Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Life as Performance

When was the last time you had a completely real, 100% genuine, raw interaction with someone?

Think about it for a moment.  No artifice, no performance, no alteration of what makes you, you.  Do you remember?  Has it ever happened?

I think every interaction we have, every day, is performance to some extent, whether it's with strangers, colleagues, friends, relatives, lovers - something is always performed*.  We carefully groom ourselves.  We "dress for success".  We pull our punches.  We tell white lies.  We pretend to enjoy things we really don't.  And why?  What is actually so bad about the real us?

As a woman (and I can't write from any other frame of reference), I think the performance aspect of our lives is even more pronounced.  We "put on our face".  We shave, wax, pluck, and dye.  Our appearance, clothes, attitudes, and voices are more closely scrutinised.  And the reasons why we do these things to ourselves are so internalised that we don't even think, generally, about why we do them.  And if we see another woman on the street who doesn't do these things, we think there is something wrong with her, not with the society that makes these arbitrary rules.

Two recent blog posts from Natalie at Definatalie have made me think about these performances recently.  In the first one, she wrote about growing her leg  hair; in the second, she wrote about editing photos of herself before publishing them online.  My immediate, visceral reactions were disgust at the first post and anger at the second.  But when I considered them both together, as two sides of the same coin, I started analysing my reactions.  I realised that I was being hypocritical, in that I was objecting to both a performance and a rejection of one.

While I don't feel like I'm currently in a headspace where I can go out in public without shaving my legs, I admire Natalie for being brave enough to do so.  And I will be analysing the performance aspect of my life more closely in future.
All the world's a stage,
And all the men and women merely players;
They have their exits and their entrances;
And one man in his time plays many parts...
                                            Shakespeare, As You Like It, II:vii:139-141 


* Including in this blog.  I write with what I think of as either my "casual blog voice" or "serious blog voice".  Neither are my actual voice.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

OOTD: I Heart Yum Cha

Today we had a girls lunch planned at work so I wanted to wear my cute new skirt.  We had Yum Cha (I had never had Yum Cha before) and it was delicious.  I tried lots of different things.  One thing I did NOT try was the chicken feet...

Here is the outfit I wore for our girly lunch:

Cardi: City Chic
Tank: Jay Jays
Tights: We Love Colors (Black)
Shoes: Rubi Shoes

I don't totally love this skirt like I do the dress I got in the same order.  It's quite different from what I'm used to.  What I like is the bubble shape, with the elastic at the bottom - it's quite windy around the building I work in so skirts that fly up are a bit of a hazard.  I love the pattern as well.  I got plenty of compliments on it and I think it will grow on me, it just wasn't an instant-love!

Friday, October 8, 2010

Outfit of the Day: Rainy Day Women

Yesterday I promised two of my co-workers, @missrbit and @misskelt, that if my new clothes from Beth Ditto at Evans turned up I would wear a new outfit and some heels today.  Well, my package from Evans arrived first thing this morning, and so of course I had to keep my promise!  Because it was rainy on the Goldy today, I wore my booties with my flower dress, and I think the outfit was hawt!

Tights: We Love Colors (Black)
Booties: Miss Shop at Myer

I absolutely love this dress.  It fits me perfectly - it's like it was custom-made.  The rouching on the front is pockets.  It's super-cute and totally different from my normal outfits.  I'll be able to wear it alone in Summer and layer it up in Winter.  Easily my favourite item of clothing in my wardrobe right now!

Here is a view from the back:

The highlight of the dress for me is the V at the back.  I didn't realise it was like that when I bought it.  It perfectly frames my tattoo.  Also, the shaping through the skirt makes my arse look amazing!


The tattoo on my back is the first one I got.  After I decided I wanted a tattoo, I spent nearly a year researching and scouring the internet looking for the perfect piece when I finally found this, uncredited, on a website of Pagan icons and stuff.  It has various symbols from around the world that mean balance and harmony.  On the escalator on the way to work today a lady commented on my "kick-ass" tattoo :)  The one on my arm is a band of Celtic hounds.  I got the design from a book about Celtic illuminated manuscripts.  I wanted something that was a little bit different from a regular armband and reflected me, and wanted bright colours.  I have plans for at least 3 more - a phoenix on my other arm, a silver fern on the inside of my right wrist, and some script around an ankle.  Just need to find the time and money to do them!

