4.0 Birthdays and breakups.

“Oh is it your birthday?” The excitable receptionist asked me before looking up and seeing my tear sodden, puffy red face. “No it’s not…” I half wailed and half sobbed at her. Highly doubt she’ll be asking that again before checking the tear-o-meter for someone collecting flowers from her reception desk.

She stared at me with her hands mid air clearly forgetting whatever she was doing – while I opened the card with a teensie bit of hope they were from him. Alas it was my friend Georgia (thank you Georgia) the flowers were so pink, girly, huge and beautiful it made me wail even more.

I carried the flowers back to the lift to head to level 4 and thought ‘Oh great now I have to face people at work asking who they’re from’. I sobbed that 4 seconds of lift ride, pulled my shit together best I could, hugged the humongous bunch of flowers to my chest and walked back in.

Break up’s really suck.*

I should really write a thank you note to everyone on my floor that day who had to endure my frequent sobbing, teary ranting and frequent trips to the toilet to wipe the long gone makeup from my face. A thank you to the ladies who hugged me – who for the most part I didn’t even know. I guess when you see a crying girl at work you think – Ohh breakup or a death. They’re not that much different though are they?

Since I’ve been living back in Melbourne (a year now) I’ve felt like trying to reconnect with all my friends has left me feeling a bit ‘patchy’. Let me explain – It’s like I’ve got friends all over the place and sometimes the ones I reallllllllly want to talk to are asleep in London or in important work meetings 5 minutes down the road.

I guess the loveliest thing to come from this break up is I realised I’ve got the most amazing, supportive network of friends that I hadn’t quite come full circle on and appreciated since being back home. There’s nothing patchy about them at all.

So thank you. You’re all amazing. From Chicago to Acton, from Bourke Street to Mt Lawley – a break up really shows you the friends from the trees. That totally made sense.

My housemates gave me red wine and reassurance and really let me wail and babble at them for hours. Thanks housemates. No-one could wish for more babaghanoush and giving from guys like you.

Breakups really do suck. But I’ve re-discovered my friends again to those who will listen and bitch with you at 2AM, to buying you the biggest packet of corn chips to go with red wine you’ve ever seen. To filling you with long blacks till the tears tame to a trickle, to giving you hugs like you want from your parents but they live too far away. To sending you messages once they figured out your cryptic Instagram hash-tags to telling you what you really need to hear more than anything is that ‘everything is going to be ok’.

 

*All things must have a happy ending though – we’re not broken up anymore.

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3.8 In the name of the father, the son and the grown up conversations we need to have.

I’m sure there’s a lot of you out there are like me – skipping along in the blissful world of in-love without a flicker of grown up thoughts entering your mind. I mean I’m thirty TWO – No need to worry about babies or any of that business right now. But what if you have some strong beliefs in the way you want your children raised? If you don’t want them smacked? If you don’t want them baptised? If you don’t want them going to a public school? If you’re dating someone and you’re in your thirties and you want children – you should probably have some of these discussions now. Yes now. Not in five years when you realise you live on opposite-parental-polar sides of the world.

But you both like each other so much, so surely you’ll just agree on everything, right? You don’t want to be seven months pregnant, fighting about baptism and public schooling while your undelivered foetus can listen and keep score. By then those conversations might be a little too late. I’m not getting all Gandhi on you – I’m not the wise, well-thought-out one here. I’ve never thought about any of this stuff in my life, likely because I’ve never dated anyone and thought ‘Ooh I’d like to have half your DNA inside me to create something that can’t speak or do the dishes for the first seven years of its life.’

Realising some of these tough questions need to be answered, my first port of head-breaking call is my “nope, not baptised, I’m going to hell and why are you asking?” friends. A temple-tonne of my friends have been raised strict Catholic and I was aghast to hear the straight-down-the-baptism-barrel answers I was getting – clearly these guys had thought about it? Or hated something enough to know they didn’t want it all over again.

I had a Catholic upbringing and I haven’t come out the other ordained end hating on all things churchy and yes, I want my children baptised. But how far am I going to take that? Would I break up with someone over this? It’s a little odd how your brain, head and heart all start to feel a bit twisted about this. I’ve found someone who meets every requirement, ticks every boy box – but if we can’t agree on this, is that it? Should I start only dating men at local churches who won’t have 99% of the things I really want? Do *I* need to compromise a little more and take down my church-o-meter a notch?

If my partner was from a different religion (cripes don’t tell the parents) that had a very different baptism-esque ceremony would I dare let him bathe the child in it? Of course I would. Because isn’t this more about respecting each others’ own faiths, upbringings and finding that middle ground of compromise to raise your children on? I’d like to think so. So I need to get my partner across the line on this one too. “Shiraz wine please and all the kids baptised to go”.

