The Secret Life of Melanie O.
Thursday, June 29, 2006
Typical day
My life as a married career woman has settled into a predictable routine, in which “working for the man” has taken over, and “snogging the husband” plays second fiddle.

My day goes something like this:

Get up at 6 am. Husband has already left for work. House is quiet. Fumble around looking for clean underwear. Hopefully, decision on “what to wear” has been made the night before. Go to work with wrong shoes or underwear on inside out.

Drive to train station. 15 minutes (10 if traffic is light.) Avoid accidents.

Take train into the city. 20 – 30 minutes depending on whether or not I’ve caught the “all stations.” Call husband from train station just to hear his voice and say “I love you. Have a nice day.”

Take escalator to main concourse and go through the ticket gate. Station is noisy, although no one is actually talking.

Stop by sandwich shop and grab a croissant for breakfast. $4.00 for a croissant with a bit of ham and cheese in it.

Get to the office, fumble for security pass, ride lift to office where I stare at the computer for 9 hours, ostensibly doing online marketing work and web development, (with a half hour break for lunch,) try to talk on the phone for two minutes to husband, and then repeat process, in reverse, to go home.

Fall asleep briefly on the train.

Stare at shoes. Stare at lap. Fumble with purse. Stare out window. Stare at map of train lines on the wall. Do anything but look at the person crammed in next to me.

Get out at train station. Feel like a cow in a cattle drive. Walk back to car, which is parked at a distance from station.

Drive home. Avoid accidents. Husband usually beats me home and has dinner on that I prepared on Sunday. (I usually make a big pot of something that can be re-heated throughout the week. This week, it’s pasta.)

Have dinner with husband. Watch a DVD with him and chat about daily dramas if I don’t have freelance work waiting for me, otherwise, do freelance jobs. Husband is in bed by 9 pm, exhausted. I have a bath and follow soon afterwards.

Quite frankly – this sucks. And I wonder if we should stop being a slave to our mortgage, our rent, and our desire to get out and live it up on the weekends. But that’s being unrealistic and shortsighted, I suppose.

I keep telling myself that working hard now means we’ll have a great retirement – but I’m not even sure about that, since working hard mainly just covers our bills and pays for trips back to the USA every couple of years. So, now I’m thinking of ways to make Big Money, fast. I wonder if I could auction myself on eBay.
posted by Melanie O. at 10:45 AM - 4 comments
Sunday, June 25, 2006
Big Fish
A dad, 1959, the year I was born. My dad was better lookin,' though. Dan and I just finished watching Tim Burton’s Big Fish. It was a wonderful blend of fantasy and reality. The movie was basically about a man’s search to know who his father was. He grew up with a father who liked to stretch the truth, and, according to the movie, “a man tells stories so many times that he becomes the stories. They live on after him and in that way he becomes immortal.”

My father died when I was still a teenager. Sure, I was technically an adult with adult responsibilities, but the child in me felt abandoned. I hated that my father never got to do things that grandfathers get to do: take their grandsons to the races or to the circus. My father would have loved doing those kinds of things with his grandsons.

As much as that saddened me, what saddens me more is that I never got to know my father, as an adult. Not that he wasn’t an adult – he died when I was on the verge of adulthood. There’s something wonderful about getting to know your parents as an adult. You brush aside the unrealistic expectations of childhood, and see them as people with the same problems that you have. When they’re gone, and years go by, you see them for who they really were – and not as you thought they were.

So it is with my father. Even though we never got to have an adult relationship, looking back, I see him with the eyes of an adult.

My father was a real dichotomy. He was bright, but underemployed. He was by turns patient with people and impatient with things. Every Christmas, there was the battle with the tree and the lights. Why – I have no idea, but he seemed to struggle with making sure the tree was strung properly. He loved socialising with his buddies, and he went home to see his parents fairly regularly. He loved my mother and he loved his daughters, but he was the product of an era that didn’t encourage too much in the way of emotional displays. He had a serious nature, but a sense of humor that was easily invoked by the television set. I remember the whole family in hysterics over the Flip Wilson Show, or Laugh-Inn.

My father loved to smoke his pipe after a long day at work. To this day, whenever I see a pipe or smell tobacco (especially the brandy-flavored variety,) I am instantly reminded of my father. I wish more men smoked pipes instead of cigarettes. When I was eight years old, I made him a ceramic ashtray in art class for Christmas that he used for most of his life. After he died, my mother gave it back to me. When I die, I wonder if anyone will know how much sentiment went into that lopsided ashtray?

