International Mall Mayhem

All malls are the same regardless of hemisphere. Each one has a food court, curious mall music, wandering wayward youth who should be in school, skin care specialists who want a moment of your time , and department store mirrors designed to hurt your feelings.

Exhibit A

My little girl looked so beautiful: her fine hair pulled back haphazardly, her giant, hypnotic, hazel eyes gazing into my soul, tomato sauce strewn across her little fingers…It was an ordinary moment with an extraordinarily moving aura about it.

Why was I so moved? Why was I welling up? What was this raw emotion? Then it occurred to me. It was the music. It was the mall music. The ambient, manipulative melody of Joshua Kadison’s classic… “Jesse”. I don’t even like that song. In fact, I can honestly say, it is just above “Sometimes When We Touch”…in fact, the two sound eerily alike, if you think about it.

It was humiliating. I was publicly moved by an Elton  John wannabe and his voodoo magic. Everyone saw it happen. Even the wayward youth that should be in school.

Exhibit B

I should not have made eye contact. It was an accident. I was in no mood for skin care advice and I had a happy baby in a fancy car buggy that I had hired for five dollars an hour. Never wake the sleeping dragon. Never.

I risked it.

‘Would you like to have soft skin that looks younga?” He said with a distinctly Greco-Australian accent. He grabbed my left limb and begin to apply a silky gray clay from “the dead sea” to a small area just below my knuckles on the back of my hand.. I must admit, it felt nice. He rubbed the top of my hand in a circular motion, before washing off the deceased ocean clay from my skin. He then remarked on the significant difference in softness from the course, scaly, state of my epidermis before the treatment….that is what I felt like he said. He then requested that I lift the other hand to provide contrast, in an effort to again prove the awesomeness of his product. The problem was, my right hand was still speckled with tomato sauce as a result of a speedy departure from the food court after the “Jesse Incident”. Once again, I tried to explain, but he seemed repulsed. I was humiliated. At least the dragon was still sleeping. When he realized that I was probably not going to be a paying customer, be tried a new tactic. “You know those red spots on your face and those splotches, this will actually make those go away completely, giving you a more youthful look.”

Evidently, Zorba the Aussie, didn’t realize that the way to a woman’s heart is through affirmation. Never insult the client! Never. A woman wants to feel like she is smokin as is and on fire with a little help. This guy was a rookie. Why did I even risk waking the dragon for this fire fighter.

Exhibit C

Getting half naked in front of a mall mirror is like being forced to listen to “Jesse” in surround sound while being insulted my an effeminate skin care “specialist”. It moves you to tears.

Poll:

Have you ever been emotionally manipulated by mall music?

Have you ever been swindled by a salesman working out of an island in the mall?

Have you ever woke the sleeping dragon while shopping?

Have you ever been mocked by a mall mirror?

Do you agree candle lit dressing rooms would improve overall mall sales?

Have you had any mall mishaps lately?

Words of the day:

  • Bogan : person who takes little pride in his appearance
  • Bail (somebody) up : to corner somebody physically
  • Spit the dummy: get very upset at something

I nearly spit the dummy when the bloke bailed me up and made me feel bogan.

Trivia

Has wine consumption affected my blog writing ability?

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My Mojo

I have lost my blogging mojo. I don’t know where it has gone. I have started about seven of them, but about half way through, said mojo vanishes. So here they are, without solid transitions, clever endings or well constructed quips. They are really more like clips. Snapshots of my life over the last month.

You know you love someone when you are willing to clean up their vomit. You really know you love them if you react compassionately as they throw up on you and then sneeze on your face. I must really love Chaylee.

Kenna had a dream the other night that sent her into a frenzy. A bad man was trying to steal her magic. That bastard!

We have been carless for three weeks because I had a run in with a blue cement support column. The column had it’s way with me. Thus, we had to walk to the grocery store for supplies every few days. On my first excursion I became overly excited at the prospect of having time to myself. I was a woman of leisure. I made multiple impulse buys…one after another. I was reckless and erratic. I even purchased a weighty craft project and a butternut squash. I had six bags of goods by the time I headed home. It was a nightmare. I quickly began to curse the craft project and to berate butternut squash audibly. What was I thinking? It was a good life lessen though. We carry so much more than we need on our journey home. Most of our burdens we purchase ourselves. We spend the rest of our lives trying to find clever ways to carry them, but they are exhausting and uncomfortable. My journey home would have been so pleasant were it not for the friggen squash.

