Thursday, September 30, 2010


I haven’t seen my vagina in a good six weeks. Maybe even longer. I’m assured it’s still there because I can feel it. The pressure of the baby makes it throb like it does when you’ve had too much sex, the dastardly deed that got me into this mess in the first place.
I knew things were getting unruly down there because although I was vision impaired, I could certainly tell by a touch. Steel wool had definitely sprouted. And so, having ruled out going to a salon and having it done by a professional, despite my husband’s protestations to stop being a tight arse and spend the fifty bucks, I decided to give the old pruning of the hedge a bit of a go myself. Now don’t worry folks, I’ve done this before, although to be fair, normally I can see. 
I heated the wax up in the microwave, stripped down to my birthday suit (remembering only after I was naked to check to see if anyone was home in the house next door) and got to work. I trimmed with caution, (a left hander using right handed scissors, nothing was going to make this endeavour easy) then set about applying the hot wax in the general vicinity I thought hair might be growing in, while simultaneously considering how I was going to get the blobs I had dropped off our rented kitchen floor.
Having been unable to locate the ripping strips the company supplies you with, I cut up one of my husband’s old t-shirts. Excellent use of resources you may think, but the t-shirt was a well-worn, soft jersey fabric, so the strips were stretchy not stiff and rolled in towards the middle making it very difficult to cover the wax with fabric at all. For some reason, the actual ripping seemed far more painful than my last attempt and I even managed to break a few blood vessels just within my range of visibility high on my thigh. Not a good precursor to labour I'm afraid.
I gave up shortly thereafter, also because the episode had taken far longer than planned and I was now running late for my writing group and really didn’t fancy telling a bunch of post menopausal women what had delayed me.
I am led to believe by my ever-loyal husband that it looks like I took to myself with a whipper snipper (that’s weed wacker for you Americans) – different lengths of hair interspersed with bald spots and no straight lines. It’s not perfect, of that I am sure, but it’s still a darn sight better than it was. I think. Though I don’t suppose I can be sure. I haven’t seen either look. Unfortunately in less than eight weeks, plenty of strangers will. 

Monday, September 27, 2010


Yesterday we lay my mother’s godmother to rest. My mum’s actual mum had died when mum was only 18, so Aunty Gwen (as we called her) was really very special to mum, a surrogate mother of sorts. As fate would have it, Aunty Gwen took a turn for the worse just after my parents had left for a trip overseas and while my mum had said she would be ok if she wasn’t around when the time came, no one in the family actually believed her. For a few days I thought Aunty Gwen was going to rally just as she’d done every time illness struck her in her ninety-one years, but when she murmured “where’s my daughter and when is she coming home?” I knew we were on borrowed time. Aunty Gwen was very traditional and never called my mother her daughter, as it wasn’t strictly their relationship so I knew she meant business.
I rang mum, she hopped a flight from Beirut of all places and I promised Aunty Gwen I would have her daughter by her side in thirty-two hours. She said she’d hang in there till then. The next day, with the countdown on, I made sure Aunty Gwen (now on a ventilator full time and not able to eat, drink or speak) knew how many hours she had until she would see my mother, her daughter. My brothers drove down from their home two hours north to see her and reiterated the message that she now only had four hours left until mum would be holding her hand. My husband and I raced out to the airport, picked up my remarkably fresh looking mother, fanged to the hospital, made it through security (by this time it was after midnight and the hospital was obviously closed for normal visiting hours, but the people in charge of Aunty Gwen’s ward knew how critical timing could be and were more than happy to have late night visitors), and we entered Aunty Gwen’s room to find her eyes open and waiting. After telling her I loved her and kissing her for what I knew would be the last time, Gregory and I took our leave and returned home. Utterly exhausted, I took a hot shower and I was there when Gregory came to tell me that Aunty Gwen had passed away with her daughter by her side holding her hand. Mostly I was relieved, Aunty Gwen had willed her body to last long enough until her favourite person was by her side, but I was also desperately sad at the passing of a wonderful woman who had brought much joy to our family over the years.
