Embarrassment 101: Why you should engage your brain before your mouth

A bald head bobbing in the waves: the man I love, in the sea.

A bald head bobbing in the waves: the man I love, in the sea.

Allow me to set the scene.

It’s 2001: a beautiful, typical, Sydney summer’s day. The sun is blazing, the sky is endlessly blue, the smell of sunscreen is in the air, wafting along on the most gentle balmy breeze that gently caresses your shoulders and butterfly-kisses your face. An ice-cream, having toppled off the cone of some bereft child, melts on the pavement; a casualty of over-enthusiastic licking.

There I am, getting ready for a day at the beach with the man that I’ve been seeing for two months, who I’m madly (secretly) in love with, having already (secretly) marked him as my husband-to-be. Of course I haven’t told him I love him – it has only been two months after all – but I can confess to silently mouthing “I love you” at the back of his perfectly smooth head, willing my words to telepathically enter his brain so he will understand – finally – and say it first.

Anyway. We’re at the beach. The waves are crashing. The sand is glinting. The seagulls are squawking. We have a day of utter smoochy romance, lying on our towels and swimming in the sea. We’re curled into each other, attached like two limpets on a rock,  and all the while I continue with my telepathic onslaught. “I love you,” I say silently. “I love you so much.”

We towel dry and brush off the sand as best we can. Throw on our clothes and head to the Newport Arms for fish and chips. We stand by the fish and chip counter, in an embrace, staring into each other’s very souls.

“Shall we order fish and chips?” I ask.

And this is the moment – the moment at which I could swear he looked into my eyes and said:

“I love you.”

But did he really? Had my ears deceived me? And then the silent, torturous, mental freak out: OH MY GOD! DID THE MAN I LOVE JUST TELL ME HE LOVED ME? I’M NOT SURE IF I HEARD HIM CORRECTLY. WHAT SHOULD I DO? WHAT SHOULD I SAY?

We ordered fish and chips. We carried it down the stairs. I hadn’t responded yet. I couldn’t bear it. And before I had a chance to engage my brain, I asked this question. Blurted is more appropriate. Seven words that rolled off my tongue and fell out of my mouth, before I could stop them.

“Did you just say ‘I love you’?”

Cue long, nausea-inducing, awkward pause.

“Errrm, no,” he said, looking suitably mortified. “I said I’d love to. You know, order fish and chips.”

 

 

Standard

Stalking, talking and too much coffee: How I met my husband.

The day I met the man who would be my husband, I was sitting in Marcello’s café in Chatswood (long gone) sipping a hot chocolate, smoking a cigarette (back when I didn’t think it was a disgusting habit) and writing in my notepad.

I can’t remember what I was writing – probably the beginning of yet another novel which I’d already imagined would be a bestseller and which, 800 words in, would be discarded and forgotten in some dusty drawer – but I do remember that Marcello’s hot chocolates were a tall glass of the thickest, most decadent, Belgian choc, slowly melted and stirred into steaming milk – about 15 billion calories of sweet, liquid indulgence.

I can also remember (how could I forget?) the man who delivered my drink order: all sparkly blue-green eyes and mischievous dimples, set in the most perfectly round, smooth head (read: bald as a badger. Which is a stupid cliché, because anyone who has ever seen a badger knows that they’re not bald, but furry. And vicious, I’ve heard. They’d eat a small child – or a large one – given the chance.)

18379_297152245648_5663934_n

Here he is. My husband: the man who makes me laugh the most, who makes a mean dark chocolate creme brûlée without having to follow a recipe and who knows how to work a vacuum cleaner (not a euphemism).

I don’t know what it was. Ordering a hot chocolate is nothing out of the ordinary. But as it landed on my table, I was suddenly struck by the most overwhelming waiter-crush and a small voice in my head that really, truly said, “Yep, you’re going to marry that one!” It seems ridiculous looking back, even now. After all, I didn’t know him from a bar of soap (another stupid cliché. I mean who ever really gets to know a bar of soap? They’re not exactly good conversationalists).

1929816_30178890648_7854_n

A rare sunny day in London.

And so began a couple of months of harmless, infatuated stalking. By which I mean that I started frequenting the café… by which I mean I’d have up to five cappuccinos a day, on my most desperate, stalkerish days, while I sussed out the situation and watched my completely oblivious husband-to-be with mist in my eyes.

227823_20386710648_5869_n

At Kenwood House, Hampstead, London

It’s probably a good time to mention that back then I wasn’t a coffee drinker. I didn’t even really like the taste – but to my 20-year-old mind, drinking hot chocolates all day just didn’t seem, well, sophisticated enough. The chocolate was out – the coffee was in. The anxiety disorder didn’t really appreciate it, to be honest (jitters, much?), but who was I to care? I had a man to impress (and apparently, coming across as a crazed, café-obsessed caffeine-fiend was the way to do it).

1929499_25224610648_2691_n

Prague, 2007. We missed our flight because we drank too much the night before, and directed our taxi to the wrong airport. When we finally arrived, we realised in our inebriated state, we’d packed our suitcase so stupidly, Matty only had one pair of pointy dress shoes to wear, and pointy shoes + endless exploring + cobbled streets = ruptured achilles tendon.

It’s impossible not to build a rapport with someone when every day you drink insane amounts of hot beverages at their place of employment. So my waiter (who I discovered was a 23-year-old backpacker from London) and I started chatting. Just a bit of small talk here, a little bit of banter there.

188672_10150170331370649_943344_n

Three years ago, the day I turned 30.

