Pods of enthusiasm are hidden in your sweat glands

Things that annoy me are picking up dog poo, people who don’t pick up their dog’s poo and over-sweating. I’d put over-smiling on that list too, but I feel like I’ve done everything possible to quell that habit, at least for photos anyway. It’s not like I can’t do any of these things, but they just seem to interrupt the natural flow of general life enthusiasm and for that, I’d like them banished.

Sure, the dog poo thing is basically unavoidable and pretty much the bane of #doglife but they’re worth it and so is the exercise from dog walking and the maturity gained from the experience of street-strolling with a plastic bag full of dung trying really hard not to look too desperate for the next bin.

But over-sweating, now here’s a sexy paragraph. Because I am simply the image of picturesque and classic beauty, there are little yellow stains on the underarms of white shirts that no amount of detergent or bleach will remove. One wear, and BAM, forever tainted and this is a legitimate factor when deciding what to wear (life hack – do this night before because mental preparation is golden!). Will there be many occurrences of hand-above-head activity today? Can I wear a jumper over this? Am I around people whom I care about seeing evidence of my perspiratory fluids? Muuuuuuuum help me.

For years I was convinced I was an over-active perspirer – my pores just hate me, it’s genetic, I’m just simply too hot (yeah, mate), God made you like this for a reason (bless). I told all this to my teenage self who was defined by comparison to the other girls and the overall perception that ‘ladylike’ was the ultimate life goal. WHERE IS THEIR SWEATY UPPER LIP? There was none of that sexy tired yawn stretching that they all did on the bus where their shirt would ride up to expose a little touch of bare skin that might as well have sung and popped streamers for the magnetic hold it had over hormonal boys. Instagram, you have been absolutely zero help in this life department (although excellent at interesting native floral arrangements).

Now that I’m a sophisticated nearly-twenty year-old with immaturity and high school behind me (wait, are they Blue Water High re-runs!?), what I’ve learnt is this: bringing deodorant with you is an okay thing to do and being enthusiastic about things often makes you sweat and this is also an okay thing. In fact, enthusiasm is more than okay, it’s bloody terrific and I’d take it over any non-sweating armpits all the time. Perhaps I’ll rethink this once summer really takes hold but today this is my declaration: ENTHUSIASM IS REALLY TERRIFIC!

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Mum thinks that I get vey vey excited about things because I’m a “new soul” on this earth and I act like I’m doing everything for the first time. This is in contrast to those wise old people who simply know how to fill up a petrol tank from the minute they’re born. I doubted this theory very much until I got to uni, because it turns out lectures are apparently an acceptable time to sleep and people don’t actually talk to each other on the train in awe that every life moment has led us all to be on this one carriage joyfully and blissfully together. I resent this position of lecture-wallowing and public transport, because we miss out on the opportunity to LEARN LEARN LEARN and talk to grandmas on the train about knitting patterns and their sixteen grandkids.

Don’t even try to hush me or my mind once we get into the city, especially at night time, because the sounds and the sites and (dare I say it) the smells are just so glorious and magical and YES THAT IS A 24/7 STATIONARY SHOP! Also, more bonuses, you get a really good sleep at night because you’re might is pretty exhausted from being eternally blown away with wonder and discovering German words that are really good for explaining English-intolerant phenomenons.

Slight downfalls: the sweating (obvs), the over-smiling (can be combatted) and getting strange looks and unanswered-groupchats when people don’t share your passion for holiday-countdowns or lying on the grass in the sun during your lunch break. There may also be days of bleak un-excitement, like funerals or grand final losses, where you’re actually really hating on kookaburras waking you up naturally and that is also acceptable, because sleep and bitterness can be your enthusiasms for that day.

But hold up, people who roll their eyes when I haven’t finished at the breakfast buffet yet: this stuff is magical, this stuff is our adrenaline and we’re so flipping lucky to be able to feel it every day for good reasons, not terrifying reasons. Go drink some cider and get familiar with your little pod of secret enthusiasm hidden in your sweat glands. And watch out for dog poo.

We’re all wearing tights in a room smelling of foot.

Every Tuesday at 9.15 I pop onto my bike and ride with delicious swag to Pilates.

