Wednesday, 4 December 2013

30daypictureschallenge: Day 20, 21, 22, 23 & 24

here are 5 photos from today. I cheat a little, yes, for these are not different days, but they are different photos. that much is for sure.

and it goes a little somethin' like this:

breakfast wholesomeness // me, modelling my new haircut (which is pretty much the old haircut with less split ends and a fringe cut by a professional) // holidays on ice by david sedaris, tomorrow's bookclub book and a gigglefest through my lunchbreak today // the afternoon sun out my bedroom window // the tea paraphernalia required for writing, my sweetawesome thrifted tablecloth and my current writing set up..

there's something about distilling the beauties of your day into photographs that I rather enjoy. 

Sunday, 1 December 2013

secret: those quiet times

i haven't been managing to write as much lately. it comes around now and then, that i just have too much life to live and not enough time to capture it in words.

i'm also a firm believer in the basic need to feed your soul with inspirational things and let them marinate. inspiration of late includes:

1. road trips to byron bay, howling along to/perfecting my version of blackstreet's 'no diggity'
2. thrift shopping after taking a break from thrift shopping
3. organising my room
4. kittens
5. cleaning Maude the Mazda, and putting lots of love and good vibes into her, planning adventures
6. picking up my guitar again, and vowing to one day soon have my calluses back
7. making collages
8. zines! more arrived in the post, and i am obsessed now
9. sending and receiving postcards
10. impending visits of friends
11. coffee and farmers markets with a new old friend
12. the second hunger games movie, catching fire
13. unpacking another stash of clothes and finding more wonderful summer things to wear
14. rain and green grass that comes afterwards
15. rockvale, and dreams of my tiny home
16. staying put, but also planning trips away
17. saving money and imagining what i'm going to be able to do with it
18. exercise
19. taking myself on a date in the sunday summer afternoon sun
20. breathing in the air

these are some of the things that have been inspiring me lately. i will write some tales of these things soon. for now, here is a pretty picture i took recently. it's a cronut. it's amazing. i ate it up.

happy first day of summer, you all.

30daypictureschallenge: Day 19

feels like falling in love, or making wishes...

this illustration actually got donated to the opshop where i used to work, along with another. they are beautiful and delicate - pencil i think. as with so many things that came through the opshop, these could have easily been crumpled or torn in a pile of other things, but thankfully i was at the door with my hands empty and open for artworks, and so i nabbed them for myself. 

it means they have been on walls in many of the houses i've lived in since, and there really have been a lot of those. i tire of moving house. i want to stay put for a while now, in the same room, with all my pretty thistle drawings staying still on the walls and decorating my life.

i'm making a wish for it.

Thursday, 28 November 2013

secret: another of the best days

summer was coming, and it was warm the way other parts of the country are warm in winter. the northern tablelands never really heated up that much, and so our warm was the rest of Australia's 'meh'. 

i had worked a full day that had started with my unruly fingers hitting the snooze button on my alarm so persistently that i finally got out of bed a full hour after i had so optimistically intended to the night before. my morning routine these days was more of a slow debate in my head about whether my hair was still clean enough to avoid showering. i pretended to myself it was a water conservation issue, but i knew i was being lazy. what's worse, and sillier than that, is that i knew how much better i'd feel if i showered, and still it took a full 5 minutes for me to bring myself round to the idea.

i'm not unclean, i just think people shower a lot more often than they need to. 

once showered and clean (and feeling much better, of course) i was dressed and accessorised and out the door, with intentions towards my favourite cafe. i suspected i was going to order my regular coffee and meal, mainly because my housemate and i had already joked about this on his way out to shift at afore-mentioned cafe. i take a large flat white, apparently the most middle-aged of coffee choices. and poached eggs on toast, but i'm not sure what that choice says about me. 

people i knew, and had in fact just spent the weekend with, were at the cafe too, outside in a large group. however, i had left the house with full intentions of reading quietly while i munched, a collection of short stories i'd loved some time ago and recently gifted my copy of to a good friend over the other side of the world (which prompted me to purchase another copy, a pink one). so i stayed put, which seemed to dismay the cafe staff who knew i belonged to this other group, and made sure i was clear on the fact of their presence outside. i'd already picked my table, shrugged it off and opened my book by the time my coffee came- actually made for me before i'd ordered it, in a stream of events which everyone found mildly annoying and consisted of me trying to mix it up with my coffee order, only to throw everything out of balance. so i graciously accepted my large flat white and semi-bantered about it with the barista, in that way you do when you can't actually hear exactly what he's saying. i laughed at lot, and wondered what i was agreeing to.

i munched and read and sipped my way through one and a half short stories, a whole coffee and 2 out of 3 pieces of toast. i had an awkward interaction with this other group of people where i got complimented by some and ignored by others in favour of flirtation with cafe staff, but it didn't really matter. 

i made my way to work, meeting my mother in the carpark and walking up to our respective offices together, hearing about new kittens with names of marmalade atkins and smokey joe, sweet names that i loved for their double-barrelledness as well as their tendency to make their recipients into cartoon versions of themselves. we farewelled and trudged our way into our relative enclosed spaces. 

