Monday, August 30, 2010

my world

"I do feel that I’ve managed to make something I could maybe call my world…over time…little by little. And when I’m inside it, to some extent, I feel kind of relieved. But the very fact I felt I had to make such a world probably means that I’m a weak person, that I bruise easily, don’t you think? And in the eyes of society at large, that world of mine is a puny little thing. It’s like a cardboard house: a puff of wind might carry it off somewhere."
— Haruki Murakami (After Dark)

Sunday, August 29, 2010

gen y has spoken

NB I wrote this piece last weekend to send to a few political blogs, to no avail, so I have decided to post it here instead! (Which should explain why I may seem a little slow off the mark, plus doesn't really fit with the usual tone of this blog).

Gen Y Has Spoken

Sometimes I forget that not everybody is like me. It is hard for me to grasp the fact that most Australians my age do not read The Drum religiously and tweet frantically during Q and A. The truth of the matter is that the majority of them don’t actually care very much about the 2010 election. Some are not even aware that we are currently facing a hung parliament. So when we political freaks launch into philosophical tirades about how the voting public has turned the Australian political climate on its head, intentionally crippling both major parties in order to convey their disillusionment, we are not really getting to the crux of the issue.

You see, most people I have spoken to over the weekend have no interest in politics whatsoever. It is a reality that I have been faced with on numerous occasions during my election fever.
  • Two politically-aware sisters I know were at a 21st birthday party on Friday night, chatting about immigration policy. “OH MY GOD!” an obnoxious fellow guest screeched at them. “We are at a PARTY. Why the hell are you talking about POLITICS? Nobody CARES.” Murmurs of agreement filled the room, while my friends rolled their eyes and continued with their conversation.
  • After excitedly exercising my civic duty on Saturday, I walked into my retail job to start my shift. One of my colleagues was on her mobile phone, trying to get hold of her sister. “I forgot to vote this morning so I’m going to get her to do it for me,” she divulged casually. “Who are you going to ask her to vote for?” I queried, curious. It’s a rude question, according to my mother, but one to which Gen Y seemingly takes no offence. “Oh, I don’t know. Whoever she voted for. Greens, I think? I really don’t care, to be honest. I just don’t want to get fined again.”
  • That night, my boyfriend arrived at my house after work. “Who did you vote for?” I asked him. He grinned cheekily. “Well, I voted for the Sex Party on the white one,” he told me, a decision he had made after watching a YouTube video of the debate between Fiona Patten and Wendy Francis on Sunrise. “And on the other one, I did the dick-tation tag.” My eyes widened, disbelievingly. “You know, the one Jonah does on Summer Heights High?” he explained, assuming that I didn’t understand. I did. I just didn’t want to believe it.
  • He and I met old friend from high school for drinks on Sunday evening. I asked him how he felt about the looming hung parliament. “I am so sick of hearing about the bloody election,” our friend groaned, yawning to express his boredom. “I don’t even understand it. All I know is that we have to choose between a wing-nut and a ranga. They’re both shit.” I asked him who he voted for. “I just did one, two, three, four, five on the green one,” he said, flourishing his hand in a downward motion on an imaginary page. “And the other one, I did Shooters and Fishers. Awesome, aye?”
Now, you may be thinking that the people I associate myself with are just a tiny cross-section of society that is unusually apathetic. I know that is what I would like to believe, and I often fool myself into doing so. It’s easy to become embroiled in our own like-minded circle of friends (twitter followers included), and make the assumption that they represent the views of Australian society at large. Unfortunately, that is not the reality of the situation. We have to come to terms with the fact that many Australians regard voting as not a privilege, but a nuisance. To them, an election is not an opportunity for them to have their say as to which government they would prefer to see leading country, but rather an irritating obligation that tarnishes their television screens and half an hour of an otherwise free Saturday every four years.

I don’t mean to be at all condescending. Each to his own, and all that. It’s just that I think political commentators are looking too deeply into this election result, assuming that “the people have spoken” with all the deliberation and passion that they put into their own voting decision. Annabel Crabbe tweeted: “Seriously, I love the Australian people. This result is really the only possible honest response to that campaign”. Dominic Knight expressed the view that: “"None of the above" is a pretty fair outcome in this election, I reckon”. In a twitter conversation with Mia Freedman, Latika Bourke said: “It's like the country said, 'you're both not good enough.' I hope beyond hope the factional players realise people want ideas”. What these commentators are missing is that the apathy they have witnessed is not an intelligent, united response to a lacklustre campaign. It is not a political statement. It is just that most people could not care less about politics, regardless of the candidates’ performance.

