Internet Dating v3.1- All Fun And Games.

by Lori Dwyer on January 10, 2013 · 2 comments

in Uncategorized

A while ago- so long ago, actually, that I can’t find the comment to link back to- a reader asked my opinion on this article written by Jesse Fink.

It’s been published over at The Modern Women’s Survival Guide. Catch you there.

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I know a lot of regular RRSAHM readers remember Darrell, who is employed by DFAT, a department of Australia’s Federal Government located in the ACT. I know you remember, because occasionally people still ask me how he’s doing how things have worked out. And for every one person who asks, there is probably another ten people who are wondering.

I never know what to tell people, I am never sure how to answer that question. Because Darrell is OK. In all reality, Darrell is doing a kick–arse job of taking care of himself and recovering from a chronic illness. He’s also attempting to return to work.

Still ‘attempting’… months and months after initially liaising with CommCare and his superiors and management at DFAT. Having been copied in a lot of Darrell’s correspondence with his union, CommCare, his superiors and various media representatives, I am confident that the verb ‘attempting’ is the most appropriate word to use. From the evidence I’ve seen, Darrell has made every effort to return to the ‘exceptionally performing’ employee he consistently was before he applied for, and took, medical leave. Or challenged the status quo and spoke up against bullying and stand over tactics within his workplace, and was awarded compensation for what has happened to him.

There’s just so much going on here… I’m not even sure where to begin.

Among other issues, there’s the ongoing problem of DFAT failing to provide a workplace that’s safe and secure and caters to an illness that was, in the view of CommCare, exasperated by the sufferer’s work conditions in the first place.

Then there was, a few months ago now, a bizarre incident where three anonymous workmates of Darrell’s reported seeing ‘Anti–Islamic’ content on Darrell’s FaceBook page. It took weeks before Darrell could even pinpoint the source of the offending content– a comment he had left on a media file that someone else in his timeline had posted. Given FaceBook’s random and confusing sharing settings, the comment posted publicly on Darrell’s feed.

But they must have been looking awfully closely. A few days after the complaint was made, I personally went back through six months of Darrell’s FaceBook feed. And I could not find the comment in question. (Which, by the way, had definitely not been deleted, especially at that time. And a discussion about our civil liberties, or BookFace sharing setting and what to do with them, is just too much for my slightly exhausted brain right now. Feel free to discuss amongst yourselves in the comments.)

A month or so after disciplinary action was effected for that offense, Darrell’s supervisors requested a meeting with him. In which they told him that other staff were worried that, because he suffered depression, he may ‘become violent in the workplace’.

Again, I don’t even know where to start with that. I’m so disgusted at that level of stigmatization and stereotyping that I’m ashamed. It feels akin to sitting in the Government Inquiry Into Workplace Bullying and feeling sick, wholly saddened by the crass uncaring quality of those responsible for taking care of us.

If this was, honestly, a valid concern held by Darrell’s workmates about a man who has never shown any violent tendencies, nor has any history of violence whatsoever; then one would imagine that the ideal course of action would actually be some training in mental health and supporting a fellow employee returning to work after an illness. Ideally, you would hope that management would use such an obvious display of ignorance and intolerance to educate their staff and promote safety and harmony within the work environment.

Not order their employee into a meeting where he has no union representation and use claims such as these as just another reason to break him down, make him feel like sh*t and make returning to work full time just that little bit more difficult.

Tuesday night, as the state burnt like a huge, dry box of RedHead matches; I got a text from Darrell to tell me this…

“… Had my performance review today. Basically told that because I had (sic) depression and was at work I can only get a satisfactory rating. If at work your (sic) expected to be 100 per cent healthy… Kind of hard when you first get depression as you don’t know it’s happening, etc.”

And I responded with a whole string of swear words. Because, honestly, what the hell is that? Why, in light of such an excellent employment history, is an unavoidable illness that could happen to anyone at anytime being used to create a disadvantage against an honest, hard working man who just wants to return to the job they’ve lived and breathed for over ten years now?

If it were cancer, or MS, or a bad case of the chicken pox… would the outcome be the same?

I doubt it.

To compound all of that is the wall of all–consuming silence that seems to eat Darrell’s story before it gets too big, before it goes too far. I watched it roll over, like a big fat cloud on a sunny day, obscuring the last post I published concerning DFAT and Darrell.

I watched thousands of people hit the page, but so few share it on their social medias. I watched traffic from the ACT go up by over 200% as people searched for the story that many of them already knew… there are so many government employees who have been there themselves, only in different departments, playing different roles.

