Tag Archive | Blithering

Me, if I were a doctor

Ever see a cartoon and think that was you?

Not just a meme that you think is funny or something you relate to, but something that is you?

This cartoon is so me, I can hear my voice. Friends can hear my voice.

What’s my identity? I am…

If I told you my name in real life, would you feel you knew me better?

My job? Is that needed to form a picture of my identity, of who I am?

What about my nationality? I always call myself Australian, but that itself may not be so clear.

Turns out I probably couldn’t sit in the Australian Senate. There’s a whole lot of mess (fun if you like seeing the conservatives squirm) going on in the Australian Parliament over those who may not be only Australian, some with a tenuous link such as I have.

My father was English. He migrated as a teen with his family. But the quirk of British citizenship law means I can claim British citizenship by decent. Not that I have. But I could. So that means under the Australian Constitution I am not allowed to sit in the Senate, unless I renounce any claim on British citizenship before I stand for parliament.

I have no desire to live in another country. I wouldn’t mind spending a year in England, but have no desire to stay there for good.

I feel like an Australian. I call myself an Australian. I am sure I am an Australian. I feel a connection to this land.

Still, if another country’s law says you can claim citizenship, apparently you are ineligible for the Senate. Not other Houses of Parliament mind. Strange that it depends on another country’s law and not the country you were born in, who’s passport you travel under, and where you have lived your life.

“Politicians should be 100% committed to Australia and its values and shouldn’t have joint citizenship.” So says the vox populi on my radio this morning.

Mmm??? Whenever I hear things like this, I have to ask what values are you talking about? Is there a list we all subscribe to? Aren’t many of the values shared by many nationalities.

There’s always been much that I don’t share or even like about Australian values – following sporting teams or playing it, never seen the point in it; misogynistic, long history of it; racism, again long history and still strong, as seen in our horrendous treatment of asylum-seekers and Aborigines; anti-intellectualism and mocking of education. Oh and I am not a fan of hot weather nor the beach. Have never been able to body surf!

I don’t think you need a blind allegiance to all that is good and bad to show support. And that doesn’t mean I don’t support Australian values. I invest much of myself in making things better.

Clearly to others I’m an Aussie. It’s not only my accent that gives me away. Maybe it’s my openness to people. Not to say other nationalities don’t have that. Probably it’s my propensity to use obscene language – I swear like a trooper. No, I swear like an Australian. I’m definitely brash. And bold.

Anyway, whatever the debate about values, I can’t stand for the Australian Senate. Strange that people think having no other citizenship means you’ll be more loyal – wonder how that worked for the Philby, Burgess and Maclean spy affair, among others? Or that you’ll be more loyal if you renounce another citizenship? I mean if you can verbally say you give something up, you could easily give up the Australian citizenship.

What’s your identity? Do you think you’re typical for your nationality?

[Sorry, if you thought I would reveal my “in real life” nomenclature. Not that I keep my Lucinda blitherings totally separate from my non-digital life, just don’t want to be searchable.]

Why I had children!

A FB “friend” posted an article about being childless.

The FB article said it would address our misconceptions (okay maybe not the word it used), okay it said assumptions about why women do not have children and the stereotypes of childless women.

I think the reverse is also often true. There are false assumptions about why women get pregnant and stereotypes about what motherhood is.

I never wanted children. I had children because I got pregnant.

I was unable to take hormones, such as the pill, for medical reasons. And let’s face it, who wants to use a condom in a committed, monogamous relationship? I hate the smell of rubber and latex and I react to it in ways I won’t go into.

My gyno actually said having a child would clear out my uterus; I was having multiple false positives to Pap smears.

I was in love and pretty sure I had found a man I would spend my life with. So there was no way I would have an abortion. Hey, we had a solid income and a home. There were worse things that could happen.

If I’d been able to take the pill, I probably wouldn’t have had children for a very long time as it’s never the right time. My studies. My career. Our relationship. A mortgage. My travels.

