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Shame

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This morning, I twitched with rage as I lay under my German machine.  I despise nothing more than a bully. Always have, always will.  And I’d just read a story that made me want to punch someone. But, see, that’s never the answer. Here’s why.

A friend of a friend of mine died in January this year. I’ll call her Michelle. She was a mother of three, living overseas with her husband.  He is a corporate man, wears a good suit. Let’s call him Suit. He’s liked by his clients, has a firm handshake. He also had a firm hand when it came to hitting Michelle across the side of the head.

I will assume, from the job Suit does and the outfit for whom he works, that his clients like his persuasive manner and his charm. So, I guess, did Michelle in the early days. And his powers of persuasion would have worked a treat when it came to making her feel like a worthless speck of dust on his shoe.

Like I said, though, she’s gone now. She took her own life. She did this even though she had finally summoned the courage to leave Suit. But getting away wasn’t enough: he was still in her head, an earwig telling her she was a bad mother, a useless person, a nothing. He’s a professional persuader. And we all know the bad stuff is easier to believe than the good.

The good stuff was there too: Michelle was bolstered by an army of tiger-women working hard to offset the damage done by Suit. They tried to give her courage to leave, bravery to believe she was worth more, that her kids deserved better. But it wasn’t enough. She had asked Suit for years to take her home, back to Australia, back to her family. He’d refused.

On the day she died, his employer flew her family back to Australia. Her final act meant her children would grow up near her family, but without her.

Suit is getting on with his life. He is working in his respected job, walking about the big Australian city, shoulders back, a man people seek out for advice. A man people listen to.

What a shame Michelle listened to him. And what a shame more people don’t know what he did.

I’m mercifully lacking in first-hand experience of family violence. My father is loving and kind. My husband and brothers are marshmallows. My male friends are good men. But like the old adage that if you’re in London you’re never more than ten feet from a rat, violent men are not far away: insidious b*stards, vile cowards, exacting an unimaginable price from the women and children in their lives. Modelling behaviour young boys might adopt and young girls might come to think of as all they deserve.

For more eloquent words on family violence than mine, look here and here and here. But I will say this: we need to raise good men, brave men who define strength not as control and brawn, but as integrity and compassion. We need to surround ourselves with these men, and raise girls who do too. Girls who see the signs early and know they deserve better. And if they walk away from the Suits of this world, we must throw our arms around them and keep them safe.

Today is White Ribbon Day, and it’s also the anniversary of the day Michelle married her abuser.  I hope today the caged bear of his conscience rouses itself and puts a stink of remorse on his breath, and a stone of guilt in his shoe. He’s not the only bad guy around, but he’s the bad guy I’m mad at today.

Look out.

*Apologies to Triv readers who miss the days of sweating the small stuff. Swear we’ll perspire it together again soon, once we’ve nailed cancer and family violence.

 

Deep inspiration

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It says a lot about motherhood and middle age that I’m grateful for any opportunity to lie down and close my eyes. Even radiotherapy.

It’s day two of a 28-session, 20-minute-a-day regime of atomic blasting. More humming German machines, more kindly health professionals, more concerned inquiries of “How are you?”, complete with furrowed brows.

(Sometimes I’m confused when people ask me how I am in that extra-specially-concerned tone, then I remember the cancer thing. I’d so begun to move on.)

I’ve been through “planning” (tattoos and x-rays) and now it’s “treatment”. I even have my own glamorous attire.

gown

It’s not Erdem, but it’ll do for the next month.

This is what the set-up looks like. Sheesh, there’s no avoiding pink, is there?

machine

My arms lie in the pink holders, my head rests on the donut, my backside abuts the wedge. Then the German machine, which looks worryingly retro, descends and does its cell-murderous work.

My monkey mind goes crazy:

“Do the baby radiographers know how to use it?”

“What if one of them is hungover?”

“What if they press the wrong button and this thing squashes me?”

“What if they press the wrong button and it’s Hiroshima in here?”

“When was this thing last serviced?”

“When was it last cleaned — will rogue dust bunnies make it malfunction?”

“Is it really from the 50s or does it just look like that?”

“Was it used to break coded Luftwaffe transmissions at Bletchley?”

“What if it’s not German at all???” At that point, real panic sets in.

