I’d F**k A Funny Woman Any Day.

I find women funnier. I just do. There, it’s said. It’s out there. For years I’ve taken a diplomatic stance – funny is funny no matter what the gender, no matter who is telling the joke, but who was I kidding, give me an Amy over an Arj any day. Now by no means is that meant to be taken as a disparaging comment on the Arj’s of the world, it’s just that my pen is inked from a different well, um, a well of ladies.

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I was born this way. From the moment I came into the world, as my mother looked at my tanned skin and joked between puffs ‘oh look, she’s nicotine stained’…it was inevitable.

About a week ago some guy called Wippa from a radio show mentioned that funny women don’t get the guys. Mama Mia writer Lucy Gransbury posted a great response to his assertions – ‘Eat a bag of dicks’. A more articulate response to the ‘funny women shut up if you want to get laid debate’ I’m yet to see. My fiancé, a man no less, decided he too would post a response. Less barbed he conceded that funny was sexy no matter what gender but I begged to differ, and I did. Under his post, I wrote ‘I find women funnier.’ It was out.

As much as I’m a fan of David Sedaris, it’s his sister Amy Sedaris who I stalk with unwavering commitment. Her Instagram account is ‘what Instagram was made for’ a friend recently declared. Her recent turn in Broadcity, something to behold ‘where isn’t a toilet?!’

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Judith Lucy and Jane Kenndey were the reasons I fought to stay up well past my bedtime to watch The Lateshow, it had little to do with Mick or Santo. Then of course there was Lynda Gibson in Let the Blood Run Free, Madge in Big Girls Blouse, Smack the Pony, Lucille Ball, The Golden Girls, Mona from Who’s The Boss, Ruth Cracknell, Lily Tomlin, Bette Midler and Shelley Long in anything. Oh and then there was Girls on Top that introduced me to Tracey Ullman, Dawn French and Jennifer Saunders. And Julia Davis pretty much revolutionised my viewing experience with Nighty Night, um and Jo Brand, Ab Fabs Patsy, Tamsin Greig, Janeane Garofalo, Olivia Colman and Parker Posey, and that my friends is only a list encompassing my formative years to say about the time I started working in comedy in the early 2000s.

Now sadly it was only when I started working in the industry did I learn, or sorry, I was told that women weren’t funny from some punters, some promoters and the odd comedian thus negating my entire back catalogue of inspiration, well they would have if I’d actually given a shit and for a moment believed them. I guess it doesn’t help that near every year some journo with space to burn poses the question ‘Are women funny?’ it’s about as relevant and interesting a question as that from my Year 12 debating final ‘Should you be permitted to choose whatever clothes you want to wear outside of school?’

Sure I have friends who are professionally funny and successful because they’re funny, but it’s also my lady friends from other walks of life that crack me up just as much, if not more. I think it’s the reason I think I’m drawn to them in the first place, that and their hair. It’s what I value most in a friendship, a good laugh and good hair. My mum is one of the funniest women I know, now whether or not it’s intentional we’ll probably never be certain, but on more than one occasion she’s made me pee my pants and this is well after the potty training years. My friend Clem never fails to make me laugh-cry in my face and then there’s Hattie. I see her maybe every 5 years or so, but I’m still left smiling for years after our catch ups because of  her tales of exotic world travel engrossing me while her cigarette animatedly dances around the table as she weaves her squeal inducing stories. Actually if I’ve invited you around for dinner and plied you with booze and you’ve got a vagina it’s probably because you’ve made my tummy hurt with laughter at some stage….feel used? Good.

I’m sure if you know me you’ve probably always suspected that I’m funny girl inclined, there’s been rumours floating around for years and I just felt it was time to set things straight, on my own terms. I plan to raise my children as lovers of funny women and you know what, I don’t think they’ll be alone, especially if the recent spate of fan obsessing ver the Amy’s, Mindy’s, Tina’s and Ilana’s is anything to go by and they’ll be in the best of like-minded sexy funny company, I’m sure.

The Importance of Being #beautiful

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Dove recently launched another of their ‘every women’ campaigns with #choosebeauty. Their campaigns successfully work on the self-deprecating, self-hating woman, you know, the one that doesn’t know they’re beautiful, like really beautiful inside and out until a major advertising initiative tells them so, all set to muted tones of blue, cream and other unobtainable minimalistic basic design shit.

It’s important being beautiful isn’t it? Like really, really important. Forget health, forget love, forget kindness, it’s all about beauty and if you’re not conventionally beautiful that ok because we’ve got you covered – unconventionally beautiful? Or maybe you’re big and beautiful or better yet-  beautiful on the inside? Oh man, we’ve got a slogan, meme, affirmation or cute instagram pic telling us to be ‘our own kind of beautiful’ for that – we’ll even put it on a mug, frame, canvas painting for you and that’s because it’s important that you’re beautiful because as long as you are beautiful you’ve got value, purpose, you’re ok to be here.

But what if you’re not beautiful? If it’s not of interest to you, or important.

Is it ok to not be beautiful?

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I asked my fiancé this question a few weeks ago and his response was expected, the norm ‘but you are beautiful’. Ah, even in the eye of the beholder it is important. I wasn’t fishing for reassurance and I’m not doing that now, writing this, either.  I was asking him in the wake of all these #beauty campaigns  if were we missing the point. Sure it’s nice to be the most viewed painting in a gallery, but it doesn’t necessarily make you the most valuable piece of art in the exhibition. It all seemed a bit desperate I told him, like it was important everyone was beautiful, more important than say making sure everyone had clean drinking water or education.

I understand the need for self-acceptance. That is important. Being able to say ‘I’m great how I am’ is something we should all strive towards (at 35 I’ve only just started on this little journey) but why is it never ‘I’m great how I am because I speak four languages, love walks with my dog and I pay my library fines on time, every time.’  Why does it always need to be ‘I’m great because I’ve finally come to terms with my ankles’  – surely we’ve got more to offer then that. Can our lives have value without this constant pursuit whether it be from external or internal forces to be seen as beautiful no matter by what the prism we’re seeing it?

