The Vaguely Vegetarian Option

The Local Yahoo

The Local Yahoo

I’ve only been to Central Australia once. I was 19 years old and I was on a business trip to Darwin when I got to spend an hour sitting in the airport at Alice Springs. I remember it being very flat. And very hot.

If you’ve been reading my blog you’ll probably know that I have a list of things that I want to do before I die. One of those things is to visit Uluru (#144). Another is to sleep under the stars in the outback (#4). It’s been a while since I’ve ticked anything off my list, so I thought I’d contact my good mate Russ, who lives in Alice Springs (if you need a crane he’ll hook you up!) Being the complete ignoramus that I am, I wanted to know when the best time would be to visit the Red Centre. And wouldn’t you know it, it’s now. Perfect weather that’s not too hot, not too cold, just right.

Russ also told me there’s a race-day-rodeo-extravaganzary-thing coming up in August, a few hundred kilometres out of town, that might be a bit of fun. So I consulted my other good mate, Google, who guided me to the amazing looking event website.

It was looking like a lot of fun to me until I saw the “ladies cow tail tossing competition” with a photo of an enormous bloody cow’s tail in mid-flight. That photo completely destroyed my plans to hole up in my local cafe, The Butcher’s Cafe, in fact, with one of their insanely tasty egg and bacon rolls this morning. Instead, I had to deal with my first-world crisis by murdering a few almonds that went into the best damned almond croissant on the planet from Infinity Bakery.

I could murder an almond croissant right now

I could murder an almond croissant right now

So what about you? How do you feel about animals and eating meat? How do you feel about vegetarians? Are you a cow tail tosser?

Throughout my life I’ve gone through periods of vegetarianism and veganism, pescatarianism, lacto-ovo vegoism, carnism and back again. Yesterday I ate a plate full of sushi for lunch. Today I’m taking the vego option. Does that make me a hypocrite? Yes. Do I care? As a matter of fact, I do. I hate hypocrisy. Am I going to go to the race-day-rodeo-extravaganzary-thing? If circumstances allow, yes. Number 161 on my list is to crack a bull whip, and I might have a chance to do so there. BUT, I won’t be tossing any bloody cow tails. Not that the organisers would let me, because I’m not much of a ‘lady’ anyway.

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Um… Hello? Can You Hear Me?

 

Open Mic

Is this thing on?

In pursuit of storytelling inspiration, I grabbed a my friend, Xenia last night and headed to the Art House Hotel for a storytelling slam session. ABC’s Radio National holds a bi-monthly open mic night called Now Hear This! And I wanted to hear what This was all about. Being a storyteller with an ENORMOUS fear of public speaking, I thought I’d also challenge myself to get up and tell a story. Next time. Last night was all about research!

So, what I discovered is that you need to be really amazing at maintaining focus, not allowing yourself to be distracted by the live music being belted out in the adjoining bar. If you want to score big on the points, you need to tell a love story if you’re a guy, or tale of tragedy if you’re a girl. If you go first, you will never win. And if you’re an 8 foot tall Amazon woman with the inability to keep still, you shouldn’t sit in front of me because I’ll remember you next time and I’ll make you pay for your misdeeds!

But back to the stories. There were tragic tales of Nullabor Plain crossings, and several stolen goods stories (luggage, computers, unpublished manuscripts). Prose on picking up chicks in the Sistine Chapel. The memoir of a 10 year old Philippino boy who wanted to be a tall skinny Bond girl, and my favourite tale about a smelly ghost. I didn’t have the heart to tell the smelly-ghost-storyteller that her house up on North Head was probably not haunted by a ghost from the nearby Quarantine Station. But the likely culprit was the sewage treatment plant down the road, which was very generously sharing the fragrance of Sydneysiders’ insides with her!

Shhh! Do you smell something?

Shhh! Do you smell something?

As the storytelling slam came to a close and the ferry beckoned to carry me home across the harbour – past the Quarantine Station, in fact – talk turned to something with a much finer fragrance: coffee. Xenia let me in on a little secret of hers when it comes to ordering coffee. It’s something that makes the whole coffee experience that much more delicious. She uses a coffee name.

