Getting old and grey and full of sleep

Hey oldie! Yeah, you! You’re officially invited to a seminar on Entering Your Thirties, situated in a nicely ventilated room with easily accessible bathrooms and protein-based snacks. The event is meant to start on the hour, but we’re aware you might be a bit late, because leaving the house now involves something of a circuit course of “check the heater, check the stove, check the lights, check you’ve locked the front door, did you really check the stove, what about the oven, better double-check the door’s really locked, and maybe check the heater once more on your way out.”

So we can assume you’ll all be a little bit late from your circuit training. Let’s not forget the fact that the walk from tram stop to conference centre will take a bit longer this evening because you’ve forgotten to do your double leg calf raises, which are a necessity handed down to you by your venerated Physiotherapist, ever since you injured your overly mobile ankles during a particularly energetic bout of Jewish folk dancing.

We also welcome those of you who might want to Skype into this meeting, and we thank you for your searingly honest RSVPs explaining this choice. Some of our favourite responses were, “I work 9-5, in order to spent 5-9 away from humanity” and “if a bold and risky entrepreneur suggested installing a toilet and fridge inside the structure of a bed, I would singlehandedly make that entrepreneur a millionaire.”

Other regrets coming in are from the perkier and fitter members of our over-30s who tell us that they must exercise without pause between the hours of 5pm and 10pm in order to stave off the inevitable descent into decrepitude and calf-weakness that yawns and flashes ever-temptingly before them.

We hope those of you who are left – you, who missed her train on the Upfield line, and you, who wants to avoid his housemates’ marathon viewing of Four Weddings – find this seminar helpful. We will be covering such topics as:

“I didn’t know I even had that muscle until it started hurting”

“Why can’t I eat with the gusto I used to?”

“I need to tell more strangers more often what they’re doing incorrectly”

and our most popular topic, “No more caffeine after 4pm: a night-terrors and micturition tale”

We look forward to seeing you at this exciting event, and hearing your many interminable anecdotes. 


Sunshine

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Sunshine is a controversial thing. Many people love it. Many people avoid it at all costs. Many celebrities have opinions on it, treating it like a too-smart antagonist in a David Mamet play. They shield themselves from it desperately, with creams and hats and glasses.

 

Sunshine causes burning and drying and crinkling, but it also provides energy (in literal and metaphorical ways), and little sprouts curling out of the ground ever-skywards, and it is also a useful signifier when trying to explain the sight, smell and (assumed, never tested) taste of jonquils.

 

Sunshine is something I have tended to avoid. I am sensitive to sunshine due to my pale Eastern European skin. Russian Jews are sensitive to sunlight the way in the same way we are sensitive to changes in people’s mood, feedback that is not couched in a compliment sandwich, and trace amounts of gluten.

 

As a result, I tend to enjoy the look of sunshine, and the jonquils it allows to pop defiantly out of the earth during the depths of winter, but I do not enjoy too much of an exposure to sunshine. For me, sunshine on skin is a sometimes-treat. Too much of it, and you’re spraying anaesthetic cream on your butt in a badly ventilated bathroom that night.

 

However, sunlight is something you really miss when you spend a winter in Melbourne. Melbourne has very very little sunlight during the winter months. You might find you’ve got through a whole week of grey days without once feeling a brush of its hot fingers on your vulnerable neck skin.

 

As a result, a lot of Melbournites find themselves progressively folding into themselves over the course of a long winter. After all, what are we but delicate little jonquils ourselves, trying desperately to pop our bright heads out of the soil and stay alive?

 

It’s easy to forget that sunshine ever existed, that it was part of your day-to-day, that hot rays once smiled down on you, sizzling your monobrow hairs and making your stockings give you sweat-itch on the back of your thighs.

 

Melbourne winter has warmth, like the sardine-packed South Morang line after peak hour, or a state theatre company filled with a mass of old people’s sleep-farts, but Melbourne does not give sun easily.

 

This is where Vitamin D comes in. A few months ago I was in my friend’s bathroom and noticed he had a bottle with 1,000 Vitamin D tablets. The little transparent bubbles clinked alluringly in their plastic tub. He told me, “they’re essential. You must.”

 

And can I just say: Vitamin D is a game-changer. You’ll notice the difference next time you do your sanity-power-walk in your lunch break, and you welcome the cloud-lined sky with a wink and a grin, instead of just another weary sigh.

