31 July 2008

In Manchester, i have come to know (and use) the word 'scally'... a scally is pretty much the more commonly known as 'chav'. No-one does summer in england like a scally... and when temperatures peak at 19 degrees, all council estates point towards Blackpool.

Blackpool isn't far from Manchester, and i'd heard such things about the place that when summer hit last Sunday (it's over now), i took a day trip to Blackpool. The place is hard to explain... i can see how it probably used to be an ok place for a family holiday... but now it's all run down and tacky looking. Lots of stag and hen do's happening (for people who can't afford to go to Prague, Budapest or even Dublin)... lots of shops selling pink cowboy hats with fluff around the edges and flashing bunny ears.

Anyway, one thing Blackpool is especially famous for is 'rock' or 'a stick-a-rock'. You can get all sorts of rock... ones that say Pleasure Beach, your name, your football team and even whole meals of rock made out to look like an english breakfast.

Was in a shop admiring the rock when i noticed the following scenario...


Multiculturalism at its very best, that.

30 July 2008

I just got back from the job interview to be a personal assistant to a rich lady. I shall call her Ms. Happy.

I only applied for the position because I like to apply for three jobs each day, and I needed to make quota.

But, surprisingly, I got an interview.

I only went to the interview because I wanted a sticky-beak in her Park Avenue apartment.

And, unsurprisingly, it’s the most fantastical looking apartment in the world!

And now… I’ve got a serious case of hungry-eyes.

The apartment took up an entire penthouse floor in a very fancy building; one service elevator for the paid help, one main elevator for people making a grand entrance. The doorman directed me to the service elevator that I took to the top floor where I was greeted by Personal Assistant #3. I was then shown down a long white corridor and into a massive living room. I was told to wait in this room and Personal Assistant #2 would soon be with me. While I waited I got a good look at the room: all wood paneling on the walls, a super lofty ceiling, three large windows looking straight out across Central Park. The furnishings were also all gold and wood in a geometric Neoclassical style. Hell, I’m sure they were Neoclassical. The only colour in the room came from the soft tones of TWO DEGAS BALLERINA PAINTINGS and a MONET WATERLILLIES. LJGOWQRJFSDJFWIUPCN!!!!!

So I sat waiting, wearing my Miss Shop clothes, with my new homies Degas and Monet. And we got on great.

And then I met Personal Assistant #2 who explained that as it was Summer Ms. Happy "obviously wasn't in town." Of course, the Hamptons. Then Personal Assistant #2 she told me all about the position (lots of errands, lots of organising, lots of shopping) and I told her why I would be good at it (duh). I'm fairly confident I’ll get asked back for a second interview with Personal Assistant #1.

My problem is I can't decide if I want the job or not.

NO:

  • It's such simple non-challenging menial work; I'm applying for a job that will require me to pick-up dry cleaning and shop for contact lens solution.
  • It's not that closely related to my interest in visual art.
  • It's part-time so I wouldn't be earning that much money.


YES:

  • I reckon there would be lots of perks. (Personal Assistant #2 didn't say anything specific however she kept saying over and over, "Ms. Happy is a VERY generous employer... so GENEROUS.")
  • I would learn a lot about philanthropy and the etiquette and protocols of the 'super upper classes'.
  • I would probably get some gossip too.
  • The hours are so flexible that I could easily become involved with other projects.

I’m wrestling with my guilt and greed over this one. I feel guilty for not using my education and searching for a more challenging job i.e. start CAREER. However, I feel this disgusting greed that is pulling me towards wanting to work in the most beautiful apartment in the world and have a personal chef make me lunch each day. It’s sort of a ‘Devil Wears Prada’ dilemma. Girl works a menial job in decadent environment waltzing around with an attitude of intellectual superiority. However, after experiencing a few perks (in ‘Devil’ instance, wearing AMAZING clothes to work each day) becomes addicted to the lifestyle (that she is only living vicariously).

In the end? BURN OUT.

Still, can’t I just do it for six months?

