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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.

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 ( 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 (, 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 ( ‘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.

Just a spoonful of governance

Recently the New South Wales Government announced it was going to trial ‘marshals’ to guard the early morning train doors at platform three of Town Hall Station in Sydney. You can see the Sydney Morning Herald’s coverage of the story here.

Unfortunately this is one of the platforms I use as I head to work on those rare mornings I do. As someone who would never run to jump on a train just as its dodgy doors are about to close (why bother, there’s always another train), I feel quite offended that a ‘sheriff’, sans cool star-shaped badge, will now be watching over me and 50,000 of my closest commuters.

Interestingly, these marshals will be ‘trained’.

What does this mean? How many months of training will they have? Will they be trained to form a human barrier to stop you getting on the train too close to departure time? Will they have one of those poles with a wire lasso on the end to catch those errant people who try to board as the train is attempting to move away? Will they be able to tackle you, preferably between the shoulders and knee, if you attempt to board a train? Will they have a taser to stop you from over-stepping the mark (if this is the case then I want them to have years or decades of training)?

Are these further steps in building a nanny state? Maybe it’s what we need. The Government could just give us all nannies to help live better. Imagine a Mary Poppins like helper there for you all the time, reminding you to do things nicely and correctly.

There are people who travel along my street, particularly at three in the morning, who  could do with a person sitting by their side, fully seat belted of course, suggesting they could drive a little, or even a fair bit, slower. And they could remind them they should get someone to take a look at the exhaust pipe.

Maybe all dog owners could have a nanny with them when they take their pooch for a walk. The nanny could carry the little plastic bags needed when ‘Rover’ stops to do his business.

Wouldn’t it be great to have nannies holding fans for us or providing individual oxygen tents as we make our way from the arrivals hall to the taxi rank at the airport. Or better still we could have nannies for each of the smokers who stand by the door desperate for the post-plane puff. However, these nannies would need to be supplied with respirators or other breathing apparatus so the secondary smoking wouldn’t be an occupational hazard.

We could have nannies with us when we use public toilets to make sure we keep the seat clean, use the right amount of toilet paper (how this is judged I have no idea), flush properly (the full-half flush conundrum would be solved), make sure we don’t put inappropriate things into the bowl and put paper towels in the rubbish bins. We could even have nannies there to make sure we wash our hands. Ideally they would also open the bathroom door for us so we don’t risk cross contamination from someone whose nanny fell asleep and wasn’t reminded to wash their hands (it’s bound to happen, these nannies are going to be busy people).

For me though, the perfect nanny would be the one who reminds you people on platform four at Town Hall station at around 5.30pm on a weekday afternoon who stand at the yellow line even though your train is third in line to arrive, to step back. You see, for us others who actually want to board the next train, you’re in our way. And at the moment there isn’t a nanny to bore a path for me through your masses. Thus I am forced, sans nanny, to walk the fine edge of the platform and hope to make it inside the train before the dodgy doors close on me.

Maybe we need these marshals after all. I wonder if Mary Poppins is free to lead the training?

Perfect days

The anticipation

Two weeks ago I was preparing for what could potentially be one of the most exciting days of my life.

I am reminded of a song by Bryan Adams where he recalls heady times bashing around in, one presumes, his garage with some mates making music and how those days were the ‘best’. Obviously he led a pretty unfulfilled life from the time of those bashing days up until the point of the release of the song. Could he see in to the future? Surely some great event may still fall his way? Could it not be providing songs for the soundtrack of Kevin Costner’s Robin Hood would give him some good days? This guy has sung with Sting and Rod Stewart so unquestionably they were fabulous days, weren’t they?

It’s often a surprise to others when I say that one of the best days of my life was in September 2005, the day I was at the Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG) to see the Sydney Swans win the Grand Final in the Australian Football League.

It’s something the Cliche and I have given each other permission to say. Yes, it was even better than our wedding day. For so many reasons. That isn’t to suggest our wedding day wasn’t fabulous. It certainly was. But we have the rest of our lives together and as the Cliche rightly points out, who wants to think it’s all downhill from there. We’ve had some extraordinary (by that I mean best) days since then, or early mornings in particular as M1 and then M2 arrived to brighten our lives. And the Cliche has been to two successful Grand Finals since then and I know how much they mean to him.

So was the 2012 Sydney Swans Grand Final winning day one of the best of my life?

Absolutely. It is a truly rare occasion where one gets to see their football team take the ultimate prize in the competition. You fight to get a ticket to the game. The cost of said ticket is high. You have to find a way of getting to the ground (distance from Sydney to Melbourne = 877.9 kilometres) coupled with the cost of getting to the ground. And then getting home again (in the same day).

It’s worth it when you’ve given up your Sunday afternoons of winter sunshine to sit in front of the television to watch every match. It’s all worth it when the siren sounds and you can finally breathe properly. It’s worth it when you can hug the complete stranger sitting next to you at the MCG because they know some of those emotions you’ve been going through.  It’s worth it when those 22 players and their coach are standing on the stage, holding the cup aloft while a snowstorm of red and white mini streamers burst forth.

