Born to Be Wild

By now, you’ve probably heard about that dipshit dentist who slaughtered a lion in South Africa. I’m not going to go into detail, because I don’t want to glorify him or his actions, but I will say that I will never understand how people can be cruel to animals.

RIP Cecil.
RIP Cecil.

You don’t have to like animals – My friend Lea didn’t shed one tear during Water For Elephants. NOT ONE TEAR!!! – but at least treat them with decency and respect.

Seriously, Lea?!
Seriously, Lea?!

Personally, I love animals. ALL animals. Even the ones I’m afraid of. I’m just like, “That’s cool. You stay in your corner and I’ll stay in mine.”

When I was on holiday in San Francisco earlier this year, a dog bit me after I accidentally stepped on its paw. I felt so bad, that despite the gaping wound on my leg (I still have a scar), I actually turned around and apologised profusely to it. Given all the growling that was coming my way, I doubt the dog accepted my apology, but at least I can say I tried.

And while I’m not a vegetarian (yet), I’m finding it increasingly hard to eat meat unless it’s disguised under a mountain of sauce. You’ll never catch me eating a steak. I’ve also tried to avoid pig products ever since I read Charlotte’s Web and watched Babe as a kid. Four words: “I want my mum!” It chokes me up every time.

That'll do, little pig. That'll do.
That’ll do, little pig. That’ll do.

My first experience of going to the movies was to see Bambi when I was about four years old. Although I don’t remember much of this, I do remember being inconsolable after they shot Bambi’s mum. This happened at the very beginning of the film too, so I cried hysterically throughout the whole movie. Fail.

**SOB**
**SOB**

Years later, after I started working as an entertainment journalist, I went to a media screening of Marley & Me. Once again, I cried hysterically. The film ended, and I was in the bathroom sobbing, while Yumi Stynes (an Australian TV personality) – who I had never met before – rubbed my back and assured me everything was going to be okay. Despite nodding and tearfully replying, “Thank you, Yumi Stynes,” I cried the whole way home.

Don't. Just... don't.
Don’t. Just… don’t.

In high school, there was a period when I wanted to become a dolphin trainer and work in ocean conservation. Needless to say, I ended up working with a different type of animal – the media. I did get to swim with dolphins when I was 14 though, so I kind of lived the dream.

Living the dream.
Living the dream.

For my 29th birthday, my parents gifted me with the opportunity to work as a zoo keeper for a day at Taronga Zoo in Sydney. I loved every aspect of it, even having to sweep up the zebra poo… Okay, maybe not so much that, but overall, it was one of the highlights of my life.

Australia – represent.
Australia – represent.
Feeding time at the zoo.
Feeding time at the zoo.
Does this photo make me look short?
Does this photo make me look short?
It's Britney, bitch.
It’s Britney, bitch.
Seal of approval
Seal of approval.

After entering the zoo’s bear enclosure, I was lucky enough to meet a beautiful sun bear, who was anxiously pacing up and down in his pen. When I asked the (actual) zoo keeper why he was doing this, she explained that the bear had been rescued from the back of a restaurant in China when he was just a cub after witnessing his mother being shot dead in front of him. Apparently bear paws are a “delicacy” in China. The zoo keeper said the bear had suffered from PTSD ever since, and was even being seen to by an animal psychologist. My heart broke.

People are the worst. I shouldn’t be shocked by this – as humans, we regularly attack and kill each other, so what hope do we have of ever treating another species with dignity?

In April, it was reported there was only one male northern white rhino left in the wild. ONE. That rhino is now under 24-hour armed guard to protect it from poachers. Well done, humanity.

It's come to this.
It’s come to this.

Aside from it simply being WRONG to harm animals, what I don’t understand is why anyone would even want to. In all my experience with animals – and I’ve had pets ever since I can remember – what I’ve come to learn is the unconditional love animals show you. It’s that simple – animals are love.

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If you’re feeling generous, you can donate to one of these worthy causes…

http://www.freethebears.org/

https://taronga.org.au/tags/taronga-foundation

https://www.savetherhino.org/

http://www.worldanimalprotection.org.au/

Running Late

I need to apologise. I’m that person. The person who is ALWAYS late. I was late being born, and my mum says I’ve been late ever since. My dad says I’ll be late to my own funeral, and he’s probably right.