I’m asking a lot of questions aren’t I? I guess I’m thinking out loud a lot about this. I tried an experiment the other day. In a group of people I said ‘I’m not beautiful’ – as expected, because it’s expected everyone jumped in with ‘no, are you kidding! My mother thinks you’re very striking! You know you’re gorgeous right?!’ – now I’m not admonishing my friends, that’s their jobs as friends,  fuck as humans on this earth to tell me I’m beautiful but why are we so reluctant to reply with ‘ok, so you’re not beautiful, but you’re a fucking dynamite in the sack and your socially aware design work is going to change the world.’ I’m just saying there’s a lot more to people at the end of the day but if we don’t see them as beautiful do they really exist?

Now I’m not saying if you’re not beautiful or don’t want to be seen as beautiful that you’re ugly. Embracing the ugly is just as problematic, because it’s just validation of the physical as is beauty and anyway isn’t one persons ugly another persons Jimmy Smits?

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We’re all to blame for this. Even I watch those Dove campaigns and get all ‘oh but she’s so beautiful in her muted toned cardigan…how does she not know she’s a supermodel? …how does she get up the morning if she doesn’t have beauty?’

I’m still not sure where I’m going with this, I wanted to start a conversation and now I’m interested to see where it goes.

Beauty is all around us, it comes for the most part from what we as humans, beautiful and not beautiful, create – painting, music, sculpture, perfume, books, poems, film, dance, irrigation, architecture, engineering, science. I’m just wondering if it wasn’t so important that we be beautiful, I mean if we didn’t spend so much time and money making sure we’re all beautiful, that wbeauty-is-not-about-mere-appearances-beauty-quotee might bring so much more achievable beauty into this world. A rambling thought I know, but a beautiful thought nonetheless.

How being Confirmed only confirmed I couldn’t be Catholic anymore.

‘The day of my Confirmation arrived and I marked it by wearing a brand new pair of floral culottes and a cream gypsy blouse. I knew how to play the game and had dressed accordingly – as an adult virgin.’

It’s not easy been 12 years old at the best of times but for me in 1991 things were tough. I’d lost out on the school captaincy by one vote because my rival had strategically asked one of the more influential voters of my year out on a date prior to the election, and as such, defeated, I’d been relegated to Vice School Captain. They didn’t have a badge for vice school captain and it had been proving harder then I’d thought it would, wedging my title into day-to-day conversations.

For me though, being at a catholic primary school, aside from my lack of status there was also the religious aspect to contend with. I viewed religious studies as more of a history class to be debated and questioned, than to be understood as blind doctrine and unquestionable truth. Even at such a young age I was aware of the human nature to romanticise and fictionalise our past. The bible – particularly the New Testament, as far as I was concerned was written by Jesus’s frat brothers who weren’t afraid to don slightly smudged glasses when the need arose.  Take Mary Magdalene. The first time I heard of her she was described as a fallen woman – a prostitute who supported Jesus through her own private means AKA private parts. I asked my religious studies teacher if the other male apostles also supported Jesus through their own private means? This was met with a frown and the reminder that the men were apostles and the women in Jesus’s circle were not, they were prostitutes.

‘How do we know that?’ I asked. She carefully explained she knew it because it was written in the bible.

‘By men’ I remarked.

‘I don’t know that has to do with it?’ she replied.

‘You have to consider that don’t you?’ I posed to my teacher. ‘There’s no stories in here written by women.’

‘And?’

‘It’s just they might have offered another perspective that’s all, like they might not have cast themselves as prostitutes in their story.’

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Detention. Punishment: to read the New Testament and make peace with it’s absolute authority.  When I asked for a highlighter and some paper to make notes they agreed sending me to the naughty corner would be a better use of everyone’s time.

I learnt a few months into Grade 6 that in order to graduate I would need to be Confirmed. Whilst most of most schoolmates got excited at the prospect of a spring garden party I asked the more pertinent question ‘what is Confirmation?’

‘It’s the adult ascension into the church, when you take responsibility for your own faith and destiny. Once Confirmed you will be seen as an adult in the eyes of God.’

12 years old!? An adult? Responsibility?

‘But what if you’re not even sure you believe in a god?’

‘Well you better get on it’ my teacher said ‘No belief. No graduation.’

‘This is bullshit’ I mumbled to a friend as we sat on the back fence throwing rotten eggs at the private boys school passing by. ‘I mean are you tell me that once I’m Confirmed I can be charged as an adult in say a court of law?’

‘I dunno’ my friend responded, trying to be supportive.

‘You don’t understand’ I spat at her ‘you’re a born-again-Christian. You chose to believe in god and all that crap. We Catholic’s are forced to.’

We sat in silence as we worked our way through the rest of our eggs.

Part of Confirmation is that you choose the name that you wish to represent you in your adult life. The only caveat, it has to be a saint’s name.

‘Any saints name?’ I asked.

My teacher paused, knowing that if she lied to me I would undoubtedly uncover the truth and then subject her a reckoning of repercussions.

‘Yes, any saints name Louise. Any.’

My mother was all to happy to drive me to the Australian Catholic University library, after finding my own school library lacking in the way of books on saints name. Of course there were the usual offenders, your Luke’s, Matthews, Mary’s and Anne’s, but I wanted something more. If I were going to have to carry this name around with me through life it would need to mean something. And so it was, in the stacks of a university library I found what, or should I say who I was looking for – St Dymphna.

