Thursday, May 23, 2013

(Remember the Days of the) Old Schoolyard

One of my closest friends as an adult is a girl who used to bully me at school. Badly.

A lot has happened in the years since we were at the same school. I did my last four years at another place, but because our mothers have known each other since they were at school and are sort of friends, we kept seeing each other around, not least because she lived close by. Our first year of uni she started dating a man who became one of my closest friends, and she took classes with my ex, but we still had this awkward, difficult thing going on. They eventually broke up, and I figured that was it. Surely we wouldn’t have contact any more, our lives were too different.

Then, almost six years ago, her older brother killed himself, in one of the worst ways possible.

My mother called me at work to tell me. There was a message waiting on my voicemail that I found at the end of my waitressing shift that night, and I knew something was wrong because my mother never calls me. This left L. as the oldest child of the remaining six children, four of whom were still in school, at the most Catholic of Catholic schools that exist in this country.

In the haze of months that followed I tried to reach out to her; I made an effort to invite her to gatherings of my friends, if only so she could be with people who didn’t know the story. She never came, and as I was falling down the rabbit hole of mental illness in earnest myself there wasn’t much I could do. Again, I figured, we wouldn’t see each other anymore.

Not quite two years ago I had just started my final class of my B.A. and had one foot out the door, planning on a law degree in Canberra in 2012. It was my first morning tutorial with the mentor (little did I know what was coming) and I was yet to meet my closest girlfriend who was also in that class. I was at uni very early working, racing through the readings, when there was a tap on my shoulder. It was L., she was smiling, and suddenly – SNAP! – we were friends. After 23 years of knowing each other, and avoiding each other at parties and gatherings, the friendship was just there. Said friendship has been one of the greatest joys of the last few years of my life. We’re both on the academic track (she just finished her advanced Masters in a complementary discipline), we’re both living in the same area again, and the mental illness that has ravaged both our lives seems to have formed this bond between us that’s unshakeable. Plus, we’re both single. Hilariously we have the same psychiatrist, a discovery we made only a few months ago. It’s a bizarre experience to become friends with someone and be so close after almost a lifetime of enmity, as you have this history, but most of isn’t good. Yet it’s amazing how trauma can bring you together, hers and mine.* We have no curiosity about the dreadful things that have scarred each other, it’s just understood.

On Saturday night I dressed up a little and headed out to a bar, an unusual occurrence, for L.'s birthday drinks. I was nervous because I knew there was a good chance of other school people being there, as well as most of her siblings who I hadn’t seen in years. I’ve discovered if you’re trying to avoid people it’s best to go early to these things, as most people don’t turn up for drinks until two hours after the start time, and the trick worked well. I was coping with chatting with new people, and caught up with an old friend from last year’s Honours cohort who’s about to get married, I drank a few glasses of cheap yet good red wine and laughed at two guys wearing slankets. It was nice. Ultimately I only had to speak with one old classmate, and it was actually really great. It was friendly, and there was even a little acknowledgement that yeah, maybe we gave you a rough time way back when. To my great surprise, I had a good time (it helped I left before the scary people got there). It seemed to mean a lot to L. that I was there. I’m proud that we’ve done one better than our mothers, and actually managed to be friends for real.

As I got myself home, reeking of cigarette smoke from the bar, it occurred to me that when I host my 30th birthday party in a few months’ time, L. will be there. She will also be the only person attending who was at my rather pathetic 21st birthday lunch almost 9 years ago. She came late, and I only invited her because she was still with that guy who used to be one of my closest friends. I’m planning a very small dinner for September, with just the people who really matter to me. Putting her name on a very short list was a no brainer, I’m so lucky to have her. I also find it comforting that you can be wrong about people, and that sometimes even the most difficult of relationships can change on you. It’s one of the nicest surprises of growing up.

*I still think this space is better off without me being too explicit about my trauma (and I count myself lucky I didn't lose a sibling to suicide). I think most of you can put the pieces together anyway. 
Monday, May 13, 2013

Dressing Up

Last week Kirsty started a game that seems to have caught on, which isn't surprising given that I couldn't really stop thinking about it. If you can't be bothered clicking the link, she decided to imagine what her blog would look like as an outfit (and what she came up with is scarily accurate, you really should go and look), so I started looking around for my version. 

Turns out finding stuff which coordinates with every colour on my blog design is tricky, so I tried to get as close as I could. 

My blog outfit

H M fitness shirt
$23 -

Topshop winter white skirt
$50 -

Accessorize metallic ballet flat
$56 -

Nine West real leather handbag
$179 -

Blu Bijoux yellow gold jewelry
$28 -

Forever 21

Nars cosmetic
$33 -

Rimmel lipstick
$7.69 -

By terry
$47 -

Butter london
$18 -

Thanks Kirsty, this was an awesome procrastination tool! (In fact it was so good that I tried to make a completely different blog post with another outfit and paste the images into blogger, but Polyvore works much better.) Anyone else wanna play?

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Lisztomania (Take 3)

Most of you on the list have already received your Christmas mix CD (only several months late, but oh well....) and those of you who haven't (Nina, Rob and Ginger) should get it very soon. In the meantime I'm going to post the list of what went on last year's edition, because I'll probably forget if I wait any longer. 

For those of you new to this game, every year I put together a mix CD for close friends, both at home and abroad. The friends at home all (OK, almost all) received theirs before Christmas but I was pretty bad about getting the overseas ones out as international postage is a bit pricey.

