Tuesday, 30 April 2013

What would you say...money on the streets

What's the correct answer when a serial beggar approaches the people you're talking to and asks for money?  When the answer is "no", what's the next thing to say when the person says they can give you change for big notes?

The particular man I've thinking of is someone I come across at least twice a week in Melbourne's CBD.  I never know where he's going to cross my path.  If refused, he becomes aggressive.

If I wasn't paying attention I could easily give my money to anyone who asks.  I suppose there's nothing wrong with that until I discover that I can't pay my rent or I've given away all the GST I've collected for the government.

So what is the right answer when a beggar offers to give you change?

Monday, 29 April 2013

Commuter hell - brought to you by infrastructure upgrades

It wasn't a great day for travelling on Melbourne's trains today.  Works being done over the weekend to extend the regional rail network spilled over to make travel in Monday's morning and evening peaks quite unpleasant.

I was travelling before 7:30am today and I had to be very assertive to even board the train.  It was already very full around the doorways and I had to actually shout down the train to ask people to move into the aisles.  People don't seem to pay attention to the people around them.  We really need to work together on mornings like this.  I looked for something to hang onto and then realised I needn't worry; the crush of people would keep me upright.  My sheer pantyhose didn't stand a chance in the crush of people and bags and zips.

My subscription to peak hour alerts from Metro Trains kept text messages flowing to my phone throughout the morning.  As the afternoon drew to a close, I started to wonder whether I should just book a hotel room in the city for the night and not even bother trying to travel home.  As at 6:15pm today I received a total of 18 text messages telling me that the Williamstown train had been cancelled:  7:48am, 8:10am, 8:32am, 8:53am, 9:15am, 9:33am, 9:45am...4:12pm,4:32pm, 4:42pm, 5:06pm, 5:28pm, 5:50pm, 6:13pm, 6:35pm and 6:56pm. I think my phone would have melted if I subscribed to alerts throughout the day.

On arrival at Flinders Street today, it was a battle to get through the gates.  One of the myki readers at the Elizabeth Street Station did nothing as card after card was touched to its reader.  People hurtled down the stairs, blindly, hoping to find a train going somewhere.  Williamstown on the overhead screens was blank.  I took a punt on the Werribee line and hurled myself onto a train that was jam-packed as it left the first station on the route.  As I stood pressed into someone's neck, the text messages telling me yet another train had been cancelled, continued to flow.

The disruptions were even on the evening news.

A quick look at the Metro Trains website tells me that I have the same joyful experience to look forward to tomorrow too.

Any expansion to public transport infrastructure is welcome.  It's long overdue and so I suppose, more painful as the work is done.  I hope that in the long run these works will mean a real difference to the accessiblity of public transport.  If it's more accessible it should be more desirable...right?

My final word to Metro Trains is "turn the air conditioning up!".  When we're packed in like livestock, it doesn't matter that it's only 10 degrees Celsius outside; it's like an inferno when we're all packed together.

How did you travel today?

Sunday, 28 April 2013

My favourite things...this week.

Usually I write this post on a Friday, but after hours of work, driving to the airport in Sydney to return to Melbourne and then actually arriving home, I did not feel like sitting down to write.  So I didn't.   Having just finished my Business Activity Statement and a couple of other pieces of work for a client, I just want to step away from the desk, but I'll write this first.

One of my favourite things this week was an early text message on Saturday morning from my dear friend S. who now lives interstate.  She was in town and wondered if I would be free for coffee.  Would I?!  We had a delightful morning catching up on the news and just enjoying each other's company for a couple of hours before I headed off to my jazz vocal class and her 8 month old son became a bit cantankerous.  It reminds me that with good friends, no matter how much time has passed, each meeting takes place as though the last one happened only yesterday.

A particularly challenging project I've been managing for a client all came together this week.  We're producing mental health scenarios working with simulated patients and clinicians which are filmed in Melbourne and sent over the internet via web conference to NSW.  The technology has been touchy and the team wasn't very tech-savvy to begin with.  It's been a painful birth, but this week EVERYTHING worked.  I knew this moment would come, but I don't think my team did.  We really needed this moment!