*

Radiotherapy, like processed meat and bungee jumping, is not without its risks — especially when it’s treating breast cancer. Some basic body geography will tell you boobs are near hearts and lungs. So, ideally, these need to stay clear of the nuclear beam.

I’ve been told a teeny corner of one of my lungs will cop a serve, but the method for keeping my heart out of the way is ingenious in its simplicity: I take a deep breath.

Its proper name is “deep inspiration breath hold”, or DIBH, and it shrinks the heart away from the radioactive beam. Because, as our medical friends say in that link, “radiation treatment to the left breast is associated with increased cardiac morbidity and mortality”. Yep, fun!

So when the embryonic radiographers in the next room tell me, through a mic, “OK, now take a deep breath and hold” — I suck it in and hold as if my life depends on it. Because, apparently, it sort of does.

*

Whenever I’m in the waiting room, I’m sad. I am conspicuous in my smart clothes and rude health. I tell myself the chemo people with no hair and emaciated frames — the ones who are really sick, as opposed to me, the pretender — are looking at me thinking, “But she’s so young.” It’s all relative though, isn’t it? Too old for babies, too young for cancer. Where was the sweet spot?

george v

I remember when my grandma had cancer and we drove her here, to the King George V hospital across the road from where I am now, to have her radium implant. She cried; she was dreading the pain and the sickness. She apologised for her outward display of emotion, and my gruff but oh-so-kind grandpa — who always held it in — said, “There’s no point holding it in.”

Except when it’s breath.

*

George V. I think of the Georges V. And Paris. And life after this. And life for living. And deep inspiration. And holding breaths, and being grateful that this nuking means I’ll still be taking them, in France, when I’m an old lady, wearing Erdem and carrying my Birkin.

And I lie under the machine, and close my eyes, and my monkey mind goes quiet.

Funny funny ha ha

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True to Triv form, I’ve tried not to take this cancer caper too srsly.

Obviously, this becomes easier the further away one moves from that initial neutron bomb of the diagnosis. And easier still with news such as “it’s early”, “it’s small”, “it’s not aggressive”, and “you have two trauma insurance policies”.

But here’s the thing: I’m allowed to make jokes about it. You’re not.

(Apparently cancer not only makes you rich and thin, but also a bit of a tetchy b*tch.)

Case in point…a few weeks ago I met B for a drink. I said, “I really feel like a raspberry cocktail but there’s not one on the menu. I think I’ll tell the bartender I have cancer and maybe he’ll make me one!”  We laughed like drains! How funny was the chick with cancer?! How deeply well-adjusted am I that I can get my tumour and pink drinks into the same gag?!?

When it came time to pay the bill, we marvelled at what an ouchy sum all those pink drinks added up to, and B snorted and said, “Ask for a discount — you’ve got cancer!”

I found this alarmingly unfunny, and shot a stink-eye at her back.

game 1

Recently Damer took me to a major mansports grand final (yes, you read that right) as her and her rock star hubby’s guest. I had to pretend to be her “sister from another mister” to placate the grouchy tour manager, who’d been expecting her to bring her 12-year-old son. As Grouchy tried to usher us out of the very well equipped corporate box at the end of the night, he hollered, “Come on — on the bus! Damer! Damer’s fake sister!” As it was the end of the night, I decided to fess up to the fact that, indeed, the almost six-feet-tall, blonde goddess-like Kiwi Damer and I were unrelated by blood.

“Yeah, well I guessed that!” he said. “Suppose you’re also gonna try and tell me you’re not dying of cancer!”

“Um, actually, I’m not dying, but I do have cancer,” I said, suddenly finding the whole convo distinctly unamusing.

“Yeah, right! Ha!”

As we were driven home in the bongo van through the dying nighttime embers of Parramatta Road, all I could think about was tumours. Lesions and nasty cells. And chemo, and people looking at a hairless me with pity in their eyes.

I got over it. I’ve come to realise that, as Brunnie said, “people will take their lead from you.” So the best way to be is upbeat, which is how I feel 99 per cent of the time.

And the most recent good news is that me and my glorious hairs will stay together: no chemo coming my way.

But what that also means is no short-cut to skinny. And that, my friends, is no laughing matter.*

*joke

Cancer makes you rich and thin

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pic 2

Oh, and young.