After he died, I found out that he had artistic talents that were never encouraged. I often wonder if it was because he was encouraged to pursue mathematics, which he also excelled in. He was an MP in the U S Air Force and worked on computers in the days of Fortran and Cobol. He loved cars and racing, and he loved boozing with the guys from work. Every year, he went to the Watkins Glen Grand Prix, where he worked as a Pit Boss. I got my love of classic and sports cars from him. We attended the auto expo every year to check out the new models coming out of Detroit.

My father wasn't perfect, of course. Sometimes I was angry that he drank too much. I was angry that he and my mother would fight in front of my sister and me. He had unfinished projects all over the house: everything from puzzles that got abandoned half way through, to his 1936 Packard restoration.

When my father died, at the age of 42, from leukemia, both my sister and I had the same dream. We dreamt that we were brought by an unseen entity, to a beautiful garden. My father was then brought to us, and we communicated telepathically. In the dream, my father assured me that he wouldn’t come back, even if he could, because he was happy.

I suppose his life, while short, was better than many men’s lives. To this day, I still regularly have dreams about him. No doubt he would have done more with his life had he lived longer – but we’ll never know. In a way, he is immortal, as he lives on in my dreams - and I dream about his shortcomings as much as I dream about the good things.

posted by Melanie O. at 6:25 PM - 2 comments
Wednesday, June 21, 2006
Fun in Workland
My eBay addiction caught up with me today in the form of the guys in my department that I am supposedly managing.

I was out sick from work yesterday, due to exploding sinuses, which usually happens a few times a year. If I could ask God for replacement parts, better sinuses would be near the top of my list. Longer legs would be number two.

I’ve been expecting some packages from my eBay shopping, and one arrived while I was out of work. Fine. Guys in my department picked it up from reception for me. Fine.

I got back into work today and got a message on my answering service that notified me that a package had come in and my department had picked it up for me. I was happy to see that it was a handbag I had purchased a couple of weeks back. The box it arrived in sat on top of my desk, cheerily staring at me until I could find a spare moment to open it.

Lunch time arrived and I decided to open the box. I don’t usually open boxes at work, but this one was a little bulky and I didn’t want to carry it on the train home. It would have been easier to just carry the little purse I knew was inside.

The guys in my department were at lunch, so I was alone with my box. It seemed as good a time as any to open it. Eagerly, I slit the tape that held the box together and moved the packing paper aside.

This wasn’t my bag! I didn’t order a vinyl Pantone zip bag! I paid $88 for a designer bag – not this little piece of vinyl!

Immediately, I thought of the Seller. How in the world did she get it mixed up? So I wrote to her, told her she had made a mistake, and to please send me the correct bag and I would send the wrong bag back. I probably wasn’t that polite about it, having been ripped off by handbag sellers before.

That’s when M-, one of the two young men in question, came back from his lunch. I explained what had happened and was just about to go tape up the offending Pantone bag (Pantone bag! Was the Seller into graphic design, I mused?) and send it back with REFUSED written in dark, angry strokes all over the box, when he then sheepishly confessed that he and B- had decided to play a prank on me.

They switched bags on me when I was out, and did a good job of making the box look like no one had tampered with it.

I wrote back to the poor Seller, who probably wonders what kind of batty woman she sold a bag to, and explained the prank.

Just wait until M- and B- start getting mail from strange dating sites.
posted by Melanie O. at 2:10 PM - 1 comments
Sunday, June 18, 2006
When I'm 64
Today is Sir Paul McCartney's birthday - he was my first ever real crush - one that's lasted most of my life. So, of course, I will always remember that today is his birthday. Sir Paul is 64 years old today.

I'll also remember the significance of today's date because it's Dan's birthday. He's not 64 - he's 48 (and doesn't want to be reminded of his age.)

Dan's an incurable romantic. He's the kind of guy who will bring home roses for no reason at all, except that he had a few dollars in his pocket. He loves to start dinner when he gets home from work, so that it's ready when I get home and we can sit and eat together. He does the family driving because he knows that Sydney traffic irritates and scares me. Often he will come home with my favourite snacks from the Asian supermarket. It's those little things that make life together so pleasant.