I don’t think this is one conversation to be had and ended. No-one knows how you’re going to feel once you have a little version of your mixed selves sitting there and you need to decide what water and blessings you’re going to douse it with. But I do know I don’t want to be all wishy washy about it now and not stand up for what I want and years on simply hope my partner will want the same. I’m not stupid enough to think someone will forget or change their mind over years of wearing down. You’d have to have Jesus rocks in your head. (Jesus rocks aren’t a thing, I just made that up. I imagine they’d be heavy though and open doors at Easter time.)

So my basic baptismal thoughts for you are: keep on skipping, keep on being in love, but speak about these things and have these uncomfortable conversations now. Make sure you’re on the same psalm, Buddha belly or Bible page before you get those keys cut, open that joint bank account and spend a small fortune down the aisle to say, “I do”.

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3.7 The 10 nastiest things men have said to me.

1. “You’re only pretty when you smile.”
Doesn’t everyone look better when they smile? So many people walk around looking like they’ve smelt something bad, but do I tell them their face looks like that? No. So, smile – because right now someone thinks you’re ugly.

2. “You’re Italian, so you must be hairy.” 
Yeah and I’ve got a salami in my handbag too. No really I do. That’s as silly as saying. “Oh you’re a dude – you must think about beer and sex all day”. Hmmm. Anyway I’m not – please refer to point 5 below.

3. “You don’t have thin legs… You’ve got sturdy legs.” 
True, I’m no Elle Macpherson-elevator-legs but girls take this stuff to chubby-legs heart. Well except when I wore that mini skirt last week and those short shorts today. I’ll be getting my leg guns out as long as I can, thank you, because I heard there’s a cut-off age for bum shorts once you’ve had a baby – said Britney Spears never.

4. “Your eyes are really big. Actually they’re too big.” 
Well sorry I won the Anne Hathaway genetics lottery Mr Perfect – having big eyes isn’t really a bad quality to have. I can see things like douche bags a mile away and bat my lashes out of tram tickets, so shoo! Go find a smaller owl-eyed girl to play with. (I’ve also had, “You’ve got eyes like a cow” multiple times, but this one’s easily fixed with a “Mooo”.)

5. “Your hair’s a bit thin on top – you’d better watch that.” 
I’ve graced this tendril topic before on my blog. Yes, I have thin hair, and yes, I dye my hair dark so my scalp looks a little Edward Scissorhands. But chances are you’ll be receding sooner than you can say “40th birthday party” so give this little haired Lorenza a rest.

6. “You’re much prettier in photos” 
This fella’s second language being English I tried to help him out with, “Do you mean that I’m photogenic?” But apparently no, he was adamant it was photos I looked better in than real life. Well Photoshop me! I’ll take that as a compliment, only people’s names that end in “Victoria’s Secret” have that on their CV.

7. “She’s only here for today, so make no emotional investment in her.” 
Nothing to do with dating this time, it was a freelance placement in an office full of muscle-laden men. It didn’t stop there. When I asked where the bathroom was, they told me I could pee in the bushes. Ahh male dominated offices – not for faint-bladdered.

8. “You look well European, you can’t be Australian.” (Cockney accent necessary). 
Ahh the British. Yes, we’re all blonde-haired, blue-eyed Lara Bingles down here love! Even with the brown hair I still get to ride a Kangaroo to school, so nerr.

9. “I’m attracted to you and I want to have sex with you but I don’t want you as a girlfriend.” 
I’m sure the look on my face at this point was only one thing: Confusion. I mean how could anyone not want me as a girlfriend? I’m awesome! Jokes aside, if only every guy was this forthright and honest I would have saved an awful lot of tight dresses and time.

10. “Your nose looks a lot bigger when you part your hair in the middle.”
Just kidding, no man said that! My Mum said it when I was 17 and I’ve had a side fringe ever since.

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3.6 A spoon full of smile, half a cup of intrigue and a pound of uncertainty.

I’ve found the perfect recipe to dating. Well maybe it’s not a Women’s Weekly worthy recipe – but it requires scales or cups or varying degrees of anything that can measure equal parts of ‘like’. After years upon years of dating I’ve concluded; a relationship can only blossom (yes I said blossom) when there’s the same amount of like/ lust/ scaredy cattiness tugging on both sides of the does-she/he-like-me-too? whiskers of the cat.

