a cuppa tea with me

So I think I told you about my recent toe-dip into the world of online courses? Where I signed up for the wonderful Blog with Pip eCourse with the supernice Pip Lincolne? And I actually kinda sorta did it? You might have noticed a few little changes around here – a bit of a spring clean, if you will – like my fancy new banner (thanks so much Katie!!), and a whizz-bang updated About Me page, and a few other little bits and bobs.

Anyhoo. The other bloggers and I are partaking in a big ol’ cuppa-tea-and-a-biscuit sesh. In the VIRTUAL WORLD! And I’d like to invite you too! You can get to know a little bit more about me, and if you like, you can do the same on your blog, or post a comment about what’s happening in your part of town. Hang on a tic, Imma gonna pop the kettle on and get us some donuts.

Let's have a salted caramel donut instead

Aforementioned donut (it’s salted caramel)

So! I’m Wembolina (obvy), I live in Melbourne (in Victoria, not Florida), and I’m a researcher & writer by day, a social-media-type person for a few different companies after hours, and a cook/dog-walker/cat-patter/reader/crafter/writer/downloader-of-great-TV-shows by night! I live with my luvverly fella and his two (teenage) daughters as well (but I haaaaaaate the term ‘stepmum’, because I don’t have warts on my nose and I don’t lock them in the cellar and we actually all like each other quite a bit). I’m trying to be better at going to the gym and I secretly love the big crossword that comes out in the summer newspapers… I’m also weirdly protective of our wheely bins.

My favourite things to do are eat (!) and drink (!!) with people I love, and people I am getting to know. Having giant Jenga parties with new friends, where we chow down on excellent food while drinking white wine spritzers is in my top 10 things favourite things to do, along with strolling aimlessly with le pooch, watching Degrassi with the girls, and having excellent adventures with my fella.

Some nerds playing giant Jenga.

Some nerds playing giant Jenga.

My favourite place to be? Eeep, am I getting old? It’s in my backyard… Watering plants and eating tomatoes and chatting to whoever might be around.

Favourite food and drink is a toughie for me, because I love just about ALL food and drink! But because we’re in the midst of a heatwave (so it’s sadly not ideal tea-drinking weather) today my faves would be an icy cold beer and a big slice of watermelon. Maybe not together though.

Remember this guy?

This guy was so evil I had to eat him…

I find in-spa-ray-shon in many, many things; weird things I see, conversations I have, and things I read. But the best inspiration comes from people around me – I’m pretty lucky, because I have some wonderfully ace people in my neck of the woods, who make me think differently and outside da box ALL the time!

This year I made a resolution to educate myself more. I want to know more about how brains work and how people operate, so I’ve been reading books on thought processes and the like. I loooooove learning new things, so I’m keen to do more course-type things too (especially around WRITING!).

Some favourite blogs… Well, there are blogs I’ve been reading for aaaaaages (and always love) like Meet Me At Mikes, My Darling Lemon Thyme, banana meet-cute, Gourmet Girlfriendand nothing matters when we’re dancing and ‘Voir Tales (among others!!) to blogs that I’ve discovered through doing Pip’s course, like Grow.Cook.Sew, Little Wolff, miss and misters and Think Big, Live Simply. There are SO many MORE incredible bloggers who have done this course, and I’m super excited about getting stuck into what everyone’s been doing!

So that’s me! What about you? What are some of your favourite things to do, food to eat, places to be, inspirations and blogs, and what do you want to know more about in 2014? And what would your reaction be if you discovered your wheelie bin had been INADVERTENTLY TAKEN BY A NEIGHBOUR/THIEF ON BIN DAY???

misty water-coloured memories

Last year I read an amazing book by Stephen King called ‘On Writing’. For anyone who fancies themselves as a bit of a wordsmith, this is SUCH a good read. One of the tasks he sets is to scribble out a list – without really thinking – of your memories. Obvy not ALL of them, because that would be a totally massive mammoth type-fest, but to write down whatever memories pop into your brain. It’s a really interesting task and is a good way to flesh out the bare bones of ideas into stories.

Digging around in my incredibly well-organised desktop filing system (that’s a funny joke – HAHA), I came across my initial musings:

Technically my first day of prep, but still packs the same punch, no?

Technically my first day of prep, but still packs the same punch, no?

I remember the first day of Grade One at primary school. A girl in my class was crying beside one of the classrooms because her older sister Eve had been stung by a bee. I sat with her and told her it would be OK. Her name was Prue, and that was the day I met my first bestie.

