Does that make me crazy? Possibly.

 

Crazy eyes?
Crazy eyes?

Today I was perusing the gum aisle, looking for the cheapest per unit gum like the eternal tightass that I am, and my search lead me to PK. At first I was like, “Ew,” because in my head I am a Millennial. But then I was all, “Hang on, this is MY GUM,” much in the same way a drunk girl might exclaim, “It’s MA SONG!” when a Justin Timberlake hit plays in da’ club.

I suddenly remembered how I used to chew PK gum on the daily for a good few years in highschool. I also remembered how I kept all the packaging and stored them in my wallet. I must have stuffed 50 in there at a time until I could no longer close it and then I would just throw them out and start again.  My wallet wasn’t fat from all those bookstore dollars I was earning, it was fat with gum wrappers. For why? I don’t know.

It wasn’t a cool art project or a statement about consumerism. And it wasn’t a fad or craze that was sweeping the school, like making bracelets out of the blue plastic inside of a bottle cap. I had always sucked at fads anyway. When I tried to get layers in my hair I ended up with a Keith Urban-Carol Brady hybrid nightmare style. And when I tried to wear surf brand clothes I ended up in Piping Hot t-shirts from Kmart meant for boys.

No – this was scheme of my own design, an idiot craze for one.  And you know what? I don’t get it. It was also the kind of thing where if someone had got a hold of my wallet and said, “What’s all this junk? Why do you keep rubbish? Oh my god, HOW MUCH GUM DO YOU EAT?” I probably would have been quite upset. ‎And I really don’t know why.

If I look back, it’s not my only example of oddly compulsive behaviour that I have engaged in. I spent a lot of time in primary school with an apple sticker stuck on my forehead like a bindi FOR NO REASON. I thought it was cool… I think. I can’t really remember. I just kept doing it. If I didn’t have an apple for lunch, I would seek out someone else who had a sticker to spare. And no one ever said, “Sorry Bron, I’m going to wear my apple sticker on my face like a twat.”

The best example, though, is my stocking habit. When I was super small, maybe 4 or 5 years old, I wore stockings on my head like an off-duty armed robber in an attempt to simulate long hair. My nanna got me all different colours, my cousin made some into plaits and attached them to a jaunty beret, my mum politely ignored people telling her she had a weird kid – they were all enablers. I tied the legs to look like a ponytail and I swished it around like I was in a shampoo commercial. What a creep.

When I group it all together like this it sounds like the profile of the defendant in a stalking case, but I think I have outgrown my “quirks”. PK gum flashbacks have allowed me to realise that I am normal now. Like, super normal. My hair is rill, I put my apple stickers and gum wrappers in the trash. Promise.

The lives of others: Nutbags of the past.

I'm not ashamed.

I’m not ashamed.

So I moved back to Sydney recently and got to do that fun thing where I went through all the junk I kept in storage while I was in Canada. You can bet I had held onto some useful stuff, like that swimsuit I cant fit into anymore and a jacket missing all but one button. And CDs! Because who knows what life will throw at you!

I did find something kind of great, though. It was a short account of the things we heard from the lady who used to live in the apartment above Tegan and I in North Sydney. Just a little snippet I had scrawled after we had run out into the stairwell to get front row seats to the nutbaggery so I would NEVER FORGET how bananas she was. Some might argue that Tegan and I were the crazy ones for eavesdropping so heartily on someone else’s life, but it’s called anthropology, duh!

It wasn’t all creepy stairwell stalking, thanks to some quirky acoustics we could hear most of their intimate exchanges from the comfort of our home – their fights and their sex. And to be fair, we could only really hear her so she may have just been a very convincing schizophrenic. Sometimes I would hear her weeping dramatically, followed by a two minute delay, then followed by her loud sex noises. True love!

One valentines day, Ryan and I listened as she phoned her fiance in hysterics because he wasn’t home from work and she wanted ROMANCE. In the midst of her “My Super Sweet 16 girl doesn’t get a convertible BMW”  meltdown she declared, “THIS IS THE WORST VALENTINES DAY EVER.” (Sidenote – I like to re-enact this exchange for Ryan sometimes as a warning.)

On that day in the stairwell we listened while she sobbed to the fiance about an email he had written to his sister, an email she had uncovered through careful covert monitoring of his private correspondences. How could he write to his sister, she demanded, without mentioning even once the beautiful weekend they has just shared? Why wouldn’t the sister want to hear all about the sexy weekend had by her brother and his fiance? YOU TELL ME!?