30 Days of Me: Day 30

So hard to choose just one...But if I have to...It's Bat Out of Hell, by Meat Loaf.

And with that ends my 30 Days of Me Challenge.  Hope you enjoyed it.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

30 Days of Me: Day 29

So here we are, on the penultimate day of this 30 Day Challenge.  I'm not sure if today's prompt is about what I've learned from this challenge, or simply an agglomeration of what I've learned in general over the last 30 days.

In any case, I find that hard to pin down.  I'm the sort of person who is always learning, always questioning, always researching.  I have a tendency to go off on a tangent.  I look up things I don't understand and then an hour later I realise I've followed a link trail so far I don't even know where I started from.  I see a statistic and I look up the source.  I watch a move and I read all the trivia about it on IMDb.  I read a bunch of blogs every day.  And of course I'm also studying, so I have my learning for my courses to throw into the mix.

And why should I focus on what I've already learned anyway?  Why can't I think about what I'm going to learn instead?  What will I learn next week, or tomorrow, or five minutes from now?  What will I re-learn that I've forgotten?  What will I learn that will radically change how I view everything else I've already learned?  I'd rather be like Socrates - wise because I admit that I know nothing.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

30 Days of Me: Day 28

Here is a picture of me from April 2009:

Dave and I went to Adelaide to visit Dave's Gran, and My parents and Dave's Mum met us there.  Then the six of us rented a houseboat and cruised on the Murray River.  It was amazing - so peaceful and relaxing.  This is on the first day (I think): Dave and I relaxing in the lounge area.  The Hurricanes were playing that night so naturally I was wearing my 'Canes jersey.

What has changed since then?  Well, I'm still a 'Canes supporter - that hasn't changed!  And I've already banged on about what has changed for me over the last year, in various posts like this one.  So I'm not going to talk about it all over again.

I will snatch one more opportunity to promote Fat Acceptance though, by giving you a link to Spilt Milk's Fat Acceptance FAQ.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

30 Days of Me: Day 27

Why am I doing this Challenge?  Partly because it was suggested by some friends (as I mentioned when I outlined the challenge), and partly because it seemed like a neat thing to do.  It has given me a great opportunity to talk about some things that I might not have talked about, and given some friends an insight into what makes me tick.  It introduced me to some new bloggers (and proved just how small the world is, thanks to the wonder that is the Interwebz) and helped give me a kick-start with my blogging.

I admit that I've lost steam a little - my later posts have been much shorter than my earlier ones - but there's been a lot going on around me and it's been a struggle to keep on top of everything.  In some ways, the Challenge has been a kind of anchor - something that has kept me grounded and connected.  While I've missed some days and had to combine some posts, I'm determined to finish the challenge.

If you're a new reader of my blog, I hope you stick around.  If you're an old one, I hope it's given you some insight and hasn't scared you off!

Monday, October 4, 2010

30 Days of Me: Day 26

What you think about your friends?  I'm not sure how to interpret that prompt.  Is this supposed to be some kind of secret dirt-dishing post or something?  Well, that's not really my style.  I don't have that many friends - I'm quite introverted (which may be a surprise to some) - and while I find it easy to talk about some things, I find it hard to make close friends.  Some of that I've already talked about.

Anyway, my friends are all fabulous and gorgeous and smart and supportive.  And most of them really, really like shoes.  And that's all I have to say about that.

PS - Posts for the next few days will be scheduled posts because I'll be in Adelaide and may or may not have internet access.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

The Queen's Head

This short story was originally submitted for my Creative Writing paper.  This is a slightly revised version.

