The Awkward-Scale For Teenage Boys When Shopping With Mom

I went shopping with my teenage son yesterday, whereupon he bestowed upon me one of the greatest honors of my parenting life when he told me that I was (and I quote) ‘a nightmare to be seen in public with.’

 

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‘Oh, and these ten packs of condoms and tube of lube for my son over there, please.’

 

Job well done, I say; if not for the niggling suspicion that the nightmarish aspects of my company had rather more to do with my senility than my embarrassing-mom qualities.

 

Although many men people would have us believe that men and women are very different, in my opinion, the only time there is a palpable difference between the genders is when it comes to clothes shopping. Now, before all you male fashionistas jump down my throat, let me explain. I have based this opinion on the two socially-anxious males in my house, for whom malls are almost as terrifying as attending a feminist rally in a Trump tee-shirt – something I blame on my mother-in-law, who used to chain-smoke her way around shopping malls just to get through the torture. Oh, how she would have loved online shopping – although I suspect that she understood even less about technology than the dangers of passive smoking.

 

Anyway, as such, clothes shopping with my son is, shall we say politely, is something that I avoid at all costs.

 

Perhaps a little more elaboration is required here. For not only does Kurt have a deep-seated hatred for crowds, bright lights, the smell of German bread (!) and the overwhelming choices that shopping throws up as a result of his ADHD, he is also incredibly fussy about what he puts on his body from a sensory processing perspective and his side order of OCD.  His wardrobe is lean, and any clothing lucky to make the cut into its minimally perfect world has a very limited shelf life. In general terms, that generally means he has a single outfit on the go at any time, and he washes it daily.

 

However, recently re-employed, (thank you, God), yesterday he was forced to beg the Bank Of Mom to tide him over with some new work clothes, and while I worked out the interest rate on my loan, he got to grips with the idea of a mall trip with mum, her symptoms of early-onset dementia, lack of filter, embarrassing approaches to every female she thinks is potential daughter-in-law material, zero sense of direction (particularly in car parks) and her middle-aged intolerance to just about everything – but particularly poor service. In other words, the afternoon did not bode well.

 

Rest assured, we lived to tell the tale and for your entertainment, the following are invaluable lessons that I learned, based on an innovative scientific scale – the awkward-scale or AS – that I have invented for this exact purpose:

 

DO NOT go into a pharmacy with your teenage boy because (apparently) any hot shop assistant will think you’re buying him condoms – AS 8

 

DO NOT drag your son to the till to pay for his new undies, because there is some awkward (perhaps sexual – Ewww) connotation in that as well – AS 9

 

DO NOT complain about anything, ask for a different size or ask for assistance in any shape or form – AS 7

 

DO NOT attempt to accompany him into the changing room, even if he walks around naked at home – AS 9

 

DO NOT express your disgust loudly at your usual Mexican lunch outlet and then try flirting with the hot, young assistant (your son’s age) when he tells you that they have started charging $2 for the avocado topping – AS 10

 

Learn how to use the self-service checkout – AS 8

 

Never discuss any medical/biological/sexual topic over coffee, especially when you know your voice has the phonic capability of reaching the Northern Hemisphere when you get over-excited. NEVER use the word moist – AS 10

 

NEVER feel the end of your son’s new shoes to check for growing room, especially when the girl serving him is future daughter-in-law material – AS 210

 

But the crime of the century should probably go to either, a) my appalling parking skill in public, in front of hundreds of shoppers/witnesses, because it is difficult to maneuver a family-sized vehicle around a column with Kendrick blasting in one ear and your son screaming in the other, ‘learn to drive, will you!’ Or, b) losing the parking ticket and having a very loud conversation with the man in the machine at the barrier, while everyone queued behind us.

11 Things I’m Bloody Loving Right Now

I’m sorry, I really am for ignoring you over the past few weeks, but in all honesty, while everyone else in Sydney has been fighting the flu, I’ve had a bad case of Blogger’s Block. Hence the decision with this little piece to reconnect, even if it isn’t one of the typically self-absorbed, cerebral pieces of drivel I normally churn out.

I don’t want you to think I’ve died.

Anyway, a loyal friend of mine who reads these little outpourings of mine, always tells me how much she loves my recommendations, lists of which I usually put out when I have fuck all else to say or can’t find the latest controversial piece of feminism or neo-Fascism to stir up with my wooden spoon.

I could lie and blame my “block” on how quintessentially busy my life is right now, but you’d know I was lying, and that in fact, my life is very boring. We’ve battened down the hatches as it’s winter here, Kurt is being suspiciously well-behaved, NC is working hard to complete her thesis and as sit in the grey area between winter and Christmas, there is frankly nothing to get my creative juices flowing.

So, without further ado, here are some of the things I’m attempting to spice up my life with at the moment:

drink-19202_1920Sangria – A bit retro, I know, but the old man decided to knock up a vat of this for my recent birthday celebrations and it was a massive hit. Recently reminded of its ice-breaking powers on our trip to Queensland, although I was initially cautious – from memories of painting the toilet bowl red on the Costa Del Sol in the eighties  – with an element of discipline, the drink didn’t wreak the havoc on my head in the way cheap red wine does these days. The old man chose a brandy-based version for his concoction and you should have seen the bun fight between middle-aged men to get to the punch bowl.

White-Fucking-Everything – It’s no secret that if I had only birthed Spoodles, my whole house would be white, and I am now converting my wardrobe to a similar colour scheme. I’m absolutely loving the classicism and simplicity of white jumpers, shirts, and trousers, which I lift with accents of gold or ocean blue. When we move back to The Beaches later this year, all my vibrant city colors will be out again and in will come the calming blues and neutrals of the ocean as well as my new, very expensive Hamptons furniture, which the old man will agree to invest in because he loves me so much. 11324TWDE_1

Rose-Gold Jewellery – Talking of gold, I treated myself to some new jewellery for my birthday and even though I hated rose-gold with a passion when it first became stylish a few years ago – mainly because it gets lost in my Rosacea – I’ve done a complete turn-around on this one because it warms up my three staple colours of white, black and blue of my wardrobe.

