Sunday, June 30, 2013

Salvage

I have a guilty secret.  OK, I have many guilty secrets, but the only I'm admitting to today is one I don't share with many people for fear of judgement.

So let's all just agree to leave that old chestnut, judgement, at the door. OK?

Good.

Escape to the Country.  I love it.  If I'm channel surfing and that pops up on my screen then I HAVE to watch it.  Every time. Even if I've seen it before.  Some of those houses are amazing.  Some are dreadful, but some are just gobsmackingly brilliant and make me want to up sticks and move to the country immediately.  

Of course, then I think about the practicalities involved in living in rural Britain and reality sets in.  It's unlikely to ever happen.  But a girl can dream, can't she?

Anyway... on the episode I'm currently watching, our scrummy host, Jules, is visiting a company called Robert Mills, who salvage church architecture and fittings for resale. I've just had to google them because I was so fascinated. Here's the link.  If I'm ever in Bristol, you'd better believe I'll be checking them out.

It wasn't until I watched this episode that I'd ever thought about what happens to the fixtures and fittings of a church when the powers-that-be decide to modernise or deconsecrate it. Thankfully, the people that own this company do.  Imagine all that stunning craftsmanship going into a salvage yard, or dumpster.  Criminal.  Apparently they rent a lot of it out to film productions, which seems like a good idea.

It got me thinking about the reason all these items were discarded in the first place and why (this particular episode dealt with chapel conversions) there seem to be so many people moving into old churches.  I guess the decline in church attendance (I suspect like most other 'businesses' for want of a better term) has an effect on whether the church can remain in operation.  Unless it's the Catholic Church of course. They've got bucketloads of cash to keep their doors open.  But churches that relied on the generosity or patronage of their congregation, must have no option when their numbers dwindle. 

I guess that's a reflection on how communities have expanded and no longer revolve around places of worship.  I could count on one hand the number of people I know in my generation who regularly attend church.  Sure, there are a few who go at Christmas and Easter, but those who attend on a weekly basis (like we used to as kids)?  I'd be struggling to come up with any.  Maybe it's the circles I now move in, maybe it's the times. It's probably a bit of both.  But more likely the times, when you see how many churches are being renovated for residential dwelling.

It's equal parts sad and comforting.  On one hand, those beautiful, exquisitely crafted buildings are no longer available for community use.  On the other hand, they're being restored and kept intact, albiet as someone's home and that's better than them being totally demolished.

(As an aside... I don't think I could live in an old church.  Would creep me out too much.)

But thank goodness there are people like the ones at Robert Mills who keep those gorgeous interior parts around for future generations to appreciate.


Wednesday, June 26, 2013

The Politics of Dancing

My mother and I have vastly different political viewpoints.  I'm pretty sure I've discussed this before. She is a Liberal voter through and through. My father was too.  I never asked, but I'm fairly certain it's a generational thing - ie my grandparents voted Liberal also.

I've never asked my brother who he votes for, but I'd hazard a guess it's Liberal. Probably because "that's who mum and dad voted for and they must be right".  He doesn't think about politics too much, bless him.  As long as he has a roof over his head, three meals a day, his kids have what they need and he can play cricket each summer, he's not overly bothered with the rest of the world. Sometimes I wish I wasn't so invested in the world around me and could live a simple life like that.

Anyway.  When Brutha and I got to voting age, our parents never sat down and talked to us about how to decide who to vote for. We were never encouraged to investigate the policies of each party and decide which one most closely mirrored our own morals and viewpoints. In fact, the only thing I remember being told before I went to cast my first vote in a Federal election was something along the lines of "That Keating's a nasty bloke, don't vote for him". 

(My memory's a bit hazy, but I'm fairly sure I voted for the Democrats the first time I ever voted. I have a feeling it was because the mother of one of my school mates (and wife of one of our teachers) was the leader of the party and I really liked her stance on things.)

The Australian political system is in a bit of a mess right now.  You've seen the news, you read the internet - you know what's going on. I have many views on the whole thing and there's not enough time in the world to go into detail on all of them, so I'll just focus on one odd comment I received this evening via Facebook.

