How to live: Projections and shadows


In conversation with this guy I was dating for not more than a few months, I did my regular joke/not joke, in response to something he’d said. ‘Projeeeecting…’, I commented.

To my surprise, he said, ‘I have no idea what you’re talking about.’

So,  I realised at once that I hung around people who knew about the concept of projection, that I knew about the concept of projection, and that somehow, this guy I was dating had little in common with people I usually hung around.

But what is projection? At it’s simplest, it’s an easy concept: when we project our desires, hopes and resentment onto others; and when we assign the emotions or beliefs that we ourselves hold to someone else. It’s easier that way. ‘You look really hungry.’ (Said when in fact it is you who is hungry). ‘Don’t you think you’d be more comfortable if you just took things less seriously’ (Said both because you’d like the other person to be less serious, and also because you’d feel more comfortable if you took things less seriously).

I’m not sure how much to trust Wikipedia these days, it explains the concept of Psychological Projection well enough. It seems like the concept was popularised under Freud. Good old Freud.

There is already useful writing up on the web by others about projection and how it usually isn’t so great for our lives, so I don’t think I need to try to rewrite that. Aletheia Luna, for example, has got up a blog post on 6 examples of projection that we’re prone to., which sounds like they’re doing some pretty good work in the world, also seems to have a good general article about projection, an ‘elusive concept‘.

What took my understanding of projection to a new level was encountering and reading about the ‘shadow’ self. Here we’ve moved on from Freud to Jung, and there are both complex articles about it, explained in traditional psychological terms (such as here from Psychology Today) and more modern interpretations. My dear friend Thomas studied with Debbie Ford, who popularised and modernised the concept of the shadow by encouraging people to embrace their shadows and integrate them into their personality.

The most powerful example of the shadow self for me is in the way we hate, sometimes, what we are. I remember a lightbulb moment when the first research came out showing that the men who are most likely to espouse hateful views against gay men, or to bully us, or to exert physical violence, are in fact those who are attracted to other men, but suppressing it. An unfortunate true-life illustration of the shadow: literally killing or trying to kill a part of yourself that you don’t want to face.

So, the concept of shadows comes up a lot in bullying and bad behaviour. I was surprised when I was able to face myself and apply that theory to my life. Could it be true that the people I disliked the most were the people I actually wanted to be? I had worked a few years already at the same workplace, where people were always fighting and treating each other badly. There were two people who I particularly disliked. One had been promoted to a managerial position, where he promptly stopped greeting or talking to anyone else but the managers. I found that ridiculously bad behaviour. The other person was somewhat psychologically damaged. He had bad body odour and hygiene, and didn’t seem to care, and did little work, playing computer solitaire all the time, though the director of the organisation treated him as if a royal eccentric, rewarding him with one of the highest salaries among us. He would suddenly produce work every few months which was overpraised.

img_2465Reading about the shadow self, and taking a hard look at myself, I had to admit: a part of me wanted to be them. Having always had pride in the way I treated other people, and focused (or even obsessed) over the issues of how we treat each other equitably and fairly, I didn’t realise that a part of me thought what a relief it would be not to care! And how amazing it would be to not feel bad if I was an arsehole to other people!

The same applied to the smelly co-worker. How impressive to either have the confidence or lack of awareness to not care about how he appeared! And, because I’ve always been very serious about work, about putting in hard work and doing a good job (and wanting to be recognised for it), how freeing it would to not care, and not suffer any consequences!

Did it make me like them more? Not particularly. But it did make me step back, to tone down the bitterness and realise that these shadow versions of myself, these projections had something to teach me. Some of my values have served me well, but now if I meet others who are quite opposite, I can sometimes (though not always) respect our different approaches. And I do keep myself in check more, and in observing others, see that the times we often react most badly to other people is really not about them: it’s about us.

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Sydney Food Diary: Charlie Lovett, Crows Nest

img_5744 Oh Charlie, what happened here? We could have been so good together. You’re in a great location and with the open windows, are a perfect place to hang out for coffee on a sunny Saturday spring afternoon. And I like your ambiance: a local cafe, nothing pretentious, but with lots of space to sit down.

img_5746I was impressed with the way that the coffee looked… but then, something wasn’t quite right in terms of the taste. Brewed too hot? It just didn’t taste like a great coffee. My caramel slice was OK.

img_5745And then my pal’s bagel and smoked salmon arrived, and while the bagel was nicely toasted, this meant that the salmon was cooked. Yikes. That’s not the point of smoked salmon on a bagel, where you can taste the smoke and the texture is deliciously soft and cured, but it’s not cooked.

