Tagged: fears

Toilet terrors

Reader warning – This post contains MANY mentions of toilets and toilet-related topics. If you’re offended by ones, twos or threes, please stop reading and I promise to write something less offensive next time. Seriously, stop reading now.

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I spent New Years Eve this year on a houseboat. My first houseboat as a grown up and definitely one of the best new years eves that I’ve had in recent times. I spent close to three days cruising around, napping, swimming, eating and drinking. It was great. However, as always one thing loomed in the back of my mind the whole time… ten people, one toilet.

I’ve always had something of an issue with travelling toilets, whether they be bus toilets, train toilets, portable toilets, plane toilets, boat toilets, or even just public toilets. I’m a nervous pee-er at the best of times and just the thought of using a tiny toilet that had been given a thorough workout by ten people at once was enough to strike fear into the heart of me (that, and the prawns that were due to spend two days sitting in the esky before they made the menu).

Alas, I was pleasantly surprised that despite my concerns, there was some unspoken agreement to keep the toilet pristine and, besides one early incident where I found my self ankle deep in toilet water before I’d even used the thing (don’t ask, I still have no idea what happened!), it stayed as fresh as a daisy until the last day, when above-mentioned unspoken agreement went out the window. No judgment there – if we’d all held on as long as I had, I envied anyone brave enough.

When I got home several days later and rinsed my feet for the umpteenth time since nearly losing them to the toilet caper, I started thinking about my apparent fear of public toilets, porta-pottys and just travel toilet use in general.

On reflection, I think it started at school camp in year 9 when we had a complete toilet set up at our campsite in the middle of the wilderness…

Although it was nerve-racking peeing while risking being eaten by some kind of wild animal (most likely a wombat or koala given the location) or ending up with a flashlight on you in your least dignified moment, it was great! You were out in the wilderness, roughing it like never before, exposed to the elements and living the dream. On a giant toilet. In the middle of the bush. What more can you want in life?

Well… one thing you can NOT want is to three days later have to carry that damn toilet out of the campsite, contents and all…

Never. Again.

Ten or so years later and I was facing the ultimate challenge – travelling. Well, not just travelling, but travelling through South America, where you can’t flush the toilet paper in the best of places. Cue many awkward TP related moments, several episodes of charades with hotel staff and many, many moments of pure horror and dry retching… and that was before I’d even experienced the Inca Trail.

By then, I’d master the dodgy toilet, I was even confident going with no toilet (always with paper, sanitizer and some foliage) when it was warranted, but nothing prepared me for drop loos. Foot markings or no foot markings, I took one look at it and proceeded to pop down as many gastro stop tablets as I had on me! Despite my best efforts to just not pee for three days, I eventually braved the drop toilets, torch in mouth, praying for my life… and you know what, with a bit of concentration I had it down pat!

Three days later, as we brushed our teeth, I was recounting the story of how I’d overcome my fear of drop toilets to my tent mate, with all the details… the near misses, the misses, the nerves, the successes, the failures… I was blabbering on for no less than five minutes until “Cough, cough… erm… Tennizzlle… the whole camp site can hear everything you’re saying”… Eek!

When I think of bad toilet experiences, however, there’s no doubt that the first thing that jumps to mind is travelling through Romania on one of those Europe tours with fifty young drunk people. Note to self – when on a month long bus trip, do not take the seat next to the toilet. I mean, sure, it might remain locked unless in case of emergency… But it’s all fun and games until someone washes the lettuce in the tap water… and let me tell you, that theory about lighting a match – IT DOESN’T WORK!

We were about 20 days into the trip when we got to Romania and three days into an outbreak of gastro. Stops were few and far between. I was barely breathing and had a permanent flow of hand sanitiser for fear of catching something. The bus toilet was not an option, even in an emergency.

We’d been on the road for several hours before we stopped outside a service station. Thrilled to have the opportunity to escape the smell of the bus and find a working toilet, I bolted for the closest convenience store and ran for the restrooms. Caught up in my desperation, it took me a moment to realise I was heading into ankle deep water which had all sorts of unpleasantries floating in it… dry retching, I turned around, ran out the door and straight around the back of the service station.

Although peeing in the open two metres from a service station in the middle of outback Romania sounds horrific, it was then and there that I realized how far I’d come. I may still have a completely unreasonable fear of porta-loos and public toilets, but give me wide open spaces, some paper and hand sanitizer and I will be just fine!

