Are curses real?

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Okay, okay, I know I have a tendency to the dramatic. I am probably not cursed…probably. But you know what? I have been having an astonishingly awful week.

So awful in fact I felt the need to start a list, but instead of sharing said list I’d like to define “awful”.

My week has been the kind if week that can be summarised by the following scenario: picture yourself walking home in the pouring rain with all of your groceries in a paper bag. It’s been a long day and your feet are sore. You’ve got about 800 metres to go when the bottom of the bag collapses and everything scatters over the street.

My week has been that kind of awful.

So, I might or might not be cursed.

And yes, last time I checked I didn’t have the Hope diamond around my neck. But it did get me thinking.

So here’s my daily introspection: does belief in the curse, or having identified oneself as being cursed, in fact create pseudo-psychological circumstances where a string of random occurrences are connected back to the curse, purely because you’re looking for a connection?

It’s “the Number 23” all over again!

Okay. But that kind of psychology has been proven to work, so pack the scepticism away there. The Placebo effect: believing something (that in scientific fact has not medicinal value) will make you better, does actually help.

So…did you know that there’s actually a thing called the Nocebo Effect: believing something will harm you, actually can harm you.

Aside from the startling implications of the Placebo and Nocebo effects, it does make you wonder doesn’t it? Despite the fact the Nocebo effect is harder to test (morally, it’s wrong to convince your test subjects they will be harmed and then watch them self-destruct), the logic is in its favour.

If we can convince ourselves if good and achieve wellness, why on earth wouldn’t we be able to do the flip side by convincing ourselves curses exist and them descending straight into harm’s way, without ever making a conscious decision to do either one?

Definitely lends credence to the idea that you are responsible for doing your own critical thinking, rather than allowing yourself to be convinced you’re cursed.

And maybe you are cursed because you think you are. Makes sense.

Good luck? Bad luck?

Maybe there’s no such thing?

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Congratulations: You’re Self Obsessed!

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So for those of you who haven’t seen it, there’s a video floating around on the internet (and mostly being shared by Facebook which I really hope isn’t lost on the people sharing it there) telling us that people / experiences are being ruined by social media.

As a long-time fan of Spoken Word poetry (especially when coupled with short films – so pretty), I appreciate the beauty of the video and everyone who has met me knows I’ve probably played the same arguments out at some point. But to everyone taking it as gospel and then climbing on their high horses to post it passive-aggressively to FB or twitter: really?

You know what? I am so over people telling me that technology is ruining our lives, and that apparently shared experiences and the desire to “check in” and photograph everything is destroying my ability to socialise and interact with humans. For starters, the desire to document the human experience has not just sprung up in the last twenty years. Are you kidding me? Really?

What exactly do you think are cave paintings, pottery, engravings, autobiographys, and letters are meant to do? The historic need to share experience and knowledge dates back to the beginning of humanity as we know it. I really don’t see why the ability or desire to do this is suddenly becoming a shameful or alarming prospect.

And yes, the shameful (or shameless) selfie. God forbid you go somewhere without taking a photo of yourself!, cry the nay-sayers.

Well…yes we are indulging in more photos and visual evidence of day-to-day life…but is that really a direct response to an increase in the self-obsessed nature of humanity?

I would argue not, in fact, I would argue the prolific accessibility of technology has only unlocked that need and made satisfaction of that need to create visual self-imaging easier. Indeed, perhaps the reason yee-old people didn’t take so many selfies, was simply because…they didn’t have cameras.

Self-portrait paintings, for example, are dated by many art historians as starting at least by the 1400s. Not to mention the fact that some of those works are the most celebrated and revered in our culture. To name a few off the top of my head: Frida Khalo; and, Vincent Van Gogh.

Then there’s folks who used what we would probably compare to photoshop by editing themselves into important events they were (probably) not a part of at all. I’ve heard theories about Michelanglo for example. Is selfie culture really that new? Or are we just noticing now because even those of us without talent can try it out without hiring someone for hundreds of dollars and sitting patiently by whilst they painstakingly recreate us?

Perhaps people complaining about all this documentation aren’t really paying attention?

Ok but just because we’re always done it doesn’t mean we should keep doing it. Is the issue is that I’m so busy taking photos of my breakfast that I’m not calling my friends to talk to them anymore? Is it true that I’m missing out on human interaction because I’m not looking up from my phone? Why aren’t I chatting with that random on the bus?