_________________________

Update: I didn't get the job. I didn't even get a second interview! I didn't mentioned above that I actually got lost trying to find apartment building and was 10 minutes late to interview. I did phone ahead to let them know I was delayed as I went to Fifth Avenue by mistake, however I suppose getting lost didn't reflect too well on my 'errand running' abilities. Damn, I can run errands with the best of them!
Starbucks is melting, melting... ahahahahah haha!

Actually, I don't mind Starbucks when I'm in the U.S. It's a good place for a toilet stop, it's got comparatively cheap good filter-brew and, on a cold cold day, it's a good place for a sit down and warm up.

However, the demise of Starbucks in Australia was just so inevitable!!!

This article makes the obvious point: The US chain has been the victim of an ill-fated expansion in Australia, a market it only entered in 2000. But Starbucks was also snubbed by many Australians who have grown up on a diet of quality European-style coffee introduced into the country by immigrants, particularly from Italy, last century.

Starbucks performed a miracle convincing Americans to pay $4 for a latte. However, before Starbucks Americans lived on a diet of 99cent filter coffee, so the $4 'Vanilla Bean Frappuccino® Blended Crème' was a whole new market.

On the other hand, Australians already had good espresso (complete with drink jargon) when Starbucks entered the scene. So it was ridiculous to think Australians would want to pay $4 for a weak wimpy latte at Starbucks, when a local cafe sells a beautiful strong latte in a delicate glass for $3.

I remember when Starbucks first opened in Melbourne around 2001. It was during my early undergraduate days; a time of Naomi Klein, S11 Crown casino protests and ambiguous 'globalisation-hating'. Starbucks just seemed to spell doom.

So it's wonderful to see the demise of Starbucks in Australia. What was S11 really about? I can't really remember and don't really care... but I think the point is, Australian culture (the bit about how we go out to cafes, how we sit around with friends, how we drink lovely coffee) was strong enough to withstand a large corporation that tried to change it.

I miss a good latte...

26 July 2008


I’ve just seen a wonderful film and it’s called ‘Wall-E’.

I’m not one for gushing over films, years at university has caged my ability to enthuse unashamedly over anything...However, Wall-E has taught me to love again.

Wall-E is this sweet little trash-compacting robot with the mannerisms of Mr. Bean and the heart of a hopeless romantic. Sounds revolting, I know.

Wall-E lives in America of the future. And the future is bleak. Seven hundred years ago humans raped and pillaged earth’s resources so the planet became a desolate dirt ball, bursting with garbage and devoid of life. Having destroyed the planet completely, humans boarded spaceships and abandoned earth to a new life in the sky. Meanwhile, robots remained on earth with the task to ‘clean up’ so that eventually the humans could return. Unfortunately, over the centuries the robots all broke-down. All expect for one… Will Smith. Ahem, I mean Wall-E.

Unlike most recent post-apocalyptic films (I am Legend, Children of Men, Twenty-Eight Days Later) that blame earth’s demise on random acts of fate: viruses, genetic defects, aliens, 'Wall-E' takes the more realistic view and considers a world destroyed by humans. 'Wall-E' steps beyond the global-warming debate to focus on the compelling simple issue of earth’s limited resources pitted against civilization’s limitless ability to consume. It is a bleak, yet brave, look at the future. And it’s a kid’s film!

The first-half hour of the film is dedicated to painting a picture of this world-gone-mad as seen through the lonely eyes of Wall-E. Wall-E spends each day diligently compacting-trash, despite the overwhelming landscape of garbage that surrounds him. Wall-E follows his programming and, without any sense of valor, continues to try and save the planet. After all, he is just a robot. Although, somewhere over the past centuries Wall-E has developed a glitch in his system and begun to empathize with the culture he is cleaning up after. He collects objects he finds pretty and, in an act of social-mimicry, makes friends with a cockroach. In this miserable setting, Wall-E’s small attempts to emulate human traits are profound against the viewer’s knowledge of all things lost. I was really quite moved.

The second half of the film is set on humanity-starship, where everyone has been taking it easy for the past seven centuries. Very, very easy. In this hilarious vision of what will happen to people if they remain apathetic to the world around them, humans are depicted as obese lumps that move around in hover-chairs while consuming mindless entertainment through screens attached to their faces.

