ARE WE THERE YET?

I have never understood the appeal of family road trips. I mean, in theory, it does sound nice to spend some time with family without the interruption of phones, TVs, computers and general busyness of life. It also sounds nice to use the time to do things that you might not otherwise do. You can read books, catch up on sleep, do puzzles and card games…

But honestly, what’s the reality here?

If you have children, expect to hear “Are we there yet?” on repeat like a broken record.

Most, if not all of you probably live at the same residence, so what’s the chances of anyone having anything new to say? And if by chance, you do have something to add to the conversation, there won’t be hours worth of content.

You’re in a confined space with no escape. Problematic if there are belchers, farters or annoying siblings with knee jerk reflex issues. Imagine being in a car with these people for several hours; it’ll test the patience of a saint.

There are minimal bathroom breaks so you can’t be drinking too much liquid or risk the embarrassment of roadside bush prickles in your butt and indecent exposure. Plus no-one wants to be tooted by a passerby.

More importantly, to us at least, road trips means sharing music space. No one listens to their own music with solo headphones because there’s no fun in that. So, it can get quite heated in the car with everyone dissing on each other’s musical choices.

Our latest road trip took a total of seven hours, so we devised a “fair” system where each person got to choose a song of their choice to be played upon their turn.

My four-year-old son was happy to forfeit his turns to his eight-year-old sister, who tortured us with Disney songs from the movie Descendants. Although, I’d never admit this to the husband but l kind of like the sickly sweet and catchy pop songs.

My husband chose Barry Manilow’s Mandy and did a silly Dad rendition, an ode to our daughter’s name. It wasn’t a surprise that the children pretended to vomit and yelled out “Yuck!” He followed up with songs from Wig Wam, Diablo, The Darkness and Iron Maiden.

I’m not a fan of heavy metal or rock bands but the husband believes he is “expanding” the children’s musical tastes. He’s actually had some success. One of our daughter’s favourite songs is “Sandstorm” by Darude. He’s even gotten our daughter into Gloryhammer!

I like mainstream music. I don’t mind pop, hip/hop, R&B, country, indie or dance. I don’t know what that says about my personality other than I’m easy. Instead of going for current chart songs, I went with the classics. I chose Gloria’s “I Will Survive” because it has hooks that are catchier than covid. Tina Turner’s “What’s Love Got to Do with It” and Bee Gees’ “Stayin’ Alive” made the cut. Not a single person enjoyed my selections. It really says more about them than me, right??

Eventually, we got sick of playing musical merry-go-round and left Ballad Collection by X Japan on for the rest of the road trip. Our son stopped asking “Are we there yet?” and fell asleep. Our daughter pulled out a few books and was content for several hours.

With three long hours of the road trip left, no bickering over song choices and quiet from the children, I found myself moaning… “Are we almost there yet?”

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AND THE WINNER GOES TO…

Every year, the company my husband works for holds a free Christmas raffle and barbeque. Around three hundred people are invited for a snag and the chance to win one of forty prizes. Over the fifteen years that he’s worked for this company, my husband has won five times. He’s brought home a weird little tea set, a couple of hampers, a bottle of wine and a six-pack of beer.

This year’s event was a quiet affair due to the pandemic. Not many people showed up for the barbeque and the winners of the Christmas raffle were drawn on Zoom. A total of fourteen winners won and was asked to present at HQ to select from the pool of prizes. Luckily, my husband’s name was drawn from the list.

“Hamper, hamper, hamper… Oh, there’s a coffee table designed by some interior decorator.” My husband read out the list of prizes available for the taking. It didn’t take long for me to exclaim that we NEEDED a new coffee table, especially if was going to be free.

Thirty minutes after my husband left to collect his prize, we heard the beeping noise of a reversing delivery truck in our driveway. Out stepped my husband and a delivery driver from the company. Both men struggled as they lugged the great big and seemingly heavy package off the truck and into our hall. While my husband returned to get his car, I dragged the table towards the living room to unpack.

The damn thing weighed a ton. You know that feeling just before opening a present? That anticipation and excitement? The thrill of opening something that might be the best thing in the world? That’s how I felt. Gosh darn it! This wasn’t just a coffee table. My husband had texted to say that it was an original creation of some fancy pants interior designer/decorator/Australian celebrity and it cost the company $10,000!

Did I know this famous person? No. I had to Google the name and apparently, she’s a well-known judge on a few reality TV shows. Have I watched these shows? No. BUT… I did hear this wood creation will feature in an upcoming TV show. So now I own a piece of reality TV history. Yep! Me… a proud(?) new owner of a $10,000 celebrity-made coffee table.

