Archive for January, 2004

Ramblings: My Sad Life, and Glenn Danzig

Friday, January 30th, 2004

Due to Melbourne’s freakish flash floods of last night, the park across from my house is now sporting a rather large, if shallow, lake. I stood in our driveway this morning, watching dogs gleefully running through it while their human companions ran behind them waving their arms about. It was oddly relaxing.

I’m having a bit of a fraught time at work at the moment, owing to several factors I’ll refrain from going into at length, but which are all of the Hell-is-other-people variety. I’ve been trying to keep my mind off work but that’s very difficult given the amount of time I’m spending there at the moment. And people wonder why I laugh loudly and sarcastically to their comments of “working in a library must be nice and stress-free!”. Fuckers.

Caught up with my friend Claire on Wednesday, and we wandered around the CBD chatting and looking at stupidly overpriced clothing and accessories. She distinguished herself by being about the fourth friend in recent times to tell me that my boyfriend is creepy and leers at me a lot. I think I can deal, however. Leering rates more highly in my books than, say, neglecting to tell me you have a pregnant wife, or “justifying” cheating on me by huffily explaining that you weren’t aware that I was so “stiflingly traditional”, or petulantly asking me “why don’t you look more like the girls in Penthouse?”.

Not that I’m bitter. Not bitter at all.

Incidentally, my response to the Penthouse inquiry was to patiently explain that I don’t actually carry an airbrush with me everywhere I go, hence it would be quite difficult for me to look like one of their girls. Apparently that was the wrong response. Apparently I was supposed to take him seriously.

Back on topic, I had a lovely day with Claire, and managed to drag the poor dear into Missing Link’s new shop. I hadn’t been in there for ages, not since before they moved. I really like the new premises. They’re much bigger and decorated really well, and also can’t be described as “dank”. I bought Le Tigre’s Feminist Sweepstakes, although I’m yet to listen to it because I am slack, and also currently obsessed with the Bobbyteens (more on them later), and seem to have developed an inability to listen to anything but their Not So Sweet LP. Sometimes there is scantily-clad air guitar action. It’s quite tragic really.

I also read a back issue of Terrorizer metal magazine (you have to say it in this deep scary voice like you’re one of Satan’s pimpled pubescent minions, or else it just ain’t right). I made fun of Glenn Danzig a lot. Yeah, I know, I really pick the hard targets. The hard targets with open leather vests stretched over their huge, flabby and excessively hairy chests, no less.

This evening I’m off to Brunswick St to catch up with from friends from Uni, which will be lovely because I’ve not seen most of them since late November. I am bad at keeping in contact/catching up with people. I was going to go to the Drag King Extravaganza at the Hi-Fi tomorrow night, but that’s fallen through (as in, Sonya my date is unable to go. The Extravaganza is still happening). I’m disappointed but I also have the feeling I’ll be asleep by 10pm tomorrow night and thus won’t be in a position to worry too much. Working early Saturday mornings has a tendency to do that to me. Because I’m not already sad enough as it is.

You (Don’t) Belong in the Zoo

Tuesday, January 27th, 2004

No Internet and no…Internet make Aimee something something. Ugh. Something weird is going on with my phoneline, I think the voicemail has buggered up. At any rate, my new as-yet-unnamed laptop won’t let me connect, but for some reason my ancient laptop, Henry, will. May I just say yet ANOTHER hurrah for not having cleaned this one up and sold it yet? (After the great big kerfuffle with Dell over the new one, which saw them replacing the hard drive, RAM and motherboard. I told them it was faulty!) Hence my absence. I hope that never happens again!

Yesterday Stuart and I went to the Melbourne Zoo, less to celebrate Australia Day than because we actually had the same day off for once (we are truly work-crossed lovers). The Zoo was great, except for all the other people. Whilst waiting in the huuuge queue to get in, we overheard the volunteer near us tell someone that Australia Day is one of their busiest days. We tried to ignore that omen, and actually it wasn’t all that bad. I haven’t been to the Zoo in years and years, so it was nice to go back again and see all the changes made since, oh, 1991. The new elephant enclosure looks great, as do many of the other habitats. The only one that still worries me is the orang utan enclosure, for its lack of trees. There’s a beautiful little baby orang utan at the moment; it elicited much cooing from the audience.

