Review of Come From Away

Last night, I watched Come From Away, the musical, now showing at the Comedy Theatre, Melbourne in its Australian premiere. Oh my goodness. Pure magic. It’s surpassed Lion King as my favourite musical. I think everyone should go see it, so there’s a ticketing link at the bottom of the review.

12 cast members (playing at least two main characters each, towns- and plane people), 6 standbys (understudy for four roles each), 10 band members (most playing at least three instruments each). A beautiful musical score and lines that delivered. One hell of a show. Go check it out!

For those who don’t know, Come From Away is the based-on-truth story of the locals from of Gander, Newfoundland and the “plane people”. Gander coordinated the billeting and care of 6,579 people on 38 planes, diverted there when American airspace was closed for five days on September 11, 2001. The musical tells the story of some of the townspeople and “plane people” (what the locals called the plane travellers) stranded there. The musical gets its name from the words used to describe any visitors to Newfoundland – “Come from aways”.

I have been anticipating watching this show for months and it did not disappoint. The show was poignant and humorous and demonstrative by turns. Full of pathos and sheer humanity. It handles difficult subjects sensitively and meaningfully. I would watch this again, definitely (and I just listened to the soundtrack today actually). All the feels!! I laughed, I cringed, I teared up…and at the end of the show I burst into tears and leapt to my feet applauding. It was amazing!

Official Broadway Cast Recording of “Welcome to the Rock” from Come From Away.

The songs are all pretty good. Welcome to the Rock is a great intro. There are so many poignant songs – singing of people’s desperation, fear and hope. Blankets and Bedding; Darkness and Trees; Prayer; Something’s Missing, to name just a few. Just when you feel like you can’t take any more of it, some humour is inserted (e.g. Screech In) or a solution found. They’re still giving me goosebumps, tears and/or excitement today.

I also enjoyed Nick and Diane’s song, Stop the World. I believe my favourite song, amidst stiff competition, is Captain Beverley Bass’ power song: Me and the Sky. Her story is awesome. (If you want to hear her tell it, listen to this: This is your captain speaking, from ABC Conversations.) The other favourite would be Blankets and Bedding.

Go get tickets to see the show. Do it now, you will not be disappointed. Come From Away Melbourne.

Carly Findlay’s memoir, Say Hello

Hi there! Last month, I went to Carly Findlay’s book launch. The atmosphere was lovely and I came away with a copy of her book. I then spent the next few days devouring it.

A book rests on the edge of a tram window-ledge. It is facing up, the front cover reads in orange and black writing, "Say Hello Carly Findlay   How I became my own fangirl: a moir and manifesto on difference, acceptance, self-love and belief" Beside the words is a picture of Carly, who has a red face and dark curly hair. She is smiling and wearing an orange skirt, white top and pink tank top with colourful flower designs.

Carly is an award-winning writer, speaker and appearance activist, writing about disability and appearance diversity issues. She is a proud disabled woman, living with a rare skin condition, ichthyosis. She is an awesome person and I’m glad I’ve met her.

Her memoir, Say Hello, details her life growing up with ichthyosis and how she has come to be proud of her disability and to own it. She speaks honestly of the ups and downs of living with her disability. The highs of family support, fandom, finding her community, loving herself and disability pride – and the lows of people’s ableism*, their pitying attitudes and intrusive questions.

N.B. Ableism = discrimination and/or prejudice against disabled people.

On her website, Carly writes about her book:

“….

There was no one in media or books who looked like me, or to tell me it’s ok to not want to change my appearance, and I didn’t know whether I’d find love – love with another or love for myself. I had to write that book. To be the person Little Carly needed. In Say Hello, I want to show parents who have a disabled child that there is no need to grieve a life lost – because their child is alive and can live a great life with love and support. I want to show readers how to be proud of their identity and their appearance, and love themselves even when the world has told them they have to hide. Representation matters. I hope this book is the start of more people with ichthyosis telling their own story – to shift the focus from the exploitative media we are seeing a lot of. Representation matters because shapes the way ichthyosis is seen, and lets people with ichthyosis see themselves. Disability literature must be disability-led.”

http://carlyfindlay.com.au/SayHello/

I related to parts of this book – being the odd-one-out sucks, and escapism through fandom, then finding my people, those who get me, have been saving graces. However, I should say too that my disability is invisible, so I have had more privilege than Carly. For example, I don’t get asked “what happened to my face?” regularly when I’m out and about, and people don’t flinch away from me or avoid touching me. Carly speaks candidly of these sorts of instances in Say Hello. She has faced plenty of discrimination and casual ableism. It sucks and, as Carly details in the book, is exhausting. People, stop it. PSA: check your attitudes and your privilege, drat it, in thinking about, seeing and interacting with disabled people. Stop making assumptions on behalf of us. We’re just going about our daily lives, ‘k? We’re not your bloody inspiration! Seriously, back off. 😡

Carly is unapologetic about her disability activism, politics and pride. From Carly and others like her, I am learning to be the same.

