Friday, December 24, 2010

How to make Christmas a Competition. And win.

Would you describe your Christmas last week as Pleasant? Nice? Cruisy? Did it seem to sneak up and you and was all over in a jiffy?

This guide will demolish such weak adjectives from your vocabulary and prepare you for a more hardcore Christmas experience next year.

You can follow my simple steps with complete assurance that you too can become a grade A Christmas Freak.

Step 1: Embrace the Joy Phase

The Joy phase is essential to ensuring a seemless transition into a manical Festive Season.

Around about November 6th, stop trying to fight all the subtle messages sent to you by the media over the last month. Guy Fawkes is over - there is absolutely no excuse for not throwing yourself wholeheartedly at Christmas.

Carols are playing, and the Spotlight store is telling you to begin making Christmas Crafts because the festive season isn't busy enough.

At one point in your un-Christmassy past, this might have annoyed you. But you will not be annoyed. Why? Because you don't want a watered down pansy Christmas. You want extreme Christmas as it should be. Are you a quitter? Do you want to lose? Then make the Christmas Crafts! Spend money on cardboard and frilly stickers and if possible, cancel some appointments or take a day off work to make cards for your loved ones, and even ones who you don't love. Don't bother writing meaningful messages in each one. The goal is quantity, not quality.

Spend as much time as possible in Farmers. Stand under a speaker and close your eyes so you can take in all the magic of Christmas Carols on repeat. Remind youself they are made of the same stuff as cosy glowing fireplace scenes and hot chocolate and pink fluff.

Do not under any circumstances try to avoid this step. Listen to the carols with their vague and confusing messages until you have fallen madly for the Perfect Christmas and become one with the ambience.
Fig 1.1 Fighting repulsion and confusion? Don't. Embrace them.

Step 2: Enter the Determination Phase

This is where you sell your soul to the Christmas Spirit and diligently make lists of gifts for all your 40 relatives and buy all the Christmas shopping on behalf of whoever usually does it. Can you trust them to do it? No. You cannot. You must do it ALL yourself. That's the golden rule.

View this phase as a fantastic opportunity to browse the kid's toys section of K-mart where all the cool stuff hides like Sylvanian Families and Dino-Eggs. Not buying for any kids? Got a second cousin twice removed who in under 13? Does someone on your street have a kid? Yes? Buy gifts for them. You have to. Or Christmas is ruined. And don't forget the golden rule.

Fig 1.2 Get thoroughly bent on creating something perfect and downright magical, on your own, for everyone.

This phase should take place at the start of December.
You should also spend this time building a sun deck, a BBQ area, and maybe a pool. Inside the house, your bathroom is a bit naff so install a new one. Do you want your guests to stay in sub-standard conditions? No you do not. It must be perfect hotel quality. And you must invite at least 9 people to stay at your house and pre-freeze all your dinners for everyone. You can store them in the second freezer you just bought.

Oh and make ice. Everyone likes ice in their drinks. But only use novelty ice-cubes - you know, vampire teeth, robots, snowmen shapes - that sort of thing. Normal ice is for sissies.

Step 3: Overcoming the Panic Phase

The panic phase will probably hit sometime after you have spent all your money on gifts for people you barely know and spent hours baking Christmas cakes and renovating your home for guests. They are probably not going to get your anything.

It's best for me to prepare you for this phase because if you let it bring you down, you will probably stop your insane pilgrimage for the Perfect Christmas. You might start to feel that you shouldn't be slaving to get gifts for people who will get you nothing. You might feel that making homemade chocolates to put on your guests pillows is unecessary.

It's important to be armed with realistic facts to help get your through. Remember, your goal is not a mediocre, weak, baby Christmas. You are going to get the real thing!

Fig 1.3 Why must you do it ALL yourself? Because everyone else is incompetent and they don't understand you. Face it like a man.

Step 4: Getting your Competitve Edge.

Don't let the fact that no-one cares about you or Christmas bring you down. In fact, you can use this successfully to your advantage.

The key is a Survivor Spirit. How do you survive? By getting fierce and dangerous. It doesn't matter that you have no money left and you aren't sleeping at night. Life is tough. You're a soldier and you will deal with it.