I remember running laps around the school. I HATED any kind of sports when I was a kid – I struggled to keep up with the rest of my class. I remember being lapped by the other kids as I plodded slowly along… As I turned a corner from the basketball court around the front of the school, I ran into three older boys (I think they were in Grade 5 or Grade 6 – I would have been in Grade 2 or 3); they were the ‘tough’ guys, I’d seen them bullying other kids and I’d managed (for the most part) to avoid them. But as I rounded the corner, I accidentally made eye contact with one of them. I quickly looked away, but as I ran off, one of them yelled out “Who were you looking at??” and I called back “No one…” and he yelled “No one? You were looking at one of us. Who was it??” and I called back “I don’t know. All of you”. I remember feeling completely ashamed and terrified, because it had been a glance, in a ‘there are the bullies’ kinda scared way, and they’d made me feel like it was a ‘crush/love’ glance.

Not long after that, I remember walking home from school one day, and one of the afore-mentioned bullies came up behind me and started tapping a stick on the top of my backpack. “Makes a good drum, that” he leered, and I stuck my tongue out at him, not thinking. He pushed me up against a fence by my throat, and held me there. I can’t remember what he said.

I remember the heat on my neck under my scarf as I rode my bike to North Melbourne this morning. Today is cool, especially after the heat of the past few days, so I think I was being ambitious wearing a neckscarf on a bike ride in the sun. The silk kept the heat in, and when I arrived at the Red Cross for my volunteering shift, I felt warm and sweaty and out of breath [DISCLAIMER: this was not written today, but last year. But if I was wearing a neckscarf today and rode my bike somewhere, I think I would have written a similar post]

I remember how fast I rode my bike home the day I spotted Gus on the Lost Dogs Home website, and how frantic I felt when Rich didn’t respond to my text/email/call about our perfect dog being up for grabs. We got him though. Obvy.

I remember the slug on our back verandah the night of my mum’s funeral. And that my dad and I sat and watched as it slithered along a wooden paling, while we had a house full of people inside.

I remember my first day of work at my first ever job. It was a Saturday and I had scored the role of hair-sweep-er-up-er at the hairdressers. I agonised over what to wear, and how to do my own hair. I remember, just before I left home, spitting toothpaste into my hair as I brushed my teeth.

I remember a group of us standing beneath an air vent at work as smoke poured out of it, wondering aloud “Should we call the fire brigade?”. We did. I was told to get everyone out of the building (I was the fire marshall at my work, and for the first and only time in my fire marshalling career, I got to wear my safety helmet and blow my whistle). Three firetrucks screamed around the corner into Wellington Street, burly firefighters pouring out, running into the building with pick axes and hoses. Turns out the building wasn’t on fire. A belt in the air conditioning had snapped. That was the day I discovered my penchant for a man in uniform.

IMG_0381

This pic reminds me of the time I had a snake coiled around my neck in Morocco. You can literally see the excited fear in my eyes.

Which leads me to remember the day I met Sgt Joshua (aka Drazic from Heartbreak High, aka Callan Mulvey) from Rush – they were filming an episode right near my work, and a good friend  was the on-set nurse. I remember how hot my face got as she pushed me towards him to take a picture, and how tightly I gripped my coffee cup, and how giddy I felt. See? Men in uniform. Even a fake uniform.

I remember driving to Wye River with Imogen on a Friday evening a few years ago. I sat in the front with Gus at my feet; Rich sat in the back with Peppa the whippet. Peppa struggled on some of the curly roads, and was sick all over Rich’s lap (I still break into the giggles when I think about this: Rich saying “Umm, guys?” as we drove around a bend). I remember Rich only brought one pair of pants. Problematic. I remember the sky was clear when we left Melbourne, but darkened the closer we got to the coast. On our way through Lorne, I remember the rain starting to fall, and the gray of the sky. It was the perfect evening for red wine and stew and long talks about life.

I remember meeting a boy on the first anniversary of my Mum’s death, at a festival in Woodford. I thought I was SO cool and SO alternative and I met him in the Chai Tent (which I thought was the most incredibly bohemian place ever) and confiding in him that it was Mum’s anniversary, and him saying “Well, it’s been a year. You’d be over it by now, yeah?”. No.

I remember the taste of the white pinot noir (yes, white!) I had with lunch, with a very excellent friend, at a very excellent restaurant in Gertrude Street. The wine was good, the food was great, the company was THE BEST.

You should give it a go. Unleash the writing-remembering beast! You can keep going with it forever, or focus on certain years or ages or experiences. Let me know in the comments if you do – I’d love to read it.

lobster wars

Today I read an interesting (and, let’s be honest, kinda useless) fact about lobsters. They never die. Which is crazy to me. Obviously they run into issues with crustacean-lovin’ foodies and fishing nets and natural predators (if there are any sea creatures who can crack their uncrackable shells), but left to their own devices, the world according to Google states that lobsters will just live on and on, happily ever after for around 100 years.

