Puberty Blues

You know those girls who seem to gracefully glide through puberty without so much as a pimple on their face? Yeah, that wasn’t me. My awkward stage lasted for at least 10 years, maybe even longer. Some days I think I may still be going through it.

Shows like The OC never helped either. Even Seth – the so-called nerdy one – was hot! WTF, Hollywood?!

Tell me about it, Seth.
Tell me about it, Seth.

Chubby, with frizzy hair I hadn’t yet figured out how to control, and glasses, the only way it could have been worse is if I’d had braces. Thankfully the good Lord cut me some slack when it came to my teeth.

At 13... As you can see, puberty was a painful time for me.
At 13… As you can see, puberty was a painful time for me.

It didn’t help that my best friend growing up was Cathie – a very blonde, very beautiful, very outgoing girl who all the boys seemed to love. There were often times my own sister seemed to prefer her to me! Next to Cath, I was Shrek.

With Cathie at my 10th birthday party (she's on the right, in case you're wondering).
With Cathie at my 10th birthday party (she’s on the right, in case you’re wondering).

In high school, I was cast as Augustus Gloop in our production of Charlie & the Chocolate Factory. That’s right, I played a dumpy German BOY! I know what you’re thinking – hot! I went to an all-girls school, so I guess somebody had to play him, but still…

This was literally me.
This was literally me.

My “style” evolved three times during puberty…

1. The Tomboy

It wasn’t so much that I was a tomboy. Not at all actually. I couldn’t/can’t catch a ball to save my life. My tomboy phase all came down to the simple fact I wasn’t coping with the, uh, changes my body was undergoing, so I decided to hide it under baggy clothes I’d picked up from the boys department in Target. I used to wear two sports bras – one on top of the other – to flatten out my boobs, and my go-to uniform was a pair of overalls, Converse sneakers and a flannel shirt. God, I loved a good flannel shirt…

2. The Hippie

To be honest, I’m not entirely sure I ever fully outgrew this phase. For a while, all my clothes came from India Fox (a hippie store) and smelled like incense. There was cheesecloth. LOTS of cheesecloth. I used to wear my hair in two braids with flowers at the ends. This was also around the time I was contemplating changing my name to “Butterfly” and moving to Eumundi.

3. The Accountant

Definitely not my finest moment. I didn’t even realise I had an accounting phase until my sister found some old photos from my friend, Lea’s 18th birthday. While everybody else was in party dresses, I wore a grey pencil skirt with a purple shirt and sensible court shoes. Clearly I was the life of the party. A few months ago, Lea told me, “Yeah, you used to dress really badly.” Not for a job interview, Lea! Not for a job interview.

There were also hats. Lots and lots of hats. I think I thought I was Blossom…

**Not me.
**Not me.

It took me a really long time to figure out my style and feel comfortable in my skin. Today, whenever I see teenagers who seem to have it together appearance-wise, I think, “Ugh! I hate you! You’re that girl!” Then I slap them and run away really quickly before they even realise what just happened.

At 30... I finally found my groove.
At 30… I finally found my groove.

The bottom line is, puberty is tough, and despite what Hollywood tells you, it doesn’t just take Anna Paquin with a pair of tweezers and a set of contact lenses to transform you into Freddie Prinze Jr.’s dream girl.

Yeah... She's hideous.
Yeah… She’s hideous.

Upside Down Under

One of the best things about being Australian is how laidback we are – it’s also one of the worst things about being Australian. Sometimes I think if we were any more laidback, we’d slip into a coma.

Yesterday, gay marriage was legalised in all 50 states across the USA. What did we do yesterday? Okay, it was a Saturday, but the answer is probably not much…

You did good, America.
You did good, America.

Talking about America’s ruling on same-sex marriage, Tony Abbott – our great leader – today said, “I have views on this subject, which are pretty well-known.” Ah, Tony… last time I checked, you were elected by the people for the people. Nobody cares what you personally think, but thanks for checking in anyway. You’re supposed to be representing the people, and the majority of Australians are ready for gay marriage to be legalised. I have some pretty strong views on capers, it doesn’t mean I’m going to tell other people to take them off their salmon bagels.