 

Vitamin D is so much more than a funny euphemism for dicks regularly used by members of the gay and hag community. Vitamin D is what will get you through a Victorian winter.

 

Now you go out and get that D, baby girl.


Ear candling

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There are a few things at WJLI HQ that are really important to us: regular sunshine, ongoing dog-access, and foods that double-bang the descriptors of both salty AND crunchy.

Sometimes we decide it’s time to stretch open our experience bank a little wider, to make sure that we are exposing you to all the important things that life has to offer.

This is all a pretty long-winded way of saying: I tried ear-candling for you.

I’m no stranger to attempted ear-candling. The last time I tried it was roughly 10 years ago, and it was not a success.

My mum had invested in luxury hair interventions for my sister and myself at a curl-centric salon in Waverley. The salon was helmed by a woman who dressed in all purple and wore her long mane of curly white hair long and free.

This woman told us that many women commit Crimes Against Curls, because we grow up in a culture that teaches us to restrain our mane. This was the worst thing we could ever do to our curls. Every time we tied our hair back with a restraining elastic band, we were rubbing those delicate follicles so raw that they became dry and snappable.

I didn’t even dare ASK her what she thought of rubber bands in hair. I wanted to walk out of there alive.

According to this Earth Mother of Curls, we should treat our hair as if it is a veil of chiffon, and our shoulders like a brittle rock. Gently splay out your curls upon the rock, careful of stressing, snagging, pulling or traumatising the hair.

I learnt a lot from this woman, so when she offered me a very reasonable upsell of “healing temple massage plus bonus ear candling”, I immediately said yes. The temple massage was extraordinarily healing, and helped me process the feelings I had around a very emotionally draining play I was acting in that week.

(Our university theatre society had decided that the best application of first year Drama student skills was a production of The Diary of Anne Frank, and I played the vain Mrs Van Daan, who progressively loses her furs and expensively cultivated looks over the course of the play, as a metaphor for the costs of fascism.)

After this healing massage, I lay on a soft floor for my ear candling. Earth Mother delicately plonked a beeswax tube into my ear canal, set it on fire, and went off on her lunch break. With no one manning my candle, I was lax in ensuring it had been dug deep enough into my ear. When we pulled the candle out afterward, it was completely dry and empty of even a small ball of wax.

Ten years passed before I attempted ear candling again. I thought, “What’s the point? It’s just like Rescue Remedy and oil pulling. Useless.”

Until one day, the health food shop in Northlands had a special “4 for 2 deal” and my inner Scrooge said, “if not now, when?”

And here’s the lesson I learnt about ear candling.

YOU GOTTA CRAM THAT BABY DEEP IN YOUR EAR IF YOU WANT IT TO DO SHIT!

With a deeply-filled ear hole, I finally experienced the big deal that everyone had been going on about all these years. Ear candling is UTTER MAGIC. It is a wholly mindful experience with an incredibly useful side-effect of clean ears. I now swear by it.

Let me tell you some of the best stuff about ear candling:

  1. The fact that you can listen to what it sounds like to have a fire inside your head
  2. The fact that said fire has the double duty of SUCKING WAX OUT OF YOUR HEAD AND TAKING IT SOMEWHERE NEW
  3. The fact that it is a beautiful trust exercise between you and whoever is facilitating your candling, due to the proximity of flame to your delicate eyelash hairs.
  4. The fact that YOU GET TO CUT OPEN THE CANDLE AFTERWARDS AND SEE WHAT DISGUSTING THINGS YOU ACHIEVED.

 

I don’t want to go into too much detail, but yes I do. Of course I do.

Imagine what 30 years of just cleaning your ear with just ear buds looks like. Pushing wax deeper into your ear canal so that it starts a new society up there and declares squatter’s rights. And then imagine a big cleansing fire coming through and razing that village to the ground. Ok, this isn’t a nice image to anyone except Liberal Party HQ, but try to remember this is about your ears, and not social policy.

At the end of a good candling, you will have a candle full of dusty hoovered skin flakes, and several hard balls of wax. The skin flakes look like what I imagine would happen if you beat up a really old tiny skeleton and it exploded inside the borders of your boyfriend’s sink. The balls of wax look like precious amber stones. They would look at home strung on a necklace, and they are heavy in volume, like a high-class Easter egg. When you drop them in the sink, they make a sonorous “clink”. They are heaven.