Michael Jackson died. Crap!

I just encountered a woman at Liquor Land* that baffled me. She had just sampled a reputable sparkling red wine. When asked how she felt about it, she moved her cell phone away from her mouth and replied in a thick Greek/Australian accent, “I hated it!” The woman who allowed her to sample the aforementioned wine was clearly taken aback.“It might be because you did not clear your pallet before trying it.” “No”, replied the woman, again adjusting her moblie phone, “I know wine. I know it, and that tastes nasty in my mouth and I don’t like it.” I wanted to chime in with, “Why don’t you tell her how you really feel?” but I held my tongue. I could not tell if I admired the cross wine sampler because she was frank, or was repulsed by her shocking response. I am the opposite of Frank. I am Betty Sue, in moments like those. I will buy the stuff, even if I don’t like it, if the salesman seems at all vulnerable or needy of my purchase. *Liquorland is a drive-thru liquor store. Only in Australia!

Phrase of the day: Stuffed Up—to wreck something or make a mistake.

I stuffed up the car.

Poll: Are you Frank of Betty Sue; or someone else altogether?

Aussie Trivia: The taronga zoo has a new baby elephant. Elephants are known as Elepants in our house. They are Chaylee’s favorite animal.

Game: Chaylee replaces F’s with P’s and B’s with V’s. Try it. It’s fun!

Family (un)Fun Fact: We have been sick for a total of three weeks with various and flu like symptoms and infections. I bet dimes to Aussie dollars we are survivors of Swine Flu, because I am more of a ham than ever. Not kidding about the swine flu though…I really do think we had it. The over the counter codeine you can get here though, has really saved our bacon! (YES! ANOTHER GEM!!!)

Finding Nemo

 

The boat was called FantaSea 1. A perfect name for the vessel that was about to make my dream come true. However, the dream was nearly extinguished before it was ever realized. The night before our intended departure on FantaSea 1, Chaylee sent projectile vomit down my shirt destroying my only truly supportive brazier and my dream. The poor girl did not intend to vomit on my dream. In fact, she was clearly displeased herself. No one enjoys the stomach flu. No one. I actually like a good solid head cold. And if you really think about it, I bet you do too. Consider: You can lounge around guilt free, a tumor is not a likely cause of the illness, and you get a fair amount of sympathy with minimal suffering. 

I digress.

Mike went ahead and rescheduled our voyage for the next day in hopes that our girl would turn her hat around and rally. And rally she did. At 8:50am we boarded FantaSea 1. The dream twas revived!

I was glad to hear it would be a two hour trip rather than a three hour tour. I stood up on the deck and stared at the big blue spread out before me. You can see why people thought the world was flat. A thin line of indigo separated the sea from the horizon. It seemed as if the water actually came to an end. Knowing it continued past what I could see provided me with just the existential, spiritual fodder I was seeking. God is real.

Kenna, Chay and Mike joined me on the terrace as the boat began to slow. A bright green shimmering band cut through the water like a stream. As we drew closer, the colors became even more brilliant and the contrasting blues even more surreal. The colossal reef carved a giant barrier through the aptly named coral sea and thus we had a arrived at the Great Barrier Reef: home to Nemo, Marlin, and my dream

So as to not interrupt my stream of consciousness, I skipped the part about Mike deciding at the last minute that he would go scuba diving in addition to snorkeling.

Announcer: Anyone interested in scuba diving should head downstairs for a quick tutorial.

That was all the convincing he needed. “I think I’ll do it.” He said non-nonchalantly as he headed downstairs. I was speechless. Bewildered. Not entirely happy. Actually downright miffed. (Miffed is really a terrible word. Say it a few times.)