I had a moment of observation where I consciously noticed myself embrace fear and leap in anyway.  I selected my first song (one of two) for the jazz vocal workshop.  I'd never heard it before and I loved it the moment I heard the lyrical melody.  When the words were revealed I couldn't resist.  As I took the stage to explore further, Bob Sedergreen told me this was a really challenging song with a lot of key changes.  "It's really difficult.  Are you sure?"  My response was, "Excellent!" For that I received a round of applause.  

My next favourite thing comes from that class too.  While I'm all open to experience whatever happens, I've noticed that that is not the mindset of the entire class.  There are a couple of people who are very worried about everything they don't know.  They want information NOW about things that will be revealed in due course.  Instead of relaxing and just being where we are, they become anxious.  Initially, I could feel myself pursing my lips and a little voice of judgement was seeping in: "They need to relax and just BE!"  Then I realised that this applied to me too.  We're all in different places and one of my lessons is to be cool with where other people are.

My fabulous day in Sydney on ANZAC Day was a highlight of the week.

Lastly, travelling home on the train yesterday afternoon I noticed a young man with the piano score for Percy Grainger's "Gumsuckers March" spread before him on his lap.  He was playing "air piano" so intently I could almost hear the music.
© divacultura 2013

What were your favourite things this week?

Thursday, 25 April 2013

Today - in pictures

I spent a wonderful ANZAC Day in Sydney.  Caught up with my dear friend John.  We realised we've known each other for twenty years! Here's the day in pictures.

Cliffs at Clovelly Beach
© divacultura 2013

Tanya and John - Clovelly
© divacultura 2013

View of Sydney city from Watson's Bay.
© divacultura 2013

Watson's Bay Beach.
© divacultura 2013
There's only one place to go for lunch - Doyle's for seafood lunch.
© divacultura 2013

© divacultura 2013
View from the table.  We finished lunch at around 4:30pm and had the place to ourselves
© divacultura 2013

Watson's Bay from Doyle's
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On the verandah after lunch
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Driving home over the Glebe Bridge - sun and moon
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Glebe Bridge
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The tables were decorated with rosemary for remembrance on ANZAC Day.
© divacultura 2013
Thanks John! Thank you Sydney! Thank you for the work that enabled me to be in Sydney.

Wednesday, 24 April 2013

Details - a good day

I ordered this for dinner this evening:  slow cooked Berkshire pork belly with sweet corn puree, smoked popcorn and Spanish chorizo foam.  It was perfect.

Luckily I no longer eat sugar because also on the menu was warm cinnamon doughnuts with Canadian maple syrup, King Island cream and pomegranate.

Here's where I was working today:

© divacultura 2013
It was lovely to wake up in a beautiful part of the world.  I forgive the appalling television reception and the fact that the downlighting in my hotel room might be stylish and moody, but it's impossible to put my make up on!

What did your world look like today?

Tuesday, 23 April 2013

Another epic journey - or where the hell is my credit card?

I've just arrived in Sydney.  By "just arrived" I mean I walked into my hotel room about an hour ago.  I arrived in Sydney two and a half hours earlier having left Melbourne 90 minutes before that. You see I had to hire a car and drive way out west.  In the dark.  It nearly was too - I couldn't find the headlights.  Every time I thought I had them the windscreen wipers would start or the boot would fly open.  Luckily I discovered these things before I pulled out of the (very snug) car space. I needed the navigation system just to find my way out of the car space.  It doesn't work without a "clear view of the sky", which is very hard to have when you're on the ground floor of a multi-storey carpark.  I trusted my instincts and followed the arrows.

