August 20, 2014

#FaithInHumanity

I woke up this morning to news of journalist James Foley being killed in the most horrific way in Syria.

I'm not going to dwell on this story. I am not going to exploit his tragedy on my blog.

What I will say is this:

In recent times, the news has been more and more horrific. The Middle East. Iraq. Syria. Children in detention. Ebola. The suicide of a beloved comedian. The list goes on and on.

And life on a personal level is challenging. Of course it is. For you, no doubt, as it is for me.

I need an antidote. I need to restore some kind of faith in humanity. I need to remind myself that there is wonder and beauty and goodness in the world. I need to tip the balance.



And I need your help.

I am hoping you can share with me - and with each other - some positive stories. Just a line or two. Events or people who reminded you that there is hope for us all, that there is light and love and happiness and the potential for peace. You could share them in the comments, or share them on Twitter or FB or Insta or on your own noticeboard at home with the hashtag #FaithInHumanity.

Maybe we can remind each other the world isn't such a bad place.

I will start:

Several cafes on the main road in my suburb feed a homeless man. People regularly stop and offer him clothing, food and shelter. He is respected and cared for by the community. #FaithInHumanity

August 7, 2014

Fuck Off - Why MC Had To Go

So Mike Carlton has been sacked resigned from his position at Fairfax.

I'm not going to comment on my feelings about that, though anyone who follows me on Twitter will know I did not exactly rent my clothes and tear my hair in lamentation.

I am aware that many of my fellow Fairfax columnists and other journos are dismayed at the precedent set by his sacking resignation. What goes on in correspondence between a columnist and a reader, they feel, should not bear any relevance to their work as a writer.

Well, I respectfully disagree.


I am a freelance writer, but write for Fairfax and other publications on a regular basis, and appear weekly on Channel 7. When I am interacting with people on social media, I represent myself, but I also, by proxy, represent the organisations that employ me.

These organisations choose to use my words and my image. They choose to use my 'brand'*. And so if my brand becomes something that they feel is discordant with their own brand, then I would expect my services to be terminated.

In other words, if I go around telling people to fuck off, if I go around hurling thinly veiled racial insults, if I am rude and disrespectful in my dealings with my readers, I would expect my brand to be compromised, and I would expect to make myself unemployable.

The thing is, every journalist and columnist in the world has experienced dissent and trolling. In the past month I've been accused of child bullying (because I criticized Bindi Irwin for telling girls how to dress), of being part of the Zionist Genocide Plot (because I expressed the view that posting images of dead children is disrespectful to grieving families), and of demonizing fathers (because I wrote a piece about a new campaign to highlight incest using Disney caricatures). Oh, and someone called me a zombie. I'm still not exactly sure why.

When I received these helpful pieces of feedback, there was just one thing I wanted to do. I wanted to tell those moronic correspondents to fuck the hell off.

But you know what? I didn't. Because a) it is isn't helpful, and it's not going to change their minds; b) I don't wish to lower myself to their level; and c) it's just rude. People are entitled to their opinions, even if those opinions are different to mine. And being rude to someone who is rude to me isn't going to help the situation one iota.

So in each and every case, I wrote the same message: "Thank you for your considered response to my opinion piece."

And if the person continued to abuse me, I used a very powerful little tool. I pressed 'block' and 'delete', and they were gone for my life.

I am far from perfect. I have allowed myself to engage in endless debates with people online when I really should have just exited quickly and stopped wasting my time. But I do try very hard to retain humour and courtesy. Because if we can't do that, then the horrible conflicts overseas that are not the responsibility of any person in this country are creeping into our own lives, and that would simply add to the tragedy.

*Yes, it's a wanky term, but you get my point..

July 3, 2014

FLAUNT MY ARSE

Flaunt your curves this summer.

Supermodel Blah Blah flaunts her post baby body.


Large Actress Hoosiwhatsis proudly shows off her curves.


Flaunty Flaunty Curve Curve Curve


I tell you, if I see one more headline like that I'm going to take my own curves and wrap them around the neck of whoever wrote that stupid article and suffocate them till they repent.

Seriously. What is it with women flaunting their curves? Women do not flaunt. Okay, the occasional actress or model poses for the red carpet with certain parts of her thrust at a pleasing angle, because she's trying to take a nice photo, and it's her job to look alluring. But these headlines generally appear under pictures of women walking down the street, or standing in front of the camera doing nothing much at all.

You don't see headlines screaming about men flaunting their curves. "Jack Nicholson flaunts his curves at the beach on Sunday!" "Jonah Hill flaunts his curves in Armani at the premiere of his new movie."

No. Because men do not flaunt their curves. Men simply occupy their bodies. They live in them. If they are big men, if they have rounded bellies or fat arses or a broad chest they are not accused of 'flaunting' them. That is just the shell surrounding their personhood. As well it should be.