I encourage everyone to read Carly’s book. I thoroughly enjoyed it. It’s an angry memoir in parts (with good reason), as well as being laugh-out-loud funny and heart-warming. Thanks for writing it Carly. I can’t wait to read what you write next!

Buy Say Hello from Booktopia (paperback) and Apple Books (ebook), as well as department stores and bookstores in Australia and New Zealand. Carly is also doing a book tour. Having already visited Melbourne and Sydney (and with the Brisbane event sold out), she’s going to Perth, Albury Wodonga, Wagga Wagga, Canberra and Adelaide as well. See her website (http://carlyfindlay.com.au/SayHello/) for details.

Fandoms, Updated

Hi all. In the first few months of this blog, I posted about my fandoms. It’s a category all of itself on this blog because I’m a voracious reader who also watches a few different shows/ movies from time to time. I thought it was time to redo the actual fandoms post, instead of just editing the original – as I’ve done a few times.

Image taken from the header of this post via Google. Image is white writing on black text and reads: keep calm and join fandoms

Potential spoilers in the links and also a content note as I have to mention why I’m glad the Dr Blake Mysteries was removed from the ABC.

The link to the original is here. In it, I describe my love of Harry Potter (JK Rowling), Tortall and Emelan (Tamora Pierce), and a huge list of others, ranging from the well-known to the more obscure.

I’ll get to the old favourites in a minute, but first I want to celebrate two new ones. The first one is a series which has its first book in my original fandoms post. I’ve now read the second and discovered that not only is there a third book due out this month, but that the collection has a name: introducing the Wayfarers series by Becky Chambers. The two books so far are A Long Way to a Small Angry Planet and A Closed and Common Orbit, and the third book that’ll be released soon is Record of a Spaceborn Few. I can’t wait! Becky Chambers has a really good way of worldbuilding her stories, and the story of how she became published is interesting. Books in the series have won some prestigious awards as well.

The second series I am adding to my Fandoms wall is, as promised, The Chaos Walking. I gushed about it a bit under a month ago, but I really like the character development of Patrick Ness’ stories, and the way he asks questions about human nature.

I’m going to also promote The Moorehawke Trilogy here, because while it was first placed in the “read once, really liked it, searched for more” section of this post, seeing it on the list made me realise I hadn’t done the final part of that. Celine Kiernan has other works out too, and judging from my memory of Moorehawke, they should be good.

Now, onto the “old favourites and other things” section of this post.

I separated Harry Potter and both of Tamora Pierce’s series from the rest because I think that they’re the ones I keep returning to. HP was my first major (second remembered) fandom and I love it for that, and the depth of many characters, and the idea of the magical world existing beside our own. But that doesn’t mean I’m not going to critique it, when I see ways it could be better.

Tamora Pierce’s Tortall and Emelan worlds are put here because they’re fun mediaeval fantasy – that has lots of diversity, magic, and deep world-building. The Tortall world has had some new books come out relatively recently: Tortall: A Spy’s Guide and Tempests and Slaughter (book 1 of the latest series, the Numair Chronicles). I engage with her series’  critically as well, when I need to.

Some of the series on the original list I liked more when I was a teenager than perhaps now. I’ll still enjoy them if I pick them up but perhaps some of that is nostalgia.  LIke Rangers Apprentice, Deltora Quest, Rowan of Rin series, Rondo trilogy, Saddle Club, Warriors, and books by particular authors like Roald Dahl and Jackie French.

Some titles on the list, I’ll keep being involved in the fandom even if they’re not my primary ones at present. Most of the ones on the list fall into this category: Star WarsStar TrekHunger Games, DivergentTo Kill a Mockingbird, LotR and The Hobbit, His Dark Materials, Doctor WhoChronicles of Narnia* and Call the Midwife. Also to a certain extent it includes ones I read/watched once and liked, and maybe looked at the other works by the authors for a time: Earth’s Children series,  New Tricks, Vera, Dr Blake Mysteries*.

Two in that list have asterisks next to them because as I’ve mentioned before, I enjoy my fandoms with a critical eye, and for those two, in particular, there are parts of their stories that are uncomfortable. With Narnia, it’s CS Lewis’ treatment of Susan in the later books that gets my goat (as well as certain preachy elements). With Dr Blake Mysteries it’s that, while the show was fairly decent (especially series 1-3, and parts of series 5), the actor who played Dr Blake (Craig McLachlan) turned out to be Not Nice behind the scenes. (There was a big expose on that at the start of this year/ end of last year.)

 

What now for Manus?

Urrrrgh.

I bloody hate this situation.

I’ve made phone-calls, including to Peter Dutton MP (Minister for Immigration and Border Protection). I’ve also sent an email to my local member, Bill Shorten MP (Opposition Leader) and Shayne Neumann MP (Shadow Minister for Immigration).

