Tuesday, January 31, 2012

DON'T SPIT ON THE WALLS.



This is the sign we were confronted with on a recent walk around the river in Melbourne.
No shit Sherlock. Thanks for the tip.
But it got me thinking. Sometimes life really is as straightforward as that, and if only we paid more attention to these little signs maybe life would be just that little bit easier.
Things like:
NO PARKING and TOWAWAY signs. Parking attendants don’t have senses of humour people. And this is true anywhere in the world. Trust me, I’ve done the research.
DON’T SPIT ON THE WALLS. This is the sign that was hanging in the social security office in NYC which I stared at for 3 hours while I waited to be served. Sound advice don’t you think?
PLEASE BE RESPECTFUL OF OTHER PEOPLE’S CEREMONIES
This was posted in City Hall where Gregory and I went to get our marriage licence in NYC. We did consider getting hitched in their chapel, complete with salmon coloured walls and fake flowers adorning a plastic archway, but we decided the forty people who’d travelled from Australia might not appreciate that.
Again though, it’s handy information. And could be just as valuable in an edited version:
PLEASE BE RESPECTFUL OF OTHER PEOPLE.
My favourite though was this one, which I passed while out running in the Golden Gate park in San Francisco.

Unfortunately for the Japanese a few years ago, it was actually something they could have done with, and I certainly don't mean to make light of their terrible circumstance, but when I came across this sign, that disastrous event hadn’t occurred yet.
I saw it at a stage when Gregory and I were about to move back to Australia, a country I hadn’t lived in for 8 years, a country he had never lived in, a country I had no professional performing career in, a country he had no career in whatsoever. Hoping to both get jobs in our chosen fields, to make a baby (never having tried to make a baby before), to grow a healthy one, once we conceived it, to be able to afford rent in Sydney, to make new friends and reconnect with old.
Suddenly I realised mini Tsunamis hit your whole life long.
Sometimes yes, you’ll need an evacuation route, other times you just need an excellent survival plan.
The true test is knowing when to run, when to hide and when to stay the course.
It seems that opening a restaurant is indeed like facing a mini-Tsunami. But with proper planning and preparation and a big set of balls, I reckon we’ll be able to stay the course.
Happy Wednesday people, nice day for ducks huh? 

Monday, January 30, 2012

RANTY PANTS OR NO PANTS. TAKE YOUR PICK.


It is 9am and I am already back from the playground because a 1 bedroom apartment gets boring for a 14 month old after an hour or so, so diversionary tactics must be implemented.
So, off we went to the park, Dad and mum with homemade coffees in hand (saving ourselves $7 a day people) and unsurprisingly we were the only people there.
Or were we?
Q headed straight for something far above her skill level and as I followed her to avoid a trip to the hospital I noticed a little girl a couple of years older than Q sitting quietly on the park bench while her mother sat next to her.
With her headphones in.
Talking on the phone.
And texting.
While her daughter sat still and silent beside her.
(I am reasonably assured it was her mother and not her nanny by their interaction and the big arse diamond ring I could see glinting in the early sunlight).
So, seeing us, this little girl hopped off the bench and wandered over to Q and I because - I suspect - she was bored.
This forced the mother off the bench to retrieve said daughter, take her promptly to the swings, strap her in and proceed to push her with one hand while continuing to text and talk with the other.
Now, dear reader, you may argue that clearly it was I not paying attention to my daughter because I was so consumed by somebody else’s, and you’d be right, so I left my daughter with her father and came home, full of righteous indignation, itching to write this blog.
I had planned to write about something else entirely.
I had planned to tell you the story of a dear friend of mine, who was explaining the finer points of the tale The Emperor’s Pyjamas.
Remember the one? He gets tricked into thinking he’s wearing clothes but is actually walking around naked instead.
‘It would be like if I walked down the street in my underpants,’ says my friend to her young daughter. ‘What do you think people would do if they saw that?’
‘They would cry,’ her daughter replies earnestly, and all I can think is, that other little girl’s mother would never hear such a witty response because she’d be on the phone.
Hear endeth the rant.

Monday, January 23, 2012

HOW HUMBLE IS YOUR PIE?


