Back to School

Here’s the thing, high school SUCKS. It wasn’t all bad, but it wasn’t all that great either…

I was never one of the cool kids (shocking, I know), and I didn’t aspire to be (even more shocking). I was quite happy marching to the beat of my own drum.

Unfortunately, high school is a place where you’re expected to conform, and if you don’t, you can guarantee there will be a whole host of people waiting in the wings, ready to make sure you fall into line, as I discovered at my second high school. Differences are not celebrated in high school, and I was branded an “eccentric hippie”. (Yes, someone actually called me this.) If anyone said this to me now, I would probably slow clap and roll my eyes, but when you’re an insecure 16-year-old at a new school, it makes you even more painfully aware of the fact you don’t fit in.

Isolated from my previous school friends, this was not a good time for me. One lunchtime, I came back from the bathroom to find my lunchbox up a tree. Yeah… Kids are great.

By the end of Year 11, I’d well and truly had enough. This resulted in me having a mini meltdown about going back to school during a family holiday in Hawaii. “I just want to graduate!” I wailed during dinner one night. “Why can’t it be over? I hate that school!”

To this day, I maintain it was two of the worst years of my life. I went from a Catholic all-girls school with liquid soap in the bathrooms to a co-ed public school with the layout of Alcatraz. I had to pack a bar of soap in my backpack! This princess was not loving life.

Before Katniss Everdeen, there was me... At Year Seven school camp.
Before Katniss Everdeen, there was me… At Year Seven school camp.

I question anyone who tells kids to enjoy school because it’s “the best years of your life”. Either they’ve never been or their life has sucked beyond belief since they left.

Also, I’m pretty sure they call it high school because you need to be high just to get through it. (I wasn’t, but I’m sure it would’ve helped…)

Having said all that, here is some useful advice for getting through it (you know, just in case you’re planning on going back, in which case, my advice is DON’T)…

You’re Not Alone!

High school is a shit time… but it’s a shit time for everyone! I guarantee it – no matter how put together someone might look on the outside, they’re dealing with their share of problems too. The good news is, it ends and then you’re free! (SPOILER ALERT: Life gets sooo much better!)

Give EVERYONE a Chance

Also file under “never judge”. While all the other kids headed to the back of the school bus (it was kind of an unspoken rule that the cool kids occupied the backseat), I saw a girl sitting by herself in a seat at the very front. She had her head down and she looked so sad. I sat down next to her and introduced myself. Her name was Sarah and she was in Year Seven, just like me. I’m so glad I decided to sit down next to her, because 20 years later, Sarah is still one of my best friends. She recently confessed that in those early days of high school, she used to cry at night because she was having such a shitty time. It broke my heart because Sarah is one of the best people I know.

In Hawaii with Sarah, 2013.
In Hawaii with Sarah, 2013.

Choose Your Friends Wisely

They can raise you up or tear you down. In my first week of high school, my only friend, Amie got sick and I somehow ended up sitting with the popular girls. They were nice enough, but I quickly realised we didn’t have that much in common. That was when I found Lea. At first it was just the two of us, but our friendship group slowly grew. And grew and grew… (By the time we were in Year 10, there were around 20 of us!) To this day, Lea is still one of my best friends. Sometimes I feel like she knows me better than I know myself.

At a wedding with Lea, 2012.
At a wedding with Lea, 2012.

Nurture Those Friendships

The day will come – sooner rather than later – when boys and life will get in the way, and you won’t see those friends nearly as often as you used to. Some of you will drift apart, but the people who are meant to stay in your life will still be there, and if you nurture those friendships, they’ll only continue to strengthen. Never take your friendships for granted!

Before the Year 10 formal (I'm second from the right).
The original girl squad before the Year 10 formal (I’m second from the right).

Always Be Kind

There’s a great phrase: “Be kind. Everyone you meet is fighting a battle you know nothing about.” I’m an expert at hiding behind a smile, but at my lowest, I’ve been curled up in a foetal position on my bedroom floor, sobbing uncontrollably and unable to pick myself up.

Stand Up to Bullies

It may sound harsh, but if you see somebody being bullied and you stand by and let it happen, you’re just as bad as the bully. It takes courage to stand up to them, but it shows strength and integrity. If you find yourself being bullied, try to have pity. Bullies are just people in pain, and they’re projecting this onto you. While it’s not an excuse, and it definitely shouldn’t be tolerated, it’s worth remembering that it’s not you, it’s them.

