Monday, May 30, 2011

Happily shattered

I just wrote a ripper of a post, and then pressed delete. Hmmm, tired much? That's how switched on I am at 10.45pm after my most hectic day since forever, a day that involved Mandarin class at 8.30am, work straight after for an entire day, and then a hard core 60 minute netball match at 8pm. My couch and I just reunited 45 minutes ago. It was a joyous reunion, full of affectionate stroking and nuzzling.

Day 1 was great. And not just because I suddenly feel like I have a real purpose to my days, and one that I think I'm going to like, but mostly because there's this amazing new French deli, Monsieur Chatte, down the road from work that sells the most wet-your-pants ham and cheese baguettes, amongst a myriad of other gourmet lovelies. This is tres rare in Honkers, let me tell you, so having it on my doorstep every day is going to be such a treat.

And.... on top of that busy, but great day, I got my first freelance writing gig for a business travel magazine. When it rains, it pours eh?

Good things seem to be happening right now, really good things. And it feels bloody great.

Happy days my friends, happy days....

Sunday, May 29, 2011

The start of something new

I start my internship tomorrow. Yep, tomorrow is my first day on the job. First day on any real job, in fact, for 12 whole months. I know!! I can barely believe it's been that long since I said goodbye to my old colleagues, and my old life back in London. Time flies, eh?

I have to admit I'm slightly nervous about the whole thing. About meeting new people, and being completely out of my comfort zone, and about being the 'new girl' again. About making a good impression. About getting through a 9-hour day at work, with no couch time, or snack time, or "I'll just pop to the beach for a swim"-time (how will I cope?). But mostly, I'm nervous about what the hell I'm going to wear?! For as long as I've been working, I've been involved in the somewhat public sector industry, and with physios no less. It was all shorts and slacks and t-shirts and shirts and runners or 'sensible shoes' as we used to call them, namely hideous chunky black soft, but 'oh-so'-comfortable' loafers that kept you on your feet all day. I am completely out of my league with attire for cool, but casual office-wear for a funky, modern travel-guide brand!

If that's the extent of my worries though, I think I'll be alright. At the same time as worrying about looking like I stepped out of a Big-W catalogue, I am also really excited about it all. So excited to be getting my teeth into something interesting and dynamic. And to be involved with a cool brand that I absolutely love. Excited to learn about the company, how it runs, what makes it tick. About having a real purpose every day. And about seeing whether this industry might actually be the perfect fit! Fingers are crossed.

So, any wise words of advice for first day jitters would be warmly welcomed at this point.
Hoping to see you in one piece on the other side!

ps. Could this mean I'm no longer a Tai Tai?? *gasp*

Friday, May 27, 2011

A harsh lesson from Mr. Channel V

I love music channels on TV. Always have. Did you ever get up at 7am on a Saturday morning to catch the beginning of Rage on the ABC (after It's a Knockout, of course)? Or get stuck in front of Smash Hits for your entire Sunday? Well, I did and I loved it. Everything about it. The incredible dancing, the catchy tunes, the awesome makeup and outfits and the whole pizzazz of it all quite simply rocked my world. And it still does. 

Let me correct myself. It did. That was before I came to Asia and realised that there are some non-English speakers in this neck of the woods, which also means there needs to be non-English speaking music to entertain them. Well, that's great. Just not on my clock, thankyouverymuch. But unfortunately Mr. Channel V doesn't really give a rats arse about me, and has decided that Cantopop be on the musical curriculum for all. 

Well, thanks to Mr. V, I very quickly learnt my lesson at the School of Cantopop.

1) All artist MUST use combination of local language and English. This way we appealing to many nationality. 

2) All artist MUST wear shaggy, very shine, lop-sided hair.

3) All artist MUST be dancing in flying-V formation. Sexsy hair is front. 

4) All artist MUST have heavy eyeliner on. Boy and girl. Mainly important for boy.

5) Even though 2011, all artist MUST get inspirational from America boy band groups something close 'Backstreet Boys'.

Exhibit A

Exhibit B

Thank you Mr V. Lesson very clearly learnt.

