Thursday, July 28, 2011

Some things about me

My friend Melissa, from Through The Wardrobe, recently gave me a Sweet Blog Award. I'm supposed to state ten things about me, then pass the award on to fifteen of my favourite blogs. The problem is I don't really have those kinds of blog relationships. The blogs I read are not really sweet, or the blogger would have no idea who I am, and I would just feel a bit weird about doing it. Like when my friend asked me to be her bridesmaid at her wedding. I'm just not the type. (She chose a man instead.) However, I did enjoy writing down some things about me. So much so I'm just going to share them anyway.

* My nickname as a child was Bones. In my twenties/early thirties it was Anoushka, Nooshy or Nooshyburger.

* When I was in Kindy I got the chicken pox and all my hair fell out. It grew back twice as thick. (So at that time I was skinny and bald.)

* At high school I was in a production of Godspell. I played the prodigal son, and met my first serious boyfriend. It gave me taste for performance. And cast parties.

* I won an award for songwriting, bestowed by SCALA. The songwriting partner and I had written three songs together in one night. It was our first attempt. There is a pic of me on their site.

* The first cd I bought was Jeff Buckley’s Grace (even though I had a tape of it). I was a late adopter because at uni I didn’t have a stereo with me - my records were in storage - I just had tapes. The first record I bought was probably an Abba album.

* The first big concert I went to was David Bowie, Serious Moonlight tour, at Sydney showground, in 1983. I wore a boxy orange jumpsuit.

* I fractured my coccyx birthing my second child.

* At 19 I made my sister in law’s wedding dress. Now, I darn socks.

* I’m pretty handy with a hoola hoop.

* Most of my clothes are from op shops. That’s the way I like it.

* As a child I would ask my mum to quiz me on who won what Academy Award as listed in the World Book Encyclopaedia, up to 1971, when Oliver! won best picture.

* In the car I still play mixed tapes I made for parties I gave in 1985 and about 1997. I also play a series of tapes of songs I recorded from 2SM’s Silver Jubilee of Rock in 1977.

* Stories of alien abduction totally freak me out!

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

One day my head is gonna explode

And today might be that day. Week one of uni and week two of term.

The kids have too many activities, in school and, well, in school. Opportunities, they’re usually called, but for me today, they’re called headaches. I’ve just realised I should change my uni enrolment because the units I’ve enrolled in for this term assume knowledge I haven’t covered yet. I need to be doing the less challenging subjects this semester, because I already feel my stress levels have risen to boiling point just reading about the unit activities and assessments. Household chores - never ending. Gym. I'm supposed to keep moving to stop my body from hurting. Volunteering. I do my share (and I swear, if the school calls for volunteers for one more function, I may as well just homeschool and be done with it). Sick child. Consulting with the village to make sure everyone gets to where they need to be. Thinking about how I’m going to earn some money but no time to actually follow through. Something’s gotta give.

And where are those missing library books and the missing birth certificate??

Take a breath and back to basics. Whatever I can’t deal with right now, I’ll think about it later.

In the words of Katie Scarlett O'Hara, tomorrow is another day.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Sydney has a problem

Sydney has a self-image problem.

Sydney thinks it is sunny all the time, so Sydney freaks out when it rains for a week. The gutters overflow, the roads flood, the trains don't run on time. Sydney can't cope. Sydney is in denial. No central heating for rooms in Sydney. Open plan living areas, (impossible to heat) in Sydney houses. Nowhere to put umbrellas or coats. Because Sydney is always warm and sunny.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Winter Staycation

Our winter holiday has come to an end. This time my plan was to have a good rest. We’ve mostly stayed home, resting. Perhaps a little too much. Our meals have become haphazard and slap dash. We remind each other to change out of our pyjamas if someone is coming over to visit. We remind each other to wash. Some days, that has taken all day.