My maternal instincts, as weird as ever, went into overdrive over a ten-metre python, and also some lizards and the ocelot, but not about any of the human children we saw throughout the day. In fact, they were outright revolting. I lost count of the times I wanted to say “stop it! Don’t touch that!” throughout the day, and the number of times I felt horror when the parents of the children in question didn’t. Wandering through the reptile enclosure, I had to bite my tongue as children banged their fists on the glass just above the sign that said “please do not tap on the glass”, and then bite it again as their parents walked up to join them and rather than telling them off, banged their fists on the glass too. I wanted to say something but I settled for disapproving glares instead, because I’m lame. I also spent some time fantasising that I was Harry Potter and choosing which enclosures I’d make the glass disappear from (needless to say there were going to be some brats really regretting that they’d pushed their faces up against the glass of a case containing a venomous snake).

I was really astounded by the way some parents let their kids act. Yeah, I know parenting is hard and kids can be a handful, but perhaps if you can’t control them in public and make them behave, you shouldn’t inflict them on other people. Also, it’s probably a good idea to teach them not to tease carniverous wild animals, regardless of whether those animals are in cages (“see how that big lion looks all thoughtful, sweetie? He’s plotting his revenge.”). Just a thought.

I was somwhat aghast by the number of really, really young girls I saw who were dressed inappropriately for a) their particular outing and b) their age group. This is something I rant about a lot, so expect to see more of this topic in the future. I don’t understand how parents of really young girls see 22-year-old Traci strutting about putting herself at risk of skin cancer in some really unfortunate places, and think “oh, how sweet, we should dress our five-year-old Tayylaah like that!”. I pointed out a little girl (possibly called Tayylaah, I don’t know) to Stuart with some horror. She was quite a portly little thing, and dressed in a super-tight midriff top and equally tight hipster jeans which, when she turned away from us as we walked in her direction on the way to one of the exhibits, I noticed had the same thing in common with many hipsters worn by older and more hip-endowed girls: they showed off a healthy slice of bum-crack in all its glory. Ugh. She couldn’t have been more than six, and that’s a lenient estimate. She was probably closer to four. I don’t know who wants to see a four-year-old’s butt-crack, and I don’t want to, but I also can’t help feeling that whoever they are, the parents of four-year-olds might do better than to oblige them.

Anyway. Wandering through the Zoo was interspersed with large bouts of lying down in the grass and not doing anything. It was lovely. Then we came home and slept for about three hours. We are getting old, sad and lame, in that order. The second I notice the words “kids these days…” coming out of my mouth is the second I do something really drastic and most likely not very pleasant.

House of Fun or Den of Iniquity?

Wednesday, January 21st, 2004

About a fortnight ago, after a great amount of thinking and much agonising, I decided to move out of the sharehouse I live in at the moment. It was a tough decision because I’ve lived here for over two years, and I adore my housemates. Deirdre is one of my closest friends from high school, and living with her has been an absolute delight, Eliza is a sweetie (plus she’s hilarious when drunk), and Titian, a friend from Uni who moved in not long ago, is fun to live with too. Plus, she works in a bookshop and since I work in a library, we get to have great conversations about how people who like books so much can be so damn stupid.

So obviously the reason I want to move out has nothing to do with the people I live with. Completely the opposite, in fact. I can’t really cope with living in this house anymore. We’ve nicknamed it Castle Anthrax for a long time (because we are four blondes and brunettes between the ages of 21 and 31), but it’s really starting to live up to the “Anthrax” part of the moniker. It seems to have deteriorated a lot in the last six months; it was never great to begin with because it’s a really old house and hasn’t been maintained properly by the owner, but I’m finding it harder and harder to overlook things like the holes and cracks in the walls, the mould problem several of the rooms have, and the fact that no matter how much any of us clean, the house never really feels clean, because it seems to have an inherent griminess to it. I think what finally cracked it for me was when the cockroaches moved in. I can stand to kill the occasional roach, but when they persist in your house despite repeated use of roach bombs and putting baits everywhere, it gets a bit too much. Especially since they seem to really, really like my room, the site of lots of roach-killing chemicals but no leftover food at all. I think it’s because there’s a door leading out to the backyard in my room, so it’s pretty easy access for them. At any rate, the night when I was lying in bed with Stu, and we were doing the whole coupley snuggle-and-talk thing, and I looked up and saw a cockroach crawling up the wall behind his head…well, that night was kind of a clincher.

