The good, the bad, and the downright ugly…

April 21, 2010 at 2:10 am (Uncategorized)

Another day in Paradise, people. Honestly, we are so lucky it’s practically offensive. What is it about salt water that is so restorative and relaxing? I just love the feel of it on my skin. Beautiful. So… before I head back into the office for another day of violence (I’m currently in the sunroom with the bi-folds leading out to the courtyard pushed right across, listening to the Currawongs while staring out at the Norfolk pines, listening to the ocean…), I thought I’d try and fulfil my Honest Scrap Award obligations (thanks again to Graddikins for deeming DoctorDi worthy of such an honour!).

I’ve just reread Grad’s take on the matter, and I will apologise in advance for any duplication from that ‘Mean Jeff Meme’ and a past award. I really don’t think I’ve left out too many details over the years of maintaining DoctorDi, but I’ll do my best to tell you 10 things I hopefully haven’t mentioned before.

  1. I have dark brown eyes. Oddly, the very outer limit of my iris is a fine line of bright blue.
  2. I’ve always been perfectly happy with my modest endowment in the chest department. I’d go so far as to say I’ve never seen myself as a cleavage kind of girl – I’ve always imagined I’d actually look ridiculous with massive cans, and that they wouldn’t suit my appearance nor my personality at all. So, as I said to Shuckin’ Charlotte last week, it’s really quite strange to see one of the early signs of the Baby J Project is a definite growth spurt in this area. So far it’s like playing dress-ups with someone else’s boobs.
  3. I have something of a chair fetish. I think a chair can be a work of art, and we have mismatched chairs we’ve collected over the years from all over the place. My favourite is what we call the saddle chair, a very cool piece of furniture that we found down the south coast in 2008. I love this chair, and can happily look at it for hours. It is a perfect marriage between form and function.
  4. I cannot abide bad manners. Rude people incense me.
  5. I was unnaturally excited when my friend B sent around a left brain/right brain dominance test (you watch a girl slowly turning either clockwise or anticlockwise, depending on which side of your brain rules the roost, and if I can find it I’llattach it here because it’s fascinating. Found it!) only to find my girl clearly went both ways, which was supposedly the optimum result, and which from memory no one else on the email trail experienced. B kept doggedly redoing the exercise to no avail; I kept obsessively making sure my own girl didn’t suddenly start moving in only one direction. It’s embarrassing admitting this, but I was soooo happy that she kept switching directions. It was absolutely mesmerising, mainly because of how pleased I was with myself. What did I learn? I am incredibly vain, not incredibly smart.
  6. My favourite building material is sandstone.
  7. I quite often dream about dolphins and whales. In fact, I dreamt about an enormous whale last night. But I also had a bad dream later in the night involving miscarriage and a very scary witch that Llew said made me cry out loud.
  8. If I were going to learn another language, it would probably be Italian, and one day I hope to live for a time in the great ancient city of Rome.
  9. When we started fertility treatment last year, I started writing down names I like in the back of my IVF diary. One list is much longer than the other.
  10. I’m afraid I have to end on a bum note, because I started this year shamefully, and I haven’t been able to stop thinking about it since. In fact, I know I’ll never forget it. We were partying in our courtyard in the early hours of New Year’s Day with some stayers from our group night out, when I realised there was a woman sitting crouched on the other side of the wall. I engaged her in conversation; I was drunk, but something about her was definitely off. She was cagey and quite incoherent. I asked if she needed anything, help, or money, or for me to phone the police, but she said no to each of these options. Then our neighbour came home and ordered her to move on. I persuaded him that she wasn’t doing any harm and to just forget it, but at some point I looked over the wall and she was gone. Eventually the after-party wound down and we went to bed. We got up at about midday to prepare for a fresh onslaught of guests: for some unknown reason we thought it would be a sensible idea to throw a New Year’s Day BBQ (with an army of small children). When Llew opened our front door, the woman was asleep up against it, her pile of things sitting in the communal entrance. I panicked: there was an apparently homeless woman sprawled across the entrance to our apartment, and people were about to arrive. When Llew came in and asked me what we should do, I said tartly – tired, horrifically hungover, frantically trying to get the place ready – “Well, she can’t stay here.” That absolute and damning lack of charity will haunt me for the rest of my life. I didn’t even ask if she needed something to eat or drink. I can scarcely believe I was so cold and selfish – it just fills me with shame every time I think about it, which is often. Llew took charge of the situation while I took charge of the house; he called a bunch of shelters and call centres looking for somewhere for her to go. There was nothing anywhere near here. Finally he found somewhere on the other side of town, but when he went outside to talk to her about helping to get her there, she was gone, and we never saw her again. For me, this experience represents a painful failure of my humanity. I know it will guide me in future, but it was a terrible, haunting lesson to learn. It’s easy to think of yourself as a good person, right up until the moment you fail to actually be one.

