The surprising similarities between a Slayer and a Mother

If you discovered that it was your destiny to fight demons, wouldn’t you feel a little bit put out, to say the least? Particularly when your friends don’t appear to have any such unpleasant and pre-destined fates and are able to just go about, like any other Modern person, making choices about their lives.

Recently, I read a light-hearted book on philosophy, written for the layperson, or, as the author, Mark Rowlands, blatantly states, for the “couch potato”.  Aptly, it’s called Everything I Know, I Learned from TV.

Each chapter of the book uses a well known TV show (from 1990s – first decade of the 2000s) to illustrate some philosophical principles. For example, Buffy the Vampire Slayer is used to illustrate the notion of obligation. The Simpsons is used to explore the idea of being happy with your lot in life, Seinfeld is used to illustrate the idea of individualism, etc. I am the ideal demographic for this book, as a generation-X reader who had seen multiple episodes of every show featured except 24, which I’ve never watched.

It was an interesting read even though I didn’t always appreciate Rowlands’ overly-jocular style, but the device of utilising modern TV to illustrate philosophical arguments has helped me gain a general, if very superficial, understanding of some of these ideas.

The basic premise Rowlands puts forward is that there is a divide between “pre-Modern” and “Modern” thought, which all hinges on our sense of our identity and our fundamental role in the world. The Pre-Modern view was that these two things, our identities and our role in the world, were inseparable. Each of us was part of a greater chain of being, with a role to play. The relationship we held to others, for example, as servant, parent, or king, were God-given roles that constituted our very identity, and our primary obligation was to fulfil that role.

Guillem_de_Cabestany

A Pre-Modern Knight and Lady, fulfilling their roles. Pic: Wikimedia Commons

In Modern thought, says Rowlands,  identity is not fixed by any external structures. Our understanding of identity is that we are free to be whoever we want to be, so our primary obligation is to ourselves, to be the best person that we can be.

Sound simple? Wrong! Things were simple back in Pre-Modern times. You got up in the morning and went about your day, without ever having a crisis about what you “should” be spending your time doing. If you were a servant, you went outside and emptied the slops bucket, milked the cow, and strangled and plucked the chicken for lunch. If you were a king, you declared war on a smaller country, married your daughter off to her second cousin, the King of Bulgaria, and commissioned poet to write an ode to your noble deeds. Ah, for the the good old days when things were straightforward.

The Modern way of thinking opens up a whole can of worms – for example: if our primary obligation is to be the best person that we can be, how do we know what sort of person it is best to be? What sort of values are the best values to live by? If there is no intrinsically “right” way to be, this means all choices are equally valid so how can any choice be “better” than any other choice? These, apparently, are just some of the questions we all grapple with in the Modern Age.

No wonder the Modern Age subsequently developed Psychotherapy.

To illustrate this fundamental distinction, Rowlands beings by presenting the character of Buffy Summers, who is apparently a Pre-Modern gal stuck in a Modern age. Destined to be The Slayer, whose primary obligation is to fight demons and save humanity, Buffy could theoretically choose to ignore her duty, but she would still be The Slayer. She would be bothered by the fact that she was not fulfilling her primary obligation, particularly as she would be constantly reminded of her failure, as evidenced by all the death and destruction around her in Sunnydale.

In the meantime, however, Buffy’s friends don’t have any pesky pre-destined roles, and can choose to do and be whatever they want to be, their primary obligation being self-fulfilment, or, to be the best person that they can be.

The test that Rowlands sets, which reveals how Buffy is caught in a Pre-Modern time-warp, is whether a role is identity-consituting, or identity-reflecting. In Modern thought, says Rowlands, there is no such thing as an identity-constituting role, ie, a role that if taken away from us, would destroy our sense of ourselves and our place in the world. Any role that we Moderns take on can only reflect our identity. So, if Buffy was told that she could no longer be The Slayer, (as I think did happen in one episode), her identity would be in crisis, because she IS The Slayer. Whereas if Xander was barred from being Buffy’s wise-cracking friend, this wouldn’t affect his sense of identity, only his sense of injustice.