Ear waxing, for me, is now going to be filed next to “eating avocado” and “saying no to fun” as one of those things that you should have appreciated years and years ago, but what can you do about that now?

All you can do is the following thing: schedule a six-monthly appointment for ear candling, and begin harvesting a beautiful collection of your ear amber to share with your human/dog progeny one day in the future.


Being an artist under a Coalition Government

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Sometimes, I like to talk to young professional friends about what a career in theatre is like. It’s illuminating to share experiences with them, and hear what their own career conditions are like. They talk about occasionally frustrating workmates, unimpressive pay at first, but a sense of ascension. Building up. Gaining more recognition with more experience.

 

When I tell them about a career in the arts, their response tends to be a mixture of envy and shock. Envy that we have a career where we can wear what we want, express our selves, be iconoclastic, create new things. Shock around the lack of progression, our state of being at the mercy of knee-jerk political whims, and most gravely, about the financial recognition.

 

There is particular shock around the idea of unpaid work. That we might work for months on a project, the amount of hours equivalent to a full time job, but those hours stolen from gaps where we should be sleeping, exercising, or seeing our loved ones. They are shocked to hear we might take away a few hundred dollars – if we’re lucky – from an experience like that. These friends come and see our work and are impressed by the display of deepening skill, a firmer sense of expression, and a burgeoning talent, all done in stolen hours where those who work a 9-6 might choose to pursue other things. We’re lucky this is our passion. But the fact also hurts us.

 

This week, I found out that a show I’ve been waiting to produce in Melbourne since I moved here is being canned. The company can’t afford it. They promised us the slot; they’ve now retracted that promise. If you’re wondering what it feels like: it’s like being dumped. The same erosion of self-esteem, the same fear of never getting back up again, the same flatness, depression, and creative numbness.

 

It is a great privilege to have your job be your passion, but it is utterly annihilating when your job exists in a climate and country that does not value your work. It makes you wonder if you have wasted your life. It is a truly awful feeling.

 

I am lucky to work in the youth arts sector, in addition to the independent theatre sector. Youth Arts is one of the few places that has reasonable funding. This doesn’t apply across the board. The current funding model from national bodies like Australia Council for the Arts have rewarded some companies and cut the funding of others, entirely at the discretion of the Arts Minister. I cherish the work I’ve been able to do in youth arts environments: helping young people tell stories, writing them plays that they can perform and deepen their skills by doing, and giving voice to the beauty of their difference. I would never have been able to do this work without my experience in the independent theatre sector. Similarly, if I ever ascend up the hypothetical escalator into the plush (but just as jittery) environs of main stage theatre, it would be my independent experience that has made me worthy of the job.

 

The Liberal Government is enacting a kneecapping of the independent sector in a way that ensures there will be no future artists of quality. If there are any left after the recent demolition, they will only be the ones who can afford to fund their own ascension. The rest of us will have given up. Found less-creative less-passionate jobs, but ones that reward us for our hard-earned work ethic, problem-solving capacity, and teamwork.

 

Funding the independent arts sector is the only way to ensure that we have artists who can graduate to main stage theatres. Imagine an Education Minister who closes down all schools and wonders why university applicants can’t read.

 

Please show that you stand with the arts this election. You can sign this petition, you can speak to your local Member of Parliament about this, or you can vote out the Coalition Government on July 2nd. You can share this post with people who might want to know more about these issues, and spread the word outside my bubble of arts people.

Thank you for reading.


Buffets

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You know those topics that you just assume you’ve written about at least once per year in the last 5.5 years of having a glamorous “Hot or Not” blog?

You know that feeling when you sift through said 5.5 years of archives and realise you have NEVER actually written about that thing? The feeling is shock and a need to remedy things, stat.

You know how sifting through archives allows you to start making thematic connections between the sorts of things you tend to write about, and in particular, the things you tend to (this blog, after all, being called Would Jess Like It) like?

I have found a pattern and it is: DOGS and FOOD.

Today’s post will be focused on food. Right now, food is at the forefront of my mind, because I am still recovering from a food incident that happened almost a week ago, and that incident is called: “two all-you-can-eat buffets in the space of 14 hours”.

