This time of the year the air gets too heavy to blow around all willy nilly and Septemberish, and some days I wonder if I’m breathing oxygen, or growing gills like Aquaman. I wake at 5am with the light and the heat, menopausal beadlets starting to form anywhere that skin touches skin- between boobs, at the backs of knees, between fingers. The mornings are hazy with the smoke of faraway fires and salt and the water attached to the air. Always the water.
This part of Queensland is impossible to inhabit if you don’t like moist. The word that sends distasteful shivers to napes of necks of women the world over, is our way of being for the next couple of months or so. And with it, the moist brings a smell. She smell that has become my smell of summer.
Back in the olden days of my childhood, summer used to smell of holidays that stretched out like the Princess Highway mixed with Sunnyboys and chlorine and the hot wet concrete we would lay on, lizardlike to warm ourselves after a swim.
Then in the less olden days of my teen-age, summer smelt of coconut oil basting crispy skin and lemon juice bleaching our hair, with a whiff of tobacco and a scratch of a Redhead from someone’s Mum’s stolen cigarettes. It smelt of furtive kisses and sweaty palms and wetsuits drying and the sharp acetic zest of resin as someone fixed a ding in their board.
In the modern era of my 20s, summer smells were a fetid mix of fresh beer and stale beer and tap beer and the tang of tins, mixed with the fusty cheese from last night’s pizza, still soaking into the cardboard box. All of that rolled into a smell of potential and enthusiasm as holiday jobs shifted into looming careers and those uni smells became things of the past.
In my early 30s summer smelt like home, as I exhaled into the arms of the safest man in the world, and inhaled security blended with promise of a future unexpected. The smells of proper coffee and dry-hot Melbourne tar, of salt from the bay mixed with the fumes of industriousness became the smell of all of my now summers.
Summer now is made up of frangipani and sugar cane, of distant ginger and those stupid little white flowers that wink from glossy hedges and make me sneeze. There’s a sensation of salt and heaviness, until the sky finally cracks and we bring out the stormbeers, cleansing the balconies and making way for the smell of the indolent days of sunshine. The smell is laced with sandy zinc cream and wet dogs and soggy towels and love. Always love.
The best smell of all.
You know I do go on about looking after yourself, and I don’t necessarily mean day spas and long walks along the beach (although feel free: you do you, Boo), but to dig a little deeper and to connect in with something that is inherent within all of us: to create.
Being creative can take on many forms- it can be anything from setting up a nice little space in the corner of a room that pleases your eye, through to writing your Magnum Opus.
Last week I had a chat with a bloke who is ‘Aussie As’ in his demeanour and his wicked sense of humour. When we first met he was in a band with some brothers and some buddies, and they played around the local traps, pressed a CD and generally had a pretty good time being larrikins with lagers. Their music was dirty and distorted and they bloody loved it. When the venues they played at asked for their ABN to pay them, they said, “Fuck off, we don’t work for the man” and then proceeded to work for the man for free, because venues wouldn’t pay in cash any more, but the buzz they got from playing couldn’t be sated, so they just kept showing up, and the booking manager got a pat on the head from the honchos at head office for getting a free band.
Then one day they all grew up. They got mortgages and new couches, and got serious about work, and their tattoos shifted from being pictures of 50’s pin-up girls and dreamy lands afar, to their wives’ names and their kids’ dates of birth. And their guitars got rusty and dusty and they couldn’t look at them because they reminded them of the Peter Pan men they once hoped to be.
With Smitty-not his real name, maybe one day soon I’ll tell you who he is- laughter is never far from the surface. It sits just behind his right eye, and you can see it twinkling there, just begging to be let out. At the slightest provocation. I can say something that is only vaguely amusing, and that twink becomes a twitch and before your heart can beat, a big old belly laugh has busted out. I love making Smitty laugh. Because the thing is, Smitty might look a bit like a hipsterbogan- and I guess all of the fun people I know have a big of boge in them- but he’s also smart as a whip. He’s well-read, and well informed, but most of all, he loves the yarns that people weave. He listens well and he takes all of the stories into that creative mind of his and makes new meaning. All of which makes him a good bloke to be around. Aussie As.