You see, the more investigation I do into which party I will vote for at the upcoming election, the more I am impressed by the clear, straightforward policies put forward by the Greens.  Right at this point in time, they're getting my vote and I doubt that will change. Education, climate change, affordable health care, equal rights, marriage equality, human rights/refugees - they have clear policies on all these topics and I agree with them all.

But then someone said to me: "Why would you bother voting for the Greens? They won't have enough to get into power... it's a wasted vote". 

It's not the first time I've heard this - indeed it's an argument my parents used on me when I first started voting.  That my choice should (preferably) be Liberal, but if not, it should be Labor, because voting Greens or Democrats or Independent would be a "wasted" vote.

My response to my parents, as it was again tonight is: "Why not?".

What if NO ONE voted for Labor or Liberal and instead EVERYBODY voted for the Greens? What would happen?  So many people are so deeply entrenched in this "it's either Labor or Liberal - there's no other choice" viewpoint that they just don't even bother to think outside the square.  It's entirely possible that if enough people voted for the Greens, they'd hold a lot more power and a lot more would be achieved in areas that so clearly need it.

What I'd really like to see, come September 14 (if that date stays - who knows with tonight's change of leadership), is for everyone to think outside the box and say "What if?". What if I give my vote to the most deserving party for their clear, rational policies, rather than the party I think is most likely to win anyway?".

But I fear, as a nation, we're not that evolved yet. Certainly we're not nearly evolved as we should be when it comes to equal rights.

But never forget..


"Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has." 
~ Margaret Mead 

The great women (and men) of Texas sure as hell proved that today.  What an awesome moment in history.

The next few months sure are going to be interesting...

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Raincheck

I was intending to write a blog post tonight, on some topic that captured my attention earlier in the day.

Instead I worked on a job application, because: (a) I only just noticed it on the website at 7pm; and (b) realised the deadline is tomorrow.

I feel like I've done so many job applications (for this particular place) over the last few months, that I can now churn out a three-page response to selection criteria and cover letter in under two hours. 

(Of course none of these jobs have even yet led to the interview stage, which may mean I'm doing it all wrong, but we'll see.)

Just cross your fingers for me.

To quote The Angels about my current job "I gotta get out of this place, if it's the only thing I ever do".  Because if my company says I have to go on tour with a certain rock band (touring in December) again, I cannot be held responsible for my actions if said band's tour manager behaves in the sleazy manner he did last time I was on tour with them.  He. Is. Foul.

So, yeah. Cross your fingers. And toes.

Muchos gracias.

Monday, June 17, 2013

I not Y; Then not Than

Many things in this world bug me. Injustice towards women and children, politicians without morals, greedy mining magnates who try to control the media, Rupert Murdoch, people who don't say please or thank you... the list is seemingly endless.

Some of the things that bug me are relatively minor.  Or should be. But they eat away at me and drive me nuts.  

The main one that's been bugging me for the last few days falls into the "actually shouldn't be a thing but it is" category.  Yes, I'm talking about my old pals, spelling and grammar.  They've been abused quite badly the last few days; mostly by my Facebook friends.  I don't know quite why it gets to me so much, but it does. And since I can't really go ballistic about it on Facebook, because I don't want to offend these people who are (seemingly) ignorant as to their faux pas, I really need to get it off my chest somewhere. I'd hazard a guess that there's about four people who read this blog who are actually my friend on FB (and none of them are perpetrators of this particular crime!) so I'm not terribly worried about venting here.

Anyway.  Let me provide you with a couple of examples of these grammatical transgressions:

1. Then vs Than
I have one particular friend whose status updates read like a shopping list of her daily achievements (or on the weekends, her social diary).  I have no issue with this per say, however her constant misuse of conjunctions drives me insane.  "Grocery shopping, than getting a haircut, than a manicure, than lunch with the girls, than beach time...". Part of me just wants to write "THEN NOT THAN YOU MUPPET!" in the comments section, but I'm a little too polite.

2. You're vs Your and It's vs Its
"Wow, look at you're new hair"; "Your going to love the show, its great"; "We took it's collar off for cleaning".  

'Nuff said.