 When people discover you’re planning to open a restaurant, most of them aren’t quick enough to hide the look that says they think you bought a first class ticket on the crazy train.
Then, when they discover that you’re not funding the project entirely yourselves, they realise you can’t afford a ticket on the crazy train, and that look turns to sympathy at best, thinly veiled pity at worst.
But then there are the believers.
And of them, we are fortunate to have many.
Which is fortunate, because those looks of pity are killers. I think there is a proverb about pity. It goes something like this:
Looks of pity poke holes in a person’s dream, so think twice before their dream gets poked away.
But there’s also probably another proverb about believers.
Believers are the sticky tape to non-believer’s hole poking.
The believers are all sorts of people. They're people who’ve offered their support through interest, just by listening to your plans. Others their advice, a good book to read, a website to search. Others still, their skilled labour for a fraction or none of the price their worth.
All of them believing and showing that belief however it is they can.
And some of them are showing that belief by funding this little dream of ours.
‘We think you’re so brave Naomi, we’d love to help make it happen.’
(This coming from a friend who’s in the Army).
Brave?
Compared to what?
I’m not going to face a bullet every time I turn up to work.
It’s humbling, quite honestly, to have people believe in you enough to loan you their hard earned dollars. 
Humbling now, but the pride will come later when we pay them back with the full return promised.
Today a bird pooed on my head, which I know is supposed to be good luck.
But we don’t need good luck, we’ve got believers.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

ANXIETY, PIRATES & FORTUNE COOKIES


Yesterday we went to a four year-old’s pirate birthday party.
It was a bit hectic getting there, what with the bridge being closed, me getting muddled on directions, and G urging me to go to the gym for 20 minutes before we should have left in order to get there on time, because I was rather anxious about this restaurant we’re planning to open…without having all the money we need yet to open it.
Details.
Who needs them?
So, after I’d thrown a few weights about the gym, done a couple of squats and managed to suppress my anxiety to a socially acceptable level at least, we were on our way, Q dressed in her party best. (A very groovy second-hand dress given to us by the owners of said 4 year-old).
My friend opened the door and when she did I wondered why she was wearing a gypsy skirt and a bandana, and then it occurred to me that she was a pirate of sorts and I felt bad because I hadn’t interpreted the invite as a dress-up too.
Lame.
So, in we went, late and un-costumed. The losers on the invite list.
I find kid’s parties exhausting.
Come on, admit it, don’t you?
Typically you haven’t had an adequate enough breakfast to see you through the experience, and unless you’re willing to overdose on fairy bread and cupcakes, (thereby giving yourself a massive sugar high and equally massive headache) that is unlikely to change.
And so you spend the hours having fractured conversations with the adults while you run after your small human as they head straight for the edge of the deck, the climbing frame or the fairy bread.
If there’s one thing Q doesn’t need, it’s more energy.
No sugar for her.
Two hours later, after you've refereed countless fights between two 14 month olds who don’t understand or care for the word ‘share’, you’re on your way, stuffing the banana in your mouth that you stole from the hosts’ fruit bowl, telling them it was for Q.
1 year-old birthday parties typically don’t include a lolly bag, because their most favoured treat is their mother’s milk and that would just be weird, but 4 year-old parties do.
By then our hunger was starting to win out, so before we were even out of the drive, G and I were at our pirate best, greedily devouring Q’s collection of freckles, milk bottles and fortune cookies.
Every pirate party has fortune cookies.
Everyone knows that.
What’s funny is that mine said ‘resist the urge to change your plans.’
Sometimes you find providence in the oddest of places.
 Happy Monday everyone, have a fabulous week.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

PUTTING YOUR C*#K ON THE BLOCK. METAPHORICALLY SPEAKING OF COURSE.


My ghetto bandage, because at $140,
he didn't even offer me a bandaid.