FYI - I will NOT be coming back to class.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Discovering Chung Hom Kok

This week is my last before the old 9 to 5 starts again so I decided to grab these last few days by the balls and do a few things that I can look back fondly on when it's 3pm next Monday, and I'm staring at the computer, counting down the hours till the working day is done and wishing I'd never bloody well given up chocolate. Which I might add, I still have. 3 weeks on. Go me.

We'd been recommended this little beach down near Stanley in a place called Chung Hom Kok, where apparently it's extra quiet and the water extra clean. Today was a cracker of a day. Hot, but not too hot. Humid, but not too humid. So after a nice yoga sesh this morning, I took me, my book, my Sth African basket that my husband bought for me when he was on a broker-paid-for safari (dick), some BBQ shapes and some suncream down to this little hidden gem. And what a gem it was. I took a taxi and got dropped off at a dead end, took the winding staircase down through some bushland, and stepped out onto a, literally, deserted beach.

To top off the beauty of this place, there were gum trees dotted along the back of the beach, with peeling bark and that heavenly eucalyptus scent that is just so Australia.

Then, just before I got up to leave, a group of Filipino women arrived, clearly ecstatic to be enjoying the beautiful beach and a picnic with some friends. And then I realised what was really going on.  A white wet t-shirt comp photo shoot.

Entertainment? Tick. Clear water? Tick. Serious book-reading? Tick. Slight tanning? Tick. 
Mission accomplished? Tick tick tick tick tick. 

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Wordless Wednesday: Des fleurs

Found in the middle of a concrete alleyway in Sheung Wan...

Linking up with Faith, Hope and a Whole Lotta Love.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Off my chest

When I was a teenager, I had an issue with trusting people. And not because I had any big, bad or ugly experiences in childhood that gave me a reason to. My childhood was all peaches and cream. But growing up, I found myself in a position a few times where I'd confide in someone about something, and then before I knew it, someone else knew, and then someone else knew, and then some person who I specifically hadn't told, came up to me to tell me about something about myself I clearly already knew. And it just always felt so terrible. To have people know something you specifically hadn't shared. Talking about you behind your back like it was gossip. Like a betrayal. The ultimate humiliation. A knife through the heart. At that age, I took it all really personally and as a result, was a closed book for a long time. I bottled everything up.

I'm most certainly more of an open book now (obviously......I write a blog for god's sake), and learnt over the years that you get much more out of relationships with people by being open and honest. And that my really good friends know how much I value trust, and respect it.

Sadly though, it happened to me recently and wow - it still cuts like a knife. A massive, big butcher's knife. I'm not going to bring it up with them, or make a big deal about it because, well, I'm sure if they'd thought about it for more than a second, they'd have realised it wasn't their information to share. And to be honest, I'm not one for confrontation. And everyone makes mistakes. And I don't want to waste time being worried about something that's done and dusted and really not that important in the scheme of things.

But I felt it and it didn't feel good. So I guess that's why I'm writing it down here. Because as is very apparent, thanks to the blog, I'm no bottler anymore. And I just needed to get that off my chest.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Good tunes, good times

As I mentioned in my post yesterday, I'm a closet popstar/rockstar/any-star wannabe. Yes, 'tis true. 'Tis SO true, it's sad. One of my simple pleasures in life (among many others) is singing my heart out, preferably in the car or in my apartment with the music up very loud. And preferably alone. Because I sing so much better when I'm alone. Don't you? Funny that.

So when Kate from Kate Takes 5 pulled out her Listography this week - Top 5 Albums by a Band - I instantly thought "Snap. I'm all over this". Turns out choosing 5 ain't so easy. But I've given it a good nudge and am now dancing around at the top of my lungs having a jolly old time thanks to my dear friend Kate. Shame no one's here to see it really.

  1. Boyz II Men - Legacy

Oh yes. You heard me. Don't pretend you haven't crooned along to "On Bended Knee" more times than you'd care to admit, or pulled the air down in a heart-wrenching fist to "I'll make love to you". There's nothing to be ashamed of. Really.  

2. Powderfinger - Odyssey No 5

Well, if you're Australian, you'll 100% get this choice. Like most of my countrymen, I have every one of Powderfinger's albums and am utterly and completely in love with Coxie, the drummer and of course, Bernard, the lead singer. Luckily, they're also an incredible band. And live? They just plain rock. If this song doesn't make you feel good, well, perhaps you need to see a counsellor. 

