Summer Holiday Vignettes

There is a note in my phone that reads:

Life is like a string of fairy lights. A series of bright spots strung together by predictable tunnels of gloom. 


The bright spots are the bits we live for. Struggling through a mundane work day, I would often find myself day dreaming about summer holidays and all the lovely things that this time of the year brings. Most of that is behind me now, and I am savouring my last free days before I return to work. The memories have been made and it is my duty to keep them alive in the multiplex of my mind. For when it all comes down to it, the bright spots should be all that we remember. It is the lights of the fairy lights that make them beautiful, and not the cables and circuitry that hold it all together.

So here are my Summer Holiday Vignettes. The moments that are worth remembering, the moments that add up to a life well led.

Sharing a “Breezer Bucket” on the balcony of the Lyric theatre with my Mum, my sister Tiges and my oldest friend, Jackie Patch on her annual visit home from China. It was my first day of holidays, and Mum was taking Phoebs and her friend Charlotte to see “Dirty Dancing”. The girls were excited and dressed in their finery. The night was light and airy with a soft breeze that only being close to water will bring you. Everything was ahead of us, it was just the beginning of the holiday season. We sipped our candy pink drinks and talked about nothing and everything. While they were at the show, enjoying Fake Swayze, we met the one and only Miss Marines at another pub for more drinks and more talk. After the show we all caught the Light Rail home together and ate Mum’s box of Quality Streets. Reminiscing about chocolate is a pathway to childhood memories.

Dinner Al Fresco and Al Raino in Johnson Park. Tiges and Josh wanted to get rid of all of their Soda Pony food before closing over Christmas, so they invited us for a “cookout” in the park (they didn’t call it a cookout, but I like the term). When we arrived the boys were doing laps around the picnic table in their pyjamas, clutching lego and vibrating with excitement. We had the best table because no one else was vying for it like they do in the day. The food was serious – way better than I was expecting. It was the Soda Pony menu in the park. We crowded around the barbecue like buzzards and ate burritos fresh off the hotplate. Hot beans, guacamole and beer. Happy cousins banding together. Then the rain came and no one cared because we were all together and having fun.

Christmas Eve in Mollymook. I’ve always loved Christmas Eve, more full of anticipation than a dark raincloud of a summer day. It’s even better when you’re in a holiday town with your family. After sleeping in late, we spent the rest of the day we were on the move, weaving in and out of different activities and different groupings. Last minute shopping in Milton, a raucous game of 10 Pin Bowling in Ulladulla with the three generations, walking Maxine with Dad and the little boys. Dad and I drank a Corona outside on high wooden stools at our holiday house and it was the beginning of a party. When we returned to the main house, everyone was there, the fridge was full of beer and it was a perfect night of fun. Angus wore a big faux-fur blanket around his shoulders and became “The Bison”, thrilling the little boys as he raced around in character. Eating Mum’s Moussaka in the courtyard (“There’s vomit on his sweater already, Mum’s Moussaka”) and then dipping back into that never ending tin of Quality Streets.

Saray’s Pop-Up Alleyway restaurant. After a fun night boozin’ with old buddies, we had the choice: Townie or Sarays. The Townie might have been in with a chance if there wasn’t terrible live music blasting out onto the street – Pide triumphed. We pooled our cash and ordered 4 pizzas between 6, but they’d shut the restaurant down and we had nowhere to eat except on the street. Veve and I were both wandering around independently, sussing out the best doorway to huddle in when we ran into each other in the Buzz Bar alleyway. Our eyes met – perfect! Veve sweet talked the Buzz Bar manager into letting us use his outdoor tables and I ordered a round of 6 bottled beers just before they shut for the night. We then organised the three small tables into one long table with 6 seats and put a beer at each place. When the pizzas were ready, the gang found us waiting in our private pop-up restaurant. Six old friends feasted together, surrounded by beautiful street art and away from the hustle of Enmore Rd. It was a magical moment, like the scene from “Lady and The Tramp”.


What is a beach house without a nautically-inspired, distressed wooden photo frame? Or a star-fish hanging on the wall for that matter? Makers of ceramic lighthouses always know that they have a market for their goods as long as people are decorating their holiday houses.