Now I’m supposed to nominate 10 blogs (and there’s bound to be a lot of duplication here…). My nominees are (in alphabetical order):

Charlotte of the Burg at Charlotte’s Web

David at Quotidian Viscissitudes

Grad at The Curious Reader

Lilian at A Novelist’s Mind

Litlove at Tales from the Reading Room

Pete at Couchtrip

Piereth at Castle Green Days

Shuckin’ Charlotte at How to Shuck an Oyster

Simonne at Into the Quiet

Woo at Curiouser and Curiouser

Happy blogging, and long may it continue.



  1. Pete said,

    Hey, thanks for the nomination! And I really enjoyed reading your list. I also love sandstone. And I’m really hoping that I’m left and right brain dominated as well (although seriously doubt it). I can understand your empathic failure with the homeless woman and your guilt afterwards. But I was aware of how different the situation is here. Homeless woman asleep outside your gate and the cops are called pretty soon. It’s heartless but what can you do? I think Llew’s calling the homeless shelters was a good response. Enjoy the perfect weather there. It’s pretty meh here when I leave at 6.30 for my stint in the military camp.

    • doctordi said,

      Pete, I think Llew’s sensitive response really highlights what was so hideous about mine.

  2. Pete said,

    And I can only see the woman going clockwise. Hmm.

    • doctordi said,

      It was so long ago that I submitted to this little test, and I am such a freak, that I had to do it again. And yep, still getting both directions. I am INTRIGUED to know everyone else’s results – I should have made it a condition of the award!!!

  3. kate said,

    Stubbornly clockwise here too Pete. Di, your writing has such humanity. You are a good person, not a perfect one, because they don’t exist. So brave of you though to share, to challenge not just your own behaviour and thoughts but ours as well. And Llew, how could you not love him?

  4. doctordi said,

    Well, that’s interesting too, Kate, given they said in the accompanying article that most people would see anti-clockwise. What’s the trick, I wonder?!

    And thanks, Kate, I wish it were brave, but really I think it’s much more likely that I am seeking to atone via confession, a time-honoured practice, favoured particularly by the weak. I guess all I can do, having failed this moral test (I read somewhere recently that the gods visit humans in disguise to see how we respond to ethical dilemmas – INSTANTLY I thought of this), is keep the lesson close, and learn from it.

    Llew waves it away whenever I say, “You’re a good man, Charlie Brown,” which is often because he gives me so much occasion, but really, it’s true. He is a good man.

  5. litlove said,

    I am right with you on the bad manners, and the sandstone. And number 10 is very touching – if we didn’t make mistakes that caused us to feel our imperfections then we’d have no humility. I agree with Kate – there are NO perfect people,and the fact that you feel bad (and how many of us haven’t done something similar in a state of tiredness and irritation?) already reserves for you a place in a higher rung of heaven. Oh and the girl goes around both ways for me, too. I have to blink, but the she switches direction.

    • doctordi said,

      At least being in Cambridge you’re in the right place to indulge your preference for sandstone, LL… I’m afraid in Sydney they’ve torn most of it down. One of the great tragedies of my hometown, in my humble opinion.

      Well, thanks, and to everyone else for being so balanced in your judgement of my pretty poor behaviour. I appreciate the outside perspectives a great deal.

      And I think most people who clicked through to the dancing girl ultimately succeeding in forcing her to go in both directions, so bravo, people!

  6. kate said,

    Ok, I still can only see her turning one way despite trying otherwise! Both the boys though could see her turning both ways! Fascinating.

  7. Grad said,

    I, too, was going to nominate Couch Trip, so he’s got a double nomination. Please don’t beat yourself up about #10. I admire your honesty and courage in telling us about what you think of as an ethical failure, but the fact that it bothers you says volumes about you – all good. So do not fret.