Charlie Lovett Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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Home cooking: Rye and molasses no-knead bread

img_5743So, the adventures in bread making continue.

After my first attempts, I was still enjoying the bread, but I felt confused about how I could be using whole-wheat flour and rye flour and the bread just basically tasted like heavy white bread.

One of my latest culinary adventures, a twice-cooked lamb shoulder (an excellent recipe from Masterchef Australia…), left us with a jar of molasses. While looking for ways to use it up, I was surprised to see a solution to my quandary.

One quarter cup of molasses mixed in with the water makes everything brown and sweet. With the addition of some seeds and grains (as recommended from another recipe) and oh my god, this was my best loaf yet.

Because of the sugar, it browned too much, so I will cook it next time with the lid on the Dutch oven for longer, and less time with the lid off. Also: I liked how it turned out slashing the top with a knife. I think I’ll do diagonals next time.

I’ve also perfected my second rise technique. I’m not sure why I wasn’t following instructions from other folks, but the right thing to do, after the first rise, seems to be a bit of folding of the dough to activate the yeast again, and shaping it into a nice ball, and then leaving it to rise again, for somewhere between 45 minutes and a little longer than an hour. One time I just forgot about it and left it for hours on the second rise; I think that was the crumbly loaf that fell apart when I tried to cut it (it didn’t taste terrible though).

Here’s the current recipe I’m using, letting the dough rise overnight for the first rise.

Rye and molasses bread
1 cup of rye flour
1 cup of whole wheat flour
1 cup of all purpose white flour
1-1/2 tsp salt
3/8 t Instant Yeast (that’s 1/4 t plus half of that again)
1-1/2 T caraway seeds (this made the loaf really yummy)
2 T oats
1 T pumpkin seeds
1 T sunflower seeds
1 T chia seeds
1-1/2 C Water (1/4 cup molasses then hot water to make up the rest)

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Sydney Food Diary: Salaryman, Surry Hills

img_5742What a great surprise. Passing by this place during the day, on Albion Street, it looks like a curiosity, almost like a pool hall, set up in a garage, exposed copper piping, concrete and brick walls. But at night, with awesome lighting, great music, open kitchen and generous bar space, this place has a great ambience.

img_5734It’s matched with inventive, interesting food, a sort of mash-up of Japanese classics with other cuisines. The duck cigar, a sort of long spring roll with duck confit, was delicious.

img_5739I loved the idea of taking a prawn toast, a classic from yum cha, and covering it with okonomoyaki flavours and sauce, the classic Japanese pancake.

img_5738The sugar snap peas with XO sauce had a very generous amount of what tasted to be homemade XO sauce.

img_5741And we loved the udon carbonara, the slippery, chewy Japanese noodles were a great match for a broken egg yolk, cream, and guanciale.

img_5740The food is rich. There’s no doubt about that. I’d aimed to go to an Asian restaurant that night for something a bit lighter, and those aims were dashed. But it was delicious.

img_5737A few reviewers here seemed confused that it’s Japanese-influenced food but that it’s not cheap Japanese food. Don’t make that mistake: this is an upscale and chic place, not a cheap noodle bar. It’s pricy but not moreso than other places in Surry Hills.

img_5736Our dishes above, all served up with a Japanese beer, sake and sparkling water by a charming French waiter were less than $100 for the two of us, and we’re very pleased with this cool addition to our neighbourhood.


Salaryman Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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Sydney Food Diary: Contrabando, CBD

img_5726 When the hostess lead us to our table, I was about to say to my husband, ‘Is it just me, or was that woman a b*tch?’ but before I could ask, he said what was on my mind. We’d arrived for a quick pre-concert dinner, and hey, granted, it was Friday night, busy in the City, and we didn’t have a reservation. But it did seem like someone had shit in her Cheerios that morning.

img_5725Still, even though we were in an ugly back corner of the restaurant, too close to some too-bright halogen lights, the service immediately improved. Over the evening, we had a number of nice young waitresses, friendly and efficient, though it was weird, I have to say, that with all of them in black, and their hair tied back in ponytails, I felt like I was in an episode of the Bachelor. Or America’s Next Top Model. About one-third of them were pretty Latinas, and the rest had a very similar look, blonde or bleach blonde hair tied back. I also thought we were in a Robert Palmer video, which was made before any of them were born.