The-Notebook-Now-Its-Too-Late-GIF

The thing is, it’s not like I do it deliberately – despite the feather boa and tiara, I’m not trying to make a grand entrance whenever I go out. I actually find being late incredibly stressful. When I’m not sitting in traffic, expertly singing along to “Bohemian Rhapsody”, there’s a very real chance I’m deep breathing into a paper bag while anxiously watching the clock tick by.

Tell me about it...
Tell me about it…

Knowing my tendency to run late, I even allow extra time to get ready, and yet the universe always seems to be conspiring against me. Why, God? Why do you hate me? A contact lens will roll to the back of my eye, the strap on my shoe will break, in my rush to get out the front door, I’ll realise I forgot to put my pants on (these are all things that may or may not have happened to me)… Trust me, I’m as annoyed by my tardiness as you are.

This is only sometimes true.
This is only sometimes true.

Let me paint a not-so-pretty picture for you. A few weeks ago, I was meeting up with my friends, Josie and Elena for lunch in Potts Point (an inner-city suburb in Sydney for those playing at home). Unless you’re Tom Cruise, parking is a mission impossible in that area, so rather than battling for a one-hour spot and having to run out and move the car every hour, I had a plan. I’d drive into my work and then take the train. Genius. Yeahhhh… Except that I encountered more red traffic lights than I even thought existed, and after finally parking and buying my ($8!!) train ticket, soon discovered there were no trains running on my line. I’d have to take a train one stop, then take a bus the rest of the way – all while paying top dollar for the experience. No thanks. After refunding my unused ticket, I jumped back in my car and drove the two suburbs I needed to go to get to Potts Point, through the car park of traffic that is Surry Hills (another area), only to drive around for an extra half an hour upon arrival looking for a parking spot. To give you an idea of just how late I was, I arrived at 2pm… and lunch was booked for 12.45pm. Keep in mind, I also left home at 11.45am to give myself “plenty of time”. Ironically, it only took me half an hour coming home. Typical.

When I finally sat down in the restaurant, completely frazzled and full of apologies, Josie asked me what I wanted to order. My response? “Whatever – I’m just happy to be here.” And I genuinely was. It had taken me so long to get there that when I finally arrived, I felt like I’d just scaled Mount Everest. Victorious in the end, I just wanted to enjoy the view.

Always.
Always.

My tendency to run late is so infamous that I think some of my friends deliberately tell me things start half an hour earlier just so I will make it on time. (Even then, I make no guarantees, people!) Rather than being mad or upset about this though, I’m actually appreciative and a little relieved. I feel better when I’m NOT late (even if I do only realise this after I’ve arrived).

That's me. Sorry, guys.
That’s me. Sorry, guys.

The other day, my very punctual sister told me that people who consistently run late are disrespecting other people by thinking their time isn’t valuable. Okay, Kim Jong-un – thanks for that bit of intelligence. While this may be true of some people, I can honestly say it’s not the case with me. It’s not like I’m sitting around at home killing time just to mess up your plans. Stuff just… happens.

I DON'T KNOW.
I DON’T KNOW.

The most frustrating part about it all is that while I do genuinely make an effort to be on time, punctuality just isn’t one of my strengths. I’ve tried – believe me – but it’s still a work in progress. Sorry. If it makes you feel any better, it’s hard for me too.

Afraid So

By now, you’ve probably heard all about Mick Fanning’s run-in with a shark in South Africa. In case you’ve been living off the grid (in which case you won’t be reading this anyway), here’s a recap: A big-ass shark crept up on Aussie surfer Mick Fanning while he was competing in a tournament in South Africa, and he miraculously escaped with his life and limbs. This man is the Chuck Norris of surfing! He fought off the shark by punching it… And he won.

LEGEND.
LEGEND.

To be honest, if I was in Mick’s wetsuit, I’m not entirely convinced I wouldn’t have just passed out in the water and let the shark take me. Sharks are one of my biggest phobias, probably not helped by the fact I saw Jaws at a too young age. The music STILL haunts me.

Don't do it!
Don’t do it!

In high school, I went to the cinema with my friend, Cathie to see the movie, Deep Blue Sea. Because if there’s one thing more terrifying than sharks, it’s sharks who are given super-human intelligence. Good one, Samuel L. Jackson. Cath and I were so hysterical, the usher came in to tell us we needed to be quiet. Twice.