Last term we had a few bouts of illness. The kids were each sick twice, in turn. I started last term with a bad back and ended with an infection that took three courses of antibiotics to get rid of (if it has in fact been cleared). Banjo has been doing bladder training. We’ve just been looking after our bodies. Haircuts and teeth. Back to basics.

Because it has been a break from school and uni I have been aware that this has been my chance to attend to a few jobs. We’ve been decluttering and cleaning. We’ve been making crafts to sell at the school fete. And I’ve read some books (that aren’t textbooks!).

I’ve been nodding my head in agreement at the two books I’ve read: Night Waking by Sarah Moss and How to be a Woman by Caitlin Moran.

Night Waking is about a family who is staying on a fictional island on the west coast of Scotland. The mother is an academic who is supposed to finishing her book on childhood in Victorian Britain, but whose partner is studying puffins on the island, leaving her manage the children, a night waking toddler and a son who worries more about global problems than is healthy (and probably has Asperger’s). There is much whinging about motherhood, much about the history of raising children, issues of class and the environment, and someincidental tips on academic writing. I enjoyed reading this, but I wonder how women stay married after writing such a scathing account of parenting with a constantly criticised male partner.

How to be a Woman is part memoir, part rant on the current state of feminism by UK columnist (I didn’t know who she was until I read the book) Caitlin Moran, whose photograph on the cover is part muppet, part Munster (and she wouldn’t mind me saying that.) I can identify with her childhood (large family), and most of the cultural references. Her take on feminism has three main points. You can call out sexism as rudeness. If the men aren’t doing it, why are women? And we can deal with feminine expectations by shrugging them off or laughing. Say no to wearing high heels, to Brazilians and cosmetic surgery, to g strings and trashy gossip mags. Say yes to women being funny. She talks about a few issues that are rarely addressed:masturbation, the joy of having a hairy muff, and abortion when already a mother (now there’s a topic no-one mentioned in the reviews - scares people off!).

We’ve had two little events to punctuate the holiday (because it is so sad when the children have to write about their weekend, and the highlight is going to the laundromat). Banjo celebrated her 7th birthday with a Pippi Longstocking afternoon tea, and we saw the musical Mary Poppins. The first big show for Clancy and Banjo. I’d say half the audience at the matinee we attended were children. Very lucky, affluent children.

So now, back to the madness of middle class mothering. My routine includes two school drop-offs most mornings, going to the gym, and studying. It’s going to a busy term - the children have lots of performances to prepare, there is a lot going on at school this term. And also this week, back to the doctor (my hip has been hurting for months, and lets see how that infection is faring) and, at the first opportunity, seeing Harry Potter. Can’t wait to see how the story is finished, and what is left out - because there just isn’t enough time to finish telling that story. And as much as the children would love to see the movie, we're holding fast to the ratings on this, and agreed they can watch the PG version when it appears on tv instead. All in good time.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Being authentic

Two ideas I've come across lately are stretching my brain.

On the blog Zero Waste Home, Bea said she doesn't keep loads of books and artwork in the house because she realised she was keeping these things to show people what kind of person she is. (She also says she stores her books at the library, which is a neat way of looking at it.) Bea was an exhibiting artist when she decided to go zero waste. She said being zero waste has fuelled her creatively. She no longer has a workshop of art supplies calling on her to make something, and causing her to feel guilty when she doesn't. She can be creative where ever and how ever she wants. But she's got me thinking.

Do I keep lots of books in the house because I want people to think of me as an intellectual person? Do I keep artwork (most of it I have made myself) because I want to prove to people that I'm creative? Do I have lots of recorded music in the house because I want people to think I'm cultured?

The other idea is from something Richard Fidler said on his interview program on 702. He has an hour long interview with someone each weekday. He has interviewed a lot of people.

He said that people who have gone through a hardship (serious illness, serious car accidents, being left for dead at the side of the road and surviving) seem to then scrape away the artifice of modern life to live a more authentic life.