Several days earlier, when I knew things weren’t going to improve, the kindly Doctor had taken me aside and urged me to call my mother. Then he looked at my belly and said; “one life ends and another one begins.” He is right of course, but it is one of life’s trickiest realities to face. As I walked away from the Doctor, desperately trying to contain myself, I looked around for a distraction and read the notices up on the wall. Through my tears I realised the ward was named the same name we have chosen if we have a son. Prophecy or coincidence? It doesn’t really matter. This is the circle of life and as I sit here typing with my baby shifting inside me, I know Aunty Gwen was moving over to make room for the peanut. And surely this is the point. Love. Love for each other, love for those who’ve gone and love for those to come. So thank you Aunty Gwen, may the peanut do you proud. 


This is what we’ve learned in prenatal classes so far…
·      how to cook brown rice – jasmine rice is its inferior sibling apparently
·      us women are doing an incredible job and should remind ourselves of this daily. I remind Gregory instead, I’m well aware I’m incredible.
·      Vacuuming is banned for women incubating humans. I hope mopping is included in that since it’s a fairly similar activity. I hate mopping. I’d rather scrub a toilet with a toothbrush.
·      Miso soup is excellent during labour, but don’t let this be the first time you try it. It is certainly an acquired taste. I’m going to stick with ice blocks like my friend suggested. I know I like them.
·      Mothers need to conserve their energy during labour, use your partner’s instead.
·      Chinese women are idolized post-birth. They don’t do anything for forty days and someone feeds them an old chicken. (It is full of lots of goodness apparently).
·      Do your pelvic floor exercises or you’ll be very sorry. (Just writing this reminds me that I haven’t done them since last time she cautioned us, so if you don’t object, I’ll do them now. Clench…hold…breathe…relax. Repeat ten times).
·      If you want your partner to help ladies, don’t criticise them. If the nappy falls off so what. They’ll work it out.
·      Cabbage is excellent for mastitis. Just line your bra with a leaf and when it’s soaked, replace and repeat.
·      Breast milk is the best cure for babies with gluey eyes. I don’t know if gluey eyes is the technical term, but it’s the one the midwife used.
·      Babies are very smart. I'm not sure if the midwife meant smart in general or smarter than its parents.
·      Japanese women wear belly belts throughout their pregnancy and have much better posture than westerners. Maybe so, but I hate things on my waist as it is and since I now don’t have one, I’m not going to replace it with a sumo-wrestling style contraption that looks like it would cause more discomfort than my current back pain.
·       Omega 3 has been proven to help with depression, so I’ve bought myself a massive box of them in the hopes I can do my best to avoid ye olde post-natal blues.
·      Eat yoghurt if you or the baby’s father suffers from allergies.
·      Go with your flow. This seems to be the best piece of advice yet. Feel free to take any of the above and use it to make your life easier.

Monday, September 20, 2010


I have a dear friend whose opinion I trust greatly, but when I asked her what was essential to take to the hospital (given that we’re less than nine weeks out and haven’t organized a blessed thing) this is what she replied; “get multiple pairs of large, high-waisted, size twenty underpants. They come in beige.”

Is she serious? I might be thirty-one weeks and haven’t been able to see my toes for a good three now, but I am still squeezing myself into my treasured g-strings. Admittedly they’re starting to feel a bit like dental floss up my clacker, but I have just returned from seven years spent dancing in New York City. Dancers don’t wear full-cheeked underpants. Most of them don’t wear underpants at all. Ain’t no way I’m putting on utilitarian granny panties a second before I absolutely have to…and even then I’m still considering other options. Which brings me to the issue of bikini lines. Again, too long spent undressing on the side of stage to allow myself to get unruly in the downstairs area, which is now completely invisible to me unless I stand in front of a mirror shift the peanut out of the way, lift my heels off the ground slightly, bend my knees and tilt my pelvis forward at a largely uncomfortable angle. Let me tell you folks, when I see it that way, some pruning is now quite necessary. I don’t care if I’m doing a dry shave in the car on the way to the hospital, I refuse to be the owner of an untamed, unruly, terribly unattractive nether region at a time when more strangers are looking at it than if I’d taken up that job at the strip club.
Back in NYC, I’d skip off to the salon, hand over my twenty bucks and have every hair within a thirty-centimetre radius ripped out of me in less than seven minutes. (I’ll upload a story about it, if you care to read more explicit details). But here in Oz, the wax specialists are as laid back as the lifestyle. It takes a good forty-five at least, which is way too long for them not to make small talk and honestly, I have no interest in swapping stories with someone who has more intimate knowledge of my nether regions than either my husband or myself. It’s why I don’t mind that I won’t know which midwife I get when I give birth. They’re professionals. We’ve both got a job to do. I’ll do mine, they’ll do theirs, but we’re not going to be catching the same bus home.