See that below. This sickens me…. and I feel so hopeless and helpless about it.

Check out the statement from Shadow Minister for Immigration here:  http://shayneneumann.com.au/news/immigration-and-border-protection/former-manus-island-regional-processing-centre/ A lot more mealy-mouthed than I’d hoped for. Luckily I saw it when looking up his contact details and could address the icky bits in my email (they’re the bits in red). In the email, when I speak of the “current situation” I’m referring to the situation today. The angle I took was influenced by a phone-chat I had with a staffer from Shayne Neumann’s office.

 

Dear Mr David Feeney MP, Mr Shayne Neumann MP and Mr Bill Shorten MP,

My name is Clare Keogh and I am a young university student living in [suburb], Victoria. I am deeply concerned about the situation on Manus Island that has been unfolding for several weeks and escalated today. I am also keeping the people detained on Nauru in my thoughts, as they should not be forgotten either.
I know that the current situation is not Labor’s doing and that the centres, when Labor restarted them, was intended to be used for regional processing rather than indefinite detention. 
 
However, the fact remains that the current situation is not the responsibility of PNG but of Australia. There have been reports of AFP involvement in today’s crisis on Nauru, after all. 
 
By what right are the men’s phones being seized? By what right are their few belongings being taken and destroyed? By what right have their only means of getting water and shelter been destroyed? By what right has their access to even the most basic medical aid and food been removed? Why has Behrouz Boochani been arrested?
 
I understand that, as you are in Opposition, it makes it harder to make concrete change. But you and your colleagues should speak up about the situation still. Perhaps you are advocating for them behind closed doors. Can you explain, concretely, how? 
 
I am particularly concerned by some of the information that has been presented in the statement produced by Mr Neumann an hour ago: 
 

The situation at the closed Manus Island RPC could have been avoided if Malcolm Turnbull was clear from the start about refugees’ access to essential services at the alternative accommodation in PNG.

Turnbull has a moral obligation to work with PNG to deescalate tensions and guarantee the ongoing safety and security of these people.

Labor accepts that the former Manus Island RPC has closed as the result of a decision of the Supreme Court of PNG.

The men at the closed centre need to relocate to alternative accommodation – such as East Lorengau – to access security, health and welfare services.

Footage and reports from advocates who have visited the East Lorengau site make clear that the “alternative accommodation” at East Lorengau is not ready. No water, toilets, or showers. No power. Inadequate shelter for the tropical conditions. No security and no safety. The locals do not want them there. After all, Manus Island is a tiny part of PNG, with scarce resources for the local population.
 
Has anyone from Labor attempted to go and see conditions for themselves? Where has this idea that the offered alternative accommodation is acceptable come from? Why is the onus on the men to move there, rather than the violence to stop? The men have been asking us to listen to them about this. Why are you ignoring their voices? 
 
 
Nauru is also a small place that is struggling to care for all of its people. Yet today I heard news of a new contract being given to Canstruct to build more facilities (described as “garrison-type”) for those held there. There are children and vulnerable women on Nauru. Can nothing be done for them? 
I thought Australia was better than this. It makes me sick at heart to think of this going on, when it would be so much cheaper and more humane to fulfil our international and moral obligations and either bring them here or resettle them in another country who are willing and able to take them – like New Zealand – while working with other countries in the region to create a viable long-term solution. 
 
The idea that these measures are in place to “save lives at sea” or “protecting Australian borders” is rubbish. There are far cheaper and better ways of preventing people risking lives on boats to Australia, like investing in real regional dialogue and processing, providing support and resources to countries, like Malaysia and Indonesia, where the boats set out from. 
 
The current situation is a punitive measure created to encourage asylum seekers to think that going to Australia is worse than staying where they are. Now that has led to desperate people being treated like animals, denied even the most basic human rights. 
 
Please do something. This is a major sticking point for myself and many others in terms of voting. More than that, making a stand is the right thing to do. Have some political courage, listen to those who are experiencing the crisis, and act, please. The situation has gone on for far too long! 
 
If you reply, please don’t use an automated response but something real. 

Marriage Equality Essay

Last year (in 2016) I took a subject as an elective called Sex, Gender, Identity. It was an introductory subject that encouraged us to explore different aspects of those three things and how “the personal is political” (original quote author unknown). The final assignment for the subject was an essay which we could choose the topic from a list. I chose to examine marriage – the feminist critiques and marriage equality movement. The resulting essay gained me the highest mark I’ve ever received on an assignment. But more importantly, the research I did educated me about the topics and reaffirmed my stance on the issue. Below is an edited version of that essay. Please read.

I’ll note that I’m in a privileged position in writing this article. I’ve been raised in a heteronormative environment, I’m cisgender and in an opposite-sex relationship. These are my opinions backed by evidence collected from academic sources as well as personal ones.


