S R Silcox - Author

Blog updated 2-3 times a month.

Page 13 of 15

Introducing the Sunday Sesh

A Sunday Sesh from two summers ago, with my then beer-of-choice, Fat Yak.

Today is officially the first day of spring, and it should be getting warmer (Hear that weather?). Just eight months ago, I was lamenting to anyone who would listen what a crap summer we’d had – ie none. I think we had about two weeks of fantastically hot summer weather down here, which means I missed out on my quota of sunshine and beer-drinking. Which means that this winter, I’ve been hell to live with.

I think I’ve worked out the problem though. When spring rolled around last year, I didn’t really appreciate the heat that was supposed to come. I neglected my beer-drinking early on, and I think that startled Summer into thinking I didn’t like it anymore. I am not going to make that mistake again. I am not going to miss out on getting my flip-flop feet tan again this year.

So, to usher in the warmer weather, and to show Summer that I really do care, I’m starting my beer drinking early. I’m bringing in the Sunday Sesh as of this Sunday. And true to traditional Sunday Sesh form, we could be talking about anything and everything – the weather, sport, who to watch on The X Factor, sport, what beer’s on special this week, sport – and it will most likely depend on how greasy the wheels get.

First off the bat though, I have to admit that I’ve become a bit of a beer snob. I enjoy discovering micro-brewery and premium beers. In the past I’ve tried chocolate beers and coffee-shot beers. I’ve drunk my beer with a wedge of lemon, and sometimes a “dash”. Having said that, a XXXX on a hot day goes down just as well as anything you pay more that $7 a stubbie for. I intend on revisiting some old favourites, but also branching out and testing some of the trendier beers from breweries around Australia, and might even throw in an import or two along the way.

So I’ve done the calculations, and there are 26 Sundays between today and the last official day of summer on 29th February next year. Ordinarily, that doesn’t sound like a whole lot of drinking. But take into consideration the ones I discover I like and decide to buy a carton of and that’s a lot of beer.

I’m going to get stuck into some research and decide what the first few beers will get the Sunday Sesh treatment. While I’m travelling on my beer-drinking odyssey, feel free to offer up suggestions of beer you think I should try or what topics you’d like to see on here, and if you want to add your own beer review, I’ll be happy to oblige. There are, afterall, a lot more beer varieties out there than I could ever hope to get through on my own in just one summer. Besides, what’s a Sunday Sesh without a few mates?

Fighting my way through a perfume haze.

One of my pet peeves is people who smell bad. I’m not a snob about this but you know, deodorant is something that not all people seem to have the hang of. And with a nose as sensitive as mine, it’s worse. If anything is worse than bad-smelling people it’s people who bathe in their au de perfum of choice so you can virtually see their scent trailing behind them as they walk past. The first one makes me gag, and the second one makes me sneeze and get an immediate perfume-headache (kind of like a brain-freeze headache, but without the ice-cream). I hate gagging as much as I hate sneezing.

So imagine my horror when I discovered that the smell I was turning my nose up at a few days ago was my own. I was mortified. I wanted to shower right then and there to scrub clean my stinking pit pores, only I was at work, and apart from being a slightly crazy thing to do in my lunch hour, may have made my bosses think twice about my future at their firm. I mean, I’m already a writer. They don’t need any more reasons to prove that I’m mentally unhinged.

After discovering the noxious gases I had been producing from my pits, I decided I’d try out a different deodorant. Oh what a pain in the rear that proved to be. Standing in the personal hygiene aisle of the supermarket for longer than five minutes makes you look like you can’t read, or you’re a moron, or it’s the first time you’ve ever thought about buying deodorant. Of course, I’m none of those, but I still felt out of my depth.

Let’s look at the options. You have spray anti-perspirants and deodorants, roll-ons, body sprays and sticks. There’s products that promise to not stain your white clothes, and to not stain your black clothes. Products that smell and some that are odourless (the point here???). They promise to get you the guy (or the girl, depending what you’re into), and to keep you dry no matter how hot and sweaty you get.

And there’s a distinct difference between mens and womens when it comes to labelling. Mens tend to say things like “energetic fragrance” and “responds to increases in adrenalin”. They’re called “Africa” and “V8” and “Brut”.

Womens, on the other hand, say things like “seductive” and “sensual”, and ooh “mishievous”. They’re called things like “Shiny” and “Illusions” and (sharp intake of breath) “Tease”.

Do they tell you what they actually smell like though? Not bloody likely! What the hell does “energetic” smell like anyway? And I can guarantee you that what smells “sensual” to me is not the same as what smells “sensual” to someone else.