No wait. Sorry. Don’t talk to strangers. Do talk to strangers? Now I’m confused. There is a definite and very strong message from society that victims are responsible ones, such as in cases of sexual assault.

You were out late? By yourself? And you spoke to a random guy on the train? What were you expecting?

You should have known better!

So how prolific is victim blaming in society? Pretty damn common, as it turns out. In rape culture for example:

The 18-24 group were more likely to say that engaging in conversation in a bar or accepting a drink makes them partially responsible. But it is this age group that are more likely to be going out doing that. We need to get the message out in schools that rape is never your fault. – Elizabeth Harrison (x)

So if I’m alone, I’m afraid I can’t think of even one reason why I would openly initiate conversation with someone I don’t know when if someone does happen the standard of whether or not it was a crime is going to be “Yeh but you started it”.

Honestly, is the fact that I own a Facebook, Twitter and Tumblr account really going to stop me avoiding conversation? Or could there maybe be another reason? Because let me guarantee you one thing. Even if I deleted this wordpress account today, I would still walk home with my keys clutched in my hand and my mobile out. Not because I want everyone to know that my hair looks fabulous today – but maybe because I don’t want an excuse for you to talk to me.

Any mathematician worth their salt will tell you: correlation doesn’t imply causation.

TL;DR: Having a Facebook is not the reason I won’t talk to strangers. Having a Facebook is not the reason I take photos. Deleting my facebook will not change these behaviours.

But okay, what are the real downsides to Social Media? Well, for one, it allows behaviours and ideas to spread really quickly. The bonus? We kind find lost puppies or long-lost friends or share important news and social events at the drop of a hat.

On the downside, the same is true for non-positive behaviours. Although I haven’t personally seen any research to the effect, I genuinely believe that the normalisation of self-harming and isolation behaviours on social media (particularly Tumblr in my experience) have contributed to the spread of said behaviours. That’s certainly a dangerous thought.

Social Media is not all sunshine and hipster filters. It’s dangerous. Sometimes we’re interacting with people who have a powerful ability to steal identies, money, and other things from us. Not to mention the rise in child pornography, the glorification of violence, and pirating or bootlegging music and movies/tv.

But is technology really all bad? Is Facebook really the root of all our problems? Or is it maybe a piece of a much larger puzzle? Is it maybe something that exists because humanity has a craving for the ability to document and share our lives? Does Skype really ruin our ability to see people in person? I’d argue no. Skype is the reason I can see my parents, my best friend, the people who live so far away from me.

Maybe we should all look up from the phone or laptop more often, but then again, maybe we should take responsibility for the issues we’re creating – rather than piling that blame on a website?

Is Facebook the reason we’re not talking to people any more? Maybe. But my guess is there’s a whole other mixing pot of things there too. Can’t we try dealing with the issue, not the internet?

Just a thought.

The Hobbit: A Delayed Reaction

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A lot of people have been asking me lately what I’ve thought of the Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug, ao I figured rather than giving the same lecture to everyone, I’d just put it out there on the internet and save everyone some time.

Please note: THIS POST CONTAINTS SPOILERS FOR THE HOBBIT (Books, movies and speculation on the final movie also), the LORD OF THE RINGS and probably a bunch of other Tolkien books and writings. JUST SPOILERS.

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Why Are You Waiting?

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Since moving cities I’ll be honest. I have a preeetty limited circle of people to call upon for spontanoues adventures.

Which means that I often do things alone. Just because I don’t know people doesn’t mean I don’t leave my house.

What does surprise me though – is that other people seem to be inherently afraid of going out by themselves.

For example, back in June I went to a convention alone. I stood in the lines alone, and went to the talks alone because I just wanted to go and experience and I didn’t really feel comfortable asking some of my new friends to go with me.

And because people noticed I was alone, a lot of them starting to talk to me. I had lunch with some randoms. Even made a facebook friend (and you know it’s legit friendship if it’s facebook official).

But I can’t tell you how many people comment to me that they wouldn’t have loved to have gone to something and then shrugged it off as “but I couldn’t find anyone to go with.”

I don’t get it guys.

If you want to do something, ask around sure, but just because someone doesn’t want to join you doesn’t mean you should miss out.

News flash! People don’t walk up to you and ask why you have no friends. No one really says anything at all. Use that to your advantage.

I sit in food courts alone and random folk come chat to me.

Last week I went to the movies alone.