    • doctordi said,

      Thanks, Graddikins, and what I say about to LL certainly applies to you and everyone else. But it’s definitely not courageous admitting to it – there is no virtue, in my opinion, in simply owning up to one’s mistakes. That ought to be a given, oughtn’t it? I think we’ve made it hard, as a society, for people to acknowledge character flaws and regrettable errors of judgement such as my own, so much so that people have actually started thinking it’s brave admitting to having done a really crappy thing… it’s not brave. It’s just the truth, and there’s a massive difference for me. But I love you all for not judging me harshly.

  8. kate said,

    Ha! Finally cracked it! It is ridiculous how relieved I am by seeing her turn the other way!

    • doctordi said,

      That’s so funny, Kate – I love that you couldn’t give it up! Others – more on the sly – were the same!

  9. davidrochester said,

    So far it’s like playing dress-ups with someone else’s boobs.

    This just cracked me up. I found it so funny that I completely failed to censure you for being cruel to the homeless. Anyone who is consistently witty can just go ahead and kick people while they writhe in the gutter; you have carte blanche. (This is a lesser-known karmic law called Applegate’s Third Balance, just in case you ever need to know.)

  10. Norwichrocks said,

    thanks for the link, she turns both ways for me too – I blink and she changes direction. Weird. What I want to know is, why is she naked??!

    And thanks for the nomination. I shall do my best to come up with 10 good, bad and ugly items to justify it…

    And your number 10 is a brave admission, even to yourself, let alone to the public intertubes. We none of us like to face the fact that we are not perfect, that we fail to reach the standards we set ourselves – but having those standards and striving for them is the really essential thing, I think. Don’t feel guilty – nobody is at their most charitable on New Year’s Day with guests due to descend en masse!

    • doctordi said,

      Good question! A little unnecessary, the nudity, but I wonder if it drove participation…?!

      I definitely *wasn’t* at my most charitable, actually at my least for reasons I am still grappling to understand, but there’s no doubt that it was a supremely shitty start to the year. I know better than that, is the thing. And… I’ve been the beneficiary of so much kindness over the years that I’m just ashamed of myself. Again, as I say above, the last thing involved here is bravery, so let’s have no more mention of that. Just a modicum of decency at all times is the least I would expect of myself, so… something went badly wrong New Year’s Day and that’s a fact.

  11. Fugitive Pieces said,

    2. Same thing happened to an elegant friend of mine when she was pregnant. Watching her outrage at the newfound indignities of bra shopping was a particular highlight for me. Yeah. Welcome to cubicle hell, sister.
    4. Amen, despite my own failures in this regard.
    5. I’m apparently about 70% right-brained, 30% left-brained, and find it hard to ‘switch’ between the two. Given that I’m heavily cack-handed, struggle with names and never finish anything but my daydreams…this is unsurprising. Not to mention depressing. Still better than my ‘magic-eye’ efforts, though, which were a fast track to migraine.
    9. OOH. Is this a preference, or simply that you’ve thought about one possibility more?
    10. One brusque response does not a cruel person make. And lovely as Llew is, the tidy division of labour between you actually ALLOWED him to be the good guy here, while still getting ready for your guests. It sounds like your conscience kicked in pretty damn quickly (and continues to kick you) – and only a highly moral person would still be so acutely ashamed. But the question isn’t “How good is Di?” – it’s “Why can she not forgive herself this mistake?”

  12. doctordi said,

    2. Fugitive, it’s the horrors of underwires I’m really hoping to avoid.

    9. No, not a preference at all, my sole preference is a healthy baby, and I haven’t thought about either possibility more. I just seem to be having a lot of trouble isolating names I like in one sex much more than the other.

    10. All true, and thanks for the new angle, much appreciated!! But as I say to Woo, I’ve benefited too many times in life from someone else’s selfless goodwill toward me that I am just ashamed of myself. It’s no way to repay their kindness, and I have no excuse I personally find acceptable to explain my actions. Just one of those things. And I can only live and learn.

  13. Lilian Nattel said,

    Oh gosh it would only go counter clockwise for me. Pissed me right off! I’ll have to try again. As for the boobs, it made me laugh, but if you don’t like the bras, you can take them off at home. As for the homeless woman, you have a gift in that shame, a high standard for yourself. A lot of people would feel that enough effort and consideration had been made. You don’t–and the memory is a tribute to that.

  14. Lilian Nattel said,

    Oh I had to go back again, twice, and now I’m seeing her change directions. Phew!

  15. *Honest Scrap Award « A Novelist's Mind: Lilian Nattel Online said,

    […] 27, 2010 by Lilian Nattel Thanks DoctorDi! I will do my best to honour this award with 10 things I haven’t (I hope!) said about myself […]

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