And I watched various media outlets I once considered to have some balls ignore me– in one case, actually block me on Twitter after I pinged them a single time– when I tried to pull their attention toward Darrell’s story. I witnessed one reporter who actually is gutsy take me on, allowed me to tell my story; but told me in honesty it would be near worth her job to discuss Darrell’s story on air. I watched as private messages of support came in from people too apprehensive to publicly promote what I’d written, lest it effect their own employment. I took a phone call from another blogger, also employed in a government role, who recommended I take down the post lest I be accused of ‘whistle blowing’.

To be very clear- ‘whistle blowing’ is exactly what I’m trying to do here. It’s what Darrell has, in a way, been attempting to do for months. Forget your inquiry into Workplace Bullying… it is a widely held opinion that government departments are, by far, the very worst place for bullying and stand over tactics to flourish and pulse.

Even the process of writing this post is frustrating. I want to scream words at my computer screen, make someone with a voice bigger than mine listen and take note and be brave.

I’ve watched, sadly, as Darrell has searchd for someone, some publication, some media outlet– someone– to tell his story. I read an email a few months ago now that almost reached out and caressed me with it’s opaque vulgarity.

This email contained an exchange between Darrell and a journalist at a large–ish newspaper who had become interested in his story. The first email was bubbly and enthusiastic, an air of indignation regarding Darrell’s treatment almost glowing from the edges of the journo’s words.

After a period of silence on the newspaper’s side, Darrell had responded. A follow up– I haven’t heard anything from you, what goes on?

The reply was everything
that’s wrong here, every infuriating back–down that’s every happened in every school fight against bullies who are big and strong and use that to their advantage. It was apologetic but defensive, and summed up pretty much said…

“I’ve talked to my editor. We agreed that, perhaps, you shouldn’t pursue this story any further. It could lead to very unpleasant ramifications for your job. You have a family to think of.”

What utter lay–down–and–be–a–doormat–to–the–world crap that is. It’s fairly obvious, to Darrell and anyone else playing this game, that future advancement in this job is not going to happen. The journalists who have said ‘no’ to this story aren’t worried about Darrell…. they’re worried about themselves.

Darrell has not got a lot left to lose.

Really, this is getting beyond the point of being ‘unfair’ or even ‘hard luck’. This is inhumane. This is torture.

I am worried about Darrell
. Because he is a friend of mine, and every time I hear his voice there is just that little bit more desolation in the middle of it. And his mum is worried about him, too. Her name is Aaimi, and she is lovely. She sent me an email just before Christmas that said this…

“So tell me Lori, what can I do?  Stand naked on the steps of Parliament house with banners stating that “ Bullying in the work place is not tolerated”. Well maybe not to that extreme , particularly if the body of Michelin man is not a good look!!!!  But seriously Lori, what can I do, apart from being his mother and giving him the love and support that we do.  Me be there is something I can do that would not be acceptable for Darrell to do.  How can we speak out and make our voices heard Lori?  I am passed sitting here on my hands doing nothing !  There must be something more as his mother  I can do.”

Read that without your heart breaking for a mother screaming tears of frustration for her child. And sit on your hands and do nothing.

I fucking dare you.

I am pissed off. I’m angry and it scares me that at our highest level of government, in a country that’s apparently so free and democratic, this kind of thing can happen, repeatedly. In deathly silence.

So let this be a challenge to you all… be you man, or mouse? Will you share this post, help me spread the word?

I am not a journalist… I’m just a blogger who writes pretty things occasionally. I don’t understand all the elements here. This needs someone who does. This needs to be picked up, and this story told. So that the right people will listen, and be forced to act.

A challenge, an open invitation to journalists and media outlets, both ‘mainstream’ and ‘social’…

Do any of you have the guts to try and ensure that this story gets told?

Are any of you brave enough to take this on?

For those of us who don’t have that kind of voice, but think that those who do should use it… there’s a petition here. Show some love.

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Make Up (Part Two, Faces).

by Lori Dwyer on January 7, 2013 · 3 comments

in Uncategorized

After skydiving, canyoning and trapeze lessons, I decided that January might the month to chill out and relax a bit and entice RedBalloon into giving me a totally different mission for the month.

A make up course in the Sydney CBD sounded just about perfect. Especially because it came with $95- the full cost of the course– reimbursed in Napoleon Perdis product.


Despite doing my usual half–an–hour late thing, Claire The Make-Up Chick was very lovely and didn’t seem to mind much at all. She sat me down, let me relax, gave me some facial wipes for cleansing, asked me what in particular I wanted to learn today (”Uhhhhh…. Stuff….?”) and we got started. (”Let me know if you want to have a go at doing any of this yourself, rather than me applying it,” says Claire The Make Up Chick sunnily, and I think no thanks, I’ll just sit here and be pampered, if that’s ok with you…)

And I spend the next hour indulging in girls, fun things. Like learning to put on makeup so I look like an adult not a teenager on their way to a party. To mix yellow bases with beige–concealers to reflect light from underneath eyes. Which brushes go with what substances.