Foster a survivor spirit by thinking about how intense your Christmas is going to be compared to everyone else's stupid relaxed holiday. It will be the most Christmassy Christmas ever and failing is not an option.

Fig 1.4 I will win.

Step 5: The Big Event

25th December

Attack Christmas with the swiftness of a true Christmas Freak. Get up at 6am to get the Ham on it's timer.

Visit at least 3 relatives and have a meal, present-opening and Christmas carols at each place.

Play with screaming babies.

Vaccuum. Again.

Invite 24 people for dinner. Make sure you hire tables that can't quite fit in your dining room.

Encourage people to leave their wrapping paper on the floor once they have ripped it off the gifts you spent hours wrapping. It will give you something to do later.

Step 6: The Anti-Climax

You will feel utterly exhausted. You might start saying things like, "I'm all Christmassed out" or "That was too much Christmas. I don't really feel the need to do Christmas next year."

This is completely normal. Whatever you do, don't have a nap!

By vehemently denying your stress levels you may be able to maintain enough trauma that your brain will block out any unpleasant memories, so that - here's hoping - you can go through it all again next year!

Happy next-Christmas everyone!

Sunday, December 19, 2010

What your Dad really wants for Christmas - top 3

He was lying. Your Dad actually does want something this Christmas.
I find that most men are hiding beneath a layer of "well I suppose my socks are a bit worn out" and "I guess I did lose a few hankies a while back" because they are ashamed of the truth.

Men, you need not lie anymore, I know your secrets and it's finally out. Here's what you really want for Christmas! Your children don't need to be tortured anymore with gift-buying agony.

1. Something with buttons. Men like pressing them and that's a scientific fact. It doesn't really matter what the buttons are on.
Elevators are a rich source of buttons , If you can't afford to install one, many parking buildings offer lift-riding free of charge.

2. Toilet humour. Deep down, every man wants to spit in the face of society's strange cover-ups and just talk openly about poop. What was yours like? What was mine like? Rating out of 10? A calendar featuring the different genres will go down well and will last him a whole year.

A homemade calendar is an easy way to say "I love you" and "it's O.K"

With just a little bit of effort you can change your old man from this......

to this:

3. Something that no-one else has. You may have to get inventive, but everyone wants something that is the envy of all their friends. Something 100% original and very rare. Men don't really dig diamonds, but they do like fishing, and pretty ladies.

Try sourcing a real live mermaid

With these simple tips the age old question of what to get your dad is destroyed! He will love you.

Happy buying everyone!

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Pediaphobia is real.

I don't often tell people that I have a chronic fear of dolls. That's partly because they will find it funny and chase me with them, and partly because it seems so normal to me. Of course I'm scared of dolls. Aren't you? No? Really? What about mannequins and statues? Surely? No? Crap.
People ask me "Did you have a bad experience with a doll as a child?"

The answer is no. I didn't go near dolls as a child. I didn't have any dolls. I think I've literally been scared of them since I was born.

And after 22 years of doll-fearing life on planet earth I was alerted to some info about pediaphobia. At last I have a name to put to my fear. And it's actually a phobia which is much more official and slightly less pansy-ish than just plain fear.

Pediaphobia basically means you have a fear of things that represent a human life-form, but aren't human. Interestingly it can also include fear of children... not sure how that works.

On the topic of pediaphobia, I read this:
Many parents want their children, especially little girls, to love dolls. They may become distressed if their child screams or cries when a doll is presented.

It reminded me of several painful memories. Allow me to share.

Situation One

It was my 5th Birthday, and we lived in Ireland. My best friend came around to my house even tho she lived about an hour away which was a long trip and I was very excited. Our mothers were talking downstairs by the front door when my friend came running up the stairs to me and handed over the birthday present, all wrapped up.

She was all beaming and shiny eyed and clearly pleased with herself.

I unwrapped the red paper and this is what I saw.

If you are having trouble seeing this as scary, then I guess you don't have pediaphobia. My heart was pounding when I drew this picture.

Naturally I screamed. I mean I really really screamed. I felt like I had been electrocuted with fear and panic and the doll was going to get me any second. The only option was to hurl the doll with its floppy rag arms down the stairs. It landed with a sickening thump at the feet of my best friend's mother.

