The Secret Life of Melanie O.
Monday, January 30, 2006
My car's name is...
I'm not sure when it happened, but I've been naming my cars for quite a few years now. I figure that if people can name boats and ships, I can name my car. My current car, an economic little silver Kia, is called Sylvia. I thought it was a nice play on the color, silver, and it was the name of Danny Kaye's wife. What these two things have in common, beats me.

Before Sylvia, was Hildegaard - a big, sturdy BMW 525e. Dan bought Hildegaard from me when it became apparent that little short me trying to drive a big car, was a bit like a child trying to steer a wild bull. Hildegaard just seemed an appropriate name for a German car that is built like a tank. One night, Hildegaard hit a kangaroo (aka boulder) as we were coming back from a dinner in the Blue Mountains. The kangaroo wound up with less damage than Hildegaard, and, although her headlights are permanently shining upwards into the trees now (we call it "possum-spotting"), she survived with just a big dent, which we will eventually repair. For now, the damage elicits some interesting conversation.

I traded Chloe in for Hildegaard. Chloe was a saucy little red BMW 318i. Her previous owner, a college student, flogged her transmission to death. We replaced her diff and her transmission and she handled beautifully. If it wasn't for the fact that her fuel economy was so poor, I'd probably still own her, but she guzzled gas like an alcoholic guzzles Colt malt liquor. She was too high on the maintenance scale. I like things that are low maintenance - like cats. This allows me, myself, to be the high maintenance feature of our household.

Before I moved out to Australia, I owned the Green Lantern. It was a little Chevy Metro. Sleek, sporty, but economical and practical. I loved that car. It was a beautiful shade of green. I thought of naming it the Green Hornet, but didn't want to insult my Chevy by naming it after another car manufacturer.

I'll probably go on naming my cars until dementia settles in. Up until now, my cars, like my pets, have always named themselves, but I think, next time, I might pick a favorite name and find a car to match it. Some ideas:

Doris Day - My '56 Nomad
Naomi (Watts) - a Mazda Miata
Clyde - an old Ford pickup truck
Axle Rose - a red convertible

Regardless, I will always feel a connection with my cars - even if I want to shoot it, like my first car, a '76 Dodge Colt, called Heap of Sh*t.
posted by Melanie O. at 7:18 PM -
Saturday, January 21, 2006
Shopping with Dan
We got a call this morning from my husband's sister in the United States. She wanted to know what Dan's plans were for their parents' 50th wedding anniversary next weekend. Translation: 'what are you doing so that I can get my name involved without actually spending any money?' Dan immediately did what any self-respecting husband does: he put his sister on the phone with his wife - me. So, in this way, I got steamrolled into planning my in-laws' 50th wedding anniversary celebration.

Having this sprung on me put me into a bit of a tailspin, so I thought of the only thing I can ever remember my inlaws asking for: photos of their two kids together. So, I asked sis-in-law to send me a digital photo of her, I would take one of Dan myself - to match, and then I'd go out and buy matching gold photo frames (for the Golden Anniversary), touch up the photos, print them out, put them in the frames, buy the card, and then Dan and I would figure out where we could take them for dinner.

Dan's job was to take me to the large shopping mall close by to where we live. Not that I can't drive, but I was going to be damned if Dan didn't get involved in some way. These are, after all, his parents, not mine. He already forgot his father's birthday, and I wasn't going to let this go by.

So, we drove to the mall - the largest shopping mall in the southern hemisphere. Something happens to me when I step into this mall. I suddenly forget why I'm there, and I have to go from shop to shop, just in case something jogs my memory, and I spend about four times as much as I intended before I got there. It's like some bizarre post-hypnotic state kicking in the minute I walk in the door and see four levels of shopping that go on forever. Makes me wonder what subliminal messages are being piped in through the Muzak system.

Our first visit was to the DVD store. We intended to get his father one DVD as a belated birthday gift. We walked out with three: two for Dan's dad, and one for us: a Bruce Campbell cult movie called Bubba Ho Tep. What inspired me to do this, I don't know, but I've always loved Bruce Campbell (hey - I think he's another Gemini.)