For the love of all that is good and right, can we at least get some truth in advertising. Wearing deodorant won’t get me the girl – particularly the type of girl in a certain product’s ads (not that I want another girl – I already have one). Only sixteen-year-olds believe that. And no matter what they say, it won’t last for more than a couple of hours, even in an air-conditioned office. I know advertising plays on our emotions to get us to buy things, but dammit, I’m over trying to decipher some of those ads. Will I smell fresh and oceany? Show me a beach. Will I smell smokey and woody? Show me a log cabin. I get shit like that. That stuff is easy to decipher.

But I have another problem trying to choose deodorants. Those who know me well know that I am definitely not feminine. I don’t do nail polish or make-up or dresses. The only thing I put on my face is moisturiser, and even then it’s only when I get sunburnt or my skin feels dry. Having said that, I’m still a girl, and I like being a girl. Just, you know, not too much of a girl.

I don’t want to smell like a bunch of flowers, a fruit bowl, a cinnamon stick, or a vanilla pod. And I damn-well don’t want to smell like I’ve just rolled in pine needles, or I’ve just walked through smoke. I don’t want to smell overly “woman” or overly “man”. And it seems like there’s no inbetween in there. Even the “sports” deodorants are skewed one way or the other.

I just want to hide my pong without the cover-up smell being offensive to me and everyone around me. And I don’t want to smell like a girl. And, I don’t want to smell like a man. Is that too much to ask?

Side note: At the time of posting, I still have not found a deodorant that I like. Any suggestions are much-appreciated. If you do make a suggestion for something I might like, please, oh please, tell me exactly what it is I will smell like if I use it!

   

Extract: How Charlie Hypnotised the Chicken

This is an extract of one of my kids WIP – tentatively titled “How Charlie Hypnotised the Chicken”. I’ve been meaning to put up some extracts for a little while now, and I’m glad this is the first one. I’d like to introduce you to Charlie, Angus, Johnno & Shelby, grade six students at Emu Creek Primary School. Oh, and Meatball Murphy – a little too big for his age and self-proclaimed King of the School. I had fun writing this scene, and I love these kids like my own. Let me know what you think.

PS This one’s for you Kyle 🙂

“Ah man, the whole school’s here!”

Johnno put his hand on Angus’s shoulder. “They all want to see you beat Meatball.”

“They all want to see me get killed,” Angus said as he trudged towards the oval.

The crowd parted to let Angus and Johnno through, and then closed around them. There was no escape. Angus looked around, hoping to see Charlie,  but there was still no sign of him. He couldn’t see Shelby either, but he didn’t expect to after she told him exactly what she thought of fighting.

Just as Angus’s heart had stopped fluttering, Meatball appeared, cracking his knuckles and sneering.

“You’re dead,” he said.

Angus looked over at Johnno. “Where’s Charlie?” Johnno shrugged.

“Come on pip-squeak. What are ya waiting for?” Meatball began to circle around. Angus moved away. There was no way he could even think about throwing a punch until Charlie got there to hypnotise him.

The crowd was quiet, waiting to see who would crack first.

“You’re nothin’ but a little sissy.” Meatball took a step forward. Angus tried backing away but he met a wall of people.

“Angus!” It was Shelby. “Angus! Don’t do this!”

“Go away, Shelby.”

“Yeah, go away Shelby,” Meatball mocked in a high-pitched voice.

“Shut up, Meatball,” she replied.

“Are you gonna make me?”

“Leave her alone, Meatball.” Angus felt a little braver now that Shelby was there.

“Angus, please don’t do this,” Shelby pleaded.

“Your girlfriend’s gonna cop it as soon as I finish with you, wuss.” Meatball poked his finger into Angus’s chest.

Angus stood his ground.

“Come on. Hit me.” Meatball teased.

Come on Charlie, where are you? Angus thought. All of a sudden, Charlie came bolting across the field yelling. “Angus! You can’t do it!”

“Just say it Charlie!” Angus yelled.

Charlie pushed through the crowd and pulled Angus aside. “You can’t do it. You’re not hypnotised.”

“I know. You haven’t said the words yet.” Angus said.

“No, you don’t get it. You’re NOT hypnotised!” Charlie said again.

“Don’t listen to him Angus.” Johnno said. He turned to Charlie. “Just say it.” 

Charlie pushed Johnno away. “I can’t hypnotise you, Angus. I never could.” 

