Throw It All Away – Update 1

I spent the weekend not throwing anything away because it was too hot to clean anything, so today I turned on the aircon and made a small dent in my minimization project. I started small because that’s how I roll, and I picked the easiest parts of the kitchen.

Top drawer

Top drawer

Utensil drawer

Utensil drawer

Glass cupboard

Glass cupboard

Wine glass cupboard

Wine glass cupboard

These are the ones where every time I open them, I just think “man, it would be so easy to just clean that up right now” and then I merrily close the drawer and walk away. Not today!

Turns out I have five pairs of kitchen scissors, eleven champagne glasses when I never even drink champagne, a box full of tiny useless jars, three sets of kitchen scales, two cake cutters when I don’t even eat cake, and an egg separator. I don’t even know why or when I obtained an egg separator. You can just use the shell.

Here’s everything I got rid of today…

2015-01-19 15.23.41

I’ve put it all in a box downstairs because my littlest brother and his girlfriend are moving down from Townsville, so I should be able to offload a lot of stuff onto them!

Here’s some pleasing pics of my now organised drawers and cupboards…

2015-01-19 14.57.40 2015-01-19 15.05.02 2015-01-19 15.20.58 2015-01-19 15.22.23

But today’s effort was too easy.Something else lurks in my kitchen that needs to be faced. Next time…

dun dun DUUUNNN

dun dun DUUUNNN

Get Rid Of Everything

I try to live minimally, but sometimes all the STUFF in my life catches up to me and I look around my house and at my life and I feel like I’m suffocating in meaningless, broken, dusty things. So I’m imposing a challenge on myself – yes, one of those challenges you might see pinned on a Pinterest board. I’m going to throw away at least one thing every day for 30 days. And I have to start today because in exactly 31 days I’ve planned a camping trip, and you know you can’t throw anything away in the wilderness.

The rules are minimal (heh). I can throw it in the bin, sell it, offer it away for free, or if it’s too big for the bin I’ll make a pile to take to the dump. Considering almost everything I own at this point is second hand anyway, I assume most things will go straight in the bin. It doesn’t have to be just one thing – some days I might clean out an entire room and throw away everything, or some days I might just throw away one thing from my desk. I’m hoping by the end it will have evened out and my house will be pared down again. The step after that is to change my buying habits. At the moment, as a student with very little money, it’s hard not to get stuck in the Boots theory, buying cheaper but more often due to poor quality. But if I can write down the things I think I need, or need to replace, save up for better quality options, and stick it out until I can afford them, I’ll have them for longer.
Last year I worked on creating a capsule wardrobe of just a few pieces, but my efforts stalled due to becoming the only breadwinner in the house, and putting on (and now losing) a lot of weight. I’m hoping that in a month or two I can start back up again with that goal.

For now, my main goals in clearing out my life are house-based. I want to clear out my kitchen, which has become this big greasy behemoth of tupperware. I want to get rid of old and useless furniture, as my house is filled with pieces of furniture that sit in corners and never get used. I want to get rid of all paper when it comes to bills and paperwork – currently they take up a full shelf of filing, for no reason that I can see. I want to start work on the purging of my wardrobe – last year I turned all the hangers around the wrong way, so this year anything that is still facing that way was unworn and can get thrown out.

Today, I started small, on the towel cupboard, and got to throw a surprising amount out.



I threw away half of the stack of pillowcases, at least three blankets and doona covers for single beds (we don’t even have one) that were stashed up all the way to the roof in the top shelf, a majority of stuff in the medicine box, a broken heater, some old pet worming tablets, some moldy wooden cutting boards, just…random…disgusting sheet things. Six grocery bags later it still looks kinda crap but I’ll continue to work on it over the next month by slowly replacing everything in there. The majority of my normal sheets are in the wash at the moment, and I found FOUR pillows stashed in another cupboard, so I’ve kept the best two for guests and thrown the others.

2015-01-16 13.38.40


Anyway, stay tuned for more posts where I show you all the junk that’s accumulated in my house, you sticky beaks.