Decjuba is a clothes shop I’ve been frequenting recently, mainly because they make it so easy for me with their core colors of black and white, but also because they love stripes, are generous in their proportions and reasonably priced. I got this classic white shirt from there ($79.95) and if you’re a member you get a 10% discount, which really means it’s virtually free.

diamond_cushion_cover_in_seamist_by_ecodownunder_4Eco Down Under is another shop whose wares that offer “better environmental options”, I salivate over at the moment. Frustrated by the Princess’s paw prints on my white bed linen, the old man had a domestic hissy fit and asked me to invest in some muted pastels recently, and Eco’s simple, calming collection of bed linen and towels is fabulous. I think the cotton is a superior quality to other sets in the same price range and their sales are great – I got this Queen cover set for $59.

Pinot Noir – Friends and family have been on a mission to convert me to the red grape for decades, but I can be an obstinate bitch at times, dug my heels in, and stuck loyally to Chardy. Then one morning, (after a raucous night on the white), just like that I was converted to red. Pinot Noir is at the milder end of the red grape spectrum, according to those in the know, and having trialed and tested several from the budget end of the range at Dan Murphys, I can highly recommend the Frontera Pinot Noir, a steal at $10 a bottle. 824024_0_9999_med_v1_m56577569855120487

Game Of Thrones – If you’re not watching GOT, you have to question if you are truly existing. I had no choice with two die-hard fantasists in the house who both asked me when the dragons come in when they read my manuscript. Admittedly, the plots can be tricky for those of us middle-aged folk on a fast-track to Dementia with armies of characters with easily forgettable names, but it is nevertheless compelling viewing if for no other reason than to increase your appreciation of a good heating system. There is also Kit Harington, Nikolai Coster-Waldau, Iain Glen and Jason Mamoa…

maxresdefaultTom Hardy – And on the topic of talented actors, Tom Hardy has been on my radar since his performance as the mad Alfie Solomons in Peaky Blinders. Tom is very good at playing psychopaths and what woman doesn’t like a fictional bad boy? He also stole the show in The Revenant from Leo de Caprio and is currently mesmerizing as James Delaney in Taboo on BBC First, so imagine my surprise when he turned up as a very stiff-upper-lip World War 2 hero fighter pilot (swoon) in Dunkirk.

Halloumi – Since NC has guilted us out of eating meat most of the time and the egg debate has restarted – according to a recent article published in the Journal of Atherosclerosis Research, eating eggs is the equivalent of smoking five ciggies a day – I’ve switched to halloumi for lunch, (although I’d prefer the ciggies). The only problem with working from home is having to think about another meal, but halloumi has paved the way for some wonderful creations in our house. My fave is halloumi on toast with wilted spinach and roasted tomatoes, while NC knocks up a mean veggie burger with avocado (of course!), caramelized onions and chili. According to the Greek shelf stacker at my local Harris Farm, the Greeks sprinkle lemon and black pepper on the top.

Superga Sneakers – My Sciatica has now committed my body to flat shoes and since I threw anything higher than a few millimeters out in our recent Council clear-up,  I am living in these Superga Sneakers. I secretly wish I’d gone for the rose-gold version now (see anal-ness about colour coordination), but as these sneakers are available in an array of wonderfully kitsch patterns and colors and around $80 a pair,  I could probably have a pair for each one of my black outfits. download

And finally…

566349_xlarge_6Nude Magique BB cream by L’Oreal – I recommended the Clinique Redness Solutions foundation a while back which is great, but this is a lighter cream for daytime and it is fabulous for covering blemishes as well as making your skin feel as soft and velvety as your Granny’s. It is also about half the price at around $25 in Australia.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

When Will I Feel Grown Up Enough To Wear Grown-Up Clothes?

I know you’re probably thinking that this post is a replica of the one I wrote when I went through the trauma of finding a dress for my dad’s wedding earlier this year, but a second verbal vent is required after my most recent experience of trying to dress this sad, old middle-aged body. shopping-606993_1280

 

When the fuck are retailers going to cater for those of us middle-aged women who aren’t ready for floral tent-age and swathes of fabric un-tactfully placed to conceal our post-partum lumps?

How am I supposed to recover some of the confidence I used to have in my body when the world expects me to hide it away so I don’t offend anyone?

And how many Christmas cookies is too many?

 

After two separate, arduously soul-destroying and unproductive sessions at the mall -mission being to find a dress to wear on Christmas Day – I did something highly impulsive the other night. I ordered a dress online.

 

Obviously an excursion towards madness that turned out to be an unmitigated disaster and the meringue will be going straight back to the online store – mainly because Christmas is not fancy dress and so my version of brandy custard was probs not appropriate. But it’s a shame, because the experience highlighted my continuing sensitivity about this new body of mine and I thought I’d matured and accepted that it’s not what it was a long time ago. It’s not like I’m the star of the Christmas Day show anyway – apparently Jesus is, (although I’m sure NC will give him a run for his money) – but the Leo in me always wants to make an entrance, refuses to lie down and give in to the part of the ageing process that has gathered for Christmas to party on down in the zone where my stomach used to be.

 

For as long as I can remember I’ve treated myself to a new outfit to wear on Christmas Day. It goes back to my childhood, when one of mum’s traditions was that no matter how tight the finances were, at least we would look our best, in much the same way that we always wore decent underwear in case we were involved in an accident.

 

Sadly, my *cough* size 14, middle-aged body is not catered for in the high street stores and I’m learning to interpret the pitying looks the sales assistants throw my way when I make such a ridiculous request – but I can’t deny that acceptance of that is a slow and painful journey, and it’s Sods Law that since I’ve found some level of grace in relation to my rounder edges, every other middle-aged woman I see in the street appears diminutive.