Once she had finished berating him with the fiery irrationality of a thousand Fox News presenters, his only response was, “I’ve told you a million times: I’ll marry you, babe.”

So, naturally my heart longs to know if these two crazy kids made it. Where are they now? In prison? Dead after a Romeo-and-Juliet-style true-lovers suicide pact? Contestants on a reality TV show? Probably that last one. But in any case, thanks Hoarding for bringing beautiful memories like this one back into my life.

 

Grumpy, but not narrow.

Sometimes when I am watching or reading something about olden times, I get to thinking about what I would be like if I were born 150 years ago. I would be really old by now, sure. But what worries me is that I would probably have been racist, sexist and most definitely homophobic.

I like to think of myself as a pretty reasonable and rational person and currently I wouldn’t consider myself any of those things I mentioned. But 150 years ago, what were the chances of me even knowing someone who was gay or not white and making up my own mind about them? Most likely everyone around me would have been intolerant and bigoted, and even SCIENCE would have been telling me that women and gays and other races were inferior. Actual medical science. Sure, there have always been activists, but would I have heard their arguements and would I have believed them? It makes me nervous to think about.

Flash forward 150 years and I am not a bigot, a jerk – yes, but not a bigot. I don’t really see it as an achievement, there is nothing heroic about believing in equality. I feel like it is the natural result of being a reasonable person alive today, with the knowledge and experience available to most people.

And yet. And yet. I sometimes wonder why gay marriage is even a thing. I feel it should be like when everybody realises there is still a law that that prohibits a man from having a moustache on Sundays or something, where we all just laugh about how old and weird it is and then remove the law and move on with our lives. But for some reason some people are all, “NO, moustaches on Sundays are WRONG,” even though heaps of dudes (and some ladies) have them and have walked around with them every day for ages. And for these people it’s hard enough trying to upkeep and cultivate nice looking facial hair without also having people legislate against it just because it is not their personal preference. Ok, enough with that analogy.

Why am I being so long-winded about this? It’s on my mind, there is alot of traction lately in the movement to legalise gay marriage. People are posting equal signs and ‘straight but not narrow’ and I honestly think it’s gonna happen soon.

I guess what I’m saying is, I am this:

You said it, Grumpy Cat

 

Is anyone seriously claiming that they oppose gay marriage because it conflicts with secular cultural norms and values? It’s just about religion, right? I am sad and embarrassed that the influential religious right means I have to be this.

Even though I don’t believe in god, I don’t think that believing in god ever made anyone a bad person. It’s when they start trying to impress god with their interpretation of what hateful crusade he might approve of that things turn awful. “Not only am I not gay, but I am doing everything in my power to make people who are gay unhappy! LOVE ME!”

150 years ago I might have been all up in that crazy train of thought, but I really can’t see any excuse for it now. Fuck that, it makes me mad.

Food memories are the best kind of memories.

Choko. WTF?

Today I had a hankering for crackers with cottage cheese and gherkin, a snack my Ma used to make for my sister and I when we lived in Brisbane. After eating it I realised that she must have been on some kind of diet at the time because it’s not exactly decadent. But I’m a sucker for nostalgia and most of my memories are stuck in the gravitational pull of the food I was eating at the time, meaning I recall some pretty ordinary and sometimes questionable foods very fondly.

Cottage cheese and gherkin makes me think of dusty, prickly Brisbane summer, cicada casings, and swinging on the Hills Hoist when Ma either wasn’t looking or was tethered to the phone (we didn’t have a cordless phone then). In much the same way that Bubble-o-Bill ice creams and greasy fish and chips makes me think of my poor, tortured Dad who always wanted to take us to the beach but usually caved in and took us to the noisy, bleached-out public pool instead. Potato scallops always remind me of the time when we were supposed to be exercising during Friday sports at Queenscliff, instead Anna and I were eating a fried treat so greasy that when I bit one side, a squirt of oil and fat was expelled out the the other. And yet, I still love potato scallops.