There are a couple of rules: no using artists or bands I have used before, but side projects and solo efforts are OK. No covers. I like to include at least 5 songs from albums released in the year that's just passed, and I try and include several Australian acts. There's usually also a few classic tracks, mostly from the late 70s and early 80s because I just eat that stuff up. Live versions are always fun, but that's not a hard and fast rule. It usually works out at about 15 tracks each year, about an hour long in total, because I think that's kind of a perfect length for a CD. Maybe that's because my commute is about an hour long....

You can see the CDs I made in other years here. 

2012 - A World Elsewhere

Billy Idol - Dancing With Myself
Peaches - Showstopper
Can - Mother Sky
Morrissey - The Last of the Famous International Playboys
Bertie Blackman - Mercy Killer
Alabama Shakes - Be Mine
Ball Park Music - Coming Down
The Kills - Pull A U
Cat Power - Cherokee
Clubfeet (feat. Chela) - Heartbreak
Goldfrapp - Number 1
The Naked and Famous - No Way
Lisa Mitchell - Bless This Mess
Something for Kate - Eureka
Paul Kelly - Cradle of Love
Saturday, May 4, 2013

Hairdresser on Fire

About a month ago I called the salon which employs my hairdresser to book a haircut I badly needed. I find that the hair conversation I have with myself in the mornings leading up to my haircut being booked usually goes something like this:

Days after haircut, 96 - 'Hair looks OK.'
Days after haircut, 97 - 'Hair looks OK.'
Days after haircut, 98 - 'Hair looks OK.'
Days after haircut, 99 - 'Hair looks OK. Who says I should get it done every three months?'
Days after haircut, 100 - 'Hair looks OK. Might need a hairband - oh yeah, that's better.'
Days after haircut, 101 - 'OH GOD I NEEDED A HAIRCUT YESTERDAY!' 

You see, that's because I suddenly look like a cross between these two gentlemen:

Beethoven, trying to count


Einstein, as modelled in soft toy form.

And that's usually when I pick up the phone and call Adam. My hairdresser.

Adam started cutting my hair in about August 2010. It was the first time I was getting my hair done professionally in about 2 years, as I had a neurological condition that required several surgeries in early 2009 and I had been loathed to go to a hairdresser and explain the scars. So I cut my own hair for a while, sometimes after taking sleeping tablets. This was not quite as disastrous as it sounds (I have very thick, curly hair and the texture covered a multitude of sins), but maybe that's because I'm comparing it to the time in Year 7 when I decided my eyebrows were completely ridiculous and so partly shaved them off with a razor. Of course, this wasn't good enough, so I took some of the rest of them off with a stanley knife. Yes, you read that right, and no, I didn't cut myself. I did, however, have a public speaking competition the next night, and my mother drew some in with an eyebrow pencil, which essentially converted me to the wonders of makeup.         

But I'm talking about haircuts here.

Adam is from London, with a wonderful bedside manner and a deliciously curly mop of hair and snazzy shoes. He's straight, and for some reason a straight male hairdresser is alluring. He also has excellent taste in music and is roughly the same age as me, so the call to the salon to book my haircut always wakened the slightly delicious anticipation of having someone make you feel nice for a little while. I was excited to ring the salon and book an appointment with Adam. We had lots to talk about, and I was looking forward to seeing him. He got married the same week I was in Melbourne, you see. Then the girl on the desk that day broke my heart a little.

'Oh, I'm sorry to have to say this, but Adam doesn't work here anymore.'

'Is he all right?,' I asked, slightly crushed. 'What's he up to?' (Could I have sounded anymore like a fan-girl?)

'Yeah, he's great, he's working in IT now.'

'Oh, OK,' I said brightly, as I was thrust into the hell we all dread when this happens to us. 'So....I need someone to cut my hair.'

Now I get my hair done at Toni & Guy, and one of the good things about it (apart from the cuts being decent value) is that the training program they run world wide means you're pretty sure of getting a good haircut with anyone who works there. The problem instead, as with so many other instances in life, is that I have no idea how to ask for what I want. Lyn's typically hilarious (but somewhat unhelpful) suggestion was to '[make] high-pitched, wordless noises while gesturing wildly in the direction of [my] head', so I count it as a win that I managed not to do a Beaker impression in front of my new hairdresser. Instead I mumbled something about not wanting to look like a dead, deaf composer anymore. 

The woman who eventually chopped my locks off also happens to be from the UK and is good friends with Adam, my now former hair paramour. She's quite mannered in that very British sort of way, and had fun telling me how much she likes the lifestyle here (the UK and Australia seem to have this citizen swap going on where we lose people to the other, indefinitely), but it was all slightly awkward and I left not really feeling like my best self. I was mostly just uncomfortable from all the hair that was everywhere on my body covered by skin. You know, everywhere.

I like my short cut, and think it's a vast improvement, but it does occur to me in the mirror most mornings that I now look something like this: 

Oh yeah, sexy face like that Dylan Moran. 

Then again, at the end of the day, I also look a little like the other Dylan: 

you know, from the cover of Blonde on Blonde.

'But Moz,' I hear you say, 'they're all guys. With facial hair!'

I don't want to talk about it.

I am happy with the cut, I am. Except then I realised the person I really look like now is my mother. And that's a hundred times worse.

I'm off to deal with my facial hair. With a stanley knife, I'm kind of broke.