I drove and drove and drove and drove and arrived at my hotel.  I went to provide my credit card for the customary credit card imprint and it wasn't in my wallet.  Clearly the trainee who did all the paperwork for the hire car still had it.  I gave it to him so that I was covered for tolls.  Surprisingly the woman who checked me in at the hotel offered to call the hire car company.  I let her.  We could find no one to answer the phone and resorted to calling the accident hotline.  I figured I could claim a lost credit card was an accident.  Luckily I wasn't bleeding by the side of the road, because we would probably be on hold until sometime next week.  The most worrying thing was they had my phone number and I had left them 90 minutes earlier and they hadn't called to say they had my credit card.  I called the bank.  It gave me something to do while I waited for room service and figured out how to fill the kettle.
© divacultura 2013

The bank was excellent.  They put a temporary stop on the card until I could speak to the car people tomorrow and see if they did have my card.  I started to worry that in a moment of ennui I had left the card in the car or in my handbag.  I checked both.  I hadn't.

Room service arrived surprisingly swiftly.  The waitress asked me how my day had been.  I told her.  She asked if she could get me anything else: a cup of tea? a martini? a cuddle?  She looked like she meant it.  If she had been six feet tall, laughing eyes, nicely muscled and a bloke - or George Clooney -  I would have accepted.

No sooner had I ripped the skin off my barramundi than my phone rang.  It was Terrence from the hire car company and he had my credit card.  He was very apologetic.  At least I know where it is and won't be worrying all night.  I don't have time.  I have to figure out a way to fill the kettle so I can make a cup of tea.  Should have taken up that offer.

© divacultura 2013

Monday, 22 April 2013

What driving taught me about how I think about other people.

As I drove around Melbourne today - in the rain - I contemplated how the behaviour of people on the roads completely changes in Melbourne if it rains.  Or if it's really hot.  Or cold.  Or windy.  It's bizarre.  I also thought about how I can be the best driver on the road, but that isn't the whole story. There is a bunch of other people also driving around.  The whole system relies on every single driver obeying the rules and doing their best with an intention to reach their destination safely.

I have an on again/ off again relationship with rules.  On one hand I've often been in positions where my role has been to enforce rules.   I was the senior boarder prefect at school.  I got my own room and a special pocket on my blazer so it was totally worth it.  I was a union official where my whole world revolved around negotiating rules and then ensuring that the rules were followed.  At one stage I was president and in charge of rules at meetings.  On the other hand, my creative nature sees me push the boundaries.  When problems arise I often pay no regard to the rules when I'm exploring potential solutions.

On the wall near my front door I have a message to myself which says in part: "Tear up their rules.  Run your own race."

As I've rearranged my life I find I'm more able to live in a way that is more aligned with my true nature.    But then I'm driving.  One of the things I had to do today was turn right at a set of traffic lights.  The traffic lights gave me a green arrow and I just turned right without even thinking.  As I straightened up, it occurred to me that I can only turn right on the green arrow safely because everyone else on the road was obeying their red lights.  While I'm driving I trust and expect that everyone is doing their best to follow the rules. I have to operate like this or I can't drive anywhere.

This experience today highlighted one of the things I often discuss with clients.  I hear many people talk about the problem people in their team or in their business in a negative way:  "they aren't motivated to do well", "they just turn up for the money", "they're not really there for the business."  When I hear these descriptions I have a conversation which finishes with a question.  "What would it mean for your relationship with that person if you accepted that they're trying to do their best?  What would happen if that was the lens you saw them through?"

I realised today that driving on the roads - especially in the city with lots of other people - is a living example of this idea.  The fundamental starting point needs to be that everyone is doing their best driving to get from A to B without incident.  JUST LIKE YOU.

Have you ever tried to drive where there's a back seat driver in the car?  I remember driving my grandparents around on the Gold Coast not  long after I got my first car.  My Grandfather was sitting in the back taking in the scenery.  My Granny was sitting beside me telling me everything I should be doing and not doing as I drove the car.  Within five minutes, I was a nervous wreck.  I remember pulling the car over and saying that I couldn't drive them safely with Granny critiquing everything I did. She needed to trust me that my intention was to get us all safely to where we were going. I was also in my new car which I didn't want to smash. I detected silent applause from my Grandfather in the back (we met eyes in the rear vision mirror) and Granny said nothing else for the entire trip.  She sat very upright, clutching her seatbelt, but she said nothing.  Being assertive was the best thing I could do for the safety of everyone in the car.

