a reflection: teenage mutant ninja turtles and what you look for in a life partner

As a young girl with a VHS player, I always fancied Donatello more than the other Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. I’ve come to realise that it says a lot about what I look for in a man. On reflection I see, I have always been more attracted to a quiche man than to a cave man.

Leonardo wears a blue mask and a burden of responsibility like a prized possession to nurture. He’s career driven, focused, dedicated… but when is he coming home?

Raphael is a strongman. He has a forceful nature. Some might say he’s a dark and swarthy guy. He can sit alone at the bar, but not necessarily because he wants to.

The free-spirited comedian of the group is Michelangelo. He’s an adventurer. He’s eating pizza from the box and living in the now, dude.

As the engineer, inventor and wordsmith of the group, Donatello uses the power of his smarts. He doesn’t seek the limelight, but the limelight finds him for his less brash achievements.

While Michelangelo made David famous, it was Donatello that broke with tradition and pioneered nude sculpture. He showed us that it’s not all about men with muscles; that a young man can take down a giant just with intellect and a great sun hat.

Brains beats brawn in the eyes of this fair maiden. And so, on Donatello’s behalf because he wouldn’t say it himself, I believe the caption shall read, “So there!

Donatello's David

 

image: Donato di Niccolò di Betto Bardi (Donatello), David (1440)

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put me out to pasta

chilli soup breakfastThere was time when I would travel through Asia eating bowls of chilli. I would slurp chilli soup for breakfast. The steaming bowl of fire would fizzle my nose hairs and make me weep. I was in my own little burning hot heaven.

More recently I have developed a digestive sensitivity that has changed my eating habits. I still test the boundaries but often regret it later, “whoa, Fajita-repeater!!”

The list of foods that my body tells me to avoid grows… spicy foods, fried foods – pretty obvious so far but then add, pepper, oranges, salt, some meats, capsicum, onion, garlic…

On a recent trip to Indonesia I realised that my burning-by-the-seat-of-my-pants travelling days are numbered. This change to my eating habits may have a significant impact on my travelling style of mixing with the locals over a shared plate.

Gone are the days of Chinese Miscellaneous Animal-product Soup in a village where you are clearly the minority. Each spoonful was a game of “what part of a chicken is that?!”.

Gone are the days of plates piled high with stir-fried chillies in an alley restaurant. I recall a dish described to me as “corn with chilli” where the corn kernels were used as the garnish.  

It’s pushing 40 degrees in this little café off a dirty street in Indonesia. The humidity isn’t high today; there isn’t enough moisture in the air to settle the dust churned up by passing scooters. My order of ‘grilled chicken with vegetables’ is served to me as pepper crusted chicken pieces, with a side of mostly raw capsicum, garlic and onion. There is a garnish, a slice of carrot cut into the shape of a flower sits on the side of the plate. I poke at the carrot that has been recycled from the previous diner’s plate wondering statistically how many people may have handled this piece of carrot and if they washed their hands. I pick at the chicken to try to extract some of the inner pepper-less meat.

My husband scoffs down his lovely looking lemongrass and chilli curry. He’s telling me how wonderful it is. Sweat is dripping off his cheeks. I’m hungry. I start fantasising about a bowl of pasta. I think about a trip to Italy where I could eat salads without fear.

It has become clear to me, I’m not what I used to be. It’s time I was put out to pasta.

In another time, I look around the room searching for clues and then back to my Miscellaneous Soup. The bustling people around us have the benefit of knowing the local language. I look down at my spoon, “…maybe that’s not even a part of a chicken…”

the magic of hong cons

Hong Cons

I love Converse shoes. If I had to wear one pair of shoes for the rest of my life they would be cons: All Stars, of course. They’ve got to be the most versatile shoe. You can walk for days, dance for hours, and with a rubber sole like that, you can clean out the gutters without a fear of sliding off the roof. And, if I’m not too fussy, I can make them work with any outfit.

So I kinda live in the county, right. So there’s kinda no shops around here. So I default to the online mega-mall: ebay.