The best thing about this one was the non–intimidation factor. I rate ‘attending a make up course’ right up there ‘going to a snooty hairdresser’ in terms of uncomfortability and having–to–make–small–talk–edness. I almost always leave encounters such as that one feeling just a little bit not–cool–enough, and very much like sixteen year old Lori.

Before and After.

I’m happy to report that this time, I felt more like a normal person and less like a pin-head after this experience. Claire The Make Up Chick inquired as to how I normally did things when doing my own make up at home and I answered as honestly as my self–consciousness would allow, confessing to sins such as spreading concealer with my fingertips and applying lipstick straight from the tube. Claire The Make Up Chick didn’t make me feel like an idiot at all. She actually presented the whole concept of ‘making yourself up’ as completely accessible for everyone– something along the lines of less is more, but paint should be fun and not too much fuss.

I got my ninety five bucks reimbursed on NP Primer (which is a cult product for a reason, evidently. This stuff is amazing and I could quite easily wear it every day without irritating my skin) and a pressed powder compact that I discovered, to my pleasure, is malleable enough to use with the finest of fan brushes and doesn’t cake into laughter lines in order to make me look older, and possibly sadder, than I already am.

The Face Sheet.

Claire also filled out a ‘Face Sheet’ for me, with all the techniques and colors and names of the products she’d just used to make me look all glamorous. There was no pressure to purchase any of this stuff. But the Face Sheet is now pinned to the top of my bedroom mirror, and it’s almost a ridiculously practical guide to have it on hand for future reference.

And, of course; I left the funky, stripy, black and white and gold storefront an hour later with a full, gorgeous face of makeup…

And nowhere to go except pick my kids up from daycare.

As you do.

Whatever. I adore make up. I love making myself up. I take immense pleasure in sitting cross-legged in front of a large mirror in my bedroom, the morning sun creating perfect lighting from every angle, my brush set unrolled in front of me, applying colors with feather touches and sweeping the density of each hue away again so only shadows of colors remain. I can easily sit like that, entranced in some sort of divine meditative state, for forty five minutes or more. I get lost in it (and, really, romanticism aside, this practice can quite possibly be held responsible for that fore-mentioned chronic lateness issue I’ve got going on here). I take a comfort, a steadiness, in the process and ritual of it.

There’s something enchanting about wearing a mask every day, when most people have no idea it’s there at all.

Red Balloon Blogger
Thanks to the team at Digital Parents
Collective for inviting
me to be a part of the RedBalloon Experience Program. Stay tuned- more awesomeness over the next few months. As
always, all opinions are my own (because no one else would want them…?) however the experiences are
And, to assist you even further, there’s a special offer for RRSAHM readers- Spend $129 or more on any RedBalloon experience, and receive $30 off.
To redeem: Visit www.redballoon.com.au and enter the promo code
REDMUM06 at the checkout to receive your discount.
Terms and Conditions: Offer valid until 31/12/13. Promotional Code can
only be used once per person. All purchases are subject to Red Balloon T’s and C’s.

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Clown Paint (Part One, Faces).

by Lori Dwyer on January 6, 2013 · 4 comments

in Uncategorized

I wear make up like a mask.

I love it, the craft and artistry of it. When I was a child I dreamed of being a special effects make up artist, a mortician, a beautician and a nail technician. That was, of course, not even a considerable option– I was ‘smart’, and had to ‘make the most of that talent’. A university degree wasn’t required to be a make up artist, so, in patriarchal eyes, that was never, ever going to be a suitable occupation for a prodigal daughter.

I don’t think running away to the circus to be a clown was on the game plan either, really. But that’s the way things turned out. And in that ‘immature’ occupation, I found that intense satisfaction that comes with playing with colors and shades on faces, rekindled and begging to be quenched.

I became, overnight, a ‘professional’ clown, fairy and face painter. For the first three or so months of my new job I was awful to the point of feeling a stomach churning sense of sympathy and regret for my pint-sized party guests as they left the fairy’s face painting chair with a childlike rendition of a butterfly, or a pussy cat, or the eternally popular SpiderMan, slapped onto their face in the most precise way my nervous hands could manage. Which was, in all honesty, not very precise at all.

But somewhere along those first few months, clowning morphed from weekend cash–in–hand to a full time, phone answering, party booking occupation. Being the soapy mind-sponge I am, I began to take in the material around me– magic tutorials; balloon bending instructions; tomes of face painting leaflets written by faux–fairies all around the world; and skinny yellow readers written for people with a evading age of twelve that, nonetheless, gave lessons on juggling, story telling… and clown paint.