In any case, the food was updated Mexican. Nachos, quesadillas, tacos… but with modern Australian ingredients: say, beef cheeks, or suckling pig. We had an amusing quesadilla with the flavours and ingredients of a cheeseburger. The portions were so generous that I had to take back an order for the tacos. My hubby particularly liked the twice-cooked sweet potato fries. He said how much he appreciated the menu, that everything looked appealing to order, a really good mix of what’s hip and cool with fun, Mexican food.

img_5728With a tasty drink each, and eating our fill, and with our entertainment coupon, I left $80 for the two of us, including a generous tip. Looking around, there was a great buzz. It’s obviously a perfect place to come after work for those who work in the City, and who are young (at least younger than us), and if you have an eye for pretty young women, you will be pleased with the waitresses. So: good food, reasonable prices, nice atmosphere, pretty good service. Just watch out for that hostess!

Contrabando Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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Coffee in Sydney: at Kate’s, Surry Hills

img_5731Once, long ago, there was a cafe that seemed to be open intermittently and was rumoured to have a bit of a mean owner, and so not do a great business. It always looked amusing though, a little house next to an office building, next to a terrace house on a busy part of Riley Street, near Campbell Street. When it’s closed, as above, it makes you think: how did that cute terrace house manage to remain right there?

Then it became Robocog, which was a very cool cafe, with a theme of Japanese robots, I think, and some pretty good cafe food and great coffee. I became acquainted with the Thai fellows that ran and own it, and thought they did a good job.

img_5710Robocog closed down. Apparently, all the owners had a big of a fight, or scandal, but eventually, the two guys took it over, and reopened it as Have2Cafe. Still: pretty good food and coffee, though I knew they were struggling for business. There’s so much competition in Sydney, and in Surry Hills, and it just seemed a lot of work. Still, they were open for a long time, even after I knew they wanted to sell it.

img_5709And now, finally: at Kate’s. I asked the Thai woman at the register who Kate is, and she said it’s her daughter, so I assume she looks nothing like the cartoon of the smiling grandmotherly figure. Initially, I was disappointed with my coffee: the way it looked for example, not nearly as defined and pretty as other cafes in the neighbourhood. But after tasting it, I thought it was just fine: good even.


Now I’ll have to go back and try their food!
Have2cafe Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

(I flagged Zomato to update their listing for Have2Cafe to at Kate’s a week or two ago… They seem to be a little slow lately. I’ll replace the spoonback and logo when they’ve updated it.)

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Sydney Food Diary: Great Aunty Three, Surry Hills

img_5695It was clear to me, just from a quick glance, that this restaurant had the right concept for the right location. Right next to the immensely popular Chat Thai in what was once a grocery store that unusually sold Latin American ingredients, Great Aunty Three opened with an ironic, modern wink to Sydney, serving traditional Vietnamese street food, but with a modern twist.

img_5691From a Cantonese family, I had many great-aunties, and there were so many family members, they were often numbered (though luckily our family was modern enough that there wasn’t wife one, wife two and wife three). Great Aunty Three may be the third aunt, but is smartly serving up the classics: pho, sandwiches, and rice bowls.

img_5693I opted for a pork belly noodle bowl, and with the fresh herbs, various sauces, soft, melting pork… I found it a perfect combination of texture and taste. Really: quite good. I can’t think of any room for improvement. A delicious, simple, well-presented lunch dish.

Great Aunty Three Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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Sydney Food Diary: Tim Ho Wan, Pavillion on George St, CBD

img_5685 Tim Ho Wan seems to be taking over Sydney. From the humble beginnings of its Chatswood location, it now has three locations in the CBD. But this makes sense to me: Sydneysiders love yum cha, and the quality of the food is high, and the tastes authentic.

