Friday, 19 July 2013

Some Calls Are Worth Screening

There was a time when my phone would run hot. Maybe friends seeing what I was up to, wanting to catch up. Or maybe some guy I was dating and perhaps another I was trying to avoid.

It went in cycles. Feast or famine. But it was always exciting. Some calls were good, some were bad and I was never very good at screening. I just loved being called and as I lived alone, anyone was interesting.

Now life is simpler and trying to juggle work, kids and family life provides all the excitement I need. There’s not much time for chatting on the phone.

If the phone does ring, it can only really be one of two men.

The first of course is my husband who always checks in during the day. How was school drop off? What are you up to? What are you wearing? (…maybe not that)

The other is my builder, who is now well and truly programmed into my phone. 

Normally the only other calls are from Mum or my agent but since we’re living with my parents while we renovate (and they are a bit over us) and my acting career is experiencing a significant pause, neither calls me as much.

However as the renovation is progressing, I’m receiving so many more calls, it’s starting to feel like the old days. Ok, so the calls are to tell me things like the quote for the benchtop is ready or the kitchen appliances are being delivered. Probably doesn’t sound riveting - but it’s fairly exciting for me.

However as always, some calls are good, some are bad and I’m still not good at screening.

Last week after two trips to a family-run tile shop, I finally chose my kitchen tiles. I then rang and placed an order with one of the owner’s very lovely daughters.

Moments later my phone rang. Not a number I knew but as I say, I don’t really screen. As it turns out, it was the tile shop - the mother telling me that I would have to pay for a courier to deliver the tiles to their shop unless I wanted to wait for another order to come through and share the cost.

‘When would that be?’ I asked

‘I don’t know’

‘So I have to pay for the courier?’


I was furious! I hadn’t been told about a courier charge, which would add another $15 onto my expensive Spanish handmade tiles. Not a lot I know but it’s the principal.

I said that I’d have to think about and she lost it completely.

“Well you can’t expect me to pay for it out of my own pocket!” she screamed.

I tried reasoning with her but she wouldn’t listen. I said I’d call back. Which I did and cancelled my order. Which she did then promptly hung up on me.

I was outraged.

But just as I was googling tile shops, my phone rang again. It was the daughter calling back to apologise. She was in trouble for not telling me about the courier but they’d found a way to have the tiles delivered so did I want to continue with the order?

I said that I did. I felt bad that she’d got into trouble but I stood my ground and she was understanding and gracious. They’d made a mistake but sorted it out.

That call from the mother was worth screening. But you don’t expect to be abused by the local tile shop owner. Besides I wanted the tiles.

So as much as I love getting calls and wish for my phone to once again ring hot, I’ve had as much excitement as I can take for one week.

So now it’s husband or builder.

That’s all I need.

Thursday, 11 July 2013

I'm A Parent - so therefore Quite Annoying

Parents seem to have the knack of saying the most annoying things. At least that’s how it was when I was a teenager.

Now I’m a parent, I find myself saying equally annoying things. Which if anything offers a little insight into how my mother must have felt all those years when she couldn’t say anything right.

For example I remember whenever I was going out somewhere maybe to the movies or a party, Mum would always say, ‘Are you going to wear something nice?’

To which I wanted to say (and probably did in so many words), ‘No, I’m going to wear something not nice, something ugly and unflattering because Lord knows being a teenager is so easy and hassle free, why not go ahead and make myself a target for ridicule and rejection.’

Now I can see that Mum was simply interested in what I was going to wear. She didn’t mean to be annoying; she was probably desperately trying to connect with a grumpy teenager.

Then when I was in first year uni and still living at home, Mum would come into my room around 7am and ask what I wanted for dinner that night as she was ‘just getting meat out of the freezer.’

I would scream with annoyance, saying that I didn’t even feel like breakfast let alone dinner! And maybe I might not even be home for dinner!

Even though I probably would be but I just didn’t want to commit myself plus at that time I was no doubt toying with the idea of turning vegetarian.

Needless to say I would always be home for dinner, starving and very grateful for the delicious lamb roast.

I was actually very lucky to be enjoying such rent-free life comforts. Probably shouldn’t have reacted so strongly to Mum’s considerate dinner enquiry.

But now I find myself asking my five-year-old similar questions. ‘What shall we have for dinner tonight? Chops? Chicken?’ 

Which is worse because a five-year-old doesn’t really care about a meal that is 12 hours away and given the choice would probably opt for ice cream.

She despairs of me - constantly rolling her eyes and correcting my many errors, because what would I know? I’ve only been around for 44 years. But she is five! Almost six! I can’t imagine how life will be when she hits her teens.

However quite often she does put me in my place with good reason. The simple way a child sees the world can sometimes offer clarity and intelligence. It’s frustrating but generally she is right and I am, well, actually quite annoying.

As I found the other night just before bedtime when I said, ‘Now can you do a really big wee please?’ Just to ensure that she got through the night without having to go the toilet or worse.

To which she looked at me calmly and said, ‘Mum, I can only do what I can do.’

Couldn’t really argue with that one.

Thursday, 4 July 2013

When Will This Be Over?

I’m over renovating. It’s not exciting.

It’s stressful.

Apparently the middle of a book is the hardest bit the write. I'm currently stuck midway through my first manuscript so I'm inclined to agree. Renovating seems to be the same deal. I'm halfway through and finding myself saying all the same things such as:

  •  I feel untalented.
  •  I feel completely void of any original thoughts.
  •  I don't want to do this any more.
  •  I actually don't know what I'm doing.
  • Why am I doing this?
  • I have made a huge mistake

Plus doing up an old house is like opening a very expensive can of worms.

Every time my builder rings, my heart sinks. Not because I don’t like him, he’s still my favourite builder. But every time his name pops up on my mobile, it’s generally because he's come across yet another problem that needs serious attention (and financial investment).

Like the fact that all our lights were unearthed. I didn’t think that was such a bad thing when he told me except apparently it could have caused an accidental death by electrocution.

Or like the fact that our roof tiles are leaking. Which is apparently also quite bad unless you don’t mind your ceiling falling in on top of you further down the track.

Every day brings a new dilemma, decision or major purchase. And mostly because we seem to have been living the last four years in the most dangerous house in the world.

The only thing that keeps me going is the fact that somewhere in a factory in Sydney is a dishwasher with my name on it. A stylish stainless steel dishwasher that only makes 42 decibels of noise.

The mere fact that I've purchased it is enough to make me very excited. Surely that makes all the stress well and truly worth it.

So now when my builder calls, I take a deep breathe and visualise myself stacking the dishwasher and all those extra costs and potentially disastrous household features simply slip through my tense little fingers.

Hopefully that will be enough to get me through the midway slump.

If only it would do the same for my book.