work is work is work. having missed the last 2 days i had a collection of emails which i read from bottom to top, which is chronological and sensical, a system i've used since i read from top to bottom once, which was backwards and induced occasional panic at comments contained within emails before i had the context to place them. there was mail to collect and auditors and loose ends to tie up and people to hassle about the trivialities of our work lives. 

this got me to lunch, which i spent with my mother for our thursday routine. i had squid salad and was very pleased with my choice. as i most often am when i choose the squid salad. yes, creature of gastronomical habit, me. we wandered out into the sun to see a moment or two of the day, which was all sunshine, green grass and birds chirping. it's hard to fight the urge to run away from work and never return, but i am proud to say i did it. mum and i spend more time than is healthy for our reality contemplating running away to the beach. this happens any time it's warm, monday, too busy at work, too quiet at work, or thursday. 

happily the working afternoon was mainly phonecalls to people of a generation who like to talk out all the things they remember before they forget them. i was researching a memorial piece, and as it turned out, there wasn't so much to talk about in terms of the person in question, but plenty to talk about with someone you've just realised you're distantly related to. we talked of being the family historian, and he told me i was the historian of my family, and i hastily disclaimed enough knowledge or free time to be that person. 

it got me thinking about keeping our stories, and telling them, and how best to tell such things when you're not sure that there's much of interest about your life. i certainly have a few tales or major events that make a good punchline now and then, but i rarely admit to them unless i've been drinking. my thought though, is that beyond the big events there is the day to day, and that's what i wish i knew about some of my family - perhaps not all the days, but a day now and then. 

and so it is that i capture today, which since work has also included a cup of tea with a very old friend, peppermint sweetened with honey, in a beautiful little treasure of a home that has pretty things tucked away everywhere, and sewing machines for projects like skirts made of sheets, and pillows, and baby blankets. it is so wonderful to see a lovely person in a happy house with a tall and beautiful husband. 

i drove away from them in my van, which i recently confessed to my mother (in fact, i may have confessed it at lunch today) is my favourite thing that i own. maude the mazda steered me homeward and we were quite warm by the time we arrived. i walked up the stairs into my house, the cicadas nailing in a constant noise that could slowly drive a person mad. the sun shone in just the right way, the flowers blew their scent past me in a warm breeze. as i turned the key in the lock of the front door of this house that i love to death and may only get to live in another month or two, i thought to myself that just now, just right now and this day i'd just had, well, there is actually a moment when it hits you, and you think- these are actually the best days of our lives. 

Friday, 22 November 2013

Friday Feminism: on smiling like you mean it

there is a difference between smiling and being happy. in thinking a little more on how to expand upon this sentiment i have guiltily harboured over a great many years, i can't quite remember an exact time when i was told that it was good for a girl to smile. nevertheless, i somehow knew this, and have known it for a long long time. it's more appropriate to smile than frown. fake it 'til you make it, honey. smile, it might never happen. turn that from upside-down. smile, it can't be that bad. smile, nobody wants those ugly frown lines. why don't you smile? you're so beautiful when you smile. smile, and the whole world smiles with you.

i call bullshit. there is a difference between smiling and being happy. sometimes a smile is just baring your teeth, and that seems more like a scary savagery to me. 

the thing that i always feel, the instant that someone tells me to smile, is that they somehow believe that their need to see happy people around them is more important than me choosing my own facial expressions. their need, not mine. smiling doesn't make me happy, one way or another. i don't buy that. i'm not saying we don't smile when we're happy - that's when i'm most likely to smile, but one does not necessarily follow the other. 

the well-meaning folk might not even know just how offensive i find it to be told to smile, and i try to be generous, and give them the benefit of the doubt. being that i know it's more their issue or insecurity, i keep the choice remarks from slipping out of my mouth. no, i'm not having a bad day, sometimes i'm just doing my job, and nowhere in my job description is it specified that data entry must come with a side of smiley face.

there is a difference between smiling and being happy. if i am not happy, i hardly think being told to smile by someone who doesn't know my business is going to turn it all around for me. 

it comes to a few much bigger issues. 
1) just how scary it is for people to be ok within themselves that they are not happy all the time. but a person cannot be happy every minute of the day, and that is ok- not a failure or a flaw. i have a lot of days where i'm not ecstatic or even happy as such, but it doesn't mean i'm anything less than content with my life. or sometimes i'm not even content with my life, but i'm ok with having those days. because i'm a human. it's not unusual and it makes the true happiness that much sweeter.