 

Let’s rewind. For my 30th birthday this year, my beautiful friends (who know exactly what sort of things I like and dislike) got me a present that Jess Would Like. It combined all my favourite things: plush naps, abundant food, floral room fragrances, and strong women pulverising my muscles. That’s right: it was a 5 star hotel and spa voucher for a deluxe room, an incredible deep tissue massage from a woman with no mercy, and – not just one, but TWO – buffet meals.

I timed this birthday present with my boyfriend’s birthday to lessen the blow of no longer being nominally two years older than him, which was my favourite fact about our relationship to drop at social engagements and dog parks.

We had a 7.30pm dinner buffet and a 9.30am breakfast buffet, and I am still recovering. The whole situation reminded me of an important fact: you don’t get better at buffets. If you’re a true buffet enthusiast, they slay you every time. You lumber out of the restaurant groaning and belching, and then have to lie down for the next hour watching repeats of Will & Grace and realising that it’s not actually as progressive a show as you would think.

All that said, I’m definitely getting more skilful at buffets. I have a process for them, implemented via years of trial and error, and with input from my buffet senseis, Dad and Skye. So I thought, even if it’s inevitable that you’ll leave the buffet a hot mess, here’s my list of tips of getting the most out of it, to make the next week of recovery at least worth it:

 

  1. Start with the hot foods. As Des Bellamy once said, “don’t waste space on muesli”.

 

  1. Try new things. Who knew you liked congee with maple syrup until you tried it?

 

  1. If someone is offering you a cooked-fresh thing, always take it over the “simmering in a bain marie for hours” thing.

 

  1. Get triple the hash browns you think you need.

 

  1. Don’t take your time. If you pause too long between courses, your stomach will realise it’s full, and then it’s all over.

 

  1. Fill your pockets. Of course you need three types of artisanal mustard to take back home and a bag of nashi pears. Remember Marge Simpson in the Gummy Venus episode? Wear that sort of coat.

 

Please feel free to add any tips I might have forgotten. Let’s make this the canon of gluttony! Thanks for enabling me once again, beautiful friends!

 


24-Hour Kmart

There’s a great suburb in the north of Melbourne called Reservoir.

Reservoir is like Prahran and Malvern in one particular way and absolutely no other ways: you have no idea how to pronounce it unless you’ve lived in Melbourne for over 5 years.

Why is Reservoir called Reservoir? Because a bunch of reservoirs were built there back in the day, and the place was named after those reservoirs, in a grateful homage to their sweet water-holding abilities. So, why do we then pronounce Reservoir as “Reservore”? I don’t know. Someone please tell me. Please.

In Reservoir, there is a magical place called 24-Hour Kmart, and it is magical because IT IS OPEN 24 HOURS A DAY, YES, EVEN AT 4am.

kmart

So, what’s so good about a discount megastore that’s open in the dead of night, I hear you ask?

The first thing is: the convenience. You need to buy a tent at 5am after a night of projectile vomiting? 24-Hour Kmart. You need a fan at midnight because the summer heat refuses to break and you swear to god you’re going to kill someone if this bullshit does not dissipate soon? 24-Hour Kmart. My mind is constantly boggled by the fact that this HUGE WAREHOUSE of goods made by morally indefensible labour and ecologically devastating processes is accessible WHENEVER I MIGHT HAVE THE SLIGHTEST URGE FOR A CHEAP FAUX-UGG BOOT OR MASS PACKET OF EAR BUDS.

The second great thing about 24-Hour Kmart is: the fact it is a microcosm. On one night in 24-Hour Kmart I observed a woman in traditional niqab inspecting discounted outdoor furniture alongside a woman in a bright red body-con mini-dress with stiletto heels  telling off her dropkick boyfriend for doing something shitty, alongside a pretty erratic and slightly abusive guy coming off some serious crystal meth yelling at the security guard.

Which brings me to the final great thing about 24-Hour Kmart: the staff. The most impressive staff members are the security guards. These dudes deal with the most fascinating and horrifying stuff, pretty much as soon as the sun goes down. You would start believing vampire werewolves existed after long enough in the job, because of the fact that your workplace is regularly frequented by human nightmares as soon as it becomes dark. For example, I saw one Security Guard ask to check a guy’s bags once. The guy yelled back at him “fuck you, go back where you came from” and walked off into the car park.

