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Monthly Archives: November 2012

Nude, paying off a fraud

I am a fraud.

Last week I sat among the faithful at one of Radiohead’s Sydney concerts. Truth is, me, a devoted Whitlams fan, figuratively stole a place from a true believer and pretended I belonged.

I couldn’t sing along. I didn’t know the words. I didn’t know the names of the members of the band. The only time I have listened to Radiohead play in the past was, a) frantically in a few days leading up to the concert, and b) when the Cliche has played me a song which resonates with him (okay so this means I’ve heard quite a few). I didn’t get the attraction.

Before the Cliche and I started going out the only Radiohead song I knew was ‘Creep’. Interestingly, I have found this to be quite a common phenomenon among non fans. On one of our first dates, the Cliche played me ‘Fake plastic trees’ so I ‘kind of’ know the words now because of my respect for him, and well it is a cool song.

So as I sat among a crowd whose devotion meant they belonged, I felt like an impersonator, an impostor, a mimic and a poseur all at once – exhausting, as I was also trying to look very cool and hip. I was acutely aware of the uncomfortable seat, my body seizing from sitting too long in the one position and the annoying bloke in front of me who kept getting up and making everyone else in his row move to let him out and back in again (I apologise if he had pressing bathroom issues). In the middle of all the noise and throbbing music I was stifling yawns.

And then Radiohead played a song called ‘Nude’ (I didn’t know it was called ‘Nude’, I had to ask the Cliche) and everything changed. The tenth song in and suddenly I got it. Unexpectedly this song which seems to suggest you shouldn’t get too confident because you’re not going anywhere, gave me a glimpse of understanding as to why people gravitate to this collective of individuals making music.

From this point on, the performance seemed to pass way too quickly. I became fascinated by all things Jonny Greenwood (again I had to ask the Cliche who he was), who seemed so busy making music he forgot to look at his audience. I clapped and cheered and even stood as I was treated to three encores of more songs I didn’t know.

Now a week later, I still don’t know many Radiohead songs. However, over the past week it’s been very cool to drop a ‘when I was at the Radiohead concert…’ into casual conversation. I have listened to ‘Nude’ a few times and even added it to my favourite playlist on my smart phone, but that’s about it.

I am still a fraud. However now I am glad for it. Unlike the group of men who sat behind me at the concert, loudly bemoaning the failure of Radiohead to perform particular songs, my expectations were low from the beginning. And even more unlike them, as a fraud, I got to reach a whole unexpected crescendo.

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Nightmare on university street

My worst nightmare is the one where I find myself in the last few weeks, days or hours before a final university assessment or exam is due and I have barely opened a book or have forgotten I was even enrolled in the course.

As a high achiever at university, this dreamscape leaves me exhausted and horrified.

Only a few nights ago I dreamed I was two hours from handing in a 15,000 word honours  thesis and hadn’t yet put pen to paper (or fingers to keyboard as is more likely to provide the right result). These two hours ticked past phenomenally slowly it seemed, as I ran crazily around the campus trying to find help, a solution, or at the very least, some sympathy.

Once the two hours had past, the university became a solemn dark place (probably because all the smart students had handed in their work and pi**ed off) with black glass windows and 70s brickwork. The one person who I had found (a woman with a Jaclyn Smith style hairdo, hello Charlie’s Angels – it really was a nightmare) simply said, “Too bad, there’s nothing you can do now.”

The sense of relief I experienced upon waking was almost palpable. I felt exhausted (well it was 2.40am so I guess that’s normal). However, it made me wonder why it’s this dream and not others which affects me for so long afterwards.

[Just as an aside, one day I got out of bed and opened my curtain to find an evil Humphrey B. Bear, armed with a large kitchen knife coming up my driveway to get me. When I really woke up a few minutes later I couldn’t bring myself to open the curtain. This dream I now look back at with some humour. I’ve never had it again.]

I decided to consult the font of wisdom, the World Wide Web, to find out what this dream of failure means and why it recurs to haunt me.

According to Dream Bible (www.dreambible.com) to dream about studying symbolises things are worrying me or are important to me. To dream about not being ready for an exam “reflect[s]…lacking of preparation” or not listening to a warning (interesting, if I didn’t listen to a warning how did I know I had been warned?). Dreaming of a university could be a signal I am “emotionally swamped had have little time to enjoy myself(sic)”. I may also have a ‘crisis’ or ‘health problems’.

According to dream moods (www.dreammoods.com), dreaming about tests means I am not ready for a big challenge or it’s a sign I’m being judged. “These dreams serve as a signal…to examine an aspect of [my]self that [I] may have been neglecting”. Importantly dream moods suggest this dream comes from my fear and anxiety of not meeting others standards and a fear of letting others down.

According to Dream Dictionary (www.dreamdictionary.org) ‘test dreams’ are very common and are a reflection of a “… lack of confidence and ability to advance to the next stage of life”. These dreams will occur when I am stressed and are caused by procrastination, fear of advancement and being left behind, feeling stupid or experiencing self-esteem issues, to name a few.

Perhaps the most interesting perspective is from a neurologist on the website Psychology Today (you can find the link here) who, having described my dream almost as I dreamed it, suggests these dreams have no scientifically researched ‘cause, effect or validated explanation’ (always important one might think). However, (interestingly enough given the last sentence) they may be caused by amongst other things, forgetting or worrying about forgetting to do something important, or it “may reflect a sense of responsibility … where the dreamer (i.e. me) … is hesitant … to … act” (this sentence looks a bit hesitant to act too!).

So now I am more concerned than ever about what this nightmare means. Am I really so mixed up and low in confidence? According to this research there are so many issues I need to sort out to avoid having this terrible dream again. Perhaps I should do nothing (given the lack of scientific evidence). The sense of relief I get when I wake up from the dream may simply have to be as good as it gets, and sounds a whole lot easier.

Or maybe I should go back to university.