I can only speak for Gen Y here. (My mother forbade me from asking people over thirty to disclose their votes, you see). According to my unofficial poll, approximately 90% of young people I know voted for the Liberal Party or the Greens, and the split between those two choices was quite even. Is that surprising? Not to me, because I know what Gen Y really wants: freedom. The Greens represent social freedoms, which appealed to my university attending friends who live with their parents, earn less than the tax-paying threshold and care about gay marriage and climate change. The Liberal Party represents economic freedoms, thus enticing my working friends, who are saving their money to buy houses and cars and don’t want to relinquish any more of their pay check than they already do. It’s simple, really.

So, in my humble opinion, that is where Julia Gillard and the Labor Party failed in attracting votes from Gen Y – because, let’s face it, this was their election to lose. Those swinging voters of Generation X and the Baby Boomers who were seduced by Kevin Rudd’s hyperbole in 2007 have swung right back to the Abbott-led Liberal Party after realising that the promises Rudd made, with Gillard by his side, have far from eventuated; then along came autonomous Generation Y, who closed the gap between the major parties. The disenchanted youth isn’t concerned with sustainable population, broadband or the “real” Julia (boat-phones either, for that matter). This indifference, partly a reflection of the inherent nonchalance of Australian culture and partly due to Rudd’s ineffectual reign, has reached the stage where the Australian electorate just wants a government that will leave us the hell alone.

And therein lays my advice for Julia Gillard and Tony Abbott. Their attempts to woo the electorate with grand promises of how they will protect and take control of Australia are futile. In fact, those assertions have been the downfall of their campaigns. Instead, perhaps they should try emphasising what they will let go. All Generation Y want is the freedom to live our lives, unencumbered by the guilt of social injustice and the hindrance of more government control. To win our votes, I propose that both leaders should shut up about boats, scrap the proposed internet filter, stop imposing their personal views upon us by upholding the prohibition of gay marriage, take action on climate change (or at least appear to) and avoid increasing taxes or prices at all costs. Oh, and one final tip: never utter the phrases “fair dinkum” or “moving forward” again. Ever. That one is for me.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

10 day cycle

It seems that the 10 Day Cycle has caught on. BelleLumiere, Blue Law by Anna and Sarah Louise are a few bloggers I have noticed taking it up. I would love some feedback on how other people are going, even if you are partaking in the privacy of your own home!

For me, I found that there was something freeing about the fact that my cycle goals were somewhat superficial and on a visual level. Even if nothing else in the week went well, I could still take solace in the fact that I had tried a new recipe, read a fresh book or tried a new makeup look.

This time, however, I'm going to take a different tact. I want to use those "10 days" to explore a new idea, technique or habit and see how it sits. If I love it, then it stays as a permanent fixture in my life... if not, then I can discard it once the cycle is over.

This week, I am entranced by the concept of "everyday". I have been touched often by this idea recently, from different sources but all in the same vein...
  • This post-secret:
  • Sarah Wilson's column on the secret to happiness, in which she quotes Andy Warhol:

    “Either once only, or every day. If you do something once it’s exciting, and if you do it every day it’s exciting. But if you do it… almost every day, it’s not good any more.”
  • An article I read in the latest RUSSH (still on shelves) by Danielle Top in which she references Julia Cameron's The Artist's Way, a guide to embarking on your creative journey and stimulating your creative juices.

So, these are a few things that I want to try to do every single day, for the next 10 days:
  • The morning pages Three pages of longhand, stream of consciousness writing, done first thing in the morning, one of the essential tools of The Artist's Way.
  • Make my bed A tip from The Happiness Project's Gretchen Rubin.
  • Read a poem From either of my two new books, A Book of Luminous Things: An International Anthology of Poetry and Sylvia Plath: Collected Poems. (If you are curious, you can find them both in the widget on the right).
  • Drink 2.5L of water From my beloved water filter.
  • Exercise No doubt, finding the time to visit the gym everyday will be the hardest of these to abide by, but it is the one I am most committed to! Exercise always makes me feel so much more clear-headed (and self-congratulatory), it really is worth the time and effort.
Now, I have heard different takes on this concept. Some people advocate taking one or two days off a week, or adopting a one week on, one week off strategy, as a means of reinvigorating and inspiring ourselves. I don't think that committing myself to doing these things everyday will impede a designated lazy day or a particularly busy day, but, either way, as Sarah Wilson and Gretchen Rubin say:

“I’ve found it’s easier to do something every day, without exception, than to do something ‘most days’,” [Gretchen] says. “When you say you’ll walk four days a week, you debate which days, whether you can skip Tuesday, etc.”. “Every day” puts the kybosh on such a debilitating debate. It frees you up, while providing satisfaction.

