Best Public Service Ads, Ever

Best Public Service Ads, Ever

Just another reason New Zealand is awesome. 

Yes, Kiwis really do talk like this – if they’re from Northland. I don’t. But I can put it on. 



The New Victorian Childhood: Tiger Mothers and Constant Testing

An excellent post that puts together two of the pressures I admit I often feel: pressure to see my kids ‘fulfil their potential’ – i.e. do every possible activity available and succeed brilliantly at it – and pressure to not upset Them. I’ve talked about Them before, and I’ll edit in the link once I’m not blogging on my phone. Them, aka People, as in “what will People think?”
It’s 6:28 am and I’m in a nicely redecorated motel room in Christchurch, 5 hours drive north from home. I didn’t sleep well, I generally don’t the first night in a strange bed, and now I’ve given up. So here I am.
Christchurch is the city that both Sam and I were born in. He lived here more recently than me, when he was about seven or eight, while I left for Dunedin at eleven months and never looked back. We came here for our honeymoon nearly fifteen years ago and enjoyed the International Buskers Festival. But we haven’t visited since the Earthquake (link to come). So we’ve brought the kids to do a spot of ‘disaster tourism’ and see things like the Cardboard Cathedral and the container mall (a shopping centre constructed from shipping containers). We will also take the kids to Orana Park. I wish we had some kind of zoo in Dunedin but maybe it’s too cold, or maybe just too small.
This motel room is the nicest I’ve ever stayed in, although on closer inspection you can see the hideous old decor (embossed orange and green flower wallpaper, anyone?) peeping through the new paint. But I’ll forgive that for the mezzanine and the nice smooth ceramic cooktop. The kids were given a double and a single bed between the three of them, so naturally Mr 10 is sleeping on couch cushions on the living room floor instead. What WILL They think? We’d better clear it away before They come in to clean.


We think of ourselves as much more civilized than the Victorians, who sent their children to the mills or factories, or to work as chimney sweeps.  Thankfully, child labour has been banned, at least in most of the Western world. (Unfortunately, it seems it has simply been outsourced, like our factories… and call centres.)

But the Victorian legacy of depriving children of a childhood lives on… in the Tiger Mothers around the world, and in my local patch of North London, the obsession with schools, results, and cramming knowledge into children at the earliest possible age — ballet/piano/chess/foreign languages/maths/gymnastics etc.

We don’t expect our children to earn a living anymore, but we do expect them to carry our banner into the world.  And sometimes, it can be a very heavy banner indeed.  Especially if it they need to compete with lots of other children who are equally charged with carrying…

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Wanting to Belong

Wanting to Belong


Also, the photos are of where I live.

I’m shifting away from my desire to be a neuropsychologist. As I read more about addiction and mental health through my studies, and especially Dennis Cardiff’s amazing blog, I am increasingly drawn to this area of work. There aren’t many visible homeless people in Dunedin (there, I’ll stop being coy, I live in Dunedin NZ, ok? You still don’t know my address, right?) but according to another Otago Uni student they’re out there.

I stopped being scared of ‘crazy’ people in phases, partly chatting with a schizophrenic who would often come into the bookshop where I was on the counter, partly working with a client with a TBI at an activities centre for adults with disabilities (I was a music tutor), and partly getting to know some of the regulars who would pop in to the Hospital Chapel for a cuppa (I was the administrator). Now I’m itching to get back to working with the ‘crazies’, in a more directly useful capacity, but in the mean time I plan to use some of my free time next year (hey, I’m only writing a thesis, right? That’ll be easy compared to doing papers! Yes? Right?) to help out a bit at the local free health clinic. I think they need drivers at the moment.

By the way, please be assured that I do not think of the people I mentioned above, whom I know and chat with, as ‘crazies’. I think of them as people, and I know the things they care about and are interested in, and talk about those things. I use the word affectionately as a convenient way of describing the unconventional folks who are familiar figures walking the streets of Dunedin (my twin brother may be classed as one by the people who don’t know him but recognise him by his beard, hat and bare feet, and who is not at all crazy) and who have become part of the background of my life.

Small things in the middle of big things

I quit working with my Research Proposal introduction half finished today (my supervisor wanted a draft to review over the weekend) and walked out into glorious sunshine and the scent of spring flowers. I came home, played Piggy in the Middle with the kids, did some puzzles in the sun, made poached eggs with fresh garden herbs for tea and had a bath with my daughter, and once she’d got out, with a book. Now I’m settling into one of my more productive writing times of day. Hopefully it’ll actually be productive, but even if it isn’t, I’ve got one paragraph written that I didn’t have this afternoon, and a week more to do the rest of the thing.