Tony Abbott – our fearless leader.
Tony Abbott – our fearless leader.

We are one of the last first world countries to have still not legalised gay marriage, and while shameful, unfortunately it’s not surprising. Australia has a shocking track record of being late to the party. Women were only given the right to vote in 1902, compared to 1869 in the USA. We only recognised Indigenous Australians as citizens in 1967! Are you sensing a pattern here? Infuriatingly, we – the people – allow this to happen time and time again.

It doesn’t help that our current government still seems to think it’s 1957. Break out those poodle skirts, ladies! And that’s not an attack on the Liberal party – I would be saying the same about the Labor party if they were in power and making the same policies – it just so happens to be the Liberal party.

Hey America, wanna trade?
Hey America, wanna trade?

A quick look at Australia today proves we can hardly call ourselves “the lucky country” anymore. Our infrastructure is crumbling around us, the cost of living is rising while wages are not, and over $60 billion worth of Australian property has been sold off to China. We have a government who attempts to silence the media and refuses to acknowledge that climate change is “real”, despite us feeling its very real effects. Housing is unaffordable for the majority of Australians, yet the government tells us we just need to “get a good job that pays good money”. The Prime Minister – a man who has proven himself to be sexist time and time again – has appointed himself Minister for Women, and don’t even get me started on Uncle Tony’s “turn back the boats” policy. I’m this close to applying for refugee status myself.

Oh well.
Oh well.

In January, I flew over to the USA for a holiday and was seated next to an Aussie expat on the plane. He’d been in Sydney visiting family for Christmas, and we got to talking. He’d been living in Las Vegas since 1996, and when I asked him if he could ever see himself moving back here, his answer was blunt. “No, because every time I come back here, things get a little bit worse. If the things that are happening in Australia right now were happening in America, there would be riots in the street! Where Australia is right now is where America was 10 years ago, and it breaks my heart.”

Gay marriage is just the tip of the iceberg, and our failure to legalise it in Australia proves just how backwards this country can be. I’ve often said the gay rights movement currently taking place is the civil rights movement of this generation. The times they are a changin’ (unless you live in Australia). We can’t claim to live in an equal society until ALL people have equal rights. Future generations will judge us harshly.

EVERYBODY should have the right to live unhappily ever after.
EVERYBODY should have the right to live unhappily ever after.

Today, I am ashamed to call myself an Australian. We all should be. Where will we be in 10 years time if we keep shrugging off these issues? This is our home and Tony Abbott has come in and taken a giant shit on the carpet. Get angry, but most importantly, take action.

Take My Advice

Here’s the thing, I am an incredibly wise and insightful person. I will happily and freely dish out advice to anyone and everyone, often when they don’t even ask for it. No need to thank me, that’s just the sort of person I am.

Does anyone listen to me though? Noooo. Then, years later, everybody’s like, “You were so right, Dem!” Well, of course I was right. Have you met me?

Sometimes, those people I give advice to just so happen to be famous (I don’t discriminate)…

One time, during a conversation with Zac Efron, we got to talking about fame and longevity in Hollywood. I told him that as long as he avoided drugs, he’d be fine. He smiled and assured me I had nothing to worry about, he wasn’t like that. Fast forward a few years and THREE rehab stints later, and it’s clear my advice really hit home. In hindsight, I may as well have just pulled out a bag of cocaine and said, “What the hell?! YOLO, right?”

Good talk, Zac.
Good talk, Zac.

Another time, I was interviewing Cody Simpson right before he left for LA. I told him not to become another Justin Bieber – the world doesn’t even need one let alone two! Sure enough, he moves to LA and before you know it, he and Justin are BFFs. Er, was I speaking French, Cody?

Become, befriend – it's all the same.
Become, befriend – it’s all the same.