3. The Killers - Hot Fuss or Sam's Town or Day & Age (I couldn't choose) 

"I got soul but I'm not a soldier, I got soul but I'm not a soldier, I got soul but I'm not a soldier". Seriously. The anthem of the century (from Sam's Town).

I am so attached to this band. Not only is it Phil's all time favourite band, but they are pretty much the theme band (if there is such a thing) for my time in London. We saw them play at so many concerts and festivals, and had so many amazing nights dancing like mad with our awesome London friends to their ridiculously awesome songs. Amazing times all round. Oh, and I fancy Brandon Flowers. How could you not? Only problem is he's a midget, and a Morman.

4. Mumford & Sons - Sigh No More

Little Lion Man. Triple J's Top 100, 2009. 'Nuff said.

5. Phoenix - United

a) They're French. 
b) Their albums are an amazing mix between every genre. So it pleases everyone.
c) They are incredible live.
d) They're French.

If you've not heard Phoenix before, sit back, grab a beer and listen to this song and this one. Trust me, you'll be hooked.

So, there they are. My top 5. 

What do you think? Are you fan? Do you no longer respect me for including B2M? I'm actually a bit of a boy band lover....but that's a whole other blog post ;)

Head on over to Kate's blog to see some more bands. I haven't spotted any other boy bands yet. Gulp.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Aretha is my Kryptonite


I heard this line on Glee the other day, "Aretha is my Kryptonite". Talk about a cracking one liner! One of the stars was talking about their musical obsession of the moment, the artist that kept them going and took them to their happy place. Much like that time on Grey's Anatomy, I burst out laughing, grabbed the laptop shaking my head in awe, and made sure to write it down. I'm developing a (very) slow love affair with Glee. And seriously, how good is Gwyneth?

Now, I am sorry Aretha, but you ain't my kryptonite at the moment. But do you want to know who is?

Without a shadow of a doubt.....Adele.

Man that chick can sing. She takes talent and goosebumps to a whole new level. She can croon like there's no tomorrow, can't she? And me being the closet wannabe popstar that I am, take great pleasure in crooning along with her, at the top of my out-of-tune lungs. Particularly to this song and this song. Closet diva central.

So, then. Do you love Adele as much as me? Who's your musical kryptonite at the moment? 

Friday, May 20, 2011

A curveball

It's amazing how life can change from one day to the next, isn't it? How the reality you become accustomed to, that you gradually become comfortable with, that becomes your every day, can so quickly shift to a brand spanking new reality. And all in the blink of an eye. Or in the popping of a question. Or the delivery of some news. An email. A phone call.

The past few days have been interesting for me. I've been pushing this career change business quite hard of late, and what-do-you-know? I've gone and landed an editorial internship at a very cool travel/lifestyle publication that I love. Snap. Snap. Snap. Can you believe it?! I can't. I really can't. Not that I don't think I'm a great catch for any organisation. I most definitely do. I'm hard working, and organised, and too efficient for my own good, and a fast learner and solution focused (can you tell I've been job hunting?). And not that there's any guarantee of a job at the end of 8 weeks but still, you've got to start somewhere, right?

There's only a very small part of me, somewhere down in my left big toe that's tired of all this. Tired of constantly readjusting my reality. Riding the roller-coaster of highs and lows that come with re-establishing yourself in a new city and trying to figure out exactly where you might fit. Sigh.

But, let's be honest, this city doesn't leave room for fatigue and, hey, life is all about curveballs, right?  And for this curveball in particular? This one I've been so keen to have thrown my way? That I'm so sure is one of those true forks in the road?

I say......."Folks? Batter-up".

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Wordless Wednesday: Wonderful Whitsundays

These photos are from a holiday to the Whitsundays a few years back with my entire family. It was our first family trip in years and we spent it on a 50ft Beneteau yacht sailing around the most heavenly place on earth. I am so lucky to call Australia home. 

Hope you enjoy x

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

The joy of consumerism - a list

This week's Listography over at Kate Takes 5 is '5 products you couldn't live without'. Now there are so many on my list it is ridiculous. I have quickly realised that I am a slave to consumerism. A slaaaaaave.