 

Which is why I reached that level of desperation after hours of trawling around various malls, by the end of which I honestly would have sold my children for the perfect dress. I’d even ventured onto that hallowed floor in DJs where where the assistants look down their noses at you unless you are carrying a Calvin handbag , but fortunately no-one took me seriously enough in my Havaianas and Uniqlo dress for me to waste my hard-earned cash on what I know is effectively one dress for one day.

 

After which I decided to change my tactics completely and take a peek at the ranges that cater to my age group – that aren’t maternity – and the racks of voluminous, frumpy dresses that fashion experts believe us poor women who wear the scars of reproduction, hormone combustion and a talent for eating lots of cake, truly deserve. And I nearly puked.

 

I couldn’t do it. I might feel fucking old some days but I’m not ready to give in yet, no matter how much shop assistants try to convince me that flora-vomit pasted over my body and fuchsia tones suit me, or how well a kaftan swamps hides those awkward bits. I don’t feel grown up enough to wear grown-up women’s dresses yet.

 

Have you given in?

 

The Fashion Mistakes Teenagers Need To Make

We’ve been through a lot of stuff with our son Kurt, as many of you know, and I can’t deny that there have been occasions when I’ve felt a tad wistful as I’ve walked down the street and spotted groups of clean-shaven, preppy-looking boys in their Polo shirts and boating shoes. musician-664432_1280

 

The weight of loss at my son’s refusal to conform was brought home to me the other day when I took Kurt shopping for some new clothes. Well, I say ‘new clothes’…however Kurt’s shopping destination of choice is an inner city suburb in Sydney called Newtown, a hip, trendy neighbourhood that you’d hate to find yourself in alone after 7pm unless you’re between the ages of 17 and 23, (hence stupid enough), armed, a drug addict or an impoverished student.

 

Kurt has always had an individual style. I remember that we went through his Dalmation phase when he was four or five, when he insisted on wearing a dog costume everywhere he went for at least two years; then there was the phase when he refused to wear anything other than NC’s summer school dress, (until the day the old man decided that enough was enough after Kurt paraded it in front of all our friends at a dinner party), and finally there was his Michael Jackson year with that much crotch-grabbing I wondered at one point if he’d ever be able to have children.

 

We have recently reached his ‘impoverished student’ phase, even though it must be hard for him to carry it off when he lodges with us in one of Sydney’s more exclusive suburbs.

 

Looking back, we all went through this stage. I remember wearing sexless, baggy tee-shirts and ripped jeans at university, in fact anything to disguise the fact that I was a middle-class girl with breasts and hips and not the working class heroine who could talk about the unfairness of life with some authority that I aspired to be. However, in those days we shopped in charity shops to earn our badge of poverty, unlike Kurt, who shops in vintage stores. And we all know that whenever you add the ‘vintage’ label to clothing, it doubles in price.

 

What this means is that I am effectively paying the same money for second-hand clothes as I would pay for the equivalent new clothes in a high street store.

 

I wouldn’t mind so much if his choice of ‘vintage’ wasn’t always the most deplorable, kitsch, eighties-style, insult to fashion you can imagine – the sort of shite you beg, steal and borrow for an Abba party. Yes, I’m talking shell suits, headbands, patterned knitted jumpers and cardigans and button-fly Levi jeans.

 

It hurt me physically to part with the cash on the day and I sensed that even the heavily pierced assistant with the purple hair and tattoo sleeve felt some empathy for me when I moaned about it, sounding every inch as middle-aged as I felt while Kurt writhed with embarrassment beside me.

 

Just another stage, I reassured myself as we left. I know I need to encourage my son’s freedom of expression but it did hurt to watch him leave the shop looking like he needed new clothes.

Women + Shopping = Happiness

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Look how happy this woman looks!

I had a bit of a shite week last week and needed some release, so I decided to go shopping. It’s not something I like to admit to – needing to spend money to feel happy – because I’m sure it undermines my intelligence and makes me sound likes some weak, ‘hysterical’ female, but the need to buy new clothes isn’t a gender-related issue because I know a lot of men who get off on it and a lot of women who don’t.

 

Just not my husband, unfortunately.

 

Have I ever mentioned that my husband doesn’t understand me?

 

It seems that the longer your marriage – and we’ll be grieving 23 years this weekend – the more those minor things like the way he moves his mouth in that sniffy way when I say I’m going to the mall, that suggests I have no control over my emotions or my purse, can make me so flipping mad and full of retribution.

 

What men fail to understand are the benefits of shopping. Aside from saving money on REAL therapy,  we also burn more than 10,000 steps during a good session, which counts as exercise and therefore saves on gym membership.

 

They should also appreciate that shopping doesn’t have to be about ACTUALLY NEEDING ANYTHING, that it has much more hidden depth and is related to personal growth and space, regaining control and feeling good about yourself.

 

Happiness.

 

Not that I have to find excuses to shop when I’m an independent woman who works hard and earns money and if I want to go out and fucking spend it, I will. Anyway, it was the beginning of the month and what was I to do when those fresh dollars in my account taunted me, flashed at me from my online statement, begging me to spend them.

 

Spend meSpend me…Spend me!

 

And that glorious six hours spent trawling through retail heaven cost me less than an hour of therapy, and didn’t involve any snotty crying in that ugly way that I cry in public.

 

And in spite of being at that awkward seasonal stage of the year in Sydney, between winter and spring when the shops are flogging their winter woollies, there were plenty of bargains to be had, especially if you like sales. Personally I don’t, because I feel a bit vulnerable with hoards of crazed people fighting over a bargain and ill-assorted stock that falls off the rack in your hand, is never your size and always that bit naff.

 

Nevertheless, I persisted because I was a woman on a mission.

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Gazman shirt
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Jockey knickers

 

And the sales are good enough for the old man, so to make him feel really bad for winding me up in that evilly, patronising way that only husbands can, I treated him to a lovely, COLOURFUL shirt from Gazman (reduced from $90 to $60) –  ie. not plain blue like every other freaking shirt in his wardrobe because he’s an accountant and very left side of the brain – so he doesn’t look quite as nerdily shite when we go out.

