Saturday, 31 December 2011

The Annual Day of Reflection and Introspection

CBD

Queen Victoria Building

Mango Pancake

It is that time of the year again where reflection and introspection is often undertaken by a lot of individuals. In many respects, New Years Eve celebrations are a bit overrated and yet I do believe that they have a place in life. The presence of a definite cut-off does provide benefits as I feel it almost forces an individual to reflect upon the year in its entirety. Per usual there are a list of questions that I strive to answer this time each year. However rather than asnwering it question by question, I shall try to merge it into paragraphs, elaborating where I see fit.

2011 has been an unusual year for me as I feel as though my emotional maturity has increased and yet at the same time it is almost as though I have not changed since 2010 or any other earlier year. Perhaps that is what it is meant to be however; growth is subtle and yet is obvious when examined over a longer period of time. This year I have become more self aware and comfortable with myself and have finally passed the stage where I felt the need to conform to the majority's perceived normality. Consequently I have spent a lot of time alone intentionally and explored new places that I had always wanted to visit by myself. This is not necessarily different to any other year, however what is different is my perspective towards such outings. This year a lot has happened: I went to Hong Kong and saw it as an adult, truly appreciating the differences with my homeland; someone close to me died; and I have become well adjusted into university life. Without consulting with my diary, I cannot remember all of the memorable dates of 2011, however one of them would be Christmas Eve when my friend surprised me at my house with a gift. The gift was not something that I would have necessarily wanted but the thought and effort was all that mattered in the end. New Year's resolutions are made every year, however for the past 3 years they have been the same 3 resolutions: lose X kg and two other personal goals. I do not feel as though I have made any progress in two of the resolutions however indirectly I am satisfying one due to my gaining maturity. Being the cynical person that I am (although I prefer to refer to myself as a realist) my personal achievements are something that I can never identify; I am definitely my worst critic. I could name internships or gaining job opportunities as my biggest achievement, however I feel more comfortable in naming my increased self contentness as my greatest achievement of the year. As I am so critical on myself, I have multiple biggest failures such as: exchange application, job application, university result for one subject and one other personal issue.

The biggest pet peeve of this year has definitely been people's opinions, or more correctly, people's reaction to conflicting opinions. There are so many examples that I can think of one of which I shall blog about at a later date, but namely feminism, politics and the creationism. This was recently brought to my attention with the Kelly Clarkson and the Ron Paul tweet a few days ago. Disclaimer: I know nothing about Ron Paul and even more broadly, I know nothing about American politics, hence I have taken each opinion as 'fact'. The 'fact' is that Ron Paul is a homophobe and racist. I personally find it somewhat irrelevant if someone else's view clashes with my own. It is unsettling without a doubt however, I feel that people tend to forget that people are allowed to have opinions and ultimately right and wrong is all subjective, especially when it comes to politics, and it is incredibly childish to send so much hate and insult people for merely having an opinion. Why should the person with the conflicting view conform with what the majority's/ the other person's view? What I believe is that people need to respect other's opinions, no matter how ill-informed, ignorant, stupid or conflicting it may seem because ultimately, it isn't black and white and it is incredibly ignorant to assume otherwise.


Onto lighter matters. The song that will remind me of 2011 would probably be Jewel's What you Are, Adele's Someone Like You and Pink's Who Knew. I wish I'd done less planning and analysing potential activities and actually gone out to do them instead. I did not fall in love per se, but I grew to love myself more. My favourite tv show would definitely be Once Upon a Time and my favourite novel of 2011 is Emma by Jane Austen. I am not a Jane Austen fan; the grammar and writing makes it very difficult for me to fully immerse myself into that world. I first read the book back in 2009 right before my HSC exams and after I watched the BBC miniseries with the beautiful and talented Romola Garai. With book to movie adaptations, I tend to refrain from making too many comparisons as I feel that the movie should be able to stand on it's own without the help of the novel. As it is the visual medium of television, naturally the story moves a lot faster than the novel and I tend to read the novel before watching the miniseries or movie. However Emma was an exception as I had previously failed to appreciate the story beforehand. There is something quite charming about the novel that appeals to me and it would probably be the Emma character herself.