Buffy and the "Scooby Gang" - pic: Buffy Wiki

Buffy and the “Scooby Gang” – pic: Buffy Wiki

Notably, Rowlands does not give a specific range of dates, for his models of Pre-Modern and Modern thought. Rowlands acknowledges, as had already occurred to me while reading this book, that “Modern” references a current mode of thought that is dominant but not universal, and is more commonly associated with Westernised cultures. I could certainly think of exceptions, even within Western cultures, for example, religious people believe that there is a greater being that they answer to, and that there is a right way to do things and a wrong, or sinful, way. They may also be able to subsume their need for self-fulfilment within this life, through their belief in a greater reward that awaits in another life. Therefore, theoretically at least, they are not beset with the same dilemmas about what choices to make, or what is the best way to live.

There is another very common exception I can see to Rowlands’ theory of Modern thought. That is, me.

I was not born into a pre-destined role that was handed down to me – I’m not the son of a baker, or daughter of a candlestick maker – but I am a parent. Rowlands touches on how parenthood is an exception to his theory, without going into any detail, probably because the role of parent is a spanner in the works. Or perhaps, as he briefly suggests, being a parent steps us back into a Pre-Modern model of identity, but one that we can’t avoid.

It did not seem pre-destined, nor inevitable that I would become a mother – until I was about 29 I fully expected that I would never take on that role. In that sense, it fits with the Modern notion of identity, because there was a choice involved – I chose to have a child and therefore to become a parent. However, once that choice is made, being a parent does become an indelible part of one’s identity, that can’t be taken away by a quick change of roles. If my child was taken away, or died, I would still be a mother. If I was, for some reason, not allowed to fulfil my role as a mother, I would have a traumatic crisis in identity to deal with, probably with life-long consequences. If I, for some reason, was unable to deal with the difficulties of the role, and walked away from it, it is also likely that I would experience emotional and psychological ramifications with life-long consequences. Like Buffy, I can’t turn my back on my role without severe consequences to my identity.

However, perhaps in contrast to the purely Pre-Modern, I don’t see being a parent as my only identity, or even, in a social sense, as my primary identity. On a conscious level, I get more of my sense of identity from my work and social relationships. I know that this differs for others, in fact it was another surprise to me in the early days when I was home with a baby, to find that I was dying to get back to work. I found that I desperately wanted to feel as though I was doing something “of value” – even though I knew, of course, that what I was doing was of more value, however you measured it, than any job I’d be employed in.

That is probably why I could relate to, and give credibility to, Rowlands theories about Modern thought, because I know that for myself the idea of self-fulfilment, and trying to be the best person that I can be, is a driving force, that wasn’t satisfied by “just” being a mother.

*

Today it’s a public holiday, so I’ve spent some of it reading, and drafting this post, and pondering these ideas. This ensures that by bed time I’ll be highly annoyed at myself for not doing something more useful, like cleaning the fridge or spending more quality time with my daughter. It’s a frustratingly common phenomenon for me – intense frustration at the end of a holiday period, because I didn’t spend my time in the best way possible.

Today, I pause to wonder why that is. Is it because I suspect that a different choice of how to spend my time would make me a better person?

The first time ever I saw her face

The first time I saw my daughter, I thought she was a lizard.

The midwife had slapped her down, lengthways across my stomach – that was Standard Operating Procedure, designed to facilitate mother-baby bonding. I admit that I was probably pretty delirious from exhaustion, after the exertion of the past few hours, and the trauma of giving birth. The long, arduous discomfort of labour had all come to a sudden end when the gynaecologist swooped in, dressed for surgery, and next thing I knew, this slightly slimy, pinky-purple creature had been slapped down on top of me.

From my awkward vantage point, I gazed up at this as-yet-unknown being that I was supposed to bond with. She was lying across me so that, from my perspective, her head appeared sideways. She made very little noise, but I could detect stealthy little movements. Her eyelids were half closed, making her eyes appear like slits, but I could see her pupils darting backwards and forwards, or, viewed side-on, up and down. Her retinas were probably in shock at the sudden light, or perhaps they had yet to learn to stop and focus. In my dazed state, I assessed that her body was mostly a long torso, her limbs way too small. Her little red tongue was darting in and out of her mouth, probably also as a result of the shock experienced at this new system of breathing in oxygen, that she had only just discovered for the first time.

