Karma Blockers.

by Lori Dwyer on March 13, 2013 · 12 comments

Philosifry Untitled

Annnnd… this*. I’m never sure if it’s the chicken or the egg that comes first– if I get depressed because I let that procrastination take over, or if that procrastination taking over is a symptom of the beginnings of depression.

But they feed each other. Depression, anxiety and their concubine, apathy; they get together have a big ol’ ménage a trios in my mind and I’m the one left feeling exhausted and spent and seedy.

‘Your inbox will never be empty’, they like to say; and I’m fairly sure that was said back when an inbox was an actual box, as in ‘a tray on your desk’, rather than a folder in your email account. There will always be things to be done on your list of Things To Do. The key to it all is to give yourself a finishing time, a point in the day where you have done enough and can relax…

Which, in theory, is just fine.

My problem is that things seem to linger and stay on my list of Things To Do for longer than is reasonably necessary. I go to bed each night with the Things To Do list written, with the very best of intentions… Only to find the next day slips through my fingers like sand, like silicon; and I’m left repeating the whole process again.

I have a phone call on my list of things to be done that has been there, either transferred from list to list (both digital and papered in notebooks) for almost a year now. Roughly 360 days of saying “I will do that, tomorrow”. Roughly 360 days of beating myself up just slightly.

‘Clean the gross gunky stuff off the top of my kitchen shelves’– that one’s been on the list for eighteen months. Since I moved into this house.

‘Sow new buttons on Chop’s school shirts is currently entering its seventh week of inbox loitering. ‘Make dentist appointment’ is cruising at three weeks.

It’s not as though any of these tasks are particularly important or life changing or ominous. They’re not even difficult. It’s just that even beginning them seems so many kinds of momentous. So I follow the steps of the dance of the chronic procrastinator and write lists, ignore them, rewrite them then ignore them some more.

They begin to feel as though they pile up on my soul as well as my lists, like the constant ebbing pressure of knowing I need to do them is eating big ulcerated holes in my mind.

It’s on those occasions that I’ve found it best to instate Anti Procrastination Day, FlyLady style. And take the veritable, bitching bull by the horns. Stop thinking too much about things and do things instead.

I’ve taken to calling them, in my mind, ‘karma blockers’, those annoying tasks and Must–Be-Done’s. Because it very much feels as though that is exactly what they are– they force up huge blocks in the way of the flow of life. They disrupt energy, negate change. And it’s impossible to invoke a sense of lightness when something makes you feel so heavy.

I like to imagine myself as some kind of video game heroine, doing great big round kicks and Matrix-style slow jumps through the air while I explode the things on my Things To Do list, kicking butt over one thing after another, growing stronger and gaining some kind of reward– life points, maybe, or just general good karma. And I walk around for days afterwards feeling alive, feeling good. Feeling like a mother f*cking adult.

I hate the feeling of things left over, of tasks left behind, gathering dust. The permanence of them annoy me– I can manage to cross a dozen things off my Things To Do list in a day, but none of them will be important. I think the rationale behind that thinking is as simplistic as it seems– I tend to do the easiest tasks first, the ones easy to cross off. I think we all do, maybe.

So the easier things slide off the list, daily, and only the karma–blockers remain.


It’s Anti–procrastination Day here in the TinyTrainHouse today. I have done six million loads of washing and am about to vacuum the goddamn floor.

Like the responsible adult I am.

*I have, evidently, been spending far too much time on Reddit lately. More on that, soon.



by Lori Dwyer on February 19, 2013 · 3 comments

I have had two teenage girls staying with me for most of the last week. Long story, short… everyone needs a safe place. Especially if they’re only just eighteen and come from a somewhat dysfunctional place, through no fault of their own.

They’re both gorgeous kids and I love them dearly. At the same time, they are driving me fucking insane. Partly because I am so damn jealous. Not of the being a teenager thingthat sucked, as we’ve already established. I’m more jealous of the sleeping like lazy pussy cats whenever they so desire.

Half their luck.