I laughed and laughed when I first saw these creatures on the screen. I then noticed I was laughing much harder than any one else in the cinema. Upon some reflection I have to admit I found the idea of humans literally turning into passive blobs so funny because it took the stereotype of the ‘fat-dumb-American’ to a bizarre, yet vaguely rational, new level. I’ve rejected this stereo-type for a long time. When in Australia it always used irritate me to hear throw-away comments about ‘fat-dumb-Americans’. I used to try to defend my husband and his people by pointing out that ‘fat-dumb-American’ is a boring generalization. So I was a bit shocked to find myself laughing so hard at ‘Wall-E’, particularly as I’ve since found out the representation of people in ‘Wall-E’ hurt a lot of viewer’s feelings.

This girl cried: “All I can think of is how would you look at me? How would you look at someone’s sisters, cousins, uncles, aunts, fathers and brothers—are they funny? Are they less human or dirty or stupid?”

Then this lady got angry: “‘Wall-E’... plays off the easy analogy between obesity and ecological catastrophe, pushing the notion that Western culture has sickened both our bodies and our planet with the same disease of affluence. According to this lazy logic, a fat body stands in for a distended culture: We gain weight and the Earth suffers. If only society could get off its big, fat ass and go on a diet!”

It’s true the film draws an analogy between ‘overweight’ and ‘over-consumption’. However, I disagree that ‘Wall-E’ blames overweight people for Earth’s suffering. Rather, the obesity of humans in ‘Wall-E’ is depicted as a symptom of a society that has lost its way. These people are mindless; without independent thought they have all morphed into the same helpless form. The people in Wall-E are caricatures that warn against mindless-consumerism as it could result in the ‘fat-dumb-American’ stereo-type becoming a reality.

I love it! The point is, it’s okay to laugh at the characters in ‘Wall-E’ because they aren’t individuals struggling with weight issues, rather they are essentially babies whose bodies are soft and underdeveloped. They live a life of pure id; ‘me, want, now, hungry, now, now…’… and it takes the humanity of a little trash compactor robot called Wall-E to snap them out of it.

A beautiful film... go see it!

25 July 2008

NEWS FLASH!!!

Girl gets new mobile, not so new

In a shocking twist to the story of Dot getting a new mobile she has recently received an email describing her phone as ‘passé’.

‘I’m terribly upset,’ Dot told us, ‘I just really believed for a minute I finally had my finger on the pulse of technological advancement. I thought I was cutting-edge, but it turns out, once again, I’m behind the times.’

Dot, whose record with mobile phones has not been stellar, finally caved to social pressures and brought a mobile phone last week. As an unemployed job-hunter it was just was not feasible for her to continue listing her husband’s phone number as her own.

“Potential employers would call my husband,” Dot explained, “And then he would politely explain he ‘accidentally’ picked up my phone that morning and brought it to work with him, but he would let me know ASAP to call them back.”

Unsurprisingly this elaborate scheme did not work. So Dot agreed to finally make the big commitment and sign up for a phone-plan.

Her choice of phone? A BlackBerry® Curve ™. The BlackBerry is a hand-held device used mainly for sending and receiving short e-mail messages typed on a tiny keyboard. While it also functions as a mobile phone, the appeal of the BlackBerry is continual email access.

In explaining her choice of phone Dot pointed to her dislike of phone-conversations yet love of written-correspondence as making the BlackBerry the obvious choice. While the BlackBerry smartphone has been around since 2002, it is only over the last few years that it’s widespread use has become synonymous with Wall Street gadget addiction. It’s nick-name? The ‘Crackberry’.

Dot was thrilled with her new toy, and upon turning it on for the first time immediately began emailing all her friends and family to brag about her new purchase. Most people responded by sending kind wishes for these technological steps for Dot-kind. However her sister, slightly jaded by Dot’s previous half-assed attempts to ‘get with it’, replied, “It’s impressive that you have a blackberry. Is this because everyone now has iphones and blackberries are passé?”

Dot’s obvious response, “What the hell is an IPhone?”