Take any one of these 5 away from me and I would be so "Not happy, Jaaaaaaaan".

(1) Lucas Paw Paw
Oh my stars - even contemplating living without this stuff on my lips makes me feel woozy beyond belief. I need a tube of the stuff within at least 10 metres reach of me at all times and I most certainly cannot leave home or go to sleep without it. Nothing upsets me more than a parched, dry lip. Nothing.
[This is also a fabulous product for healing scars, dry skin, and cracked whathaveyous. I highly recommend you give it a nudge].

(2) My Hairdryer
I am lucky enough (ahem) to be endowed with naturally flat, limp hair that crowns my face much like a dead mouse, should I not have the magic of the hairdryer at my fingertips. It is a rare occasion that I will leave the house without going through the process of moussing (not to be confused with mouse-ing, I don't have to try for that, remember?) and blasting my hair to give it some form of shape and volume. If for some godforsaken reason I don't have access, both my hair and I, remain flat the entire day. Boo.

(3) My laptop
I know this one is probably on everyone's list, but for little old me who is still unemployed, desperately trying to be employed, and yearning for some form of human interaction during my days, my laptop is about as crucial as drinking water for me at the mo'. Helps that it's just so gaddammed pretty too.

(4) Skype
A less tangible product, but a product all the same, I cannot live without this. Having lived overseas for the best part of almost 7 years, Skype allows me to so easily keep in touch with family and friends anywhere in the world (mostly London and Sydney). To see their faces, their expressions, their body language, their laughs, their tears, their everything. To actually feel like we're really hanging out while we're chatting across cyberspace is priceless.

(5) Air-conditioning
Now, this is not a commodity I would have even considered 6 months ago, but now? Now that I live on a tropical island where it is SO steamy? And SO hot? And SO humid that I can't take two steps without wiping my soaked brow? I would die without it. Literally die.

So, there you go. My top 5 products of the moment that get me through each and every day.

Head on over to Kate's brilliant blog to check out other people's prized possessions.....

Monday, May 16, 2011

Do you structure your writing?

The second week of the online Feature writing course I'm doing through the Sydney Writers' Centre has been all about 'How to structure a feature'. Breaking down a piece of writing into sizable chunks so you can take the reader on a logical and engaging journey through the story. And my word, how I like me some structure. Excited? Tick.

First, there's the HOOK. The first line, or couple of lines, that grab the reader's attention and entice them to read on.

Second, the FOCUS. This is the next paragraph or two that introduces the reader to the topic/person of interest.

Then follows the SUB-TOPICS. You can have as many of these as is necessary but you have to link them with a TRANSITION. One of those sneaky little lines you'd probably never notice as a reader, but my-oh-my, that is exactly the point. It moves you on a seamless transition from one sub-topic to the next and makes the piece, well, an easy read. For me, this is where the craft lies.

And finally, of course, the ENDING. This, funnily enough, ends the piece. Shock horror.

Now all us bloggers spend a little time each day putting words down on paper to share with the big wide world. But do you structure what you write? Do you think about a way to HOOK people in to want to read more? Do you explain the FOCUS of your story before going on to describe issues (sub-topics) surrounding it? Do you try to END it with a bang?

When I first thought about whether I structure my writing, my immediate answer was no, of course I don't. I sit down and I just write, whatever comes into my head ends up on the screen. I most definitely spend some time at the end playing around with what I've written to sharpen it up, but that is where it ends.

But, after a bit more thought and a scan through some old posts, I realised that I do actually structure my writing. It's just that I haven't really thought about it as structuring before. It's been more of a natural inclination to write something punchy at the beginning to lead into the guts of the post, and then to end it so that people will hopefully come back for more. My 'hooks' may not be as savvy as they could be, my 'focus' perhaps a bit fuzzy, and my 'sub-topics' more blah than blended, but the essence of a structure is most definitely there. I like to think so anyway ;)

So, what about you? Do you think about the structure of your post as you write it? Do you always use the same approach to your writing or do you mix it up? Do you use a different structure to the one above? Or do you just write?