If the year could have been 'immeasurably more satisfying' it would have been completing one, if not all, of my 2011 resolutions. The most valuable life lesson I have learnt in 2011 is to love yourself and be content with yourself (which is not the same as happy) because at the end of the day you are all you have. Also, Ingrid Michaelson's quote is something I try to live by: '
As long as you feel like you are doing the right thing then in the long run that’s all that’s gonna matter because, yno, you’re the one lying awake at night alone in bed and thinking about your life. And if you have compromised your life you’ll know.

So here is to the last few fours of 2011 and I shall be sitting on the couch watching the fireworks on the television, hoping that 2012 will be an even greater year.
Wednesday, 28 December 2011

'The Sky Looks Pissed and the Wind Talks back'

Christmas Day





For  as long as I can remember, Christmas Day has always been sweltering and the best thing to do was always to lounge at home in front of the fan. This year however summer has been the perfect temperature as it has been usually sunny and yet not too hot and sometimes even quite cool. On Christmas Day it was sunny and yet the air was cool and we decided to visit the beach and then proceed to West Head. Heading in the direction that we did, it took only 15 minutes before the landscape changed into somewhat 'country'-esque Australia. The sprawling bushland, paddocks with grazing horses and a variety of small scale farms were a somewhat pleasant contrast to the metropolitan areas.





Lion Island

The view from West Head was absolutely stunning, providing a perfect view of the famous Palm Beach and Pittwater.

Boxing Day
South Curl Curl Rock Pool



On Boxing Day we went back to the beach and it was a complete contrast to the previous day. It was windy, the sky was incredibly overcast and the waves were crashing ferociously to shore. It was insane how high the waves reached the rocks, almost touching the boardwalks that follow the curve of the shore!
Headland
Saturday, 24 December 2011

Memories


Your photography is a record of your living, for anyone who really sees.
~ Paul Strand

Winter



Electronic rubik cube



I am in the process of defragmention; arguably it may be a futile attempt to better the performance of my laptop. I do not like to edit my photos that are more than a week old and yet, the internet is temperamental and my computer is cluttered with mess that I have accummulated over the course of 2.5 years. A few years ago, it seemed I was very dedicated in keeping my photos ordered by year, month and date and scanning through the folders of images I have, memories come flooding back. I have forgotten so many things and yet seeing those images reminded me of the situation, firstly the good moments as photos nearly always capture that and then the not-as-lovely memories.







Hand Quote

I cannot remember what quote I wrote on my hand and Google did not bring forth any useful searches. Nevertheless, the quote still maintains relevance four years down the track.
Friday, 23 December 2011

2011 Diary



I am the sort of person who likes to document my life, whether that be in the form of photographs to writing in my journal as I feel it is important to have the opportunity in the not too distant future to remember all the little details. This year, I made my own diary/planner using the large squareed Moleskine notebook, jotting down all my daily to-do lists, to rewriting my favourite quotes or scrawling little notes to myself in the pages at the back. Looking back, it was evident which weeks were better than others; they were more colourful and filled with quotes whereas the busier weeks were simply filled with scrawled lists. Earlier today I purchased a diary for 2012 as I couldn't resist a 30% discount. However, having both diaries in my hands I am somewhat discontent with the purchase and though I wouldn't return it (I have already taken off the sticker from the cover) I am unsure if it is what I would like to use next year. That being said, having a 'proper' diary would mean that it is a lot neater than drawing it up myself. However, the convenience of always having spare paper was always a bonus.







Tuesday, 20 December 2011

Girl's Night

Christmas Present
With only 5 sleeps until Christmas, it is surreal that it is already that time of the year and there is only 1.5 weeks till 2012 arrives. Christmas shopping is complete and earlier this afternoon I finished Christmas wrapping for the final few gifts.