Her story, putting the incest and murder aside, read like the fairytale Frozen. A young princess in Ireland, who’s father stricken with grief at the death of his wife decides to take the saying ‘to get over someone you need to get under someone else’ to mean his daughter, chases Dymphna and her priest (yes, it’s all sounding very Thornbirds) through the Irish landscape, only to finally capture and behead her because she wouldn’t marry him. Even over 1300 years later I could relate. To add to her allure she was also the patron saint of the mentally ill and victims of abuse. Perhaps I could funnel my disbelief in god into my belief in her? Just till graduation anyway…

Not to boast but I’m one of those kids who was baptised by rock star priest Father Bob Maguire and hold onto your hat, book ended it with now Cardinal George Pell when he was only starting out as a career catholic.  For people like my opus dei loving uncle this was a big deal, like being Confirmed by the hand of god. For me it was an elaborate ruse to graduate Grade 6 by letting a man wearing a dress touch my head.

The day of my Confirmation arrived and I marked it by wearing a brand new pair of floral culottes and a cream gypsy blouse. I knew how to play the game and had dressed accordingly – as an adult virgin.

As I approached the alter I quickly turned around to check for the authorities – for surely given that any moment I would become an adult, it was fair to say I might be charged as an adult for my egg throwing shenanigans. They were yet to arrive…

George recited some prayer and asked me what my chosen name was.

‘Dymphna’ I said.

What was meant to happen next was that he was meant to give it the tick of approval and move me on my way towards a hall filled with cordial and fruitcake but he didn’t. Instead he took a step closer to me and told me that I couldn’t take the name Dymphna and that my name would be Angela. She was a nice saint. A wholesome saint, a less defiled by her father kinda of saint.

‘No’ I said ‘I’ve chosen Dymphna. I was told I could chose whatever saints name I wanted.’

He said nothing. The congregation had started paying attention by now as the line of their own children heading towards the alter came to a grinding halt.

‘Who told you that?’

Out of the corner of my eye I could see my teacher sweating through her own culottes.

‘My teacher.’

‘Oh your teacher’ he smiled ‘but I’m a priest and I’m telling you that’s not true.’

‘I thought you might say that’ I replied ‘that’s why I went to the Australian Catholic University and did some research and no where is it written that I can’t chose my own saints name. I also rang the office of the Archbishop of Melbourne and they said the same thing.’

Silence.

‘Excuse me a moment’ the priest went off leaving me kneeling at the alter, thinking about the reality that might be me repeating Grade 6.

‘Just go with Angela or Mary’ a mother of another classmate hissed at me.

‘She’s the Spaniards daughter’ another remarked under their breath.

The world was turning against me. I had to hold strong.

After about 20 minutes he returned.

‘We’ve discussed it and decided that we will allow you to proceed with the name Dymphna.’

I sighed. I’d have to make do with winning the battle this time and the war; well I’d win that another time. Perhaps after cake.

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For the months after my Confirmation and leading up to my graduation I wrote my name in the top right hand of all homework, essays and tuck-shop orders as Louise Marguerite Dymphna Woodruff Sanz (lots of names yes, but as the woman at the Confirmation service pointed out, I am a Spaniards daughter). This resulted in my parents being called in to address this blatant acting out as my teachers saw it.  My mother was confused and rightly so. Surely, this was my new name? Had they, the school not insisted upon it? Was it not a prerequisite for me graduating? Ok, yes it was, they admitted but I wasn’t meant to take it literally.

That was what hit the nail on the head for me. Whilst I was meant to take the bible and it’s archaic and at times prejudiced views of the world literally – like the women of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John being either Madonna’s or whores, when it came to things like becoming an autonomous adult, who was now according to the church equipped to navigate my own faith and destiny, that was to be taken with a grain of salt, be seen as a token act and nothing more. I could bend my idea of being confirmed.  I couldn’t be expected to blindly follow a religion without question and conversation. Wouldn’t it be dangerous? Fanatical? To  just behave?

And there you have it – it was all about behaving. To be a good at any religion, at the root of it, was to behave and to follow. Not to ask questions about supposed virgin births, frankincense and myrrh. Not to challenge issues of gender, sexuality, women’s rights, domestic violence, divorce, worship, faith, reform, fanaticism and terrorism.

There are good things in the bible too, just as there are some good things in Fifty Shades of Grey (if you just ignore a majority of the book) but as a way to live, as a way to practice a life without question I’m afraid it wasn’t for me.

Now look I could be wrong and when I die I find myself in a place called Heaven with a lot of people walking around wearing t-shirts that read ‘Told You So’ and ‘I’m With Stupid’ but either way I think I’ll be ok. I’ll have a whole new identity – Dymphna – patron saint of the mentally ill and victims of abuse – knowing the allegations about the church I doubt I’ll be short of friends up there.

It’s a Straight Issue.

‘As far as I’m concerned, everyone – gay or straight –  has the right to be as unsure and skeptical of the institution of marriage as I am.’

I watch wedding shows. Heaps. Say Yes to the Dress, Four Weddings, anything with David Tutera in it. I watch them to see how the other half live. They’re my version of Animal Planet. When a bride turns to camera to share with us that they’ve dreamt about this day since they were a little girl that to me is the same as David Attenborough telling me that male Koalas have two penises. WFT? Mind blown! Really? And there is where I disconnect. I never had dreams of getting married as a young girl, having a wedding, of wearing a princess dress. It never made any sense to me. There were so many other things you could be doing like swimming, bike riding, reading ALL the Babysitters Club books, studying, debating, dressing up as a playing card to attend your friends 10th birthday party, reading all the POINT THRILLERS but planning a wedding at 8 years old – surely that was a thing of the past? Something to be frowned upon in a more civilized and evolved society.

Clearly it is not.

Now here’s the thing, before I go any further I should let you know that I’m engaged to be married, which sounds a lot like ‘I’m a hypocrite’. But hear me out. Turns out the guy I fell in love is really into the idea of getting married. I can’t say he tricked me. I knew pretty early on in our relationship, well our first date exactly where his cart might be hitched when he told me in great detail about his ideal wedding (Spoiler alert: involves the Speigletent, a flash mob and some sort of trapeze with dolphins). As he concluded with the idea of rounding out the ceremony with a song from the Titanic soundtrack he turned to me and asked ‘so that’s my perfect wedding, how about yours?’ I nearly choked on my vegetarian dumpling.

