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Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Lucy's Last Minute Gift Ideas.

Holy Mother of Christ (not blasphemy, she deserves a mention at this time of year), it is Christmas Day tomorrow. Are you ready for it? Are you prepared for a midnight visit from the man who sees you when you’re sleeping and knows when you’re awake (don’t get me started on how creepy THAT is)? Have you stretched your stomach in preparation? Have you decorated a dead tree? Have you made sure someone is bringing the cranberry sauce?


I’m pretty lucky this year, because I have somewhat managed to talk my way out of buying most Christmas presents. This is how the phone conversation went with my sister last week:

Me: Have you got me a present yet?
Laura: Nup. Have you got me a present yet?
Me: Nup….. Wanna just go out for lunch?
Laura: Yep.

So that was easy. And thank the Mother of Christ (she’d have been in labour right about now) for my big sis, she pretty much organised the presents for Mum and Dad. My extended family do a Christmas Draw so that we all get one good quality present on the big day (as opposed to a bunch of small crap), and I finally got my gift for Uncle Ken organised yesterday (does anyone else find Uncles in general to be just about IMPOSSIBLE to buy for??). However, chances of me waking up tomorrow morning and remembering at least one relative that I’ve forgotten to buy for are high. So I have a back-up plan.

Lucy’s last minute gift ideas.

(And by last minute, I mean last minute. The final desperate sixty seconds before the allocated gift-giving time.)

1. A rap song.
Who doesn’t love a good bit of white-girl-improvised -rap? Take the relative’s name and drop a beat. Go with the flow and start rhyming, yo (see how easy it is?) and if all else fails, just use the lyrics of a Christmas Carol with a few swear words. “Dashing through the motherf*ckin’ snow, ___(insert relative’s name here)____ is a HO HO HO” (don’t be afraid to be offensive, it’s what Eminem would do).*

2. An interpretive dance. 
While we are on the improvised-art bandwagon, why not do a contemporary movement piece based on the recipient’s life? From foetus ** to teenager to adult, all explained through the magic of spontaneous dance. You don’t need music, just hum a bit. And always end on your knees, reaching up to the sky, and then curling into a ball (so the audience knows the majesty has come to a conclusion).

3. Batteries.
Always a handy gift, and always something that you’d already have on hand in a gift-giving emergency (i.e. in the back of the remote). Write a gift-tag that says ‘present not included’.

4. A block of wood.
My clever Uncle gave this as a present to my Mum one year, with the ominous promise ‘I will carve this into ANYTHING you want it to be’ (I do believe that block of wood remains as a block of wood somewhere in the shed, but perhaps one day it’ll reach its’ full potential…). You surely will be able to find a block of wood somewhere. If an emergency, cut off an unimportant table leg or cupboard door.

5. A list of self-improvement tips.
Someone I know – and for the life of me I can’t remember which of my fabulous friends it is (do speak up!) – received this gift once. A housemate gave him a list of ‘Things You Could Improve About Yourself’. It included something like ‘you tend to sweat a lot on your forehead… perhaps you could work on that’. This could be a brilliant idea for a relative, and at the very least, will make for a fun family argument.

And a final tip: If you have forgotten to buy wrapping paper, just grab some paper that says ‘Happy Birthday’ on it, and add in ‘…Jesus’.

Demetri Martin and Jesus. Both excellent thinkers.

So there is no need for you to panic tomorrow, I’ve got you covered. Just sit back, relax, don’t choke on the penny in the Christmas Pudding, and enjoy the moment of gift-giving. If you end up with the worst gift of all, think of it as the gift that keeps on giving… Give it to someone else next year. And remember that the gifts aren’t even the best part. After all, Christmas is about spending time with loved ones and celebrating the birth of the man who gave us so much.


Merry Christmas everyone!

*In case you were wondering why I seem to be so brilliant at the rap stuff, I was actually kind of a big deal when I was fourteen. I was a rap singer in a girl band. We performed strictly covers at Junior School socials around Adelaide, and I channelled Lil Kim and Missy Elliot. Boom.

**I have actually been involved in a friend’s contemporary dance piece where I danced the part of a foetus. Or more specifically, an abortion. So if you need any foetal choreography tips, I’m your gal.

By Lucy Gransbury. Follow her on Twitter @LucyGransbury. Or follow her in real life. She is probably writing a rap song for her Uncle Ken.

Monday, December 16, 2013

How the f**k is it December?

I woke up this morning in the same fashion that I have been waking up for the last two weeks. Not by sneezing straight up into the air, fortunately (though the colder months do sometimes lead me to wake myself up in this charming sneeze-shower fashion). This morning, just as I have every day since December 1, I woke up with a shocking question echoing through my empty (and often hungover, thanks to the Silly Season) brain.

How the fuck is it December?