Yes, it’s no doubt that I was delirious, but my first thought was that she was a lizard.

*

The first time I ever went with my daughter to hospital in an ambulance she was 11. She had a suspected fracture in the C7 vertebrae at the base of her neck. It had occurred two days earlier and had not seemed serious, until the following day, when she held her neck stiffly and was clearly in pain when she moved her head.

When I understood what the radiographer at the clinic was telling me, in a worried tone, I felt a sense of panic. It didn’t help that while he called the ambulance, I had to leave her alone at the radiology clinic while I moved my car from a 2 hour park and tried to find, as quickly as possible, somewhere nearby where I could leave it all day, an impossible task in an inner suburb of Melbourne. I dumped it in a 4 hour park, put in as many coins as I had left, and came running back, my heart in my mouth. And it stayed there when I spotted my kid, lying out on the footpath in the middle of the Footscray CBD, strapped into a hospital stretcher, with a neckbrace on, and an ambulance officer next to her.

While we rode in the ambulance to the Royal Children’s hospital, I listened to the paramedic chat with her, intermittently throwing in questions like, “can you wiggle your toes?” “have you felt any tingling in your fingers?” I wondered if I would have realised what these symptoms indicated, if she had felt them and reported them to me. I wondered if it was possible that she could still feel them any time soon.

But back when I was rushing up to her, after moving the car,  preparing a cheerful demeanour to hide how worried I was,  I had looked down at her, lying on a stretcher on the footpath outside the radiology clinic, her neck in a brace, ready to reassure her that everything would be ok. To my surprise, she had looked back up at me with a grin on her face.

Because at first she thought it was all “kind of exciting.”

 

 

 

 

The History of Love

I was intrigued by the title of the book my daughter was reading, so I turned it over to read the blurb on the back. From this, I gathered that The History of Love was not a history, but a fictional tale, centered around two people, a young girl and an old Jewish man, both living in New York, and somehow connected through the existence of a book the old man wrote many years earlier.

Strangers living in New York, and connecting through a mysterious book. My curiosity was piqued, so I opened the book and idly began to read page 1:

When they write my obituary. Tomorrow. Or the next day. It will say, LEO GURSKY IS SURVIVED BY AN APARTMENT FULL OF SHIT. I’m surprised I haven’t been buried alive. The place isn’t big. I have to struggle to keep a path clear between bed and toilet, toilet and kitchen table, kitchen table and front door. If I want to get from the toilet to the front door, impossible, I have to go by way of the kitchen table.

Leo Gursky had my attention by his 4th sentence. Clearly this dude had personality. I continued reading a bit further.

After describing his obstacle-filled journey to the front door if someone knocks, Leo goes on to wonder who will be the last person to see him alive, musing that his money is on the boy who delivers the Chinese take-out he orders four times weekly. He then describes how he deliberately tries to be seen when he goes out, sometimes spilling change on the floor of a store just to create a scene, or tying up a sales assistant at Athlete’s Foot, trying on a Reebok “bootie”  that both he and the sales assistant know he is not going to buy.

By this point, I would have kept reading anyway, but then Leo delivered this line:

I never actually buy. All I want is not to die on a day when I went unseen.  

I had to put the book down and go and get a tissue to deal with my eyes, which had suddenly filled up with tears. I felt as you do when you read, or realise, some truth that had been lurking in your unconscious for ever. It seemed to me as if Leo Gursky had just provided a poignant explanation for the behaviour of plenty of elderly people I’ve encountered, at the same time as he had voiced a universal truth. No-one wants to die on a day when they went unseen. Equally, no-one wants to think of someone they love, dying alone, and unnoticed. I know that this is true because my own younger brother died in that circumstance, unnoticed for 24 hours.  That’s probably the real reason my eyes welled with tears when Leo said this.

Leo’s narration really makes this book for me and I felt rewarded for sticking with him. Krauss lovingly portrays the ugly, lonely old Jewish man, living in his New York apartment, eating his Metamucil bar for breakfast, and remembering his earlier life. Leo arrived in New York years ago, an immigrant from Poland. He became a locksmith, breaking into buildings all over New York. Now retired due to ill health, he lives alone in his apartment where he keeps a slide projector under his bed, and in a jar on a shelf, a slide, a photo of his childhood house, to look at.  It’s something I do on special occasions, my birthday, say. He has no family. In his wallet, he keeps a card that says:

MY NAME IS LEO GURSKY I HAVE NO FAMILY PLEASE CALL PINELAWN CEMETERY I HAVE A PLOT THERE IN THE JEWISH PART THANK YOU FOR YOUR CONSIDERATION.