As you go out in the world what do you expect from people?  How do you see them?  Are you expecting and trusting them to do what's needed? or are you waiting for them to trip up?  Are you the back seat driver sucking the confidence out of people as you micro manage and second guess everything they do?

You can make a conscious decision to trust.  Try it next time you're driving.  Imagine how hard it would be to get around if you didn't trust others to obey the rules and do the right thing.  Then think about how you can change your view and focus on the things that can really help and empower the people around you.

Saturday, 20 April 2013

My first jazz vocal class.

Today I did something I've been wanting to do for a while.  I attended my first class in Bob Sedergreen's jazz vocal course.  Me and my nine classmates meet on a Saturday afternoon at the Paris Cat, a tiny jazz club in Melbourne and one of the things on today's agenda was for everyone to get up and sing.  

"That way you can say you've sung at the Paris Cat," quipped Bob.

Immediately I could feel everyone's energy shift inward as we wondered what on earth we should sing.  Bob would accompany us, we'd be on stage, lit, and singing on the microphone.  I was excited.  I decided I'd sing whatever came to mind.  Why not?

Bob is a very democratic teacher and he said that there were two halves to today's class: singing and going through the mission statement and things to pay attention to if we wished to improve our jazz singing.  It was up to us to choose what we did first and he took a vote.  I was the only person who voted to sing.  I was surprised - isn't that why we had all come?  Ah, but it was about the nerves and delaying the moment when the fear had to be faced.

When it came time to sing a woman was already on stage and  had had a go at improvising on a common chord progression.  She was invited to sing her song while she was up there.  So I went second.

"I've got you under my skin" was what came to mind and as I started to sing I knew that the key was way to low.  No problems!  Bob just took it up a notch and then I blossomed.  What a pleasure to sing with such a masterful accompanist!  We each received some feedback when we finished and I was thrilled with mine.  Bob said that apart from my voice (which he liked), he noticed my persona and presence on stage.  He said he felt happy as I took the stage and that I radiated a happy, positive energy which made him want to listen.  

I was very pleased to receive this feedback as I think that's what happens too.  It's great to have your own beliefs affirmed by someone outside.  I'm already excited about the final concert which is a Sunday night in July.  I'll remind you.

The class has nine women and one bloke and it's clear we're all at different levels of both musical and vocal experience.  I find this really exciting.  One woman who sounded like her first language might be French or Spanish, was terribly nervous when she sang "Cry me a River".  She forgot all the words and Bob had to prompt her, yet she sang that song like it really meant something and it was wonderful.  She conveyed fragility and sadness.  

I love working in a masterclass setting.  There is as much to learn from watching other performers as there is from working on your own stuff.  

As I got in the car, the CD started playing and it jarred.  It was the Deadstring Brothers, "Starving Winter Report" - think early Rolling Stones.  I love this album, but it was wrong for where my head was at.  I drove home to my own soundtrack, skipping from "Cry me a river" to "My funny valentine".  

Friday, 19 April 2013

My favourite things this week

Today I played the role of a woman whose partner has some kind of cardiac event before her very eyes, about four weeks after open heart surgery.  Luckily, I had the pleasure of working opposite a man with whom I work regularly and is a good friend.  We drove in together and started to play our characters from the moment we greeted each other.  We were asked several times during the course of the day whether we are partners in real life.  Other people who knew we weren't continually stated that we looked like a couple.  I'm constantly amazed by the power of acting and it's always fun to play scenes like this with a person you know.

Working out how to delete books from my Sony e-reader is a major achievement.  There are forums all over the internet and none of it made much sense.  I just started pressing buttons on the reader and it worked!  This is my standard approach to technology and it generally works.  A known issue with the reader is that it will sync multiple copies of each book from the software on the computer to the reader.    Apart from being annoying, it meant I actually ran out of space on the reader.

Related to that, I thought I had an SD card in my reader, but discovered that I only have a piece of grey plastic, shaped like an SD card.  One of my favourite moments!

The change of season from summer to autumn is finally happening.  We had rain, wind and cooler nights.  I even turned on my electric blanket last night before I went to bed - just to take the chill off the bed.  It's always fun to rediscover the rest of the wardrobe - all those gorgeous scarves I've knitted.  It also means I don't resent the days I have to wear a suit for work.