I am typing with a slightly gammy thumb, because I just had an injection in it because I have trigger thumb.
From all the pistols I shoot.
That is honestly what the doctor called it.
Apparently a lot of new mums get it from picking up their children 9000 times a day.
Why wouldn’t you call it new-mum thumb then?
In unrelated news, it’s a day of angsty nerves, worrying and decision tossing here at team Llewellyn/Hart.
We walk through the restaurant space again today with the builder and planning consultant, which is exciting and making it seem real, but we’re also continually trying to shave costs from our friendly little opening budget and that is not exciting but still making it seem real.
Let’s face it.
Starting a small business is always going to be a risk.
At some point the trigger thumb doctor opened his own practice. (Still, at $140 every 15 minutes I’d say he’s doing ok).
The architect we’re planning to use, she’s in small business too.
So is the wine dude, the builder, the coffee supplier, the plumber, the butcher, the baker and the candlestick maker.
They all made the decision to go out on their own.
And thus far, they’ve all survived to tell the tale.
So what’s got us all nervy?
All this talk of a second GFC that’s what.
Will it hit?
Will it miss?
Will Australia cruise through like last time or will people stop their discretionary spending and eat bread and dripping instead?
I dunno, but at some point, as one brother says, you’ve just got to put your cock on the block.
(He’s known around town for his rhetoric and grandiloquence).
So, metaphorically speaking, am I ready for possible castration?
Or will the public embrace my metaphoric manhood with joy, fervour and an extra round of after dinner drinks?
Only time - and a few other key factors - will tell.
Happy Friday folks, have a fabulous weekend.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

RED BACK SPIDERS CAN KILL YOU, YOU KNOW.


Last week my friend got bitten by a red-back spider.
Yeah you know the one, the one that can kill you.
When I asked her why she hadn’t mentioned her near death experience, she reminded me that it wasn’t about us anymore, it was about the humans we had made, and that while a near death experience would ordinarily have been considered a newsworthy topic, it now faded into insignificance when compared with more weighty issues such as teething, nap boycotts and vegetable refusals.
My friend could have died of her spider bite and I would never have known because I was too busy making stuffed cannelloni, reading the same book for the ninety-six thousandth time and working my biceps at the slippery dip in the park.
Such is the life I lead.
Other newsworthy items that have gone un-newsed are as follows;
·               We have made an offer on a restaurant and it has been accepted.
Is there really any need for me to write anything else?
Oh sorry, gotta go. Q needs her nappy changed.
Kids. 
They have the darndest way of putting things in perspective.

Monday, January 16, 2012

WHEN THE GOING GETS TOUGH, THE TOUGH GET A MASSAGE


Do you ever put things off, things that by doing them you know would make life easier, but you can’t be bothered to exert the energy required, and so instead, you expend unnecessary energy each time you perform the task/use the object that is not functioning correctly, the sum total of wasted energy far exceeding the energy it would take to rectify the problem in the first place, and yet still you can’t be arsed?
I do.
Things like not mounting the dryer to the wall, and so having it sit on the bathroom floor, taking up valuable floor space, making it impossible to clean and even more impossible to use because the vibrating on the tiled floor causes the person living below to start to hate you. (Not that I use the dryer because I am a tree-hugging energy saver and the dryer is for that criminal Martha Stewart decoration purposes only).
Or mending the hems on four pairs of pants and so you just don’t wear them, which means you have to wash continually because your child destroys at least 2 of your outfits a day and you just don’t own that many pairs of comfy jeans.
Or staring at the running pram you were given that is securely locked to the front pillar, unable to be stolen and unable to be used at all because your husband lost the only key to the padlock and is refusing to buy a set of bolt cutters. Which means I use the other buggy, which doesn’t handle as well and costs me 35 bucks each time I blow a tire.
I could go on…
Dentist appointments
Wedding book
The tear in the leather couch we were given
The Tupperware drawer
Cleaning the oven
My hair..
As my husband always tells me ‘when the pain gets great enough you’ll do something about it.’
And the pain is great people, the pain is very great.
So this morning I booked in for a spa treatment with a voucher I won in my gym’s Christmas hamper. (I suspect it was rigged, as our family has given them a dozen members, but I don’t care. That voucher is mine, damn it, all mine).
The burning of the proverbial candle has only just begun, of that I am well aware, but if I can soothe my singed soul every now and again with a bit of sheer decadence I reckon I just might make it through.
Happy Tuesday people, may it be full of unexpected indulgence. 

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

$9 A PHOTOCOPY. HIGHWAY ROBBERY ME THINKS.