Orchid



I was never an orchid fan until 5 months ago when the plant was gifted to my family. In hindsight, it is probably the best gift that someone can give as it continually blooms and so quickly as well. A few months ago, I purchased my first Swarovski crystal ornament; a sunflower. Oddly enough, the price of the crystal was double in Australia compared to the US which was incredibly bizarre. The purchase of the crystal was due to my aunt purchasing the larger version and the small flower was costly enough and I cannot fathom how expensive the crystal had cost her. Baby flower looks insignificant next to 'Momma' flower.




Toblerone
Girl's Night
Two years ago I finished highschool and it feels as though it was a lifetime ago. Reading through the Tumblr tag for 'ATAR' I stumbled upon this entry. I have extracted the key aspects of the entry below:

Beside from finishing school with ‘knowledge,’ we left with our close friends. They were more important and significant to us then ever. They understood what we were going through in school, the pressures of living up to parent’s expectations and getting into our ‘desired’ course.
--
We grew up. We’ll, let’s just say each of us soon became preoccupied with our own things.
--
Everything is so different now. I may have lost friends today that meant the world to me exactly one year ago. But it’s okay ... Overall, you don’t know who your true friends are at the end of year 12. It’s the year after. You will realise those who make an effort to stay in touch, and those that just put the blame on you.

Tonight I spent a night with my highschool friends and most of the time, I have difficulty wrapping my head around the idea that they are no longer the 12 year olds I once knew - we are all in our 20s and entering our third year of university next year. It's odd to sit and realise that we have all grown up, matured emotionally and intellectually and our friendship has shifted, as it naturally should. Though whilst we still interact to a similar manner as we once did during lunches and recesses (that word is odd and I do not believe I have ever heard the word being used since completing highschool) it is different as we have changed. In some respects, the conversation is more enjoyable and free flowing.


Saturday, 17 December 2011

Once Upon a Time

Once Upon a Time

I am a dreamer. However, I am also somewhat cynical and a pragmatist, which may appear to be contrary to my previous assertion. A well known fact to some although unbeknownst to others, I am a 'die-hard' fan of old school Disney, in particular the Disney princess movies. As a child, I spent most of my free time sitting in front of the television, watching cartoons or VHS'. We owned most of the Disney Princess movies on VHS (except the Little Mermaid which I bought later as a teenager to complete the collection although in a DVD format) and I cannot begin to fathom the amount of times that I have watched each movie. My favourite was and still is, Beauty and the Beast. The animation, the songs and the story captivated me; as embarrassing as it may be, I used to re-enact the musical sequence from 'Belle'. Subsequently, I am a fan of the appropriations undertaken by Disney of the classic fairytales.

However as I have grown older, I have often felt as though my interest in Disney's fairytales warranted immediate judgement from my peers. On numerous occasions - both in real life and on the cyberspace- I have had people rant, complain and effectively insult me due to my connection to those stories. The most common complaint regarding the old school Disney films (and fairytales in general) was consistent with a feminist perspective. It was always related to the misogynistic nature of the story which objectified the female princess, depicting her as helpless, the damsel in distress, and only achieving happiness when she fell for her prince and lived happily ever after. To some degree, I can understand the disdain that some feel towards the films who perceive that they somehow 'brainwash' children to conform to the traditional and stereotypical gendered roles. I do not deny that the degree of gender equality has vastly improved since the conception of the fairytales (some stemming back to 13th century). However, I believe that it is ignorant for some individuals to assume that that is the only message that children -in particular girls- would draw from the films. It is too superficial and simplistic. Personally, I am a fan of stories as they should impart some message to the reader (assuming that the story was of a relatively high caliber). I think fairytales are not so different from fables as I feel that they teach very important lessons upon closer inspection. Is it so wrong to teach children to not judge an individual by their appearance but by their individual characteristics? Is it so wrong to teach children to not stay where it is safe, to challenge the boundaries if they truly believe that it may result in happiness? Is it so wrong to teach children that by having hope, faith and perseverance, your aspirations may come true? Is it so wrong to teach children that connections to friends and family is integral to your personal satisfaction of life? Is it truly that offensive to modern society where there are films that ultimately teach and show young children on how to be a better person? I do not think so. I do not hope so. Those messages are the ones that I have drawn from Beauty and the Beast, The Little Mermaid, Cinderella/ Peter Pan and The Lion King. Apart from Sleeping Beauty, the only fairytale that I truly detest, I never understood the argument that the films were teaching girls to be complacent and subordinate to men, merely waiting for their 'true love' to sweep them off their feet. From memory, falling in love with their prince was subsidiary to their goal. Cinderella wanted to go to the ball, Belle wanted to save her father, Ariel wanted to visit the outside world and their encounters with their prince was a later development. Thus, I find that argument flawed.
What do you think stories are for? These stories are classics. There's a reason we all know them. They're a way for us to deal with our world. A world that doesn't always make sense.
Mary Margaret Blanchard - Once Upon a Time