The thing is, all of this mortgaging and adutling has stolen something from Smitty. And it’s stolen it slowly, bit by insidious bit, like the wind working it’s way on a sandstone cliff, carving out holes where there used to be solid. Bit by sneaky bit, Smitty has been selling off his amps and his less favourite axes. He’s met blokes on a Saturday who have responded to his ad on GumTree who have come to haggle about Smitty’s empty bits. With each mortgage payment a little more of Smitty has hollowed out.
Now don’t get me wrong, Smitty is still as effervescent as ever, and that laugh is still ready to fizz out at any moment, but I’ve noticed the spark isn’t quite as bright, veiled by the gauzy film of creativity lost. Lost to interest free loans for big screen tvs with that blue glow that lull him to sleep when he would have been jamming. Should have been jamming.
Jamming in music and new song notes and beers and belly laughs and fights over what scribbled lyric should come next and cheers when is all comes together on the night. Jamming in LIFE.
Last week I had a chat with a bloke who decided to reclaim himself.
Last week something happened that made my heart and his heart lift up just a little bit more.
In his desire to pay off the man (or make himself a free man without that mortgage noose) Smitty has been working a second job in a cafe. And just like magic or a twenty year plan coming together (don’t you just love an overnight success?) Smitty has found a bloke on the same wavelength and they are making sweet music together. No, it’s not a love story- Smitty is still married with children- but it is a love note. Or notes.
These two fellas of undisclosed age and experience have gone from courting (I like your guitar, man) to dating (hey, wanna hang out and jam?) to consummating their relationship (we should form a band and play a gig). And just like shy teenagers, they’ve gotten beyond first base, won an award, gotten into the studio and are now making a film clip. Just like that blush of first love, they are brimming with intensity that can’t be totally contained by the sensible, and do-we-dare dreams of the future.
And like some weird voyeur, I’m loving every minute of the story that’s unfolding. Most of all, I love seeing Smitty fully lit up again. Whatever happens next, I feel humbled to have watched this from afar, and to bathe in that light just a little.
Ah the global pandemic. Bringing those with desire together since 2020. If nothing else, this cock-up of a year has taught us that we are creators. That if we put ourselves first we can have the life of our dreams. We just need to make a space for it to happen, and to patiently work towards our twenty year overnight success story.
I haven’t done this one for a while. So let’s do it: the hits (and shits) of the week.
SHIT: I’ve been seeing cockroaches and bright black moths flying around at the periphery of my vision since Coco’s surgery. And although it could be the start of the locusts (2020 ‘eh?) I thought I’d see the Optom. As luck would have it, it’s not anything crazy, just floaters. Lots of ’em. So if you see me snap my head to the right, or look like I’m warding off evil spirits, don’t worry, it’s just a floater. Did I mention I’m scared of all flying things? Good times.
HIT: Sam and I launched our new coaching programme for Chicks Who Click which begins in December. So this means we got to BUY STUFF (yes, there will be presents for our Chicks). Is CWC a business or a chance for Sam and I to have champagne lunches to ‘think of ideas’ and buy nice presents? Paradox: the ability to hold two seemingly opposite ideas to be true at the same time. Winky face.
SHIT: Alldaysupersucker hangover on the weekend from having too many of the aforementioned ideas.
HIT: I finally went to the Leunig site to find a print I’ve been wanting for ages, and came across this cool one. It’s not the one I’m getting, but it’s too good not to share. The hit is that Micheal Leunig is in the world and is unafraid to rouse the rabble and criticism be damned. I think we could all do with a splash of Leunig in our lives. If you want some you can go to http://www.leunig.myshopify.com
SHIT: I found a FAB house that I got really, really obsessed with and wanted to buy, immediately. I then drove to said house and found it was IN THE COUNTRY. The proper country, not Noosa Hinterland pretend country. So I can’t have the dream house (I am not country folk- there were definitely bugs there, and not pretend eye-bugs either), but a small HIT: I found the Noosa (not in Noosa) Botanical Gardens with a grouse ampitheatre looking over Lake Macdonald. I sat there, imagined Titania and Puck running amok, and ate a donut.
HIT: I’m going to Ricky’s for lunch. I’m predicting a hit, so keep an eye out. I won’t tell if it’s shit. (I also know it won’t be. That place rocks). Let me know if you want a blog on it, I fancy myself as a bit of a #foodblogger.