TERRIFYING.
BEHIND YOU! Too late.

I have nothing against sharks. In fact, I wish them nothing but love. But I’m no fool. I know that if you go into the ocean, there is every chance you will encounter one, and I like to keep them at a distance. Of about 100 kilometres.

Growing up in Australia, shark attacks happened on the reg (or so it seemed). I’d once heard that sharks can get you in knee-deep water, and to this day, I’m still apprehensive about going in any further than this. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve run out of the water screaming after something brushed against my leg, only to later realise it was probably seaweed.

It doesn’t help that I’m incredibly short-sighted, making me an even easier target. A shark could sneak up on me and I wouldn’t even see it coming! It’s for this reason that I like to create what I call a buffer zone at the beach. I need to know there are people out further than me (not that hard when you’re in knee-deep water), so if a shark does surface, it has to go through them before it gets to me. That’s me, always putting others before myself – literally.

Don't be fooled by the beautiful scenery...
Don’t be fooled by the beautiful scenery…

A few years ago, during a family holiday in Queensland, we went snorkeling on the Great Barrier Reef. After being reassured there were no sharks in the water, I decided to give it a go. Floating 25 metres above the ocean floor, I couldn’t see the reef sharks circling below me. It was only when I climbed back onto the boat that my family – laughing hysterically – decided to tell me about the sharks down below. Hahaha… YOU COULD’VE LOST YOUR FAVOURITE DAUGHTER, MUM! Let me tell you, if I had been able to see them, I would have found it within myself to out-swim Ian Thorpe back onto that boat.

Sure, he's fast and everything, but I'd be faster.
Sure, he’s fast and everything, but I’d be faster.

And don’t give me any of that “face your fears” bullshit. I also have a phobia of rollercoasters and generally any ride with drops. I’ve been on many rides like this, and it only seems to make my fear worse.

When I was 11 years old (just an innocent, young child!) my mum tricked me into going on the Space Mountain rollercoaster at Disneyland by standing in front of the warning signs and telling me it was a carousel. Carousel my ass. After being strapped in and ascending a ramp, I started to have some serious suspicions about this carousel, and for good reason. I was so terrified, I opened my mouth to scream and nothing would come out. After what felt like an eternity, the ride came to an end, and I was left crying and shaking uncontrollably as Disneyland staff helped me off the ride and over to a seat to recover. Years later, as I sat outside Space Mountain waiting for my friend Sarah to come off the ride, these old memories resurfaced and I began to have a panic attack.

Nope.
Nope.

There was also the time my family tried to convince me to go on a log ride at Knott’s Berry Farm. (Convincing me to go on rides I have no interest in going on seemed to be one of their favourite pastimes.) I anxiously lined up for the ride, only to discover the pearly gates at the top – that’s right, there was a last-minute exit, aptly marked with a sign, reading, “CHICKEN EXIT”.

Me: “I’m going to do it.”

Mum: “Don’t you dare!”

Me: “Yep, I’m doing it.”

Mum: “What will people think?”

Me: “I DON’T CARE!!”

Boom! Out the “CHICKEN EXIT” I went, saved at the final hour. I practically skipped down the stairs with a huge smile on my face, waving at all the suckers who were voluntarily about to be dropped from a great height as I safely made my way back down to flat land.

Later!
Later!

While phobias may not always be rational, they are also very real. I’m never going to want to ride a rollercoaster, just like I’m never going to want to swim in shark-infested waters. Neither one is fun for me. Does that make me a wuss? Maybe. Do I care? No.

Let’s Talk About Sex Ed

Yesterday at work, my friend Marta and I started talking about Louis Tomlinson and how he’d knocked up some random girl (we work at a celebrity gossip magazine, people – this stuff is our bread and butter). After concluding that he must’ve been really wasted to even get into bed with a girl in the first place, we started lamenting about how stupid he is. Did no one tell that boy how babies are made?!

Same, Louis. Same.
Same, Louis. Same.

