human behaviour

Dear Humanity: Please find enclosed my resignation from the species...

Dear Humanity: Please find enclosed my resignation from the species...

Being human, being a member of Team Homo Sapiens; well, it’s just too much like hard work. In fact, it isn’t just like hard work – it is work. To run as primates of the family Hominidae, the aforementioned homo sapiens (although the sapiens is a misnomer, if you ask me) – is the equivalent of getting up, showering, throwing down an Egg McMuffin, and clocking into the most inane, drivel-driven workplace in the history of drivel-driven workplaces –

– and never clocking out.

Get Up, Stand Up

“Stand up and be counted, or sit your ass in the corner and colour.”

— Lori Lifsey

I was talking to a very close friend late last night, and she was incredibly upset. After hearing what was wrong, I felt so physically cross and mentally crabby I would have relished the opportunity to have a young Cassius Clay (or possibly Tony Abbott) materialise in front of me so that I could have a ding-dong punch up. 

Make that definitely Tony Abbott. A Rumble In The Jungle is far more satisfying when it's against someone you actively feel would benefit from a good seven punch combo.  

What was behind the reasoning for my rage? As often seems to happen, someone who had no personal knowledge of another individual - who was motivated by jealousy, or an inability to achieve, or simply that most destructive of all human behaviours  - malice - had decided to make someone dear to me's life hell.

Because they could. And because they wanted to.  

Why is this acceptable?  

I can be nasty. I am not immune to having a bitch about others - if someone gives me the irrits, then yes, the temptation is always there to express said irrits in less than flattering terms.  

See above re our current Prime Minister. 

But I have never understood the need that some people seem to feel of taking down others they don't even know. I'm not talking about the lionising and then the destruction of celebrities who do 'the wrong thing' - or what the general public determines is the wrong thing, which in itself can be scary as hell.  I'm talking about those individuals who feel they have a right to be careless with people's lives; without consequence and without conscience. 

To ascribe feelings, thoughts and behaviour to someone whom you've never met - to actively state that they are 'this' person - it's just wrong.  

'X is only going out with Y for their money/looks/position'.

'How do you know? Did they tell you?'

'No, I've never met them. I just know.'

This mysterious ability to reach inside another person's head is obviously something which security forces across the world should be tapping in on. Forget phone and interwebs screening, forget careful surveillance; just pick up a few of these superheroes and put them in front of your most wanted. 

'Yep, he's a terrorist alright.'

'What are you basing that on? Psychological analysis? Predictive behaviour? Past actions?'

'Nope. I just don't like the look of them. And once someone who looked like him kicked my cat'.

Analysis through ignorance is one of the nastiest things we humans do. To impact on another person's life simply because you feel you have the right to say what you think about them - with no knowledge or understanding of who they are - no. Not acceptable. 

I hope that every person who reads this has a great Sunday. That your day involves sunshine, and lazy brekky, and being with people you care about. And that maybe - just maybe - if someone says 'I heard this about X' and starts pulling them down, you don't just listen and nod, and maybe even repeat it, because you assume that they know what they're talking about. 

Instead, give the gossip what it deserves. 

That seven punch combo. 


When Sorry Seems To Be The Hardest Word

“In this life, when you deny someone an apology,
you will remember it at a time [when] you beg forgiveness.”

— Toba Beta, My Ancestor Was an Ancient Astronaut

There are times in our lives when we all do one of two things; we either act in a way which means we hurt someone and need to make amends, or someone acts in a way which hurts us and they in turn need to make amends.

Unfortunately, due to the fact that we really are a pack of ratfinks, apologies - or rather sincere apologies - tend to be rather thin on the ground. And for every time we do manage to mutter the words 'sorry about that', there tends to be a follow up of 'but it wasn't my fault'. 

I am not making myself out to be Saint Kate of the Immaculate Mea Culpa here. I am just as guilty as everyone else at finding reasons why my actions weren't really anything to do with my own nastiness or thoughtlessness - or sometimes sheer laziness of the brain. Much as I would like to think I am a perfect princess, I am well aware this is far from the truth, and sometimes the urge to say 'but it was because X did this, not because I didn't do this' grips the space between my brain and my flappy tongue and next thing you know the sorry becomes a slag off.

We also seem to be very bad - maybe it's an Aussie trait - at accepting apologies. I have noticed when I am genuinely sorry about something (and I will say this - I don't apologise to propitiate people, or to stop an argument, only if I am genuinely ashamed of my actions) - often those I am saying the big 'S.O.R.R.Y.' to will either shrug it off or even go 'whatever' and keep whinging about the same topic ad nauseam.  