2) the expectation of women to cover over the truth of how they feel for the sake of keeping up appearances is just total bullshit. like it's in a man's power to say a few magic words, and a woman will suddenly drastically have all the crap they're inevitably dealing with wash away like it was a triviality. like a woman's ability to feel other emotions besides a need to appear pleasant to strangers detracts from her deep and significant beauty. 

women are told to smile by strangers on the street. sometimes it's yelled out of cars. if these hollerers, these unknown men who feel so free and easy to comment on and order about the faces of women they do not know, were hollered back at, how would they like it? sadly, i fear the truth is that there are not a lot of women who would respond with the requires bravery, for fear of what might happen. and i think that's a thing to not smile about in and of itself, frankly. 

women are often the pointed end of a punch line for such unacceptable human habits as: feeling feelings in public, getting upset about being treated badly, having opinions they don't keep to themselves, talking too loudly, expecting decent human behaviour, and other overly emotional aspects. to be told to slap on a smile and cover it up is simply ridiculous, and undermines the reality of what might end up being suffered in silence. 

if what you mean when you are telling someone to smile is that "you don't seem very happy today. I wish you were happier right now, and I want to be there for you to help you be happy"' then say that instead. feeling like your inability to smile at whatever you've been dealt that day, or week, or month, makes you another level of failure when you're really not, you're just fine. it's actually alright if you're not happy today. you're not a failure for having a day that leaves you angry, sad or even 'meh'. i suppose this post might come off a bit grumpy, but i truly believe in each person's right to be themselves. being told to cheer up, as an order, is sometimes a hard thing to hear. it's unfair to tell someone who suffers depression that all they need to do is smile.

you're a lovely wonderful human with all of the feelings, so feel them, if you want. feel them all over your little face. the rough weather makes the good weather just fantastic.

so smile if you want to, and don't if you don't. you're ok just like you are, whether or not i can see your teeth.

and i haven't even touched on my favourite fallback, which is 'i'm not unhappy, i just have bitchy resting face'. 
more on this another time!

Wednesday, 20 November 2013

30pictureschallenge: Day 18 (I'm kind of a big deal)

I'd date me, ya know?

I'm at this point where I've been single for long enough that it seems quite normal again. The idea of some person hanging around all the time expecting me to laugh at their jokes and remember things they did during the week so I can ask pertinent questions of them, well, honestly, doesn't that seem a little strange to you? 

On the flip side, I have started to think about just how good I would be to date. You laugh, but I thought I'd talk myself up a little as a fun sort of exercise (we never really do this so blatantly, do we?) and I'm hereby giving you all permission to do the exact same. Not about yourselves though, about me.

Just kiddin'. Or am I?

Without further ado, here are the reasons that I'd date me:
  1. I am clever. I know some big words, but graciously never attempt to use them unless I'm into my 3rd beer or 2nd glass of wine. I have some edumacation about my person, which I think makes me interesting to talk to at parties.
  2. I can read. I do it all the time. I'm doing it now. I read all sorts of stuff, but thankfully can rarely be snobby about it because I'm no good at name dropping, in that I promptly forget who books are by and sometimes even what happens in them, exactly. 
  3. I write things. This means I think about things too, which I feel is a bonus. I like to feed my creative brain, which means I like to grab ideas and run with them, which means I need quiet time where it looks like I'm watching YouTube, but really there are things ticking over. It means I collect zines and other forms of writing that inspire me. My bookshelves are always full. I try not to be a writer-bragger, which means I probably won't ask you to read my blog, but I will be secretly touched if you do. It still surprises me when people say they've read it. I like that. Thanks, readers.
  4. I believe in stuff, and like having discussions about it with people who are friendly about disagreeing with me when I am clearly right.
  5. I like rituals and routines, but only the fun ones. There's not a regular day I do my washing, and there's not a time of day I have to shower, but I do have breakfast almost every week with my lovely friends Nevanka and Elsie, followed by thrift shopping, followed by free time at home. I have lunch with my mum every Thursday. Some rituals are fun.
  6. I like spontaneous activities. My favourite of those is probably unexpected dinner at Kate and Phill's house. I also like to go to the movies at almost the drop of a hat. Why, one time, we did both of those things in a day, and I was just in heaven. I am not always spontaneous though, it's not crazy all up in here, just occasionally. Spontaneously.
  7. My friends are awesome (see above: dinner at Kate and Phill's). They dress up for Halloween parties, they are absolutely fantastic at activities which include but are not limited to drinking, dancing, watching stuff, eating, cooking, skiing and snowboarding, planking (remember that, guys?), hiking, biking (even though I do not bike, I can recognise that is a cool activity for some) and much, much more. 
  8. I wear pretty dresses, most times.
  9. I am not unsightly.
  10. I have a very, very cool van called Maude which is good for adventures.
I think 10 things is enough, for now anyway. I don't want to intimidate you all any more than this, except maybe with these awesome pictures.

Tuesday, 19 November 2013

treasure: let's talk nicholas sparks & romance genre movies

this weekend just passed i fed both sides of my personality: the side that likes to get out and about, see people, meet new ones, laugh and eat and drink and dance and inevitably, end up at the pub talking nonsense to total strangers, and the side that likes to get favourite foods from the supermarket, make a tasty lunch and then snuggle right down in bed and watch an entire back catalogue of nicholas sparks and nicholas sparks-esque romance movies.

i have an interesting relationship with popular culture these days because i inevitably take great issue with a lot of it as a feminist, but also love the shit out of a movie where there's love and obstacles to overcome and maybe someone with a secret from their past that surfaces at an inappropriate time. 

