Mum’s the Word


“I like it up the front!” She declared.

I slunk further down into my chair towards the ground, wondering when this torture might end, hoping to be swallowed whole by the patio beneath me. My mother (and high school drama teacher) was on one of her many vacations in New York, and along with her suitcase she never fails to bring her thespian personality. Being the inclusive daughter that I am, she gets invited to many (all) of my social gatherings – of which, to her grand disappointment, there are few. “I’d go to the opening of an paper bag!” Remains one of her many exaggerated, yet truthful, claims. While my ideal evening out would consist of going to a film on my own, followed by an equally alone supper, my mother is the quintessential social butterfly whose metaphorical wings bloom in the company of others. 

She looked him dead in the eye, full of innocent curiosity, and with grandiose articulation, she asked him: “Are you an up-the-front or a down-the-back kind of a person?” Teddy, who had just joined the conversation, had no idea that she was previously explaining where she liked to position herself in gym class. He fell silent – confused – scanning for an answer, and wondered if he had walked into the intended summer barbeque or accidently stumbled across a swinger’s party for seniors.

I collapsed in a heap of laughter (still hoping to be consumed by the patio) and tried to explain that he had sat down at rather a bad time, as I watched my mother retracing her words and finally working out the unmistakable faux pas … 

I am beginning to build an entire catalogue in my mind of the weird and wonderful moments spent with my mother in Manhattan, whose behavior swings between provincial New Zealand and a grand British Lady. She becomes an exaggerated version of herself – constantly encouraged by an eccentric New York audience for whom to perform.

Having spent time in North America for over a decade, tipping service staff is part of the cultural etiquette that she still manages to (very conveniently) misunderstand. “It’s all very confusing!” She announces, while throwing cash at me to work out the sum – a vast improvement to earlier visits where she would flat out refuse to tip anyone at all. Manicurists, taxi drivers and waiters all over Manhattan went home with lighter pockets after her patronage. “We don’t tip at home!” You’re not at home. If I don’t keep a close eye on her, waitresses chase us down MacDougal Street demanding to know where they went wrong. 

“What would you do if someone tried to attack you?” It was two o’clock in the morning and we were walking back to my apartment after the theater. The streets were quiet and dark as we pondered effective defense strategies. She answered her own question, madly gyrating her hands. “I would pretend I was having a fit! That would keep them away!” We convulsed down the street shaking our arms and legs with the intensity of maracas like a pair of maniacs. We rolled our eyes in the back of heads and frothed at the mouth. I noticed between spasms, onlookers peering in our direction … I witnessed myself fully engaged in a fake frenzy and became frighteningly aware that the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree. 

photo 4

Mum and me

Java Junkie


I gave up coffee for two years. I had become addicted. Four cups before noon! And needed more. I didn’t want to be dependent. I wanted to be in control. I had become nasty in the morning. Inspired to hit slow waitresses. I managed to wean myself of it, rationalizing that the majority of American coffee was crap anyway: cat piss consistency and lattes with no head. Most of the city hung out in drones to receive liquid candy in a paper cup from chain store conglomerates whose “baristas” couldn’t make a real coffee to save their life. I wanted good coffee only, not pseudo espresso – Pumpkin-Chai-Mocha-Carrot-Cake Frappuccino? In whose mind is this considered a cultivated and distinguished beverage?

Give me creamy head. Thick espresso. Velvet macchiato. Aside from a couple of cafes in Brooklyn and no more than a handful in Manhattan, I figured I wouldn’t be missing out anyway. But, Oh how wrong I was! New York coffee culture was spreading faster than bedbugs in the Lower East Side. What bizarre twist of fate had me believing that I didn’t deserve morning coffee? The torture! The misguided health advice! I related to one type of person only: the type that sat for hours in cafes writing and sipping espresso. I was alone without coffee, trying to spark conversation with the world’s boring tea-drinkers and neurotic vegetable juicers. Meanwhile, java shops flourished, bustling with riveting coffee connoisseurs, reading interesting books with the help of even more interesting glasses. It was no use trying to be something I wasn’t. I was a third generation coffee enthusiast. It runs in my blood. Coffee runs in the family.