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And that’s why I stopped driving to work in my thongs…

Yep, you read it right. Last week I drove to work in my thongs and it ended in disaster.

For those of you from the USA who read my blog, I know, I know… and yes, I was driving to work in my thongs – two of them – and when I got there I realized I had no shoes on!

Confused? Don’t worry, so was I!

As everyone in my life knows all too well – I am a complete shambles at the best of times. I fall over, run into things, accidentally tell strangers that I love them, forget how to get home and vomit regularly. However, in recent months, I had been reaching all new levels of coordination and things were going swimmingly.

No longer was I the bitter, sarcastic blogger who dated psychopaths and had an unreasonable fear of fake hair… As I said to another blogger several months ago, it’s hard to blog sarcastically when you’re happy with life… (and yes, contrary to popular belief, I had been getting out of the house at that point in time!)

Alas, it all came unraveled when I wore my thongs on the drive to work on Thursday. I had stayed at my boyfriend’s house, which sends me on a total different route to work and it was one of the first really warm days of the year, so I had just thrown my thongs on at the last minute as I ran out the door, not thinking much of it. I’m someone who avoids shoes at all costs, so I always keep a pair of work flats on the car floor for everyday use.

Unfortunately I didn’t think much of the fact that I had sent my car in to be serviced either, and the car that I had borrowed (strangely) did not come with a pair of emergency shoes on the passenger side floor. So, to cut a long, dramatic morning short, I turned up to work with no shoes, frantically yelling out to a colleague across the carpark something along the lines of ‘My shoes! My shoes! No shoes! No shoes! OMG! Shambles! HELP! HELP!’ while waving both arms frantically in the air…

Ah, you know that look of panic people get as they desperately think of a way they can pretend they don’t know you? Yep, that look is ALLLL too familiar for me!

So half an hour and one trip to Kmart later, I had a pair of $8 shoes making my feet sweat and I was back on track. Or so I thought…

This morning, I took the same route to work. I was back in my own car (spare shoes and all) and for a Monday, the day was looking fine. About half way through my drive, I switched my handsfree thingemy on in case I got a call, as I’d thrown my bag somewhere in the back of the car and had no chance of reaching my phone if I needed it.

Beep… Beeep… attempting to connect… no phone found… attempting to connect… no phone found…

Shizzle.

After a small panic, I ran into the office, waving my arms in the air like a madwoman. My colleagues have come to await the daily drama that tends to signify my arrival, so there was an air of anticipation as I ran into the office yelling ‘Don’t worry, I’ve got my shoes! I DON’T have my mobile phone but it’s going to be OKAY!’

Being a Gen Y girl and lacking the ability to memorise a single phone number since about 1999, I had no idea what my boyfriends phone number is. So I called myself. No answer. Redial…

‘oh shizzzzzz’

Yep, oh shizz indeed! But we had a plan, boyfriend would drop phone to my office at lunchtime and I would buy him lunch, which I did. I was all ‘sit down, get comfortable, let me buy your lunch and drink and prove my gratitude for you driving halfway across Melbourne for me…’

And then it fell apart…

In an effort to be super helpful and after I was clearly told the squeezy ketchup sachet wasn’t opening, I insisted on having a crack at it and with all my strength, attempted to outsmart what was, I swear, the most complicated condiment packaging ever made.

Unfortunately… the ketchup won…

We were both covered. As was our table, my bag, the entire pile of napkins on the table, the chair next to me… and the random stranger sitting no less than two metres away from me.

I spent the entire afternoon pulling pieces of dry, crusty ketchup from my ponytail and fringe while randomly bursting out in fits of giggles.

I took it as a sign I had been neglecting my blog.

The universe has spoken. I will blog more.

I will also stop wearing thongs in the car…  Except on weekends and public holidays.

And possibly also eating ketchup.

Also – I’m still scared of fake hair.

Never Trust a Man Who Gives You Flowers

I have always been told that when you receive flowers from a man for no apparent reason, it’s a sign that he is cheating on you. I don’t exactly agree with this theory, but I do find the whole flower-giving thing fascinating.

I remember being younger and always wanting a nice boy to give me flowers. Not some crummy bunch of roses or, even worse, a single rose, but a pretty, well-planned and thoughtful bunch of flowers, which may or may not feature lilies or something similar.