The Queen's Head

The air smells like burnt toast.  Ashes swirl like snow and settle on the shoulders of my coat.  I brush at the ash and light a cigarette with the Zippo from my pocket.  There is a stuttering crash, and the murmur of the crowd on the footpath swells to a roar as they gasp and sigh and draw back on shuffling feet.  I shuffle with them, just another face in a faceless crowd.  The Queen’s Head is burning.
The last time I was in this part of town must have been nearly a year ago, before.  I haven’t walked into the Queen’s Head since I was thrown out on Deano’s birthday.  I can still see the disgusted look on Bobby’s face as he stared down at me in the gutter from his lofty six-foot-four.  JT didn’t even put in that much effort.  He just stayed inside, chatting up some skank, telling her he was an air force pilot or a venture capitalist or an entrepreneur or a doctor.  Funny that I don’t remember whether Deano joined Bobby or stuck with JT.  It was his birthday that I’d been ejected from, after all.  I suppose he stayed with JT and played wing man, as usual: blinded by awe and half-believing JT’s stories himself, even though he knew perfectly well that JT was just a grease monkey and had never left the east coast, like the rest of us.  Except for Bobby, of course.  Bobby ran his own workshop and gave the rest of us bums jobs, because that’s what friends are for, right?
But I figured that even Bobby had a limit.  So the next morning, a dismal, overcast Saturday, I drove to my cousin Drew’s car dealership on the other side of town and asked him for a job.  I must have looked like death warmed up – hangover breath, stubbly jaw, that sour smell that always accompanies people like me hanging around my head – but I was family and I’d stuck up for him to a bully in primary school that one time so he owed me a favour.  So of course he said yes.  I didn’t bother telling Bobby I quit.  I just didn’t turn up on Monday.  He called a week later and I ignored it, hurt that it had taken him so long to care.  He tried again a couple more times before giving up on me, I suppose, like most people end up doing.
I managed the next six months pretty well before I got kicked out of another pub.  I don’t remember the name of that one, or why I was there – I guess it was someone’s birthday or farewell or funeral, who knows, there was a bar tab so I was all over it.  This time it was Drew’s face looking down at me in the gutter, but he sighed and held out his hand and helped me up and drove me back to his place, where I crashed out on the couch.  That’s the difference between family and friends: family don’t abandon you when you’re lying in a gutter reeking and so out of it you can hardly stand.
A couple of weeks after that incident I saw Bobby again.  He was in Woolworths examining a pile of Granny Smiths.  I slunk past down to the frozen foods.  I don’t think he saw me.  I didn’t hear him calling my name, anyway, like I half-hoped I would.  He was alone, which I didn’t really think about at the time, but when I got home I wondered where Carmen was, and why Bobby was doing his own grocery shopping.  He’d never been any good at that sort of thing.  Couldn’t even buy his own sandwich for smoko – that was always Deano’s job.
The next day I called Deano to ask him, but he didn’t answer.  I figured he must be ignoring my number, so I tried again a few days later from Drew’s office phone while he was at lunch.  Deano wasn’t too pleased that I’d gotten through.  He told me that Carmen was in hospital, that she had some illness I couldn’t pronounce and that Bobby spent most of his time with her now, he was hardly in the workshop at all.  I weaselled the hospital details out of him, then scrawled Drew a note and headed down town.
When I got to the hospital I just sat in my car for a bit, trying to pluck up the guts to see Bobby again.  But it was no good, whenever I closed my eyes all I could see was his face staring down at me in the gutter.  So I wandered the semi-familiar streets around the hospital until I found a pub and went in to gather some courage.  When I felt courageous enough, I wove my way back to the hospital and found Carmen’s room.  Bobby was reading Pride and Prejudice to her even though she looked asleep to me.  I never knew Bobby was a fan of books like that.  Although maybe it was Carmen who was the fan, I didn’t really know her that well.  When I slid open the door, Bobby stopped reading and looked up with the resigned gaze of someone expecting a doctor who visits far too often.  His eyes widened when he saw me.  Then he got a whiff of me and that same look came over his face and just like that, it was like I was lying in the gutter staring up at him again.  I shook my head to clear it and took a step into the room before Bobby was suddenly in front of me, blocking my way.  I hadn’t even seen him move, he was that quick, it was like he teleported or something.  His voice was soft, he was trying not to wake Carmen, but I got the message just the same: I wasn’t wanted there, I wasn’t needed there, I wasn’t a part of his life or her death.
Seeing Carmen lying there on the bed as white as her sheets, and Bobby looking at me like I was back in the gutter, I got angry.  I don’t remember what I said, but Bobby’s face closed up like the book he’d just snapped shut and he told me to get out, to leave them alone.  I refused.  I guess I yelled, because something woke Carmen up and she pushed her emergency button and suddenly the room was filled with nurses and security guards and then I was outside in the gutter, with Bobby looking down at me again.
I don’t remember much of the next few months.  I guess I showed up at work, because Drew kept paying me, and his car dealership wasn’t so flush he would pay me for doing nothing.  Family charity doesn’t extend that far.  In any case, I had enough cash to keep getting kicked out of pubs.  I must have been kicked out of half the pubs in town.  At one point I realised I should have been keeping track, I might have been able to get in Guinness World Records or something.
Then a few days ago Deano called me.  Carmen had finally died of whatever had put her in hospital, and he wanted to know if I was going to do the decent thing and turn up at the funeral in a fit enough state that I wouldn’t get thrown straight back out.  I told him I’d think about it but that I didn’t think Bobby wanted me there anyway.  Deano said of course he did, he just didn’t know it himself, so I said sure, I’ll be there I guess, I’ll try to stay out of Bobby’s way, wouldn’t want to spoil his day or anything.
But this morning when I woke up I realised I couldn’t do it.  I knew I would still see Bobby’s face looking down at me in the gutter, that unless something changed I would always be that guy on the black list of half the pubs in town.  So instead of going to the funeral I came here, to see the Queen’s Head burn.