I don’t understand why there isn’t a universal shoe size. My first pair of cons are a size 4 now with holes in the soles. The next ones, worn out and tired, are a 4 ½. I chalked that up to a spreading foot and ordered a replacement pair of 4 ½ shoes from Hong Kong. These are too big. And I mean like clown shoes too big. I hid them from my husband somewhere in the garage and ordered another pair, size 3.

I’m truly not sure which shoes are the counterfeit shoes and I have no idea what size I am. That’s the magic of Hong Cons. So I’ve been thinking, if there can’t be a universal shoe size, we need to add the counterfeit size to the list of sizes.

“Do you know your size?”, enquires the shoe store attendant wearing the obligatory shoe store pair of shoes.

“Oh yes, I do!”, I proudly announce. “I’m a European 36, USA 5.5, UK 3.5, Japanese 22.5, and a Counterfeit 3… Do you have these in a counterfeit size 3?”

sometimes life throws a newspaper at your car

I had been lamenting a time when I had time. I call it lamenting but it would have equated to a mere flashing thought amongst a constant stream of thoughts that I have lately.

I had just dropped off my little Bean at preschool and returned to my car. While starting the engine a car came to idle up beside me. The newspaper delivery guy was passing through. I can wait, I thought.

Next thing, he threw a newspaper smack-bang at the side of my car! Not skimming the roof of my car, or brushing past lightly, but an almighty thud right into the side of my car.

As he drove forward slightly he passed by the bewildered expression on my face. Face to face. I saw his humoured embarrassment and he saw my face move through surprise then confused delight. I waited for him to get out of the car, bend down and reposition the newspaper in a more compliant delivery location. But he didn’t.

He edged his car forward, made a 4 point u-turn and threw a newspaper at a parked car on the other side of the road. Thud. It fell to the roadside.

I don’t blame him for feeling exhausted (in his right arm) by the daunting task of throwing hundreds of newspapers out of his car window. And I’m sure the requirements of the job of newspaper delivery are very specific, “newspapers deliveries: Must be made on the driveway, not in the garden; Must avoid puddles; Must avoid pedestrians; Must avoid parked cars…” rules ,rules, rules. Sometimes, when you haven’t got time for bending over, the rules are for bending.

So what’s this got to do with my time? Well, had I rushed off, in my usual distracted, hurried fashion, I would have missed this opportunity to share faces with the newspaper delivery man.

Sometimes you’ve got to wait, while life throws a newspaper at your car, to remember that precious moments (and newspapers) come to those that are there to receive them (on the road).

Newspaper Delivery

image: http://www.gaebler.com/How-to-Start-a-Newspaper-Delivery-Business

I just want something to wear to dinner

I struggle to understand why I can’t just wear my jersey pants and fluffy flats to dinner.

Too often going out for dinner turns into a fashion faux pas. I’m looking for something pretty, but sophisticated, and of course, something with a bit of give in the midriff. The reality is that after I’ve gorged myself on my dinner and several glasses of wine, holding my tummy in isn’t going to be achievable nor consistent.

It’s a 1950’s black pencil dress with some leopard pumps.

I start out looking great, by the time I’ve had my main course I can only remember to hold my tummy flat on the way to the bathroom but not on the way back. I’m alternating between looking great and looking frumpy. I’m confusing people.

My friends decide to go to the local bar now that the restaurant is closing. It sounds like a great idea.

I’ve completely forgotten that my dress has a long slit up the back thats now riding up quite high to compensate for my pot belly out front (that I couldn’t possibly hold in now).

I arrive at the bar feeling the confidence of my last drink but look like the martini, three glasses of wine and two courses that I’ve consumed.

My clumsiness is incompatible with the slit in my dress. Someone should really tell me not to bend over. And the phrase, dance like no ones watching, didn’t originate from this teetering shuffle – because let’s hope they’re not watching.

The next morning its the jersey pants and fluffy flats that make me feel like me again. That, and the alka seltzer.

Alka Seltzer Roy Lichtenstein 1966

image: Roy Lichtenstein, Alka Seltzer (1966)

kissing a boy in a tree

I have this thing, you know, one of those things, it’s like a fantasy but it could be a reality. I want to kiss a boy in a tree. I’m not totally deluded about it, in fact I’m very realistic about it, I’d be most happy if the boy was my husband.