The face I get when I tell people I’ve done that willingly. Surprisingly, no one at the cinema gave it to me.

I wasn’t the only one. In fact, apparently the Sunday Sesh of “The Mortal Instruments” is prime “no-one I know would come see this with me” viewing. Twenty of the thirty or so partons were solo-movie goers.

Some random guy came and starting chatting me and we had a pleasant mutual conversation.

Next time you want to be somewhere Just go.

You’ll find someone there. And if you don’t…well, at least you were there. And at least you can tick that experience off the bucket-list.

Time waits for no one.

Why should you?

I’m in a Really Quiet, Exhausted Rage

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My roommate is starting to turn me into an alcoholic, in that everytime we have any sort of discussion that isn’t about what to watch on TV, I feel like I need a stiff drink to deal with the fact that I have to tolerate half the things she says.

Now don’t get me wrong. She’s a lovely girl. She does the dishes without complaint, buys her share of the milk, never touches my chocolate stash, doesn’t pester me with her feelings. Never has wild parties and is actually good fun to have around.

She’s your totally normal, awesome friend.

But the thing is, she’s a misogynist who swears she’s not. 

Now this is the girl who doesn’t agree with feminism as an idea. It’s not the first time she’s made these kinds of comments, and I do call her on it, but if you’ve ever argued with someone who has never really thought critically about their beliefs, you’ll find you get the same garbled, not quite-justified defense and then she’ll feign interest in something out of a window and change the topic.

Now, we fundamentally disagree with her when she says any of the following:

Women aren’t in the top jobs because they don’t “want it enough”

(Excuse me while I choke on my rage. If you’re nodding along with her by the way – this a bit like saying the Great Depression was everyone deciding they didn’t want to work anymore and going on a mass holiday).

Sexism doesn’t exist anymore

I fundamentally disagree. Oh and hey – so do all these people.

I’ve been frustrated to the point of tears, alcohol and long walks out of the house more than once trying to get her to realise that she is undermining herself by saying and believing these things – but more so that feminism isn’t something to be feared or scorned.

It’s just the pursuit of equality. Progress does not equal success.

But still when I tell people about this, even the sympathetic ones, all smile stiffly and tell me either to avoid talking about politics and philosophy with her or to move out.

Well, why don’t I just stop talking about it?

For a few reasons actually. The first is that social change and policy is a massive part of who I am. I wasn’t raised with these ideas. My parents gave me a good grounding and strong morals but I sought this stuff out and it matters to me.

So…why don’t you leave?

There’s two reasons. The first is that I’m really not made of money and I can’t afford to pick up and leave whenever I decide on a whim. That’s not practical on any level.

The second, more foolish, is that I’m not sure I can leave this unfinished. I’m a feminist because I believe that if we educate people to question what they hear then even if they don’t agree with me, at least they’ll be able to have a conversation about issues from an informed point of view (and maybe she’ll be able to end a conversation without saying “Oh there’s a flashing light outside – I wonder what that is?”).

Today I taught her how the House of Reps vs. the Senate works.

Maybe tomorrow she’ll realise rape jokes aren’t funny.

Making Friends In Food Courts

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I have caught the Plague (read: some sort of cold that has me blinking drearily and trying not to fall asleep on my desk with a headache. This is different from my job in that the feeling lingers after I leave the building).

So I want you to understand the full impact of what I mean when I say I was sitting in a stupor in the food court that has delivered us such thrilling events as the Blueberry Incident.

Lunch break is underway and I felt a bit like lying on the floor, but true to my promise to always leave the office during lunch – at least for a moment – I hauled myself to the food court and just sat there.

I was so totally out of it the sudden appearance of two guys sitting in front of me with expectant faces actually made me flinch.

And then here’s this guy telling me I look beautiful (I’m surprised I pull that off given I’m also: snotty and slightly feverish).

Never-the-less he tells me he cousin is shy and they just wanted to say hello and could his cousin maybe get my number? (said Cousin is sweating and blushing profusely and looks all of sixteen but informs me he’s actually nineteen and the age difference is so not that big).

I scrambled for a way to say no politely. Blinked furiously and then sort of shook my head, apologised for the rejection and informed them I’m very much taken (lie, of course – but it’s handy to have a photo of you hugging your favouite not that recognisable celebrity as the background of your phone to back the story up).

They were very sweet, understanding, wished me a pleasant day and went on their way without fuss, criticism or other drama.

I went back to the office feeling a little better.

