Sunday, June 29, 2014

The Dream

What I really want is someone to come up to me and say "hey I noticed that you're really good at this and your strengths lie within this industry so you should pursue this professionally. Oh and also here is a job application for an amazing opportunity that is perfectly suited to you and your current situation and all you hopes and dreams; I have already put in a good word for you. Go, my child! Go forth and seize your magical, prosperous and professionally and romantically successful future! Satisfaction and happiness awaits you!"

That's all I want.

Here is a small collection of cartoons I found while looking for one that I remember seeing a billion times before and I think sums up my thoughts brilliantly. It ends with the girl wrapped in her doona like a burrito or something.






Anyway, I'm off to watch more Borgen and practice my Danish for when I meet my love, Pilou.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Femineminemineminism

I've read about this particular comment in feminist articles far and wide. In fact, even in that book "Destroying the Joint", which I finally finished reading about a month a go, many of the essays discuss that a woman in the public eye is under a particularly harsh level of scrutiny over her appearance compared to a man.


I remember around about year ten, we had a female politician* come and talk us about what it's like being a woman in the government. Pretty much all I can remember about the talk is that she mentioned you must have 'political hair' - referring to a hair style that cannot be messed, mussed or moved either by the weather or your opponents' attacks and criticisms. She seemed to be implying that a woman's appearance holds more value than her intellect.

This is usually the point raised in the articles on the topic. A woman in the public eye is seen to be representing all women rather than just herself, and therefore must be better, the best she ever could be. As quoted in the above book, "because I am a woman, I must make unusual efforts to succeed. If I fail, no one will say, 'She doesn't have what it takes.' They will say 'Women don't have what it takes.' "

Yet even with this is mind, last night while watching the Foreign Affairs Minister, Julie Bishop comment on Peter Greste's future in an Egyptian jail, I pointed out to Mum that she was probably wearing too much eye liner for the situation. Noticing that she had finally laid her hideous early 90s I'm-from-a-parody-business-sketch hairstyle to rest, I was forced to choose something else to criticize.


If the current Foreign Minister was a man, I wouldn't have noticed his appearance and instead would have listened to what he was saying, thought about how awful this news must be for the Greste family or more likely, just resumed rubbing Georgie's tummy.

So why is it, that as a proud, semi-well read-ish feminist (I recently explained to a friend why she was actually a feminist, despite her contrary beliefs) who is often painfully aware of how horrible women are to each other and the detriment this is causing to the public opinion of feminism (probably why my friend wants to distance herself from the word), I still nit picked Bishop's make up? Shouldn't I be thinking "hey, its great that a lady is Foreign Affairs Minister." Aside from the fact that she's a member of the Liberal Party, obvz.

Apart from Clive Palmer, I have never cared about a male politician's appearance - I swear to god one time he went on TV with his shirt half unbuttoned and gave the general impression that he was oozing out of his seat. And also Abbot's monkey ears and filthy smirk but I think they're more directly related to a general dislike of him.

And Gina Rinehart? Mum and I still don't understand how she can be the richest woman in Australia (or is it the world?) yet she doesn't seem to want to spend money on a dress (or on someone to choose a dress for her) that suits her, uh, rotund shape, or perhaps even a hair brush. I dressed up as her for Halloween last year.

Ella: I came as G Dragon
Me: Hey me too!
Ella: Hey Tracy! Take a photo of us! 
I think it's because women are taught to care about our appearance. And what the woman next to us looks like. We spend hundreds of dollars and hours and tears perfecting the way we look before we leave the house, and constantly checking, reapplying and upgrading while we're out, so much so that it's fucking hard to switch off. Even as lazy as I am with my appearance, I still want to look a certain way and I always notice of how everyone around me is portraying themselves to the outside world. And I seriously judge them on this (don't turn your nose up at me, you do it too). Oh you wear your hair like that? I don't think we would have anything in common. You clearly shop at X so you probably also like Y - gross. When something bad happens we cut and dye our hair (an act we can enjoy thanks to the feminists before us) and when we feel good, we buy a new dress to celebrate. Its ingrained in being a woman.

I once found a thread about make up use on men and woman while I lost myself down the rabbit hole of a stranger's tumblr. Someone had commented that its weird that men look as attractive as they do without make up. They just roll out of bed and bam! that's it, they look babin'. Whereas we have to wash and scrub and moisturise and conceal and contour and outline and perform rigorous daily make overs. The comment underneath simply stated, that its because society has decided men don't need make up; they're beautiful as they are. Needless to say, the original poster's mind was blown.

