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My electricity bill is what?!?

1 Sep

Excuse me but may I ask when electricity became a bloody luxury item?

My electricity bill for winter is $1025! What the hell?

This is just ridiculous. Not too long ago a big bill would have been in the four-hundreds. And now that electricity is privatised it has become a luxury item.

So my clever strategy of getting up and down constantly night after night turning heaters on and off to save money obviously didn’t work. And we live in a small house. We don’t even have a dishwasher. It doesn’t make sense. How can we afford a bill like this? And electricity is meant to become even more expensive? How? Why? It doesn’t make sense.

I have three children and we have had the worst winter when it comes to illness. We started off well. I turned the heaters on for a hour to warm up their bedrooms and then I turned them off and gave them all extra blankets. They all got sick. Giovanni was first. He has the family weak chest. He got a terrible cold and I turned his heater on every night until he was better. My healthy kids stuck to one hour at bedtime to warm up the room and on particularly chilly nights I set my alarm for 2am and 3am, turning them on and off for another hour.

My husband and I did without. We froze. We shivered dressed like we were going skiing.

Then my husband became really ill. He developed a terrible flu and spent a few days dragging himself to work. As soon as he’d arrive home he’d fall into bed and I turned his heater on until he was better.

It’s was just a nightmare.

Then we all got gastric flu a couple of times each. The charming strain of gastric flu this year was so severe it involved twelve hours of vomiting, twelve hours of the runs, fever and lethargy. Our rooms had to be heated!

You’d think that privatising electricity would inspire competition. Perhaps not yet. My hope is that just like the price of flying, electricity prices are forced down by increased competition. I mean, it’s not like it’s become more expensive to provide electricity. If anything we should be better at it.

I know we should all be using less electricity to help the environment but as with everything that is ideal, my primary concern is my health and the health of my children and there is no way we can cope with another bill like this.

My friends have started texting me their bills and it seems I got off lightly.

Let’s get real. Electricity shouldn’t be a luxury.

If I can’t pay this bill, will they turn my electricity off? Should I delay paying the school fees that are already late and pay the electricity bill instead? Is it worth fighting it? Does the electricity ombudsman do any good?

Average families can’t afford bills like this. We are all working as much as we can, juggling bills, trying to keep our children happy and healthy and we’re just getting slammed at every turn.

Healthy food – expensive. Electricty – expensive. Petrol – expensive. No wonder many Australian families are living in poverty, forced to get food from charitable organisations.

I’ll be able to pay the bill but it’ll hurt and I will have to delay paying my son’s school fees. I’ll have to do a very small grocery shop that week (if at all) and now that Spring is here I can always pray for warmer weather (although on the first day of Spring we woke up to cars covered in ice).

Oh my God, I’m capable of road rage!

23 Jun


I was driving my children home from school this afternoon. It’s my favourite time of the day. We’re together in the car and they’re telling me about their day. Oftentimes we’re singing along to a song on the radio, being silly and looking forward to getting home.

I was navigating my car down a narrow street that leads from the school to the main road. Due to cars parked on either side it’s often necessary to pull over slightly and stop to let cars through and wait your turn.

I noticed a hearse and several cars with their lights on coming from the opposite direction. I immediately pulled to the side to allow them through. I had no intention of moving until they had all passed so they could all stay together. It was then that I heard a car horn blare behind me.

I looked in my rear view mirror, assuming it wasn’t directed towards me (I was pulled over for a funeral procession, after all) and noticed a dark hatchback with an irate young lady behind the wheel, clearly annoyed at my decision to let the funeral procession through.

No sooner had I realised that she WAS directing that obnoxious noise at me that she let rip again.

My blood boiled.

My children were in the car so I wasn’t able to let loose with the expletives crashing around my head. What a little bitch!

She honked several times – long, angry honks. I’ve never heard a more irritating noise. She’d accidentally purchased a car with a honk that reflected her personality perfectly – annoying, impatient and wanting a smack upside the head.

I glared at her in my rear view mirror but the stubborn set of her jaw told me she wasn’t going to let up. I began to inch forward. I wanted to let all the funeral cars through but I just had to drive away because I was about to jump out of my car, stalk up to her window and scream in her stupid face.

I managed to get through and left her behind. As I drove ahead I could hear her honking at other cars. What, the grieving relatives are delaying your appointment at the local spray tan clinic? She didn’t look like a doctor rushing to save a patient’s life. Why was waiting in the traffic for two minutes such an imposition to her?

I made it to the main road and joined the queue waiting to turn left. She pulled up behind me. I HAVE NEVER FELT ANGRIER IN MY LIFE.