A Very Stable Christmas

There are two times of the year where I go a bit cuckoo. Actually, there’s more than two…but there are two that I can set my watch by. The Easter Long Weekend and the week between Christmas and New Year. Bad times for Adrenaline Boots.
The Easter one is a bit inexplicable, but my sisters get it. All three of us dread Good Friday and I think of the 4-day weekend as a transmutational telephone booth. Step in as one person, and come out as another. I am never unchanged by the Easter Long Weekend.
The week between Christmas and New Year is just one big, long, anti-climactic comedown. A balloon that gets gradually softer and wrinklier.
But this year I have decided to make a change…and I’m starting with the man in the mirror. This year I have dubbed
“A Very Stable Christmas”.
Here is my recipe for good Christmas mental health:
No Christmas Tree. A good christmas tree is a thing of beauty. I fetishize Christmas decorations, looove a good bauble. What I hate is taking the tree down after it’s all over. De-pressing. I have saved myself a bit of heartache and hot, sweaty labour.
LAST YEAR                                                              THIS YEAR
Ok – so Phoebs wouldn’t allow “no” Christmas tree. But that little white sticky thing is fairly negligible.
Reduce Gift Giving. I absolutely love buying presents for people. Choosing the perfect gift for someone you love is exciting. But right in the middle of the December retail frenzy is no time for thoughtful and reflective present selection. Plus it’s a bad time to be spending shitloads of money. I’m a freelancer who doesn’t get paid over this period. Blowing all our cash is not a smart idea. Presents for kids and parents and partners is enough. I can spoil my friends and sisters on their birthdays.
Limit the Partying. The hardest one to stick to, but the one guaranteed to give the best results. A month of late nights and excessive drinking is sure to make anyone a cranky little fucker. Choose your moments, drink plenty of soda water.
Here in the Southern Hemisphere, we are blessed with both Christmas and the Summer Holidays in tandem. It should be a wonderful time to socialise and relax. Wishing you all A Very Stable Christmas.

Crisis in Blogsville

Last Sunday evening a bolt of lightening hit our modem and we’ve been internetless ever since.
While that incident has certainly crimped my blogging, it hasn’t been insurmountable.
However, recent events have led to a Crisis in Blogsville. The Silly Season has morphed into The Serious Season and suddenly my frivilious little postings seem pointless.
As a society we live in denial of the fact that we have so little control of our destinies. Running around making plans and using up each day like a disposable tissue: yanking it from the box as if the supply will never run out. But there is no guarantee that the day you opened your eyes to will be the one that you close your eyes to at night. So much can happen in an instant, reality can turn on a dime. When something monumental happens I often think “When I woke up this morning, I had no idea that this would happen”. Nobody ever does.
I have made a conscious decision to stay away from the news. It could be described as wilful ignorance or ostrich imitation. But I figure that most of what the news media serves up to us is cheap and ugly thrills. I do agree that it’s important to be informed and I am slightly embarrassed that I can’t even name the NSW Premier (I caught him on TV the other morning and I’ve forgotten his name again. Sorry Mum). But voraciously slurping up details of murder and cruelty does not help me become a better person.
Which is why I surprised myself by becoming caught up in news-checking a few days ago during the “Sydney Siege”. When it comes to noteworthy news items, I suppose I am fairly parochial. But hey, I know where the Lindt cafe is. I have been to the Lindt cafe. The ability to put oneself in another person’s shoes certainly increases empathy. The horrific ordeal endured by the hostages touched a nerve with many Australians and indeed many people around the world. I have thought a lot about the image of those hands against the glass and the idea of them being so visible yet so untouchable at the same time. There was a sense of powerlessness – even with a battalion of armed and armoured police just metres away those people were as vulnerable as baby birds in a nest. In a sense, we are always on the wrong side of the glass. The news brings images of human beings in desperate moments, summoning our human responses – our empathy, our compassion, our desire to help and to comfort and to soothe – but gives us no way of acting on those emotions. Merely observing the parade of human suffering from behind the glass is frustrating and disempowering.
I want to do more, but I am not brave. I’m afraid of the ugly side of humanity. I avoid confrontation and dirty toilets. My challenge is to help more.