But the flowers I envisaged and the flowers I actually got back then were vastly different. The lilies were replaced by god-awful weed-like flowers and the beautiful, ribbon-bound box was replaced by clear and white flowery glad-wrap that screamed of having been bought in a hospital foyer or stolen from a cemetery.

As I got a bit older, I completely lost interest in flowers. I never expected them and never really got them, but when I was about 25, I started to notice that they were making a comeback. Gone were the days, however, of flowers bringing joy and happiness.

First, there was the bunch that arrived with the statement ‘I might have an STD…’ (please note that the might turned out to be a definitely did not) and then there were the ones that came shriveled up after being hidden behind the heater in the lounge room for an indeterminate period of time, resulting in me arriving late for work after being ordered to go to the florist to exchange them…

Yep, flowers weren’t so glamorous anymore. They brought disease scares, anger and embarrassing encounters with florists. But I am a girl and don’t we all, deep down, dream of one day receiving flowers from a secret admirer declaring their undying love for us?

What we don’t realise though, is that this is actually the behavior of sociopaths and serial killers… and holiday crashers… yep, holiday crashers!

I mean, if you really think about it, if a person has the ability to interact with people, hold a conversation and enter into a real-life relationship, why wouldn’t they just mosey on over and ask you out? Alas, hindsight is a wonderful thing…

Back in 2009, I was a few months into my current (recently resigned from) job. Part of my role back then was to do presentations to young people about living and working overseas. Me being me, this involved lots of goofiness, many bad jokes and technical disasters.

My main problem with these presentations was that if I told a joke or a story that should get a laugh didn’t, I would just keep on pushing… bad joke after bad joke… higher pitch… faster talking… and it would start getting just plain awkward.

For example, I was once talking about San Francisco and started telling the story about riding a bike over the Golden Gate Bridge, taking a wrong turn (can you even take a wrong turn?) and ending up going overland to Sausalito all the while turning right involuntarily because I get balance issues when riding in the wind…

Alas, after being met by dead silence, this story led to the one about getting lost on a ‘quick drive’ before returning the hire car, the one about accidentally offending a group of dutch backpackers after telling one that his friend smelt like cabbage and finally wrapping it up with a declaration that I love San Fran because the hills made me feel like I was in Full House…

Silence.

You know, FULL HOUSE?

Silence.

It must be my lisp, audience does not comprehend… Cue terrible attempt at singing the Full House theme song:

Everywhere you look… everywhere you go (there’s a heart)… There’s a heart, a hand to hold onto.

Silence… crickets chirping… tumble weeds rolling through the room… you get the idea.

To this day I tell myself the crowd were just too young. They clearly didn’t know Mary-Kate and Ashley when they were knee-high to a grasshopper!

But back to my story, I was having one of these HORRIBLE evenings where the crowd was giving me absolutely nothing. No number of cheesy jokes, funny stories or even crowd interaction was saving it and besides one over enthusiastic guy in the second row, whose fake laugh was way too elaborate to be genuine, the audience were having none of it.

So you can imagine my complete shock when a massive bunch of roses turned up at my office two days later with a card that read:

Dear Tennizzle

I saw your presentation the other night and have been thinking about you ever since.  Do you want to go for a drink sometime?

Michelangelo* 0404992883*

My colleagues and I tried to think of who it could be, with one suggesting it was ‘probably that one person who was laughing at your jokes!’ and after some crafty investigation, I had a full name and an email address.

Looking back, I should have read between the lines, seen the unwritten references to kidney stealing and paid attention to the music that started repeating in my head.

But really, the guy had made a pretty big effort and as someone who cannot even remember having asked anyone on a date before, who was I to reject someone without even meeting them?

So, I went on a date with him and despite there being no chemistry whatsoever and him judging me for liking Simon and Garfunkel while saying his favourite type of music was ‘anything they play on Triple J’… I didn’t regret it. I told him I wasn’t interested, we agreed we would be friends, added each other on Facebook and caught up a few more times before he went overseas.

Fast-forward to early 2011 when I was planning a work trip to Canada, followed by a week of Tennizzlle-time in New York City on the way home. I was contacting a few business partners and customers who were over there to catch up, one of whom was this guy. He wasn’t going to be in the cities I was visiting in Canada, but was going to NY with some friends around that time. I sent him my dates and said we’d have a drink if we crossed paths.

A week before I left, he emailed saying he had great news, it turns out we were going to be in NYC at the same time, so we agreed to have a drink. It all seemed so normal…

We met at a bar downtown before dinner and had a quick beer. We had the quick catch up, how’s life, blah blah blah, and then I asked him ‘So, what are you even doing in New York?’

