Readers, a question: is it a good or a bad turn of events that Keith is immortalised this week on news.com with the caption’ Keith: not a sex pest‘?
Obviously ‘Keith: a sex pest‘ may hinder any possible future career in politics or child-care, but ‘Not a sex pest‘ is OK, right? Only a crazy, hyper-fueled sex-pest would read a newspaper so fast as to inadvertently skip the ‘not‘, right? Also, I can’t stop saying ‘sex pest’.
The piece I wrote is about taking children on a 2000 kilometre road trip with no devices or screens. Also, no anaesthetic.
Here’s a bit of it.
1. BE PREPARED TO EMBRACE THE MOTEL PARTY
At the cheap end of the spectrum, a family-room in a regional motel always has some quirky character, sometimes involving bloodstains at no extra cost. A motel party involves pizza, long-life milk and little packets of biscuits from the kitchenette.
Nights are spent lying around five-in-a-bed and watching regional TV ads, or playing weird motel room games. They are possibly the best parties ever.
2. BE PREPARED THAT YOUR KIDS MIGHT SEEM PSYCHO
‘Back seat land’ has its own language and culture, and it gets weirder with every hour that passes. Your big kids, might, for instance, stop playing Flesh Eating Zombies only to teach your youngest a poem that begins ‘Little Johnny took a match and set fire to his bum’.
Of course, you’ll be glad she’s learning poetry, and yet …
At about day three, ours start playing a game they called ‘Sleepy Byes’. One child would start a backbeat, like this: ‘Sleepy Byes, don’t go to sleep, Sleepy Byes, don’t go to sleep’ and then another would drop a rap on top, freestyling along these lines: ‘Don’t go to sleep! Never wake up! You are a zombie! Eating brains! You will die! Blood blood blood!’ and so on.
‘Bless their creative hearts,’ you will say to your husband. ‘We need to talk about Kevin,’ he’ll reply.
3. BE PREPARED TO MISTAKE YOUR HUSBAND FOR A SEX PEST
At some point Keith buys a hat and a pair of sunnies with a creepy, Disco-Stu-in-the-desert vibe from an outback servo. I’m filling water bottles and daydreaming when he suddenly appears at my elbow. My brain doesn’t register who he is for a moment, and in that brief second, his scruffy beard, bare feet, creepy sunglasses and dirty jeans ring an internal alarm. ‘Danger!’ it says. ‘Wolf Creek alert!’
A second later I realise he’s the man I married. Road trips: they can keep that dangerous spark in your marriage alive.
Also, this week a story I wrote about our Adelaide house-swap was in the Sunday Life Magazine. Less gags in that one. My editor told me to resist my urge towards cheap comedy. This made me laugh, but not as much as ‘Keith: not a sex pest.‘ I think he should put this on his gravestone, or at least his business cards.
We start the Christmas season travelling this week, from family party to family party. Should be a blast, especially the part where I park myself on my mother-in-laws couch and she makes me lots of cups of tea.
It’s been housework madness this weekend. I went deep into the crazy sort-out zone and overhauled a kids bedroom from arsehole to breakfast-time, as the Queen would say. The house is ordered, and I am buggered. Also, eldest spawn goes to camp for the first time tomorrow. I am super excited for her and I dislike her being out of my clutches for three days very, very much.
Here’s a few things I’ve been loving lately.
Watching – I am in a place of televisual joy at the minute with two fantastic shows on the go: Master Of None, Aziz Ansari’s new Netflix show, which is getting heaps of critical attention lately, deservedly so, and Josh Thomas’ third season of Please Like Me (available on iView now) which is getting no attention at all. Both seem to me to be describing the current cultural moment with such sharp sweetness and intelligence. Just so -
HOLD THE PHONE KEITH JUST DELIVERED ME A CHERRY RIPE ON THE COUCH! WHEN DID HE EVEN BUY IT???? UNEXPECTED CHERRY RIPE!!! What a man.
Where was I?
The other thing I watched and loved lately was the BBC Adaptation of Wolf Hall – you can get that one on iTunes. 6 parts of deliciously painterly, understated period drama. If you loved the book, the series absolutely lives up to it, and if you don’t know the book – go get it! You are in for a banging good time.