Marriage: an institution which involves formal recognition of the union of two people, conferring legitimacy on an intimate relationship (3). This formal recognition usually grants a range of social, religious and legal benefits, rights and responsibilities (3) and has existed in some form for centuries (14). At the moment, the most easily-recognised and legitimised marriage is monogamous and opposite-sex – it’s still considered the norm. Challenging this norm, same-sex marriages have begun to be recognised in many countries after the hard work and activism of advocates. For many, this is a positive step for LGBTIQA+ people and society as the gains are seen to outweigh potential negatives. However, other activists are not as sure, as they take a more radical view that marriage should be either changed completely or left behind together. I investigated these two competing discourses and drew conclusions for this piece.

Firstly, the positives. 🙂 It has been suggested that access to marriage is tied, metaphorically and/or physically, to full citizenship rights in society (9). Also, as the phrase, “equal before the law” suggests, in democracies, the law is a place where all citizens should be equal (8). Hence, marriage is seen as a pathway to acceptance and legitimacy, a way of demonstrating that what people feel for each other is real and valuable. A chance to throw a big party and show how much they love each other. The exclusion of LGBTIQA+ people could be and has been argued to be an intolerable discriminatory practice. It has been suggested that in order for LGBTIQA+ rights to advance, all formal barriers to full equality must be overcome (2)(4) before or while other steps are taken – like fixing anti-discrimination laws (10). Due to the prominence of marriage in society, it can be seen as symbolic of other rights and some have argued that governments which do not afford equal respect of and protections for both LGBTIQA+ and heterosexual intimate relationships enable and participate in systemic homophobia and heterosexism (4). It has also been argued that this inequality harms LGBTIQA+ people in substantial, material ways – from subtle exclusion to violence (1)(2)(4). I agree with this – I’ve read very compelling personal accounts from people over the last few weeks and before that (not to mention hearing the lived experiences of my friends) which demonstrate the truth of it (6) (11). I also agree with the contention that one way of combatting the harms is to work towards full equality, including in marriage, for all regardless of sexuality. Research shows that there are particular social, legal and psychological benefits to this.

Marriage can reinforce partnership bonds, facilitate parenting and generate levels of social support for those who participate (7). LGBTIQA+ participation in marriage widens the scope of marriage norms, as non-traditional roles and practices are expressed, intentionally or otherwise (1)(7), providing additional choices and freedoms. For example, with children. It could be said that the very presence of LGBTIQA+ people and families in so-called public spheres changes and destabilises the unconsciously accepted heteronormative view (1) of society. Hmm, maybe that’s why the conservatives get so grumpy about it. Well, they can suck it up, because change is a thing that happens. Changes to societal views of family and so on include what is seen as normal by children – everything from the gender of their parents and/or extended family members, to how gendered or egalitarian their household is. Research shows that in observing and learning about these practices and by educating each other, children become directors of change (1). After all, we’re products of where we come from, influenced by the personal world(s) we inhabit. And if those worlds are more equitable, so much the better. The presence of children also highlights discriminatory practices which occur within the current system which privileges marriage, particularly heterosexual marriage, over other relationships (4). To many LGBTIQA+ people, the idea of only being allowed something separate-and-different to marriage does not work if it’s not seen as legally and emotionally equal to it. Even if/when marriage alternatives were given equal rights, benefits, protections and obligations as marriage, it can be argued that LGBTIQA+ people are still discriminated against simply because they’re still unable to choose between marriage, a civil partnership, or something else (14).

But what about the feminist/queer case against marriage? Feminists have criticised marriage as being oppressive to women due to patriarchal structures of power for many years (14). These power structures are those which reinforce a socially conservative breadwinner model (5) – an opposite-sex relationship of mandated monogamy, working husband and dependent wife bearing the brunt of housework and child-rearing (9). If you think about it, this model has been – and still is – at the core of public policy for some time (5)(15). Non-traditional families – such as single parents, mixed-race partnerships, and LGBTIQA+ families – challenge the model. You can tell this from the way conservatives react. However, I’ve read concerns about whether the model is really being challenged (15). There’s an argument that marriage equality campaigns are being turned into binary debates of for and against. These leave little room for valid critiques of the social and economic institutions of marriage, and how the societal privileging of marriage marginalises other intimate relationships (9)(13). The argument continues that while the potential benefits of marriage should be recognised, the next or concurrent step should be to push for those rights to be expanded to all intimate consensual relationships. There’s a risk, activists argue, that not doing this would go against hard-fought-for feminist freedoms (12) and create a new tiered system within the LGBTIQA+ community of the socially acceptable marrieds held above the rest of the queers. This could lead to a reinforcing of conservative heteronormative marriage ideas, merely expanded slightly.