I know the Sydney Swans players don’t know me like I know them. I call them by their first names, like we’re mates. And we are. Because one of the great things mates do for you (just ask Bryan) is give you the best days of your life. But unlike Bryan, I expect there are a whole lot more to come.

Go Swannies. See you in 2013.

1 We support different teams.
2 Thanks Google Maps.

Marcuse and the Sydney Swans

We are a football family. Our football of choice is Australian Rules, which makes our sacred turf the Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG), our referees umpires and our ball an ellipsoid.

I know M1 and M2 should be free to choose if they are interested in football but at this point in their lives we’re not giving them any liberty. The clichettes have been members of the Sydney Swans since they were born. Actually M1 was a member before she was born – she was listed as ‘Baby’ Golland and she was a boy.

This isn’t to say footy is everything. However, from March to September each year, the Cliche and I do plan our outings around when our teams are playing¹ (mostly). In 2005 and 2006, before we met, I was so committed to the cause I would turn down social invitations which clashed with any Sydney Swans matches. I was either at the game, at a pub with a game playing on the big screen or at home in front of the television watching the game. Fortunately my friends understood (well at least to my face they said they did) this passion. A few who didn’t wondered why it couldn’t just be on in the background while we dined! I was so committed I even wore the same outfit to every match. They payoff was that one day in September. Since then, there have been travels, weddings, babies and still there is footy.

This commitment, love, passion, obsession – whatever you wish to call it – is a bizarre thing for me. A real juxtaposition. In 2001 I wrote a post graduate thesis based on Herbert Marcuse’s notion of ‘One-Dimensional Man’. As part of my ‘seminal work’ I considered that ‘societies generate artificial needs, giving the working class a false consciousness in which the pursuit of consumer goods distracts from the realisation [sic] of class interests’².

Marcuse was also concerned with people seeing themselves in the things they commodify. However, as he states, … ‘Geist and knowledge are no telling arguments against satisfaction of needs’³.

Hence, I understand my need for football is a distraction from needless wars fought in poppy-ridden countries – wars, personed by my working class colleagues. I understand football teams are sponsored by banking institutions which may not be looking after the best interests of my working class comrades, but rather the interests of those who can afford to sit in a corporate box.

I understand how three hours of footy watching could better be spent questioning government need to cut spending on community housing, education and the public sector generally, especially as a taxpayer who believes in these things. All these hours could be spent investigating the business practices of corporations where I spend my spare dollars, to ensure I am supporting those with good ethics.

Marcuse is right! No matter how much ‘Geist’ I put into it I am fully immersed in my commodification.

Maybe now is the time for change. Maybe I can start to work on greater realisation of class interests. But it has to wait until after this weekend. For this weekend, I will be devoting my time to the mighty Sydney Swans on Grand Final day. As I sit in my seat, high in the bleachers at the MCG, with my red and white layers and my words of wisdom for those dressed in green (or whatever ridiculous colour they put the umpires in this year) I will take comfort in the knowledge those with similar class interests sitting with me are also distracted.

And together, we can scream for our team over the heads of those in the corporate boxes.


¹ For the record, the Cliche and I support different teams.

² The Penguin Dictionary of Sociology, 2000 p.211, Penguin Books.

³ Marcuse, H. One-Dimensional Man, Chapter 2, Boston: Beacon, 1964.

Pretty dumb things

I’ve said some pretty dumb things over the years. Sometimes I have spoken before thinking about what I was going to say, and who I was saying it to – truth be told this happens all the time. Sometimes I have said the wrong thing and occasionally I’ve said the right thing, just at the wrong time.

I am sorry.

My first apology is for the earliest dumb thing I ever remember saying. It’s to the woman whose leg I grabbed at the same time as a preschool class mate (he grabbed her other leg).
‘Go away,’ I cried in despair. ‘This is my mum.’
‘No It isn’t. It’s my mum,’ he replied.
I looked up and he was right. It was his mum. Unfortunately she just happened to be wearing a similar pair of black polyester pull-on pants (it was the 70s) to those my mum had slipped on in the morning.

I would like to apologise to my Grade Four teacher whose glasses went flying as I hit her in the face in my haste to be the first to answer a general knowledge question. I was sitting on the floor in front of her and she asked, “Who is the current Prime Minister?”
‘Gough Whitlam,’ I shouted as my hand shot into the air, so proud and then ‘WHACK’.
‘NO!’ she screamed, in pain?
She was right, it wasn’t. Unfortunately I didn’t really understand ‘the Dismissal’. I still don’t.

I would like to apologise to my first boyfriend, at the ripe old age of fourteen, for telling everyone he was the worst kisser ever, when in fact I’d had no other kisses to compare it to and, in retrospect, it was a very good kiss. No wonder he only went with me for two weeks.