But I’m afraid. Not afraid of climbing a tree. Nor kissing a boy, heck knows I’ve done enough of that to know that it’s not scary, especially with my own man. But I’m afraid of disappointment. In my mind it’s a magical event. It punctuates time.

I’d be less than satisfied if the branch was that little bit too thin and the moment was diminished by the presence of a nervous anxiety that you are seconds away from plummeting to the ground. Or, heaven forbid, our teeth bumped, like some of those first awkward kisses snatched on the jerk of public transport. That just wouldn’t do. But then, that’s no reason not to take action.

So there’s only one thing for it. I must peel my relaxed, zombie killing hero away from his seated pose in front of the screen, to climb a tree.

A short while later…

He wasn’t sure if it was really necessary at first. I wasn’t sure if it was the kissing he was finding unnecessary, the climbing of the tree, or just plain going outside that was the issue. Reluctantly he donned his gumboots and casually strode across the lawn to the climbing tree, with me frolicking behind.

“Ooh, I’m not sure I’ll be able to get up there” I observed on arrival, frozen in my step and suddenly confronted by the logistics of my reverie.

My paladin grabbed a nearby garden chair and I scrambled up the rough damp limbs. I perched on a branch while my dearest joined me with ease.

In the dark of late dusk we sat with legs dangling. Taking in the view, but only for a short while.

“I can see a star”, my zombie slayer observed.
“It’s quite high here isn’t it”, I mused, particularly as we had only ventured to the lowest sturdy branch.

My branch was hard and woody beneath me but I leaned in and I closed my eyes to the dappled lights of the house.

So it was the first time kissing my boy in a tree, and while not the impromptu whimsical experience that I had first envisioned, it was close to it, and it will not be the last time.

the kissing tree

falling down hurts: the vintage daredevil

I’ve reached the age where I’m reluctant to undertake activities that could result in me falling over. I’m not sure exactly when I developed this heightened sense of physical caution. I suspect it was a slow-creeping condition like the wrinkle in the corner of my eye.

Some sports lend themselves to the vintage daredevil. Take surfing for example, you’re never too old to take a mouthful of brine and a sand-facial. And even if you’re not feeling up to it today, you can always opt for the less-frequented calmer waters and leave the big waves to the whipper-snappers. No one would be the wiser as you ride your long board on a 2 footer (that’s a 2 foot high wave).

On the other hand, take the recent re-emergence of roller derby. I quite like to idea of casually rolling around the rink but if someone tried to (and lordy-forbid, succeeded in) push me over, darn-straight I’d have a hearty case of rink rage. Not to mention a bruised tush that I would nurse and whinge about until well after the next bout in the competition cycle and perhaps even for the entire season.

The older we get the more firmly planted our feet are to the ground.

This fear of falling down extends into my life in other ways. I’m reluctant to ever have a hangover again.

But the point that needs to be made is: although hurting yourself really hurts, and the wait in the emergency department is boring, and the itch inside the cast is annoying, your life is for living, and if you’re not riding your kid’s skateboard at full downhill speed on an uneven surface with a dog attacking your wheels, you’re not living, are you?

*Readers assume all risk in participating in activities, indemnify, hold harmless and promise not to sue barelypoppins who is released from any and all liability, including but not limited to, liability arising from the negligence or fault of the activities, for death, disability, personal injury, property damage, property theft, or actions of any kind which may hereafter occur and including traveling to and from this activity.

leg cast foot

image: http://www.ehow.com/how_2077765_care-leg-cast.html

being

So I was sitting on the toilet at my local establishment. Feeling buzzy and having fun listening to some cool music (not on the toilet specifically, but that evening). I looked up and just beyond the loo paper, someone had scrawled a message on the wall. It was a very simple message they were conveying. Without fuss, bother, judgement or offence. The word on the wall was just there. Like it had always been there. It said, “Being”.