I am dominated by childhood memories of my mother and grandfather in search of cappuccino. It was our Saturday ritual. Cafes were their church and coffee their prayer. We would cruise Auckland City, on the look out for yuppies and gays reading the arts section of the paper and nursing caffè macchiato in miniature mugs. “There it is!” My sister and I would scream from the back seat of the car, having spotted the cool furniture and cool signage emblazoned with an original name, people wearing intelligent black clothes and designer sunglasses.

I was given my first cup at an Allpress Coffee opening when I was eleven years old. I remember it quite clearly. It arrived in a bowl. Aroma hanging heavy, almost visible. The milk on top thick like whipped cream, while equally as light as clouds. Froth that billowed inches deep, eventually reaching the silky elixir. A soft opening: mocha-latte. The bitterness of coffee combined with the decadence of chocolate. The first sip was like that first drag of a cigarette. Head spin. Heaven. Hooked. There was no turning back.

So I’m back on the bean. French-pressing organic Columbian brews at home. Reinvigorating my x-ray vision from childhood – scanning the streets for clusters of interesting facial hair and avant garde attire sipping demitasse. I silently rate New York’s unsuspecting baristas while evaluating their work. I’m grumpy on waking, groggy before that first hit and a slave to the joe … But at least, among other benefits, I’m back to mixing with the cultured echelon of society.



Blame it on the Boogie

A Musing …

Screen Shot 2014-08-17 at 10.46.38 AM

Many experts in the healing industry today, advise us not to use blame as a coping mechanism, but overwhelming evidence is now proving this conclusion incorrect. Critical research into the benefits of using blame, have been suppressed by health insurance, pharmaceutical, and even vegetable juice companies in order to protect their profits.

Studies now show that the most effective way to deal with anger issues and unresolved emotion is to “blame it on the boogie”. By using this method to prevent symptoms of depression and mental illness, statistics show that people become visibly happier.

The first study was conducted in 1979, a year after the release of The Jackson’s album Destiny. Doctor Wilma Jean, a psychologist specializing in smooth criminals, began to notice herself in a super trance, full of funky fever, and was unable to control her feet while dancing at Studio 54. She became interested to find out whether it was the cocaine she had snorted in the bathroom with Dirty Diana, or by blaming it on the boogie, as she had done for most of the evening at the notorious nightclub.

Wilma Jean measured the heart rate and serotonin levels of three thousand party people, of varying age and gender (it didn’t matter if they were Black or White), at New York City discos before and after blaming it on the boogie. Her findings were nothing short of miraculous. Jean found that after blaming it on the boogie, ninety-seven percent of her subjects had record high levels of tryptophan, lower blood pressure and a higher sex drive. Recent studies show that more serotonin is produced in the brain by blaming it on the boogie, than by broccoli, Kundalini yoga, and goji berries combined.

By blaming it on the boogie, Wilma Jean’s subjects were fooled by dirty rhythm, which is well known to activate the pituitary gland and open the third eye, leading to enlightenment. Rigorous interviews were conducted and subjects reported feeling “groovy” and “spellbound”. People who blame it on the boogie are more likely to have healthy relationships, lower cholesterol and a better outlook on life. It is now well documented, that the longer people continue to blame it on the boogie (rather than the sunshine, moonlight or good times) the happier they become.


Who was Lazy Susan?

A Musing …

"I didn't think much of the Emperor's new clothes, but did you get a look at the Empress?!" Vintage Playboy Comic by Dedini

“I didn’t think much of the Emperor’s new clothes, but did you get a look at the Empress?!” Vintage Playboy Comic by Dedini


The much loved and ubiquitous rotating table, the Lazy Susan, was named after a controversial figure in French aristocracy. Although it was widely acknowledged that Louis XVI was the first king in two hundred years not to have a royal mistress, he had a ripe fetish for full bodied women. His mistress, Susanne, lived in her own private chambers that were only accessible through a secret door disguised as a mirror in the Apollo Salon. Her bedroom featured a large dining table with one armchair and the walls were adorned in madeleines and foie gras wallpaper, hand-painted by Jean-Baptiste-Siméon Chardinof. At 530 pounds and bedridden, Susanne satisfied Louis’s desires by letting him tickle her feet with the feather of a goose.