So, I’ve decided to dish out some more unwarranted advice for young Hollywood that will surely fall on deaf ears. But whatever…

Selena Gomez

Selena, you should also stay away from Justin Bieber. In fact, everybody should stay away from Justin Bieber. Let’s just ignore him until he goes away… The truth is, you’ve never really been the same since you guys broke up. I don’t know what he did to you, but my advice would be to find a time machine, go back and make that whole relationship never happen. While you’re at it, feel free to go back a bit further and make sure his parents use protection.

Justin say no.
Justin say no.

Harry Styles

I’ve long heard rumours Harry is a friend of Dorothy’s, and given his penchant for flamboyant shirts and glittery boots (among other things), I wouldn’t be surprised. While he’s never actually said whether he is or isn’t gay, he’s often hinted at his sexuality in interviews. I firmly believe that coming out should be up to the individual, but any young person struggling to come to terms with their sexuality should know they don’t have to hide in darkness. You’ll feel happier and freer once you’re able to be honest about who you are, rather than constantly trying to be something you’re not. People will love you just the same, and if they don’t, well, they weren’t really worth it to begin with. You do you, Harry.

Fly your freak flag.
Fly your freak flag.

Taylor Swift

Speaking of Harry Styles, enough with the showmances, Taylor! No one is buying it anymore. We’ve got the formula down pat… You step out with a famous guy – usually someone trying to boost their profile or with something to plug – and suddenly you’re seen everywhere together. Walking hand-in-hand through Central Park! At Starbucks! Apple picking! After a few months of staged PDAs, you suddenly break up (always his fault), and boom – there’s a new album racing up the charts filled with songs about how you’re never ever getting back together. The jig is up. Either find someone who genuinely likes you or learn to be happy on your own.

I'm sure they didn't know the camera was there.
I’m sure they didn’t know the camera was there.

Kylie Jenner

Firstly, you’re 17! What the hell are you doing dating a 25-year-old grown ass man?! That’s a recipe for prison right there. He already has one child he can barely take care of, he doesn’t need another one. Secondly, YOU’RE 17! Enough with the plastic surgery! Who is signing off on these procedures?! Is it Kim? I bet it’s Kim. You’re starting to look like an inflatable sex doll. Is that what you want, Kylie? IS THAT WHAT YOU WANT?!

So natural.
Natural beauty.

Victoria’s Secret models

All of them. Yes, I’m talking to all of you! Stay away from Leonardo DiCaprio. By now, you’ve probably realised the Victoria’s Secret catalogue is like Tinder for Leo, and he’s always swiping right. But here’s the thing – if you do decide to bathe in his incestual swimming pool, all you’ll get is (most likely) a searing case of herpes. That shit lasts forever, your relationship with Leo will not – I can assure you. Also, he’s getting closer to your dad’s age with every year that passes. They’re probably trading old war stories at the same golf club when you’re not around.

Slowly and carefully back away, ladies...
Slowly and carefully back away, ladies…

Now keep on ignoring me! As you were.

Rubbing Shoulders

Over the years, I’ve been lucky enough to meet lots of interesting – and often inspiring – people. I’ve met an astronaut and hung out with rockstars. I’ve interviewed former World War II prisoners of war and a lady who had lived through three centuries. I even interviewed Kevin Rudd BEFORE he became Prime Minister of Australia. I believe every person has a story – it’s one of the main reasons I became a journalist (well, that, and I wanted to be Oprah). I find people fascinating and I love to tell stories.

After over 11 years of working in magazines – specifically in entertainment – one of the main questions I get asked is, “Who have you interviewed and what are they like?” There have been too many celebrities over the years to name them all (yep, that’s me, friend to the stars). As for what they’re like – pretty much exactly what you would expect, but often a lot smaller. All celebrities are tiny! Seriously, if I hadn’t been wearing my glasses, I probably wouldn’t have been able to see most of them…

There have been a few celebrities who have surprised me though. Here goes!

