the 41 steps

Shattering The Glass Slipper

Obviously in order to get what you want in life, you have to be wearing kick-ass shoes. It's as simple as that. Imelda Marcos may not have been the nicest person in the world, but the Iron Butterfly knew what she wanted and how to get it - amazing footware. All one thousand and sixty pairs. Nicole Kidman - ditches Tom for Roast Lamb with Mum, and immediately gets her mojo back, because she's out of the ballet flats and into the stilettos before you can say 'Tom Cruise is really, really weird'.

I often think the reason Napoleon divorced Josephine wasn't because she couldn't produce an heir - it was down to the fact that she wore higher heels than he did. Short man syndrome got the better of him (and possibly envy over her shoes).  

Perhaps, Perhaps, Perhaps

Perhaps, Perhaps, Perhaps

Despite looking really, really fabbo in breeches, Lizzy realises that Darcy is in fact very arsey and isn't likely to change his spots anytime soon. She decides marriage would be a trap and a half and instead scandalises Longbourn by going on the stage and becoming the best known actress of her time. Mrs Bennet loses the plot entirely and simultaneously the power of speech (yay). Darcy marries Caroline Bingley and is miserable but his family is happy so bad luck.

Jane and Bingley can still get married because they're both drips. 

The Scrabble Test

The Scrabble Test

What's The Scrabble Test? It's simple.

Think about the person you're with presently (if you are with someone - if not, think about the person you feel you'd like to be with). Now imagine the future. You're seventy or eighty years old. Believe me, it's on its way - admittedly for some of us it's closer than for others. It's after dinner on a Saturday night. You're sitting on the sofa with them, vino in hand (hey, eighty doesn't have to be boring!)

Now.

It's time to... 

Whip out the Scrabble. And whip their butts.

Is This The World That We Live In?

“What separates us from the animals, what separates us from the chaos, is our ability to mourn people we’ve never met.”

— David Levithan, Love Is The Higher Law

I have always loved the above quote for its optimism and the feeling that maybe, just maybe, there is some hope for mankind. But unfortunately, on a day like today, when I woke in the early hours to hear the news of explosions, injuries and deaths at the finish line of the Boston Marathon, I feel as though it can be turned on its head.

What separates us from the animals - and brings us closer to the chaos - is our ability to injure, hurt, kill people we've never met; and not to do it with the purpose of survival - but to do it with the purpose of inflicting intentional pain.

Then I read on one of the live updates about a series of co-ordinated car bombs overnight in Iraq, which killed at least 55 people. Iraq is currently preparing for its first elections since coalition forces left the country.

On both sides of the world, people who were going about their daily lives were suddenly forced into fear and horror and blood and pain and death - because someone else decided to make a nightmare become reality.

What I would truly like to understand is this; what is the reasoning behind these people doing what they do? Because what scares me the most is that there may be no reason beyond a wish to make themselves heard - not out of a cry for their cause, or their suffering, but simply because they are hollow people.

What I want to say is not about apportioning blame to extremist groups, or pointing fingers at a particular religious persuasion, or anything along those lines. It is simply this.

The outpouring of love and support from around the world for the victims of the explosions in Boston is already incredible. It gladdens my heart to see it.

But I wonder; how many people are thinking of the dead in Iraq this morning. And I also wonder where and when this is going to end. After all, I sat in Jakarta as the Australian Embassy was bombed in 2004. I had been there for exactly two days. I watched again from the skies above the city in 2009 as a hotel with security to the eyeballs went up in smoke - and an Australian lost their life.

Because people are people are people. And some people have no moral compass.

Even if we call down the wrath of the angels on those who committed this act - there will be seven more to take their place. Unless there is a fundamental shift in the paradigm, nothing will change.

And all those who are willing to stand up and say 'this isn't the way it should be' - all of the people who do have the ability to mourn people they have never met - will continue beating their heads against a very solid brick wall of deliberate malice aforethought.

Thinking of you Boston, Massachusetts, USA. And Kamaliya, Iraq.

And mourning your losses.

My Funny Valentine

T_1_front
On Valentine’s Day, the Spirit Club plastered the school with red streamers and pink balloons and red and pink hearts. It looked like Clifford the Big Red Dog ate a flock of flamingoes and then barfed his guts up.