But Angus wouldn’t believe him. He turned back to face Meatball. “Say it, Charlie.”

“Angus.”

“Just say it!” Angus’s face was bright red. He was breathing heavily, and sweat started to bead down his forehead. He had clenched his fist, ready for impact.

Charlie sighed. “Turdburger,” he said. Just as the words came out of his mouth, someone shouted “Ainsleigh William Murphy!”

Meatball’s mother was striding across the oval with Mr Smith, and it was enough to throw Meatball off. At that exact moment, Angus drew back his arm and let fly. He felt his fist sink into the soft spongy folds of Meatball’s belly. He drew his arm back, surprised and elated. He had hit Meatball Murphy! He turned to his friends, who threw their fists into the air in celebration.

He turned back to Meatball, and the last thing he saw was Meatball’s fist coming towards his nose.

Vote Now! Should we be allowed to get married?

Before the last sitting of federal parliament finished, it was resolved that all members should go back to their electorates and gauge their constituents views on gay marriage. Whether they actually do this or not, well, who knows. I personally haven’t had anything in my mailbox asking for me to submit my thoughts on it – though I have saved my local member the trouble and emailed him instead. I received a nice reply stating that “should this issue arise, I will take your views into consideration.” And yes, I did laugh (scoff) out loud. At least I got a reply.

So anyway, the debate is still raging wildly, and the Greens are waiting for the next sitting to see what sort of support there is to put through a private members bill. I don’t hold out too much hope that this will get up, but at least it will keep the debate going.

I was wondering, after my last post on gay marriage, if there was anything more I could add to the debate. And it turns out there is, thanks to a few comments on other blogs and sites on the interwebs. Rather than rehash everything from that previous post, I thought I’d just tackle an issue that keeps coming up that I didn’t really address in my last post.

Let’s take this to a referendum, and decide once and for all

Why does this irk me so much? One, because this issue isn’t based on changing the constitution, which is what it needs to be for a referendum to take place. And we don’t have a system like they do in the US where we can add a question to the ballot paper at the next election: “Thanks for casting your vote. By the way, do you think gays and lesbians should be allowed to legally marry? Please place an X in one box only for your vote to count.”

And two? Well, because would you like someone to be given a vote on whether you should get married or not? Let me give you a little scenario to illustrate my point better.

Lets say that in order to obtain a marriage licence, you and your intended have to take your request in front of a judge and a jury of your peers, in several different court rooms. In order for the judge to sign off on your marriage licence, you must explain why you want to get married, and convince the majority of the jurers in a majority of the court rooms.

You need to explain why, when the de facto laws cover the majority of rights and responsibilities as a couple, marrying your intended would be better for you both.

I love him/her. Love is not enough. Just look at the divorce rates. You need to provide something concrete.

It will make us both happier to be married. So, you’re not happy now in the relationship you already have?

It’s better for us both financially to be married? De facto laws cover that already.

We have children together and we want to make sure they grow up in a stable environment? Possibly a good reason, however you’re very close to admitting that your relationship now isn’t stable enough for children to be brought up in. Be aware, sir, that you are sailing very close to the wind on this one. I have child safety on speed dial.

What about in the event of a break-up? We want to make sure that we have access to mechanisms to ensure the best possible outcome for our children regarding maintenance and custody. De facto laws already allow you access to the Family Court system on these matters. By the way, ma’am, thinking in terms of a break-up before you’re even married? Are you sure you’re both even ready for this sort of commitment?

If I die, I want my partner to be looked after. To make sure she doesn’t lose the house or anything else because someone in her family doesn’t think she deserves it because she’s not really a partner. (Sorry, darling, you know who I’m talking about.) You know, you can save yourself a great deal of trouble with this one. Lawyers can draw up wills for this very purpose, and much cheaper than a wedding I might add.

Ok then, what about if I end up in hospital in a coma? And that same relative doesn’t allow her access? Or she doesn’t get a say in my treatment?  Easy, sir. Just have your lawyers draw up a living will and power of attorney. Granted, it could be contested in a long, draw-out court process, but again, its much cheaper than some garish wedding. And if you get your wills drawn up at the same time as your powers of attorney, you’ll find it’s even cheaper! Win-win I’d say!

Look, this man is the man I want to spend the rest of my life with. This man only. He makes me happy. I make him happy. Why can’t we just get married? Did you know, ma’am, that this man you say who makes you so happy, is part of a group (the ‘male’) who on the whole, lives a quite promiscuous lifestyle? He may not have slept with many women himself, however, just being part of this group predisposes him to, well, infidelity. Adultery. Sexually transmitted diseases! (shakes head in disgust) Need I go on?