Saturday, May 14, 2011

A sweat box and an escalator

It is really steaming up here in Honkers. And I mean really steaming up. Gone are the days of the ice-box, dirty puffa jackets and ugg boots. Now it's all about sweat. Sweaty legs, sweaty arms, sweaty brow, sweaty boobs and the cream of the crop, the sweaty bum. Yes, awful, ick, gross, I know. Welcome to my world. My wet, wet world.

But there is one saving grace amongst the relentless sweat box that I now inhabit.

The almighty black snake winding its way from the harbour, through Soho, past Park'n'Shop, and all the way up to our street in Midlevels. Oh, how I LOVE thee. You allow me to stand motionless, in a statue-like heat-trance while being mechanically lifted towards the air-conditioning, fresh lime sodas and reliable wifi that await me in my apartment. For that, my dear, dear escalator, I shall be forever grateful.

Linking up with Maxabella today.

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Not so 'Moderation'

I've come to realise that I'm not all that good at this whole 'moderation' thing.

Wait a minute, perhaps that's not 100% true....

I'm good at moderately cleaning, and good at moderately cooking dinner, and good at moderately listening to my husband when he tells me I'm wrong and very good at moderately exaggerating. But when it comes to my all-time favourite past-time of eating? Not so moderate. Oh no. Moderate I am SO not.

I could be here all day describing the things I put in my mouth, in less than moderate amounts. Boy, where do I start. Cashews? At least 3 handfuls. Hot chips? Don't even get me started. Plain salty chips? Parsh me ver powl....

But the sweet, sweet love of my immoderate life, is by far and away chocolate. Glorious, seductive, addictive, comforting chocolate. I have no qualms about making my way through a family block of Cadbury's hazelnut, or Cadbury's milk, or a block of Toblerone, or a KitKat, or Minstrels, or Maltesers, or Tim Tams or anything with a shiny wrapper that contains an element of chocolate, without anyone else's help. And the difference between this sly little product and the rest, is that I indulge in this one every night. Yes, I know. I knooooooow. And the biggest problem is the guilt that comes alongside it. Every night, after dinner, as I'm rustling the aluminium and deciding whether I'll have 6 or 8 or 10 or heck, 12, I hear the little chocolate devil whisper "A minute on the lips is a lifetime on the hips". Bitch.

A blogging legend over at Diminishing Lucy has started a great meme dedicated to zhushing any part of your life from Drab to Fab. And it made me realise that perhaps this not-so-moderate chocolate habit of mine was more Drab than Fab, and that I, along with the habit, and the little chocolate devil-bitch, need a proverbial kick up the ass.

Soooo, just like that, I've gone and ass-kicked the habit! For a whole 3 DAYS IN A ROW! I deserve a medal, don't you think? I thought I should share my intentions with you because it means you can all hold me accountable, somehow. Not sure how, but somehow.

As is the case with most addictions, I need to replace it with something. Something that won't bring the little chocolate-devil-bitch or banana-bread-devil-bitch or any god-damned devil-bitch anywhere near me. So, I'm throwing it open to the floor.

What should I be addicted to instead?

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Taking a bath for Buddha

We get 16 public holidays a year here in Honkers. Brilliant, isn't it? And today is one of them. Today we are celebrating Buddha's birthday. A very holy, reverent, important day, in which Buddha statues around Hong Kong get......bathed. Yep, you heard me. Bathed. I personally couldn't think of a better excuse to have a day off. "Sorry, I need to bathe today". Snap.

In order to show my appreciation of local rituals, on this public holiday, I, also, decided to bathe. For the first time in Hong Kong.

We took ourselves out to Deepwater Bay. It's the closest beach to where we live and just a 15 minute taxi ride away (unless of course, you go out there on a public holiday, in which case it takes a frustrating 45). When we arrived the beach was packed but we managed to find ourselves a patch of sand. I felt almost as if I was on the beach in Australia somewhere until we heard a harsh noise reminding us that no, in fact, we are most definitely in Hong Kong. A lady with the most charming and soothing, ahem, of voices proceeded to bark warnings over the loudspeaker in both Chinese and English. Something to the effect of "no ball games, no frisbees, no activities". Sounds fun, no?