Speaking of banging, Rob Delaney from Catastrophe is my new favourite TV-totty. If you follow him on Twitter he says things like this:
BBC series Catastrophe was so bloody funny, and so sharp on relationships. I loves him, and I loves Sharon Horgan, with whom he co-writes the show. If Please Like Me and Master of None are like an anthropological field trip into Gen Y territory, Catastrophe is more like hanging out with people I recognise. Here’s the trailer to Season 1 (Season 2 coming soon I think.)
I am always reading several somethings, and many pass through me without leaving much of a trace (insert curry joke of your own choosing here.) But some wonderful writing has made me stop and think lately – not new stuff, but stuff I’ve loved.
Summerland, by Malcolm Knox (Sydney readers from the Northern Beaches might especially love his vivid descriptions of Palm Beach)
The Beautiful Room Is Empty ( I just adore Edmund White, and this part of his memoirs traces his life hanging with the beatniks and bohemians of 1950′s New York).
The Elena Ferrante ‘Neopolitan novels’ series (you may have heard of this sweeping, dense epic trilogy of female friendship that begins with My Brilliant Friend – an amazing read and a lovely present if you’re starting to think about Christmas)
Aloud to the kids, Keith is reading Voyage Of The Dawn Treader and I have just started Playing Beatie Bow – they are both books we adore, and the kids are liking them too. Full Mum and Dad endorsement on both.
Listening – some podcasts I love right now:
Mortified - teenage diaries. HILARI HORSE. They are all funny, but if you search for ’22 shades of awkward’ where a clueless pre-teen tries to write a sexy novel in the style of Judy Blume…well, you will thank me, and maybe even send me Cherry Ripes.
Dear Sugar - love advice from the sultry-voiced Cheryl Strayed (author of Wild) and Steve Almond. I could listen to these two read the back of the shampoo bottle, just for their gorgeous tones alone, but they are so wise, so thoughtful, and so candid – it’s a wonderful podcast to listen to. Good for the soul.
On The Media – Getting trustworthy news can be a tricky affair these days. This long-running program explores how ‘the media sausage’ is made, and is sometimes scary, always enlightening.
Rum, Rebels and Ratbags – finally, if you like a bit of Aussie history, ABC Radio’s Dom Knight and David Hunt put together a fabulously funny and quirky 10-parter on Australian colonial history. It’s an engrossing listen. Great with kids.
On Spotify I’m having a Wainwright moment – Martha, Rufus, Loudon, a little Kate McGarriagal: the whole gang. And 4 year old Pudding and I had a thrilling dance-off to Whispering Jack last week.
That’s it for me. The Cherry Ripe of unexpected delight is over and I’m off to bed, ready for a big week ahead. But first – to stand at the door and peer in at my firstborn for a while.
What are you reading/watching/listening to? Any recommendations for me?
I am very happy to be home, but after a quiet month in the bosom of my family, the pace of life back in the school term is quite hectic. Car pools! School forms! Calendar management! When I was homeschooling I did not require myself to sign any forms at all, and my starting hour was extremely civilised.
It has been lovely to see my friends again though.
Sarah came over to help me fold the massive pile of washing on my couch. But each time she unearthed a pair of my undies, she was horrified. She had a number of problems with them. Stretchiness, ragged elastic, actual holes. ‘I’m staging an intervention,’ she said.
Yesterday I found a paper bag in my letter box containing two pairs of new knickers and a letter from The Ministry of Unacceptable Underpants. ‘It has come to our attention that you have not renewed your underpants at the recommended intervals’, it began. ‘By following our quick checklist you can ensure the reliability and safety of all your underpants.’
The checklist that followed was exhaustive. It included the following questions: Can you see through any part of your underpants that were once opaque? Does the elastic around your underpants hold the garment securely in place? Is the integrity of the gusset still acceptable? Can a breeze enter through any part of your underwear?
The Ministry gave me four weeks to update my collection, after which point they advised that I should expect direct community action. I intend to follow the guidelines, and shall begin by my sending my worst pairs directly to the Ministry for disposal.
My underpants may be the worst, but my girlfriends are the best.
We have been registered on a house-swapping website for a year or so now, but have never gotten on the horse and done the actual crazy thing yet. Until this trip to South Australia.
It was a bit nerve-racking. It’s such an intense thing to do, open your home for another family to come in and live. Lots of people have made a horrified face when I told them our plans. (Hi Mum!) It is a bit full on. It forces you to up your lifestyle game. Stuff piles and junk drawers and broken handles won’t fly. We had to accept the fact that we lived like animals and create a new kind of reality.