Three years after my first, I had my second child for the same reason as my first. I had sex and in the moment of passion didn’t care about the very unreliable method of contraception we were using. I got pregnant. I still couldn’t take the pill. No one would prescribe it for me as I had had a blood clot which caused temporary blindness and still affects my vision.

I remember a sexist, pompous prig of a single man with whom I worked saying, “I didn’t think anyone had unplanned pregnancies anymore!”

Spoken like someone who was single, had limited knowledge of women’s bodies, and didn’t understand, or have, sex drive. Or no one who wanted to have sex with him.

So there was no burning desire within me, no plan, to have children. And I wasn’t particularly maternal. I still largely am not with other people’s babies. I never saw myself with a house in the suburbs and kids in the yard.

But I was a god damn great mother once they came along. Yes, there were moments that I hated it, moments that I wanted out, moments of utter boredom.

But I’m so glad I fell pregnant twice. So glad the decision was taken out of my hands.

Yes, without children my mortgage would have been paid off. We’d have travelled more. We’d have had more dinners and nights out. I might have finished my masters.

But that’s more of the same-same. Really big woop if we got to go to more restaurants, to more expensive places. Big woop if our mortgage was now gone.

We would have missed out on the pure love of a baby and toddler; sharing the wonderment and joy of learning and experiencing the world through a child’s eyes; creating the magic of Christmas and Easter bunny; the palpable love between brothers. (Look at photo below. Can you see the pride and awe in The Dreamer’s face at the cleverness and skill of his older brother?)

I would have missed out on my boys thinking I was truely awesome and amazing because I could make an ugly, wonky brown caterpillar cake that adults saw as ugly and wonky but they saw as cool; and my boys thinking I was truely skilled because I could sew on a button. No one else would think that. No one else would share my view of myself as incredibly clever.

And I got to experience the joy of silly games and play and uncontrollable laughter.

My relationship with my boys is changing as they reach adulthood and become more independent. (Well as much as millenials can be.) I get to go to stand up comedy shows with my son who shares my sense of humour, which is brilliant as my husband hates comedy shows. I get to learn current slang terms and social media changes and what is happening in my neighbourhood because of my connected son. We go to concerts together. We have political discussions. We enjoy each other’s company.

I never wanted children. I never planned to get pregnant. I wasn’t maternal. I didn’t plan to be a family in the ‘burbs. But I don’t resent that sliding door opening. And that it did, it is not the sum totality of my identity. You don’t have to give up career and travel and studies and love and “lifestyle” when you have kids.

I know there’s many who can’t get pregnant, who struggle conceiving a child, who have all many of heart-wrenching conditions which don’t let the baby go to full-term. My heart goes out to them.

And I know people don’t have children by choice for many, many reasons. For these people, just as you may not want others to make assumptions about your choice, don’t make assumptions about what I may or may not be thinking about your choice, even to thinking that I might be making assumptions. I don’t think all women should or want to have children.

And if I now think work and travel, and not being comfortable around babies (god sake you can learn) and not feeling maternal are shit reasons not to have kids, well listing these reasons in an article, especially when the person quoted is in their 20s, is not going to convince me of the logic and validity of the arguments. But I also think my view is as irrelevant to someone’s childfree-by-choice decisions as their view is on what they think I am thinking of their childfree status from my status as a “breeder”.

Comment or not, as you wish.

Changing doctors 

I have a GP that I trust. She makes good calls. And she knows me well – knows I hate taking medication, so tells me why I should. And she seems to know the best specialists. 

Several times my GP has been unavailable and I’ve stressed about finding another. I have gone to medical centres when things are not really bad but I need to be checked out quickly, throat infection and the like. (My GP can be hard to get in to see – the downside of being popular – and she takes her time with patients so is often running two hours late.) But I don’t want to see medical centre doctors for real needs and they rarely look at you as a while person, listening to the one thing you say is wrong and quickly getting you out the door. Given that many of them are overseas trained doctors, I don’t trust they know the right/best specialists. 

