Monthly Archives: April 2013

questioning my perception

“Bleurgh, I do not feel like studying. All I want to do is sleep.” you mope to yourself. And you do. For several hours you are dead to the world, oblivious to the many things you have to do do. Like study for tomorrow’s test. Or start that assignment. But right now, the pressure is getting to you, so you avoid everything and just nap. And when you are incapable of any more sleep, there are always movies to occupy your time (and your mind). Finally, after managing to slog through a whole day of this, you give yourself over to the night.

Upon waking, you realise that the test is in one hour. “Shit, shit, shit”. You tumble out of bed, and blearily force yourself through the motions of showering, putting on make-up and searching for appropriate footwear. Hastily, you grab your laptop, and open it on the kitchen table. Mumbling something or other about variables and field research (the topic of today’s test) you rush through preparing your breakfast of oatmeal and coffee. When, finally, after 10 minutes of stirring and arranging, it is edible, you clunk it down on the table and collapse into a chair. The time is 8:15am, you have to leave in 5 minutes. With searing pain exploding all around your mouth, you shovel the steaming apple-peanut butter goodness into your mouth. But you don’t have time to taste it, you barely have time to scan the lecture notes opened in Microsoft Word in front of you. Oh, crap. It’s time to go. You just pray that whatever knowledge you gained from attempting this subject for a few weeks last year and your scattered attendance this year has seeped in enough for you to scrape by.

How is it that sometimes when we are so unprepared, we can still do well? And yet other times, we can study our brains into a coma but we still barely scrape by with a pass? It’s not a person to person thing – it’s a test to test thing, for I’m pretty sure this happens to everyone. In high school, we were so eager to fall into one category or the other – the “I don’t need to study, I can make good grades anyway” or the “I study very hard and it pays off”. But, truthfully, we are both. Or neither.

I got my marks back today from a test where I did not think I did stellar. And yet, I managed to score a number that I would have been pleased with even if I had studied really hard. The scenario above was how my study went – not at all, really. I walked out of the test hoping I hadn’t messed up anything too obvious, and thinking I’d be happy with something in the range of 50%-60%.

But I got more, and now I wonder whether my perception of my performance was wrong. I never figured out an accurate judge of performance – in school I was convinced that when I walked out feeling like I aced it, it spelt failure for sure (and vice versa). But then I had a few in-class essays and SACs where I sauntered out and still got the grades I wanted. Come university time, I was permanently unsure, and my marks were all over the place.

So, when asked how I felt I did on a test, I now respond with a simple “I don’t know”. But my lack of perception in my performance in this instance certainly makes me question my perceptions of how I compare in others.

Maybe I do see myself wrong, or maybe it’s just that life is so unpredictable that trying to find a system of determining success before the judgement call is futile.

English: stamp with the words "Fail"...

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)



If I had a catchphrase it would be “I’m such a child”. Especially if you judged it upon my behaviour at work. I’m constantly excusing my childlike enthusiasm over new drinks or desserts coming out, to the point where many of the other managers have called me a child. I just cannot help myself; getting that enthusiastic over something gives me something to look forward to. And at my work, that is sorely needed.

It also happens when I get frustrated with something, generally a piece of technology. When I really get going, I have a tendency to stomp my feet as a way to get the frustration and anxiety out of me. I’m not ashamed of this habit, despite being called on it a few times, since I figure I could do so much worse than stomp my feet. Even if it does make me appear immature.

But I’ve always believed it’s important to retain some childish behaviours and enthusiasms; after all, we tend to glorify those days, so why not hold on to some of the things that made them great?


appreciative of some old school Johnny Depp

Specifically, Cry Baby, which is one of my all-time favourite movies. It’s hard to beat when I need cheering up, since it’s full of ridiculous characters, good tunes and what Mrs Vernon-Williams likes to call ‘hysterectomy pants’.

Cover of "Cry Baby (Director's Cut)"

Cover of Cry Baby (Director’s Cut)

Essentially, the story is about two factions of teenagers, the squares who are the quintessential ‘good’ kids of the 1950s, with full skirts and a wholesome love for charm school and theme parks, and the drapes, juvenile delinquents who wear tight clothing and sing hillbilly music (which sounds an awful lot like Elvis Presley). In a way, the movie is like Grease’s rebellious and less popular cousin. The plot follows a square called Allison, who falls for a drape nicknamed Cry Baby. She is torn between the squares and the drapes after a brawl at the drapes hangout, where Cry Baby gets arrested. All sorts of pandemonium follows, including false pregnancies and parents speaking in tongues.

The movie has a lot of terrible jokes, particularly from Wanda’s ignorant parents, who unknowingly swear in court and are just excited about Wanda making it onto the radio.