I’ve also written in my diary (because I’m lucky if I can remember my own name at this point) to get my eyelashes tinted a week or so before I’m due. Call me vain, but I am a red head. We don’t really have eyelashes. We have blunt, stubby, utilitarian hair follicles that do the job Mother Nature designed them for and not a thing else. It’s a given that pictures will be taken immediately after the event – maybe even during it, if I think it’s necessary for posterity – and I figure eyelash tinting is a fairly easy way of making my appearance less dragon like. As a redhead, when enduring periods of exertion – maths exams, long runs, labour – I don’t sweat delicately and get a rosy hue to my cheeks. I sweat rivers and my face turns into a blotchy, mottled mess that takes a good half hour or so to dissipate. So here I am having just endured twelve hours of labour, (average time for first time mothers apparently) starving, (they reckon you can’t eat during labour, but they don’t know me that well yet) excited beyond my wildest imaginings and wanting to preserve the moment without looking like a badly cared for tomato – bruised and blotched with a clammy exterior. And so a good eyelash tint it is. Maybe even a facial while I’m at it. Facials seem quite extravagant to me, I’ve only had about two in my life, but they’re brilliant, I can see why rich people make them a part of their beauty routine. If I were rich, I’d have a massage once a week and a facial once a month.
Tomorrow I have to head into the city, so I figured I would make use of the excursion and force myself to buy some of the less savoury maternity items – breast pads for leaking, sanitary pads for bleeding and circus size underpants for holding it all in. but not in beige. I refuse to go beige. What’s the point in tinting my eyelashes and waxing my nether regions if I’m going to spoil it all with a pair of oversized beige underpants. One thing would be certain…no danger in the peanut having a sibling too soon…it would certainly act as an effective contraception. 


We left la la land on December 1st 2009, escaping only just, without our undies catching on fire.  The last six months were a maelstrom of double shifts, farewell drinks, sorting, shipping, planning, saving and (for some self-flagellating reason) hosting a ‘those who also don’t have family’ Thanksgiving in a semi-packed house, four days before we departed on our great road trip ’09.
We did, however, find the time to engage in one of life’s most underrated cultural events – the humble garage sale.  An early morning jamboree of bargain hunters, odd-bods, and low-grade criminals walking the streets picking up rubbish as part of their community service.
Easily spying our garage sale virginity, our first foragers happily outlined the expected protocols of this Saturday morning affair.
1.     It is against established etiquette to ask the hosts to ‘hold things’ until you return.
2.     Nothing is worth more than eight dollars.  Unless it is a bike and even then it had better have ridden in the original tour de France.
3.     Haggling is expected and one should feel totally shameless participating.
4.     All serious hunters will be at your door at least one hour prior to your advertised starting time.
5.     There is nothing wrong with aforementioned hunters knocking on your door at least one hour prior to your advertised time.
6.     It is a nice gesture, but not anticipated that the hosts will provide bags for hunter’s finds.  Most people will happily stuff your treasures in their pockets.
7.     Expect neighbours to come and have a good sticky beak at what type of stuff you keep in your house.
8.     Don’t get offended when something you prized is ill received by hunters.  (Not everyone appreciates the latent beauty in a plaster gargoyle).
9.     Wear jeans.  You need somewhere easy to stuff your cash.
10.  All people are weird.  But extra weird people go to garage sales.
You have been warned.
 First stop on the road trip was Vegas, the highlight being the bathrooms of the Paris Casino.  I am intimately familiar with them you see, for while Gregory was entertained by the extreme water wastage of the Bellagio water fountains, I was holed up in cubicle number three, vomiting into the toilet bowl. 
In between bouts of outrageous gut propulsions, I was kept amused by the English and French translations piped through the public loo’s sound system.  “Listen closely to the following phrases that you may find useful during your stay at the Paris Casino,” said an elegant sounding man.  The French would come first and then the translation; “I think you’re cute too, but I would like to get to know you first,” and; “oh my! Where did all this glitter come from?” 