Does anyone else feel like they blinked and this year went past? Some of the weeks got ripped off the calendar, surely. Yesterday it was August, when I was whinging about the cold weather (and sneeze-shower wake-up calls). The day before that was April, when I was ‘preparing’ for the coming winter by eating twice as much, in the manner of a bear preparing to hibernate (note that I will use absolutely any excuse to eat extra food, including ‘phantom pregnancy’, ‘acting exercise’, ‘starving children in Africa’, ‘because I felt like it’ and ‘it looked delicious’). Two weeks ago, I woke up, looked at my diary, and suddenly realised it was December, with Christmas shit everywhere and social drinking events increasing by 200%.

I love Christmas, I’m just not ready for it to be here yet. Not least because I now fear that I will go to sleep on Christmas night and when I wake up it will already be the middle of 2014. I’m not done with this year yet – I haven’t even made my New Year’s resolutions for 2013. I definitely haven’t done my Christmas shopping, and I am shocked by the people who had that sorted months ago (really, stop showing the rest of us up, would ya?).

I remember saying to Mum once, “By golly gosh mumsy, I can’t believe how fast Year Seven has gone!” (In my memories, I like to pretend my youth was like an episode of The Brady Bunch and I was Cindy... but really I was more like Milhouse from The Simpsons). Mum’s response was one of the scariest things I’ve ever heard – scary because it’s turned out to be so damn true. She looked into my twelve-year-old eyes (magnified by thick Milhouse-style frames) and said, “it only gets faster from here, Luce”. And holy frigging hell, was she right.

I apparently slept through Years Nine to Eleven, because I don’t remember them much. Uni was done and dusted before I’d bought the right text books (although I did a degree in Music Theatre, so by ‘text books’, I mean ‘glitter-covered spankies’). Everything since has disappeared in a matter of naps and TV dinners. My friends keep getting engaged and mortgaged. Some of them are even having kids. I’m so behind my responsibility bell curve, I’m still yet to figure out that ‘tax deductible’ does not mean ‘free’. I’m still trying to understand that Mars Bars are not a breakfast food. I still get excited to find myself out on a school night, which should not be surprising to myself after so many years of funemployment*. I still get excited that I’m allowed to decide if I want McDonalds for dinner. Being a ‘grown-up’ is awesome... but how the hell did it happen so fast?

In my busier months (when I have MORE THAN ONE THING TO ACCOMPLISH PER DAY - it’s a frightening feeling to lushes like me), I have to turn down various opportunities with the phrase “I don’t have time”. In my slower months (aka now), I get to stop and think about that phrase. “I don’t have time”. Have time. Time is never something we have. We can’t own it. We can’t speed it up or slow it down. If you want to get really existential, you can blow your mind out by thinking about the fact that time is a man-made concept and therefore only exists if we choose to obey it**. There are only two things we can do with time – use it wisely, or watch it go past. I reckon a little bit of both is just right. Have the time of your life one day, and then let time pass you by the next. Go out for a good time, and then take time off. Take some time away from home, spend some time on yourself. Time flies, but you’ve got all the time in the world. Time is never enough. Timing is everything. Time after time after time.

However you spend it, time is the present, and the present is a gift.  A Christmas gift that comes faster every bloody year.

Alright, gotta go. Time for dinner.

*Funemployment – the name we actors have given to our daily activities. I do work very hard to chase my dreams and scrape together savings, but I also have a looooot of time for wandering through $2 shops, napping on park benches in the sun and attending any/every social event as an excuse to peel myself from the ass-dent in my couch.

** This thought is so heavy (and possibly stupid/untrue) that  it hurts my brain, but I didn’t come up with it – a student once used it as an excuse for his lateness to a class I was teaching. I retaliated with “I know you are but what am I?” because I didn’t get it.

By Lucy Gransbury. Follow her on Twitter @LucyGransbury. Or follow her in real life. She's probably got time.

Monday, December 9, 2013

Dear Homophobic Stranger.

Dear Homophobic Stranger,

I need to confess something to you. When I was nineteen, I French-kissed a chubby Colombian boy in a doorway of an alleyway. It was quite funny, really. He said to me, in a heavy Hispanic accent, "in ten seconds, you weell get zee best keess of your life. One... Two... I can’t wait to keess these lips... Three... Four... Your eyes shine like zee moon on zee water”. He finally got to ten (and I somehow managed to hold back my laughter and vomit), and we proceeded to have a fairly average and brief makeout session.

Why am I telling you this horrible piece of over-information? Because you seem to think other people’s sex lives directly affect you.

One of my favourite things about this incredibly lucky country that we live in is that everyone, even hate-filled weirdos like you, is entitled to their own opinion. You are allowed to fear whatever you want, just as I am allowed to call you a hate-filled weirdo. In the interest of free speech, I’d like to try and explain to you why there is absolutely no reason to be afraid of gay people, and how stupid it is to want to stop them from getting married.

When I was about twelve, I was telling my Mum about one of the many boys from my dancing school, and how I wanted him to marry one of the girls because they’d make a cute couple. Mum pointed out that she thought he’d grow up to be gay* (she was right, as mothers so often are). I denied Mum’s predictions, mortified at the idea. I didn’t know any gay people. How was I supposed to act around him? How was I supposed to feel? How did this affect ME? It only took five minutes of the next dance class with him for me to realise the truth – it didn’t affect me. Not even slightly. His sexuality had as much impact on me as his chosen brand of toothpaste.