I don't have an answer to this problem. I just wanted to get this off my chest, I suppose. Admit that I indulge in this faux pas when I know I shouldn't, that I in fact may be part of the subtle misogyny that the tweeters behind #YesAllWomen were trying to highlight. I guess this is where the slut shaming thing and girls giving girls a bad name came from . I can only promise that next time Julie Bishop is on the telly, I'll listen to what she's saying and not criticize the colour of her blazer. Maybe. I'll try.



*I think the politician who spoke to us was Julie Bishop. I mean her policies would definitely be in line with the St Mary's ethos and she used to live in Perth. Eugh.

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Darwin

Mum and I went to Darwin to visit Steph last weekend. This was my second visit to the NT capital.


Leaving the house early on Thursday morning, we were dressed in our Perth winter layers finest. Arriving in Darwin in midday and walking across the tarmac we realised our leggings and jumpers were out of place in the hot, balmy day. After peeling off yoga pants and socks, Steph picked us up at the airport, we kissed and hugged, careful not smudge out lipstick. She dropped us off in the city while she finished work not far from Mum's favourite arcade.

We had lunch at the vegetarian canteen just before it closed. The woman has notoriously shitty customer service but she uncharacteristically chatted to us about the weather. Maybe it was because Mum said we had flown from Perth especially for her food. As soon as we'd finished out delicious, fresh salads we headed to Embella, Mum's favourite jewellery shop. And well, I guess judging by my growing collection, I quite like it too. Mum had a voucher from Steph from Mother's day so she bought some earrings, a necklace and a dress for a wedding she's going to in Bali (after I tried the dress on and considered it for myself, of course). I bought some earrings and a ring.


People always seem to think I'm joking when I say I don't like summer, but heat really makes me feel uncomfortable. I was suffering in my non-cotton short dress and went on a desperate search for shorts and a singlet; apparently Cotton On doesn't actually sell cotton clothing any more. After changing into my specially purchased flannel shorts and polyester singlet, I found Mum sitting in an air-conditioned shopping centre chugging a bottle of cold soda water. We ordered iced coffees to satiate our dependence and waited for Steph to finish work.


That night we went to Mindil Beach Markets. Going to markets seems to one of the main attractions of Darwin. I don't have a problem with this, I love markets. When I was travelling, one of the first things I would look up was if there were any markets on while I was there. But once you've been to one, you've pretty much been to them all. Luckily, for Darwin there's some great people watching to be done at markets too. It's almost like London; everyone is from somewhere else. There's a huge mix of nationalities and socio-economic backgrounds. There are backpackers, and grey nomads, and Claremont types (as Mum called them) and Bintang wearing mulleted men who appear to be perfectly happy stuck in the late seventies.


We missed the sunset because we were too busy buying one of all the foods on offer. We had paw paw salad (I said I wanted to eat this and only eat this for ever and ever and all the time), baked eggplant, some kind of fried soy bean product and fish or squid or something I can't remember. We grabbed a juice and headed back to Steph's dust covered car. On the way out we passed an organic natural nappy stall, I remember noticing the owner's child was wearing a regular plastic nappy. Tut tut.


Friday morning we spent at the Wave Pool. I remember thinking wave pools are silly, especially when they're twenty metres from the actual beach. I also remember staying in the waves longer than Mum and Steph, so I guess they're not that silly. We had lunch at a pub across from the pool. After my one schooner of beer and much needed exposure to the sun I remember having a strong desire to nap when we got home. So I did.


That night we went to the Deckchair Cinemas. Steph is on the committee so she had free tickets. We had Indian and beer for dinner before we watched a documentary about a man who developed an app to get kids off screens and outside into nature. Somewhat ironic, but pretty clever too. He found all these interesting phenomenon about parents being too controlling and not letting kids do whatever they want, even when sometimes that means hurting themselves and learning things the hard way. And that its parents' fault, rather than the rise of technology. I liked it because it was set in London too.


On Saturday morning, Mum and I drove ourselves to Parap markets. With empty bellies and the memory of delicious crepes from last time we visited, we desperately hunted the stalls. After a few laps we admitted defeat; I had a chicken satay roti wrap and Mum had an egg omelette. Just in time before we killed each other as a result of extreme hangriness. We had a deliciously, toffee like coffee and then headed to the Embella store and bought more goodies. Mum being so passionate about supporting the designer's resort stays in Indonesia, knew there was 15% off that day. Although apparently not in the markets, only in the store we had visited on Thursday. She called Sally, explained who she was and begged for the discount anyway. We got it.