— Carolyn Mackler, Vegan, Virgin, Valentine

 

I am, and have been for many a long year, a very definite naysayer of what has to be the biggest Hallmark Holiday of them all. This is mainly because I hate the whole idea of proscribed love, and having to express it on a certain day and in a certain manner, or otherwise you will be mocked and shunned by the rest of society.

So to teddybears holding love hearts, and single red roses... I am afraid I say 'bah, humbug!'

Or whatever the Valentinian (word?) equivalent of Scrooge's Christmas message may be.

But.

By the same token, there is nothing wrong with taking a time out to say what you feel about the person you care most about in the world. And for some people, the only day of the year when they are able to express that is Valentine's Day. Whether through shyness, or reticence, or simply being a typical boy (you know it's true) - most of the time, romance gets lost in translation, or more typically in work, work, sleep, work, kids, work, sport, drinking with friends... you know.

Life.

And that is where I have come to see the value that V Day holds. It's a chance to break out of the ordinary. To actually have a valid reason to stand up and say 'I love this person, they mean everything to me'. I suppose the sad thing is that an excuse in the form of an official day is needed for this to happen. That we are all too busy, or tired, or shitty, or lacklustre, to make the effort on an 'everyday' day.

2014 has so far been a remarkably craptacular year. I can't see that Valentine's Day is going to hold anything particularly special in many ways (if it holds a bear holding a heart, then there will be a brand new Massacre to join the history books. Just as an aside). But one thing I can say, which is special to me, and which is 2014's saving grace - and which makes every day a gift as far as I am concerned;

I wake up being told I am loved by the other half of my heart, and go to sleep the same way.

That, to me, is what Valentine's Day means.

Have a happy day. I hope it is filled with bacon roses, if that's your thing. And guys who look vaguely like David Tennant, if that is your thing as well.

I know it's mine.

Go West

“We must dream our way”

— Pablo Neruda

Before you start reading this blog, you should be advised that it isn’t anything to do with The Village People, or for that matter The Pet Shop Boys – although you may, after reading the title, end up with said song stuck in your head for hours. 

No, this is about how, despite a certain person – that would be me – stating very early on this year something along the lines of ‘I am never moving again, hell will freeze over before I ever pick up another Port-A-Robe, I am going to stay here until I go mouldy’ yada, yada, yada...

I suddenly find myself sitting amongst the chaos of a new house in Perth.

Sorry – make that a new home.

This would be courtesy of fate, kismet, whatever you wish to call it, which appeared some time ago in the shape of a person who looks vaguely like David Tennant (not the only reason I find him irresistible – really) and has impelled a move, sadly not by Tardis, across state borders and time zones.

Many people would not have been aware I was even contemplating said move, let alone that I have made it. This is because it was personal, and complex, and fuelled by reasons which were hard to discuss – and yes, included the fact that long distance love, whilst sounding intensely romantic, is in actuality intensely difficult and frustrating.

So Osky the Spy and I shrugged our collective shoulders and started packing. Well, I did – he exercised his right to use his considerable vocal power.

I think the lambs have stopped screaming.

On this bright and sunny (very early) Perth morning, after an exciting Saturday night spent with the drill, a glass of wine or three and – not surprisingly as a result – colourful language as we realised we had stuffed up the IKEA instructions for the third time, I am tempted to turn said new home into a Zen temple. It would mean no unpacking! Plates – we don’t need plates! Glasses – meh. Doona covers – oh, hang on, that’s my favourite... and that’s my favourite too... and that one. Bugger it. I like stuff too much to be a minimalist queen. 

Perth doesn’t know what’s hit it. I suspect the Person Who Vaguely Resembles David Tennant doesn’t either.

But he does know how much I love him.

I wouldn't move to the wild, wild West for just any Time Lord.

But I will not be going for the Force. Or the Eagles.

That's a promise.

On the Tardis. 

 

That's The Price I Pay

“The price of love is always just above that what your heart can afford”

— Colin Tegerdine, Unknown Book 13072845

I recently read a Young Adult fiction series (yes, I admit, I am slightly addicted to all the 'end of the world, teenage girl saves humanity from plague/pestilence/pure apathy' books out there) which had an intriguing theme.

