Sunday, 31 December 2017

Control #2

I have it and I don't
I'm a cis white person in a developed country
I'm a queer disabled woman who is poor

I hurt so much that it turns corrosive
I smart silently and dream of empowerment
It takes so much out of me just to act composed
My emotions twisted by perpetual deferment

Wondering why it feels so futile
Wondering who I can turn to and if I am able
To be the reliable narrator in all situations
Knowing I will never meet perfection


I'm the only thing I own
I polish myself off for the occasion
I can walk for miles
With my underlying depression

But who will discover me?
Quietly shedding my defences
A mirror shows me marks of pride
I discover myself, attentive by my side

Sunday, 24 December 2017

The Best of 2017 (w/ Photos)

In Rome, I learned that Italians traditionally eat sweet things only for breakfast. 

In Palermo, I feasted on cassata and cannoli. 

In Barcelona, I witnessed a mini concert by a locally famous pianist in a marvellously adorned musical centre. 

In Valencia, I felt like I was part of a photo shoot amongst futuristic architecture by Calatrava. 

In Murcia, I had my first relaxed and pleasurable conversation in Spanish.
In Granada, I found myself in a vision of peace, beauty and harmony, in the Alhambra. 

In Orgiva, I spoke with a Spaniard who had been living in Myanmar for twenty years and reminded me to tune into the breath. 

In Malaga, I rejoiced in the big city vibe and got winked at by a cute guy selling ice cream. 

In Seville, I sustained a long conversation in Spanish with a friendly taxi driver. 

(In Zurich's airport, I listened to a singing pianist perform classics such as 'Georgia on My Mind.')
(In Singapore's airport, I enjoyed a green tea macaron.)

Where will I go in 2018? That remains to be seen. 

(Some possibilities:

- A return to the Nordic countries, especially Sweden

- Visiting Edinburgh and Dublin for the first time

- Travelling around France's outer rim: Bordeaux, Lille, Strasbourg)

Resilience in the face of danger

Today I read some bad news that stood out from the rest: Stephen Hawking predicts humanity can only survive on planet Earth for another 100 years. 

I admit I've been slow to be vocal about the importance of combating climate change (though that is not the only factor he takes into account). A few months ago I was walking down a thoroughfare in Newtown, making my fear of the end of the world known to a new acquaintance. I was hesitant to do so, as I intuitively felt it would be read as irrational, and her reception indeed pointed to such a perception. But I can't be silenced by people who would use my mental health status against me. Please click on authoritative articles on climate change when you see them. The only way humanity can leave a legacy on Earth is through the population waking up to the extent of the challenges we face. 

I'm likely to be dead in 100 years' time. But as I delve into literary classics like Faust by Goethe, I see much there to treasure, and many of the cultures we have cultivated over time would be worth building on by future generations - if only we can keep humanity afloat. 

I am not in immediate danger. I spend a lot more time worrying about how to move to Europe than when a storm mighty enough to tear my building apart will eventuate. But I still worry about it. Such destruction has precedence in Sydney. The structures that hold me, the world which contains me, is under threat, and I watch in horror as my mum denies climate change and my dad believes technology will triumph over nature. I don't want to be alarmist, but from what I see, those of us who are 'woke' are too few to enact the changes needed to avert catastrophe. This planet is so beautiful, there is so much for humanity to live for, yet we're mindlessly tearing it all apart. 

Faust was a gift to long-form poetry. I want people to revel in it long after I'm gone. And yet. It seems we're in the last chapter of history as we know it. Will we migrate to Mars? Who knows. In my life I've often carried around a sense of tragedy, and now I find myself swept up in a brand new one which is shared by the smartest people on earth. 

How to make sense of this? Should I start writing reviews on sooner rather than later? When it comes to geographic ties, I am lucky. Living in a developed nation means that I won't feel the worst of the effects of such phenomena as food scarcity. Oh, I'm sick of thinking about such dire things. I wish I didn't have to. But I can't close my eyes to the direction the evidence evokes. 

Self-care, self-care, self-care. Focus on the now, abilities in the now, get good sleep, eat well. It's not over till it's over.  