That was when I shrieked "I HATE DOLLS!!" by way of explanation.

My mum was mortified. Her mum was mortified. My friend was in tears.

I was just glad to have survived.

Situation Two

I went to stay the night at my cousin's house in Wellington. Oh man I could not wait! We were going to stay up late and have midnight feasts from the lollies we had been saving up all week and make fluro 'icing' to put on winebiscuits. We were going to build forts and horror-houses and play shops and ride bikes around the yard and watch Star Wars and eat junk food.

At bedtime my favourite cousin was on the top bunk and I was on the bottom bunk. I think we had finished most of our midnight feast and were about to go to sleep.

That was when I noticed a strange shape looming in the darkness over my bed. I couldn't quite figure out what it was. It was moving very slowly closer and closer down towards me.

Then I heard a giggle from the top bunk and realised with sheer terror and panic what I was seeing:

Yep, my nasty cousin was lowering an ancient china doll down over my bed! It's face was mutilated and I'm pretty sure it was wearing an old lacey nightgown. It must have been at least 80 years old. A dead baby who is 80 years old. How can that not be repulsive?

My cousin totally had the advantage being in the top bunk. I knew I should have fought her for it.

Situation 3

I was probably about 8 years old when my aunty gave me a barbie for my birthday that she posted to my house. She actually called me up later that day to ask if I liked dolls and was the present ok?

I was a shockingly contientious and polite child and I actually heard myself say "Um, Yep, I like dolls."

I think I may have even lied and said that I had some barbie dolls already. I didn't want to hurt her feelings!

I actually managed to get the doll out of the box and since I had just breached a moral barrier to say that the present was very nice thank you very much, I made myself attempt to play with it.

It took me a long time to figure out what to do with it. A barbie doesnt do much. I had a truckload of stuffed animals that I could cuddle and they were all friends with each other so they didn't need much entertaining except I had to make sure to kiss them all before bed so that none of them felt left out.
But I didn't know what to do about this strange stick-like lady-visitor. I was pretty sure she didn't have any feelings.

If she did have feelings, they were probably evil ones. She was probably plotting to kill me. I caught her looking at me a lot.

I started keeping barbie in a box under my bed and before I went to bed at night I would check to make sure she hadn't got out of the box. Sometimes I would wake up in the night fearful and have to turn the light on to check she wasn't creeping up under my duvet with her creepy little scratchy hands.

Eventually I figured out that there was one fun thing about barbie - she had clothes. I liked clothes. And I like making families. What if barbie had kids? She would be happier and less likely to crawl into my mouth and choke me while I slept.

I saved up my pocket money and bought her a son and a daughter. They weren't as scary as barbie except when you squeezed their heads and then the heads deflated and took ages to go back to their normal shape.

Obviously, I was not the one squeezing their heads, but I had friends who liked to.

Which leads me to the other perk about barbie was that everyone had barbies. Barbies suddenly because crucial to my social life. What would my friends play with if I had no barbies? They wouldn't want to come round to my house anymore! So I made sure I had a handful of barbies.

But as soon as my friends left to go home, I would perform the hasty ritual of putting the barbies back in the box, without touching their heads, and making sure they were all face down. Then I would close the box tightly and shove it back under the bed.

The worst part was when a friend was like "Can you find the pink shoe?" and I'd say "it's in the box somewhere" and then I'd be forced to rumage through the box trying to find it.

When I say "rumage" I mean gingerly pick around, because I didn't want to accidentally touch one of their heads which were punctured with tufts of synthetic hair. Usually I had to tip all the barbies out of the box so that I could look through the accesories without my gag-reflex being activated.

The other worst part was when my friends wanted to eat snacks and play barbies at the same time.

"Lets eat somewhere else" I'd say

"No lets just eat here! Then we don't need to stop playing!"

So I would pretend everything was A-Okay, and we would sit in my room with a plate of crackers. I would take one obligatory nibble and then be unable to swallow, and the cracker would get left on the carpet or on my bed. I couldn't eat with those dolls. And if I did go to the kitchen to eat, I felt the need to wash the uncleanness off my hands.