His response: ‘I came to New York to spend the week with you’

Dead silence.

This guy had driven from Montreal to New York to holiday with me… without me knowing.

After a few deep breathes, I talked myself into it. I’m the queen of miscommunication and I probably misunderstood something along the way. I’m sure it’s fine, when he says SPEND the week with me, he doesn’t mean SPEND the week with me. Nervous laugh, nervous laugh…

That was Thursday night.

By Friday, it was clear that he did actually mean spend the entire week with me…. Every single second of it…

‘Oh, you want to go to Forever 21 and try on seventy dresses? I’ll come!’

‘Oh, you want to purchase outfits for your dogs? That sounds like great fun!’

‘Should we plan out all our evenings in advance and buy tickets to everything?’

‘Let’s go to the farmers market and buy some food to cook in the luxury Soho apartment I have rented for us to hang out in’

By Saturday, I had lost my shit. Somewhere between Canal Street and Union Square, after being dragged around by his know-it-all self all afternoon trying to find ‘the best coffee in New York’, I had had enough. I hadn’t spoken to him for at least an hour when I made my escape, yelling something along the lines of ‘Space! Tennizzlle time! Forever 21!’ before throwing myself into the midst of a crowd of fast moving locals and running for my life.

A few months later, I was at work one afternoon and received a text message from a US number.

‘Hey, are you free to catch up?’

Assuming it was someone from our US office, I responded ‘Yeah, sure, but I have no idea who this is!’

‘Oh, sorry, it’s Michelangelo*, I’m in Melbourne but still using my Canadian number’

*Delete*

These days, if I want flowers, I just go buy myself some damn flowers. They’ll always be tasteful, they won’t be on the verge of death, they won’t die overnight and I will be able to sleep soundly in the knowledge that my kidneys will still be attached when I wake up in the morning.

NB – In doing a little Google research for this post, I typed ‘Flowers from a man’ into the search bar. I love the predictions Google comes up with and where they lead you. This time, I got ‘flowers from a man who shot your cousin’… as you do!

Also, if you were thinking about sending me flowers, feel free! I like lilies (just in case you didn’t get that) and I will accept them graciously. Just don’t be expecting me to go on a date with you afterwards!

*names and numbers have been changed, though not very well

Will Write for Food

Last week I quit my job.

Most people who know me saw it coming, but for the many people I know through work, it was completely unexpected. So far, everyone has reacted with ‘Omg, what’s happened?’ and I suspect, knowing my tendency for dramatics, they are assuming that I cracked without warning, slamming the manual lift door while screaming ‘I QUIT!’ and storming off down La Trobe Street.

Alas, it was not so exciting and unlike the time someone put spag bol all over the bin in the midst of a bug infestation or the time I realised someone was stealing the toilet paper (I still have my suspicions, but no proof), there was absolutely no hysterics.

Resigning was a massive relief and although I had a TINY panic attack in between being offered my new job and quitting my current one, it wasn’t long before I was getting excited about taking a huge step off my current career path and throwing caution to the wind.

There’s something liberating about having absolutely no idea what the heck you will be doing a year from now, and, to quote my ever-unreliable Fortune Telling Fairy Cards, I am moving forward fearlessly!

Gone are the days of work-related panic attacks and swatting bugs as I sit at my desk – it’s time for freedom, creativity and full, uninterrupted nights of sleep! Woo hoo!

As mentioned above, I do have a new job lined up, which I am very excited about, but leaving my current role will also allow me to look into new opportunities, to focus on my blog and what I really want to do – to DANCE!

Okay, that was totally a joke, but I have spent a fair chunk of the past few days thinking about the future. Now is the time to work out exactly what I want to do and how to do it… But in typical Tennizzle-style, I have become overwhelmed by the decision.

Ideally I would win lotto and spend the next few years jetting around the world, renovating my house and volunteering my time to the greater good… however accepting that this is not going to happen and that the chances of anyone paying me to hang out with my dogs for a living are just as low, I am going to need a more realistic plan.

I have decided to focus on copywriting, but without it being part of my everyday work.

So far, I have taken the massive steps of purchasing my blog domain (check it out, I’ve dropped the ‘wordpress’ from my site, la di da!) AND getting my own personal domain for the future… I haven’t quite worked out how to set up a website or get it hosted, but I’m on my way! I can feel success in the air!