Monday, 18 December 2017

Poetry composed while listening to Bjork

Split into two / or more / lost track but who's counting / of how many times I conjure up fragmentation

Sinister overtones to the governing class
Urge to flee reactivated
Wouldn't you know it
No amount of drugs can obliterate my fighting instinct

I have radical self-respect
No matter the people
Who try to frame me
As the problem

Playing hopscotch to invisible marks
The colour is inspired by various facades
Embedding themselves in my backbone
I walk as if animated by colour

Flowers swelling from my hair
You're not permitted to enter there
Perhaps you have a point or three
But my tone needs no explanation

Beautiful & Meaningful

We're searching for some type of hope
To linger ever after
Building shadows out of smoke
In the shape of vice we've most resembled

You do well to cut me off
My spot of shade is too defined now
I'll look for deeper selves to salvage
Access the wreck that gives way to splendour

Deeper and deeper
Only pausing to consolidate
The shades of sadness thicken
Further happy paths are given

You will note my pressing calm
The chill I wield like armour
I will make it through this storm 
A new experience, I'll harbour

Wednesday, 13 December 2017

A struggle for meaning

It must have been the fourth or fifth time: I enthusiastically sought a place at a university, only to remember how little of institutional life actually agrees with me upon receiving an offer. 'Why did I want to study a language for a hefty price when I can continue doing so on my own, for free? The only thing I lack is more motivation.' 'Yes, I could study French in addition to my beloved español, but that would do nothing to diminish my surging sense that I should have been learning Swedish (which isn't offered) all along.' 'Even if I focus overwhelmingly on Spanish, I still have to suffer the ideologically right-wing flavour of the general Arts elective selection.' 'Tell me why did I sign up just to drop out before the term starts again?' 

And so it goes. I'm disappointed in myself. I bought into the idea that a degree would increase my sense of self-worth on a superficial level, neglecting the inconvenient deeper understanding that my eccentric philosophies do not mesh well with USyd or UNSW. (I've studied at both in the past.)

Maybe I'm throwing myself at the wrong things. It's easy to underestimate Duolingo. In reality, the free website and app have been crucial to my current successes. I can actually hold an uncomplicated conversation with Spaniards now. My experiences with speaking Spanish to native speakers are not too dissimilar to this journalist's German-speaking journey. Oh, the thrill -- not just of understanding my taxi driver, but -- of being understood. I wish I could have stayed longer - I only started talking to strangers in my last week or so. Nothing could have prepared me for the natural high of constructing sentences in my new language. It was a part of me that had been waiting to emerge, but needed the right moment. I want to practice again, so I'll see if I can go to Argentina, Chile or Spain soon.

This is actually the thing I'm currently most enthusiastic about right now: travel, language acquisition and use, and possible fluency. I thought I'd best focus on that, since this post had its roots in depressive musings about all the free time I have and how I could be applying myself a lot more.

So then, my challenge is to embrace the Spanish-learning journey and let it transform me. Put more effort into it. Such effort will pay off. I can take it to the next level, baby. Step by step, there's no level of proficiency I can't attain. It does require some redirection:

I set myself a challenge for 2018, to learn Swedish, but maybe I should stick with Spanish until I become quite fluent in that. That way I can enjoy a greater, more meaningful sense of progress. 

Monday, 27 November 2017

Emotional intelligence trumps detached intellectualising every time

A few weeks ago I unfriended an acquaintance who was bugging me on Facebook. Superficially, she shared the same values - she was feminist, antiracist, left-wing and stood up for disability rights. But I had come to feel that I was being constantly negated in tone, through her patronising 'information dissemination' my way. I decided I had had enough, explained that I needed sensitivity, not facts, and got the unsurprisingly tone-deaf response which led to the unfriending.
Miss K was trying to connect through detached intellectualising, which had the emotional resonance of unending 'improvements' on my status updates. I have a flow. I like it when people work with the emotions that inform my flow, creating a harmonious social exchange. I work on the friendships which make me feel good, which has served me well in the past and continues to do so today. Miss K's comments were making me lightly doubt myself, instead of steadying myself through the social act of sharing statuses. In the end, the continued obliviousness to my emotional needs reached the point where I wasn't willing to put up with it any longer. And that is sad. Sad, because this person was very intelligent and helped me strengthen some of my points as an ally. As with everyone, there was good as well as bad. I did not give up on our communication without some regret. But, looking back, I'm confident I made the right decision.

I've been thinking about the social cohesion that ideologies such as religion foster. There was a Guardian article about how much more existentially at rest were people who subscribed to the dominant Christian spirituality of their time, be it in medieval times, or even now. As an atheist, I swim against the unconscious tide. I resist Christmas celebrations, sure, but more than that, I resist shame over my sexual drive. I resist theologically based misogyny. I resist the US-driven sense of righteousness which filters down into Australian culture. Why be 'good' when you can be 'fabulous'?

And all this resistance leads to constant questioning, which leads to doubting aspects of my deeply ingrained psyche, which leads to difficult emotional states. No, I'm not saying I wish I were like everyone else, but rather, it would be easier if my society were a more supportive one. Like Sweden, where atheism *is* the norm. *Sigh* If only.