So here’s a blanket cheers to guys who will look past the sneezy, fever bright, I-stumbled-to-work-this-morning-to-avoid-using-my-sick-leave face and say hello.

But more importantly: thank you to the folk who note that when we say “no thanks” then that’s what is it and politely move on with their business rather than hanging around trying to change my mind.

I appreciate it.

Voices that Should Be Deafening

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Last night, between drinking wine, watching Supernatural and exchanging waves with a stranger in the opposite apartment block (which greatly amused his mates) my roommate decided to drop a bombshell that actually left me incoherent for a moment.

I don’t remember what brought it up, or why she thought it, but she just said quite proudly.

“Look, I don’t really agree with feminism as a concept.”

Ummm…what the fuck are you talking about? To be honest, I don’t think my response was the strong, righteous one I later mapped out in my head, because I was honestly just too speechless. I don’t understand how anyone (male, female, trans or otherwise) can possibly not agree with the idea of feminism.

She went on to tell me she would never talk to a feminist because they don’t “shave their legs or wear deodorant”.

But seriously, what the fuck are you thinking?

Can we all take a collective step back and really think about this (completely unreasonable) stereotype that has somehow popped up? I’d like to talk about feminism.

Firstly, let’s be real about this. The face of feminism isn’t solely about women who refuse to shave their armpits. That’s not the point of the movement.

Feminism is not a fashion choice. It’s not refusing to wear high heels or have sex or buy push up bras or suddenly deciding on throwing your razors and wax out.

Feminism is about the right to do those things without being ostracised, bullied, harassed or judged. You can still wear a bikini at the beach and get fake tans (don’t believe me? Look at Emma Watson). You can conversely also refuse to ever take your sweat pants off and eat cheese sticks all day.

Feminism is not about how you live your life. It’s about making sure you get the chance to do it fairly, safely and without double standards.

Feminism is a push for equality across genders, not just for women, but for all gender identities. It’s not anti-male.

it’s about how society reacts to and thinks about women, in it’s most basic form, and that’s what most of this post will be about.

But feminism is so, so much more than that too.

The problem we face is that most people don’t even understand what feminism is, and if they do, they think it’s not a problem.

But let’s be real here for a moment. If you can think of a woman who chooses not to shave her legs, and you judge her and scorn her and wonder What the fuck is wrong with her? aren’t you at least a little bit worried about the state of society?

But it’s worse that that too.

One in thee women will be sexually harassed in their life. One in three. Doesn’t that worry you? These women are your mothers, your daughters, your wives and girlfriends and sisters and coworkers, and one in three of them will have their right to bodily autonomy taken away from them. And if they speak out about it, we label them sluts and whores and why do we do that?

When a group of women started a peaceful protest walk against this idea what “clothes are the reason women are raped” (which is a bullshit statement because people rape people),  society didn’t react how you might expect them to.

This is a group of women and, statistically speaking, one third of them had been sexually assualted.

A man thought it was a great idea to drop his pants and show them his penis.

For those of you still doubting whether what he did was wrong (and I do wonder if there’s something wrong with you, if you have doubts), let me give you an analogous situation. Imagine a gathering of black civil rights activists. Imagine Martin Luther King Jr., Malcolm X, Rosa Parks, and all their colleagues gathered together to demonstrate that being black did not make them lesser people. That being black and living in the South did not mean they were “asking” to be the target of hate crimes.

And at this gathering, a white man decides he should teach them a lesson by pointedly hanging a noose from the nearest tree and laughing at their anger. And other white men, laughing along with him, commend him for taking these activists down a peg.

—– TimeoftheDecade

So let’s review. You have a street full of women (including underage girls) who have been raped, groped, assaulted and have all attended the same meeting in order to remember that pain and fight against it happening to other women.

Who thinks the most appropriate response is to flash them all?

This idiot seems to. Here’s a whole forum of people who think this guy was a hero. These people aren’t that bothered. Never mind, apparently, the fact that he broke the law by exposing himself in public.

Whether you agree with the concept of the SlutWalk and it’s success, you’ve got to admit that a world where this happens, both the event and the aftermath, is a world that needs feminism.

How can you not agree with the idea of feminism?

But hey. You still have issues with feminism?

Let’s look at popular literature then.

50 Shades of Grey.

This is a book that I’ve hated for a long time.

This is a book about a girl who actually emails her lover and tells him outright that she does not want to be in a relationship with him, and although she means it as a joke, there is NO WAY that he could possible known that.