Yesterday I had to pay a $42 administration fee to the council for them to open a drawer and pull out a plan.
Then they charged me $9 to photocopy it.
This is not me. I wish.
When we left, (quickly, lest they charge us a wear and tear fee for standing in the queue) we took Q to a free council provided water park, which entertained her for quite some time. Perhaps our $42 administration fee helped pay for one of the sprinklers.
The biggest thing I am discovering about opening a small business is that there are fees and costs, lodging payments and bureaucratic charges wherever you turn.
If it weren’t for a very dear friend of mine being one, I’d be developing a fairly extreme aversion to Town Planners.
But I’ve reframed my thought processes. Actually I should kiss their feet, because it’s not a job I could do.
I start to read the forms and immediately my eyes glaze, my mind softens and before I know it, I’m making a cup of decaf tea and looking up the page entitled ‘fines for not filing correct documentation.’
Or writing a blog…
Better get back to it.
xx

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

LEARNING FROM A BABY - IF THEY CAN DO IT, WHY CAN'T I?


There are lots of things Q can do that I can’t.
·               Go from a sitting position, to an open-hipped squat, to standing, in one fluid motion without grunting, dislocating her hips or having to rock back and forth to get enough momentum to execute the move in the first place.
·               Cover herself in plum so that she looks like she’s been punched in the face and carry on as if nothing is awry.
·               Whinge incessantly if things aren’t going her way. G may argue that she inherited this trait from her mother, but I don't think so. I prefer to yell.
·               Find my nipples in a nuclear blackout. This trait she most definitely inherited from her father.
·               Freakishly manage to double the mass of food she inhaled by the time it comes out the other end. Particularly corn.
·               Say countless words including bath, baby, bye-bye, apple, banana, several animal noises and Dada, but still not Mamma to any degree of understanding.
·               Limitless determination to try, try and try again until she can do it.
 It is this surety of her own invincibility that I am trying to emulate as we go forward with this opening your own restaurant gig.
When do humans learn – or concede - that they might not be able to do everything?
When do we stop trying new things?
What makes us doubt our own abilities?
Q doesn’t. If there’s something she wants, someone she needs, she works, works, works until that thing or person is hers.
To be fair, some of her success is due to the capitulation of her parents, but for the most part she works towards her goal until she’s got it in her firm baby grasp.
It’s admirable.
And daunting.
And time for her mother to stop pussyfooting around and set her a good example.
Excuse me please, I have a business to run.

Monday, January 9, 2012

SMALL BUSINESS OWNERS HAVE BIG BALLS


Small business owners have big balls.
Metaphorically speaking.
Anatomically speaking too I suppose, but that’s not a research project I’m interested in pursuing at the moment.
This startling revelation is one of many I’ve made this year, and it’s only January 10th.
I don’t know what animal it is in Chinese tradition, but for me it is year of the owl. By year’s end I shall be wise beyond my quickly advancing years.
Small business owners have big balls metaphorically speaking because…well, because, quite frankly, they have a lot of shit to do.
G and I are eyeball deep in opening budgets and 12 month projection plans and all I keep wanting to project is a long holiday on the beach.
And we haven’t even opened yet.
There is a lot to consider.
And a lot you don’t want to consider but you have to because it’s the law.
And still more that you do want to consider but you can’t because your budget has been eaten up considering things because they are the law.
It is a very tricky business this small business gig.
And people thought being a performer was hard.
Let's be honest, I got paid to pretend to be someone else. I wandered about a stage, every now and then I sang a song about my imaginary circumstances and just to round the whole thing off, I might have done a bit of a tap dance usually dressed in sequins and somebody else’s hair.
Comparatively speaking, that was as easy as a kick-ball-change.
Further revelations as they have come to me this year include but are not limited to:
·               People in business dealings pretend to be nice but really they just want what they want and bugger the rest of you.
·               It is very obvious to these people that I am na├»ve and destructively honest.
·               Restaurants are very expensive things to set up.
·               It is much easier to spend money than it is to make it.
·               Outsource what you don’t know and pay the professionals to deal with it. This is particularly valuable regarding legal matters where you did a dud photocopy and are missing key pages.
·               Chefs are creators. Living with one is like living with Picasso, but hopefully you’re his only wife.
·               Butcher’s paper and to-do lists will save you. They will always save you.
·               Ask your friends if they know people in the fields you need. You’d be surprised how many Kevin Bacons you actually know.
For these tips on small business and many more, stay tuned.
I may not have one yet, but that is a mere technicality.
As Jonathon Swift said, ‘vision is the art of seeing what is invisible to others’.
Welcome to 2012 people. As Sydney City Council told us on New Year's Eve, 
DARE TO DREAM!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
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