Sunday, 22 October 2017

Los sueños de Sevilla

I've been having romantic dreams about genius girls, getting through the hard times together. In real life, I am struggling to feel connected on the road, where company is both plentiful and hard to find.
Seville is like a giant red ribbon which tickles my noise and demands my attention whenever I fling myself at the city centre.
I also find myself beguiled by whatever mysteries in terms of countries I might conjure for myself in the near future. I am here, and I also feed off the cognitive awareness of many places in which I'm not, both known and unknown. It serves to highlight this current jewel in my Spanish tiara. Jewellery metaphors are apt: I made the acquaintance of a French shop seller today, and purchased 3€ pendants for myself and a few others. The stall was smack in the middle of the Festival of Nations, which included wooden Buddha statues the sizes of chairs, dream catchers of any size you can imagine, and Belgian waffle burgers (one of which I consumed and found a little small). 
I need to come back to Spain in order to see the following: 
That's two weeks' worth of sights already, I expect.
And I will never ever get enough of Barcelona.
I also find myself dreaming about Southeast Asia and Latin America. Homestays, anyone?

Thursday, 31 August 2017

Feminist Poem #1

Something happens to me
When I chance upon that street
The arrival of conviction
That I'm right to move my feet
To rhythms old, made new again
Previously disparate experiences meet

I'm the agent, look no further
Self-assurance has been found
With each step, a brand new hunter
Operates discreetly on the ground

But where to now, as
The end swiftly looms
I must bottle up the essence
Before my blood begins to boil

Locked into feminine grooves
A choice we make that's easier made
When we turn to patriarchy for protection
The willingness to open herself up
To criticism, no matter the occasion
Automatic self-hatred, it comes with the territory
Until you turn it on its head
Speak without hesitation
Expect no interruption
Assertion is the scheme
Under which you operate, till
They turn away, uninterested
Knowing that you don't cave
Knowing you're not in it to be disrupted
Sometimes aghast at the boldness of your defence
Sometimes already not listening
You're better off without them
Increase the volume on your shout
Bask in a self-love that's showing
And won't be contained - it's out!

Tuesday, 29 August 2017

Untitled Prose Post #1

Starting a post without a title is sometimes necessary for a stream of consciousness to form. I'm listening to Swedish radio and thankful for the interconnectedness of the world, whereby I can choose which cultural frequency to be on. Sure, I can't understand the words, but I can be inspired by confident female laughter, a strong sense of assertion, and a heightened sense of female authority emanating from my laptop.
I'm thinking about why I find it so hard to articulate my sexual needs. This is a hypothetical personal query, since I am not dating or sleeping with anyone. I can pinpoint specific absences of being taught agency in regards to sex throughout my life, starting from the family perspective and continuing on through sex education, conversations with peers, and messages from the media... I'd like to build on whatever sense of agency I do have, which may not feel like much sometimes (especially if I'm comparing myself to my progressive social circles). I'm afraid of getting punished, I guess. But by whom? Anyone I invite into intimacy would be someone I trust not to use my sexuality against me.
I was listening to Britney Spears' 'Hold It Against Me', and while Britney is pretty much the postfeminist posterchild, there's a plea there for something that's often on the gender equality agenda. So often, women are shamed for communicating sexual interest, let alone a 'plan of action'. I, for one, long to take a page out of Lady Gaga's book and 'not give a fuck' about misogyny, but I'm afraid of being raped again, or beaten, or even killed. Perhaps I fear the force inside me, instinctively acting in more cowardly ways so I can evade the worst of the backlash. I feel like there are two "me's"; one is learning all the ways she can possibly be empowered in private, and another is systematically watering it all down. When I started spending most of the night awake, I felt more connected to my furtive sense of emotional growth, and it's for this reason I loved it. But I need to be part of the world. It has things to offer me that I can't find by myself. Even if sometimes all I want is to be left alone.

When you're (for a lack of a better word) not neurotypical like me, writing is intense. I find comfort in the turbulence of my own mind, owning it and packaging it up for the world (or thirty persons) to read. Turbulent mental patterns are part and parcel of being a 'woke' human in 2017... but so are peace and delight (though the latter may not be as frequently present). I've articulated here many thoughts I couldn't bring to you before - there's always a fear about writing about sex and whatever other controversial subjects I naturally gravitate towards. I hope you'll contribute to the narratives of the people in your life by creating something similarly honest, brave, wild and free. I love you. 

Monday, 21 August 2017

Untitled Poem #1

Sometimes I feel like a winner
Sometimes I feel like a loser
Ah, but in search for such categories
I lose out on the complexity

I neglect the victory behind the latest descent
How I'm wound up with elation and torment
And while I can't claim to feel more positive emotions than bad
I've got some kind of balance, compensation for the sad

Search for me and you'll find me elusive
I'm never more compelled to change
Than when I aim for unequivocal emotion

The solace of certainty
Quickly reveals itself
To be anything but

Transience may make for niche reading
But it's the sense I keep returning to
The state I can't write my way out of

I doubt you're reading this, so

I doubt you're reading this, so
I have permission to break away
From your cross-continental pull
The gravity you represented
Made you someone I resented
And the longing for an anchor has to stop

Why is it so hard to stake my claim
Or even recover my instincts
My creed
Once writ large?