I was back with Dr Rippy, bandaged, bruised boobs encased in a super-sexy post-surgery bra. It’s all glamour, this cancer caper.

“It hasn’t spread to your lymph nodes,” Dr Rippy says.  Phew, I think.

“In the next week or so the multidisciplinary team will meet to look through your results and decide on next steps.”

Oh. “So chemotherapy’s still a possibilty?” I ask.

“Yes. They may err on the side of giving it to you because you’re young and we want you to live for a long time.”

(Random, incongruous thought #243: when you get cancer at 44 38, people tell you all the time how young you are. It’s awesome.)

Thus begins the process of picturing yourself without hair. And eyebrows. And vomiting, and peeing poison. Not fun. Not glamorous.

But take my hand, kind reader, and step gingerly by my side into the dark, twisted neighbourhoods of the Triv psyche. Grab a helmet, head torch and hi-vis vest, and turn your gaze to a chemo future. Do you see what I see? Do you see someone…thin?

Regular readers have patiently followed the Triv travails from Dr Liu, to Vision personal training, to firm-but-fair Arlene in Rose Bay via hangry flirtations with 5:2. In short, for the past few years, I’ve been an ad for fad.

Chemo could prove not only to be my ticket out of a cancery future, but also an antidote to long cardis and nightie-style, waistless silky frocks. Goodbye Nancy Ganz, hello cheekbones!

As I pondered how I’d adjust to feeling my hipbones for the first time since I was 12, I thought about what I’d clad my new, svelte self in. That would take money, serious coin.

Enter…trauma insurance.

Never heard of it? Not many have. But it’s like betting against your health, and it’s the one time in life it literally pays to be a pessimist.

After my visit to the private, quiet clinic, I was, predictably, overwhelmed and emotional. Until I remembered the trauma policy I’d taken out with my employer some time ago. I called and got the forms. A tidy sum coming my way just for having cancer, yay!

That night, though, lying in bed, I couldn’t shake the feeling I’d forgotten something, that there was more. And there was: another trauma policy!

See, after all of Seriousimo’s health woes, I’d insured myself to the hilt. Happy days! How much, you ask? Enough to make a dent in the Palazzo Trivialista home loan, and then some to play with.

And play I will. Just watch me.

A Prada handbag seemed appealing, until la brutally honest friend GOS screwed up her nose as if I’d let off a chemo fart and commented, “Too bogan. You need a Birkin.”

That thought had never entered by head. But it has now, and in the dark, misty mind recesses where I’m 56kg and hairless, I’m suddenly toting new cost-of-a-Corolla arm candy.

I talked Pip through this scenario. It seems, though, that discussing handbag investments with friends is as polarising as talking baby names: it’s a zero-sum minefield.

“A Birkin? Hmm…” said Pip, shifting in her seat. “I think, um, it’s just that, you know, unless you’re swathed in head-to-toe Chanel, people might think it’s, well, you know…”

“A fake?” I asked, indignant. How sweet of her to gently suggest I don’t look money enough to carry a real Birkin. Just as well she’d brought me tasty baked goods or I might have had to slap her with one of my current inferior — yet social-strata appropriate — purses.

But should I pocket my six-figure sum, get thin, and continue to bask in my rediscovered youth, it’d be a brave person who’d look askance at the provenance of my Birkin. I’d hit them with a top-notch eyebrow-less stink-eye and holler, “I have cancer. And insurance!”

Get lucky

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So, here I am, in hospital, again. No unwell daughter at my side this time round. No scrunchy plastic mattress; no shared amenities, no troubled teens two beds over.

Today it’s just me, in a private room in a comfortable, private north shore hospital. It’s all very private, very quiet. Just me and my new companion: cancer.

“You’re over 40,” my diligent GP said two years ago, “time for a breast check.” She did what all diligent GPs do, and wrote me a referral. I diligently ‘filed’ it in the back of my 2013 diary, and forgot about it.

Then four weeks ago, during a routine visit, she rolled her eyes and wrote me another referral. Knowing I’d be back at work soon after having been off looking after the girl, I made an appointment at the private clinic and went.

“I’m at your boob shop,” I said to a friend on the phone from the comfortably-peopled waiting room on the morning of my appointment. “You know, where you go to get your boobs checked?”