Despite this, there’s no question that many LGBTIQA+ people do want to get married (4), even as they recognise its pitfalls. Marriage as an institution isn’t necessarily seen as a good thing – but the equality before the law is (2). Marriage is a complex institution and we should resist the urge to press it into one box or another (5). If and when marriage equality becomes reality, then the contradiction of being separate-but-equal (13) is removed. It then becomes a choice for all, heterosexual and LGBTIQA+ alike, as to whether we’ll participate in marriage and how we could or would change the institution for the better. As it currently stands, some of the population have only a restricted choice and how is that choice then free or fair? Alongside this, we can then work for the expansion of legal and economic protections, currently enshrined in marriage, to all relationships so that all intimate consensual relationships are valued (5). We could even go further and ensure that welfare rights are fair for all regardless of relationship, employment and monetary status (5). This then challenges the conservative understanding that defending the rights of women, LGBTIQA+ and other marginalised groups undermines committed caring relationships. At the same time, it dismantles the patriarchal heteronormative one-size-fits-all approach and works towards a more caring society, away from the outdated universal breadwinner model to a universal caregiver one. In this latter model, LGBTIQA+ people would be just as accepted for caregivers and caregiving as heterosexuals (5). This opens up possibilities for greater awareness on and attention to other intersectional issues. After all, attending to one issue does not prevent us from working on others and “those of us who are interested in fighting for justice and the flourishing of sentient beings in any of these contexts should be interested in fighting for justice in all of these contexts” (4, p. 77).

 

In other words, I’m in favour of marriage equality, as I’ve previously discussed. Btw, for me, my religious beliefs influence that view positively, as I’ve mentioned before as well. I’ll be unpacking that side of the argument soon too. If the postal survey goes ahead I’ll be participating in it and voting yes. I hope if you’re an Australian reading this that you will too.

If the postal survey goes ahead I’ll be participating in it and voting yes. I hope if you’re an Australian reading this that you will too.

 

References (these got a little muddled when rewriting this into a post, but I’d really encourage you to check them out):

  1. Bernstein, M. (2015). Same-Sex Marriage and the Future of the LGBT Movement. Gender & Society, vol. 29, no. 3, pp. 321–337, DOI: 10.1177/0891243215575287
  2. Bevacqua, M. (2004). Feminist Theory and the Question of Lesbian and Gay Marriage. Feminism & Psychology, vol. 14, no. 1, pp. 36–40, DOI: 10.1177/0959-353504040300
  3. Budgeon, S. (2009). Marriage, in Encyclopaedia of Gender and Society, O’Brien J, (ed.), vol. 2, Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE Publications, pp. 505-508.
  4. Callahan, J, 2009, ‘Same-Sex Marriage: Why It Matters—At Least for Now’, Hypatia, vol. 24, no. 1, pp. 70-81.
  5. Ferguson, A, 2007, ‘Gay Marriage: An American and Feminist Dilemma’, Hypatia, vol. 27, no. 1, pp.39-57.
  6. Gadsby, H. (2017, August 17). “Probably a good time to repost my anti-plebiscite piece…” Retrieved from https://www.facebook.com/plugins/post.php?href=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.facebook.com%2Fhannahgadsbycomedy%2Fposts%2F10155675309518000
  7. Green, AI, 2010, ‘Same-Sex Marriage: Lesbian and Gay Spouses Marrying Tradition and Innovation’, Canadian Journal of Sociology, vol.35 no. 3, pp.399-436. Retrieved from: http://www.jstor.org.ez.library.latrobe.edu.au/stable/canajsocicahican.35.3.399
  8. Harrison, JB, 2015, ‘At Long Last Marriage’, Journal of Gender, Social Policy and the Law, vol. 24, no. 1, pp.1-60.
  9. Josephson, J, 2005, ‘Citizenship, Same-Sex Marriage, and Feminist Critiques of Marriage’, Perspectives on Politics, vol. 3, no. 2, pp. 269-284.
  10. Lawrie, A. (2017, July 29). A quick guide to Australian LGBTI anti-discrimination laws [Blog post]. Retrieved from https://alastairlawrie.net/2017/07/29/a-quick-guide-to-australian-lgbti-anti-discrimination-laws/
  11. Lawrie, A. (2017, August 9). 2,756 Days. Frustration and love [Blog post]. Retrieved from https://alastairlawrie.net/2017/08/09/2756-days-frustration-and-love/
  12. Marso LJ, 2010, ‘Marriage and Bourgeois Respectability’, Politics & Gender, vol. 6, no. 1, pp.145-53, DOI: 10.1017/S1743923X09990572
  13. Merin, Y, 2002a, ‘Chapter 2: The Changing Institution of Marriage and the Exclusion of Same-Sex Couples’, in Equality for Same-Sex Couples, University of Chicago Press, Chicago, pp. 6-60.
  14. Merin, Y, 2002b, ‘Chapter 10: Alternatives to Marriage and the Doctrine of “Separate but Equal” ’, in Equality for Same-Sex Couples, University of Chicago Press, Chicago, pp. 278-307.
  15. Wilson AR, 2010, ‘Feminism and Same-Sex Marriage: Who Cares?’, Politics & Gender, vol. 6, no. 1, pp. 134-145, DOI: 10.1017/S1743923X09990560
  16. Young, C & Boyd, S, 2006, ‘Losing the Feminist Voice? Debates on the Legal Recognition of Same Sex Partnerships in Canada’, Feminist Legal Studies, vol. 14, pp. 213–240, DOI 10.1007/s10691-006-9028-8.