I fear they'll never understand
That my high ideals are just a shadow
Of the faith I know is possible

What passes for the sensible
Was counterintuitive for so long
They've tried to blunten my sensitivities
But I'm still holding on

Motivated anew
I'll be the traitor if I must
Seeking life-affirming motion
Little left for me here

Still I must haunt these streets
The end is not yet in sight
To this commitment to a beginning
That can only be known in the moment of its occurance

Wednesday, 9 August 2017

What does it mean to be single for me?

Sometime at around March this year I peacefully ended a long-distance, long-term relationship, having decided singledom was the state I needed to inhabit for the time-being. I do have mixed feelings about being on my own again, but that's okay, as a part of me welcomes the chance to rediscover myself and what that will mean for future versions of me.
I was savouring a sandwich at my favourite cafe a few weeks ago, when I heard 'Hunter' by Dido over the chatter of the customers. 'I want to be / a hunter, again / I want to see / the world alone, again,' swelled the song, and made me pause the consumption of my savoury treat so I could better vibe with the vocals. 
Being co-dependent meant that I was always ready to alter my plans, if it meant it would please the other. As pleasant as the healthier aspects of the relationship were, this created anxiety often, and made me feel somewhat stifled. I put my own needs second more times than I care to admit. 
I'm going to try to grow my self-esteem with therapy and self-care, but until I do, any relationship I enter into will be much the same. 
One of the most formative things I intend to do in the upcoming years is move. I've finally figured out a way to do it on a pragmatic level, but I still haven't decided exactly where in the world to plant roots. Being single means that I can choose a location based solely on my internal compass, and not proximity to a romantic partner. 
It's not that I'm not that I'm not looking for a relationship - if one were to develop I would be happy about it. But being single is also liberating. It's not an inferior way of being, any more than being in a relationship is superior. It's simply another state of being through which I can flourish. And in 2017 it's a good cultural moment for being a solo poly who celebrates their achievements, is compassionate towards their weaknesses, and aims for equanimity, harmony and inner peace. 

Tuesday, 4 July 2017

Towards greater acceptance

When I was a teen and exploring my attraction to women, my father would spit out the word 'lesbian' with such venom that, to this day, I feel afraid of claiming the word. I can passively elect to identify as a lesbian, particularly if someone else is leading the conversation, but I think I need therapy on this point, because using the term to describe myself fills me with dread.
I feel much safer identifying as gay, queer or non-heterosexual. These words were never demonised, since they had evaded my heteronormative, non-native English speaking parents. Things have changed significantly at home, particularly with my dad. But old fears still lurk and threaten to ruin the party.
I suppose I need positive reinforcement. To find a queer therapist who can help me find the inner safety within, and help me tackle my fears head-on.
My ex-girlfriend (let's call her Z) had no such fear. She proudly made her lesbianism a focal point of many a conversation. I enjoyed it, even though I knew I wasn't prepared to 'come out' in this most basic of ways.
(At this point I can assure you that everyone I know knows about my attraction to women - my online identities on Facebook, Twitter and OKC carry this knowledge, and are one of the main ways I meet like-minded people. But...)
I'm afraid to flirt with cute women when I meet them around Sydney and I don't know that they're clearly attracted to women. I've experienced enough prejudice over flirting with the same sex to feel incredibly possessive about the wonderful thing that is being lesbian-esque.
I have other issues with flirting as well, but I'm not going to get into them here.
I suppose I'm self-counseling because I've known for some time that this issue must be dealt with at some point, and I've been putting it off. I still feel young, and maybe I'm even hoping that I'll meet a monogamous guy who will deliver me from having to deal with all this disturbing stuff (that society has made disturbing - homosexual attraction is in itself just another thing we do).
And yes, I realise that I've verbalised some problematic narratives, because I've chosen a poly lifestyle which, on better days, I am quite committed to having women be part of (to name just one example). I worry that it's weakness to admit to all these insecurities, but I wouldn't be writing this if I didn't know that exploring vulnerability is also strength.
I have hope for my ability to adapt to a world which may not be changing fast enough for my liking, but is still capable of providing me with nurturance and love, especially if I'm proactive in seeking it out. And even if I'm single for the rest of my life, that won't be such a bad thing, because I'll be working on loving me, the single most meaningful and important relationship I'll have. 

Monday, 3 July 2017

In search of solace (poetry)

Where will I go? 