3. Names (and how to spell them)
My name is spelled with an 'i' at the end, instead of the more common 'y'. I won't go into the reasons for this, but suffice to say, this spelling has been in place for almost 30 years. Both my work and personal email addresses require the use of the 'i', but this doesn't prevent people from then addressing me in the body of the email using the 'y' variant.  Grrrrr.  It's not rocket science.  Still, at least I'm not being insulted in the same way as two of the (historical) characters from Jesus Christ Superstar, which I (and several of my friends) saw over the weekend. My personal favourite mis-spelled name was 'Pilot' (for Pontius Pilate), followed closely by 'Kyaphus' (for Caiaphas).   I realise that not everyone grew up going to church or being beaten over the head with a bible like I was, but please. There was a cast board out front and really?  We live in the age of Google.  I said it once, I'll say it again.

It's not rocket science.


(Sometimes, I read back what I've written and think to myself "I really do need to lighten up and get a life".  Then I realise it's all blog fodder, shrug and hit the 'publish' button.)




Thursday, June 13, 2013

Nyquil Dreaming

I had a weird dream the other night. A Nyquil-induced dream.  I was going to try and piece it together here, based on what I tweeted immediately upon wakening, which was:


#Nyquil dreams. Freaking me out yet again. #HaveCold #SleptFourteenHours #LegallyBlonde #ObesePeopleInTrolleys #NavyBluePuppies #SharedLoos


But I really can't remember any of it. I have no idea what the correlation was between Legally Blonde and Obese People In Trolleys, for example.  Don't even ask why the obese people were IN trolleys instead of pushing them... I have no idea.  


Also, why would puppies be navy blue?  I've never seen puppies in any shade of blue, let alone navy.  I suppose Shared Loos may feed into my long-held fear of going to a party at someone's house and there not being a lock on the toilet door and having someone barge in on me whilst I'm 'mid-business' (so to speak).  But I don't know why I was dreaming about it.  I especially don't know what it had to do with puppies and obese people.

No, I think it's safe to say I'm utterly perplexed by this one.  The more I mull it over in my mind, the less I remember about it.

But it bugs me.

Still.






Thursday, June 06, 2013

Under the Influence - Part 1

So the subject of my late-night-lightbulb moment was this (word for word, this is what I scrawled at about 1am):

Influence of childhood authors on later life. ie if you read widely when you're young; will your perspective be broader as an adult? Conversely: if you don't read at all or read only what you have to, to get through the education system, will you be more likely to confirm to society's standards?

Case in point. Brutha & I. 

My influences (early):

Judy Blume
Elinor M Brent-Dyer
Enid Blyton
Astrid Lindgren
Laura Ingalls Wilder
Joyce Lankester Brisley
Noel Streatfeild
Elizabeth Enright

(later)

Harper Lee
JD Salinger
Jane Austen
Bret Easton Ellis


That's what I wrote. I'm kinda impressed that not only is it legible, but that it actually makes sense. Also the fact I've given an example of the case of my brother and I, impresses me.

So.  Let me expand.

For as long as I can remember, I have been a voracious reader. I don't ever remember not being able to read.  It's a long-standing source of pride for my mother that I walked out of my first day of school with the reader we'd been given (which we were told we would "eventually" learn to read) and proceeded to speed-read it aloud in absolute disgust in front of the other mothers, finishing up with a flourishing slam and a "this is a book for babies - when do we get real books to read?".  Apparently the other mothers were in awe at my reading level.  I didn't notice - I was too busy being pissed off at the pathetic selection of books being offered for my enjoyment. Thankfully, we had an understanding school librarian, who allowed me to borrow from whichever section took my fancy and I was reading from the upper primary school section by the time I was six.  By the time I was nine I had read the entire children's section of our local library. Twice.  Every year for my birthday (and again at Christmas) I was given at least half a dozen books. When my dad purchased a set of World Book Encyclopaedias, one of my favourite pastimes was to pick a volume at random and just read.  If you ever wanted to find me as a child, you didn't need to look far. I'd be the one curled up in a chair with her nose in a book.