“What the hell is a coffee name?” I asked.

“Well, you know how they ask you what your name is when you order your takeaway coffee? It’s really annoying because they always get your name wrong because of all the noise, and they never understand my Hungarian accent. They end up calling me Zena or Anya, and I can’t be bothered trying to spell out X-E-N-I-A because they’ll get it wrong anyway. So I tell them my name’s Vicky. Now, every morning when I come in to buy my coffee, it’s all ‘Hi Vicky’, ‘Here’s your coffee Vicky’, ‘Have a good day Vicky’.”

“That’s hilarious!” I said. “So, what’s your boyfriend, David’s coffee name?”

“Guido!”

And with that, I boarded the ferry, safe in the knowledge that when I heard the barista call out “Heidi” in the morning, my coffee would be good to go.

Technical Knock Out

He's mine!

He’s mine!

It’s Sunday evening and I can hear the neighbours going at it hammer and tongs downstairs. How utterly delightful! But I guess I could use it as a semi-appropriate soundtrack to tonight’s blog post as I regale you with my adventures from the past few days. Otherwise I could always jam my aurally abused earholes with the earplugs I bought myself today – seriously, I must be psychic. First, a return to the speed dating frenzy from Thursday night. As per previous speed dating evenings there was lots of sparkling wine and lots of laughs, but only one guy in IT – hurrah! So the evening didn’t fall flat on its face. However, the same can’t be said for a couple of the lovely ladies who were my opponents in vying for the attention of almost 10 gents. Virgin speed daters, these two fine lasses introduced themselves to me as “good friends”. But by the end of the night they were arch enemies, having drunkenly duked it out over a couple of the guys who they’d known for all of eight minutes.

Hahah! Nope, he's MINE!!!

Hahah! Nope, he’s MINE!!!

I escaped the scene of the carnage delighting in the knowledge that my “good friend” is over in Jordan right now, so there was no chance I’d have to worry about starting my own Female Fight Club. Tyler Durden can stay tucked away for another tempestuous Thursday night! But if you could fight anyone, who would you fight? Don’t say William Shatner! The thrills and spills of Thursday night left the weekend for getting art and about. After a familial brunch on Saturday where I told the tale of my novel-to-be for the ten-billionth time, it was off to Leichhardt to scope the size of the space for the upcoming art exhibition. That in turn led to me getting trussed up like this:

Big Foot the Clown

Big Foot the Clown

And learning the ins and outs of how to fibreglass a blue whale’s heart – the key’s in the dabbing; how to stop your safety goggles from fogging up – take them off; and what to do in an emergency situation when there’s no Malbec to hand – Merlot’s a decent alternative (and it works nicely with blue cheese). I also got my elbows out today and fought the crowds at the State Library on the final day of their World Press Photo exhibition. Some of the photos looked just like Fight Club, only for real. It’s a crazy, crazy world we live in, alright, so I’m going to take a moment now to count my blessings. And pop in my earplugs. Ahh, bliss!

Speed Dating with Sourdough

I’ve been mulling over what story to tell you these past few days. Alas, there hasn’t been a great deal of excitement unfolding this week. I guess I could have written about my adventure to the dentist on Tuesday afternoon. But there was really nothing to tell. No holes. No drilling. No root canals. Just cleaning, flossing and a ghastly banana flavoured fluoride treatment. I could have written about a networking event I went to last night but again, nothing over-the-top-exciting to note. Nice people. Nice wine. Nice food – just not enough of it!

Open Up & Say Aahhh!!!

 

But today brings a spot of excitement. Speed dating strikes again!

Have you ever been speed dating? I have. It’s a scream! Throw together a bunch of people. Mix gently with “free-flowing champagne”. Maybe add a dash of trivia, or if that’s not to your taste, perhaps try a splash of wine appreciation knowledge, or a pinch of foodie flavouring. If you’re watching your waistline, perhaps some fit and healthy speed dating will have you running back for more. Stir the participants around the table every eight minutes and watch the steam rise. Unless of course everyone works in IT and then the whole thing may fall flat.

Your 8 Minutes Start NOW!

Your 8 Minutes Start NOW!

