2 May 2012

X is for Xbox

I have never understood the enthralling nature of the mysterious Xbox. I have always wondered if one needed to be inducted into some sort of underground, boys only club to get it, or if I would understand once I got my own.

Well, to be quick and to the point, I have an Xbox and it doesn't do it for me. It serves its purpose as a DVD player and that's it. My brother is an Xbox Xpert. He knows his gaming. He's so serious, he sometimes conferences with other gamers, just to strategise their gaming heirarchy. He has friends who get paid to play games all day. But here I am, still clueless.

I thought I was in. I thought I had entered the world of the addicted, however my dedication to the art of repetitive thumb twiddling lasted all of three days. A solid effort by my standards, but clearly the work of an absolute novice. The Sims on Xbox doesn't really capture one's attention for very long.

I do however, have a new respect for the pimpled, socially awkward basement dwellers - they have a stamina I don't think I could ever manage to acquire. And I trust they will put it to good use. In their basements.

Jessenia xoxo

30 April 2012

W is for Whimsy

I wash my car at three in the morning simply because I get the urge. I go to the local 24 hour K-mart and stroll through the homewares section at odd hours just because. I wore a fluffy Willy Wonka hat to pick up my brother because it caught my eye when I opened my wardrobe. And I am so much happier for it.

I think we all need to give in to those silly, childish urges and just DO IT. If you want to wear a cape as you vacuum, then by all means, wear the damn cape. Feel like a super hero as you're stuck doing mundane chores. Infact, blast up some Duran Duran and make it the most embarassing housework/aerobics/dress-up session you've ever had in your life. Paint your toe nails glow in the dark and attack a sibling or partner with the beacons of light shining from your feet in the dead of night. Go to a movie, avery serious movie, and in the most serious of scenes, make fart noises. It might annoy some people. It could mortify others. People will think 'oh my gosh, did they actually do that? Is she wearing a CAPE?' and they might stare. But I bet 90% of them are dying to have the guts to do the same.

We only live once, and if it's always a case of following routine, then I hate to say, but you're boring. What will people say at your funeral? "They were polite. Orderly. They followed routine. A model citizen, by today's measure." Pfft. BORING. Why don't you just start wearing beige, paint your entire house white, embroider days of the week on your underwear and cook all of your meals for the week on Sunday night and freeze them. And NEVER defer from the routine.

At least for my funeral I know there is a wealth of hilarious and unusual stories to draw from for the poor sods stuck doing eulogies and readings. "Remmber when she ran down the highway in swimmers an hour out of Dubbo, chasing tumbleweed for Hanah's collection?" or "Remember how she used to get in the car, at whatever time of night and say let's go for a drive, and we'd end up two hours away" or even "Remember when she busked outside the toilets at the shopping centre. People were so confused." I know I am at the extreme end of things, but I couldn't imagine being any other way. I wish everyone would just do the chicken dance if the mood struck, because most wouldn't. Most would stamp down the urge and deny themselves the pure joy that comes from whimsy. It's one of the greatest gifts, besides organs, we can give. And the best part is you can give it to yourself. So whilst it's probably not best to ALWAYS follow the weird and wonderful impulses we get, it certainly does beat being ordinary. And boring.

Jessenia xoxo

29 April 2012

V is for Vulnerability: A Response to Jess' U Post

Growing up we are taught that vulnerability is something bad and that we should avoid it at all costs. Reading Jess' U post about unsolicited advice reminds me of my own journey with vulnerability. How the two are linked, I'm not so sure, but in my mind they are. Could it be Jess feels the way she does about travelling on public transport because it makes her feel vulnerable to attracting uninitiated and generally purposeless conversation? Me thinks there's an element of that.

As I age, I am more comfortable with the concept of vulnerability. In my younger years, I always felt vulnerable because of uncertainty. I needed to be in control, know where I was going, know what my next goal was and deal generally in black or white. I have now realised that was fallacious thinking.

A rich life is one that includes some grey and some uncertainty/vulnerability. Embracing it is the only way we risk and grow. It is the way we open ourselves to new opportunities and experiences, if we only did the things we knew and were comfortable with, we would stagnate. Unfortunately a lot of people do just that. Taken to the extreme of course, vulnerability is not a such a good thing. But equally, trying to live a life where one experiences no vulnerability at all takes a lot of energy and can often be lonely. People often do and say unpredictable things. As vulnerability generally means no unpredictability, those that are afraid of a little vulnerability are generally closed off. They may have acquaintances, certainly, but real connections?