“Oh yeah,” she said. “You should be done by about 11 I reckon!” Great, I thought, just in time to nip out for some dumplings and a flick through UK House & Garden.

“It’s such a funny place,” she continued. “There are loads of women in the waiting room at the beginning of the day, and gradually they get whittled down until there’s just one poor sucker left – the sucker who gets the bad news.”

That day, at that clinic, that sucker was me.

No family history. No palpable lump. No symptoms of ill health. No pain. No real reason to be checked. No reason to believe I’d get the bad news.

As the doctor sat me down and used words like “nasty cells”, “lesion on the left”, and “radial scar on the right”, all I could think was, no, you must be mistaken, not me, not yet. We’ve had our cancer.

See, when our girl was one, Seriousimo had testicular cancer. He’s had myriad other woes since. I’m the well one; I’m the one who ribs him about my good health and his wretched health. It’s our schtick. Suddenly, the world was upside down.

*

Before I know it, I’m approaching the breast cancer production line, about to benefit from its well-oiled machinery. All those pink ribbons, biggest morning teas, rose-hued cricketers: it’s led to processes and technologies that mean Australia is really good at breast cancer.

How good? One in nine will be diagnosed; 95% will make a full recovery.

To be on the right side of that statistic, I meet with Dr Rippy. Not an encouraging name for an obstetrician, but thankfully she’s a breast surgeon. She speaks kindly. She talks to me about “your cancer”. The last time a medical professional spoke to me in the second person possessive it was about “your baby”. I think incongruous thoughts all the time now, and this is no exception: how short the timeline from “your baby” to “your cancer”. From me as a fecund, breastfeeding new mother, to me as a breast cancer patient.

She tells me I’ll be fine. She places me firmly on the production line.

The day before surgery I’m lying in an ultrasound room, breasts akimbo, being ‘marked’ by Matt. ‘Marking’ is a hi-fi, lo-fi combination of techniques designed to help surgeons ensure they’re removing what they’re supposed to remove (see earlier mention of no palpable lump). Radioactive isotope is injected around the lesions (that’s the hi-fi bit). A fancy German machine takes lots of pictures. (Another incongruous thought: we always feel better when the machines are German.) I’m told that when Dr Rippy operates, she will use a Geiger counter to make sure she’s removing all the bad cells that have been marked by the isotopes. On top of that (here comes the lo-fi bit), the girls are covered in marker pen hieroglyphics indicating where the knife needs to fall.

Into the ultrasound room sweeps Bruno. In hospitals, the air shifts when a consultant enters. They rarely need to introduce themselves for you to know they’re the one with the answers, the wo/man with the plan, the one to whom everyone else defers.

“Oh, you poor old sausage!” Bruno wails, squeezing my hand. I like him immediately.

“You’re in good hands, you know. Dr Rippy’s done the right thing, she’s called in the A-team. You have Bruno,” he says in an affectionately self-referencing way, “and you have Matt. This is all new to you, but we do this all day, every day. You’ll be fine.”

As I change back into my clothes in the cubicle, newly injected with radiation and covered in texta, I have a little cry for all the women in the world who have lesions and nasty cells, but who aren’t lucky enough to have Bruno and Matt bringing their A-game all day, every day, and Dr Rippy, and private clinics and quiet, private north shore hospitals. And diligent GPs, and sympathetic employers, and Medicare safety nets, and private health insurance, and quietly humming German machines.

*

Yesterday, for all intents and purposes and pending pathology, my cancer was exorcised. I should say excised, but I prefer the terminology one would use for Satan or a random demon. Cast out. Some sent off for testing, some dumped in a path waste bin. Good frigging riddance to it. Bon f*cking voyage. It was never supposed to be there, anyway.

“It isn’t unfair,” said Teresa in the movie Calvary, commenting on the death of her husband in a car accident. “It is just what happened.”

Is this fair or unfair? Rationally, we know there’s no such thing. In moments of smallness, I wish it was happening to someone else. But: one in nine? It’s safe to say it is. It’s happening to lots of women, all the time.

