Sunday, 28 July 2013

Discrimination or genuine concern

I promise I'm still here guys. I'm still alive and kicking (just barely some days). I am actually writing this to you from in the middle of a circus. (A metaphorical one anyway.) My sister in law and her daughter are camping out at our house at the moment, there are dramas going on with the house they live in with my little brother, so we've taken them in for a few days until some stupid paper work can get sorted out and they can return to their house. (Have I ever mentioned how much I hate bureaucracy?) Given that my niece is only 3 months older than Miss K, it's been good having a friend in the house for her to play with that is so close in age to her. Of course given that they are both only 2 and still learning about the delicate art of sharing, (something they both hate as they get royally screwed any time they have to share anything) we've had a fair few dust ups the past few days, but for the most part they get on really well.

Movie time. I was hoping they would actually go to sleep but no such luck.

So the point of today's post wasn't just to talk about the babies, it was actually to share something that happened to me at work last week. Yes I'm still employed, and according to my boss I'm doing a good job. But she still felt the need to call a staff meeting last Wednesday before we turned on the phones for the day and rush hour began. I was terrified that I was going to be given my marching orders, and had been since the day before when she locked herself and the office manager in her office for five minutes without me. I knew something big was coming and I spent the whole of Tuesday wracking my brains trying to remember anything I had done that was bad enough to get myself fired. Luckily for me I wasn't about to face the firing squad (ba boom) but there were a few things the boss wanted to bring up. One was I needed to tidy up the place a bit more, this one didn't surprise me, I hate housework so I avoid it at all costs, but I'll cop that one on the chin. The second one was that I smell like cigarette smoke. That one doesn't surprise me, my boss is a militant anti-smoker and a health nut to boot. I am very aware of the cigarette smoke, but considering I am unable to douse myself in perfumes at the office because she is also allergic to a lot of the chemicals found in deodorants and perfumes there aren't a lot of options for me. I'm still determined to quit smoking for good and this may give me the boot up the backside to go the last few yards. 

But the third and possibly strangest part of this meeting was the one where she disapproved of my work outfits. Now it wasn't strange that she didn't like my attire at work (I've had that complaint at several places that I work. I hate shirts, being so ample in the front and all, I find it difficult to find shirts that fit nicely all over so I tend to not bother wearing them at all.) Her solution was the strange part of the day, and the part I still shake my head over even four days after the fact. Normally when a boss tells me to change my work outfits, they do so with much hemming and hawing and looking at the floor. (Mainly because most of my bosses have been men who find talking about women's outfits about as comfortable as discussing their emotions.) but then they walk out of the meeting patting themselves on the back for being so tactful and leaving me to figure out exactly what the hell it is they want me to wear. But with my current boss, her solution was to have the office manager take us shopping to a local office clothing store down the road from where we work and pick out my new uniform with me. And then she paid for it.

On one hand I'm totally grateful that the boss was picking up the tab on this excursion, especially given that one new jacket, one pair of trousers and four new tops (the office manager grabbed two for herself) cost a whopping $500. But on the other hand I can't help but feel the entire process was entirely wasteful. I nearly fainted when the shop assistant tallied up the final bill, and I don't even know if that price includes the tailoring they need to do to my new trousers. (I am what the office manager calls incredibly short, but I call midget, so I always need new pants taken up.) They will quite possibly need to do the same to my new jacket when it finally comes in, and then we are getting the office logo embroidered on all the tops. It will all look very professional and when I am in the office, we will look like we have a uniform especially with the office manager and I dressing alike now, but I don't know what if anything this new look is going to accomplish except to tear me away from my nice warm duffel coat. (It is pink which happens to be the least favourite colour of my current boss, and I suspect the whole reason this make over happened in the first place.)