Osmosis by fascination.

It took six months to develop a paint and a face that was my own, that belonged to Lilly. The features were mine but exaggerated, playful, large smudges in primary colors. Happy yellow stars on smiling cheeks. Cornflower Blue crosses wiped from across eyes. A tiny dot of a red nose, a geisha–style love heart over my lips.

Lori, clown- circa 2005.

And long black eyelashes extended from the corner of each eye, a traditional sign of shock for mimes, femininity for speaking performers.

My costume and make up was malleable, and came in graded layers of formality. Being a clown-chameleon is essential when you consider the humid heat of Australian party season and the simple pain–in–the–arseness of costuming up to complete formal attire– a wig, a white face, and all the literal bells and whistles that went along with my babydoll smock, oversized bloomers and humongous shoes– three of four times a day, three or four days a week. For a parade or a formal function, a gig where a clown’s purpose is simply to provide color and movement, a full regalia was almost always necessary. But the closer your potential for direct interaction with the public, the less of a masquerade you become. A too–muchness about you tends to make a clown unapproachable and potentially terrifying to most small children and any clown–phobic adults. So you loose the wig and instead construct high, bunched pony tails stuffed with flowers. You make yourself up only with brightly hued, long lasting crayons, leaving out the layer of white grease paint used to make your face a blank canvas, with it’s smeary un-washability and distinctive, nostalgic smell.

As I developed my own mask, my face painting gradually improved, too.

Learning to make tiny chubby faces resemble cartoon heroes, small animals and ethereal butterflies wasn’t so much akin to shaping balloons (everything is just a dog, with parts shortened or elongated); or feeling a magic trick suddenly ‘work’ with the sound of an audible ‘clack’ deep in your psyche (practice, practice, patter, practice. Over and over until you watch yourself in the mirror and your motions are so fluid that to you, the trick the obvious and vulgar– that’s when it becomes smooth enough to fool people. The magician’s oxymoron, the perfect misdirection– trick yourself into believing you are doing nothing at all, and let your audience visualize their own illusions from the vapors of your actions). Face painting is a talent built and learned slowly, patiently. You gather knowledge on what to use, how to use it, how to elicit the trust of the little people sitting before you. There’s all those social skills that make or break a performer– when to back off, when to launch for laughter, how to adjust your body language to mirror your audience, how to make big kids feel cool enough to play along with the little ones by suggesting a camaraderie, some kind of secret adult role that frees them to play like a child. (‘Play like a child…’ And that’s a beautiful thing. It occurs as I’m writing this, that eventually you do that for the last time ever. Do you remember the last time you were a child, before you grew up completely…? Was it with the permission of someone else, someone older, doing you a favor you never even thought about…?)

All those social restraints and rules are so relevant when you’re sitting, a head lower than most of the children standing around you, hot and slightly flustered and losing track of who’s next in line. Being a face painter in a busy venue often feels like being in the eye if the storm– a calm renaissant absorbed in colors and brushes and paint stains on your fingers; while a seething mass of excitement shuffles and drones around you. I find a day spent face painting peaceful and purposeful. I enjoy being trapped in a bubble of self–silence and concentration, speaking only to ask what my next earnest, innocent canvas would like to be transformed into today, maybe inquiring as to what their favorite colors are if the hues of the chosen design are interchangeable. Children are sweet in their intense concentration while having paint applied to their skin. Something about that earnest look reminds you that, in the world of a little person, wearing a mask for a few hours is a Very Big Deal indeed.

The whole point of face painting is not just to paint, but to make. To change structure and depth. Use light colors to accentuate, dark shades to deepen. Ovals of black paint to extend or widen nostrils for dogs, cats and bunny rabbits. Lines that extend from ears, along the hollow of jawbones, and over the chin and upper lip; then dot that crescent with sharp, white licks of the brush for teeth to make sharks and crocodiles. Your tiniest, skinniest brush tracing the newly formed, natural wrinkle lines on skin to accentuate them and draw age onto youthful faces. Paint the lips of little girl’s ruby red to enhance the entranced expression on their face when you flip the mirror
their way on your mini-project’s completion.

All tricks and glamors, designed to fool the eyes.

And adult make up, it’s much the same. Light make bigger, dark makes smaller. Sharp lines always look unnatural. Skin infections are wholly transferable. You’re always putting make up not onto skin, but into what is already on that skin– for perfection, a palette must be clean.

The point of wearing make up is to look like you’re not wearing any make up at all, and so few women achieve that illusion. While clown paint and face paint are just that– paint– the point of adult make up is still to wear a mask… just not to let anyone else know you’re doing it.

To be continued…

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