Toothpaste. Sexuality. What you put in your mouth is your business.

You know what you need to realise, homophobic stranger? A homosexual person will not try to convince you to become homosexual too. It is not contagious, nor is it a conscious decision. Let me compare your irrational, unjustified fear to my own – spiders. I am absolutely fucking terrified of spiders. I still have nightmares about them a few times a week, in which groups of them try to attack me. When I walk into a room and spot one (and I have my very own Spidey Sense that allows me to feel their presence before I spot them), I will often cry, scream, vomit, or faint, or do all four at once. But here’s the thing. In all the times that they have been in the same room as me, even on the occasions they have TOUCHED me, not once has a spider ever, ever, EVER tried to talk me into becoming a spider too. Honestly, they have never done anything to warrant my fear, except be a spider. I do believe you will find similar patterns in the subject of your own unwarranted phobia.

Continuing with comparing your fear with mine, never has a spider tried to attack me either. Is this something you’re afraid of? That a gay man might try to bite you? I have encountered a lot of gay men and I have encountered a lot of spiders, and I have only been bitten by each of these species once. On the occasion that my gay friend bit me, it was because he was instructed to by a director as part of an acting scene. This had nothing to with his sexual preferences, and everything to do with him being an actor following directions, and even then, he was gentle, kind, and apologetic. Perhaps you should be scared of bizarre directors instead? 

The time that the spider bit me was not because he was trying to attack me. Despite my lifelong struggles with arachnophobia, no spider has ever run towards me with his front legs clenched into fists, ready to bash me and then suck my blood (just like they do in my dreams). In reality, the time I got bitten was because a spider was in my bed, and I lay down on top of it. He got confused and scared, and he lashed out in protection of his own life. I forgave him, because it was my fault for scaring him. If you were to lie down on top of a gay man in your bed, he might get confused and scared too. Homosexual people, like most decent human beings, will not attack you if you do not provoke them. The sad truth is, some gay people have had to deal with provocation their whole lives, and yet they end up attacking themselves, because people like you make them feel unnecessarily ashamed.

On Saturday, the first same-sex marriages took place in Australia. Those couples, after a lifetime of waiting to be allowed to get this far, still have to wait to find out if their marriages are considered legally binding. I just cannot fathom WHY THE FUCK anyone is against it. I’m happy for spiders to go and live their own happy lives, because it does NOT AFFECT ME. Two people getting married does not affect you anymore than two tipsy nineteen year-olds making out in a darkened doorway. It does not affect your marriage (unless your partner believes in supporting same-sex marriage and it’s a point of contention between you – in which case, they are way too good for you, and you should hold on to them as best as you can). It does not affect your sex life. You are welcome to explain to me in what ways it DOES affect you, because I just do not understand it.

Is it a religious thing? If so, it is not something I am equipped to speak much about, given that I am not really a religious person. However, I would’ve thought that the Big Guy upstairs would be about as happy for you to hate a group of people for their sexual preferences as he was about Hitler not liking brunettes**. Is it because you worry about a child having two parents of the same sex? Children have been successfully raised by same-sex couples for many years, just as well as they have been raised by single parents. The only people we should worry about starting a family are the ones who will encourage hatred and bullying in their own children. Teach your child to love people for their souls, not their sexual preferences. While you’re at it, teach yourself about it too. Your child might bring home a partner of the same sex one day, and it would be a bit awkward for everyone if you were to scream, vomit, cry and faint in one go.

There is no need for you to be afraid, nor is there a need for you to hurt the people you are afraid of by not supporting their right to be happy. I don’t ever hurt spiders, even the one that bit me. I set them free and encourage them to live their happy lives, and stay out of my bed. You should do the same for the lovely gay people you’re so afraid of. Although, I can’t imagine any lovely gay people would want to be in bed with a homophobic stranger. They generally save their love for other lovely gay people. Which they will keep on doing, whether you allow them to get married or not. That’s the truth. Men and women will continue to sleep with each other in various patterns, positions and places, as will you. How do you like to do it? Actually, never mind. I don’t want to know.

Your sex life is absolutely none of my business.

Lots of  love (gay, straight, bi-sexual and otherwise),

*This has absolutely nothing to do with the fact that he took dance lessons. As a performing artist, I do meet many gay people in the industry, but there are also many straight men, just as there are gay men in every industry in the world. You can bet your bottom dollar that my boys will be doing ballet lessons from age three. If they do grow up to be gay, I’ll know it’s because I’m a lucky parent, not because they have a nice arabesque. 

**Okay, no one is as bad as Hitler, but my point is to be accepting and full of love. If I can do it for hairy, venomous spiders, you can do it for beautiful humans with hearts of gold and sexual preferences that are none of your business. 

By Lucy Gransbury. Follow her on Twitter @LucyGransbury. Or follow her in real life. She's probably brushing her teeth... but that's none of your business.