 

Reblog: Resolutions: Good or Bad

I find resolutions interesting. As I commented on Noelle’s post (linked below),

I like ones that are “commitments to try”, so to speak. You know they’re goals and things you’d like to do, but they’re not “have-tos”.

Setting unattainable resolutions can lead to trouble or so it seems – we gain only negative emotions when we revert to old habits after promising to keep to a path for a year.

I remind myself that these are goals, to be practiced and worked on during the year but not mandatory.

With that in mind, some ones for this year are:

  • Do well in my Masters coursework etc.
    – Ask for help if I need it and monitor myself so that the changes of this year don’t cause my grades to drop.
  • To listen twice as much as I speak;
    –   I’ll be addressing this in more depth later, but as I’m a talker and social person who also is a “Feeler” (high F in Myers-Briggs, for example), I worry about my ratio of talking to listening. So I’m working on it.
  • Alongside the above is my want to actively practice my Feeling
    –   Again, I’ll explain in another post, but cultivating my empathetic presence is important to me. These first two are very connected.
  • To get back into blogging
    – I fell off a regular blogging schedule a bit over the second half of 2016, but I’d like to be more consistent.
  • To get back into writing my story.
    – I’ve done quite a lot of backstory-work but haven’t actually done any story-writing for a while. I need to get back into that.
  • To be more active and finding more walking spaces.
    –   I’m not naturally a person who gets active, as I’m not sporty. But I like nature and I like walking and I know I ought to be sitting less. I’m not interested in overdoing it though, as I’m skinny enough as it is.

Idea taken from the post linked below:

What are your thoughts on setting New Years Resolutions? Have you completed yours in the past or are you one of those who forgets what they are? Come read about the good and the bad of setting reso…

Source: {DISCUSSION} Resolutions: Good or Bad

#BringThemHere

https://www.getup.org.au/campaigns/refugees/bringthemhere/upload-your-own-bringthemhere-message

I did this yesterday:

ESP Bring-Them-Here_photo 1.jpg
The Equality, Sustainability & Peace (ESP) Group at La Trobe says: #BringThemHere!

We stand with those on Manus and Nauru – we love you and support you. It’s past time for the government to stop stuffing around and close the camps. Set up some humane processes, open up onshore and offshore detention centres and #bringthemhere to #letthemstay.

Momentum is building – join us!

https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2016/aug/17/this-is-critical-103-nauru-and-manus-staff-speak-out-their-letter-in-full?CMP=share_btn_tw

 

 

 

Life update

How are we doing?

I’m writing this on a lazy Saturday afternoon. Thank goodness for those, because the rest of the weekend is busy – the week has been too. I’ve had choir rehearsal three times since Tuesday, a work end-of-year event last night, and the first carols concert today. Tomorrow is the big concert – if you’re attending the Monash Carols by Candlelight event at Jells Park, you’ll see me as a soprano as part of the choir. Should be fun, if a bit exhausting. I’ve already scheduled Monday as a crash day. I love singing and carols but I need my downtime too, especially when all the events are on the same weekend. What’s your favourite carol?

Throughly fed up with politics at the moment. Australia is led by a fascist government. If you’re in the UK, vote so Labour will win – politics is not a bloody popularity contest!!

It was International Day of People with Disability on Tuesday, a day to “to promote understanding of the issues facing people with disability, and to push for change”. On that theme, if you want to read a couple of young people’s perspectives on their disability, check out Ben’s and Carletta’s stories from the Every Australian Counts website.

I’m relaxing this lazy Saturday afternoon by listening to Queen videos. If I had a time machine and money, I’d go attend famous musical performances, like Live Aid. That reminds me… I need to create my 2019 song playlist.

The holidays are nearly here, meaning that in two weeks I’ll have completed a year of work! I’ve learnt a lot during that time. #proud

Hope your lead-up to the holiday period is smooth, that you have enough time off, and your holidays are relaxing!

Seasons in Melbourne & surrounds

A couple of years ago, I wrote a blog post about how I was interested in the idea of a local seasonal calendar and how I’d found something like that (changing seasons). It wasn’t quite right though – a Gariwerd calendar, not one for the Kulin Nation. I kept my ears and eyes open for one that was, because it is on the lands of the Kulin nation peoples that I was born, grew up and work (Wathaurong) and live now (Wurundjeri).