P.S. Here is a shortened list, for old-time's sake.

Book to read:
Sputnick Sweetheart by Haruki Murakami

Makeup look:
Rosie Huntington-Whitely (via Primped)

Recipe to try:
Scrambled eggs with turmeric (via Sarah Wilson)

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

mountains and rivers

"If I had my life to live over, I’d dare to make more mistakes next time. I’d relax; I’d limber up. I would be sillier than I have been this trip. I would take fewer things seriously. I would take more chances. I would climb more mountains and swim more rivers. I would eat more ice cream and less beans. I would perhaps have more actual troubles, but I’d have fewer imaginary ones."
— Nadine Stair

Friday, August 20, 2010

lover

Nothing gets me in the mood for summer each year more than Lover's gorgeous spring/summer collections. I think the latest, "Untitled", is my favourite ever.

Beautiful, no? And quintessentially Australian - pretty and fresh and clean and summery. It has been so hot and sunny in Perth lately that spring seems to be just around the corner. I was a little upset that this winter was blink-and-you'll-miss-it, because I do love cute wintry ensembles. There is also the scary global warming aspect to worry about (probably more important than my wardrobe choices). But, selfishly, the weather always seems to have an effect upon my mood, so extra daylight, bright blue skies and warm weather tends to put me in a happier disposition... which is nothing to complain about.

I do know, though, that the weather is supposed to be varied - rain, hail, shine - in order to sustain growth and sustenance for our planet's survival. As much as I would love for the climate to be pleasant all year 'round, clearly, that utopia is not as ideal as it seems on the surface. This may seem like a long shot, but the thought reminds me of a letter penned by Stephen Fry in response to a desperate plea from one of his fans, who was suffering from depression. Out of the kindness of his heart, he provided her with some simply beautiful advice...

I've found that it's of some help to think of one's moods and feelings about the world as being similar to weather.

Here are some obvious things about the weather:

It's real.
You can't change it by wishing it away.
If it's dark and rainy it really is dark and rainy and you can't alter it.
It might be dark and rainy for two weeks in a row.

BUT

It will be sunny one day.
It isn't under one's control as to when the sun comes out, but come out it will.
One day.

It is a really beautiful piece, which I posted a long time ago here. Please do yourself a favour and read it. Even if you are not one to have experienced those rainy, dark days, it will help you to empathise a little more with those who do, a few of whom are bound to be your family members or friends. Depression is such a personal journey, but a little compassion and understanding from a loved one can make all the difference.

(Pictures via Lover, inspired by the gorgeous Sara of Harper and Harley)

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

the notebook


**NB I wrote this post last week, so apologies if it seems out of sync - it is!

I have a lot of notebooks. The majority of them are pretty pink moleskins, preferably not ruled. (The lines tend to be too close together, plus they are futile - I have mastered the art of writing in a straight line). They each have a function... a food diary, a shopping list, inspirational quotes, money I owe my mother, story/blog ideas, to-do lists... you get the picture.

So, this week, I bought a new notebook. And I have entitled it "compliments".

That's right, a notebook dedicated solely to documenting the compliments I receive. Does this sound a little vain and vapid? That's okay - it was my first reaction, too. I laughed at my own silliness and pushed it out of my mind.

I've had a change of heart, though. It all started a few Mondays ago, when I received an email from my favourite writer/blogger in the whole world. I'm sure you can guess who she is - it's not exactly a secret. She gave me the gift of some kind, encouraging words and told me that she "REALLY liked" this blog (her caps, not mine, by the way). Naturally, I was over the moon. I could not wipe the smile off my face.