We cleaned out all the cupboards and scrubbed all the corners. We made signs like ‘don’t climb this crumbling retaining wall!’ , ‘don’t drink from this tap!’ and ‘broken drawer: don’t open!’ We made notes in a guest book about garbage night and coffee shops and local doctors and wifi and electronics. We fixed the greywater system and the water pump and the toilet, re-soldered bedside lights and repaired outdoor furniture. We sewed curtains and hung pictures.
Everywhere we looked, there were jobs to do.
It was nuts!
And yet, it was fine. I made a little pact with myself that I wouldn’t let it become stressful, wouldn’t let it turn into a kind of ‘my god, why hast thou forsaken meeee’ kind of drama. I decided to think of it like investing in a fancy future. It was just a lot of work.
On our final weekend, Mum and Dad took the kids for a sleepover so Keith and I could go hard. He was the outside dog, I was the inside dog, and we didn’t stop for hours and hours – into the night, and through the next day. Packing, cleaning. Cleaning, packing.
(An aside – while I worked, I listened to all 13 episodes of the Charles Manson Series on the old-Hollywood podcast ‘You Must Remember This.’ This sounds so grisly, but it is, in fact, an amazing series that dissects the dark heart of the 1960′s. If you like true crime – were you a Serial fan? – this is the genre at its clever, complex best. )
Anyway, we finally made it out the door, and after a week’s outback road trip, we arrived here in Adelaide, where we are staying in the house of a family who feel like a kind of Christian parallel universe version of Keith and I. They have kids the same age, and there are so many crossovers in the kitchen and around the place, except that they are very devout, judging by their bookshelves and art, and K and I are godless dirty heathens, judging by ours. They seem really, really nice.
And – hooray! – they are happy at our house, and we are happy at theirs. It’s been fantastic. I texted a picture of Keith at their piano when we arrived, and Chisty texted me a picture of Josh at ours. They looked hilariously identical – two happy middle-aged beardy dads. It’s a very communal system – we text back and forth – does this work? Where is the remote? Garden is watered! The house-swappers feel, weirdly, like friends we have never met, which I’m actually kind of comfortable with. I’m a blogger after all – I have a number of friends like that.
Now, Keith is working again, and I am living out my home-school fantasies (Can I get a ‘Yes, ma’am!?’) (No.) We’re enjoying living life in a different place for a few weeks, and Adelaide is a lovely town. It would be financially impossible for us to rent a place like this for three weeks with actual Mickey Mouse money. Instead, house-swapping operates in a sort of honesty economy – you look after our stuff, we’ll look after yours. This place is amazing – near the tram line, ten minutes from town, and with a good coffee machine. We even have a bike with a toddler-cart! I’ve got new books, the kids have new toys, and the vege garden is producing dinner.
My friend Emma thought house-swapping sounded amazing. ‘What, so you just wear their clothes and everything?’ she asked. ‘No, Emma, ‘ I said. ‘You don’t just walk out of your own door and into every aspect of the other families life. It’s not Wife Swap. But I love you. Never change.’
House-swapping has been such a success for us that I can’t imagine holidaying another way now. Plus, we get to go home and enjoy the fancy house we slaved to create, and haven’t got to enjoy yet. Bonus!
This week, as we stand by and wait to see how things unfold with the silver fox (for non-Aussie readers, we have a new Prime Minister) I happen to be reading a really interesting book about the machinery of government.
James Button, son of the late long-time ALP politician John Button, spent a year working as a speechwriter for the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet during Kevin Rudd’s (first) stint in the top job. He wrote this memoir exploring that year, and his book is fascinating.
It’s a study of Labour Party history, an homage to his late father, and a peek into the vast, polite, obfuscatory and baffling world of the public service.
If you can’t stop watching coverage this week, or have a political animal with a birthday coming up in your life, I loved this book. I feel like I understand a little more about the system we live under.
No more from me tonight: I am deep in packing, list-making and deadline-meeting. On Sunday we’re off for a month to South Australia, and I have to pull the house together for the family of house-swappers who are coming to stay. It’s a big gig!
ps – and just because it is wonderful….Jason Wood and his genetically modified orgasms, 2008.
