoking?

Whatever the reason, many mothers-to-be are already struggling with physical discomfort, turbulent hormones and fluctuating emotions; if they are anything like me, they’re also hypersensitive, anxious about the baby’s development and wellbeing, and feeling guilty about everything from their diet to the exhaust fumes they couldn’t help inhaling on their way to work: thoughtless comments and irritating questions are among the last things they need, especially from family, friends and colleagues from whom they could justifiably expect more support and understanding.

As a public service, I’ve therefore compiled a countdown of utterances the clueless may consider terribly witty, amusing or interesting, but which should never be said to an unpredictable and volatile woman in reproductive mode.

7) Gee, you’re getting fat!
It’s called being PREGNANT, moron! And it’s only temporary, unlike your permanently flabby brain. (Okay, so no-one’s actually said this to me; I just really detest it when people, especially pregnant women themselves, equate baby, placenta and amniotic fluid with fat.)

6) Should you be eating that?
Let’s see: I’m an educated woman who’s read authoritative baby books and consulted closely with the obstetrician, and above all cares about the wellbeing of my baby. I’ve been eating healthy foods I never normally touch purely for the sake of my child, so if, on rare occasions, I want to indulge in a measly chocolate bar, then yes, I will bloody well eat it and thank you to keep your interfering nose out of my damn business.

5) Smile!
Everyone who’s read this will know how I feel about this brand of thoughtless interference. Yes, if I’m interacting with you in any way, I will smile and generally try to be amiable, but when I’m minding my own business, waddling to the toilet and back for the tenth time that day and feeling horribly uncomfortable and weary, your yelling this over the desk partition as I pass is more like to elicit a murderous scowl than a smile you’ve no right to request.

4) It’s a boy! No, a girl…no wait, a boy…
Predicting the gender of my baby with a dangled wedding ring or from the shape of my belly is a bit of harmless fun, but gets extremely tiresome when the prediction is revised on an almost daily basis along with perceived changes in my shape, as if I’m actually meant to credit such ridiculous lore. One colleague explained to me her own Old Wives’ Tale about predicting the baby’s sex, saying, “I think Karen is having a girl, because she looks so serene and pretty. On the other hand, I think you’re having a boy because…” She stopped short as she came too late to the realisation that calling me a haggard old crone was perhaps not the most polite thing to do. It’s not like anyone wins a prize for guessing correctly – and everyone can call heads or tails and be right some of the time – so just leave it the hell out.

3) Unspeakable tragedies.
I don’t care if it happened to someone you know, or is something you saw on the news or a TV show. How could you possibly think I need to hear what happened to this or that poor baby? Save your horror stories for a cold-hearted freak.

2) Congratulations on getting pregnant! Was it planned?
To me, the only possible subtext of this question is: “Tell me, are you irresponsible, or just stupid?” I’ll have no-one say my precious children are ‘mistakes’ or ‘accidents’. Enjoy your speculation and gossip if you must, just do it out of my earshot.

1) Has the baby come yet?
Yes. Yes it has. I just didn’t tell you because I’m a sociopathic freak. NO, THE BABY HASN’T BLOODY WELL COME! This one screamed up the charts to number one after the due date came and went. It was very popular among family, friends and colleagues alike, some of whom rang every day to play this number one hit. I had started to take the phone off the hook and avoid calling anyone lest my teeth be worn down with all the furious grinding.

I understand that many people never have and never will understand what it’s like to be pregnant, and therefore will never be able truly to empathise. If you must, set up a ranty blog like mine and rail about the irresponsible, moody, humourless cow you know, the one who’s the size of a house and probably going to lactate vinegar. But when the urge strikes to open your gob in my direction, ah SHADDUP YOU FACE!

Wednesday, 19 March 2008


It’s a little known fact* that several years ago Clint Eastwood, director and star of the eponymous movie, grew jaded and bitter from playing bitter and jaded gunslingers of one variety or another, and opted for a drastic change of career, a sea change if you will.

He experienced a brief period of happiness operating a commercial kiln patronised by a thriving community of artists – working closely with fire brought him a primitive pleasure his mere portrayals of a man’s man never could, and his desire to be involved in the creative arts was satisfied – but his contentment quickly changed to chagrin when increasing numbers of potters and sculptors approached him in bespattered smocks and beatnik berets, smirkingly asking him to “Go ahead, bake my clay.”

Enraged with the same bad joke and overuse of the term ‘sea change’, he shoved the next imprudent bohemian in the oven† and returned to show business where no-one dared mock him, not even with deliberate provocation in the form of Space Cowboys.