In this bluster of a solution
I'm aching for the urge to cower
Back down from my mission statements
Go forth without a decree

Permit myself to breathe

It's going to be fine
We're going to go far
Whether we're on 
This continent or that

I've got people powering my journey


Searching for a site to interrogate
Searching for the recognition
That could make it all worth it
Searching, trying to accept the tragedy
Only so much remedy
To go around

Accept dissatisfaction
As a near-constant state
I cannot be stateless
There will be a rule of law

Interesting how I fear disintegration
My own personal slavery
Where I am the owner of my own captivity
Traumatised by glocal misogyny

I sought relief from the harshness
I sought perspective and space to build my dreams
I still seek this so-called indulgence
But less frequently share said dreams

Monday, 19 June 2017

Pulling back (poetry)

I've softened
Looking for the keys
To the room of contemplation

The special space for igniting enquiry
It's to be waded into at all cost
And enjoyed

I've missed the kaleidoscopic clutter
Swirling about my soul
The way I mould it into the finest figure

Dramatic news must be embraced
As earthly as the world's rotation
Balance is an ever-shifting concept

Can't always be
The personification of calm
There are windows to erase

When pre-arranged vistas won't fit
The compulsion to explore
It's time to explode old frameworks

You'll find me pulling back
It's not a role I cherish
In recent times it's been restricting

But I've found a way 
In which pulling back works
In the way I alienate the hysteria

Find me impulsive in new and welcome ways
I'll chase the fireworks until they make good haste
Again restore equanimity to my days

Monday, 12 June 2017

Shifting identities

When I'm around women, I tend to be more assertive than I am with men. I am more likely to make a bold point, demonstrate leadership skills, and generally be more in touch with and exercise my sense of agency. Around men, it is a struggle to perform just a fraction of the same self-assuredness, because they operate on the assumption that they will be taking the lead.
This is one reason why I prefer talking with women.
I believe a same-sex high school education has led me to appreciate the company of women from an early stage. I learnt that there are greater possibilities for personality development if I'm in the company of other females, free from the pressure to reproduce the structural inequalities deeply entrenched in our society. We are still to be found working within limitations of what is socially acceptable, but there is less of a male presence to worry about appeasing. When the guys have left the room, we are left on equal footing. And I like being in the company of equals. I value it a lot.
In a very practical sense, I am gay. I identify as bisexual officially, however it's mostly in theory that men remain viable alternatives. To be woman-focused is to prioritise my own self-development, to fiercely guard my ability to actualise parts of my personalities scathingly regarded amongst mainstream masculinities.
To live in 2017 Australia is a kind of social hell, which only medication and the company of feminists helps me survive. This is why I make very clear on my (OKCupid) dating profile that I'm only interested in dating feminists. And even amongst feminists, there is a lot of appeasing the patriarchy going on. I am looking for one in a million.
I'm not perfect either; a reading of Bad Feminist, or Roxane Gay's statements on how impossible it is to be a perfect feminist, will enlighten as to how we hold feminists to an almost impossible standard, which I'm sure contributes to a lot of insecurity amongst those who internalise the need to be immaculate in their personification of the role.
What kind of feminist am I? I'm doing my best. I'm soothing myself as needed. I'm being as genderqueer as I'll allow myself to be. Sometimes I cower. Sometimes I'm proud of my bravery. It's quite gray and messy, often ingenious and sometimes daft. This is not definitive. Nothing I write about anything is intended to be definitive. I reinvent postmodern feminism as I dare.

Sunday, 28 May 2017

Out there

Been told my grasp on reality
Can't withstand scrutiny
But have you looked within today?
To busy judging, judging
Not trying to understand

I've been sitting by the mirror
Recognising within myself
Respectable qualities
Gathering them up

Have I looked within today?
Can I bear the sun today?
I've a date with dismay
And it simply won't end

Look within
The yellow curtains
Tremble at my touch
An apt presence, metaphorical
Shaky, shaky, but so strong
Delicate but powerful
And I've known it all along

Something new every day

I had an interesting exchange some weeks ago. The acquaintance had been diagnosed with schizoaffective disorder, and mentioned that his 'fluid memory' was pretty bad. It was one of the reasons he wasn't studying mathematics at university. Immediately this deterioration of memory thing struck a chord. My mind isn't the same when it comes to holding multiple concepts in my head in one go, and informed by complex states of most recent histories. I often wake up feeling like my mind is blank, and the meaning that I was making the day before doesn't linger in the way it used to do.

Obviously the drugs I have been forced to take are changing the way I function, and there's nothing I can do about it. I asked my Twitter followers and Facebook friends if anyone knew anything about applying for asylum in the nations that practiced Open Dialogue - Finland and Norway. Not much feedback eventuated, but my Finnish Facebook friend pointed out that in most of Finland mental health users were handled in the same way they are in Australia. I feel like the world is punishing me for trying to change it in accordance with my values.

