Here’s my first attempt at a feature article. Turn to page 16 for “Hooking Up” by Kate Moriarty!
Here’s my first attempt at a feature article. Turn to page 16 for “Hooking Up” by Kate Moriarty!
OK, so here’s what happened.
I got a voicemail from the office of our local member of parliament. Now it just so happens that our local MP is friends with my husband. I mean, they’re not BFFs, but they get along well together. In the voicemail, Brad-the-Staffer said that our MP was going to be at a media event tomorrow and wanted to make sure he had enough people there to protest the closing of a police station. My first thought was “Thanks, but no thanks!”. But then I considered the following:
I had one argument in opposition:
But I could get around that one point. My makeup bag had been missing for a bit, but I’d recently found it at the bottom of the coat rack by the front door. Inside that makeup bag would be a tube of foundation. I didn’t often wear foundation, but I knew a light coating would do wonders to disguise my spots. I was all set.
The next morning (the day of the Media Event), after sorting out all the usual morning things (nappies, breakfast, clothes, nappies, coffee, dishes and nappies). I set to work. I tried to find something to wear that looked both “stylish and sophisticated” and “everyday casual”. Then I fished out my newfound makeup bag from its hiding spot and opened it up to get my foundation.
Except it wasn’t there.
I went on a crazy search rampage all over the house and the floor of the car making frantic strangled noises as I did so. But it was no good and I was out of time. I loaded the children into the car and headed off. I would stand near the back, preferably behind somebody in a large hat. I would help make up numbers. I would avoid all cameras.
We arrived late and out of breath. It looked like I was the only one who brought kids, so it was a good thing I had such an abundant supply. Somebody handed us posters to hold and I did my best to look unobtrusive and nondescript. I was a background artist. The more background the better.
Then the blandly handsome Man from the Network spoke to us. He looked vaguely familiar. As he talked us through the logistics of this media event, a few things became more clear to me:
Once we were arranged into our positions, it was time for us to be filmed. The Man from the Network asked us to chant “WE WON’T COP THIS” and “WHAT A COP OUT” loudly and without cringing. And we stood there and we shouted the words because The Man from the Network had some strange hypnotic charm that we were powerless to resist.
After our impassioned slogan chanting, it was time for The Man from the Network to film individual interviews with concerned residents. To my great relief, plenty of people were willing to go on camera and have their say. While this was happening, I monitored my children as they balanced on the police station’s brick fence and chatted to the Shadow Minister for Police, whom I discovered is an absolutely lovely man, who also has a young family.
It was just as I was thinking “I could probably leave now and nobody would notice” that I turned and saw Guy Smiley and his film crew standing right in front of me. “We would really like to hear from you,” he intoned. I shook my head and apologised and made polite excuses, but then he smiled. And he had SO MANY TEETH. And they were so white. I found myself nodding helplessly and the camera started rolling.
Now, as I was getting ready that morning, my mind did explore what I might say in the event I was interviewed. Let me tell you, the Kate in my mind was so eloquent, so articulate, so intelligent. The Kate in my mind spoke of “knock on effects”, “unintended consequences”, and “furthermore, what compounds this problem…”. Naturally, it follows that once the camera was on me and the Network Man twinkled sympathetically and asked “As a mother, do you feel fearful for your children’s future in a world without police?”, I responded glibly “Errr… duh… police are…goooood…”
And it only got worse from there. A goodly portion of my fifteen minutes of fame will be expended looking like a measles patient and blathering on like a bewildered four-year-old. Oh help.
As I stumbled away in the wake of the interview, I once again met with the Shadow Minister (incidentally, I think somebody should write a series of graphic novels about “Shadow Minister”. Legislator by day – vigilante by night!). I was still feeling a little dazed. “I had some really smart things to say on this issue, but once the camera was rolling, they all flew out of my head and I couldn’t think of what to say!”
The Shadow grinned ruefully, “Welcome to my life!” he said.
