Someone asked me how I would describe Australia's national identity. It's a tough question given there are 21 million people living here and 21 million different identities.
I wouldn't have been able to answer this question if I hadn't lived in other countries. Sometimes, being away gives you a better perspective about what your homeland represents.
Bibi from Bibi has the last word and Simplicity from Chasing Wentworth Miller gave me this Honest Scrap Award and when I saw this picture, it actually reminded me of how I would describe the Australian spirit. So, in answer to your question Sarah, I would say - unpretentious, self depreciating, funny, tough, classless, colourful, down to earth, hard working, genuine, devoid of excessive displays, understated but still in need of some repair work to the collective spirit on some issues.
Anyway, according to the rules of this Award, I am meant to share ten true things about me (as opposed to Australia). Now, if you want the really juicy stuff you will have to bribe me first -
1. I consider myself to be worldly and open minded but I'm still a prude to some. This first became clear to me when I was just out of my teens and in London. A girl I met had invited me out with two guys who had bought some of her art. One was from Panama and the other was American (the speech writer for an ex US President). Somehow, after dinner, I found my wide eyed, faux-sophisticated self at a swingers party. I am sure the pictures are on the web somewhere. I am the only one who is fully dressed, clutching her purse and crying for her mother. I can tell you, my education at a convent school in my formative years was sorely lacking.
2. As a child I was convinced I was going to be a nun and have a clear path to eternal life. I was going to be Sr Angelica Therese Mary Francis Anastasia (give me a break I was a kid). My dreams all turned sour when I went to high school, discovered cute boys and that same path is now heavily littered with debris. However, the person I still most admire in the world is a nun.
3. I really dislike cats. I like dogs. I've never picked up a cat, let alone patted one or whispered sweet nothings in its ear. My potential cat loving days were ruined when I was four and we happened to be at a Chinese Restaurant when someone jokingly said something they shouldn't have...
4. Food has to have a certain crunch factor to get my attention. Raw vegetables rather than cooked ones. Unripe fruit over too ripe fruit. Toast rather than bread. Hard centres rather than soft centres. Well done meat instead of rare. Lettuce with everything. And sauces with nothing. I've been known to make Executive Chefs cry. Just because I like simple food. Slow food. No fluff. Except that is, when I cook it for others. Then I am like Nigella Lawson on smack. Over the top and over done. A walking contradiction.
5. I am an introvert. Even though personality profiles, Myers Briggs tests (ENTJ) and my friends say otherwise. It's just that I have always been in positions which require an outgoing personality. I recall when my daughter was eight I was distressed about having to speak to a group of 150 people. She offered to do it for me. She regards public speaking as easy. I regard the thought of death as easier.
6. I prefer non fiction to fiction. I celebrate the fact we each have a story to tell. Our own. Those around us are part of our story but we alone are the authors. We may not always choose how our story unfolds, but our character is ours, we choose how prominent we let the secondary characters become and how and to whom we tell our story.
7. I am happiest creating something. Anything. I see everything in colour. In auras, makeup, decorating, fashion, painting, writing, nature, whatever. It's a beautiful world as long as it's colour co-ordinated...it's an illness....I tell you.
8. I use Australian slang. Had I not gone overseas to live and had it not been repeatedly pointed out to me that I used strange words, I would have argued that I never use Aussie slang. These are some of the expressions that slip into my conversation - she'll be right, mate, Fair Dinkum, no worries, bloke, chook, fair go, G'day, shonky, whinger, struth. Check here if you want to find out what they mean.
I'm also too verbose which you already know but I have to tell you this story. I was in New York at an Irish bar. The barman said, "what can I get you Mike?" The first time I ignored him. Then he was Mike this and Mike that. I finally said "why are you calling me Mike?" Apparently his favourite film was Crocodile Dundee and every time they said mate he thought they were saying mike. Then a guy tried to pick me up because he thought I looked like Olivia Newton John (female, blonde and Australian and there the similarity ends). While I was flattered, it was the impetus I needed to give up wearing spandex and headbands (think back to Lets Get Physical if you need a visual reminder).
9. I think there is a skeleton in my family tree. Rather than having German and British heritage, I believe there is an Italian hiding there somewhere. Italy is the place I feel most comfortable (of the places I have visited) other than in Australia. It's my dream to live in southern Italy for a year or two before I die. If I can't do that then it's New York again for completely different reasons unless someone has a better offer.
10. When I doodle I only draw musical treble and bass clefs and flowers. Nothing else. Who knows why?
I am not going to pass on the award to anyone else but feel free to post something similar if you wish. Honesty is the best policy. After all, my favourite person, Sr Clare, told me so and while she may have misguided me on a few things, I do know that some things she said were definitely fair dinkum.
I would like to tell you about two Aussie blogs owned by June Saville. You will find lots of Aussie stories there - 70 plus and still kicking and Journeys in Creative Writing the latter features June's wonderful Aussie mystery novel, Paternity.