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!