This week I have been listening to the BBC World Service Daily Commute podcasts in my safe and comfortable house, as I wonder whether I have enough bread for sandwiches and where I put the hairbrush. I’ve cried as I have listened to the stories of the many tens of thousands of refugees streaming into Germany and Austria, and the efficient Germanic machine that swung into place to feed and process and transport them all.
Hundreds of Germans waited to greet refugees at the train station, eager to show them a rousing welcome, and to volunteer to help with the incredible logistical task of managing this great tide of people. It was so incredible moving to read and hear about.
The shared anguish felt by so many when that photo of drowned toddler Aylan was everywhere, inescapable, somehow set off this groundswell of compassion. It was a choir that drowned out the fearful and racist shouting that sometimes claims all the air, a choir so large that it forced the political machinery to act. There was an incredible sense of shift, of the essential goodness of humanity taking centre stage for once. For once, the best of us, rather than the worst.
I felt wretched as Tony Abbott finally conceded that he would increase the Australian intake of Syrian refugees, but only by tinkering with the numbers, and not by opening our doors to more.
Today, I am so pleased to hear that Immigration Minister Peter Dutton has announced that we will take an extra 12, 000 Syrian refugees on top of our normal asylum-seeker intake. Hooray, government! In this moment, we are part of a compassionate response. Thank god.
I feel compelled to record the happiness I feel in this moment, because it will be fleeting. Our home-land response to aylum-seekers remains despicable, and the deeper problems of wealth disparity and the great shifting movements of displaced people are defining the 21st century. It’s hard to know where this will lead next. There seems little hope of an effective political solution. We’re extending our military commitment in Syria, along with many other countries. So the wars continue , and the refugees will keep coming.
At least, this week, the voice of compassion shouted louder than the voice of fear.
home is the mouth of a shark
you only run for the border
when you see the whole city running as well
your neighbors running faster than you
breath bloody in their throats
the boy you went to school with
who kissed you dizzy behind the old tin factory
is holding a gun bigger than his body
you only leave home
when home won’t let you stay.
no one leaves home unless home chases you
fire under feet
hot blood in your belly
it’s not something you ever thought of doing
until the blade burnt threats into
and even then you carried the anthem under
only tearing up your passport in an airport toilets
sobbing as each mouthful of paper
made it clear that you wouldn’t be going back.
you have to understand,
that no one puts their children in a boat
unless the water is safer than the land
no one burns their palms
no one spends days and nights in the stomach of a truck
feeding on newspaper unless the miles travelled
means something more than journey.
no one crawls under fences
no one wants to be beaten
no one chooses refugee camps
or strip searches where your
body is left aching
because prison is safer
than a city of fire
and one prison guard
in the night
is better than a truckload
of men who look like your father
no one could take it
no one could stomach it
no one skin would be tough enough
go home blacks
sucking our country dry
niggers with their hands out
they smell strange
messed up their country and now they want
to mess ours up
how do the words
the dirty looks
roll off your backs
maybe because the blow is softer
than a limb torn off
or the words are more tender
than fourteen men between
or the insults are easier
than your child body
i want to go home,
but home is the mouth of a shark
home is the barrel of the gun
and no one would leave home
unless home chased you to the shore
unless home told you
to quicken your legs
leave your clothes behind
crawl through the desert
wade through the oceans
your survival is more important
no one leaves home until home is a sweaty voice in your ear
run away from me now
i dont know what i’ve become
but i know that anywhere
is safer than here”
We are warm and safe in our beds by accident of birth. Sheer, dumb, incredible luck. May we never forget that.
Last week I came across a news website that had reprinted my Golden Door diary, but only after running it through the bizarro-meter. On high.
Remember that Friends episode where Joey uses a thesaurus to write a love letter, exchanging every simple word for a fancier one?
I’ve been Tribbianied!
This is almost my favourite ever thing to happen to me. I cannot tell you how much joy this piece of absurdism brought me. I tried to send it to a couple of friends but the link broke. So in case the internet eats it, I thought I’d better reproduce it here so I have somewhere to go if I am ever having a bad day.
Here it is:
My three tiny children keep me flattering busy. What with cleaning a blood off a trampoline, using a brief sequence kitchen, and negotiating, each night, whose spin it is for a ‘Cuddle Me’ hot-water bottle, it’s uninterrupted movement around here. we also work part-time and juggle that many tedious and common of all ailments: a bad back.