Later that day, I purchased foundation, BB cream, tinted moisturiser, and two types of concealer. I also discovered the missing foundation in my husband’s car. I’ve been watching the current affairs show every evening. On Monday night, there was a special event that took up most of the episode. One of the survivors of the 2006 Beaconsfield Mine Disaster’s marriage had failed. The current affairs show in question had managed to secure rights to interview this man and his soon-to-be-ex wife. This also gave them the opportunity to get more mileage out of the exclusive interviews of the miners they purchased eleven years ago.
On Tuesday night, there was an exposè, entitled “Butter Price SCANDAL”. “SCANDAL” was in red letters, stamped diagonally across the title. But, still, no “cop out” story.
Wednesday and Thursday were still bereft of slogan chanting locals concerned about law and order, but all was not lost. I did find out that one of the actors from a hospital drama in the 90s is going to jail. Half the article was spent explaining who exactly this man is, which was very helpful.
“Maybe it’s taking so long because they need a lot of time to photoshop the spots off your face,” was Christopher Robin’s helpful suggestion.
I’m nervous. All my friends are going to watch my debut television performance, because even though I meant to keep it a secret, I also can’t resist telling a funny story. I’m going to receive a lot of teasing over this.
But I’ll just have to cop it.
PS. It did air. On Friday. I’m barely in it at all! If you squint, you can see me in one of the group shots, but mostly it’s Kate-free. I can only assume they tried to photoshop the pimples away, but as I was more spot than woman, they erased me completely. You will be relieved to hear, however, that both slogans made the cut. If I were inventing this story, I wouldn’t have written it this way, but the real life version is a bit of an anticlimax!
One of the reasons I haven’t been posting so often on this blog as I would like is because I got myself a paid job as a columnist for a really-truly magazine. It still thrills me to get an email from My Editor, describing the requirements and deadline for the next column; it gives me such a buzz to have an Important Reason to go off to the cafe to write and edit; and it sends me through the roof to send off the finished copy to be published.
Because everything is done via email and from home, it almost doesn’t seem real. If my life were a movie, there could easily be a twist halfway through in which the audience discovers that the important Editor Kate has been corresponding with and writing so feverishly for is, in fact, a mere psychological construct, a delusion, built to fulfil Kate’s desperate desire to have her writing taken seriously. What we have been witnessing has in fact been a young mother’s school-lunch-and-laundry-fuelled descent into madness. Gripping viewing.
But there is one day in all the year that reassures me that it’s not all made up and I am, in fact, a writer. An after-work Christmas Drinks at the offices of Jesuit Publications. A place to meet other writers and have proper adult conversations. I couldn’t wait.
You might remember me talking about this epic event last year, when I brought the twins with me. This year, I would be child-free. A proper, grown-up writer. And even though Wednesday was a crazy day with everything on, I was going to make it work if it killed me. I even put together a timeline to make sense of it all. It looked like this:
1. (9:00am) Mum takes Annie to kinder, morning jobs and schoolwork done
2. (11:00am) Early lunch
3. (12:00pm) Drop Harry at his atrium session.
4. (12:10pm) Go to the shops to buy ingredients for the salad the children would be bringing to the scout barbecue that evening. Also get birthday present for Matilda’s friend.
5. (1:30pm) Pick up Harry.
6. (1:40pm) Get dressed up. Make salad. Prep swimming gear.
7. (3:00pm) Pick Annie up.
8. (4:00pm) Swimming lessons
9. (5:00pm) Drive to husband’s work
10. (5:15pm) Swap cars with husband. Husband drives to scout BBQ. I drive to city.
11. (6:00pm) Arrive at party. Acquire glass of champagne and fashionably bored facial expression.
It all went pretty smoothly until Step 6 (get dressed up / make salad / prep swim gear). I had put Matilda in charge of the salad preparation. I needed to put a lot of work into getting ready. I was going for ‘Sophisticated Writer to be Taken Seriously’, not ‘Dowdy Matron’. I even went to the trouble of putting shimmery bronzing cream on my arms and (shaved!) legs. The stuff was hard to open as I haven’t used it in over a year. I was as I was wrestling myself into a pair of magic underpants, designed to stop people from congratulating me and asking when the baby is due, that Matilda called up the stairs.