Anyway. I’m definitely getting an education in a million teenage things. Like ‘mint’ songs (cue rolling eyes and assertions of “Mad song, Auntie Lori. Lets just leave it at that.” What was I saying, about how I used to be cool…?). And ‘inboxing’ as a verb. And the very nasty side of Chat Roulette.

Not to mention the unholy mess that is teenagers on Facebook. The amount of communication that goes on with these girls and the people they know– as well as the people they don’t know– is terrifying. Facebook is like an extension of themselves. The look on their faces when I told them to lay off the wifi for an hour or so was priceless– I could almost see the seething anxiety it was causing them.

The more people communicate, I guess, the more open we become and the more we talk, and the thinner the boundaries of what is silent and taboo become.

But watching all that honesty and openness infiltrate the lives of girls who I’m tempted to view as still just babies at that age… it’s overwhelming and scary and I’m afraid for them, and for the millions of other kids out there growing up right now. I’m not positive, of course, but I think I may even be more fearful for the teenagers of 2013 than I ever will be for my own children.

Because this is all growing so fast. Our technology eats us in great belching bites– we are too smart for our ethics and morals. This flood of information, of communication… it seems unending right now. I can’t help but wonder if we will reach a place where the tidal wave of new stuff starts to slow and we can find some still waters.

Things are going to be very different, of course– they always are, after a flood. But the basic landscape of humanity… I’d like to think that will remain, underpinning whatever else comes.

It’s just that it’s all so new right now. Boundaries haven’t been tested, rules haven’t been made. There’s no sense of privacy or self–preservation and ’the worst that can happen’ hasn’t been established as yet.

I like to think that by the time my own kids hit that age, we’ll all have more experience at dealing with this new-found flood of information. I like to imagine that, in ten years time, this technology will be so mainstream that we’ll have no other option but to assimilate a whole new set of morals and ethics, ones that take into account what we do online and how accessible other people’s private information is to us. Maybe what we’ve lost in terms of privacy, we’ll begin to gain back again.

Or maybe not. I don’t know. I do know, having seen it first hand over the last few days, that an Internet connection is no longer an option for teenagers, but a necessity. I think I believe that social consequences should be factored into the decisions we make regarding our children’s overall well-being  And, I think, that long term denial of Internet access to a teenage girl would be the equivalent to a small social death. Without anyone but the outcast in question to mourn it.

In a society where children are sadly sexualised and puberty is beginning younger and younger, the thought of giving sixteen year old girls that kind of access to everything is terrifying.


Ironically, having two Teen Princesses In Waiting as house-guests for the week made me appreciate my own little darlings that much more once they had left. A three year old and a five year old are blissful, compared to a seventeen and eighteen year old. They actually don’t make as much mess. They take up less room. They are heaps more fun.

And they actually talk, like, to me. One of the princesses actually sent me a message on Facebook to ask if she could borrow my hairspray. While we were in the same room.

“Yay!”, says the Chop after arriving home from Big School on Friday to a clean house, quiet and peaceful with just the two of us. “We have our house back!”

And I think- indeed. It’s amazing how far we’ve come. And how much it feels like a home, with just the three of us there.


The Thing With Cats, Part Two.

by Lori Dwyer on January 23, 2013 · 2 comments

Someone commented on Twitter a few days ago that, just perhaps, TinyTrainTown is very bad juju for cats. The TinyTrainHouse, in particular.

I’m thinking they may have a point.

I guess the easiest way to break this is to say I have both good news, and bad news.

Let’s begin with the good news, shall we…?

You may remember George, bless his little white socks. Just a week or two after losing George– still unable to tell my children the truth, as I still am now, unsure of what good thatt kind of honesty could possibly do– I got one of the most awesome, bizarre, uncannily coincidental emails.

Another one of those coincidental things that happened so perfectly, it doesn’t feel like a coincidence, not really. Not at all.

This email came from a reader of my blog and fellow resident of TinyTrainTown. I think we’ll call her WonderWoman. WonderWoman originally commented on my BookFace page, saying that her family had actually adopted George’s brother from the TinyTrainTown vet a week or so before we took George home. George’s brother’s name was Floyd… and he wasn’t getting on with her older, nearly geriatric other cat at all.