I wanted to ask him what he means. What does it mean to live an authentic life? Does it mean not using hair colour? Does it mean not bothering to make your bed? Does it mean being the person you see yourself as, even if that means applying artifice to do that? How do you know you are living an authentic life? Do you need to live with few possessions to live an authentic life? Do you need to be constantly confronting yourself to find out who you are? (Bear Grylls?) Does being authentic mean you say the awful things you may think even if it may hurt someone else, or can you be authentic and try to be kind? Is an authentic life one of service to others?

What if my authentic self has blonde hair? Is slimmer and has bigger breasts? Lives with lots of books and artwork and music? What if my authentic self is constantly on the phone or FB? Or really loves shoes? What if I really care that people think of me as intelligent, creative and cultured?

Will my daughter who is very attached to her long blonde hair - it is part of her identity - not become her authentic self until we cut off her hair and she confronts who she really is?

Does being authentic change as you grow up? Are we most authentic as children? Is that something we should hold on to? Am I more authentic when I'm tired? Or stressed because I have an assignment due? Or most authentic when I am well and happy?

Or is living an authentic life just one of those wishy washy things that sound good to say but we don't really think it through and know what it means?

Right, I'm off to get my nose pierced as a reminder to myself to live a more authentic life.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

The Carbon Tax

While the newspapers are emphasisng what the carbon tax might mean to household food bills (and why they don't look at other items people purchase, eg, electrical gadgets, toys, clothes, I don't know, and how they can predict prices in 12 months time in our changing time, 'hello bananas' I don't know) and the compensation package (when we became a nation of people with our hands out for compensation for every bump in the road, I don't know - but I can't see my generation toughing things out like people did during WWII) I thought I'd share the wins of the Carbon Tax announcement.
  • A price on pollution which big polluters will have to pay: $23 per tonne of carbon
  • $10 Billion investment in renewable energy
  • 80% cut in Australia’s emissions by 2050
  • Assistance to vulnerable Australians totalling over $4 billion per annum
  • Starting to close the most polluting coal fired power stations and stop new ones from opening
  • $1B for the protection of Australia’s biodiversity, wildlife and woodlands.
Well done Australia. This is what we need. Tying the package to an overhaul of the personal tax system is a good move. And no, our household does not qualify for financial compensation. Our compensation is the possibility of a healthy planet. Thanks.

Now to pass it through Parliament...

Saturday, July 09, 2011

Ann Oakely and Barbara Wooton

Sharing this article on Ann Oakley (longtime feminist writer - I read her memoir Taking it Like a Woman in my first year of motherhood - now professor of sociology and social policy) has written a book on Barbara Wootton called A Critical Woman. Wootton was a woman of amazing achievements, but she isn't well remembered.

An article worth reading.

Tuesday, July 05, 2011

Around the world - updating issues

Time for a world round-up, care of The Guardian Weekly. (24 June - 14 July )

There is a new political party in Iceland that is shaking things up by holding some power yet not playing the political game. Jon Gnarr, a comedian, leads a party of ex-punks, poets and pop stars who formed The Best Party, and he has been voted in as Mayor of Reykjavik.The anarcho-surrealist party is shaking up a corrupt system, reeling from financial meltdown.

Women in Saudi Arabia are protesting against a ban on women driving in public by driving in public. Five women have been arrested.

Women in Afghanistan are the most at risk women in the world. The most dangerous countries in which to be born female are, in order, Afghanistan, the DRC, Pakistan, India and Somalia, according to a global survey.

A story on the sex selection crisis in developing countries. In India there are 112 boys born to every 100 girls. In China there are 121 boys to every 100 girls. The Chinese city of Lianyungang records 163 boys per 100 girls in 2007. The pattern spills into Azerbaijan, Georgia, Armenia and Albania. A book, Unnatural Selection, by Mara Hvistendahl, explores the trend, and looks to the consequences. "Historically, societies in which men substantially outnumber women are not nice places to live", she writes. It creates new markets in trading women.