I’m not the marrying type. I have problems with it. In some countries it’s still about property, abuse and subjugation or/and same sex discrimination and sure I hear you scream at me ‘but marriage has evolved in the Western world. It’s about mason jars, commitment and Ed Sheeran songs now, not ownership. You can even keep your maiden name! It’s evolved!’

Oh really? I reply. Has it? It’s evolved has it? Then tell me why in this country it’s still only the domain of straight couples? It hasn’t really evolved has it when you need a legal proclamation in your wedding service that really drives home the discriminatory practice of straight Australians participating within an antiquated and frankly embarrassing piece of legislation that is as old as settlement itself.

My issue with marriage? It’s exclusionary and as it stands in regards to certain sections of our community – discriminatory. My straight partner and I can sit and talk about marriage and plan a wedding in the knowledge that we can do it. However if in Australia you sit outside of the heteronormative, that is to say you’re not a man marrying a woman to the exclusion of all others well you can talk about it, no law against that, shit you can even plan for it but you can’t do it. And why? Because you’re not straight. But don’t worry, sure you might not be able to marry, but you can put your name down on a registry/ excel spreadsheet in most states. Isn’t that enough?

To be clear I might be ambiguous about marriage but I do like weddings. I love love and all that goes with it. Celebrations, parties, get togethers with an open bar –all a good thing. The idea of having one ‘snuggle bunny’ for life – adorable. Maybe not entirely realistic, but it’s f**king adorable. However not all of my friends can stand in front of their friends and family and tell their ‘snuggle bunny’ that they love them, nor can they declare the whole in sickness and in health thing either and look if you want to be pedantic there’s a whole bunch of rights in regards to equality in this country that same sex couples don’t have because basically they can’t marry. Same sex couples can’t jointly adopt in Victoria and some other Australian states because they’re not married. Rights to your partners pension should you die, carers benefits etc are also not the same and absolute as married couples. Inheritance rights in many states are not recognised in the case of same sex and defacto couples.

Ha! You said defacto couple! – so it’s not really about discrimination just against homosexuals is it? Yes, yes it is. There have been a few moves to overhaul rights for defactos in regards to adopting, inheritance and property rights, however because that would mean giving same sex couples the same rights as the marrieds…well no we can’t have that. They’re slippery little suckers those gays – trying to get their civil rights by bootstrapping their cause to the average straight Australian defacto relationship…well I never!

And of course never mind the fact that inequality of the Australian Marriage Act is in breach of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, because who gives a shit really. I mean for most of us, the fact that same sex couples can’t marry, or can’t even opt out of getting married (just like the rest of us, because choosing not to do something is as much a right as doing it) doesn’t affect us and our day-to-day lives. And why should it? We’re the first class. We’re straight. I mean the only way it might start to affect us was if straight people stopped getting married, as a protest. That, until everyone had the same rights, the BILLIONS of dollars pumped into the Australian wedding economy every year would just stop. Imagine that – florists, cake shop owners, wedding dress designers and wedding DJ’s the country over out of work like employees of the ABC.

People will start to ask why the people of Australia stopped getting married and we will tell them – that we will no longer help our government facilitate discriminatory practices against members of our community. Leaders of business, feeling the sting of dried up bridal spending will write letters to their members of Parliament asking for bailouts to help them in this time of wedding austerity. Members of Parliament will put pressure on their political parties to change their stance of the Marriage Act as the Australian economy cripples under the weight of the estimated loss of over 2 billion dollars a year. Even the most homophobic misanthrope wedding car hire service owner when faced with such a financial loss like will declare – ‘oh for the love of god, let them marry!’

Now I don’t imagine everyone will jump on this protest straight away. Like with any social change it will start small. A few couples here and there will cancel their upcoming weddings after realising their newly out cousin might feel uncomfortable and excluded at the wedding when the celebrant has to legally declare that their union is ok because it’s between a man and a woman. Then we’ll get a hashtag started like #letthemmarry (spit balling here) and that’s when things will really take off. A groundswell of support will emerge and Tony Abbott who by then will be Minister for Menstruation and the Hymen Renewal Scheme will be forced to make a change.

I can’t take credit for this idea. One of my best friends who is gay (don’t worry, I wanted to stab myself in the eye as I wrote that) told me the only way things would change was if the straights got involved. Succinctly put, he said ‘same sex marriage is a straight issue’.

I’m part of the small grass roots movement. When my partner proposed, I paused, realising that if I was to try marriage it would be with this guy and only him and so I knew that when I said ‘yes, but on the proviso we don’t get married until everyone can’ that he would say ‘that was a given.’ And he did. And so we will wait.

People ask us all the time when is the big date? How are the plans going? And every time someone asks we tell them that we couldn’t imagine inviting our gay friends to a wedding only to have them hear that due to their sexual orientation they are denied the right to stand in front of their nearest and dearest and let the world know that they are in love. Sure, it makes some people uncomfortable but I’m completely ok with that. A little bit of discomfort for equality seems a relatively small sacrifice for both sides of the conversation.

I’m still not sure I’m the marrying type but given I’m in a position to at least choose if I want to get married or not, it means I’m in a position of privilege and I should exercise the responsibility that goes with that accordingly. As far as I’m concerned, everyone – gay or straight –  has the right to be as unsure and skeptical of the institution of marriage as I am.

Now because I’m engaged, I can’t watch my wedding shows with as much irony as I once did but they have helped give me a clearer picture of how my partner will look on our wedding day in his resplendent white dress being led down the isle by his father and presented to me. I’m very much looking forward to that especially with all my friends looking on and taking cash bets on the side to see if I go through with it.