Recently, my local church, Brunswick Uniting, did a presentation on the “seven seasons of the Kulin Nation” as part of our “Season of Creation” liturgies over September/ October. So I’ve finally found a proper seasonal calendar that the peoples of the Kulin Nation would likely have followed. Apparently it was right under my nose the whole time at the Melbourne Museum. I think I’ll have to make a trip there soon.

The calendar of seasons for the Kulin Nation peoples, with approximate months, is below.

  1. Biderap: Dry season; roughly Jan-Feb
  2. Luk: eel season; March
  3. Waring: Wombat season; April to July
  4. Guling: Orchid season; August
  5. Poorneet: Tadpole season; September-October
  6. Buath Gurru: Grass-flowering season; November
  7. Kangaroo apple season; December.

For all of these, the corresponding months are approximate, varying year to year. For example, I think Buath Gurru started a week or two ago, judging by the sudden uptick in mine and others’ hayfever symptoms.

For further details and other interesting information, see the following links:

That’s life

Hi all.

How are you? I’m doing okay.

The LaTUCS concert was last week. Plenty of people came and saw us perform our songs. We even got a nice review or two!

Had a busy few days – tried to cram in several things over the weekend and succeeded only because I got my partner to help with travel for parts, and the final events on each day were more relaxed.

It was National Occupational Therapy day on Sunday, too, just FYI. Not that I did anything for it.

Tonight there’s the regular post-concert pub trivia social with LaTUCS. Some of us are dressing up because of the date, and work has an actual dress-up day tomorrow too. Happy Halloween for those who like that sort of thing! Just remember to be sensible and avoid appropriation or cripping up etc. with your costumes, yes?

Reblogging for the post title

Big mood: https://whatever.scalzi.com/2019/10/16/its-already-past-five-and-my-brain-is-the-consistency-of-mush-so-please-accept-this-picture-of-two-tuxedo-cats-who-may-possibly-be-bored/

It’s been a funny week. Admin week due to transition reports needing to be done, meaning no official class time. Except for last session tomorrow, as attending as usual there will mean I get information for those reports. I have decided I dislike admin-only weeks. I prefer working with the students.

Also, my executive functioning crashed (lol, that sounds like it’s a computer program. Hm… “executive_functioning.exe”?) today after gym and shopping and all I wanted to do was fluff around online… eating dinner (which partner cooked, due to the aforementioned crash) only helped slightly. Sleep will help it reboot (heh heh) in the morning better.

Good night!

Reflections

Hi again!

I cringed when I looked at the date of my last published post and realised I hadn’t written a thing since August 14th. That’s nearly eight weeks – wowzers! Guess I got distracted by other things. Hopefully this month will be better, though I make no promises; I’ve learnt by now how hectic life can be and how easily distracted I sometimes get. (Case in point: I meant to start this blog post this morning, not at 21:30 at night. 😛 )

So, in the past eight weeks, what have I been up to?

  • I’ve attended another SCA event and had some fun there. I think I might stick around. 😉
  • I’ve done lots of admin for work
  • I’ve learnt how to do my version of a fine motor/ handwriting program at work (work in progress)
  • Same with an emotional regulation program
  • I watched the intensity of the Global Climate Strikes – young people to the front for the future! (I hope to write more about this at some point)
  • I’ve attended many hours of choir rehearsal, as the semester “sped up” and we prepared in earnest for the concerts of this semester
  • I’ve baked various different things, in order to have something to eat for breakfast that I can eat on the go and doesn’t easily go soggy (I’m fussy about that 😉 )
  • I’ve tried out a few recipes, too – hopefully I’ll put them on the blog soon.
  • I got sections of my hair coloured – I’ll show you a pic or two some other time, when I’m more organised
  • I’ve learnt things about myself, really trying to understand how and why I think or feel or do things a particular way
  • I watched, with my family, from home as the Richmond Tigers won another premiership – go Tiges! – and reflected on club cultures and community.
  • I went camping (properly, in a tent!) and had fun – campfires, so many animals, toasted marshmallows and fruit damper and coal-roasted potatoes…
  • Oh and last Friday? I performed in one of the choir concerts of this semester – MonUCS’ Ein Deutsches Requiem. I Had Some Thoughts after that…

In the list above, I mentioned that I’ve been doing a lot of self-reflection about what makes me, ‘me’. I have several passions – some are small or about “things”, e.g. my favourite animals are dogs, and I’m one of those people who always likes to say hi to the dog, and often makes up what an animal’s thinking based on their expression/ behaviour. Other passions are bigger and are more, I realise, things “to do” and “to be”. Like story-telling (which I’ve spoken about before and will do so again later) – and music; listening to it, relaxing with it, and performing it.

Last Friday’s concert was fantastic. It was hard work – I wasn’t as relaxed as I was in other concerts. But I feel really happy about it all the same. The reason for that is how many people watched us. We had a decent audience (a fact I’d been slightly concerned about, given the large capacity of the venue) – and more importantly to me, a number of people were there who’d personally either bought a ticket from me, or came at my recommendation, because I was singing.

