Thursday, 30 May 2013

treasure: pictures that spark ideas

travel: walking the Great Wall

food: toast and butter. making bread myself (and butter?)

activities: rollerskating - haven't been for years

books: awesome cover art and collecting old books

photo challenge: have yet to make it the whole way through the month. I feel good about June.

Tuesday, 28 May 2013

treasure: funny pictures from the internet

yeah, i like funny internet pictures.

treasure: rainy tuesday happiness

despite the cold, rainy day and the fact my hair is definitely not photo-shoot ready, despite my tummy ache from eating wheat last night (in the form of delicious chocolate cheesecake, so worth it) and despite the fact i have to work instead of watch the Armidale Eisteddfod like i'd like to, i'm actually having a lovely day.

maybe it's the fact that i drove a manual car (a van, no less) to work without stalling or crashing this morning. maybe it's the fact that i finally seem to have figured out how to dress weather-appropriate for Armidale. maybe it's the lovely people with whom i shared that delicious chocolate cheesecake last night, reassuring me that Armidale is not devoid of awesomeness (it just hides inside, where it's warm). maybe it's the large chai latte i'm sipping on, filled with warmth and sugar.

or maybe i'm just happy anyway, and all these things are lovely whisperings of noise in the background. it's good to feel happy.

today, i am basically the opposite of grumpy cat, which i figure is happy dog.

photo: tuesday 28

I bought this vintage dress online. It was a gamble that I like to think has paid off.

Monday, 27 May 2013

travel: the things i like about america (or, sunday softball & 99c cheeseburgers)

I started to write a travel entry on my visit to the states last year while I was there. I wasn't doing anything other than trying to figure out how to do long-distance relationships, watching quite a lot of grey's anatomy and hanging out with my family, but I still managed to not write any more about the experience than this:

i've decided the key to really relaxing on a vacation is to take bulk amounts of time at one place. well actually, i'm not on vacation, just unemployed. but my point still stands- bulk. time.

yesterday i went to an evening of good old-fashioned american fun. my cousin moya took me to a softball game so we could cheer on the 'halibats' (geddit?), a team full of her friends in various states of tie-dye and skill level. 

The reason I wanted to write something about this part of my travels was to acknowledge the America that happens outside of the big cities, for as an Australian you sort of tend to think of the place as this giant city made up of New York, Los Angeles and Seattle, or at least I did.

I did write about West Coast Oregon and Portland last year, as well as New Orleans and all the things that happened there, but as I'm contemplating a return to the states in 2015 (if I can swing all the requirements of the working visa), AND seeing as it's a year since I was there last, I have to say that the US of A has been on my mind.

I am lucky enough to have family living in Corvallis, Oregon, who kept welcoming me with open arms each time I swung by during my 3 year stint in Canada. It ended up being home, in a reliable, always-food-in-the-fridge sort of way where I felt loved and welcome and all those things you need sometimes when you're very far away from the homeland. Sally, Bob and Moya all looked after me in various and lovely ways.

strangely enough to admit in a travel blog, the thing I liked about Corvallis most the last time I was there was how much it felt like home - Armidale is a small town with a university and a strange population that grows and shrinks depending on the time of year. there are coffee shops and all the fixings of a smaller population, it was pretty and leafy in the spring, easy to navigate, full of those newer to the area and the older more knowledgable folk who all seem to know each other from a stint at Bombs Away, a bar that I most certainly enjoyed while I was there.

Over the course of 3 years worth of visits, I got to do all the "American" things I'd grown up seeing in the movies. Cap'n Crunch, s'mores, diner-style breakfast, Twinkies (RIP), root beer, bourbon shots (or maybe that was a Moya tradition rather than wider America), beer in the supermarket, Trader Joes, and of course, 99c cheeseburgers. I don't think I've eaten a cheeseburger since that one I had this time last year, and so it will always remain in my memory the most tasty and low-priced of treats. Prices of fast food in the states is so much lower than it is in Australia, but then so is the minimum wage.

I was definitely made aware that I had an accent too- being an Australian in Whistler was barely worth blinking at, but in Corvallis, I sounded funny. It's bizarre to actually hear it- to hear how different you sound to everyone else. I never thought I had an accent.

The things I liked most about America were those Corvallis times. I was part of all the regular activities in my family's lives; I went along to a few lovely summer parties of friends of Moya's, I enjoyed $2 beers at Bombs a few times (more than a few times), I had very tasty amazing dinners with my aunt and uncle and their adult friends, I lay about in the garden reading books, I snuggled up with Moya to consume seasons of Friends at a time. So much lovelieness.

I'll be back next year for a quick hello after my friends get married in Whistler, and then hopefully the year after that, sometime between April and October 2015, I'll have a visa and be able to work and whatnot in a legit fashion. I'm hoping for Portland and maybe even some other parts of that great huge country. That, my friends, is the future for which I live in hope.

photo: monday 27

My newest tattoo. Two headed monster. Love this little guy.

treasure: cake

i had a lovely blog-free weekend; in fact, tried to stay off the internet nearly altogether to enjoy some dad time and some letter-writing time.

today is monday and i'm thinking quite a lot about cake. it's my friend ellie's birthday today and i'm going over there for birthday soup and birthday cake. and i haven't done any baking in a long time. i think this week i'm going to make a cake.

i think it's going to be this cake:

Coconut Flour Chocolate Cake

there are many cakes i want to try; i'm also quite interested in the premise of these little cakes:

Chocolate Stout cupcakes with Whiskey-spiked Buttercream

or even this tasty (and sweet) looking cake:

Condensed Milk Cake

i've never written a baking blog before. perhaps i'll try it this week. or maybe i'll just make the cake and tell you how good it is. maybe i'll even invite you round to have a slice if you're in the area.

in conclusion, cake.

Thursday, 23 May 2013

photo: thursday 23

Working and showcasing my tattoo at the same time. Multitasker.

Wednesday, 22 May 2013

secret: the start of the list

some things on my list- are they so much to ask?

someone who gets it

Someone who laughs at/with me

Someone who can read

Just what it says on the box

Someone who makes me laugh

Someone who makes creations for me, including paper flowers

Someone who's ok with their sensitive side/can knit scarves

Someone who makes my heart go all giddy and ridiculous
Someone who can Adventure

Someone who can make a bit of conversation

treasure: the fine art of social etiquette

on the weekend just passed, i attended a ball at one of the university colleges. it was a 50th anniversary celebration- the reason i went was that i helped to organise registrations for it (which entails chasing up many college students because their credit cards have bounced) and after all, there have to be some perks to such tasks as these.

i did not live in college. by the time i started my bachelor of arts i had already lived out of home for 12 months, and while i wouldn't say i had it figured out yet (it being respectful sharehouse living) i was definitely too grown up for college. so i never got that experience, and with the exception of attending sunday brunch at my friend bethany's college once or twice, i really only heard stories of college lifestyle. they weren't normally stories of honour and valour, but so goes the expectation of that sort of existence.

having no ties to anyone attending the college ball (besides jennifer who suggested i wouldn't want to sit with the old folk), i took my luck with being sat at a table of alumni all roughly my age, or close enough. how exciting! i thought to myself - a night of potential new friends and banter! i'll hear some tales of college life, they'll make in-jokes and fall over themselves to explain to me what they were about, and how funny they were! i left my socially anxious shoes at home and went in determined to be the most open and interested version of myself. i even wore makeup, for god's sake.

i wore my prettiest dress and my friendliest smile as i went to take my seat as i had been allocated, at table 10. "is this table 10?" i asked of the group of them as i drew near, both to double-check my counting skills and to let them know that i had been allocated a seat at their table. "we've reserved this table, you're not sitting with us" said the blondest of the girls at the table. nice. "oh", said i. "well i've been told to sit at table 10 - this looks like a spare seat here", and down i sat (a little abruptly, out of stubbornness mainly) at the last seat at the table, on the end, with the boys.

having almost immediately written the girls off (partly for this welcoming remark and partly because of the impracticality of their ball attire... it was all of 2 degrees that evening in Armidale and these people were wearing strapless summer dresses) i thought to myself, well, boys are normally a little less bitchy and a little more fun and silly, so i'll be fine here with these ones. not so, my dear readers.

as the night wore on i gathered a few things - 1: that the girls on the other end of our table were the girlfriends of these boys and therefore they weren't really allowed to talk to me, 2: that even when you're 27, it doesn't mean you have actually learned how to converse with your 'mates', let alone strangers of the opposite sex, 3: that no matter how much you try to make conversation, some people just aren't having it.

cut to helen crying into her soup. (just kidding).

but seriously folks, i was a bit surprised (as well as a bit disappointed) in the outcome of what might have been quite a nice night. i've been getting out and about more lately, making some new friends and re-engaging with old friends. i know we've been schooled on stranger danger and all that, but i feel that i'm a reasonably non-threatening sort. mostly.

i ate my food quietly, i drank my wine (only one glass, as i was driving, despite the obvious temptation for more social lubricant) and i tried my best to look friendly and approachable.

kids these days!! i have to wonder, is it college kids, or could this have happened to me anywhere? was it ridiculous to think that anyone would want to speak to a stranger at a reunion where the emphasis was on catching up with old friends? this table clearly all lived in sydney and spent plenty of time with each other anyway, so what's the catch?

having learned a valuable lesson through experience, all i can really take from it is to keep in mind how it feels to be the person who doesn't know anybody at a large gathering. never fear, i have not yet given up on humanity - i will partake in social situations again in future. in a compartively superior manner to those Earle Page College kids, who may go on to lead very sheltered and limited lives (yep, I am better than them), i will aim to continue making friends with friendly strangers until the end of my days.

and i encourage you all to do the same! (now here are some friend-related graphics)

photo: wednesday 22

Wednesdays are the days I go to the gym and spend the rest of the day with crazy hair. And black eyes.

Tuesday, 21 May 2013

photo challenge: all of the helens

ugh, I just hate pictures of myself. I have been trying to grow out of this feeling for years, but I really don't like pictures that I'm in. So I'm going to take pictures of myself each day for the next 2 weeks and put them up on the blog. into the blogosphere. onto the internets.

so sorry in advance for the selfies.

it's selfie-development, ya know?

Slightly cross-eyed is my style.

secret: the art of fitting in/the art of belonging

I'm realizing that I've spent a lot of my life waiting to feel as though I fit in, acutely aware of the fact I didn't feel that way. 

I grew up on a farm but never wanted to be a farmer. I was a girl growing into a woman but could never get my makeup right, my hair from getting frizzy, could never fit into the pants that were in fashion. I mean, I still don't- I'm not made for pants.

I'm intelligent but I've never felt particularly smart, I'm musical but have never mastered an instrument, I'm creative but rarely feel sure about sharing my work. 

I'm acutely aware of what needs improvement, but not so quick to brag. Occasionally I will, or at least act to draw attention to myself. It gets boring constantly telling yourself that nobody notices you. And I don't necessarily always believe it. 

I am happier being the girl who has a serious boyfriend or is single and waiting for someone worthy to come along- I'm not a one-night kind of person and while sometimes I wish I was, ultimately it's not my style. 

I don't fit into a pick-up scene, boys don't tend to chat me up in bars and I don't think it's because I'm hideously ugly, I just think I don't put out the signals that you need for the required attention. 

Despite this list of social failings, occasionally, I have moments when I know exactly where I belong. These are the satisfying moments where I write something that people like reading, or I get a letter in the mail from a close friend, or sometimes it's just one of the many moments alone where I'm completely comfortable in my own company. I do better on my own, when I'm happy about it. Which I mostly am.

The thing I hold onto is the moment I have now and then, when I'm just struck by the feeling of being home. I felt it today, at work, halfway through some data entry, pumping some music from a friends band. I feel it when I get out to mums house and her dogs are so excited to see me that they howl a little. 

I got it on the weekend when I made the bed at my new place and I realised I was one step further away from the memories of being one half of a whole (couple). I realised that I might eventually be a whole on my own, all of the time instead of just some of the time. 

I'm realizing that life, for me, is going to be a search for those moments. I'm going to have to make peace with the fact that I'll spend a lot of time compensating for the fact I don't feel as though I fit in. 

The best part of all this angst, because that's what it is, is realizing that it's not something unique to me. I know very few people without doubts, especially at the ripe old age of 27. So I'm reasonably normal. 

Except for the addiction to wasabi peas and the recent interest in both mills & boon and Kurt Vonnegut. Maybe I'll call it research for a best-seller. Something with some middle ground. 

