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Authors: Chrissie Swan

Is It Just Me?

BOOK: Is It Just Me?
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Published by Nero,

an imprint of Schwartz Media Pty Ltd

37–39 Langridge Street

Collingwood Vic 3066 Australia

email: [email protected]

http://www.blackincbooks.com

 

Copyright © Chrissie Swan 2013

Chrissie Swan asserts her right to be known as the author of this work.

 

All of these columns were previously published in
Sunday Life
.

 

ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form by any means electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise without the prior consent of the publishers.

 

National Library of Australia Cataloguing-in-Publication entry:

Swan, Chrissie, author.

Is it just me? : confessions of an over-sharer / Chrissie Swan.

ISBN for eBook edition: 9781922231284

ISBN for print edition: 9781863956314 (paperback)

Newspapers--Sections, columns, etc. Australian wit and humour--21st century. Also Titled: Sunday Life (Melbourne, Vic.)

070.4082

Contents

Introduction

Relight my fire

I kissed a Chiko Roll and I liked it

Friends these days

Logies vs Lego

Not the loneliest number

The other woman

I need help

Road trip

Work for that dream job

Weighing up children

A very adult toy story

Cold-weather warmers

Clowning around for a good cause

Self-appointed experts

Super 8 memories

Reverse bucket list

Unmarried and proud

Crafty plans

Obeying your gut feeling

Gym evasion

Uncomplicated men

We can meet heroes

Crap dates and motorbike loans

“Having it all”

Too much information

Grand illusions

Learning to lie

A comeback for all insults

The kindness of strangers

Raising boys

Letters to your younger self

Naughty schoolgirl

The M-word

What DO women want?

Taking stock of the kitchen cupboards

The mistakes of Christmas past

The best of summer

Packing essentials

Living the Christmas dream

We are family

Culture shock

Going crackers for weight loss

The sexist “mummy” label

Finding the one

Baby talk

Rubbed the wrong way

Turning Forty

Acknowledgements

 

For Christopher, Leo, Kit & Peg.

You are the stars in my sky.

Introduction

Hello and welcome to my very first book. You are smart and have wonderful taste in literature. I always liked that about you. Before I got into radio and TV I was a copywriter, which means I wrote things for advertising. I once worked with another copywriter who, on the sly, wrote proper things. He won an award for his works of fiction and my boss at the time sent around a group email lauding him for his achievements and recognition of what even he called “proper writing”. The real stuff. At the agency, we loved our jobs for the grooviness and endless hilarity, but ad writing always seemed like fast food while non-fiction was like a filet mignon … So please, dear reader, herewith find my attempt at the perfect steak. We copywriters always aspired to one day be responsible for something available in bookstores that wasn't just the catalogue so I have to admit I am proud of this little volume. I have signed a copy for myself, walked to a mirror and told myself, blushing, what a huge fan of me I was.

I am writing this to you from a table in Bali. It is the first time I have been on holiday with my three kids and partner and I have to tell you, if you are considering such a journey, that plane travel with three kids under five may well be the seventh portal of hell. I can't be sure but, yes, I think it might well be. I was supposed to write this piece two weeks ago, but between trying to get enough clothing for a family of five into one suitcase and sourcing the correct Skylanders rash vest for my four-year-old, time got away from me. So here I am. I dropped the aforementioned four-year-old in the hotel's Kids Club this morning, and when I say dropped I mean bribed and dragged. What happened to, “All kids love Kids Club”? It's a lie, that's what. My four-year-old tried it for an hour and then told me, “Why am I in there? I'm part of this holiday too, you know.” So this morning I had to coax him into the big bright room heaving with happy staff and toys and paints with the promise of a Paddle Pop later on. Where I will find a Paddle Pop on this island of Bintang and braids I will never know but I'll deal with that later … wish me luck.

When I was approached to write this weekly column I was delirious. I adored being consumed by people on Sunday morn­ing in what I imagined was my natural habitat – surrounded by morning coffee and ruffled beds. It was sublime. I had grown used to people seeing me at the supermarket and saying they knew my work on radio and TV but there was something really super about being recognised for my writing. It made me feel so smart! I was a bit up myself about the whole thing. Mainly, that I had pulled it off and people were actually reading it. This column quickly became the favourite feather in my cap. I was very quick to update my Twitter bio to include “columnist”, if you know what I mean. But by the time the first year was up I was about to give birth to my third child, a baby girl named Peggy, and I had never felt older or more tired. I felt like one of those Italian miracle mothers who conceive at sixty-five. I was shuffling around like my pelvis was made of balsa wood and I couldn't bear to look at my diary. My friend had recently introduced me to an app on my phone which beeped every time I had to be somewhere … the obstetrician, a radio planning session, a TV production meeting, a flight interstate to film my TV show, an orientation day for a kindergarten, and every time it clanged I wanted to cry/throw it against the wall/make another cup of coffee. Needless to say, I drank a lot of coffee. But something had to give so I made the grown-up decision of stepping away from the column for a while. My dad always told me to quit while I was ahead. But he also said, “Make hay while the sun shines,” so I'm pretty sure he was put on this earth to vex and confuse me with philosophical sayings. Besides, with two radio shows, a prime-time TV show, a column and three little kids (none at school yet), I figured I'd gathered enough bloody hay, thank you very much. As if I wasn't busy enough I decided to sell the family home and move into another one as well. Easy on the hay now, lady. Step away from the hay for Chrissakes. YOU HAVE ENOUGH HAY.