I’m starting with a bit of blatant self-promotion to people I know professionally and am hoping to start putting a portfolio together in the coming months. As a result, my blog will be growing and although my regular, neurotic posts will continue, I will also be using this page as a means of collating writing until I have a proper website.

In the meantime, if you see someone with a sandwich board reading ‘Will Write for Food’ standing outside Flinders St station next month… please stop by and say hi!

Yams, Turnips and Other Life Challenges


When it comes to vegetables, I am the first to admit that I am absolutely clueless.

I’d like to claim I grew up in a vegetable-free household which would explain this and several other unexplained mysteries, such as why the heck I can’t use cutlery like a normal person, but it would be a lie.

Adding to the confusion, I was a dedicated vegetarian for seven long years and I still have no idea about vegetable-related matters!

I recently found myself making a salad at someone else’s house. I was trying to be all helpful and enthusiastic, but quickly found myself having a small panic attack when faced with something I suspected was a zucchini, green skin and all, and didn’t know what the hell to do with it… peel it? Don’t peel it? Slice it? Bake it? Throw it in a cupboard and pretend it was never there…?

Turns out it was actually a cucumber and yes, you can eat the green bit!

This is just the most recent of many situations I’ve had resulting from my lifelong vegetable confusion. Others include:

The Yam

I’d heard of the elusive yam but was pretty happy living in the knowledge that it had never crossed my path. It just didn’t sound like a friendly vegetable, or a tasty one for that matter, but more like some kind of angry little man in a cape wielding a Bamm-Bamm style club.

That was, of course, until I blogged several months ago about my fear of mashed potato and for some reason, these yams kept coming up in my comments.

Do you like yams?

How do yams make you feel?

Do you eat mashed yams?

Things were getting weird.

I was confused and finally accepted that it was time to consult my friend Google.

So, for anyone who is unfamiliar with the yam equation, here it is:

Yam = Sweet Potato = Awesome!

Kumara

You know those cultural miscommunications you have when you are so clueless as to what is going on you just smile and nod and accept that you will never know the truth? For me, Kumara was one of these.

For quite a few years, when kiwi friends kept saying things like ‘it’s kumara, right?’, ‘does this have kumara in it?’ and ‘I’m going to get kumara on the side’, I was seriously confused. Initially I thought kumara was a bird or maybe a person, but after much smiling and nodding and a whole lot of confusion, I realised they were simply trying to say ‘sweet potato’!

Better than that girl I once heard about who told her boss at a staff event at a chalet that he ‘had such a nice long deck’.

Ah, bless those little kiwis!

However, the real beginning of my vegetable confusion can only be blamed on one vegetable…

The Turnip.

Many years ago, while still reasonably new to the world of vegetarianism and after a chinese doctor told me I was going to die if I didn’t eat meat, I made it my mission to learn to cook vegetables.  I bought myself a cookbook, aptly titled ‘Learning to Cook Vegetarian’ and dog-eared the pages of anything that looked even remotely manageable (ie. Had less than ten ingredients) for experimentation.

One of my first attempts was some kind of baked creation, which seemed pretty straightforward. I copied down my little list of ingredients… garlic… onion… potato… turnip… turnip? Turnip! What the heck was a turnip?

Keep in mind here that this was before the days of Google on your phone, or even readily available high-speed internet, so my investigation of what the heck a turnip was consisted of squinting at the photo in the recipe book and by process of elimination and some vague recollection of a turnip character in a childrens book I had read long ago, came to the conclusion that it was a root vegetable with a sprout, which may or may not also have big eyes and wear a pair of runners…

Not one to shy away from a project I have committed to, I decided not to scrap the chosen recipe and chose another, but to take my new found knowledge to the supermarket to source the aforementioned turnip and everything else that the recipe called for and, of course, me being me, I got everything else and left the turnip for last.

With pretty much no idea what I was actually looking for, I had been standing in the root vegetable area for a good twenty minutes, reading all of the price labels when I found it. The excitement was overwhelming:

Turnips – $3.50 per kg | Beetroot $4.00 per kg

I looked up to the corresponding box and to my horror, there was no separation between the two vegetables – just a whole load of round things rolling around in one big box!

Having never seen beetroot except from can, I had reached a whole new level of confusion. Refusing to accept defeat or ask for help, I took a gamble and grabbed what most closely resembled the turnip I had envisaged – I figured if they had been stored in the same box without proper labels, there can’t be much difference anyway… Right?