This then led to us talking about our own experiences with sex education… While Marta feels like her school didn’t tell her enough, I feel like mine told me too much. Way too much

Don’t get me wrong – I was EXTREMELY innocent as a child. I used to think that babies were seeds the mailman delivered. The mummy then swallowed the seed like a pill, and the baby grew. (I had a very active imagination.) Until Year 10 – that’s right, Year 10 – I thought a hooker was somebody who hung curtains, because that’s what my parents told me Julia Roberts did while we were watching Pretty Woman one day when I was a kid. And pretty much everything I knew about boys in high school, I learned from American Pie.

Curtains my ass!
Curtains my ass!

When I eventually got my period, my mum told me matter-of-fact, “Now you can get pregnant.” She may have told me more, but I was too busy hyperventilating and worrying I was going to bleed out in the bathroom to take any notice. I used to lie awake at night, panicking and wondering if I was somehow magically pregnant.

the-empathy-belly-pregnancy-suit-and-10-things-i-hate-about-you-gallery

A few months later, they broached the subject of sex at school. Keep in mind that I went to a Catholic girls high school where the principal was a nun. Our physical education teacher told us bluntly, “The only safe sex is abstinence,” before then showing us a video of a teenage girl giving birth, while her loser boyfriend with a mullet and a wheezing cough sat next to her and ate fries. I thought she was having twins when I discovered the placenta comes out too. Did you know the placenta came out?! I didn’t. At this stage, and feeling a little woozy, the teacher told me – just me – to go outside and get some fresh air before I passed out. I spent lunchtime that day rocking back and forth while muttering about placentas and boys with chronic coughs.

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A few months after that – you know, just to really drive the point home – our school took us to a local church hall where we were given a very graphic slideshow of STDs. Let’s just say some things can never be unseen… Following this, we were each handed what looked like a plastic banana and a condom, which would have been traumatic enough for any young and naive 15-year-old. We were then told to pull the lid off the banana. It turned out to be the centaur of bananas – half banana, half penis. After being shown how to put the condom on the penis part, we were dismissed, and warned not to even think about grabbing a spare condom on the way out. It would be months before I could eat another banana.

NOPE.
NOPE.

While sex education is obviously important (especially if you want to avoid too many little Louis Tomlinsons running around), it’s a fine line between educating kids and leaving them scarred. I somehow got both.

No Protection

In case you’re wondering, No Protection is what I’m calling One Direction now after news Louis Tomlinson is set to become a dad broke yesterday. I’m not going to lie – this news completely blindsided me. Even my dad – who genuinely thought he was going to see Prince Charles when my mum told him she had tickets to a Prince concert – turned wide-eyed when I told him one of the boys from One Direction had gotten a girl pregnant.

I probably care more about this band than any 32-year-old should, but I can’t help it. One Direction is my favourite soap opera! Will Harry ever make it as a cabana boy? Will Niall finish growing chest hair? Find out in next week’s episode of One Direction!

Sigh. So sweet and innocent... Or so we thought.
So sweet and innocent… Or so we thought.

I’m still getting over Zayn leaving the band, and now you’re telling me Louis is going to be a father?! MIND BLOWN. (And not just because I genuinely thought he only swung in the other direction, if you know what I mean.)

So, given everything that’s gone down with this band recently, I thought I’d attempt the impossible by polishing off my crystal ball and trying to predict what the future holds for these five boys (gone but not forgotten, Zayn). I’d probably have a better chance at riding a unicorn, but whatever – here goes…

Tell me, gypsy... What do you see?
Tell me, gypsy… What do you see?

Louis Tomlinson

After growing a mullet, Louis got a job stocking shelves in Walmart to help cover child support payments for the 17 illegitimate kids he has. His solo album, No Glove, No Love (featuring the single, “Steal My Sperm”) was a flop, and he is painfully reminded of this whenever he passes the bargain bin at work.

Mo money, mo problems, right, Louis?
Mo money, mo problems, right, Louis?

Harry Styles

After embarking on a spiritual trek through the Himalayas, Harry found himself at a Buddhist temple. No, literally. He got lost and was found by monks. He now spends his days meditating, chanting and wearing hemp.

Peace out, Harry.
Peace out, Harry.

Liam Payne

A hands-on dad, Liam drives the neighbourhood carpool to school, during which he makes the kids listen to 1D’s albums while he relives the glory days. He owns multiple flannel shirts and has mastered the art of dad jokes.