Anyway, Dan, Bubba, and I left the DVD store and went to the first department store to look for gold photo frames. For some reason, this store had Wexford crystal photo frames, ornate Italian enameled frames, and silver plate frames, but no gold ones. It took a half an hour to find this out because I had to stop and look over the cosmetics counter, and Dan had to look at the Polo shirts. We both stopped and looked over the handbags.

Disappointed, but not undaunted, we stopped in a jewelry and gift shop thinking that we might find gold frames. Jewelry store - gold frames. Logical connection, right? They had wooden frames. And more silver plated ones. No gold ones. We did pick out a lovely white-on-white with gold china service, however.

It was on to the next large department store, where we finally managed to find some gold leaf frames. It took us five minutes to buy the frames. It took us another half an hour to peruse the small appliances, find the turquoise ones styled like the ones used in the 1950's, mentally design our new city apartment, and finally leave.

By this time, I was feeling pretty tired. The music in the DVD store (if you could call it that,) had given me a pounding headache, and I was wondering how I had gotten myself into this. I think
Dan sensed my irritation, because after we left the department store with our purchases, he encouraged me to buy myself a new wallet, and then actually stopped me on my way out of the mall, and steered me into a shoe store to look at shoes. I found a pair that I loved, but decided that I had already bought 1) a DVD that I hadn't planned on buying, 2) two photo frames and an anniversary card that I hadn't planned on buying that morning, and 3) a leather wallet that I hadn't planned on buying. I made a mental note to come back and buy the shoes after my next paycheck.

He then stopped me as we passed a women's clothing store and picked out a couple of outfits that he said he'd love to see me in. Granted, they were nice outfits, but I didn't want to spend any more money. All this time, though, I am thinking: I am the luckiest woman! I have a husband who loves to shop and doesn't mind looking at girly stuff!

I think I know why, however. After we finally left the mall, we headed towards Testosterone Heaven: one of those mega warehouses for do-it-yourselfers. We spent 10 minutes looking at girly stuff. We spent a half an hour at least, looking at home hardware, power tools and lawn and garden stuff. I think I may have actually grown an extra chin hair while I was in there. Just wait until the next time I run out of maxi-pads. I'm going to make him go to the grocery store to buy me some.
posted by Melanie O. at 7:22 PM -
Friday, January 20, 2006
The objects of my lust
My husband is well aware of the fact that he is not the only lust of my life. Like a lot of women, I have my own fantasy objects of desire. Some women I know have more than one object of desire, myself included. I have discovered that there is a common element to my objects of lust.

They are all Geminis.

No one knows why this is. Libra women and Gemini men are supposed to go well together like honey and peanut butter, or ice cream and hot fudge. Alone - they are complete and wonderful "as is," but together, they become decadent. So it is with me and my objects of lust.

Johnny DeppLike a lot of women, I find Johnny Depp to be irresistable. I don't know if it's because he chooses to play offbeat roles in film. I don't know if it's because I admire the way he leapt from 21 Jump Street onto the Big Screen. I don't know. And I don't care. Johnny is not ruggedly handsome. Heck, he still calls himself "Johnny;" not John or Jon. But he just screams "creative genius at work" to me. I can't see Johnny as ever settling for anything he didn't find intriguing and exotic. That's probably why he lives in the south of France with his French chanteuse, Vanessa Paradis.
Tim Allen
The other Gemini of my lustful fantasies is Tim Allen. Whoa! I know what you're thinking: Tim "Home Improvement" Allen? The guy who's played Santa Claus more times in the movies than any other actor? The same Tim Allen that got busted out of college for transporting cocaine and doing two years in jail? Yep - that one. Tim "Buzz Lightyear" Allen gets two thumbs up for making me laugh and keeping me entertained for the past 15 years. That's quite a feat for anyone, considering no one else has ever been able to do that, except maybe Gregory Peck, who is dead. And I find Tim sexy in that "man who can work with his hands" sort of way. That's the kind of sexy that never ages badly. My grandfather had that kind of aura about him. He was building things nearly until the day he died.

I got an autographed photo from Tim's publicist today in the mail. It's "autographed by Tim Allen." Of course, it's signed by someone who has been able to duplicate Tim's signature, but it's still very nice. I like the photo. It's real. Tim's aging very well. It must be due to being able to make people laugh. Laughter is good for the endorphins. Endorphins keep you young.