Dot really shouldn’t be surprised. Of course she brought her BlackBerry on sale.


24 July 2008

video

Re-pre-sen-ting!

22 July 2008

Got (a bit) pissed up on the weekend and decided to give my formerly lustrous locks a bit of a trim. It was going ok... till i decided to try get fancy and cut some layers into it, hacking a big chomp out of the left hand side. Oops.

Decided i'd better quit while i wasn't too far behind... brushed that bit over and put the scissors down.

A couple of cans later, we're almost ready to go out and i nip into the bathroom for a final look at my creation (myself). I've got this scarf on, and the long part of my hair is caught up under it with just the 'layers' framing my face. I call Schroeder in and ask if he thinks my hair would look nice in a bob.

He thinks so... i'm feeling stupid so i pull my hair back in a pony tail and let him chop it off. Check out my new wonky bob. Awesome!

An hour or so later and about 4 inches of 'straightening it up' we called it a day before i ended up looking like that kid. Dunno what i was thinking... i hate bobs more than mullets.

Anyway... more booze etc and i wake up on Sunday afternoon and realise...


*Wimper*


21 July 2008

I got into a fight yesterday.

It’s one of those ‘he said/she said’ stories. I know that in telling it I’ll probably end up conveying my own pettiness rather than any sense of the… the… injustice I face everyday in this world. However, I need to vent.

*

It happened at the launderette. It was a stinking hot day and I had a double load of stinkies that needed washing. It could not be delayed any longer. So I hefted my laundry-bag onto my back turtle-style and headed off to my not-so-beautiful launderette.

At the launderette I loaded up two washing machines but then realized I only had enough money and detergent for one load. So I set one machine in motion and jogged home to get some money. I grabbed a ten dollar note and returned, hot and stinky myself, to the launderette.

There is a lady who works at the launderette. It’s her job to clean the lint filters, put ‘Out of Order’ signs on the machines and make sure no one walks out of the place with a dryer. Although, all I’ve ever seen her do is read trashy magazines and chat to her twenty-something daughter who hangs out there. I shall call this lady Bleach.

I approached Bleach, waited for her to finish talking to her daughter, and asked her if she could give me ten single dollars in exchange for my single $10.

Bleach got out a THICK wad of singles from her pocket, looked at the money, and said to me, ‘No change.’

I thought we were having a problem with accent-translation so I repeated my request and pointed to the money in her hand.

The lady repeated, ‘No change.’

Her daughter added, ‘You gotta go upstairs for change. Upstairs!’

I assumed there must be a ‘no change’ policy in the launderette. This didn’t make much sense, but I tried a different approach instead, ‘Okay, can I buy a box of Tide then please?’

‘Oh, you want Tide?’ Bleach said like it was all a big misunderstanding, ‘Sure!’

As she went into the backroom to get the Tide another woman came into the launderette. Bleach came out of the backroom and gave me my Tide, and then turned to the new woman. This new woman said ‘hello’ and gave Bleach a twenty-dollar note. Bleach then proceeded to count out twenty single dollars in exchange for the single $20. Right in front of me!

When she was finished with the new woman Bleach turned to me and said, ‘Tide is 75cents.’

I slid my $10 note across the counter to her.

Bleach slid it back, ‘No change. The Tide only costs 75 cents.’

Her daughter jumped in again, ‘You have to go upstairs for change! It’s only 75 cents! Just go upstairs!’ She was acting like I was picking on her poor mama.

‘But you have change. I can see it!’ I felt totally confused and frustrated, and I know my voice was rising.

‘Just go upstairs!’ The daughter yelled at me.

I couldn’t believe I was being yelled out over this stupid issue. I was dumbstruck. I stared at the daughter for a moment, trying to find words to express how absurd I thought the situation was. I had no words.

I would have liked to huff out of the launderette, not giving them my business, never to return again. However, I already had a load of washing in the machine. I couldn’t abandon it.

‘Fine,’ I said as patronizingly as I could manage. I went upstairs to the Lenny’s Sandwich shop where the girl at the counter was more than happy to give me change. I asked for two $5 notes.