“You’re so lucky they found it! So lucky!” I am told this often. I want to slap the well-meaning people who say it. I don’t feel lucky that it was found. I feel like my little family has had rotten health luck. Seriousimo’s father is being treated for bowel cancer. Our girl’s been unwell for months. Oh, and did I mention that WE’VE HAD OUR CANCER. Sh*t luck, thus far. We’re being served a meal of more, and I’m supposed to eat it and feel lucky? One day. Not yet.

If I feel at all lucky, this is why: I am a woman of means, with otherwise good health. I live in an affluent country with a robust healthcare system. I live in a big city with my choice of excellent hospitals and doctors. I live in a country where people have raised money, run marathons, bought ribbons. Where dedicated researchers work overtime. Where sick women have offered themselves up to participate in medical trials, and skilled, dedicated doctors and nurses have run those trials.

Collectively, that adds up to 95% worth of luck. I’ll take those odds to the races.

Say my name say my name…

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There are many strange things about being a parent in hospital with a sick child, but the strangest is this: you get more kids.

So many people – medical professionals I’ve never met before – call me “Mum” now that I live at The Children’s Hospital, Westmead. I feel like some sort of super-fertile Duggar with a scrubs-clad insta-family. Wouldn’t their mums be offended if they heard these people calling me “Mum”? Is it that hard to stick out your hand, say your name, wait for me to tell you mine, and then use it?

You find La in not-best humour. I told a registrar this morning that “We will not be continuing this conversation.” (I know! Can you believe it? I said that to a DOCTOR!!!) I marched up to the driver-side window of a man who honked his horn in the enclosed car park — scaring me so thoroughy I almost needed some of the sick female Junior Cost Centre (JCC’s) nerve drugs and an adult nappy — and shouted, “Pull your head in…it’s a HOSPITAL!”

For light relief I abscond to linen closets to watch Amy Schumer. A trip to Westfield Parramatta yesterday bore fruit: a muscle-melting Chinese massage and DVDs of seasons one and two of Masters of Sex. That Michael Sheen is srs thinking woman’s crumpet; so very much unresolved sexual tension in one medical body.

None of that going on here, though:we’re all business. The little girl is very unwell and faces a long road to recovery. Goals include managing to walk more than 10 metres unassisted, sitting upright for longer than half an hour, dressing herself, and remembering my and Seriousimo’s phone numbers, which she used to be able to reel off at lightning speed.

Her Amplifed Musculoskeletal Pain Syndrome (AMPS — diagnosed last Thursday by Dr Jeffrey “Great”ow) requires an intense regime of nerve medication, physio and hydrotherapy. So you’ll find us here, she and me, in our six-bed room for at least the next couple of weeks.

Yep, what we gain in medical expertise and treatment we most certainly sacrifice in privacy. JCC had to hear the troubled young teen a few beds over regaling her social worker with tales of how her father calls her “fat and a c***”. The responsible allied health professional in the picture should have taken that conversation to a room with a door.

The tiny Spidermen, fairies and Batmen I pass in the vast atrium make me feel like a lumbering Gulliver. They bounce along in beanies with their IV poles and naso-gastric tubes, singing Pixar songs. So many tiny superheroes waging war against unspeakable f*cking illnesses, flanked by worried parents in abayas, rats tails, neck tatts, stilettos, hijabs, suits and ties. That’s the thing about illness — it doesn’t discriminate, it’s blind to all the distinctions we’re often unable to see past.

And me? We’ll I’m no-one’s muse right now. My grooming extends to a daily wash, my nutrition needs are met by Starbucks Mocha Frappuccinos (the “S” word, I know…but needs must, people, needs must) and my only nod to fashion is making sure I’ve sponged the food stains off my favourite red fleece each morning. I know — who are you and what have you done with La Triv?!?

Leaning in

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My back’s sore. Scrunching, plastic-covered mattresses on pull-out beds are not conducive to fresh-as-a-daisy sleep. I’m weighing up the grim reality of the shared parents’ shower against languishing in my clammy, personal hygiene-free zone for a few more minutes. Maybe longer.

I’m at The Children’s Hospital, Westmead, with a sick daughter. I’ve tried to tell her that she’s “sore, not sick”, but she’s 10, can’t walk, can’t go in a car, feels constant nausea. Her pretty little face is pale with pain. The “re-framing” that’s the bread and butter of my professional life isn’t washing this particular issue away.