Fast-forward to this week. The elation of the email had faded into nothing. I'd woken up at 5 o'clock every morning to go the gym for the last three days and, because I was so tired, was continually falling asleep in my lectures. (I hadn't actually fallen asleep, but you know... drifting off and feeling your eyes closing before you snap back to attention, only to find yourself drifting off again... It's disconcerting.) I was getting ready to go to a dinner and I was feeling fretful and insecure. I wanted to appear vivacious and charming to the people I would be with but all I could think was how boring and unsightly I was. I was not in a good place.

As fate would have it, just as I was reaching the depths of my despair, my iPhone miraculously opened Sarah's email. (My carelessness with it - I tend to throw it around, and never lock the touch screen - probably had more say than fate, but we'll pretend for now). When I read it again, the delight I felt reached the same epic proportions that it had that very first time. I lived out the night in a sweet disposition.


So I got to thinking. It's so lovely when we receive compliments, isn't it? Just one kind word, from a stranger or a friend, can have us waltzing along on Cloud Nine for days... Then, inevitably, life gets in the way of our euphoria. We fail at something. Somebody mutters something nasty about us under their breath. We glimpse an awfully unflattering picture of ourselves on Facebook, which everybody else we have ever met has already seen and, of course, ridiculed. A loved one makes a throwaway remark that has us questioning our value. Suddenly, everything falls apart and all the wonderful things about ourselves, which we know to be true, fade away and we are left with the deep, dark, tatty remnants.

That brings me to the age-old question... why do we do this to ourselves? I'm sure it's not just me. Most people I know, women especially, have that terrible habit of forgetting all the nice things people have said to them while, at the same time, steadfastly holding onto every piece criticism they have ever received and mulling it over in their minds for years to come, continuously undermining their own self-confidence and self-love. It has to stop!

I hope that my notebook idea doesn't seem so silly to you anymore. My rationale is that, if my conscience fails to hark back to my myriad of compliments in times of need, then, dammit, I will just have to do it myself. My compliments notebook will take the pride of place on my bedside table, ready to tackle any self-effacing moment that comes its way. I'd like to think that, one day, I won't need it anymore - that I will have been able to train my mind into preserving its own self-worth. But, for now, the notebook will do.


"Sometimes someone says something really small and it just fits right into this empty place in your heart."
— My So-Called Life

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

green


This commercial aired as part of a competition on Gruen Nation last week, but has since been picked up by The Greens party as part of their official advertising campaign (I think... I'm sure I read that somewhere!)

It seems to have resonated with a lot of people... just showing that, as I have long suspected, kindness and humility are so much more effective in enticing people's support than violence and fear-mongering.

some things I'm loving this week


I don't think I'm going to keep doing these recurring posts for much longer. They are beginning to feel a little forced and stale. I'd rather just write according to how I feel and what I'm mulling over at the time. I may still do "some things I'm loving", but they'll be sporadic, instead of every Sunday. I'm just not very good at being timely and reliable, as much as I would like to be.

So this will be a bit of a last hurrah (to a series that has existed only a few weeks... it's okay, I don't expect you to mourn) but it's going to be slightly different, because I don't have a compiled list of pretty things to share this time.

It's been a bit of a challenging week. I hope that I don't sound awfully self-absorbed, reflecting upon my friend's misfortune in my last two posts. I cannot compare any struggle that I am experiencing with what she is going through, we all know that. But the truth is that seeing somebody I love being touched by fate in such a drastic way has affected me deeply. Not in a "poor me" way, but in a way that has skewed my take on life and living, which I would really love to share. So please forgive my narcissism for one more post (if you're lucky).

A few things I'm loving this week...

1. Generosity


All the kind words and thoughts that I have received (on behalf of myself and my friends) is heart-warming. It was so moving that complete strangers would take time out of their day to give well-wishes - such a lovely reminder that the world really is filled with generosity and kindness, as much as the media often encourages us to believe otherwise.

2. Boldness


Being hit over the head with the fragility of life suddenly made me feel a whole lot more brave. It prompted me to do a few things I probably would not have done otherwise... For example, I directed the lady I would like to be my literary agent (someday) to my blog, sent a finished article to a writer I admire (which I wrote in one night... probably not the best idea, after all) and wrote an email to a site I would love to contribute to. It's not so much the result of these efforts that counts, especially since I did them all on one hour's sleep (although the literary agent did take a look and congratulate me on my writing, which took me by surprise), but the fact that I actually did them gives me a wonderful feeling of accomplishment, as if a weight has been lifted off my shoulders. After all...

