The Secret Life of Melanie O.
Monday, January 15, 2007
The entertainment bug
I remember the first time I was ever on stage. I was six years old and it was the First Grader's play at Liverpool Elementary School, where I was in Mrs. Metz's class. I was excited about the Play thing, as it meant something different to the usual lessons and reading time in class.

I recall the play as being a classic first grade play - about the poor man whose family complained all the time about their cramped little cottage, until he started inviting all of the other relatives and farm animals to move in. Roles were assigned in class, and I eagerly awaited to be appointed my role. Sadly, by the time Mrs. Metz got to me, all of the roles had been assigned, so I was appointed a non-speaking role made up on the spot: the family dog.

It was determined that I would stay under the kitchen table on all fours (as there was no other room on the stage.) I cut out a pair of long floppy hound-dog-like ears from brown construction paper for my costume (we all had to make our own costumes,) and proudly assumed my non-role for the play. Even then, I understood that there were no small roles - only small actors. I was determined to make the most of my family pet role.

It was the day of the performance. Several parents took time off from work to be there to see the play, and my parents were among them. The school auditorium (which was also the cafeteria) was full of other children (excited to be out of class for an hour) and parents with old fashioned Instamatic cameras and flash cubes that you had to pop on and remove after four flashes.

I wasn't paying attention to my classmates' lines. I was too busy scanning the audience. I'd occasionally remember what I was supposed to be doing on stage, and playfully pretended to bite a couple of the main performers on the leg.

It was an amazing view from up there. I looked, reassuring myself, for my parents' faces. The play went off with only one or two prompts for lines from the teacher, off stage, and finished with a song.

Now, we had practised this song many times with our music teacher, Mrs. Enos, who, I think, also wrote the song especially for our play. I knew the words by heart and eagerly looked forward to belting them out, considering I had no other words to speak. I was going to make the most of it.

One - two - three ... the piano intro began, and then there was a pause.

And I belted out the song...
a whole beat ahead of the rest of my class.

The parents in the audience giggled and my face turned red, but at the same time - for that one little beat, the play was about ME.

I paused and started in again, in time with my classmates. What a finale! Afterwards, a few of the other kids in the school came up to me and asked me "what were you supposed to be?"

"A dog!" I told them. Sheesh! Couldn't they tell by my floppy ears?

Later that day, I realised, despite the embarrassment, that I liked being on stage. I went through elementary school being a sailor, swabbing up the earth to keep it clean (for Earth Day), being an angel (in the operetta Hansel and Gretel), and also performing in countless school choral programs. I was hooked for life.

Many years later, I discovered that Mrs. Metz, who was right out of college when I was in first grade, was still teaching in the public school system. She was a teacher where my sons were attending school (in a different school district.) I figured that she would have been nearly 50. I wonder, had I contacted her through my sons' school, if she would remember the little dog under the table with the brown construction paper ears, and would she like to know that she started something?
posted by Melanie O. at 12:18 PM - 2 comments
Friday, January 12, 2007
So Sympathique
I volunteered to go shopping and secretly pick out a gift for someone who was overlooked this year at Christmas. I just thought it would be a nice thing to do, but it was also mercenary: I love to shop - even if it's not necessarily for myself.

So, I meandered throught the Queen Victoria Building, picked out a couple of things I thought this person would like, and made a small detour on my way back to the office.

I stopped in a little discount shop, thinking I would find a little card to stick with the gift, or perhaps even some wood filler for home repairs. In any given week, you can find any collection of odds and ends in this store.

I am feeling pretty happy with the little gifts I purchased, hopeful that the recipient will like them once she receives them, when I am greeted at the door by an older French gentleman who bows slightly and says "greetings, madame," with a smile.

I say "hello." Isn't it nice when someone smiles and says hello? Still, I figure he is the store greeter and he is just doing his job, and I walk off to spend a few minutes looking through bins.

After about five minutes, I give up and decide to leave the store, and the Frenchman is still there. He asks "Are you Australian?"

I tell him that I'm not, but that I am a resident.

He answers: "Oh, you are so sympathique and so beautiful."

I smile and said "thank you very much."

I think I held my head higher as I left the store. I will be back. It's probably a good thing I don't live in France if all Frenchmen are that debonaire. Or maybe they just get that way when they become greeters in Australian discount stores. At any rate, c'était très sympathique.
posted by Melanie O. at 2:03 PM - 4 comments
Thursday, January 11, 2007
Divine Secrets of the Ya Ya Sisterhood
Dan and I love movies set in the South. There is just something about a movie that is set in the US South that is so down to earth and people-centric. Movies set in the South don't tend to rely a lot on special effects, although they do rely heavily on sets, costumes, and good acting.

This past weekend we watched The Divine Secrets of the Ya Ya Sisterhood for the fourth or fifth time, and watching it, I always think of my mother: what happened in her life to make her the person she is? And can I ever really know? Can anyone ever really know their parents as well as their parents know them?