Learning this fact then led me to do a couple of image searches on lobsters, which, in turn, left me wondering: is it possible that lobsters in the wild will live on forever and ever, growing bigger and bigger, until they overcome the human race in a people vs lobsters battle and take over the world? I wonder.

doglobster

This fact has nothing to do with this blog post. I have just enrolled in a Be A Better Blogger course, because (as you may have noticed) I’ve been a bit crap at this since The Adventures finished. Sometimes the daily humdrum of life doesn’t seem interesting enough to write about, and I feel like I’ve hit a bit of a wall.

I ran into an old friend on the weekend, who asked about ‘da blog’ and when I shrugged and squinted and said “weelllllllll….” she grabbed me by the shoulders, shook me, and said “WEMBOLINA!!! Just do it!! It’s like exercise. If you don’t do a bit each day, you lose momentum and you lose strength and you lose your ability. So write something every day. On a post-it or in a journal or ON YOUR BLOG but please, just DO it.”

So, in light of this lovely friend, and going to blog school, I’ve realized that I need to start thinking about THE BIG PICTURE. My big picture is this: I love writing and I love telling stories. It’s what I want to do. Like, DO do. Forevs. Until a book (or even a long-ish story) comes out. But then I get snowed under with work things, and I feel like, when I get home, I don’t have the brain capacity and I get caught up with dinners and pets and kids and thoughts like “I really should do something more productive” but, instead, fall into an episode of Parks & Rec or a book or a glass of wine. But writing (and blogging) needs to be a priority. It needs to be a job for me at the moment. I need to set aside time and do it. Because it feels SO good when I post something and I can see that you are reading it.

I think sometimes I feel overwhelmed because I feel that every post needs to be some big, long adventure or hilarious/ridiculous thing that I’ve seen or done, but really, it’s just little things. Sometimes it’s just a funny/blast-from-the-past clip from YouTube or a picture of my cat sitting in a box or a weird fact about a lobster.

taxi

Friday night at a friend’s exhibition in Docklands. Beers and good chats with good pals, good art, and a blinding sunset over the river. Whippets and dachshunds. Platform shoes. Dancing. Haddaway’s “What is Love” just as I was leaving, making me think that perhaps it wasn’t the time to leave, that I should stick around and do the robot with my bestie, and try to channel the awesome moves of Hanna from Girls, or Liz Lemon…

But I left. Took a stroll along the Yarra with two lovely friends and their black whippet, as the ridiculous gas towers at the Casino burst into flames in the sky. They hissed and sizzled and I heard the rumblings of a tram – my tram. Imogen said “You can still make it!” and I said “I never run for a tram” and I didn’t, and I missed it. Because I’m lazy and a derbrain and the city on a Friday night is a horrible place and I should have just quickened my pace and j-walked and I would have made it. But I didn’t.

We strolled a little further, and Tim and Imogen and Peppa the whippet left me at Southern Cross station – them to catch a train and me to hail a cab, bougie-style. I headed to the taxi rank, and a cab stopped in no time.

I try not to catch cabs. Taxis in Melbourne are usually not the most enjoyable places. I’ve had my fair share of rude, speeding, texting drivers, and mostly I prefer to walk. So last night, when an older gent with twinkly eyes stopped for me, I counted my lucky stars.

Last night was a night that I was so very glad I didn’t run for the tram, that I didn’t lazily hail a car as soon as I saw one, that I ummed and ahhed long enough before heading to the rank.

I hopped into the car, told him where I wanted to go, and looked out the window.

After a few moments, he asked if I was in the city the previous Saturday, for Melbourne’s White Night event (I wasn’t). We chatted about it briefly, then I asked him where he was from.

“Guess,” he said.

“I’m no good with accents,” I confessed.

“Persia,” he told me. He’d been living in Australia since ’89, first in Adelaide, but moved to Melbourne 3 years ago. He’d been driving taxis three months.

“What were you doing before then?” I asked.

“Bits and pieces,” he said, “When I lived in Persia I was a Sales Manager at an engineering company; selling parts to big companies all over the place, but you can’t get a job like that in Australia. My English isn’t good enough… so I do this.

“What do you do? Study at uni?”

I waved at my face, feigning flattery (I was!) and told him that, no, I wasn’t at uni, I work at a media agency, writing copy for websites.

“You’re a writer?” he exclaimed “I’m a writer! Well, I’m a poet. I’ve written four books of poetry that I’m trying to have published here, but so much of the meaning of my work is lost in translation. I write in Persian and it’s just not the same when it’s read back in English – it loses everything.”

He dug around in the glovebox and pulled out notebook after notebook of words, written in Persian. Curly cryptic squiggles dancing across tiny lined pages. The first poem, he told me, was about a canary in a cage, losing its’ desire to sing.

