Two years ago I wrote a blog called “Who were you in your 20s?” It started with the admission that “I wasn’t quite sure” who I was back then.
Which is ironic considering I’m now 46 and being forced to re-examine/reinvent myself all over again.
So, who am I going to be for the second half of my life (she says ambitiously … well I do come from long-living stock)?
Like Doctor Who once said: ” I don’t know yet. Still cooking.”
A few months after the 20s one, I wrote a rather scary and depressing blog called “Who are you in your 40s?” It’s a fascinating read (for me) because while it’s still technically true in many ways, something fundamental has changed inside me. Despite Husband’s departure, I’m actually in a better place.
All the stuff I said in a blog called It’s Time To Regenerate is true. There’s this excitement building inside me. Call off the search party for my mojo … I’ve got a tracking number on it.
As Helen Reddy crooned:
“Oh yes, I am wise
But it’s wisdom born of pain
Yes, I’ve paid the price
But look how much I gained
If I have to
I can do anything
I am strong (strong)
I am invincible (invincible)
I am woman”
And let’s just watch the video for good measure …
And finally, for a blast from the past … and some cracking anecdotes … This was me in my 20s:
I fancied being the magazine equivalent of Molly Meldrum, interviewing celebrities for a living. So I got a job on a marginal fashion title and moved to Sydney. Not long after, the ’80s recession hit and I was retrenched. It was the week before Christmas, very festive. (Not familiar with the ’80s recession? Google it. Nasty business. Interest rates shot to around 17%. Thousands of people lost jobs and homes. It’s why the over-40s are all nervy now. They remember.)
I didn’t get a single job interview for nine months, but spent many eye-opening hours at the Darlinghurst CES. Finally, I scored a gig as a sub-editor on Design Series magazines, which included a title called House Design – very entertaining doing the fact-check phone calls: “This is Alana House from House Design magazine …” There wasn’t much else entertaining about the job, other than meeting one of my still-best friends. Magazines about pools, bathrooms and kitchens are only interesting if you are getting a pool, bathroom or kitchen. And never when you’re 23 and spending your entire disposable income on cowboy boots and frocks.
It felt like I’d won the lottery when I nabbed a job at Cosmopolitan. I was hopelessly naive and believed climbing the women’s magazine ladder was about talent. One day, a colleague pulled me aside and suggested I work on my ”look” if I wanted to get anywhere. I was horrified. I refused to believe her. But eventually I conceded she was right. Succeeding in the women’s magazine industry is about two things: appearance and talent (often in that order). So I started paying attention to what the fashion editor was wearing and following her lead.
Cosmo gave me so many amazing experiences … I travelled to Los Angeles and walked Portia Di Rossi’s dog, shared lunch with Salma Hayek, saw Alyssa Milano stark naked, mortally offended Christina Applegate during her photo shoot by playing a Fat Boy Slim song with the “f” word in it, and enraged Shannen Doherty (not a hard thing to do).
One of the most surreal Hollywood moments was going bar-hopping with Kylie Minogue. Kylie was staying with a photographer we knew, so he invited her to dinner with us. She ordered a crème brulee for dessert and I was shocked someone so stunningly tiny – she was literally the size of a small child – actually ate dessert. Waiting in the queue for the bathroom, I struck up a conversation with a woman called Roma Downey. She turned out to be from a TV show called Touched by an Angel. Roma was out on the town with a stretch limo and invited us along for the ride. Kylie asked if anyone wanted a lift with her and the photographer replied: “Why would they want to go wiv you when they can go in a limo?”.
Kylie’s tiny head was barely visible over the steering wheel as she tailed our limo to the Chateau Marmont hotel, where we were turned away because it was hosting the Holy Smoke movie premiere party and no-one had heard of Kylie Minogue or Roma. I experienced Kylie’s bad luck with men first-hand that night. She was dating a male model called Slick at the time and called him to ask if he wanted to meet us for a drink. He said he was tired and wanted an early night. Imagine our surprise when we walked into The Sky Bar to find Slick propped up at the bar chatting up a pneumatic blonde …
Cosmo also gave me a chance to get creative with what I affectionately call “stunt” journalism, like being a judge at Miss Nude Australia. I was required to give naked women scores out of 10 for their creativity in doing stuff like pouring jugs of milk between their breasts while men cheered … I got to see a lot of vaginas that night … and became quite good at detecting fake boobs by the end of it.
I was also a Dyke On A Bike at Mardi Gras – one of the most terrifying experiences of my life – not because I was clutching a large, butch lesbian on the back of a Harley Davidson, but because there were tens of thousands of people lining the streets cheering as we drove past. If I’d been a lesbian, it might have been uplifting, as a straight woman pretending to be a lesbian I felt like a big fraud …
It was funny telling the eldest about my dyke on bike experience as we dodged the Mardi Gras crowds earlier this month. The struggle on her face as she tried to reconcile the idea of Mum once being that person …
Who am I going to be now? Stay tuned and I’ll let you know …
Have you ever reinvented your life?