20 November 2008

Happy Birthday to Me

I don't have a lot to say about 41...it seems an insignificant, if not unattractive number.

But my new kitty (who, in lieu of a nomenclature of consensus, Kevin persists in referring to as 'our Australian daughter') adores the fruit basket from my mother almost as much as myself.
However, she seems to appreciate the box even more than I appreciate the lychee fruit...
Special thanks to JD for the very apropos card and to my FIL for the lovely postcard.

18 November 2008


"So did you see Hugh and Nicole down on the red carpet last night?"

"No, but I saw a group of aboriginals lighting the grass on fire in the park by the Redfern Station."

15 November 2008


I recently met an American woman who, after living here for 12 years, had developed an Australian accent so strong as to render her verbally incognito. While I have altered my pronunciation of a few words – mostly because I got tired of getting sideways glances for saying ‘to-MAY-to sauce’ or “BAY-sil” or “go fuck YOUR self” – I cannot imagine ever losing my native tongue completely. I admit, that having become accustomed to hearing muted vowel sounds, I often cringe when I hear Americans terrorizing ‘a’ and ‘o’, and I always consider it a compliment when people tell me my own accent is soft, which I assume means that I do not abuse words such as ‘like’ and ‘y’know’ and ‘totally’.

I have, however, adopted several colorful turns of speech, mostly because they are fun, but occasionally because they are insipid and have simply infiltrated my personal vernacular without my notice. For example, when someone is teasing me or giving me a hard time I might say “Are you taking a piss on me?” This is great fun because they don’t know if I know what I am talking about and cannot decide if they should explain the difference between ‘taking a piss on someone’ and ‘taking the piss out of someone’. If the situation is becoming emotionally charged, I might excuse myself by saying “I have to go crack a shit” which further confuses them as to whether I am truly getting angry or merely have an irritable colon and no sense of discretion.

Of the insidious linguistic idiosyncrasies that have become a part of my daily banter, my favorite by far is “And…yeah.” This phrase is incredibly useful (and widely employed by broadcasters, politicians, and especially athletes) when one is making a point or relating an amusing anecdote and has simply run out of words. It seems such a natural way to signify the conclusion of a collection of thoughts that I often wonder how I ever managed to let people know when I was done speaking.

The Australian lexicon is renowned for its exotic creativity, and I am often queried about various expressions and terminology. While I am indeed vastly entertained by this subject, I have not made any sort of extensive catalogue of my personal observations, mostly because there are ample internet-based resources already dedicated to such translations. If you want to know more about my individual collection of idioms (such as ‘budgie smuggler’ or ‘chuck a wobbly’ or ‘Pommie bastard’), it would best be done in person. We could sit down over a cold pint, have a nice chat, and…yeah.

10 November 2008

The Compromise of Privacy

Either by intention or serendipity, most of our 14 housing arrangements over the last 20 years have afforded us a considerable degree of privacy, such that unabashed nudity within the confines of our living space is a regular centerpiece of our existence. This is equally true for our current situation, as our 18th floor unit is mostly invisible to the surrounding buildings. However, once a year, the management arranges a sort of Christmas present for the tenants in the form of a window washing.

It is indeed unsettling to come strutting out of the bathroom with a towel around one's head only to find a man dangling outside one's window. However, I somehow managed not to spill my coffee. Fortunately, I was just able to duck around the corner and grab my robe (and my camera) before my privacy was fully compromised.

And then I went to work, fully content in the knowledge that I would not be asked to rappel from any great height...nor to wash a window.

06 November 2008

The Shredder

Dear Mr. Bush, Dear Mr. Cheney,

Allow me to offer my condolences on your impending unemployment. I am sure this is a very busy time for you, which is why I would like to offer to you the services of my cat. She possesses remarkable talents in the art of paper shredding - of which I am certain you are in desperate need at the moment.

Attached, please find a visual resume of her qualifications.

Kind regards and good riddance.

P.S. She is also very good at catching bugs. Perhaps there is a cabinet position available for her in the Department of Homeland Security? Please feel free to pass her details on to the President Elect, as I am sure his future offices will greatly benefit from her abilities.

05 November 2008


Every four years.

Without fail.

You’d think, that after 16 years, it might be a non-issue by now.

16 years!

But, No!

Every four years:

“So, are you going to break my nose again tonight?”

How did 16 years go by so fast?

It really doesn’t seem like that long ago that we were sitting in the Hillsdale Pub in Southwest Portland, savoring delicious hand-crafted stouts, eating thin cut fried potatoes drenched in malt vinegar and watching the election results roll in from across the nation, when a storm blew out the power and the staff responded with a rapid deployment of candles throughout the bar, the crowd of patrons instantaneously transforming from a boisterous mob into a cloister of intimate confidants. When the power came back on, the verdict was delivered. The Democrats had reclaimed the Federal Government and Bill Clinton was our new President.

We celebrated this momentous victory with a few more pints before driving home. (Yes, we drove home…but it was only a few blocks and it was mostly downhill.) We were quite giddy by the time we reached our parking lot. We were young and silly, and I chose that opportunity to demonstrate a Philip Marlowe maneuver I had learned...or was it Sam Spade? Deftly, I pulled down the shoulders of Kevin’s zipped jacket, rendering him defenseless against my onslaught of gentle punches. Unfortunately, the immobilization of his arms also left him defenseless against the forces of gravity, such that when he tripped over a parking curb, he had no choice but to brace his fall with his face. Indeed, he put quite a dent in the aluminum siding and the blood stain persisted for several months. Fortunately, the anesthetic effects of the alcohol lasted throughout the visit to the emergency room, and the four stitches hold a place of honor in our scrapbook to this day.

However, on THIS day, we found ourselves once more a part of a momentous victory…only we were able to appreciate it on a much larger scale. It is a rare occasion when one is able to tap into the experience of global consciousness, to know the whole world is having the exact same conversation at the exact same time. All around us tonight, people expressed feelings of excitement, of relief, of bewilderment, and of curiosity, but more than anything else, of hope.

Only we were drinking Pinot Grigio instead of beer.

I overheard someone say, “Today, I feel like I can like America again.”

Then Kevin said:

“So, are you going to break my nose again tonight?”