Thursday, January 19, 2006


the weird habits meme, which requires the blogger to fess up to his or her five weirdest habits, as the name might reasonably lead one to expect.

My first thought upon accepting Ms Tartan’s meme was about a habit I acquired from one of the zine publishers I interviewed in the early days of my Master’s degree. S. happened to be visiting from interstate so I met him at a landmark well-known by travellers to Brisbane, the Roma Street Transit Centre. We walked further into the city centre before catching a bus on the way to the University. As we were walking, I noticed that each time, after we had crossed the street at traffic light intersections, he paused to push the button that indicates someone is waiting at the crossing, before continuing on. As an inveterate walker, I thought it was a fantastic idea. Who hasn’t waited endlessly at a crossing looking for a break in the traffic only because you didn’t push the button at the right time in the signal’s cycle? If you’re familiar with the traffic lights in question, it’s even more frustrating to know that normally you would be able to cross, but because the pedestrian stage in the signal cycle has been missed you are left on the side-walk twiddling your toes. Thus the first weird habit I will admit to, in a list arranged in no particular order, is:

1. I push the walk button at traffic signal pedestrian crossings after I have traversed the crossing

Contemplating the task of the meme further, I wondered what weird habits I could confess to that I hadn’t already enumerated in detail in other posts on this blog. What I found thinking by thinking about those quirks I’ve already admitted to was that I became aware of previously unconsidered habits that were related to those I had already written about.

I’ll start with the weird tendency revealed in my last post. I didn’t frame it then in terms of strange behaviour on my part, but I’m sure you all thought it was a little on the edge of sanity:

2. I creep around the outside of my apartment building at night time and peer in my disruptive neighbour’s window

Alright, some people might consider that being a peeping Thomasina is in fact criminal behaviour. I will plead temporary insanity. What my creeping reveals is that when I am indignant about something, I will stop at very little in my pursuit of evidence that can be used to bring about an end to the cause of said indignation. I have since composed a letter enumerating the disruptive neighbour’s infractions and it has been signed by two thirds of the other tenants. On another occasion, when I was mad at the traffic/pedestrian arrangements made to accommodate the sports crowds that flood my neighbourhood, I sent five copies of a letter to various levels of government and facilities/business managers expressing my displeasure. Soon I had local members, community liaison officers and police sergeants contacting me to discuss the issue... Actually, now I’m scaring myself. Moving right along.

The next thing that others have indicated they consider to be weird about me is:

3. I let a spider keep its web just outside my front door

When my neighbour, N., came around to read a draft of the letter to the property manager, she asked me if I was keeping a pet. I mumbled something about how I had ‘thing’ about destroying spider’s webs. When my sister V. visited me, she looked at it and suggested that I use a stick to relocate it to the mango tree. The thing is, I don’t really want to risk touching the spider. She’s not in my way and she has learned to cope with the opening and closing of my windows each time I leave home and return. I explained to my sister that I’d seen a report on global warming and climate change on the 7.30 Report and that in addition to the usual plethora of disappearing frogs, they had shown a picture of a spider, thereby suggesting they were affected as well. It confirmed what I had noticed over the past few years. When I first moved into this flat, I couldn’t walk through the green block next door without encountering at least two spiders’ webs stretched between the trees, but in the last couple of years the passage is always clear. I’m not sure that house-training spiders is the solution, but I always think of the news report when I see the spider’s eight eyes looking at me.

Related to the concerns this spider habit reveals is another. It’s important to know that I don’t think of it as weird and so it won’t be listed as one of my habits, but in the context of being in an English and Media Studies environment, I have been assured that this behaviour renders me a ‘geek’. This charge against my person occurred when in casual conversation, several days after the screening of the AFI Awards, I said that I hadn’t watched them, instead I had watched the final of The New Inventors to learn who the Inventor of the Year was. I was quizzed, ‘so, you’re a teacher and scholar of film and television, and you didn’t watch the AFI Awards?’ ‘No’, I said, ‘did you know the Inventor of the Year has discovered a way to effectively recycle every aspect of tyres? It’s amazing! Think of what an enormous global problem old tyres are; think of the environmental revolution about to take place!’ ‘Oh my God’, they said ‘you’re a geek!’ ‘I bought the New Inventors Magazine, as well. Did you know...?’ ‘You’re a geek!’ So, I liked science at school. I nearly went to uni to become a food technologist. Make something of it.