When there was nothing left to leave behind, I exited the bathroom and made my way back through the casino floor.  It is fair to concede that I was probably a little dizzy and certainly sporting some serious dragon breath after my upset stomach, but neither of these account for the view my eyes beheld when I looked at the cocktail waitresses on the floor.  Regardless of age, body type or willingness to remove pubic hair, every woman was in the same outfit.  Low heels, (sensible for a long shift on your feet, but they do nothing for the line of the leg) beige fishnet stockings, all topped with a brilliant blue leotard and a skirt that someone had forgotten to continue all the way around to the front.  It really only covered a wide and varied selection of the female derierre, leaving the F.U.P.A. (Front Upper Pussy Area) proudly on display for people who would have to be winning millions in order to be distracted away from such a horrendous sight.  If the wearer were eight it might have been cute.  In this case it was shocking.  Come on ladies, we all know how to groom correctly.  And if you don’t, there’s a great place in SoHo I can tell you about – in and out in twelve minutes, not a single hair will survive, all for the bargain price of twenty bucks. 
Where you get waxed can elicit quite a debate amongst New York women, everyone’s got their spot that they are fiercely protective of and loyal to.  Some ladies won’t share their location for fear it will become over run by hairy vaginas and they will no longer be able to get their own grass cut, but I will happily divulge my salon because I don’t live there anymore, and am now on a quest to find some unfortunate soul willing to perform the procedure on me down under, so to speak.  This is because I have had two rather disastrous incidents with home waxing.  The first one was years ago when I was still living with my parents.  It was pre-brazillian days, when I was happy with a bit of a general pruning of the area to avoid embarrassment at ballet and swimming training.  Dutifully I heated the wax up in the microwave per the instructions provided.  It was a new tub so I just put it on for the maximum time recommended, took it out and assumed my position at my bedroom desk.  Don’t worry, no one else was home.  One leg propped up on the chair, wax wound around my knife to avoid spillage, and I carefully applied an appropriate amount to my inner thigh.  Immediately, I scorched off the first few layers of my skin.
You’re right.  I should have checked the temperature first, but patience and foresight aren’t my strongest suits and those sorts of things always occur to me after disaster has struck.  Grabbing some baby oil, I managed to remove most of the wax – and my destroyed skin with it – but what I lack in patience I make up for in perseverance and I refused to give the activity away entirely.  All I needed to do was cool the wax down, I thought.  So I put it in the freezer.  To this day, I’m not sure why this seemed like the best option, or even an option at all, but at the time, it really did appear to make sense.
Yes, you’re right again, I could have waited for it to cool down naturally, but I thought I’d already told you that patience isn’t my strong suit. 
I applied some ointment to my singed skin and opened the freezer door…somehow the wax (balanced on a loaf of bread and some frozen sausage rolls) had over turned and dripped all through the freezer.  Wax stalactites were hanging from an assortment of ice creams and I spent the next hour picking blobs of semi frozen goo off the cuts of meat stacked at the bottom.  That was incident one.
Skip several years and I’m in New York about to commence my first ballet class.  Now on an actor’s budget, I had no slush fund for such extravagances as a beauty salon, so I bought a tub from the store and when my roommate was away, attempted the home wax once again.  This time I was careful not to overheat it and I was fairly certain I had the right temperature for success.  With my leg propped up on the toilet seat this time, I carefully wound the wax around my bread knife and stroked it down my inner thigh.  Disaster.  Again, again.  This time I hadn’t heated the wax up enough so it stuck to my leg like a big glob of congealed snot.  Not hot enough to spread evenly but too hot be removed easily.  What was I going to do?
I scoured my apartment for an appropriate tool.  I didn’t have any baby oil, and neither did my roommate.  But we did have olive oil and I thought it might be similar enough to do the trick.
It wasn’t.
By the time she got home that night, I was still in the bathroom bent over at an awkward pain inducing angle, desperately trying to remove the hardened wax from my leg and the olive oil from the floor.
That was the very last time I ever tried to wax myself.