Constructing my own generation gap

I read this excellent article yesterday, Death By Harry Potter, written by Chuck Klosterman and it’s got me thinking about the impossibility of keeping up with media and pop culture. In the article, Klosterman talks about having never read or seen any Harry Potter, knowing nothing about it, and as a magazine writer, knowing this will hold him back from truly understanding and writing about modern culture. And I totally get that, because I also have never read any Harry Potter book. Last year I sat myself down and watched all seven? eight? nine? endless goddamn movies because I felt this weird need to fill myself in. This was when I was studying creative writing, and it felt like every time a lecturer needed to make an analogy for the class, they used something from Harry Potter – which I didn’t get. At the start of every semester there would be the obligatory “introduce yourself to the class” in every tutorial, where we’d say our name and our favourite book, and it was a sea of Harry Potters. So I watched all the movies and NOW I KNOW, but I still don’t care. Did I get on the wagon too late? Did I need to read the books, at the right time, at the right age, to get that feeling of being part of something?

This is something that I feel about a lot of pop culture – my TV isn’t hooked up to any channels, I can only watch what I put on a hard drive or DVD beforehand, so I don’t watch any media that I haven’t chosen and vetted beforehand myself. I don’t listen to the radio, so I don’t get an unfiltered and random version of music coming through to me. I barely read the news because it depresses me, so I only hear second hand about the world’s next biggest crisis, then I go and look it up myself. Sure, we’re exposed to so much on the internet through ads and the random logarithms of Facebook, but looking at a picture and a headline isn’t the same as consuming something and understanding it.
There are things that I know I avoid because I’m not interested and feel that it will fall by the wayside soon enough so I don’t need to know. I remember when Harry Potter came out I had this particular feeling, even at a young age, that I didn’t want to read it, because everyone else was. Which is a stupid decision to make – doesn’t the approval of thousands of others assure that whatever it is would be worth one’s time? Now I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t have liked it anyway, because I hate fantasy and I will never change. There’s this excellent quote in Klosterman’s article, where he wonders if he is “constructing [his] own generation gap?” When do my decisions about what I consume and what I don’t consume, stop me from being able to participate in cultural discussions due to a lack of knowledge? Or do I and my social circle create our own microculture through our shared knowledge and that’s what is more important? And would I be a Hufflepuff or a Gryffindor?

All The Books I Read in 2014

Goodreads had a great feature this year that showed you all the books you read for the year. Looking at mine surprised me, as there were books on my list that I felt I had read years ago, or that I had completely forgotten.

books 2014

They don’t seem to be in any particular order here, but slowly the sequence is coming back to me. I raced through the “classics” at the beginning of the year in preparation for a course at uni.This included Wuthering Heights, Pride and Prejudice (second read-through), Beowulf, Great Expectations, Jane Eyre, and Atonement. After finishing each of these books, I also watched the movies to make sure I hadn’t missed any obvious points. Two weeks into the course I realised that I hated the tutor and the course, and had changed my mind completely about studying creative writing, so I dropped the class.
At this point I still felt like I wanted to be a writer and was still immersing myself in “the scene”, so I read Never Let Me Go, which a lecturer would always rave about, then Burial Rites, which was winning big literary awards all year.

By the end of first semester I’d given up completely and was alternating between reading trash and self-help books while I lay on the couch for days on end and waited to start my anthropology degree in the second semester. Here’s when I read Doctor Sleep, Daring Greatly, Hannibal and Red Dragon, Walden, The Count of Monte Cristo and The Counselor. During this time my boyfriend forced me to read one of “his books” – fantasy, which I detest. So I read Best Served Cold. Which I detested. I’ll never change.

And then! My new degree started! I read Anthropology MATTERS! Along with the hundreds of new articles, blogs, journals that I was being assigned in class. Fascinating stuff!
Around this point I also realised that the majority of what I read is written by men, about men. I looked at my bookshelf and saw mostly men, and all my favourite authors were men. So I decided to change that, and from that point to the end of the year, the only books I read were by women, save one. I was on a magical realism bender and had to read Love in the Time of Cholera. I’ve gone through memoirs – Yes Please, Bossypants, Wild, Reading Lolita in Tehran, Tiny Beautiful Things, and Paula. I read Wide Sargasso Sea as a companion to how much I loved Jane Eyre. I found some exquisite horror about motherhood – Beloved and The Fifth Child. Then in November I saw Gone Girl and immediately had to read it, and then more Gillian Flynn because wow, what a book.