Seven weeks ago, on a Sunday, she complained of a “sore tummy”. I told her she’d be right. Her father gave her a Buscopan, asked lots of kindly questions and cuddled her. 

The next day her lunchbox came home untouched. And the next day, we went to RPA, and the whiplash-inducing ricocheting between emergency rooms, adolescent wards, infectious wards, waiting rooms, post-op recovery wards, specialist centres and ambulances began. 

Her slight body has offered up eight sets of blood work and three urine and faecal tests. It’s posed patiently for a CT scan, an MRI, an abdominal x-ray. And it has lay prone for a gastroscopy, four ultrasounds and a colonoscopy. 

And you’ve guessed by now where this is going: right now, some of the best paediatric medical minds in Australia don’t have a blind clue what’s wrong with her. 

They do know she has coeliac disease. Investigate anyone that many times from mouth to anus and you’ll find something. It’s just a shame for her that “something” ended up meaning no cake (real cake) for the rest of her life. 

But in the grand scheme of all the things that are shames right now, that’s the least of them. 

The larger ones are: the pain. Oh, and did I mention the pain? And the surgeon who – carelessly, within her earshot – told us, “We’re seeing this abdominal thing more and more in bright, high-achieving teen and pre-teen girls.” What the..?!? In other words, I can’t find the cause, so to save my medical face, my diagnosis is that she’s making it up.

We broke up with him. 

We’ve got big love though; we’re polygamous with many others, always hopeful that the next specialist — the next brainbox we’re sent to, or who walks through the ward door — will be the one to fix it, crack the code, find the silver bullet, blow us away with his or her brilliant diagnostic mind.

A tall, motherly young doctor with red hair and pale skin treated her last night. She was from Ireland. She reminded me of a girl I went to school with, someone I thought was the very best of people, and I told the doctor so. I also told her she was beautiful and then I cried. She responded, “Oh, bless you…we’ll keep you!”

I’m grateful for acts of kindness like that: people “checking in” (and I don’t mean in the Facebook sense), friends bringing presents for my daughter, offering us meals and to take care of my son. Many of these friends face significant challenges of their own. Though, who in middle age doesn’t?  

Each time someone asks how we’re going, I respond in one of three ways. I deliver the latest “news review”, a succinctly edited verbal digest of the symptoms, treatments and next steps. Or I tell them I don’t really want to talk about it. Or I cry. The point at which a compassionate inquiry intersects with an image of her pain-creased face and the dull torture of not knowing is most often a teary one.

I’m grateful too for flashes of my little girl of old. A quirky observation about a fellow patient’s shoes. A jocular re-telling of a wisecrack from her beloved (former) Top Gear hosts. A flash of energy big enough to make her want to grab her dog’s front paws and pull him upright for a dance. 

There are things I hate. Being called “Mum” by medical professionals who are not my children. Sleeping next to snoring strangers. The smell of other people’s babies’ shitty nappies being changed two metres from my head. The interminable waiting — for appointments, results, consultants to visit the bedside. Us delivering the symptoms synopsis, again and again. The drugs treating symptoms and not a cause — because the cause, whatever it is, is all bushel and no light. The drugs we say yes to in desperation, even though the thought of them going into a 10-year-old’s body scares us witless. Her plaintive sobs, angry railing, jarring yelps from pain. The helpless, helpless feeling of being the parent of an unwell child.  My irrational anger, always white hot, often misdirected, sometimes blinding.

There’s always someone doing it tougher, I tell myself. I’m not sure we “deserve” to be here. Kids’ hospitals are places of great energy – the life force of children, even sick ones, is almost palpable here – but they are places too of unspeakable sadness. A sweet girl opposite my daughter in a previous ward — gamely studying for her HSC — evidently had breathing problems.  Turns out she has cystic fibrosis and a life expectancy of 38 at best. And we’ve seen even worse than that. 

Australia’s treasurer, like many of his colleagues in government, sees the world in black and white. “Lifters” and “leaners”. One lot are good, one lot are bad. Such dichotomies ignore life’s inevitable and essential shades of grey. They make us think it’s good to soldier on alone, bad to ask for help. They make people who find themselves needing to lean – on family, friends, employers, ambulances, the public and private health systems – question their right to be at an angle, asking someone else to help take their weight.