Recently we was given an impossibly inexhaustible gift: a week-long stay during a health shelter to keep my heavenly crony D company. She’s a Mum too, and going by critical health problems. For both of us, this week was an complete 360 grade about-face exit from genuine life. Here’s my diary.
Driving adult to a commanding gates on a property, D and we are anxious. We feel like we are self-surrendering to some kind of minimum-security jail farm.
In a dining room we are served a initial ‘clean’ meal. No sugar, no caffeine, no gluten, no preservatives, no alcohol, no salt. we make a masturbation fun that we bewail slightly. It’s a nerves.
When we see a villa, we die: a bathroom! At home, a tiny tolerable shack, we have one lavatory with a composting dunny. While we bathe, children broach prolonged monologues about Harry Potter and protest about who ‘smelt it’ and who ‘dealt it’. Here, we have my possess bath, my possess shower, my possess toilet, and a TV that swings around to be watched from any or all of these perches. It’s paradise.
The day starts with tai chi during sunrise, and rolls on into yoga, massage and a uninterrupted shouting with D. It feels wonderful, yet all we can consider about is coffee. Coffee coffee coffee. Coffee.
At dinner, a whole list has a headache: a deep, pulsation mom of a thing. The staff tell us it’s sugarine withdrawal. ‘I keep meditative about this extraordinary cheesecake we had once,’ says R, wistfully. She describes a cake in amatory fact while a rest of us listen avidly and bucket adult a gluten-free, caffeine-free, preservative-free, sugar-free and taste-free dishes with chilli and pepper. We splash herbal tea by a bucketload.
I dream we am trapped in a Scientology compound.
My conduct is still pounding, and now my sinuses are fasten a party. we confirm to check out a steam room. Once inside, we spend fifteen mins respirating energetically yet my nose before we notice a ‘on’ switch beside a door. Winning during life, again!
In a afternoon we have a one-on-one event with a dilettante practitioner who helps me consider by ways we could improved organise, reason and pierce my body. I’m shaken going to his villa for my session.
“What if he Bill Cosby’s me?” we ask D as we leave.
“Don’t splash a tea!” she shouts after me.
A concerned wheeze travels around a dining room.
“There’s dessert tonight!”
Yep, we have been successfully institutionalised. We all puncture in, yet then: a tinkling crash. Across a list from me, a lady looks up, horrified. So eager was she in her office of a rhubarb pulp that she pennyless a glass.
My headache is left and we realize what a surpassing rest my mind is having. In bland life, using a tiny association of a family, my mind hums with to-do lists and menus and carpool arrangements. This week, I’ve sealed down all those tabs, and my physique and mind are resting deeply. we feel myself slipping into a state of unknown calm.
I boyant into a dining room during breakfast time on a cloud of mellow. I’ve practised tai chi, taken a cardio category in a swimming pool, sucked behind a litre of H2O and filled my lungs with frail morning air.
“How are we feeling?” asks my list partner C.
“Great!” we say. “I’ve got no pain anywhere in my body.”
And then, we explode into a inundate of tears. we startle myself. we startle C. She gets adult and gives me a hug. (One, two, three, now it’s awkward.) All this assent seems to have liberated adult a lot of feelings. My face leaks during visit intervals. Perhaps it’s a tea?
New people arrive and we give them a run of a corner like creepy prefects. One lady seems totally freaked out, so we grin beatifically and pronounce to her in a relaxing voice like a cult member.
“You’ll be fine. Everyone is beautiful.”
At lunch, we plead poo during length. I’ve got a lot going on downstairs, and I’m not alone. Either my physique is expelling toxins and adjusting to a life in that we don’t feed it chocolate each 3 hours, or something has crawled adult there and died.
Today we travel 7 kilometres, feeling fit and vital. It is a surpassing impulse for me, as we realize usually how concerned and protecting we am in genuine life of my bad back, and how most that stress keeps me from strength.
It’s a final night. D and we fear that reintegrating into silent life is going to be brutal. At this place we are coddled like disproportionate babies, an distilled sensation. We even travel around a place sucking on hulk bottles. And each night, a housekeeper turns down a bedcovers and lights essential oils in a bathroom.
