Hello? Is there anybody out there?

Hi Frog Lovers. It’s been (counts the months/years on her fingers) quite some time since I last wrote here. I’m going to be here more often in the near future, I promise! I have loads to tell you.

Alcoholic beverages may be required. Yes for you too.

Five Frogs Blog

Do you have any requests? Any types of animals you’d like me to write about? If so, let me know in the comments.

In the meantime, here are a few of the frog’s best bits since I started writing here on the lily pad. I hope you enjoy them.

My Top Ten dumb-arse moments of all time (from August 2012)

Would you change your sex, if you could never change back again? (from May 2013)

Conversations with my brain: And then my Basal Ganglia went on strike (from March 2013)

Conversations with my brain: Tarsiers on crack (from November 2012)

And finally, we discover that the real reason women drink at the races is not because they’re keenly aware that they’re standing ankle-deep in mud while freezing in expensive-but-now-rain-soaked cocktail dresses in order to take part in an outdated social ritual based on animal cruelty. It’s to dull the pain of being slowly devoured by their ridiculously impractical head-wear. A revelation that will change human history (AKA you and your spermatophores are going home alone) (from August 2012)

I’m back, baby. Watch this space.

x

The best coloured wee I have ever seen

This could be the best wee you've ever seen

This could be the best wee you’ve ever seen

Hi Frog-Lovers. In case this is your first visit to the Lily Pad, between now and Christmas I’m hosting some wonderful and funny writers while I get some amphibious rest. I hope you enjoy reading them as much as I do. Who knew so many of you were so hilarious!?

Today’s guest is my bloggy mate Alison, who blogs over at Talking Frankly. Here she shares a story about urine samples – a subject so perfect for the Lily Pad that I already had a category for it.

When I got the opportunity to be a contributor to Five Frogs Blog, I was pretty excited, and then hugely intimidated. See, people seem to read this blog which means that meeting Ms M’s brief of ‘funny’ all of a sudden became a lesson in procrastination that is largely unparalleled in all of history.

So I’ve abandoned funny and want to talk to you all about the dangers of doubtful self esteem when defining achievements post redundancy.

When the outplacement consultant asked me to focus on what achievement in the last five years made me feel most proud – mine wasn’t my marriage, two beautiful daughters or the myriad of business achievements.  The first thing that came to mind was a compliment on the colour of my wee.

Wee.  Yes.

When I was uppus duffus with my first daughter, I had been (wrongly as it turned out) diagnosed with placenta previa and had to spend all sorts of time visiting the hospital and getting “monitored”.

On one occasion, I was dispatched to pee in a jar (being uppus duffus is the most gloriously dignified state – no really). I obediently waddled off, peed and returned with my little jar which I handed over, feeling quite pleased by how full it was – aim is not so easy for a female and especially a heavily pregnant one.

The nurse held the jar up to the light and said “That is the best coloured wee I have ever seen”.

Oh my.

I had the best coloured wee she had EVER seen.  Not, one of the best. Not, a very good shade to read a newspaper through. No.  The BEST wee she’d ever seen.

And I’m not joking.  Quite inexplicably – I beamed.  Shiny eyes, puffed up chest and a completely disproportionate sense of pride in the colour of my wee.  “Oh” I said, “I drink a lot of water”.

“Good”.

“More people should you know”

And now my pride knew no bounds.  I was a role model for people wanting to produce the right coloured wee!  She’d probably talk about me in the staff room. Hold me up as a shining example to other clients.  I would be known as the woman with the most awesome wee.

And I was in a public hospital.  They were not getting paid to blow smoke up my backside.  This was GENUINE praise.

I told anybody that would listen the story of my glorious moment.  Obviously quite self-deprecatingly, with a wry smile and a ‘get that’ eye roll.  But time has caught me out.  When asked what was my greatest achievement in the last five years – I thought about that jar of wee.

So it’s a small but cautionary tale for all of you.  Do not let your instincts guide your responses to questions about achievements.  Go with tradition on this one and find something more traditional to espouse on your resume.  Money is not paid to people of exceptional talent, but rather to people of saleable talent.

It’s a cruel, cruel world.

What’s your most saleable talent?

_talkingfrankly

Alison is an admirer of wordsmiths, quirky thinking, equality, chutzpah and kindness. Actively opposed to apathy. Blogs about anything from housework to human rights. Professional profaner. Mama to two perfect daughters and is married to the world’s best husband. You can read her blog here and connect on Facebook here. She’s also on Instagram as _talkingfrankly and Twitter.