1. Brandon Flowers

I am a HUGE fan of The Killers and Brandon Flowers, who is one of my top 10 celebrity boyfriends (monogamy is overrated). If you’ve ever seen The Killers perform, you’d know that they, um, KILL IT onstage, and a big part of that is thanks to Mr Flowers. The man has bucket loads of charisma and stage presence to spare!

a-br

A few years ago, I was working the red carpet at the MTV Music Awards in Sydney when The Killers arrived. In the middle of the chaos that usually is any red carpet, I saw this shy, awkward man, who nervously stumbled through media interviews. Also, he was tiny! I’m 5’7″ and he was probably a couple of inches shorter than me.

Brandon at the MTV Awards.
Brandon at the MTV Awards.

I couldn’t believe that this – I’m going to say it – somewhat nerdy little man-child before me was the same sexy rock god who commanded the stage during sell-out concerts and music festivals. He definitely knows how to turn it on!

2. Seth Rogen

When you think of Seth Rogen, chances are you think loud, funny, crude and slightly immature… Not even close. Seth was one of the quietest, most unassuming celebrities I’ve ever interviewed.

empire-podcast-seth-rogen

The more we spoke, the more I got the impression Seth was happier behind the camera, writing than he is acting. He basically told me his whole acting career was something of an accident and he never expected Knocked Up to launch him into superstardom like it did. This was a man who was deeply uncomfortable with his fame.

Chilling with Seth.
Chilling with Seth.

Also, the laugh is real and just as contagious as you’d think it would be.

3. Meryl Streep

The queen! I don’t know what I was expecting from Meryl Streep, but I know I wasn’t expecting her to be so polite. She’s Meryl F***ing Streep! If I was Meryl Streep, I’d employ someone whose sole purpose it was to rub lotion into my hands every hour.

1118full-meryl-streep

A few years ago, I attended the Mamma Mia! press conference in Sydney. Meryl was there, along with Colin Firth (celebrity boyfriend #9) and Dominic Cooper. I was blown away by Meryl’s level of professionalism! She was so nice, down-to-earth and personable – a true star.

When it came time for the photo call, she took it all in her stride, telling the paparazzi there was no need to yell at her because they would all get their photos – and then actually ensuring that they did before she moved on. She even stayed behind after the press conference to sign autographs for the journalists (something usually unheard of). Of course, being the dork that I am, I completely freaked out, became too nervous to approach her, and instead opted to try and take a selfie with her from a safe distance. I’ve regretted it ever since.

My attempt at a selfie with Meryl... (She's way off in the background signing autographs.)
My attempt at a selfie with Meryl… (She’s way off in the background signing autographs.)

Romance Is Dead

Back in 1996, Romeo + Juliet was the movie. I remember watching it for the first time when I was 14 – the same age as Juliet – and thinking it was the most beautiful and romantic thing I’d ever seen. My school friends and I went over to my friend Lea’s house, and her dad set up a big screen in the living room so we could watch it like we were at the movies. We were all so moved by these two kids who just wanted to love. LET THEM LOVE!

Yeah… Fast forward 18 years, and my feelings are slightly more cynical (okay, a lot more cynical) and less wide-eyed wonder. Yesterday, I re-watched Romeo + Juliet for the first time in years, and a few things stuck out at me that I hadn’t even noticed as a young, naive teenager…

EXACTLY.
EXACTLY.

1. Romeo and Juliet are actually destructive, spoiled brats! Their whole relationship can be described as a party hook up that went way too far.

Easy there, tiger.
Easy there, tiger.

Seriously, unless you’re a Kardashian, you don’t marry a guy you’ve literally just met. Romeo proposed to Juliet the same night they met! Also, five minutes earlier, he was pining after the elusive Rosaline (who also happened to be Juliet’s cousin). Easy come, easy go, right, Romeo? The guy is a stage five clinger and should come with a warning.

YOU JUST MET!!
YOU JUST MET!!