None of us are on top of things at all times in our lives. I don't really understand the need to appear to be in total control and constantly successful. Pride is such a dangerous beast as  is hanging one's self-esteem on external validation. There will be times when we have to feel vulnerable, but vulnerability is the mother of innovation and change. It's the how and why we move on. It's OK to be human and not have all the answers. The key is the bounce back and resilience.

I too have received unsolicited advice whilst travelling on public transport and at times have not felt like engaging. But there's a saying along the lines of ...be generous with who you invite to your dinner table, you could be inviting an angel.

And Jess, if you really don't want to talk to anyone on the bus, bury your head in a book or put your earphones on - with your choice of music. You'll love not having to battle the traffic, worrying about driving and it'll be 40 minutes of just letting your mind go. I always found it a great transition between work and home.

28 April 2012

U is for Unsolicited Advice

I'm starting a new job in a week and whilst I'm excited, I have a few fears. Namely transport. Because I am going to find myself relying on the public transport system, and fighting my way through the problems that come with it.And I am shaking in my little leather boots.

You see, I currently drive to work each day. It's fantastic. I get to choose my music or radio station. I control the temperature in the vehicle. I even have control over how fast I travel. In fact, for a control freak like me, driving is tops. But the absolute height of my enjoyment when it comes to travelling to my current job, is the fact that I am ALONE. I get up to half an hour, depending on how long it takes to find parking, to myself. I don't have to listen to anyone else's public conversations on their phones. I don't hear some angst-ridden teen's extremely loud goth music through their poor quality ear phones. I don't have to keep up a hood on my jumper to avoid sneeze germs coming from the diseased folks going to the doctor. I get peace, quiet and isolation. The closest I come to being in contact with people when I drive is when some idiot on the road does something stupid and I flip them off. All of that however, is about to change.

I used to ride the bus to school. The very public bus. And I used buses to get around before I could drive independently. And when I head into the city, I catch a bus as well. And whilst it is sometimes great not having to focus on the road, or to worry about the fool in the right hand lane trying to cut me off, I have had far too many bus rides to know this is going to go smoothly.

The lonely old lady desperate for human contact, or the seedy old man staring down my top. Or even the talkative middle aged woman with a lot to say and very little audience. You name them, I've endured their conversations. Bus rides punctuated with random conversations has been my life's story, as others have seen fit to expound upon me their life story. Unwelcomed, by the way.

I've stepped off a bus knowing more about the random Ukranian woman's family than I do my own, having heard about it for forty-five minutes. Each tale has been littered with bits of advice, wholly unsolicited advice, mind you. "Never tell your daughter she was too good for her ex-boyfriend anyway and that he was a directionless loser and she's done well to be rid of him. It could blow up in your face when they get married." Gee, thanks for the advice. I'll keep that in mind, twenty years from now. I've also been instructed to become a doctor. To never do drugs. To stay in school. To avoid hanging out with the "menaces who vandalise fences" and that if I were to ever get a dog, to keep it on a lead. And pick up its poo.

I remember one bus ride where an old man sat next to me, even though there were about ten empty seats, and proceeded to tell me about his childhood, growing up in Maroubra. It was rough, apparently. And apparently, I was supposed to care.

I suppose lonely old people don't bother me as much as the unqualified, but still highly knowledgable pseudo doctors, telling me old wives' remedies to cure all sorts of ills. Or the drunken slobs trying to find their way home after a really messy night. Or the suspected paranoid schizophrenics who scream at everybody around them. But either way, people are too free when it comes to dispensing their unwanted, entirely unsolicited advice on unsuspecting victims like myself.

If I don't ask about it, clearly I don't want to know. If I don't show interest in the conversation, like say for example, I don't acknowledge your existence after you begin talking, I think I've made my point. Going ahead with the conversation seems pointless, no? So please, don't be offended if I walk away mid-conversation. If I put in ear phones and start playing music. If I roll my eyes, sigh repeatedly and look boredly out the window. And for the love of God, don't look so offended when I tell you to quit your blabbering because I've no interest in the crap currently being projected in my direction. I've had it, and trust, you'll hear about it. Whether you want to or not.

If you too have often been a victim of unsolicited advice, especially on public transport, drop us a line. It would be great to hear from you, and let us know what you think.