By 9.30 I’m surrounded by Sue, Sue and Anne, my band of small talk professionals. They speak of how their hair is falling out and that their dental bills are racking up even though they have less teeth and of their grand kids breaking their arms. I smile a lot, and nod as if I can relate, but I don’t mind because we’re all connected by the fact that we’re wearing tights in a room smelling of foot.

On goes the music, and there’s a little bit of Bruce Springsteen in there because Anne doesn’t know how to change the song on her flashy iPod Shuffle, but who doesn’t like Dancing in the Dark, eh? And even though the tempo is totally out of sync with our breaths and our inner namaste is really flaunting itself because of it, I secretly love these befuddled classes. It’s a bunch of oldies, and me.

But then in swooped Brian. Brian ruined everything. I envisaged him as the boy version of that little tart in Taylor Swift’s The Story of Us (do listen, you’d really hate him too). However, his hair was white, several teeth were gold (or missing) and he was a man. With a beard!

He waltzed in with his wife like he hadn’t even been dragged there. What. In. Seven. Hells. (I thought to myself). Is. He. Doing?! Gosh, Brian, you ruined everything. Now my ladies and I can’t even talk about underarm hair anymore.I felt so…cheated.

The thing about Brian that most infuriated me, though, was that he was so polite. “Hullo” he greeted us all with a gentle tip of his hat (yes, he wore one of those old man berets!) and discreetly found his quiet space on the floor. Once he’d warmed up those skinny wrinkled limbs he peeled off his jumper and folded it on the floor. Yes he folded it! What a guy! What really got me was when we found ourselves facing each other, legs spread, arms reaching the sun (read: position of extreme vulnerability, especially if one’s sports bra is not doing its job very well). Brian offered me a smile and let his eyes wander every inch of the room that I did not take up. But he was that good at awkward eye contact that he was making it very hard for me to hate him.The nerve! My head wanted to scream GET OUT but my mouth did not obey (thank the Lord, that room really echoes).

Basically what I figured out though, was that I really didn’t hate Brian, even though by now you may see me as an ageist, a sexist and a beard hater. (Please do not, for I am not! Only old people who hark on about the good old days of compulsory heterosexuality!)  What I hated was that things were changing and that they were out of my control. It was terrifying.

if this picture strikes your fancy too, please thank @andsmilestudio on instagram.

if this picture strikes your fancy too, please thank @andsmilestudio on instagram.

But basically I figured out that I was not Brian’s wife. I could not tell him to shave his beard, or get rid of his beret (don’t listen to her Brian, it’s real cute!) or to ditch the folding (he seemed very well-trained). All I could do was smile back to him in Downward Dog and hope that next week we can talk about how Aldi is having a camping sale soon and that yes, it is getting lighter in the mornings now (hooray!) and that uncontrollable change is inevitable and that is flipping scary but eventually alright.

Be the person everyone hates because your funeral went overtime.

I found my ukulele in the garage one day when we were cleaning out the toy box. It’d lived in the house for nearly four years, and I only discovered it when I was seventeen. It’s nothing special, mind you, and I doubt it’d fetch much at a second-hand shop, but it has proved mighty handy in times of despair, doubt and depression (and deliriousness, at the thought of me singing). I’m also sorry for all the times you had to listen to Riptide, I still haven’t mastered the uke solo on that one.

I seem to have made a habit of discovering therapeutic activities. It’s not all watching Game of Thrones, you know (although I have recently discovered it myself, after many peaceful months of blatant rejection of conformity). There are so many ways to clear the mind, that often mine becomes overwhelmed with choice, completely reversing the purpose of each activity. What if I want to do all of them? Oh, but I can, and you can too.

You see, I’ve always resented the “life is short” concept. Sure, I guess it is, if you consider how much has come before us – the dinosaurs and the Romans and the Salem witch hunts and Kevin Rudd. But while this perspective is a wonderful thing, why would we spend three hours roasting lamb and carrots instead of inhaling two-minute noodles for every meal if we didn’t have a bit of time on our hands.

You want to knit? Knit. You want to ride a bike? Prepare your basket (a necessity with any cycling apparatus, really). You want to cook? Then get onto taste.com, deary! You want to read in a hammock under the sun? Then flipping find yourself two well-positioned trees. Do it. You want to visit Majorca? Find yourself a flashy beach umbrella! Go on. Just do it. DO ALL THE THINGS!