One time I tried a doctor recommended by a friend. I had a bad throat infection. I just wanted to be checked out before I left for the snow. To be trapped on the mountain with a secondary infection wouldn’t be fun. But I was in there for ages. I know I should appreciate the thoroughness (especially as this was the opposite of my medical centre whinge and she was trying to get to know me) but being quizzed about my uterus and periods when I wanted my throat looked at and getting a referral for an internal ultrasound and more blood tests was not what I wanted. (I didn’t go for the ultrasound or the blood tests and went back to my GP who didn’t think they were necessary.)

So 24 hours in from my knee injury and I still can’t walk. I try to make an appointment with my GP. I haven’t seen her since last year. The number is disconnected. Bugger! She must have retired!!!

What to do?

I contact some friends for recommendations. Of course, good GPs probably aren’t taking new patients. 

I am about to phone one when it hits me. I’m in another state. I need to put the area code in front of the number. 

Success! Well, of a kind. My doctor is on leave. But I will see her colleague. I don’t know her but at least I’m not starting afresh. 

Do you have a general practitioner you have been seeing for a long time? Do you stress about changing doctors?

More on caveats 

Do you use a rating system for books or films? If so, do you give full marks?

 

I don’t think most people would think 2 stars means the book is OK. Then again, I know people who won’t give five stars. (Just as I’ve known English teachers who wouldn’t give full marks for an essay!)

Well besides the fact that if you have a scale, say one to five, and you leave off the ends, haven’t you just made the scale one to four? 

I find the fact that on Goodreads you can’t give half marks so by using one to four difficult. It limits you so you have to capture books together that you may not have lumped together on your satisfaction rating. You’ve only got four groupings!!!


Anyway, put aside those queries on the logic of not giving top marks, to deal with my main objection. 

Giving any mark is dependent on contexts and caveats. 

Let’s use TripAdvisor as an example. I might stay at a cheap place that’s a bit down at the heels but give it four, because  it was good FOR the price and expectations. Conversely if I stayed at a five star resort but felt it didn’t live up to the price, even if the accommodation and included activities were better than the cheap down-at-heels place, I might give it three, or even four stars. The latter rating doesn’t mean it is equal to or the same as the down-at-heels place but that it is not the best expensive place to stay. 

Does this make sense?

Here’s another example. I ate out at our recent trip to Canberra. One was an expensive restaurant. $150 for two without wine. (And I had two entrees rather than an entree and a main which would have bumped up the price.) I gave it five stars. The food was divine and the service friendly and attentive. The service at the other restaurant, a modern Indian, was also friendly and attentive, but without that finesse from the expensive restaurant. The modern Indian was cuts above your average suburban Indian, and priced accordingly. I gave it four stars. You want something nice and tasty and above your normal butter chicken and beef vindaloo? This is it. But if you expected, and prefer, your normal suburban Patak style Indian, you might be shocked at the price and give this restaurant two stars. Alternatively, if the Indian restaurant was priced higher, say at the same as the expensive restaurant, my rating would drop from four to three, maybe even two. 

Films have contextualised expectations too. It could depend on whether I watched it for free on TV or paid for it at the cinema. Or my expectations. Let’s say I paid for a movie, I might give it five stars, even with caveats, because it spoke to me, made my heart sing, or made me laugh a lot. 

And books? Books that I read and say, “That was awesome. I couldn’t put it down,” they get five stars. 

But beyond caveats and contexts, I get to the heart of star ratings. I hate them for books and films. How can you compare a self-help book with a work of fiction? A piece of literature with some Woman’s-Weekly-stickered, trashy, quickly written novel? (Yes, I’m a book snob.)

And at the heart of it, how can you sum up a book or a film in a number? I need to explain my caveats. I loved it but … It was good but … It was OK but … It was shit but …  

I give it five stars but

Assaulting our senses and sensibilities

Shop windows loud with placards so exclamatory they make one’s eyes jump. (Thank you J.B.Priestley for that phrase. I love the “with placards so exclamatory.)