You know what? Forget the marriage licence. Honey, lets just move to Canada.

Now I know how silly this all sounds, but this is what “we” gays and lesbians are being asked to do. Provide “evidence” that being married is going to make a difference in our lives, more so than being granted de facto status. What proof do you want? Honestly. We’re arguing over feelings here – things that can’t just be quantified into tangible proof. Does that mean that love and commitment (two of the cornerstones of marriage) should take a back seat because you want proof that marriage will be better than what we already are allowed to have because “you” feel the de facto laws are enough? If that’s the case, why should anyone be allowed to get married? And why should wedding vows be allowed to contain anything about intangible feelings at all, if they can’t be used as proof that I should be allowed to legally marry my wife?

As I’ve said before, I love my wife. She loves me. Our relationship has been made stronger by the formal commitment we made in front of family and friends. Why is that such a hard thing to understand?

Show your support
There are many different ways to show yoru support to this issue, and below are just two of the many sites available.

To share your story and explain why gay marriage equality matters to you, go to My Marriage Story
To send an email to your local member sharing your views on gay marriage, go to Australian Marriage Equality

What are you afraid of?

True story – when I was about 17, I was up late studying when I decided to take a loo break. When I went to the bathroom, I discovered a HUGE (and I mean HUGE) huntsman spider above the toilet, just waiting to jump on me. I knew what he was thinking by the look in all those eyes. I knew better than to wake my dad, but I also knew he would probably be up soon enough, so I waited until he got up to get rid of it for me – about three hours later mind you, and I was fairly busting by that time. I would rather have peed outside on the lawn than go in the bathroom with that spider in there.


So anyway, I’ve just written 1,315 words (count’em!) this morning on one of my novels – the first 1,315 words I’ve written on any of my novels in about 2 months. Oh I’ve been plotting and characterising and brainstorming and house-working and real-job working…. So it’s not like I’ve been doing nothing. Right? Actually, I have been doing something – just nothing to do with writing. Procrastination – again.


I hear you – we’ve gone from a story about my borderline arachnophobia to not writing. What gives? Well, I realised this morning that I was afraid of something far worse than little fat black bodies with eight hairy legs. I realised I was afraid of (wait for it…) – failure. Oh it’s such a cop out I know. But it’s such a mind-numbing thing, worrying about how crap something’s going to turn out before you actually even do it. So why risk it? Why do it in the first place? Why put yourself through all that pain when it’s just going to turn out crap anyway? Why not just sit on your fat ass surfing the net, looking at stuff you’re not interested in, just so you can not fail at something you actually used to enjoy doing?


Honestly? I have no idea. But this morning when I sat down to write (after I checked emails 20 times in about 30 seconds, refreshed my favourite sites a few times to see if there was anything new I might otherwise have missed, and re-arranged the pantry so my food was in alphabetical order, which, incidentally, will need to be re-arranged back to the way it was before my wife gets home this Friday), I had the following conversation with myself (yes, this was before my first coffee):


Do you really think you write crap? Yes. Do you think I’d be having this conversation with myself if I didn’t? (Sheesh!)


What’s so bad about writing crap? It’s crap! C-R-A-P! Stuff that should never see the light of day. Stuff so bad that it burns holes in my retinas.


So then, why do you have to show it to anyone? Because I have a little something called an ego, and my ego needs stroking, and if I don’t show anything to anybody, I can’t get my ego stroked.


So show it to someone. Surely they’ll tell you if it’s crap or not? Duh! That’s the point! Why show my crap to someone just to confirm it’s crap?


How do you know what you’ve written is crap? What? You don’t think I know my own crap?


Have you read anything lately (by published writers) that you thought was crap? Maybe. I mean, it was published, so it’s probably not crap, right? Besides, I don’t write like that.


What? You don’t write crap? Is this a trick question?
So that stuff you read was either published crap, or published good writing? I don’t get what you’re saying.


One reader’s crap is another’s treasure? Oh ha ha. At least we’re not going around in circles anymore.


Just write the crap. Then the crap is out of the system.


So I did. And you know what? The crap wasn’t that bad. I mean, I cringed a little when I was writing some of it, but I made notes to change those cringe-worthy words to stronger ones, and put “more here” where I just couldn’t see that particular scene, but I just kept writing. I stopped after about 300 words, gasping for breath and thinking “damn this is harder than I remember”. But then, around the 500 word mark, when the scene really started to open up, I started to motor. So why have I stopped to tell you about this relatively small achievement in my word count? Because my ego needs stroking.