Jessenia xoxo

27 April 2012

T is for Trendy Ailments

By the beard of Zeus, they're all diseased. I can't believe it. I looked on at the group infront of me in wonderment. I was sitting with a group of friends and their friends and such, and everybody all of a sudden had an ailment. A trendy ailment to boot. ADHD, Dyslexia, Syndrome X (particularly unappealing), Athsma, Eczema, Stutters, Lisps and other speech impediments, Sprained ankles from amatuers playing tennis like pros. You name it, they were crippled by it. And to top it all off, they each had friends with ailments as well. "So and so is Manic Depressive" followed by "well so and so is Bi-Polar", followed by "well have you seen so and so lately? She's Anorexic AND Bulimic" Don't those two go hand in hand?. Each new problem sparked great interest. All of a sudden I was in a room full of learned doctors and specialists, each of whom was totally and completely qualified in their books to give their shoddy advice. Following this was another round. Diabetes, Blood Pressure problems, Iron deficient (possibly Anaemic), Lady Part problems and quickly it became a case of 'My professionally diagnosed medical problem is way bigger than yours'.

I was surrounded by people in the last of their teen years and extremely early twenties, and they were all diseased. Ruined. Crippled for life by problems and were competing for the title of biggest medically challenged cripple out there. The shock almost sent me over the edge.

We are young. We don't have too many problems. We can't be this faulty? Do I need to return my body for a full refund?. I was just hit with an overhwelming desire to tell everybody to shut up and bask in their crippleness silently. And then it dawned on me. This is society. We are full of a desire to blame all of our woes on unforeseen medical hurdles which all of a sudden seem to plague each and every one of us. We're not competing for sheep stations when it comes to who has the better car, or the nicest kitchen. No. We're competing for the golden ticket when it comes to who gets the biggest cop out from their trendy ailment.

Who gets to blame hormone imbalances for epic mood swings? A, D and F each put their hand up as moody because of hormones. The temptation to say "No, you're just psychotic" was overwhelming. Then there was M, she had a thyroid problem, which was why she had steadily gained 20kg over the past year. I was dying to tell her it was because of the cheesecake and macaroons she seemed to eat on a daily basis. And the McDonalds. And the chips. And the soft drinks. And the fact that if she had to walk more than five minutes to get to the bus stop, she'd either not go or get a taxi. But that would be rude.

The conversation resumed. The hype surrounding this disorder and that syndrome was incredible. Is this what society has been reduced to? A group of losers who want reasons and diseases to blame for their sucky lives? I get that there really are real problems. Trust me. I get it. There's cancer, and heart disease and paralysis and multiple sclerosis and a variety of non-trendy, very serious ailments around. But here I was, surrounded by people who had Life Altering, but not Life Threatening ailments, and they couldn't get past it. And it brought me back to the many conversations I've accidentally been stuck in when I have asked how someone is, and all of a sudden they're now screwed up. And I have to hear about it.

So I sucked in a tortured breath and decided to ride it out and soon I would be free. The conversation was escalating. Wild gestures describing invasive medical procedures were being included, and I soon learned that nearly everybody had required a CT scan or an MRI or a Very Serious Internal Exam (I giggled when I heard this. A lot.) Voices were getting louder, and the competition was heating up. C was looking pretty serious, whereas H and N had dropped out - the speech impediments whilst embarassing, were not considered all that terrible. E was tossed aside by the group collectively - yeast infections were temporary and easily treatable. The same went for T, with her gastro and UTI problems. Syndome X looked to be holding her own, and Type 2 Diabetes was fighting hard until suddenly, and bang. It was decided, Syndrome X and Diabetes along with the Faulty Thyroid were three way winners, but why the hell were they staring at me? I realised their victory was conditional, as some diseased toe rag had pointed out I had recently had some medical problems of my own. All in the room were looking wide eyed at me, the three way winners glaring slightly, daring me to take their position. "So what is your problem again, Jessenia? Are you okay now?" Dammit. Bugger the lot of you to the fiery pits of hell. I was unceremoniously dragged into the  conversation. The blood thirsty little mongrels were demanding I air my dirty laundry for all and sundry to enjoy.

"I have Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome." There, I said it. Short sharp and sweet, I blurted out my ailment and moved on. Until another little demon spawn from the far left corner piped up.

"What is it? What happens?" Again, dammit. Damn you seven ways from sunday you twitchy little diseased ingrate. 

"Basically my ovaries drop too many eggs each month, as a result of and because of my hormones, which are completely out of whack. I'm insulin resitant. I had to drastically change my diet because of that. I have  a hard time losing weight, it's easy to gain, I am prone to depression and I need to be careful because I am extremely prone to diabetes. And CVD. And lots of other nasty little things.And it may make me infertile" There. No more questions. They can't possibly need more than that, right? Wrong.

"How do you treat it?" Bugger. Bugger, bugger, bugger and again, Bugger. Don't they get it? I don't enjoy this. 

"A medication called metformin, a very restricted diet and I'll find out more about hormone treatment when I see the endocrinologist."