Apathy? Is that what I feel? Underneath the drug haze I really do care, but the drug haze is powerful. Somewhere in there is such hurt, such anger, such fear, that I don't know what to do with myself. I cannot function in this society in any meaningful way, except to keep my distance. For the last five or so years I've made an effort to sleep during the night and be awake during the day. But for what? Engaging with this society is killing me. In the comforts of my bedroom late at night, I can create a space for less anxiety. I have time for myself. I am not butting heads with the Busy People of the World who couldn't care less about my wellbeing.

It's just a pain when something of interest or necessity is placed in time slots prior to 2pm.

My dad pops his head back into the living room, where I'm currently perched, but doesn't stick around.

With the birth of Japanese on Duolingo, I have been indulging in nostalgia with tinges of frustration in reviving my language skills. I add the J study before or after espanol, and find I still have time to do everything I want to do... now if only I could revive my French without having it f up my Spanish.

Because I still see the point in learning something new everyday. It gives me some of that meaning that I'm finding so elusive. It means I can travel to places like Chile this October and not be totally illiterate. 

Wednesday, 24 May 2017

Being inspired by Roxane Gay

The 'Bad Feminist' author was in town for the Sydney Writer's Festival and I was lucky to attend with a friend. She spoke about the need for white women to 'get their shit together' in terms acknowledging there's a problem in the West with race (she referred to a whole subgroup of white people who refused to acknowledge that the primary factor behind Trump's election was racial hatred towards people of colour, blaming economic anxiety amongst disenfranchised working class people instead), before they can get on the same page as people of colour who are already all too aware of the detrimental effects of white supremacy. Gay's goal is for us all to work together, but she's realistic about the fact that white people need to acknowledge their own complicity in the structures that empower them at the expense of people of colour. It's in recognising our privilege and investment in systems of oppression that we can start working against said oppression.

I was also pleased to hear Roxane imply that she was fighting for the rights of trans people. She mentioned this within the context of resisting 'allyship': she felt that to claim to be an ally was detaching yourself from a vital cause, and advocated for taking on each cause you deem important enough to fight for as your own. 'Your issues are my issues,' so to speak. It's about empathy. It's about respect. I agree whole-heartedly. Bring it on.

Roxane finds resistance where she finds it: Melania Trump shunning her husband's attempt to hold her hand, for example. She was at pains to point out that this was a rare moment of inspiration from a woman she considers 'evil'.

Also discussed was how many feminist cultural commentators focus on the most misogynistic aspects of society (e.g. Trump, Kyle Sandilands, Tony Abbott, etc), but work also needs to be done in recognising subtler misogyny all around us. The example given was of the opera 'Carmen', which was at first read as a gender-neutral classic by the feminist who spoke of her experience, but, on multiple viewings, revealed itself to contain domestic violence and what not.

On that note, I'd like to bring up my own recent experiences listening to Ariana Grande's song Moonlight. It's my favourite song on Ariana's Dangerous Woman CD, with a beautiful melody. I want to enjoy it wholeheartedly, but then there are lyrics such as 'Every look / Every touch / Makes me want to give him my body' which hark back to sexist stereotypes of women bestowing upon men the ultimate gift of their sexuality, which was previously unattainable. This is a harmful stigmatisation of a woman's supposed purity, perpetuating the idea that 'giving it away' diminishes her worth.

Ariana Grande is actually one of the more empowered pop stars out there. She wrote a piece on recognising her individual worth as a woman, and not being defined by her romantic relationships with men. She wrote that she was Ariana Grande, not somebody's girlfriend. It is precisely because she is considered a semi-feminist icon that it's important we recognise and challenge regressive attitudes within her work, because we will surely find similar attitudes all over the pop culture landscape, and they remain the more insidious for being unarticulated as harmful.

No one person can single-handedly carry the torch for all of women's empowerment, and it's important to appreciate the pop star to the extent that she does work that can be considered helpful to the feminist cause. Her collaboration with Nicki Minaj, Get on your knees has more attitude than Beyonce's Blow. (Not that I'm pitting these songs against each other...) We all know we need as many songs about women expecting cunnilingus as possible. There are frightfully few of them as it is. And that's just one example.

If you want to create your own feminist revolution, it's important to surround yourself with feminists who inspire you - that will help you raise your own voice. That's what I did today; will you join me?

Thursday, 18 May 2017

The Danger Zone

I have but disentangled myself
From the compulsion to embark
Upon a lifestyle change. I didn't know
Where to turn, and I still don't know the way
But at least with guidance I have
Solved the problem of
What not to do

Options explored, convictions eroded
A fitting mindbend for a tortured spirit

Monday, 15 May 2017

Can I do it?

