• Life Skills Unlocked,  personal,  Uncategorized

    Life Skills Unlocked: Being a Girl

    I can still remember the exact moment when I decided that being a girl was bullshit. I had spent my first few formative years generally unfazed by gender roles. Sure, I had to wear horrendous dresses on special occasions, and that seemed unfair. My brother wore shirts and shorts and ran around like a loon while I wore dresses with collars that could have doubled as bibs and faced instant restrictions. “Don’t sit like that.” “Don’t get dirty.” “No, you can’t climb trees in a dress.” My best friend was a boy we’ll call P, and together we would spend afternoons watching Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and made dramatic explosion…

  • Life Skills Unlocked,  travel

    Life Skills Unlocked: Surviving the Strip Club

      What immediately springs to mind when you think of strip clubs? I’m not asking those of you who have frequented these places. I’m asking those of you who have always wondered about what goes on behind the black door. Before I’d ever gone to a strip club, here’s what I pictured: Sticky floors. Girls with blank faces and bad posture. Terrible music and worse clientele. Large groups of men gee-eyed with drink, laughing and roaring unfunny jokes at each over the music. Which is all to say that I wasn’t expecting a whole lot. A few years ago, one Monday after work, I sat having a drink with colleagues…

  • Life Skills Unlocked

    Life Skills Unlocked: Solving the Riddle of the Strong Smell of Cat Pee

    My kitchen smells like cat pee. Considering I don’t own a cat (yet), this is not a sentence I expected to type. A kitchen can smell like many things – the toast we burned at the weekend, the flapjacks I made on Tuesday, the cacio e pepe spaghetti we ate last night – but I would have to say that cat pee is just not one of the typical kitchen aromas. My face crunched into an expression of distaste, I ventured in nose-first. I sniffed the fridge. Nothing. I opened the fridge and cautiously sniffed. I could smell spring onions and cheese. “As you were,” I whispered, and closed the…

  • Life Skills Unlocked

    Life Skills Unlocked: Dog Washing

    I am dogsitting Lia at the moment, and she’s taken a particular shine to the rug beneath my dining table. This is fine (she is a spoiled baby of a black labrador), but she had a distinct doggy odour going on and I started to worry that it would permeate the rug forever, so I decided I had to bathe her. Let me explain quickly about Lia; Lia is my family’s dog. She just turned eleven years old, and she has in the past had two separate surgeries on her legs, first for ripping ligaments in her back leg and then for a torn tendon that fell down around her front…

  • Life Skills Unlocked

    Life Skills Unlocked: Proper Etiquette

    Something happened last weekend that blew my mind: I realised that I have been eating incorrectly my entire life. But Quinn, I hear you say, if you have been managing to successfully manoeuvre food from your plate to your mouth for the past three decades, how can you possibly say you have been eating incorrectly? Well I’m glad you asked. When I was a small child, mealtimes were incredibly stressful affairs. There were a few reasons for this – including the fact that I went on a self-imposed hunger-strike for about two years at the age of six for reasons unknown – but one of the main reasons was that…

  • Life Skills Unlocked

    Life Skills Unlocked: Reading for Enjoyment

    When I was a child, I would read books to teleport out of my life. One moment I would be lying in bed staring at the white ceiling, anxiety clawing at my throat, and the next I would be visiting prickly Mrs. Tiggy-Winkle, or laughing at Dogmatix and his fondness for trees. My introduction to reading was a steady and consistent diet of Beatrix Potter, Goscinny and Uderzo, Hergé, Roald Dahl, Dr. Seuss and Enid Blyton. I read compulsively, almost obsessively. As soon as I was able to read by myself, it became a fixation; whether we were out for a walk or it was after dark, I would have a…

  • Life Skills Unlocked,  Uncategorized

    Life Skill Unlocked: Millinery

    If you’ve never heard the word before, ‘millinery’ is the word for the art of making fancy hats and fascinators*. I actually have never worn a fancy hat or fascinator. Not because I don’t like them – they can be pretty amazing – but because anything small and girlie makes me feel self-conscious and stupid, and anything wide-brimmed makes me look like a peculiarly flamboyant portobello mushroom. Still, as you know, I like to try my hand at new crafts, so when Emergency Sister invited me to join her for an afternoon of millinery at The Design House** on Dawson Street, I jumped at the opportunity. I have not, in the past, had…

  • cocktail bar, cocktail making, how to make cocktails
    Life Skills Unlocked,  Uncategorized

    Life Skill Unlocked: Cocktail-Making

    When I was about seven years old, I used to sneak into my grandfather’s study. I would tiptoe past the piano, crawl behind the burgundy leather Chesterfield, feel along the bookshelf for the small metal key, and slip it into the lock on the cabinet below. I would turn the key feeling like Alice down the rabbit hole, and I would slowly open the small mahogany door to reveal a glittering array of crystalware. The “bar” was really quite small, with one glass shelf dividing the space, but the back and sides were lined with mirrors, which multiplied the decanters and glasses and bottles of alcohol until it looked, to…