"I know it feels like you have all these options and when you make a decision, you lose a world of possibilities. But the reality is, until you make a decision, you have nothing at all."
— Janet Fitch

3. Frivolity

Even in such a morose situation, frivolity still has its place - a very important place. The last thing we wanted to do this week is to stand around the hospital crying and talking about feelings (well, we did a bit of that, but it wasn't exactly fun, nor very helpful). Thank goodness for pretty things, jokes and general silliness.

The care package I collated for my injured friend

You'd think that, since she has so many other things to worry about, these things I brought her would be futile. That's not true though. Sometimes it's best just to focus on the little things... especially when the big picture is just too painful to bear.

In the same spirit, this week I ditched my impressive, serious book (The Rehearsal, by Eleanor Cattan) for my fun, down-to-earth book (5 Ways to Carry a Goat, by Ben Groundwater). It felt good.

4. Magic

Sunday, August 15, 2010

what makes humans happy?


Sarah Wilson's column today really struck a chord with me, as it always does. She chatted with The Happiness Project's Gretchen Rubin and asked her to share one, foolproof trick to instilling ourselves with true happiness. You can head over to Sarah's blog to find out what that is but, needless to say, it's within everybody's reach. What I have learned is that happiness is not a lofty ideal that you can only discover after abandoning your family and friends to rummage desperately through Ubud or India... It's waiting patiently at your door, ready to be let inside your heart, if only you open yourself to the possibility.

The lovely Sarah has issued a challenge - she will give away three issues of Gretchen's book to readers who share what they think makes humans happy. I would love to read the book (it is released in Australia this month) so I thought I would partake, just for fun.

What makes humans happy? Well, I can only speak for myself, of course. I am no expert. But these past few days have been an ordeal... trying to stay happy, while my best friend lies in a hospital bed, feels wrong. I have struggled, I really have.

Surprisingly enough, what transformed my outlook around was her. She is happy. My best friend, who has two broken legs, the love of her life stuck on the other side of the city awaiting numerous operations after his legs were shattered in the accident, the prospect of not being able to see him for weeks, at least, and months of rehab and recovery in front of her. She is putting on a brave face, but she is truly able to see the magic in what I could only conceive as an awful, terribly unfair situation.... They will walk again. Somebody is watching over us, she reminded me, smiling brightly. Somebody, up there, loves us. Which made me take a deep breath and realise that what I could only perceive as a nightmare was, actually, a miracle.

So, back to the question... What makes humans happy, in my short-lived experience, is that age-old, emancipating consciousness that we are lucky. I hope this doesn't sound too morbid for what should be an uplifting post, but, just think about it - isn't it a miracle that we are alive today? Our lives are kind of thrilling, when you think of it like that. That being alive itself is the miracle, not the achievements and the experiences and the people whose lives we have touched. Just being.

And that's when those other things come into play. When we think of our lives as precious, beautiful gifts we are incredibly fortunate to be given, it is impossible to mindlessly fritter them away. Why wait until tomorrow, or the next day, to do what we want to do today? Why follow pointless rules? Why allow ourselves to succumb to fear? Everything futile and meaningless falls away when we realise that we are responsible for our own destiny and our own happiness. I don't mean responsible just in the sense that we are in control, but also in the sense that we have a duty to all those people who are nowhere near as lucky as us (and no matter how dire the situation, there is always someone... in fact, several billion someones), to live in a way that fulfills our potential for happiness. Capiche?

Of course, it's impossible to maintain this mindset, all the time. Life often gets in the way. Our best friends are victims in horrific car accidents. We lose our jobs. Our hair doesn't sit right. Everything just seems hopeless. So that's when we need to be still. Close our eyes. Take a deep breath. And remind ourselves that we may not be perfect. Bad things may happen to us and the people we love. But... we're alive. We have today, and the potential of tomorrow and the next day and the day after that, to change everything. Maybe not the physical things, but definitely our perception of ourselves and the world around us. Which, if you think about it, is everything. I don't know about you, but this reminder makes me happy... and, since I am human, I thought it be one, of many, answers to this never-ending question, which we all share.

