Thursday, 29 December 2011

Stuff and Things.

As I sit here eating raspberry frogs from a ‘bulk buy’ packet, I can’t help but think back to the time I spent studying nutrition at university.

One memory that has stuck with me from this experience (obviously it’s not the nutrition part…) is a picture from the back of one of my textbooks. The picture was of a family surrounded by all the food they would consume in a year. The image showed a smiling couple from the 80s, along with large hair, 2.3 kids, 50 dead chickens, 100 cans of peas, and enough sugar to keep me very, very happy.

Red frogs aside, I know that my own diet is reasonable. However if all the food I ate in a year was presented in front of me in a ‘Hoarders’ style TV show, I know I would probably do some self-reflecting. At least I might buy a smaller packet of raspberry frogs. (For those who don’t know what Hoarders is: Congratulations. You are intellectually superior.)

A scary thought, is that the show (the imaginary one from the last paragraph) wouldn’t even truly reflect all that I have consumed in the year. Just the FOOD that I’ve consumed. Just think of all of the other ‘stuff’ in my life that I don’t eat. Stuff that I accumulate just to put around me. Or on me. For example, it is a ridiculous, but very real fact, that I own more than 50 dresses. Yes I do, and I’m not proud of it. I’ve tried many tactics to make this not the case. I throw out bags of them each year… I lend them to people hoping they’ll forget and keep them. One cosolation is that many of them come from op-shops, which assists to diminish my Environmental Dress Guilt (EDG). But still… so many dresses.

Before you judge, let me just say that this accumulation of ‘stuff’ isn’t a reflection of my greed and need for more more MORE!! What I like to think, is that the ‘stuff’ is a result of the ever-present sentimentality that rules my life.

Sentimentality is a funny disease. To understand, you need to know that people severely affected by ‘sentimentality’, are able (and likely) to develop an emotional attachment to anything. I mean ANYTHING. I could collect a blue bucket from the side of the road today, and tomorrow it will have become “that special blue bucket I got it that time from the side of the road that time, remember?” I’ll associate some romantic story with the experience (such as stopping the car to get it), and next thing you know I have this blue bucket forever.

Christmas is an especially tricky time for those with sentimentality, because it’s a time when people give you even more ‘stuff’. An anonymous colleague once told me a story about a teapot that she’d received as a gift, which she decided to ‘re-gift’ to another friend. However when the second friend opened the gift, they found a Christmas card inside the teapot from the original gifter to my colleague.

What struck me about this story is how far removed this is from something I’d be capable of. Whether I liked the teapot or not, it would stay with me for the rest of my foreseeable life. Not because I like tea (though I do!). Not for any reason other than that I am affected of a disorder that touches many, but is largely a space-wasting mystery.

At least I don’t have to carry all my dead chickens around at once.

An example of my nutritional history (eating sundae at Disneyland).

Thursday, 22 December 2011

Going crazy, Broadway style.

I don’t have a TV.
Not by choice, but by having moved into a house without one. I must have been so distracted by the flashy sunset from my new balcony, that I didn’t notice the lack of idiot box in the corner.
Idiot box was a bit harsh, wasn’t it? I like TV. I like its relaxy charms. I like its witty comedies. I even like its Ice Road Truckers. So living without a TV has been interesting.
My accidentally-superior lifestyle now includes things like: listening to more radio, reading more books and… watching more DVDs on my laptop. Whatever, I still don’t have a TV. (You could say that TV in my life has simply become more expensive, and now costs me $4.40 for three episodes at the Video Dogs in Fitzroy.) (But man, what a great name, right? Video Dogs).
When I was a teenager I used to baby-sit for a few of the families around my neighborhood (I actually wanted to be in ‘The Babysitters Club’ but there were no positions vacant. I wanted to be Dawn). The best bit about babysitting was that many of the families had Pay TV, and so when the kids went to bed, I got to watch all kinds of awesome new films that I couldn’t watch on normal TV. Like Indiana Jones & the Temple of Doom.
After spending TV time with these other families, I began to realize a common trend. Many of the kids weren’t allowed to watch The Simpsons. And when I say horrified. I mean horrified.
I think it’s fair to say (even though mum-anon is going to have a conniption when she reads this) that I leant a lot of what I know from The Simpsons. I’m not kidding. What is in my brain is a combination of learnings from home, school, friends, and weeknightly Kelly-Simpson gatherings.
Things that I can genuinely recall learning from watching the show:
1.    I learnt right from wrong (from watching Bart)
2.    I learnt about different family units
3.    I learnt about different religions
4.     When I got a little older, I was able to match Simpsons storylines with historical events that I’d learnt about at school.
5.    I was instilled with the ability to quickly befriend other Simpsons-fed kids, with little more than a simple quote (…Kiss my assfault, eh?) and alienate many, many more.
I guess my point is that watching The Simpsons didn’t make me want to all of a sudden make my own slingshot and ‘go crazy Broadway style’. (I’m sure I just alienated of you, but hang on, we’re almost at the end.) My parents trusted me to make those distinctions for myself, and I did.
I don’t think a little TV is bad. I think a little good TV is good. So long as it doesn’t cost $4.40 for three episodes.
What a rip.