If you support marriage equality as you no doubt do you can go here: http://www.australianmarriageequality.org/ and further show your support! Or you know NOT GET MARRIED TILL THINGS CHANGE 🙂

Teaching Your Lover to Drive by Lou Sanz

 

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Over the last few months I’ve been teaching my boyfriend to drive. Life got in his way and he never got around to getting it. I’ve learnt to accept this excuse as an ingrained narrative of how his life has played out thus far. Relationships I’ve learnt, for the most part are a lot about letting things slide. I’m good like that.

The first thing you’ll realise when teaching a lover as opposed to a child to drive is that deep down you still have a need for them to not leave you and to like you, really like you. You also have to make sure their self-esteem is propped up at all times, regardless of your own personal safety and reassure them that everyone nearly runs over a pedestrian from to time.

Also as you’re not a parent to your lover, well hopefully you’re not, you can’t say the following:

‘Sharpen up’

‘You nearly killed someone’

‘You nearly killed that whole school bus’

‘Stop being an idiot’

‘What do you mean you don’t know how to reverse park/ do a 3 point term/ merge…’

‘Get out of my car’

‘Fine! Walk home!’

‘You wanna drive an automatic? And I guess you wanna get your legs waxed after we finish?’

‘This car is worth more than it was to raise you, remember that.’

‘Stop!’

‘For the love of god stop!!!!’

‘Shit we’re going to die’

‘Merge…merge, merge, merge, MERGE!!!!’

‘Have you put your seat bell on?’

‘Hand brake! Hand brake!’

‘Do that again and you’re grounded!’

‘There’s still so much I want to do with my life!’

When you’re teaching a lover to drive it’s all about wanting to say those things and finding other ways to say it.

‘Hey babe, maybe the cars not turning on because you haven’t put the key in the ignition? Must have been a really tough day at work. Here, let me turn the car on for you. Love you.’

‘Hey babe, I know technically you’re in the right and that pedestrian shouldn’t have j-walked but remember regardless that you’re in a car and as such you have to be the more responsible one. Yes, they were definitely in the wrong. Yes,  I reckon they got quite the fright. Yes, you were right and they were wrong. Love you.’

‘Hey babe due to a traffic incident happening right now we’re about 10 seconds away from impending death if you don’t stop right this minute…or whatever makes you comfortable. Love you.’

‘Hey babe there’s a park…there’s one there and there and there and there…that’s ok, we’ll find another…there’s one…and there’s one and another one, and another one…nup you’re right, let’s circle the block and see if we have any luck next time.’

‘You look very handsome today, have you done something with your hair? No? Oh you’re sitting in the drivers seat, that’s what it is. Makes you look all sexy and full of authority. Wanna drop me at work? Sure you’ll have to leave the car there and catch a tram home but I’ve got a real hankering to be your passenger, sexy driving man.’

‘No babe,  I only grab the door like that when we get really close to trucks going 110 on the Hume Hwy because I’m working through my own stuff right now. Love you.’

‘Indicators are cars ways of expressing their feelings and intentions to each other and sometimes even when they don’t feel like talking to each other, they have to.’

‘Hey babe,  you’ve got to understand that sometimes when I tell you do something, it’s not as your girlfriend beating her man down, but as a woman who has over 16 years of driving experience and a responsibility to other people on the roads telling you not to do something. Love you.’

Teaching your partner to drive can either cement your relationship or tear it apart limb by limb, leaving a rotting carcass by the road side with nothing but a smear of blood; your only reminder that once you deeply cared for each other.

At the time of writing this blog we’re still together.

 

2014: I’ll probably fail, again.

It’s New Year’s Eve and I’ve still got a script submission to finish so I’ll be brief. I’ll try to be brief. Look I might fail to be brief and so what? Who gives a fuck about failing?

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I do. We all do.

I failed a lot this year. I even wrote a show about failing. That failed too.

2013 was not one of those years that I’ll look back on and think ‘that’s the year that defined the Sanz legacy.’ It is most likely a year that I will look back on and need reminding that it fell between 2012 and 2014 – ‘Oh that 2013….!’

But of course with failure must come success – they’re like Will and Grace. I had some of that too. I moved in with my boyfriend, properly, not just both of us living out of suitcases in various states of the country and undress! BAM!

I overcame rickets. (I think, I have to book a blood test but I’m feeling less bendy).

I moved house again with my boyfriend (twice in one year without breaking up. Win)

I discovered you can lay-by holidays.

I finally decided to count listening audio books as ‘reading’.

I was published.

I made a film.

None of these things were resolutions. I resolved for none of them to happen in 2013. In fact last New Year’s Eve I decided the only resolution I was going to do something great in 2013. I didn’t specify what. Just something really great.

How I thought an ambiguous mega goal would be more achievable… slow clap Lou, no pressure there.

It turns out that was the hardest resolution I’ve ever had to keep and I failed at it. In fact I failed so badly my social anxiety only seemed to get worse as soon as I decided to really make my mark. My stage fright returned with the vengeance normally only associated with recurring thrush, I drove my partner crazy with sleepness nights (and not the sexy ones). By saying I would do something great I somehow managed to mangle it’s meaning beyond recognition and question my own relevance in the world.

It’s only sitting down tonight and making myself write a list of all the things I did in 2013 that I realise I did do something great. I made stuff. I did stuff. I got frightened. I got excited. I felt disappointment and happiness. I was betrayed. I suffered loneliness and made some great friends. I got through to the other side. I made it to 2014. I get another year and I will no doubt fail and succeed in 2014 as well. It shouldn’t be how will I change’ in 2014, it should be where to from here.

I think that’s what New Years Eve should be about. Not about what you’re going to do differently next time or how much weight you’re going to lose, how many times you’ll go to the gym or about quitting sugar or finally filling out your E-Harmony profile honestly. It’s about what you have done and where you might go from there.

Which leads me to my new resolution. I did write down ‘thigh-gap’ but it seems everyone’s doing it and much like a Big Brother contestant I want to be ‘different and original.’