I'd run off with Tim Allen any day, as long as my husband Dan could come, too, as he is a huge Home Improvement fan. I think he could forgive me running off with Tim, since he admires him so much. I think that Dan could even forgive me if I ran off with Johnny Depp, as long as he got to watch Johnny on the set. Dan loves to see how the movies are made and watches all of the special Dan O.features on all of our DVDs. (He enjoys the "behind the scenes" documentaries more than the films, sometimes.)

Did I mention that Dan is a Gemini?
posted by Melanie O. at 10:09 PM -
Thursday, January 12, 2006
I am not a morning person
I joined in an online discussion the other day regarding the fact that getting out of bed was the most hazardous part of the day. I'd like to concur. In fact, I'd like to share some of my morning disasters.

Let me preface this by saying that unless I can wake up naturally (that is, at the end of a sleep cycle and not by alarm clock or other disturbance,) I am a zombie for the entire day. My body may be moving around and performing tasks that are somewhat logical, but my brainwaves are still in a sleep pattern. I would bet, if you hooked me up to an EEG at 6 am, it would show me in a Delta state, even if I was washing my face at the sink.

I do not wake up before 9 am. It doesn't matter if I get up at 6 am, I am not awake until 9 am (or sometimes, 10 am.) I have arrived to work, and discovered, upon the first trip of the day to the women's toilets that:

  • my pantyhose was on backwards
  • my underwear was on inside out (bra and/or panties)
  • my contact lenses were switched (no wonder I was having trouble walking down those stairs)
  • I had toothpaste down the front of my shirt
  • my shirt was buttoned wrong
  • my slip was bunched up into my panties
  • I forgot my watch
  • I forgot my lunch
  • I forgot my mobile phone
  • my shoes and/or socks were mismatched

Huh? What? I'm smiling but I don't know what's going on. Can I go back to bed now?

Fortunately, not all of these things happened on the same day, or I have no doubt I would be living in a padded cell right now. It scares me to think I have to drive to the railway station at 7 am.

Today, however, I am wondering if even waking up "naturally" is going to save me from the hazard of getting out of bed. Today I was going through my usual routine, and put my earrings and watch on the sink countertop so that I would not forget them for work. Surely, once I was done washing my face and putting on my makeup, they would be there, staring me in the face. I was much pleased at my cleverness, as all attempts at making mental lists so far had failed me. This time, I was going for the visual.

So, 15 minutes later, I'm washed, have fresh makeup on, and go to put some things in my purse (including my mobile phone which I actually remembered to recharge the night before.) And then I remembered my earrings and the watch. The watch went on, and then I noticed: there was only ONE earring sitting there! Oh no! These are gold earrings, small enough to get accidentally swiped into the drain of the sink and washed away forever!

I panicked and looked all over for the missing earring. It wasn't on the floor. It wasn't near my purse. I spent 10 minutes looking for that earring and realised that it was getting late and almost time for me to leave for work and I had to give up. My heart sank. My earring had to have gotten accidentally wiped into the sink and was gone. It wouldn't be the first time I lost an expensive earring early in the morning when my brain wasn't fully functioning. And not the first one to go down the drain. I was angry and frustrated with my brainlessness.

I sadly went to put the remaining earring in my jewelry box and wiped my hair from my face. And there ... was the other earring ... laughing at me from its mounting on my ear lobe. I had put the thing on while I was putting on my makeup and totally forgot!

I state my case. I am a pathetic morning zombie from hell. My husband says he is married to a blank space - one that he doesn't even try to talk to until 9 am.

posted by Melanie O. at 7:37 PM - 4 comments
Tuesday, January 10, 2006
Too much testosterone
You know that saying: be careful what you wish for? Well, I am here to confirm that not only is this a wise saying, it is a curse.

I grew up in household with lots of estrogen. There was my poor dad, surrounded by three women with PMS every month, but let me tell you, it was no fun being a girl in the household and having PMS and putting up with two other women's PMS. A tooth cleaning at the dentist would have been more fun.

So, I grew up wishing that a) I had an older brother who would protect me from the household madness, and b) that I was secretly adopted and I was really the heiress to some obscure monarchy. It was only later that I found out that older brothers tend to torment and beat up their younger siblings, not protect them.