If your speed dating recipe is successful you may find that it leads to a delicious amuse bouche; a fine entree into some rather hot dates. Or perhaps a spicy slow-cooked relationship may develop. Should a break-up occur, however, have no fear! It doesn’t mean you have to start your dating from scratch again. Just get right back into your apron and whip up another opportunity to improve your recipe. Or simply have another taste test!

I have my knife and fork at the ready for a night of Food & Wine Lovers Speed Dating. Oh. My. God. Food AND Wine? AND Lovers? Sounds like the ultimate combination for a chilly Sydney Thursday evening. I hope I find some tasty morsels to review in my 10-course dating degustation.

Right, it’s 8 minutes until round 1. Brace yourself, I’m heading in. Pray I don’t get burned!

 

Rejig Your Brain, Rewrite Your Life

Crickets

I ate cricket balls on the weekend. They were really tasty. Especially the ones with the sesame seed coating – my favourite! Bulletproof organic coffee, activated LSA spread, delicious herbals teas. All the yummy stuff. All the fabulous fragrances. All the amazing brain training techniques at the Mindd Foundation Forum.

The Mindd Foundation Forum is all about brain health, nutrition, and connecting world experts in integrative healthcare with patients, parents and carers. I was invited to be part of the exhibition stand for Evian Eyecare. David Evian is a Behavioural Optometrist who helps children and adults train their eyes and brains to best process visual information. You might have perfect eyesight, but the messages being sent from your eyes to your brain might not be getting through correctly, resulting in learning difficulties, poor concentration or headaches. That’s where David steps in. He’ll test your eyes and maybe prescribe some coloured lenses, or some prisms and eye exercises that will help you start retraining the way your eyes and brain work together so that you’re at the top of your visual game.

Rose Coloured Glasses

I find it absolutely fascinating the way the brain works, and seeing the ways that it can be retrained to give people better lives. I read an amazing book a few months ago called The Brain That Changes Itself by Norman Doidge. He tells some incredible stories of people who have had horrific issues with their brains (from being born with only half a brain, to mental retardation; from stroke victims to debilitating OCD) all successfully retraining their brains to enable themselves to live highly functional and happy lives.

It makes me wonder just what we can do with our lives when we have so called “normal” brains, if someone with a severe brain dysfunction can train their brain to be highly functional. How amazing can we make our lives by training a brain that is already highly functional?

If you could train your brain to let go of fears, what fears would you let go of? If you could train your brain to think in new and exciting ways, what kinds of thoughts would you want to think? If you could train your brain to learn an amazing new skill, what skill would it be?

We can retrain our brains and recreate our lives. So, what life are you going to create?

After my crickety taste testing session I know I’m not going to need to work on any fear of insects. But public speaking? That’s a whole other story!

Quick! Get the Camera!

 

Snap Happy

Thank God and the Queen for long weekends. But damn them both for not making long weekends last even longer!

I’m back home, easing back into ye olde routine after a long weekend on the beautiful mid-North Coast. I had my camera out happily snapping, and ticking things off my list. As of today The List has 160 items, 3 of which have been crossed off, 6 are in motion, and there’s space for 40 more so I can tick off item #100 – Add another 100 things to the growing behemoth!

On Friday I ticked #86 off the list by visiting a butterfly farm. I know, it’s small and cheesy but it’s great motivation to keep pushing ahead with some of the bigger, more impressive items like #94 – Take a photo a day, every day for a year. Or #19 – Be my own boss.

#86

#86

When it comes to writing your own list, don’t let small and cheesy or big and impressive stop you. Go all out! List everything! What have you always wanted to do? Make one of you mum’s prized recipes? Me too! (#102). Go cheese rolling in Gloucester? Me too!! (#106). Drive across the US in a black 1967 Chevy Impala following the trail of Sam and Dean Winchester? Wouldn’t you know it?! Me too!!! (#84). Dream big, my friend! Dream big. Dream small. Just dream. And write it down. Write it down and share it with a friend. Write it on your blog. Send it out there into the world. Then pick one thing on that list and tick the hell out of it. Then pick another. Then another.