My arguments against Scuba Diving
a) embolism
b) independent scuba diving may interfere with couples snorkeling
c) embolism
d) brief tutorials are not safe tutorials
e) embolism

Once I realized that his scuba (great word) experience would not interfere with my snorkeling ambitions I released him from my emotional prison. The truth was I was a bit jealous that I didn’t have the balls to do it too.

We docked at Reef World, a huge pontoon situated on the Hardy Reef. Does it bother anyone else that the name of one of the most beautiful places on the face of the earth is Hardy? Who decided this? Shouldn’t it be called, Paradise Reef, or Beautiful Land or Enchanted Coral Garden?

Mike headed to the scuba section.

I took the girls on the fancy submarine ride.

We ate lunch.

Mike arrived from his scuba excursion. He looked happy. He was alive. I was proud.

I still had not touched water.

Mike dropped the girls off at the Clownfish Kids Club and I headed to the dressing room to put on my stinger suit. A fluorescent orange leotard designed to protect snorkellers from jellyfish and conceit. It served its purpose. It made me feel safe and humble. I looked like a giant orange road safety cone. It took me a good 15 minutes to pull the little number on. Two nineteen year old girls slipped on powder blue suits with ease, unzipping the front in an effort to reveal the little cleavage they were able to conjure up…Afterall, it is common knowledge that tropical fish love cleavage. Especially the ones that live on “hardy” reef.

“I think I will go for the Angelina Jolie look” said one of the snorkeling vixens.

I unzipped my special suit and responded. “I’m going with the nursing mother motif.”

They laughed…and laughed. Little did they know tropical fish prefer orange!

Mike came around the corner in his dark blue stinger suit. It really made his eyes pop. Good look for him. We were stopped at the equipment bin by a woman with a camera and a cockney accent. I just wanted to get in the water. She had other plans. She told us about a one-night stand she had with a man from Portugal, her parents home in London, her work as a school photographer, her run-ins with Canadians….
Finally, I just put on my snorkel mask, inserted the breathing apparatus and continued listening until she got the point that it was snorkel time.

The minute I hit the water I was filled with awe and wonder…unfortunately, my mask was filled with water too. It took me at least 20 minutes to situate my goggles in such a way that I would not drown every time I attempted to view the reef. Once I achieved correct goggle positioning I achieved Nirvana!

Clownfish, fox faced rabbit fish, angel fish, grouper, giant clams the size of Kenna, every colour of the spectrum surrounded me. Huge schools of silver fish darted back and forth in perfect unison. I was swimming through a Wild Kingdom. At one point, I looked down at the fields of coral and creatures and sang through my snorkel,

“Praise God from whom all blessings flow…Praise Him all Creatures Here Below!”

After an hour of bliss, we beckoned Kenna to join us. She put on her stinger suit and was transformed into a sort of aqua teletubby. She has never looked more adorable and that is saying something. She didn’t last long in the water due to the ill-fitted breathing apparatus, but she did swim to the reef’s edge and squealed with delight as the friendly fish swam by her side.

After Kenna returned to the pontoon with Dad, I swam out once more determined to find Nemo before our departure. I swam around the reef’s rim peeking in each crevice like a underwater game of hide n’ seek. I nearly gave up my search when I saw a tiny orange fish poking his fin out of an anemone.

I found Nemo.

It was time to go home.

Poll: What is your dream?

Fun Fact: The Great Barrier Reef which is located off the coast of Queensland, Australia, is considered one of the seven natural wonders of the world. One down, six to go!

Word of the Day:

  • togs–noun:- bathers or swimming costume in Queensland and Victoria.
  • This sheila looks hot in her flaming orange tog.
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    Removing the Blog Block

    I am having some blogging blockage. I seem to only feel inspired when something goes comically wrong, or is light heartedly moving. Why can’t I write about pain and loss? Do I have an aversion to putting tragedy in writing? Maybe I am afraid of making it official.

    It seems as of late that every time I take my place in front of the PC to share an anecdote or a warm memory, my hands go limp. I am not short on joyous and humorous reflections or stories.  In fact, my Dad and Lucy’s trip to the Taronga Zoo on the hottest day of the year was tempting to write about.   I had them sit in the baking sun for a half an hour so they could see a bird show, which was cut short due to animal heat exhaustion.  Or perhaps I could have chronicled our spontaneous journey to the Hunter Valley where the sun ebbed and the wine flowed. It was delicious fun.