Regardless of the stern warnings given, it was rather nice to be laying on a beach, reading a book, popping into the ocean every half hour and watching the endless amounts of families create those beachside memories I, myself, hold so dear. The fact that I had to dodge the plastic in the ocean and wash the smell off my body post-swim was a mere blip in the scheme of things. Can you see I'm trying to convince myself it's just a blip? Let's just hope I don't start growing horns on my hands anytime soon.

You'll be pleased to see that the visors, you know like the one I tried on in that sports store, were out in full force at Deepwater Bay. You see, I wasn't making it up. These women are dead serious.

All in all, a great way to celebrate Buddha's birthday and a great way to get some relief from this stifling weather. And it's only Spring. How on earth am I going to get through Summer?

Monday, May 9, 2011

A whirlwind visit

We flew in this morning from a whirlwind 3-day trip back to Sydney for THE most incredible wedding. There seems to be a lot of 'incredible weddingness' going on this year, doesn't there? This one was all class, with a classy couple, and classy cars, and classy food, and classy guests (including us, obviously), and classy decorations, and classy provincial crockery and classy music and, well you get the drift.

Sadly for you, but not so sadly for me, I opted OUT of camera responsibilities for the first time ever, in favour of a never-ending glass of champagne in my hand. A girls gotta have fun, right? As a result there are very few photos and only 3 incriminating videos involving extended-solo-seduction dancing with chairs. Clearly not appropriate for posting here considering both my mother and mother-in-law read this blog and currently think me an upstanding citizen. Ahem.

The only photos I do have are (1) of me with the bride's 6ft, 14 year old sister and bridesmaid, feeling very very old, (2) of the T-bone steak that was served for the main meal (more than worthy of a photo I might add and which, incidentally, was the best piece of meat I've put in my mouth in so long), cooked to perfection and served with a slice of lemon, gallantly supported by the most indulgent crispy baked potatoes and the most perfect of green salads and (3) of the beautiful square table setting.

I won't bore you with the ins and outs of my movements over the 72 hours I was in Sydney, but I will share one defining movement that clearly put this trip up there with some of the best that I have ever had.

I had a bacon and egg sandwich EVERY morning.

'Nuff said.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Who do you write for?

As you'll know from my post last week, I've started an online Feature Writing course through the Sydney Writers' Centre, in the hope that simply logging in to my online modules a few times a week and lapping up all the interesting things they have to teach us, will magically result in my latest dream job. That being writing about incredible homes. Preferably in Paris. I've heard the life of a freelance writer is not all peaches and cream, thanks to one lucky lady who lives in a Fibro who does get to call it her job, but I'd be more than happy to take it, life envy and all, if it meant I got to step into places like this and this and this every day. Be still my beating heart.

In the first week of the course we've been learning about analysing publications as a step towards getting your work published. One part of this is determining who the target audience is. Obviously an extraordinarily important and relevant point. The basic lesson? Write what your audience will want to read, what is relevant and interesting to them.

It got me thinking about my blog. Do I write for me? Or do I write for you? My readers? Is that the key to a really successful blog? Or is blogging different? I suppose it might be considering I am the freelance writer, the staff writer, the sub-editor, the features editor and the Editor-in-chief of my own blog. I therefore get published all the time on my own blog. Not so much competition @talesofataitai.

To be honest, I think I do a bit of both. My posts (which I never schedule) are certainly a reflection of the mood or circumstance or situation I'm in in my life at that very moment, and are therefore a cathartic way for me to digest whatever is going on in my head. But then as my time as a blogger goes on, and the more I read other people's blogs, particularly the really popular ones, I learn more and more about what engages readers, what prompts people to comment, what gets a reaction out of people. And I think I'd be lying if I said I didn't love getting a response from people (especially in the form of comment love), particularly when you know you've made people have a laugh.

So, yep. Both is my answer.

What about you? Do you write for your readers? Or do you write for yourself? Are there some form of unwritten blogging audience rules I should know about?

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

One size does not bloody well fit all

Wandering around the streets of Soho the other day, high as a kite from a 4-hour coffee/mac/brownie session at my fave cafe, and sweating it up amidst the 30 degree heat and 95% humidity, I stumbled across a couple of boutique shops. I saw a great dress in the shop window. A one-shoulder number, with a groovy waistband and a 50s inspired skirt.