Steph informed us that she wasn't going join us at the markets and could we please pick up a few things for her. We grabbed some lunch for everyone (more paw paw salad for me, obvz) and some flowers for Steph's living room. Unfortunately in our haste, we went to the wrong flower stall first, so we bought all the flowers to make up for it.


Saturday night we had dinner at the Nightcliff Foreshore, from a pizza and pasta pop up. We enjoyed the view and food with mid-strength beer and wine.


On Sunday we went to the Nightcliff markets for our last chance to have crepes. Still nothing! Apparently the owners had gone on holiday that weekend. How selfish! All morning I overheard people complaining and wondering what to do without the crepe stall. I had Pho and a strawberry, mint, lime and honey juice instead. We sat with Steph's friends and each had a turn holding baby Jagger, who seemed nonplussed about being handed around to strangers.


With fully bellies, we headed to Steph's new house in Palmerston, to deliver Dean the lunch we had bought for him while he was fixing the retic. Mum and I decided to be the first ones in their pool. Without bathers or a towel, I tried to sun bake afterwards to dry my bra and knickers before getting dressed again. I just ended up getting sunburnt and hotter than before I swam.


Sunday night we headed to the Greek Glenti (festival) which was technically the main reason we had come up that particular weekend. I had images of the Panighiri (traditional Greek party) I attended in Stavros, Ithaca. And I guess, in reality it was pretty similar. Lots of people ranging in all ages sitting at white plastic chairs and tables, stall after stall of delicious food and a centre stage with entertainment. Although we got our timing wrong and instead of Greek dancing, we watched Dora the Explorer march over a mountain or something. The food possibilities grabbed out attention straight away and we immediately started buying dolmades, tzatiki and pita and barbequed octopus.


We got up and explored some more and decided to buy some dinner for Dean, who was too tired to come with us. Slowly but surely, we bought enough food to have a second Glenti of our own at home. Walking to the car, the three of us carrying polystyrene containers stacked on top of each other, Steph leaned over and whispered in my ear, "I have a souvlaki in my bag too." We ate and ate and ate and ate. Needless to say Mum and I didn't need breakfast or a snack for the trip home the next morning.


I think my favourite thing about Darwin (after hanging out with Steph, obvz) is that it feels like everyone is on holiday all the time. The last time Mum and I went up, when the markets were smaller and quieter (although the crepe guys were there!) and it rained constantly, it still felt like a tropical vacation. Maybe its because so many people are on holiday. And the air is always hot and thick so things just move slowly. There is an abundance of delicious food and the city is surprisingly very colourful (see my instagram from our last trip). I guess the eclectic mix of people adds the feeling of 'anything goes'. Everyone's a little bit different so you can be different and do what you want too. Its a wonderful, relaxing and inclusive atmosphere to be in. I've always loved places like that.




Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Western Salvation

So I have joined two of my cousins, Cath and Dave, on a rather huge but amazing project. A few years ago Cath came up with Western Salvation, a community project to promote the restriction of household items going to landfill and encourage recycling, up-cycling and re-purposing of items that can be collected from verge collections.

The idea has now been granted a business start up - Launchpad Scholarship from Spacemarket. This includes three months rent free shop space in the old Myer building in Freo as well as marketing and publicity for the business, which begins in September.

So with my new found abundance of spare time and proclivity for recycling and second hand things, I am helping out Cath and Dave. We had a meeting yesterday and worked out a short term plan and started scavenging for goods among the verge collections around Cath's house in Subiaco. We found a solid wood headboard, metal sheets, concrete blocks, planks of wood, a metal ladder from a bunk bed, bags of polystyrene balls, PVC pipes, twine and ropes, five glass shelves, a trumpet case sans trumpet, picture frames and a functioning golf bag buggy thing. At the moment this now lives on my uncle's front veranda but the next step is to re-purpose this stuff in to useful household items or art or a combination of both. We will then display it in our shop or sell it (on gumtree as well) and promote the idea that these items were otherwise heading to landfill, when they were all in good condition and can still be used instead of buying more objects, that will also inevitably end up in landfill. And this was all from one car load, pretty much from one person's verge. Imagine what could be made, and landfill space that could be saved if this was done consistently throughout the year.



We're also looking at noting and calculating the percentage of types of items people are throwing out and what people are leaving on their verge expecting other people to come and pick it up before the rain destroys it or council collects it. And perhaps we can go through people's verge offerings and take what we need but also take stuff to charity shops as well. Yesterday someone was throwing out a pair of old sneakers that we couldn't really do much with (unless we get some conceptual artists on board! Ideas?) but are likely to be of more use to a shoeless customer in Salvo's than in a hole in the ground.