The 24-Hour Kmart staff have a tough job, and while they remain helpful and respectful, the strain of this job shows. Once I tried to return a faulty toaster a 11pm without a box or a receipt, and the woman there was so kind about the fact that there’s no way she was going to replace my toaster because only criminals try to replace stolen toasters without a box or receipt, “not that I’m saying you are, don’t get me wrong.” Her defense became a stunning and convoluted monologue rich in detail and reflexivity, and I enjoyed it, despite the fact that it didn’t get me the goddamn toaster I needed, which was the only thing I actually came to Kmart for, as opposed to the $47 worth of cushions and clever vases that I have just purchased.

Look. Life is a complex and beautiful thing. With joy comes sorrow, with summer comes winter. Similarly, with the joy of 24-Hour Kmart comes the horror of 24-Hour Kmart. If you want the convenience of late-night spatulas and early-morning sports bras, you have to put up with a few doses of world-weary staff, heinous customers, and unnecessary overspending.

If you ask me, it’s a small price to pay.


Commuting in Melbourne

 

Flinders_Street_Station_Dusk

Working 9 to 5, what a way to make a living!

You said it, Dolly. As did you, Lush Cosmetics.

Us at Would Jess Like It HQ have been doing a lot more office work lately, in the pursuit of More Boots, Handbags and Posh Meals, and Also the Minor Factor of Keeping A Roof Over Our HQ.

And, look, it’s not that bad. I get to work with a Receptionist whose vibe is “Vintage Glamazon from the 50s and 60s”, and she rocks a new outfit every day and accompanies it with great phrases like “cruisin’ for a bruisin’”.

I also like the fact that my office has leftover pastries pretty much always, leading to the same conversations with my colleagues at least 3 times a day:

 

1: “Oh, you sprung me! I couldn’t resist a mini-donut!”

2: “You enjoy it! Oh, I wish I could have one too!”

1: “Have one, gurl!”

2: “I’m trying to be healthy!”

1: “It’s only a mini donut!”

 

There’s only one thing I strongly dislike about office work (apart from the obvious factor of having to do work when I could be watching Empire and browsing Moschino’s Instagram page in bed for the rest of my life):

The commute to and from it.

Here’s a few hideous things about commuting in a major city in peak hour:

 

The disgusting people.

Some people do the weirdest shit. Last week, a corporate-dressed guy was waiting for a train next to me, and eating a bunch of cut up fruit in a Tupperware container. He would pick up each fruit slice, slurp its pith and juice, and then HURL THE PEEL ONTO THE GROUND IN FRONT OF HIM. This was on repeat for 10 minutes. Which brings me to my general gripe of –

 

Suit bros.

Some of you are aware of my new policy, which is: if a gaggle of corporate dudes are bro-ing their way down the sidewalk together in one line, like the popular kids from Mean Girls, I refuse to get out of their way.

In the past, I would get out of their way promptly, make room for them by walking into gravel garden beds, due to the fact that socialised misogyny led me to unconsciously think I had less right to a sidewalk than these guys.

Ever since I realised my internalised self-hatred, I made a vow to never do it again. This makes a lot of my walk through the CBD more fun, but also more adrenaline-packed and dangerous. (This is because they hardly ever move out of your path until the very last minute, which makes me think they will be taken by surprise when The Revolution comes).

 

Queue jumpers.

Calm down, Dutton. This isn’t what you think. I am kvetching about the sort of people who see me waiting on Flinders Station platform, near the yellow line, for the train to show up, and come and stand DIRECTLY IN FRONT OF ME AS IF I WERE NOT EVEN THERE.

 

City rage.

One of the problems with imperialist white supremacist capitalist patriarchy is that a lot of unhappy people are forced to trudge home with other unhappy people, and sometimes their unique unhappiness spikes into someone else, and sparks fly, in a not-good way.

Tonight, on my way to the train, I witnessed the tail end of a struggle between a middle-aged man and a young hipster on a bike. I don’t know what they were fighting about, but as the hipster rode away he yelled, “”I’m not scared of you. You’re just a stupid old man with no fucking life!”

We all craned our necks to see the stupid old man lacking any fucking life, but I couldn’t work out who he was in the crowd of sad-looking dudes.

And that’s the riddle right there, isn’t it. Maybe he was yelling it at all of us.

 


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