What if romantic love was viewed as a disease, and you could be 'cured' of it? If, instead of going through crushes, and infatuation, and yes, lust - one instead had an operation, lost the desire to love - and be loved - and was simply matched with a suitable mate - suitable intellectually, socio-economically, physically? No arguing, no tension, no 'you don't love me' screaming matches?

Apart from the fact that this series really lost the plot (literally), it did make me wonder; because so, so often, romantic love causes some fairly hefty problems. Wars are fought in the name of love - yes, hello, Helen of Troy. You fall in love with someone who doesn't return the sentiment. You don't love someone the way they love you. You have a habit of falling out of love as soon as the honeymoon stage is over and reality sets in - and then you have no idea how to extricate yourself from what you realise is not really your cup of Love Potion Number 9.

So would life be better without Cupid's arrow inveigling its way into our lives? What if amour was, in fact, no more?

I can't imagine anything worse.

Love is painful. It is often unkind, causes tears, obscenely excessive chocolate consumption and glugging of wine straight from the bottle. It is hurtful, because if we care deeply for someone, the desire to hurt if we are slighted comes straight to the fore. Jealousy, anger, the agony of unrequited love - yep, they are all hand in hand with true love.

And yet.

Love is what makes life likeable. It is a shelter and a comfort; if you are fortunate enough to find someone to love, and who loves you back, then life can pretty much go to hell in a handbasket - and it won't matter. Because you have somebody to support and strengthen you. Who is willing to let their own needs go in order to make your life the best it can be.

The best kind of love is all of the things certain religious volumes talk about (and getting a positive message there is a huge achievement, so don't discount it.) Love is patient. Love is kind. Love has no pride.

Art, music, literature, theatre, movies, dance - where would they be without smoochiness? Casablanca would be a blank. Gone With The Wind - who would care if tomorrow was another day? And as for Jane Austen... Jane who?

Love separates us from our baser instincts. It gives us our humanity and our humour. It makes us honest. It makes us - us.

'I love you'.

Three words.

And a lifetime of discovery.

As Billy Bragg says, 'that's the price I pay for loving you the way that I do'...

Send me the account. It's worth every penny.

Broadcast News

“One reason that cats are happier than people is that they have no newspapers.”

— Gwendolyn Brooks, In The Mecca

I have been busily hiding away from the world of late, mainly because I have been feeling like an immense puddle of yuckiness physically; and for all those who are/have been long term ill, you will know that along with the physical fatigue comes that even more attractive ailment - mental exhaustion. 

It is tiring being a sickypuss. It wears your brain out, particularly if, like myself, you are, when healthy, one of those lunatics who has a brain which whirs a million miles an hour, particularly at three o'clock in the morning when normal people are dribbling happily into their pillows. 

Feel like crud, and I guarantee you that your intellect will turn into a bowl of week old Weetbix. Which, particularly as someone who in theory writes for a living can attest to - ain't good for business. 

And yes, the old woofy frenemy Black Dog tends to rear his head when one is feeling a bit on the blah side, turning from a Chihuahua into a Great Dane, and that's a depressing enough thought for everyone without actually writing about depression, so let's just say the pup has been barking his head off and leave it at that.

But back to the sleepy psyche.

I have not paid any attention to the news - with the exception of a few unavoidable big ticket items - for about a month. I'd be ashamed of this normally, because I'm a current affairs junkie (the topic, not the show - blergh), but of late? It's news, it will soon be olds, and I have been hard-pressed to take in what I should eat for breakfast let alone dealing with how many Americans have taken up a Health Care Plan (apparently it's approximately 100,000 - see, I do read more than trashy YA fiction when my brain isn't in sleep mode).

But over the weekend, as my body started to do a small software upgrade, the old grey matter started to hum again - and so I got stuck in to what has been going on in the world. After about three hours of reading, watching, and pod cast listening, I made an executive decision.

Not only is the world way more depressed than me, but the information available is so infantile that I think I would rather go back under the doona and start my own publication; HOW TO WRITE A NEWS STORY WHICH CONTAINS ACTUAL NEWS AND NO HYPERBOLE. 