When I was very young, before we moved to Sydney when I was 8, I used to spend a lot of time at my grandparents place. I stayed there when I didn’t have daycare, and when I started school I would go there in the afternoons. It was a pretty magical place; they had a backyard like an oasis with weed-free grass and delightfully climbable frangipani tree, but also a foreboding rain forest walk at the side of the house that an over-active imagination prevented me from ever exploring further than where the sun reached. Under the house was Pop’s workshop, the door was a big sliding metal gate, which was an excellent prop when someone had to go to prison during a game, and the roof beams were swaddled in foam to prevent Pop’s towering head from bruising. It smelt like hops and had a fridge dedicated to drinks that rattled with soda cans and home brew bottles. Behind the workshop was an Aladdin’s cave crawl space filled with chicken wire and junk from the sixties.

Inside in the living room and the dining room there was a polyester pelt of beige and white shag carpet on the floor. This was excellent for pretending your toys were hanging out in grass and great for rolling around on in front of the TV (except those couple of days when I had chicken pox, then it was more like torture). In the dining room was an imposing, full-size billiard table with big, rotund legs, it’s solidity I can attest to after having concussed myself several times when trying to scramble out from underneath. There was an organ to play that would kindly hide your mistakes under a synthesized polka beat, a grandfather clock to marvel at and reassure you of it’s existence every hour, beds to nap in, a wealth of books to read and some creepy toys that my Ma played with when she was a wee sprout.

That house was a wonderland. It is also where I have some of my favourite food memories (I hope you had faith I would get there eventually).

  • Morning tea – people just don’t do this anymore, it’s a shame. Tea and biscuits are a divine match. We had it every morning out on their sheltered back porch which was dressed in vines and shade-cloth, and accessorised with orchids and bonsai. To be honest, it was usually my breakfast time, but they never judged me.
  • Baked potatoes – how did she do it? They were so perfect. If I was asked what I wanted for dinner I would usually just request baked potatoes.
  • Chokos – a weird, green, wrinkly vegetable (fruit?) that my Pop used to grow in the backyard. We used to eat it steamed so it was kind of slimy and opaque. I can’t say that I really loved it, but I’ve yet to have anything else like it.
  • Apples – my Nan would always cut up some apples for her and I to eat while we watched Days of Our Lives and The Young and the Restless. She had a way of slicing them where she balanced the knife and the apple in one hand and sort of squeezed them together. Don’t try it at home. I still don’t really enjoy eating apples unless they have been cut up for me. I also have a thing for men named Victor with mustaches and dudes with eye-patches. Go figure.
  •  Tupperware – well spotted, you’re absolutely right. It’s not a food. But it is relevant because Nan and Pop kept just about everything in some form of tupperware. They even had special jugs for their milk, Nan’s had “Faye Clarence” magic-markered on the side and Pop’s read “Lionel Cliffton”. Incidentally, this is also how I found out my Pop was living a double life and that his first name was NOT Cliff like he told everyone it was. Innocence lost.
  • Pastry – Nan made apple pies and jam tarts that will live in my heart (and arteries) as the best ever. She made the pastry but never seemed to be able to roll a sheet big enough to encase the whole pie. They always ended up as a patchwork of pieces stuck together in no particular design. And damn did they taste good.
  • Butter and cheese –  Pop had his own special cheese that nobody else liked. It was that kind called “strong and bitey”, I tried it once and it burned my esophagus. He also liked to use ‘real’ butter, so while Nan and I were icing our bread with a soft margarine frosting, he was scouring divots into his and filling them with knobs of real, hard butter.
  • Candy cupboard – oooooooooooooooooh yeah. A pokey little cupboard in the laundry which had no better use than as a lollie stash. Tupperware filled with powdery mints that dissolved in the center first, chewy Minties, jubes, caramel chocolate eclairs, boiled lollies. And if you weren’t satisfied with that haul, there were always mint slice biscuits in the fridge.

Associating memories with food makes sense, eating is a full sensory experience. But I’m not sure how far back it is plausible to go. While I was at uni, I once ate half a kilo of Chicos in two days. I blamed it on the fact that my mum said she ate them when she was pregnant with me. Is that fair? Can I be held responsible for something that was inflicted upon me when I was just a fetus?

Probably.

 

 

 

 

(TL;DR) I have an unusual preoccupation with food. Also, my grandparents are better than yours.

A pilfered manifesto, in which Lloyd Dobler summarises my feelings about career choices.

My assault on the world begins now.

So, as I am staring down the barrel of another soul-destroying job in sales, this quote keeps playing in my head. If only I were good at kick-boxing…