Wrong.

Needless to say, to this day, I have never cooked or bought a beetroot OR a turnip ever again.

Other awkward vegetables I have encountered include ‘Green Onions’ (which, it turns out was my Fast and Fabulous cookbook seeing how far I would go to find a vegetable that DOES NOT EXIST), ‘Chinese Leaf’ (otherwise referred to as any leafy Chinese vegetable, walking around the markets asking for Chinese Leaf is not recommended!) and ‘Pepper’ or ‘Bell Pepper’ (which, contrary to popular belief is referring to a capsicum, NOT a chilli!) amongst many, many others.

On a side note, a few weeks ago I finally worked out how to install emoji emoticons onto my iPhone. Clearly a fairly simple task once you realise it’s an app.

My newfound love of emoticons was going well, I’ve been throwing them in here and there to create confusion or make a completely unclear point. In the midst of a recent texting conversation, I needed to throw in something completely unexpected. Insert Emoticon:

Think to self: A PURPLE zucchini! Of course! No one will see it coming!

The response: “Eggplant?”

😦

Crazies on a Plane!

Over the past few years, I have travelled a lot… and by a lot, I mean A LOT. I am actually more comfortable with a 14-24 hour international flight these days than a 1.5 hour domestic one. I have no idea why.

Maybe it’s because on a long flight, I know I’m stuck. I can’t see the end of it, so I resign myself to spending a good chunk of time reflecting on life, eating bad food, having conversations with myself and reading trashy magazines… all those little things I don’t get to do in my real life.

Having flown so much, I consider myself something of a plane master. I have the toilets and emergency exits down pat, I know which toilets are busy when and exactly when to bolt there to avoid the post-meal un-pleasantries that can make or break a long-haul flight.

I’m also an expert on the look that says ‘I take no responsibility for the state of that toilet, it was like that before I went in’, the one that says ‘if you only have one meal option left do not ask me what I would like or I will lose my shizz at you’… oh, and let’s not forget ‘touch me one more time and I will make the rest of this flight hell for both of us’… Unfortunately the look that says ‘touch me one more time and I will rip your throat out with my bare hands’ is not plane-appropriate and should be saved for that awkward moment when you see your seat invader/psycho seating companion at the luggage carousel… by then, it’s game-on!

Alas the highlight (or lowlight, depending on where you’re sitting) of any flight is the abundance of weirdos that you encounter.

I don’t think I’ve been particularly unlucky on flights. I once saw a girl who had been wedged in the middle of three seats with an obese man vomiting his guts up on the window seat to her left. The flight was full and no matter how much she begged, there was nowhere for her to move to. Her face is still burnt into my memory and every time I think my seating companion is bad, I think of her and am grateful that the worst of mine only threw food scraps at me while they thought I was asleep…

But while they may not have been THAT bad, there have certainly been some interesting people who I have encountered along the way. So, in honour of them all, I have written the following:

An Ode to the Crazies – An open letter to all the nutters who I have been (un)fortunate enough to encounter along my travels.

Hello there…

You probably don’t remember me, but we spent a significant amount of time together. More time, in fact, than I manage to spend with some of the closest people in my life over a six-month period.

Maybe you thought my short legs and apparent ability to curl up into a compact unit made me the ideal seat buddy. Maybe you were impressed by my lack of luggage in the overhead compartment, leaving ample space for you and your seven bags (I like to be prepared to evacuate with all my belongings in case of an emergency). Maybe you saw my copy of NW tucked into my seat pocket and thought you might be able to have a crack at the crozzle while I was on a toilet break… or maybe, you didn’t notice me at all.

I, however, noticed you and for whatever reason, maybe your twitching, seat invading, insistence to eat your food as if you don’t have hands or your tendency to touch me without reason, the memory of our time together has stayed with me ever since.

Look, I accept that you may have been travelling for the first time. You may have been overwhelmed by the size of the plane or underwhelmed by the size of your seat… I have my suspicions though, that this was not your first foray into international travel. For some of you, like the guy who kept bragging about how this holiday will take him to 10 (yep, TEN!) countries visited (Him: “I’ll bet you can’t possibly have been to any more than that!”… Me: silence… Him: “Are you impressed?” Me: “No, I’m counting… 26… 27… 28”… Awkward silence…), I know this to be a fact.