I recently discovered the band, Grace Potter and the Nocturnals.  I've been listening to the album all week on LOUD.  They're great!

This morning I didn't have to start work until 10:30am so I was able to sleep until after 8am!  Bliss after a series of 5:30am wake ups.

How was your week?

Thursday, 18 April 2013

Digitally unshackled and it feels good!

I recently received a message to tell me that I had recently exhausted my mobile data allocation for the month.  I needed to either purchase some more data or not use anything for the next four days or continue on as usual and receive an enormous bill from Vodafone.

I looked at spending a tiny amount of money to buy enough data to tide me over, but understanding the product was so complicated (worse than buying insurance or trying to understand superannuation) that I decided it was easier to switch off my mobile data for a few days.  (And by the way, when did buying data become a thing?)  I can still collect my email anytime I'm connected to the web.

It has been quite wonderful to be freed from email.  I run my business off my iphone and laptop, so being able to get email anywhere, anytime is pretty important, but I think I had forgotten what it feels like to be unshackled from my desk.  I think I have reached a point where I am at my desk even when I'm not at my desk.

It's amazing how quickly I have fallen out of the habit of email.  I don't want to look and don't really mind if I don't.  Not connecting to the internet makes me want to not connect to the internet.  It's very interesting.  Even sitting down to load up the blog site to write my daily post has taken on a different complexion.

My data allowance resets tomorrow, so it will be business as usual.  I think I'll turn off the mobile data on the weekends from now on.  It's been a refreshing experience.  Why not give it a go?  If you do - let me know?

Tuesday, 16 April 2013

On my mind - from language to skinny jeans and Ricky Martin

Language is one of my favourite things in the world.   I love the sound of words.  I love the feel of words - mellifluous - how good does "mellifluous" feel in your mouth as you say it? I pay close attention to the words people choose and how they express themselves.  I pay close attention when I choose words and focus on clarity whether I'm speaking or writing.

"Mellifluous" is one of those words that feels and sounds like what it is.  It means "sweetly or smoothly flowing".  Yes!  I really love the way the word itself embodies its own meaning.

This is what I notice about language.

I'm thinking about this because I recently experienced examples of incongruence. I'm noticing it more and more when I'm facilitating and coaching others to achieve their goals.  Consider: "Um, I think I want to try and be more passionate?"  (The question mark is deliberate.)  This sentence was delivered with an apologetic facial expression and a shrug of the shoulders.

I hear the words and am struck by the lack of conviction, the lack of passion in that statement of intent.

I know that it's unclear whether thought follows action or action follows thought, but I'm a firm believer in starting today.  If your intention is to be passionate and convey that passion to other people, why not start right now?

Imagine the difference if the statement was "I want to share my passion for Icelandic needlecraft with the world!"; or "I'm passionate about introducing others to the delights of 14th century church music!"
(The exclamation mark at the end of these sentences is deliberate.)  I may not have the slightest interest in Icelandic needlecraft or 14th century church music but if you sound like it's exciting when you tell me about it it's likely your energy and enthusiasm will spark a curiosity in me.

These moments of linguistic incongruence leave me wondering; puzzled more than curious.


I discovered today that one of the ingredients listed on my favourite cheese is "cheese flavour".

It's a recent addition.

I am in search of a new favourite cheese.


"The Voice" is back on TV.

I love that show.  I am repeating last year's performance, spending most of the blind auditions in tears.  I'm not even on the show.

And I look at Ricky Martin and can't believe how handsome he is.  Really.  He is linguistically congruent.  I'm sure.  And mellifluous.

It's really hard to top up your myki when the lights are out at the station and it's after sunset.

I hope I topped up my myki and it's not a repeat episode of the time I tried to get into Flinders Street station by touching on with my Boost Juice loyalty card.  (They're a similar colour.  I was confused.)

Every time I have a shower, there is water on the floor at the other end of the bathroom that wasn't there before I had a shower.  I can not find its source.  I may be going crazy.