I would like to apologise to all those children whose mouth I anesthetised while practicing (not practising) dentistry. Yes, I did say I was ‘just going to put some sleepy juice next to your tooth’. To this day though, I think this sounds better than ‘I am just going to jab about two centimetres of sharp metal in your tiny mouth in the hope of getting somewhere near your trigeminal nerve and hopefully get you numb enough to drill all the decay out of your teeth without exposing a nerve. And stop eating rubbish.’ What I am apologising for here is potentially leading you to believe, as an adult, you can get a tooth restoration with some magical potion. It doesn’t exist. I just used a whole lot of topical anesthetic before putting the needle in very slowly (a service you can ask your dentist for as an adult. Just remember though, time is money).

You would think I would have learned a thing or two, but no, I still say dumb things. Just the other day I was recounting the story of the cliche and I sitting in a cocktail lounge watching a couple on their first or second date. The nervousness, the startled looks, the first touches all happening in a wonderful bubble.
‘I am so glad I am over all that,’ I said to end my story. However, who was I recounting the story to? A beautiful, young, single woman who is probably very much looking for this situation to pop up. I am sorry and I hope it pops up soon.

A few weeks ago I think I said the dumbest thing ever. I told a woman her son looked like his aunt. Not bad … except the child can’t look like his aunt because it’s an aunt by marriage. Dumb as! [What’s really crazy here was I really meant the child had the bubbly personality of his aunt but now I just look like I am making an excuse for saying a dumb thing].

For all the other dumb things I’ve ever said, I offer an unreserved apology.

Maybe identifying all of this makes me quite the hypocrite, particularly if you’ve read my blog on those dumb things people have said to me about long-term breastfeeding.

People do say dumb things. Maybe it’s built into our being so we can make other people feel superior to our naivety (or stupidity). It could be one of those natural response mechanisms … a way of submitting.

Maybe I shouldn’t be apologising. Perhaps I should expect ‘thanks’ for making others feel better about themselves (‘I would never say anything as dumb as that,’ I can hear them thinking).

And for those of you who thought ‘sleepy juice’ was real, ignore what I said earlier … it is.

A life less cluttered

Yesterday I received an email with the title ‘Declutter your home’ on which you clicked and were transported to a brief but beautifully presented blog on organising your house. Some good advice indeed.

Ironically the original email was from an online store which provided a list of new and useful products to help declutter – none of which was a skip bin, a wheelie bin, a dust bin or any kind of rubbish bin for that matter.

The adage for decluttering as quoted in the blog is ‘a place for everything and everything in its place’. As one who struggles when things seem a bit crowded (trains, my desk, my mind) ‘everything’ could really just be ‘some’ things. Aren’t there ‘some’ things that we can put away and other things that we could just throw away?

When I tell him about a great sale, the Cliche often responds to me, ‘oh yeah save thousands’. It grates on me when he does this … mostly because he is right. Do I need to buy things to save money? That’s how I feel about the email. How can I be decluttering my home if I am buying more things to put in it?

With two small children and a house that needs a lotto win spent on it in renovations, decluttering is a full time job – or maybe I am simply confusing that with cleaning up. Here are some of my necessities:

  • sunscreen – this is just a given
  • internet access – if you’ve read my previous post you’ll know why and fortunately this doesn’t take up much room
  • 50 old cloth nappies to wipe up spills, to use as extra sized bibs on porridge mornings, and for cleaning the car
  • 20 sets of colouring pen, crayons or pencils because two year old art needs to have the hues exactly right to keep two year old tantrums to a minimum
  • 500 pieces of the ‘little people’ toy set because we need to confuse our children by giving them cave men pieces and the Noah’s ark ones (okay I added this one for sarcasm but also because sometimes they are handy to deflect the before-mentioned two year old tantrums. Actually sometimes these can cause the tantrums).

Not so long ago I travelled for a year with nothing more than a set of goods and chattels, that weighed between 14 – 18 kilograms on any given day (‘given’ I spent some time in Argentinian wine country). I admit that I occasionally sent a parcel back ‘home’ with the odd souvenir. I can’t claim to have reduced my entire life to only a few kilograms. I did leave some of my favourite furniture behind, in very good hands.

However, it highlighted to me that:

  • you can survive wearing the same seven pairs of undies, if you hand wash them, for a year
  • you can wear your climbing boots to the symphony in eastern European countries if you don’t care what people you are never going to see again think of you
  • you don’t need to take them from home if you can make the appropriate hand gestures for motion sickness tablets in pharmacies in Ecuador (the trick is saying ‘el mar’ and pretending to vomit)
  • you won’t end up with too many double headed eagle souvenirs if you learn quickly enough that someone nodding their head in Albania is really saying no.

We adapt. Yep, I have said it. We are human beings and we adapt and sometimes we bask in the joy of adapting and other times we resent it. Back after my travels I adapted into the new surroundings that come with two healthy, happy, messy, children, a house needing renovations and sharing it with someone who is more than happy to plan it with me (we’re adapting to each other’s style). As a result I have an overstuffed home that probably needs a declutter involving a seven metre skip bin.

Maybe I only need sunscreen, internet access, nine old cloth nappies, ten sets of pens, pencils and crayons and 50 ‘little people’. Maybe what I need to do is simply hit ‘unsubscribe’ on those emails purporting to make to make my life less cluttered, and virtually start decluttering.