Looking back on 2013 I realise I need to get stronger. I need to get to a place where people’s opinions don’t affect me as much (we all need to do that). I need to not constantly be getting out of other people’s way in the street and apologising for taking up space in the world.

I would also like to crush a walnut with my bicep.

I’ve also learnt that if I don’t manage to get stronger by 2015 than no doubt I would have accomplished something else, something I didn’t resolve to do….like crush a walnut between my thighs…I don’t know, anything is possible.

Happy New Year.

x

 

 

 

What Would Miranda Kerr do?

I’ve started keeping a gratitude journal. I’ve been told it’s something Miranda Kerr does.

The idea is that you find at least 5 things to be grateful for each and everyday and by keeping a list of them you can reflect back on the good things in your life, making the bad things, well trivial and in making them trivial give them less power in your life.  It sounded right up my alley so I was eager to get the gratitude ball rolling.

Before I started though I had to give myself some rules so that my daily entries didn’t read like an ode to just ‘making it through the day’:

So NO –

  1. Woke up – still alive!
  2. Passed urine without trouble
  3. Still breathing
  4. Bowel movement regular and unforced
  5. Internet usage rolled over 🙂

Basically no gratitude was to be given for just being alive. I needed to be grateful for more.

So here’s Day 1:

  1. Heaters! Heaters are amazing.
  2. Mango’s – how good are mangos?
  3. Really good Crunchy Bar – are there any other types?
  4. Bath – how good are baths?
  5. Went to gym and it was awesome. Caught up on James Spader’s The Blacklist.

Sure my period was on it’s way, my credit card wasn’t rejected at the supermarket, they’re letting me pay off my computer in installments and the fuckwit across the road did me the honour of letting me park out the front of my house and sticking his truck there – but that’s too ‘poor me’ to be really grateful for it. It’s not really gratitude, not the sort of Miranda Kerr grateful I was aiming for.

Day 3:

  1. Glass of Rose. Wine is awesome. Thanks life.
  2. Bought a new hairdryer 🙂
  3. Weather’s pretty good
  4. Accomplished Pilates
  5. Really great raw dinner due to my strict no grain-diet. Raw is well, raw.

Didn’t need to mention the new hairdryer was a result of the fact I couldn’t afford to get a haircut that week…

Soon I was grinning so hard with gratitude that my face hurt.

Day 5:

  1. Friends. Yep, just generally friends are pretty good.
  2. Heat pack for menstrual cramps – phew
  3. Nice outfit  – looking pretty good today. Thanks clothes.
  4. The RTA wants to keep me alive by sending my rego reminder to me – how considerate
  5. Oh look, gas and electricity is due on the same day as rego – how convenient? Can just put one reminder in my diary.

Hmmmm….

Day 7:

  1. Sever sinusitis aside, it’s great they’re back burning to prevent further bush fires
  2. Periods are great. They remind us of fertility and that our bodies are efficient machines.
  3. It should always be further than you expect to walk to get an ice-cream on a really hot day – makes you appreciate it more.
  4. Airplane turbulence is just life’s way of saying ‘Boo!’ – Happy Halloween Lou!
  5. The broken drawer at home is just its way of telling me it needs to fixed.

Day 8:

  1. Parking fines are fine by me. Thanks for the reminder not to be selfish and hog parking!
  2. Scratching my car on a wall makes me grateful for insurance.
  3. Not having up-to-date insurance is just life’s way of saying ‘gotcha!’ – oh how we laughed…
  4. The best thing about not bring lunch into work today is seeing it still sitting on the kitchen counter defrosting and leaking everywhere – buzz me swimming in soup water FIRST when we get home!
  5. Someone better than me got the job. That’s better for everyone in the world, gotta be grateful about that 🙂

After days of working out what I’m grateful for, I feel I’ve found a happy medium. I think Miranda would be grateful that I was finding my own path.

Today:

  1. Woke up
  2. Passed urine without trouble
  3. Still breathing
  4. Bowel movement regular and unforced
  5. New security light installed. New security light doesn’t work. Can’t wait to see what fun that leads to…

 

Review of latest show ‘Lou Sanz Speaks Easy’ Melbourne Fringe 2013

I decided to do a show without a safety net, something that was different every night. It’s the show I’m the most proudest of.

This is a review from Crikey written by Patrick O’Duffy.

Review: Lou Sanz Speaks Easy | Melbourne Fringe Festival

Lou Sanz Speaks EasyPatrick O’Duffy writes …

Eighteen months ago, Lou Sanz was sitting pretty thanks to the success of her award-winning comedy show Neverending Storage. It should have been tours, yachts and rent boys from that point on. But the thing is, when you’re on top of the world you have further to fall, and instead of moving on, Lou found herself paralysed by anxiety, fear of failure and crippling stage fright. The only way to overcome it was to push through and create a new comedy show—leading to this, a show about her efforts to create that show.

If this all sounds a bit introspective, metatextual and personal—well, that’s because it is. But Lou Sanz Speaks Easy is also a very clever, funny and playful show, even at its darkest and most emotional points. Lou talks about the power of denial (and panic), the invention of the telephone, bad Rock Eisteddfod shows, ex-boyfriend conspiracies and how to pitch a festival show when you’re still not sure what it’s about.

The show is low-key to start and never becomes super-high-energy, but it’s honest and smart—and it’s very funny while also remaining very personal. Sanz has a calm, deliberate style that works for her material, which is at times disjointed but deliberately so. She amalgamates the material by confessing her own anxieties, reading from old diaries and getting the audience to change up some of the material (it’s a different show every night, after all), stitching it all together into a relatively neat package.

Lou Sanz Speaks Easy isn’t always an easy show, especially towards the end, but it’s a funny, clever show that has a unique voice. With its metatexual content and commentary on the comedy industry, it’s a show that will speak to veteran festival-goers and even more to other performers while offering plenty for those on the fringes of, um, Fringe. It’s well worth checking out.

