The Secret Life of Melanie O.
Friday, September 30, 2005
I turn 46 tomorrow
It's my birthday tomorrow. And my husband has a few surprises in store for me. He must have been thinking about this for a while, as he recently lamented to me that I buy myself whatever I need or want, so, what's left over?

I think, once we get past a certain age, the material things, while they're nice, aren't really necessary any more. I don't know when that point occurs, but instead of thinking that I've got something nice, I'm thinking more along the lines of: "who should I Will this to?"

There are some things, however, that this middle-aged woman would love to get for her birthday:

France. Not a trip to France. I want France. And French history. French art. French couture and perfume. And Sophie Marceau's good looks.

I want my own parking space at the train station so that I don't have to endure one more ding or scrape to my car from the idiots who park too closely to me on the garden median where they shouldn't be parking in the first place.

I want a paintball gun that shoots quick-drying oil-based paint. So I can shoot cars that cut me off in traffic, or who won't allow me to merge so that they can "be first in line." And I want to practise my aim so that I can actually spell out "Moron Asswipe Driver" on the back of the car using the paintballs.
Paintball Kit

I want a blow dart gun with darts that have a powerful knockout drug so that I can put to sleep anyone in the movie theater who insists on talking throughout a movie. I also want darts that explode on impact so that I can take out cell phones in:
a) restaurants
b) public toilets
c) theaters
d) my office.

chickensI want a ray gun that robs abusive people of their voices and makes them cluck like chickens. I would use this whenever I see an adult belittling a child, an adult abusing another adult, or on my neighbor's dog, who barks at all hours of the night.

I also want an international law passed that prohibits these people from holding any kind of major public office (including President of the United States, Prime Minister of any country, or Fearless Leader by any other name): all alcoholics, megalomaniacs, people who made it on "Daddy's money" instead of their own, misogynists, religious fanatics, people who've never struggled to make a living, people with an IQ lower than 130, porn addicts, puppets, muppets, and pawns.

Too bad you won't find THESE in the Hammacher-Schlemmer catalog.

Of course, cake is always nice, too.

posted by Melanie O. at 7:20 PM - 2 comments
Monday, September 26, 2005
Living with a man
In all fairness to men, there are some things we women can do to make living with a man easier on us both. Of course, you need to start with two personalities that fit well together, but when you do, you'll come up with these keys for happiness:

1) Give men their shed time. Every man needs his own space. The house is typically a woman's domain, so your man will need his own domain, whether that's his private home office, the garage, or a garden shed. Never store your stuff in his space.

2) Have ice cream available in the freezer. And steak.

A man's shed is his castle.

3) Give him sex. Lots of sex, unless he couldn't care less. Then, give him lots of ice cream. Or steak.

4) Cook for him. Even if he likes to cook, every guy likes a home cooked meal. Unless you're a lousy cook. If so, there is always steak on the grill. Men like to char meat on a grill. It's a primitive instinct. Be sure you have a grill. Don't pull faces when he throws fresh meat on greasy, charred grill. Germs boost your immune system.

5) Men like competitive sports. Deal with it. I've never met a man who didn't go for some kind of sport, whether it was baseball, football, ice hockey, Formula One racing, motocross, billiards, or camel racing. It's not all bad. You can learn to like looking at other men in tight shorts. Provide snacks.

6) When he is sick, he will feel like he's dying. Be sure to offer up lots of sympathy. Bring him coffee and juice. When he is sick, he is your baby. He will go to work regardless of how he feels, because it's not manly to call in sick and he will have to prove to his company how "tough" and dedicated he is. The minute he comes home, however, he will suddenly take a turn for the worse. The whining and pathetic moans, groans and demands are reserved for you, his spouse or girlfriend.

7) Men don't check the dishes when they come out of the dishwasher to see if any food is still stuck on there. Don't ever give him this job to do. Men don't vacuum. They wait until the dust and pet hair mound up into little balls and gather in the corners of the room. This is your job. Men who like to vacuum don't like women.