Flashy view from my balcony that started all of this.
Also, Merry Christmas!

Thursday, 15 December 2011


I don’t hate hipsters. I like their scarves. So why have I been so annoyed?

It occurs to me as I write, that this entry could turn into a piece of judgmental junk that I’m not proud of. So right of the bat, I’ll acknowledge two things:

1)    ‘Hipster’ is a culture I know very little about. I will do my best to hold back opinions and merely discuss observations. (One or two judgments, max.)
2)    My intention is use this blog as a form of hipsto-therapy, in order to better understand and resolve unwanted negative feelings towards my new neighbours. It’s possible that a public forum is not the place.

To get some initial insight into the subject, I decided I’d go straight to the source. I approached an anonymous friend, whom I believed to be a hipster. He quickly assured me he was not one (though apparently speaks the language fluently and gets invited to their bi-annual meetings. Probably only goes for the food).

His definition, quickly conveyed through text message, was loosely as follows:
1) Someone with no fixed form of employment
2) Someone with no ability to construct cohesive and pithy sentences
3) Someone with no actual need to wear glasses

I don’t think I’ll comment much on the first point. I was about to write something like ‘What are all these people doing in cafes in the middle of the day?’ until I looked around and found myself in a café in the middle of the day. With no fixed form of employment.

I don’t think I’ll comment too much on the last point either. I like the glasses. I wish I had the glasses. I wear beanies when I’m not chilly, and I guess non-prescription glasses is the next logical step…… But gosh aren’t there a lot of people in Fitzroy who have taken that step? (Judgment 1 of 2)

The second point is, however, an interesting one. Possibly it even drills down to the core of my pesky resentment. Transcribed below is a conversation I overheard in a café (in the middle of the day) last week, between a young man and woman of hipster-y nature (i.e. She had a feather in her hair and he was wearing a cardigan). (Judgment 2 of 2)

Her: I think I’d like to get into photography.
Him: Hmmm. I don’t like photography. I don’t think you can ever really capture a moment.
Her: You’re right. But sometimes you can capture a moment. You know?
Him: Yeah. Sometimes you can capture a moment.

Here is another conversation I overheard in a bar in Fitzroy, between a group of young glasses-ed hipstograms.

Him 1: There’s no such thing as fair trade.
Him 2: Yeah.
Him 3: Yeah.

For a while, it really bugged me that I had chosen to live in a suburb thats inhabitants had such a warped fashion:depth ratio.  But now I think I’ve figured it out.  And to be honest, I’m disappointed in myself that I didn’t figure it out sooner.

Unlike Harry and Voldemort, fashion and depth don’t rely on each other to flourish. They exist separately (but in Fitzroy quite often they exist together purely because of numbers). Having glasses and something to say doesn’t make people annoying. Talking about a moment doesn’t even make people annoying.

I think… Hipsters are hipsters. Annoying people are annoying people. Annoying hipsters are annoying. But hipsters aren’t annoying.

Plus I like their scarves.

Here is recent picture of me, in which I was accused of being ‘So Fitzroy’.  Is being a hipster about wearing dresses, reading the paper and drinking coffee? If so count me in.

Thursday, 8 December 2011

Everyone I love is here, all at once.

This year I’ve decided to get into the Christmas spirit. It’s not like I don’t normally, but I guess that this year I’m feeling extra spirity. I’m not sure what brought this on - maybe I’ve walked past the Myer Christmas window display too many times. But you know what? I’m tired of pretending to be cooler than Christmas.

I think it’s fair to say that most little kiddies in the Western world love a bit of Christmas. When I was little, one of my Dad’s friends (who is American too) would always have a ‘tree-trimming’ party at his house. On arrival, everyone was required to put at least one decoration on their giant tree - and then everyone would catch up with old friends, drink egg-nog, sing Christmas carols and eat ginger bread. Now call me daft, but I just can’t see what’s not to like about that. Christmas decorations are like evidence that someone has prioritised fun, tradition, beauty and festivity over practicality. Plus, this family had a trampoline so their parties were pretty much the highlight of my calendar year.

