Archives: at home

Stop! Mama time!

I want to freeze my sons, at 8 and nearly 10, in their age of “Stand By Me” wonder, of energy and potential

of health and optimism

of delight


I want to always hear these conversations: the complex trading systems of Pokemon cards, the ethical posturing of Star Wars, the heavy analysis of the World Cup, the astute shunning of falsity

of hanging out squashed together on the couch watching old Bollywood

of a houseful of children, a weekend tide, surging down the hall and out the backyard and up the trees

and back down the street


before the angst of teenage years, the tyranny of hormones


To keep them from grownupness

the competitive renovation of the aspirational middle classes

the state sanctioned greed of continual consumption

the sting of rejection

the cruelty of business

the unspecial loves, the mean lovers


Could we halt their growth? Make them forever boys,

happy to hold my hand (when nobody’s looking), innocent yet clever?


Ah, no.

But what men they will be!

and how lovely it will be to meet them

The sole door to that meeting

will, eventually, sacrifice these little blokes

to adulthood

to another

to this crappy grownupness


A writer’s perilous life (insurance)

In a show of adult responsibility, I consider death, TPD (total and permanent disability), and trauma insurance. I am, after all, quite ancient, and will be part-responsible for three dependents soon. Eeeek.

I check estimated premiums online at Sunsuper, where you can plug in some basic info before doing an actual application.* In the box that asks for occupation, I type “writer”, because that’s what I put on these sorts of forms. Out of the varied occupations I minister day-to-day, “writer” is my favourite self-identification, even if the pay sucks, comparatively. Pure intellectual vanity. I start typing “wri…” and the drop-down menu suggests “Writer” “Technical Writer” “Feature Writer” or “Not on the list”.

I select Writer, and send the online application forth. Computer replies with a provisional amount. My estimated premium for death ($100,000) and TPD ($500,000) insurance, as a writer, is $71.61 a week, or $3,723 annually. This seems rather high.

Maybe I should consider changing my self-described occupation.

I have been spending a large proportion of the week in (unpaid) domestic employment. I wonder if this occupation costs a different amount to insure. I change my occupational selection from writer to “home duties”. I keep everything else constant.

The premium changes to $7.86 a week ($408 annually).

That is nine times less expensive.

Let that sit in your head for a minute.

Truth time: I make the lion’s (more a sealion, probably, and a cub at that) share of my income as a marketing consultant, although when it comes to marketing, I confess I sometimes share Bill Hicks’ view of the profession.

How much to insure a postgraduate-educated marketing consultant?  A little over four dollars a week, or $225.25 annually. Cheapest premium yet.

This is bizarre. I can understand dangerous, or unhealthy, jobs, attracting higher insurance premiums. Jobs like firefighter, police officer, or fighter pilot. I check these out. I also note a category called “Tunneling and underground mining and shot firer”. All would cost the same to insure as a writer.

So would a Circus Performer, Golf Professional, Factory Cleaner, or Television Presenter. (By now, I’ve adopted their Deferential Capitals.) But not an interstate bus driver or miner who doesn’t work underground. They’re cheaper to insure.

Strangely, if I were a Technical Writer, my insurance premiums would drop to a much lower premium than if I remained just a Writer.

My inner geek is fascinated. We need to plot data.

Insurance premiums based on occupation

It’s not a rigorous study: I pluck random occupations and plug them into the website, keeping my age, gender, amount to insure, and income constant. I do not exhaustively choose occupations, but I do keep choosing until I become exhausted! Or bored, more honestly.**

So why is it more expensive to insure a writer? The workplace is not as dangerous as a police officer’s. Are we a mental health (and possible suicide) risk? Do we have social habits that perhaps mean we are more likely to become incapacitated? Do television presenters (also expensive insurees) share these qualities? And why do those technical dudes get away with a lower premium?

It’s an expensive buzz, but calling myself a writer, I feel a little more exotic. Dangerous. In keeping with some hardcore company: me, the fighter pilots, and the circus performers.

Not that I’m going to call myself one on any future insurance forms.


*I chose to not proceed with a Sunsuper application, as it does not offer trauma insurance (the main type I seek). However, I continued to play with the website as it was fascinating.

