The Secret Life of Melanie O.
Monday, July 31, 2006
Turn In and Tune Out
My husband and I both love to talk with each other, but sometimes we catch the other person at a bad time. We are both guilty of tuning the other out on occasion, so, to get even, we'll start talking about something outrageous.

me: "I spoke with your mother today."

him: "Uh-huh"
Alien baby
me: "She said you forgot your sister's birthday."

him: (immediately tuning out): Uh-huh

me: "And she's pregnant."

him: "Uh."

me: "By an alien."

him: back to watching a DVD.

me: “And Paul McCartney called today. He’s offering a tidy settlement so that you’ll divorce me.”

him: (upon hearing the name Paul McCartney, tunes out even more.)

me: “And someone stole your model train.”

him: (immediately snapping back into consciousness) “ What?”

me: “Go back to sleep.”

And he’s once again absorbed by his movie.

I guess one day I may be able to use this to my advantage. Of course, I’ll have to wait until Paul McCartney really comes to call. Or until his sister becomes pregnant by an alien. Either is just as likely as the other – which is to say, not very. But if either happens – I will be prepared.
posted by Melanie O. at 3:37 PM - 5 comments
Wednesday, July 26, 2006
The Hug

I admit it. I am a hugger. I like to give hugs. I like to get hugs. Leo Buscaglia was my hero. Yesterday, at work’s senior staff meeting, I hugged my co-workers. One guy pulled me right up off my feet and gave me a bear hug. What is so unusual about this is that I supervise him in the workplace. He either was saying that I’m a good supervisor, or he wanted to crush me as a giant python would.

When I go to visit friends, I greet them with a hug. If they come to visit me, I welcome them in my home with a hug. When they leave, they get a hug goodbye. That touch is very reassuring.

I believe that all of this touchy-feeliness started in childhood. In my family, we were huggers. We had individual hugs and group hugs. The group hugs usually wound up with my sister, my mother and I having a fit of the giggles. My father gave reassuring hugs, and the occasional bear hug, on request.

But I have to keep reminding myself that not everyone is as touchy-feely as I am. You can tell when someone doesn’t like to be hugged. They become as stiff as a board and avoid as much body contact as possible. One of my sons is this way. Maybe he doesn’t think that hugging is very “manly.” My husband would disagree with that. He loves to hug. Of course, his hands roam right to my rear-end, but that’s beside the point.

You can tell a lot by the way someone hugs. A full on body hug means love, affection, and a strong bond. A neck hug with little or no body contact means “I like you.” A sideways hug means “I like you” but is safe when you aren’t sure how the other person feels about hugging. Hugs mean reassurance. They reinforce verbal messages. I think all world leaders should have to hug each other when they have meetings to decide the fate of the planet. It would be interesting to see which ones become as stiff as boards and which ones try to crush someone like a giant python.

posted by Melanie O. at 12:08 PM - 2 comments
Thursday, July 13, 2006
The Footy
How will their shirts ever get white again?How will their shirts ever get white again?

I went to see my first live Australian rugby game - otherwise commonly referred to as "the footy." Australians have a knack for shortening just about any name you can think of: garbos are garbage collectors, not members of Greta's family, the arvo is what comes after 12 o'clock noon, and Bazza is Barry's nickname. It doesn't matter what family Barry comes from, he is always Bazza, just like Terry is always Tez.

So, Australian football, aka rugby, is the footy. The Illawara Dragons were playing South Sydney Rabbitohs (Russell Crowe's team.) And what a game it was. We arrived an hour and a half before the big game, about half way through the premier league game. The premier league is what the second string gets to play. Oki stadium was not yet packed, so I had time to look around me and observe the Muslim women dressed in black from head to toe arrive with their husbands dressed in St George football jerseys. Some families arrived, split in their loyalties with kids wearing Rabbitohs jerseys and the parents wearing Illawara's. It was a day for contrasts.

I got the distinct feeling that this was a "home town" kind of game. It reminded me of the high school football games I went to as a teen, but with older players. The score board was changed by hand, although there was a high tech video screen for showing the replays. Aussie meat pies were sold from kiosks as well as hot dogs.

The energy from the crowd was infectious. There were ear piercing whistles and booing when the away team's mascot hopped onto the field. The teams came out onto the field in their short shorts and jerseys, and not much else. No helmets, no knee pads, and, as I found out, you can tackle an opponent by grabbing onto his shorts and pulling them down to his ankles. One player wound up exposing his satiny blue briefs to the crowd.

Apparently, the Dragons got off to a rough start when I heard Dan declare "Oh, they're packin' a scrum right away. That's not a good start." I shrugged my shoulders, not knowing what a "scrum" was. I was there to people-watch.