We’re in a leaning phase right now. We don’t know how long it will last. We don’t know what made it happen. We don’t know much at all. But at the end of the day the only black and white that matters is “sick” and “well”. And hopefully we’re leaning towards the latter.

Big dacks and dog days

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Endorphins rule!

sunrise

“What were you doing up at sunrise on a hot, late-summer morning, La Triv?”, I hear you ask.

Walking, that’s what! Shedding some kgs! Soon La’ll have to run around in the shower to get wet, as regular reader Angelos Lobos in Olde Dublin Town would say.

Which means that stealing this motherlode of much-kneaded, glutentastic, carbo-loaded goodness from the morning doorway of my local caf was not an option.

sonoma

That’s because CARBS ARE BAD.  Did you hear me?  CAAARRRBS AAAAARE BAAAAAAD. They’re up there with IS and Tony Abbott.

The carbs in pink drinks, however, are just fine. That’s because Special Occasion Carbs (SOCs, not to be confused with FoPs) have no fatsoid particles in them whatsoever.

seriousimo pink drink

Know you all love a bit of man/cocktail p*rn, so here’s Signor Seriousimo clutching a pink drink on a recent, carb-free (for me) visit to LuMi. It’s great, get yourself there yesterday.

Part of the reason for the arguably excessive sunrise-trotting and carb-shunning is this: the emergence of yet another Alarming Pant Trend.

1802 pants

While these palazzo-dacks-on-steroids might look like they’d hide the sins of a bakery’s worth of finger buns, it’s actually the opposite: one has to be a srsly bony-assed set of angles to pull this look off. It’s enough to make me doubt the tastemaking skills my beloved J. Crew.

So, with the help of Jack at Vision Personal Training, La Triv is being super on-track about getting skinny healthy so she can be super on-trend about getting into the finger-bun pants.

A recent brekkie with baked eggs and beans and a big fat old ‘shroom at Illy Hill Cafe in Marrickville got the Jack stamp of approval.

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That is, except for the sourdough toast. Had to leave that, which made La feel bad for the poor people who can’t afford fancy Sydney artisan breads.

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Illy Hill’s amazing.  It’s staffed by earnest, quiet men on the downhill slope from 35, with tidy lad-buns and flat caps, searching diligently for kale juice glasses to clear and napkins to straighten.

They even do funky things with pineapple tops and cardboard coffee trays.

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And, because they’re betting men, they wager that any woman or man who loves wholesome food and a good grind is likely to love the young Robert Redford as well. (As opposed to the older, craggy Robert Redford who’s had bad face work.)

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Speaking of grumpy sods earnest men, Seriousimo has been very, ahem, serious of late. La promised him that ripping up a bunch of stinky old carpets in our new palazzo* was the right thing to do, because the floors they concealed were sure to be clean, varnished and character-filled (read: requiring no reparative investment).

Ah…not so much, as it turned out.

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Seriousimo is Not Happy. La told him to belt up, that it was my own “captain’s call”, and that another pink drink would calm him right down.

As Florence would say, the dog days are over.

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*More on this in a future post. Promise.

Looking, wearing, reading, eating…

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Srsly, this place is so old skool rustic pretty.

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And like Cindy Crawford in her prime, it’s impossible to take a bad shot of this grand old dame.

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Behold the valley of love:

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La Virgin Mary oversees the vistas, providing her holy blessings from the protective vantage point of a vandal-proof cage.

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Spending time with so many Friends of Putin (FoPs) here in Zermatt, one starts to question one’s normal evening alpine get-up of ski jacket over boyfriend jean. Those FoPs really put that oligarch cash to good use on the plastic surgery and style fronts.

So this year the ante’s been upped: here’s what we’re wearing. Well, avant and après anyhow.

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This is la favourite J Crew cashmere festive jumper, très boxy, worn with the J Crew endless shirt for awesome buverage (bum coverage) and just a touch of Jenna style.

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Prior to the trip, La stocked up on jumpers from ye olde J Crewe. Loving this (very moi) blue turtleneck — great too for hiding the turkeyneck. Goes smasho with these elastical-waisted Witchery dacks and la favourite walrus-tooth Pucci chain: ghetto fabulous.