And my argumentative alter-ego says:


The Crap has left the building.

Things I could have said: Insults and sledges

Sport can be very highly competitive, especially at the amateur levels. Pushing the boundaries and bending the rules is not uncommon, and players will often go to any lengths to get one up on the opposition. One of the ways to put your opposition off is to get inside their heads, usually by sledging.

Cricket is probably the most famous for on-field sledging and banter, but it’s a common occurrence in most sports. Take soccer, for example, which is my sport of choice. I’m a goalkeeper, so I’m no stranger to a bit of “friendly” banter with opposition strikers. I’ve had some great rivalries over the years and I’d like to think I’ve given as good as I’ve gotten with regards to insults and sledges coming my way. Most of the time, it’s just a friendly comment after a save. Something to the effect of “you’ve gotta do better than that to get it past me.” I have also been known, after saving a penalty in a grand final shoot out, to take the ball back, give it to the striker who just missed and tell them to try again. Nothing too outlandish, but it does the job.

I bring this up because I’ve just finished playing a soccer game, in which I was supposedly sledged. I didn’t hear the actual comment but one of my team-mates did. I’m actually pretty insulted that it wasn’t something better. I’m also a little upset that I didn’t hear it, as I wasn’t given a right of reply. Rule Number One in sledging – make sure your intended target actually hears what you say. Otherwise, it really is pointless.

What was the alleged sledge? “How old is your wife?” Now, for those of you who are new here, I’m an out and proud lesbian, and I do have a wife (though not legally of course). This comment, I am guessing, was an attempt to use the gay = bad thing. Though I’d be more offended if she’d meant that my wife was old enough to be my grandmother, but since I know this player doesn’t even know my wife, that’s probably not the case. And so this brings me to the second rule of sledging – make sure it’s actually insulting enough to get a reaction. Otherwise, again, pretty pointless.

The Third Rule of sledging is really a no-brainer – make sure you can back up your words with actions. If you go around telling opposition players how bad they are, and your team isn’t on top? You look like a bit of an idiot. The team we played is actually pretty good, and we’re pretty close when it comes to results, so it’s always a tough match when we meet them. They were on the back foot for most of the match tonight though, so it was probably a better time for them to be concentrating on getting their own game right rather than having a go at ours.

Last, but not least, Rule Number Four – keep it relevant. Like I said, I’m a goalkeeper. I had seven goals put past me last week against a different opposition. Surely bringing that up would have had more affect than asking how old my wife is? As a side note, comments about spouses/children/parents are usually a no-go zone. Just ask Marco Materazzi, the Italian defender who was headbutted by Zinedine Zidane in the 2006 World Cup Final after allegedly making a comment about Zidane’s wife.

So after careful consideration, and having had plenty of time to think on this, I’ve come up with a list of five Things I Could Have Said in reply, if I’d actually heard the comment.

“How old is your wife?”

  1. Why? You thinking of trading up?
  2. How old’s your sister again?
  3. Why? You wanna swap?
  4. Ask her yourself – she’s the one on the Harley
  5. Which one?

Admittedly, there’s not too much sting in my replies, but when all you have to work with is “how old is your wife?” there’s not really too much material you can use.

What do you think? What would you reply to that sledge? What’s been your favourite or funniest sledge – either to have given or received?

After all of that – how did the match end up? We won 2-0 and jumped into third spot on the ladder. Good job team!

Story time: Noni Hazlehurst reads "Go the F**k to Sleep"

Those of you who remember Noni Hazlehurst from Play School will love her rendition of the book “Go the F**k to Sleep” by Adam Mansbach, Illustrated by Ricardo Cortes. Hard to imagine anyone else could read this book with such love and expression. Love your work, Noni.

And now a word from my sponsor, otherwise known as "My Real Job"

One of the things I have been struggling with of late is the work/write balance. My overall goal, as I guess it is for all writers and creative types, is to make enough money from my creative pursuit to be able to do it full time. At the moment, I am working part-time in a fantastic small accounting practice with bosses and colleagues who understand that accounting, alas, is not my first love. (Cue the collective intake of breath from accountants everywhere).

I am therefore very lucky that they allow me lee-way to work 3-4 days a week, depending on the tax “season” and overall workload, although I know that the offer to work full time is always available. I am also lucky enough to have a supportive wife who earns enough for me to not have to work full time, even though we are spending money hand-over-fist on renovating our first house.