Over the years Susanne gained more weight, reaching a whopping 610 pounds and eventually not being able to move anything but her right hand and mouth. Besotted by his “Ma Grosse Belle” (My Fat Beauty), Louis was concerned that her lack of movement might inhibit her way around the table. He promoted a secret contest for the tradespeople throughout nearby villages to make a device from where Susanne could reach all of her lunch without having to move. The winner would be sworn to secrecy and given a generous reward. 

The competition was hotly contested, with entries incorporating fishing rods and boomerangs. But in the end, Pierre Marteau, a humble carpenter from the small village of La Roche-Guyon, won the challenge – having designed a rotating wooden plate, where all Susanne needed was her index finger. Louis was so pleased with the design that he rewarded Marteau with a bag of gold coins (the equivalent of two hundred and fifty thousand dollars today) and a lifetime contract to build his winning design throughout the Palace of Versailles. The servants of the palace referred to the new rotating plate as Susanne Fainéante (Lazy Susan), and thus the name was born.

Foot notes: After the French Revolution, Marteau’s Lazy Susan design quickly spread beyond the palace walls and throughout France making him the most revered designer of his time. 

Susanne was one of the few people to survive the revolution, as she was too large to attempt an escape. Susanne was found a few years later munching her way through the wallpaper. 


HOT Yoga


Vintage Playboy Comic by Dink Siegel


“This is not a democracy! I control the door, I control the heat and I control the room! I am in control.” 

If we didn’t hate her already, we now scanned the room for sharp instruments to puncture her. She had zero percent body fat so it would have proved futile anyway. Our miniature teacher blasted us for taking too long to establish our next yoga posture. We were three quarters the way through the 90 minute class and visibly perishing in the 104 degree heat. 

“You’re not leaving, Gabriel.”

Prison.” I muttered under my breath. Gabriel had made an attempt to leave the building, but our fascist instructor was not amused. “We don’t run things like that here.” Gabriel cowardly shuffled back to his mat and collapsed in a heap. I glanced over at him as he stared with zoned-out disbelief. 

The toothpick tyrant barked contradictory instructions at us in locust pose: “I prefer you lift your leg only one inch if you can’t align your hips. Get ready and … LIFT! Point your toes. Lift your legs higher! Forty-five degrees is the minimum. Lift. Higher! High-yer!Didn’t she say one inch? I strained my leg to the ceiling while salty sweat stung my eyes.

“Open your eyes, Lucie!”

I should have made my name up at the beginning of class. Next time I’ll be Wanda.

I always fancied myself a Wanda. When I had my clothing shop I would sometimes reply to e-mails as Wanda, giving some discrepancy between myself and the business. Is that weird? Public exposure has definitely made that seem a little weird … 

By some form of miracle, I find myself in the shower, pretending to cough after letting out a suspiciously orgasmic sound in reaction the cool water, nothing has ever felt so good. Exiting, I try to find my bag amongst a sea of vaginas. They’re everywhere, covering the entire changing room like ants on candy, appearing as if by magic, from all corners of the room. 

The diverse display of female flesh is a frightening confirmation that the unbelievable bodies displayed inside the pages of Purple Fashion, actually exist. Thankfully, it’s also a reminder that there are more varieties of women’s bodies than poems by Emily Dickinson. The only access I have to nearly-naked women on a regular basis are flawless fashion models and actresses pasted on the walls of New York subway stations, it’s no wonder I find myself surprised when Natalia Vodianova doesn’t show up in the mirror. 

Having bought a thirty-day deal on Living Social, I leave my forth session of Bikram Yoga on a high. Skin glowing and hair shinier; I’m inspired to have wild sockeye salmon and blueberries for supper. Pint-sized Yoga Dictator aside, things could be a lot worse. 