 

Then I found myself the best new power jacket/cardigan for work from H&M because I feel that I’ve lost my style mojo in my work wardrobe recently and at $40, it was almost free. 

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H&M jacket/cardie for $40

 

New earrings? Yes please, because those fuckers disappear all the time – usually in the local pool or in bed…and finally, a pair of my favourite granny pants from Jockey because knickers and shoes have become my go-to happiness fix when it comes to clothes, now that brands use pygmies for their sizing, and because my knickers have all turned an attractive shade of grey since the old man took over the washing.

 

And he wonders why I need to shop.

 

 

 

 

 

Shopping, Friendship and Embracing Your New Middle Aged Body

I am usually a lone shopper. I take my shopping habit very seriously and can quite easily waste an entire Saturday trying out new styles that I would never actually buy in a million years. I enjoy the beauty and creativity behind beautiful clothes, fabrics and home accessories – I like looking at them, touching them, trying them on or imagining them in my home. The benefit of my impulsive nature is that sometimes it leads me to try on wildly different styles than neither my wallet or body can really take, but even on those days I come away from the shops empty-handed, shopping is always a delicious stress-buster. buy-1299519_1280

 

And I have built up good brand knowledge as a result of so much active research in the field. I know which brands are shockingly under-sized and make me feel like I’ve eaten all the pies, and which ones are more accurate for older women. Interestingly, I have a far calmer approach to buying clothes now that I’m officially middle-aged, whereas in my forties I stressed out when nothing fitted or looked right, or when I couldn’t find the appropriate style to suit my increasing age and girth. I’m much more chilled about the process now; finally, I know what suits my body and can appreciate that rare experience for what it is, when something… ANYTHING…fits. If all else fails I console myself with lingerie and shoes.

 

Although, that approach may also have something to do with my meds, too…

 

Not so for one of my besties, however, who up until recently avoided shopping malls like holidays in the Middle East. Just as I’ve been forced to discover a new pleasure for buying underwear in middle age, my friend has transferred her shopping affections to the purchase of super-expensive cosmetics, such is her fear of trying on clothes that don’t fit or flatter her new body shape.

 

So much so that occasionally when she reaches rock bottom or has a major ‘nothing to wear’ moment, she’ll reach out to me in desperation for some guidance – I assume to boost her confidence. 

 

I agree that at our age clothes shopping can be about as as much fun as having your eyebrows threaded; not like in our younger years, when everything looked good on our pre-baby/menopausal bodies. Whenever NC and I shop together, I take a perverse pleasure in admiring just how good everything looks on her, as though it was designed for her fabulous, lithe, young body, whereas statistically I have about a 10% chance of getting the zip up on a good day.

 

Yesterday this friend joined me in the city on impulse, and although I only returned home with one purchase (much to the old man’s delight), in the form of a beige trench coat that was reduced by 50% in the Gap sale, meaning I actually saved money, it gave me the fuzzies to see how excited she became in what is normally a terror zone for her, egged on by a little help from a friend. It’s not that we necessarily share the same taste in style, (hence there was no in-store fighting over the last pair of Cue sale trousers), all she needed was a boost to her confidence; someone to push her to try things on, tell her when an outfit looked good, be firm if it looked shit, to surreptitiously steer her away from her comfort zones and force her to embrace her new figure rather than resenting it.

 

We’ve both gone up a size since our forties, although we suffer from different body issues, but we shared a mission yesterday, with trips booked back to the UK in a few weeks time – mine for Dad’s third wedding and hers an overdue trip to catch up with family and friends.

 

So we want to look our best.

 

By the end of the day, I had even convinced her to buy three new bras – once she’d finally conceded that she might have gone up a bra size since her previous purchase at Marks and Spencers in London three years ago.

 

It’s a new world out there, and we need to feel brave and empowered, not anxious. It’s a time where it’s important to draw our true friends closer, and embrace the physical embellishments of a good life lived thus far.

Marriage And The Need To Shop Underground

One of the unfortunate byproducts of being married to an accountant is that sometimes you have to resort to going underground to shop or shopping with cash, because they’re so fucking tight.

 

At the moment, I spend many of my nights hidden under the covers with my torch light as I research the perfect set of dining chairs, frantically searching through all the cheapest online stores for a bargain set. $_20

 

These white French Provincial Industrial Cross Back chairs are the style I’ve decided upon, because I’m certain that while he was drunk the other night, the old man fully agreed to replace our current dining chairs, (but not the table yet), and this style will work with the range of eclectic furniture and existing dining table we currently have in our apartment – that is until the next full moon, bottle of vintage whisky or sexual favour, when he allows me to replace the table, too.

 

The topic of the embarrassing ‘sadness’ of our existing dining table and chairs has come up for discussion several times over the past five or so years. I bought our current dining set proudly from Ikea when Kurt was about two years old – so, sixteen years ago – out of the first earnings of (ironically) a painted furniture business I’d set up. We were about to enter the dinner party phase of growing up, and I remember how excited I was as I screwed in the last F167585 with my Ikea Allen key. We’ve hosted many dinner parties on that table, Christmases and most recently Easter lunch, and it may actually bring a tear to my eye when I offload it to some deserving student.

 

Or not.

 

Because the poor quality of our Ikea dining set has not gone unnoticed by our friends, in fact it has become something of a laughing point among the old man’s work mates and my family who know his reputation for stinginess – an accusation he has always responded to with pride.

 

In truth, I never expected the bloody dining set to last this long. It has survived through at least seven house moves and travelled halfway across the world and I can’t help but feel secretly a little disappointed by its durability. However, because there’s nothing structurally wrong with it, in the old man’s eyes, he feels it doesn’t need to be replaced. Unlike me, I imagine. And now is not the best time anyway, when money is tighter than usual as he tries to make some new highly risky work project successful so that he can continue to work from home.