My mother kept her maiden name and I didn’t lose my sense of identity

 

 

I’ll admit, I have a complicated name. I’m one of those people with two official sets of ID but that’s not the worst of it – my mother you see, kept her maiden name and so I also have a double barrelled surname, but not a hyphenated surname, because my mother argued, even back in the 70’s, that her and my father were two separate people, with two separate names. The government however did not agree, and made my mother make her maiden name one of my middle names.

So for the first few years of my life I was Louise Marguerite Woodruff Sanz. My mother however stood by her maiden name, never becoming a Mrs Sanz and sure as hell never answering it to it. In primary school I remember her refusing to answer my friends when they would refer  to her as Mrs Sanz. As far as she was concerned it wasn’t her name. She preferred everyone to call her by her first name, which believe it or not, even my teachers preferred than having to address her as Ms Woodruff  – her actual legal name. It was that look of discomfort I recall the most. That educated, regular people would prefer to call my mother Mrs Potato than by her maiden name. It was the sort of thing 1970s German dissidents did, not middle class mothers from Brighton.

Contrary to the popular rhetoric I even hear bandied around today, I didn’t grow up as a rudderless child, without a sense of place or identity because my mother didn’t share the same name as my father, I actually did ok, more than ok really. To be honest  I was more affected by the knowledge that when my father immigrated to Australia, he was made to change his name from Miguel to Michael, because Australian’s couldn’t pronounce Miguel. My father was forced to change his name because apparently the Australian tongue struggles with the letter ‘G’. Tell that to all the Gerry’s, Gerald’s and Greg’s you know.

I was always insanely proud that mother had her own name (she was also a vegetarian – I didn’t know Mexican food came with meat options until an ill-fated trip to a Taco Bill in the late 90s). She explained her choice to keep her maiden name as ‘easier’. It was on her driver’s license, all her legal documents, to change it would be too much of a hassle. And then what if my father and her got divorced, more paperwork, but most importantly, it was her name. She’d had it for 25 years when she met my dad and it wasn’t something she was willing to part with it.

As I got older, I got more emboldened to move my mother’s name out of the ‘middle name’ abyss it had been relegated to and put it into everyday life. At 12 I was signing my homework off as Louise Marguerite Dymphna Woodruff Sanz, much to the horror of my teachers, who constantly felt the need to raise this in every parent teacher meeting – again more concerned by the incorporation of my mother’s maiden name, than the latest addition – my Confirmation name – Dymphna, Patron Saint of Incest Victims and the Mentally Ill.

By the time I was a teenager and had started writing soppy teen memoirs for other teenagers to act out on stage, my mothers name was now part of my surname, even though, legally it was still my middle name, that is until the law changed and no longer did it need to be hyphenated.It was free. I was free. My brother and sister never really seemed fussed, they liked being Sanz’s. It didn’t bother them, which only made it cooler, cause it now meant in my family I was the only Woodruff Sanz, that, along with my teen moustache set me apart from everyone else in the world.

Things however got complicated when I was granted a Spanish Passport. My name was changed to Luisa Margarita Sanz Woodruff. You see in Spain, the mother’s maiden name comes after the ‘family’ name. Given I had a Spanish Passport before an Australian one, it was now my only official form of ID, aside from Double Dare Champion Card from 1993 and so when I got my driver’s license I went in with my spanish passport and to this day, 16 years later, that is still the name on my driver’s license.

As I writer nothing gave me a stronger sense of satisfaction than to play with all my names as I signed off a ‘Written by’ credit. There was L W Sanz, L Woodruff Sanz, Louise Brandis, Mrs Jonathan Brandis, Louise W Sanz, LMW Sanz, Louise M Woodruff Sanz, LMD Woodruff Sanz. The possibilities were endless but then I started doing stand-up and introducing Louise Woodruff Sanz proved troublesome.

If I’d thought the pronunciation of ‘G’ was hard for people try W’s and S’s and Z’s. After a while, to make things ‘easier’ I shortened it to Lou Woodruff Sanz. It was still too hard for MC’s who were often distracted by mic stands, warm beer and the glamour of stage life. So I went with Louise Sanz. Nup, still too complicated. And so it was with heavy heart it went to Lou Sanz. Like a vegas headliner and just ambiguous enough so as not to reveal my gender before coming out on stage. It was inevitable then that confusion began. People were now getting frustrated, concerned even betrayed. Was the writer Louise Woodruff Sanz the same as emerging comedian Lou Sanz? Was this a Jeckyll and Hyde kind of thing? Was she transitioning? What the fuck was going on!? Who did she think she was!? And even though I was following a long line of people with stage names, mine was not because I didn’t like my name, it was because I wanted to make things easier on everyone else. After all that struggling I went back to Sanz because it made things ‘easy.’

But of course legally, I’m a Woodruff Sanz, so now I have alias’s. I have files that say ‘Lou Sanz, legally known as Louise Woodruff Sanz, also known as Luisa Sanz Woodruff.’ It can sometimes make getting things like credit a little complicated as nothing sounds dodgier than listing all the names your account could be under. Everyone just wants me to make it easier on them, change my name so that don’t have to press the space-bar more than they’d like .

A friend of mine though pointed out that when I get married, things will get easier, because well, you know, if you decide to have kids it’s important they know what family they belong to. That we all share the same name, so it’s only natural that if I chose to have kids with my partner we’ll have to have the same name.

‘You’re right’ I said, ‘but I worry about all the paperwork my husband will have to go through. He’d be better off keeping his own name. It’s easier.’

‘You’d make him change his name?’ she asked, not amused by my killer come back.

‘If your main concern is my hypothetical families unity and sense of identity, then it shouldn’t matter whose name we use.’

She was stumped…I knew why, when there are articles on the internet titled ‘How to let people know you’re keeping your maiden name’, I often forget how very far we’ve actually come since the days my mother decided to go against convention.