I never made an appointment to get waxed in New York, that seemed like cheating.  Part of the fun of it is trying to get there around the rush while still allowing yourself a moment to read the gossip magazines lying around.  Generally I would be halfway through some article about how a woman gave birth to a fish, when I was ushered in to a small and not so private room and told to leave the magazine outside.  This is because some waxers require assistance and your hands being free is essential to a successful de-hairing.  Unceremoniously, you strip down till your totally starkers on the bottom (sometimes I leave my socks on because my feet get cold) and flop yourself up onto the paper-covered bed.  Paper is not very comfortable to lie on, but at least you’re assured the area is somewhat sterile.  I say somewhat because you can’t be too sure can you?  I mean the wax is sitting on a hot plate in a tub that is probably the same one that was here eight weeks ago when you were last.  The wax is applied to your skin with a knife that is repeatedly stuck back in the same pot.  Obviously your knife is not the only one having a dig in the old wax and I wonder what sort of microorganisms and bacteria live in semi-volcanic conditions.  I am pleased to report that I’ve never caught anything having my bikini waxed, but in all honesty, that could be less about hygiene and more about luck.
So there you are, lying on the bed like a piece of freshly caught trout and the dusting begins.  They powder you up with a liberal amount of baby powder to remove any sweat and dry the area out.  If necessary, they take out the nail scissors and give your hair a bit of a pre-wax trim.  “Hair very long.  When you last wax?  Leave too long, hurt more,” they scold you in their broken English.
I’m not categorizing, it’s just true.  I’ve never been waxed in New York by a non-asian.  I think it’s their temperaments.  They have a culture of efficiency.  Look at the way they eat, they let none of their food sources go unused and they treat your bikini with the same attitude – no good pube goes unpunished.  Personally, I like their all-business attitude.  I find it wildly uncomfortable to have an in-depth conversation with someone who has a more intimate knowledge of my nether regions than either my friendly gynecologist or myself.  It’s clinical for the gyno, they just stick a cold, hard metal contraption up your hoo-ha and treat your bits like a tunnel.  These ladies get up close, scrutinise for sneaky follicles, pluck out the determined ones, then flip you over and do the same on the other side.  That’s right folks.  A Brazilian aint’a Brazilian unless you’ve tended to your bottom as well.
A helpful asset in this experience is flexibility.  (I have now found two uses for musical theatre in the real world.  The other is climbing out small windows to rescue Frisbees from roofs).  An ability to get your legs into odd and awkward positions can shave a good thirty seconds off your total waxing time.  Often I use the wall as a prop and get some good side leverage by lifting my leg over my head and rotating my torso ever so slightly. 
This is one of a variety of techniques employed by your waxers in order to achieve maximum speed and efficiency.  One lady slaps you really hard before she rips off the cloth.  “Better for you.  You forget what happening,” she says leaving a bright red mark on my thigh.  I beg to differ.  Now I just hurt in two places.  My friend however, likes this style, but as she pointed out, she is Italian and by virtue of her heritage, has very course, thick and plentiful hair.  She welcomes the slap as a distraction. 
I prefer the lady who gets you to help.  “You hol’ this,” she says, grabbing my hand and placing it on my thigh.  “Tighter. Tighter.  Pull away fat.”  (There is no room for ego in this process). 
Twelve minutes later, you’re back in the salon, perfectly aware that everyone getting their refills done knows that the waxer thinks you’ve got fat thighs. 
Generally they wipe you down with some sort of oily based cloth, so it is best to avoid wearing silky dresses or fluffy tracksuit pants.  New York is not the kind of city you want to be walking around with your skirt plastered to your crotch. 
Painful yes.  Embarrassing, slightly, but both are better than the koala ears these ladies were sporting in down town Vegas.  Surely they can’t be making good tips turning up to work like that.
And while we’re at it, it’s not just women who need to take care of themselves.  A little man-scaping goes a long way to impressing the ladies, gentlemen. The men in my husband’s family call it the clown’s head.  You gotta trim that baby down.
So, a good vomit and some bad bikini lines and we’d seen all of Vegas we needed to see.  Back in the car and on to the Hoover Dam (architecturally impressive but a picture from the car window will suffice) then a leisurely stroll along the south rim of the Grand Canyon.  Not a bad tourist spot that one, given that it’s free.
Continued along the majestic Navajo trail, a landscape you’d imagine on Mars but littered with two-bit towns comprising of old tyres, red rocks and a miserable collection of half finished trailers.  The major difference we could see between Nevada and Arizona, (apart from how easy it is to get a divorce in the former) are the trees.  Nevada doesn’t have any.