Suddenly, there are deer in my bra

Oh deer

Oh deer

Hi Frog-Lovers. In case this is your first visit to the Lily Pad, between now and Christmas I’m hosting some wonderful and funny writers while I get some amphibious rest. I hope you enjoy reading them as much as I do. Who knew so many of you were so hilarious!?

Today’s guest is my memoir mentor and writerly friend, the inimitable Helen Patrice. Here she shares a story of exotic locations, wild animals, and underwear.

So, FiveFrogs starts asking around her writing bloggy cronies for those of us who are known as Humour Writers. I’m apparently one of them. I gaily say that, sure, I can submit a blog post for promotion on her ‘Check out this funny writer person’ blog thing. I’m a funny person. I make people laugh. (Let’s not go into my dismal capital F fail in Hawaii to do stand-up. The non-appreciation from the back of the van could be heard for miles, echoing off Mauna Kea and Mauna Loa as we travelled the Saddle Road between them. Both Poliahu and Pele thought I sucked.)

I spend the afternoon lying in the sunshine, reading ‘Perfume’ by Patrick Suskind. Not exactly a rip-roaring laughter book. More a grim but witty novel set amongst the scents and odours of France. Pee-hew! I’m up to page 90 and there’s already been one scent-related murder, with more to come, I can tell.

My laptop has lazed at my side. Twice during the afternoon, PizzaBoy has hunkered down behind it, and in a mousy voice, said: “Use me for blogging”.

To which my response has been: “Fuck off, Canada! Don’t pressure me! I’m a delicate writer.”

I lay there, and wondered what to be funny about. I could riff on my trip to Japan and China. I could, but…. Ho hum, I am such the weary traveller that it’s all very ho-hum, and what can I say that someone like Bill Bryson hasn’t said better. Not that he’s ever had the problem of too many deer in his bra at Nara.

I suppose I should explain. The shrine at Nara has a park with many charming deer roaming about. The deer mob visitors to the shrine. Many of the pathside vendors sell deer biscuits. No, not biscuits made of deer. Wafery type biscuits that are good for the deer to eat.

I wanted a not-your-usual tourist pic. Never mind me feeding the deer. I wanted the deer to mob me and eat off my body.

I lay down on a path where deer were seated nearby in the shade. I covered my clothed(must emphasise this, CLOTHED) body with pieces of deer bickie. Nothing. The deer looked away. Fool woman lying on the cold ground, desecrating the Nara shrine with her foul white ways.

Two Asian tourists took my photo and sniggered. Walked away.

I had to gather up my deer biscuits as best I could, which wasn’t very, because they fall to bits as soon as touched, and skulk away. Meanwhile, the Asian tourists are being flocked upon by deer, and they don’t even have any biscuits.

Bollocks.

A bit later, I try again. I sit down on a bench. I coax deer over with biscuits in hand. Then biscuits in lap. Then I lie down and put biscuits upon my person. The deer back away. Fine then, no prone deer mobbing. I sit up, and inspired, shove biscuits into my cleavage. Crumbs make a break for it, due south. They bypass my bra and somehow my singlet and top and end up in the knees of my leggings, where they itch like mo-fo’s. (I am up with hipster language like mo-fo, LOL, and er…other things)

Deer approach. One reaches into my cleavage, turns its head a bit sideways, and delicately selects a wafer of biscuit, leaving behind wet, sticky deer drool and a warm nose-imprint. Suddenly, there are deer in my bra. Many of them, and they all want the same biscuit. Easy guys, easy! There’s enough cleavage for all! Truly. I’m a 14DD, wearing a totally unsupportive Aah-Bra.
I get my photos. The Asian tourists get photos. Possibly the deer do, too.

I am content. I have my photo. Enough now, deer. But the deer are relentless. They can smell the crumbs festooning me. One tries to get up under my skirt to get at the crumbs around my knees. I am the Tippi Hedren of deer.

“Nature! It’s all over me! Get it off!” I say to PizzaBoy, quoting ‘Madagascar’.

I stand up. The deer butt me gently under the boobs. I have to retire to a toilet cubicle to de-smear, de-deer, and de-crumb myself. I never do get those leggings completely biscuit-free. They get washed twice more during the trip. I am sure I can still feel crumbs in them.

I sit back and look at this blog entry. Is it funny? I can’t tell. I feel morose. There is nothing amusing any more. Nothing. The pup loathes me – he is sleeping with his back to me. Looking at that sunshine. Nothing funny about that. I think about yoga this morning. I know we laughed at something. It’s gone now.

I think this is the blight of every comedian – the strain of finding the funny means that often, nothing seems to be when examined closely.

Then I start fretting that this is part of me coming off my full dosage of anti-depressant and seeing how I fare at 10mg. Am I tipping headlong into The Bad Place? It doesn’t feel like it.