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Loving too these new J Crew sparkletops with super split sides. Working well with los sparkle neckpieces. Good over the old endless shirt.

LIVING in these J Crew Turner pants:

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Unlike my good friend JPong, La’ve never mastered the art of the stylish puffer. This old Country Road job is doing for now.

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And once we get to Londra next week La’ll shimmy on into this new J Crew stadium cloth coat.

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All in all,  it’s come together as a pretty good snowy capsule. One good thing I’ll say about the FoPs (and there’s probably only the one): they make you raise your style game.

These are my firm friends: what they lack in style they make up for in toastiness.

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Now — what we’re reading. This is passable.

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This is amazing: how can you go wrong with main characters called “Bastard” and “Darling”?

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And I almost felt physical pain and grief when this was over — La’s best read in years.

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Bloody love that Kris Kindle.

Since his noggin injury, male JCC has been confined to quarters, and me with him. Thank ye gods for Lego. Our incarceration gave La all the time and excuses needed to photograph three quarters of the travelling wardrobe.

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Our diet has known better days. I blame old Seriousimo; he gets to Switzerland and nutritionally morphs into his former three-year-old self. It’s Haribo and Milka all the way.

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Matterhorn-shaped (and -sized) pizzas aren’t great for the midsection either: thank the blessed Virgin Mary for the drapey, elasticised pant.

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And the loin fruits have fallen in love with these: “spitzbubes”. *sniggers*

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Seriousmo has man flu. We’ll need all the blessings of the gods and the Virgin Mary to help us on that front. Mentally repeating wedding vowels: in sickness and in health…

Off for a Kir Royale or drei… x

Draaaamaaaa!

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It’s a busy time of year for los Swiss Alps; standing room only on the Matterhorn Express, even for pampered Euro pooches.

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One traveller’s placement of his board right in the middle of the aisle did little to disabuse la famiglia Trivialista-Seriousimo of its low opinion of the “bum crew” (what we call snowboarders, as that’s what they spend all their time on).

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To pass los hours, La deployed a fish plait in the female Junior Cost Centre’s (JCC’s) hairs. She was unusually impressed. My lack of hair-faffing skills are a constant source of disappointment to her.

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We arrived in Zermatt to loads of snow, and equal loads of people. Lots of FoPs (Friends of Putin — our name for our Russian friends).

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Dined at one of our favourite strudel-doodle restaurants, Grill Stockhorn. All was good until both loin fruits fell asleep in their respective schnitzels.

Picked up our ski gear the next day and was slightly alarmed by the sight of these scary man pants. Srsly, they frightened my small children, and prompted more questions than Triv had the inclination to answer.

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Day two we lunched at the Cervo, a classic study in refined Alpine retro hunting kitsch.

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Parmesan fries doused in truffle oil are not what you need to kick-start a new year’s resolution to become lithe and lean. But they were worth every lard-laced mouthful.

Remember La said old Europa does a good line in doors? That theme continued, with a few quirky twists.

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Took in some general prettiness.

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This used to be a bar.

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This FoP pooch was looking super comfy on the picturesque trail to Riffelalp. His mum was about 22 with a full facelift already under her size 0 Bottega belt, and his dad was pushing 73. That ill-gotten oligarch cash sure comes in handy when snagging trophy wives and maintaining the body temperature of sledding chihuahuas.

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Then, two days ago, all the pampered pooch-spotting came to a crashing halt as the male JCC skied into a pylon and concussed himself. (Yes, he was wearing a helmet; one that now sports a huge ding.) A quick inspection by an über düber Swiss mountain paramedic resulted in the calling of a chopper to take him to hospital in Visp (one hour and eight minutes away by train, eight minutes away by chopper, apparently).

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Beaucoup de draaaamaaa! Nothing stops a mountain full of schussing skiers quite like the emergency landing of a bright red medi-chopper. Seriousimo loved the flight though; especially after his insurers said all was sweet at their end.

Male JCC’s room had a better view than the penthouse at RPA.

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Thankfully he received a clean bill of health after six hours and CHF274,870.

Can pretty much guarantee his mountain rescue story will get the Year 2 “what did you do on your holidays?” news round-up off to a cracking start in 2015.

Auf wiedersehen – for now x