Don’t Worry Too Much About Dating

Despite what Glee and every second teen movie tells you, the popular kids are never going to date the nerds. It’s never going to happen. They stick to their own. Generally speaking, the popular kids tend to peak in high school anyway, so let them have their moment. Aim for a trombone player instead. In fact, don’t worry too much about dating at all – all that will come later. Your main aim is to make it out of high school without a teen pregnancy.

Be Yourself!

Finally, while I know it’s easy to cave into peer pressure, always stay true to yourself. Stand confident in who you are and what you believe – just being you is enough.

Specs Appeal

I have a thing for guys with glasses – and accents – but glasses…

It probably started when I was about 13 and developed a huge crush on Dean Cain in Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman. But it wasn’t Superman that did it for me – it was his alter-ego, Clark Kent. Sweet, shy, slightly nerdy, bespectacled Clark Kent. That is why I recently (as in today) decided to call this phenomenon “The Clark Kent Effect”.

It didn't hurt that he took his shirt off all the time either...
It didn’t hurt that he took his shirt off all the time either…

Truth be told, a big part of the reason why I would still go there with one of my other teen crushes, Jonathan Taylor Thomas, is probably because he now wears glasses.

Still would.
Still would.

FACT: According to experts (me), a guy can improve his hotness by 200 percent, simply by popping on a pair of glasses. (But please don’t do the plastic lenses hipster thing – that’s just lame.)

Some examples…

Gaspard Ulliel

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Meh.

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HELLO, HOTNESS.

Matt Bomer

Matt-bomer

He’s okay, I guess…

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May I present to you, THE HOTTEST MAN I HAVE EVER SEEN!

Ryan Reynolds

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You know, if you like that sort of thing…

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I AM BLINDED BY HIS BEAUTY.

Jake Gyllenhaal

Jake Gyllenhaal Hot Photos

He’ll do, I suppose…

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WHO IS THIS GORGEOUS SPECIMEN?!

Tinie Tempah

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I could leave him.

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SWEET BABY JESUS AND ALL THINGS HOLY!

Bradley Cooper

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Average.

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Is that an angel from heaven?!

Jon Hamm

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I don’t get it…

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GOD.

Joseph Gordon-Levitt

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Look, I wouldn’t call him ugly…

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I think I might pass out!

Ryan Gosling

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Whatever, Gosling.

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#^&#%!!!!

Ewan McGregor

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I’d rather eat a slice of pizza.

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I’ll take a slice of YOU.

Andy Samberg

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If that’s your thing…

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Can I worship at your altar?!

So, in the words of the Spice Girls, “If you wanna be my lover, you gotta get with my frames.” (I’m pretty sure that’s how it goes.)

Hitting Back

This isn’t a fun post, but I feel like it’s an important one… (NOTE: Throughout this post are just some of the domestic violence headlines to have made Australian news in recent weeks.)

A couple of years ago, someone told me Australia has one of the highest rates of domestic violence against women in the first world. Aside from obviously being alarmed by this, I was also shocked, disturbed and ashamed to say the least.

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While I can proudly say the majority of men I know are all respectful gentlemen, domestic violence is clearly a problem in this country, and until recently, it’s been a shameful secret no one dared to talk about.

On average, one Australian woman is killed in a domestic violence attack every week. So far this year, there have been 63 deaths. Given that we’re only in September, that number is clearly on the rise.

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Today, Australia’s new prime minister, Malcolm Turnbull announced a $100 million plan to help eliminate what he calls “a national disgrace” – and I couldn’t agree more. The fact that so many Australian men find it acceptable to beat on their partners is nothing short of disgraceful.

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Globally speaking, women already face so many more challenges than men – at the very least, we should be able to feel safe at home with the person we are supposed to be able to trust the most.

While I myself have thankfully never endured domestic violence, I would like to think that if a man hit me once, it would be the last time. The truth is though – like so many other Australian women – I may not be strong enough to pull myself out of a bad situation. Often it’s the mental and emotional wounds that cut the deepest.

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Aside from a blatantly obvious need to teach Australian men to respect women, we also need to educate women that they are worth more. They are worth more than a partner who belittles them, disrespects them and attacks them.

I’ve always believed men and women are equal, but I feel like we’ve gotten so far away from the days when men would hold open a door for a woman or pull out her chair. I’m always pleasantly surprised whenever a man does this for me because it happens so rarely.

But clearly this is just the tip of the iceberg. A recent study found one in four young Australian men considers it acceptable to hit their partner when drunk. Um… WHAT?! This is NOT okay!

