A word on ‘football’

Dearest Reader,

For many years now, I’ve had a beef with the term ‘football’. As I’ve travelled across nations, continents and hemispheres, I realised that while we all enjoy some sort of ‘football’, we clearly don’t agree on what it is.

I am of course deeply biased as I start this conversation. However, please be reminded my point is not which sport is the better one, this is a subjective and free choice, dearest reader, and you must enjoy whatever makes you happy.

My point is a linguistic one. I argue that ‘football’ sounds like a game played with a ball in which you use your foot, and your foot only.

I’m from Europe, and in Europe, football means, well football. It’s what we play during the FIFA World Cup, where we all get together to kick a ball with our feet and/or shout suggestions at the people who are.

Across the pond and down under, I encountered both American football and Australian football, both of which I found hardly involve any feet, nor a proper ball in the traditional sense.

Firstly, I understand that the ball, rather than being round, is more like an ellipse, which doesn’t lend itself particularly well to the kickage of a foot. Needless to say, it is not meant to be kicked around the field, but rather, it is meant to be kicked into the air, into some sort of general direction of what I understand to be the goal and/or finish line.

What follows this kick can only be described as some sort of puzzling homo-erotic adventure of several grown men piling up on top of each other, grabbing and pulling, and at this point I am quite lost.

Finally, because of some rule I don’t understand, the ball is released and then carried by hand and somehow the game ends in either someone throwing a ball, or kicking it through some fork-like goal, or simply placing it on the other side of a line.

Now, I don’t wish to rekindle old colonisation sentiments but if mother England calls it football, why rename it to ‘soccer’ and use the word ‘football’ to describe a brand new sport that hardly involves any feet?

 

This is a serious issue; I have had countless frustrating conversations about Rugby vs Australian football, Australian football vs American football, and football vs football, and it is tearing us all apart!

If anyone has any useful information on how these two sports and words got all mixed up with each other, leading to global confusion and misunderstandings, I’d love to solve this mystery.

 

Where are my rewards?

Dearest Reader,

I don’t know about you, but when I was a little girl I used to be rewarded for good behaviour, accomplishments and for overcoming challenges.

For instance, it was very common to get a lollipop at the doctor’s office if you were a brave little girl during the appointment. If I helped around the house and did a good job, my mom allowed me extra TV time. I also got sweets at restaurants for behaving well and everyone remembers the golden stars at school.

In all fairness, it is true to say that childhood wasn’t all easy. Learning how to control your emotions, to accept authority and to do things you don’t want to do is tough.

However, adulthood has turned out to be a much bigger challenge, yet I no longer get lollipops for anything.

For instance, my dentist has pulled a total of 6 teeth out of my skull over the past 5 years and I do not recall any rewards. Instead, I just keep getting big fat bills after each appointment which I have to pay with a mouth full of bloody cotton. Where is my lollipop??

Similarly, now I do ALL of the housework ALL THE TIME, continuously doing this everlasting chore of maintaining a house which never seems to end, which means if anything, I have less TV time than ever.

Restaurant owners no longer appreciate my good behaviour, but they don’t know that deep inside I want to eat with my hands and walk up to other tables and tell those people exactly what I think about them, their outfits, food choices and mind-numbing conversations.

Alas, my efforts to suppress all my natural instincts is again, followed by a bill. If I want a sweet treat, social etiquette dictates that I have to pay $15 and share it with whomever I brought along whether I like sharing or not.

I also haven’t seen any more golden stars at school. I recently handed in a 10,000 word literature review, and instead of any stars or candy, I received five pages of feedback with comments like “how certain is your current certainty about your past certainty?” which I understand to be the academic equivalent of the opposite of a golden star.

So life is harder than ever, but rewards are sparse. What to do?

The first option is to coerce doctors, restaurant owners and distinguished professors to give you rewards.

Alternatively you could embrace the fact that you’re an adult now, which comes with some perks – you could simply reward yourself! Why stop at lollipops when you can have an entire chocolate cake?

Why not buy actual golden stars with your hard-earned money?

Get yourself some flowers when you finish your housework.

Enjoy a day of doing nothing after a day of doing everything.

And for the love of God, let’s all stop sharing desserts!

Home is where the bra comes off

Dearest Reader,

When I was about 11 years old, my mother announced to me that it was time to take the first step into womanhood, which was the acquisition of my first bra.

Disturbingly, the shopping experience involved both my mother and my father, and a bra was chosen for me after carefully inspecting perfect fit and overall decency as to not corrupt my innocence.

The result was a white cotton bra with all around elastic straps, a very comfortable model, and I was very excited about it.

Fast-forward a couple of years, I got acquainted with the metal-wired, flesh-biting version that would become the norm, as cotton and elastic were unable to support the increasing weight of my bosom which continued to grow long after everything else had stopped.