 

The History of Love

 

 

The other narrator in The History of Love is a young girl who introduces herself thus:

1. MY NAME IS ALMA SINGER. 

When I was born my mother named me after every girl in a book my father gave her called The History of Love.

Alma’s father is dead, her mother is absorbed in translating novels, and she says of her younger brother:

For a month he referred to himself in the third person as Mr Fruit. On his sixth birthday he took a running leap out of a second-floor window and tried to fly. He broke his arm and got a permanent scar on his forehead, but from then on, nobody ever called him anything but Bird.

For various reasons, Alma decides that she must hunt down her namesake, but winds up inadvertently hunting down the author of the The History of Love. As it turns out, the real-life novel is named after the mysterious book that connects the two main characters. The book-within-the-book is lyrical and beautiful, a work of art, written by a young man in love, filled with fables and reflections that illustrate all the forms that love can take.

This turned out to be a stunning novel, and has quickly gone straight to my all-time favourites list. There are many elements to this story that are reminiscent of another favourite, Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close. Not least, how originally and inventively drawn the main protagonist is, the richness of his internal musings, and the setting of the story in New York, but also, the way the narrative is developed through crossing back and forth from two different narrators, and the linkage of contemporary New York with the rich history of its Jewish immigrants.

The narrative sometimes feels labryinth-like, as the-novel-within-the-novel device, and the story, set in the past, of the person acknowledged as the author of the fictional novel, blends with the stories set in the present, and the requirement to piece together snippets of information that are gleaned through flashbacks cause the reader to have to work hard at times, to keep up.

The History of Love,  not unlike Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close, has the elements of a mystery, as discoveries along the way reveal details that shed light on characters’ pasts. However, unlike a generic mystery, sometimes these details are revealed only to the reader, and remain heartbreakingly unknown to the central characters.

And in this way, just like in real life, The History of Love, has no neat, Hollywood-style resolution. Things happen when it’s disappointingly too late. Characters remain ignorant to the ignoble actions of people they believed were friends, and therefore unaware of the impact that the action had on their own dreams. Opportunities are missed. The love of their life marries someone else. People die before they have had a chance to tell them that they love them, or even, that they exist.

I worked on my coffee for half an hour, making the most of it. The girl closed her notebook and got up to leave. The man neared the end of his newspaper. I read the headlines. I was a small part of something larger than myself. Yes, human life! Human! Life! Then the man turned the page and my heart stopped.

Like all of us, Leo and Alma make their own separate ways through lives studded with missed opportunities and failures, and take comfort from small moments of recognition, and place hope in the possibility of connecting with another human being.

 I felt my heart surge. I thought: I’ve lived this long. Please. A little longer won’t kill me.

 

 

Tijuana Taxi

This post is written in response to a recent Daily Prompt on Word Press: What sort of music was played in your house when you were growing up? What effect, (if any) did it have on your musical tastes? Admittedly, I have not answered the question, but this is what the prompt inspired:

*

Imagination

When I was a child, I lived many lives. I was a teacher, my younger siblings were the students. I was a shop keeper, they were my customers. I owned a horse, and rode across the paddocks at night. I lived, with my horse, in some mysterious, only half-formed place, out of sight, in amongst the trees that were always somewhere in my line of vision as my father drove the family car along country roads. I was a dancer. I was a Spanish woman. I lived in the cubby house my father built out in the backyard, where I fed and sheltered the poor. I had an imaginary friend named Monty. In the dark one night, I saw a menacing knight in shining armour standing guard outside my parents’ bedroom door, forbidding me to come any closer.

Imagination opened up worlds unseen by anyone but me.

Memory

For a very long time now though, I’ve been an adult. Along with all the other shortcomings that brings, one of the greatest is the failure of my imagination to so thoroughly take me to another place.