Anyway, the only time the barbies really came out was when friends were around.

A year later I was cleaning my room (which by then I was sharing with my 4 year old brother) and as I reached under the bed for stray objects I saw my barbies legs and thought, that's wierd, I don't remember leaving her there.

So I reached in to carefully pull her out and my heart skipped a panicked beat as I realised there was something very wrong with Barbie.
She had no head.

I immediately dropped her and began a frantic search (with my eyes) for her head because I didn't want it just roaming free in my room. What if I found it under my pillow?
Eventually I saw a tuft of yellow under my brother's bed at the very back.

I was sickened and appalled and I had to get my mum to retrieve the head, which could not be attached back onto the body.
I was very upset that my brother had broken my doll. Not because I cared about the Barbie, but because I felt traumatised and violated from having to see a dismembered body in my own room.

Mum made it up to me by buying me a brand new Barbie.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

How to survive Head Massages and Fool your Hairdresser into Believing you are Normal

I am about 97% sure that I am the only person in the known world who inwardly cringes when my hairdresser embarks on a 20 minute long head massage.

According to my facebook poll of 3 people, the average person would kill to have their scalp fondled for 20 minutes and would gladly part with $300 for a hairdo just so they can have an excuse to sit their and get their head rubbed.

I find it unfair that I actually need to justify my hatred for being rubbed and squeezed by complete strangers in areas that are predominantly solid bone such as my skull. It's seems obvious to me:

Its. So. Awkward.

The worse thing is it comes without warning - one minute my hair is being lathered into a shampooey foam and the next minute I'm like, hello, are you making a move on me creepy 30-something year old apparently-not-gay hair artist? My forehead is being smoothed lovingly by two large thumbs and inbetween various grips on my skull my neck gets stroked.
O wait this is normal. Normal people enjoy this, thats right... it's part of the service... he's like, the most experienced professional hairdresser ever.

But his armpit. His armpit is swooping a little closer to my nose every time he reaches for more scalp. I'm not comfortable with all this physical proximity. I tell myself think positive - it doesn't smell, and he's a man. I reason with myself that probably hairdressers have access to so much free hair product they could spray liberally over their whole bodies. Maybe styling spray has surpressed his sweat glands.
I wish hairdressers could stand behind the basin when they washed my hair? But they don't. They stand OVER me from the side. The unbecoming side effect of this is that his frontal-trousal-area keeps pressing into my elbow.
Which elbow? The one clamped around my torso next to my clammy hands. This is because I am wearing a self-inflicted straight-jacket made by the vice-grip of my own arms forming a protective shell around my body. He can't see my white knuckles because they are hidden under the black cape. This is a partial success, but I am panicking.
Are my eyes supposed to be open or closed? it's really super awkward staring up at him from only 6 inches away when he is focussed intently on me.
If eyes are the windows to the soul then he might get a glipse of my true feelings about the experience if I keep them open:

Fig 1.1: I taste like brussel sprouts! For serious! Please don't eat me :(

And I wouldn't want to hurt his feelings!

But I don't want to close them and look like I'm asleep. You know, like his loving touch sent me to relaxation heaven. It might come across the wrong way
Fig 1.2: Wrong

So in my head I figure out that if I aim my eyes as far downwards as possible, like, nearly closed, they will be closed enough to seem polite, but not closed enough to be sensual. Success! Only ff you hunkered down and looked up at me, would you notice 2 shiny spots where the light reflected off my pupils, because there's a slit in my eyelids and they are officially not actually closed like they may appear. Sneaky.

Fig 1.3: He'll never guess

It's just like those people who only half close their eyes when they sleep and you don't notice until you catch them staring at you in the night and panic because they might be a werewolf.

When he asks "How does that feel?" I say "Nice"

Because he probably will think I'm a hypercondriac if I say "I'm pretty sure the basin-neck-groove is compressing my jugular" and saying "It feels creepy. Please stop." would be socially retarded. Who doesn't like a head massage, right? Right?

ME! I don't! I hate it! I feel violated! I want clean hair already! I have places to be and parking meter wardens to avoid! And... other important excuses!