Afterwards, they were of course the people whose opinions I cared about the most. So to see their happiness and excitement at what we’d performed – pardon the pun, but it made my heart sing. When someone else gets a thrill from watching me do something I love and do it well – it makes me very happy. It fills me up, completely.

Partly, it’s because it is a gift that is shared. I am forever sharing “me” through my passions. But society’s rules and expectations, the way that quirkiness is looked down on because it’s different, meant that I struggled with fitting in for a long time. Anxiety, especially social anxiety, is a leftover gremlin from that. Finding LaTUCS, then the rest of the choir network, helped me become more comfortable in being “me” – because in the choir(s), we’re united through a love of music and a love of sharing that through choral singing. Regardless of our differences.

Being able to share that with the people I love, my friends and family, is wonderful. So I say to you: support your friends in their passions. Go see us perform, or ask us about our current project. Watch us light up and understand: It means the world to us. Often, we’ve spent a long time hiding or minimising our passions and ourselves. Being supported and seeing our friends enjoy what we do? It makes us feel seen. And loved.

Thank you to everyone who came to last Friday’s performance.

Good things

Hi all. I’ve been busy doing fun things. As well as a few more difficult things.

I’ve now had six months in my job. Yay!

I’ve been cooking nice things, including a meat pie, based on Grandma’s recipe. (It tasted nice but I need to perfect the crust.)

I went to a lovely evening run by the SCA and had a blast. I’ll return again. (That’s not my banner, FYI.)

Clare stands in front of a white wall. She’s dressed in a dark hood/ cowl, wearing a green vest over a brown dress. The dress is long, sweeping the floor. She is smiling.

I achieved a few personal bests at the gym. Including a barbel squat of half my body weight!

Clare has taken a selfie. She is wearing a blue singlet and her left arm and hand are visible on a barbel that rests on her shoulders. She is wearing headphones and smiling proudly.

I’ve organised a number of life admin tasks too.

Life’s been good. Occasionally stuff has happened that makes me sad, like when I try to do to much in one day or start a project too late in the day. But I’m glad I have people around me who support me through those days. I hope you have those people too.

May you see lovely sunsets, have warm heating, and your tea/ coffee just the way you like it. Take time to listen to yourself and your needs.

How are we?

I’ve been thinking about lots of things, so this is a slightly stream-of-consciousness post.

How a sincere compliment can make someone’s day. 😁

I’m currently eagerly listening to a podcast called 13 Minutes to the Moon, which tracks the USA’s space race journey over thirteen episodes. 🌕

I am a bit of an astronomer – I love the stars, the moon, space. If it were safer and personally cheaper, I’d love to see the Earth from space (which is what the current episode is about.) We exist in a vast universe, which leaves me full of wonder. Including the little things here on Earth too. 🌏

I hope we continue to experience these wonders for years… though that does depend on action being taken against the bad things, like climate change. This leads to thoughts of what-ifs which are sometimes scary, because even if us little consumers do everything we individually can (which varies person-to-person), real action (not tokenism!) still needs to be taken by governments and major polluters. What will it take for the latter to be more concerned about changing for the better than preserving the current status quo? Bah humbug. 😠

My mind returns to other matters: all I can do is raise my voice and live my life as best I can, doing what I can. That includes being a part of the future through my work and communities – choir, church, online groups, friends. 😌

Spread love and do what you can. 💜

A reblog: Brains are amazing.

Check out the following. I enjoyed it and related to it. Brains are amazing

This week has been good – first week back of term and of choir rehearsals too, getting into the routine again.

It’s also signalled the likely death of my laptop. The screen went kaput at work, so I’ll be working out of the resource room for a while until I get a new one.

Tomorrow marks fifty years since humans first walked on the moon. I think that’s awesome. I’ve always been fascinated by the stars and outer space.

Beef casserole

I was given some corningware dishes at the start of the year, and we made a beef casserole in the biggest one a month ago. I’m thinking I should make a chicken casserole next! We used a recipe from The Great Australian Cookbook.

Ingredients:

  • Baby potatoes
  • Chuck steak or other chunked beef
  • Plain flour
  • Paprika
  • Canned tomatoes
  • Wine
  • Beef stock
  • Garlic
  • Onion
  • Carrot
  • Other veg

Method:

  1. Preheat oven to 180*C
  2. Roll the beef in flour mixed with a spice like paprika – do this in a ziplock bag or something similar
  3. Put beef into a deep casserole dish
  4. Add tomatoes and then other ingredients – the meat should almost be covered by liquid.
  5. Cover with a lid and cook for two hours then taste and season with salt and pepper if necessary.
  6. Cook for another 20 minutes if necessary to ensure the meat is tender enough.
  7. Eat!