Saturday, January 30, 2010

the view from the middle

I've always wanted to be a mover and shaker. One of my greatest fears in life is that I'll end up ordinary - a realisation which is becoming clearer and clearer as I get older. It's dawning on me like the fog of a big night out lifting the morning after, as chip by chip and sip by sip of a McDonald's double quarter pounder meal, you realise what an absolute fool you'd made of yourself the night before. That's exactly like this, except spread over a life time.

All through primary and then high school I'd been the best I could be. Top marks, tick. Witty, tick. Well liked, tick. Dependable, tick. The first one you'd invite to a party.... no. Not really. I was never a natural leader so I made up for that lack of inspiration with sheer hard work and discipline which meant that I always held back just a little. One perfect example of this was one of my first highschool drinking parties. My parents, wise sages that they are, allowed me a ration of four vodka cruisers over a period of four hours... of course, being the rebel that I was, I only drank two and gave the other two away. WHAT THE HELL?!?!? Oh to have been that girl - you know THAT girl, the one whose name got called out first to take a shot of schnapps in the kitchen or who was the FIRST one on Monday who got called over to the school canteen line to catch up on the party gossip. I wanted to be that girl, thought I would be and now, I realise, never will be.

All of this, I'm sure you can see clear as crystal, is a sure sign of low self-esteem. Probably. But that's not the point. Clearly I don't want to be streamlining tequila while tucked under a footballer's armpit, but as an adult, I DO want to be the equivalent; a go-to person, an ideas person, someone that others think of as creative and who routinely is invited to conventions as a "key note speaker" and whose name will be echoed through the ages something akin to Beyonce or Winnie Mandella or... you know, Jesus.
Am I asking too much?
I don't think so but I'm just not convinced that I have it in me. I work with and am surrounded by friends who are ideas people - musicians, small business owners, charity workers - and they're all amazing and totally inspirational. Especially from my view which is somewhere behind them, in the middle of the herd. I guess my big question here, dear reader, is when, as an adult, do we stop trying to become what we dream about and start acknowledging who we are?

Monday, January 25, 2010

in the beginning, God created mongrels

I will never forget it; I was 12 and it was the South-West Queensland primary school swimming trials. Back in those days I trained just about every day. I was my club swimming champion and bound, so I thought, for swimming glory akin to the like of Dawn Fraser or that other lady with the really big man-shoulders... Anyway, I was waiting in the marshalling area and was about to go up to slug it out for a spot in the regional team in my signature race, the 200m individual medley (note: in retrospect, it was probably only my signature race because nobody else in my swimming club would compete in it - ipso facto MY signature race). For those of you who don't know swimming or... well, sport or anything more physical than flicking through a delivery guide for your local indian restaurant, a medley involves swimming 50 m of all four strokes - backstroke, butterfly, breastroke and freestyle. It's epic when you're 12. And also when your 28.

So, back to the rant/story. My heat is called up and the 8 girls from all over southwest queensland move out into the heat of the day, tip-toeing over the hot concrete, to stand behind their start blocks. I was in lane 6 which was great (note also to fat couch potatoes: NOBODY ever wins from outside lanes ie 1 or 8) and I nervously stood sussing out my competition... I'm thinking things like "hmmm... she's got gross togs (read: qld for swimming costume)", clearly highly focused and ready to kill. The announcer begins reading out the names of the competitors lane by lane... "lane 4 Megan Cross" and I immediately recalled that I'd played netball against her on a chilly Saturday morning in Surat the winter before. Still, highly focused and even more ready to kill. "lane 5 Cheryl Tait"/Gross togs girl and I'm just so, so ready to take this heat!! "lane 6 Danielle Mongrel"... So, ready...
Wait. What? What did he call me?
Now, I don't know if you've ever been 12 years old but I can tell you at that moment it took every ounce of strength I had to not burst into noisy, snotty tears. The only thing that stopped me was the thought of having to run down the 50m pool to the change room in front of everyone IN MY TOGS while blubbering... yep, I had to suck it up. But I knew right then that every single pair of eyes was focused on me, Danielle, that poor girl called "mongrel", how unfortunate, isn't it a shame, wouldn't she cop it at school, Danielle bloody Mongrel.
So I came 3rd. Not enough to get into the final or make the regional swim team. The very public name/shame incident just mortified me to the point of sinking like a lead block the second I hit the water. I felt like every time I rolled my head to breathe, I could hear the slight repeated in the murmur of the crowd "mongrel... blub, glub, glub... mongrel"

So now you know... now you know why I've named my blog this - so you can all gossip about it... and every time I hear a tram rumble by I'll be able to hear the passengers whisper "mongrel... screeeeech... mongrel". Yeah, I'm an egocentric sucker for punishment.

PS I've never written a "blog" before so if this isn't write and it's crap, I apologise. Please don't read it anymore. Thanks