So that’s the story of my reading for 2014. As I said in my previous post, I’m aiming to complete the Popsugar 2015 Reading Challenge, but using only female writers, all year. Any suggestions for more books to read this year are much appreciated!

Hello Hi Yes Hello

Hi internet, I’m attempting blogging again! If you’re still subscribed from the last time I ever blogged, welcome back, I missed you! Yes, I am indeed writing a January #newnyearnewme post! I think it’s been about a year since the last time I blogged, and about six months since I bothered to pay for hosting for this blog. So now we’re back to good ol’, which I’ve always liked, because that’s my general intent in life.

A few things have changed since the last time I ever logged into WordPress. I quit studying creative writing and changed my degree and university, and am now majoring in anthropology, looking at minoring in linguistics, along with studying a diploma of language. One of my goals this year is to take a course in Australian Sign Language, because I’m interested in studying linguistics in relation to the Deaf community. I’m only very early in my anthropology course and I’m realising how incredibly broad the field is, so it’s hard to pinpoint any one thing in particular that I want to pursue further. One week it’s sign language, the next it’s primatology, the week after it’s religious death rituals. There’s too much input for me right now to be able to make up my mind on any one thing.

I’m five weeks into a round of the Michelle Bridges 12 Week Body Transformation, which is something I never really thought I would do. I always figured that I could look after my own weight and fitness, but then 2014 was a rough year for me. I got whooping-cough and hit by colds and sickness constantly, and a few deaths in my family led me to pretty much give up on everything in the second half of the year. By November/December I was feeling like trash about my general physical self, and I talked to my parents about doing the 12WBT, as I knew they had both done it in the past. They’re both super fit people who look younger than they should, so I thought I should take their advice. My Dad offered to pay and if I reach my goal weight at the end then I don’t have to pay him back…so I’m pretty motivated!
I’ve fallen back in love with exercise after too long a hiatus and I’ve got lots of goals and things I want to do this year. Judo, obstacle races, hiking, fun runs, and I’m angling toward triathlon training in the latter half of the year as I hope to do a triathlon in early 2016.

Some other personal goals I have waffle between practical and just for fun, such as:

  • Get my damn driver’s licence.
  • Learn the flute.
  • Volunteer at the Queensland Museum.
  • Complete another large cross stitch project.
  • Complete the PopSugar 2015 Reading Challenge using ONLY books written by women.

I still live with my two cats and one boyfriend in the burbs and we’re all still good and sweet and nice. In 2014 one of my goals was to go on a date with my boyfriend once per week and after a few weeks it just became normal, until eventually it kind of felt like every day was a date (shut up). So we’re continuing the tradition this year. Our first date was last Saturday, when we went to see a baseball game and eat hot dogs. Not every date has to be outside or require money, and there’s no real rules. Even though we’re together and both at home most of the time anyway, we just have to make sure to put aside time each week for just us.

Another goal is to find more ways to hang out with friends without involving alcohol, as I’m bored of drinking with pals, and trying to cut down on drinking in general. So after New Years I went hiking at a waterfall with a bunch of friends, which was perfect. Lots of laughs, lots of sweat, a great day in the sun. This one is a tricky one, because it’s not entirely within my control, and because there are always people who are just…kind of boring or bored without drink. I’m not forcing any of my friends to NOT drink around me, but trying to find ways to entice people out to things where it’s not involved or required…that’s tricky!

A final goal (that I’ll say out loud) is to journal/blog more often. Last year I wrote sporadically but only for myself. I constantly struggle with putting my words and opinions out into the world because I generally think I’m not worthy. So here’s to getting over that!

I’m aiming to continue to post about being better and progress. There will inevitably be study stuff, anthropology related or just studying in general, as well as updates about how my goals are going. When I wrote my resolutions for 2014, I picked three words to sum up all of my goals, and they were; kindness, positivity, and progress. I think that aiming for those three ideals doesn’t end at the completion of any one goal, so here’s to 2015: Kindness Positivity Progress.