So, today we are celebrating his birthday by having lunch with his parents. His mum loves to cook for him (because she knows that he appreciates it), so we're eating at their place. I'm putting a few gifts in a gift bag, and am predicting that they will give him his annual bottle of Johnny Walker Red Label scotch. Yesterday, I took him for lunch and told him that he could pick wherever he wanted to eat. He chose a traditional Aussie pub and we ate pizza and nachos. He's a man of simple tastes - but that's one of the things I love about him.

Dan teases me about my crush on Sir Paul. I told him it must be the fact that they were both born on the same day that makes them incurable romantics.

To quote Dan:
"We may have the same birthday, but he's the one with the talent and money. What did you do wrong?"

I have to say.... nothing. Absolutely nothing. If Dan can put a smile on my face every day, then I know I did the right thing by marrying him and moving to the other side of the planet.

Happy Birthday, Darling. I'll still need you when I'm 64.
posted by Melanie O. at 9:59 AM - 4 comments
Monday, June 12, 2006
The great lingerie audit
We had a three day weekend in New South Wales, in honor of the Queen's birthday, which really isn't in June (it's in April.) I think that the Aussies decided they needed a long weekend for the start of the winter season. In the nothern hemisphere, you've got Christmas, Hanukah and Ramadan - here in the southern hemisphere, you've got a long weekend to honor the birthday of a woman who is known mainly for her big hair - and hats.

It's been raining fairly steadily for the past week or so, for which I'm actually grateful, as the dam level might go up one or two percent. And I'm getting organised at home, since I don't want to go out and wind up with big hair, myself.

So, I went down to the grocery store and bought some Ziplock bags to get my lingerie organised. My lingerie situation has gotten out of hand. I can never find what I want, so my solution is to buy more. I wear what I buy, wash it, and then it gets lost in the pile of frilliness. I then buy what I can't find (even though it's already there - somewhere.) And thus the mound of lingerie piles ever higher and starts to overflow my dresser drawers.

Picture, if you will, a little blonde woman digging through drawers full of lace, satin, and lycra, tossing what she finds on the bed, and then surveying the mess with a look of dismay on her face that can only rival what Napoleon must have looked like when faced with Waterloo.

Slowly, but surely, I matched bras to panties and put each set in a baggie so that I
wouldn't have to worry how to sort them at 6 am when I am neither coherent nor have any dress sense. I have gone to work with mismatched underwear, inside out on many an occasion. The only reason my outer garments were all right was because I picked them out to wear the night before.

My sorting was interrupted only by
my husband who decided, as I was in the middle of counting, to tell me how great I look in underwear and to nibble on my rear end. What a guy.

After my frenetic, but ordered sorting, I wound up with:

  • 15 pairs of matched underwear,
  • 10 pairs of panties with no matching bra (I stopped counting after 10)
  • 5 bras with no matching panties
  • 5 full body teddy briefs (spandex for the soul)
  • 4 waist cinchers
  • 1 girdle
  • 5 garter belts
  • 3 half slips
  • 4 camisoles with matching panties
  • several baby doll sets
  • 1 satin short robe
  • 2 longline panties for trousers (no panty lines)
  • and a partridge in a ... well, you get the idea.
My husband surveyed the mismatched pile, and said, "I suppose this means we'll have to make a few more trips to the lingerie store."

He has such a hard life with me.
posted by Melanie O. at 3:26 PM - 1 comments
Monday, June 05, 2006
On the eighth day God created the Web
I’m not a very religious person, and my spiritual beliefs are all over the map, but I am certain of one thing: if there is a God, He created eBay. Retail shopping has become nearly a thing of the past in our household. In fact, about the only time we go out shopping is to buy our weekly groceries, and I have since found out that we can do that online and have the food delivered to us. It’s only a matter of time before I give in to trying it. At least once.

I have been able to buy nearly everything I wear from eBay. Clothes, shoes, handbags, jewelry, makeup, perfume …. as long as I am prepared to be patient to receive it, I search on eBay before heading down to the mall. I can usually get something that’s good quality, for much less than retail, and the vendors, for the most part, are helpful and friendly for fear of getting the dreaded negative feedback rating.