I’m a traffic reporter in another life so I’m usually patient and forgiving of other people’s driving mistakes but her behaviour was just intolerable.

I had already made several assumptions about her personality based on her behaviour so far and it didn’t improve when I looked at her in my rear view mirror and saw her directing verbal abuse at me.

I will never know how I managed to sit there and do nothing. I was smokin’ pissed. I kept glancing at my children and breathing deeply. Let it go Jo, let it go.

Even as I finally (thankfully) turned left I watched her turn behind me. She immediately shot into the right lane and giving me a nasty look, she zoomed past me and she was gone.

I turned left, then right and then right into my street and I noticed my hands were shaking.

Even writing this now I am so angry. How dare she? There’s so much I wanted to say to her but you can’t get out of traffic and yell at people. Even if I did, what difference would it have made? If she was that horrible about waiting two minutes for a funeral procession to get through, would she really care about anything I had to say? And how would it affect my kids to see me explode like that? I’ve always make a point of staying calm around them and especially while driving.

I almost undid all that good work today. It would have felt great to tell her she was a total bitch, that she should be ashamed of herself, that she should learn patience, especially when it was such a sensitive situation…that I wanted to rip the horn out of her car and shove it up her arse!

Phew….and after the relief of venting I would have felt a deep sense of shame for letting someone so stupid get to me. Yes, she’s an idiot. Yes, she was completely in the wrong. No, it wouldn’t have made a difference if I’d said anything (or yelled anything). But gosh, I’ve never been more tempted.

I have been irritated in traffic in the past. I was once tailgated by a taxi and flipped them the bird as they careened passed me but…the kids weren’t in the car. I felt such relief. I have yelled at the behaviour of drivers in the past. There’s a road I drive on with a lot of silly young drivers. One almost side-swiped me at the weekend and I saw my life flash before my eyes. She pulled up beside me and gave me apologetic wave. I gestured that it was okay. I was quite proud of myself. I’ve made mistakes in traffic too.

I’ve always thought that the key to safe roads (besides following all the obvious road rules) is to have manners and be forgiving. If we all took our turns and drove with patience and forgiveness we might just reduce the amount of accidents and road rage incidents on our roads.

But judging from how I am feeling now, we might need to start driving with a stress ball to squeeze when upset…mine would have been all worn out this afternoon alone. I could have thrown it at her as she passed me. No Jo! But I can dream.

Am I a twit?

23 May

I feel like a twit.

Every day I labor over Twitter. How many people are following me? Have I posted enough Tweets today?

For me, twitter is a marketing tool. I am building up my followers to increase traffic to my blog, my books and my articles. I don’t take any pleasure in it (unless my followers go up significantly).

Facebook is about friendship to me. Facebook is how I continue friendships with those I don’t have time to see. Facebook is an absolute joy and pleasure. Twitter in painful!

Still, I will persevere. I almost have a respectable 500 followers with is minimally acceptable for a blogger apparently. To achieve this I have hand to Tweet and re-Tweet constantly (sorry Laura) as well as follow as many people as Twitter will allow. You can’t follow an unlimited number of people. How many people you are allowed to follow is set as a ratio against how many are following you.

It’s a process. It’s a tedious process.

Luckily I work with some young Twitter-savvy people. One in particular showed me her 800 plus followers and showed me how to use the # (hash tag).

I feel so old. I think younger people enjoy this constant interaction. This constant feeding of thoughts and responding to the thoughts of others is tiring. I literally have to lie down and recover from a few days devoted to Twitter.

So please ‘follow’ this exhausted  and reluctant Twit. Twitter has hijacked my life




21 Jan

Tonight I witnessed my first ‘glassing’ incident.

I was at a younger friend’s birthday celebration with my sister. We pulled up to a fancy looking venue which was cleverly designed to be a mostly outdoor space. It was lovely and seemed very posh to us. It’s located out of the CBD so it’s easy to get to and park near. The night started well. We looked around impressed and considered functions we could have there in the future. Our friend had an area to herself and the DJ was playing great music. Dinner was delicious and we were starting to have fun.

It all started to go a awry when we noticed we were having trouble breathing. Apparently the clever outdoor design allows it to be one of the rare venues left where smoking is permitted everywhere. The busier it became the more clogged the air became. Then we noticed how short the girls dresses were. I turned 36 today and I know I’m older than the average patron but really…the dresses were tops to me. It looked like they had forgotten to put pants on. Not all the girls, but many of them. And the guys were so young. My sister kept commenting that she was old enough to be the mother of many of them. We’d certainly wandered into the wrong venue or ten years too late!