I struggle with this at the moment because I feel like I am not able to give 100% to either pursuit, and feel like I am splitting myself in two – while I am at work, I am thinking about writing, and while I am researching or writing, I am thinking about work. It’s a delicate balance, and one that Joanna Penn from The Creative Penn talks about on her blog – Writing and the Mixed Blessing of a Day Job. (Fantastic site – I visit it weekly for inspiration and tips).

In it she lists the upsides to having a “real” job. This post really got me thinking about how much I need to re-evaluate my feelings about my own day job. I guess the pros and cons depend on who you are and how you write. I tend to write in mad flourishes, and spend most of my other writing time either plotting or researching – often working on more than one idea, which amuses my by-the-numbers, oh-so-organised wife no end. She makes lists (oh does she make lists!) and follows them, mostly top to bottom. Sometimes she makes lists for me to do on my day off. I look at them, and cross of the stuff I don’t want to do rather than the stuff I’ve actually done. Defeats the point, I know, but I view lists as more of a suggestion box for things that I may or may not get around to. Which brings me back to my day job. I utilise lists there too – though I tend to “snooze” most of them for days on end until Outlook pokes me in the eye and yells “Just do the damn job already!” Or our fantastic admin staff threaten to tie me to my chair until I get my jobs done.

I’ve been lucky over the last 3 months or so that it’s been relatively quiet at work – out of tax season and further ahead of our work than we thought we’d be, so I was able to drop back to 3 days a week and spend an extra day at home. While I have managed to get a lot of work done, mostly on plotting and charcterisation (I am trying desperately to be more organised before I write so I don’t stop-start so much), I have still suffered from writus interruptus thanks to rebuilding our kitchen from the ground up and having to be available at any time of the day for tradesmen to traipse through the house to do their thing.

The ironic thing about all of this is the more I can’t write, the more I want to. This is the attitude I am hoping to carry over through the impending tax season. This week is my first week back to four days a week, and that will continue for the foreseeable future – at least until after Christmas, depending on my work load (and the generosity of my bosses). In one of my earlier posts, I cited my day job as a big obstacle to my goal of completing NaNoWriMo for the first time this year. And that’s mostly because tax isn’t something you can switch off from after 5pm like some other professions. I’m hoping to come up with some way to switch modes from tax to writing after 5pm – alcohol maybe, but I’m open to suggestions.

In honour of going back to my day job four days a week, the top four Best Things About My Day Job are:

  1. Morning tea time – The 20(-ish) minute social interaction when we all stop work for coffee and to ponder over what everyone brought to snack on. This is especially interesting because of one of our accountant’s reactions to any type of food he has not seen before. And sometimes, someone will bring in biscuits or cakes to share. What’s not to love? 
  2. Getting paid – Writing does not pay my bills, and just so that burden is not left completely up to my wife, the dollars in the bank are much-appreciated. Though the way we’re going with our renovating budget, I may have to take that extra day at work as well as a second job.
  3. Political/climate change/conspiracy theory/football discussions – Yes, Mark, I’m talking about you! Love these discussions, honestly. They get me out of my funk and away from having to deal with painful clients and/or accounts for at least an hour. And last but not least…..
  4. The Charity Chocolate Box – Chocolates at my fingertips. They are way too tempting to be totally honest, and I should really try harder to resist, but hey. Who can resist the call of chocolate to cure that three-thirty-itis? Not I!

So as you can see, I do appreciate my day job. And yes, the people I work with are great too. And I know they won’t take offence when I say that no matter how much I like that working with tax pays my bills, I would still much rather be writing!

Renovation Relaxation

So this is the old kitchen that we ripped out last couple of weekends (The major reason for my latest procrastination). The cupboard in the left corner we assume was not original, as it came out in about 10 minutes. The cupboards on the right were made from tongue-and-groove and HUGE nails, so took about 2 hours to knock out. It was so worth it though. Because we went from this crappy old thing, to this…….

 And this….

It’s so much more functional than before, and we have so much more storage and bench space. In fact, we have so much space to put everything, we’re not entirely sure where everything should be going.

To finish it off, we now have to decide on the splash-backs. Tiles or zenolite? White or throw in some colour? Big tiles or little tiles? Stainless steel behind the stove? More decisions! Hopefully we’ll have it finished by Christmas….

What do you think? Should we go with tiles or something more fancy? Stay with neutrals or throw in some colour?