You don’t have to choose one certain thing to do, or be good at, and do only that. For too long, I myself have pigeon-holed my counterparts, titled them with their chosen activity: Maddie, she of basketball; Megan, she of surfing and hair of blonde; Jack, he of life enthusiasm and idiosyncratic food purchases; Blayne, he of protein shakes and house of wannabe-black. It may seem as though Game of Thrones has gotten away with me, but I assure you I am not writing this with a Westeros accent in my head.

But really, our titles should be as long as our height and as many as our years. Be that guy everyone hates because your funeral went overtime because people would not shush about that time you decided to repeatedly run naked up a muddy hill in front of hundreds of people (you go, splendour in the grass guy)!

We should utilise the time we do have and use it for all it’s worth. This is why I do not watch A Current Affair, and chose instead to calm my agitation with Tracy Grimshaw with a Mindfulness Colouring Book (it’s a great thing, see here). It’s not about ways to ‘pass’ the time, but really, ways to best USE the time and the opportunities we have. I double dog dare you.

Actually I don’t, because Eve Malone wouldn’t. Eve Malone is too busy bungy-jumping in South Africa. So go on, catch her if you can.

I like a little ding ding.

Bicycles are a fun time. They’re a really fun time. They’re a two wheeled tyranny of terrific transportation. Alliteration is also a bloody ball.

I’m one of those people who, come January, whacks ‘Write Goal List’ on my ‘To Do’ list. I am the least-listless list-writer and for nearly three years, ‘GET BIKE!’ was on mine. Capital letters, underlined three times and finished with an exclamation mark, the works – until that got a bit ugly and I ripped it out and re-wrote it neater.

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On the cork board it went, and this year I thought YES THIS IS THE YEAR MY YEAR MY BIKE’S YEAR THE YEAR OF ME AND MY BIKE! And it is. This ain’t no story of failure, matey. This is a story of lust.

It was like kiss and catch, but mostly I was the boy in Year One and my dear old bike of dreams was just too fast, too far away or too expensive, and I was not prepared for such a high maintenance relationship. I just wanted to bike, gosh darn it. No bells and whistles. Wait, keep the bell. I like a little ding ding.

They say dreaming of a bike means you’re having to forge through on your own, mainly because bikes, by their very nature, are designed for just one person (whoever ‘they’ are must be pretty bland and boring and have clearly not participated in the  struggle to stand on those bits of bike near the back wheel which mainly result in grazed knees but an overall grand time). Regardless, ‘they’ also say that bike dreams symbolise moments when you tend to do things your own way.

THIS I relate to. And so must my family, since as it goes, on quite possibly the most inconvenient day of the whole year, I drove to Sydney and bought my bike. “Nope!” I said to the haters (Dad). “Today is the day!” I sang Taylor Swift the whole way and also R Kelly’s Ignition Remix (fun fact: an original Ignition exists!). I also got the bird by an angry taxi driver who obviously was not in the right headspace to deal with lost yet enthusiastic P-Platers the day before Easter (read: traffic).

Ten minutes before closing time, I arrived slightly puffed and flustered, but nevertheless in style.  My bike was waiting patiently for me. Finally, it was ready to be caught and kissed and smothered in bike lube (it’s a real thing). And when my big dear old two wheeler fit gently into my small old four wheeler (without a a teary call to Dad for him being right to bring the big car), I knew we were ready to take it to the next level.

I ride my bike to yoga, I ride my bike to work, I ride my bike when I’m sad and I ride my bike when I’m craving a pleasant wind-through-hair sensation. I look at my bike when I’m watering my herb garden. When I ride my bike, I am the most pure person who has ever stepped foot on the humble earth. Not just because it is saving the planet and making my quads burn, baby, burn, and has a polite-sounding bell that makes people turn around in delight, but because it was I made all these things happen with a simple OCD-riddled list of goals.

Some people call my bike Percy. Other people prefer Gerald. I myself like to call him WATCH OUT 2019 YOU DON’T EVEN KNOW WHAT’S ON 2016’S GOAL LIST.

Or just MISSION ACCOMPLISHED for short.