    I could write for pages on Kenna’s kindergarten adventure thus far, or about how proud I felt today when she was able to read the note I put in her lunch box this morning.

    I could write about the Jones’ journey down under. I could tell the world about how great it felt to hug one of my oldest friends. How comforting it was to have home come to me.

    But, I need to, for once, write down a feeling that is not light. It isn’t funny. It is almost as if  I can’t bring myself to blog again until I face the wave that is coming for me.  I don’t want to fight the rip,

    My family has been eternally altered. With the passing of my cousin Kyle, the shape of us has changed.  Learning of his death brought a sharp pain.  It was an accident, a surprise.  A survivor and casualty of war. We don’t realize what balance a family has until a weight is lifted from one side of the scale. How important and valuable we each are…

    My Uncle Gordy left the earth  shortly after Kyle’s departure. The man who taught me the importance of using a wooden spoon when making a sauce, the one who lectured me endlessly about the power of poetry and exercising the mind. Then man who loved family with an unsurpassed passion. With his passing, he passed a torch to a new generation of matriarchs and patriarchs. Leslie, Kenny, Nancy, and my Momma, Carolee.

    I feel a strange guilt not throwing in a story about me humiliating myself publicly, but I just knew I couldn’t continue this blogging nonsense until I had said their names.

    I love you Kyle Marshall Farr.

    I love you Gordon Lee Creighton.

     

    Doctors, Dentists and Chiropractors… An International Problem

    Doctors, Dentists and Chiropractors always make you feel like a liar. They don’t mean to. I think they are just trying to help, but somehow, I always end up feeling like a fraud.

    Let’s start with Chiropractors (Aussie translation: Kiros) For some reason, the minute I hit the waiting room I immediately feel much better. This makes it difficult to describe “the problem”. To make things worse they will inevitably ask questions like, “Does it hurt when I do this?” or “Does it feel better when I do that?”

    I feel like I’m being pulled over.

    “Do you know how fast you were going?”

    I should know, but somehow when faced with such questions I become nervous and confused. A wrong answer may lead to a the wrong diagnosis. Usually, the answer is somewhere in between, but I was already on the mend the minute I walked through those jedi doors. This uncertainty might have something to do with the fact that I am skeptical of Chiropractors in general. I will admit, I have been helped in the past by said Kiros and their voodoo magic , but I just wonder…have they ever met anyone who didn’t have a subluxation? Does anyone have a luxation? I’m just wondering, because everyone I know seems to have this condition.

    Now let’s talk doctors: Why must they use the 1-10 pain scale? You know the one I am talking about. What is that? I pushed a baby the size of a watermelon out of an orifice the size of a grape without medication. That was a a big fat 10 yo! This here back pain, is a 2 compared to that action. But compared with how I felt two days ago, it’s a solid 7.  A young woman who has never pushed a human being out of her vagina, might call it a 9. It is a worthless question. Ask me something else. Or better yet, run some tests.

    Unfortunately, although Australia has universal medical care, it is decisively less thorough. No tests. Usually, I diagnose myself.

    “I think I have a sinus infection.”

    “You do appear stuffy. Have some penicilin.”

    To acquire pain medication however, you must say the alphabet backwards while playing the recorder and screaming in agony. I guess they think since codeine can be purchased over the counter I should just shut up and be grateful (which I am most of the time.)

    Dentists might be the worst. They are like a scorned nanny.

    “HAVE YOU BEEN FLOSSING???!!!!!”

    “I’m sorry, I’m sorry! I will try harder. I will use rope next time, I swear!”

    Thank God Jesus was a carpenter and not a dentist.

    Poll 1: What is the worst physical pain you have ever experienced? Do you feel the need to share said pain with your doctor so he can adjust his scale appropriately? Talking about it is the first step toward dealing with this international problem.

    Poll 2: How do you feel about Chiropractors? Do you have a subluxation?

    Words of the day: Straight Away: As soon as possible.