I went back downstairs to pay for my Tide and gave Bleach $5.

She looked REALLY pissed that I had come back with a $5 note rather than singles.

However, she got out her FAT WAD of money and counted me out my change.

At this stage I blew a New York fuse and pulled out some of the harshest language I’ll ever use on a stranger:

‘You have plenty of change. Look at it! Who is it for? Your friends? That’s just so ridiculous you made me go upstairs. Ridiculous! Ri-dic-u-LOUS!’

The daughter looked like she wanted to murder me, however she bit her tongue.

I went and put the rest of my washing in a machine, my hands were trembling. No further incidents occurred.

*

It seems to me people in New York like to yell. They yell at their friends, they yell at strangers, and crazies standing on street corners yell at the world. New York is a city full of fanatic neurotic quixotic people who, when you run into one, can really make life feel like an episode of Seinfeld. However, I’m not so big on public yelling and this episode has got me thinking. Should I be celebrating my first public yell as some sort of milestone towards New York assimilation? Or should I read it as an anti-social behavior that may actually be the symptom of a subliminal discontent I have with this city?

Dunno. I just wanted some change.

20 July 2008

Schroeder has spent the last hour or so making conversation with and old guy who ends up offering him enough tobacco to fill up his near empty packet... 'I know how it is to be hard up' he says to Schroeder, before going back inside to finish his game of pool. Columbo, Shroeder and i all look at each other in bewilderment as we feel like we've entered an alternate universe... a place where people talk to you, or offer to buy you a beer without the alterior motive of trying to sleep with you. What is this world we've stumbled upon?

It's our local pub, that's what. 'Anyway' says Schroeder... 'Who says we're hard up! Has he seen our flat? Has he seen the way we party?' Schroeder motions the way we party. Hmmm... guess that's the reason we're hard up. We're drinking in this pub on a Thursday night, which looks like a glorified toilet but a pint is £1.70 (as opposed to your usual £3.20) and we've met more characters in the last hour that the three of us have met in the last year.

I feel like i've stepped back into a bit of a time warp. Have i found the 'real' Manchester? A place where an accent is so thick you can barely understand it... where faces are haggard and hands are rough after a real days work. Where the people are gruff, money is tight, but the kindness is genuine. It really is a place where every one knows your name.

14 July 2008



Hopeless. And melodramatic. But…

I’m an idiot!

I’m an idiot!

Ah!

Ah!

Gah!


I applied for five jobs this week. It’s slow going as I’m still finding my voice with the job-application-wanker-lingo. My problem is: how to express in a one page letter how amazingly qualified I am while also being succinct with just a touch of spunk.

For example, when applying for jobs at galleries the job description always includes, ‘must be detail oriented’ or ‘have good attention to detail’. So I needed to find a way of saying that I was a touch anal without making it sound too… well, anal.

So I came up with this:

“I have a good eye for detail, and am the kind of person enjoys seeing a painting hung square.”

Did you catch it?

I certainly missed it for every one of the FIVE applications I copy and pasted that DAMN sentence into.

I left out the word WHO, eg, ‘Am the kind of person WHO enjoys seeing…’

The most tragic mistake ever.

So cruel!

So, to sum up. In the sentence in which I am bragging out how detail oriented I am… I leave out an entire word so that the stupid sentence reads like I’m Dottie from the Block:

‘I am the kind of person enjoys seeing a painting hung square, cause that shit is WHACK if it ain’t straight.’

11 July 2008

We live in a ground floor apartment that has four windows looking out into a small courtyard.

This courtyard is about 2 metres wide and four metres deep, it is essentially a concrete box however it does have a live tree growing in it and it does get natural sunlight. Unfortunately this courtyard does not belong to us. Our French neighbours have access to the courtyard and they love it. They sit on green plastic chairs, and eat bread and cheese, and talk very loudly about French politics (I overhear the word ‘Sarkozy’ a lot). I know this because when I stand at the kitchen sink they are literally one metre away from my face…

NB: See how little bench space we have? It's criminal.