Last day! It’s bizarre to be behind in a car. D and we confirm to stop during a lifelike tiny winery circuitously for a coffee. Our eyes accommodate as a waiter passes us with a play of crisp, tainted fries. We sequence a bowl, that we breathe in record time. They are glorious.
“I competence collect adult a bottle of booze for home”, says D.
“It’s a five-wine tasting,” says a lady behind a counter, as she pours us a shiraz or three, a stimulating rose and a impertinent dessert wine. At some indicate D and we realize we are usually 5 mins down a highway from a health farm. Oops!
Finally home, we am concerned to see my pleasing father and beautiful kids. But my welcome-back dinner, pleasant as it is, gives me teenager romantic whiplash. The comedy, nakedness and ear-bleeding sound spin takes removing used to, after a week of dishes spent in still conversation, with companions that did not get adult and dance, nude, mid-meal. While my children are my comprehensive favourite comedians, ‘peaceful’ is not an verb that describes a cooking table.
My residual ease gets me by a initial propagandize run, yet by six, all is descending apart. I’m station during a stove, cooking dinner, and all 3 children are seeking me questions during once. It’s all too most — I’ve mislaid my multi-tasking mojo.
Soon we realize what a biggest mangle has been from: a bloody housework. we have hardly carried a finger for a week. What a fall: from Cleopatra to Cleopatra’s housekeeper.
Also, my behind hurts all a time again, an destined byproduct of a bustling physicality of family life. But my connection to it has shifted in some surpassing way. And that stately week-long rest was so, so nourishing. Now, to insert some Zen into a existence of Mount Washmore and mislaid hats and Mum’s Taxi. we consider I’d improved start by training a children how to spin down my bedcovers each night.
If you made it this far, and you’re interested, the original is here.
Have a great day. I really hope your behind doesn’t hurt, you aren’t suffering from teenager romantic whiplash, and if you make a masturbation joke, you bewail it only slightly xxx
I’ll be back on Monday to chat more – I’ve been decluttering all my cupboards, reading true crime and thinking about ‘period feminism’… Oh my god, it’s sure to be fabulous! Or the other one – pointless and shit? Yeah, totally shit!
ps: 8 year old just popped out of bed to deliver me the lyrics she’s been writing out to ‘Greased Lightning.”
Go greece lightening your burning up the coal mine
Greece lightening go greece lightening
Go greece lightening your burning up the greece inside
Guys, anxiety is so hot right now! It’s the the kale smoothie of mental unrest. If the 90′s was all depression, the 21st century is all anxiety. It is more common than a bearded bicyclist. In fact, according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics in 1997, anxiety disorders are the most common mental health problem affecting Australians, with 9.7% or 1.3 million adult Australians (12% women and 7.1% men) reported to suffer some form of clinical anxiety during a 12 month period.
If you struggle at all with anxiety, like so many of the my most beloved people, I have a book for you.
My uncle Dr. Chris Mogan, a Melbourne-based anxiety specialist, has written Overcoming Anxiety For Dummies, a fantastic resource which offers practical strategies for managing worry, changing your thinking, supporting your mental health with lifestyle and breaking down what different therapies might involve.
I have a copy of his book to give away, and for an honest and funny first person account of living with anxiety, I also suggest you check out The Little Mumma.
Secondly, I have a copy of the wonderful book The Post-Baby Conversation by Alison Osborne. This book was published in 2006, the year my first was born. It’s such a helpful read for a family navigating the surging, wild seas of parenthood for the first time. This book is not about babies, or about parenting, but rather about how to be a Couple With Children – a vastly different kind of couple than you were before having a baby.
How do you share responsibility for the new jobs created in this crazy new baby economy you live in? What will happen after work and on weekends? What kind of expectations are you both silently holding about what the other should do?
Conversations about these things are incredibly helpful for couples figuring out how to do family life – it’s an ever-evolving work in progress , after all.
I think every new parent should get a copy of this book in the maternity ward.But until then, I have realised I have two copies, so I’d love to give one away. If you have a new baby in your life, know somebody who has, or if you are just grappling with these questions, I hope this book might shine some light for you.
Leave a comment below telling me whether you would like Anxiety For Dummies, or The Post-Baby Conversation, and I will choose a winner at random.
Happy week ahead, my comrades! May it be full of laughter and hugs that last for a minimum of 20 seconds ( it’s the magic number for oxytocin release. See? I’m full of advice today! )