All Animals Are Equal (Some are more equal than others)

There’s been a huge hoohah on the net over the last few days about gay marriage being back on the agenda here in Australia thanks to New York passing their marriage laws. State Labor parties are also pushing Federal Labor to amend the Marriage Act to include gay marriage, or at least to change their policy regarding it at the next Federal Labor conference. A lot of articles have been written for and against gay marriage, and I’ve read a lot of them over the past few days, as well as the huge number of comments that these articles tend to attract.
I  have been equally saddened, angered, frustrated and dumb-founded at some of the blatant bigotry, naive indifference, and sheer ignorance at some of those comments. I have been heartened, though, at some of the comments made by people (not just gays) arguing for gay marriage. Basically, as I see it, these are the main arguments or concerns people against gay marriage have and make, along with my (hopefully brief) thoughts on each:

That’s the way it’s always been
(Also known as “That’s what the Marriage Act says, so ner” and “It’s our word, get your own”)

I really don’t care if it’s called “marriage” or “civil union”, as long as it confers the same rights to my wife (yes, wife) and I as my sister and her husband. But let’s be totally honest here. When a couple decides to take that extra step in their relationship and make that commitment in front of their family and friends, it’s called a “marriage” – a coming together of two people. No different to what my wife and I want to do, legally. Our friends and family call my wife exactly that, and when asked of our relationship status, they all refer to us as being married. It’s the socially accepted term for that relationship, so why change the term? Definitions change, especially when they’re legal or social, which is what we’re arguing about here. Besides, would you like to tell people you’re “civilly unioned”?

Homosexuals are a minority – why change the law for a minority?
(Also known as “There are more important issues to deal with” and “Let’s have a referendum and let the majority decide once and for all.” Sometimes disguises itself as “I know gay people and they don’t even want to get married”)

There is no doubt that the GLBTI community is a small one compared, say, to Christians, Muslims, and AFL supporters. In fact, there’s probably more people who watch synchronised swimming than are (openly) in the GLBTI community. Depending on which study you read, we range from .000001% of the population to around 10-15%. Let’s just split the difference and say we number around the 7% mark. It really is irrelevant. Laws are made for everyone, not just the majority. There are plenty of minority groups in society who have been discriminated against in the past, and who are no longer because laws were changed to stop this. When you restrict a group of people from accessing certain rights and responsibilities because of sex, age, race, religion or sexuality – or simply because they’re a minority – that’s discrimination. And it’s certainly no reason to NOT change the law.
As for the “I know gay people” line, I’d like to thank all those people for speaking on my behalf. I could also say I know lots of unemployed people and they all rort the system, but is that really true of all unemployed people? (On second thoughts, maybe a bad example…)
Just because I “know people” doesn’t make it true across the board, and it also doesn’t give me permission to speak on their behalf. I know heterosexual people who don’t want to get married – but guess what? They have that choice. I don’t. Don’t assume something just because you “know people”.

Homosexuality is a lifestyle choice
(Also known as “Homos are promiscuous and can’t maintain long-term relationships”)

I’m not really sure where this myth comes from – maybe people equate Mardi Gras with lots of sex and drugs, and therefore all gays must be like this all the time. I actually laugh when I see this one in a comment thread. My response? Glass houses and stones anyone? Promiscuity is not restricted to gays, and we’re not having any more one-night stands and non-relationship sex than your average heterosexual. Don’t believe me? Go out to a night club on a Friday or Saturday night and check out the number of straight people going home with someone different each night. This really is a mute point as far as I’m concerned, because someone (regardless of sexuality) who has a different sexual partner each night is hardly the type of person who would think marriage would be a great idea anyway.
There are plenty of people who, for whatever reason, can’t seem to find the “right one” and have trouble maintaining a long-term, healthy relationship, but this is not dependant on your sexuality.
A lifestyle choice is deciding to live on the coast, or to work from home, or to stop work completely and live a self-sustainable life on a hobby farm in a country town. Being gay is not a lifestyle choice. The only “choice”, if there is one, is whether to stay in the closet and live a lie, or be happy and confident in who you are, and live your truth. I could have married a man (I was engaged when I was much younger) but this would have been a huge mistake. I was never really happy until I met my current partner seven years ago. We are a normal couple, doing normal couple-y things. I really am no different to anyone else when it comes to my relationship, except my partner is a woman.