Those were the days, Liam...
Liam is still haunted by the good ol’ days…

Zayn Malik

Following a few failed stints in rehab, Zayn is now selling stolen mobile phones out of the back of his car. Dodgy flatscreen TVs are available upon request.

Zayn:
Zayn: “Have I got a deal for you!”

Niall Horan

Niall landed his dream job as a ball boy at Wimbledon. He spends his spare time chatting up girls in nightclubs using the pick-up line, “I have one erection for you, baby.”

Niall:
Niall: “So… Your place or mine?”

Parental Supervision Advised

I was a weird kid. Judging by my taste in films and TV shows around that time, there was a very good chance I was going to grow up to be a sociopath. Thankfully I didn’t. I’m fine, everyone! Just fine. But if I were my parents, I would’ve slept with one eye open and a large knife under the pillow, just in case. Today my mum said to me, “I don’t know why we let you watch those films…” Same, Mum. Same.

So, just because I know the suspense is KILLING YOU, here is a list of some of my favourites from when I was a kid (and surprisingly, not a single Disney movie is on the list)…

1. Clifford

My all-time favourite! If you haven’t watched this cinematic masterpiece, just leave. I can’t even look at you right now. Basically, Martin Short (a 40-year-old man) plays Clifford (a slightly deranged 10-year-old boy). After grounding a plane and almost giving his father a stroke, Clifford is sent to his uncle’s house in LA with the promise of going to Dinosaur World. Unfortunately his uncle is a bit preoccupied with work and being a grown up, so Clifford turns to terrorism tactics because, as he eloquently puts it, he’s “just a boy with a dream”. I’ve since made many friends watch this film, and I can honestly say they looked at me with concern for my mental wellbeing as tears streamed down my face from laughing so hard. My ability to recite it word-for-word scared them too: “DON’T REJECT ME!!!” “Look at me like a normal boy!” But as a little girl who had a dream to go to Disneyland once, I really felt for Clifford’s plight. Heaven help anyone who comes between me and Disneyland.

Spirit animal.
Spirit animal.

2. Serial Mom

Seriously, what were my parents thinking?! I was 10 – 10!! – when I received this movie on video for Christmas. As the name suggests, Kathleen Turner plays a suburban mum turned serial killer. There’s a scene where she rips out a woman’s spleen using a crowbar in a public bathroom, just because the victim was wearing white shoes after Labor Day. I only recently bought myself a pair of white sneakers. It took me that long to get over it.

I believe this is where the phrase
I believe this is where the phrase “crazy bitch” originated.

3. Weekend At Bernie’s

Two guys prop up a corpse and carry him around like it’s the most normal thing in the world. No big deal… Enough said.

NORMAL.
NORMAL.

4. Don’t Tell Mom the Babysitter’s Dead

I used to watch this film in the hope my parents would leave my sister and I at home alone even just for a day! It never happened. That scene where Christina Applegate and Josh Charles jump through the store on space hoppers is the dream… They were literally living the dream.

I still want to do this, by the way.
I still want to do this, by the way.

5. Drop Dead Fred

On paper, there’s something extremely creepy about a grown man sneaking around with a little girl, but you could hardly call Drop Dead Fred a grown man. This film made me realise that growing up is a trap, and I never wanted to do it. As Elizabeth, the little girl in the movie says, “What a pile of shit!”

Hero.
Hero.

6. Married… With Children

My mum never liked us watching this TV show, but what she didn’t know didn’t hurt her… I remember Mum used to take ceramic classes on Tuesday nights with my aunt, and the second we heard her car backing down the driveway, my dad used to turn to my sister and I and say, “Good. She’s gone.” Then we’d all settle on the couch and watch Married… With Children (or as I used to call it, Love and Marriage). I know it’s very un-PC of me, but I still find this show about a sexist man and his dysfunctional family hilarious.

True that.
True that.

So, there you go. On one hand, my parents never let me watch the end of Turner & Hooch because they didn’t think I’d be able to handle it when (**SPOILER ALERT**) Hooch died, but watching a woman bludgeon innocent people to death was just fine. By the way, I did eventually see the end of Turner & Hooch in a hotel room in Hawaii a few years ago, and it left me traumatised. Thanks a lot, Mum and Dad.