“Mum . . . I think you might need to take a look at this”
The salad stuff we bought was pretty straightforward – cherry tomatoes, olives, avocado and a large bag of pre-washed ready-to-go lettuce mix. It would only take a few minutes to assemble. But we had hit a roadblock. The un-opened bag of pre-washed lettuce contained a very large, live insect.
I sighed, tossed the salad bag into the car and proceeded to step 7 (pick Annie up). The kinder assistant was curious to know why I wasn’t in my usual uniform of jeans, sneakers and banana-spattered science-fiction t-shirt. I swelled up and told her about my grown-up writer event. The assistant looked genuinely impressed. This woman has seen me bring four of my children through the kinder and has been privy to all of my organisational fails – turning up late, forgetting forms and money, failing to provide family photos, failing at book week. I don’t often feel like a grown up when I come to kinder. But today was different.
It was with a jaunty swagger that I hurtled towards step 7.1 (return defective salad). I got myself a salad upgrade and a refund. I ignored the uneasy feeling that I was merely replacing the salad with more from the same poorly washed batch – I had no time!
I applied my make up at the red lights on the way to swimming lessons and managed to achieve a convincing ‘smoky eye’ over the course of three backed-up intersections. Whilst the children were in the pool, I put together one page of ideas on how I could revolutionise the magazine, just in case the conversation tended in that direction.
After handing the car, children and salad over to my husband, I drove off to battle the traffic. The Google Maps lady kept cheerfully directing me through bewildering shortcuts. One time she asked me to turn right from a side street onto a busy road with no traffic lights. Then she made me cross three lanes of thick traffic in 500 metres. I got the sense she was enjoying herself.
As I waited in a stagnant river of cars and painted my nails, I realised in dismay that I’d forgotten to do my homework. I’d planned to bone up on back issues of the magazine and its sister publications. I’d wanted the work of the writers I’d be meeting to be fresh in my mind so I could pay them the compliment of being familiar with their work. Alas! I would have to wing it.
When I finally pulled into the carpark at Jesuit Publications, I took a few moments to recover. I pulled my hair out of its ponytail-knot. I had washed my hair in the morning and tied it up when it was still damp. If my plan worked, it would be all tumbling waves when I took it out. But it wouldn’t last long, which is why I waited until just now. I looked at myself in the rearview mirror. My hair looked AMAZING. I can’t remember the last time my hair looked that good. I wanted to take a selfie. I finally understood why people TOOK selfies. But no time! Must go be a grown up writer and impress people. I tucked my one page of revolutionary ideas into my bag. Just in case.
I must have been one of the first people to arrive, despite my fears of being late. There weren’t many cars about and the balcony seemed rather quiet. I slowed my step. I didn’t want to be too keen. I tried to open the door. It was locked. Strange. Slowly, very slowly, I pulled out my phone to check the date on the invitation.
Oh. What is WRONG with me?
You see, I had been telling everyone it was on Wednesday, I had made preparations for Wednesday, I had even emailed my editor and signed off with ‘see you Wednesday!’, I just hadn’t properly checked the date on the invitation. My “Wednesday” claim was not backed by solid evidence.
The drinks were scheduled for Thursday.
Tomorrow, my hair would be lank, my nail polish chipped and my dress would smell of day-old car sweat. I was never going to look as grown up and fabulous as I did in that moment, and there was nobody there to see it. I dragged my feet back to the car. If my life were a film, this would be the climax when the protagonist realises that there is no ‘Jesuit Publications’. She would rub her eyes and realise the office she was trying to access, was, in fact, an accountancy firm and the magazine had been a mere figment of her tortured mind.
I sat in the car, feeling rather bereft. I needed to find a bright side. In the end, I found four:
I felt a bit better as I drove back through all the traffic. When I got to the scout hall, I discovered another bright side:
5. I was totally the best-dressed mum at the scout BBQ!
Things weren’t so bad. I was still a grown-up writer. And if the kinder assistant asked me how things went, I could always lie through my teeth. She doesn’t need to know.
I smiled smugly and fixed myself a plate of insect salad.
There are two baskets of clean washing on my living room floor.