8) Don't complain about anything, unless you want him to fix it. That means, don't complain about your mother, your kids, your finances, or your marriage. As soon as you present a problem to a man, his mind will go to work on trying to fix it. Some women lose their men to the shed. This is where he does all of his problem solving. Some women never see him again.

9) Men like to bring home pets for you to look after and for him to play with.

10) Men love to buy their wives and girlfriends kitchen gadgets for their birthdays and Christmas, thinking that we will get the same amount of pleasure that they get from new tools. Don't be disappointed. To a man, this is a compliment. You can goad him into buying you something that you really want, after you have a fight. Men like to please their partner. Really.

See, it's not that hard. It just takes a little patience and understanding, and remember the old adage: "Men are earthlings, women are from out of this world."

posted by Melanie O. at 4:39 PM - 1 comments
Sunday, September 25, 2005
One non-blonde
I recently decided, as middle-aged spread began to take over my body, that I needed to give myself a "lift." It had to be something that put the spring back in my step and make me feel more youthful.

I've been on a diet forever, so losing weight was not an option. At least, not one I could consider without starving myself, and I was already down to two pieces of bread and a salad per day. No - this had to be something less painful.

I decided to go blonde.

"Does she or doesn't she?" Only one of these women isn't a real blonde.

"So what," I hear you ask. Well, for someone who has a natural head of dark hair, this was quite an undertaking. The last time I attempted to go blonde was in the 80's when the only bleach strong enough was the one that came with those hair frosting kits. I eventually wound up with a head of straw. I knew the time to stop bleaching my hair had come when it showered little golden shards every time I shook my head.

Thankfully, twenty years later, we've got better products. My hair is actually silkier than it was before. And my husband loves it. He says I should have gone blonde years earlier. Is this what they mean by "blondes have more fun?" I'm not sure I'm having more fun, but I do get more looks on the street. But are the lookers looking at my hair or noticing my roots? Only my hairdresser knows for sure.

posted by Melanie O. at 12:02 AM - 0 comments
Saturday, September 24, 2005
Being single in your 30's
If there is one complaint amongst women that seems to be universal, it's being single and in your 30's. Everyone thinks, while they're in their 20's, that the world is an endless pool of date and mate prospects, especially if you're attending a university. I've known women, myself included, who were never available for more than a couple of months. You can actually get high off the whiff of testosterone at a college basketball game. The scent of male pheromones wafts in the air - heady and piquant on the palate.

However, all of those rules change when you're in your 30's and you're a woman. Our more cunning sisters snagged "the good men" while they were still in school, knowing that they will probably be divorced in fifteen years, but not caring, since they'll have the house, the kids, and the SUV. Those of us who spend our 30's single, know that the "left over" men over age 30 are either Momma's boys, men who only date women under the age of 25, are materialism-enslaved confirmed bachelors, are virginal religious fanatics, are drug and/or alcohol abusers, are unemployed and ambitionless, are bitter divorced men who think all women cheat, still believe one day they will become a "rock star," or they don't care for women as partners. Life suddenly moves from an endless smorgasbord, to a desert wasteland.

That's why so many women I know over the age of 30, hang onto the most dysfunctional relationships. Despite all of the feminist hype out there, most women do not like being alone. Most of them want emotional security and intimacy.

I belong to a women's travel forum, and invariably, several times a week, someone posts something like this:

So, I think my boyfriend is cheating on me. He keeps getting SMS messages from someone named "D". Would it be ok if I suggested a threesome? And should I blame the other woman, since, technically, my boyfriend is supposed to be the one committed to me? Why can't I get back at the bitch who knew he was already taken?

To console myself, I went out and bought a Dior plastic lipgloss. I can't believe I paid so much for it, but it's supposed to last most of the day with just one application. I hate when I feel depressed, because I always go shopping. And speaking of shopping, I am looking for the perfect moisturizer - and shoes. Anyone recommend anything?