*takes deep breath* so i'm going to be honest. on Sunday, i watched 'the last song', 'dear john', 'the vow' and 'imagine me and you'. the breaks i took between movies, while i waited for them to load (i use project free tv for most of my watching these days, as i have neither the patience nor the knowhow to actually download things), i worked on a job application. i worried that i might have gotten a bit too emotional addressing selection criteria, but hey, i think that's an asset, right?

'the last song' i watched because i have had an uncontrollable obsession with miley cyrus lately, and that liam hemsworth character ain't so bad to look at, either. i think miley is a great many things, but i am in a state of interest in her things and stuff, for now, until something changes my mind. for now, i am interested in her talent and her art, and alongside that i have a great interest in watching movies where i know the two stars have actually fallen in love with each other while making the movie. anyone else get into that? i look for hints in the acting, which is silly considering they're playing two people falling in love. but i get something out of it. miley plays the misunderstood teenager with dad issues, or authority figure issues, or trust issues. or all of the above. liam hemsworth is just dreamy and gorgeous, and it was a wise move for him to always be playing volleyball and having fallen in mud that needed to be rinsed off, shirtless, under a garden hose. well played, director.

i wanted to watch 'the lucky one' next, because it has zac ephron in it and i think he's just great. but unfortunately, when you're only using a free site to stream things, recent movies with zac ephron in them are not available for your viewing pleasure. in a happy turn of events, my mum owns a copy of it on DVD and i will be proceeding to hit that DVD collection up later in the week.

so instead of 'the lucky one', i went to 'dear john', where there's a summer romance and letter writing and an autistic father, as well as september 11 and the army calling. that one was tough, and i cried at the bit where they said goodbye one of the times. i like amanda seyfried, but it was really channing tatum i was there for, his lovely square jaw and broad chest showcased in gratuitous beach scenes (he's a surfer, so it's legit).

i got really into the channing tatum factor and so went straight to 'the vow', which is not actually nicholas sparks but really plays out like it should be. partly because rachel mcadams was in perhaps his biggest book to movie hit, 'the notebook' (which i thought about watching but decided to avoid), and partly because there's amnesia and love and a family secret. my favourite and best bit of this whole movie is at the very end, where there is snow falling, people in beanies and the national playing. oh man, i thought to myself at this point, why is that not my life?

i was pretty much an emotional wreck by this point, and also feeling a little bit dirty for being so easily manipulated into enjoying beautiful men and tiny girls who fell into their arms with only the slightest amount of pretended rebellion and resistance. so i decided to end with one of my favourite love story movies of late, 'imagine me and you'.

when i first saw the shorts for this, before i watched it, it was cut to preview like a completely different movie, where the wedding happens at the end rather than the beginning. i wonder, given that (spoiler alert) it isn't a conventional heterosexual love story, whether whoever made the trailer just wasn't confident that anyone would come to watch the thing if there wasn't a hetero happily-ever-after in store. when i watched it the first time, i was pleasantly surprised (the trailer, as a result, made it look like a wishywashy & gutless film) and quite taken with how the story develops, and how much of a victory for love the ending is. i particularly like the part that plays alongside the first of the rolling credits, where we see what everyone's got up to, like it's months later, even though we have literally just finished dealing with finale drama.

i hope this post has either inspired you to watch a love story movie, avoid them completely, or stop feeling guilty about your secret love of channing tatum. we're only human, after all.

Monday, 18 November 2013

secret: creative brain fry, or, the fine art of pottering

i don't know about you folks, but when i have a lot of things on my plate (not literally, although i do love a good full plate of thanksgiving dinner) my creative will to live just disappears out the window.

when i finally do have a night off, and i have to say i haven't had one in a while, i need some decompression time, in the form of pottering. i thought i'd share the sorts of things that happen during a pottering session in my lovely (chaotic) space.

music debrief:

i've had a few "must listens" floating about lately on my ever-expanding list of things to listen to. thanks to a music-loving friend with whom i share many great favourites, i was reminded that a certain amount of time has passed since i'd listened to some of my all-time bestest favourites, namely Radiohead and Elliott Smith. I'm really digging this particular track from Elliott:

and OK Computer reminiscence (let's face it: Radiohead in general) lead me right to this beautiful thing that i once was able to play on piano, harder than you'd imagine.

i also have quite a lot of live footage to watch from my all time favourite thing i've found on YouTube so far, tiny desk concerts via NPR. crazy into The National at the moment, and so this show has pretty much given me the feeling where the world opens up and you fall in love, right down to your little toe.

apologies for the music-heavy sharing, but i just can't get enough of this at the moment. so of course, it's time to make my november Maude the Mazda Mix (they are famous, but only in very tight circles of maybe 2 people, one of which is me... the other is one of my brothers, whichever one is handy).