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I feel like Australia has a “blokey” culture, which at its best is laidback, friendly and easygoing. At its worst, it is aggressive, violent and downright frightening.

While it’s a relief to know we are finally addressing this problem, it’s devastating to think it’s taken so many innocent lives to be lost for something to be done.

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Ultimately, while it’s great the government has finally acknowledged there is a problem, the change has to start with us, the people. Men need to respect women, and women need to respect themselves.

Baring It All

Despite a somewhat unhealthy obsession with Sephora, I actually don’t wear a lot of makeup. On a daily basis, I usually just wear concealer to cover the seemingly permanent dark circles under my eyes, BB cream, mascara, cheek tint and lip-gloss. If I have a bit of extra time (read: RARELY), I might add some bronzer and highlighter, and if I’m going out, I’ll throw on some eyeliner. I only ever do a full face of makeup for extra special occasions (Bitch, you’d better be getting MARRIED!). So now you know – YOU’RE WELCOME.

All made up for my sister's wedding.
All made up for my sister’s wedding.

Having said all that, I never go out without at least some makeup on! So you can imagine how I felt when I got a facial on Saturday and the beauty aesthician told me to leave my face alone overnight so all the creams and serums could work their magic. (I’m sorry you had to read the most first world sentence just then). The horror! In a fit of outrage, I started throwing cleansing products around and smearing hot wax on the walls. (Okay, I didn’t, but I easily could have.)

When I was told not to wear makeup.
When I was told not to wear makeup.

I was supposed to be going out that night! I couldn’t go out without any makeup on! It would be like going out without any clothes on, and let me tell you, no one wants to see that! The world would implode and people would die.

Here I am – warts and all. (I don't have warts.)
Here I am – warts and all. (I don’t have warts.)

After arriving at my friends Nat and Diana’s house, the first thing I said when they opened the door was, “Hi! Excuse my face – I’m not wearing any makeup.” I’m not sure why I felt the need to apologise for my bare face, but I did.

After a brief 20-MINUTE discussion, which ended with us flipping a coin, we all decided we couldn’t be bothered going out after all, and decided to order takeout, eat chocolate and watch Reese Witherspoon movies instead (don’t judge us). Phew! I didn’t have to reveal my makeup-free face to the rest of Sydney after all. Nobody would die tonight.

“You don’t even need makeup.”

Overall, I consider myself to be quite a confident person. Of course I have my insecurities – but I wasn’t prepared for just how self-conscious I would feel after taking off all my makeup and walking out into the world. It actually kind of shocked me, especially because I never used to be like this.

I never wore any makeup when I was at school, and only started to wear it well after I started university (even then, it was just mascara). Those were the days… Now I felt hideous without it! And it wasn’t pressure from the outside world causing me to feel this way – it was pressure I put on myself.

A funny thing happened though when Nat and I ran out to pick up our Vietnamese dinner… As I rounded the corner, the car next to us started frantically beeping. “What was that about?” I asked Nat. “Those guys were trying to get our attention. They kept waving at us when we were stopped at the lights,” she replied. “Nooo!” I hit back. “That’s CRAZY.” (Translation: “But I’m not wearing any makeup! Who would want to hit on THIS?”) Could I really be the lyrics of a One Direction song personified?!

Thanks boys.
Thanks boys.

I hate that I feel this way about my no makeup face, especially because THIS IS THE REAL ME!! And worryingly, I have a feeling I’m not the only girl out there who is reluctant to show off her no makeup face – Amy Schumer wrote a whole parody about it! But as someone who genuinely believes beauty comes from the inside, I’m determined to not only accept my no makeup face, but embrace it too.

I feel you, Amy.
I feel you, Amy.

Having said that, I’m not in a hurry to repeat the experience… Pass the mascara.

Just Married

Last night, I was having dinner at my friends, Paru and Loki’s house, when Loki dropped this bombshell: “No guy wants to get married. They only do it because the girl does.” BOOM!! (Give me some warning next time, Loki, so I can take shelter.)

BOOM.
BOOM.

A couple of things about Loki and Paru… They’re two of the kindest, most fun people you could ever meet, and they make a great couple (yes, they’re married). They are also refreshingly honest, which I have a lot of respect for. There’s enough bullshit in the world, why add to it? So neither Paru or I were particularly surprised or offended when he came out with this nugget.

He then went on to explain that when a guy meets the right girl, he wants to spend the rest of his life with her, which is why he doesn’t mind getting married, but marriage probably sits on his to-do list right behind getting a root canal and picking up the dog’s poo.