Apparently, whilst on my brief time out from The Daily Planet, those good old monkeys with their typewriters have taken over news reportage. For example, this morning on a certain anonymous online news site (which shall remain anonymous because they have a lot more money than me and the owner doesn't tend to take slander - um, constructive criticism well), these were the headlines:

Chain smoking baby kicks ciggies, discovers food;

Male model uses fake photos to lure wife;

Scientology superpowers; 'We Revive The Dead'

And here I was thinking I'd missed significant international events, like whether or not Syria has blown itself to pieces and the fact that 34 people have been killed in PNG after a grenade attack. All this time I have been worried that my knowledge of world affairs has been suffering, when what I should have been concerned about was that JFK joined the mile high club before he bit the big one. That's what's important about the 50th anniversary of his assassination, of course; not the way the course of history was altered. 

Seriously, when did we become quite this apathetic? Is this what people really care about? Chain smoking babies? I know I myself have the attention span of a goldfish, but sheesh. 

I have always felt very fortunate in that I have friends who are interested in the world around them. Who enjoy debating politics, and religion, and pretty much everything one shouldn't discuss in polite society, which therefore means we do it as much as possible. 

There are some amazing journalists around. Once upon a time they would have been given the chance to show their talent - and that's over any medium, digital, print or other. And, if you dig hard enough, you can find the 'actual' news.

But when all most of them have to work with is 'a teenager has stolen a boob job' - I'm not quite sure how that translates to the possibility of a Pulitzer. 

So, beloved doona, I am returning to your fluffy folds. My brain may have re-engaged, but apparently if I want to find out what's happening out there, I need to get excited about Scientology.

And that just isn't going to happen. 

I'm too scared of Tom Cruise.

The Hair Apparent

“Red hair, sir, in my opinion, is dangerous.”

— P G Wodehouse, 'Very Good, Jeeves!'

I have written about my misadventures with the world of haircuts before - well, actually, probably more so with the world of haircolouring, and what one really, really ought not do.  

This is inclusive of, but not limited to, dyeing one's own hair an even brighter shade of red in an all white bathroom (Psycho comes to mind), dyeing one's own hair in a hurry (big missed patches) and pretty much dyeing one's own hair full stop.

I may also have to write a post at some stage about the dangers of overuse of the word 'one' and how it leads to being ostracised by friends and family but that will have to wait.  

Today is, as is usually the case with this blog, (well, it's mine after all) - about me. And my hair. 

Vanity, thy name is, quite possibly, Kate.  

I have cut my hair. 

Short. 

As in, short, short. Anne Hathaway getting into character for Les Mis short.  I did draw the line at having my teeth pulled admittedly.

I expect the world to now stop and enter a period of official Kate Hair Mourning (length of said KHM to be determined - I am thinking about two months - I'm not Queen Victoria for the love of lambchops), and for everyone to buy me some really nice shoes to help me cope with this traumatic event. 

Let me explain - because I know you are thinking 'she cut her hair - big whoopsies - what a superficial trollop' and calmly going on with your Sunday brekky (I hope you're having something yummy. Like bacon. Mmmmm. Bacon). 

This was a bit of a no choice haircut. Because, despite the delightful treatment I am on for my even more delightful current munchy little cancer promising me the world in terms of 'less hair loss than last time' - this week saw the dreaded return of the bathroom floor of death.  

Lotsa hair. Everywhere. 

Now, I am massively lucky. I know this. I just like whinging. Not only do I have a very early stage and treatable cancer, I am not likely to lose all of my hair, unlike friends who are currently undergoing far yuckier treatment - it just gets thinner and doesn't feel like 'my' hair. But it also doesn't look crash hot in long stringy strands that casually come out in my fingers when I do my model turn of whipping my head around as I chat to someone - and then watch their face as my hair ends up in their drink. 

And possibly their food. And their handbag.

You get the picture. 

I have Osky the Spy's fur to contend with. My house does not need two Kats shedding. 

So the chop it was.  

And after I stopped sobbing, I was actually quite happy. 

Well, I will be. 

Present tense needed. Not past. 

And the colour's nice! 

Oh bugger it. It's just hair. There are more pressing issues at hand. Like world peace. And the craptacular state of Australian rugby. And shoes. I am off to eat some bacon. And look at pictures of girls with short hair. Or possibly Alexander SkarsGod with no shirt  on.  