    Quack: Bad Doctor

    I am off to the Quack straight away!

    CONFESSION TIME: *At my Senior Dinner in 1996 there was a hypnotist. He picked me out of the audience of 300 or so to participate in his crooked demonstration. I don’t know why I went along with it in the first place, but I did. He had us believing (pretending) we were freezing cold and affectionate. I felt neither cold nor affectionate, but still I shivered and hugged Dan Barr who sat next to me faking it as well. The Hypnotist or “Hypno”, as the Aussie’s probably would say, said that I would “wake up” and sing the Alma Mater. The irony being I was probably the only one in the class that knew the song since my Grandma Mimi wrote it. So I did it. I sang it. I shouldn’t have, but I didn’t want the Hypno to be made a fool. I couldn’t let him down, and yet, I felt I let my classmates down by pretending I was indeed hypnotized. I suck. Forgive me Class of 96′. I lied to you. I was not hypnotized’ just suckered into being a fraud by a fraud. You didn’t deserve it and I am sorry.

    What’s Cookin?

    I haven’t been sleeping well lately. The strangest things seem to keep me up for hours. Case in point. The other night, I woke up at 3am completely out of sorts. I was crazed; desperate to be interesting. Earlier in the evening, I succumbed to the crazy antics of facebook (sorry myspacers) and all of her minions by writing 25 Random Things about myself. I had been “tagged” by about 25 people, and the pressure was getting to me. So I quickly shot off the requested amount of random facts about myself, shut down the computer and headed to bed. That was my first mistake. Not leaving ample time between public reflection and bedtime. My second mistake was reading so many wonderful random lists right before creating my own. The stage was set for compulsive comparison. My third mistake was spending so little time on something I evidently cared about. Why did I care so much, you ask? Well, because, I want people to think I am awesome. That’s right…I said it. I want everyone I encounter to think me awesome. For at least an hour, I thought of all the random things I should have mentioned.

    ..q

    ..I know sign language

    ..q

    ..I miss living on Star Lake.

    ..q

    ..I like blue best.

    “Not quite interesting enough,” I thought.

    ..q

    ..-I love scary roller coasters unless they dangle me upside down for too long. I require speed and dynamic loops to be satisfied…

    “Ooh that’s good, and so true.”

    ..q

    …I love the way Chaylee moves her shoulders when she dances and the way Kenna talks out of the side of her mouth when she makes a joke lately.

    “Nice: remind everyone what a great mom I am for noticing the little things. “

    ..q

    ..I sang at the Stanley Cup when I was ten.

    “Taking it too far.”

    …this went on for some time…this internal madness…until finally I realized that if I did not act, I would not sleep. I located the laptop and made revisions.

    I pressed Post. I went to bed. It was the temporary sedative I needed, but it did not quell the dull ache of rut-dom. (That’s a new word I made up, in case you are going for your dictionary). After all, life is good. I have the coolest husband in two hemisphere’s, two fancy daughters, and access to beach life. So why do I feel so uninteresting? Is it the yoga pants I wear day in and day out? Perhaps. Or could it be my monotonous domestic responsibilities and respective deficiencies? Is it because I am 30…+1? The answer is, none of the above. Yoga pants rule and domestic responsibility comes with the territory. Sucking at it is a little tough, but nothing I can’t overcome.

    The answer is…I NEED AN AUDIENCE. That’s right. Children 5 and under are wonderful. Mine bring me great cheer, but they, in many ways, are a tough crowd. Witty metaphors go over like pork chops at a Bar mitzvah. Yet, merely utter the words “pee pee” or “poo poo” and get out the pull ups. It would be okay if I liked potty humor, but I am not a fan. The audience I seek will not require me to say “ca ca” to get a laugh.

    Hence, the end of my tale. While watching an episode of “Ready, Steady, Cook”, it occurred to me: this show is filmed in front of a live studio audience….. the people in said audience are cheery and required to laugh and provide positive bio feed back to the contestants. I love to cook…..Ready Steady Cook is seeking contestants. And so instead of whining about my rut, I set out to do something truly interesting. I emailed the show and quipped:

    “I am Ready. I am Steady. Let’s Cook”.