This is a more pleasant way to think than ohshitohshitohshit I still have the introduction and methodology background and ethics and method and potential results to write and then there are exams in less than two weeks that i haven’t even started studying for and half the washing is still damp and next week both boys have to be at different places at different times of the day and i have classes and andandandandandwhydontijustgiveupsleeping.

So I’m not thinking like that. I’m listening to this. And as soon as I post this I’ll check Twitter one more time then turn it off and see if I can chip the next few sentences into shape.

I’m getting there, and it feels good to be actually working really really hard and proud of my progress.

Building an audience

I have a question for you, that my title made sound like a blogging-related question, but it totally isn’t.

I sang in a concert on Sunday. We’d been working hard towards it, as usual, and had a fantastic fun programme which was a bit different from our usual (Jazz, rather than Classical). We had an audience of about 40 people, less than half our usual.

Now, there were some obvious reasons for the drop.

1) It was daylight saving day and probably it was just too confusing for people, or they turned up after we finished (concert was only an hour long);
2) It was a different style programme from usual (though I would have thought it would have more appeal, not less);
3) It was at a different venue from usual,
4) At a different time from usual;
5) The time was 1 pm on a Sunday when a lot of people would be having their lunch.

Besides all that… and here’s where I’d like you all to answer…

How can we build our audience?

… or more specifically…

What makes you go to a concert? What do you want to get out of it? How much are you willing to shell out and what for?

Where do you hear about the things that you go to?

If all 50-odd of my followers respond, I’ll have a pretty good sample! 🙂 I promise I’ll respond to your reply.

Studying for exams. And writing a research proposal.


You know that moment in George of the Jungle, where Ursula’s mother says “oh God”?

That’s what my brain said when I went to open YET ANOTHER research methods .pdf. I swear it would have been audible to an outside observer, even though my lips and vocal cords did not move.

Like the time I was talking to someone and watching his lips and my brain suddenly yelled, “God you’re beautiful!” so loudly I was amazed the man I was talking to didn’t hear it. I then blundered away, trying the wrong door to get out, you know the kind of thing.


I am at that moment, like when you’ve been on a long tramp or a long stay in hospital, when you’re about three quarters or more of the way there and the end is almost in sight and you’ve STILL GOT SO FAR TO GO and you STILL have to keep putting one foot in front of the other, or one word after another, or have yet another dinner of reconstituted egg quiche and wobbly pudding and another blood test. 

I’m having bad dreams of conflict with my husband and weird concatenations of the TV I’ve been watching and my studies and the news, although that may have more to do with the warmer Spring weather combined with winter-weight bedding.

I am not tired of psychology, or brains. I’m tired of assessment, of having tasks set for me by others, which have nothing to do with the needs of real people. Writing pages and pages and pages which in the end will only be thrown away. I want to be writing reports which doctors and patients and families will read and which will help them and make their lives a little better, a little more understandable, make sense of the past in the present, give hope for the future.

I want that so bad I can taste it. (Kind of metallic, as my throat tightens and I carefully don’t cry.)

Unfortunately my coping strategies are not all that great. But I’ll come through, I always do. I’ll probably get As. It’s just the getting there that’s a pain in the ass. I may be here a bit more often in the next month, to try and get the conversational writing out of my system so I can settle to the dry academic style where I have to. I do get in minor trouble for being too informal sometimes.

Anyway, I better go, I have to take the cat to the vet and then pick the kids up from school. See you all again the next time a paper makes me scream.


Awesome little movie

Awesome little movie

My son (known here as Mr 10) entered a short film competition at our church, with the awards ceremony last Saturday evening.  Their film, “Shrinking: The Movie” was nominated for six awards and won just one additional one … BEST PICTURE. You know, the supreme award. Because they were overall good at, like, everything.

He is 10, I said before, I think. One other film was made by high-schoolers and all the rest by university students and young adults.

And we won. 

Can you feel the glow of pride that’s still radiating?

We need your help now, though. There’s a people’s choice award, which we’d quite like to win as well. Please follow the link above, “like” the YouTube movie, and share it with all your friends. You won’t regret it! And you’ll make a bunch of kids very happy.

Thanks heaps. 🙂