30 Days of Me: Day 24 & 25

Day 24

I recently did a post about my family, and it doesn't really say any more than a letter to my parents would.  So I'm going to use that for Day 24.  Most people have skipped this day's post anyway so I don't feel too guilty!

Day 25
My house is chaotic and I have nowhere I can spread out all the stuff you'd find and take a photo, so you'll have to make do with a list, sorry!

  • Wallet (I have a man's wallet and can carry it in either my pocket or in my bag)
  • Nokia phone (also can be in my pocket or bag)
  • Keys (I'm like my Daddy and carry far more keys than I really need to)
  • A book (currently Farenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury)
  • Prescription sunglasses or glasses (depending on what I'm wearing - I keep them in the same case and swap them in and out)
  • A card wallet to carry all my store cards
  • A notepad with a mini Sharpie attached
  • My iPod shuffle and headphones (not bud ones, ones that sit over my ears)
  • A washable toiletries bag that I got from my wedding make-up artist that I use for various pills and toiletries: Voltaren Rapid, Telfast, Nurofen Period Pain, Rescue Remedy, Eucalyptus Oil, perfume, hair ties, tampons & pads
  • Various brochures, articles of paperwork, and general detritus
That's in my handbag.  Last semester I would alternate between my handbag and my laptop bag, but I haven't been going to the library this semester so I haven't needed to cart my laptop anywhere, which is good, because my laptop is a 15" monster.

Friday, October 1, 2010

30 Days of Me: Day 22 & 23

Another combined post, sorry.  In my defense, Dave's grandmother passed away yesterday morning.  My posting over the next few days may be sporadic, because we are going to Adelaide on Monday for the funeral on Wednesday, returning early Thursday morning.  I'll try to schedule some posts over the next couple of days, but you have been warned.

Day 22
What makes me different from everyone else?  Well, there's two ways to interpret this: one, what factors have made me different, or two, what features of mine are different from other people's.  Just for laughs, let's do both!

What factors make me different?  My upbringing is the big one obviously, but then my sister and I are very different and had very similar upbringings, so it can't all be that.  Genetics then, clearly have a place (I've discussed nature vs. nurture before).  The fact that I've moved around so often also plays a part, as well as all the various jobs I've had.  The choices I've made, big and small.  The events that have affected me, big and small.  And the people I've crossed paths with, for a brief or long time.

What are some things about me that are different?  Well of course we're all different, aren't we?  But I think probably my stand-out difference is my accent, which I've mentioned way back on Day 1.  It confuses people daily, and I get a question about it every couple of days (although that's partly because I take calls at work from customers all over the world).  I like it being unplaceable (apparently that's not a word, according to Chrome's built-in dictionary, so look, I just made up a word!).

Day 23
There's lots of things I crave for a lot.  If you re-read my Day 1 post when I linked it up there, you probably saw me craving for a bagel from Wholly Bagel.  I usually crave for NZ food, because while I can usually find things like Toffee Pops and Griffins Gingernuts, they are pretty expensive.  I also tend to get cheeseburger cravings when I'm hormonal.  Recently I've had to cut out chocolate on the advice of my acupuncturist, and while I haven't had too many cravings for that yet I'm sure I will soon.