I wonder if he'd like it?

 

Check One, Check One, Two

If you have a friend or family member with breast cancer, try not to look at her with ‘sad eyes.’ Treat her like you always did; just show a little extra love

— Hoda Kotb

This month, as thankfully a large proportion of people know, is Breast Cancer Awareness Month.  What a large proportion of people don't perhaps know is that I am a breast cancer survivor. 

I am one of the lucky ones.

Breast cancer has tried very hard to beat me. It is a crappy, crappy disease which, like all cancers, becomes not just a part of the sufferer's life, but impacts on everyone around them. It is insidious and it is scary as hell. People who love you have to watch as you get sick from chemo, get sick from radiotherapy, get sick full stop. And there is usually very little that they can do to help, which can end up in alienation through frustration and sometimes, a lack of ability to cope with the heartache.

So many amazing women go through breast cancer. Most of them do it quietly and without any fuss - because, well, that's what you do. You suck it up. You get on with things. Because if you let it get the upper hand - and I am talking mentally, not physically - then game over.

I was incredibly lucky. I got through with some serious yuck times, but I got through - and I was able to keep working, keep things together, and not go into the doona zone too often. Mainly due to having amazing people who supported me with empathy, and their own strength, and sometimes just making me chicken soup. Not everyone is as fortunate as me, and sometimes that produces 'survivor guilt' - and the reason why I am making my own fight public.

I don't necessarily agree with everything that goes along with '#Pinktober' - do I want to buy KFC because the bucket is pink? Not particularly (I'll buy it because it's bad for me mind you). What I do agree with is raising awareness. And that's why I am writing this post, which is not easy; in fact it has taken me a long time to get these words on the screen. Who knew that saying 'I have had breast cancer' publicly would be so hard? Maybe it's because my fight isn't over yet; maybe it's because although I am open about a lot of things, this is something I fought very privately.

All I ask of you this month, and every month for that matter, is this.

Check your breasts. Yes, men too. Breast cancer isn't picky. It attacks young women; it attacks blokes. It attacks anyone it feels like to a certain extent.

If you feel something that's not quite right, go to your doctor. Do NOT leave it thinking 'oh, I will get it seen to eventually'. This attitude has provokes some of the saddest lessons - which, unfortunately stay with the people who loved, not the one who was loved. They're gone.

And if you want to support those who haven't been so lucky, give to reputable organisations who will use the funds for research, and nurses in the community, and practical support.

By the way, I hate pink. I would love for #Pinktober to be #Blacktober. Because that's a way cooler colour.

I bet Angelina Jolie would agree.

Get Up, Stand Up

“Stand up and be counted, or sit your ass in the corner and colour.”

— Lori Lifsey

I was talking to a very close friend late last night, and she was incredibly upset. After hearing what was wrong, I felt so physically cross and mentally crabby I would have relished the opportunity to have a young Cassius Clay (or possibly Tony Abbott) materialise in front of me so that I could have a ding-dong punch up. 

Make that definitely Tony Abbott. A Rumble In The Jungle is far more satisfying when it's against someone you actively feel would benefit from a good seven punch combo.  

What was behind the reasoning for my rage? As often seems to happen, someone who had no personal knowledge of another individual - who was motivated by jealousy, or an inability to achieve, or simply that most destructive of all human behaviours  - malice - had decided to make someone dear to me's life hell.

Because they could. And because they wanted to.  

Why is this acceptable?  

I can be nasty. I am not immune to having a bitch about others - if someone gives me the irrits, then yes, the temptation is always there to express said irrits in less than flattering terms.  

See above re our current Prime Minister. 

But I have never understood the need that some people seem to feel of taking down others they don't even know. I'm not talking about the lionising and then the destruction of celebrities who do 'the wrong thing' - or what the general public determines is the wrong thing, which in itself can be scary as hell.  I'm talking about those individuals who feel they have a right to be careless with people's lives; without consequence and without conscience. 

To ascribe feelings, thoughts and behaviour to someone whom you've never met - to actively state that they are 'this' person - it's just wrong.  

'X is only going out with Y for their money/looks/position'.

'How do you know? Did they tell you?'

