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.

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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 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 heterosexual environment, I’m in a heterosexual relationship and I’ve had to learn about these things second-hand. So 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 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.

 

#MIV2018 Update: Registration is OPEN! 

I’m so excited right now. If you’re interested, follow the links below from the email I received overnight. I’ll be doing that tonight after placement. It’s going to be a blast. Come along!

____________________________________


From the Convenors’ desk…

Hi groovers,

Exciting things are happening in Melbourne. At our AGM a few weeks ago we welcomed Cameron, Gemma and Justina to the committee and we’re glad to have them on board.

And now, for the news you’ve all been waiting for. We are so incredibly excited to announce that registrations for MIV 2018 are officially open!


Register now for the festival and secure your place in the Summer of 69.
We can’t wait to see you – there’s only 6 months to go!

Peace and love,
Alex and El xoxo

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

Hi all. It’s been a month, almost, since my last update on here. Oops!

The choir concerts went well, as did the socials after. (Karaoke, trivia, a pub meal and a movie night.)

I’ve had some nice successes at work too.

However, I’ve caught a viral infection so today is a sick day. Lots of rest and fluids, pain killers and listening to my body.

I made a good spicy pumpkin and zucchini soup on Wednesday which has been useful – had it for dinner last night and lunch just now.

I’m spending today on the couch. Among other things I’m watching Queen’s performance at Live Aid – I’ve wanted to do so since watching Bohemian Rhapsody with my LaTUCS peeps. What an electric atmosphere… it must have been epic to perform.

A slow day. Here’s hoping that I kick this infection to the curb by the end of the weekend.

Photo showing legs wrapped in a pale blanket lying on a dark couch. To the left of the legs there is a laptop showing a YouTube video in which Freddie Mercury is visible in front of a crowd. Behind the laptop are a box of tissues.

Sunsets and nice things

I like watching the year change, through the seasons and through the daylight hours.

Having to rely on public transport means my journey between home and work takes a while. It’s tough some mornings when I’d rather be a sleeping a bit longer. However, there are some compensations…. I get to see the changing daylight firsthand. There are beautiful sunsets and sunrises, as the dark slowly moves forward toward the winter solstice. I notice the changes week-to-week, and after the solstice I’ll get to see the daylight slowly push back the dark again.

Below, there are pictures I took of a beautiful sunset a few weeks ago, from a train station that’s a changeover on my commute.

Some things may truly suck right now (and ooh, I have words about that after Saturday), but at least there are sunsets, homegrown veggies and other nice things.

Choir Concert Season – Semester 1, 2019

It’s that time of semester again. Choirs are in the final weeks of preparation for semester 1 concerts. It’s been a bit strange for me – it’s my first year of experiencing this from a non-student choir member perspective, for one. For another, I’m singing in two choirs this year – LaTUCS and MonUCS. So that’s double the work – and fun. I just spent the weekend at a choir camp (for the latter choir) and then an all-day rehearsal (for the former), in preparation.

Below are the concerts coming up around Australia for the various choirs of the Australian Intervarsity Choral Societies Association (AICSA). I’ve grabbed them from Facebook, so follow the links to nab tickets! 😀

On Saturday, May 11th at 7:00PM, Sydney University Madrigal Society’s first concert of the year, Sublime & Ridiculous, will take you on an adventure to the weird and wonderful world of Renaissance musical humour. Check out the Facebook event for details! https://www.facebook.com/events/2365750140315595

ANU Choral Society’s next concert is on Sunday the 19th of May at 5PM at St Peter’s Church in Reid, Canberra. SCUNA will be performing some much-loved gems of the repertoire, including Purcell’s ‘Come Ye Sons of Art’ and Vivaldi’s ‘Gloria’. Tickets are just $15 and the concert will be held at St Peter’s Lutheran Church in Reid, 5pm on Sunday 19 May. Join them for a lovely evening of music-making! Tickets via www.trybooking.com/489818

Step into a world of pure imagination with MonUCS: Monash University Choral Society! MonUCS will weave magic with music from many realms, including Harry Potter, Game of Thrones, and Lord of the Rings. They’ll be performing at Chapel off Chapel in Prahran, 25 May, 5:30pm and 8:30pm. Tickets available via https://chapeloffchapel.com.au/…/pure-imagination-fantasy-…/