How do I move to Spain?
A woman of my level of independent thinking might conclude that becoming an author is the most satisfying way to make money, if she weren't itching for a quick fix such as only English teaching can provide.
Neither option is certain. There is no guarantee even a critically successful book will translate into the kind of sales figures needed to become financially independent. Nor is it unlikely that I'll find teaching difficult students too stressful. I have more questions than answers.
What I do know is that I can't ask anyone else to help me. I need to do this on my own.
I've always considered myself brave when it comes to taking on a new culture, but I'm scared at this juncture. Having to make friends all over again will not be easy. I feel anxious and out of control in a lot of areas of life as it is. The certainty of having to spend a lot of time alone, and the further pressure of dealing with "real life stuff" such as bills is disconcerting.
Can I do it?

Monday, 8 May 2017

The many hues of contradiction

With more options, choice becomes more difficult. When I started learning German, a world of interesting opportunities opened itself up: I could, if I persisted, live in Zurich, Vienna or Berlin! But I already had some knowledge of French (who could say no to Lyon?) and even more of Spanish (Barcelona is perhaps the most exciting possibility, though the bilingualism poses further challenges), so, in the end, how am I to decide?

When I started learning German, my main motivation was to learn my partner's language. I am now newly single, and as tempting as it is to leave my German aspirations behind, I have to admit that I can see myself working with my present connections to the country and deepening them over time, if I so chose. German is the most difficult European language I have tried to learn, but it has its fair share of fun. I am kind of intrigued by the country, and would like to visit again. There are so many layers of contradictions within the interactions between ethnic Germans and 'New' Germans alone... there are more positive stories about multiculturalism here than in many other spots of the continent.

As an immigrant, I need to consider how welcoming my potential host nation will be, and out of the three nations listed, Germany is clearly in the lead. Pity, then, that I find Spanish and French easier and more palatable languages. But perhaps I ought to eschew aesthetics in favour of the most practical option?

Choosing between Spain and France/Belgium poses its own difficulties. Spain has the easier language; France is more progressive. Catalan would bring more headaches; the fervour with which French is demanded leaves something to be desired. Yet both populaces feel more easily accessible than the Germans, so famous for being unexpressive in comparison.

I am now reminded of my friend Willa, who would advise me to spend time living in each location (at least three months in one place) before making my choice. All very well, but I can't afford to do so at present. Maybe I should learn all three, just to be safe? It feels like betrayal to let any of them go. I've developed attachments to each one.


If I move on from questions of 'Where?' I am left with a further question: 'What occupation?'
Language and writing continues to emerge the natural default point. I wonder if I ought not distinguish myself from the other Europeans by taking up Japanese, but my motivation for Nihongo isn't as high as the desire to take up Swedish. But that's assuming that I can become fluent in at least one new language, something that would surely involve long hours of immersion and careful attention to detail.

So I guess I'm looking at translating and interpreting. Or maybe just writing articles in my new language.

Considering all the work I have to do, I think I'd better stop writing this blog post and commence some of that learning!


Saturday, 22 April 2017

Noticing, just noticing

I can't help but notice how much it suddenly matters to the people in my family that I meet some nice guy, get married and have kids. I am not chasing any of these popular life goals, seeing as I mainly date women, feel marriage is irrelevant at best and destructively heteronormative at worst, and having kids is nightmarish.
I am at the intersections of many minorities - homoflexible, anti-marriage, childfree. Many same-sex attracted women choose to have kids, and we are *this close* to having marriage rights. I am unusual enough to note this unusualness. However, when left alone to enjoy my intuitive logic, I don't feel at odds with society, but rather, that I've picked and chosen the best of the options my current life has to offer. I am surfing the choicest wave. All of the arguments for living a heterosexual lifestyle do not resonate, and I sincerely hope I will never reach the point where I am insecure enough to want to tune in to the hysteria that is compulsory heterosexuality. I've written several times about why the childfree life is the best life for me, and I feel like so much has been written about marriage (same-sex or otherwise) that I'm loath to spill more metaphorical ink on this subject.
I sometimes feel pressure from women who identify as exclusively lesbian to be more like them also, which leads me to believe that everyone is insecure about their life journey and wants to justify themselves repeatedly.
Why can't we all just get on with it?
My parents think my life will be better if I do exactly what they did, and conform. They are not able to understand why I've found something much more interesting and wonderful. This is no fault of my own. I just wish they *did* make the effort to relate, because it can get lonely out here on my cutting edge platform.