Our cat seems to be traumatized by my boyfriend's philandering ways. He peed on the carpet for the first time, ever. How do you get pet pee out of the carpet? It stinks! And do you think that pets can tell when the owners are cheating? Do you think they dream and can read your thoughts/sense your emotions? And should I tell my landlord? I was thinking I could blame the smell on the previous tenants. If my boyfriend and I split up, how long should I give myself to wallow in self-pity and misery? Is it OK for me to go out and get drunk and have a sympathy shag? I've kind of seen this coming for a while, but just haven't wanted to face things.

Please send me vibes. I'm thinking of taking up knitting booties for people in the old folks' home as a way to get my mind off this terrible situation.

These kinds of posts are followed by innumerable voices of sympathy, with some creative suggestions for getting back at cheating boyfriend, and lots of emoticons and *vibes.* But, having "been there - done that" in my 30's, I have to say that I am totally understanding of these women who should get out of nasty dysfunctional relationships, but who don't for fear of being out of the dating pool forever.

By the time I hit 42, I was resigned to the fact that I was never getting married again. I had four grown sons (not cute little ones who would learn to call a prospective partner "daddy,") and so taught myself how to relish my freedom and independence. I filled my calendar with things to do. I sang in a band. I worked in television - in front of and behind the camera - I did everything I dreamed of doing in my 20's, but couldn't because I was raising a family. And then one day I realised that I actually LIKED my life!

That's when my (now) husband swooped in and snagged me. A lesson for us all.
posted by Melanie O. at 8:56 AM - 2 comments
Friday, September 23, 2005
Living with a woman
A friend of mine is going to start living with his girlfriend. They are going through the same sorts of things that my husband and I went through a few years ago when we first decided to get serious. My friend lives here in Sydney, and she's from New Jersey. This is so familiar!

There is a trick to living harmoniously with a woman. Actually, there are lots of tricks to living harmoniously with a woman. Let me list a few. If I can save one or two couples out there from utter devastation, then I will not have blogged in vain.

Trick 1) Learn from comedian Tim Allen's words of wisdom: be free with the use of "I'm sorry." You don't even have to do anything wrong. Apologise for being a man, or for having too much testosterone, or for watching rugby when she wanted to talk. "I'm sorry" - a simple two-word phrase that doesn't get used enough. It's a lifesaver for you men. You just have to say it like you mean it, and a world of sins will be forgiven. Of course, saying "I'm sorry" will be meaningless unless it is followed by much grovelling and a night out at a fancy French restaurant or a gift of jewelry and flowers. (This last part is my own personal addition.)

This man is worth his weight in chocolate

Trick 2) Learn how to say "yes, dear." Of course, variations of "yes dear" can be used, such as "of course, sweetheart," or "certainly, darling." The meaning is the same. A wise man knows that his wife or girlfriend is queen of the castle and you do things her way. If you want to do things your way, you get a shed.

Trick 3) Put the toilet seat down. I know it's just as easy for her to put it up, but this is just one of those little nice chivalrous things that men can do for women. It shows you care whether or not she gets a cold buttwash in the middle of the night. If, by some horror you forget this trick, this is one of those times that Trick 1 will come in very handy.

Trick 4) Her stuff is her stuff. Your stuff is her stuff, too. Remember this. Don't rearrange her books or her CDs. She knows where everything is - even if it looks like a deranged bat put the shelves together. Don't get upset when she uses your tools and puts them back in the wrong place, or uses a plumber's helper to start the dishwasher. You weren't there to fix it, so she had to make do with whatever was available. This is what is known as female independence. You are to applaud her ingenuity.

Trick 5) Replace the toilet paper when it gets down to the last wrap-around the roll. Do not leave bare paper rolls for her to replace. Nothing makes a woman angrier than being stranded on the toilet. And the paper rolls over the top of the roll so that you can see the pretty prints. Oh - I forgot to mention the pretty prints. Say goodbye to plain white toilet paper and say hello to sea shells, puppies, teddy bears, and flowers.

Trick 6) Nature is cruel. Women have menstrual cycles until they are past age 50 or so. Women also get cranky. Especially with husbands or boyfriends who do not use tricks 1 through 5. Just because a woman is cranky, it does not mean she has PMS or is "on the rag." Using the term "on the rag" is an offense punishable by several nights without sex. Remember these facts. Know when not to say anything. There is always the shed.