Happy Friday to you all, From The Ashers.
PS Not a sponsored post, but feel free to show me the money, Leunig and Ricky’s and I’ll wax lyrical for sure. #influencer
The Shitcat isn’t dead (again).
On Tuesday morning there was quite the commotion at Asher HQ, as the MASSIVE horsedog who is agisted next door and who is, how shall we say it, not a cat person, pulled his owner over and dragged her over our driveway like cheese on a grater, to chase Woofa the Shitcat. (Who was most likely lying supine and flashing her derrière at him.) The owner came running at me, screaming, “My dog just killed your cat.”
So I calmed down the sobbing jockey whilst I looked for a trail of blood, tiny cat bones and general destruction in the direction of #deadcat. None. And no deadcat to be seen.
Except said cat was nowhere to be found. Strange behaviour for a dead cat indeed.
As if in response to the mayhem and maiming, the heavens opened up, and we had what Queenslanders call “a drop of rain”. The type of rain that makes you glad you are wearing a bra. And waterproof mascara. And you have sandbags in your garage that your Mum made you get from council once, when they were going for free (I case of floods. No we don’t live near a river. But: free.)
I searched and searched through the deluge for #deadcat for at least two minutes, before deciding the lack of blood spatter meant she was without harm or without a trace (I’ve watched the shows, I know how this stuff rolls) and it was time to do what all good cat owners do: wait, call “pusspusspuss” in that high pitched voice that cats universally
love loathe, wait, shake the dry food pellets, wait.
By and by, the thing that all cat owners know about happened: #deadcat reappeared. Bedraggled and a bit skittish, but decidedly #alivecat. No sign of blood or eviscerated entrails or shards of bones chewed by the jaws of megalodog. Nothing.
She stared at me for a beat, did one cross sounding miaow, demanded food and then started licking her puckered area. Definitely not dead today.
The overall casualty count was: two skinned knees (The Meg owner), one wet t-shirt that was winning NO competitions this day (cat owner), one heart on the verge of infarction (cat owner).
I know one day #alivecat will be #deadcat, but my goodness it’s hard to believe that supershitcat will ever meet her maker. And she sure knows how to burst my corpuscles. We do love you Woofa, but can you hold off on the near death action for awhile?
The vet said ‘cats like this’ often live into their twenties. Pass me the smelling salts.
Have you got a friend like mine? If you haven’t, you need to go out and get yourself one post-haste, and pandemic be damned. Let me tell you why..
When I first met Jools we had both showed up to the first day at a new uni in skimpy clothes and big hair (it was the early 90s and we were still attached to the hair, goddamn it). We would have been wearing scrunchies to match our tans.
The grade of any uni student back then could be read in the depth of the tans, and by the looks, Jools and I were solid Cs. Lots of time in the sun with our books, trying to convince ourselves that we were furthering our edumacation, when really we were just exciting our melanocytes.
The difference between us, was that Jools had swagger. You know that thing? When you meet someone and they are really comfy in more than just their Le Tanned skin, but in their own good self. And not in a showy or flamboyant way (although, by the look of Jools in that crop-top, she probably was pretty buoyant #boobenvy) but in that way that you just know that they know who they are- their strengths and foibles and the whole caboodle- and they are okay with that.
Yes, this is about my Glittery Cheer Leader
So it won’t come as a surprise to know that pretty soon Jools had a little crop of butterflies drawn to her shine. And rightly so. Because the thing about Jools, is that one of her gifts is that she embraces the truth of who she is so effortlessly, that it somehow rubs off, and settles on your own skin like so much disco glitter. And pretty soon you can’t help but feel like maybe, just maybe, you are okay to be who you are.
As you look at your arms in fascination, turning them this way and that in the sun, watching the glitter catch the light, you start to think that some of the things you’ve been carrying around, that you are toofattoolazytoodumbtoouglytooloudtoomuch are not too at all. They are just you.
And you is a pretty okay thing to be.
My glittery friend turned fifty yesterday, and still she shines like the sun. With a bit of moon-dust wisdom thrown in as well. She was the first person to show me that I could be all of me without the need for apologies. And that is glitter that is worth the riches of all the world.
Happy birthday, Old Luv. Thanks for cheering us all on, for all those times, when you were just being you. You sure do bring meaning to the word cheers.