We didn't have reserve seats, so we sat with the hooligans on the grass slopes. Men started to arouse the crowd by calling out cheers that regular supporters obviously knew very well. It reminded me of when I was in Pep Club. I wish I'd known the cheers.

The Dragons got the first Try. I don't know why they call it a try. It's a goal - a "touch down," and the ball has to be firmly grounded in order for it to count. The hooligans went wild, and above the din was distinctly heard a voice calling "Run Forrest, run!"

Dirt clods flew and I figured that no one was going to ever get those jerseys white again. This is what I think of when I see well-built guys rolling around in mud. Who's going to wash those jerseys? And what will they use to get them white again? The sound of colliding bodies reverberated across the field.

As it turned out, Dan was the best commentator, explaining everything to me so that I would understand the game. "You get six passes before the ball turns over," he explained, "which is why they usually kick the ball so that it stays in play."
I still don't totally understand the game. There was intermittent profanity issuing from the crowd of 13,000, and a few verbal spars, but, considering how much Aussies love their footy, no fighting.

At half time, the team mascots ran a relay with the likes of SpongeBob Squarepants and other cartoon characters that I'm too old to appreciate. "Yakkity Sax," otherwise known as The Benny Hill Show Theme Song, played in the background while these surreal characters ran around the field. They were followed by cheerleaders dancing to some electronic dance tune, and the children's leagues doing rugby demos. Down home entertainment. Nothing fancy. It made me smile.

The Dragons won (sorry Russell). We were glad (we live in the Illawara area - it's great when "your" team wins) - and cold. Our joints were stiff from sitting on the grass, and as soon as the sun went down, icicles hung in the air. I was dying to pee for most of the game.
I can't wait until we go again. And next time, I'm going to pay more attention to the game.
posted by Melanie O. at 7:16 PM - 0 comments
Tuesday, July 11, 2006
The room heater
Australia is an interesting country. In the business and market place, it’s as progressive as any place you’d find in the Western World. But when it comes to every day living, you will find relics of the 1930’s still alive and strong.

Take environmental control, for example. Homes built before the 1990’s do not have central heat and air conditioning – something that I’ve always taken for granted. Even our little Baby Boomer tract house in New York had central heating. Of course, people do install reverse cycle air conditioning to upgrade their residences, but since we are currently renting, we have no such options.

Australia is also unique in that it has a desert climate in most of the country. This means that during the day, as long as the sun is shining, it’s relatively warm in the winter. At night time, however, it dips to freezing.

I can’t sleep when the room’s cold. I shake and shiver, and it doesn’t matter if I put extra layers on. I can’t breathe when the room temperature is low, as the ol’ sinuses swell shut as if to protest being bathed in icicles.

Enter Ye Newe Room Heater. The room heater is a little electrical device that you could fry eggs on. It glows red hot and warms up the room. Since it has no temperature sensor attached to it, it’s on a timer and goes on just before I go to bed, turns off in the middle of the night, and comes on again before the room has a chance to get really cold.

This is where being a person who can’t sleep through the day, is a pain in the ass. Even though, consciously, I know it’s the glow from the room heater that brightens the room at 3 am, my body is convinced that it’s sunrise and that I’ve overslept. This doesn’t happen on weekends. It only happens during the week, when I have to be up in a couple of hours. It’s almost impossible to get back to sleep. I fall back asleep a half an hour before the alarm goes off.

I wake up at 3 am, cursing the room heater and cursing the fact that’s it winter and I need to have a room heater.

I complained to Dan about it.

“Damn stupid body thinks it’s morning when the heater comes back on,” I moaned.

He did what any self-respecting man would do. He laughed at me.

“I’m going to turn it to face another direction and maybe it won’t shine right into my eyes,” I declared.

So, the next night, after Dan was asleep and after the heater clicked on, I decided to move it and point it away from the bed. Clever but for one small detail. The heater has an emergency shut off and if you move it when it’s on, it shuts off.

The room was cold. I couldn’t sleep. I tried flicking the switch on and off. I checked the timer. I checked the cords. That heater would not come on to save my life.

So – what should I do? Wake up my husband, who was sleeping soundly?

It was the only thing left.

So, I gently nudged him and said “Babe, the heater shut off and I can’t get it to come back on.”

He mumbled something and then told me that there were two switches on it and to turn both off and then back on.

So, I did that. Nothing.

“Babe, it’s not working.”

Mumble. Grumble. Dan gets out of bed and tries the same things that I had already tried. Nothing worked.