"Here, too, a brand new day is beginning. It could be a day like all the others, or it could be a day remarkable enough in many ways to remain in the memory. In either case, for now, for most people, it is a blank sheet of paper."
— Haruki Murakami (After Dark)

Saturday, August 14, 2010

fireworks in the daytime

"..And you know, this thought crossed my mind at the time: maybe chance is a pretty common thing after all. Those kinds of coincidences are happening all around us, all the time, but most of them don't attract our attention and we just let them go by. It's like fireworks in the daytime. You might hear a faint sound, but even if you look up at the sky you can't see a thing. But if we're really hoping something may come true it may become visible, like a message rising to the surface. Then we're able to make it out clearly, decipher what it means. And seeing it before us we're surprised and wonder at how strange things like this can happen. Even though there's nothing strange about it. ..."
— Haruki Murakami (Blind Willow, Sleeping Woman)

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

life


So, I had a really lovely, uplifting piece scheduled to post today. I was really excited about sharing it because it is so fun and positive, a reflection of my buoyant mood of the last few days.

Unfortunately, I have had to put that post on hold. You will see it someday. But I feel as though I would have been insincere if I were to post that today, when my joyfulness has absolutely crumbled.

Here I am, at 2.20am, wide awake and in shock. After having just finished writing the afore-mentioned post and starting to ready myself for bed, less than an hour ago (yes, I am yet to master that Morning Person thing), I glanced at my phone and noticed I had been tagged on Facebook. With a sigh, I dutifully logged on to untag myself from what was destined to be a terrible photograph.

Rather than an unflattering angle, however, I was hit with something much, much worse... the chilling news that one of my best friends was the victim of a horrific car accident last night, along with her boyfriend. It's okay, they are in a stable condition - or, at least, that is what I have discerned from the local news bulletin and a Facebook status update from her sister, which is the only information I can find in these early hours of the morning. As I type, I am wringing my hands in helplessness, wishing that there was something I could do for them and their families.

I won't share the circumstances of the crash here. You don't want to know. Suffice to say that I cannot help but relive what terror she must have felt at the time of the crash, not to mention her anguish from being separated from her boyfriend after being transported to different hospitals. The thought that she, one of the loveliest people I know, has been subject to such pain, through no fault of her own, just shows how random and unfair life really can be.

Perhaps, if the universe was aligned just one inch to the left, the tragedy that occurred could have been dreadfully worse. Thankfully, my beautiful friend and her partner both seem to be okay. But what if they weren't? Incidents like these just bring home to us that life is precious... which is not just a saying we use to reassure ourselves every now and then... it's painfully true, and it should be remembered and embodied, every single day. Our lives are not something to be taken for granted, or wasted away. We have no way of knowing what is waiting for us around the corner. Often, we can be surprised by something wonderful. Sometimes, those surprises are awful. There is no way of controlling which it will be.

All we can do is clasp each and every day in both hands, cherishing it as a wonderful gift, an opportunity to be joyful and loyal and loving and true, and not allowing ourselves to harbour any regret when we close our eyes each night. And then wake up each and every morning with a full heart, grateful that we have yet another day to live and love and learn and make mistakes and be a witness all to the beauty that exists in this world. And each of those days, strung together in a continuous, but not infinite, procession, unite to compose this bizarre, heart-breaking, amazing ride we are blessed to call life.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

#ausvotes

I am loving this election.

It's not because it's particularly exciting. It's particularly boring, actually. The two major parties are just mimicking each other, fighting to outdo themselves in the mediocrity stakes, while the minor parties quietly object and cross their fingers for a few Senate seats (or, in the case of Wendy Francis, resort to homophobia and bigotry).

No, the reason I am loving this election is the elevated discussion. With thanks to twitter and blogging, politics is more interactive than ever before. Australians who are curious and/or passionate about the political system can finally connect with like-minded folk, to agree and argue and criticise, freely and zealously. The best part is that the politicians themselves are receptive to the criticism they receive via these forums. They are altering their campaigns as they go along, trying to appeal to this increasingly assertive voting pool (with varying results). It is empowering, feeling as though you are part of a movement that can actually change things.

So how do I think these politicians are doing? Like I said, there is not much to distinguish them. Tony is a little more conservative that Julia. They're both desperate and flailing.

Let me break it down:

(NB As I am neither a journalist nor a public figure, you should not expect my political opinions to be balanced, considered, well-researched or impartial... just honest and instinctive.)