The Nth Degree

Nothing is over until it has been pushed to the nth degree. There’s extreme, there’s over the top, there’s utmost and maximum. But there is always one step further. And the pendulum will not swing back until the nth degree has been reached. That’s just human nature and that’s why nothing should ever surprise us until it has gone so far that it implodes.

I’m always banging on about the nth degree. It’s a little catch phrase of mine. Let me give you a real world example so you can catch my drift.

Big Bums. We haven’t hit the nth degree yet. We are getting close, but there’s still wiggle room. Go back to 1992 when Sir MixaLot released “Baby Got Back”. The size of the bums in that film clip seems miniscule by today’s standards. What is critical mass for bums? When we read the first news report of a woman dying from butt implants? When somebody’s butt is so big they can’t get through a door? When an eight year old girl commits suicide because her bum isn’t big enough? If an A-List celebrity has something, a B-List celebrity will always get one bigger and a nobody who wants to be on The Jerry Springer Show will have the biggest.

Baby got back

Teeny Tiny in ’92


Heading towards disaster

Bulldozer Theory

Adrenaline Boots is my name, Amateur Philosophy is my game.

The way that I make sense of the world is to create visual analogies that neatly illustrate complex theories. They don’t always stand up to thorough cross-examination, but they are a handy little shortcut to provide some clarity.

The Bulldozer Theory has been kicking around in my head for a while. Let’s imagine that we all come onto this earth as a bulldozer. Not all bulldozers are built the same. Some have natural advantages. Better grip on their tracks. A sharper blade or smoother hydraulics. Every bulldozer is situated on some sort of terrain. A level field of soft earth. A slightly more rocky and uneven landscape or completely hostile and unyielding topography.

Bulldozer’s: Start Your Engines

In this analogy we are the bulldozers and the terrain is our life situation. A healthy baby born into a happy, middle-income home in suburban Sydney is a shiny new bulldozer on a bed of luscious soil. In the beginning the going is easy. They trundle along with barely any obstacles. But along the way, they are picking up more dirt. Every push forward, more of the soil of life accumulates. Some rocks get in the way and slow the progress. If all goes well enough, this baby bulldozer will be doing its work for many productive years. But in this analogy, the bulldozer never gets to dump it’s load. The load grows exponentially. The dirt that it picked up in the beginning is still there at the end….along with a whole lotta other dirt picked up along the way. The dirt is our life experience. We carry our life experience with us from birth to death. The load grows everyday. That is why when we get older, we get more tired. We have more to push. More rocks, more dirt and our machine ain’t what it used to be.

Some bulldozers have been pushing shit up hill from the very beginning. Unhealthy bulldozers in unhealthy societies. Big rocks of misfortune scattered in their path from day one. Pushing a load they are not equipped to deal with. Some sputter out and breakdown early. Others have the resilience to keep going, but it doesn’t mean that their load is any lighter. We cannot compare the loads of any two bulldozers, for every bulldozer is different and they handle their dirt in their own unique way. Every bulldozer is alone in their struggle or their duty or their career or their calling or even their torturous hell of dirt pushing. There are endless combinations of factors that determine how we will fare in life. We did not choose our bulldozer; we did not choose our terrain. We cannot remember every grain of experience and yet it all stays with us.

I suppose the bulldozer theory could be seen as quite depressing, but I don’t intend it to be so. It is merely acknowledgement that it can be difficult to push our load, it can hamper our progress. But our only choice is to keep pushing forward and to be cognizant of the fact that everyone is pushing their own load, no bulldozer gets a free pass. A big, messy pile of dirt and rocks and debris is a sign of life experience, challenges met, time spent on earth. It is not a question of whether life is hard. It is. The question is: can we keep pushing our load with dignity and sift through the dirt of our experience to find the meaning?

bulldozer-20626-2970785Young Bulldozer Pup at the Start of Life


This one has seen some tough times


Loads of Life Experience


When Life Gives You Boulders…Make Boulderade

The Opal Conga Line

Hey Mon,

I wan tell you bout new craze – it’s called the “Opal Conga Line”.