When I got married (the first time) and got pregnant, I secretly hoped that my firstborn would be a son, due to my being traumatized by too much estrogen during my formative teenaged years. Imagine my absolute delight, after 8 hours of labor, when I found out (after waking up from the anesthesia,) that I had a son! Whoo hoo! He was the light of my life and pride and joy. I bought a deluxe edition baby keepsake book, and saved every hospital memento: everything from his baby bracelet to the hospital booklet called Caring for Your Newborn. Every milestone from the first tooth to his first steps and innoculations were meticulously recorded. When he could first hold a pencil, I got him to draw pictures for me. Every new experience was a joy. I filled out almost every page of the keepsake book. We paid a professional photographer a lot of money for baby pics.

When I got pregnant again, I wished for a girl. I thought "a girl would be perfect! That would make our family complete." But son number two came into the world. I bought a baby keepsake book and kept most of the hospital mementos, including the baby bracelet. I filled out about a half of his book. Not because I loved him any less, but because I had less time for those kinds of things. I bought a Polaroid camera and took my own pictures.

I got pregnant a third time and thought: "this is it. It's going to be a girl. I've already had two boys. So, the odds have to be in my favor." But, no, it was another boy. I bought a cheaper baby keepsake book (we were too broke to get a deluxe edition,) and I saved his baby bracelet and other mementos. I've filled out maybe a third of the book. There are some Polaroid baby pics around somewhere.

I got divorced and remarried. We decided to have a child together, and I thought: "new gene pool. It's going to be a girl to round out our family." It was a bouncing baby boy! We bought a baby keepsake book and put his bracelet and other hospital mementos in it. I think I've filled out about a quarter of it. My husband took the baby photos and kept all of them after we split up.

By about the time my oldest was six years old and in school, I felt like I was drowning in testosterone. I was outnumbered five-to-one. We tried remedying this by going to the SPCA and getting me some kittens. We brought home two adult cats.

posted by Melanie O. at 7:10 PM - 0 comments
Saturday, January 07, 2006
Driving lessons
Every parent of teens knows that this is the time in your life that will age you the fastest. Teens are difficult – not only do they test you, but they test you in ways that you could never, in a million years, plan for. Not only are they sneaking out of the house behind your back, they are experimenting with drugs, sex and alcohol, but in ways that they used to classify as subversive or perverse back in the '60’s.

The worst part of being the parent of teens has to be the day every parent dreads: the day your teen says that he or she is old enough for a driver’s permit, and he wants you to teach him how to drive. My parents don’t know how lucky they were. My first real driving experience was with the school instructor in a car outfitted with brakes on the front passenger side. Only after I was inducted into the world of operating a car, did I subject my parents to the harrowing experience of allowing me to drive the family car “for practice.” Knock on wood, I’ve never been in an accident, but I am sure there were moments when my mother’s knuckles turned white as we stopped in traffic about three inches from the bumper of the car in front of us.

I had sons and they are the reason, today, I flinch in traffic. I clearly remember being with the family on an out of town trip, and deciding to allow the oldest to have some highway driving practice. I figured – what the heck – he’s taken Driver’s Ed at school (and I took Driver’s Ed and passed with flying colors – surely he’s a chip off the ol’ block, eh?) Things went along smoothly until he decided to pass a guy in a pickup truck at 65 miles an hour.

Now, there is a rule for passing that I thought everyone learned: you don’t move back into your lane until you can see the headlights of the car you just passed, in your rear view mirror. My son obviously was paying attention to something else the day they taught that in his class, because no sooner did he pull out to pass, than he was moving back into the lane, cutting off the guy in the pickup truck. I saw the front bumper of the pickup truck outside my window in the back seat (notice I chose to sit in the presumably safer back seat and allow my son’s stepfather to sit with him in the front,) and my life flashed before my eyes. I could see the front end of the pickup and the side rear of our car (the side I was sitting on) becoming One with the Universe in a matter of a split second.

I screeched, and the driver in the pickup truck slammed on his brakes. Lucky for us, he must have noticed how young the driver at the wheel of our car was, and he was prepared. I walked a bit funny after that trip and have been slightly unintelligible ever since. I started naming the white hairs on my head after that experience – I have many hairs that bear the name of my first son, but in fairness to him, even more are named after his younger brothers.