I’ve recently learned another thing about myself that might be construed as odd. The discovery was prompted by reading the list of weird habits of Lucy from Always Listen to Your Pig Puppet, another recipient of Ms Tartan’s meme. Lucy never wears black, she thinks it’s depressing, even if her mother is convinced it suits her the best. Lucy’s revelation provoked a train of thought, which goes like this:

When I was a teenager I wore black a lot. My friends wore black too. Once an old man harassed us as we emerged from Sportsgirl in Cairns, demanding to know why we wanted to wear black. Of course we just ignored him. The Smiths were an influential force at that time in my life, I still recall the song lyric, ‘I wear black on the outside, because black is how I feel on the inside. And if I seem a little strange then that’s because I am...’ Well, it’s taken a lot of work, but I have finally moved on from that depressive teenage state. I still have a fondness for black, however, which cannot be wholly attributed to lingering in the halls of English departments. I buy clothes, on average, two times a year. I am very systematic about my shopping; I’m not an impulse buyer at all, something which can probably be attributed to being a student for so long. When I shop for clothes it’s because the season dictates I must have short or long sleeves or I have worn out the purchases from last year’s season, so I go with a very practical mindset, asking myself what I will get the most wear from that will be suitable for a range of occasions. This is where black comes in, and white for that matter. I always buy a black shirt and a white shirt when I go shopping because they go with everything—I wear neither of these ‘colours’ in skirts or trousers. I usually get a blue shirt as well, because I am vain enough to want the compliments I get about my eyes when I wear blue. Lately I have gone crazy and added a pink shirt to my list, because that widens my options for coordinating with the darker brown skirts and trousers I own.

While you might think this approach to clothes buying constitutes a strangeness on my part, in fact the strange part of it is yet to come:

4. I only purchase clothes from Sussan’s, absolutely nowhere else

When it comes to underwear, I do branch out and buy that in sales at Target, but probably only because Sussan’s doesn’t sell it. It’s just so much easier, the sales staff don’t bug you, and ‘this goes with that’ and all that, means I can always match my clothes in the most economical way. I really don’t enjoy shopping for clothes at all.

The quirk that will complete my fulfilment of Ms Tartan’s meme begins with a reflection on something that is probably all too apparent to those readers who are still awake at this point. Since starting this blog, I have noticed that behind the most fleeting of my thoughts lies one thousand words of explanation—at least. I seem incapable of writing short posts, in fact, I have given up apologising for rambling on and on and on. Is this an endearing quirk or just annoying verbosity? Another explanation for the length of my posts is in the aesthetic realm. I’ve mentioned before that I prefer to display only the latest post on my index page, the problem with this decision is that I have an aversion to the look of that page when the side bar exceeds the length of the latest post, thereby leaving a wasteland of space on the page. As the length of the side bar is dictated by whatever I decide to add to it, the longer it becomes, the longer my posts have to become in order to avoid having that black hole on my index page. At the moment the posts need to be around a thousand words to assuage my discomfort. I’m not uncomfortable if the post is longer than the side bar, the space on the right hand margin makes aesthetic sense to me.

This compulsive obsession with filling inappropriately empty spaces extends, for me, to the writing of text messages, thus:

5. I like to use all the space available to me when I send sms messages on my mobile phone

Obviously, sometimes I just need to get over this tic and the same goes for the blog posts, so often a very stern internal dialogue takes place, to the effect of ‘Get over it’, and it works, but it still bugs me. On the text messages, I guess I also think if you’re going to be charged the same for sending ten characters as four hundred and fifty-nine, then you might as well write the latter. This goes to the role of text messages in my life. I think one of the things that cemented my friendship with Dr H was text messaging. Since we both worked at far flung university campuses that required a lot of to and fro bus and train travel, we had a sort of unspoken agreement to keep each other company during our respective travels. If you’d had a bad class, you could emote about it and bolster each other’s sense of self worth. We have also used text messaging to keep company in our respective homes. I appreciate the value of sms for letting people know you’ve been caught in traffic or to locate someone in a crowd, but Dr H and I have also discussed topics like the relative merits or lack thereof of Heidegger and Wittgenstein via text messages. Dr H has noted that my text messages are perfectly punctuated and grammatical, and it’s true, that is another text related quirk I have; I hate the mangled language you get in many text messages. My sister F. is the worst, I have told her I feel like a four year-old struggling to comprehend the black bugs in front of me when I read her messages.

The rules of this meme business dictate that I pass this on to other people, so on that note I will end the litany of my weirdness and pass on the baton to Spam (aka dogpossum) and Tseen, who writes Banana Lounge. I hope only two batons is still fulfilling the meme codes of conduct. I didn’t like to send it on to people whose blogs I read but haven’t ever commented on. I worried that it would be rather presumptuous to introduce myself with ‘Hello, you’ve never heard of me, but you’ve been memed’. Is there an agreed upon etiquette about this?

1 comment:

Lucy said...

oops, I forgot to meme people.
You must have very strong thumbs; I always get sick of typing messages before I've even written 5 words. Although, that may have something to do with the brick-like phone I had... I also hate the ridiculous abbreviations my little brother uses.
I'm jealous that you're able to find clothes in one shop reliably. I tend to buy a bunch of things from one store twice a year too, but I have to traipse around the whole shopping centre trying to figure out which store it will be this time because I never like/fit the clothes anywhere consistently.