One thing you learn from travelling regularly is a great concept of both personal space and division. Yep, division. See, there’s four seats and two people (you and me)… Four seats/two people = two seats each.

This allows for the perfect amount of sleeping space for both of us. Let me be clear here, this does not mean three seats for you and one seat for me, so do not lift up all the armrests during take off, (“eet eez fur murr rooomzzz!”) before shoving your legs as far over as they go. If you can’t resist the urge, fine. But then do not kick me when the lack of arm rests means my feet encroach on your second seat. Also, throwing your food rubbish at my head when you suspect I am asleep (“I vaz aiming fur zee tray”) will result in me wishing an eternity of bad karma upon you and all that you love. Good luck with that!

On the topic of personal space, if you have a travel partner and you need to pee, please wake THEM up, not me, when you need to get out of your seat. They have an obligation to move for you, which I do not. On this note, when you or they lose your headset an hour into the flight, do not take this as an opportunity to shove your hands under my tightly wrapped blanket and start prodding around. I WILL make a mental note to slap you once off the plane. Oh, and when I notice ten minutes later that you are actually sitting on the missing headset, I will keep that information to myself as punishment.

Attempting to spot the personal details of your fellow passengers on their documentation does not come across friendly. I’d go more for creepy and bordering on crazy… You may be a US Marshall with a keen eye for detail, but no, my name is not Jane and I am not a lawyer… My name is Tennizzlle, I’m reading Town Planning for Dummies and I’m going to spend the rest of the flight regretting ever responding to your attempt at conversation… But nice try!

If you want to scare your neighbouring passengers away from you, a great trick is to start acting completely deranged as soon as the plane starts moving. Frantic coughing and hyperventilation, coupled with repeated dashes back and forth to the toilet before, during and immediately after take-off will instil fear in everyone around you. Other travellers MIGHT come to the assumption that you are planting an explosive device in the toilet or that you’re on the verge of soiling yourself… either way, I have no intention of giving up my aisle seat for you!

Most importantly, chit chat is discouraged in all circumstances, however if you feel some overwhelming need to speak to me, please keep it to a minimum and learn to recognise the signs of a person trying to finish a conversation with you. Some examples:

– Polite smile and nod while putting on headphones does NOT suggest that I wish to switch iPods so you can play me the top Christian albums of the past year.

– Polite smile and nod followed by ‘I’m just going to sleep, have a nice flight’ does NOT mean I would like to lean on you to go to sleep, but thanks for the offer!

– Polite smile and declining of your offer to spend two of your five days in Australia driving from Sydney to Melbourne to get to know me does NOT mean ‘let’s be friends!’ so please, do not add me on Facebook. In two months, when you send me a private message demanding why I haven’t made the effort to maintain our friendship despite your numerous public comments about my ‘beautiful smile’ and suggestions that I should visit you in the Texas sometime, things are going to get really damn awkward… And trust me, I will not be the one balancing a bruised ego with my semi-psychotic urges to marry a random I met on an airplane.

And finally, the golden rule of air travel… Calm the hell down! The plane may have touched the ground, but if you push, grab at or lean on me in a desperate attempt to get your luggage out of the overhead bin, I will tell immigration that you are carrying large quantities of undeclared fruit and vegetables… I’m Australian, okay? I KNOW the trouble that can cause! Have fun on your three-hour trip through customs!

*If you see me on a flight in the future, I am actually a very friendly person. However if you twitch, hit, yell, grab or add without good reason, stay the hell away from me!

Please Leave Your Shoes and Your Fake Hair at the Door

I have some serious issues with hair. Other people’s hair, to be more specific. Have you ever had someone else’s hair just kind of make itself at home on your shoulder, desk or face? I’m not talking about the hair of a loved one on the pillow, but the hair of someone you don’t know well invading your personal space in all it’s fuzziness…

While travelling in Europe several years ago, I found myself on a boat with a tour group in Italy. All was fine and good until the girl next to me started to doze off. Her head fell forward first and stopped momentarily, before it started to swing… I saw it coming right at me, the whole head with her long ponytail swinging straight for my face. It stopped just short, resting on my shoulder and making itself at home.

Panicked, I started yelling and shaking the girl awake while desperately trying not to dry retch. Once she was back in an upright position, I spent the rest of the boat trip watching her out of the corner of my eye, ready to fight her and her space-invading ponytail off if necessary.