I was making things awkward…and I’m probably always going to. It’s ‘easier’ for me.

How You Made Me A Bad Person

I’m going to write something in a moment and straight up it’s going to come out sounding like I think I’m a better person than you. It’s not the case, trust me, I’m so self-deprecating that I still don’t think I’m ever going to top this one day in 1984 when I received the ‘Best Cursive Writing Award’ in primary school – an award I had to make and give myself, an award deserved nonetheless.

So here it goes:

In recent months my partner and I have given up gluten.

Yep, notice how I used the partner as opposed to boyfriend and yep, we’ve given up gluten, as in, this is not an action I could do on my own, it’s something that can only be done in pairs like playing weekend tennis, shopping at Ikea and watching Mad Men Season 3.

Of course the exile of gluten from my diet is not the only one thing that might be considered ‘wanker-esque’ – I also don’t drink dairy. Yes, I refer to dairy as a drink. I don’t do it, can’t do it, won’t do it. But most café’s accommodate that these days, just as they did yesterday…

‘I’ll start with an English Breakfast tea if I can, with soy milk on the side. Thanks.’

I watched as the waitress walked away, briskly, making sure not to look back as my boyfriend and I hung mid sentence – ‘could we see a men….’

‘You’re cursed’ He said to me, as he pulled out his iPad, so as to enjoy another meal with me.

‘She probably just didn’t hear us because she’s wearing her hair over her ears.’

 

He checked his Facebook account.

I checked how my life had come to this…

With all faces checked and accounted for he looked up.

‘Maybe we should just get up and grab the menus ourselves.’

‘No, I waitressed for 25 years – ‘

‘ – really, you started waitressing when you were 8?’

‘- yes, JF I did. It was what you did in the 80’s.’

‘- endorsed child labor?’

‘- had a work ethic JF, a work ethic.’

‘And so it’s this work ethic of yours that’s the reason I’m sitting here starving?’

‘Collateral damage.’

And so as is often the case in our relationship, against my wishes JF got up, and like a Dickensian orphan went to find some menus. I wondered if the winter cold my get him and if he’d ever return….

Moments later, he did, just as the waitress placed our drinks down.

Clocking our self-secured menus she asked the question that was on everyone’s lips.

‘Are you here for breakfast? Would you like to see a menu?’

‘Are they different to the ones we have?’ I asked.

‘No’ she replied ‘Would you like me to grab you some?’

My boyfriend sensing I was well on the way to making a new best friend and couldn’t bare the competition for my affection, stepped in.

‘I think we’re ready to order actually.’

Unsettled by the uniqueness of the situation the waitress enquired ‘food?’.

‘Why not?’ I said ‘Let’s shake things up a bit.’

And it was then I noticed I been bough Earl Grey tea, not English Breakfast. Normally when presented with something I had not intended on drinking I would just smile and swallow but having just returned from the US where it’s custom to send back things you didn’t order,  I decided to mention it.

‘I ordered English Breakfast. This is Earl Grey.’

Her silence masked her confusion.

‘And?’

‘I’d like English Breakfast.’

‘That is English Breakfast.’

‘It says Earl Grey on the label.’

‘That’s how they spell English Breakfast sometimes.’

I smiled through my mouth, the way I’d been taught.

‘If you could just take it back and get me the English Breakfast that’d be great.’

‘And if we could order…’

She left before the words could leave my boyfriends mouth.

‘Really? You couldn’t have just drunk the tea?’

‘Milk with Earl Grey? Never, like sure if I had some lemon and honey on offer I could possibly make do, but look that’s not the point. The point is, I ordered English Breakfast. It has the full-bodied flavour I need this morning. I’m not the bad person here.’

She returned, only to inform me that they had no English Breakfast tea but her boss had told her that Earl Grey tea was the same. It was like comparing Britney Spears to Keisha – a waste of my time.

I won’t bore you with the details, but we ordered. Nothing flash. My boyfriend, something with croquettes and bacon, myself,  an omelette and a side of gluten-free toast.

Surprisingly our food arrived with little fuss. I felt we were all turning a corner. Mornings can be hard on anyone and I was in a mood to forgive and forget. That is until –

‘Um, I ordered a side of gluten toast?’

She looked at me, as if unsure of whether we’d met before…perhaps earlier that day…I watched as it all fell into place for her.

‘Yes, and?’

Tumbleweed…

‘Is it on it’s way?’

‘No.’

‘Why?’

‘We don’t have any gluten free bread.’

‘Were you going to tell me that?’

‘No.’

‘Ok, glad we cleared that up.’

With her tip clearly in the bag, our waitress wandered off, leaving us to our meals.

‘Is it me?’ I asked JF.

‘I don’t see anyone else here’ he rhetorically replied.

After breakfast we wandered the streets for a cup of English Breakfast tea and some toast with a passion not often seen outside the finale of any season of ‘So You Think You Can Dance.’

Finally we settled on a little café that boasted a menu of quinoa’s and goat’s cheese and on the bottom just under the surcharge disclaimer, there it was, gluten free toast.

We sat down, smiling at the waitress who waved at us as we came in. With pure joy we ordered English Breakfast tea, not the Earl Grey variety, and when all was said and done and they asked me if I’d like to order some food I said ‘yes, I’d like some gluten-free toast with jam thanks.’

I kissed JF lightly on the face mouth, even allowing the waitress to linger a little longer than was appropriate to watch us, but even after our chaste embrace ended she remained.

‘I’m sorry, we don’t sell gluten-free bread.’

‘But it’s on the menu.’

‘Doesn’t mean we have it.’

There was nothing more to say. She was right…just because it was written down on a menu of goods for sale, it didn’t mean they had to have it.  And so I walked away knowing that when this story of one woman’s search for the breakfast she ordered would be passed down through generations, that I was going to come off as the wanker and years from now, they’d still be right.