 Moonwalk Musing Awful stuff. Vile actually – smelly, sticky, invasive. I chased after some kids I was babysitting with a bottle of sunscreen over the weekend. They literally ran away from me as I tried to spray them like flies. I spend most of my day like a lunatic, armed and dangerous, with lotion, green beans and toothbrushes … this musing runs strangely parallel to married life … 

Worse Than Death


I dedicate today’s blog post to Robbin Williams, a man who followed his heart and generously shared his great talent with integrity. It’s often not until somebody dies that we sit up and pay attention to the pain and insecurities that we all suffer from. I am reminded today to share as much love and compassion as I can give. Rest in peace Mister Robbin Williams. 

I was riding in our residential elevator on Sunday with two girls. They were mid to early twenties, wearing nice tops and sensible shorts.

One girl sighed “I don’t want to go to work tomorrow.”

“Me neither.” Girl 2 replied.

“Don’t go then.” They spun around, as I repeated, “Just don’t go to work tomorrow!” Giggling, they exited the elevator and walked through the large glass doors to the sunshine outside. 

I like to think they spent their Monday at Coney Island, whirling around the Ferris wheel, in hysterical laughter on the rollercoaster and stuffing their mouths with cotton candy. I imagined the girls making their way through slices of pie at an old pizzeria and dancing until dawn with mobsters at a Russian nightclub. Under the train tracks at Brighton Beach, they gain inspiration for a future art collection or novel or hit sitcom starring Kristen Schaal. 

Spending a day amongst endless corporate cubicles, sounds as exciting as a trip to the dentist. Part of my soul shrivels up raisin-like, at the mere thought of a life in a grey box. 

I’ve waded through one too many “workstations” (human factories) – a staple on every corporate menu with an employee list over ten. Individually decorated with framed photos of loved ones and greeting cards, cage-like cubbyholes pervade the vast space, while workers chat on phones, tap keyboards and pick at baked food items. 

Manicured fashion employees in pencil skirts and ballet flats perch on the edge of their swiveling office chairs, while health insurance salespeople spill over theirs like muffin batter, and I witness a fate worse than death. Souls sit waiting to be struck by lightening or a falling meteor, perhaps a job offer from God asking to help choose the weather for tonight’s King Lear performance in Central Park.

I would survive three hours max, by which point I would have transmuted into something akin to the polar bear who withered at the Auckland Zoo; gone mad with loneliness and a life sentence. As a little girl I watched his green-colored fur body, pacing back and forth and back and forth and back and forth in his painted white concrete prison, his eyes radiating as much life as a discarded sim-card. Sessions with a top therapist in Manhattan might have helped temporarily, but a trip to the arctic would have certainly been a more fruitful choice. 

Picture 7Moonwalk Musing There is little that’s more enjoyable than eating fruit naked in summer outside: a tricky goal while living in Manhattan, unless you’re fortunate enough to have access to a private garden and don’t mind a multitude of onlookers from apartments across the way. I curl inside my window sill with a large slice of watermelon and pink rain falls seventeen floors below me on toy cars and ant-sized people.

The Season of Stripes


“We’ll take this one!” Vintage Playboy comic by Dink Siegel

It was hideous.

A floor length dress with colorful diagonal stripes, meeting at the center on a base of black stretch fabric. It was like licorice allsorts violently under attack by lines of vicious molars. 

I had designed the candy ensemble for my (now closed) clothing boutique a decade or so ago. I hid the dresses in the trunk of my car, hoping they would somehow vaporize into thin air. But whenever I went to retrieve a second pair of shoes or remove the build up of takeaway coffee cups, the dresses were there, eying me from the back of the car like menacing school children ready to bully their latest victim.

We were heading into the great recession of the naughties and the awful dresses reminded me of my stupidity, my great lack of talent and what seemed like a cursed relationship with money. My guilty conscious got the better of me and I decided to hang one dress in the shop …

It sold within the hour.

I surreptitiously slid a second one on the end of a clothing rack, and boom! It flew out the door faster than the first.

One by one the stripy dresses escaped, as if magic from the shop floor, replaced by green notes in the cash register and I realized that this was no fluke. I was mystified. While my favorite dresses of hand embroidery and silk finesse remained like untouched virgins, the stripy dress was climaxing.