It's pretty safe to say, I LOVED reading. I was naturally curious about so many things, and reading answered a lot of the questions that my parents (and teachers) didn't automatically have the answers to. Of course, it also raised loads more questions, so it was a double-edged sword I guess.

Brutha, by contrast, was NOT a natural reader.  He had no problems reading, per say, but he couldn't bear to sit still (unless it was on a bean bag in front of the TV at 5pm every afternoon watching Monkey and The Goodies) and spent the majority of his childhood outdoors kicking (hitting/bouncing) a ball or climbing a tree or riding his bike or (once or twice a year) scrounging through the local hard rubbish collection collecting "stuff" which he would use to build things.  He read only enough to prevent him getting D's at school and had no interest in the written word.  Movies, he loved. He was all about the visual. But even if you bought him a novelised version of Star Wars, you couldn't get him to read it. Reading for enjoyment was not something he subscribed to.   I remember his final year of school being quite the battle in our household. I'm sure in his mind, knuckling down to study for exams equalled the worst possible form of torture.

To say we were polar opposites is somewhat of an understatement.

As a child, I lived vicariously through books. I sought adventures to far away places in the words of the authors whose books I inhaled. As an adult, I have been inspired to visit many of the places and undertake many of the activities I read about as a child. My curiosity and sense of adventure can (in no small part) be attributed directly to the words I read as a child.  I've travelled widely, studied any number of fascinating subjects in great detail and have a perpetual "what if/imagine that/why is it..." attitude towards life. I rack up frequent flyer points like a business traveller on speed.  There are so many places in the world I want to visit that I'm terrified I'll die before I get to see them all.  There are so many things I still want to achieve that I worry I'll never fit them all.  I haven't lived in my hometown for over twenty years and I have no intention of ever living there again. In fact, I've lived in over twenty different places since I first moved out of home.  That's an average of a new place every 12 months. That's not really normal, is it?  

By contrast, Brutha lives less than half an hour from the place we grew up.  He's worked in many jobs, but until recently, they've not been jobs he's interested in - they've just been a means to paying the bills. Now he's working as a landscape gardener and although he complains that the work is quite physically taxing, he's enjoying it.  Brutha has never been overseas (and I highly doubt he'd ever want to). His idea of "travel" is to take his wife and daughters to stay at the in-laws farm which is an hour's drive followed by an hour's ferry trip away from his house. I think the last time he went on a plane was when he went on his honeymoon to North Queensland, which was in the mid-1990s. He didn't much care for that holiday by all accounts. Lying by a pool or exploring a rainforest is not his idea of fun.  I'm not entirely sure, because by the time he returned from that trip, I was safely ensconced back in London and planning trips to Scotland (to go in search of the elusive Hamish Macbeth, whiskey and men in kilts) and Switzerland (in search of ski slopes, fondue and the location of the Chalet School books).  He is more than happy to spend the remainder of his life doing the job he's doing, doing home improvements, spending his weekends at the local sporting clubs (cricket in summer, hockey in winter) and adding to his (already-ridiculously-huge) collection of Marvel comic memorabilia. Oh yeah. He's also a hoarder (takes after our mother who I swear saves every scrap of anything that crosses her path).  Apart from books, I live a pretty uncluttered life. I could pack up my house and be ready to move in a day. Or less. 

Our politics are also wildly different. My parents were/are quite conservative. I'm pretty sure my mother voted for John Howard. I've voted for a few different parties over the years... I do a lot of research into who to vote for and why, regardless of party (having said that, you'll never see me voting Liberal/Coalition. Ever.).  My mother doesn't agree with my political views (and I abhor hers), but we've learnt to not to get into an argument about them. In contrast, Brutha apparently votes the same way my dad did (which is the same way my mother votes). No questions asked. Just tick the box. It's not important. Keep the status quo. Don't get involved with that stuff. 

Yep. If we didn't share a physical resemblance, I'd swear we weren't related.

Which brings me to the subject at hand.  I guess it's a nature vs nurture thing?  Or is it?  We have the same parents, were raised in the same household. Yet our outlooks on everything are vastly different. I can't even begin to understand how he's happy (and he is happy) with his day-to-day life; and he is totally bamboozled by my constant need for new experiences, to explore the world and to look at life from a global perspective.