In selling what we find/repurpose/create we want to tap in to that market of buying something that looks old and recycled, but actually use items that were something else, and stop people from spending lots of money on new items that have been made to look old. We want to make old items look new again. And show people that old, recycled goods can look just as good as brand new items from expensive, designer furniture/art shops. And save the environment at the some time.

So this post is to let ya'll know what I'm up to and also a call to anyone who might be interested in helping out. The more people involved the better! We need people to help scavenge with us, or even just donate old household items/furniture to Western Salvation. We need artists and builders (preferably Perth or Fremantle based) who can help us create new objects. Dad has been teaching me some basic carpentry skills and Erin and I considered doing a TAFE 'Carpentry For Women' course, but the more styles and hands building, the more ways to recycle objects we'll have. We welcome ideas, tips, advice, constructive criticism, love and everything!

I'm currently focussing on making us some business cards. We're thinking of custom made stamps on recycled carboard - old Xmas cards, cereal boxes etc. I'm on the hunt for creatives who want to get involved. Either build/make stuff, sell it in our shop and we'll take a small percentage of the sale price, or we can just display what you make like an exhibition and we'll use your work to promote the idea behind Western Salvation and you as an artist/builder etc. I'm also looking at ways to recycle and resell old, second hand books which can be really difficult if you don't have a second hand book shop or books other than the latest trendy Penguin Classic. So if anyone's got some old books (no book is too daggy or outdated for my idea!) they want to get rid of, send them my way!

Dave is working on a website but until then, this is our facebook page. Get at me, people!

Sunday, June 1, 2014

The 48

Yo, I wrote this story for the guy who runs Flint to prove that I can actually string sentences together and therefore he should let me write for him. Its not on his website, but I think its a pretty adorable little story so I'm going to share it with you.

---

My favourite thing about living in London was that everyone was from somewhere else. I loved the ease of making friends because we were all orphans together. Londoners' homes are not in London.


After leaving my Sierra Leonean flatmates, I'd catch the 48 from Clapton Pond and overhear one side of early morning conversations in anything other than English. Unwrapping my friend's adopted scarf from around my neck, I stare out the windows misted over with passengers' pre coffee breath. We would pass Caribbean take outs, tacky luminescent fried chicken joints and endless Afro hairdressers. Surely there aren't enough Afro-Londoners getting regular cuts to support them all. The bus stops and looms over the William Hill on the corner of the narrow and claustrophobic strip of Mare Street. The same haggered, bearded betting bum chain smokes on the pavement. I wonder why this corridor of Hackney, filled with phone shops and cheap shoe stores hasn't been gentrified and turned in to boutique coffee shops, run by tattooed Australian baristas, and exclusive hipster night clubs with no dance floors.

 

As the bus lurches down Cambridge Heath Road the traffic becomes more hectic. Cyclists weave in and out of cars; motorists honk. I look down at the road to see a girl wearing ripped stockings teetering on thin black bike wheels. She dodges a turning black cab, flips him off and glides effortlessly down the road. The man sitting next to the window asks to get past me in a thick Northern accent.

 

Flat, cardboard box-like buildings whose windows and doors are decorated with quaint white bricks, adorn the streets. They're slowly replaced by the closed shop fronts of Hackney Road. A man on a Boris bike in a sleek black suit and shiny shoes awkwardly clambers past a group of school kids outside the Tesco Express. A woman covered entirely in soft black fabric enters the bus. I watch her eyes follow her son as he chooses a seat.


The calming voice of the TFL lady announces that we're now on Shoreditch High Street and I begin wrapping the scarf around my neck again. I press the button as we jostle through the lights and the LCD screen above the front window illuminates. I swing around the pole and shuffle down the stairs, the cold morning air feels refreshing and wakes me from my warm bus bubble. I head towards The Gherkin at a brisk walk, swept up by the hundreds of silent, stony faced commuters around me.


When I step in to the restaurant the wall of over enthusiastic heating hits my chilled cheeks and I am grateful for a few seconds. A particular, familiar scent fills my lungs. I can't describe the specifics of it now but I know that I if I ever smelt it again the same rush of emotions would wash over me. The stress of hospitality, happiness and excitement to spend the day with my mish-mash substitute family and friends and that constant, warming desert island climate that seemed to always exist behind those yellow doors regardless of the cold streets of London.