So why the fuck are we women referred to as 'flaunting' our curves if we dare to have them? Well, I suspect it's some kind of deranged backlash to the whole 'thin is best' culture that we are trying to shake off. It's okay, the magazine headlines are screaming. You don't have to be thin! Curves are good too! And so women who have curves are seen to be flaunting them with pride. We are happy to be curvy! We want to show off our curves to the world!


But that's bullshit. Curvy women are not necessarily flaunting their bodies any more than skinny women are necessarily flaunting theirs. They are just walking around in the bloody things, because you know what? They don't have a choice. It's not like you can browse through your body wardrobe and decide, hey, I want a curvy look today, let's put on the size 12 bod and have some fun with it! No. We wake up every day in the same body and it just IS.

There are days when we all feel good and flaunt ourselves, curvy or thin, short or tall. There are days when we feel crap and want to hide away, curvy or thin, short or tall. But to automatically assume that a women is 'flaunting' her body, no matter what she looks like, no matter what she is wearing, no matter what she is feeling, is incredibly disrespectful and objectifying.

Please magazines. PLEASE stop referring to women flaunting their bodies. Just write 'Here is actress Dum De Dum Dum standing in front of a building wearing clothes.' Because you know what? That's all it actually is.

Or talk about Jonah Hill flaunting his bloody curves. And then we'll have something to discuss.

June 13, 2014

35 Billion Marshmallows

Tomorrow is my daughter's batmitzvah. That is a Jewish ceremony marking the passage from childhood to werewolf. If you were a werewolf. As my daughter is human, it will mark the passage to womanhood. As I am her mother, it will mark my passage to Really Old. It's very exciting.

There will be two events to mark this massive occasion, both of which I have organised alone, using 'alone' in the sense of 'with considerable assistance from my mother because I have no idea how many bottles of soda water we need'. There will be a lunch party for 70 adults, attended by family, all my closest friends, some of my parents' closest friends, and one person who got invited because we had to ask them*, and then there will be a kids' party for 70 kids, which is about 65 kids more than I would like to see in the one place at the one time, but that is only because kids are really loud and messy.

I cannot even tell you how much preparation has gone into this. Aside from the normal concerns like food, beverages, speeches, seating plans and music, there are about 25,000 tiny details that have needed arranging. Pink tights for the 6yo. A shirt for the 15yo (and let me tell you, it is not easy finding a shirt for a half-man, half-boy, one-eighth-Walking Hormone [whose mother can't add fractions]). Acrylic nails for me because god forbid the guests runs screaming when they see my shabby fingers. Balloons. Table decorations. Serviettes (so the guests can wipe their mouths). More serviettes (because my friends are particularly messy). Superglue (so that I can stick on the acrylic nails which keep flying off in different directions). And marshmallows.

I Wrapped These. ALL OF THEM.

Yes. Marshmallows.

You see, it is traditional at batmitzvahs to throw lollies at the child after they have finished their Bible reading in the synagogue (which is what comprises the actual ceremony). Someone (usually a sibling) passes out baskets of lollies to the congregation, and then at the appropriate moment, they come flying from all directions in a shower of sweetie wonder.

Well, my particular Rabbi is deeply concerned about the OH&S issues surrounding flying lollies. Apparently some batmitzvah kids have been injured by a boiled sweet to the forehead, and though no actual concussions have been recorded, it is only a matter of time before Traumatic Brain Injury by Candy makes its way into the medical journals. So the verdict is... NO LOLLIES FOR US.

But I will not be deterred. No. My daughter WILL have her sugar shower, without aggravating the Rabbi or risking hospitalization.

And so I have individually wrapped about 35 billion marshmallows to be flung after the ceremony. 35 billion. No wonder my nails keep falling off.

I love my daughter so much. She is the most beautiful, kind, sweet, loving child in the world. I don't know where she came from but I am so very proud she is mine.

Mazeltov to my special girl. And everyone else, please, have a marshmallow. They're individually wrapped. And one may even have a nail in it....

*And if you're reading this, no, silly, it's not you. It's the other person.

May 28, 2014

What Lana Knows About Hair

This morning I looked at my hair and decided that if I didn't get it cut in the next hour I would hack it off myself with the chicken shears. I haven't had a regular hairdresser since my beloved *can't remember her actual name since it was three years ago but she was awesome* left to return to the country. So I made an appointment with Lana's hairdresser, because her hair looks great, and it had to be better than the chicken shears.

Ten minutes later I was en route to meet Lana herself before attending my hair appointment. And as I parked the car and walked up to the cafe, I looked down at myself and realised the horrible truth. I was wearing a shapeless white top over a tank top, pared with nondescript jeans and flat boots. It was a disaster. My hair was going to look terrible.

this is what can happen if you don't dress well

I'm not dressed cool enough to go to the hairdresser! I texted Lana, overcome with panic.

Change! she replied, knowing exactly what I meant.

I'll have to buy clothes! I wrote. Or you'll have to swap with me. Do you look cool?

Of course, she responded. Cutting edge. So to speak. 

Well, she didn't look cool, at least, no cooler than me. She was wearing jeans and a plain black top, with Birks on her feet, and there was no way I was going to get a decent haircut in that outfit.

