June 2013

The Barry Manilow Effect.

by Lori Dwyer on June 28, 2013 · 8 comments

No one ever pays much attention to anyone else. Most people are entirely self–absorbed.

This can be a good thing.

When I was about twenty years old, I read a tiny article in a Readers Digest magazine that changed the way I looked at myself. It made me reassess all those stupid, inconsequential social mistakes that I’d made in the past; the social embarrassments I was sure other people remembered, that still kicked dents in my self-esteem.

It made me realise the only person who noticed them at all was me.

“Lecturer Dr Ken Savitsky asked one group (of college students) to wear t-shirts with an embarrassingly large photo of Barry Manilow to class. Students predicted that around half their classmates would notice, in reality, less than a quarter paid any attention.

No one cares that you totally dig Barry Manilow. Or that you fell up the stairs in ninth grade. Or said something rampantly inappropriate to someone you’d just met. No one cares that you cried in the middle of Woolies, or forgot to dress your kid in mufti clothes.

In reality, I don’t spend a whole lot of time thinking about what other people do. So why would they be thinking about me?

The only person who pays that much attention to you… is you.


The article struck me so profoundly  I cut and pasted it into one of my notebooks. The other clipping on the page is, if I remember correctly, from a That’s Life magazine. Clippings and notebook circa 2002.


Click to embiggen.


Shopping Centers Make Me Anxious.

by Lori Dwyer on June 27, 2013 · 8 comments

Part two of the sponsored post where I give away lotsa gift vouchers.


Shopping centers make me anxious.

I’m not sure why. I’m fairly certain they’ve not always had that effect on me. Grocery shopping is tolerable (just). Braving a shopping trip to Big W… let’s just say it’s challenging.

But there’s still half a gift voucher to be spent. And these are the sacrifices that must be made.

My local Big W is currently absolutely lined with toys (almost kind of literally). Before you even get inside there’s veritable mountains of toy cars and boats, squishy animal pillows and doll-houses.

All I can think is… thank goodness I didn’t bring my kids with me today. And that I very much doubt anything is going to be out of stock.

I wander the toy aisles like the mature adult I am, oohing and ahhhing to myself and taking photos like a weirdo. There’s a whole wall full of Nerf guns and bullets and whatnot. There are many, many of the highly covetable LaLa Loopsy dolls that I can’t have because my daughter thinks they are some kind of evil monster.

Speaking of evil and monsters… This baby doll almost ate me.




And, still on evil monsters, I found Peppa Pig. Damn you, Peppa. If it’s not enough that I have to watch you encouraging my children to splash in puddles six gazillion times a day…. now you’re in Big W as well.




For the sake of my own curiosity, I suss out the Layby counter which so many of you are so fond of. I even went so far as to hide behind the clothing racks and take a picture of the sign. Like a weirdo.




Then I decided I’d really better just pay for my purchases and leave, before store staff politely requested I do so.

It’s comforting to arrive home from that experience find a great big cardboard delivery box waiting for me- all the toys, with none of the anxiety.

Online shopping is awesome.




Thanks to Big W’s Giant Toy Spectacular which is on right now until July 10th; I’ve got five $100 gift vouchers to give away. I’m republishing the entry form due to popularity- entries close tomorrow night (that’s midnight, Friday 28th June). For more T’s and C’s see this post.




To enter, just tell me- are you a layby kinda person? How do you manage Christmas with kids? Do you hit the toy sales, buy little bits all year round, or hit the shops two weeks before the big day?


No form there? Click here.


The Thing With Cats… Again.

by Lori Dwyer on June 26, 2013 · 13 comments

I am sick of death, fed up with up with things dying.

It feels like the rain that just won’t stop falling in TinyTrainTown right now; as though it leaves a sad, restrictively dull lens-flare over the whole world.

Enough is enough. It’s time for it to stop.


The night of the day I write this post, there’s a knock at the door. My tiny house is full– the kidlets are still up, my brother and my friend Kristabelle are here.

My brother opens the door and it’s my neighbour. He asks me for me, and in a melt of time Kristabelle has distracted my kids, taken them into the back lounge-room so they don’t have to hear this, whatever it is, in real-time. My neighbour is saying something about about a black, fluffy cat; and I’m out in the darkness, my brother following. There are two people standing by the road, the headlights of their cars and the glow of the street lamp illuminating my fluffy black cat, stretched out the gravel. My neighbours jacket is covering him.

