Monday, 26 January 2015


I can read about 53% of all real French, DuoLingo informs me. I started actively searching for French  texts to test out their assessment of my ability. To my surprise, I understood quite a lot of those texts, and even though the gaps are frustrating to encounter, just knowing that I've progressed so much makes me happy. 

I study French every day, even if it's just a little bit. That's my only real secret: dogged persistence. I didn't imagine that I would get this far when I started out, so the reward is sweet. I can actually understand (some of) what all these new people with a similar talking habit are talking about!

As you might have read previously, I read the Guardian for news and cultural commentary, and part of the charm of the website is that there are three editions: Australian, UK and US. It's interesting to have access to the local news of two different continents, as well as mine. The UK site often has articles on other parts of Europe, and I learn a lot this way. But ever since I discovered Scandinavia, the English-speaking world doesn't impress the way it used to. It seems lacking in sensuality, for one. It seems to be to the right of continental Western Europe in general. 

At first I wanted to learn Swedish, but learning on my own proved difficult. I tried to enrol in a university course, but Sydney offered none. The only Swedish university course was in Melbourne, and it was being phased out. (It's probably completely gone by now.) I bought language software, but couldn't stick at it. I followed a whole bunch of Swedish feminists on Twitter but had to defriend them to save my sanity when I still couldn't understand them after ages. 

Then I discovered DuoLingo. And though it didn't have Swedish, I figured I could learn another language while I waited for a Swedish version to become available. I chose French. I was already familiar with some basics from a year of high school study, which made me more confident in the language than I was with Spanish. And even though DuoLingo has blessed me with a Swedish version just a few weeks ago, I will persist with my French, because I feel like it has become a part of me. I would miss it if it went away. And hey, the more languages you know, the easier it becomes to learn another one! It's not like I can't wait, either. I can wait, because I'm in the now. I'm enjoying the process. (Thank you to whoever invented mindfulness.)

Wednesday, 14 January 2015

Speaking up - as mentally divergent

My mum believes it is in my best interest to remove all traces of my mental divergence from this blog. She believes that I would be unfairly discriminated against. And she may be right, but I just don't have the energy to pretend anymore. I am different to most people when it comes to brain function, and while this is harmless (and even advantageous to some extent) in and of itself, it has resulted in institutional abuse by forced drugging, unnecessary and trauma-inducing restraint, and massive disrespect for my intellect and intuition. All of that influenced how I go about my everyday life, and how I write. While statistically only a small part of the population experiences similar things, it's a part of my experience that I feel I must make sense of in my own way. I must write about it. To keep it all in would be to bottle it up, and there is nothing more mentally inhibiting than feeling you have something to hide. I don't want to be that person.

I used to pretend that everything was okay, even though to me it always seemed obvious that I was "an odd duck" - a person with heightened sensitivity, a lack of emotional defences, and an intelligence that wasn't seen as socially acceptable. I stand out, and not just because I wear an OBEY hat and a "Feminist" T-shirt, although there's that, too. I walk slowly and pay close attention to my surroundings, trying to find wonder in what could be easily discounted as ordinary. I have "that look" in my eyes - the look of a visionary. I'm kind, perceptive, personable and compassionate.

Mental divergence is not treated kindly in our society. A bit of difference is seen as fine, but if you want to conceptually turn the world upside down, you're going to find so much resistance that it will be damaging to your health. Innovation may seem to be what the rich and powerful are looking for, but if you have openness and drive in large quantities you're going to find out that, mostly, those at the top want things to stay the same.

Things never change quickly enough for me. Australia still hasn't legalised same-sex marriage? I'm already thinking about a time where everybody feels happy identifying as bisexual (or pansexual, if you prefer). Julia Gillard became the first female prime minister? I'm already envisioning a country where 50% of all prime ministers are female, and everyone feels like that is how things should be. Instead, we got stuck in a loop of deranged lashback, which culminated in her tormentor Tony Abbott's ascendance to the top job.

I'm such an asset to the community that there has been a cost. I want it to change in ways it is not prepared for, and as a result it's afraid of me. I know that my impetus for change is the right way of being, but I am being punished for it, even as I type. Even so, I intend to keep mobilising towards that kind of change. Because I know that the philosophies behind it have the community's best interests at heart. And, when I'm on my deathbed, I can say that I helped make the world a better place in the face of what could have been overwhelming resistance to someone with less self-belief. I don't even have to wait that long, come to think of it - I can congratulate myself right in this very moment... daily, once before I go to sleep each night.

I hope you can join me on my journey to create meaningful change in my surroundings. See you around. ;)

Wednesday, 7 January 2015

Reclaiming 'wonderful'

I loved this ad until I learned it was about consumerism... if you have to rely on expensive purchases to bring back the sparkle in your life, you're in dire need of help! What would have been fascinating would be to explore the theme of wonder through creating new concepts, a lens through which to view the world anew. How does wonder survive in a modern adult, in you or me? Well, I can only speak for myself: Wonder occurs when I opt out of the world of things 'known' (e.g. facts, absolutist rhetoric, 'common sense' assertions) and wake up to the mysteries all around.