This isn't gracious and it isn't fair. If you are still upset, say 'well, I am still upset, and it may take me a long time to work through this.'  Don't ignore the apology as if it hasn't happened. It takes a lot for someone (and I speak for everyone here, not for myself) to put their heart in their mouth and say 'I really regret my words/actions - please at least think about forgiving me.'

Saying sorry doesn't guarantee you forgiveness, and nor should it. Your actions stand. But bear this in mind; next time someone does something that really gives you a bit of a kick in the heart - and it will happen, because that's life - remember an occasion when you may have done the same to someone else because you forgot about engaging your brain cells.   

Think about their response to you, bad or good. 

And this time around... make sorry an easier word for both of you.  

It may even lead to a bit of internal peace just that little bit sooner. 

Love The One You're With

“He leans over and takes her hand. With the other he touches her face. ‘You your best thing, Sethe. You are.’ His holding fingers are holding hers.

‘Me? Me?”

— Toni Morrison, Beloved

It has been yet another rough week in the world of grumps and glum a.k.a. KateLand. I hate admitting this; I hate saying out loud 'yup, things are currently craptacular'. But allowing oneself to be vulnerable is something which we all need to do. If we don't, that internal balloon gets to popping point… and what is the result? Stress, anger and an awful lot of tears, and not the 'I needed to have a cry' tears, but great big 'I can't stop' sobs which are not healthy.

Being vulnerable and letting people in is important. It's something that I have to work on very hard. I am extremely bad at letting people help me. I am not sure whether it's because I see asking for help as some kind of defeat, or whether I am just a stubborn cow, but putting my hand up and saying 'I am not coping' is vastly difficult. 

I know I am not alone in this.

I also think that a part of it is perhaps thinking I am not worthy of being helped.

Again, I know I am not alone in this.

To some degree, most of us dislike ourselves. There are some happy go lucky souls out there who saunter through life without any kind of self-doubt - always secure in themselves and their place in society and the world. They have a confidence in their own ability which borders almost on arrogance; but it isn't, and it isn't ego either. They simply don't have any kind of 'I'm no good' feelings running through their veins. 

At times, I envy them. To have that kind of blasé bliss - wow. For a week, a month or two - yay. It would be great. But if I really stop and nut it out, I come to a different conclusion.

Whilst I don't want to doubt my likeability on a daily basis, I do want to question whether my actions affect the wellbeing of others. I want to make sure that the way I behave is of good consequence. I want to make sure that what I am doing means I can sleep well at night.

While I want to love other people - the most important person in my world to love, I have figured out, is the person I spend twenty four hours a day with.


And part of loving yourself is being loveable. That means being loveable in your own head. If you can't go to sleeps with yourself - how can you go to sleeps with someone else?

This week has been an eye opener in many ways. I have found out that I can reach out for help, and that people are there to answer that call. That it doesn't make me weak. And more importantly, I have found out something else about myself.

I heart me.

And I am prepared to do whatever it takes to make sure I keep doing so. This means being strong, and self-assured, and independent - but it also means letting down the walls occasionally. It means allowing people to help you. It also means taking responsibility for yourself - and part of that responsibility is saying 'no that isn't acceptable to me' or 'yes, that is acceptable, and I am going to run with this and seize happiness with both hands'.

Even if the path to happiness - and responsibility, and most of all, self love - involves breaking out a box of tissues and having a weep every now and then.

Love yourself.

At the end of the day, you're stuck with you.

For life.

Waiting For The Great Leap Forward

“Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that.”

— Dr Martin Luther King, Jr

Yesterday saw some truly horrific events occur in the streets of London. I don't think there is anyone on the planet who has access to any form of media who could be unaware of what happened, so do I need to rehash the details - no. And that isn't what I want to talk about anyway.

I want to talk about hate.

I know it is naive in the extreme to expect everyone to link arms and sing 'it's a small world after all', and dance around and pretend everything is rainbows and unicorns. But in the last twenty four hours, I have seen so much hatred. Within minutes of the attack going out on the interwebs, people were calling for every Muslim in the UK to be 'shipped back to where they came from'. Where they came from?

So that would be Chelsea then.

What scared me the most was that some of the people yelling the loudest were in fact people whom I know, and would never have expected a reaction like this from. It really knocked me for six. It also made me realise that the perceptions we have of those we think we know should never be fixed, because again, that is naive and will inevitably lead to bubbles being burst and illusions shattered.

Hate begets hate.