YouTube giggles

my YouTube dirty pleasure is interviews on ellen, mostly when it's ryan gosling. i recommend you look that up, the one in onesies in particular.

besides this, i also like to watch standup comedy from such greats as dylan moran and louis ck.

Pretty things

i am a bowerbird when it comes to pretty things. sometimes, when i'm pottering, i like to arrange my pretty stuff that i own into aesthetically pleasing combinations.

all of the favourites, but of particular note is the sweet 'hello' necklace from the awesome anna at The Eclective, the sweet and special 'imaginary lovers' zine from deerface, and my granny's old copy of Alice in Wonderland

sometimes, i like to just sit in my chair and rifle through books i haven't actually read yet, looking forward to having time to read them

this weekend just passed i had a great score from a book stall at the local steiner school's spring fair, and the illustrations are so much lovelier than disney characters. don't get me wrong, i love the disney classics, i'm just a bit bored of what disney thinks people look like.

Writing notes and letters, and finding old things I wrote once

i found this recently. a thing i scrawled into the back of a notebook long ago, when i still lived in melbourne and longed to escape whatever it was at that point that held me there:

i have a fantasy about swimming in an open air pool at night time in summer. this fantasy is so tangible to me that i wonder if it may in fact have happened once, a dormant memory of sliding into a pool the temperature of my warm arms, the weightlessness of my previously cumbersome body, sounds echoing off the water.
surely it has happened, at one time, to somebody; how else could we know how it feels to swim at night? the cocoon of water closing over and into my ears, the smell, or imagined smell, of warm jasmine blowing overhead all through Brunswick.
i can hear my own gasping breath as i pull to the surface each 4th stroke, and i feel my heart hammering. why must my words end here? for suddenly, the warm summer night is lost to the absence that is you my dear, and all i remember is floating, face down, with night city noises filtering through the pool water.

i write postcards and letters to the friends of far away that i am missing lots lately, perhaps because i get to see them again soon.

these are the things i do o a quiet quiet Monday night. and find new artists to fall in love with, again on YouTube (such a magical place).

i leave you with a beautiful tattooed man whom i shall perhaps one day meet and marry.

Friday, 15 November 2013

30pictureschallenge: Day 17

it would be sweet if my to-do list was just about yoloing... 

Friday Feminism: go forth to the internets

the thing that's really got me back on track with blogging, and more specifically feminism, is that old chestnut, The Internet. they'll let any old crazy on there, and if you want proof of that, look at the comments section of pretty much any feminist post ever. Inevitable Stupid Men (actually, some of the stupid ones are women, too, to be fair), commenting away. it's a thing, look it up.

the fact that they'll let any old crazy onto The Internet (ok, i'll stop capitalising that, it just amuses me today) is not only a curse, it is a blessing. for i am also a crazy who is allowed on there. I, Me. i can crazy around on there with the best n worst of 'em.

internetocracy? everyone has an opinion, it's just that some opinions are better than other ones. i am right about this, truly i am. there are some spectacular idiots online, trolling away at their things, but there are also the geniuses of the online world, and it is those people i will be giving my air time to today.

let's start somewhere, shall we?

1) one of the bloggers i started following very early on is the belle jar (see what she did there, with the sylvia plath reference?) because of this post featured on the outlier collective. it's basically a bit of a list about how to be a feminist, by listing 10 signs that feminism might not be the right fit for you. it's a clever way of pointing out the human tendency to be idealistic in some areas and then fall down in others. there's a few diamonds in there, including things like: "feminism isn’t anti-man – it’s anti-patriarchy, which is completely different" and a quote of Zooey Deschanel which goes: “We can’t be feminine and be feminists and be successful? I want to be a fucking feminist and wear a fucking Peter Pan collar. So fucking what?”. nice use of 'fuck', Zooey (marry me?).

she who writes for the belle jar also talks about women judging other women, or really feminists judging other women on their bodies: "But you know what? Bodily autonomy. Bodily autonomy means that you get to do whatever you like with your body, and other women get to do whatever they like with their own body. End of story."

it's a great piece to start with if you're already of feminist leanings, as it real beats home the fact that feminism is not a special club or a fashion statement or a competition of oneup(wo)manship.

2) hollaback! is an online organisation that has websites & people in charge of them for a great collection of cities on the states. i find myself keeping up with hollaback! boston, because one of my sometime-favourite bloggers britni, who writes for herself at fiending for hope also works with them. this piece on women taking up space in public transport inevitably led me to 'move the fuck over bro' which creates quite the controversy by publishing photos from people's phones on public transport when a guy takes up ALL the space and leaves none for the rest of us - we all know this guy, right?

taking a few steps back there, hollaback! is encouraging women to feel able to share their stories about everyday harassment in a safe situation with sympathetic ears awaiting. as a woman, there is no way i can emphasise enough just how important and calming a receptive pair of ears can be when you have a street harassment story to share. it's important to be heard, and that's what hollaback! is all about.