Now the boss was very careful in holding this meeting. She made sure that the office manager was in the room with us so that there was a witness to the whole proceedings (gotta love solicitors for preparing for the worst case scenario at all times) and she was very tactful (or as tactful as a no nonsense solicitor can ever be) about the whole thing, but it still stung. It still felt like I was being told I wasn't good enough just as I am. I have never put much stock into my appearance, and even less goes into it now that I have Miss K. My motto has always been as long as it's clean it's all good. The fact that I manage to put make up on every morning before I go to work is nothing short of a miracle for me these days. I have always thought my performance on the job mattered more than my appearance, but apparently this isn't the case any more. I don't know if I can even get enthusiastic about clothes any more, because they just mean more work when it comes to laundry day. (especially if the jacket is dry clean only.) But it looks like I'm going to have to fake it at the very least because my successful passing of the probation period now rests on my ability to smarten up my appearance. 

So I am trying. I bought myself some new gel nail polishes, I may even invest in a new eye shadow and lipstick, and this week I am going to book an appointment at the best hairdressers in town. (The fact that she has been my hairdresser since I was ten makes her the best.) And then I am going to go to work and pretend that I don't feel like mutton dressed as lamb. And hopefully that will be enough to make the boss happy and keep my backside in a job for a little while longer. I'll keep you posted.

Image courtesy of
Mutton dressed as...well mutton

Saturday, 13 July 2013

Secret Subject Swap - Summer Break

Aaaand hello again my lovelies. It is that time of month again where 12 bloggers decide to go completely insane and let someone else decide the theme of their blog post for one day. We then simultaneously publish our posts, (I am determined to get mine out at the correct time this month if it kills me.) and sit back and watch you wonderful audience members enjoy the madness. So please be upstanding for part one of July's Secret Subject Swap.

Secret Subject Swap
Now I will start as always by introducing the other test subjects in this little experiment. 
Baking in a Tornado                              
The Momisodes                                       
Just a Little Nutty                             
Moore Organized Mayhem             
Stacy Sews and Schools                
The Sadder But Wiser Girl                                
Menopausal Mother                     
Dinosaur Superhero Mommy                                     
The Insomniac’s Dream                             

So this month my subject was submitted by Evil Joy Speaks, and the subject is (drum roll please)....

"Does summer {break} scare you? Does summer {break} entice you? Why or why not??

So first of all I gotta explain a few things for my non-Aussie readers, just so that you guys understand what the hell it is I'm talking about. Now you're probably aware that our summer is not the same time as yours. In fact while you guys are having your lovely warm summer, we are in the grips of an icy and painful winter. In fact one day last month it was foggy all day. I'm not kidding, I woke up at 8:30, it was foggy. I got Miss K her lunch at 12, it was still foggy. I went and bought dinner at 5:00, it was still foggy. It's just one of the things I hate about winter. Now what that means for us is that while you guys are having your white Christmases, we're all in our shorts and bikinis having salad and cold meat on Christmas day. And it is pretty damn awesome.

The other difference between Australia and America (I'm not sure about the rest of the world, you guys tend to keep your holidays pretty quiet.) is that we don't have the whole of summer off from school. We finish school a couple of days before Christmas, then take the rest of December and the whole of January off, with February (the last and hottest month of summer) being spent in school. I've always hated this system, but I'm sure parents all over the country are more than happy to see the back of their little darlings after 6 weeks of being full time parents. 

Now given that Miss K is still not old enough to go to school, summer holidays are a bit "same old, same old" for us, as absolutely nothing changes for us as far as our routine goes. But it does mean a change in the kinds of activities we do. There are trips to the pool, to the beach, evening walks, water fights, long hot days and long hot nights. There is a massive spike in parties and barbecues and a huge decrease in the amount of clothes worn. And who here doesn't love completely legal partial nudity??

But with the lack of clothes and the party season comes some negatives of course. The heat here in Australia can become incredibly oppressive. To give you an example, a friend of my sister in law's who lives in England was complaining of a heat wave of around 27 degrees celsius (around 80 degrees farenheit). Now when we in Australia are talking about a heat wave, we're talking 40 degree heat (104 degrees farenheit) which is quite a bit hotter, and a lot more suffocating and exhausting. If the needle ever hits 40 plus (which is happening more and more these days) the only thing you can do is stick a face washer in the freezer and stay as low to the ground as possible. (Unless you're one of those fancy pants people with an air conditioner, in which case you can do whatever the hell you like.) There are also mosquitos the size of small insects, who love the taste of human blood and fly around in swarms around barbecues and pool parties. And then there are the scorch marks you get on your hands every time you touch your steering wheel or seat belt when you get in the car. Oh and the melted tar you get on your flip flops (thongs for my Aussie friends who don't really get why you guys can't call your damn shoes thongs.) when you cross the road. 