 

It’s not that the set has even gone out of style, particularly, but the table top is showing signs of ageing like the rest of us, with its knife wounds, glitter, play dough and glue globules stuck in the grain from when the kids did craft on it – in fact there is probably a full history of the past sixteen years embedded in its timber veneer and I’m sure that whichever student house on Gumtree is lucky enough to end up with it, will love it as much as we have, even though I admit to praying it would fall apart during our last three house moves…

 

Replacing home decor has always been one of the more intrusive bugbears in our relationship, as the old man sees furniture as something functional rather than a necessary aesthetic commodity that can bring pleasure just by its beauty. It may be shallow of me, but having worked in the interior design business for many years, I now feel ashamed of my Ikea dining set and I don’t think that sixteen years is too premature to insist on a refresh.

 

Our table and chairs has almost reached the age of our children and as we come to the end of our rearing era, is it superficial or wrong of me to want to retire it for something stylish rather than functional for our home?

The Fabulousness Of Clothes Shopping When You Don’t Actually Need Anything

Found on seedheritage.com
Found on seedheritage.com

The old man gave up on buying me a proper birthday present a long time ago. He will tell you it’s because I’m fussy and difficult (and probably, a complete bitch), but basically it’s because he has no fucking idea (see previous post), and I would end up disappointed that he had wasted valuable shopping money on something I wouldn’t be seen dead in.

So what we’ve agreed on is that he gives me a token gift to open on the day (which I look suitably appalled at) – this year it was a dead bunch of flowers and a card that somewhere in his planning he had forgotten to sign – and he also allows me access to a guilt-free wad of cash from the bank, to (his words) waste at the local mall.

Another reason why men must have come from fucking Mars, is that he simply doesn’t get the whole clothes shopping thing, particularly the aspect of buying something you don’t really need.

And this is what I am living with on a daily basis.

Luckily, therapy has stopped me from him making me feel guilty and spoiling all my fun, and so a few days ago I set off to the shops to spend my wad, an excited glow lighting up what has become a habitual greyness around my middle-aged face.

One thing he was right about, was that I didn’t really need anything – but that was actually great because it took the pressure right off.

I took along with me my own advice about shopping for quality rather than quantity now that I’m fifty and mature and dragged myself away from my usual high street faves like Zara and headed instead towards the grown up end of town and David Jones.

I’m not actually a wasteful shopper. There are very few clothes in my wardrobe that I’ve NEVER worn and many of them I’ve worn for years. Well, apart from the black and caramel striped jacket that Kurt says I look like a bee in, several pairs of shoes I’ve bought at the market that I was hoping might someday fit my bigger than Asian feet and several tops that I think make me look fat – chosen hastily in changing rooms with trick lighting or bad mirrors. Or perhaps I was having my period. Or I just needed to buy something.

Found on seedheritage.com
Found on seedheritage.com

I also start to feel a little queasy at spending close to the $100 mark on one item.

But it goes without saying that I couldn’t NOT go to ‘Seed‘. I’ve mentioned my obsession with the Seed brand on my blog before, because I think it personifies me. Most of the range is in my colour scheme of black, cream and caramel, (apart from this shitty khaki green shade they insist on using, which I’m sure I can adapt to, given the time). But what I really love about Seed is that it offers more shades of cream than Dulux, the perfect range of linens and silks and and fucking loads of black, which is my comfort colour.

So, of course the minute I entered it’s haloed doors I just fell in love with this to-die-for black skirt because I decided recently that I need to get my legs out more as they are the only part of my body that hasn’t been swollen by hormones or etched with lines. Then I found this sleeveless jumper that makes my boobs actually look illogically pert AND BIG, and I’ve always loved that cut on the shoulders. And I could have gone on and on but wisely decided to head to DJs at that point because they have a Champagne bar there and as we all know, shopping can be a very stressful business.

Found on frenchconnection.com.au
Found on frenchconnection.com.au

Fortified by bubbles, I was on a roll and found this cute top in French Connection which, admittedly looked pretty shite on the hanger, but I knew would sit so nicely in the cream section of my wardrobe, and when I put it on I realised it’s one of those versatile tops you can dress up with nice trousers or down with shorts, and most importantly it will hide my muffin top without looking like that’s why I bought it.

It never ceases to amaze me how many clothes you can buy that you don’t actually need.

Men, And Their Inability To Think Outside Of The Box

I thought I knew a lot about men before the old man began his temporary period of playing housewife while in between jobs.

Carrots of many colors.
Carrots of many colors. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I know you’re expecting me to completely annihilate his character AGAIN now with my usual bitter and twisted flair, but for once I’m not going to. No, I’m going to shower my husband with rare praise indeed because I’ve decided that the concept of every working woman having a ‘wife’ at home is an excellent one, and it hasn’t gone unnoticed how hard he is trying to make this new domestic arrangement of ours work.

There has been the inevitable training period, of course, and associated teething issues.

I have been forced to accepted that he will probably never volunteer to clean the toilets, nor will it cross his mind that the bedlinen does, in fact, get cleaned and changed. But in his defence, my old man can already whip up a mean Salade Nicoise, and the fridge has never been tidier.

But there is one main difference between men and women that I hadn’t really noticed before. Allow me to use a skiing analogy here to explain: men (or at least my particular specimen of the gender) don’t tend to go off-piste when it comes to thinking. For those of you not familiar with the misfortune of being annually forced onto the slopes, ‘off-piste’ is the unprepared, virgin snow that lies beyond the man-made slopes and is more challenging to the skier, thereby more appealing to the brave, foolhardy and ADHD skiers, who get their kicks from risking life and limb.

Fortunately, one rarely has to veer into such dangerous territory as a housewife – although parent/teacher groups and finding a parking space close to the school gates can be a close call – nevertheless, there is still a thought pattern behind the organisation required that sometimes calls upon spontaneity and impulsivity and thinking outside of the box.