My husband’s company spent $10,000 on the table, of which was donated to charity. It was shipped from Sydney to Melbourne to be a part of the company’s Christmas raffle. It made me think this table must have been something pretty special.

Pulling off the bubble wrap, I could see the underside of the coffee table hadn’t been sanded or polished.

“Still good, still good,” I thought. “Probably part of the charm. I’m so out of trends, this is probably what the kids want these days.”

I almost pulled a hernia turning the table over; that was how heavy it was. In fact, I’m sure I popped a haemorrhoid for my efforts.

You know that feeling you get when you open a present and it’s not what you expected? That sinking, deflating balloon feeling? Like you wanted the newest Nike shoes as a kid but instead your parents got you a stinking pair of school shoes for the new year? That’s how I felt setting my sights on the coffee table.

Wanna see what a $10,000 coffee table looks like?

KN J Tales and Snippets

It kinda looked like someone had taken a chainsaw to a random tree, slapped it together and called it a day. That’s probably unfair of me. I’m no designer, and I certainly have no skills in woodwork so I shouldn’t really comment. BUT, as a consumer… a cheap-ass/will-accept-free-things one, I have eyes and some debatable taste. I don’t much like the unfinished look with the natural tree grooves and lumps. Call me a simpleton.

My husband won’t let me eBay it because he claims it’s a great talking point. Plus he likes it, warts and all. My brother-in-law thinks I should tweet at the designer and TV show when it makes an appearance. Other people who have seen it, claim they love it! So we’re keeping it.

I guess it’ll grow on me… eventually. For now, it sits by the window and doubles as a very expensive children’s clutter table.

You know when I said we NEEDED a $10,000 coffee table? I think we NEEDED a hamper more.

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MY STRUGGLE WITH SMALL TALK

Do you find it hard to partake in small talk? Does it make you feel anxious? Or do you have the gift of the gab?

There are so many factors required to have a successful conversation with another person.

  • Using exact words to effectively express your thoughts
  • Understanding body language and its nuances
  • Maintaining eye contact
  • Finding a balance between listening and speaking
  • Showing an interest in the person and what they have to say
  • Offering interesting topic threads
  • Remembering to relax
  • Smile

If you suffer from social anxiety, being thrust into situations where you must engage in conversation can be scary. It might feel easier to avoid it altogether.

So why do I force myself to engage in conversation?

I recognise that to communicate and engage with others means social interaction. It means forging new relationships and strengthening others. It means developing my sense of self and belonging.

Ultimately, I don’t want my life to be consumed by my anxiety. I won’t allow it to tear me down. Therefore, I must engage.


Butcher: “Hello there!”

Me: “Hi.”

Butcher: “How can I help? What would you like?”

Oh my God, I don’t know. Sh?t, I better hurry! Sh?t, how do you say that word ’enchiladas’?

Me: “Um. Six en-chill-a-dars please?”

Butcher: “My wife just took one of these last night and upped to Mildura.”

What? What did he just say? Am I supposed to reply? I just want to tick dinner off my list.

Me: “Oh. That’s a long way.”

Butcher: “She loves them. Drove after work last night and got there this morning.”

Okay, I think I’m supposed to say something here. Fudge if I know. Why is he telling me this? Breathe. Relax. You can do this. It’s just a conversation. Be normal.

Me: “Yeah, she must love them to drive that far.”

Did he mean she loves enchiladas? Is six enough for dinner?

Butcher: “My daughter lives up there and had her baby last night.”

How long does it take to wrap these enchiladas?! I can feel my anxiety levels rising. This conversation is hurting my mind. New baby. Ok, so remember to congratulate him.

Me: “My husband loves your enchiladas.”

Butcher: “Thanks. My wife’s already saying she wants to come back.”

You seem like a really nice dude and I’m really glad you’re chatting to me but I suck at this and I feel awkward. Please have mercy on me!

Me: “My husband loves your enchiladas.”

Fudge! That’s not what I meant to say. I forgot the congratulations.

Butcher: “Uh, thanks?”

Me: “Um, congratulations?”

Oh my gosh! He did say his daughter, right? He looks young. I hope I haven’t misheard. This conversation is going downhill. Abort! Abort!

Butcher: “It’s my third grandkid. Here you are.”

Oh thank goodness.

Me: “Thanks. Have a great day.”

I need to get out of here.

Butcher: “You haven’t paid yet.”

Me: “You too. I mean, sorry I haven’t.”

Did I just say that? How embarrassing! I hope the next butcher isn’t as talkative.


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