2. Claire Danes apparently hated Leonardo DiCaprio. She found him immature and obnoxious, and from everything I’ve heard about Leonardo DiCaprio, she was probably right… Think about that the next time you watch the movie.

There's a reason Claire looked pained all the time.
There’s a reason Claire looked pained all the time.

3. Which brings me to my next point, why would anybody choose Leonardo DiCaprio over Paul Rudd?!

Uh, HELLO?!
Uh, HELLO?!

I mean, seriously!

Laughs for days.
Laughs for days.

4. My sister is right – Claire Danes and I do kind of have the same nose. It may not be a great nose, but it’s OUR nose.

Mine's bigger.
Mine’s bigger.

5. Romeo is a MURDERER! Are we just going to ignore that?! Yes, Tybalt was a bit of an asshole, but Romeo killed him in cold blood!

Yeah, I can see the appeal...
Yeah, I can see the appeal…

When he’s not out killing people, he’s running around with his gangster friends. What a catch. If I was Juliet, I’d be taking out an AVO…

They seem nice.
They seem nice.

6. Speaking of Romeo, he made his friend, Balthasar wait in the car ALL night while he was off having special cuddles with Juliet.

Comfortable there?
Comfortable there?

I’d be seriously pissed. I’d probably also take the car and leave. You’re taking the bus home, Romeo.

Meanwhile...
Meanwhile…

7. Claire Danes really does have the best cry face in the business.

Seriously, it's magical...
Seriously, it’s outstanding.

8. Despite only knowing each other for a few days, Romeo and Juliet both committed suicide so they could be together for eternity. I can’t believe I ever thought that was sweet! It’s completely reckless and insane, and just goes to prove their immaturity.

This seems rational.
This seems rational.

Going Into Hiberdation

One day you’re best friends. You see each other almost every week and talk to each other every second day. Fast forward a couple of months, and you’re sitting in a police station filling out a missing persons report while trying to remember what your long lost friend looks like for the police sketch. Welcome to the world of hiberdating – when your friend abandons you (and everybody else) for their partner. We’ve all encountered them – you may even be one (be honest).

It's real.
It’s real.

The thing is, I get it – to an extent. There’s a new, important person in your life, so it’s only natural you’d want to spend lots of time with them. Also, I’m not going to spoon with you at night – that would be weird. Just don’t forget about everybody else! I know I’m probably not going to see you as much as I used to – and I fully understand and accept that – but I still expect to see you.

Has anybody seen this person?
Has anybody seen this person?

I’ve encountered many, many hiberdators over the years. One former friend made her whole life about her boyfriend for two and a half years. When they broke up, she was left wondering where all her friends had gone. The reality is, she moved on, so they did the same. Friendships are like flowers – if you don’t water them from time to time, they’ll die.

The last time I saw some of my friends.
The last time I saw some of my friends.

Things become even more complicated when your friends get married. They should sell wedding cards that say, “It was nice knowing you. Take care.” When kids come along, it’s definitely over. Seriously, can’t we just crack a window and leave them in the car with a bottle full of milk and rum while we go out? It’s going to take you until 2am to set up the pram anyway. I’m sure they’ll be fine. Kids are resilient.

I’ve seen hiberdating friends bail on important events – birthday parties, you name it – just to spend time with a boyfriend/girlfriend. Which brings me to my next point, don’t only make time for me when your partner is busy! I’m not a back up plan. It makes me feel like a dancing monkey, called in to entertain you and kill some time until you can be with your partner again.

latest

Just remember that when your relationship eventually turns to shit, as most relationships will (statistics, people – look it up), it will be your friends who are there to pick up the pieces, just like it was your friends who were there before. But in the meantime, don’t expect me to sit by the phone waiting for you to call. I’m busy too you know. I have Netflix.

Orange Is the New Black – amiright?
Orange Is the New Black – amiright?

The bottom line is, I miss you. You’re my friend and I love you. Mates before dates.