I hope, one day, in the Afterlife, they give out medals to parents who have successfully raised teenagers to adulthood without either having them arrested or winding up themselves, in a mental hospital. Sadly, I know parents who won’t be at that ceremony. Hopefully, those parents get a cozy pot of tea and Eternity at the nicest resort in town.
posted by Melanie O. at 9:05 PM - 0 comments
Friday, January 06, 2006
Beyond couplehood
It’s true what they say: when you get married, you cease being an individual and wind up being something that I like to call a Spousoid. At first, you are a Couple. You occupy the same space, but you are still individuals and there are plenty of misunderstandings as you both manoeuvre your way into your “space” in the relationship hierarchy.

After at least two or three years of living together, you progress beyond being a Couple. You develop an invisible wire between the two of you, and you start to finish each others’ sentences and can read each others’ minds. You instinctively know when the other one is unhappy about something, and it rubs off on you like the girly glitter they put on the bath bombes in the Lush shop. You and your mate are now a Spousoid.

Your evening conversation dwindles to a few nods and grunts. You don’t need to say anything. You already know about everything that needs to be said. If you need to express more, you have sex. You know each others’ clothes sizes. He knows where you set your car keys down, and you know where he set his glasses down, even though neither one of you were present when the initial acts occurred. Simultaneously, you’ll both declare you feel like pizza for dinner. You both gain weight and you both want to use the loo at the same time.

This couple has obviously been together for a while.

Becoming a Spousoid is insidious in its lack of warning symptoms. One day, you go from being a Couple, with separate interests and habits, to this creature that has just melded together. If you used to be active in the evenings and he was always a couch spud, you’ll find that you are a couch spud more often, and he will find himself out to meet the friends for Peking Duck on a Thursday night when he least expects it.

I have to warn my single friends who keep saying that they'd like to be in a long term relationship, or *gasp* even get married: this, too, will happen to you in one form or another. Even couples who live apart can tell when the other one is in some kind of trouble. Yes, you can run, but you can not hide from the Spousoid.

posted by Melanie O. at 7:56 PM - 0 comments
Tuesday, January 03, 2006
The big letdown
Every year around this time, I get a case of the blues. It doesn’t matter what climate I live in, or what gifts I’ve received. I get a case of holiday culture shock – otherwise known as Christmas (Chanukah) Regressive Attitude Problem, or CRAP, for short.

For weeks leading up to Christmas, the shops are decorated to the brim. Everything is shiny and pretty, and people on the streets are filled with energy. Seasonal music is pumped over the Muzak system, and Christmas songs are played on the radio with alarming frequency in most Western towns and cities. If you’re like me and raised in a Western culture, you expect these things and are disappointed when you don’t get them. Last year, Sydney skimped on decorations in the city, and boy, were people upset! Even people that don’t celebrate Christmas were ready to hang the Lord Mayor. This year, the Lord Mayor, a lovely woman who wears a dog collar to work, decided she’d better not make the same mistake twice, so Sydney was enchanting this year.

One day it's all lights and pretty decorations...

The big night, for celebrants, is Christmas Eve. Candles are lit, carols are sung, luminaries are placed out at the curb, and people stay up to midnight to welcome the holiday. The next morning, gifts are exchanged and people go off “to Grandma’s house” for another dinner. Some people get three extra dinners, since they have to split their time between two sets of in-laws and someone’s aunt or uncle. I have yet to pull this one off, but I’m working on it.

Everything seems to be Currier and Ives postcard perfect, even if Uncle Walt gets into an argument with your brother and your niece breaks one of your best china dishes. It is, after all, the season to be merry. Whether you’re huddled around a fireplace, or sweltering in the heat, there is an air of excitement and expectation.

A week later, while Christmas’s (or Chanukah’s) rosy glow is still hanging on our cheeks, New Year’s swings around with its parties and hope for a better future. We turn the page and make resolutions to be better people. The shops and city streets are still decorated for one last hurrah.

And then comes the day after New Year’s Day.

After you get over the hangover, you realise that there is no more holiday music, no more free sidewalk entertainment, the decorations have been stowed away, and you have nothing exciting to look forwards to except perhaps the flu. I think this is one reason that people get depressed over the holidays. So much hype, so much expectation, and then, a huge letdown. Even if you have family and parties to go to, there’s still a letdown at the end – It’s inevitable.