Now that I’m an adult, and even my daydreams are grounded in reality, to experience such complete absorption in imagination, I have to draw on my memory.

But there is a problem with that, because memory fades, and also, at times, deceives.

*

My memories of childhood are fragmented and sparse, but here is something I do recall:

I recall a special skirt. It was a soft cotton, cream-colored, full, covered in a a pattern of small blue flowers, with a frill around the bottom. It was a “dress-up.” Perhaps it arrived in a bag of “hand-me-downs” from my older cousins. I don’t know where it came from, but I loved this skirt, and reserved it for a special ritual. I may have been pre-school aged at this time, or 5 or 6 at most.

I would ask my mother –  inevitably, in this memory, busy in the kitchen – to play one of her favourite records, Going Places!  by Herb Alpert and the Tijuana Brass. Mum would put the vinyl album on the old record player in the kitchen, and I would put on my skirt. And in the carpeted hallway, just outside the kitchen, in my frilly skirt, I would dance.

Oh boy, did I dance. Memory, (or is it imagination?) conjures up a picture of a little girl with an earnest face, that is red and sweaty with the exertion of twirling, hopping, and doing the can-can, to Going Places! in her special skirt.

Herb Alpert - Going Places!

Don’t worry, she’s strapped in!

Pic: Wikipedia

My adult memory is too swamped from storing all the minutiae of 40-odd years worth of life, for me to have recalled the name of the album of its own accord, but that is what the internet, and Wikipedia, are for. A search quickly located the specific album, which was easily recognised by the memorable album cover, and by certain track titles. (Interestingly, I remembered the aeroplane on the cover but I’d forgotten the reclining waitress!)

In case you feel tempted to pull out your own special skirt and give it a whirl – and who would blame you? –  highly recommended titles for dancing to – according to my memory – were Tijuana Taxi, Spanish Flea, A Walk In The Black Forest, and, last but by no means least,  Zorba the Greek.

Judging by my approximate age when I was so enamoured with this album, it must have been the mid 70s, and the music was about 10 years old by then. The tunes were jazzy and infectious with a Latin/Mariachi band sound and (as in the track below) the brass section added humorous touches, such as honks, just to liven up the already upbeat mood. No wonder I couldn’t keep my excitable childish feet still listening to them!

And in my head, as I danced frantically in that hallway, it seems to my now-hazy memory that I was some other person.  I’m pretty sure that “other” person was not specific. I was too young to consciously aspire to any particular model of adulthood. If I did have a picture of a female dancer in mind, my limited frame of reference at the time means that she was probably a character from a Looney Tunes cartoon. In a very abstract sense, I was not anyone in particular, but I was not my usual self, and as I twirled in my skirt, I felt an intoxicating sensation of freedom.

*

When I was young, all it took was a few props, to be transported to some other world that existed only in my imagination. Nowadays, it doesn’t tend to have that same effect, but some music can certainly transport me back, to days that no longer exist, except as images stored in my hazy memory.

Oh, and dancing? I still love that feeling of being someone else that it gives me, but that’s a story for another time.

Herb Alpert and the Tijuana Brass – Tijuana Taxi - courtesy of Youtube

Corduroy (subtitle: the night I met Michael Hutchence)

1985 was a dreadful year for fashion all round. At least, that’s my excuse.

big-hair3

In the 80s, it was all about hair.

Pic: liketotally80s

In 1985, having a disposable income from my part-time job at the local fish and chips shop, and the ability to buy my own clothes at Target, was still a novelty. Up until I secured my part-time income the year before, my designated pocket money was around 40c per week. Growing up in a working class family of eight, in the 1970s, with 40c a week in pocket money meant most of my clothes came from “Op” shops, or were “handed down” to me from cousins. Those older cousins were a family of 9 kids, who lived on a farm and survived on one adult’s income. In other words, the clothes they passed on to myself and my sister were not going to see me feature in the Fashion on the Street pages of Dolly magazine any time soon.

Garbage bags, full of our cousins’ discarded clothes, arrived every now and then, and my sister and I would go through them seething with excitement, pulling out wind cheaters and bras. Bras?! It didn’t matter to us that every individual item was totally unfashionable, and already worn by someone else.