3) so, i've been lucky enough to have the opportunity to do social media part-time for, who i will now proceed to spruik here, just a little bit. lipmag is a free online magazine (well, they're also all papery as well, when it's possible) with heaps of new content, every single day (except maybe Sundays, but even feminists need a day of rest). since starting to work for them a few weeks ago, i have been blown away by the quality of the content, and its consistency and regularity. plus, there's something there for everyone, because there's the inevitable feminist issues that the rest of the online feminist world are talking about, but there's also a feminist take on many things of popular culture, including dr who, thor 2, all of the books and movies and musics, events, things! one of my favourites is the 'feminist of the week' segment, like this one, because it's nice to hear things about other enthusiastic feminists who are going to be changing the world.

a thing you should do, for giggles and whatnot, is to follow Lip on Facebook. that way, things will pop up into your life on your newsfeed, and you can click on and read the things that sound interesting to you without having to remember to visit a website on the regular. so if you like, do that.

4) tired yet? just one more to recommend, for today anyway: Daily Life. it's an Australian site built with women as its target audience (but it's for everyone! all the everybody! c'mon now!) and aims to blend news and lifestyle issues of relevance to women. i love today's front page, for example: the rise of the blow-out bachelorette party, the reason there's not more female heroines in video games, is eyecream a real and effective thing or just a tiny jar of moisturiser? (i have often wondered this very thing myself). my all time favourite writers of all time for this site are the Clems - Clementine Bastow and Clementine Ford. Clem Ford, in particular, is probably my favourite Australian article writer (what do they call those? columnist? writer of news? what?). she is brave and smart and good with her words, and fucking unapologetic, which makes me love her. read this article on 'how to spot a misogynist' to get her at her best. best best ever. bestest.

the important thing about that internet is to take every little thing with a grain of salt. i feel there's a lot of beauty in the world. blogging opens things up for each of us to stake out our little piece of opinion piece, and i've been really enjoying the sense of connectivity i feel when reading a particularly amazing blog, a piece of literary brilliance or bravery where the writer has made you feel feelings that wake you up and make you strong with anger or pride or the need to incite change.

happy internet, everyone. go forth, and be a feminist. it's not just for girls, it's not.

Wednesday, 6 November 2013

secret: the end of the world, or Day 16 of 30pictureschallenge

in Australia in summer it is inevitable that things burn. tonight, somewhere near Armidale, there is a fire- with a bit of a wind, the streets are full of smoke. on dusk, it seems as though the town is almost empty. it truly feels like a post-apocalyptic reality. me and Maude are making our slow way up the hill to home (she's too keen for second gear and not quite sharp enough to take advantage of third up these hills, i never really know what to do with her). i half expect newspapers blowing past us with headlines increasingly threatening and bleak, like the movies.

my favourite post-apocalyptic movies are those like i am legend, children of men, 28 days later or city of ember, or even the island (which might be a little bit about scarlett and ewan). the anarchist inside of me likes watching societies fall apart (it doesn't have to be a nuclear holocaust, just a good old-fashioned dissolution of the powers that be). i like seeing who takes the lead, who the scriptwriters and directors think is worthy of the power.

because i'm a feminist, i'm particularly interested in what sort of female figures our scriptwriters have imagined. it's interesting how sometimes, the roles of women don't change at all, as though that's too hard to imagine, even though when you're making stuff up you can imagine anything you like.

once upon a time, i wanted to write my honours thesis about the role of women in post-apocalyptic literature. now, i really really wish i had done it. i could go back and do it sometime, you know. i wanted to write about isobelle carmody's obernewtyn series, and margaret atwood's the handmaid's tale. even thinking about this now makes me want to write a blog a billion words long.

for now, i imagine myself roaming the world in my trusty van (who goes forever and never ever breaks down because she's old enough there are no computers in her and i can fix her with my somehow-acquired mechanical skill....). stay safe out there kids. safe from fires, safe from smoke, and safe from zombies.

Monday, 4 November 2013

30pictureschallenge: Day 15

this is about that time it was Halloween.

i'm often of two minds about dressing up in costume. on the one hand, i put a lot of completely unnecessary pressure on myself to think of something good that will look great on the night, which inevitably makes me not want to go to the party at ALL (stubborn like that), and on the other hand, i really love costume parties, which is a fact i always forget when i'm having the costume-based moment of anxiety.

this saturday night just passed was such an occasion. we decided to have a party, we picked a date, we made a facebook event, it loomed, we planned, i vaguely wondered what i'd wear and then all of a sudden, BAM, it was the night before.

cut to me with no costume laughing nervously in the corner. perhaps hyperventilating a little, because you can't not go to your own party just because you don't have a costume. or can you?

no, no you can't.

obviously, as the picture i've posted above indicates, i did in fact figure something out. so i share with abandon my recipe for Halloween costume success:

1) freak out a bit
2) go online to Pinterest and try to get inspiration which inevitably makes you freak out more
3) look at what you have in your wardrobe, realise there's a dress in there you've never worn....
4) build entire concept around dress
5) buy facepaint intending to paint skull onto face
6) watch youtube videos and realise how difficult a task this would be
7) take your brother's advice, which is "just start painting and see what happens"
8) recalibrate expectations
9) paint another layer of paint over the other paint as your insurance policy
10) add hairspray and a petticoat

you win! you win at Halloween!

turns out i had a grand old time, and all the guests dressed up too, which made me happy.

and that is the story of Halloween.