If anything, I would say that fairytales have the capacity to delude children into believing the binary nature of the world; that there is good and evil and that the perfect significant other exists. As perfectly encapsulated in Taylor Swift's quote,

When I was a little girl I used to read fairy tales. In fairy tales you meet Prince Charming and he’s everything you ever wanted. In fairy tales the bad guy is very easy to spot. The bad guy is always wearing a black cape so you always know who he is. Then you grow up and you realize that Prince Charming is not as easy to find as you thought. You realize the bad guy is not wearing a black cape and he’s not easy to spot; he’s really funny, and he makes you laugh, and he has perfect hair.

Perhaps it is a problem that can be attributed to fairytales. And yet, are they so much different from chick-lit, fantasy or even romance novels? However, I am confident that as people grow older, experience life, they do change their perspective and hence why I am a dreamer and yet cynical. I do not believe in Prince Charming or happily ever after's per se, but what those stories taught me is something I try to live by.

Notwithstanding, I am aware that Disney's appropriation of the fairytales are substantially different to the original fairytales which I believe cannot be justified on similar grounds. However, it was created in a vastly different context and that may be enough justification.
Friday, 9 December 2011

Summer



I am loving the cool summer that we are having at the moment as I am certain that a heat wave is guaranteed for the Christmas and New Year. Late in the afternoon I decided to visit my local beach and pass through areas that I used to spend a lot of time at. Walking down the street that I used to walk down every single school day was very strange as it felt as though time hadn't moved. So many buildings had changed and trees had been cut down.



The netball courts were on the way to the beach and they themselves were nostalgic. I think it was when I was in Year 7 or Year 8 when there was a Gala Day and I had elected to compete in netball. I am definitely not a sports person; I lack hand-eye, foot-eye coordination and balance. Somehow I managed to be placed in the position as 'centre' and to this day, I still have scars on both knees when the centre on the opposing team pushed me over.



Curl Curl Lagoon

Curl Curl Lagoon

Kookaburra sitting on the electric wire

Everytime I see a kookaburra sitting on a wire, I think back to the song I learnt as a child.

Kookaburra sits on the electric wire,
Jumping up and down, with his pants on fire.
Ouch, Kookaburra, ouch! Kookaburra,
Hot your tail must be!






Curl Curl Beach





The beach was truly amazing and the photos do not do it much justice. It wasn't very hot but nice and cool. I have always wanted to sit at the edge of a cliff, dangling my legs over the edge. Slowly, I had made my way to the edge, however 30cm from the edge I couldn't muster the courage to do the act. Standing precariously at the edge, I looked down to see the rocks below and in my mind I could picture the headlines in my local newspaper- "Foolish Girl Dies as she sits at the edge of the Cliff". I think I could spend the entire day sitting and listening to the waves as they crash ashore; it is very calming and soothing. On another note, I have finally figured out my camera settings to take better photos in bright places (aka the beach). However, still figuring it out when the sky is just grey but incredibly bright.

Seagull

Waves




If I had to define Australia by smells I would definitely have to say that they would be: the smell of the ocean and the smell of gumtrees/bushland. If I had to define the smell that I associate with highschool, it would be the smell of pine trees.