The collective "oohh", followed by an "ahhh" was almost comical. Mouths shaped in serious O's, they were thinking, until finally, nodding their heads resolutely. Oh yes, that's right readers. I had, unwittingly, become the spokesperson for those crippled by life altering, very serious, very unfair ailments. Mine was the worst, apparently. I had too many problems, apparently. In fact, Syndrome X, Diabetes and the Faulty Thyroid were backing away from the crown all too eagerly. I believe it was a case of the devil you know. Yes well, the devil I know is currently reigning supreme, as queen of the diseased and leader of the trendily crippled. And no, I will not wear the crown publicly.

Jessenia xoxo

26 April 2012

S is for Swamp Donkeys and other creatures

My brother and I were arguing not long ago. Insults were flying and truthfully, I was on a roll. I was winning, which is a victory in and of itself considering my brother is just as smart, witty and rude as I am, and I was revelling in the glory. Until he turned around and told me to "shut up, you SWAMP DONKEY".

What the hell is a swamp donkey? I thought. I'd never heard the term. So I told him that if he stopped being an ass, perhaps so would I and then I went to the google machine. According to Urban dictionary, a swamp donkey is: "A very ugly, usually fat girl who hangs around in bars and clubs waiting to sexually assault males who are too drunk to defend themselves."

Now call me crazy, but I'm no swamp donkey. However that wasn't my problem. My issue was the absurd insult. It seems things like swamp donkeys are now normal terms. Instead of resorting to the regular "Shut up you fat whore",  we come up with some highly unusual word or name. I don't know whether it's a trend I enjoy or dislike.

On one hand, some of the 'terms' in urban dictionary are absolutely hilarious. Creative, witty and ingenious, I think they show promise for the english language. Recyclopath is another favourite of mine, described as "A person who militantly engages in recycling and is so hostile to simply throwing away garbage, it borders on mental illness" or there's Ninja Sex, "noiseless (no squeaking or moaning) sex done whilst someone is passed out in the room". As funny as it is to call someone a 'swamp donkey' instead of the more mundane 'ugly trollop', it get's hard to keep up with the ever changing language.

I don't think I have much choice but to go with the flow, so the next time someone calls me a swamp donkey, I'll be prepared. And my arsenal of absurd and highly incomprehensible insults will be greater.

Jessenia xoxo

R is for Respect: Find Out What It Means to Me

Back in March I wrote a blog post about commitment and questioned whether Gen Ys were going soft on it. Since writing that post, I have read more than a few blogs about the issue and there seems to be more and more writers expressing angst about commitment and in particular about the impact of mobile phones on etiquette.

I am now convinced that this is not an issue solely for Gen Y. Gen Xers are just as likely to choose convenience over respect. I am also firmly of the view that one of the biggest compliments you can pay someone in this day and age is to give them your FULL attention. Remember how good it feels when the person you are speaking to is entirely focused on you and is totally into what you are saying? Some people have an incredible knack for making you feel like you are the most important person in the world at that time. Call it a charm or a warmth, either way it's a dying art.

We now carry our computers wherever we go through smart phones. We are now socialising online and it has become mainstream. Miss an email or a post or a comment from someone and it could mean social suicide (not)! You're probably not even in the same timezone. Remember when we spoke to shop keepers and interacted? Surely service is a two way contract. We as customers have an obligation to the service providers too, namely that we will show them enough respect by being attentive during the transaction.

Remember the good old days when you used to talk to cabbies? Every cabbie had his take on politics, sports and the economy. Now they talk through the whole journey on their mobile phones to a friend or family member usually in a foreign language. We as passengers aren't much better. We get in a cab, state our destination and spend the whole time on a phone call. Maybe we should just cut out the middleman and call the cabby directly!

How many times have you spotted a group at a night out at a restaurant, each member on their mobile phones? Recently, I was at a restaurant with  a friend and there were about half a dozen kids young guys and girls at the table next to us, each with his or her mobile phone open looking at their Facebook pages. They might as well have gotten together online and eaten at Cafe World!

Somewhere, somehow we have lost the notion that the person we are with is the most important. They took the time and trouble to come and see you... right?

I have to say I feel more than slightly cheated when the person I am with focuses more on their phone than my witty repartee. Maybe that says something about my sense of humour. But I am not alone in these feelings and there is a small and almost silent revolution going to reclaim respect and face to face interaction. Some have closed their Facebook accounts or have ceased checking it daily. Others are tossing Twitter and turning off their phone notifications. To my fellow crusaders, I applaud you and say stand up and let's reclaim the respect that we all deserve.

Viva la respect revolution!