And be on the lookout for ticking opportunities that start finding their way to you as your tick-fest gathers momentum. Be open to ticks turning up in disguise, or as part of a package deal. Don’t assume that #39 “Be a Superhero for a day” is only going to happen when you go out and hire a nice tight Batman costume. It might. But it might happen when you save the day in another way – telling someone just the thing they needed to hear to get them through the day; finding a child’s lost teddy bear; doing the dishes! Just as items #19, #26, #35, #127, #148, #151 & #160 are all being tethered together as I sally forth to conquer #6.

Have you written a list yet? If not, I truly, madly, deeply recommend it. There’s nothing more satisfying than ticking something off it. You don’t need to write a list of 100 things, or a list of 1,000. Just start with 1 and see where that takes you.

And send me a copy!

 

A Passion for Prohibition

Don’t make me drink another bottle!

Yeah, so I’ve slightly failed my first two days of ‘No Goon June’- thanks Matt for the inspiration. But that’s ok, because if you’re going to fail at an alcohol-free undertaking, you might as well do so at an underground Prohibition-style bar.

Ronan and Sarah, I blame you both for letting me drag the two of you to Palmer & Co those first two nights. As per any good adult, I refuse to take responsibility for my own actions. Perfection’s for the gods, and look how fucked up they were!!!

But perfection (and potential alcoholism) aside, the atmosphere of such underground swill-houses with the gaslights burning in dark alleyways, the cool jazz and attractive barkeeps has been great fuel for spirited discussions about living your passions. Whatever it takes.

What are your passions? And what are you doing to live them? What is the atmosphere you need to immerse yourself in so you can ooze your passions from the inside out? God forbid I become possessed by the spirit(s) of someone like Hemingway, but I love this atmosphere! It makes me want to run out and write and research and relate stories to my friends. To learn to play the double bass, to trawl through sepia toned archives, to dig up history, overhaul my wardrobe with cloche hats and flapper dresses and redder than red lipstick. To say piss off to polite society and let life rip! Phew!

Seriously though, what are you passions? If you knew that you could not fail, what would you be doing right now? If money was no object, how would you dress? Where would you be? Who would you be with? What would you be doing? I’m going to leave you with a question asked by Alan Watts on the video below: What do you desire?

Right in this moment I desire action, adventure and change. So I’m going to get up out of this seat, and do whatever it takes to dodge some crazy traffic, and buy myself some redder than red lipstick.

Then come back and write my novel.

And plan my trip to Ireland.

And smile!

Oh, For Crying Out Loud!

Going Hammer and Tongs

Going Hammer and Tongs

Of all the times for the builders next door to fire up their tools, it had to be just as I sit down to write today’s blog post. Can you please explain to me just why it is that builders’ tools are so outrageously noisy? Don’t get me wrong, I completely understand the need for housing. Renovation of existing housing, even. But why, oh why, must the powertool choir drill its song into my poor tender eardrums just as I hear inspiration knocking at my door? Surely there’s some incredible tool inventor out there in tool-invention-land who has devised a silent jackhammer? A whisper quiet angle grinder? Or a hushable hand drill?

Alas, the wall of sound onslaught equals inspiration destruction for me. I’m one of those poor unfortunates whose brain melts down with a pin drop. My ability to concentrate on matters at hand… ooh look, a puppy!

See what I mean?

What do you do when your muse’s call has been drowned out by the pandemonium of every day life? Screaming siren sounds? Riotous traffic ruckus? Flight paths? Blenders? Three year olds?

OUTDOOR BLOWER VACS?!

Do you jam your earholes with earplugs? Or do you sit closer to the speakers? When I was in high school I could only concentrate on my studies when the strains of Kurt Cobain were cranked up to eleven. (Yeah, I’m that old). But today, if he was wailing in my vicinity, I’d want to punch him in the neck. Silence is golden, they say. I say the gloves are off! I’m coming out swinging, like a 30-something Hit Girl, all purple hair and swear words and slightly bigger boobs. That’s right Big Daddy, let’s show these goons who’s… oh look, another puppy!

 

Who me? Distracting?!

Who me? Distracting?!

Silence is a Golden Retriever.