Or even trying to switch their daughter for a Swedish milkmaid.

I’ve shown this movie to friends before, and they look at me like I’m nuts for loving it so much. But there’s something alluring about full skirts and good girls gone bad that makes it so good. And of course, Johnny Depp is in it (as well as a cast of surprisingly big names – Willem Dafoe and Iggy Pop included).

And you cannot deny a movie that captures teenage rebels and their shady relatives in such a loveable light. 

But mostly, it’s just Johnny Depp singing on a motorbike.


This is the second day in a row that I’ve had nothing to say. Not even my drafts feel adequate (which is what you received last night).

So I’m in need of a prompt. Which will be:

Describe a perfect world. 

I generally try not to think about this too much, lest I get caught in the trap of wishing away the life I have, but I suppose there are a few key things I would include. I would erase oppression, just because I feel that even the small lessons it teaches can be taught in other forms. It’s a very naive and idealistic desire, but rising above circumstances is lesson that you learn in many ways throughout life, from other forms of suffering. And cruel as it may sound, I would keep some of the suffering. Maybe distribute it a little more equally – it seems that some of the worst things that have happened to people I know have been contained to a small few, despite their rather great number.

I would also make it so that you could eat however you wanted without gaining weight or suffering nutritional deprivation. Then you could just eat entirely according to what tastes good without having that niggling feeling of “oh, I shouldn’t” and the phrase diet would finally listen to its first three letters.

I think it might also be nice to abolish the money system of trading, and go back to bartering. It just feels like that would take a lot of pressure off people to work jobs they hate simply to earn enough money to appear successful to others. They could instead trade their passions for goods and services, such as making hats in exchange for singing lessons.

I would erase sweatshops and animal abusive practises, which exist today when they really shouldn’t.

And I’d teach people to deal with conflict better.

School wouldn’t be so grade-focused, because numbers are really not that important. Everyone’s main goal would be health, satisfaction and general happiness. I feel like most people have lost sight of these things in current society. We pursue goals of wealth, fame and adoration without realising that the real reason we seek these is to improve our lives and thus be happy, even though the goals themselves prove to be barriers to this ultimate end.

I would give people more leisure time in the week, perhaps in the form of every wednesday being a public holiday (no shops even, because retail workers need it too). Sort of similar to a Sabbath day but without religious affiliations, where basically you endeavour to use it to explore the world, bond with friends and family or just see some of the amazing scenery around you. It would be a day of discovery each week.

I’m sure there is more I would have in my utopian world, but I cannot picture it today. Maybe I’d resurrect unicorns or something like that.

But I feel I’ve exposed enough of my fantastical dreaming tonight.

impatient for my online purchases

I am not a patient person. Especially not when I buy something online that I desperately want, and then have to wait 2 weeks for it to arrive. In this case, it is a Pentax film SLR which I am dying to use. I miss the days of film photography, when every shot you took was more important because they were so expensive and you couldn’t erase them. And with this camera, I’ll really be able to learn photography techniques, since the settings are all manually adjusted.

Pentax K1000

Of course, I’m getting a digital SLR for my 21st birthday in a month and half, and that is super exciting too, it’s just a long way off. And I haven’t looked at it, pouring over every single detail and staring at its image for hours on end, imagining it around my neck and in my hands. I haven’t had the chance to own it, but not hold it. So I can remain patient.

The Pentax, however, is so close, and yet so far. According to the last tracking information, it left LA for Australia last week. Hopefully it will be here soon, and I can excuse myself from dull days of work and study, to drive somewhere beautiful and capture the sights I see. I can take myself on mini-adventures with a purpose in mind, rather than having a random desire to go somewhere, but nothing to do when I arrive.

I’m also waiting on a book on exposure, so that I have a more thorough knowledge of what I’m doing, rather than relying on the vague memories I have from the brief intro I got years ago during a multimedia course at school. We did learn useful tips during that time, but unfortunately I haven’t put them into practise much since and my recollection isn’t the sharpest. I remember the composition advice more than the technical knowledge. Probably because I lived and breathed the design elements that year, which mirrored the photography elements we employed. It paid off, I did fairly well in the subject.

I find it kind of annoying that the items I ordered later have arrived before so many that I purchased a few weeks ago. I have my Where’s Wally costume for the booze cruise of that theme that I’m attending in a couple of weeks, but where are the books and cds I ordered first?

Shopping on the internet can be so frustrating and backwards sometimes.

Oh, and on a side note, I didn’t end up trying the mulled cider last night. Just lots of regular cider.

going to have my first taste of mulled cider

New experiences are all so exciting, if a little scary at times. Luckily, today’s new experience has barely any fear contained within it – I am going to try mulled cider at a great cafe/bar in the city. I love normal cider, so I’m expecting a favourable experience. Especially since I’ve heard so many rave reviews from the people I’m going with.