This actually happened.
This actually happened.

This would probably explain why many girls turn into bridezillas in the lead-up to their wedding, while most guys don’t care if they use old newspaper sheets as napkins. I myself have felt the wrath of a bridezilla, but I won’t go into detail for fear of being sued for defamation. (I’m not even kidding – I’ve been threatened with a lawsuit for much less, and that’s just the start of it…) Needless to say, that whole experience left me seriously scarred. I still sometimes rock myself to sleep in the fetal position…

This was literally me.
This was literally me.

But here’s the thing – if I’m being really honest, I don’t care about marriage either! While I believe ALL people should have the right to get married if they choose, it’s never been high on my list of priorities either (unless Jake Gyllenhaal calls – then we’ll talk).

Seriously – call me.
Seriously – call me.

I’ve heard of girls circling rings they like in catalogues and then leaving them around the house as “hints” for their boyfriends. Not to pass judgement (okay, I’m totally judging you right now), but that seems a little needy and desperate to me.

I’ve never been one of those girls who maps out her imaginary wedding day, and the only time I ever had a dream about getting married, it involved me walking down the aisle towards a faceless groom, before having a panic attack, turning, and running away on foot to my grandparents’ house. (I’m not sure why I thought it would be a good idea to go to their house, especially because they most likely would have walked me straight back to the church under heavy guard.)

Look at me go!
Look at me go!

I’m terrified of commitment, and just the thought of a serious relationship used to cause me to hyperventilate. “But what if I lose myself?” I used to asked my friend, Lea. “I’m a free bird flying in the wind! I don’t want to feel trapped!” I was 21 before I could even commit to getting my ears pierced, and even then, Lea stood blocking the door at the beauty salon so I couldn’t make a last ditch run for freedom (she knows me well). You know that Simon & Garfunkel song? Well, I am a rock AND an island.

I can relate.
I can relate.

Having said all that, I also believe it’s possible for two people to fully commit to each other without ever getting married. Especially in this day and age, when the divorce rate is so high, marriage really is just a piece of a paper.

Also, I’m really not a wedding kind of girl. Just ask my sister, Patrice. Sure, I’ll go, but it’s mainly just to eat cake and dance (and no, I’m not expecting to get another wedding invite after this). After Mum asked me to be my sister’s maid of honour (Patrice was worried I’d bitch and moan about it – and she was right), I told her, “It’s telling that the word ‘maid’ is in the title. You are literally the bride’s maid. I don’t understand why girls get so excited by this…”

"When can we have fun and dance?" Me at every wedding...
“When can we have fun and dance?” Me at every wedding…

Kitchen teas are literally my idea of hell. “Am I supposed to get excited about crockery? How long is this going to take?” I griped. (Thankfully I was sick with the flu on the day of Patrice’s kitchen tea, and was high on a cocktail of medication, which made the overall experience much less painful.) And don’t even get me started on the little wedding details. I don’t care if the cutlery is gold or silver – just use plastic forks! (But don’t – it’s bad for the environment.)

Oh, look – a pot.
Oh, look – a pot.

Needless to say, I won’t be having a big white wedding anytime soon. I don’t know if I ever will get married, but if I do, I’ve made no secret of my plan to elope. I’ll probably just go to Vegas and then send everyone a postcard that says, “Wish you were here…” Weddings are expensive, and I’d rather spend the money on an extended holiday instead.

This is the dream.
This is the dream.

HOLY SHIT – I’M A DUDE!!!

Fan Girl (Part 4)

As a child of the ’90s, I grew up watching Clueless, so you can imagine how excited I was when I landed a face-to-face interview with Josh, aka, Paul Rudd. Yes, I know he’s carved out quite the Hollywood career since then, but he’ll always be Josh to me…

See? Josh.
See? Josh.

Sitting in a hotel room at the Park Hyatt, waiting for Paul and his Knocked Up co-star, Leslie Mann to arrive, I took deep breaths and willed myself to “be cool”. Basically, I was about to attempt the impossible.

After what felt like an eternity, Paul and Leslie walked into the room. With my heart pounding, I swallowed as Paul walked over to me, extended his hand and said, “Hi, I’m Paul.” I calmly shook it and coolly replied, “Hey, I’m Demeter.” I’m sure I looked completely pulled together on the outside, but my internal dialogue sounded something like this: “OMFG!!%^*Y##$%&£∞§*`¢•–¶!!!!!”