My Anonymous mum really comes into her own at Christmas. I think it’s a combination of the joy of having all her family in the same room, and the stress of having all her family in the same room. My sisters and I revert back to being excited kiddies, while someone tries to remember all the Christmas traditions that we have accumulated over the years (more and more this someone is me). Best of all, mum makes special Christmas bread that we call ‘Special Christmas Bread’ that has icing on it (someone tell be what’s not to like about icing for breakfast?). The highlight of the morning is seeing whether the dough has risen overnight, even though no-one really cares (except mum), because it has icing on it anyway. Then we all pile into the car to go to my auntie’s house, arguing that the person with the smallest hips should go in the middle seat. And then measuring.

I definitely acknowledge that this is the wrong year for me to decide to get gifty, given that I have got no job. But as grown-ups always say (and I have boringly noticed myself saying), it’s the thought that counts. And it really really is. As a kid, mum-anon would take my sisters and I to the $2 Shop, where we’d spend ages trying to find that perfect special thing for each member of our family. It was great, and my dad still has the $2 mug I gave him when I was five. To me, the tradition of giving gifts is like permission to show someone that you care about them, and a reason to think about what is special and different about them.

Here are the only bad/sad things I could think of about Christmas:
  1. Lots of people can’t afford presents.
  2. Lots of people will be missing friends and family.
  3. I’m sure I’m missing the point of Christmas on a religious level.
  4. Useless stuff is bad for the environment.
  5. Christmas episodes of The Simpsons.
  6. Sequels to Christmas movies, though the originals are often winners i.e. ‘The Santa Claus’ with Tim Allen.
But I don’t think these things mean that people should get angry at Christmas. I guess it means thinking about how we celebrate the holiday, and why. The Finn Brothers have a song called ‘Won’t Give In’ and my favorite line is ‘Everyone I love is here, all at once”. I’m not sure what the Finn's meant when they wrote that line, but this is definitely what Christmas means to me. I’m lucky enough to have everyone I love, for one day, all in the same place to watch Christmas episodes of The Simpsons, fight over who gets the middle seat, exchange gifts, listen to Crowded House and eat icing for breakfast.

And there’s no way I’m cooler than that.

Here is me standing in front of Christmas things, as proof that I am pro-Christmas.

Thursday, 1 December 2011

Why Does ‘The Internet’ Get Capital Letters?

When I first discovered the Internet in Year 8 (yes, it was me), I thought it was pretty cool. Very cool. Which obviously it is and I was right. I was so amazed by the things I could now do and find out that I even took time out of my busy lunchtime Spin Doctor schedule to marvel. That is, when Double Helix Club wasn’t in session.

Through the miracle of email (not pronounced ‘eh-mail’, I learnt later), I gained exotic online Pen Pals with names like ‘FrogGirl’ from exotic places like ‘Adelaide’. “How’s the weather in Adelaide?” “It’s cold, you?” “Same.” It was a golden age, when chat-rooms were new and socially acceptable, and Facebook was just a twinkle in the eye of that guy from The Social Network.

Back in those days, I looked forward to spending time in the computer room after school, while I waited for Dad (who was a teacher at my school) to finish up. I could look up anything I wanted during that time, which in those days was mostly pictures of Hanson, and chords for songs by Killing Heidi. And play Spin Doctor. I was allowed to do anything I wanted, except click on any buttons that say ‘**!!!NuDe SpIcE GiRlS!!!**’. For a dare.

But as time went on, I noticed that The Internet (which Microsoft Word tells my gets a capital letter, like ‘God’) got less and less exciting. Mum eventually warned me against FrogGirl (because he could turn out to be a ToadMan), chat-rooms got shunned by Sacred Heart’s I.T. department (and later by society), and I got kicked out of the computer room for looking up naked girl bands. For a dare.

Recently when I quit my job, I found new reasons for avoiding The Internet and it’s netty charms, even coming up with the personal slogan ‘Ebay is Not a Hobby’ to remind me of one of it’s (or maybe ‘my’) downfalls.  So these days, my Internet adventures have dwindled to: checking my email, job-searching, Facebook, Twitter (still not sure about this one), and occasionally researching things like ‘Wikihow to be a musician’. And that’s about it.

As I get older, and the world gets smaller, my interest in the World Wide Web steadily declines. No frog-people, no spice-girls and no chat-rooms. Usually if I decide to surf the net (are the kids still saying this?), somehow I just end up paddling around in circles (similar to my actual surfing experiences) and then go play outside. At least mum will be happy that I’m getting some fresh air.

I think it's possible that whoever did this in awesome knitted bike rack in Carlton was in their school's Double Helix Club.