It was on that fateful day that I came to realise my extreme hatred for involuntary contact with other people’s hair and I have tried to avoid any altercations ever since.

Being someone with very long hair and a tendency to malt like a Pomeranian on steroids, I have learnt to adapt to my own hair attaching itself to my clothing, skin and household items. It’s safe hair, I know where it came from and I know that it’s clean.

Wet hair, even if it’s my own, makes me dry retch like there’s no tomorrow, but this is fairly easily avoided through a combination of strategic household cleaning and carefully executed exiting of swimming pools/baths/showers.

In recent months, however, I have started to notice a growing trend, which is making me increasingly nervous. It’s something I can’t control, but something that for some unknown reason is taking over the world…

Fake Hair.

Horse or human, fake hair not only has the power to drop without warning, it can also instil fear from any distance and it must be stopped!

In general, I am against pretty much anything fake; fake boobs, fake labels, fake nails and fake chicken to name just a few (and yes, fake chicken exists – trust me!), but I accept that other people enjoy these things, so I generally don’t judge. When I started to realise that fake hair was causing me some serious distress, I thought I was alone… until the other day.

I was walking from one side of the city to the other in a hurry, so wasn’t paying much attention to anything and had stopped to wait to cross the road. I looked directly ahead of me, where a well- groomed girl was standing. She was power-suited up, and in normal circumstances I would have been envying her shoes (generally power-suited people have shoes that I cannot afford), however the second I saw her hair, all I could think and see was ‘FAKE HAIR! FAKE HAIR! EXPENSIVE BUT FAKE HAIR!’

I was overwhelmed and started to feel unreasonably angry and slightly ill, so I took an emergency right and added an extra block to my walk to get away from her. That night, I started talking through the bad experiences I have had with fake hair.

Surprisingly, I  realised that I am not alone in my hatred and the anti-fake hair movement started gaining momentum.

A buddy of mine, who shall remain unnamed, quite eloquently summarised them as ‘borderline shazza (girl bogan)’ and encouraged me to ‘let others know about this common fail’. While another emailed me this little chestnut:

On the fake hair note, I was at the hairdressers last week and was telling my hairdresser that I wanted to grow my hair long and was complaining about having thin, boring hair. She was all like “you should totally get extensions” and I was like, “Ahh no. Blond extensions always look tacky and would make me look like one of Hugh Hefner’s girlfriends.” She then pointed to the tackiest looking fake haired, fake nailed, fake tanned girl in the room and was like “I did her extensions – they look so real. Not tacky at all right?” I immediately broke out in a chorus of “oooh, ahhh, so lovely!”

I would like to add in here that I am not talking about wigs. Wigs serve a purpose, whether it is because of hair loss or for a dress up party. I would even go so far as to say that I don’t have any major issue with someone giving hair extensions a crack every once in a while.

However, there is a line, which is getting crossed, and we need to take a stand against it.

So, I am offering a community service to anyone who needs it.

– Do you know someone with bad hair extensions and you don’t know how to approach it?

– Have you encountered someone with bad extensions, openly criticising someone else’s bad extensions?

– Do you find yourself asking – if the hair is fake, does it matter if it’s horse or human?

– Are you genuinely concerned that this person is unaware that society is judging them for whatever they have hanging off their head?

If so, please email weneedtotalkaboutyourhair@gmail.com, providing the contact details of the person you would like this message passed on to, along with a reason why and your own contact details. I will happily send the following email on your behalf*:

Hello there

Someone who cares a lot about you has requested that this email be sent to you anonymously. Maybe they’ve been meaning to raise the issue with you for some time or maybe they just don’t have the heart to tell you to your face.

You’re a great friend and you mean a lot to the people around you, but there’s something you need to know…

Your hair extensions aren’t working for you. Your friend believes they (please select) [look fake/look cheap/don’t match your hair colour/just don’t do your pretty face justice/look damn horrendous] and would like to suggest you remove them.

Unfortunately we cannot pass on the details of the person who nominated you to receive this email, but if you would like a response passed onto them, please feel free to send it through.

Yours sincerely

The We Need to Talk About Your Hair Team

Additionally, to lead the movement, I am introducing a ‘No Fake Hair’ zoning on my house. Visitors please note – When you enter, please leave both your shoes and your fake hair at the door.

*I won’t ACTUALLY send anything to your friend… Geez, I’m not a total bitch! However, I will enjoy you sharing your fake hair stories with me and may add them anonymously to this post.