I had high hopes for Julia Gillard. I wrote about them here, when she first toppled Kevin Rudd to become Australia's first female Prime Minister. I admired her apparent honestly and integrity, despite the fact that we had (have) different views on a lot of important issues. Sadly, the election trail has not been good to Julia. She has lost her spark and vision. She is a diluted version of her former self, resorting to gratingly over-used slogans, vague hyperbole and kissing babies. It is clear that she is being pulled this way and that by the various factions in the Labor Caucus -she cannot speak freely because she is not making the decisions. That is not necessarily a bad thing, except that it is a little scary to have a Prime Minister at the helm of the country who is disempowered. I don't blame Julia... it's the nature of Labor Party politics. It's just frustrating. She's not the fresh spark I wanted her to be. I guess I was destined for disappointment.

Oh Tony Abbott... there's not really much to say, is there? I have to admit that I don't detest him as much as a lot of other women I have spoken to (such as these). I don't think that he is a liar. That notorious 7.30 Report interview was not as damning as the media made it out to be... Yes, we cannot trust everything he says. But is that such a surprise? No. So why is it so awful that Tony admitted it? I find it refreshing, to be honest. Also, I don't think that he is exactly a woman-hater. I think that is a little harsh. He is, however, patronising and bigoted. He has resorted to fear-mongering. I simply cannot stand his xenophobic "STOP THE BOATS" campaign. Ugh.

And some other players:

I think that Malcolm Turnbull is my single favourite politician, at this point. If only he had played his cards right - waited to take over the leadership until the impending election was closer - I think that the Liberal Party would have had a good chance of winning this election. Fortunately for him, he has been smart since regaining his focus (after threatening to stand down from politics altogether). He is the martyr of the failed ETS. He is moderate, intelligent, charming and refreshingly normal. He has principles. Oh no, wait, I think those are the words I used to describe Julia when she first became PM... Oh, what can I say? I am an optimist.

I have to mention Penny Wong. She has been heavily criticised for her appearance on Q & A where, as a lesbian, she supported her party's decision to uphold the Marriage Act, which restricts marriage to existing between heterosexual couples. Ryan Heath writes a thoughtful article on why we should be empathetic towards Penny. She is in a sticky situation, as a senior Cabinet minister with an obvious conflict of interest. I completely understand why she has decided not to voice her opposition to this policy. I just wish that she would admit that the legalisation of gay marriage is something that she would like to work towards in the future - that equal marriage rights are an essential component in a free and equal society - instead of trying to justify her party's position and over-exaggerating effect of the existing reforms Kevin introduced a few years ago.

Fiona Patten is the president of the Australian Sex Party. I didn't know anything about her or the party until I saw her shamelessly triumph in a debate against the afore-mentioned Family First senate candidate Wendy Francis. (Okay, so the Sunrise audience deemed Wendy the victor but I think there must be some sort of mistake... so I am just correcting it). Fiona opposes the internet filter, censorship and tax exemptions for religious organisations; while supporting the legalisation of gay marriage and a national sex education curriculum. She is progressive, enlightened and persuasive... what's not to love?

So where is this election heading?

I think that the Labor party is destined to win. Unquestionably. Tony Abbott is far too polarising. I know that the polls show that the election is going to be close but, with all due respect, they are wrong (in my unqualified, entirely instinctive, opinion). And doesn't it demonstrate the dire state of Australian politics that the Labor campaign can sustain so much mismanagement and bad publicity (home insulation scheme, anybody?) and still have even a sliver of a chance of winning? It's sadly demoralising.

My disillusionment reminded me of this scene from Looking for Alibrandi... watch for Jacob Coote's speech, starting at 1 minute, 20 seconds.



It hits a sweet spot, doesn't it?

Sunday, August 8, 2010

some things I'm loving this week



An excerpt...

"I generally begin working on a story in total ignorance, which I think is the ideal starting point for me, because only if you are truly ignorant can you ask the truly ignorant question. But I have only the foggiest idea of what the story is when I get started on it. And in fact, every story that I write, when I’m doing my reporting, I always come upon some information that completely destroys my concept for the story.
I think I know what the story is, and then I interview one more person, or I come across a document, or I see a video, or something, some piece of information that tells me, you know what, I’m wrong, I don’t get this. The initial response that I have when that happens is “Oh god, I’m screwed now. I’ve just wasted my time. I don’t get this all. The story’s gone all to hell.” But on a few moments of reflection or sometimes waking up the next morning, inevitably, the realization is, “Wait a minute. No, this story just got better.” Because my understanding of it has deepened. I have a much broader and different take on what happened than I had before."