They pull on your shoulders, they restrict airflow, they require constant adjusting and despite becoming as normal as wearing underpants, it is not the most pleasant item of clothing.

In addition, it turns out that boys don’t fancy white cotton brasiers, and one is forced to invest in expensive, even more uncomfortable ones that convert everything into crispy-looking juicy apples with a lot of decorative embellishment that may be very pretty, but also very impractical.

Not surprisingly, the height of a woman’s day is the arrival at home and the subsequent removal of the bra.

All my sisters out there will know the freeing feeling of unclasping that hook and finally releasing the pressure of the day. Now you can finally breathe and walk without limitations! Nothing in this world feels better than that moment!

Most importantly, once the bra is off for the day, there is no way we’ll put it back on. There is no spontaneous date or activity that is exciting enough to put the tigers back into their cage after they breathed in the fresh air of freedom.

I truly believe that if the ceremonious bra removal happens at the house of one’s significant other, it is a sign of true love and commitment – because home is where the bra comes off.

 

Choice of toys = choice of human?

Dearest Reader,

While I have taken great care to remain childless up until this point, many of my friends and same-aged peers have decided to procreate and fill this world with children’s laughter.

This inherently means that I now attend parties at which the human in question does not yet know where his or her nose is, why there is cake, and who these people are. It is of course social etiquette to bring this small person a gift, although, in my humble experience, children much prefer playing with (and ingesting) the wrapping paper,

In any case, I find myself entering toy stores and browsing the aisles for a suitable, age-appropriate gift.

I have realised that the aisles in the toy section are neatly divided into categories, as if you could basically decide what type of human you’d like the child to become, and buy the necessary toys to shape their brain and personality accordingly. 

It is a very clinical approach to me, and I wondered whether buying the wrong toy could potentially derail this infant from achieving his or her full potential.

For instance, what if I accidentally create a shallow person that will dedicate their life to following fashion trends and “investing” in make-up because I picked up something from the pink princess section?

Or what if I select a box with science experiments, robots and video games – will I be creating a nerd?

Should I try to raise a future engineer by buying Lego or these planes and ships you have to assemble? If it goes wrong, they might still have a thriving career assembling IKEA furniture!

Will buying a football result in an overly competitive human, or one that doesn’t care about academic achievements?

And if I buy a miniature kitchen, will this come across as anti-feminist?

In the end, toys were too much of a challenge; I didn’t want the wrong career path on my conscience.

So instead, I bought diapers. For when shit hits the fan. Because from what I’ve observed, it will.

Say goodbye to too much pressure

Dearest Reader,

Most things in life come for a price, and this price may simply be anxiety and/or pressure. For the sake of having a happier life, free of such unnecessary and negative emotion, I have said goodbye to some seemingly trivial things and have never looked back.

The first thing is lettuce.

The moment you bring lettuce into your house, it is a ticking time bomb. You have to eat it right away, it is not a product that stays true to its use-by date.

I would make the bold claim that after 48 hours, you already have to weed through the sticky mess that is left in the bag to find the last presentable leaves, or if you are dealing with a head of lettuce, you might have to make difficult decisions on whether these wobbly outer leaves are worth eating.

Lettuce and I don’t work. I am no longer consuming this product, and I can’t recommend it enough.

The second thing are New Years Eve parties.

I am so worried that I have to have a great time that I never have a great time. It’s supposed to be this meaningful day of the year, this massive celebration, this grand memory, and the pressure to have all of this is in itself a party pooper.

These days, I enjoy spending New Years Eve in my pyjamas, ordering a pizza and watching the fireworks on TV. Come 12:10 I’m already in bed, ready to go. It’s awesome.

Finally, any sort of fitness membership.

Don’t get me wrong – getting your ass off the couch is very important so you can age with some sort of dignity, as opposed to dying a horrible, slow death.

However, as soon as I sign up for some sort of exercise program, whether it’s the gym or some sort of stereotypical female fitness class, my good intentions turn into anxiety.

All of a sudden, exercising becomes this new chore that is, above all, costing me money whether I do it or not. While I am by no means a sports enthusiast, exercise is much more likely to occur in my life when it is not in some sort of money-sucking-timer, but rather on my own terms and in my own time.

And this really worked – I have never exercised more in my life since I said goodbye to memberships!

What source of pressure are you cutting out in 2017?

The Comeback of Bartering

Dearest Reader,

One thing that all humans living in urban areas have in common is the hunt for money – we don’t have enough, we need more, because it will buy us the things we need to survive, and many things we definitely don’t need, and perhaps also happiness.

But in simpler, less consumerist communities I have observed some signs of the old bartering system.

The village in which my parents reside is a perfect example – your neighbour grows figs and gives you some for free, in return you make some jam and share it with them. It’s very cute and helpful, and everyone can survive this way.