The number of people forcibly displaced (in their own country or out of their own country) has reached a 15 year high, according to the UNHCR. Their report estimates 43.7 million refugees and people displaced by events such as war and natural disasters at the end of last year. More than half are children.

Julia Kristeva writes a piece on the history, and current state, of women's rights in China.

A review of the book Millions Like Us: Women's Lives in War and Peace 1939-1945, by Virginia Nicholson. The books uses memoirs of women during wartime. Eg, ' For a housewife who's been a cabbage for 15 years, you feel you've got out of a cage." Very interesting.

Diabetes is now a global epidemic. More than 350 million people in the world now have diabetes. It is one of the biggest causes of mortality worldwide, and set to become the single biggest burden on the world healthcare system.

Gay marriage has been legalised in new York.

Women in the US have been charged over losing their unborn babies. Bei Bei Shuai, 34, was charged with murdering her unborn child when, after her partner abandoned her, she took rat poison in order to kill herself. She was revived, but her child died. Rennie Gibbs became pregnant at age 15, but lost the baby at 36 weeks. Prosecutors in Mississippi found she had a cocaine habit, and charged her with 'depraved-heart murder'. She faces life in prison. In Alabama at least 40 cases have been brought under the 'chemical endangerment' law which has been applied in a way which was not intended when the law was introduced in 2006.

The richest people in the world have not only recouped their losses from the GFC, but are richer than ever.

A story on the huge female hip-hop scene in Detroit.

A review of the book A Quiet Revolution: The Veil's Resurgence from the Middle East to America, by Leila Ahmed.

A review of the book To Die For: Is Fashion Wearing out the World? by Lucy Siegle

Christine Lagarde, the French Finance minister, is the new head of the International Monetary Fund, and the first women to run a global financial fund.

A story on water - essential for life and running out. The 16 most water stressed states are in the Middle East and North Africa. Population growth, greater use of water, especially in agriculture, acquifers drying up.

Collaborative consumption is a solution to living unsustainably, presented by Australian, Rachel Botsman, in her book What's Mine is Yours: How Collaborative Consumption is Changing the Way We Live. The idea is to share what we have - cars, space, skills - using the internet or social networking, and based on trust. Botsman argues that soon our reputation rating, based on online feedback to services and online comments to assess our trustworthiness, will be as important as our credit rating. It does, however, need critical mass in order to work.

The Guardian has a page each issue on International Development, looking these weeks at Brazilian mothers working in trades,and microfinance in Cambodia.

The Guardian has been the go-to for journalists reporting on The News Of the World phone hacking scandal, and the subsequent folding of the publication. Cheers, Guardian. Well done.

I'm looking forward to their reporting of the Carbon Tax.

The Toy Sales

Mums on the mum forums tend to get rather excited by the toy sales. K Mart,Target and Big W all have toy sales at this time of year. Mothers line up to get their children the toys they want, and put those toys on lay by for Christmas. Then line up to retrieve the toys on Christmas Eve.

The toys sales and our family have little to do with each other. My kids are kind of past the toy phase of early childhood. They don't need any more toys. For gifts I've been giving them gifts of experience or activities, like going to a show or having lessons. I'll buy them books and cds (we know where to store them in our home.) I feel like we have already had most types of toys (most we got second hand) and I've already given those toys away to friends with younger children or to the op shops. I should add we don't have electronic games, ipods or Wii - we just aren't on that page.

I did, however, pick up a catalogue from one of the shops and the children looked through it. What I noticed (aside from how gendered the presentation of toys are) is that the toys are now cheaper than they were five to ten years ago. How is that possible? What cost is not being factored into the equation? When we know that the earth's resources are limited (most of the materials are made from oil based products), and the conditions for factory workers in China (and yes, all these toys are made in China), what does that mean? Does it mean we don't care so long as we can buy our kids toys cheaply?

We can apply to same questions to clothes. Clothes are cheaper to buy now than they were five to ten years ago. How is that possible? Will that change with the introduction of a carbon tax? I hope so.

An article on how inaction on climate change will affect our children here.