Friday Feminism: the means and the will

I started off thinking this week's idea was a bit on the flaky side, mainly because what I want to talk about is a bit on the gender stereotype side of the spectrum, and I want to be all "yeah! feminism makes me tough! no hurdle too big!" etc.

But then I thought, really, this Friday theme is meant to be addressing anything and everything that catches my fancy; it's ultimately meant to be applying my feminism to all the things in the world. And this week's particular thing has been independence. 

I got to thinking about how some things shouldn't be a big deal, but they are for me. I started realising that actually, for other people, the things I think are silly to make a fuss over are actually a huge, huge deal in terms of autonomy and empowerment.

Enough of the mystery though, I'll tell you what I mean exactly: I'm talking about mechanical stuff and things. I'm also talking about life skills. And I'm talking about education and self-education, and expectations.

So this week I paid my car registration. Not only did I pay my car registration, I sorted out the green slip, and the big news was I changed the name of the owner on the van so it is now MY name. Yes, that's right, I officially own Maude the Mazda. Me, an owner of a car. Things are crazy.

Craziest ever was that until this week, I had no idea how it all worked. The fact that a green slip is separate from registration. That you have to go see a mechanic first. That all this stuff costs money. Why didn't I know this stuff? The simplest answer is that I've never owned a car before, and so why would I know it? But then I wonder: when do other people learn this stuff? Have I failed to be listening to the right information at the right time? Was there a day in highschool where they talked us through basic car ownership procedure? 

Methinks no, there was not. 

With me, and I don't know about you all, but the longer I go without knowing something, the bigger the stumbling block it becomes for me to learn it. It took me 10 years to learn to drive a manual car after I had my license, because I somehow managed to get around it for that long, all the while developing an inordinate fear of gear-changing.

Now, I totally rule at gear changes and really love driving a manual. Because it's the best, obviously.

Something clicks over when you own and can competently drive a car. Suddenly, you have this heady power at your fingertips. This is what I mean by 'the means and the will'. My lesson, learned over a stretched out period of time, is that the more ability you have, the more you want. It's sort of like how snowboarding was. Once you have beaten down the voices in your head that say 'you can't drive that van, that van is too hard for you to drive' or 'you can't go down that slope, it's too steep for you to manage' or 'you don't know how to do that, so just stay home with a nice cup of tea and read your book, would you?' ... once you challenge those voices and the scary part is over, the feeling of power and self-satisfaction is immense.

So this week was maybe no so much about being a woman, but about being an adult and grabbing onto great power (and great responsibility).

Anyone else had a thing like this? A thing they let someone else do for them for a long time before learning how to do it themselves?


Wednesday, 30 October 2013

30pictureschallenge: Day 14

it was my birthday. this happened.

i had a lovely quiet birthday, but not in an un-special way. things happened: nice things. i had lots of friends around who happily sat and talked nonsense and ate laksa and cake and drank beer and wines. i am lucky to have birthday-friendly friends. they are good at it. special mentions to ellie for making the above cake, and kate J for making the cookies i had hinted towards in an earlier blog.

i did some good deep thinking for this birthday, because my last birthday was so different. well, i was different in it. i wasn't really sure about being 27, and each extra bit of age i acquired made me compare the ages of myself and my boyfriend at the time. and the uneasy feeling was warranted, but i didn't know it then - i was happily and blissfully unaware for my birthday last year, spent in dungog for mumford and sons in fuck off-hot weather. gah, it was moist (that's an in-joke from my birthday this year! hahaha!). 

the year before that, i was in whistler with the lovely annica, and there was a food fight and some dressing up and more fun than a kid could poke a stick at (i tried: i had a long stick... more of a broomhandle if we're honest). 

birthdays always have that bit of charm about them, and i always wake up early, excited for no real reason. 

another birthday has passed and i can say that yep, i still feel special on my birthday. thanks to all who loved me from near and from far.

Friday, 25 October 2013

Friday Feminism: film review of Miss Representation

One of the things I'm doing to expand my writing horizons and hopefully sneak feminist things into people's minds before they even figure it out is to write for the student newspaper at the university where I'm studying.

Below is the article I wrote about "Miss Representation", a documentary from 2011 about women in the media. If you can, sort out a copy of the doco to watch. It's one of those ones where you do a lot of sighing in recognition of various truths. It is definitely depressing in bits, but I really think it's an opportunity to take away some determination and grit.

Milly, the President of the Women's Society at my uni, also known as UNEWS, organised a screening a while back and it was the sort of event that had all of us women speaking eagerly over each other at the end. There were some men there, but more men would have been awesome.

For anybody who tells you we don't need feminism anymore, sit them quietly down with "Miss Representation", leave them 85 - 90 minutes and come back for a nice chat. It's a scary world out there for white western women without even touching the sides on the third world, or indigenous communities.