I ponder the conversation with the real estate agent as I explain the problem.


Skinny jeans must be so hard to wear if you need to do anything other than stand in the one spot.  Once you're in them how do you bend your legs even to walk?  More importantly, what colour are your legs when you take them off?


I've reached my monthly data allowance on my mobile phone.  Anxiety accompanies this knowledge.  I don't know what to do or how it happened.  Will my life ever be the same again?

Monday, 15 April 2013

You know there's a problem when...

It took me over an hour to get home tonight.  The journey usually takes no more than 15 minutes, so now, I'm all behind schedule.

Not long after I had boarded the train, the doors closed and the train driver announced that he had been advised not to move the train until further notice.  You could hear his curiosity come through in his voice.

About ten minutes later, his voice came through the public address system again and said that there was a point problem at South Kensington.  He was sorry he couldn't tell us any more than that.  He promised to tell us more as soon as he knew more.

Outside the train, there was an announcement being made to the platform.  Words like "suspended" and "until further notice" bled through into the train.

At about the 25 minute mark we heard from our driver again.  He said he didn't know what to think.  The platform announcements he could hear were different from what he was being told directly.  "So now I don't know what to tell you.  I think you should do whatever you want."

Titters of frustration rippled through the train carriage.

I've noticed that the most honest statements on public transport are made by the drivers.

High speed rail from Melbourne to Canberra to Sydney to Brisbane?  An interesting idea.  I'd like some reliable rail in the Melbourne metropolitan area that isn't so over-crowded that  I have to travel with my nose pressed into a stranger's armpit (or worse)!

Were you late today?

Friday, 12 April 2013

My favourite things...this week

It's been a bit of a strange week.  Not a week that I've been in love with.  All the more reason to take the time to acknowledge the good bits.

1.  I had the best sleep of all time at the Novotel at Homebush in Sydney on Monday night.  I was exhausted, but that doesn't always guarantee a good sleep in a hotel.  That bed was heavenly.  The curtains didn't let in even a chink of light and I woke up in the morning wondering where the hell I was.

2.  Work on a difficult professional relationship culminated with a request for a hug.  Magic. Relief.

3.  I tried on a dress and discovered that I have dropped a dress size.  All thanks to quitting sugar!  It's both the hardest and the easiest thing to do.

4. I received a glowing probation report in relation to a project I've been leading.  I knew I had been doing good work but it's still great to see it in writing and have the conversation.

5.  I enrolled in Bob Sedergreen's jazz vocal course.  My Saturdays are free now so there's an opportunity, but I also want to tease out my inner jazz diva.  Stay tuned.

6. Going out to see comedy on a school night!  "Hot Box" on Wednesday and "Prick - the Musical" coming up on Sunday night.

7.  Hearing good news on the work front for a good friend of mine.  It's so good to share those moments with people who matter.

What was good for you this week?

Thursday, 11 April 2013

Have you seen the Hot Box yet?

If you're in Melbourne and have a pulse, you need to see Karin Danger's show "Hot Box" which is playing as part of the Melbourne International Comedy Festival.    I don't say this lightly.

Karin is an incredibly talented comic performer.  She's funny and intelligent and sings the hell out of the songs.  Did I mention that she also wrote them?

I loved her song about the morning after blues.  Not once does she actually talk about what happened the night before and with references to "an Argentinian passport torn up in my bin" one can only wonder.  It's hilarious and well delivered.  Look out for the cracker Brownlow joke early in the show too.

Apart from the jokes, Karin has something to say and she puts herself on the line to say it.  Whether you agree with her message or not, I think the idea of doing this is something to be encouraged.

The show made me happy.  I delighted in every aspect of the show.  It's great to see a young talented woman making art like this so I just really want lots of people to be happy too.

"Hot Box" is playing until 21 April at the gorgeously kitsch (and now city-based) Butterfly Club which is worth a visit too.

Tuesday, 9 April 2013

Where to look when your driver answers a call of nature.