An interesting article musing the ramifications of the twitter phenomena... I also loved this tweet that Mark Colvin sent to Leigh Sales when she posted a link to this article. He is referring to Penny's discomfort with trying to truthfully and authentically express herself within 140 characters:

don't all writers feel that way anyway? Always trying to compose 'life' into pleasing 'sentences', I mean. I fear I always have.



This lovely piece brings home to us that it's worth pursuing our dreams... after all, it just might work out.

It reminds me of the montage in (500) Days of Summer where Tom pulls himself together and decides to follow his passion. You know, the scene with the blackboard? Mmm, Joseph Gordon Levitt...




I was directed to this site by The Belle Lumiere. So far, she is my only friend - so please join!

It is basically a virtual bookshelf, where you can read and submit book reviews, see what your friends are reading and chat about literature in general. Fun!



Adé is brilliant but Billy Bell, the little guy up front, is just mesmerising.

6. My BPA-free drink bottle


So, there are all sorts of hidden dangers in most of our everyday items... Sarah Wilson knows a thing or two about it. I really don't. My first foray into truly "clean" living is this water bottle purchased for me by Andy's mum, who is also well-versed in all things health-related.

Just in case you are not aware (I wasn't either, until I googled it out of curiosity), BPA is a compound used in manufacturing plastics that can leach into our water and mess with our hormones. Scary, right?

Oh, and bottled water is bad, too... it just shows how important it is not to take popular trends for granted. We need to do our own research and find out the truth of what we are being told by the powers that be.

7. My new Willow dress


Purchased on sale, of course.

The other day I had somebody comparing it to the stunning gown Kiera Knightley wore in Atonement. I'm 99.9% sure that they were just being nice, but here it is for you to feast your eyes upon, anyway...


Just ignore the cigarette, okay?

Saturday, August 7, 2010

10 day cycle

This one will be short and sweet...

Books to read


Recipes



Makeup
Marion Collitard

Things to do
Shop for Elle Macpherson lingerie

Write a letter to my great-aunt

Rewatch (500) Days of Summer

Friday, August 6, 2010

the 7 rules of creativity


I was browsing Mumbrella today and came across a wonderful speech by Craig Davis, chairman of the Sydney AWARD School. He talks about creativity as the vital component of an ever-changing world, and the burgeoning modern trend of creativity being valued - or, in Craig's words, desired and lusted over. This movement makes me so hopeful and excited, and it harks back to Seth Godin's concept of leaning into life, which I mentioned a little while ago on this blog.

Here is an excerpt from the speech, which I find particularly inspirational...

So here are seven tips that you might find useful.
1. Believe in yourself. Have faith in your talent – confidence is crucial.
2. Stay true to your values – they will become more important.
3. Curiosity is the raw stuff of creativity. Eat up as much raw material as you can.
4. Don’t try to be a genius, try to have one. You’re an antenna. Be open and available to ideas.
5. Know that your best is always yet to come.
6. Always work with the best people you can find.
7. Be a generous person, hungry, competitive, restless, passionate, but most importantly, generous.
I believe in these things and I believe they will serve you well as you create progress in the world.

The wonderful thing about creativity is that it comes from within. Creative success does not rest upon where you come from or who you know or where you went to school or who you work for... anybody who is anybody can simultaneously reach within and open their minds to create something completely new, unique and beautiful. Isn't that such a refreshing change?

And the best part is that we have the opportunity to ride on this wave of ingenuity... It's a thought that I'm going to hold close to my heart in the years to come. Starting today.


“Cherish your visions. Cherish your ideals. Cherish the music that stirs in your heart, the beauty that forms in your mind, the loveliness that drapes your purest thoughts. For out of them will grow all delightful conditions, all heavenly environment, of these, if you but remain true to them, your world will at last be built."
— James Allen (As A Man Thinketh)

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

perfect understanding

"Is it possible, finally, for one human being to achieve perfect understanding of another? We can invest enormous time and energy in serious efforts to know another person, but in the end, how close are we able to come to that person’s essence? We convince ourselves that we know the other person well, but do we really know anything important about anyone?"
— Haruki Murakami (The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle)