Saturday, 29 June 2013

secret: once i was an idealistic uni student, now i'm a person with ideas

My theory (based on personal experience) is, you grow into politics. Living in Australia and being faced with compulsory voting, you can maintain minimal care factor if you so wish, but it always seemed to me like a superpower of sorts: if you have it, use it for good. Not evil. That's what I learned from Saturday morning cartoons.

Growing up, our family never really talked about that sort of thing - in fact I do remember trying to figure out what voting days were all about for quite a while. My parents never really expressed an opinion to us either way, which meant my knowledge of how a government worked in Australia was gleaned from several (let's face it) half-assed history/civics classes in high school; half-assed perhaps because of the victory of that guy, John Howard, having become PM in 1996- teachers, in my experience, tend to be a bit left-leaning, even when they don't make a big deal of it.

I never really had anything pushed on me, is what I'm saying. This has its good and its bad parts - I have always felt free to think for myself, and have really come at everything from both the values I learned from my parents and the lessons I'd learned for myself in the world, leaving me to make my own conclusions. But I also never had anything to start from and rebel against, which is part of the circle of life; you rebel against your parents and then inevitably you see what they were talking about and concede some points to them. Evenutally. When you're old enough that it won't hurt your pride.

So I floated through highschool without much of an idea of anything, besides who the PM was. And it was always Howard, so there wasn't much that needed updating. I had been given no examples of how a government might affect me as a person, so I did not care.

I turned 18, I registered to vote, I voted - I don't remember exactly who for, but having moved to inner north melbourne, we were always a Labor seat anyway, so I suppose I just went with the crowd. I may even have voted Green, simply because I was a fan of the colour and thought that people who like rainforests can't be all bad. This was my first experience as an Australian voter.

I started at uni the next year and it was like a light went on. I realised what it meant to be a young, semi-independent adult out in the world. I relished the joy of forming opinions based upon a glorious mix of things I read in the Age, social & political commentary from my lecturers (trying to maintain a veneer of impartiality & oftentimes failing miserably), things told to me by people I knew or had just met at a party, fueled by cheap wine and well-meant idealistic passion.

Suddenly, I cared. I protested the introduction of Voluntary Student Unionism, marched the streets of Melbourne with thousands of others; oh the heady power of stopping city traffic. It was because it started to be directly relevant to me, as an individual person. I think that's the key to buy-in from the average australian: once you realise exactly how a decision in government might affect your day-to-day life, suddenly then there are stakes and interest.

Alongside this revelation came the development of my personal politics as a fledgling radical feminist. I had also just broken up with someone who had sought, either consciously or subconsciously, to squash down any sort of inconvenient rebellion against his view of the world. Emancipated, I immersed myself in feminist theorists; built up quite the feminist library. I was so hungry for it all - this idea i'd been unable to articulate that sometimes I felt unhappy about the way things were for me as a woman. Equipped with theory and not a little hell-fire, I started to take on anyone and everyone about every-single-fucking-thing that bothered me about the damned patriarchy.

I'm grateful to all the friends I argued with who argued back in those idealistic years. I still get a little nostaglic for the conversations I'd find myself in on trams, walking away from a lecture at uni through princes park back to brunswick, over a coffee, or a wine, or a jug of beer. Yelled at each other over pub noise, earnestly put forward in a quiet voice with such intense eye-contact, banging the table adamantly at various points of the conversation. Such a good time in my life, empowered by my ability to have opinions of my own, to rethink all the parts of the world that I didn't even know I was allowed to question until then.

A labour government was elected in 2007 and for the first time, I cared. We had an election party, glued to the tv, hugging and cheering when a majority was announced. It felt like a piece of history to be part of, and I felt connected to every other person in Australia who was also cheering and hugging. Interestingly, I've never been dogmatic about political parties (reasonably, I allowed them a few faults each), but I knew for my particular agenda and interests, a Labour government was the better way to go.

My personal feminist politics continued to flourish and edge towards the radical- such an exciting place to be, deconstructing every single part of patriarchy, marching about finding everything from public spaces right down to the English language to be misogynistic. My vocabulary changed; I dressed differently; I inhabited my body, rebelliously unapologetic for taking up space. It was inspiring to be around other passionate women and academics who argued with everyone, refusing to sit quietly and agreeably in the corner. Fuck the Patriarchy, etc.

At the same time, I was in a relationship with a man deeply into social theorists such as Marx, Freud, Castoriadis. We were speaking two different languages and it's only with the wisdom of time that I figured that out. We tried, but there's no way to match the both in a meaningful way that is acceptable for two folk hell-bent on living their politics to the letter.

The other thing that happened was to celebrate the end of my degree, I went on a hike in Tasmania with two friends, one of which was an adamant radical lesbian feminist. Yup, that's a lot of self-applied labels. The hike is a story in and of itself which I may tell at some point in the future, but the punch line is that it was tough work and we're not friends anymore. She didn't find my brand of feminism to be feminist enough, and although i had cut my hair and stopped shaving day legs by then, I still didn't fit her idea of feminist. Part of me knew it was ridiculous, another part felt like a bit of a fraud - she had this amazing ability to take a grip of your very psyche. I'm not the only poor soul this happened to.

As time passed post-uni, I cared less and less for politics, personal or federal. Disillusioned, exhausted from full-time work, unable to air my ideas without them being undermined by fucking Marx (well, my live-in academic, channelling Marx), I hate to admit it, but I gave it all up. Instead of caring about things, I went to the gym a lot. 

From there I spent 3 years in Canada, where I avoided Australian news as much as I could. Care factor: close to zero. Gaining a female prime minister rated, but only just, and mainly for novelty value. I stopped correcting sexist idiots and protesting sexist behaviour. Whistler was a lot of amazing things, but it was also male, middle class and white, a sport and drinking culture where my short hair didn't fit in, and I got told by another woman the reason I hadn't found a boyfriend was because I needed to shave my legs more regularly. Sometimes women are the most evil about these things. 

But whatever; I focused on being an awesome snowboarder, soothed my sense of responsibility to society by working for Whistler Community Services Society, empowered myself as a human being by living selfishly and focusing on myself. I let everyone else do the same things; I didn't challenge anyone anymore than I absolutely had to. It was a wonderful time of my life, despite and perhaps because of this lack of political involvement. 

But now, I've been back in Australia a year. I'm 27 instead of 23. And suddenly, I care about things again. The piece I wrote recently that had such a reaction from everyone reading my blog has only served to encourage me to keep caring; to care even more. As I've said, I'm happy to call myself a feminist again, but it does mean something different this time- it feels a bit less judgemental and a little more inclusive. Anyone and everyone can and should be a feminist on some level. These issues are issues that affect us all, and it is short sighted to shut men out, or women who wear makeup (I have to admit, there are still a lot of beauty practices I refuse to buy into, but I do occasionally shave my legs, and I grew my hair out in the end), or to devalue the input of any woman who has made different choices to the ones I've made. I've grown into politics- if people care passionately about their world, themselves and each other, then hot damn, that's a great start. That makes me want to sit down and have a drink with you and talk things and stuff.

I've been feeling very disillusioned in the past weeks about the state of Australian politics, however. I'm yet to figure out how to make peace with the impending election outcome. I'm not confident of our country in the hands of either (but especially) Abbott or Rudd. I liked Gillard. I liked there being a woman in charge, it made me feel a lot less anxious than any of the other options. I have a fear that the average Australian, with these men in their ears, will feel that Gillard failed as PM because she is a woman, and I fear how long it might take before we let any woman take charge again, which may or may not mean we lose out as a country.

I look forward to a political figure I can get behind and believe in passionately. Whichever sex they may be. 

In the meantime, I'm going to keep reading and writing and talking and thinking about the world I live in. I'm going to get comfortable about caring again; about disagreeing (respectfully). And I'm going to live in Sweden next year, check out a more functional country's politics, and maybe come back in time for Abbott's term to be up. Maybe.

Monday, 24 June 2013

treasure: balance and the whatnot

I start back at uni this week. I haven't studied since I finished my BA in 2007, and many things have happened since those good old days. Isn't it funny how each second you live is going to become one of those good old days, eventually?

It's that thought that puts things in a form of perspective for me; it also makes me more appreciative of right now, this time of my life where I remake all my plans again. 

There's a lot going on; the more I write, the more I find I have to say. I have the opposite of writers block; I have writer's panic. The momentum of the past week has been gratifying and inspiring, but I realised tonight when I didn't want to study because I wanted to write (granted, introductory chapters to accounting textbooks don't tend to glue one's eyes to the page) that I have to calm the fuck down. I actually don't have to choose; I can do all of the things.


Seeing as I've started on a path of sorts with my writing, I'd like to keep putting things out there that people want to read. I'd also like to study so I am much more employable as someone who can take all their well-meant ideas and turn them into actions. I'd like to work in the non-profit sector eventually, with other passionate people. I'd like my writing to be informed by life experience, always. 

Please, swing me a comment from time to time and let me know how I'm going with that.

I'll try not to blog about accounting.

secret: picturethought for the day

It's true: I'm all over that darned patriarchy at the moment...

Saturday, 22 June 2013

treasure: postscript thoughts, notes and the F-word

well, shit. thanks friends, for all the sharing and nice words and interest in my last post. It caught me a bit by surprise as mostly I just talk to myself, seeing the blog as a way for you to listen in if you ever feel like it.

I've been a bit tentative about posting opinion pieces before, but it's actually a huge release to hold onto something that pisses you off for so long until you can't not write about it, put it out there and have people agree with you. Whew.

The title, "We need Feminism because ... " was inspired by the recent photo collection put together of Cambridge University students on campus, putting together their own signage. Some very compelling ideas worthy of their own separate discussions.

Since posting a piece which I labelled a 'rant', calling myself a 'Feminist', I've been thinking a bit more about Feminism, or the F-word. Tricky territory. A few months back now, I went to a debate organised at the university for Blue Stocking Week entitled "The problem with feminists is that they can't take a joke". I've been thinking about this ever since.

As a woman with an Arts degree majoring in Gender Studies, I have definitely been one of those feminists who wasn't big on the taking of sexist jokes (we really have to assume these are the kinds of jokes in question). However, the debate tended to focus on the Feminist stereotype, and I'm sure you all know what I mean- bra-burning, hairy-legged man haters who aspire to world domination and men banished from the planet. So Feminism becomes the F-word; girls and women are quick to clarify that they're not feminists, before they become the punchline of a joke.

I call myself a Feminist, and this is how I exercise this label, as applied to me: I'm 27 and unmarried, free to use birth control, believe in a woman's right to choose, am pursuing further education, work to support myself, spend my money how I please, spend my time doing things I enjoy (some of which have no conceivable contribution to society), have actively involved myself in contributing to society, have various different friendship circles (including other single independent women and also unattached men of a similar age), have developed my own politics and life philosophy. I make big and small decisions based on what I want my life to look like. I do all these things wearing what I want. I encourage others to do the same, and I'm aware that as a white, educated woman, I am incredibly fortunate compared with those in other parts of the world. I am knowingly lucky, and try my best to make the most of all this opportunity. I do my best to exercise compassion and care for others, regardless of our similarities or our differences. Actually, if you read any of my blog besides this post it becomes increasingly obvious I'm quite a normal, silly person.

I believe women and men should be equal. In the world in which we all live, sometimes they are, and sometimes they aren't.

If any of this list applies to you (particularly the last part), well then, you're probably a feminist too. Oops.

Feminists look however they want to look (I think that's the point, just quietly). Let's get over it, shall we? This stereotype, I think, is motivated to distract from discussing actual issues. I hope everyone else's mums taught them not to judge a book by its cover too, and you're pickin' up what I'm puttin' down here.

My call to action in my past blog was mainly about men being aware of women and their sense of safety. It's a tiny thing, but could be huge, in other ways, if we ran with it. The world is your oyster! Honestly, the very best to come of what I've said would really be some conversation; men and women sitting down together with a cup of tea or a glass of wine and talking about these sorts of things. Mmmm- in my head it's all warm and fuzzy when I think of the beautiful simplicity of this.

My other call to action was about teaching our sons to respect women. Weirdly, after posting my blog the other night, I found that one of my very favourite bloggers, Pip Lincolne, had in fact taken it upon herself to get together a group of bloggers who are mothers of boys, and write about their sons. I loved what she wrote- you can read it here. Mrs Smith wrote a bit of a lovely one, as did mogantosh.

This is what I meant, written with far more motherly authority than I can muster as a non-parent. These sorts of writings fill me with happiness and hope for the next generations, as long as we don't completely lose sight of this now and fuck it up. So let's not do that, and let's do the other thing instead.

Thursday, 20 June 2013

secret: we need feminism because...

 The disclaimer here is that a feminist rant is way overdue.

We need feminism because an everyday part of a woman's life is monitoring for danger. Women are never quite safe. Not ever. 

Some of you may have been following Jill Meagher's story in the news as closely as I have. Some of you may have no idea who this woman is. Last year, Jill Meagher was having some Friday night drinks at my favourite bar in Melbourne, Bar Etiquette. She was probably a bit wobbly by the time she left the bar. She refused a friend's offer of a lift and started to walk home. She never made it home; instead she was brutally raped, then murdered and buried in a shallow bush grave, where her body was found a few days later.

The man who has been sentenced with life in prison for her rape and murder in the last week or so was previously found guilty of many other rapes. He had spent time in prison, but was on parole when he approached her in the street, dragged her into an alleyway and did his evil. 

The system failed Jill when it allowed her attacker free from his past crimes to roam the streets of Melbourne and rape again. It continues to fail all women, any woman who has to plan her evening around the assumption that she may be attacked if she does not follow agreed upon precautions. Don't walk home alone, don't drink enough to make yourself an easy target, don't wear anything to provoke unwanted male attention. Don't assume you have the same social guarantees men do, not ever. 

Why is it that we learn this as a basic fact? A part of growing up, as a woman, is being sat aside to have it explained to you that you're not safe in the world as a girl, as a grown woman. The most powerful moment is realising, as a daughter, that even your mother, the maker and giver of almost all that you know in the wide world, is not safe from the harm of men. 

It's wrong. The world is topsy turvy. Even me, who hates and despairs of the rules, even I follow them. 

The personal side of the tragedy that is Jill Meagher's rape and murder made me feel a sinking certainty that I will never ever feel completely safe, ever again. It hit home for millions of women, but me? Bar Etiquette is my bar, Brunswick is my suburb, those streets are my streets. I've walked home from that bar, further than she did, more often, drunker. 

And now, probably never again.

Parents teach their kids of stranger danger. They teach their daughters to beware; they teach them the rules about not drinking too much or wearing skirts too short or encouraging unwanted attention by accident or flirtation. They teach them not to walk home alone at night. 

They need to start teaching their sons that women are equal human beings. That women are never asking for it; that women own the space as much as men do; that even passed-out-drunk, women are never EVER asking for it. 

Jill Meagher died, and people have paid attention. There are a million degrees of harassment between friendliness and vicious, life-ending rape. Pay attention to them. Cut it out before someone's life is cut short. 

This is my life, and I'm a stubborn feminist: If I'm walking to the carpark after work alone I keep my head down and walk fast, with purpose. It's winter where I am, and starts to get dark around 5pm. I check who is in the parking lot when I get to my car; I hold my keys in my hand a lot of the time. I don't waste time or dawdle, I get in my car, shut the door and start the engine right away, even if I sit there idling to warm up old Maude the Mazda (she is delicate in the cold months). I do all this because I am aware that there's a percentage of attacks on women that happen in car parks. 

Nobody is harassing me and I'm acting harassed. It's not even me being crazy. Last weekend I went by a drive-through bottle shop to get an alcohol-based birthday present (when nothing else will do). I parked right out front, got in my car afterwards and as I drove away, a man walking through the car park beckoned to me as I drove past.  My window was down, I slowed, he leaned in my window and asked drunkenly what I was "up to" later. Way to make me feel like an idiot, asshole. What do I learn here? Don't even be friendly to strangers. Not even in a wholesome country town. 

The world has forced us into being polite even while we feel uncomfortable. That we must smile and agree when sexist things are being said; when comments are made in earshot about other women that make us cringe. Feminism is a dirty word, and we sacrifice standing up for ourselves in order not to ruin a good joke. The world has forced us to be polite to strangers; even when they're men; even when they're making us uncomfortable by manner of look, touch, talk. I have no doubt that Jill Meagher was merely being polite, as her mother taught her, when her rapist and killer stopped her in the street to ostensibly ask a harmless question. Power to you all, ladies. Don't be polite to anybody if you have a whiff of fear. Leave. Don't feel compelled to kiss the cheeks of creepy men at social events if it makes your stomach roll over. It makes you feel ill for good reason. Power to you all, to shake hands instead. 

Look, I know I can't change a lot of anything. I guess the men reading this already have sensitive sympathies, but really I ask you all to just be aware of this- women feel threatened by you. Fact. All of you. In a world where women can be and frequently are blamed for their own rapes (what they wear, what they do, what they say, what they drink), we are threatened by you. In a dark street, walking towards a woman, change sides of the road if you can. Don't walk so closely behind us. Watch out for other men with not-so-pure motives and stop them where and when you can. Speak up when other men judge women on what they wear, what they do, what they say, what they drink. 

Stop for a long cold minute and think of your sister, girlfriend, mother, grandmother, wife. If you ask them, and they're honest, they'll tell you they've been afraid before. Fathers, teach your sons about consent, about a humane version of right and wrong, no matter the "signals". Yes means yes. No means no. Teach your sons not to rape women, for women continue to teach their daughters how to avoid rape. 

I feel a little cold about the fact I haven't even scraped the surface of this. No mention of the deaths in third world countries which we all seem to feel more comfortable to discuss in an academic theoretical sense as though it's so different from our world, our lives. Think about the fact that Jill Meagher's rapist and killer had previously raped sex workers, and that merited parole instead of a full sentence. Think about how we decide the value and merit of a woman in society. 

Cold and heavy is my fury. No woman is ever safe. The attacks on our poor female prime minister, who may not be making the best decisions all of time (and who ever is?) but is battling rampant sexism at every corner. This is theoretically the most powerful woman in Australia, and look what she is reduced to on a daily basis. Whatever you think of her politics, and her party's politics, you have to see she's fighting an uphill battle. Doesn't it shock you? Doesn't it hurt you?  Doesn't it embarrass you???

I send a little sparkle of hope out there into the world- that women, who are one half of everything, might be treated some day like all of that half. A full half. My brothers and I used to fight over the "bigger half" of a treat; it was always a joke because halves are meant to be equal.

Halves are meant to be equal.

Monday, 17 June 2013

treasure: pretty things to get you through a monday

A little rabbit girl

Fog in the trees

The first page of lots and lots of books

Walking in the snow

Living underwater

treasure: looking backwards while walking forwards.

so it's more than a year since i returned to the homeland. it's a bit of a bittersweet milestone; when i think of how i felt about coming back, all the mis-met expectations of the last 12 months, i do feel a little twinge of sad in my belly.

i was never meant to still be here, in armidale, by now. i was meant to have moved on to a bigger city; to have found a new favourite coffee shop and a new local where they knew my drink of choice. i was meant to have found a little group of trendy hipsters to befriend; i was meant to be taking over the world with a person by my side. i was meant to be moving to germany, learning the language pre-emptively, planning european road trips.

well i'll be damned if it didn't all fall to bits. it was those little things that made it ok to leave whistler, my life and my mountains and all the places that i loved (and still pine for). the person i was in whistler was mainly pretty kick-ass, and thinking back to my single days of before, i was pretty awesomely self-sufficient and satisfied by my own company.

i think it's true- at different times and places, we are different versions of ourselves. for me, my canadian adventure was emancipation. for so long, i attributed it to canada, but of course all along it was me. it's true that i'll never be quite as free as i felt in those 3 years, but i think at least now i can say, safely, that i know myself better. and perhaps it's ok not to be perpetuating quite so much damage to my liver any longer.

saying goodbye to canada was most heart-wrenching for the friends i had to leave. at the time, i felt bolstered up by love and a long-distance boyfriend, but more and more i realise it was my friends that got me through my stuff; the girls for the feelings n shit, the boys (and the girls) for the drinking and fun action adventure & activities. the hardest thing to do and the most precious thing i've realised i am capable of is to stay true to what i want and who i am. to put myself around the people who inspire me instead of those who still, even in the second part of their twenties, find it easier to be sarcastic, to shoot down those with dreams and goals, to feel no more than bitter in the face of other people's success and happiness. i've been that person, and she sucks. i'm not her anymore.

that's what hangs on from what whister gave me. the part that i miss is the family of whistler orphans, all snuggled together for pot luck dinners, birthdays and christmases, post-shred warmth and runny noses, all stoked on pow days and new boards and dropping things not previously dropped. we were all so happy, we were all so encouraging and full of heart and soul, breaths of mountain air and rosy cheeks from blood thumping through our veins.

i miss not having a commonality like that to share. i miss having some of my best friends living in the room next door (or downstairs). i continually wish that i'd spent more time with them, and ache desperately to see them all again - looking forwards, i'm being propelled along by the prospect of seeing them all again within the next 12 months; weddings, christmases, a move to europe... oh boy oh boy!! i wish it were right now.

there are little bits of my heart in all the places. whistler, vancouver, corvallis. sweden, norway, england, germany, prague. brisbane, sydney, melbourne, perth. all of them. big love from little armidale, right atcha.


Saturday, 15 June 2013

photo: going to a party

treasure: natalya lobanova

this lady is clever and i like the cut of her jib.

secret: beautiful is not skin deep

look, sometimes i think deep thoughts. this particular breed of thought has been floating around in my brain a good long while now. and i don't think i'll quite cover it in one blog. because parts of it have a tendency to be quite ranty, and it's weekend time and i'm all mellow and whatnot.

it's hard to be a human sometimes. it's harder still to be a happy human; there are always going to be those times where you feel like shit and have a strong suspicion that goes alongside this feeling that you, in fact, look like shit. unhappy people, or let's be honest, me when i am an unhappy person (because that's the only real authority with which i feel comfortable to speak), tends to be a bit down on my levels of self-awesome.

ok, and to add to that, it is my opinion that humans are not meant to be happy, as far as this wonderful world full of shiny things is concerned. after all, if you are happy and fulfilled, why would you buy a footspa, a wafflemaker, books you may never read, unlimited brooches from etsy? and then where would we all be? jobless, homeless, cold. this is my very basic understanding of capitalism. i stubbornly refuse to look into fleshing this explanation out on account of an ex-boyfriend who has made an academic career out of things surrounding and pertaining to this very question (he was against it, but it didn't stop him enjoying the waffles, did it?).

there are plenty of things in the world out there that are geared towards making us feel we're not enough - we're not smart enough, we're not fast enough, we're not rich enough, we're not thin enough, we're not pretty enough (ask kasey chambers). but the hint is that perhaps if we bought some more stuff, maybe then we might be a little happier.

i'm completely guilty of all of this. i'm somebody who opshops when their room is already filled with things. i like shiny stuff, i cannot lie. and i own a lot of clothes. like, a lot. and books ... well. at some point my brain processed the thought that books = safety. and so now i line my walls with them, almost literally. i figure at very least they're insulation and maybe kindling if it comes to that... you know, when the world ends.

but i digress. if we never feel ok with ourselves we'll keep spending our money. and truthfully, i don't think humans can be happy all the time, but we could probably work on being a little less unhappy.

the main way in which i've been noticing and processing the unhappiness of humans is our connection to our physical body. man oh man, that's a tricky one. as far as my own physical experience allows as a woman, yeah, hella tricky. note how carefully i don't say women have it worse than men. i guess it's a tricky for each individual as we allow it to be.

NB: this is a huge turnaround for me - i'm a feminist at heart, but have been working a lot on making distinctions between my own experience and those of others. that way, people can hopefully identify with things i say as being a reality of my life, and i'm not ranting too much. i may end up ranting though. i have some opinions, in a most human-like way.

recently, i've been noticing increasingly how life is a push to always be better, faster, fitter (more productive), thinner, stronger. strength and betterness i can get behind. since i was probably 11 or 12, i've been well aware of that push. it comes from everywhere, and of course let's blame the media, whomever they are, as well as the things and the stuff. but really, i wanted to go grassroots here and suggest we do it ourselves (DIY is so hot right now) or we help each other out with maybe taking a bit of control over the monolith of Push.

the Push to be beautiful. beauty. what a notion. it's powerful but it's completely subjective. it's been invented over and over. why does it matter what anyone else calls beautiful when we are the ones that have to live with ourselves?

self-help, kids. what i mean by 'beautiful is not skin deep' is that we can decide on our own, if we want. and then we can go out and be beautiful. and not push, unless we want to push. perhaps beautiful is not the most sensical word to apply to a man, but i think you're picking up what i'm putting down here - perhaps it's just taking a good long look at what motivates you to be yourself, what bits fill you with joy, and which bits are dark and bruised and tender.

for me, being a beautiful version of myself is doing what i want to do, as often as i can. checking in to make sure the means to my end are worthy. you're right, it's pretty easy to write and feel from a place of happy, which is where i am now (generally; most days).

in a physical way, my mentality has developed over years of hate and discomfort to this: be healthy; be strong; smile at yourself in the mirror (even if there are pudgy bits hanging over the top of your pants), get sweaty and love it; eat food; if you want chocolate, eat it and enjoy it and then continue about your day without regret or mental flagellation; do squats; enjoy the day-after muscle ache with a tinge of pride; be proud of your good decisions and forgiving of your mistakes and moments of veering from your planned path. just stop saying negative things about yourself; if there are things you want to work on and it helps you tell someone your goal to keep you on the path, tell them, then do the work required. propel yourself forward right into your life.

“You don’t have to be what other people want you to be. You don’t have to be interesting or agreeable or entertaining. You don’t have to tone yourself down, quiet your voice, or hide your feelings. You don’t have to be outgoing or spontaneous or sociable. You don’t have to be thin or beautiful or anyone’s definition of attractive. You don’t have to be anyone other than who you authentically are, and you sure as hell don’t have to spend your time and energy trying to convince people that you’re worth keeping around. The right people are going to recognize your worth. They are going to respect you, appreciate you, and accept you, without forcing you to compromise who you are. Life is too short, and your happiness is far too important, to make room for anyone who treats you otherwise.” ~ Daniell Koepke

i know it's not easy. to figure out how to be happy and then to be it, that's an undertaking worthy of a whole life. beautiful is not just skin deep. it goes beyond your bones. ignore those things out there that make you feel like you're not worthy, or that you will only be happy when you get to a size or weight or shape. ignore as hard as you can, and when you have a slip and accidentally listen to all those things out there, go back to the mirror and smile at yourself. think a little on how pretty your eyes are, take yourself out for dinner and a movie, reset ready for the next morning.

the unhealthy decisions we make are always guilty, always over-do it, always confirm the whisperings of that nasty voice telling us we don't matter enough to take care of. go for a walk listening a song like Ben Howard's cover of "Call Me Maybe" and think some deep thoughts, or put on "Waiting all Night" by Rudimental featuring Ella Eyre. and just boogy. my logic here is to move your blood around til it's warm and happy again. it's not science, i'll admit. but there is science to back up the whole exercise = endorphins thing. believe it. just don't think that simply exercising will straighten your shit out. this requires careful thought, and you are worthy of the time.

rant over, for now. probably more to come - who knows how much more i might have to say on the subject.

... [if you're] a person of intelligence, a person of integrity, then you're considered a minority in this world ... And it's going to be really hard to find messages of self-love and support anywhere. It's all about how you have to look a certain way or you're worthless. For us to have self-esteem is truly an act of revolution and our revolution is long overdue." ~ Margaret Cho

Wednesday, 12 June 2013

treasure: funny things that i think kate j will like

i've been finding some pretty funny things on the internet today. i immediately think of kate j when i see them. however, i've already sent her one funny thing. so i'm putting the rest up here so she doesn't think i'm a stalker.

i do know where you live though kate.

Tuesday, 11 June 2013

treasure: tash, mat, iggy and a baby

it's my experience that through life, friends come and go. i learned long ago that it doesn't do to dwell on the friends you've lost contact with. everyone i've had the honour of calling a friend knows, i trust, that they pop into my head at times and i smile and send some love their way. things happen, in life - you move, you grow up, you change your approach to the world, you re-prioritise. i am one that loves making new friends, but am best at maintaining friendships with people i see often.

i was lucky enough to get to know mat and tash around the time of my 21st birthday. i will be 28 in october, which means i have been friends with these two folk for 7 years (that's maths, right mat?). these are friends that i have never lost touch with. they're a rarity. they're awesome, and i'll tell you why.

i have an extremely hard time allowing people to help me out, because i worry about what it means that i need help, yet every time i visit melbourne, these two share and help in every way they can. when i first got back to australia, more than a little lost, they actually organised to get me down to visit melbourne. penniless and sheepish, i accepted their offer- the visit filled me with enough certainty and purpose to march through the next 3 months til life settled down again.

i refer to these two as my 'adult friends' - simply meaning they've made commitments to things that i hope to one day have in my reach too. they have a house in a great spot, and plenty of plans for it. they have a gorgeous iggy, and a lovely sweet new baby who was just born this week.

i don't have much in the way of means, but i'd do anything in my power to help them out if they ever needed me. because they've offered me the same thing. post break-up i had a gorgeous text from tash offering to help me move to melbourne, or at least get me down there for some distraction. holy shit i am a lucky motherfucker to have friends like these.

in my opinion, the ways in which they're awesome: they have a 3 door merc that i'm allowed to borrow when i visit. they always feed me fancy whiskey from tasmania when i visit. they're both bloody hilarious. they are extremely cool parents. tash gives me hints on awesome bands i should listen to. mat made a point of reading my blog last week (tash may have told him to, but that's another point in the awesome column as far as i'm concerned). i just recently figured out that mat is actually quite clever by reading a blog (his) that i found to be in another language (a higher, more intelligent language than the ones i know)- so now i'm intimidated by him. another hugely favourite thing is tash's ability to drop the c-bomb in a reasonably classy way. she has earned my respect.

i don't know exactly how i convinced them i was ok- they met me because i was dating an old friend of theirs. i abandoned him and the whole relationship for canada, and yet, here i am years later proudly claiming them as good and close friends. i must have made some good jokes at the right time.

the only thing that sucks about these two is that i don't live in the same city as them anymore. everything else is good.

mat and tash, this week, with a new one in your lovely family, i just want you to know about how much i love you all and that i can't wait to meet the new one. i'm certain he'll be as gorgeous as the rest of you. you all deserve all the happiness and good things in the world.

love, me.

treasure: triple j Hottest 100 - the best of the last 20 years (part 1 in a series of 4)

having spent the weekend experiencing a rollercoaster of emotions, I wanted to share the full-hearted cacophony of my deep, deep love of music with you. I'll be honest - I had a lot to say when I scrawled my thoughts down alongside these classics and favourites and old friends. too much to hold your attention for one post. so I've split it up into quarters. humour me on this.

these are all the words I wrote, good old-fashioned paper and pen.

I've written about music a lot. it's been there since I remember (and those years before I remember; the formative ones). today, triple j (an australian radio station and institution of sorts, for those overseas folk tuning in) are playing the Hottest 100 songs of the past 20 years. it's their 20th anniversary. 940,000 people voted for their favourite 20 songs released between 1 Jan 1992 and 31 Dec 2012.

these are pretty much the prime of my music-listening years, and so in the top 50 they're playing today, there is literally not one song that I don't know, love and have a teenage/young adult memory of & association with. it's made me realise that so much of my life has been made tolerable, bearable, liveable by music. my inner turmoil has been soothed by such classics as Better Man by Pearl Jam, Hallelujah covered by Buckley, Karma Police by Radiohead, Brick by Ben Folds.

I could weep for the loss of Cobain, Buckley, Elliot Smith; the feelings assuaged by their beautiful, angst-heavy tunes. I'm a sucker for lyrics, being a writer, but music really is unbeatable magic.

one of the most lovely elements of triple j's countdown is that they have musicians of well-known bands introducing the songs with a story about why they love the song so much, or what they remember from the time of its release.

Massive Attack's Teardrop takes me to my 17 year old self, persuing all those bands that a boy I was crushing on had ever mentioned that he liked. astutely, my approach with boys was to find out what they liked and listen to it with the intention of understanding them better. to this day, I doubt that I could ever truly fall in love with someone who didn't worship music like I do.

it's Californication by the Red Hot Chili Peppers that takes me back to weekend sleepovers at Kat's house, all us girls piled into her living room, confessing our current boy fantasies, cosy in our little worlds. it's Californication and the RHCP in general that brought me back together with Amy and Lauren, beloved high school friends, solid til the end I'm sure, for Big Day Out this year. shirtless Anthony Keidis was why we were all there, I see no point in lying.

it's remarkable to listen to 50 songs in a row, and to know all the words, all the riffs and licks, verses, choruses and bridges. it's strange to hear one big hit after another; the yearly Hottest 100 yields many little-known gems (I often only discover songs and bands at this point, when everyone else has been listening to them on high rotation all year and is somewhat sick of them).

as well, an event like this makes you realise just how connected we all are by music. my favourites, no matter their level of personal significance, are the favourites of literally millions of other people. it's nice to know that there are others out there, and that we are all feeling our feelings together. it still seems like no time has passed, when I listen to these songs. I could, possibly, be a 17 year old in a 27 year old's body.

stay tuned next week as I blather on about songs counting down from Scar Tissue by RHCP at #28 to #17; silverchair's Tomorrow. cheers.

Friday, 7 June 2013

secret: a love note to Friday night

dear Friday night,

I've been waiting for you. You smell like clean hair, you taste like beer and lasagna. You sound like a wonderful cover of Daft Punk's "get lucky", by San Cisco . in the past, maybe I have taken you for granted. but tonight, I realise how lucky I am to have you as a permanent fixture in my life.

thank you, for being there. I will not waste you needlessly; I will not regret you; I will always speak of you with fondess. I will treat you the way in which I would like to be treated- a quality so often lost on others I loved.

peace, love and cold brown ales to you, Friday.

treasure: the top 5 posts

being that i've now written over 400 posts on this blog, i got to thinking about my favourites. there's a nifty stats page which tells me the most viewed posts i've written. they're all posts i'm proud of. here they are, in case you're curious:

1. This post about snowboarding. I still maintain it's the most fun you can have with your pants on.
2. This post about tattoos. I have another, which I will share a story about soon.
3. This (other) post about snowboarding. A story of the last day of my first winter in Canada.
4. This post about coming back to Australia. From almost a year ago now. Crazy.
5. This post about the boys I love. I still love them all. This love is huge. I'm going to try and drink a beer with all these people by the end of 2015.

I've enjoyed going back into the past to re-live these moments. And maybe that is what having this blog is all about. Life has been wonderful so far. I can't wait for what comes next.

Thursday, 6 June 2013

treasure: anais mitchell

just do yo'selves a favour and listen to this beauty. i myself am in love.

400 blog posts!

without realising it, i just posted my 400th piece of rubbish on secrets n treasures.

i don't think 400 is a huge milestone, it's like a 28th birthday... you're sort of nearly somewhere but you're not quite there yet.

that's how i feel about this particular creative outlet. i like that you are reading it, i really like that. but it's an experiment of sorts. i'm going to keep writing until i have something that has made it there.

don't know what there is, or where it is, but you know.

happy 400th post, blog.

treasure: 4 motivational pictures: i picked them for you.

poem: we

we're a piece of treasure
salvaged and secreted away in this brain of mine
i try to keep us shiny;
we get polished up when there is too much time.

truth be told, we're probably not a treasure
coveted by anyone but me
(less and less; occasionally)

we're a piece of lace
old and unravelled
i know we were beautiful once, i just
have no will to search for the right piece of thread.

i'll sew us into curtains to shade faces from the sun
in the back of the van where we once slept
i'll use us to pad a pillow on which to lay our heads.
we're a faded patchwork quilt. while we fade,
i fix the patterns in my mind.

we're almost impossibly put together now;
less blood and less heart and more
fodder for a poem and a song and a story of before.

we're petering out, slowing to a stop, and
to be unfair
i hope, for you, that stop is far from town & a long walk to the nearest gas station-

for me, we're going to move me along until i get there
and honestly
i think that there is here.

Wednesday, 5 June 2013

secret n treasure: whiskey

i started enjoying whiskey about the time i became single. i picked it for a variety of silly reasons:
  • i had to drink something
  • whiskey drunk is reasonably mellow on me, and doesn't make me want to fight, or cry, or run away
  • harvey spector drinks whiskey (watch suits. you won't regret it)
  • it's good company when you have none
  • songs have been written about whiskey
  • it actually tastes pretty good, as long as you shell out for the good stuff
while i think i can officially announce that i've turned a whiskey-induced corner, and there's decidedly less dwelling going on all up in here, i also must concede that i love whiskey now. so that's just how it is. please, send whiskey money, send it soon.

treasure: the great gatsby

I know people have had mixed reactions to this film. I, for one, was really excited to see it. nobody can deny that baz luhrmann is good at movie stuff. and the great gatsby is a classic novel; I even studied it at university.

I am no film critic. I don't have particular insight to offer; I'm not knowledgeable enough to reduce the movie to a quivering puddle, as those artistic critiquey types are wont to do. I'm the crowd, the unthinking masses, one of those there to merely consume the shiny things. and proud.

so, my favourite bits:
carey mullian. she's lovely to look at, and her costumes were amazing. the first dress she wore is spectacular:

her furs, and her headpieces, and her hats were also beautiful- more hats, I say. also, I just discovered she is married to marcus mumford, who I have something of a crush on. get this- he was her childhood penpal, they re-united and were engaged after only 5 months! does this shit only happen to famous people? I guess I don't have a penpal who's eligible. bummer.

the soundtrack. I don't know if it was the pop/20s music melding, but it was just perfect. sort of totally in love with this song by lana del ray:

the story. it ends so sadly and yet, there is just something beautiful about the whole story. maybe I just like love that lasts years and years, and the idea that you can love someone without seeing them or speaking to them, even when they've married and moved on. actually, hmm, that seems a little depressing. especially considering how things ended up for poor jay gatsby. still. love eternal, love from afar, idealistic and fantasy-driven, love unrequited... these are the grandiose types of love that movies have made me believe in, and wonder when they are scheduled to happen to me.

I say to you all, go and see it. hate it if you like. love it if you wanna. at least comment on the hats, for fuck's sake. those hats are awesome.

treasure: marc johns

today my favourite artist is marc johns. here are some of his drawings that I particularly like:

secret: each day

i really like this idea. birthdays are a little bit magical, aren't they? even when they're just a normal day for whatever reason, like having to work or go to school or they're midweek so you're waiting for the weekend to celebrate. still, even in these instances, a birthday is a bit special.

i always feel invincible and loved by everyone. kind of sparkly, nervous and excited. you just don't know what might happen on your birthday. there are tasty treats, like cake and glasses of champagne. there are gifts great and small; handmade cards and bottles of wine (crossing my fingers for whiskey this year), phonecalls and text messages and Facebooks. Love.

Today felt sort of lovely like a birthday- I got up early (so hard to drag myself out of warm bed; I may have stayed up too late last night finishing a series of a tv show) and crept around making a hot drink and putting on gym clothes. I left 5 minutes early to defrost my windscreen before starting the van. Everything was frost-covered and glittery, my breath was clouds of fog, the van was grumpy, but participating. The glorious chill of New England winter was everywhere. It wakes you up and clears your mind in a way that's hard to resent. For it is good to be alive, and don't let anyone tell you different.

treasure: s'mores

um, bourbon marshmallow s'mores with bacon?

does the pope shit in the woods?

i will make these and i will eat them.

Tuesday, 4 June 2013

treasure: the Rad Book Club

I've always, always wanted to be in a book club. Since I could read, I've read a lot. More than a lot of other people, which meant that it was hard to find someone with whom to share the joy of reading. And I guess, let's be honest, you don't hear a lot about book clubs for seven year olds.

I love reading. Books have shaped my life in a way that is subtle and yet, there's probably nothing so groundingly reassuring as a book. Re-reading a favourite, or curling up to take in another chapter of a new novel that surprises you as it unfolds, reminding you of people you know; a good book can shed light on feelings you've had that you couldn't explain before. The characters become familiar; you love them, you hate them, you want them to succeed, you want them to be undone by their wicked ways.

I love the way my reading habits haven't changed over the years, but my approach to reading has. As a younger child, I read for entertainment; to feed my imagination, to take me far away from a sheep farm in Kentucky. As a teenager, I read voraciously, searching for those wonderful adolescent characters who didn't belong either, but somehow triumphed over bullies and parents and society in general, as role models, as reassurance that my angst was well-founded. I remember sinking into depression after the death of my favourite character in John Marsden's Tomorrow When the War Began series. My poor mother had no idea what was wrong with me, or why I was crying into my dinner at the kitchen table.

Sometimes, when I wonder if I'll ever write a book, I think of writing for this age- the age where everything is so passionately felt, so dramatic, so filled with angst. It's also the time when you wonder if there's something weird about you when you'd rather be reading at home than going out to partake in some underage drinking and kissing boys (well, honestly, I was curious about kissing boys initially but that curiousity was quickly dispelled with my first boyfriend: a sloppy kisser). If I was ever to write a book, it would be one that reassured the young people that it's ok to enjoy books for fun.  Or like writing English essays. Or get good marks. Or study for your exams. Basically, be a good kid that lulls your parents into a false sense of security so your little brothers can get away with murder when it's their turn.

Imagine my delight at starting a BA in Melbourne and being suddenly surrounded by nerdy book people such as myself! But no, oh, wait a minute, University of Melbourne Arts students have read EVERYTHING that's worth name dropping, and they can drop a name like it's hot. Slowly but surely I managed to read a lot of these books just so I could talk the talk (and I still wonder how many of them had actually read the list they were taking credit for). I studied books, ending up with an English Literature major. Wonderful. Still, there was a culture of snobbery to it all that left me a little cold - I read chick-lit as my trashy guilty pleasure, and only my best friend Ellie, so far away in Sydney, understood my love of Jill Mansell and her wonderful book formula. I have to admit that despite this one secret, I too became a little trendy, cynical and name-droppy.

In the years since I have found myself reading pretty much anything. Books I never thought I'd read: Stephen King, Mills & Boon, 50 Shades of Grey, Twilight. Popular culture and popular literature are a phenomenon with which I'd like to be familiar. No stone unturned, no book unread. All that.

Having moved back to my hometown (and having nearly been here a year now), I've gradually collected for myself a lovely group of friends. And they like to read books! After some initiative on the lovely Ellie's part, the Rad Book Club has been born. We had a get-together last night, for some warm food and talk of books (and I think we covered a few other things as well). We now have a reading list. One book per month, each of us having chosen a book which means we're committed for a year, or thereabouts.

I'm going to share my thoughts on these books with you all as we go. Because I'd like to be able to review a book, and I'm not sure I know how anymore. A few of the choices I have read before, but most of them will be new to me, and are (somewhat) classics I can cross of my 'books to read before I die so I can drop them impressively into conversation' list. 

In case you want to read along, out there in the netosphere, our reading list (stay tuned for additions from Gabi, Hanna and Ellen) is as follows:
Year of Wonders - Geraldine Brooks
For Esme- with Love and Squalor- JD Salinger
On the Road - Jack Kerouac
Pinball - Haruki Murakami
Poisonwood Bible - Barbara Kingsolver
The African Queen - C.S. Forester
Grapes of Wrath - John Steinbeck
Slaughterhouse Five - Kurt Vonnegut

Monday, 3 June 2013

treasure: time

i have a few blogs somewhat finished but they're not quite there yet.

i have been busy doing other things, like fun runs, brewery visits, movie watching and more.

i'll tell ya all about it soon.

stay tuned.