Dan is such a patient husband. He wearily stumbled to get the backup heater, a huge monstrosity that sucks more electricity than Godzilla, and set it up. That’s when he noticed a button on the bottom of the small room heater – the one marked “Reset.”

It worked.

“At least I got a kiss and cuddle for my efforts” Dan declared as he wearily stumbled back into bed.

We won’t have a drama with the heat tonight, but I’m sure to wake up at 3 am, my body fooled into thinking it’s sunrise.

I can’t wait for spring. No doubt, neither can Dan.

posted by Melanie O. at 2:48 PM - 2 comments
Sunday, July 09, 2006
What women want – or, what this woman wants
Dan's got it (mostly) figured out, which is why I think we get on so well.

The rules are simple:

Women are as simple as men - most of us. We want to sleep - not have sex - when we're tired. When we're hungry, we want to eat something. If you want us to be in the mood, you need to be sure you treat us right outside the bedroom (we don't come with on/off switches.) Chivalry is not dead. Give us credit for work well done and pay us the same as our male coworkers.

It's easy. So why are people still trying to figure this one out? Don't figure out all women - just figure out one or two - the ones that count.

posted by Melanie O. at 10:16 AM - 2 comments
Friday, July 07, 2006
The Greys
Ever have one of those days when you just feel down and you don’t know why? I am having one of those days.

Was it the brownie I had for tea today?

Is it because I haven’t had enough sleep?

Is it because I’m madly trying to track some packages I should have received by now from eBay auctions?

Or maybe it’s because I’ve been doing two people’s jobs this week.

Whatever the reason, it’s been a blaa day. I wouldn’t call it the Blues, exactly, since blue is a color, and today’s a colorless day. I’d call it a case of the Greys.

Grey days affect us all every once in a while. You can’t seem to find out where your energy went. You can’t seem to move forward with that important project. Everything seems a bit lacklustre. Even that walk through the designer handbag department in the upscale department store doesn’t lift your spirits. It only makes you realise that only crazy people spend $1,000 for a handbag.

No way would I spend $1,000 or more for a handbag that I will be bored with next year. I think the most I’ve spent on one is $200. It sits in a dustbag in my closet. I know that if I added up the value of all my handbags, they would come to well over $1,000, but that doesn’t bother me because I use one for a couple of weeks, and then have something to change it to when I get bored with it.

None of my handbags are grey.

I don’t really know what the cure is for the Greys. There’s no music written for the Greys, except possibly early New Wave music.

Maybe I need to find something new to obsess about, rather than how clean my carpets are, the diesel oil on the arm of the lounge that won’t come out, or the cat hair that I’m vacuuming up, several months after the demise of our cat.

Of course, with every grey day comes a grey lining. I’ve got a big pot of homemade soup waiting for me when I get home, which means I don’t have to really do any cooking. And I can sleep in tomorrow. Thank goodness I dream in vivid full color.
posted by Melanie O. at 4:23 PM - 2 comments
Monday, July 03, 2006
Eating out
I find that, when you're a working couple, you look for ways to economize on work that you have to do around the house. During the week, it's not such a big deal, but on the weekends, we just want to play to make up for time we don't have otherwise. This means - neither one of us wants to cook.

So we eat out.

Most of the time, it's nothing fancy. A quick trip to a noodle bar or some Indian takeaway suits us just fine. I've developed a passion for tom yum soup at the local Thai café and Dan loves just about anything spicy. It's great that we live in a country with so much Asian, Mediterreanean and Middle Eastern influence, as spicy food is the "norm." He and I make a comical site in cafés nowadays, with our noses red and running. We wind up leaving a small mound of tissues for the server, but it's not bad enough to make us want to stop indulging in hot chili.

We just don't sleep in the same room that night.

Australia also has a great pub culture, so we take advantage of the $5 steak special at a lot of them. You just have to buy a drink to go with your dinner, and the two of us enjoy large steaks, mashed potatoes and a drink for under $20. Dan winds up eating half my steak and potatoes, but I don't think I have ever, in my life, eaten so much red meat. I'll never become anemic.

The other downside (besides the aromatic afterburn) to all this eating out on the weekends means that we are getting that middle-age spread. Or, if you listen to Dan, he says he's the one with middle age spread, and I'm the one turning into Dolly Parton. Incentive enough for him to put up with my runny nose and having to finish off my steak.

It almost makes me feel like maybe I should be cooking on the weekends. Almost.
posted by Melanie O. at 8:48 PM - 3 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.
See my profile...

Another Retro Housewife
Brought to you by
Previous Posts
If you read this blog,
you're not alone!
Sydney Weather
    The WeatherPixie
Favorite Links

You are visitor number