We’ve all been there. You’re absolutely gushing over this new guy/ girl you’ve met – you’ve had a date or a few dates, it’s ramping up, you’re clearing your Saturday for waxing and blow drying when Tuesday’s toddled by, Wednesday’s humped along and now you’ve checked your phone 14 thousand times yet the dribble of flirty fun texts that weren’t really mentioning anything of a meetup but SURELY that’s what he was getting at with all those winky smiley faces right? Have now become nothing. Cold hard iPhone cracks of sweet nothing. You might even send another message… but regret it exactly 14 seconds, minutes, hours and possibly days and years if you’re me later when there’s still no response.

Were you too keen? Did you smell like curry on that last date? Did you put too many suggestive eggplant emoticons in that last text? Should you have not sent the topless selfie? Kidding. Who does that? At least crop your head off for that’s-not-me to the colleagues and lawyers for hooters sake.

Anyway it’s none of that, trust me. Dudes love curry. Simple thing is: You both weren’t feeling, having, parading, gushing or simply equal measuring in the same amount of like.

I’ve dated guys I was ahhing and mmming over. Yet the way-too-soon moment of receiving the “Sitting at the train station thinking of you…” text. I threw him straight in the ‘He likes me too much and I don’t like him that much and now shit’s just weird’ pile. Urgh. Had he left that another few weeks or even to the next date I probably would have swooned. Probably.

You need the cat and mouse. You need the pull and tug (that didn’t sound right) you need the thrill and squealing suspense. You need to stare at your screen and get Samsung butterflies when that text appears – not have four on your screen before you’ve even date-debriefed to the housemates. Because it’s no fun when someone obviously likes you, so early on, is it?

I’ve been there when a housemate gave a girl a bunch of flowers. Second date. With an… “I love you”. Oh gosh it was terrifying, unbelievable cute and oh-so-wrong all at the same time. Thank goodness this was uni days and he will have learned by now if he didn’t already from the cringes and wide eyes from those of us standing around. I don’t think I’ll ever forget the look on her face. Scared.

I liken this a little to housemate hunting or job interviewing – you’re both checking each out, you don’t want to be too keen but if you like them you’ve got to show enough interest to make them think they want you in their life. Acting all omg-I-love-your-paisley-couch is basically taking your date diamond ring shopping.

It’s such a delicate recipe I can see how so many people get it wrong. Yet I don’t think there’s a perfect way to knead that dough or cookie cutter those biscuits or measure that perfect amount of like someone has for you. You’ve just got to jump in there heart first, hands floured and hope to hell they’ve got that non stick, self raising flour, same level of like to share.

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3.3 Thirty things I’ve learned about Men.

1. If a man doesn’t call you, he doesn’t like you. Stop staring at your phone, yes you gave him the right number.

2. It’s very hard to be friends with a man unless he’s an ex, your Dad, your brother or gay.

3. That man at work. Yup, he’s thought about having sex with you.

5. Men who say “They’re not sure about you yet…” Stop waiting for them, they’ll never be sure about you.

6. First 3 months? They’re dating girls other than you. Or certainly having sex with them.

7. The best man you know has probably cheated.

8. The most popular, well liked, charming one definitely has.

9. Meet a man on holiday? Please leave him on holiday. No good will come of it once you’re home.

10. Men do nice things for you when they like you.

11. Men will chase after you when they like you.

12. A man who likes you won’t be scared when you chase back.

13. Men fart. A lot. Seriously they’re just holding them in right now.

14. Men who wear Lycra and cycle seem to want to wax everything.

15. Laptops are what men watch porn with. Nom nom. Wash your hands after use.

16. If a man calls after 9pm he doesn’t see you as girlfriend material. Ever.

17. Men like long hair, they’re lying when they say your short hair-cut looks nice.

18. When you remove men off Facebook they seem to get really upset about it. They’ll even call you immature then stalk you on Linked-In.

19. Men who don’t call or message within a day of a sleepover have simply ticked you off their to-do list.

20. Men are happy to have grown up conversations. They’re not going to run to the man caves like we tend to think.

21. When your brother says you wear too much makeup… you probably do.

22. If a man you’re dating bangs on about how hot your friends are… dump him.

23. If a man is rude to you in front of your friends… dump him.

24. If a man ever hits you or knocks you down even if it’s an accident… tell your Dad.

25. Men can be and will be just as soppy and caring as girls.

26. Just tell a man what you want rather than dancing around the subject. It works much faster. I said FASTER.

27. Men think about you long after you’ve forgotten about them.

28. If a man books you a plane, train, or ferry ticket to see him. Keep a hold of him.

29. Most men aren’t freaked out by periods.

30. A man will wait for you. Whether it’s a date, to have a baby or when you just need longer to do your hair.

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