This branch seems particularly shiny and new. You head up a floor and there’s table eating and table service! I decided to pig out and order an entire steamer of dumplings for myself as well as a rice bowl.

img_5684I was curious as to what the Cantonese version of a rice bowl would be. The Japanese version, say a tonkatsu-don or a tempura-don, is pretty much perfection. Japanese rice, with bigger grains than Chinese, and a bit stickier, has a nice addictive quality on its own, but with some Japanese treat on top (eel, deep-fried pork, chicken!) and then some soft-fried onions and a scrambled egg set on top of that: it’s a perfect, simple lunch or dinner.

img_5687I ordered the salted fish steamed pork, which is a favourite dish (and decided to treat myself to a Tsingtao beer as well, a good idea). But I’d have to say that it was just mediocre. It tasted fine, but there wasn’t enough sauce or gravy. The Chinese rice underneath is drier than say, sticky rice or Japanese rice, and needed something else with it. The pork was tasty but without variation in texture, reminding me that it’s a nicer dish when one of a number of dishes.

The dumplings on the other hand were incredible, each one delicate, high-quality and super tasty. They looked and tasted beautiful.

Tim Ho Wan Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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Sydney Food Diary: Zhu Canton, Randwick

img_5722 Yum cha in Randwick? What a fine idea. I like the idea of yum cha in any neighbourhood, really, and spotting this listing on Zomato, I thought it would be worth a try. It turned out to be more of a cultural experience than I expected, on an upper floor of the Randwick Labor Club: I suppose they’re giving a go at revamping an RSL with (hopefully) high-quality Cantonese food.

img_5718We parked and Randwick feels like a different world from Surry Hills. Hard to find img_5719parking, it was so busy, on a Thursday around lunchtime, rather nearer to the water, and somehow, while only a ten minute drive from my ‘hood, felt unfamiliar.

img_5717We didn’t have to join the club in order to go to the restaurant, though were warned that we would need membership to come back a second time (I’m not sure how they’d enforce that if you kept telling them it was your first time). There is quite a view from the windows of the restaurant: the university, the race track, even the Harbour bridge in the distance. We ticked off what we wanted from the menu. There were some other customers, but certainly not enough to warrant yum cha carts.

img_5720I thought the food was fair. The har gow were OK as were the shrimp and scallop dumplings. Not special, but OK. The guy lan was appropriately steamed with oyster sauce. img_5724My pal thought the salt and pepper squid was really good; I thought it lacked delicacy. I opted for pan-fried taro cakes, rather than what I usually get: the turnip cakes. A bit stodgy with a lack of variation in texture, and a bit too big to be considered delicate.

Service was friendly, and one of the managers chatted with us for a while, exhorting us to bring friends and spread the word. The fake flowers hanging from the ceiling were amusing in a tacky sort of way, as was the elevator music (muzak) which included a Christmas carol (Johnny said it was the one about sleighs).

img_5723While the review would have ended up a mediocre 2.5 out of 5 stars, right in the middle, I was surprised by the desserts. The coconut pudding was… pretty much perfect. Soft and wobbly texture, creamy, sweet, not too sweet. And the egg custard tarts had the perfectly flaky crust, and even though we’d let them sit on the table for a while, tasted as if they’d just been out of the oven. They were simple, but really really good. They have earned themselves another star from me for this reason. If you go, go heavy on the desserts, I’d say!

Zhu Canton Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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Home cooking: Locomoco


The locomoco is a Hawaiian invention. It involves plain white rice (variation: Japanese white rice) with a burger patty on top (or two), and then a fried egg on top of that (or two), and over the whole thing: gravy. A lot of gravy.

My mom is from Hawaii so we used to spend every two summers there when I was a kid. A fast food locomoco was, I thought, a pretty marvelous creation, usually in big straight-sided styrofoam cup, which seemed just the right size for a scoop of rice, a patty, an egg and gravy.

If you can believe it, the texture of all these things together – runny egg yolk, egg white, gravy, rice, ground meat – works quite well indeed. Though I’m not sure I’d be able to convince anyone of that who doesn’t have already have a cultural association with the locomoco. My better half didn’t think it was awful though… particularly as my leftover lamb gravy was awesome.

While there are recipes up online, I’m not sure why you’d need them. It is as it, and how it looks. Bon appetit.

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