In my bedroom, there are two full baskets and three more are sitting outside my bedroom door (“tripping hazard!” says Mr Knightley). One of these baskets is full of unmatched children shoes, the rest have more clean washing.
I also discovered a basket of clean washing under the desk in the schoolroom/nursery/study and another in the boys’ room. There is a basket with dirty washing in the girls’ room, but I suspect it began life as a basket of clean washing, which got buried.
I figure I really should do something about this. So I tipped one of the bedroom baskets into the other one. Now I only have one basket of clean washing on my bedroom floor.
It feels good.
Oh, blog! How I’ve missed you! I’m sorry it’s been so long since I wrote to you. I’ve been very busy not putting washing away.
So I figure I should probably write the sequel to my previous post. The only problem is, it’s not very interesting. So I’m going to just give it to you in point form. That way you can have a story which is not to interesting to begin with, plus the added bonus of lazy writing. Enjoy.
It’s several weeks since I got my hair done and it’s settled in a lot better now. I even had a go fixing the layers myself with a pair of nail scissors. The next time I go to the hairdressers, I’ll be more specific about what I want.
The very thought is making me sweat icicles.
I really need a haircut. It’s becoming ridiculous. This morning, when I was putting my jeans on, my pony tail got caught in the waistband. And my hair keeps getting involved when I try to eat soup, it just sort of drapes itself into the bowl. Plus it’s the wrong colour. I’m supposed to be blonde, but my hair seems to ignore this fact. Now the wrong-coloured roots have grown past my shoulders. The wrong colour has taken over. I try to tell people it’s ‘ombre’ or ‘balayage’, but really it’s the ‘avoiding salon’ effect.
You might think it sounds glamorous, but it’s not. It was all very well when I was pregnant. Double-pregnancy hormones made my hair all glossy and full of body (I was full of body everywhere, it would seem). And, what’s more, I had a legitimate reason for not getting my hair done. I was far too pregnant. But once the twins were born, all my pregnancy hair fell out and gathered in tumbleweeds about the house. My look was no longer “Pregnant Gisele Bundchen On Her Day Off” rather “Drab But Pious Homeschool Mother Sews Aprons For Her Sister Wives”.
I know I would feel better if my hair were shorter and back to its proper colour. I know all I have to do is work out a time and pick up a phone and make an appointment and turn up, it’s just that…
Hairdressers make me nervous. There. I said it.
Most of the time I’m a confident, articulate person and a great conversationalist. But something about a room full of blow dryers and the smell of Moisture-Lock Colour-Hold Super Salon Treatment Spray sends me spinning all the way back to Grade Five. My tongue gets all thick. I don’t know what I’m supposed to say.
And I already felt like an odd and awkward sort of person when I went to the hairdressers before I had six children and decided to homeschool them. Now I feel like a total freak.
I’m intimidated by the amount of power the hairdresser has over me. A hairdresser has the ability to affect how you feel about yourself when you look in the mirror for the next six weeks (or, in my case, two years). Just how much bleach is she putting in that mix? What does she mean ‘caramel highlights’? What if she interprets my request for ‘layered cut’ as ‘Warwick-Capper-Mullet’?
I tried to tell my friend M about my problem a couple of days ago, when she told me I needed a hair cut.
“Is it too expensive?”
“No.” (well, it is expensive, but that’s not the reason)
“Do you need babysitting?”
“No.” (except that I do, but that’s not the reason)
“Do you just want to keep your hair the way that it is?”
“No.” (it’s driving me crazy)
“Well, what’s the problem? What? What? I can’t hear you. Did you just say you’re frightened of the hairdresser?”
Later that day, I got a text from Lovely M. It was a link to a groupon for 75% off colour and cut at a salon not too far away. M offered to come with me and I was struck with a lovely vision of the two of us side-by-side with our hair in rollers and our heads underneath those bonnet hair-dryers, discussing that new band from England and whether we preferred Paul or Ringo. But after a few more texts, it dawned on me that M was not offering to get her hair done at the same time as me: she’d just been to the hairdressers, it’s what had sparked the conversation. M was offering to come along to hold my hand (her words).