At that very moment I was being. I was being me going to the toilet. There’s not much I can do about it. I needed to pee. As much as I would prefer to live without many of the bodily functions, I can’t. But with that word I was caught – with my pants down. Caught in a moment of truth.

The moment when you begin to question your very existence.

Perhaps this scribe had been distracted at the time and what was meant to be a longer message had been interrupted. Perhaps it was going to say, “Being tipsy at the pub is expensive” or “Being Lara Bingle is getting poor ratings on TV”. Or maybe they intended it to be a kindly gesture that had gone wrong, perhaps they meant to write “Benign” but got muddled.

Whatever it was that was happening for them was instantly transfered to me. Spiralling deeper and deeper into question. “What is this existence?”, “If this was it, would I mind?”, “Who refills this toilet paper on nights like this?”, “What have I done lately that made a difference?”, “Who brings pens into the toilet? Then must fish them out of their handbag to write on a wall?”, “I wonder what time it is?” …

I pulled up my pants and walked out into my bustling, melodious existence.

Being John Malkovich

image: Being John Malkovich

the diet factory: paleo patty

Food fads fascinate me.

Lately I’ve been reading about the Paleo Diet. Which essentially is a diet based on the eating habits of the paleolithic era. Yes, that’s the one with cavemen that had just discovered tools and fire.

Based on the hunter-gatherer diet, one consumes meat, fish, shellfish, leafy vegetables, fruit, seeds (and insects). The modern paleo puts potatoes, dairy and wheat onto the list of no-nos, and suggests one undertakes occasional fasting (to mimik when the paleo-shops are shut).

I do agree that consuming the least amount of processed food is better for us. The ethos of this diet is almost right. And it’s a big step up from the Dukan Diet which told us to only eat protein, become terribly constipated and then eat a kilo of prunes to get back on track to being our same fat selves only feeling clogged and blotchy and now frightened to leave the house. But my brain is substantially larger now than my paleo pal (about 31%) and my life expectancy as a first-world supermarket-warrior is 80 years compared with her 20 years.

I think if we asked Paleo Patty, she would choose the goats cheese with crusty bread, olives and a lovely little Cab Sav too. She’s not that silly.

Homo heidelbergensis skull

image: http://en.wikipedia.org/ 

the family lifecycle of the common cold

It always hits the weakest first. The toddler goes down. It’s messy, demanding and exhausting …for everyone.

As parents it is your responsibility to carry the load. The load is in the shape of a small box or basket in which you carry emergency supplies: A box of tissues; a packet of wet wipes; an absorbent rag; the thermometer; and, the children’s panadol. This basket is carried from room to room, as you follow them on their distracted disillusioned rambling path of one short lived entertainment to the next.

By day three it’s getting really nasty. Those clear boogers that you thought were unappealing at the time have turned green and gluey. The double-nostril-green-bubble-sneeze is a frequent occurrence. So frequent it doesn’t even make your stomach turn anymore. Child-free friends look on in undisguisable horror.

But what’s the absorbent rag for, you ask? The cough that ends in puke. Enough said.

Evenings degenerate into a whiny noise. My whinging is driving me crazy. “Would you watch TV please?! I just want to have a shower at some point today. Cook your own damn dinner!”

It’s now day four. You couldn’t smell a week old prawn in the sun if it was stuck to the front of your shirt. Your nose is raw from the tissues that claim to be as soft as duck down. You opt for using the wet wipes to blow your nose. They’re cool and comforting. Hubby says that you remind him of changing nappies. It’s the smell of wet wipes on my face. I can’t smell it. I don’t comment.

Poppet is full of energy again. She’s bouncing off the walls. “Dance, mummy! Dance!!” She’s as harsh as a Russian gym instructor and I feel like a Sun Bear. Maimed and hobbling around, hunched, sad, and missing every beat. “Dance!!”

Day five: I’m crunching on Tissue Salt pills like beer snacks.

As day six rolls around I’m back on board. I’m thinking a trip to the park might be nice today. The bedroom door creaks, and slowly, Daddy the Flu Zombie emerges.

Roy Lichtenstein

image: Roy Lichtenstein, Still Life with Glass and Lemon (1974)