Other new experiences can cause a lot of trepidation, which means you feel so much prouder after your try them, even if they don’t pay off. Take, for example, trying weird and wacky cuisines in other countries or going bungy jumping. Admittedly, the latter turned out even better than expected, but believe me, it was terrifying beforehand.

Sometimes it takes going out of your comfort zone to discover something truly wonderful – whether it be taking a solo trip to a foreign country or just throwing yourself over the edge of that bridge, and ignoring the instincts telling you to stop despite the ropes attached to your body. Push through your barriers of fear and insecurity, and just put yourself out there to see past the wall that imprisons you.

Your comfort zone, where the magic happens

Your comfort zone vs where the magic happens (Photo credit: oklanica)

Outside your little bubble of safety and comfort, there is a whole world of experiences to try. And if you never attempt to broaden your horizons, then you will nothing in your life will ever change. For some people, that might be desirable if they’ve already reached the pinnacle of their experiences on this planet. But I’d say that for the majority, that’s not what you want. I know I certainly don’t. So I constantly have to push myself, to break through my anxiety and do what terrifies me, lest I never be able to change the feelings that drag me down.

Tonight’s cider expedition will do this on a micro level – I might discover a new drink that becomes a large part of my consumption. Then, I shall just have to take that lesson to an even grander scale on my upcoming trip to South America in June.

I’ll make sure to include what happens and my thoughts on the cider in tomorrow’s post, as sort of a part 2 to this one.

an ardent admirer of antiques

English: Antiques being sold on Colaba Causeway

English: Antiques being sold on Colaba Causeway (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Over the last few years, I have developed a passion for antique and vintage items, whether it be furniture, clothing or random knick knacks. I mentioned when I bought the vintage sailor dress that I love the idea of objects having a life before I encounter them, and while this is the main attraction I have to them, there is more to it. Things made in years gone just tingle my senses more. I find them to be infinitely more attractive when they’re from periods I admire. Of course, every era has its embarrassments – some of the brown and orange stripes of the 70s were pretty hideous, or the neon of the 80s. But it also had its definitive style statements – the beautiful art deco of the 1920s or the fabulous mod dresses of the 1960s. They’re so stunning that my eyes begin to water when I look at them.

Over the last year I became obsessed with a massive antique warehouse 15 minutes from my house, where I’ve forked over a good deal of money on beautiful furniture and homewares. The furniture needs a little restoration, but that’s why I’ve been getting such good deals on them. Including the couch pictured below, which needs quite a bit of restoration to the woodwork, springs and covering, but had such a lovely frame (and price) that I couldn’t resist.

Jacobean sofaJust think of what its life could have been, and now I’m bestowing the gift of regeneration on it.

Is it any wonder, after all this, that I’m thrilled to be going to a bar filled with antiques, candlelight and chaise lounges in the near future? I think not. To me, there really could not be a better bar.


fighting for fitting first phrases

First sentences are the writing equivalent of first impressions – you have only a few seconds to gain the attention of another, and so there is a lot of pressure on getting it right. Every time I sit down to write something, whether it be recreationally, for class or for the internet, I agonise over what the initial hook should be. It needs to be snappy, but it needs to be clear what I am writing about. I want to sound intelligent, provocative and funny – but all in one sentence. It’s such a daunting task.

First impressions in social situations are the same. You have approximately 5 seconds to impress your beauty, intelligence and wit upon the other person, before their judgement is made. And I’m pretty sure there have been studies which prove that first impressions form a great portion of our impressions of someone.

Of course, there’s a reason this is so. As my marketing lecturer delights in pointing out to us students, we are all cognitive misers. We don’t want to have to think. In fact, it’s ingrained into the human psyche to make shortcuts (that’s why stereotyping and the linking of concepts exist). In our lives, we already have enough to think about, without consciously analysing the attributes of a person and consistently re-evaluating our perception of them in an active manner over time. So we make a quick judgement within 5 seconds on whether we want to spend more time on them, and maybe put some thought or effort into developing the relationship. Of course, they are doing the same.

It makes me wonder what kind of first impression I leave. Of course, it changes with each interaction, depending on the context and the mood I’m in. Some people initially think of me as stuck up because I am too shy to talk, others think I’m really quiet. I guess what stands out most would be my glasses when I wear them, or, yes, most probably my tendency to withdraw around people I don’t know.

Sometimes the judgements we make about others can be harsh, but it’s not always our fault for this. I’d say it’s a 50/50 split, where in that 5 seconds they’ve shown you some less than admirable behaviour (like not saying a word or making any eye contact as I do) and you’ve bought into your instantaneous judgement too quickly.