The old man is not a natural risk-taker, and the analytical side of his brain is far more advanced than his creative side. Yet I still thought that most people possess SOME sense of intuition, can summon up some level of common sense in the face of (domestic) adversity.

Especially when it comes to food.

‘Food shopping’ is just one of those tedious chores of domesticity that I was embarrassingly over-grateful to discard when he offered to take it on as one of the duties of his new department, now that I am the only one working. We find ourselves in week 4 this week, and not only do I still have to compose the shopping list for him, but we have run out of all staple, survival foods such as peanut butter, Marmite and crisps.

To this day, he has not been intrepid enough to buy anything that is NOT on the list.

I get it – it takes a while to find your confidence in a new job, especially to become a an expert at orientating yourself through the aisles and produce of what can be a terrifying place – the supermarket after drop-off – and dumbing your brain down far enough to get used to the monotony of buying the same shit, week in, week out, without falling asleep in the checkout line or killing the person in front who has thirteen items in the twelve-max queue.

And I suppose he’s not at the meal planning stage yet; so the list doesn’t really MEAN anything.

But what do you think our chances are of the old man getting excited enough in the supermarket one day to actually venture off-piste, add some product to the trolley he knows we’ve run out of, or hell, surprise us with a new and exciting new product he thinks we should try?

‘It wasn’t on the list,’ is his unapologetic response each time I accuse him of not thinking outside of the box.

‘You said to vacuum. I thought we only hoovered the living room.’

‘I didn’t realise you had to clean the shower too when you clean the bathroom…’

Do all men struggle with the whole concept of thinking outside of the box, and taking an idea that few steps further to that next level?

Stereotypically, they have been accused for a long time of not being guided by emotions or instincts, or reacting intuitively. Unless they are watching or talking sport, that is. They seem more akin to robots that can be programmed to follow instructions, than to women. They can interpret the kind of mind-blowingly boring and complex data that would make most female brains combust, but if I put two carrots on my shopping list, TWO CARROTS IS WHAT I WILL BLOODY WELL GET – even if a 6kgs bag is on special and cheaper.

Could this explain the disparity between the sexes and why men always get everything just SO wrong?

Compression and Putting Your Children First At Christmas

Compression and Putting Your Kids First This Christmas
Photo by Maria Mandanas at http://www.flickr.com
  1. The definition of compression is the action or state of being squished down or made smaller or more pressed together.

When a pile of material is squished together and made smaller and more dense,, this is an example of compression.

 

Compression is when you reach fifty and realise that you’ve shrunk. So much so, that suddenly your children look down on you and you can’t reach those bags of Kettle chips you secreted at the back of the kitchen cupboards, so no-one else could get to them.

 

The most significant problem with the bodily compression that comes with ageing is that sometimes when things are compressed, they also become more dense.

 

So although I may have only lost an inch in height (sometime during my forties), I’ve gained about ten inches in glorious techni-density around my waist. Science can fuck you over like that.

 

I am learning to cope with the muffin top….well, not really…maybe… just…but finding that perfect Christmas dress has been a perilous journey this year.

 

I must have tried on at least forty-eight dresses during an eight-hour marathon torture session amid the pre-Christmas rush in Myer, yesterday, when I foolishly attempted to squeeze my newly-compressed, middle-aged frame into just about every fucking style of dress ever designed.

 

Nothing gave.

 

By 4.30pm, and close to my ninth barren hour of shopping, desperation sunk in and I relocated myself to the hallowed designer sections of Myer without an ounce of guilt or unease. Pretty Woman sales assistants looked over my head and pretended I was as invisible as I think I am.

 

http://www.gettyimages.com/detail/94741029

 

What can I say? I had become a woman who could justify any shopping crime by that point of the day. Alas, it seems that even when you pay a lottery win price for what is basically a piece of material, it still doesn’t guarantee it will fit.

 

I spent a sleepless night drifting between dreams about Cinderella’s shame after midnight and mentally going through my current wardrobe, hoping to find some magical reprieve, that long-forgotten and perfect outfit that would look good on my new fuller figure.

 

By 9.30am this morning I was at another mall as the doors opened with a new set of compromised criteria and had already purchased two outfits by 10am as well as promising the old man a Karma Sutra of sexual favours in repayment for my shopping felonies.

 

I now have a new dress for Christmas Day. I feel guilty for baring publicly such a first world problem but I hope you’ll believe me, readers, when I tell you that I am still paying for my African child. But I need to think of my own children too – and that dress could make the difference between a great and a ’truly shite’ Christmas for them.

 

I’ve sat through Paddington and The Kranks At Christmas today with Kurt, so I’ve done my time. Once again I have put my children’s needs before mine.

 

Happy Christmas everyone!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Forgive Me, Lord, For I Have Bought White Slacks

Don’t judge me, but this week I succumbed to my first pair of comfortable white slacks, complete with elasticated waistband for reassuring, yet gentle muffin top control, airy bagginess in the thigh area and tapered bottoms – which are obviously just a feeble attempt by the designer to make them look slightly less ‘Nana’.

A fashion statement they’re not. Sadly, they don’t look like this…

Forgive me, Lord, For I've Just Bought Comfortable White Slacks

I’d like to say that I resemble one of those celebrities who can don a man’s white suit and look hot or super chic, but alas, I look more Karate Kid than Kate Hudson in my particular brand of middle-aged, baggy white trousers.

In those rare moments when I’m still feeling positive about my fatal decision to visit the hush-hush, concealed, fourth floor, plus-size section of Myer, to finally succumb to my previous decade’s fashion temptation of wanting to be comfortable ALL the time, I convince myself that that the pants convey a lofty air of boatiness. Especially when I accessorise them with my nautical, striped top – which by the way, is a fashion statement at the moment.

On more honest days, I know I look 50 going on 60.

It’s getting harder and harder to fight this primal desire to be comfortable, rather than stylish. I’ve never owned a pair of white trousers in my life – neither slacks nor skinnies. Ignoring the obvious issue that you have to wear dull, flesh-coloured undies underneath them, which make my pelvic area look like it’s had a muffin top extension, I have always believed that darker colours are more flattering on the more ample pear figure. And my mother did always warn me about the danger of having an accident and getting caught in the ER with boring undies on.