I think this is why, when kids grow up, the parents miss the kids more than the kids miss the parents. Your parents know so much about you. They were there from the beginning (unless they chose otherwise,) yet, you, as the child, only ever knew them as the parent - not as the person.

Some people never bother understanding their parents as people, for whatever reason: hurts, mistrust, rebellion, misunderstandings that lead to resentment. Some people just never want to stop being the child - they don't want to know their parents as anything else but the parent. I would like to think that my sons miss me a little, even though they're grown up. I know they don't really need me, although, from their point of view, it's nice to have mom around to help in those financial crises - but it would be nice to think that they want me: for traditions, fun, and just someone to talk to and laugh with.

If I moved back to be closer, would we all want to move back down South - where life just seems a bit more grounded and real? I hesitate to mention this longing to Dan, because he'd move to North Carolina in a heartbeat, forgetting little things like where will our income come from and what about that immigration red tape - and the fact that my sons would probably want to move in with us, too?

I'm done with thinking that the Western method of kicking kids out of the house at age 21 is all that. Let's stick together and get to know each other - as people. Ya Ya!
posted by Melanie O. at 8:39 AM - 3 comments
Wednesday, January 10, 2007
Love is icky
I love my husband. Really, I do, but when you are with someone for a while, there's a certain ickiness factor that sets in. After the smell of the roses has died, the smell of love changes, and the ick factor grows.

My husband is very amorous, which is wonderful, but lately, when he comes up to me and encases me like a venus fly trap holding its prey, I feel the effects of his not having shaved for a couple of days, and I can't escape the onions that he had with his tuna sandwich for lunch. And he can't understand why I'm pulling away from him instead of melting into his arms.

He has a habit of getting right into my face when he wants to say sweet words to me, and I'm at a loss for finding a diplomatic way of telling him that his breath is making my nostril sphincters tighten up. It's hard to be critical of someone who is saying "I love you. Will you marry me?" while on bended knee. Plus, I can't really move, as he has me in a tight grip.

He wants to kiss me as soon as he gets through the door, which is great - I love to kiss him, too - but I've got beard rash day and night.

Still, I think about what life would be like without the suffocating hugs, the halitosis, and the beard rash. It would be a lot lonelier and a lot quieter, and a lot less fun. Maybe someone needs to invent designer clothespins for cohabitating couples.

That's something they don't tell you when you're growing up. Love is icky.

At least he doesn't purposely fart at me.
posted by Melanie O. at 3:47 PM - 5 comments
Tuesday, January 09, 2007
Shopping, the stress-free way
I've been a big fan of shopping via the Internet, for a long time. I've purchased everything from clothes, to small appliances, to food online. In six years, I've only had three bad experiences, but dozens of good ones.

Because of this, I've become somewhat of an Online Shopping promoter, and now my husband is also hooked. Most specifically, he's hooked on eBay. In and of itself, this is great, because he has learned that he can sell things as well as buy them online, and, if done properly, our bad habit pays for itself.

The only time we've run into conflict is when we are both trying to snipe an auction at the same time. I have my own method set up, which Dan isn't familiar with. Imagine his consternation when I just finished sniping a kitchen blender, and his chest of drawers auction was about to end two minutes later. He wasn't sure what to do with my screen set-up and was having a crisis. He was yelling that he was going to miss his auction! It all ended happily, however, when he won his chest. You would have thought it was a matter of life and death.

There's only one real bad thing about being able to find just about anything you want to buy online. You become a lazy retail shopper. I used to love going to the mall and just browsing through the shops. Nowadays, I browse online catalogs. I don't have to fight for parking spaces, I save on fuel, and I can shop without any distractions - unless, of course, Dan has an auction that's about to end.

I take that back. There's really nothing bad about saying farewell to the retail world. As long as Dan's not having an auction crisis. Men taking sniping to a whole new competitive level. He gives new meaning to the word "sniper." You should have seen how proud he was with his new chest of drawers, though.
posted by Melanie O. at 8:38 AM - 0 comments
Friday, January 05, 2007
Garden railways
I married a guy who loves model trains. He used to drive the real ones for a living, so this is rather understandable.

When we were first married, there was a huge HO scale layout that took up the entire sunroom at our house. It was half disassembled and pretty ugly to look at. Somehow, I convinced Dan to sell it, since he really wasn't doing anything with it.

My relief was short-lived, because he then decided that he wanted to build a 5-inch scale garden railway. The engines are large and powerful enough to sit on AND pull several cars with passengers. He inducted me into this world of trains by taking me to one of the local model steam association "open" days. I got hooked on riding little trains through the bush.

Dan has started his garden railway - problem is, we don't have a garden that's big enough for the size engine that he's building. "No problem," says Dan. We'll buy a trailer for the engine and take it to open days held by the steam club. I groan. I can just picture all of the accessories we are going to have to buy: batteries, trailer, hoist, passenger cars, little engineer's cap, etc.

So, for two years, Dan's has been working on his huge model engine. It's required scale drawings, steel-cutting and welding, and the occasional Band-aid. That's not going fast enough, so he's decided to start a narrow-gauge railway. It uses HO scale stock on a narrower gauge track. The sections of plywood and layouts that I thought were gone for good, are back!