"Snap", I thought. "I could SO channel Betty Draper in that" (if I didn't eat for a month). It's the perfect frock for the black tie wedding I've got coming up".

So, with an excited, sweaty skip in my step, I lurched towards the very small boutique and jubilantly swung open the door. "Isn't this always the way you find the perfect dress? When you least expect it?", I thought smugly to myself, with a wry smile on my face. The morgue-like feel of the store, created by the 3x1m space and ice-cold air-con did nothing to deter my confidence in what I was quite sure was about to be the purchase of 2011.

I browsed through the rack on one side of the morgue, with one eye on the prize in the window, then whimsically swivelled on one foot to assess the remaining rack of chilly attire. As I expected, nothing could usurp Betty's efforts in the front window.

"Snap", I thought again.

So I grabbed the dress and walked into the coffin change room, ready to knock myself off my own feet. I took off my dress, feeling somewhat cooler and even more high than I was 5 minutes earlier and prepared the frock for lift off. I undid the zip, smiled, put it over my head and pulled it down. "Ooh", I exclaimed with a muffled voice, lost somewhere under that fabulous 50s skirt. "That's a little tight!". I took off the dress and looked at the size. Shit. One size fits all. Shit shit shit. I took a deep breath in as pearls of sweat began to appear on my brow, lifted the frock above my head once again and this time, yanked it down a little more aggressively. After a few more rather vicious yanks and twists and "hmphs", I got the dress down. And finally breathed out. "Phew", I said out loud, quite sure the shop attendant was watching every move in the strategically placed mirror above my head. "They sure don't make them like they used to, do they?! Ha ha ha". I looked in the mirror and thought, "Betty Draper, eat your heart out". Until I turned to the side and realised I'd left out one sizeable element of the process. The zip. Shit. Again. Shit shit shit. I wiped my now dripping brow with the dress on the floor and after a minute of pedantic preparation, breathed in as hard as I could, squeezed the sides of the dress together and pulled the zip.

No movement. Nothing.

Shiiiiiiiiit. I waved my arms to dry out the pool that was forming underneath them, breathed in again and jiggled around the coffin in an attempt to shift the excess baggage that was quite obviously the cause  of this hideous process. Once again, I pulled the zipper.

And once a-bloody-gain, nothing. NOTHING. "Great". I thought. "Just frickin' great". You're a bitch anyway Betty. You're a shit mother and a bad wife. Why would anyone want to look like you anyway. So, I went to pull the dress off, and it wouldn't fucking move. "You are joking", I thought. I tried again. And again. And again. And I couldn't get the damn thing off. "Great. I'm going to have to open the curtain, look at the size zero shop attendant and ask her to find some fucking scissors because I'm a whale and I can't get the fucking dress off". The defining moment that every woman wants. Fuck. In an attempt to maintain some form of dignity after this unexpected disaster, I tried one more time, thinking a strategic use of sweat might just be the ticket. And I was right. At least the god damned humidity is good for something.

I quickly put my dress on, tore open the curtain and glared at the little shopkeeper with a look that would kill. I shoved the dress at her and politely indicated that in fact, one size does not bloody well fit all.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Floating my boat - the simple way

I haven't joined in with Kate's Listography from Kate Takes 5 for a while. Silly really, because the last one I did has by far and away been the most popular post on my blog. Probably because there's a picture of Bar Rafaeli superimposed onto my legs on it. And my legs are pretty hot.

Anyway, this Listography is Simple Pleasures. 5 things that float your boat. So here goes....

1. Going to the toilet.
Rough and completely un-ladylike I know, but you're in denial if you don't agree with me. There is nothing quite as satisfying as the feeling you get when you're desperate for a wee or a 'motion', and the toilet is handy and the deposit is clean and compact and comfortable.  And of course because we're all ladies, we do it the way you imagine Kate Middleton does it. With a very lady-like "Whoops", a hand over the mouth, an innocent gaze to the door and a cheeky smile as you realise your unsuspecting husband is within ear-shot. Gold.

2. Fleshy whites.
Or more accurately, the Push-Up bra. You well-endowed women won't get this, but for us bodacious-ta-ta-challenged women, the opportunity to look down and actually see flesh supported and shaped and non-invasively enhanced (however temporary) in the most miraculous of ways is nothing short of....well....miraculous.