Join LaTUCS for an evening of fun on Thursday 23rd May! See the Facebook event here: https://www.facebook.com/events/881387645531998/?ti=icl

Join QUMS: Queensland University Musical Society as they present a concert of Afternoon Delights: QUMS Presents a Day at the Proms, a concert filled with classic tunes such as Vivaldi’s Gloria in D and Handel’s Hallelujah chorus. No afternoon soirée would be complete without complimentary afternoon tea and homemade treats! There’s also a raffle with great prizes. Saturday, 1st June at 15:30. Afternoon Delights: QUMS Presents a Day at the Proms

20 Years of ROCS: help the RMIT Occasional Choral Society celebrate 20 wonderful and successful years of existence! Saturday, 8th June at 18:00. 20 Years of ROCSRMIT University – Kaleide Theatre

If you could choose the major virtues of society, what would they be?

Hi all. Firstly, apologies for the wonky text, I copy-pasted some of this from a note on my phone and the editor is being weird.

I just read a book called Eve of Eridu. In it, a society is based on six virtues, which guide rules that have saved a portion of humanity after dark times caused by a Third World War. These rules include restrictions on feeling emotions. The book is the first in a series by Alanah Andrews and is a somewhat dark thought experiment considering the lengths people go to survive and how people can be conditioned into believing a particular way of existence. I’m a naturally emotional person and I found the book a challenge at times. I’m interested in the sequel that’s coming out this year.

Back to those virtues. I’m curious as to what six virtues you’d base your ideal society on. I found reducing the number to six quite challenging. I could only whittle mine down to eight and I’m not entirely satisfied.

  • Compassion
  • Assertiveness
  • Self-determination (& self worth)
  • Creativity
  • Generosity
  • Whole intelligence (EQ & IQ)
  • Healthy individual spiritualism
  • Equitable justice & care for all people

What are yours?

Supanova

Hi all. Whoops, it’s been a little longer than I’d hoped for between posts, but that’s life.

I’m enjoying some time off right now due to school holidays, though I still have a bit of work admin to do (ahh, deadlines…).

A couple of Saturdays ago, I went to Supanova. It was my first fan convention (“con”) experience and I loved it.

Below are photos of my purchases from the event, as well as a photo of me in costume. I dressed as Rey from Star Wars.

I got several books, some earrings, badges/ pins, geeky magnets and a few other things. I also got to attend a lightsaber class (think of it as theatre combat).

It was pretty fun, and my noise-cancelling headphones worked a treat (more on those in another post).

Clare stands in the doorway of a TARDIS (blue police box), wearing green pants and a grey dress underneath a white top and two belts. She is smiling and holding a handmade lightsaber (blue with silver handle). She wears silver headphones and gold glasses.

On dark carpet are a number of books, several badges, magnets, bookmarks and pamphlets.

When I’m less tired tomorrow I’ll update this post with a few links about the merch in the second picture hopefully. So much cool stuff!

Italian pork sausage stew

Oof, haven’t posted in a while. Other stuff keeps distracting me. Here’s a recipe post…. I intend to write another post later in the week but we’ll see how that works out.

Sausages in a brown stew in a black deep-bottomed frying pan. Veggies like red capsicum and yellow corn are visible

Ingredients:

  • Onion
  • 6x small sausages
  • Mixed herbs (3-4 tsp)
  • 1/2 can diced tomatoes
  • 1x tsp garlic
  • 3 pinches chilli mix
  • Mushrooms
  • Capsicum
  • Corn
  • Peas
  • Leek
  • Gnocchi
  • Vegetable stock & water

Tools

  • Large frying pan 
  • Saucepan
  • Spatula 
  • Kitchen spoon 
  • Crockery and cutlery 

Method

  1. Chop the vegetables
  2. Brown the sausages in the frying pan with garlic
  3. Tip veggies into the pan with vegetable stock, mixed herbs, diced tomatoes and chilli powder
  4. Let cook for 10 minutes on low heat – put water on for the gnocchi
  5. Cook gnocchi in boiling water
  6. Plate up and serve
Sausage stew plated - three sausages and a collection of vegetablies in sauce covering gnocchi on a white plate with green rim.

Just Random Things

The simple things in life make me happy.

Like having new adulting experiences that are somewhat anxiety-producing, but overall largely harmless, or positive.