A night in Moab, Utah (mullets, 4 wheel drives and singers doing curious versions of ‘goodbye yellow brick road’) followed by a morning exploring the magnificent Arches National Park.  It was like the whole place had been blown up by an angry mother nature and we were walking through the rubble.  Cliffs like beef jerky, rocks bigger than towns and the mighty Colorado River powering along beside.
Speaking of, that was our next port of call and it was a magnificent drive in to Boulder Colorado, with a view of the Rockies and their dusting of freshly fallen snow. 
All this brilliant scenery, I should point out, quelled my usual illness of driving narcolepsy and I made an excellent companion, always ready with a piece of chewy, a tidbit of news from the lonely planet or a helpful hand-wipe. 
We had stopped in Boulder to visit a culinary buddy of Gregory’s, and once he got over the shock of his mate having become a vegetarian (if my husband were an artist it would be like telling him he could only paint in black or white) we enjoyed a hike in the Rockies, an afternoon of tobogganing (keeping our feet dry with the poor man’s North Face – socks, plastic bag and another pair of socks) and a delicious meat free curry. 
If I were a university student in America, I would pick Boulder to attend.  Even if you had to do sheep husbandry to go there.  It’s a great little town, and even in the dead of winter, still gets glorious sun shin-ey days.  The locals tell me they have as many sunny days as the state of California, they just don’t advertise it because they don’t want everyone moving in.  (Sorry people, but on the upside, this little plug could be good for tourism).
Week two of no bra or makeup and we were ready to tackle the great mid-west, dodging a snowstorm by stopping in Kansas City, Missouri. 
Some might argue – and plenty tried – that a road trip in the middle of an American winter is not the smartest thing to do.  Particularly with an Australian, ie someone from a land with no significant amount of snow, and driving a VW rabbit with no intention of getting snow tyres.  Still, with a combination of ignorance and excitement, we managed to beat, circumnavigate or run away from every storm headed our way.  I wouldn’t recommend it if you have a serious destination date, like a wedding for example, but if you’ve got a bit of time, and don’t mind holing up in the city with the greatest number of water fountains outside of Rome, then Kansas City mid snow storm is the place for you.
In addition to this dubious title about fountains, Kansas City also claims to have seventeen national historic sights, but unless they were referring to the seventeen-hundred-odd miles of cornfields, I’m not buying that title with a three-dollar bill.  It was right about here that diabetes, high cholesterol and scurvy became very real possibilities as we abandoned fruit and vegetables and delved into delicious mid-west BBQ on our way to the windy city. 
Frank Sinatra said it was his kind of town and apart from the vicious winter weather, I’d say it’s my kind too.  Of course we were given rock star treatment from another of Gregory’s chef friends, staying in his suite complete with steam room, wine humidifier and enough medicinal marijuana to numb a herd of elephants.  Cocktails at the top of the Hancock building, deep dish pizza, hot doug’s hot dogs, Mr. Beef, Arabian style tacos, dinners at restaurants Gregory’s been following for years, all rounded off with an exhilarating ice hockey game and a Christmakkah celebration where the Jewish and the Christians celebrate together around a candle lit Christmas tree. 
Five days later and our poor car could barely carry us to Canton, Ohio this time to enjoy a gaming dinner in an old converted speakeasy. 
On our way to Ohio we passed Gary Indiana, their welcome sign painted on the sewerage plant.  While the scenery was hardly impressive, the billboards were, sporting pro-life slogans like; “pregnant?  Scared?  Text options to 94685,” and a diet tip to “choose right, eat small.” 
Next stop was Lewisburg Pennsylvania, where I dropped Gregory at his friend’s restaurant and spent the afternoon chasing Mennonites about the countryside.  You wouldn’t think they could outrun me given that I was in a car and they ride a horse and buggy, but it was back streets and farm roads and they knew all the shortcuts.
Of course we stopped off in our beloved NYC, then headed to the country for a Llewellyn style Christmas, which meant brisk walks in the frigid air, tart whiskey sours and five nieces dressed up as Zoro. 
We followed that with a whirlwind tour through almost every east-coast state, (billboard highlight in Maine; “take the US out of my UTERUS”) then we pointed the v-dub south and headed for the very flat, very manicured and very religious state of North Carolina.  There we continued our anthropologic billboard study with gems like:
“VIRGIN – teach your kid it’s not a dirty word.”