When I was in primary school I was barely aware that other people bought clothes brand new straight from shops. I didn’t know or care about my clothes being fashionable. From high school onwards, however, I became more aware of the yawning chasm between the fashionably dressed girls at school and myself. That was searingly obvious on the first “casual” day in year 7, for our annual walkathon, when most other girls were wearing shorts, or the 3/4 length pants that were fashionable that year, and I was wearing a second hand, mid-calf length, A-line floral skirt. With sneakers. Well, it was a 10km walkathon!

After that humiliating experience, I started to try and dress like the other girls, but with no money, and only hand-me-downs to work with, I never had a chance of looking like anything but the oldest daughter in a large, poor, repressed Catholic family. One look at me and you could tell that my parents combed my brothers’ fringes down onto the side of their heads with water for Sunday mass.

I did at time own some jeans, however my first ever pair of “jeans” (actually purchased brand new!) were beige cords, and later I recall quite a few pairs of hand-me-downs from cousins that were  (gulp!) purple and corduroy, and flared. (Reminder: flares were cool in the 70s, NOT the mid 80s.) “Casual” days at school became dreaded.

In 1984 I got a part time job working in the local fish and chips shop. Having been bringing in 40c per week up to that point I was utterly astounded (and so was my dad), after my first shift stocking the drinks fridge, to discover that I earned a whopping $4 an hour!  It was enough to buy Smash Hits and Dolly magazine, cassettes, and save to buy my own clothes.

But unfortunately, when I recall what I wore to the INXS concert I attended at the Ballarat Civic Hall in 1985, I can only conclude that I must still have been thriftily saving up my $4 per hour, and had not yet gone shopping!

Thankfully, there are no photos to remind me of what I looked like as I headed out that night. It’s just that the shame of it has been burned into my memory. Let’s just say that I tried to turn a lack of having anything remotely cool to wear into an attempt to look “bohemian.” I think that a red corduroy skirt was involved.  It’s possible that there was also a pair of white runners, covered with colored polka dots. Yes, that’s right – with a corduroy skirt. Look, I can’t be sure, and I hope I’m wrong, but I know there was a time when those polka dot sneakers were the only pair of shoes I owned (apart from my school shoes). 

Now it has to be said that INXS and corduroy are two items that just don’t go naturally in a sentence together. How does a post start out about corduroy and end up being about INXS? You are probably starting to wish you could get your money back. Well hang on a moment, because I’m about to explain. The reason I have gone into detail about my tragic outfit, is to emphasise what a pitifully daggy kid I was at that point, and really set the scene for what a friggin’ highlight in my life at that point it was to meet Michael Hutchence after the concert!

Um, yes, that’s right – daggy red corduroy-skirt girl MET Michael Hutchence after the gig. Life can seem unfair at times, can’t it, girls?

It was not hard to do. Basically, the concert ended, so everyone else politely poured out of the Civic Hall and went straight home to bed! Except for 3 people: my friend, her older brother and myself. We loitered around, near a side exit, trying to contain our excitement, trying to look casual, hoping that the band wouldn’t be secretly whisked out some other exit…….and then – OMG!!!

Through the glass doors we could see the band, casually walking down a hallway towards us! Or, in Michael’s case, sashaying down the hall towards us. At least, he is in my memory.

Now, I’m pretty sure that as he approached, the total lack of glamour in doing this gig in a civic hall in a country town became all too apparent to Hutchence, if it hadn’t been already. He could see that outside those doors there was  no media with cameras flashing, no hordes of screaming, adult women, no – just 2 teenage girls – one in a red corduroy skirt and polka dot sneakers – with older brother in tow!

Michael Hutchence. Pic NOT taken by me.

Michael Hutchence. NOT taken by me, unfortunately. I left my Kodak 120 at home.

Pic: Pinterest

But to give them credit, the band stopped and talked to us – or let’s face it, probably mostly to the older brother – and, to top off that kind gesture, before they departed, Michael leaned in and gave each girl a kiss.

Hopefully, now that you have some extra context, you will have a pretty clear picture of how thrilled I must have been at that moment. And don’t worry, I was aware even then, that it was an act of kindness, or pity – or perhaps utmost professionalism – that motivated him. But for me, at least, it was undoubtedly the highlight of my life year.