My mother dropped by after a tap-dancing class, delivering takeaway soya lattes to the shop girls. We told her about the stripy dress phenomenon and as a devoted trend follower, she declared to us a major revelation: “It’s no surprise – stripes are in.” Then she took a stripy number for herself.

It was undeniable. I began to see stripes everywhere! They bedecked the cover of Vogue, the ‘Who Wore it Best’ (or worst or whatever) pages, stripes were on shoes and in sandwiches, on book covers and billboards. I had accidentally found myself profiting from the 2008 zeitgeist.

Fashion is far beyond clothes, and art is far beyond form. I often consider time and why things work when they do, why some things take off into popular culture, while other works of genius go unnoticed. Would the Mona Lisa hang stoically in the Louvre if painted in 1998? And who could have predicted kale’s glamorous comeback after decades of obscurity? Garnished with truffle oil and squid ink, renditions of this Brassica oleracea play a starring role on every self respecting New York restaurant menu. 


Picture 7

Moonwalk Musing If I could choose a great fashion to reign in 2014, it would be the disappearance of cell phones – back to the landline for long chats with girlfriends over tea. I could go undisturbed for days at a time. No one to tell me “you’re so hard to get hold of” and “why didn’t you text me back?” and “pay your bill online”. No being sucked into the evil time vortex of FB and Instagram and tweets of #foodporn and #nofilter #selfies. I could have conversations in elevators, rather than watch people watching their gadgets. People would be brighter and better informed – forced to read the NY Times and Virginia Wolfe rather than play games with virtual colored balls on the subway. 

Miss Understood


“Say six!” It was Bastille Day, and by complete accident we walked into the middle of Brooklyn debauchery at the center of Park Slope. With my sober eyes, the line to the bathroom was a confusing jumble of oddly clothed nationalities, all of who appeared to be sloshed on the sponsored Picard cocktails from outside. “Say it. Say thsix!” Slurred a scantily clad camp Frenchman somewhat aggressively, explaining that this is how one could tell the difference between Australian and New Zealanders. “SEX.” I replied in my most animated American accent. He wobbled, squinted at me confused and wandered off.

Through the years my vocabulary has become a like a mixed bag of lollies (or candy, as you wish). I wander around Greenwich Village feeling like an antiquated New Yorker, but when I hear the word ‘panties’ being used describe little girls underwear, my worldview comes crashing down like thunder. Where I come from, panties kind of means the same thing as it does here, only it’s reserved for pornography and risqué sexual encounters … not all that appropriate for six year olds. Half a decade living in Manhattan, and I still can’t say ‘panties’ with a straight face. 

Rather often, most noticeably when positioned in the middle of a two-syllable word, the ‘T’ consonant in New York is frequently on vacation.

While visiting from New Zealand my mum (mom) and I were ordering lunch in a little coffee shop on 85th Street. She asked for “Two waters, please”, but judging by the confused reaction of the barista, she may as well have meowed. 

She tried again, “Two waters. Wort-ters …”

The order still did not compute and it seemed to cause more confusion than before. A raging thespian, my mother was only too happy to offer her rendition on a Noo Yawk accent: “Wa_da …” She offered, tilting her head and squinting an eye in anticipation, curious to see how well the imaginary audition went.

A look of revelation washed over the barista’s rosy face, “Oh! Waada!” she exclaimed, clearing thinking – why didn’t you say so? Two glasses of water swiftly arrived on the counter, and concluded that my mother’s exaggerated accent could land her a part in 42nd Street on Broadway. 

The most amusing of all American phrases must undoubtedly be ‘fanny pack’, giving new meaning of where to store your trail-mix while hiking through the Catskill mountains. 

Picture 7Moonwalk Musing If I could live anywhere, I would live in a tree-house in Central Park. I would host tea parties with embroidered napkins and my finest teacups filled to the brim with chai masala. Squirrels would be my guests and over carrot muffins we would discuss whether peanuts are really nuts or legumes, and review Shakespeare in the Park in springtime.