The nature of the beast - and I am probably being unkind to beasts in general - when it comes to us humans is this; we are not nice. I have written about this before. Those who go against the tide in any way, shape or form are inevitably torn apart in some way, and yes, it sometimes is deserved, but it is those who are carried along in the rip who are usually drowned for no reason. The actions of those two cowards in London yesterday will have ramifications for so many others who are trying to fight for freedom in ways that are not hurtful. The mistrust and general lack of understanding between cultural groups - between religions - is now going to yawn even wider.

I think it was brought home even more strongly to me last night when a beautiful, intelligent and thoughtful friend posted something on Facebook regarding the epidemic of obesity that is evident in Australia at present. She was attacked for basically giving a damn. She spoke from a position of knowledge, and care, and without being disrespectful to those who are trying to lose weight and be healthy. The person who ripped into her - well, I can honestly say that they spoke from a position of ignorance. Their comments also encouraged others to make fun of the message she was putting across.

Hate begets hate.

We have to stop the mob mentality from taking over and destroying what is great about the human spirit. There is too much that is wonderful about humanity to let the Dark Side win.

This is a potentially optimistic day for me - not just because it is a Friday! It is a fairly big day in the Life of Kate. And I am determined to see a spark of greatness in people today. No matter what. And so I ask this of you:

Don't give in to hate. It is draining. It makes you empty, and tired, and hollow. It takes all the colour out of life and makes any experiences bittersweet, because spending time hating turns your psyche into a big gnarled knot of yuck. 

What those two men - if you can call them men - did is unforgivable. It is, to me, incomprehensible.

But judge them only. Don't judge a large chunk of humanity by their act.

Let your hate go, and take a giant leap forward - or even a small step.

I'm sure Neil Armstrong, and Dr Luther King, would approve.

Just a few rainbows and unicorns never hurt anyone.

The Truth About Cats And Dogs

““What’s your name,’ Coraline asked the cat. ‘Look, I’m Coraline. Okay?’
’Cats don’t have names,’ it said.
’No?’ said Coraline.
’No,’ said the cat. ‘Now you people have names. That’s because you don’t know who you are. We know who we are, so we don’t need names.””

— Neil Gaiman, Coraline

I was talking to a friend the other day and he mentioned to me a very funny comedy routine by Jimeoin (which will mean something to Australian and Irish readers of this blog) about men being dogs and women being cats. Basic premise: men are pretty much happy go lucky, 'yay, she's home, yay!', come up and want to be petted personalities; whereas women are more stand-off, give them a bit of room and they will come to you numbers who need to make up their own minds about whether or not they will pay you attention.

Men are like dogs, women are like cats.

I thought about this for probably far longer than it warranted, because my head is full of rubbish.

And decided it was a load of bollocks.

Sort of.

There are some people who are like dogs, and some people who are like cats.

Now that - that makes sense.

Here we go.

There are definitely those amongst us who are more dog-like in nature. You think about the people you know who are fiercely loyal, will go out on a limb for you whenever you need it, always, always there for you no matter what - who will always forgive you irrespective of how much you push them or how badly you behave... who is that but 'man's' (and there are definite quotation marks on that one) best friend? And you will probably be careless with their affection because, just like dogs, you don't recognise the hurt in their eyes - because they don't let you see it. Instead they hide it with the love that they hold for you, because to do otherwise - well, would be less than faithful. 

As for the cat people? Oh... think about those star-shiny creatures who slink into people's lives and weave their way around their senses, often without being noticed immediately. They may switch off and on like a lightbulb, bestowing affection when and how they feel like it, and only when they deign to - but one can't help but want to reach out and stroke, despite the risk of getting a swift claw or a growl rather than a rumbling purr or a smooch in return.

Cats sound like absolute bastards don't they?

And yet.

In their own way, even though they don't show it openly, but keep it for the very private moments, they love fiercely and desperately and truly. They do keep the faith, and they will fight tooth and nail for those that they care about.

They just don't show it.

Because that would mean giving away secrets. And that wouldn't be cool. And above anything else, cats have to stay cool.

Nobody ever says 'cool for dogs'.

Whether you are a panther or a pup, I value all of the amazing people in my life. But I will freely confess - I am a cat woman, and will ever remain so. 

Oh - and I really don't run goats. Some people are DEFINITELY goats.


Frankie Says Relax

“Complacency is a state of mind that exists only in retrospective: it has to be shattered before being ascertained.”