The problem is Blane and I are in conflict over how to handle this situation. Blane says: Shut the window, close the curtains, don’t let them see into our apartment. I say: Open the window, open the curtains, let the neighbours see how close we are to them and maybe they'll go away.

So for the past week it’s been a game of open window-shut window in this household. This situation intensified last night when the neighbours had some friends over for courtyard drinks and I needed to go to the toilet. Our bathroom window is positioned right next to the neighbour’s backdoor.

Blane and I ended up in a lengthy, and at times heated, discussion over the best way for me to wee.

Blane said, ‘Shut window, close curtains, turn off light, DO NOT FLUSH. You must not let the neighbours realize you are weeing right next to their heads during their party. They will hate us forever and start being aggressive annoying.’

I said, ‘Leave window open, close curtains, turn on light, FLUSH. It’s a basic human right to be allowed to wee, I don’t care what the neighbours think. It’s our toilet.’

It was a ridiculous Elaine Vs Jerry argument. In the end we compromised and decided I would: Leave window open, close curtains, turn off light. NO FLUSH.

So I did my business and tried to be as quiet as possible. However, these American toilet bowls are just so wide and shallow. It’s impossible to hit the side! So some tinkle sound definitely floated out the window, and by the time I finished it was drop-dead quiet outside. Damn it. I flushed the toilet and suddenly everyone outside erupted into laughter.

They were laughing at me weeing!

I stood in the bathroom listening to their laughing feeling a bit miffed. What’s so funny about going to the toilet? Stupid French people.

However, I then heard a voice outside say clearly in English, ‘Maybe we go inside now!’

And they did. As they say in France: Flush et voila!

07 July 2008

I've made one Australian friend since being in Manchester, and she leaves this week to go travelling and then back home to her boyfriend in Wagga Wagga. I think that's fairly shit, but you can't control other people. I've really valued her friendship over the last 6 months - it's nice to have someone who you can mumble in their direction and they understand what you're saying and the words you use and stuff. She has been an absolute minimum effort friend, and i like it!

Anyway, last night we all went out for Aunty Em's leaving drinks and her twin sister and sister's boyfriend came from Sheffield for the occasion. I'm reluctant to call the sister and her boyfriend SERIOUS BOGANS, however, they were more occa than most, and when drunk the word yobbo does spring to mind for the sister's boyfriend. This didn't make them any less fun to go out with, and particularly the boyfriend who proceeded to get throughly wasted in one of the trendiest bars in Manchester bringing out his special brand of 'dance'.

Basically, he was kinda gyrating all over the place, which was fairly unremarkable, until i caught him doing what i call 'The Chop'. You know what i mean... That move that dudes sometimes do where they use both hands and kinda 'chop' around their... well, cock.

This is an example of the Single Chop. Sadly, i didn't manage to get a pic of the Double Chop.


Though i did get a pic of a girl version of 'The Chop'.


Not the same, is it? Anyway, it was a funny dance move, is all i'm saying... one i haven't seen in action in a loooooooong time.

That said, it was a fun old night... ending at about 9am this morning. We all woke up about 5.30pm and i was sent up to buy out the entire Servo for supplies.

Parted with SIXTEEN Great British Pounds for that load of absolute junk... that's THIRTY TWO AUSTRALIAN DOLLARS. Anyway.

05 July 2008

phase one of the job hunt:
spend hours looking through job listings identifying your 'ideal job'. having found FOUR jobs you MIGHT consider working then spend the next week composing application letters and tweaking resume.

phase two of the job hunt:
go back to job listings and be a little more realistic about the jobs you are suitable for. 'project manager'? try instead 'project assistant'. 'curator'? try instead 'unpaid intern who gets to fetch coffee for the curator'.

phase three of job hunt:
bulk applications. apply for anything and everything you can.

phase four of the job hunt:
depression/acceptance. the best and worst part of job hunting; while emotionally you hit an all time low, at the same time you really start to make the most of the unemployed lifestyle and enjoy those midday sleep-ins and afternoon lattes in the park. that is until and money runs out...

phase five:
temp work.


i'm currently only in phase one. however, i've done this so many times before i know where i'm going...