“Following your friends is easy.  Following your heart is brave.”
And possibly my favourite…
“Breast milk is the best milk.  Eat at moms.”
I just knew I’d love the south and I wasn’t disappointed. 
Mark Charleston, South Carolina as a port of call one of these days.  You won’t regret strolling through the old town, gas lanterns guiding your way, catching your heel on the cobbled roads as you gaze in wonder at the mansions, their white trimmed, black shuttered windows open to reveal secret walled gardens, individually decoupag-ed stairs and rich old antiques standing underneath dusty portraits of the men that made the town. Everyone greets you as you pass by, and all I wanted them to do was invite me into their enclosed verandah so we could share some mint julep tea. 
Of course, you can stand at the market where they used to sell the slaves, but if we condemned everyone for their past transgressions there wouldn’t be a country left to visit.  Except perhaps Switzerland, and apart from chocolate and founding Red Cross, they don’t count.
Next stop on the Funemployed Express was Vero Beach Florida, to hang out with the in-laws at their 55-plus retirement community.  I’ve only known Gregory’s parents for three years, but I tell you, this retirement gig has taken ten years at least off their faces.  The two of them are positively radiant.  Filled with the fervour of mid-morning bridge games, scavenger hunts on tandem bicycles and short-sleeves in January.  I can’t wait to get there!
Logistically, we had to get back to the west coast before flying home, so we returned our leased and loyal VW chariot, boarded a plane and landed in San Francisco for a few days with friends. 
I was worried this would happen…I love this city.  Absolutely love it.  I could live here, if I hadn’t already uprooted my husband and planned a move across the entire universe. 
Next time…
San Francisco has the fabulous feel of a small town, the village-ee, neighbourhood-ee aspects of New York, the vistas of one of the top tourist destinations in the world, and, strikingly, is inhabited by delightful locals all willing to show and share their city with you.  We had the city’s best yum cha, dined at our friends’ establishments; (both top raking in the city) saw the Tutankhamen exhibition, visited Alcatraz (I reckon those escapees made it.  It really doesn’t look that far and the current can’t be that strong, surely) took in the Castro district and admired the Victorian houses the city is famous for.  It was a delight.  And I suppose the company of good friends helps.
I, of course, was like a dog and let myself out regularly for runs.  I embraced the damp and chilly San Franciscan clime as a veritable heat wave after the east coast snow storms and beat a path around the Golden Gate Park in San Francisco, the largest of its kind in the world and a Mecca for the city’s many pavement pounders. They’re a serious bunch there too. Most are decked out in sweat-slicking, microfiber, colour-coded outfits and many run with bum-bags stuffed with water bottles and those gel packets designed to get you through a marathon.  Are they really running that far on a Thursday afternoon?
The last of my runs was particularly significant; after nearly eight years it would be my last one on US soil for quite some time.  I was about to get on a plane bound for Sydney and before a fourteen-hour plane trip, the best thing anyone can do is stretch the jiggles out of you.
I ran in the rain drenched San Franciscan air, reading with interest the Tsunami evacuation route posted along the road, drinking in the view not dissimilar to Bondi’s and knowing that in approximately twenty-four hours I’ll be doing exactly the same thing on the other side of the Atlantic.
We would like to thank our sponsors across this fine land – friends and family who willingly opened up their homes, some who even gave us their beds.  We felt like Jack Kerouac minus the drugs.  And that reminds me of a quote written by John Leland about the very beatnik I speak of; ‘low overhead and a sense of improvisation make for a great life.’  True that.  

Wednesday, September 8, 2010


The peanut and I are back...
If you're bored tomorrow tune in to Mornings With Kerri-Anne and check out the peanut and I parading down the short catwalk.
Or waddling down as the case may be...

Tuesday, September 7, 2010


 In a weird, unexplained occurrence we are now the proud owners of three broken internal windows. These are not the sorts of things you factor in when writing a budget. 
The reason we have written a budget – well, jotted down some figures on the back of a grocery receipt – is because I unexpectedly lost some of my teaching hours and my husband gave notice at his high paying, high profile chef job to work in a cafĂ© so he has the time and creative energy to pursue his dream of his own restaurant…eleven weeks before our first child is due. 