I’m not a frequenter of shopping centres. The noise, the crowds, the commercialism rankles me. I tend to limit myself to my minor Westfield shopping centre – it has enough choice for me – and within that centre I tend to limit myself to one department store. The one that plays gentle music and has more open space and fewer people. Even so, going once every ten weeks is enough for me. Add to this going once every ten weeks into the city. 

I hate the visual pollution of shouty shop signs. 

I could never work in sales. I’d be telling people they don’t need to buy. And, indeed, they shouldn’t go into debt to buy whatever it was I might be selling. This product wont give them happiness. Go out and do something. Go for a walk somewhere nice in the fresh air, close to nature. Read a book. Talk to family friends. 

Though all this aside, I can shop with the best of them. And I just bought a CD of a local up and coming artist (Alex Lahey, listen to her on YouTube) from the shop in the picture above.  Ahhh, inherent inconsistencies, I embrace you. 

But let’s make a start and not buy from any shops with shouty placards so exclamatory. 

Down with visual pollution!

The day I thought I was choosing a blog title but was actually choosing how I was going to live.

I was chatting via text with a friend. I asked her… actually here’s the conversation thread. Why bother retype it?


Now in her defence, we had been discussing the book I was reading and how it provided food for my blog. And she did provide a couple of blog titles:   A Perfect Day for Scones and Assaulting our Senses and Sensibilities. 

So how are you feeling today? Active with the activists? Or would you rather be like Mercester and choosing a blog title? Or would you rather be disappearing in a good book?

I do so have good intentions in being more active in my local community. Protecting the trees. Protecting heritage sites. And so on. I know if I commit, I just won’t have the time and energy to sustain a commitment. 

One day. 

Peace – curses to the internal combustion engine. 

I love watching the English TV show “Escape to the Country”. Like many millions of others around the world, I imagine myself in any number of “character-filled” homes near a lovely village. 

But I am always amazed that even when they are seemingly in the middle of the countryside, you can hear the roar, sometimes distant, sometimes close by, of a busy motorway. 


Why would I want to live in the country and hear the constant noise of traffic?

Is there nowhere in England that the peace of total quiet can be heard? 

My current friend, J.B. Priestley (OK, he’s not my friend but I really like his book that I have referred to before) opines that quiet “is the most luxurious commodity on the world. I doubt if wealth can buy anything better than a little extra privacy and quietness.”

I know, I know, people in glass houses etc etc. The car has given me wonderful holidays and access to quiet, peaceful areas. And my two huge road trips in the last two weeks’ break obviously come at the expense of someone’s peace and quiet, not to mention all the pollution. 

I live near one of the noisiest roads of Sydney. I no longer hear it or the trains that run between me and the noisy road. Unless there is an especially noisy train or truck. 


I do love to escape noise. Hard to imagine that in the early 20th century, according to Priestley, they thought modern transport was too fast for humankind to deal with. Too noisy and too fast pace. They feared mental distress. And there was Priestley, never thinking we’d get to over a hundred kilometres an hour. And how prescient is Priestley with this idea:  No that we are whizzed about the world, there is no time for absorbing and adjusting. Perhaps it is for this reason that the world that the traveller knows is beginning to show less and less variety. By the time we can travel at four hundred miles an hour we shall probably move over a dead uniformity, so that the bit of reality we left at one end of a journey is twin to the bit of reality we step into at the other end. Movement but no real travel. 

Anyone stuck in airports will know this is so.

But back to cars. 

On our road trips, I hate it when Mr S stops for a tea and sandwich break by the side of the highway. I’d rather drive a little off the main road, and drink my tea without the sound of traffic. 

So my dilemma is: where to live when I love the culture, restaurants, libraries, theatre, people watching of urban life but hate the noise of traffic. 

My recent trip to the northwest of the state was heaven. Peace and quiet. But I know while I dream of living in such a peaceful place, after a few days I’d dream of leaving. 

Are you suffering nervous distress from the speed and noise of modern transport? And where do you sit on the Quiet Country/ Busy City dichotomy? 