It didn’t take long for the nerves to dissolve though, and soon we were chatting like old friends. Maybe it’s just in the stars (Leslie’s birthday is March 26, Paul’s is April 6 and mine is April 7, making us all Aries – and for the record, I don’t just know that, I discovered it while doing my research), but we were the funniest people in the room. We were also the only people in the room, and we spent the next 15 minutes laughing hysterically and making each other laugh hysterically.

Funny people.
Funny people.

Paul told us his idea of a good time is reading a book and taking a nap (I hear you, buddy), and Leslie and I bonded over our mutual love of Zac Efron (see previous post). She told me how excited she was that she got to kiss him in her then-upcoming movie, 17 Again, and how jealous her two daughters were.

Leslie is married to Judd Apatow, who directed Knocked Up. In the film, Paul plays her husband, but their onscreen daughters are played by Leslie’s real-life daughters with Judd. Still following? When I asked Paul if it was awkward playing happy families with Judd’s real-life wife and kids, he responded with mock outrage. “WHAT?! You’re MARRIED?! I don’t believe this! I thought we had something special! You fly me all the way out to Australia, and I find out you’re married?! And the kids aren’t mine?!”

Then he stood up, picked up his chair and threw it across the room. “GOD!!!” he shouted, before storming out of the hotel room, but not before dropping a few profanities and slamming the door shut behind him.

Paul... You are NOT the father!
Paul… You are NOT the father!

Leslie and I just looked at each other and burst out laughing. A few seconds later, Paul walked back into the room laughing too, closely followed by a stressed out publicist, who ran in, frantically asking if everything was okay because she’d “heard screaming and doors slamming”. This just made us laugh even harder.

Hanging with Paul and Leslie.
Hanging with Paul and Leslie.

Two of the funniest, most fun-loving people you could ever meet.

Fan Girl (Part 3)

The first time I interviewed Zac Efron, he was just a wide-eyed kid. It was right before High School Musical came out and nobody knew who he was yet.

I interviewed him again a few years later, along with his co-star, Nikki Blonsky, for Hairspray. I walked into the room, shook their hands, welcomed them to Australia, and with a straight face, asked how their flight on Air Force One had been. (George W. Bush was in town for the G-20 Summit, and the whole city was in lockdown. There were even helicopters flying overhead during our interview.) Zac laughed harder than he should have (probably out of pity), and that was it – instant BFFs.

With my BFF, Zac and Nikki.
With my BFF, Zac and Nikki.

Okay, maybe not BFFs, but I was pleasantly surprised when he remembered me a couple of years later when I interviewed him a third time for 17 Again. Most celebrities rarely remember journalists, even if they’ve met them before – and given the amount of people they speak to, it’s understandable. After reintroducing myself, I went to shake his hand. Instead, Zac broke into a huge smile and said, “I remember you!” before pulling me in for a friendly hug and kiss.

Mine was the last scheduled interview of the day, so even though I’d only been allocated 15 minutes, we ended up sitting and talking for almost an hour. Our interview took place on the rooftop of the Park Hyatt hotel in Sydney, and we sat at a table with a single rose in a vase, overlooking the sun setting on Sydney Harbour. As our knees pressed against each other under the table, I thought, “This is the closest I’ll ever come to a date with Zac Efron.”

I love you too.
I love you too.

Zac ordered a plate of food – “I’m starved!” he told me – and invited me to pick at it. We spoke about how weird fame is, how much he loves Australia, places we wanted to travel, and how lonely and exhausting it was doing press tours.

We spoke long after the official interview ended, and at the end of our conversation, Zac asked me what I was doing for the rest of the evening. I told him I was going home to sleep (something my friends have still never let me live down – for the record, I do not think Zac Efron was hitting on me). He gave me a hug and kiss goodbye, and I left. A couple of years later, Zac would say he found Australian girls “charming” (just saying).

I see you... Sly dog.
I see you… Sly dog.

The whole experience was completely surreal, and once outside the hotel, reality hit. Did that really just happen?! I immediately called my mum and started squealing down the phone. She refused to talk to me while I was hysterical, telling me she couldn’t understand me, and promptly hung up.

I doubt Zac would still remember me today, but I’ll never forget that afternoon. He’s one of the nicest, most laidback people you could ever meet, and was so easy to talk to. I was really sad to hear he’d been battling with some personal demons, and I wish him nothing but good things. He deserves it.

For the record, this is NOT Vladimir Putin.
For the record, this is NOT Vladimir Putin.