So, whether or not Michael Hutchence lost sight of his roots and let the glamour go to his head in later days, let the records show that he did a kindly deed back in 1985.

Which was to give a charitable kiss to a country town teenage girl wearing a corduroy skirt. Possibly with polka dot sneakers.

women filling out a survey

In a survey taken way back in 1937, 98 out 100 elderly women voted corduroy skirts to be “daggiest item of clothing eva”

Blabberblog

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Are there strands of your hair everywhere around the house?

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Blabberblog - available in a range of sizes and colors so that you can match it to your lounge room decor.

Blabberblog – available in a range of sizes and colors so that you can match it to your lounge room decor.

 

Pic: Wikimedia Commons

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Think??? No need. Form an idea into a coherent paragraph?? Meh – that stuff is for suckers. Who needs to – um….strawberries?…..sorry, I lost my train of thought.

Simply use Blabberblog at night, and in the morning your blog will be populated with a new post, apparently written by you. Posts are 100% guaranteed to be witty, erudite** and even at times downright delicious. If not satisfied, call the customer service number on the pack and we will refund you money in full.

Clinical trials using Blabberblog, delivered results that surpassed our expectations. The trial group, using Blabberblog, had new posts on their blogs every morning. 100% of these posts were well informed, articulate and entertaining, covering exciting topics ranging from the mating habits of deadly tropical fish to the latest developments in relationship counselling for cannibals.

The group taking a placebo averaged a new post only every week or so, and their posts were lacklustre and definitely of an inferior quality. Comments from our reviewers included the following: Humour felt forced, topics were poorly researched, and there was a severe lack of editing: sentences sometimes trailed off and grammar and punctuation were at times almost (non,?

Topics were generally mundane, ranging from a post about boiled eggs, to instructions on how to use a yoga mat. I mean, really!

In short, you can count on Blabberblog to:

Increase the amount of exciting content on your blog

Reduce dull, lifeless posts

Promote hair regrowth

Suitable for all operating systems***

All natural formulation****

Available in convenient capsule form

Comes in a range of colors and sizes to coordinate with all interior decoration options

Designed in Australia and manufactured somewhere in the Northern Hemisphere*****

Blabberblog – available now at all good newsagencies, or where you see this sign.

399px-SIGN

Pic: Wikimedia Commons

*Side effects can also include headaches, nausea, and gangrenous feet that may require amputation.

**I had to look up the meaning of erudite.

***Except operating systems with a malfunctioning heart, liver or white blood cell count.

****Natural ingredients were the inspiration for the synthetic chemicals that make up the final product.

*****Somewhere in the Northern Hemisphere known as “offshore”. At “Offshore”, the wages and conditions are equal to or less than slave labour and therefore they have a burgeoning manufacturing industry, unlike Australia, where least 3 major manufacturing industries have announced their closure in the past month, because our strong dollar, decent wages & conditions and current government’s ideology mean that the poor widdle shareholders of those companies may not make a billion dollars profit unless those businesses are moved “offshore”. 

Under Pressure

Dear Readers, (real and imagined),

Here I sit, contemplating what to write for my next post, in the unusual circumstance of having had a recent post Freshly Pressed. And as with most things in life, (especially if your star sign is Libra), I find myself noting that there are both good and bad things about that experience.

To summarise:

Good things about being Freshly Pressed:

  • It gets out all the wrinkles and makes for a smoother, silkier blog. If wrinkles are stubborn, use the Cotton setting and a liberal sprinkle of water.
  • It introduces new people, who are, for the most part, also real people, to my blog
  • Some of those people “like”, some comment, and some even follow my blog.
  • Replying to comments keeps me busy for at least a week,  thus helping Febfast to fly by with plenty of distraction.
  • Some comments are very funny. You guys kill me!
  • What with comments to reply to, and blog stats to feverishly and repeatedly check every few hours, at the height of all the excitement, I feel downright popular!

Of course, after about 7 days, the stats gradually die down again and become just a quiet shuffle of views, no doubt mostly accidental, from readers who were actually looking for instructions on how to use their yoga mats, information on why Air Supply cried, or breaking news about Nigella Lawson’s ears. You heard it here first. (No pun intended.)

A pic of my blog, right near a pic of Joachim Phoenix.