As instructive and amusing as the preceding vignette was, this post has nothing to do with an award-winning tale of revenge in the Wild West, and everything to do with the vendetta my body now wages against me in return for the sins of my youth and the ravages of age and lifestyle.

Once I had a magnificent bosom, the kind that, were it a character in one of Clint Eastwood’s westerns, would burst through the saloon doors to an instant hush from the pianola and murderously argumentative poker players. After a few seconds of awe-inspired silence, the piano man would strike up a lively honky tonk number, the whores would flounce out of their rooms to peer over the balustrade, and guns aimed under tables at cheatin’ varmints would be holstered unfired, former adversaries embracing like brothers.

Now imagine I joined the harlots in several spirited performances of the Can Can without an adequate sports bra, before spending four years suckling ravenous infants.

Alright, maybe my bosom wasn’t that great, but it was pretty nice. These days, my boobs would be better cast as the subject of the song Do your ears hang low?, if you substitute ‘ears’ with ‘no-longer-so-much-funbags’.

For years I bent at the waist to lift heavy objects, with the nonchalant air of someone who snapped up an extra back the day Dolly Parton opted for two servings of front instead. “Calcium? No thanks!” might as well have been the cheerful up-yours I gave Dairy Australia each time I filled my glass with more Milo than milk for an eatable treat.

Let’s just say I’ve selected my children’s careers for them: physiotherapist, chiropractor and masseuse.

In a time of vinyl records and rotary dial telephones, commodore 64s and roller rinks, Sid, like Norm, was just a likeable cartoon character with a catchy jingle in a health-awareness campaign market cornered by the bowling Grim Reaper and his bed of syringes. Much of my childhood was spent un-slopped and –slapped; I don’t recall even owning a hat until I was about 11 or 12, while zinc cream in attractive fluoro shades was just for decoration (because the ’80s were cool like that). Ra accepted my burnt offerings, and was pleased.

The spectre of a leathery brown lizard woman haunts my dreams as dire warning against further carelessness.

I never expected I’d think wistfully back to the days when pimples made me feel like the ugliest bush-pig of all the self-conscious teenage girls at school. But O! for the time when those sweet, pus-filled tokens of youth were the only blemishes I had to contend with, when I could express my adolescent superiority and disdain with a thousand different grimaces, or sleep on my face as much as I wanted, as if my natural collagen would last forever. “Vanity!” I cried at the wrinkle cream advertisements, sure in the knowledge I would never be so foolish as to spend hundreds of dollars on potions and unguents which would, at best, only disguise the inevitable. Besides, I would wear my eventual creases with pride, for are they not signs of wisdom and gracious aging?

Is anyone out there a young virgin? I need to bathe in your blood.

*Fact may contain lies
†Lonie Polony is clinically insane and therefore unfit to be prosecuted for libel

Saturday, 1 March 2008

Sic Jokes

Some years ago when I was planning our wedding, one reception venue’s attempt to woo our custom involved the promise of crudities on the menu. Whilst hearing the waiters tell Mr. Lonie’s horrible Aunt Mildred to “Eff off, dragon lady!” instead of offering her an hors d’oeuvre would have filled me with boundless glee, I reluctantly concluded that such a scene would not be setting an appropriate tone for the occasion.

Alas, impish Circumstance had no such thoughts of sparing my blushes the day I frantically searched the university library for any book remotely relevant to an unstarted essay due the next day. The tome I clutched desperately to my chest as I approached the loans desk was so old and obscure it had evaded the library’s computer system, and I was therefore commanded by She Who Must Be Obeyed to fill out a form with the book’s details so it could be duly catalogued. With trepidation I handed her the card, expecting an outraged reaction including immediate ejection from the library and cancellation of borrowing privileges. The name of the author was Dikshit.

Speaking of things in that general homophonic area, I’m of the puerile disposition that is endlessly amused by someone’s confusing ‘prostrate’ and ‘prostate’, but can never understand how Mr. Lonie’s parents manage to do it every single time they’re blithely discussing some friend or other’s medical history in front of me. I amuse myself by imagining Mr. Lonie’s dad during his police days pecking out a report on the typewriter: “…the victim’s prostate form was discovered in the vicinity of the rectory…”

One needn’t look far for the source of my juvenile sense of humour: my family can’t play Trivial Pursuit without recalling the legendary Game of the Misread Question, during which the immortal words, “Does Uranus have aurora?” were met with resounding hilarity. We still snigger about it after all these years.

I maintain the humble hope that you, Dear Reader, will similarly find this post worthy of the anals of history.