I know, I know… I believe I did, at one point, say ‘no more cats!’ But really- when the Universe offers to fix a problem so practically, so perfectly… why on earth would you say ‘no’?

I didn’t. I said a silent thank you to Whoever’s In Charge and emailed WonderWoman straight back to tell her that, if she ever needed to re–home Floyd, we would be more than happy to take him in.

And WonderWoman, being awesome, allowed us to do just that.

So that’s how it came to happen that the myself, the Chop, and one more than slightly confused Bump found ourselves at WonderWoman’s house. And returned home with Floyd. Who is the very spitting image of his late brother George, except for the teeny white socks on George’s paws.



WonderWoman is a mum herself and has a handful of WonderKids– to be honest, between her kids and my kids and the running and the yelling I have forgotten how many WonderKids there were. But the oldest WonderKid… I think I’ll remember her forever. Her name is Chloe, and she’s just… beautiful. A tween–aged eleven year old, she was pretty and smart and caring and honest and if my Bump grows up to be anything like her, I will be a very happy mum indeed.

Chloe was Floyd’s rightful owner, and, being the very mature young person she is, she made the decision to allow him to come and live with us and see if her family’s other cat– and Floyd himself– would be happier living apart. There were a few tears shed, and I promised Chloe I would give her baby lots of love, cuddles, good food and a human to annoy in bed every single night.

Floyd and the Chop

Floyd and the Chop

I’m pleased to report to Chloe- and to you, jellybeans- that Floyd is well and truly settled in here. He and DimSum the Godfather are quite good mates– DimSum, while old and crotchety, missed his mate George badly, and is patient and tolerant of even the most annoying of kittens.

Which is a good thing. Because Floyd is the very cat–devil himself. He pounces on unsuspecting soft fleshy feet from behind corners, claws at lounges, slinks in to steal food from your plate when you’re not looking, and uses Dimsum’s long, flicking tail as a plaything.

And we all very, very much adore him.

I don’t know quite how to thank WonderWoman and her family enough for the gift they’ve given us. Floyd fits in so well, it’s like he’s been here all along.

In fact, if you ask the Bump, you would think he has been here all along. Poor child is thoroughly confused by the whole cat-swap, and has to be corrected every time she refers to Floyd as ‘Georgie Peorgie’ (But having said that, I also have to correct her every single time she picks up a banksia seed pod and brings it to me saying “Look mummy, a money bank!!”)


If you follow me on Twitter, you may have seen me lamenting and whinging a few days ago about my cat being missing. On returning from Melbourne, I discovered my house sitter had lost both his sense of sanity and proprietary over the weekend and left the TinyTrainHouse mostly un–sat. Mailbox full, plants un–watered… ‘other’ cat (that’d be DimSum) missing.

I’m so ridiculously accustomed to losing pets, I assumed DimSum was dead. Don’t think I’m just being macabre– he’s twelve years old, and the temperature here hit 48 degrees Celsius (that’s 118 degrees in American) on Friday while I was in Melbourne.

And besides that… there’s that horrible, pitch dark road.

My mum did a quick scan of my yard and a slow drive-by of the Very Dangerous Road. No black, fluffy carcass. Which was nice. But in the back of my mind, I was waiting for a skinny, pitiful, ragged creature to drag himself back home to die, the way Tigger had done years ago.

Which was why it was such a huge relief to hear his familiar loud “Mauuuuu!!!” and the reassuring thump of his bulk climbing the lattice at the front steps.



He refuses to divulge details on where he’s been, or what he’s been up to. He was a bit hungry and a bit thirsty but other than that, no worse off for his adventure. Whatever that adventure was. And he’s resumed his usual position of laying like a huge big fluffy lump on the cool concrete of the backyard, with next doors cat’s occasional sitting a respectful distance away from him on either side, like minions or hand-servants or hench–cats or something.


For the reader who asked the (very reasonable) question of whether my vet would like DimSum to lose a bit of weight, if he’s unhealthy heavy. The answer is, believe it or not- no. He’s actually quite skinny, and getting skinnier as he ages.

He’s just… big.