I'm not crying, I just have something in my eye...
I’m not crying, I just have something in my eye…

The Weight On My Shoulder…

I dislocate my shoulder. A lot. It seems to be my thing. I don’t want it to be my thing, but it is.

My first dislocation occurred when I was 20 years old. I slipped on some tiles at work and landed on my shoulder. Since then, I’ve had a total of seven dislocations and one rather painful operation to “stabilise” my shoulder. Clearly it worked a treat. This all adds up to 20 weeks – or five months – in a sling. That’s five months of being unable to tie my hair up, struggling to put on a bra, and only wearing clothes with buttons or a zipper on the front so I can easily slide my arm in. Five months of washing my hair with one hand, learning to brush my teeth with my left hand and flicking more food on my uncoordinated self than usual. The first time I dislocated my shoulder, I remember asking the nurse at the hospital how I was going to put my mascara on. Her response: “Not with your right arm, sweetie!”

I'm two hospital visits away from getting a ward named after me.
I’m two hospital visits away from getting a ward named after me.

As far as medical problems go, I know there are worse things out there, and if this is my biggest worry, I know I’m not doing too badly, but it’s still frustrating when your right arm tries to make a break for it at every given opportunity. The irony that my latest dislocation occurred two days after Independence Day was not lost on me. It’s like my right arm is constantly trying to liberate itself from the rest of my body. I’ve joked that if I ever got a tattoo, it would be the word “STAY” on my right shoulder.

In Greece... With a dislocated shoulder.
In Greece… With a dislocated shoulder.

At this stage, I’ve had so many dislocations that all someone has to do is look at my shoulder the wrong way and it will pop out. I’ve actually banned my friend Steve from even using the word “shoulder” around me. Whenever he mentions my shoulder, it seems to dislocate on cue. As far as Steve’s concerned, I don’t even have shoulders.

Don't even look at my shoulder, Steve!
Don’t even look at my shoulder, Steve!

It probably wouldn’t be so bad if I could just stick a bandaid on it and be on my merry way, but it’s actually a huge, very painful inconvenience, that leads to me being rushed to the emergency room to have it repositioned, followed by doctors visits, scans and months of physiotherapy. I’ve spent so much time having physio on this damn shoulder, my physiotherapist, Diana, is now one of my best friends!

With Diana – physiotherapist extraordinaire.
With Diana – physiotherapist extraordinaire.

My shoulder has popped out so many times, that my mum now answers the phone with, “Which hospital?” The woman is a champion at getting to any hospital in Sydney within minutes. Seriously, don’t call an ambulance – call my mum.

Aside from the inconvenience, dislocations are incredibly painful. I don’t recommend them. Think of the most painful thing you’ve ever experienced and then multiple it by 10. That’s probably what a dislocation feels like. It literally feels like someone is trying to tear off your limbs. I was speaking to a lady who had experienced both childbirth and a dislocated shoulder, and she said childbirth hurt less. In Medieval England, they used to dislocate people’s limbs as a form of torture. Even by today’s standards, it’s considered barbaric. Waterboarding – A-OK, dislocations – hell, no!

At Easter... With a dislocated shoulder.
At Easter… With a dislocated shoulder.

It probably wouldn’t be so bad if I had some cool stories to explain my many dislocations. I could tell people I was lifting a car off a trapped baby or I single-handedly fought off a bikie gang who took on an innocent old lady, but the truth is a lot more lame. I’ve dislocated my shoulder reaching for a towel, getting out of the car, and most recently, patting my cat. Even the hospital report made it sound wussy: “She was patting her cat when it clawed her and she got a shock, pulling back her arm and dislocating it.” Firstly, the word “shock” is a bit of an exaggeration… The only thing shocking was how easily it popped out. A couple of my sister’s friends asked her if I was patting a tiger. No, no. Just a fluffy white cat I’m thinking of renaming “Killer”.

Meet Killer – smug bastard.
Meet Killer – smug bastard.

The doctor told me I’m genetically predisposed to dislocations thanks to my “long, stretchy ligaments”. Awesome. It would’ve been great if I was a contortionist, but I decided to settle for journalism instead. So, what’s next? Basically, lots more physiotherapy (Hi, Diana!) in the hope that I’ll be able to build up the muscles around my shoulder so they can do what my ligaments are clearly refusing to do – hold my shoulder in place. This is my cross to bear.