You out there reading, you're not strangers, you're my friends. You're probably my friends because you're a bit awesome and have some quality I wish that I had more of. Thanks for being there for me to write to. Sorry for the confessional crap I've been posting of late, and the silly pictures. I love writing always, but I'm discovering that I also love writing when I have an audience.

Thanks for reading. 

Here's another silly picture for good measure: 

secret: mondays.

it's not as though it's highly original to hate mondays, but this latest one was particularly hard. possibly because i spent all of the immediately preceding sunday in a semi-comatose state which involved the consumption of cheese on toast and a whole season of Community. there were some naps, but i still have a sleep deficit up to my armpit. i could have done with another day in a very relaxed position on a reclining chair.

Saturday, 18 May 2013

treasure: new sheets

I've been quiet this week- because I've been packing to move house.

I have a new bed, new sheets and a new room- a place where only I have been, a fresh start. 

It's pretty exciting. 

Wednesday, 15 May 2013

poem: moving house

I'm packing up my things again
and I have to marvel (nothing else to be done) 
3 months after the fact
I'm still finding your shit everywhere.
Still tidying up after you,

even though you left the fucking country.

(happily) This time I'm not crying over your old shoebox.

Tuesday, 14 May 2013

treasure: sketches by david fullarton

this man is a little bit of a genius. here are 3 of my favourites from today.

Monday, 13 May 2013

treasures: some pieces of my heart (found tucked away on my iPhone)

Sunset on the West Coast of Canada (Vancouver) on a trip with Kate J to pick up Cam all ready for winter 2011-2012

These guys... Stu and Hugh on our impromptu bar crawl on the way home.

Some favourites, all rosy-cheeked from dropping the Harmony Horseshoes

The movie of the 2011-2012 season: Step Brothers.

Fun and games on the SNES - Mika, Annica, Phill and Karin cosying up my living room at Bayshores

That time I sunk his battleships

Nothing classier than drinking out of buckets at a GLC silent disco...

secret: all I ever wanted was a fucking mixtape

I've realised recently that I have always been the one who makes the mixtapes. Metaphorically and literally. Stay with me on this. 

I learned about making mixtapes from my mum. She used to make a new one nearly every month, and would name them as such- I seem to remember the mixtapes of '95-'96 being particularly good. Us kids had the good fortune to be indoctrinated by all manner of music, mostly the awesome stuff. 

I started to make my own mixtapes, the first of which I entitled "May '96". Straight from the books of Louise Taylor. Why mess with what works? They were a healthy mix of top 40 pop and actual music stolen from mum's CD collection, and they were all for me.

The first time I made a mixtape for someone else I was 17. Ben was my first serious boyfriend, and I thought he was way too good for me. He also thought he was too good for me. I made him a few mixes which were filled with not-so-secret messages of love. Each track was carefully chosen because it made me think of him. But then, I was 17 and in love for the first time- everything made me think of him. 

Needless to say that one didn't last.

Over the years there have been a few other mixtapes for a few other boys. I've made mixtapes for friends, and done my best to pick songs I think they'll like rather than my favourite songs, which is an easy direction to take. 

I've worked so hard on musical collections to show other people I love them with music far better than I could ever write. I've borrowed from many of the bands I know to leave not-so-secret messages of love out in the air to be heard.

That's what I mean about metaphorical mixtapes. All the effort put into trying to know someone and give them what they want without them having to get off their lazy butts to ask. 

My point, no matter how long-winded, is that I'd love a mixtape that someone had made for me with me in mind. And all the subtext that goes with that. 

For now, I'm making my own mixtapes/playlists. It goes alright- I know exactly what I like. I'll just keep quietly making them until a fresh new mix comes to rock my world.

For now, May 2013 is pretty fucking kickass.

treasure: that one time with mikaela and annica and a spoon.

This was this one time when Annica felt fit to threaten Fabel with a spoon- I think I was meant to put this threatening spoon photo on the internet.

I'm not sure why. This is really all I know.

but we went for breakfast, and then we went to live at Squamish, I think.

and I'm pretty sure we had an awesome time.

music: Cold Nights by Two Folks

This is a lovely song by Two Folks, who I've never met but sort of feel like I must have, because of Mika and Gabi, the loveliest Swedish sisters I know!

treasure: one art, by elizabeth bishop

perhaps if losing is an art, then humankind is an artist.