Here's my article (edited by the lovely Stu who has nice ways of saying "no, you have to change that, it makes no sense").

This year has been a pretty awesome one for me. I started my Masters at UNE and was lucky enough to become a member of UNEWS (University of New England Women’s Society), gallantly lead through its first year by the most awesome Milly Roberts (hip hip hooray!).
UNEWS has held some great events over the course of the year – the memorable Blue Stockings Week Debate, more recently a peaceful protest picnic to demonstrate the sheer ridiculousness of Abbott’s one woman cabinet, and most poignantly for me, the screening of “Miss Representation”, a documentary made in 2011 by American film maker Jennifer Siebel Newsom.
I’ll be honest: it’s stayed with me. Newsom covers a lot of ground in a confronting 85 minutes, hitting her viewers with some unnerving statistics to hammer home the point that representation of women in the media is not only done in an incredibly negative way, but also fails to offer up healthy role models for young women. In 2011, the year “Miss Representation” was made, only 11% of protagonists in films were female. Only 20% of news articles were about women. And here’s a scary one: Between 1937 and 2005 there were only 13 female protagonists in animated films...All of them except one had the primary aspiration of finding romance.
Given the media saturated world in which we all exist, these statistics are pretty alarming. It’s not just grown women that are living the consequences of media decisions, it is young women and girls who are inheriting the implications of this sort of representation. Newsom’s examination of media coverage surrounding American female politicians like Hillary Clinton brings to mind the appalling treatment of our former Prime Minister Julia Gillard at the hands of not only Tony Abbott and the Liberal Party, but Australian media at large. Constant discussion of the former PM’s clothing choices and over-examination of her family life was an overt attempt by the media to reduce her to a person who couldn’t possibly run a country. Regardless of your politics, it seems like common sense that the Prime Minister of Australia should be judged by her leadership skills, and not being childless or unmarried or female.
Real world women as role models aren’t to be found in popular media either. Anybody opening a fashion or beauty magazine is met with a flood of slim, young, white women. This uniformity offers us, the consumers, a very select representation of what it might mean to be a woman or a girl. ‘Miss Representation’ argues that we need a much broader spectrum of society represented for us: a variety of shapes and sizes, backgrounds and ages. 
The upkeep of this very narrow of definition physical perfection and beauty is very important to the media. We are meant to look at the people on the pages of our magazines and see that they are ‘beautiful’, and of course we know that advertisements are made with the intention of selling consumer products. What we think less consciously about is what else we as a society are being sold when we consume advertising and popular media. All of us are being sold a particular ideal which we understand to be desirable. In a world where even the small part of the population that fit this ideal are airbrushed before they hit the magazine page, how do the rest of us fit in? How do women ever feel as though they’ve succeeded in such a visual world? How do we learn to value ourselves when we don’t match the people in the pages of magazines?
‘Miss Representation’ notes the measurable effect of popular media’s focus on this ideal: 53% of 13 year old girls are unhappy with their bodies. That number increases to 78% by age 17. The most telling statistic of all: American teenagers spend 31 hours a week watching T.V., 17 hours a week listening to music, 3 hours a week watching movies, 4 minutes a week reading magazines and 10 hours a week online. That gives a lot of air time to the warped ideal currently being sold as ‘beauty’. It’s not much of a leap to come to the conclusion that the constant exposure of teenagers to popular media generates and reinforces significant body issues.
The documentary gives us tough stats to deal with – it may take a focus on America, but given the huge amount of American media that Australians consume, these are statistics we need to be thinking and talking about.
So what now? It’s easy to be blown away by this information and increasingly disillusioned with the state of things. But that’s certainly not going to improve the situation for us, or for the young women and girls, or the young men and boys that are inheriting our media-saturated world. The fact of the matter is that the media working against us can be used to work for us, whether it be to create new representations of women and girls who can be role models, who expand our understandings of how a woman and a man might look and behave.
Jennifer Siebel Newsom notes on the ‘Miss Representation’ website that “The media can be an instrument of change”, and it’s up to us, the consumers of media, to make that change. It might be as simple as consuming with a critical eye, starting conversations with your friends about how unrealistic the images used in advertising are. It might be having a conversation with a young woman or a young man that you know about what a real role model is, and who the really interesting and significant folk are, the ones that aren’t selling us perfume or holidays. It might be challenging yourself to step away from the magazine that makes you feel insecure or like you’re failing to be good enough. It might be a more active role in advocating for change in advertising: making use of the #notbuyingit tag like the ‘Miss Representation’ website suggests, along with a conversation starter kit, a houseparty, or a letter (you can visit for ideas).
The important thing for me, as a feminist in Armidale in 2013 is that I have the ability to make my own contribution to media representation. I have the Nucleus to write for, and the UNEWS crew to share thoughts with and ask questions of. More talk is better than less in a world where we are the users of media and have the ability to demand that changes are made. So here’s to the next year of UNEWS awesomeness with Kate and Hanna at the helm for an exciting 2014.