Saturday, 25 March 2017

Change is allowed (poem)

Silently I go over lyrics that resonate
Imprinting their charming patterns
In my mind. When my dominant
Sense of censorship goes to sleep
In full bloom, wonderment seeps
Out from the rigid outlines of what has been
Inventing new spaces to thrive in, to need

Alas, the soundscape alters
I'm exposed to a harsher culture
You've journeyed with a fragile mindset
This is the curse
Of being so open to influence
Yet this poet cannot do without
The range between the whispers and the shouts
And all the heaven and hell
Must be duly felt
Must be fully experienced
- Change is allowed

Monday, 27 February 2017

In between

Vibrations of machinery
Proof of the toil
Of modern-day people
Earning their living in the world
It seeps in through my window
Threatening to move over the sound
Caused by the inhabitants
Of these four walls
I don't know whether that
Would be a good thing or a bad
I'm forever seeking comfort
In a duo of hostile hums
Yet when I expect discord
Affinity somehow awakens

Saturday, 25 February 2017


Finding the footing
Reaching the ride
Life was lots easier
With you by my side

I never know where I might go
And I've spent eons feeling blue
The fitting path seems hard to reach
But it's something I must do

US & Them

I have an inner resistance to writing about the US, because it's already the focus of ongoing, widespread, world-wide attention, but I do think about it, and what's worth thinking about is worth writing down.

Somewhere, I knew the Republicans were going to have to win sometime. I had been omitting coverage of Republicans from my life as much as possible, and, as the opposition, it was easy to cultivate my disdain.

It's still early stages into the train wreck that is the you-know-who presidency. I had been meaning to stop being a regular news customer for a long time, however I was still struggling through those Guardian articles out of some mistaken sense of affinity with the cultural moment. The cultural moment grew from barely tolerable to routinely terrifying, and so I worked out a way to disentangle myself from it. I have a new cultural moment now(!), centred around my local community and circle of international friends.

But I am going to be exposed to the new political landscape whether I like it or not, simply by virtue of moving around in the world. Which brings me to...

The US seems to have led the way in creating a new consciousness of transgender people's worth. While that worth is still under scrutiny, much has changed in the last few years. More people have come out as trans, and the conversation about them and other gender non-conforming people has emboldened me to a) move beyond the only gender identity that I felt was suitable (what I would now call a cis woman), and identify as 'they'. I've even asked my friends to keep in mind that I prefer to think of myself as agender/non-binary, even though I forgive them if they keep referring to me as 'she'; b) open my mind to befriending and dating trans people - this has been the best kind of 'epiphany' to have, because I've met some of the most compassionate and intellectual people I know in the trans community.

So, as we enter a period of backlash against trans people and non-binary folk, I will continue to support our and their rights, and push for more freedom for us all to move in the world. 

Friday, 10 February 2017

International weather exchange program

You with your tech
-nicolour cool and
Me with my mind
In fashionable disarray
We see them moving -
Different styles of today
We break new ground, as they
Stay oblivious to our situation.
We rock our own,
And each other's nation!

This is a day for you 
...To dream... to play... to sparkle and glow!
You are right where you need to be
You're more beautiful than you've ever been
And I'll be there for you wherever you go

Thursday, 26 January 2017

[Short Poem]

You ask me what you can do -
Just listen. Listen until I
Muster up
The courage to speak
- I self-censor -
I've got the fear in me
And I crave connection
But I'm still working out the fine print
Of what my presence means

Monday, 16 January 2017

What is it I feel?

Getting in touch with my feelings can be difficult sometimes.
As I lower my medication, I'm moving towards taking care of my health psychologically.
And that means respecting every emotional state I experience.

I want to tell you to trust yourself
You don't have to swim with the tide
Climb out of the water
Take a seat by my side
(If you listen to yourself
You will be alright)

Shattered dreams and hollow goals
Searching for understanding
But it's only within me
Once again I follow
When I crave to lead
Scared to withstand criticism
Win some self-reprieve

You hasten to compliment me
And perhaps you're right
But the possibilities
They do terrify

Perhaps there is a place
Within me
Where I can process these onslaughts
Name the abuses

But my mind keeps longing
For an external solution
Meanwhile distracting itself with
Futile confusion

I don't mind confusion
If it's of a constructive ilk
It can often lead to happy places
If consumed by so much faith

Friday, 13 January 2017

The only way forward

I see people in different shades of distress
I wonder how I can be kinder
More compassionate under duress
Socially I falter

Wondering how to boost you
Without sacrificing myself
I'm fascinated with personal growth
The one you don't want for yourself

But you were always craving
Different ways to grow
Divorced from yourself
Somehow I know

Finding the courage to believe
In the frailest parts of my vision
The ones most in need
Of nourishment despite my division

Friday, 6 January 2017

Strive to be

Be ambitious
So you can accumulate power
Work on your glower
Measure yourself by your status

I don't understand anymore
Why people care about placements
When emotional health
Is all that matters

Find me a reason
To keep up with the bustle
When the bustle itself
Is making me sick?