But it got me thinking, if we were truly to burn all our money and collectively start bartering in modern life, how would we work things out?

Issues arise with very basic things, for instance, is a cookie worth more than an apple because more physical labour and ingredients went into a cookie? Or should the intangible things, like time, care and love be considered when valuing an apple?

Also, could we only swap food for food, or could we swap a tub of sour cream for multi purpose cleaner?

How much is a pair of jeans worth in, say, eggs? 50? 80?

How would we go about technology? I mean sure, an iPhone must be worth thousands of eggs, but not everyone can offer that. Perhaps one could offer a mixed bag of things, like a couple of pairs of jeans, a bit of sour cream and some completed pinterest crafts.

Perhaps it is simply a utopian idea that’s never going to work in the world we have created. But nevertheless, the other day I gave it a try.

After buying a second-hand microwave from this lovely young lady in my suburb, she also offered me other household items as she was moving overseas and needed to get rid of things.

I replied that I could definitely use them but I didn’t have the money to pay for anything else. So instead, we made a different arrangement.

She donated these things to me, and I baked banana bread for her very last breakfast as I assumed her kitchen would be completely empty after packing and moving everything out. I also wrote her a nice note to express my gratitude, and paid her with that.

She loved it, and we had a very nice goodbye despite being complete strangers.

So perhaps, dearest reader, bartering can make a comeback from time to time, even in the great metropolis.

 

The First Taste of Freedom

Dearest Reader,

Growing up, my parents were quite strict and placed restrictions on us with good reason – to protect us, educate us and ensure we become decent human beings.

But some rules seemed a little unnecessary. So when I moved out at 19, breathing in the fresh air of freedom, I was determined to work through a list of things that used to be forbidden and that I couldn’t wait to finally do!

1.Going to bed late

Of all the people I have ever met in my entire life, I had the strictest bedtime hours I’ve ever heard of.

Until the age of 11, I had to go to bed at 6.30pm on school nights.

6.30pm!!!

In summer, at that time the sun is still shining and all the other kids are still playing outside!

Once I turned 12, I was allowed to stay up until 8.30pm (the height of luxury at the time!)

At 16, until 9.30pm.

Even when I turned 18, and was technically no longer to be told what time to go to bed, my mother still anxiously reminded me of the time when it hit 10pm.

In my parent’s defence, not a day went by where they didn’t read a story to me before kissing me goodnight, and I was allowed to read in bed once I could do it myself, but still dude.. 6.30pm!

I couldn’t wait to make my own schedule and do whatever I want! I stayed up till midnight! 1am! 2am! Woohoo!

2. Black nail polish

I don’t know why this was such a big concern in my home, but my parents would not allow me to wear black nail polish. Maybe it looked like the devil, maybe it just creeped them out, but I had to choose other colours.

Naturally, I bought black nail polish and used it for the first time. Nobody could stop me!

3. A thumb ring

Again, my parents felt that thumb rings are just a little too rebellious and would eventually lead to tattoos, drugs and my ultimate demise.

Since they were feeding me, I had to obey their rules and only wore rings on approved fingers, namely the ring finger.

But as soon as I moved out, I bought myself a thumb ring.

4. Not washing the dishes

We all had to help around the house, and my horrible task included the dishes. Every day, after lunch, the family vacated the kitchen and I had to fix it; I was not to do anything else before the kitchen was clean. It is by far the housework chore I detest the most to this day.

I could not wait to have lunch and just throw the dishes in the sink and not wash them.

Nobody harassed me about it, nobody reminded me of them, and they just sat there, until I was good and ready to wash them.

5. Watching TV

My parents restricted my TV access quite severely, the underlying thought behind it being that I would be inactive, that TV fries your brain and damages your eyes, and that I should be socialising or doing something productive instead.

In addition, we only had one TV, and being by far the youngest person in the house, I was never in charge of the remote or involved in any decision-making process when it came to what we were watching that evening.

When I was finally the queen of the remote, I spent hours watching brain-frying TV, at all times of the day and whatever I wanted. What a time to be alive!

When I finished doing these things, I made a point of calling my mother and telling her vindictively that I’ve purposely broken her rule and done all the things she so furiously tried to avoid.

All she did was laugh, and ask: “So, did you enjoy doing these things? How did they work out?”

I wanted to say it was all awesome. But it wasn’t.

I was really sleepy in the lectures after staying up all night.

The black nail polish made me look like a Goth.

The thumb ring hurts if I write long essays with a pen. (Though despite the pain, 10 years later, I still haven’t taken it off!)

The dishes were really hard to clean once everything had dried on the plates.

And I really had a sore head and eyes from all that TV.

I hate to admit it. But mom was right. Again.