Strange Things Men Said

Or more accurately – Things Strange Men Said


The guy waiting behind me in line for the Ladies Room at a bar: “That was really quick. You’re a pusher.” Simply delightful.

Ex-boyfriend when I didn’t feel well: “Maybe you have your period.” I think I would know. 

Ex-boss when trying to improve sales at a high-end department store: “You have assets. Stand at the front of the store.” As a teenager, I actually did what he said. 

Electrician, after asking my age: “You look really good for thirty-two.” How should one look at thirty-two? 

American friend I made while traveling: “You have tits like a fat girl but on a good body.” Why thank you, how very eloquent.

Different ex-boss whose friend called work and I picked up: “Are you horny?”
Me: “Not anymore.” 

Ex-boyfriend: “It’s not the beer that makes someone fat, it’s all the pizza afterwards.”

Random guy on the street in New York: “You got an ass like a black girl.” 

A takeout delivery guy on 49th Street: “Hhhhhhssssssssssss …..”
Me: “Are you really hissing at me?” Suddenly embarrassed, he walked faster. 

Yoga teacher in India when discussing how parents should interact with each other in front of their children: “What’s wrong with slapping?” He did however have a problem with kissing. 

Family member when talking about the lady-boys of Bangkok: “They’re better looking than real women.” My male role model.

Same yoga teacher when talking about sex before marriage: “Without marriage, what’s to stop someone from just taking [sex] whenever they want?” I’m pretty sure that’s the definition of rape.

Republican friend of an ex-boss: “We’ll be the laughing stock of the world if gay marriage passes in America.” Then he said it was likely to cause World War III with the Middle East. 


Picture 7Moonwalk Musing I have been purring down the phone like a cat lately. Everyday I receive a multitude of spam calls on the landline – salespeople calling about upgrading our phone account, political campaigns, insurance companies and menopause packages. Rather than my usual reactions, which include pressing the button twice to cut the ringing short or asking them how they have my number and suggesting that they find a more rewarding career path … I instead to decided to purr like a cat.

That’s right, I pick up the phone, roll my tongue and produce a long “PPPRRRRRRrrrrrrrr……” Satisfying for us both, if I may be so bold. 


Ladies Who Linger


Sometimes I find myself waiting in tedious bathroom lines for years. Centuries wade past as precious moments of my life go by wasted, while loo-goers piss with the immediacy of dial up.

Perhaps they’re redecorating, switching the position of the wall mirror with the imitation Salvador Dali print, and placing the soap dispenser on the left side, rather than the right. 

As I stand in line I think about going back to my seat to continue a riveting conversation about the Koon’s exhibit over Syrah, but with each minute that goes by, I reassure myself they will emerge at any moment. I watch the clock hanging on the wall as the menacing second-hand ticks by . . . evaluate a cabinet of fresh vegan cookies, smile at waiters as they wander past me, then past me again, and then (somewhat embarrassingly) past me again. 

I can be in and out of a public bathroom in thirty seconds. I’ve counted – more than once. With people waiting, I can make it even faster. I’m fierce WC competition, although sadly it feels like nobody else is playing the game.

Out of the many competitions I have never entered, this one I could win. I’m certain of that. I have all the skills necessary: a yogi, multi-tasker, and dress-wearer. With time to spare I would generously change an empty paper roll and wipe down the sink.

Having made my way through life in various ladies rooms with upmost acceleration, it seems a shame that prize money is awarded to body builders and show cats when I possess such great talent.

What are they doing in there? I wonder. Did they die of cryptosporidiosis or have they moved in – setting up camp with a wood burning fire, reclining in an armchair with a full-bodied, oak noted Cabernet Sauvignon and reading the six-volume autobiographical novel by Knausgård?

At some point they will emerge with the nonchalance of an oblivious visitor who has overstayed their welcome. Meanwhile babies have been born at Mt Sinai and my potential conversation has disappeared into the ethers … As I dart towards the lavatory, lost time becomes as surreal as on Dali’s melting clock which is now positioned stoically above the towelettes. 


Picture 7Moonwalk Musing Do dogs know how elevators work?



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