Religious reasons
(Also disguised as “The gay agenda is to convert innocent children and vulnerable adults to their cause”)

I understand where people of and with faith are coming from here. Honestly, I do. But the point is, I don’t go around expecting you to change your life to fit in with my ideals, so why should you expect me to do the same? And before anyone howls me down and says this is exactly what allowing gay marriage would do, think about it this way. Have you ever seen a gay group going from door-to-door, handing out rainbow-coloured pamphlets asking you to come to their gay club, Mardi Gras or Pride event? No? What about gay groups “teaching” in schools? No? Look, I have nothing against religious groups knocking on doors or teaching RE/RI in schools. In fact, more power to them – it takes a lot of guts. But please don’t confuse the “gay agenda” with “conversion”. As far as I’m concerned, there’s only one particular group of people doing the converting and it certainly ain’t me and my rainbow friends.
The other myth being circulated is that churches will have to perform gay marriage ceremonies. This is a total nonsense. Churches and religions already have leeway set within the law to actively discriminate against things that go against their teachings. And that’s ok. I don’t expect them to change. What I would like, though, is instead of those of faith thinking that this is going to affect them, realise that most of us have nothing against you – we just don’t have the same beliefs as you, that’s all. Nothing more, nothing less.
I don’t want recognition of my relationship from God, just the government who is happy to take my taxes, but not give me the same rights as my hetero friends and family.

What happens in the event of a relationship breakdown?
(Also known as “Won’t somebody think of the children” and “Children have no choice to be born/brought up in these relationships”)

Firstly, thanks to the change in de facto laws, we now have access to the family court. So there’s nothing different between the breakdown of a hetero relationship and a gay relationship – except there may be more arguments over who gets the soft furnishings.
As for children and their choices – tell me what child gets the choice (ever!) to be born into ANY relationship or family – whether that be heterosexual or homosexual? Do children get the choice to be born to wealthy parents as opposed to those on skid row? What about those kids who much prefer parents who are more interested in sport rather than academia? See how silly this one is?
I understand concerns about children growing up with two mums or two dads, and perhaps there not being enough influence of the other sex, but this one depends entirely on your view of family. My wife and I are not having children, but if we did, those kids would have plenty of male role models. They’d have two grandfathers, 4 uncles and plenty of extended family and friends to boot. As for teasing and bullying, well that’s going to happen anyway, and often is borne of kids not understanding that different doesn’t necessarily mean bad. It’s up to us, as the adults, to teach our kids this point. Bullying is always going to be around, and that’s a sad fact. The only thing we can do is equip our kids with enough confidence in who they are to overcome it.

It will invalidate or de-value heterosexual marriage

Does the guy up the street who beats his wife invalidate your marriage? What about the woman at work who’s getting married for the third time? The only ones who can add value to your marriage are you and your wife/husband. And the only ones who can de-value it are you and your wife/husband. Someone completely unknown to you cheating on their wife/husband in no way affects your marriage – unless of course you’re the one doing the cheating or being cheated on. That’s a whole different story. My point is, when you walk down the street and see a couple holding hands, you have no idea whether they’re married or not, whether they have children or not, or whether they’re friends with benefits. And it has nothing to do with you either. None of those scenarios have any impact on how you see your marriage.
The real truth of the matter is, “we” gays want marriage because of the stability it represents, both to us as couples and to our friends and families. My wife and I had our “Big C” (commitment ceremony or non-legal marriage) two years ago. My wife didn’t think she’d feel any different, as she knew it wouldn’t overly change the strong relationship we already have. However, even though it wasn’t legal, we did feel different – stronger, two parts of something bigger than ourselves individually. Now if only the government would recognise that too.

Overall, I can understand some of the points against gay marriage – though truthfully, really only the religious arguments. And while I do think it will be inevitable that the laws will get changed to allow us the priviledge of legally walking down the aisle, I think there is still a long way to go.
We are all human, and we all have the same wants and needs. Some of us are just that little bit different. That doesn’t make us bad – it just makes us different, that’s all. I love my wife, and she loves me. As far as we’re concerned, we’re married, whether it’s legal or not. And we will do it all again when it does become legal, even if that means we’re both old and decrepit and can only manage to rustle up our witnesses from off the street because all our friends and family are gone. Until then, I will continue to love my wife, and honour her as I promised in my “Big C” vows in front of our friends and family (even if that is out of threat of harm from her friends – just kidding guys – really!)
My big hope is that one day, people will no longer look at my wife and I holding hands when we walk down the street and see us as a curiosity, but as the sweet, loving, committed couple we are.

As always, I would love to know your thoughts. This is a big issue for so many people. “Yes” or “no”? “Marriage” or “civil union”? Share your thoughts below.

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