It was at this point I realised I might have a problem.
“I can do this” I muttered to myself as I clicked my way through the sign-in process and keyed in my credit card details, “I am a GROWN UP.” And, ignoring the bland stares of the other people in the library, I triumphantly purchased my ticket to several weeks worth of good-hair-days.
It was only when I googled the name of the salon to find out the opening hours that I began to feel some reservations. The business had quite a lot of online reviews. There were three gushing five star reviews; the same number of reviews, I imagine, as of staff who work there. All the rest were scathing one-star reviews. Reviews that said the hairdressers were ‘rude’ and ‘mean’. I gulped.
I saw M again today.
“So anyway, I bought that groupon.” I announced, a little smugly. My tone also said “See? I’m totally capable.”
“When are you booked in?” she asked (a little knowingly, it must be said)
“Um, well, actually I haven’t booked it yet…” I stammered. The smugness was fast evaporating.
“Do you want me to call them for you? I can do it right now.”
“NO! No! I can do it!” I am capable, dammit!
“What’s their number?”
“No – I just need to check some things before I call them”
“Um, just some, um, things?”
I haven’t been yet. My hair is still getting snagged on door knobs and looking far too brown. But I will go. I figure if it’s a bad experience, it will make a neat sequel to this blog post. If it’s a good experience, I’ll have nice hair again. It’s win-win. So I’ll go. I’m totally going to book it. All I have to do is pick up the phone and arrange a time. And I will, I totally will.
My husband’s taken the kids to Aldi, so I really should write something. But I’m feeling the crush of perfectionism that comes when I’ve been away from the blog from too long. I feel guilty for avoiding you. Sometimes I forget that my blog isn’t actually a person, it really does feel that way sometimes.
I don’t have anything of great importance to share, but I thought I’d show you a few excerpts from messages I sent my family recently. After all, this is how this blog began. The original ‘fail’ posts were just group emails I sent out to my parents and brothers and sisters, many of whom were doing far more interesting things overseas.
Anyway, if you’re reading this and are related to me, please excuse the clip show. I’m just trying to get back in the swing of things.
Also, if you have an idea of something you’d like me to write about, drop me a line in the comments. I’m a bit ‘duh’ at the moment…
“Hi everybody. Annie, in her quest for milk, managed to distribute half a litre on the kitchen floor, over the top of a stool, into Matilda’s shoes and all throughout the plate cupboard (both shelves). The worst part is, I was in the room the whole time, just didn’t realise what she was up to.
The cup in question somehow got a hole in the bottom. I can imagine Annie thinking “Why does this keep happening to me? Perhaps I should try pouring it over here instead?”
Everybody’s decided to join in the “I’m a nutter Knightley” chorus. Christopher is still in his pyjamas doing dishes at a rate of 1 dish per hour, Harry keeps trying to turn the TV on, Daisy wants to be fed nonstop and I had to confiscate Matilda’s iPhone after she kicked Christopher in a temper. No Background Briefing podcast for you today, Missy!
So I went out with a bunch of nice homeschool mums last night. As we were walking to our cars I got a message from my husband: “ETA?”. He was thinking of watching a movie and wanted to know if he should start it without me. I surreptitiously communicated with my thumb: “We’re in the carpark now, but that could still mean another hour or two. These women do not know how to stop talking.”
Then my friend’s phone beeped. A moment later she says “was this message meant for me, Kate?” and she read it out. All at once I realised what I did. I saw my husband’s text on the screen of my phone as it came in, but when I opened Messages to reply, it took me to the screen I had open from before, when I was texting my friend to let her know I was on my way. I tried to gabble out an explanation, but it was a bit hard to talk because even my teeth were blushing.
I was home in time for the movie.
3. Ego a go go
I got an email from my editor yesterday. I was in the swimming pool cafe with Harry, Annie, Daisy and Poppy. I was a little noisy about it: “What’s this, children? An email from my EDITOR? I wonder what MY EDITOR would like me to write, me being a WRITER and all”
Then I looked impressively around the cafe. Harry said “I want chocolate.”