'No, I've never met them. I just know.'

This mysterious ability to reach inside another person's head is obviously something which security forces across the world should be tapping in on. Forget phone and interwebs screening, forget careful surveillance; just pick up a few of these superheroes and put them in front of your most wanted. 

'Yep, he's a terrorist alright.'

'What are you basing that on? Psychological analysis? Predictive behaviour? Past actions?'

'Nope. I just don't like the look of them. And once someone who looked like him kicked my cat'.

Analysis through ignorance is one of the nastiest things we humans do. To impact on another person's life simply because you feel you have the right to say what you think about them - with no knowledge or understanding of who they are - no. Not acceptable. 

I hope that every person who reads this has a great Sunday. That your day involves sunshine, and lazy brekky, and being with people you care about. And that maybe - just maybe - if someone says 'I heard this about X' and starts pulling them down, you don't just listen and nod, and maybe even repeat it, because you assume that they know what they're talking about. 

Instead, give the gossip what it deserves. 

That seven punch combo. 

 

Blonde. James Blonde. Licensed to - Ouch.

“Bond looked at the beautiful day and smiled. And no man, not even Mr. Big, would have liked the expression on his face.”

— Ian Fleming, Live And Let Die

I saw a very clever caricature of the various actors who have played James Bond over the years on Facestalk the other day (thank you, Intrepid Allen) - which is reproduced here, and it started me thinking, as I do, about inane and trivial stuff. 

A lot of people got all hoity-toity and up in arms about Daniel Craig when he was first announced as the new Bond five zillion years ago.  

'He's not tall enough!' 

'He's not smooth enough!' 

And the killer blow... 

'HE'S BLONDE! YOU CAN'T HAVE A BLONDE BOND!' 

Well, fine. But if you take it to Ian Fleming's literal description, Bond is also supposed to permanently have a cruel sneer, blue eyes, smoke like a chimney and have a Cyrillic letter for 'spy' carved in one of his hands, and resemble Hoagy Carmichael. If you can find more than five people who can tell me who Hoagy Carmichael is without using Google, or who the agency were who carved the character in his hand, then call me Vesper Lynd (feel free to call me Vesper anyway, I quite like it).  

I don't think any of the actors who have played Bond have embodied all of the literary Commander B's physical characteristics. If anything, he looked like a 30s Jeremy Irons with contact lenses. Old Dan the Man certainly has the blue eyes. And he is pretty good at the sneer as well. Did you ever see Roger Moore manage anything other than a smirk? Poor old George Lazenby (why did he have to be Australian) just about got the height right, Pierce was quite creditable and Timothy Dalton wasn't heinous but when it comes down to it, it's a toss up between old Thunderballs Sean C and Mr Craig for Best Bond Ever.  

With one very big difference.  

Daniel Craig as Bond, as the cartoon accompanying this entry shows, actually gets hurt. And more to the point, stays hurt. He doesn't get fabbo weaponry. The villains do - he gets his Walther PPK and that's pretty much it. He gets bashed, and shows said bashing. He limps. He has bruises. He doesn't get punched in the face, rub his jaw ruefully, then stroll off looking immaculate. 

Bond, as written by Fleming, is also, quite frankly, a misogynistic pig. There is a hell of a lot of 'she looked like she wanted to be raped'  (I do not tell a lie) in those earlier books, and I speak as someone who loves Bond, so it's hard for me to reconcile. I try to put it down to the times and Fleming being a misogynistic pig himself, who just happened to write some bloody good stories - but sometimes - I think he could do with a thump on the head with the butt of a Walther PPK himself.

He'd be rolling in his grave at the thought of a female M. 

Hee hee hee. 

But back to Blonde Bond.  

Daniel Craig plays Bond mean. And merciless. And a bit broken. I'm not quite sure why anyone who has read the Fleming Bond would have any issue with this. But I notice that with the announcement of the new movie that they are still moaning about the light haired Lothario. 

Not me.

When the sky falls (ahem) I want someone who looks as though they might actually be able to save the world, not just drink a martini and shoot their cufflinks as they get sawn in half by a laser.  

Maybe he could even name a drink after me. 

The Vesper is sounding a bit old. 

The Katrina... 

That works.