Forgive Me, Lord, For I Have Bought White Slacks
Kickass Kid by Dan Graham on http://www.flickr.com

So what went wrong? How did those statement middle-aged white slacks end up in the changing room with me, hidden amongst all those other more fashionable, tighter garments I had kidded myself would look good?

And why has no-one commented on how good my boating trousers look, or even asked me where I moor my boat?

More importantly, what is about their magnetic attraction to food.

But negatives aside – WOWSER – they certainly meet their brief and are as comfortable as I always imagined them to be! So they’re a linen mix, which obviously creases like a motherfucker every time I breathe in them, but at least the lines compliment my skin. But they also move WITH me harmoniously, rather than AGAINST my body. Air has found a rite of passage around my thighs again and the waistband moves with the momentum of my muffin top and so allows me to fit in dessert.

No-one’s pretending that white slacks are sexy, but they sure are comfortable.

There’s Equality and Then There’s Doing Stuff Together…

What I really want to do is shout from the rooftops with Sound of Music, Julie Andrews, completely over-the-top enthusiasm about Emma Watson’s recent speech for the UN, on inequality. 

There's Equality And Then There's Having To Do Stuff Together

 

Did you know that there are women out there declaring that they aren’t feminists because we already have equality?

 

HELLO?????

 

Now I know I shouldn’t use this forum to impose my personal views about equality on you. But then again, we shouldn’t really need ‘views’ about equality, should we? It should just be there, a given, taken for granted. But that’s a whole other post.

 

So I’ll stop there, and instead I’ll tell you a funny little ditty about what a bloody awful parent I am (again) and how Kurt got stuck in a girls changing room this week.

 

With our holiday looming (two days and already drinking!), I had to get Kurt to the shops. Kurt dislikes clothes shopping intensely, like a lot of males. Added to the fear of bumping into his peers in the outside world, WITH HIS MUM, (because none of them have mums, evidently), is the awkwardness of trying things on and not looking cool in public. Then there’s the ADHD factor – all that noise, lighting and people in the mall easily overwhelm him and he also doesn’t do ‘choice’ well.

 

There's Equality And Then There's Having To Do Stuff Together
Michael Cera’s Awkward Teenage Years, Part 47: A Review of Youth in Revolt

All that pressure turns him into a complete ratbag on shopping trips, which is a real shame, because I loving nothing more than playing personal stylist with my boys.

 

Anyway, a few days ago I finally managed to blackmail him into going by reminding him that if he didn’t come, he would be forced to wear last year’s VERY uncool, boardies and I might have also mentioned something about new Nike shoes.

 

He did his usual thing of dropping me like I’m a hot potato as soon as we left the block and I had to walk the usual ten metres or so behind him, like fucking serf, but eventually we met up again in the youth section of Myer. I love that floor of Myer because it’s full of the most wonderfully camp male retail assistants who don’t care that I’m middle-aged and invisible and actually talk to me like I’m a valued customer. Kurt immediately retreated into the nearest corner of the floor, of course, with the biggest teenage gob on, while I chatted to the guys and grabbed at clothes that I thought might suit him.

 

It’s not that I’m insensitive to his teenage need to appear cool and I am also aware that it can be a bit awkward when your mum asks you to try things on in the aisles, holds up clothes against you or insists on calling you ‘darling’ very loudly, but I was trying.

 

Eventually, armed with a bundle of boy clothes, we headed to the fitting room and Kurt got underway with the apparently torturous task of trying stuff on. When suddenly we heard voices, VERY close by. Girl voices. And it was obvious from the high-pitched squeals that a gaggle of female pubescents had accidentally come into the male changing rooms next to us.

 

OR…..

 

All we could hear were shrieks of:

 

‘Boys love it when you get your tits out like that.’

 

‘You’ll never get a boyfriend if you don’t wear shorter dresses.’

 

‘What do my boobs look like in this dress?’

 

I felt the heat come off Kurt’s face before I saw what I can only describe as a beautiful shade of fuchsia, as he looked at me accusingly. Had I mistakenly taken him into the women’s changing room? It wasn’t beyond me. Even I felt mortified as I watched my son’s face collapse with embarrassment and thought about what my punishment would be for orchestrating this, the most awkward teenage faux-pas. I tried to laugh it off, nervously, (as you do as a parent when you know you’re in trouble; but if you know anything about teenagers, you’ll also know that they have NO sense of humor when it comes to awkward situations), but Kurt slapped his hand around my mouth quickly and it was obvious we were going to play dead. The girls, meanwhile, carried on discussing every intimate detail of their bodies, boys and then sex, while I watched my boy physically shrink in stature, as he stood there, vulnerably, in his undies.

 

After the longest five minutes of our lives, not including my recent session in the sauna or my first kiss with the mouth-muncher, the girls began to leave and Kurt regained his ability to breathe again. We grabbed his things and made a run for the exit, noting on our way out that it was indeed a unisex changing room.

 

I’m with Emma and for equality, just not quite sure if the whole unisex thing, where men and women actually do things together, is ever going to work.

 

 

The Middle Aged Beauty Regime And Nipple Covers

The Middle-Age Beauty Regime And Nipple Covers
Magnum PI by brandy-son Zen master flash at http://www.flickr.com

I learnt about nipple covers yesterday. They are Band-Aids that you stick on your nipples when you have to go bra-less.

 

In the old days we used to let our nipples come out to play with us.

 

Beauty products fascinate me almost as much as yesterday’s photos of Kim and Kanye’s trip to Mr Wong in Sydney. Frankly, if I go into a shop like Priceline or the hallowed, pristine grounds of any of the beauty departments of stores such as Myer or David Jones, (complete with bitches disguised as evangelic goddesses in white coats), I become completely overwhelmed.