3. Crack.
I mean a back-crack people. Geez, what do you take me for? And not the coin-slot variety either but the very complex, very expert, very carefully executed thoracic back-crack that my highly untrained and highly unqualified husband gives me every day. Being 6ft tall and spending the majority of my time bending over to hear the Hong Kong locals tell me I "cannot", funnily enough leads to more than just frustration. Oh yes, you get thoracic stiffness thrown in as well. Brilliant.

4. Pushing big things through small holes.
Get your minds out of the gutter. I'm referring to crushing garlic. With a garlic crusher, of course.

5. Food.
Of any variety. I wasn't nicknamed the 'human vacuum cleaner' by my best friend's mum for nothing. The pleasure, my friends, is endless. Particularly when it is calorific. There's a reason it rhymes with terrific, you know.

So, there you go. Bodily functions and food pretty much sums me up. Not surprising really.
Check out what other people are saying over at Kate Takes 5!

Does anyone share my simple pleasures or am I a loner on this one? I'd love to hear some of yours??

Monday, May 2, 2011

Not the new girl anymore...

Image from WeHeartIt
I think the best thing about living in Hong Kong has to be the expat community. I've never known a group of people to be so welcoming, so warm and so jubilantly willing to throw open up their arms as wide as can be and lovingly sweep you into their established worlds. There's just a feeling you get when you meet a fellow expat here, an appreciation of an unwritten law, perhaps. It's a feeling that silently speaks of that common ground you share, the unstable, sometimes scary, far-away-from-home ground that can rock your foundation and make you question yourself, your relationships, your career, your whole god-damned identity. It's a feeling that instantly renders you connected. And what is incredible is the way people then act on this connection, like you were always there, always a friend, always a part of their life. No questions asked.

The minute we arrived here, we had friends. Some we'd known for a lifetime, some we'd known but had disconnected with over recent years, some we'd heard of, and some we'd never met. But within 6 months, I feel like some of these friendships will be the strongest I know going forward. Much like the friends I grew to love and cherish in London, these friends become your family. Something I will be eternally grateful for.

I went for a late lunch with some of these amazing expat girlfriends yesterday and someone had brought a newbie along. Someone who had landed a week ago, who was finding her feet, a job, a house, a life. And all of a sudden (as I inhaled the best club sandwich of all time), I realised that I wasn't the new girl anymore. And that I felt that feeling. The connection. And I wanted to act on it, the way other people had done for me. And it was a great feeling. To feel like I had something to offer and to share, to make someone else's transition to this crazy, chaotic but seemingly addictive city, just that little bit easier.

Do you know what I mean?

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Taking the plunge

Image from WeHeartIt
In light of my recent job struggles, and after a few rather low points of late involving conversations going something like " I going to do with sniff?", I've decided to take the plunge and do a writing course. I've discovered I'm quite passionate about putting the odd word to paper, and after some really positive feedback from some friends in the creative industries over here, and some suggestions that maybe I should consider writing for a career, I thought it couldn't hurt to do a little online somethin' somethin' to sharpen up my skills and open up my options, right?

The Sydney Writers' Centre has been plastered all over the blogging world recently what with this competition for Australia's Best Blogs (you can vote for me over on the right there!), and after first reading about it here at one of my favourite blogs, Life in a Pink Fibro, I figured it was the place to go to learn more about this literary artform we call 'writing'.

So tomorrow I start on a 5-week online Feature Writing Course for Magazines and Newspapers. I kind of fancied doing the Travel Memoir Course but unfortunately you can't do that one online. So Feature writing sounded like a good place to start. I'll learn all about which ideas work for certain publications, how to research, structure and write a feature, what editors want from a writer and (what scares me the most), how to pitch your article and sell it! I am excited about getting my teeth stuck into something again and it will no doubt be interesting to see where it takes me. I will most definitely have some homework to do so bear with me as I might need your help to test out a few samples along the way! I'll need all the help I can get...

If any of you lovely bloggers have done the course, or a similar one, what did you think? I'd love some feedback or tips for how to get the most out of it?

Wish me luck!