Wow. I've just scrolled back through what I've written and it's long.  And that's just the intro. I haven't even started on the main argument.  Maybe I'll make this a two part post and let this one sink in first.

Well done if you've made it this far... stay tuned for Part 2!


Tuesday, June 04, 2013

Noted

Some of my best (and strangest) ideas occur in that moment right before I go to sleep... just as my head hits the pillow and I'm usually having a conversation with myself over something I did (or didn't) do during the day. Often, I'll lie there for a minute or two and suddenly I'll have a lightbulb moment on how to deal with whatever it is. When this happens, I have two choices: 

1. Get up and do whatever my brain is telling me to do (thus delaying sleep - never a good idea with me); or

2. Grab the notebook beside my bed, write it down in as much detail as I can muster at that late hour, then turn off the light and go to sleep.

Yes. I've learned to keep a notebook and pen beside my bed. It took me a few years of using the most unlikely of writing instruments (eyeliner, lip pencil) on the most unlikely of notebook substitutes (kleenex, sales receipts); but thankfully, Typo and their 3 x A5 notebooks for $10 sales have meant I'm much more organised when it comes to late-night-lightbulb-moments.

Usually, it's so late and I'm so tired, that I end up scrawling some nonsense that is indecipherable the next day.  I have notebooks full of scribbles that even I can't make any sense of.  I'm sure there are some brilliant ideas just waiting to be uncovered - sadly I think they'll never see the light of day.  However, last night I actually managed to write down a page of extremely coherent notes about a topic that has been rolling around my mind for days.

Wonders will never cease.

Now please excuse me while I go and transpose these notes into my next blog post.  This one will actually require a bit of research, so it may take a day or two.

Until then, might I recommend watching the latest series of Arrested Development?  It's amusing me no end. 


x


Monday, June 03, 2013

Talking in Code

Scrolling through my Facebook feed tonight, I came across a status update from one of my friends complaining about the fact he felt out of it because everyone was updating about the latest ep of Game of Thrones.  He is holding out watching on a weekly basis so he can watch the entire series in one sitting.  He has no idea what anyone was referring to and he felt a little excluded.

I don't watch Game of Thrones. Never have. It's up there with Mad Men and the Twilight saga on the list of things I feel I probably should watch, but likely never will because I just don't get the fuss surrounding it.  It does make me feel a little like Ann Perkins in Parks and Rec when she's talking to Donna about that very topic:







You can't see Ann's blank-faced response in these pics, but you get the idea. She's as clueless about GoT as I am.

Which kinda segue-ways me into the point of this post.

Everyone has their own language. Pop Culture language, that is. And they have certain groups of friends who understand this language, and if they're lucky enough, can speak that language.

Case in point. My friend M and I. We've only known each other for about a year, but we figured out pretty early on that we were separated at birth. Why? We speak the same language. A language that revolves around the quirky things which we are (some would say obsessed) fascinated with, such as:

  • US politics (specifically Hillary Clinton running for President in 2016. We are willing to campaign on her behalf)
  • Awards shows (our preferred hosts are Tina Fey and Amy Poehler, closely followed by Neil Patrick Harris)
  • Anything written by Aaron Sorkin (especially The West Wing and The Newsroom)
  • Doctor Who
  • Arrested Development
  • Saturday Night Live
  • Parks andRecreation

Our fascination/obsession with the last one in particular, manifests itself in our ability to retain huge quantities of trivial information and random dialogue which we delight in using to confuse those around us. It's like our own secret language. We throw around seemingly benign comments about waffles, calzones and bacon and use phrases like "Treat Yo' Self" and "LITERALLY" in general conversation. It's like our own little clique. I was never in the cool clique in high school and I'd hazard a guess that M wasn't either, so maybe this is our grown-up way of compensating. In a rather juvenile way, of course.

It still feels like I'm on the outside a little, though, when the 'cool kids' start referencing GoT.  

But I guess the difference now is that I'm not trying to keep up with them because I have my own 'cool' language that they don't get. Plus I've found a friend who does.

Which is even cooler.

LITERALLY.