My sister and I were having trouble figuring out what to do. We didn’t know too many people at the party we were at, we’d eaten, my sister had a couple of drinks and one game of the pokies. We joked about going to the toilets and taking our pants off in an attempt to fit in (using our tops as dresses) but decided to start dancing instead, pants and all. The DJ who was playing great music had an annoying habit of changing songs after the first chorus. By this stage it was too loud to yell at him to play the entire song or at least most of it so we shrugged it off and kept dancing. That’s when I noticed a smaller guy walking quickly away from a menacing looking man who was in hot pursuit. They weren’t running but their fast path cut across the dance floor and got our attention. We kept on dancing and then we saw a commotion. The menacing man was gaining on the other guy and before my eyes the pursuer threw his glass with force towards the pursuee. Glass shattered everywhere. It was on.

Before I could yell for security several security and staff members came running and grabbed the glasser quickly. But he wasn’t going down without a fight. It took several security personnel and a couple of bar staff to drag him out of the venue. Unfortunately his forced exit was being made just behind where my sister and I stood gapping. I dragged her out of the way and they ejected him and fought to keep him under control until the police arrived a few minutes later. The music had been turned off as soon as the glass was thrown. Obviously there was a zero-tolerance policy to drunken violence. The DJ put on a loud song as soon as he had been dragged out and we started dancing again, half-heartedly, when I noticed the two girls my sister and I had just been dancing with sitting down next to the dance floor. One seemed to be having trouble breathing. I went over to them and the girl having trouble breathing seemed to be having a panic attack. Her friend who had obviously helped her through one before was trying to calm her down. I asked if I should get a drink and her friend asked me to bring some water. I ran and grabbed it from the bar and the girl in distress gulped some of it down. My sister made her laugh by doing some silly dancing and she was able to stand up and walk back to her table.

In the meantime a crowd had formed and was watching the police deal with the drunk-and-disorderly glasser. Lleyton Hewitt was trying to advance in the Australian Open at the time but his struggle was now being ignored, despite the giant screens located all over the venue. Several police marched in and were directed to witnesses by bar staff. They stayed for at least an hour. They had blocked off the street and while we tried to dance and move on with our night staff were on edge and everyone seemed a little shocked.

Lleyton Hewitt ended up winning his marathon match against Milos Raonic but by then we were in my car heading home. I felt unsafe. There were so many glasses everywhere. There were piles and piles of potential projectiles everywhere I turned. They should switch to plastic. They should have a non-smoking area. They should re-think their open plan design. There were some antsy looking patrons whom I suspected were friends of the now arrested glasser. The DJ kept changing the song. I didn’t recognise some of the songs. Someone breathed smoked directly into my face, making me cough. I couldn’t get out of there fast enough.

This is one venue I won’t be patronising again. I love going out and dancing and having a couple of drinks but it’s hard to find a venue in which I feel safe and comfortable. I use tops and tops, not dresses, I don’t drink (my sister just has a couple) and we just want to be able to dance and breathe at the same time. The only time we ever really have fun is when it’s our own private function or if it is a dinner-dance organised by our children’s school. Everywhere else is just so unsafe, especially venues that still use glassware and masquerade as stylish when they are in fact just havens for smokers. I’m not anti-smoker, I just want an area for non-smokers too.

Gosh, I sound so old don’t I? We were really freaked out by the violence and everything else just gave me a headache. It was just a little too much.

Now I am back home, safe in front of my computer. I have no desire to go out at night again any time soon. It’s a crazy world out there and one I no longer feel safe in. It just seems like there is so much violence and over what? I keep trying to think of what could have offended this man so much that he resorted to violence. It wasn’t even targetted violence. He managed to get glass on several people in the surrounding area. He actually spilled half his drink down my sister’s back when he pushed past us. Did the man he was chasing look at his girlfriend? Did he blurt out a racial slur? What could have gone wrong so quickly? When did glassing replace giving someone the finger or telling them to bugger off?

It’s a mystery I will leave for others to solve. My contribution will be staying as far away from similar situations as possible and begging my younger friends to stay safe when they go out. You do need to choose your venue carefully, you need to go out with people you trust and you need to leave as soon as you feel unsafe or uncomfortable. It just looked so nice when we arrived. Appearances can be deceiving, or perhaps this is a normal night for a busy venue with one freakishly strong drunk man who was greatly offended by God only knows what. I’ve never been so happy to see flashing blue and red lights. It was probably a typical Saturday night for them too. Not so  much for me.

La Dolce Vita – Jo Abi

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