Here’s what you do: I heard that them gates at the train station are not timed. They are sensored, ok? You put yourn ticket in and them doors open. Them doors not timed. Them doors sensored, ok?

You be 3 miles wide fat, and them doors not close on you.You put ticket in, you walk through. Them doors sense your presence and them shut when you through.

Ok you be one person, you be two. Stick together like glue. You be three, you be four. Hey open up that door…

“It’s the Opal Conga Line”

I wan you get as many people you can, How long can you make your conga line be?

Grab them hips and shuffle through – It’s the Opal Conga Line.

Ok- I hope you using a ‘eavy Jamacian accent. This is the Opal Conga Line.

PS: Excuse the extreme Jamaican stereotypes. I need to harness all of my Conga powers (closely related to limbo skills) to get across the tone of what the Opal Conga Line should involve. It’s the tropical party spirit – it’s about reaffirming connection with fellow human beings and joining the Conga line of civic disruption. How many people can we get through the barriers on one Opal tap? #opalcongaline

The Fifth Limb

I’m feeling a bit like Jake The Peg if he lost his third leg. Something vital is missing and yet I can feel phantom traces of it.

Yesterday I lost my phone.

It’s coming back – hallelujah! Somebody found it! – but I am coming up to my 24th hour without it. Life feels strangely different without a phone. It does feel like something vital to my personage is missing. I feel as though I am letting people down (What if someone texts me and they think I don’t want to answer them?). I feel completely disconnected from information that I need (like the time for instance) but most of all, I feel as though I have lost my default state of engagement.

Whenever I have a spare nanosecond, I check my phone. I check it for texts. I check it for Instagram. I check it for emails. I check just to see that it’s still there. Countless times yesterday I caught myself reflexively reaching out for thin air. My hand works involuntarily – it reaches for my phone just for the reassurance of touching it. When I’m walking I pat my bag for the reassurance of knowing it’s in there.

Last night I was at the pub with Jessicat. When she got up to go to the bar, I immediately reached for my phantom phone. Default state of engagement. With no friend to talk to, I was going to play with my phone, hang out with it for a bit. Once I got used to it, I found it strangely liberating. My default state of engagement could now be reflecting and thinking.


Danger walked past and read the title of this post. He said “Fifth Limb? Isn’t that a penis?”. My iPhone is my Penis. Very Freudian.

Miss Piggy Colour Scheme

There are so many ways to know a thing. We have our five senses but we also have those intangible feelings and hunches and vibes. So much of my understanding of the world is just wisps. A dandelion petal in the great big atmosphere of knowledge and understanding.

The other day I was walking along, thinking, and the term “Miss Piggy Colour Scheme” came into my mind. It felt satisfying – like a jigsaw puzzle piece that slots right into it’s space. I liked the way the combination of the words sounded in my mind. I could see a flash of her colours and the way they embody and represent her character and I could almost feel the soft velvet of her nose as something visually edible. It was a melange of senses that made no sense but made perfect sense to me.


The Gods of Public Transport

As a non-driver I put a lot of stock in the Gods of Public Transport. They have the ability to make or break my day. Depending on the outcome, they can be benevolent or capricious and sometimes even downright vengeful.

“The Gods of Public Transport were smiling on me today”

“I prayed to The Gods of Public Transport”

“I was at the mercy of The Gods of Public Transport”

These are all lines lifted straight from my diary. If I do have a spiritual life, it all seems pretty tied up with whether my bus comes on time or I make a smooth train connection.

My religious system is polytheistic but I have never thought to imagine the individual Gods. They’re just a hazy idea in the back of my mind, somehow responsible for the fact that I just missed that train (arghhh!!!) or the correct bus was there right when I reached my stop (ahhhhhh).

I suppose they would wear robes made of that carpet-like fabric that covers bus chairs and looks like a pub carpet that threw up its Froot Loops or an ayahuasca vision. They’d wear giant golden whistles around their neck and carry sceptres that unfolded into fluorescent flags. When they spoke, their voices would sound like a scratchy Public Address system. On 11.


Are these scribblings really ancient hieroglyphics or did they steal a pre-schoolers crayon drawing and weave it into a fabric design?