Like learning more about myself as I go further in my job, gaining understanding.

Like establishing and keeping new routines that work for me, so I can do what I need to do. (Pack my bag the night before and get to bed by ‘this’ time*; get up with the alarm at ‘that’ time; leave the house by ‘this’ time aiming for that tram…
* = not always successful, but it’s the thought that counts. Also, specific bedtime routines like journaling and meditation apps are useful.)

Like morning sunrises and evening sunsets, and being able to physically see the former change time (getting up at a certain time means I notice that!).

Like the neighbourhood pets – my place has a lot of cats around.

As well as the unexpected wildlife encounters.

Yesterday morning, as I walked up the platform steps at my last changeover, I heard a little bird-call. It was very distinctive. I turned and found the bird, perched on a branch near the railing. Not wanting to scare it off, I didn’t photograph it, but instead memorised its features. Today, I dug around online for an internet equivalent of The Australian Field Guide to Birds, a highly useful book in my family’s house growing up. The “find a bird” section of the Australian Bird Life website was useful, though they organise their ID collection alphabetically rather than by bird species.

After some searching, I found the bird (or at least, I think I did). See below for a picture of the Hooded Robin, taken from their page on the website. He (the bird pictured and that I saw yesterday are male) has a black head, neck and back, with white underbelly. The females of the species are less distinctive. Their call, that the male sang so sweetly yesterday, can be heard in recordings via this link.

Image result for hooded robin

Curried sausages

My grandma (Dad’s mum) makes great curried sausages. I asked her for the recipe, then tested it.

Grandma’s recipe

Ingredients:

  • sausages, gravox, curry powder, cornflour, margarine, veggies

Method:

  1. Boil sausages then cool and chop
  2. Sauce of gravox, tsp curry powder, cornflour, margarine
  3. Keep stirring so it doesn’t burn 
  4. Combine sausages with sauce and veg plus grated apple

My Adaption

I prefer to chop and fry the sausages, then make the sauce around them then add the veg. It tastes so good!

Nachos

Last year, my partner and I made nachos for dinner. They’re quite easy to make though there’s a bit of a process involved.

Ingredients:

  • Olive oil
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 500g beef mince
  • 1x can kidney beans, drained, rinsed
  • 1 sachet of taco seasoning mix
  • Tomato paste & water or passata
  • 1x packet corn chips
  • grated cheese

Method:

  1. Chop onion and prepare other ingredients (now is the time to open jars or cans so you don’t have to scramble to open them later.)
  2. Preheat oven to 200C.
  3. Heat oil in frying pan over medium heat.
  4. Cook onion for 2 minutes, or until soft.
  5. Add mince. Cook, stirring, until browned.
  6. Add kidney beans and seasoning (taco spice mix etc.) and tomato paste. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer until thick.
  7. Arrange corn chips in an oven dish. Top with mince mixture and sprinkle with cheese.
  8. Bake for 15 minutes or until hot.
  9. While this occurs, make salad to accompany the nachos – we had lettuce and carrot.
  10. When nachos are finished, top with your choice of toppings if desired – e.g. salsa, avocado, sour cream. Serve.

Delicious.

Singing for life

This year I’m singing in two choirs: the Monash University Choral Society (MonUCS) and the La Trobe University Choral Society (LaTUCS). It means my Tuesday and Wednesday evenings are taken during semesters (starting this week!). I love it.

No matter the stress or processing load of the day, I can walk into choir and relax during the singing parts. If I’ve had a busy day I need to give myself alone time before I can “people”, or interact with others, as despite my extraversion crowds can be overwhelming, especially at the end of a long day. (More on that in another post.) The actual rehearsal bits are fun regardless. I love getting into the rhythm of songs.

This year is different too, as I am no longer a student and therefore aren’t the one organising things. It’s nice to be on the other side and I have confidence in the current committees.

Today both LaTUCS and ROCS (RMIT Occasional Choral Society) are taking part in promo events on campus at Bundoora and Melbourne city respectively. I wish them luck!

If you’re interested in singing, why don’t you come over and have a go? Our choirs have no auditions and are very friendly places. Everyone can sing in my opinion – and singing is good for you, too.

Singing is such a big part of my life and I wouldn’t change that for the world.

Woman taking selfie. She has tilted the camera so her t-shirt can be read. It says, “Keep Calm and Sing Laudate”