Now there are those of you who might argue that this was a foolish time to undertake such an endeavour, (and when I’m back to eating ketchup soup like I did when I lived in New York I’m sure I’ll agree with you) but when is it actually a good time to have a child? Or open a business? 
My grandma always said that ‘if you waited until you had enough money for a child, you’d never have one,’ and I’ve applied this theory to my entire life…moving to NYC to pursue musical theatre, volunteering (I don’t have money so I give time instead), getting married (in NYC which isn’t cheap, but we had herbs instead of flowers so we saved money there), travelling (it is a non-negotiable expense if you spend nearly eight years living overseas), growing a human (although that part is pretty cheap if you’re happy to embrace the public health system), and following your dream (ie Gregory opening his restaurant and me running the front of house with a baby in a papoose around my neck with easy access to its food source whenever that becomes necessary). 
Luckily we’re through winter now, so the draft from the poorly enclosed back verandah isn’t biting at my slightly swollen pregnant ankles, and I would consider leaving fixing them until next winter, but our landlord is a family friend and prone to unannounced visits and since he spent over a year looking for the correct type of wallpaper, I don’t think he’d consider the Picasso style holes in his windows a compliment to his decor. 
So when the peanut is ten and asks why it spent its first few months sleeping in a wine box (Gregory gets them free from work) and wearing an old t-shirt of mine that I cut and stitched with all the skill of a dexterously challenged left-hander, I’ll just smile and say; ‘priorities darling.’ And so the lessons begin.

Sunday, September 5, 2010


“Are you going to do the paranormal massage?” Gregory asks me today.
“The what?”
“The paranormal massage. You know that thing the midwife was talking about.”
“She mentioned a paranormal massage?”
There is a distinct advantage to having your birth partner (I’m still not comfortable with that title, it sounds like something from a western movie mixed with labour which is just a weird combination) in the birth classes. A lot of information is handed over - most of it overwhelming – so while I’m stressing out about how much Omega 3 is in my diet, Gregory is obsessing over the paranormal massage. This way we manage to worry about everything that’s said in the two hours, not just the 50% each one of us would likely retain if we were there alone.
We’ve seen the ‘birthing chair’, which looks like a large children’s potty. It’s purple and has little metal handles on the side that you can grip tightly while in the throes of a contraction. “Upright and forward ladies, that’s how we like you to deliver these days. No more castor oil, lemon and an enema for you.”
That’s what they used to do in England apparently, where the midwife did her training, and I was immediately thankful my ancestors had stolen bread and gotten a free ride to Australia.   
Haemmoroids have been touched on so to speak, breathing (between birth classes and yoga I’m going to end up a real pro at this inhalation gig) is mentioned as our biggest asset - oddly enough not that reassuring when you consider it’s something you do when you’re watching tv, and a graphic explanation of what it means to push after one mum-to-be asked for clarification. “I don’t really understand what you mean when you say push,” she said and I wondered if she knows how she got into this predicament in the first place.
What do you mean by the paranormal massage? I ask again, truly confused by what Gregory means.
“You know how she told us to get down there and stretch out your vagina to help with the labour,” he says, looking faintly uncomfortable as he suddenly realises he’s speaking quite loudly in the middle of a busy city book store.
After I finally stop laughing I struggle to come up with the correct word for that particular part of the anatomy. “My brother calls that area the notcha,” I tell Gregory, “it’s not your balls and not your bum, it’s your notcha…can’t remember what’s it’s actually called though,” I say, and I turn to my trusty friend, the internet.
The perineum. The area is called the perineum and the massage is called the perennial massage, and according to information on, for every thirteen first time mothers who tear, in spite of doing the stretching, only one manages to avoid stitches anyway. Doesn’t seem like very good odds to me.
Notcha massage, Paranormal massage, Perenial massage. Whatever you call it, it still requires me (or preferably my birth partner according to the midwife) to get down there, and slowly stretch my nether regions towards my other nether region until ‘a burning sensation is realised.’
The average labour of a first time mother is twelve hours, which seems long enough to me without starting the pain eleven weeks out from my due date.
I'm going to use some of my baby yoga techniques and imagine my notcha stretching instead. I reckon the odds are just as good.
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...