Here’s a pic of my blog, right near a pic of Joachim Phoenix.

Bad things about being Freshly Pressed:

Um…well there are not many bad things about being Freshly Pressed really, in fact there is probably only really one. That is:

  • the crippling anxiety that it induces in the Freshly Pressed blogger, as she contemplates writing her next post after being Freshly Pressed.

It’s like second novel syndrome (or so I imagine, never having written or published a first novel). The stress is so immense that keeps me awake at night. Alright, not exactly awake, but I’m tipping it’s responsible for the annoying dream I had last night where I was back at high school and my purse had been stolen.

In many ways it’s quite different to writing a second novel of course. Firstly, and significantly, there is the word count. A novel may be anything from about 30,000 words and upwards (opinions seem to vary), whereas the average blog post is probably about 800 words. My own posts tend to land somewhere between those two figures, but usually closer to the 800 mark than the 30 000. (When commenting on other’s blogs, I definitely try to keep my comments to under 1000 words.)

Secondly, there is the coffee intake required to write a novel. I once tried to give up coffee, and lasted 3 years, but now I drink it on a sort-of-one-cup-every-second-day or thereabouts schedule, which clearly means I could not write a novel without making some serious lifestyle adjustments.

I only have a cup every second day because it's such a hassle having it brought in to work on a trailer

I only have a cup every second day because it’s such a hassle having it brought in to work on a trailer.

Pic: Sign Effectz, Inc

Thirdly,  a novelist contemplating her second novel has the huge pressure of worrying about what the editor will think, whether the publishers will go for it, and how it will live up to the first novel once it’s published and the eagerly awaiting public make comparisons. In contrast, my calculations on the odds of having two posts in a row published on the Freshly Pressed website came up with the answer 0.000, (or 0 for those using the imperial system) so I can rest totally assured that the post I am writing now will, with 100% guarantee, NOT be Freshly Pressed. It would be like the novelist knowing for certain that her second novel would be self-published, and posted straight to those fans that had already purchased the first one.

However of course there is the pressure of living up to the expectations of the small group of lovely new readers who, for whatever reason, (perhaps too much wine, or not enough sleep), decided to follow my blog after reading that recent post. An even smaller group still, a sub-group of those people, might actually read this next post. If they do, they may make comparisons to the previous one.

“Huh!” I imagine them thinking to themselves. “That post about cats was funnier/better written/more culturally relevant/more informative/included a lot more mentions of cats”.

I try to put this thought out of my head. After all, it’s the second time that a post I’ve written has been Freshly Pressed, so this blog does already have a little band of followers, who no doubt have already experienced the searing disappointment of reading many posts that are not as funny/informative/culturally relevant/well written/filled with socks, as the first post they read and enjoyed. Still they hang on, or don’t. There’s no way to really know whether people read your posts, just because they subscribe to your blog.

That’s where I find imaginary readers very encouraging. I like my imaginary readers because they were reading this blog before anyone else was, and although they are not as forthcoming with the “likes” and comments, they are very loyal, and always kind when I post less-than-brilliant writing, which is nearly every time I publish!

For those wondering what to expect from post-Pressed posts (pun intended), the only thing I’m certain about on this blog is that it is personal in style, so in general, when thinking of an idea for a post, I try to avoid being guided by whether a topic is popular in itself or not. You won’t find posts here about the 2014 Sochi games or Miley Cyrus. Clearly, I couldn’t have written posts for about 6 months straight back in 2011-2012, on how I was feeling after the death of my brother, if I’d allowed myself to be guided by the desire to write posts that gained lots of readers. Those posts are some of the most infrequently viewed on this blog, while people are constantly landing on my posts about yoga mats and the ears of a certain celebrity chef.

So I tossed around a few ideas for the dreaded next post – but at this point, I’ve reached the ideal length for a post, and it might be better to wind up here. In typical fashion, which shows why I am a fan of Samuel Beckett’s writing, it seems that my next post after being Freshly Pressed is a post about the factors holding me back from writing a post.

So for those readers who are new to following this blog, um…..how about those Winter Olympics, hey???*

*

*So far I have watched 1.5 minutes of the Winter Olympics, or for those of you on imperial measurements, bugger all.

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