Oh, I drive myself mad with this kind of thinking. If only I could think it was funny.

Tell me, readers. How many deer are too many to have in your bra?

Helen smaller

Helen Patrice is a Melbourne poet, memoirist, and blogger. She lives with her husband, son, and a small crowd of animals. You can find her blog here, her Facebook page here, and her book of Poetry, “A Woman of Mars” from here or from the author herself.

 

Accidental behavioral diarrhea and embracing your inner arsehole

ninaanddaisyhat

Nina and Daisy J Dog.
Image courtesy of Nina Bargiel

I believe that we should all stand up and not only call out other people’s arseholery, but also stand up and accept that we ourselves can be arseholes too.

I really recommend that you embrace your inner arsehole, so you can monitor it and take some responsibility when it rears its ugly head. Otherwise it’s likely that it’ll leap up and catch you by surprise. I spent most of my life being nice and denying my inner arsehole and as a result, it became uncontrollable and broke free at unexpected and seriously inconvenient times. These arsehole explosions (accidental behavioral diarrhea, as it were) led me to say and do things that to this day I regret.

These days I accept that I’m a bit of an arsehole and I feel under much less pressure. There are some areas of life, though, from which you have to keep your inner arsehole well away.

A while back I wrote a thing here about chickens and not being an arsehole with your jokes.

Today I read something that did a much better job of expressing my point.

Nina Bargiel, AKA the Slackmistress, is a TV writer, passionate runner, dog mummy and all-round clever and hilarious chick. I love her writing and her jokes (yes even the shitty ones*). Nina wrote this thing and you should all read it:

The best thing you and your inner arsehole will read today. Trust me. Unless you’re a murderer, in which case you probably shouldn’t but if you’re a murderer the last thing you’re likely to do is listen to the likes of me. Sorry Nina, I may have just encouraged a lot of murderers to read your thing. Oops.

Now go follow her on Twitter and Facebook. Tell her The Frog sent you. You won’t regret it.

* Nina never makes shitty jokes but if she did I’d love them. Because I’m an arsehole.

Working from home – the ugly truth

dreamstime_s_23253906 body

Appearance of actual person working from home may vary*

Hi Frog-Lovers. In case this is your first visit to the Lily Pad, between now and Christmas I’m hosting some wonderful and funny writers while I get some amphibious rest. I hope you enjoy reading them as much as I do. Who knew so many of you were so hilarious!?

Today’s guest is the gorgeous Lana Hirschowitz from Sharpest Pencil. Lana and I share a lot in common, not least of which is the questionable joy and doubtful privilege of working from home. Here she shares the ugly truth about the experience.

There is a conspiracy, I am sure of it.  Thousands of people all around the world are working from home, in fact the 2013 Regus Global Economic Indicator reveals that 64% of Australian business leaders manage someone who works remotely for at least some of the time. And that’s not counting the people who are working for themselves. Yet nobody is telling the truth.

There are manuals and blog posts, webinars and courses outlining what you need to know about working from home.   I’ve read so many of them and I’ve discovered that none of them tell the truth. Not until now.

You see I have recently given up an office job to go back to working from home but, unlike the blumph I have read, I am willing to share the real truth about what happens when you work where you live:

  1. Some people think working from home is code for “not working that hard”. You will soon start to see red when you hear this, you may also feel the need to inflict bodily pain. But you can’t because you won’t even have a free moment for pain infliction.
  2. You will be inundated with calls from charities. There is a distinct possibility that you end up donating more than you actually earn.
  3. You run a very good chance of forgetting that people don’t actually wear slippers out of the house.
  4. Further to point 3 above, even though you won’t always feel like it you should get dressed and brush your teeth as soon as you wake up. It’s easier to forget later in the day and picking up the kids in pajamas with a cappuccino moustache will only serve to worry the other parents.
  5. You will eat everything in your fridge. Once the fridge is empty you will move on to the entire contents of the cupboard. The only way to avoid this is to only stock food that you are allergic to.
  6. When you go to the shop the person behind the counter will inevitably ask if you are having a day off. You will immediately feel bad that you stepped out of the house with no regard to the fact that if you were in an office and you left to go to the shop, you would feel nothing about it at all.
  7. You will be tempted to do all the house-work instead of working. Don’t worry about that – this will pass very quickly.
  8. Daytime TV. You have been warned.
  9. There are days that you will feel like you have achieved nothing at all. Just remember that you started out in your bed and you are no longer there so that’s something. Unless of course you work from bed.
  10. There is a tendency to think that you will be lonely without other people in an office. Remember that these concerns first saw the light of day in in the time before Twitter. In fact you will never be lonely if you have an internet connection, you will also never get any work done.
  11. If you do want to see other people try the Medicare queue, that way you will get to form meaningful bonds with people in a work environment. That’s how long you will spend in the queue.
  12. During school holidays your friends will confuse you for an occasional day care centre. If you can work with ten kids screaming at your desk you will be fine with this.
  13. If you plan carefully you can sneak in naps. Just be prepared to work all night to make up for it (which kind of defeats the purpose).
  14. The sound of the washing machine will become such a constant companion that sometimes you will find it hard to work if it is not on. The plus side of this is if you are indeed running a laundry service from home.