Things I Learned From My First Year of Uni

Sorry for the hiatus, I have been preparing for exams, taking exams, and then celebrating end of exams by doing absolutely nothing, but this time WITHOUT guilt. It’s been heavenly. To celebrate on my blog I decided to write this list of things I learned from my first year of uni. Yep, one whole year, and it feels like I only just started yesterday.

I’m not the oldest person there, but it is painful when I am.
This was something that really terrified me going into uni. Turns out, there are plenty of other mature age students, and a lot of them much older than me. I tend to gravitate towards other mature age students because there’s still a bit of a cliquey element to a lot of tute work that’s hard to break into, I guess a holdover from high school for most people. The best tutes are when tutors involve the entire class in one big open discussion, rather than break up into groups. When I am the oldest person in the class I can definitely feel it – I had one tute this semester that felt exactly like being back at school, with no one listening to the tutor and constant talking and laughing over the top of her speaking. It was torture.

There are so many extra workshops, classes, groups, and services that there is no reason for you to fail.
Unless of course you’re really not trying or just incompetent, there are so many services at uni that it’s like they WANT you to succeed. Weird! You can have one on one meetings with librarians who will look over your assessment and help you figure out an exact schedule for how to approach your assessment, and where to find resources for research. You can have a meeting with a career counsellor if you’re not sure about the outcomes of your course or where you want to take it. You can join the Leadership Development program, that does workshops around topics like How to Deal with Change, or Team Management, or a whole series on how to plan, fund, and run your own student club or charity. You can go to Career Development workshops, and there are constant resume labs where the career counsellors sit down and go through your resume line by line. These are only the things I have tried this semester, I’m sure there will be even more avenues for help as the years go by and I get deeper into my degree. It’s just amazing to me how much help you’re able to get.

Go to every lecture, go to every class. 
Why not? I went to every lecture this year with the exception of probably two or three due to sickness, and I felt like I knew the material perfectly because of it. Not just that, but I knew the material that my tutor and lecturer wanted me to know. I could have grabbed a bunch of books from the library at the start of semester, or worked through text books, but the material in lectures is what I was marked on, so it made it easier to figure out what information was vital and what was extra. As for going to every class? Both semesters I went to every class for about the first eight to ten weeks. I got to know the tutors well, I got to figure out if there was extra information in tutes that I wasn’t getting in lectures, I got up to date information about assessments from the people who were marking them. If the classes were good, fun, or had great discussion, I made a point to go to every single one of them. Two of my units this semester unfortunately had terrible tutes and/or tutors, so I went to about the first eight, ascertained that I had all the information I needed for the final assessment, then stopped going. I enjoy being on campus and I’m currently not employed, so I like to get out of the house and around people. Plus, I’m basically getting paid by Centrelink ($30 a fortnight!) to be a student, right? So why not go. Attending on campus makes my life easier.

Do the work early.
I somehow found myself at the end of this semester having finished every final assessment with two weeks left to go. The only way I can figure that happened is that I found out what I had to do early, planned out what I wanted to do, then did it. Have to write 2000 words on this subject? I spread it over four days and wrote 500 words a day, about half an hour’s work per day. I just need to envision the entire project as something that can be cut up into tiny chunks, and then it’s much more manageable. It’s hard to sit down and write 2000 words, but it’s easier to face only 500. Then when the words start piling up, my motivation grows and before I know it I’ve gone over my word limit. Getting the work done early also gives me more time to revise, giving me a more polished piece when it comes time to submit. The rule is cut the time into three – one third planning, one third writing, and one third revising.

Little things that were fun:

  • Studying while listening to Mozart. Literary theory is much more grand this way.
  • Studying at a standing desk. If you mess around for too long, your feet hurt, so you need to study hard, quickly.
  • Pretty colours! I bought a pack of different coloured pens this semester and wrote in green, purple, pink, orange, and blue. Green notes were particularly well remembered.
  • Journalling. At the end of every day, I wrote a journal entry recapping everything I had learned for the day in my own words, without looking at my notes. This worked really well for literary theory.
  • Studying in different areas around my house. At my desk, at the kitchen table, on the couch, at a desk downstairs. I’m yet to study outside the house, or at the library or a cafe. I don’t think I’m the kind of person who is very good at studying in those places, I find that I’d be distracted too easily, especially around the smell of food.
  • Borrowing a new book from the student library every week. Yep, every time I had a spare hour on campus I’d go to the library and pick up something new that was related to my units. I never fully finished any of them, but I always had a huge stack to draw on if I needed a reference, and I got to practise my skim-reading to find important or relevant parts.