I'll be perfectly honest with you- this poem is one I know from the movie 'In Her Shoes' starring Toni Colette and Cameron Diaz. Seeing as I only ever heard it in the scene when Cameron Diaz' character is learning to read, I have to say I didn't really take the poem in, as such. Possibly partly because I felt weirdly victorious about the fact that I could read, and this hot blonde leggy fictional character couldn't. Yeah, I get my kicks where I can.

I have been thinking quite a lot about this idea, that many things in life are intended to be lost, and that that's ok. It's hard not to get caught up in the fury of having lost something you felt was important, something you assumed you'd have for a long time.

So, poem, I'm not meant to expect or want to hold onto anything forever? Forever is, after all, a very long time, and my hands are only very small and not always strong enough for holding. If you clasp a peach too tightly with your pointy fingers, there will be bruised flesh, and the peach won't be so sweet. If you hold a hand too tight, or a whole person, eventually there's discomfort, and they have to wriggle away from you. It's not cool to be the one who holds on.

I've hated letting go of lots of things in my life, and I'm certain I've left some bruises where I clung too tightly, hoping and wishing for a repreive, a change of heart, another chance. I've been the one to escape, sometimes by leaving a whole country, sometimes by leaving silence when someone's demanding answers.

But then I think, loss is what makes us want to create; to create art, to refill our senses with something. To fill that gap left after a loss. I have all the time in the world at the moment. I have plentiful space to fill, lots of time stretching empty. I've been filling it with different things: whole seasons of Californication (because my bad decisions don't look so bad when compared with Duchovny's Hank Moody), letters to my friends all over the world (alternating between sugar-coated and brutally honest, optimistic and heartbroken), whisky (because), situpsandchinupsandsquatsandrowingandsweat (distraction with hidden benefits like fitting back into your pants), and here, this, writing.

I spent a few months struck silent, but I've decided that I do want things in my life that I could lose at any time. How else would there be any words to say? What would I write about?

I'd like to write a bit more about loss; in manner of Elizabeth Bishop, all those little things you lose throughout your life. Maybe I'll get to it; I'll add it to the list of things I want to say.

Friday, 10 May 2013

treasure: the suburbs

In the suburbs I
I learned to drive
And you told me we'd never survive
Grab your mother's keys we're leavin'

You always seemed so sure
That one day we'd be fighting
In a suburban war
Your part of town against mine
I saw you standing on the opposite shore

But by the time the first bombs fell
We were already bored
We were already, already bored

Sometimes I can't believe it
I'm movin' past the feeling
Sometimes I can't believe it
I'm movin' past the feeling again

Kids wanna be so hard
But in my dreams we're still screamin' and runnin' through the yard
And all of the walls that they built in the seventies finally fall
And all of the houses they built in the seventies finally fall
Meant nothin' at all
Meant nothin' at all
It meant nothin

Sometimes I can't believe it
I'm movin' past the feeling
Sometimes I can't believe it
I'm movin' past the feeling and into the night

So can you understand?
Why I want a daughter while I'm still young
I wanna hold her hand
And show her some beauty
Before all this damage is done

But if it's too much to ask, it's too much to ask
Then send me a son

Under the overpass
In the parking lot we're still waiting
It's already past
So move your feet from hot pavement and into the grass
Cause it's already past
It's already, already past

Sometimes I can't believe it
I'm movin' past the feeling
Sometimes I can't believe it
I'm movin' past the feeling again

I'm movin' past the feeling
I'm movin' past the feeling

In my dreams we're still screamin'
We're still screamin'
We're still screamin'

the suburbs (covered by mr little jeans) , arcade fire

Thursday, 9 May 2013

treasure: some things i want right now

I want to run through a field, carefree as fuck. The wind would be blowing through my hair. I would be in slow motion.

The only person who ever got me flowers that were a beautiful, no-reason-but-i-love-you type surprise was Mikaela the beautiful Swedish florist I know. Guys, flowers. No brainer.

Rum and Coke floats. Nuf said.

A cake with a word in it. This is some form of wizardry and I want it in my life and in my belly.

This is a letter for June Carter written by Johnny Cash for her birthday. Are there even men like that in the world anymore? I want a love letter for my birthday. One I'm not expecting. One I didn't have to put a gun to anyone's head to make them write. One that says such wonderful things... I now officially love Johnny Cash forever.