This year, for Boxing Day, we went away to see a friend of his who is restoring a full size heritage railway. We're talking actual old rail cars and a huge shed that sits on several hectares of land. Dan's going to get recertified as a driver so that he can shunt them around during his vacation time!

Can a railway Club car purchase be next?
posted by Melanie O. at 8:44 AM - 5 comments
Wednesday, January 03, 2007
Men - a mixed blessing
My husband is like a lot of men: fairly easy to figure out. He loves his food, his DVDs, his trains, and his wife. The order in which he loves these things varies from day to day. On any given day, however, his hands can be found firmly planted on my rear-end. He has a bum fetish - and luckily, he married a woman with a J-Lo bottom. I am happy to oblige.

There are those times, however, when he is a bit more mysterious. Like this past holiday season. Most men have difficulty picking out gifts for their other half. Mine not only kept it all a secret - he did a great job of picking out some gifts for me. This has not always been the case, but I am always prepared to show delight at whatever he gets.

Last year, he specifically asked me what I wanted for Christmas. I told him that I wanted some rings resized. I have small hands. That means that I almost always have to get my rings resized. It costs $45 per ring here to get it done. I would have been thrilled to get a couple of rings resized and called it my "big" present.

Instead, he felt that he had to buy me something. I don't even remember what it is that he bought. Not that I'm not thankful - but I still have rings that are too large. One year he bought me a tacky Christmas tree in a perspex case from which Styrofoam balls of "snow" showered from the top. I "proudly" displayed it that year.

He also loves to rearrange and reorganise things. This doesn't necessarily mean that he cleans as he goes. He just likes to:
a) throw things of mine away before checking with me to make sure it's something I want thrown away. This is why I had no mattress for my king-size bed for a long time. One day I had a mattress - the next day I didn't. The mattress was only five years old and in fairly decent shape.
b) put things in bins. I know where all of my things are. After Dan gets to them, I have no idea where they are - but neither does Dan. A couple of weeks ago, I wanted my hand mixer to make eggnog. Where was my hand mixer? Dan had put it in a bin in the garage. But he couldn't remember which bin it was in. I wound up making eggnog in the Cuisinart.

Living with a man has its ups and downs, but overall, the ups far outweigh the downs. I think back to how we met (Internet penpals) and how we wound up married (a five day engagement after we set eyes on each other in person for the first time,) and I've learned that there is no secret or magic formula. You learn to deal with the goofy presents and the lost or misplaced items. And you buy ring guards from eBay and resize your own rings.

A small price to pay for a guy who thinks you have the greatest butt in the world.

Addendum: Tonight I decided to make pasta salad - enough to last a few days to accompany the usual soups that we have for dinner. One of the ingredients is chopped coriander. I bought some fresh chopped coriander when we did our weekly grocery shopping a few days ago. We shop together, I pay for the groceries, and my dear husband unloads the groceries when we get home.

I couldn't find the coriander. I checked all through the fridge. Where was the coriander? I yelled for Dan. "Where did you put it?"

He rushed into the kitchen and pulled the coriander out - from the pantry! It was a mushy, nasty green mess and went straight into the garbage bin. I swore in front of him I think for the first time ever. Dan saw me with a chopping knife in my hand. I had fresh coriander in my hands within ten minutes - and we'll have pasta salad tomorrow.

And I let him grope my bum.
posted by Melanie O. at 6:18 PM - 0 comments
Monday, January 01, 2007
Happy New Year!
This year, instead of fighting the crowds at Circular Quay to see the Harbour Bridge fireworks, we hooked up with some friends of ours to go out to dinner and then back to their place for some board games.

I've always loved board games and feel sad that so many people have set board games aside for self-isolating video games and DVD movies. Board games are great for a night of interactive fun, and we decided to try out one of our friends' Christmas presents: The Settlers of Catan.

The game is a little bit Chess and a little bit Risk. It's highly interactive with players trading cards, making deals, and fighting to claim resources on the board. Add some Spumante and Frangelico into the mix, and you have a highly entertaining evening. It's also highly addictive.

What I find interesting about these kinds of games nights is the fact that the men find out how aggressive and competitive the women are! Bwa-ha-ha-ha! Not that I won any of the three games we played. We could have stayed up until the sun came up, but my powers of strategic thinking fall asleep before my body does, and I was soundly whipped at the last game.

I was so "high" from the competitive fun, I couldn't fall asleep, even after the one-hour drive it took to get us home. We walked in our front door at about 3 am. I didn't get to sleep for a couple of hours after I went to bed - my head was buzzing with thoughts of plotting to take over the world. Today, I'm dragging. Can you be hung-over from too much fun?

I'm about to settle in to watch When Harry Met Sally (for the umpteenth time.) I may be high maintenance but I know that I'm high maintenance. I'll leave the world domination for another day. Happy New Year!
posted by Melanie O. at 11:56 AM - 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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