Trick 7) Be sure there is an inexhaustable supply of dark chocolate and wine in the house. Dark chocolate and a glass of wine have been known to save more than one hapless chap from the horrors of a woman being tormented by PMS. (Hey - I never said we didn't get cranky when we have PMS.)

This man is not.

I'll try to cover some more of these tricks in another entry. These few are difficult enough for most men to understand, and for you women, if you find a man who does understand, then he is worth his weight in dark chocolate. So sayeth my husband.

posted by Melanie O. at 9:50 PM - 0 comments
Gender Wars
I had a discussion today with some of my friends about who are the bigger gossips: men or women?

I think that women have just gotten a bad rep over the years from years of being bored housewives. However, nowadays, gender equality has given men the "go ahead" to be gossips, too. There's no worse gossip than a truck driver, let me tell you. When my husband and his buddies are in the yard, waiting to get unloaded, what do you think they talk about? Not sports. Not television. They talk about food, and they gossip.

Let's remember, ages ago, the biggest gossip was the Town Crier, who was authorized to go from door to door, spreading the news, which was, mainly gossip. He rang his bell calling "Hear Ye, Hear Ye," which I suppose was the earliest form of wireless communication.

Men don't like to admit that they're worse gossips than women. Women might titter a little or "cluck" a tongue in sympathy with someone who's has just screwed up, but, as one friend put it, "I think women gossip more (let's face it, we're better at communication). But I think men take gossip to a malicious level that even the cattiest woman couldn't aspire to."

My husband will never admit it, but he loves gossip. One of the first things he says to me at the end of the day is: "Did you hear about .....?" But he'll never admit that he's addicted to it.

Men don't buy gossip rags because they know their wives or girlfriends will buy them, and then they read them in the privacy of their own home. It's just not "manly" to buy a woman's mag. At least, this is what my husband does when we're out grocery shopping:

Him: "Don't you want to buy a [insert name of celebrity rag here]?"
Me (thinking): Not really. (saying): "Oh, sure, why not. They're entertaining enough."
Him: (thumbs through magazine while we wait in the checkout line)

Later at home, magazine is now in stack of magazines next to the john, which he reads at his er... leisure.

posted by Melanie O. at 3:30 PM - 1 comments
Thursday, September 22, 2005
We're not in Kansas anymore

It's 3:08 pm here in Sydney. It's a gorgeous, sunny day, and I'm sitting here, at my desk at work, worrying about my son, who is in Ft Worth, Texas, because there is a category 5 hurricane that is headed his way. It's tough being so far away from family when there's a natural disaster, or when it's their birthday, or Christmas, or they get a DUI. I remember when a kiss on the knee would take the sting out of those childhood scrapes. Now it seems like the whole world has gone mad, and no amount of kisses are going to fix it.

So, how did I get to be so far away from my kids? That's a story about Internet/cross cultural love, and realising, at the age of 42 (you notice that I am not using American spelling in this paragraph. I am slowly being assimilated by Australia) that:
a) I'm not getting any younger, and
b) my kids aren't little kids any more when they tower over you and move in with their girlfriends, and
c) Australia seemed as good a place as any for starting over. At least they speak English here - sort of.

I've always loved travel. Ever since I was a teen and my parents sent my sister and I away for a week to France. France is, in a word - beautiful. I have never loved another country with such intensity. And this travel set the stage for my state of mind: one that considers planet Earth to be my back and front yard. Especially when love is being played out on that stage. I mean, why limit yourself?

So, here I am - a gazillion miles away from home, worrying about my grown sons as if they were all still three years old - but firmly entrenched in the Aussie way of life out of love for my husband. And if that doesn't feel like being torn in two - nothing does.

posted by Melanie O. at 3:00 PM - 0 comments

About Me
Name: Melanie O.
Home: Durham, North Carolina, United States
About Me: Female, American health and beauty-conscious professional who has rekindled a childhood love of dolls.
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