I’m proud of myself for finishing my first year and I don’t regret for a minute the decision to change the direction of my life for this. Every day I get to wake up and feel like this is exactly what I’m supposed to be learning and doing. I hope my tips help anyone considering or about to start uni. It’s rad, make the most of it!

Memoir Piece – My Hero, The Girl Next Door

Hi all,

Just a quick update to tell you to head over to Lip Magazine to read a memoir piece I wrote, titled My Hero, The Girl Next Door.

I wrote this piece about my friend Sam who was like my big sister growing up in the country. Her amazing personality and ideas helped me become the person I am today. She always proved to me that there’s no delineation between ‘girly’ things and ‘boyish’ things.

This Is How You Lose Her – Junot Diaz

The other day I got caught reading a Reddit thread – ‘People who had an affair while in a relationship, how did it begin, how did it end and what did you learn?

The answers followed a formula. ‘I feel so bad BUT I was miserable’. Nobody wants to be the villain in their own story. Guilt makes us justify our actions, because we know what we’ve done is bad but we don’t want to be a bad person. Instead we become a good person who did a bad thing because we were in a bad situation.

This Is How You Lose Her has none of that. Junot Diaz’s collection of short stories is a slap in the face of your cognitive dissonance. The stories each fly in and out of the life of Yunior, a central character in a lot of Diaz’s work. Yunior is a Dominican living in New Jersey with his family, and the stories in this collection range from his early childhood up to the heartbreaking final story, The Cheater’s Guide to Love, which seems to span his entire adulthood. The prose is peppered with Spanish slang but reads so easily I feel like I can speak Spanish now. Every now and then there’s a sentence that makes you blink with its intensity of image. Like this one:

‘Instead of lowering your head and copping to it like a man, you pick up the journal as one might hold a baby’s beshatted diaper, as one might pinch a recently benutted condom.’

As you can see, the stories get dirty and there are quite a few sex scenes, but they never feel awkward or verge into weird erotica. The stories also flip between first and second-person point of view. I really enjoyed the second-person stories – sometimes this style can be awkward but Diaz pulls it off masterfully, never losing sight of Yunior in all the ‘you’s’.

This Is How You Lose Her made me examine the idea that we’re always looking for a better person. We grow up thinking we’ll find our prince or princess one day, so the moment things go wrong in a relationship it’s time to bail. Is it defeatist to think that there aren’t better people out there for you? Not better, just other?
This book will have you curled on the floor crying in the foetal position, thinking about how you’re a terrible person and you’ll only ever hurt the people you love. If that’s not a good review for this book, I don’t know what is.

Do not be deceived by the happy yellow cover, inside heartbreak awaits.

Do not be deceived by the happy yellow cover, inside heartbreak awaits.

Catfish and Virtual Relationships


I’ve just recently watched the 2010 documentary, Catfish, and I’m still high on every emotion under the sun as I squirmed and cringed through it.
Catfish is a documentary where the filmmakers are at the heart of the story, as it follows Yaniv, or Nev, and his online relationship with a family in Michigan. The two behind the camera, Ariel and Henry are brother and friend to Nev.
Nev, a photographer, one day receives a painting in the mail of one of his photographs. The message with the painting states that it’s from an eight-year-old girl named Abby, living with her family in Michigan. Nev quickly strikes up a friendship with Abby’s mother Angela, and soon her sister Megan, adding the entire family on Facebook and having numerous phone conversations with the women. Soon Nev is besotted with Megan and so begins a road trip to go and meet the family. As the trio of filmmakers get closer to their destination, they begin to realise that not everything about the family’s online presence is true. You can obviously imagine what happens from that point onwards, and I won’t continue for anyone who wishes to watch it spoiler-free.