So I can certainly find plenty of things to hate about the summer holidays, but for every negative there is at least two positives. For example, right now I'm wearing a black bear as a dressing gown as it is freezing cold here at the moment, and I'm afraid if I wear any less while sitting in my lounge room I might get frostbite. That would never happen in summer ya know. 

Well that's it for me, be sure to go and visit all the other participants, you will not be disappointed, and I'll be returning for next month's secret subject swap soon.

Monday, 8 July 2013

The weekend from hell

If I ever wrote any kind of a diary (which I can never do for more than a few days at a time) this is what it would have looked like after this weekend.

Thursday 4th July 2013 6:00pm

Well today we are in Melbourne. I have been summoned up by Miss K's nonna to meet her cousin who is arriving from Italy tomorrow morning. I have been told it will be my job to keep her company tomorrow morning while Nonna is at work. Now given I don't really speak much Italian, and she doesn't speak much English this will be an interesting babysitting job. The trip up here was made easier by the fact that mum was with us on the train, she will be visiting my uncle while I'm in little Italy and we all travel together home on Saturday. I will be interested to find out if Miss K's dad has actually told nonna how short our trip is this time, he tends to forget the little details like that. After a discussion with him last week where he complained that I don't step back enough and let him take care of Miss K, I have agreed that he can bear the brunt of the parenting duties this weekend while I step back and observe from a distance. This will be interesting. I have been pleasantly surprised by the people of Melbourne today, and their willingness to help a lady with a pram get off and on public transport. I was assisted by no less than three strangers today while making the long and complicated journey from the city to the suburb where "la famiglia" live. It gives me hope that common courtesy isn't lost.

Thursday 4th July 2013 11:00pm

Well I am meant to be getting some sleep right now but it is proving impossible. It took 2 hours and a long car trip to finally get Miss K to sleep at 9pm tonight, but the sleep only lasted 2 hours and she is awake again. Nonna has offered to take her off my hands so I can get my rest, as she isn't going to bed any time soon, I think I'll take her up on the offer and try to catch some sleep.

Friday 5th July 3:00am

Just woke up to hear Miss K's screams from the garage which means two things. 1. She is still awake, 2. she is throwing the mother of all temper tantrums which means she is over tired and over indulged. Went into the garage to find her playing with her father, nonna is nowhere to be seen having gone to bed an hour ago. Miss K's dad said she wanted to go outside and when I asked why he hadn't returned her to bed he told me she didn't want to go to sleep. I drag a screaming Miss K back inside and get  her to sleep in five minutes. When will these people learn that what a 2 year old wants and what a 2 year old needs are usually two different things, and you always go with the latter? I don't mind spoiling a child and letting her bend the rules occasionally, but this is ridiculous.

Friday 5th July 7:30am

We were just woken up by a troupe of people walking through the door. The cousin has arrived and there is a whole heap of people standing in the kitchen talking over the top of one another as if they are all well rested and not encumbered with a 2 year old who always gets her own way. I envy them. Go outside to have a cigarette and complain on Facebook that I have no idea what is going on around me given my lack of understanding of the Italian language. It is very hard to be polite to these people when I am so damn exhausted right now. I still have my pyjamas on and bed hair. And to make matters worse Miss K broke my glasses again. I need coffee and lots of it.

Friday 5th July 9:00am

Am sitting in the kitchen with two people, neither of which can speak very much English. Of course one of them is 2 years old and very cute so she gets away with it. I have resorted to downloading a translation app on my phone so that I can string more than two words together for the cousin, and we are attempting a conversation. It is not easy for either of us, but I've managed to find out a little bit about her and she seems very interesting. I still do not understand why nonna tasked me with the job of keeping her company, especially since her son can actually understand Italian, even though he doesn't speak it. I have learned two new words so far, Scimmia, which means monkey, and pazzo, which means crazy. This will help me greatly in conversation because I know lots about crazy monkeys.