I’m going to cut this very long story short now and tell you that I eventually asked him out on a date. Not a real one, mind you. Just a casual ‘I’m-going-to-Home-nightclub-with-my-friends-on-Saturday do-ya-wanna-come?’ It wasn’t very romantic. He even left with his friends, without saying goodbye. But the following week, he asked me out and we went for dinner and danced and chatted all night and discovered that beyond his ability to make coffee – and mine to drink it – we had a lot in common. And the night after that, I came home to a gigantic bunch of flowers (a completely quirky, spiky mix of native Australian blooms) and I remember standing at the front door and holding my flowers in my arms and having a little weep because no man had ever sent me flowers before and it was so lovely.

1929816_30173420648_7311_n

So young, so fresh-faced. Standing in our flat in Golders Green, London where you can’t see the threadbare green carpet, the paint peeling off the walls from the damp, nor hear the mouse scurrying through the kitchen cupboard.

We were inseparable from then on. Well, for the next three months, because then his working holiday visa expired, which meant he had to go back to London… which meant he tried to make his life easier by repeatedly trying to dump me. Trying being the operative word. Every time he suggested parting ways I brought out my very best histrionics and pitiful tears and desperately sad eyes and most wonderful, romance-novel-worthy heartstring-tugging lines until he relented.

1929816_30178940648_1323_n

Just got engaged, April 2008. I’m not sure I look happy enough.

And when he did have to leave, which was one of the saddest days of my life, I cried all day. Until he arrived in London, and we spoke on the phone – and we resolved to speak every day after that. And somehow, we managed to keep it together and have a Sydney-to-London long distance romance for almost 18 months, with only short visits (and expensive phone calls, and packages in the mail) in between.

1929816_30179110648_8531_n

It’s worth noting that THIS is my engagement ring. Yep, I definitely married the man of my dreams. And my reality. (Apologies if you require a vom bucket about now).

A month after finishing my Creative Arts degree at Uni, I moved to London. We were there for almost six years together before he proposed and we decided to get married and settle back in Australia. It’s now 13 years since I drank that first hot chocolate. I still prefer chocolate to coffee.

And the rest, as they say, is history.

1475825_10152164644175649_726754251_n

18379_297152595648_4848794_n

18379_297152555648_5887106_n

 

 

 

 

Standard

Three examples your child is a smartarse…

Ok, maybe that title’s a bit misleading. It should probably read three examples of me being a smartarse, when I was a child. There’s no denying that I had chutzpah in bucketloads.

EXHIBIT A:

A letter that seamlessly weaves together love, apology and emotional blackmail

IMG_2215.JPG

Dear Mum, Please don’t blame me if I am mean to Sonia. She’s been pretty mean to me and Im upset because you are so sad and crying. I adore you and want you to know I think your wonderful.

Continue reading

Standard

On being a lady of (temporary) leisure

This morning, I woke up and thought it was Saturday. It might as well have been. Same as yesterday and the day before. You see, last Friday, I worked my last day at Prevention magazine before going on maternity leave. It was a pretty magical day.

There were desk balloons.

IMG_2154.PNG

There was home made cake.

IMG_2021.JPG

There was this incredible picture-perfect specimen of absolute beauty and deliciousness.

IMG_2155.PNG

There were pink-frosted cupcakes too, made by my friend Bonnie. But before I got a chance to take a photo, I’d shovelled them into my cake-hole with alarming cookie-monster-like ferocity.

There were flowers.

IMG_2029.JPG

There was this most spectacular leaving card.

IMG_2022

And there were beautiful presents, including a scarf from Seed (which is my new favourite thing) and some gorgeous clothes for baby once she comes along.

Anyway. It’s strange, having worked full-time since I was 15, to now find myself facing a small stretch of time doing not-very-much, which will soon be followed by a much longer stretch of time getting to grips with being a mother. At the moment, I’m loving the lazing, and the snoozing, and the coffees out with Tutti and the hanging out with Tiggy. It’s amazing how the days fly by when I’m just moseying around without a timetable or deadline in sight, waiting for that inevitable moment when the baby decides to make her (probably) excruciating exit. (Just give me all the drugs)

But I’m also getting excited about revisiting all my creative passions. I used to make sculptures.

Wire sculptures.

IMG_2146.PNG

Bread dough sculptures.

IMG_2145.PNG

I used to draw a lot and play the piano, and I would really love to get my children’s book off the ground.

IMG_2153.PNG

So the change of pace is going to be very interesting. A chance to see just what I can create next.

Besides the baby.

Standard

The art of the perfect guilt-trip

By the time I was about 15, I was well-practiced in the art of getting out of trouble (and I was in trouble a LOT. My attitude by then was at an all time high). The secret? Making Tutti laugh. In most cases, laughing made her even more enraged, but it’s very hard to maintain rage when you’re gasping for breath, your upturned mouth betraying your fury.

Continue reading

Standard

How to tie a headscarf, Tutti-style

There’s no denying Tutti has amazing hair. It’s as pure in colour as a unicorn’s mane, defies gravity and grows vertically, like the spikes of a snow-white pineapple. But it’s her headwear that has people turning heads. For as long as she can remember she’s been tying all manner of scarves, donning hats and even in the ’80s used to thread scarves around these weird, padded headbands (see pic below, top left) which she still managed to make look fabulous.

IMG_1756.PNG
Continue reading

Standard

My weekend with Ari Seth Cohen

There’s no denying that social media has helped the world become a whole lot smaller. You can reminisce with strangers, forge virtual, international friendships, connect with anyone no matter how seemingly unattainable or powerful or famous they are.

And so it was, that somehow, I made contact with the inspirational photographer, author and blogger Ari Seth Cohen, whose blog, Advanced Style documents the stylish outfits worn by women over 60, for whom the street is their catwalk.

IMG_1500.PNG

Tutti, Ari and Me in Paddington. Photo by instagram.com/pelle4scarpe

Continue reading

Standard