So while it’s useful to have these shortcuts so that they free our minds for greater things, I think we definitely need to be wary of how much our evaluation of people is influenced by the first impression we get.

Then maybe it wouldn’t be so stressful to meet new people, and we’d see their good traits coming through earlier in the acquaintance. And the same with writing; after all we’re told not to judge a book by its cover, so why judge a piece of writing by 20 words?

waxing nostalgic

Everyone is cute when they’re little. There’s something about being so young and full of life that lends itself to genuinely adorable impressions. No fears yet, no social constraints. You just let your imagination roam free as you learn and explore the world around you each day.

The memories of this stage fade over time, but occasionally you can recapture them looking at old photos of yourself from this time. This is what I have been doing – looking over old photos and remembering that magical time. I didn’t have the idyllic childhood, but it wasn’t terrible either. It had its upsets, but somehow despite the absence and occasional reappearance of my father, it remains magical to me.

I grew up in 3 different houses in the same suburb, all within walking distance from the beach.  Naturally, we spent a lot of our time there. We used to walk along the bushland (a very narrow strip of it that exists there), and to me it was one huge fairy dell. All the adults around me joined in with my belief that if we walked quietly and carefully, we could hear the fairies talking, singing and dancing. I genuinely believed this for many years, and even now I can’t help but wonder as I wind my way through.

I also have memories of playing in the backyard of the house we moved to after my parents divorce, as my mum weeded and pruned her stresses away. I was constantly exploring the trees and climbing up one, until I could sit on the brick fence and imagine the lives of the neighbours living around us. I really miss this feeling of wonder at everything – I was genuinely curious about how other people lived, and everything was coated in a veneer of magic and mystery.

Now all I have are these old pictures to remind me of this feeling (and of course how I was once cute). On days like this, I like to curl up with my teddy bear and Billy Joel’s “These are the Times to Remember”  (the song I graduated high school to, which is perfect for nostalgia) as I reminisce about flying on the swings at my kindergarten playground or planting trees at a local park with my sister’s Girl Guides unit (pictured below).planting treesThis photo is actually kind of an important one – it was very soon after my dad left us, and as my mum tells me, was kind of the first activity the my sister, her and I did as our own little family unit.

Although it’s not very healthy to dwell on the past and forget to live (as Dumbledore wisely advised Harry), at times it is necessary to pause and remember where you’ve been, and how far you’ve come in life.



proud of the slow progress society is making

Lately, I’ve been completely hooked on HBO’s brilliant show Girls. Not only is it a very realistic portrayal of females in their twenties (perhaps a little more exciting than the average girl’s life), but it is a refreshing take on the behaviour and expectations of women.

Brooklyn - Williamsburg: Girls

Lena Dunham’s writing is funny, and yet still poignant. The characters are extremely relatable, the plotlines are interesting and not every episode has a candy-flossed ending or overly dramatic cliffhanger. The girls fight with each other. They laugh with each other. They also bathe with each other at times, one aspect which I find a little odd. But mostly, they have a dynamic which feels true.

But the main part that I find so wonderful to see on television (or in my case, my laptop, since it doesn’t air here) is that they look like real women. And they aren’t ashamed of it.

They aren’t gorgeous all the time and they certainly don’t always wear outfits that make me go ‘wow’. They do not look like the stereotypical Hollywood actresses whose characters live off  a diet which the actresses playing them would never go near. They look like the people who lead the lifestyles of their characters.

Society’s expectations of women are unachievable, mostly because the capitalist companies that fund the productions need to have an ideal to sell to women. And ideals which sell products should never be attainable, because then we would have no more need for the product.

So when I switch over to watch an episode of Girls I get comedy, yes, but also a reminder that most people don’t actually have the body of Miranda Kerr. And that that’s ok. Every time Lena Dunham strips down in some sex scene or other, it reminds me that not being super thin and toned really doesn’t mean all that much. Beauty and sexuality really are about so much more than weight or image, and self-confidence is the key to that distinction. If next time Lena’s character Hannah falls into bed with someone and she resumes the traditional female role of passivity and fear (and disempowerment), then she would forgo some of the awesome beauty that pours out of her every episode.

Gone are the days when women sat by like pretty dolls, but still we are expected to look like them. Societal expectations of the female body have yet to catch up to the more active role women play in the social atmosphere. For some reason, in order for the female body to appear powerful, it must be masculinised, with power suits, muscle tone and angled faces. This is kind of backwards, since what really should happen is the female body being celebrated as it actually looks like, and the power from accepting it as such. Celebrate the gender differences, instead of trying to blur the line between genders.

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