I considered buying something new, but there was no time, and besides, there was no money. Lana was prepared to shout me a coffee, but not a Zara ensemble, not even to guarantee the beauty of my coiffure. I considered stripping down to my tank top to show the stylist my tattoo, so that he would know I was worthy of an of-the-moment look. But that seemed a little far fetched, and there was a nip in the air, and so I trudged to my appointment knowing I was doomed.

Lana knows, as I do, that a hair stylist will only give you the cut he thinks you deserve. If you are daggy, you will get a daggy do. If you are hip, you will walk out looking like Miley Cyrus. If you are me, you will walk out looking pretty much the same as you always do, though with a head full of expensive product you felt too guilty not to buy.

Happily, the hairdresser seemed to accept my assurances that I was very young and groovy, despite all evidence to the contrary. He gave me a lovely cut, leaving me with a bounce in my hair and expensive product in my hand.

But my experience is the exception, not the rule. Listen to me. Listen to Lana. Wear your very best outfit to your hairdressing appointment, and make your stylist believe you are worthy of good things.

My hair is looking nice. But if only I'd worn my cute French top, grey skinny pants and Zara heeled boots, I would have looked fantastic.

May 13, 2014

My Trip To The, Er, 'Day Spa'

Yesterday I had a sensationally relaxing afternoon. I had a lovely sleep at about 2pm, woke at about 3.15, was served tea, juice and sandwiches in bed, then spent the next couple of hours lying blissfully in bed as a lovely young woman attended to my every need. All I needed was a mani-pedi and a hot stone massage and it would have been the perfect day spa.

There were three other women in the room with me, and all were equally delighted. Okay, so we'd all had surgery earlier on in the day, but it was such a treat to be in bed for the entire afternoon, sans kids, sans work, sans responsibilities, that we all declared it to be one of the most enjoyable few hours we'd spent in a long time.

Oh, and did I mentioned I was stoned to the eyeballs on pain killers? Because that probably helped too.
Kerri's Impression of her Hospital Stay
Now, I'm not saying that surgery is a fun thing. And I'm not saying my life is so desperately busy that I have to escape to hospital just to get a break. Far from it. Sometimes I escape to the supermarket, or the dentist, or my mother's house, or to space. (Ooops! Sorry. I don't think the drugs have quite left my system yet...) But even when I do escape, there is always something I should be doing. Even when I relax in front of the TV, I know I should be mopping the floor, or making lunches, or tidying the linen closet, or writing another article, or ironing the shirts. (Ha! There are those drugs talking again. I don't iron!!!)

But yesterday was remarkably fun. The surgery was minor (just some women's stuff I needed to get sorted out), there was no pain afterwards (just a few fuzzy elephants and the best cup of tea I've ever tasted in my life), and then I got to do nothing. Absolutely nothing. And I didn't feel guilty about doing nothing because I had no choice. I was in hospital. There was a cannula in my hand. I was wearing a gown. I was not wearing underpants. And there were elephants dancing around my bed.

Today I am back to business as usual, just with a certain fuzziness of head (and a pet elephant who is following me everywhere). I'm glad it's all over and I'd so grateful it went smoothly.

And girlies, have your regular pap smear. Get onto it. Okay?


May 6, 2014

Triggered

I don't cry very often these days. I spent a long time crying an awful lot, and I think I used up a lot of my lifetime quota.

What's more, I am keenly aware of my good fortune. I am deeply, profoundly grateful for my children, my parents, my wonderful friends, and my good life in this country. I do what I love, I live in a beautiful part of the world, and I am luckier than 99.9999% of people who exist on this planet.

But sometimes I do cry. And when I do, it is like unleashing a beast. The floodwaters break, and I cry tears for every grief and loss I have ever known.


Last night I had an argument with someone very important to me. In the scheme of things, it wasn't particularly significant. It was the kind of argument that we have had many times before. But I was tired, and took it badly, and when I was alone again I started to cry. Not the kind of gentle tears I cry when watching One Born Every Minute or when someone amazing performs on The Voice. No, these were great racking sobs that shook my whole body and turned my face into a squidgy red puffy-eyed mess.

And I stayed like that for nearly two hours.

When I cry, it triggers the deep well of pain I still have within me, the pain I will carry for the rest of my life. the pain of missing my sister, which is buried in a place only accessed by the key that is my tears.

On a conscious level, I remember how much I miss her when I am feeling sad, because she was always there to comfort me when I had a problem or needed support.

But on a far more primal level, sobbing unlocks that grief, like picking a scab off a wound will cause it to bleed. And the only thing left is to cry it out until the tears have passed once again, and the grief retreats back into that safe place in which it lives in my heart.

This morning I woke tired and low, hungover from a night out on the sobs. So then I went back to sleep, and started the day again a couple of hours later. And now all is restored in my world, and in my equilibrium.
We can endure. We can be happy. We are stronger than we think. We need to feel what we need to feel, when we need to feel it.

And then life begins, anew, in all its fortune and wonder.

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