Instead he responds by coming over to her house.

I get so incoherent with rage about this book that I’ll leave that argument to my peers. And there’s people out there who wish their husbands were like Christian Grey. 

*I’m sorry, but how do you not agree with the idea of feminism?*

The real reason why Twilight should appall you?

But let’s see, the media and literature aren’t enought to convince you this world needs feminism?

Politics.

I’ll let Julia Gillard do the talking for me.

For all that is holy, HOW DO YOU NOT AGREE WITH THE IDEA OF FEMINISM?

So is this issue is that it’s in your face? Are we feminists making too much noise for you?

Maybe it’s because you’re not listening.

I refuse to apologise for telling my co-workers that I will not accept them making rape jokes in my presence.

It’s not funny.

I refuse to listen my roommate tell me I should “prove myself” to my male colleagues.

I refuse to believe that feminism has no place in society.

The only thing I apologise for is not being louder, for not speaking about this more often.

If you’re not pissed off by people who think feminism is some foreign concept with no place in this world, then you’re just not paying attention.

Radio Silence

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So if you’ve been following me a while, which a few of you have, then you might have noticed that theres been a lot of radio silence from me for the past six months little while.

To be honest, regular blogging has sort of slipped of the radar, at least until yesterday when I went gallivanting by myself into the city and stumbled upon one of the reasons I moved here in the first place.

You see, when I flew here for my job interview almost eight months ago, I had some spare time and I ended up stopping in the street to watch a series of incredible buskers.

The same two guys were back in the mall yesterday and they were playing the same song, my favourite song.

All the indie music and the crowd pressed tightly in between jeans stores and food courts reminded me of that day in December. Warm sumlight. Cold fruit teas and falling blueberries.

It sounds like such an adventure to move a hundred miles away, but in truth it’s not always that easy.

It was nice to be reminded that the adventure isn’t over, it’s just beginning.

It’s been feeling a lot like summer here.

Which means it’s started to feel like home.

Life’s Small Achievements

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Living in a city where you don’t know a soul makes you creative, and I don’t mean creative in the artistic way, I mean creative in the “If you don’t fix it no one will” type of way.

The other day I had to find a way to hang my calendar in my room without knocking holes in the wall (renting for the win!). It’s actually harder than it sounds because the little stick on hooks that you can buy from everywhere kept falling down!

I’m actually obscurely proud of how I did it in the end: by looping ribbon through a random metal bracket I found and then precariously balancing it off the top shelf of my badly put-togther bookshelf.

Then there’s the fact that I simply don’t have space for the jewellery stand I used a dvd stand to hand my all my necklaces. It’s actually really good – I’d recommend it. Of course, the other option would have been to throw out my collection of plastic, faux silver bangles and matching necklaces but I’m oddly attached to them.

Still, I’m proud of myself. Now if only I could be this creative at work, in the effort of meeting someone to talk to and/or making money to buy things like a jewellery stand or a smaller calendar…

In other news, there’s a coffee shop down the road that always has a crowd of people waiting in line…I’m beginning to wonder what’s so good about it (the place next door is always empty) but I can’t muster the energy to part with five dollars to find out…

The Car Saga: Car Four

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I don’t know if you’ve been following, but recently I had more than my fair share of fun with a road trip.

But guys, guys. It gets better. I know, I know, you’re probably wondering how the one girl, two cities, three cars road trip story could possibly get any more ridiculous, but it has.

My Father decided to drive down this weekend with his car to visit me and bring down some things I’d left behind.

He made it about halfway before the software in the car decided it wasn’t having any of this Me moving to a new city business and stopped working.

Software. Software. When does software ever stop working on a car? Honestly!

Anyway, the car started pushing out black smoke because the fuel thing wasn’t regulating itself properly or something. (My knowledge of cars? They have wheels).

So he got here yesterday and asked me to find a mechanic. I feel like I should be getting a commission from these guys.

It’s now a new chapter to my life.

One Girl. Two Cities. Four Cars. It’s like a terrible chickflick tag line. The movie will be called There’s No Way This Actually Happens, Until It Does.

The universe is clearly against me. I’d be listening to it if I wasn’t laughing so hard.

Four cars. Honestly.

Here’s the kicker, my Aunt back in England said she got in her car the other day and it wouldn’t start. Is this a meltdown of every car my family owns?

I should call my sister and find out…