... the next it's cheap chicken...

The once-cheery household is reduced to these kinds of conversations:
“What do you want for dinner?”
“Well, I’m not going out to buy anything. I just bought you a bunch of ‘toys’.” (“Toys,” in this case, include items from Adult World.)
“I can get us something. I’ve got ten bucks.”
The other person is thinking: what can you possibly get for two people for ten Aussie bucks?

So, you wind up having chicken and chips from the chip shop around the corner, and the conversation progresses:

“It’s hot. It’s too hot to eat.”
“What do you want to watch on the telly?”
“Let’s watch ‘Christmas with the Kranks.’ We’ve only watched that once this year.”
“Can you adjust the aerial? You always get the picture to come in perfect.”
“I can’t eat that potato salad! The cat just sneezed on it!”
“Would you tear yourself away from the computer? Dinner’s on the table.”
“You have a naked man in the house,” (proudly proclaimed by husband who is too hot to have clothes on.)

...with a naked man and a sneezing cat.

The “table” is the coffee table in the lounge. My dining room table still has the Christmas décor on it, but we aren’t seated there. I’m sitting on a loveseat, at the coffee table with chicken and chips and my husband, whose gut and other bits are hanging out. It’s well over 100 degrees Fahrenheit outside and the cat keeps poking his head into my dinner and sneezing on it. It’s going to be a long, slow and painful wind down to the next event. No wonder I feel like CRAP.

posted by Melanie O. at 7:47 PM - 0 comments
Sunday, January 01, 2006
New Year's Eve - Marital Style
When you’re single and it’s New Year’s Eve, it seems so important to be able to get out, join a party, and get that all-important New Year’s kiss. I remember the first time that I, as a single person, had to spend the evening at home alone. I felt devastated. Somehow, even though I knew my friends would be suffering from hangovers the next morning, I felt left out of the loop – on the fringe somewhere. Deep down, I 'knew' that I was being deprived of the future love-of-my-life by not meeting him at the stroke of midnight. Or so, that's how I felt at the time.

There's nothing more thrilling than going to bed at 10:30 pm while your teenaged sons go out to parties with their friends. At least I could indulge in sparkling grape juice and Gardetto's snacks (damn, I miss those!) My New Year's Eve consisited of browsing through the Victoria's Secret catalogue and changing the sheets on my bed.

Of course, they didn't ALL turn out to be that way. Boyfriends came and went. Sometimes I went to parties with my single friends. I even got engaged, although he left me to go skiing over the New Year holiday (back to the Gardetto's!) At least I had plenty of practise. Turns out that was symptomatic of our relationship. I quickly learned that I played second place to ski and dive excursions. We didn't stay engaged.

Now that I’m married to man who prefers me to just about anything else, every New Year’s Eve is a stay-at-home party. Last night my husband and I watched When Harry Met Sally and drank spumante to celebrate. Harry and Sally has become quite a tradition for us, not only because Harry proposes to Sally at a New Year’s Eve party, but because we can relate so well to the story. We were friends for nearly four years before we realised that we had fallen in love with each other, and long distance friends, at that.

So, we sat there, watching the film and quoting our favourite lines:

“You made a woman MEOW?”

“I’ll have what she’s having.”

“I want you to know, that I will never want that wagon wheel coffee table.”

Sally: “So, you’re telling me that a man can be friends with a woman he finds unattractive.”
Harry:” No, you pretty much want to nail them, too.”

“You're the worst kind. You're high maintenance, but you think you're low maintenance.”

“You realise, that when you want to spend the rest of your life with someone, you want the rest of your life to start as soon as possible.”

“All I'm saying is that somewhere out there is the man you are supposed to marry. And if you don't get him first, somebody else will, and you'll have to spend the rest of your life knowing that somebody else is married to your husband. ”

Sigh. This is what relationships are really about. His neuroses and her rigidity. Somehow, men and women find a way to meet in the middle and make it work. And then you sit at home in Sydney, on New Year’s Eve, while other people with more energy go into town to see the world famous fireworks display. You're pretty much guaranteed a kiss at midnight, though.
posted by Melanie O. at 10:34 AM - 1 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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