Friday 5th July 4:00pm

The house is full of people again. More friends wanting to meet the cousin have arrived. I tried to get a sleep in today but it wasn't successful. Miss K's father on the other hand has been in bed since he got home at 7 this morning. So much for taking care of his daughter. Apparently nonna's nose was put out of joint by the comment I passed on Facebook this morning. Or perhaps it was Tristan's suggestion that I call them all Stronzos which means asshole. While both funny and interesting it hasn't proved to be helpful in the least. I stupidly opened my mouth and offered to visit for Christmas this year, and they are already making plans so I guess I'm stuck with being away from my family for the best family day of the year this year. When will I learn to keep my fat mouth shut?

Friday 5th July 8:00pm

The house is finally empty again, Miss K was asleep at a reasonable hour (it only took ten minutes of fighting and three rounds of there was an old lady who swallowed a fly tonight) and I am alone to enjoy my headache. My glasses were well and truly broken this morning which means I am blind until next Thursday when I can finally make time in my schedule to visit the optometrist. I'm overdue anyway but the headaches aren't fun. Miss K's father did forget to mention we were leaving tomorrow (I knew he would) but I have informed nonna that tonight was our last night and she has very kindly offered to drive us as close to the city as she can tomorrow morning. Need to check train timetables and organise to meet mum and my uncles at the station. Tomorrow is my cousin's engagement party and I do not want to miss this for the world. Our family parties are legendary. I have decided to spend the evening hiding in the front room on our blow up mattress and read the hunger games for the millionth time tonight. I can't listen to another word of Italian for now.

Saturday 6th July 7:00am

Miss K and I have been awake for an hour. We've had breakfast and watched a whole episode of High 5 and still no one else is awake. I've packed our bags and cleared the house of all of our belongings, now I just need someone else to wake up so I can finally turn on the coffee machine and get the caffeine pumping into my system again. Why is it that the only time I want people up early in this house is the one day they decide to have a sleep in?

Saturday 6th July 10:30am

I have just missed my train back home again. I am so frustrated right now. Nonna finally woke up at 8:00 and I informed her I needed to be out of the house by 9:30 at the latest. 9:45 we finally left the house and she spent the next hour arguing with her son about the best route to the train station. I had been told the trip would take 25 minutes at the most. And of course it's all my fault because I didn't tell her I needed to be gone until an hour and a half before the fact. This of course ignores the fact that I couldn't tell her any earlier because she was locked in her bedroom. What's worse is that mum has my train ticket as I brought all the tickets at the same time and handed them to her for safe keeping. I now need to wait 20 minutes for the next train into the city and another hour after that for the next train back home and back to sanity. I'm also going to miss most of the engagement party because it starts at 1, and I won't get home till 2, then I need to get both Miss K and I dressed, (we tend to travel comfortable.) so who knows what time I'll get there. I kept telling nonna that it was fine and I'll just catch a later train but I'm so angry right now I could spit.

Saturday 6th July 7:00pm

Well that was one hell of a weekend. Miss K and I are finally home from the engagement party (we were an hour and a half late so we missed lunch but we made it for the speeches.) I didn't have much time to chat to my cousin which was a shame because I don't see him all that much but I did get to catch up with some family members which usually only happens at Christmas and birthdays so that was good. Miss K and I made our excuses at about 4:30 because we were both drained and ended up zoning out in front of the telly and the computer until her bed time. She didn't even want dinner tonight so she got sent to bed full of paracetamol (for her lovely cold) half an hour early. There was a new comment on my Facebook status when I got home from nonna, calling all the people who had commented on my post "stronzos" which means she has just insulted my family. So I'm done. No Christmas, no weekend visits once a month, no more being nice period. She wants to see a stronzo, she's got it. Mum has just walked in with a 6 pack of rum and cola so I think it's time I drowned my sorrows and forgot this whole hellish weekend even happened. Thank goodness for work on Monday.

Pictured: me all weekend
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