The crazy thing was that then, after I’d flipped through a few pages of script that I couldn’t read or understand, he said, “You are too good for what you’re doing. Have you written a novel? You need to write a novel. You need to think about your life, up until now, and you need to think about the one occurrence in your life that you always come back to, the one story you always tell, and you need to work that into a story. It’s like making a recipe, but without actually following a recipe. You need to start writing, and add a bit of this other story, and weave in some of that story, and then you need to read it back and cross things out and add a few more lines, and then you’ll have it. But really, you just need to start. Just sit down, and start. And the rest will follow. You must. You must do this.”

I pointed out my street, and thanked him for such a nice chat. Kinda jokingly, I said “Well, next time I see you, I’ll give you my novel!” and he said “Next time I pick you up, I’m expecting great things. I’m expecting that you’ll have a grant and you WILL give me your novel.”

It was such a strange journey, and one that had me buzzing with inspiration. I bounded (this isn’t a lie; I actually did) in the front door and declared to Rich and Beev “I’VE JUST HAD THE MOST AMAZING TAXI TRIP OF MY LIFE!!!” – it’s funny to meet someone in passing who just seems to understand so much, despite my giving nothing away about what I do and what I want to do.

And so, on this balmy Saturday night, I sit on my bed, with my dog at my feet, a glass of wine at my side, with a house full of teens, and I think, I’m gonna write this. I’m gonna try my hand at a novel. It was a goal for 2012 that never eventuated, but 2013 is the year. It doesn’t have to be anything – it just needs to be something. I just need to find that story. And I’m pretty sure I’ve got one.

Cheers to that

Cheers to that…

hello stranger

Well hello, don’t I know you? It sure has been a while!

Things got crazy in the second half of last year. I found not one, but TWO jobs I love (greedy, much?) – both different and fun and enjoyable, but busy and stressy and the learning and the meeting-of-people and the getting-my-head-around-things made me kinda lazy in my downtime. I found myself getting home from work in the evenings and collapsing onto the couch with some BH90210 (original, thankyouverymuch) and the creative part of my being refused to work. The cooking part of my being also took a backseat, and I stopped hosting dinner partays and subjected my family to meals of stir-fries and pasta, on repeat. The dog-walking part of my being also got slack, and even Gus’ big poochy eyes weren’t enough to get me motivated (rest assured, Rich has taken the lead on that one – boodoom ching!). I needed some time to realign my brain. Which I’ve done. And I’m ready for 2013.

Ol' Pooch Eyes

Would you believe these big ol’ pooch eyes weren’t enough to fire me up??

I’ve said before that, to be a writer, you need to write. I write for my job – both of them. But it’s so different writing for yourself. I don’t need to run this by anyone. It doesn’t need to be proofed by a client, and edited, and un-Wembolina-ed. And I’ve really missed that. I love the writing parts of work, but seeing a red line through things you’ve submitted can (sometimes) cut, just a little. I’m developing a thicker skin, but there’s nothing quite like writing for yourself. Knowing that other people are reading, and laughing at your super hilarious puns (I hope!) is also so very rewarding, and humbling…

Start-of-the-year apologies and promises are kinda boring and not really my style. I’ve neglected this here blog, but that stops now. Adventures will be had. Stories will be told. In-jokes will be made. Reviews of bad TV shows will happen. Lengthy ones. O yes.

If you read something somewhere here that you’d like more info on (like, where did we stay in Iceland? Or what sort of dog is Napoleon? Or what’s a super great reading list to take away on holidays?), or you’d like to borrow a season of 90210, or you just like a post, please let me know.

Well – I hope you’ve all had faboo starts to the year, and that you’re happy and well. Until next we meet, I’ll leave you with a photographic journey of GOOD TIMES TO COME!!

xx

Review of full series to come

This is what will be reviewed first. Mark my words!

We will discuss why Dylan would give Brenda a SIGNED photo of himself. WHY?

And why the frak was Steve Sanders considered a heart-throb with a hair-did (and face) like this??

And why the frak was Steve Sanders considered a heart-throb with a hair-did (and face) like this??

the write stuff

Handwriting stuff, that is! I love writing (with a pen) – the feel of the pen in your hand, writing on a nice squashy piece of paper, flicking through a word-filled notebook… Tis pretty nice. I can NOT handle a scratchy pen though, OR writing onto ONE piece of paper straight onto the table  – bleck!

This was on Meet Me at Mike’s on Friday, so I had to get on board. And I love a little meme too (especially when it’s an easy one like this!):

You should do it, if you’re keen. It’s nice to step away from your computer for a few minutes, dig out a nice piece of paper, find your favourite pen (under a pile of wool and paint samples on the dressing table, and write a little summin’ summin’…

  1. What is your name?
  2. Blog URL?
  3. Write: The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog.
  4. Favourite quote?
  5. Favourite song? (at the mome)
  6. Favourite band/musician/singer? (at the mome)
  7. Say anything you want
  8. Tag 3-5 bloggers

Let me know if you do this! Hurrah!!