I have Secret Life of Us housemates (although I’m sure Deirdre would inflict her wrath upon me if she thought I was comparing her in any way to Samuel Johnson, which I swear I’m not), and a He Died With a Felafel in His Hand house. As far as pop-culture combinations and references go, it’s pretty messy.

And so, the search for a new house has begun. It’s not going to be easy. Already I’m realising that I’m probably going to have to pay more than I really want to for somewhere that meets what I want out of a house. Then again, I am a total cheapskate when it comes to necessities, so that’s hardly surprising. Also, I need to take into account the fact that the area I’m looking in, which Domain.com.au defines as “Inner Bayside” isn’t really the cheapest area around. That said, I’ve seen ads for rooms in dodgy-sounding houses in craptacular suburbs going for $150 a week, so it’s quite possible that after two years plus in the same house, and it being the first sharehouse I’ve lived in, that I’m just out of touch with the current housing prices.

One thing I’ve noticed is that you need to be quick. Already I’ve rung up about houses only a day or two after they’ve been advertised, only to hear “Sorry, we’ve already found someone”. Of course, it could be that my reputation is getting around and they’re all thinking “Oh no! Not that Aimee girl! Quick, think up an excuse!”

The other thing I’m realising is that Melbourne currently seems to be suffering a shortage of potential housemates who don’t have some sort of personality disorder.

I looked at a flat in Elsternwick the day before yesterday. To be perfectly fair to the current tenants, they didn’t seem to have any real personality disorders. Just interesting definitions of what constitutes space, and also personal hygiene. They were nice enough apart from that, but the flat was absolutely awful. So bad, in fact, that I went home and thought “damn, it’s a palace!”.

Yesterday evening after work I looked at another flat, this time in Brighton. It was actually really nice, although the room is far too small for me, especially considering that there’d be nowhere else in the flat to store my book collection. The problem was that I’d arranged to go and see it the night before, but didn’t actually get to meet any of my potential flatmates because the only person home when I rocked up at the agreed time was the guy who’d moving out. He was actually very nice, but it’s not really very helpful. Ah well. They’ve got my number, I guess. I don’t really think the room’s for me, owing to intense smallness (the guy had a queensize bed and a tiny wardrobe in it, and that took up all the room), which is a shame because everything else (except maybe the guys who are staying on, but I WOULDN’T KNOW) seems really nice.

I’ve only physically seen those two flats so far. I’ve been ringing up after a lot of ads, but as I stated above, rooms seem to be disappearing very quickly at the moment. I rang up about a couple of places yesterday. One of them was in Elwood, but it was one of those arrangements where the landlord lives out the back and rents out rooms in the house, which has always struck me as dodgy and isn’t really the sort of environment I’m looking for. What I really want is a place where I can happily hang out at home with the other people there. Which is what I have RIGHT NOW. Sigh.

The phone conversation that prompted the psycho comment happened last night. Ringing up about an apartment in Murrumbeena, I spoke to a woman who put me on edge immediately, partly because she was brusque and unfriendly almost to the point of rudeness, and partly because she reminded me a bit of someone I used to know who became a bit obsessive and started stalking me (which is always the impression you want to get from potential housemates). After about thirty seconds of talking to her, I realised there was no way in hell I wanted to live with her, or even see the apartment. She asked me her name and I told her, and politely paused to give her a moment to introduce herself. She didn’t. Moving along, I told her a bit about myself. Now, I understand perfectly that you have certain things you want and expect in housemates, and of course not everyone’s going to fit your requirements. I told her a bit more about me, and she started arranging a time for me to come over. This was after I’d asked her to tell me a little bit about herself and the house and she’d completely ignored me. I agreed to going over on Thursday night. She asked me if I’d mind text messaging her with my name and number, and she’d message the address back to me. That struck me as a bit weird, because I didn’t see why she couldn’t just tell me the address over the phone, and also, I’d rung her mobile with mine, so my number would have been displayed, and she already knew my name. I hesitatingly agreed that that would be fine (while thinking, ohhhhkaaay then), and then she completely changed her mind, decided we wouldn’t be compatible at all, and hung up on me.

We were probably both relieved, actually.

I’m not sure I’m going to get out of this househunting business unscathed, actually. At any rate, I’ll keep you posted with more (mis)adventures as they occur. Wish me luck.