We just want to know that you're okay.
We just want to know that you’re okay.

Hell-iday

Let me tell you about the time I almost died during a 2010 family holiday in Greece… Now at this point, most of you are probably rolling your eyes and saying, “Heard it. Multiple times,” but I really want it to sink in. Let it marinate. I ALMOST DIED, PEOPLE!!

Whenever I travel, one of the first things I always do is suss out where the nearest hospital is – and it’s not because I’m a hypochondriac. When you’re me, it’s a necessity. Like that time I was bitten by a dog in San Francisco and thought I’d need a tetanus shot. One of my dad’s favourite jokes is that I’m touring the world’s hospitals.

So it’s a good thing I had the hospital sussed out when I dislocated my shoulder at the beach in Greece. After diving off my cousin’s shoulders like the mature adult that I am, I was going in for a surprise attack, scooping up fistfuls of sand from the ocean floor when my shoulder popped out.

**Not my shoulder.
**Not my shoulder.

Following an excruciating 30-minute drive to the hospital, we were met by the triage nurse – a middle-aged man wearing shorts, thongs and a singlet, and carrying a frappe. I thought he was a crazed tourist, and naturally refused to let him anywhere near my shoulder.

Now, in Australia, when you dislocate your shoulder, they give you a drug similar to Rohypnol, which knocks you out while they put it back into place (I should know). You wake up not knowing if you’ve been date raped or if Will Ferrell was actually standing at the foot of your bed playing a flute. It’s pretty magical. Yeah, they don’t do that in Greece. One nurse pins you down on the bed, while another nurse wraps a bed sheet around your waist and uses it to pull you in one direction, while the doctor pulls your arm in the other. It’s torture, and it goes on for around 10 minutes, while you try not to bite through your lip in agony.

Did that really happen??
Did that really happen??

You’d think it would stop there, but oh no… The next day I got food poisoning. After spending most of the four-hour drive back from Olympia dozing in and out of sleep in the car, I soon realised that my queasiness was not just the result of heat exhaustion or car sickness. I’ll try not to go into too much detail, but as I sat on the toilet at 4am, simultaneously vomiting into my sling (multi-tasking at its finest, bitches), I caught a glimpse of myself in the mirror and almost fell off the seat – staring back at me was the little girl from The Sixth Sense.

“I see sick people.”

Something was very wrong. I could actually feel myself being poisoned. Even my mum opened up the bathroom door and was like, “Oh, hell no!” before recoiling in horror. (To be fair, I think her exact words were, “Oh my God!” and there may have been a bit of shock mixed in with that horror.) It was around 40ºC, and I couldn’t get warm. Shivering under a pile of doonas, I crawled back into my bed with a bucket and Mum hugging me for warmth.

Post-dislocation, hours before the food poisoning kicked in...
Post-dislocation, hours before the food poisoning kicked in…

Still sick the next day, I knew things were bad when the entire village starting filing past my bed to say their final goodbyes, offering Greek remedies as a last hope. Old man: “Here, drink this cold coffee with lemon juice!” Me: **BLEURGHHHH**

As I cleaned out my sick bucket, I looked out the window at the rolling mountains and accepted my inevitable fate. “This is it,” I thought. “This is the end. I came back to the motherland to die.” I was ready to join The 27 Club, and imagined being buried next to my great grandmother, while goats grazed on my grave.

Finally, after projectile vomiting all over my great uncle’s freshly painted walls (seemingly the last straw), my family bundled me into the car and drove me back to the hospital, where I was promptly put on three drips.

In less than a week, I had lost close to seven kilos. Goodbye boobs, hello collarbone! I’d never been thinner – or more tanned – dysentery was a good look for me. (Of course all that went out the window when I got to France and discovered my new favourite word was “fromage”.)

Never looked better.
Never looked better.

The bottom line is – I’m still here. In the words of Beyonce and co., “I’m a survivor, I’m gonna make it.” Not today, Felicia, not today.