— Vladimir Nabokov

It's early(ish) Sunday morning. I don't think there's a more appropriate time - or day of the week - to write a post about this subject. Because when I thought about writing it, my first instinct was to either find something else to do, like go back to sleeps, read a trashy book, or write something frivolous like one of my silly fractured fairytales, all of which give me a great deal of enjoyment and also allow me not to think at all for a while.

However - the whole point is that I am trying to beat the very compulsion of which I am about to speak. So here I go - deep breath. Semi-rant time.

How unusual.

Complacency. Sometimes I think it's the root of all evil. Not because it makes people commit murder, or hurl abuse at others, or go out and start looting and rampaging in the streets; but because it stops us from either following our dreams, or challenging the status quo - which we know not to be ideal, but which we go along with anyway because the alternative is too hard, too frightening or maybe even too exciting to contemplate.

It's much easier to do a Scarlett O'Hara and say 'I'll think about that tomorrow', roll over in bed and tap the snooze button one more time than to leap up like a leapy thing and take action.

This goes for a lot of things in life, from the seemingly inconsequential to the massive. From business decisions to fine romances. We stick with what we know, and what is safe, not necessarily because it's fantastic, but because the unknown is - well, it's the unknown. And when it comes down to it, the majority of us are both lazy in our psyches and also fairly timid. The thought of uncertainty scares the hell out of humans. So don't go changin', says our brain - stay cozy and warm. If we don't make any decisions of a major kind, there is no chance that things can go wrong; no impact will be made on other people, no wallets will be injured in the making of this life change and most importantly of all, one's heart won't get hurt.

I am calling crap on this.

I am the best procrastinator in the world - well, I would be if I could be bothered, ha ha ha. I am extremely good at burying my head in the sand and thinking (or should that be not thinking) 'If I just let things stay as they are, it'll all be fine. No decisions needed, all's cool... the bubble is intact. Now where's the chocolate?'

Reach for the chocolate by all means. No point in not having chocolate. But as for not making changes, and being complacent just because Complacency is an easy place to relax and chill out?

All I can say is this.

It's a nice place to visit, but if you decide to live there, then the greatest opportunities for happiness will pass you by. Taking action involves tears, and snot, and drama, and hurt, and headaches... but it also means bliss.

So feel free to send me a postcard from Complacency. But from now on, the population there has just dwindled by one.

I'd suggest they change the town limits sign to reflect that, but I am guessing that won't happen any time soon.

They'll get around to it one day.


She Don't Like That Kind Of Behaviour

“There’s no map to human behaviour”

— Bjork

I am by no means a perfect person. I am so full of flaws it isn't funny. I am attempting, however slowly, to fix the ones that are fixable; but I am willing to accept that there is no such thing as perfection in humans (except for Alexander SkarsGod, but he is semi-divine so is therefore exempt from the rules of men).

And yet.

We give people the benefit of the doubt. Particularly those we love and care for and about - it's natural instinct. If they do something that disappoints us, we usually try to forget and forgive - or at least forgive - and move on. If we didn't do that, then we would be both highly hypocritical and probably extremely lonely, because everyone is allowed to stuff up. Give some latitude, receive some latitude - it usually all comes out somewhere down the line on the plus side of the ledger rather than the minus.

But sometimes there is a point where it's actually unhealthy to just keep saying 'It's OK. I know you didn't mean to do that - and you have apologised, so let's just move on'. Because either the action was intended, and therefore the apology is simply dust in the mouth; or by accepting said sorries over and over for various actions, one ends up enabling behaviours that should never have happened in the first place. 

Or sometimes... sometimes there isn't even an apology.

This may sound like a very serious and un-shoe like post, and yes it absolutely is. But when you realise that through allowing too much benefit of the doubt you are actively hurting yourself emotionally, then something has to give. And I think that it's important to admit that and not bottle it up. Because for me, that's when I start getting mean and that ain't pretty. Think Linda Hamilton in Terminator Two (but with better shoes) and you probably get the picture.

The Ice Queen Cometh.

Almost without exception, when I write a personal post like this, I get phone calls or messages from those close to me saying 'are you OK?' - and normally I say 'yes, you're reading too much into it - I'm just expressing what everyone thinks, but doesn't necessarily put into words'. But this time; well, this time it is about me. And it's not OK. I am angry, and fed up, and tired. I try to live by the maxim of 'give more than you take' - but sometimes people run with it a bit too far, and take without giving anything back.

Like James Reyne, who for once was intelligible when he was singing, I don't like that kind of behaviour.

So don't be so reckless.

Because it will not make me throw down my guns.

It will make me pick up my pen - which is, as we all know, mightier than any sword.

Or semi-automatic.

And you will well and truly learn where I stand.