Book Review: Tell Me a Riddle by Tillie Olsen

Wednesday, January 21st, 2004

Comprised of three short stories and a novella, Tell Me a Riddle delicately explores the impact a harsh and frequently uncaring society has upon the family unit. Each of the stories shows the different experiences and points of view of various family members – from a mother’s heartbreaking tale of poverty and single parenthood in 1950s America, to a grandmother who wants nothing more than peace and dignity in her old age but is denied both by her husband and adult children. Originally published in the 1950s, the book remains a classic for its use of unconventional choices of narrator (the mother of the troubled teenager rather than the teenager herself; the “difficult” old woman rather than her exasperated and condescending children), and also for the sheer heartrending beauty of Olsen’s prose. Olsen has a keen eye for observing both the family and society, and a haunting, lyrical prose style. Highly recommended.

Show Us Yer Puff Piece

Monday, January 19th, 2004

When my housemate Eliza signed up for a new mobile phone, included in the whole package was a free subscription to that great bastion of inane advertising-driven bimbo drivel, B magazine. At least, that’s Eliza’s story about how she came to own the subscription, and she’s sticking to it.

Flicking through the latest issue to arrive at our house, I was amused to come across an article on stripping and the girls who do it professionally. Usually when women’s magazines feature articles on stripping, the general tone is “oh my god, what sluts!!! They are, like, so totally degrading themselves!!! And they have better bodies than you could ever hope for!!!” (exclamation marks intentional). This one was a little different. Taking a conversational tone, it interviewed several girls about why they, like, totally loved being strippers and wouldn’t want to be anything else, despite having no employee rights or benefits and learning no real trade skills that would serve them once they got older and things started to sag.

I’m not against stripping personally, but I was really amused to see the profession bathed in such an overwhelmingly glowing light. The girls spoke about how much money they could earn in a night and talked about what they’d bought with it. They talked about how much fun the job was, even though it could “be nerve-wracking at first”. They talked about how amazing it was to get so much attention from men, and to be paid for getting that attention.

There wasn’t one negative aspect mentioned at all in the article. Nothing about feeling worn out and not being allowed to go home. Nothing about feeling creeped out or disgusted by the people you’re getting paid to show your pinkbits to. Nothing about what a friend of mine who worked as a stripper and escort for a while referred to as “the desire to punch them in the face repeatedly, and then sit them down and explain to them exactly why they can only get female companionship if they pay for it”. Nothing about having no real employee rights. Nothing about how most venues require you to give them money for the pleasure of working for them. All the women interviewed were quick to deny that anyone they worked with used drugs, or had offered services to clients above the position description, or indeed were ever anything but absolutely delighted with their job.

They all spoke in glowing terms of their employer, for which I can’t really blame them. If I was being interviewed about my job while actually at work, I’d be pretty damn glowing as well. They insisted that they were treated very well by the club, but of course Ms Cynical here has her doubts. This is largely because I once went for a job as a dance supervisor at a strip club here in Melbourne. This particular club prides itself on its good treatment of its dancers. In the interview I was informed that one of my duties would be making sure girls did not skive off their shifts early. I was to make sure they stayed in the club, and let them know that no excuse, including sickness, periods and terrible treatment from customers, was enough to let them go home. Failure to do this, I was told, would severely jeopardise my own employment. Needless to say, I did not take the job.

Apparently not interested in researching for a balanced article, the writer covered only one strip club (in Sydney), and interviewed only a select group of women who may well have been screened by the club pre-interview, especially considering the interviews all took place on the club premises. I was amused and baffled by the sheer puffery of the piece, and its complete lack of any discussion of the real issues surrounding stripping apart from male attention and the outrageous sums of money one can make if one is lucky and works very hard for long hours.

About two paragraphs from the end, I remarked to my housemate Deirdre that the “article” was certainly coming across much like an advertisement. Then I reached the end, and discovered that B had helpfully listed the name, address and a contact phone number for the club featured in the article.

I wonder how much they were paid to run that recruitment ad? Or maybe it was just part of a reciprocal relationship, and B‘s staff simply like going to the club for a few drinks after work? If you’re a devoted reader of this completely non-crappy and content-filled magazine, perhaps you should keep an eye out in coming months for features about how to make yourself up like the “stars” (of poles, podiums and porn films everywhere), and how strip clubs are, like, totally the best place to meet eligible (if somewhat distracted) men these days.