“Oh mate”, I say, leaning down beside my DimSum, who’s been my friend for almost thirteen years now. I stroke his silky black face and he’s still warm. I gently push his eyes closed. Ask my brother to get towels from inside the house. Ask him if he’ll bury my cat.

The woman who stopped, who knocked on my neighbours door, wasn’t the person who hit DimSum on that long, lonely black stretch of road I’ve now lost three cats and a dog to. It was the person in front of her who hit him, and they just kept going. The woman behind him considered how very difficult it would be for us, coming out in the morning to the cat splattered all over the road.

I didn’t thank her enough for that, I don’t think. It was only the next morning that it hit me how absolutely horrible that would have been.

My brother returns and wraps my big lump of a cat up in a few old bathroom towels. He takes him to the backyard, to dig him a hole. That’s when I make a snap decision that I’m still not entirely sure about.

This time, perhaps, it was only fair to let my kids say goodbye to their pet.

I find them inside, playing with Kristabelle, blissfully oblivious to any of the drama that’s unfolded.

“Guys”, I say, “I’m afraid I have some very bad, very sad news…” They both freeze, their game forgotten, and stare at me. Two identical sets of blue eyes, filled with the kind of trepidation that only children who have heard that phrase many times before could project.

“It’s Mr DimSum…” I don’t hesitate, not much– this is like ripping off a band-aid, best to do it quickly and stoically. “He got hit by a car. I’m so sorry, babies… He died.”

The Bump drops her cherubic bottom lip and it quivers. “But… Mr DimSum is my friend!”

And all I can do is hug her. It feels as though I say that so often, in regards to my kids… I guess I do.

But the Chop, his reaction is different and again it sends icy, warning fingers into my belly. “Oh.” He says, and turns away from me. “It’s okay. I’m not sad.”

“It’s alright to be sad…” I tell him. “I’m sad.”

The Chop nods, and again, he looks away.

I take a deep breath. “Would you like to see DimSum? Uncle Grog has him out the back. He looks okay… Just like he’s sleeping. You don’t have to see him. But if you would like to say goodbye, you can.”

This has never been an option before– my kids have been too young or too asleep, or the pets simply in too much of a mess, for any physical goodbyes to be experienced. I’m not sure if this is right. But it feels like the thing that should be done, and that’s all I’ve got to go on right now.


Neither of them hesitate in saying yes. I ask if they’re sure, and again, they don’t hesitate. I remind them gently on our way outside that the cat is dead, he won’t be moving and he can’t wake up.

DimSum is laid out on the concrete, a light blue towel covering most of him. There doesn’t seem to be much damage to him, physically, but I spot a few bright red spots of blood on the corner of the towel and pray my kids don’t notice. I think all kids freak out at the sight of blood. Mine do. My son especially.

Neither of them appear to see it. “Poor Mr DimSum”, says the Chop, and we murmur in agreeance. I give my mate one last caress on his face– he is colder now, and doesn’t feel quite like himself– and ask the kids if they’d like to do the same. The Chop says no, and that’s fine. The Bump wants to, and I sit with her while she does.

“Bye, Mr DimSum” says my Bumpy girl as we return back inside.

The house feels weighted down with what we’ve lost.


My daughter is devastated by the loss of her ‘special friend’. Almost a week later and she’s still telling me, six times a day, that she misses DimSum and wishes he hadn’t died. She sleeps with a picture of the two of them next to her bed, and carries it around with her during the day.

My son, though, says nothing. It’s a wall of silence that’s deceptively easy to miss completely. Any silent grief he carries is veined with the shiny golden sunshine of his personality.


Losing a pet is a funny thing. It’s so distressing, yet its compounded effects are few. The implications of the deaths of even much-adored pets rarely spread further than the house in which they resided.

It’s just so damn sad. I add it up, count it on my fingers…. A father. A grandmother. A dog, three cats, and two chickens.

This is the experience my children have had, at five and almost four years old, with death.

It’s too much, and it’s not fair.

I just want it to stop.