My regular cab driver sent a back up to pick me up on Monday morning.  I was heading interstate for work again and needed to meet a colleague for breakfast at 7am before our 8am flight.  With the end of daylight savings, I had been awake long before my 5:45am alarm, so I was waiting out the front when the cab pulled up on time at 6:30am.

Traffic was flowing pretty easily until we were about 15 minutes from the airport and then we slowed to a crawl.  I would be about 15 minutes late for the meeting with my colleague but as I had no checked baggage I was relaxed about the flight.

As we neared the airport my driver asked me whether I wanted to be dropped off upstairs at the departures terminal or downstairs at arrivals.  When I saw the carpark going up the ramp to the departures hall, knowing I would have to travel all the way to the end of the road, I was pleased I had opted to go downstairs.

About three minutes from drop off something unusual happened.  The driver turned to me in the back seat and said he just needed to pull over for one minute.  I heard something beeping in the car and thought perhaps he needed to switch the car's fuel sources or something.  Given I was so close to my destination my face must have conveyed a quizzical feeling.  "Is that okay?" he asked me.

"Is everything all right?" I asked.

"I just need to pull over for one minute. Is that okay?"

"What's the problem? Can it wait until after you've dropped me off?"  We were in heavy traffic on a freeway and I wasn't clear about how or where pulling over would be achieved.

"Just one minute.  Okay?"

I decided to be more direct.  "What's the problem?"


"I am busting for a wee. Is that okay?"

How to answer that question.

"Okay with you?" he prompted.

"Mate, I don't think I have much say in it and I don't think my approval is the main consideration."

"Is that okay?"

"Off you go."  Why was I suddenly in the role of primary school teacher?

I averted my eyes.  (It's not clear to me what the etiquette is in this situation, but instincts told me not to look anywhere.)  I stared at the dashboard and noticed that the metre was still running.  Getting paid to take a whizz is a pretty good lurk, especially in this situation.

As he got back in the car, he averted his eyes, but was in a chatty mood.

"Sorry about that.  I hope it's okay with you.  The traffic is very heavy and has taken a lot longer and I just couldn't hang on any longer."

I don't want to talk about it now!  Stop!

Two minutes later I was  greeting my colleague.  It must have been bad that he couldn't hang on for a couple more minutes.  I really don't want to bond with my taxi driver in that way.  Especially first thing on Monday morning.  I suppose it could have been worse.  He could have had a bottle and just gone where he sat.  Where does one look then? How do you listen to something else...? Perhaps I should write a modern etiquette book.

What's the most unusual or annoying thing you've encountered in a taxi?

Monday, 8 April 2013

Kid fix

Maybe you've noticed that I've been away from the blog.  I had a little break over Easter and it felt good to go offline for most of that time.  So I did.

I spent some quality time with nieces and a nephew: baking cup cakes filled with tiny Easter eggs with a seven year old girly-girl who is also a super organised perfectionist was great fun;  throwing a frisbee with a nine year old tom boy as she stood dangerously - and nonchalantly - close to the septic tank; hearing about my 10 year old nephew's sporting and academic achievements.

My brother and I were entertained in the evenings with shows produced by the children - a medley of fairytales brought erratically to life was entertaining, surprising and better than anything on television.

I marvelled at the technological facility displayed by the children as I received facetime requests from their ipods.  I laughed that they failed to understand the superfluous-ness...(superfluity? unnecessariness?) of communicating electronically when we were sitting in the same house.  A sign of the future perhaps.

I laughed my head off as I heard my brother issue this instruction: "No running on the couch!" Hilarious!

It was my first sugar-free Easter.  I did well, having removed sugar from my life months ago.  It's not even a question for me anymore.  I actually requested that the Easter Bunny not pay me a visit.  (This was a big relief to my younger niece who was concerned the Bunny would be confused by the fact that I was sleeping in her room.  She was deeply relieved when I advised her that if the Bunny delivered the eggs to me I would, in turn, pass them to her untouched.)  I had cream in my coffee as a special treat instead.

I left my brother's house equipped with a big tray of home made lasagne which lasted, miraculously, almost a week.

Arriving back in Melbourne and taking off again for Sydney, I pondered the purpose of muzak in car parks.  Why?