The film handles their subjects gently and without exploitation. As the story progressed I found myself rooting for some kind of big reveal, with a Michael-Moore style confrontation and yelling and shouting. Instead I found myself on the edge of tears.

It made me consider the way that virtual relationships allow people different things. To embellish, to boost ego, to hide, to escape, to fantasise. Sometimes a combination of all these things. Is it even possible to have a true representation of yourself online anymore?

After a month-long hiatus from Facebook earlier in the year, I came back and deleted almost everyone that I don’t see on a regular basis in real life. I have other online platforms, such as twitter, tumblr, and this blog, but I don’t see those as such iconic representations of myself – iconic in the sense of a literal representation. And truly, Facebook isn’t even that to me. Facebook is the good-news list, the place where only happy life updates go. I could rant about my depression on tumblr or twitter, but I could never admit to it on Facebook. What is it about Facebook that requires us to put on our best face, as if this is the only face our loved ones and close friends will find acceptable?

I have no answers and I still struggle with using Facebook without cracking up, but Catfish certainly made me consider – perhaps it’s not malicious to present yourself in different ways. Perhaps it’s just you writing your own story.

The Golem in Modern Fiction

In this post I’d like to explore two pieces of fiction that deal with the folkloric creature, the Golem. In Jewish mythology the Golem is a creature made of mud, clay, or other inanimate material, that is summoned to life by its creator and then serves them. The word can be translated roughly as ‘my unshaped form’ and is a reference to an unfinished form of God’s human design.

Two pieces of fiction have sparked my interest in this subject. The first is my favourite monster show, The X-Files.
Season four, episode fifteen features the golem in an episode titled ‘Kaddish‘. The episode opens with the murder of Isaac Luria, a young Jewish man, by a gang of Neo-Nazis. At his funeral service we learn that he has left behind a widow, Ariel. Later that night, an unknown person sneaks into the graveyard and shapes a man of mud atop his grave. Mulder and Scully are called in to investigate after the murder of one of the Neo-Nazis, apparently performed by the reanimated Isaac. One by one the Neo-Nazis fall and Mulder is convinced that it is the work of a vengeful golem, created by Isaac’s father-in-law. Scully faithfully argues for argument’s sake while the audience is frustrated by Mulder being right, again.
In the episode the golem is a mixture of the golem of traditional myth and a zombie-like reanimated figure. It is brought to life by the widow Ariel, who is motivated by her lost love for Isaac. Aside from some cheesy music that screams ‘ooh this episode is about a different culture!’ the episode respectfully examines modern day anti-Semitism and the idea of pride and revenge. The love that brings the golem to life is another interesting theme, one that might not be present in many other golem myths, and it serves to make the episode into a sort of Romeo and Juliet of the undead.

The other golem story I’ve been interested in is the short story simply titled ‘Mudman‘, by Pinckney Benedict. I found it published in the short story anthology, Best of Tin House, published in 2006. A down-on-his luck farmer pieces together his own mudman inside his barn, not quite believing anything will happen. Lightning strikes and the golem is brought to life, where he begins to carry out his orders to KILL VERMIN. In this story, the myth of the mudman is one of labour and slavery, as it is told mudmen were created to perform physical labour in logging camps in the mountains. The mudmen in this lore began to yearn for their freedom and for women and terrible things began to happen to the human men in the camps. At this point their use had stopped, and it has been hundreds of years by the time the protagonist Snedegar, a farmer, decides to create his own. The story is tense and discomforting, sinking its teeth into the performance of masculinity and the idea of ownership. The story cleverly uses the imagery of trapped animals – wasps and bulls – to parallel Snedegar’s sense of being trapped by his work on the farm and his life in general. After the mudman begins his work of killing all vermin, the animals are literally nailed to posts, and Snedegar is now completely helpless against the mudman.

The two stories offer very different perspectives on the golem myth. Kaddish is a tragic love story wrapped up in a revenge myth, while Mudman is a tense and horrifying look at masculinity and possession. In the end, the golem is man’s attempt to play God. It’s Frankenstein pulling the switch and having to live (or die) with the consequences. In these two stories, it’s the intersection of themes with the representation of the golem that has created such amazing stories.