Tell me your thoughts. And if you live on the east coast of Australia, or even better close to Sydney, where should I live?

Work

Is it exchanging toil for so many dollars or is it the full expression of yourself? Is it the sign that you are you, the teacher/the builder/the nurse/the librarian/the engineer/the whatever, and still at it. 

I’m reading J.B. Priestley’s English Journey, with the rambling subtitle: Being a rambling of what one man saw and heard and felt and thought during a journey through England the autumn of the year 1933. 

From the start this book has given me much food for thought and reflection. And the concept of work is one with which I grapple. 

Priestley encounters Old George, the mason, who is building a wall. Old George knows he can do something better than most everyone else and enjoys his work. Work is the sign that he is Old George, the mason. George does not feel he is a cog in a machine and is not robbed of “dignity and sweetness of work”. George takes his wages home and is content, having left a wall of substance, of quality, one that will stand for a long time to come. 


When I started work in my 20s, I enjoyed it. The social aspect. The sudden income that made things possible. The feeling of making a contribution to society and a difference to the lives of individuals. Admittedly, there were many years of not working in my 20s; years spent finishing uni, backpacking around Europe and on maternity leave.  

In my 30s I worked as I needed to provide for my family. I was worn down by the amount of marking required as an English teacher and by some of the structures of the different institutions (non-gov) I worked for and fitting this in as a perennially tired working mother. But in the main, I enjoyed work. My identity was wrapped up in it. It gave a structure to my life. I felt satisfied that I was making a positive impact. I wanted to stay in teaching but without the marking. So I returned to study to become a teacher-librarian. Not working wasn’t a choice. I needed to pay for things, there were many things I wanted to buy; I couldn’t see myself doing anything outside of teaching. Not working was an alien a concept as atheism was in the Middle Ages. 

I no longer feel that satisfaction, that drive. I’d happily not work. (But with the same income.) My identity has become less about my work. I rarely answer with total accuracy about my job. Not because I am ashamed of it. Rather, to avoid preconceptions and because it is not who I am. Though if I stopped working, I’d probably say I was before I retired. Maybe to cash in on the kudos or maybe in final acknowledgment that my job is part of my identity?


It isn’t that I don’t have daily moments of enjoyment and fun at work. I do. I think I just want to have more time and energy for other things – travel, socialising, gardening, learning a language. And there’s many more things I’d like to buy.  Actually, I think I’ve just worked for long enough. 

Lucky George. Or is his contentment a sign of being of simple-minded, unable to question deeply one’s purpose in life?

Of course, questioning the role of one’s job in one’s identity sure beats the alternative. Being unemployed and without income. 

What does your job mean to you? Is it part of your identity? Or a means to earn income? Have you changed your views on work as decades have passed?

Reclaim the morning 

I like slow mornings. Taking my time pottering around. Quietly. 

Actually both features, quiet and slowness, are essential. 

Starting work at 7.40am means: Gulping down breakfast; racing out the door at 7.10am (obscene!), crawling through traffic, which makes a mockery of my earlier pace. 

Drinking a cup of tea, blogging and reading at 8am (this week I had a meeting close to home so dodn’t need to rush off to work at my normal ungodly middle of the night hour) I realised: if I could go to work at a decent hour, a human hour, an hour that would allow me to sleep in, potter around, have a quiet start to the day, say leave at 9am, I would be happier and healthier. 

It was quiet and calm that later start morning because Mr S had left for work and the offspring had not arisen. 

Weekends are not so peaceful with Mr S schtomping through the house, “doing jobs”, doing his exercises (which are very incomprehensibly noisy), schmutzing his breakfast. Actually everything he does, he does with noise! I have never heard someone do a zip up as loudly as he. Doors are opened with gusto and universe-disturbing sound. 

Be still my mind and my soul! Spring is here and while I won’t get another solo, slow, quiet late weekday morning for a while, if I time my breakfast right, as Mr S eats in warmer weather on the verandah, I can have a slow, quiet weekend breakfast.