    I called a fellow expat and friend to be my fellow contestant. We auditioned last week. If that is not interesting I don’t know what is.

    I’ll keep you posted.

    Words of the Day

    Troppa: To go crazy or insane….

    Rippa: Great Job….

    I have been going Troppa lately but I think Ready Steady Cook will be a real rippa. ….

    ……

    Trivia

    Ready Steady Cook asks two contestants to cook with Australia’s best and brightest chefs while they go to battle with paring knives drawn. Each contestant brings a bag of their favorite ingredients to cook with. The chefs, with help of a trusty sidekick (that would be me) must make a meal with the provided ingredients in no less then 20 minutes. I hope I won’t go troppa under the pressure.

    http://readysteadycook.ten.com.au/

    ……

    Poll: What is the craziest thing you have done to get out of a rut?

    ……

    Family Fun Facts

    Chaylee is fluent in English. Kenna started Kindergarten, Drama Class once a week, and will be on the Roseville Rookie Soccer team as of next month. –Oh no…it just occurred to me…I am a soccer mom! Get out the scissors.

    Little Bird

    I was not anticipating this level of emotion. It’s just kindergarten. It’s not like I am sending her to Nam. She will be fine. I will be fine. I think. 

    I attended the Roseville Public Kindergarten Orientation tonight. I was greeted with a “cuppa” tea, various dessert trays and the Roseville Public Concert Band practicing “Our House”. The poor little drummer was an emotional wreck. I could tell he was struggling rhythmically on the verses so I told him he rocked. He got tears in his eyes and mouthed to his father, “I don’t want to play!” My encouragement actually made the situation worse.

    Lesson 1: Discourage Kenna from playing drums in the Roseville Band. Emotional damage may ensue.

    I found a seat adjacent to the other mums from pre school and the band begin “Our House”; this time for real. I could not help but sway and sing a line or two. Some of my enthusiasm was intended to mend my broken relationship with the fragile drummer. I thought maybe if he saw me getting down to his music he would no longer hate me. When the song ended I even let out an emphatic “woohoo”. Evidently, Australians typically save that sort of fanfare for footy, because I was the only one vocalizing during the applause. He never did smile at me.

    Lesson 2: Kid Drummers are jerks.

    The rest of the evening was not far from what you would expect in the States; apart from the discussion of canteen duty (the parents voluntarily run the hot lunch program) and the uniform purchasing tutorial. I think I became visibly confused during this portion of the evening. It may have been my passive aggressive way of protesting the fees imposed, or maybe I was trying too hard to be the interesting foreign woman. Whatever my motive, it was a clear moment of cultural disconnect. For example:

    What is a jumper? (Hint: It is not a dress).
    Answer: A Jacket.
    What is an excursion bag?
    Answer: A bag used on excursions, a.k.a. field trips.

    The excursion bag is actually one of four different carrying devices you are asked to purchase. How exactly is Kenna going to negotiate these bags…she’s like 3 feet tall?
    Crazy Australians.

    Lesson 3: Start making Kenna carry around as many bags as possible. That way she will be confident in her bag handling skills when school begins.

    Total Cost of school cosi (translation: costume)-$200
    Total Cost of Bags-$100
    Total Cost of Accessories: $25
    Total Cost of Public School tuition for expats: $4,500
    Seeing my baby leave the nest in her little school uniform:- Priceless

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    Words of the Day: ·

    Ankle Biter: Children
    By Jingoes: Surprise

    By Jingoes! My ankle biter is goin to kindie!

    Trivia: The school year in Australia runs from Feb.-Dec. School operates year round with the biggest break occurring in January. There are four terms with 2-3 week breaks in between.

    Poll: Have you ever had a run in with an overly sensitive drummer?

     

     

     

     

     

    Family Fun Fact: We just got back from a weekend on the South Coast. We encountered many wild kangaroos (who by the way seem more menacing in the wild), visited with some extraordinary kookaburras and parrots, had a run in with blue bottle jellyfish, and had the privilege of watching two humpback whales splash about in a storm. There was also a minor incident involving Mike, a forestry road, some burnt trees and our Pajero, but other than that…