 

I can’t even pick a nail polish colour without hyperventilating.

 

When it comes to personal grooming, I have minimalised my needs to a short list of what HAS to be done, but as I get older that list seems to increase on a daily basis. Stray hairs, fugly lines and orange peel all conspire and require attention these days, whereas in the past I got by being relatively ‘natural’ with just a touch of mascara and concealer and a little bit of lippy thrown in when I was feeling really wild.

 

I didn’t have my first wax wax until a few years ago when someone referred to me as Magnum PI at a dinner party. 

 

But my daughter is different – I might have mentioned before that that she was obviously switched at birth. The beauty section of Myer is like discovering the Holy Grail for NC. She wastes a fortune on ‘product’ and gets sucked into all the tricks of the beauty trade including dip-in nail varnish remover, nipple covers and expensive online ‘tester’ cosmetic boxes. She has only stopped at the Brazilian because she has her mother’s fear of bush exposure.

 

Yesterday, NC introduced me to the world of beauty.

 

We were sat, mid-scoff at our favourite dumpling house, (which is where we go to vent our troubles over five or forty of Din Tai Fung’s finest dumplings with a glass of vino), when the subject of troublesome facial hair came up. I will blame the second glass of Pinot Grigio for the impulsive decision that led us to the fatal decision to have an eyebrow and upper lip wax immediately.

 

What IS truly amazing is just how many women CHOOSE to get depilated on a sunny Sunday afternoon in Sydney. After trying several salons, we eventually found one that would accommodate us with some fierce-looking Asian women, (who looked as though they knew what they were doing), and who wielded their tweezers excitedly in our direction in readiness to get at our whiskers.

 

English: nail polish Polski: lakier do paznokci
English: nail polish Polski: lakier do paznokci (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Cue THE MOST INTENSE eyebrow wax either of us have ever experienced, and that seemed to take FOREVER before I fell off the bed at the end, dizzy and looking like some raw, over-plucked chicken, heat and swelling oozing from my mutilated pores.

 

NC was in an even worse state. The Asian Gestopo informed me that she thought that maybe my daughter was allergic, such was her skin reaction to the hot wax and ‘soothing’ cream afterwards. After half an hour of hell and relieved to still have some hair left on our faces, we excited our torture chamber to expose our inflamed, welting faces to the millions foraging about Pitt St mall and tried to disguise ourselves with my sunhat and glasses.

 

A minor consolation for such abject pain was definitely in order so first we headed off for my fix at the lingerie department of David Jones, where I salivated briefly over the micro Agent Provocateur underwear THAT I WILL NEVER FIT INTO AGAIN, before purchasing three new pairs of vaguely attractive granny knickers, and then we headed to Priceline for NC’s fix.

 

But alas, it was all too much for me. I prevaricated for twenty minutes between eight different Revlon shades of red nail varnish that all looked the same colour to me (and which all matched the redness of my face perfectly) and then felt an anxiety attack coming on and excused myself, leaving NC to ruminate over fake eyelashes and adhesive nipple covers.

10 Awesome Ways Middle-Aged Women Can Relax

10 Awesome Ways Middle Aged Women Can Relax
Splish, splash, I’m just taking a bath by M at http://www.flickr.com

I don’t know about you but I find it impossible to relax these days. It’s a problem a lot of women face because we’re always on the go, so when that window of opportunity finally opens, we find it impossible to unwind.

 

I’ve had a crazy couple of months recently with our latest house move and work commitments but this week my work schedule is a bit less hectic. Suddenly, I don’t know what to do with myself.

 

I feel too guilty to do the things I REALLY want to do.

 

I could catch up on all the housework I’ve overlooked for the past few months, but that’s about as appealing as having my eyebrows threaded by a blind person and anyway I feel far too knackered at the moment to consider anything too physical. So I’ve decided instead to listen to what my body needs. To relax. For me that seems to engender a liberal dose of laughter, a good read, alcohol and titillation.

 

A ladies' Burberry handbag in the company's tr...
A ladies’ Burberry handbag in the company’s trademarked check pattern (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Let me know which ones you agree with:

 

  1. Pack the family off to McDonalds followed by a viewing of Terms of Endearment at the movies so that they remember how lucky they are to have you in their lives, pour yourself a hot bath, add essential oils, light some candles and consume a whole bottle of Moet et Chandon Champagne by yourself.

 

  1. Stand on the floor in the downward dog position with a water bottle full of wine by your side, close your eyes and imagine tantric sex with your dream shag. Exercise can be relaxing.

 

3.  Go for a healing power shop in David Jones but make sure that you start in the Food      Hall with the Oysters and Champagne, followed by a chocolate-dipped strawberry             binge.

 

  1. Pull out old family photo albums and stick imaginary pins in photos of your partner if he/she’s stressing you out.

 

  1. Go on Pinterest and laugh at all those amazing recipes that other women actually do with their free time while you’re drinking wine.

 

  1. Visit Designer shops such as Chanel and Burberry and have your Pretty Woman moment. Try on all those beautiful, sparkly ball dresses and Jimmy Choos that you’ll never be able to afford to wear and saunter around with all those Designer handbags that are far too big for anyone to seriously carry and then leave without buying anything.

 

  1. You could play it safe and buy a copy of every woman’s magazine but all you’ll discover is how fat Kim Kardashion is this week. So buy a copy of Playgirl instead and laugh at willies.

 

  1. Read back-to-back copies of Cosmo and be grateful you’re no longer judged by your looks, how well you give head or how good you are in the sack.

 

  1. Download every Heath Ledger movie and have a Tequila-thon with your girlfriends.

 

10. Then there’s sex. Apparently many of us still quite like it in middle age and the myth         about middle-aged women not having any libido is exactly that. More importantly,           it’s a great stress-buster, apparently – depending on who you’re with, I assume.              Personally, I’d still prioritize the David Jones Food Hall. Who wants to burn calories,          get all sweaty and clean up body fluids when you’re supposed to be relaxing?