 **I gathered this data sometime in May 2014. It’s taken me a month to put it to this blog. You can play with your own figures here.

Maturity and mortality

The philosophy of nine year olds

My sons, I think, have just experienced a momentus weekend for an eight and nine year old. They both kicked goals at soccer, and their teams won. They watched ‘The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou’ for the first time. They spent all of Sunday at their school fiesta. And they saw a cat hit by a car as they walked home.

The cat died, they said, pretty instantaneously. I wasn’t with them, as I’d left a little earlier to deal with necessary domestic detritus. I’m a coward; I didn’t seek details, yet I heard a few, anyway. But not many. They were fairly quiet about the whole thing, and I wonder if I should have asked more questions. Daddyo seemed more affected than the kids. (He’s still a little sad this morning.) The car didn’t stop, and he door-knocked along the road to find the cat’s owners. He found them. He came home with blood on his hands and his shorts.

Bringing trash and treasure

Looming loot

Perhaps fiesta-induced exhaustion made the experience surreal for the three of them (and the Coopers Pale Ale for the big guy). It had been a mammoth day: unlimited ride passes, old friends visiting from Cairns, and some spending money from grandparents. S-Man, in particular, went ape at Trash and Treasure. I worry about a hoarder’s future for him. Some of the toys I donated have made it back home. Again. Most of this will re-route to the local opshop. Life is circular.

It’s rare to allow these boys to watch M-rated movies, but Wes is Wes. His vision of Fantasic Mr Fox is a household favourite, and they quite liked Moonrise Kingdom. Life Aquatic is just natural progression. Now, writing about a movie we watched: I wouldn’t usually consider this remarkable enough to mention, except for the unplanned take-out they’ve drawn from it. CC blew me away when he explained, early on, his sympathy for Klaus (the character played by Willem Dafoe who feels usurped by Owen Wilson’s Ned assuming his coveted filial role). This is not a black-and-white reading, and I’m stoked by an eight-year-old’s sensitivity. Or maybe I’m just delighted to have another couple of Wes Anderson fans in the house. Hipster wanker, you say? Wait ‘til you see the triangles I’m painting on the nursery furniture.

Is it wrong to think that all of this weekend’s experiences are, in their own ways, healthy for the boys to experience? And should I ask them more about the cat? How they felt? Or should some emotions be allowed to be processed by maturing young people in their own space and time? This parenthood gig is tricky.

Hints for the hopeless

Conchita Wurst belly bump

I’ve linked to it before, but this site does make me laugh. It’s a list of hints for dads. (I’m sure you’re aware, it’s not the only one.) Hints. Dadness for dummies.

Take number 2. Clean the bathroom. Or number 4. Take her out to dinner.

Dude, you have to be told this shit??? How did you manage to become a goddamn father in the first place? Any lady who lets a non-bathroom-cleaning bloke between her legs in the first place deserves to be looking wistfully at a list of dad-hints, bookmarking them or perhaps even sending a link in a suggestive email…

Just kidding. I’m still waiting for the foot-fucking-master, too.

Fork your pom-pom

By request, we are venturing deeper into craft territory.

Mini pom-poms: child's play.

Mini pom-poms: child’s play.


A friend asked me to show her how to make these, and we were too busy lounging on the beach to get around to it last weekend, so here they are.

How to make adorable little mini pom-poms.

  1. Place a single thread of wool across the middle tines of a fork. Make it long if you want to use it to tie the eventual pom-pom onto something.
  2. Wrap wool around and around the fork.
  3. Tie the original thread once, as tightly as you can.
  4. Slip it all off the fork, and tie again. Tightly.
  5. Cut through the “folded” edges, fluff out, and trim with scissors to a fuzzy sphere.
  6. Voila!


TIPS FOR DADS: 1.Rub her feet. Doing a hand or foot massage can help relieve a lot of tension and give you some quiet time to talk. I prefer using a mint lotion on my feet to help invigorate myself. Ask her what he preference is for lotion.

This helpful advice comes from one site of many. The foot rub is a fabled, seemingly compulsory dad duty. Apparently. 

Vincent: Would you give a guy a foot massage? Jules: Fuck you.

So when do these promised foot massages start? WHEN????

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