Getting a negative feedback rating on eBay is like the kiss of death. If no one will do business with you on eBay, it’s like being told you can never, ever have ice cream again for as long as you live. Or chocolate. Or sex. Once you go through that auction door, you can never look back. It’s like losing your virginity.

I’ve got Dan hooked on eBay as well, although he tends to sell more than he buys. We’re a perfectly balanced pair, he and I. I’ve never been much of a collector of anything, so I don’t have “neat stuff” to sell. Dan’s had model trains, Ferrari memorabilia, electronics, and work tools that he’s sold online. So, he sells his old stuff, and I buy him new stuff. The old clutter is being replaced by new clutter. And thus our life stays in perfect balance.

There are some things that have been listed on eBay, however, that I wonder about.
Who would buy these things?

• A toasted cheese sandwich with a burn mark in the shape of the Virgin Mary on the bread
• A used piece of chewing gum, once enjoyed by Britney Spears
• A ghost in a jar
• A dismantled fighter jet (which sold for just over $1 million US)
• Virginity (hey – better than just “giving it away” I suppose)

I guess, if you have to have an addiction, eBay is the thing to be addicted to. Fortunately, as with imbibing a glass of wine, I know when to stop. I am sure there are eBay-a-holics who need treatment.
No doubt there’s an online forum out there that can help them.

I'm probably a member.

Postscript: I have been wracking my brain, trying to think of things that I might be able to sell on eBay. I've come up with this short, but vivid list of items:

1) pubic hair clippings. For the person who wants to know what my real hair color is.
2) unwashed underwear - for those who like that lingering feminine scent
3) old vinyl records that never get played (with the exception of my jazz, classical, Beatles and Bowie collections - I'll probably be buried with those) I think that might leave six albums.
4) assorted collection of half-used perfumes. You know the kind: you try it on in the store and think it smells great, but after you buy it, it turns out that the scent turns on you after four hours
5) old computer application manuals, for the person who is still using Colorado backup, BitFax, and Microsoft Works

They say that one man's junk (or woman's) is another man's treasure.
posted by Melanie O. at 12:37 PM - 0 comments
Saturday, June 03, 2006
Dan and I don't talk as much as we used to. This happens to lots of couples. As a couple, you start out exploring your relationship, talk about everything that interests you and that has ever happened to you, tell jokes to amuse each other, and feel responsible for correcting those awkward moments of silence when you're snuggled up on the couch together.

The fact that Dan and I don't talk as much as we used to, is not necessarily a bad thing. I swear that we've started to communicate telepathically. I can't pinpoint the exact moment this happened, but it seems to be happening more and more frequently.

I think one of the first signs of our telepathic communion happened one day when dinner time was approaching.

"You know what...," I asked.

Most men dread hearing this. They automatically freeze up and wonder what they forgot to pick up at the store, or whose birthday they've let slip by unremembered. But not Dan - he came right in on cue:

"You want to have pizza for dinner," he answered me.

Ding! Ding! 10 points to our contestant. We ordered pizza - pepperoni, mushrooms, and onions, our favorite.

Today, after lunch, while we were watching an episode of Home Improvement on DVD, I looked at Dan, who was about to get up. He asked me: "what am I going to do now?"

I responded, "you're getting tea and cake for while we sit and watch TV." He was. I didn't need to ask. Or rather, he didn't need to ask.

"Guess what I'm thinking we should do today," he'll ask me.
"You want to go down to Randwick to see a movie," I'll reply. And I'll be right.

This happens all the time. We read each others' thoughts with alarming regularity. Sometimes this can be embarrassing for Dan, because I know when he's looking at vintage photos of buxom women in underwear on the computer, although he tries to hide it. My kids found out that I always could sense when they were in trouble - so this telepathic thing means that you're a bit of an open book to the person with whom you're in sync. Overall, though, it's great because you don't have to talk as much, and the communication's a lot more honest. You find that your moods become more closely connected, too.

Maybe that's why Samuel L. Clemens coined the phrase "familiarity breeds contempt." The more you know someone, the more you know their motivations and what they're thinking in any given circumstance. There's no more pretty window dressing to distract you from the real view.

The biggest downside to this telepathic stuff, is that you can only do this with other people. It takes brainwaves to hook up together for it to work. I'll be damned if I wish it wouldn't apply to picking winning lottery numbers! I know when we're ordering pizza for dinner, though.
posted by Melanie O. at 3:28 PM - 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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