It was, as you can imagine, a very busy time. But I always found an hour or so to sneak away and write these columns every week. My mum would watch the kids and I would haul my not unsubstantial bottom across a local park, plop myself under the tree and start writing. If these pages were scratch-and-sniff they would smell of grass clippings and sunshine and the occasional surprise sprinkler. I have loved sharing my bits and pieces with you. And if you have only read a few before, or if you haven't read any of them at all, here they are. The one about never having nookie, the one about kangaroo tail stew, the one about my great regret about not being born Greek, the one about my fabulous sisters … And even a few that got me into all sorts of trouble in the press, inspiring people to be cruel and sending me to a car wash to weep uncontrollably in private. They're all here. Rightly or wrongly. Because surely, I can't be the only one asking … is it just me?

Relight my fire

I can count on one hand the number of times I've slept with my partner in the past six months. Let's be honest, I can count on three fingers. This isn't good enough but I just don't feel like it. I have a seven-month-old, a three-year-old and several jobs and, frankly, I'm busy. But lots of people have kids and jobs and the world continues to get populated. What's wrong with me?

Lately, I have even been known to actively avoid a dalliance. I confess I have perfected the exact breathing pattern that gives my fella the idea I'm already asleep when he comes a-callin'. I learnt this method from that scene in
Ferris Bueller's Day Off
where Ferris tricks his mum into thinking he's still in bed by using an elaborate sound recording of snores and splutters, when actually he's on a float in town singing “Twist and Shout”. See? Who said Matthew Broderick never taught us anything?

I never thought this would be me. Five years ago our lerve was as fresh as a pack of hot cross buns. Steamy. I'd kiss my partner at every red light. I remember the first time he held my hand. I'd broken a pair of thongs and as we crossed a road he slipped his big man-paw into mine and the world stopped. Truth be told, it still stops when he holds my hand today. But it's always so brief because mine has to fly out within ten seconds to catch a runaway stroller/mouthful of organic rice cereal/Buzz Lightyear hurtling from hands of three-year-old towards temple of baby.

Last week I caught up with a girlfriend who's also lacking a bit in the fornication stakes. She'd read about a thirty-day challenge where couples pledge to make sweet love every day for a month. She and her husband had given it a go despite having five-year-old twins and a nine-year-old, and only made it to day seventeen. She seemed deflated by her failure until I confessed that what her husband had got in just over two weeks was what my man could expect over a period of three years.

And so we decided over two flat whites and a Portuguese tart that I'd have a crack, too. So I started Operation Common-Law Wife Duty Fulfilment. The first night, I had a shower, squirted on some aromatics and loitered with intent. This involved laying myself out on our bed, Barbara Cartland-style, in a new nightie I got from Myer in a “30 per cent off already reduced red-ticketed items” sale. In the end it cost me $7.13, so I was lusty AND thrifty. A potent combination. Truthfully, it was quite nice to be boudoir-ready before the onset of what I like to call the “zombie zone”. That's the time of the evening when I'm sitting slack-jawed on the sofa, with my head rolled back, begging my boyfriend to drag me up the hallway on a blanket, like a removalist with a piano.

So we're in bed. Smelling like a mistress from the '80s and wearing a shop-soiled size-20 negligee. The first thing he does when he joins me is chuckle a bit under his breath. I ask him, “Ummm … why are you laughing? Can't you see I've gone to the effort of coming to bed tonight theme-dressed as Sally Spectra [from
The Bold and the Beautiful
]?”

“No,” he says. “I just had a flash of you today when that bird flew into the kitchen and that sound you made.” Earlier that day, an Indian myna had maliciously hopped in through an open window and flapped about the kitchen. I have a terrible phobia about birds. The following five minutes involved me waving a broomstick, calling for my kids to run and hide and yelling at my man to stop convulsing with laughter and help me.

So, despite my efforts on night number one of Operation Common-Law Wife Duty Fulfilment, it turned out that both of us, by the light of our charging iPhones, laughed so hard we woke the baby. On night number two we guffawed about our three-year-old's obsession with the fold-out sofa he calls his nest. On night number three I had to tell him to stop talking about the time he was cornered by an acquaintance at a cafe and had a whole conversation with a cappuccino dripping off his beard. And so on.

I realised that going to bed early had given us these top-shelf moments. We could never have done this five years ago, because we hadn't done the time. To be physical together is lovely and necessary (and I've taken care of that, if you know what I mean) but the practice of getting into bed before we're written off for the day had given us the opportunity for what I realised is real intimacy. I had to take the exact steps we took when we first met all those years ago. We talked. Then we laughed. Then we got it on.

So my advice is, sure, get all Barbara Cartland with your perfume and saucy outfits, but don't jump straight to the end of the book – because all the good stuff is in chapter one.

 

25th March 2012

BOOK: Is It Just Me?
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