Anything else you’ve learned from working at home?

Any questions you want to ask before you make the move?

lana head shotLana Hirschowitz is a writer, blogger and social media consultant. She was the launch editor of iVillage in Australia and Managing Editor of Mamamia (Australia’s largest independent female website) for over three years. She’s also a lover of toast, her family and Candy Crush, but not necessarily in that order. You can find her blog at Sharpest Pencil or follow her on Twitter @lanahirschowitz and on Facebook at SharpestPencilOnline. Go say hi – tell her the Frog sent you.

* Is it just me, or does this woman who works from home look a little too pleased that her screen isn’t turned on? Either that or she’s about to fart. Personally with that desk arrangement I’d be likely to try to drink my plant and water my coffee. That plant looks spikey. Working from home is dangerous, people.

Problogger and how to dilute the Awkward

Awkward – the elephant in the lobby of QT.
Image © Victor Zastol`skiy | Dreamstime.com
 

Last week I attended the 2013 Problogger Training Event, where 450 bloggers got together to learn more about their craft. Many bloggers more accomplished than I have written fabulous posts about their experiences. 

So, in keeping with the tradition I started last year, I won’t be talking in-depth about the conference here. In case you’re curious, here are the messages that resonated with me this year:

  • It’s OK to be multi-passionate
  • We should be wary of the trap that is accidental competency
  • Instead of working on improving your weaknesses, work on making your strengths world-beating.

With that out of the way, I want to talk about the elephant in the conference room. In fact I don’t want to just talk about her, I want to pop a purple tutu on her, sprinkle some glitter on her tusks and parade her around the room to some particularly jarring circus music to make sure she catches your attention.

This elephant’s name is Awkward.

The blogging world considers itself a community; a happy, loving band of like-minded people who share a passion for getting their message across via words and pictures. We like to be seen as a cohesive group of good-natured, professionally-behaved, amiable folk.

I think this is bullshit. Bloggers are no more an amorphous homogenous mass than any other group of diverse and competitive human beings.

Sure, most bloggers share a camaraderie which is truly delightful and this is one of the reasons I go to these events. I’ve developed some solid, lasting friendships with my blogging friends. However, when you get 450 bloggers in one place it swiftly becomes apparent how different we all are.

These differences can lead to discomfort. I love Problogger because I get to catch up with some fellow bloggers who I truly adore. You know who you are.

What happens, though, when bloggy relationships go south? How do you deal with having to see someone after your friendship has crashed in such a massive flaming wreck that it was visible for several miles and reported on the evening news?

Awk… ward.

Here are some handy tips on how to avoid Awkward at a blogging conference:

  1. When you see the person you want to avoid, rush up to them, give them a huge hug and plant a kiss on their cheek. Babble on brightly as if the plane crash that was your friendship’s demise never happened. This neatly transfers the Awkward from you to them. Use this technique with care – they may call your bluff and return the Awkward by pashing you. This leaves you with nowhere to go unless you’re prepared to sexually harass them. This could get ugly for everyone and lead to you both having to burn down your blogs and leave social media forever. 
  2. Challenge your nemesis to a drinking contest at the cocktail event. The loser must burn down their blog and leave social media forever. 
  3. Move around the conference in a small gaggle of people to always dilute the Awkward (450 people should do it).
  4. Don’t sit next to your ex-friend accidentally. I can’t stress this one enough. DO NOT ACCIDENTALLY SIT NEXT TO YOUR BLOGGING NEMESIS. Be alert at all times; particularly when sitting. Or standing. Or walking. 
  5. Slip something into your bloggy ex-friend’s tea so that they spend the conference comatose in a corner. Alternatively, do the same to yourself. Don’t do both; that would be expensive and wasteful over-achieving.
  6. Don’t go. This is a 100% fool-proof way to avoid Awkward. And everything else, for that matter.

The truth is out; bloggers don’t all like each other. I hope these simple tips will mean you don’t ever need to burn down your blog and leave social media forever, just because you forgot to dilute the Awkward.  

Have you ever experienced Awkward?
How did you deal with her?